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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 6


Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0291

Author: Whipple, Abraham
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-19

Abraham Whipple to the Commissioners

[salute] Honoured Gentlemen

I had the pleasure of writing you July 311 from Paimbeufe where I had been wind bound for fifteen days. The Boston had not joined me Then. She afterwards did and August 8th we proceeded for Brest in Company. Contrary winds proving unfavourable detained us at Sea till the 14th when we arrived at Brest. I here found that Lt. Simpson had strictly attended to my Orders of July 24th and done every thing in his power to get in Readiness for the Seas. His Provisions Water &c. as directed was on board. I flattered myself with speedily putting to Sea but how was I surprized when made acquainted that none of the Prizes belonging to the Ranger were sold and that the unfortunate { 382 } Crew had not recieved a single sous for all the time they had been in France; the disagreable feelings of Men who are obliged to Relinquish property which justly belongs to them, and for which they have hazarded their lives, induced me to allow them the Respite of a day or two, to attempt settling the prizes &c. obtaining their money. I hoped this would prove satisfactory and indeed it wou'd have composed matters, had not Captn. Jones the former Commander of the Ranger interfered in a most extraordinary manner, denied the efficacy of the sales threatned he would be the Ruin of all those who meddled with the Business and by a number of similar Acts been the means of a detention where one Obstacle added to another as frivolous in their natures as hurtful in their effects, have produced Consequences highly detrimental. I wish to treat every Character with delicacy and to pay a just Respect to those whose Commissions in the service of my Country intitle them to that deference. It gives me pain that I am obliged to make those Remarks on Capt. Jones conduct and sorry I am that his late behaviour has furnished me with the disagreable Necessity ...2 but when a Man in diametrical opposition to the Interests of his Country and the real good of America is swayed by principles of self or blinded by particular passions to act against that service in which he has had the honour of Long wearing a Commission I am resolved from sentiments of Duty to Represent his Conduct with a Candid Impartiality and Leave those to determine its pernicious tendency who are my Superiors, Capt. Jones yesterday sent me a Letter a Copy of which I enclose together with my Answer.3 I doubt not it will be satisfactory to your Honours as I attempted to explain the impossibility of a Compliance with his Request in a liberal though forcible manner.
Tomorrow I am determined for Sea, wind and weather permitting not waiting for the Ranger4 if she cannot be ready for want of those affairs being accomodated, and charging the whole of the Obstacles which have retarded her to the Artifices, Insinuations, Disingenuity and Threats of Captain Jones. I will to the last moment attempt every thing in my power to accomodate these unhappy affairs, and endeavour by all possible means to get the Ranger away.

[salute] Remaining with the Readiest Attention to your Honours Orders and a peculiar pleasure in the satisfaction of Obeying them Gentlemen Your mo. Obedt. & very humb. servt.,

[signed] Abraham Whipple
{ 383 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Capt Whipple Brest Augt 19. 1778.”
1. Whipple's letter (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) acknowledged two letters from the Commissioners. It was from that of 16 July that Whipple's orders to Simpson of the 24th proceeded.
2. Whipple's ellipsis.
3. For these letters of 18 Aug., see Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:689–690. Jones' letter was a simple request to convene a court martial for Thomas Simpson, and Whipple's reply was an explanation of why this could not be done: first, because Capt. Hinman refused to serve, thus preventing the assembly of the required number of captains; and, second, because Whipple believed that Jones in releasing Simpson from his parole and the Commissioners in appointing him to command the Ranger had rendered the issue moot.
4. On 20 Aug. the Boston, Providence, and Ranger, the latter aided by the addition of crewmen from the Boston and Providence, sailed a short distance from the harbor at Brest and, after waiting for the return of 25 members of the Ranger's crew, set out for America on 22 Aug. (Samuel Tucker's Log, MH-H: Tucker Papers). The three vessels arrived at Portsmouth, N.H., on 15 Oct. (Allen, Naval Hist. Amer. Revolution, 1:356).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0292

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Date: 1778-08-21

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to inclose to congress, the last Gazettes and a Plann of the various Manoeuvres in the late sea fight by which the masterly Movements of the French Fleet in every Situation, and the ridiculous Confusion of the late Lords of the ocean as they called themselves are Said to be truly represented. Whether it was Want of Skill in the officers, or whether it was a Want of Men to perform the necessary Motions, that occasioned the Awkwardness of the British Fleet; either supposition is equally ominous to that Nation.
The French Fleet are supposed to have Sailed yesterday and it is reported from England that theirs was to go out, soon, how truly I know not. If they both get to sea, I suppose We shall soon hear of mutual Civilities between them. After the Experiment that has been made, We are under no apprehensions here, for the Event.
We are very anxious to hear from America, having nothing from thence, since the 3d July. I have the Honour to be, with the highest Esteem and Respect, sir your most humble and most obedient servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (ScHi: Henry Laurens Papers); docketed: “Letter from [the?] honble. Ja Adams esqr. Passy Aug 21. 1778 read 5 Decr.”; in another hand: “Admiral Keppels Engagement with D'Orvilliers” For its reading before the congress, see JCC, 12:1192.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0293

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jones, John Paul
Date: 1778-08-22

The Commissioners to John Paul Jones

[salute] Sir

<Your Letter from Brest of August the 15th is before us, and We are very sorry to hear that Reports so groundless are circulated to your Disadvantage. However We trust they will do you no lasting Injury, as Insinuations so grossly false seldom hurt any but the Maker and Propagator.>
<We write this Letter that you may have it in your Powers to assure any Body you think proper, that, so far from turning you out of the service, your coming away from the Ranger to Paris was without our orders or Knowledge1 that on the sixteenth of June We gave you orders to return to America Commander of the Ranger and that this Destination was altered for no other Reason, than a Letter from M. De Sartine which We never solicited representing that he had occasion for your services, and requesting our Consent, which We readily gave, Supposing that you might be [more serviceable?] to the Common Cause, in this Way, than in any other,>2 that your Letter to Us of the 16 July,3 expressing your Willingness to drop the Dispute between you and Lieutenant Simpson, and to give up his Parole, was made as far as we know of your own voluntary Choice and certainly without any order or solicitation from Us.4<and that it appeared to Us to do honour to your Disposition, and your Character. And We hope that Lieutenant Simpson will consider it in the same Point of Light.>
<We are, sir, with Respect, your most obedient servants.>
We have5
1. That is, without the orders or knowledge of JA and Arthur Lee. Even at this late date, JA and Lee were apparently unaware of Franklin's role in bringing Jones to Paris; yet it is likely that this letter was intended to be signed by all three Commissioners. It may have been a draft that JA was proposing to his colleagues.
2. The material deleted to this point was canceled with a much heavier hand than was used for the passages deleted later in either this or the Commissioners' second letter to Jones of this date (below).
3. See Thomas Simpson to the Commissioners, 3 July (above).
4. It is not clear why this portion of the Commissioners' reply was not also canceled, unless they intended to insert it in some other letter. In any event, no letter of 22 Aug. or on the subjects dealt with in this letter and the one immediately following has been found.
5. This may indicate that the Commissioners intended to add a postscript to this letter, possibly beginning “We have written to Captain Whipple . . . ,” which, after it was decided not to send this letter, was included in the second letter to Jones of this date (below) that was also canceled.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0294

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Jones, John Paul
Date: 1778-08-22

The Commissioners to John Paul Jones

[salute] <Sir>

<We have received your Letter of the 16th.1 and have written to Captain Whipple to appoint a Court Martial for the Tryal of Lieutenant Simpson provided there are a sufficient Number of officers to constitute one.2 We are3 This however is not to make any Change in the Command of the Ranger untill the Tryal is over, nor then unless the Judgment of that Court is against him. We are.>
LbC (Adams Papers); notation: “not sent.”
1. An inadvertance for the 15th.
2. For this sentence as a possible postscript, see the Commissioners' first letter to Jones of this date, note 5 (above). No letter to Abraham Whipple has been found. The Commissioners may, in the meantime, have received Whipple's letter of 19 Aug. (above) and concluded that a reply was unnecessary or, more important, that he and perhaps Simpson had already sailed for America.
3. The preceding two words were canceled in the course of drafting, indicating that the letter was originally meant to end here, before it was decided to make clear the Commissioners' position on the appointment of Simpson to command the Ranger.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0295

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Date: 1778-08-22

The Commissioners to J. D. Schweighauser

We received yours of the 18 Instant.1 Mr. Bersoll has already been informed that he must send his Accounts and Vouchers to us before we can order him to be paid therefore you will inform him that ' till he has furnished us with these for our Examination he must not expect payment and we hope that for his own sake as well as for ours he will not proceed to the indecent Violence you apprehend. We are not in Circumstances to afford any further purchases and therefore desire that the goods on hand only may be ship' d of[f] as speedily and with as little Expence as possible. You will therefore act with Regard to the Saltpetre as you judge most conducive to this End. Mr. Hall2 must also shew a Receipt for the Delivery of the Beef charged to the Ranger, before he can be paid.
With Regard to the Captain's and other Americans not actually in the Service of the 13 united States who apply to you for Money, these are our Sentiments which we desire you will consider as final, that when they are at a Seaport like Nantes where they may supply their Wants by their own Industry, there is no Reason for their asking any thing from the public, nor can we consent that any public Money should be advanced to persons in { 386 } their Situation, it is only to forward them to that Situation that we think ourselves authorised to furnish them Aids from the public Funds. We are wth. great Esteem Yours &c.,
[signed] BF
[signed] AL
[signed] JA
LbC (Adams Papers); in Arthur Lee's hand.
1. Not found.
2. Presumably Elijah Hall, former 2d lieutenant and at the time of this letter, under Thomas Simpson, 1st lieutenant of the Ranger. In the absence of Simpson, Hall would have been left in command of the Ranger during Jones' absence in Paris.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0296

Author: Finlay, George
Author: Anquetil, Thomas
Author: Allen, Hon.
Author: Bencor, Brown
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-08-22

British Prisoners of War to the Commissioners

[salute] Honorable Gentlemen

This to inform your honouers we perisoners was Taken By Capt. Tucker Commander of the Boston was Sent on Shore the 3 Instant to Nantzs and from Nantzs to this town we humble beg Your Honouers to Grant us Lebertiy to Goe home for we have no mony and no Cridet here we have Dun Nothing amiss to our knowalage more then aney other Captains th[e]y all Gott there Liberty we humbley beg your honouers will be so Good as to order ours or order Some Supply as presoners of war Gentlemen if I Due not mistake all the Comanders of americca Vessalls have had there Liberty.1 We Are your Most Humble and obident Servents,
[signed] George Finlay
[signed] Thomas Anquetil
[signed] Hon. Allan
[signed] Brown Bencor
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Right Honourable Commissioniers of the United Coulnies of America at Paris”; stamped: “ANCENIS”; docketed, not by JA: “Prisoners Letter Ancenis 22 August 78.”
1. This letter serves as an example of petitions received by the Commissioners from British prisoners. George Finlay had commanded the John and Rebecca; Thomas Anquetil, the Elizabeth; and Allan, an unidentified Scottish brig. All were taken during the Boston's short cruise in June. Brown Bencor remains unidentified. The fourth prize taken by Tucker during that expedition was the Britannia, commanded by William Baker (see Samuel Tucker to the Commissioners, 3 July, above; Philip Chadwick Foster Smith, Captain Samuel Tucker, Salem, 1976, p.104). The Commissioners apparently took no action in regard to this letter.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0297

Author: Livingston, Muscoe
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-24

Muscoe Livingston to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

My having been very unwell ever Since Capt. Tuckers departure from this place, has prevented My writing you, on the Subject, of the three prizes,1 which he Sold to Monsieure Peuchelburg,2 of L'orint for Account of Mr. Scweighauser of this place; it appears by Capt. Tuckers certificate as well as by other papers in My possession (which shall be sent you, if Necessary) that Mr. Peuchelburg assured Capt. Tucker, there was a duty of Forty thousand Livers, on the three thousand quintills of fish, which induced him to Lett, his, and Crews part of that quantity, of very fine fish, together with the three Vessells be sold for thirty thousand Livers. This Sum, was very short, of what they would have sold for, had we been allow'd the privilege of benifiting by an Article of the Treaty, now Subsisting between France and america; these Vessells was entered and claired [cleared] at Lorient, and entered here, as american property, and from America; as I am empowerd by Capt. Tucker, to apply to you, to have this Matter properly Represented, and Receive back the duties (if any is paid) take the Liberty of Requesting the Favour to be informed, whether we Must be contented, with that Loss, or how we are to be Redressed.3 I have the Honor to be with Respect Your Most Obt. H. svt.,
[signed] M. Livingston
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. American Commissioners a Paris”; docketed, not by JA: “M Livingston Nantes 24 Augt 78.”
1. Presumably the Britannia, Elizabeth, and an unidentified Scottish brig, all taken during the cruise of the Boston in June. For the cargoes of the three vessels, see Samuel Tucker to the Commissioners, 3 July (above).
2. Puchelberg & Co. In 1779 JA, while waiting for passage to America, had dealings with the firm and Mr. Puchelberg, whom he described as “a modest and a decent German” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:342–343, 378).
3. In their reply to Livingston of 31 Aug. (LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 92), the Commissioners reported that no “certain Directions” concerning the duties on Tucker's prizes could be given since the regulations for prizes and prisoners being prepared by Sartine were not ready. They referred him, instead, to J. D. Schweighauser, who reportedly had received a list of interim duties from Jacques Necker.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0298-0001

Author: Puchelberg & Co. (business)
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-24

Puchelberg & Co. to the Commissioners

Nous avons l'honneur de remettre très humblement à Vos Excellences la lettre ci-jointe dont M. Lee1 demeurant chez M. Schweighauser a Nantes nous chargea hier à Son Passage par cette Ville Et vous voudrez bien nous faire la grace de nous en assurer la reception.
Comme nous sommes les associés du dit M. Schweighauser: c'est avec un Empressement particulier que nous avons offrit à Vos Excellences nos très humbles services dans ces quartiers. Nous serions au Comble de nos desirs d'obeir à Vos ordres Et si vos bontés, que nous osons reclamer à notre faveur vous engagent à nous accorder votre Protection; daignez être persuadés, Messieurs, que nous ferons l'impossible, de nous rendre dignes de votre Confiance par notre exacte Probité Et par l'Exécution la plus Scrupuleuse de vos Ordres.

[salute] Nous sommes avec le plus profond Respect de Vos Excellences, Les très humbles Et très Obeissants serviteurs

[signed] Puchelberg & Co.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0298-0002

Author: Puchelberg & Co. (business)
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-24

Puchelberg & Co. to the Commissioners: A Translation

We have the honor to forward very humbly to your excellencies the enclosed letter which was given to us yesterday by Mr. Lee,1 who resided with Mr. Schweighauser when he was in Nantes, and ask you to please acknowledge its receipt.
As associates of the aforementioned Mr. Schweighauser, we have been eager to offer you our humble services in this area. Our wishes would be most fulfilled in obeying your orders and, if you kindly give us your patronage, please rest assured that we will do everything in our power, through unfailing honesty and a most scrupulous execution of your orders, to be worthy of your trust.

[salute] We are, with the most profound respect for your Excellencies, your very humble and very obedient servants

[signed] Puchelberg & Co.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Puchelberg & Co. L'Orient 24 Aug 78.”
1. This letter, presumably from William Lee, has not been found, nor is there any indication that the Commissioners acknowledged its receipt.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0299

Author: Smith, James
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-24

James Smith to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

This is to inform you that when I arrived at Calis the 4th of May 1778 I had part of my Baggage detain'd by the Custom House Officers under the pretence of their being contraband. They consist of Household Linnen and some articles included under the denomination of plate which had been in use for some time and appeared to me as necessary for the comfort of a private family unused to the Customs of this Country as wearing Apparel. Let it be observed I did not refuse to pay the duty but as the value could not be immediately assertained and the price demanded for their ransom nearly equal to the Original Cost and which I considered as an imposition not warranted by the Laws of this Country I was determined to complain upon my arrival at Paris.
Soon after my arrival I accordingly mentioned the affair to Mr. Lee considering it came within his department but was told there was no remedy but pay the duty and that his Brother altho' a public Minister had been under the same predicament and was Obliged to pay fifteen Guineas, not considering that public Ministers who are receiving the Emoluments of Office and may be under the necessity of Living with a Splendor ill suited to the Genius of rising Rebublics groaning under immense burdens and struggling with every difficulty were in a situation very different from private individuals flying with their family's from the Tyranny of Old Goverments and forsaking their private employments to seek shelter in a Kingdom in open Alliance and supposed bound by the faith of Treaty to give succour and protection to every American. What might not be felt in one case, might operate as a real grievance in the other, and will if not rectified prevent many Emigrations from Britain of its most useful inhabitants and therefore loudly demands the attention of the Commissioners.
Not satisfied with Mr. Lee's answer, yet unwilling to occupy the time of the Commissioners who are supposed to be engaged in matters of more importance I represented this affair to Mr. Grand and begged the favor that he as a French Subject would apply to the proper Officers and indeavour to inforce the propriety of granting exclusive priviledges to persons in simular circumstances which from the temper of the times must frequently { 390 } happen. Mr. Grand admitting the propriety of my reasoning and the necessity of the measure promised that he would interest himself in this business upon the broad Bottom I mentioned which would be one trouble and serve as a rule of conduct for Custom-house Officers on all future Occasions.
The matter rested in this situation till the 4th of July. Not hearing from Mr. Grand (who I understood had mentioned the matter to the Commissioners) I then related the circumstances of the Case to Doctor Franklin who promised that he would pay proper attention to it and make the application required. After a considerable lenght of time I waited on him for his answer but much to my surprise I found he did not so much as remember the Transaction and requested to know my meaning and upon explination desired I would send him a memorandum of the detained Articles. Knowing that memory is the first faculty we receive in our Infancy, and the first which leaves us in the Evening of Life I thought it most proper to convey the Memoire requested through the Channel of young Mr. Franklin supposing that duty and natural Affection would supply the imbicility incident to Old Age by reminding him of what might again slip his memory and which would be very inconvenient to me as I intend shortly leaving the Kingdom. In my letter to Mr. Franklin,1 I complained that I thought my self neglected and Ill treated in which Opinion I am happy to find I am not singular, and received a reply containing expressions which if dictated by a man in Office I hope the Genius of Our republics will never admit without serious circumspection, and can only be excused as coming from a young Gentleman who perhaps may not yet have learned, that even King's who bear the highest Offices of State, were not raised from the common level for their own benefit, that they are the Servants of their constituents; that the meanest of their countrymen demand their services as the price of their submission to the Laws when ever their various exigencies demand them and that delays and Inattention operate as Injuries which every man has a right to complain of when he finds himself neglected without incurring the sensure of indecency a privilege which I hope every man who bears the honorable tittle of an American will have spirit enough to mantain with men in Office from whom even a proud Look ought to be considered in an alarming point of view at a period of Our History where we may be in danger of Sliding from an Absolute power into an Aristocratic Tyrranny in my opinion infi• { 391 } nitely more intolerable and thereby lose the great Objects for which we have been contending.
I hope Gentlemen you will consider these reflections not intended as personal, disrespectful or derogatory to the honor of the Commission. I mean them as a complaint against what I am perswaded will not be permitted by any gentleman under your influence or supposed to be employed about your persons either in a private or public capacity. Permit me to add no man more than myself is impressed with a higher sense of gratitude for the Signal services you may have done your Country or feels a greater veneration for the persons who are appointed to fill so important a Station.
I would not be understood to ask any thing unreasonable or arrogate to myself any marks of attention more than what is due to the meanest of my Countrymen. The articles in question must appear trifeling when contrasted with the many grand Objects which must necessarily engage your attention. But this is not what I am contending for. The question to be determined is what reception or indulgences Gentlemen Emigrating from Britain to America through the Channel of this Kingdom are to expect that every man in future be able to regulate his private affairs with prudence in proportion to his circumstances. It were easy to recite perticular Cases, were [where] being obliged to sell some kinds of property (independant of the loss) manufactured in England would oblige many to abandon their intentions of removing into america to the great detriment of that Country. I myself stand in this predicament with respect to some articles which cannot be replaced within this Country or America some of which are absolutely necessary to the excersise of my Profession.
I flatter myself these circumstances have escaped your attention through a multiplicity of weightier matters and doubt not from your Credit with, and the present disposition of this Government to cement the union between the two countries by the most powerful of all motives, will with joy embrace the opportunity of granting your request and that every American may return to his Native Country under the full impression of your politeness and minute attention to their various necessities. If a formal state of my case was not delivered in writing it was because I rather wished to receive relief under a General regulation and not as a perticular favor done to an individual espe• { 392 } cially as I had been seriously informed the same had been refused to a public Minister. I Judged a verbal representation more respectable to the Commissioners besides my own feelings would not admit my asking a perticular favor of Gentlemen who from the 6th of May till the 4th of July did not think me worthy of the politeness and attention which had been shewn to others whose sentiments had been notoriously Hostile to the grand interests of America and it may be worthy of Observation that when I related the perticulars on the 4th of July to Doctor Franklin I was not given to understand that a “Memoire stating the affair addressed jointly” to the Commissioners was necessary to be adopted. I have the Honour to be with all Due Respect, Gentlemen,2 Your most Obedient most humble Servant,
[signed] James Smith3
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed in different hands: “Dr Smith”; “M. Smith Paris hotel de Saxe August 24 1778.”
1. For Smith's letter to William Temple Franklin of 14 Aug., Franklin's response of the 16th, and Smith's immediate reply protesting his treatment, see Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:7, 491.
2. Written below “Gentlemen” is “Mr. Lee excepted.”
3. The Commissioners answered Smith on 28 Aug. (LbC, Adams Papers) and informed him that, despite their disagreement with his position regarding his right to move his goods through France duty free, the matter had been mentioned to Vergennes and, in response to his request, included in a letter to Vergennes of the 28th (below). On 26 Sept. the Commissioners wrote to Smith and enclosed the position of the French government as expressed in a letter from Jacques Necker to Vergennes of 18 Sept., which had been enclosed in a letter from Vergennes to the Commissioners of the 26th. Necker stated that Smith's request was contrary to all regulations and could not be granted, but that he was willing, as a concession, to allow Smith to pay only the import duty, and to waive the additional charges usually levied on the exportation of such goods (all LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel Nos. 92, 94).
Smith's relations with the Commissioners, as is clear from this letter, were not good. Indeed, JA reported in his Autobiography that at a meeting between Smith and the Commissioners, he was obliged to declare to Smith that “your Conduct and Language to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee are excessively abusive and insufferable, and if my Colleagues are of my Mind you shall commit no more such offences here without being turned out of the house.” For that and other comments by JA, as well as a sketch of Smith, see Diary and Autobiography, 4:49–50, 74–76; 2:312.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0300

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-25

Ralph Izard to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

In a Letter which I have lately received from Florence,1 and which I have had the honour of laying before you, it is recommended that an endeavour should be made to interest the Min• { 393 } istry in favour of any Loan that may be attempted in Genoa for the United States, as it is probable the Genoese may require the security of the Court of France, for the payment of such sums as they may have it in their power to lend. The Ministry must be convinced of the ability of America, in a few years after the establishment of Peace, to discharge any pecuniary engagements she may at present have occasion to enter into; and the connexion which subsists between the two Countries, will I hope, induce them to afford us every assistance in their power. I shall be glad to know whether you think I ought to apply to the Count de Vergennes on the subject, or that the application should be made first by you, in either case I shall be ready to cooperate with you, or in any manner that shall appear most likely to produce the desired effect.
Captain Woodford, who is lately arrived in this City from Tuscany, informs me that there are some Merchants at Leghorn inclined to enter into the American Trade. He is to command a Vessel from that Port, and is apprehensive of meeting some of the Cruizers belonging to the States of Africa. This danger will probably deter many Americans from entering into the Mediterranean Trade and if possible, should be removed. The King of France, in the 8th. Article of the Treaty of Commerce has engaged to employ his good offices, and interposition with the Emperor of Morocco, and with the Regencies of Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and every other Power on the Coast of Barbary, in order to provide as fully as possible for the convenience, and safety of the inhabitants of the United States, and their Vessels, and effects, against all violence, insult, attacks, or depredations on the part of the said Princes, and States of Barbary, and their Subjects.2 You will be so good as to inform me whether any steps have been taken by the Court of France, for the security of the inhabitants of the United States, in consequence of the above Article. I have the honour to be with great respect Gentlemen Your most obedient humble Servt.,
[signed] Ra. Izard
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “M. Izard about the Barbary States.”
1. For this letter of 28 July from Nicolli, see Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:669–670 (French text, PCC, No. 89). The letter was directed to Izard in his capacity as the yet unreceived American Commissioner to Tuscany with instructions to obtain a loan from that state (JCC, 8:520–521; 10:120). Nicolli noted that Tuscany was unable and unwilling to make a loan to the new nation, but that Genoa might be willing to do so because of its close relations with France, particularly if the { 394 } French government intervened on the Americans' behalf. Izard replied to Nicolli on 1 Sept. (Wharton, 2:700–701).
2. This sentence is an accurate paraphrase of Article 8 in the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:8–9).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0301

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Izard, Ralph
Date: 1778-08-25

The Commissioners to Ralph Izard

[salute] Sir

We have the Honour of your Letter of this Days Date, and shall give the earliest Attention to its Contents. We apprehend their would be no Impropriety at all, in your Application, to his Excellency, the Count de Vergennes, concerning the Subject of a Loan in Genoa, and We wish that you would apply. As We wish, however, to do every Thing in our Power to procure you Success, We shall do ourselves the Honour, to propose the Subject to his Excellency the first Time We shall see him, which will probably be, tomorrow When We Shall make an application to him also, upon the other Subject of your Letter, the Interposition of his Majesty, with the Emperor of Morocco, and with the Regencies of Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and every other Power, on the Coast of Barbary. We have the Honour to be, with great Respect, Sir, your most obedient humble Servants.
P.S. Since writing the above we have spoken of the Genoese Loan to Count de Vergennes, who gave us no Encouragement to hope that France could engage, for us in that Affair.1 The other Matter will be the Subject of a proposed written Memorial.2
1. Despite the Commissioners' account of Vergennes' coolness, Izard wrote to Vergennes concerning the loan on 2 Sept. (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:701–702).
2. See the Commissioners to Vergennes, 28 Aug. (below). This postscript, not in JA's hand, may be the work of Arthur Lee.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0302

Author: Barnes, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-25

From Thomas Barnes

[salute] Sir

Nothing gives me greater concern, than to be under, The Necessity of troubling you with a detail of my situation But distress urges me therefore with submission beg leave to Enlarge. I being one of those escaped from Fortone Prison,1 in consiquence I was luck'y in getting so far Under Your protection, and accepted of your friendship As marks of humanety, as be assured it was { 395 } never more Wanting, However since I had the pleasure of seeing you It being last Thursday I have been very ill, without much Intermission, Afflicted with an Intermitting Fever attended with A fit every day in a violent degree, this present time I find Myselfe much better and embrace the opportunity of Letting you know that I am in a great measure destitude Of money, as I have paid 2 guineas to a Doctor and know not How much more he may demand, besides my Attendance and Lodging amount very high. I have paid 3 guineas For a passage in the Deligence, which is to proceed to Nantz on Thursday next, as by that time I am in Expectation of being eneabled to go, but without money it is Imposible. Its true I received Ten guineas but Consider I Have been here 2 weeks and my not being aversed in the French Language, renders it Imposible for me to use Frugal'ety as I would wish, as be assured I am much Improved Upon, I have used the freedom of reprisenting my situation to Doctor Franklin Yesterday, but have received no answer. Therefore am fearful I have given Offence, now beg leave To direct my sentiments to you, in hopes of meeting with Better success. Its true It would be presumtious of me to assume A Correspondence with a gentleman of his qualety as The Dignety of your stations dont render it subsiquent for Me; but the good Oppinion allways sustained by the publick of the Benevolence of Doctor Franklin besides many Proofs of it received by the helpless Americans now in bondage In the hands of the enemy has emboldened me, but not meeting With the reception I expected, thro the Idea I have of your humanity I use the freedom of calling upon you, in hopes you would make A second tryal in my behalfe which I am convinced will have The desired effect; my request is 5 guineas which with the greatest Industry I am capable of may suffice. If this request should Be granted, I inclose my direction, any obligation that Is requisite, by thursday I will wait on you, if helth will Permit and pass them, now there is a great sum of Money due to me for wages therefore you run the less Risk', money I owe at present and it must be paid or I cant Proceed. All this I hope you will take into consideration And the only Amends I can make at present is that I am a Subject to the Continent of America, and have Been in the service since the Comencment of this war [ . . . ]I dare say suitable to my capasety [ . . . ] I hope will suffice, wont Incroch on your time Any farther. Therefore beg leave to conclude to be Your Obediant Humble Servt.,
[signed] Thomas Barnes2
{ 396 }
If you should be kind enough to feavour me with an Answer Any order you may send please to Inclose it with directions.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “To the Honourable John Adams Esqr. To be left at Monsieur Franquelen a pasis”; docketed: “Dr. Thomas Barnes ans. 26. Aug. 1778.” The address page contains numerous other markings, perhaps postal, and the removal of the seal cut out several words on the reverse.
1. Thomas Barnes was the former surgeon of the Hampden, probably a privateer, and very likely had escaped from Forton Prison in company with Lt. Edward Leger of the Hornet on 23 July. James Leveaux had written to Benjamin Franklin from Calais on 10 Aug. concerning the two men and noted that he had paid their expenses, possibly including the 10 guineas mentioned by Barnes below (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:475; Marion and Jack Kaminkow, comps., Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 111).
2. Benjamin Franklin commented on this letter and that of the previous day to him from Barnes in a brief note to JA written below the address on the present letter and from which words have been lost through the subsequent removal of the seal: “If you write to this Mr. Barnes, please to acquaint him that the Reason he had no Answer from me to his Letter was because he did not Send word where he lodg'd. I agree to the [payment of] 5 Guineas.” JA's reply to Barnes (not found) apparently incorporated the substance of Franklin's note and was answered by Barnes in a letter of the 27th (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0303

Author: Read, Thomas
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-25

Thomas Read to the Commissioners

[salute] Honorable Sirs

I Received yours by Capt. Barns.1 I have been So unwell that I have not been out of my Room, am now recuiting2 fast, and in a few days to be fit to do any Business. I have got my Vessel Clean'd and near fitted, and have sent her down to Pellrene [le Pellerin].3 I understand by the agent here, that the[y] have not goods belonging to the Publick. The[y] have told me the[y] wrote your Honors to know Whether the[y] shou'd purchase. If you are not Very Desirous of my Imediate Return I Request your Honors to give me leave to Cruize for three months, with a Small Aditional Expence in Number of men. I cou'd be ready in a Short time, as I have now three months provissions and Brought thirty one men and officers here and mount twelve four pounders and have ports for two more and I think I cou'd procure as many more men, those that are belonging to the Vessel are on high Wages from twenty to ten pounds per month, which the[y] are willing to Relinquish on being paid up, and Enter on the Continental pay of Eight Dollars per month till we Return home. I have the Vanity to think by Cruizeing in the Mediteranean, if a french pass cou'd be obtained or an English on[e] that have been taken I coud Soon Repay the Expence and add Something to my Country as my Vessels Sails fast and am well Acquainted in { 397 } them Seas from Gibralter to the Gulf of Venice. The Season of the year comeing on for the Newfoundland Ships with their fish to A market makes me think it worth your Honors Notice, as we can carry but a small Quantity of goods after our Provisions on Board. If Agreeable to your Judgements Shall be glad to have you answer as soon as Possible.4 I am with Due Respect your Honors mos obedient Humble Servant,
[signed] Thos. Read
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “on public Service The Honoble Ambassadors of the United States of America M. Franklin”; docketed: “Captn. Reed. 25. Aug. 1778”; stamped: “NA[NTES].”
1. Presumably the Commissioners' letter of 29 July (LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 92; see also a 2d LbC to Read of 22 Aug.), which directed Capt. Read of the Baltimore to take on cargo and prepare for his return voyage. The Commissioners' letter was apparently carried by Capt. Corbin Barnes of the Dispatch, which sailed from Paimboeuf on 29 Aug. and was shortly thereafter captured (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:497).
2. Presumably Read meant “recruiting,” that is, recovering vitality or health (OED).
3. A town on the Loire River downstream from Nantes, slightly less than halfway to Paimboeuf.
4. No response by the Commissioners to Read's proposal has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0304

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-26

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

Last Evening Arrived at this Port a prize Brig call'd the Archangel from Archangel for London taken by the privateer General Mifflin: Cap. Daniel M'Neil of Boston in Lat 72 North Long 25°East of London.1 The American Arms may truely be said to extend to the Poles. The views of having a privateer to Cruize in them Seas must be truely Partiotic. It can afford no other object than to destroy the British Whale Fishery from which no private benifit can result to indemnify the Charges. The Hudson Bay Ships dont fall within 20 degrees of that Station.
Since my last arrived a Boat from Boston belonging to Mr. Basmarin & Co. brought Accounts up to the 7th July which contain few if any Occurences other than already at your Hands. I have a paper of the 6th entirely barren.
Captain Ayres stil continues in a declining State. I have placed him in the Country to try if change of Air can Assist him the Doctor is of opinion he is too far gone.2
The Vessel is ready for Sea on the Shortest Notice. I have the Honor to be with due Respect Gentm. Your Most devoted Humble Servant,
[signed] John Bondfield
{ 398 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble Benj. Franklin Arthur Lee. John Adams Esq Commissioners from Congress at Paris”; docketed, not by JA: “Mr Bondfield Bordeaux 26 Augt 78.”
1. That is, off the North Cape. Bondfield's surprise at the location of the capture is understandable in view of the general reluctance of privateers to cruise anywhere but in areas where enemy merchant ships were likely to be plentiful.
Daniel McNeill was an experienced and very successful privateer captain, who either commanded or held some interest in at least ten different vessels during the course of the Revolution. He later served in the United States Navy and acquired substantial real estate holdings in Boston (DAB; Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 148 and passim).
2. Ayres died in September (Bondfield to the Commissioners, 15 Sept., PPAmP: Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0305

Author: Moylan, James
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-26

James Moylan to the Commissioners

[salute] Honorable Gentlemen

The General Mifflin Privateer Cap: McNeal arrived here yesterday. He sail'd from Portsmouth the 8th. of May last and has been for two months past cruizing in the North Seas, where, and at the mouth of the Channel, he made thirteen prizes, five of which he sunk. The rest he sent to America and this Kingdom, one of which is arrived in this port, (a french Brig loaded with suggars Coffee and Cotton from Guadeloupe) which he retook after it's being upwards of Eighty hours in possession of the enemy.1 As Cap: McNeil has got about fifty English prisoners on board, I request (being encharged with the care of his Bussiness) you will inform me, if they wou'd not procure the liberty of an equal number of our suffering Country Men now in England, and what wou'd be the means proper to be used to effect it. The important trust's of our Country, which you are invested with, will, I flatter myself, procure me your answer to this letter, without delay, in expectation of which I remain with truth Honorable Gentlemen Your assurd hl
[signed] James Moylan
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honorable Plenipotentiary Ministers of the United States of America at Passy”; docketed, not by JA: “Mr. Moyland 23. Aug. 78.”
1. The Isabelle, the subject of considerable controversy and correspondence among the Commissioners, McNeill, Moylan, and Sartine through October.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0306-0001

Author: Puchelberg & Co. (business)
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-26

Puchelberg & Co. to the Commissioners

Nous avons l'honneur de nous referer à nôtre lettre du 24 de ce mois, et celuy d'annoncer très humblement à vos Excellences que depuis hier il est arrivé sur nôtre rade un Batiment Anglo Americain de 20 Canons nommé le General Muffelin [Mifflin] commandé par le Capitaine Daniel MaKenil [McNeill] venant de Portsmouth dans La nouvelle Angleterre, c'est depuis 4 mois que le dit Capitaine est en Croisiere et il y a trois jours qu'il vient de reprendre d'un Corsaire de Guernesey un Vaisseau françois1 venant de la Guadeloupe chargé en Sucre, Caffé et Indigo. Ce Batiment se trouve déja heureusement dans nôtre port où à ce que Ton dit, le dit Capitain veut le faire vendre pour son Compte. Comme le Capitaine MaKenil ainsi que ses officiers portent l'ordonnance conforme à celle du Capitaine Tucker2 nous presumons le susdit Sieur MaKenil, Capitaine et officier des Etats unis de L'amerique auxquels il sera obligé de rendre compte de ses prises et dont ils preleveroit leur part que nous ignorons en combien elle est fixeé pour les Corsaires. Nous vous prions, Messieurs, très humblement de nous donner vos ordres à cet égard.3 Nous savons parfaittement bien ceux que vos Excellences ont prescrit à nôtre associé Mr. Schweighauser à Nantes concernant le partage des prises faites par les fregattes et nous nous y conformeronts très scrupuleusement. Nous sommes avec un profond Respect de Vos Excellences Les très humbles & très obeissants Serviteurs,
[signed] Puchelberg & Co.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0306-0002

Author: Puchelberg & Co. (business)
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-26

Puchelberg & Co. to the Commissioners: A Translation

We have the honor to refer to our letter of the 24th of this month and very humbly to inform your Excellencies that yesterday an Anglo-American vessel of 20 guns, the General Mifflin commanded by Captain Daniel McNeill, arrived in our harbor from Portsmouth, New England. This captain had been cruising for 4 months, and three days ago took back from a Guernsey privateer a French vessel1 coming from Guadeloupe bearing sugar, coffee, and indigo. This veseel is, happily, already in our harbor, where, according to rumors, the said captain wishes to sell it on his own account. However, since the commissions carried by Captain McNeill and his officers conform to that of Captain Tucker,2 we presume that Mr. McNeill, Captain and Officer of the United States of America, will be obliged to report his captures to Captain Tucker and then take the shares as established for privateers, the { 400 } amount of which we are ignorant. We humbly request that you give us your orders concerning this transaction.3 We are well aware of those your Excellencies prescribed to our associate in Nantes, Mr. Schweighauser, concerning the division of captures made by frigates and we will conform to them most scrupulously. We are, with profound respect for your Excellencies, your very humble and very obedient servants,
[signed] Puchelberg & Co.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Pulchelberg & Co. L'Orient 26 Augt 78.”
1. The Isabelle.
2. Puchelberg & Co. may have thought that both the General Mifflin and the Boston were American naval vessels.
3. No reply by the Commissioners to this letter has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0307

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: President of Congress
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Date: 1778-08-27

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to inclose, the last Gazettes by which Congress will see the Dearth of News in Europe at present. We expect an Abundance of it at once soon, as We have had nothing from America Since 4. July.
The French Fleet went out again from Brest the seventeenth: but We have not yet heard that the English Fleet is out. While the two Fleets were in Harbour, the British East India Fleet, and another Small West India Fleet got in,—a Misfortune of no small Moment, as the British Financies, will receive by means of it, a fresh Supply of Money for the present and their Fleet a considerable Reinforcement of Seamen. I have the Honour to be with the highest Respect, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84,1); docketed: “Letter. John Adams Passy 27 Aug. 1778 Read Jany 1. 1779.” For a reference to this letter in the Journals, see JCC, 13:10.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0308

Author: Barnes, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-27

From Thomas Barnes

[salute] Sir

This day have had the pleasure of receiving Your much desired and welcome letter.1 Have also Received the feavour asked of 5 guineas which I greatfully Acknowledge. At the same time am sensible My letter to Doctr. Franklin deserves depricating Against as it was Imperfect in every particular. Now when to late I am sensible of my eror. How[ever?]2 it is not my natural { 401 } desire to adress a Gentleman of his qualtetys in an Improper Manner. It happens to be so, therefore beg it may be ad'apted to my bad state of he'lth, and my not Being aversed with the rules You have laid down in Your letter. My not letting Doctr. Franklin know where I lodged was Certainly a great mistake in me. All this I hope he will Excuse and Adapt it to the Above reason which I hope will suffice. Now I am supplyed as far as may be Requisite for which I am much Intebted And shall allways consider myselfe vastly obligated To the present Commissioners in Consiquence thereof. As to Mr. Leger and Captain Murph3 whom You mention they are gone to Nantz as they have Proceeded from hence last Thirsday Night. The Notes You have sent I have Signed and sent them by Your Young Man. I now mean to proceed to Nantz from thence to Boston as quick as possible where I shall have an Apportunity of seeing some of your Conexions there and there abouts, where I thinke I Can with Justice say you merrit the good Appinion of Your Countrymen in general. Your time is presious Therefore wont Incroach any farther. Therefore beg Leave to be with Submission Your friend and Humble Servt. Adue,
[signed] Thomas Barnes
1. JA's letter to Barnes has not been found, but see Barnes to JA, 25 Aug., and notes (above).
2. “How” is followed by a period and a superscript which appears to be an “r.”
3. Probably John Murphy of Rhode Island, captain of the sloop Swallow. He wrote to Benjamin Franklin on 10 Aug. and is listed as having escaped from Forton Prison on 23 July, the same day as Edward Leger and, presumably, Thomas Barnes (Marion and Jack Kaminkow, Mariners of the American Revolution, Baltimore, 1967, p. 137; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:475; Barnes to JA, 25 Aug., note 1, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0309

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-08-28

The Commissioners to Vergennes

[salute] Sir

There are several Subjects, which we find it necessary to lay before your Excellency; to which we have the Honour to request your Attention.
At a time when the Circumstances of the War may demand the Attention of Gouvernment, and without doubt call for great Expence, we are very sorry to be obliged to request your Excellency's Advice respecting the Subject of Money but the Nature of the War in America, the vast Extent of Country to defend, and this Defence having been made chiefly by Militia, engaged for { 402 } short periods, which often obliged us to pay more Men than could be brought into actual Service, and above all this War having been conducted in the midst of thirteen Revolutions of civil Gouvernment against a Nation very powerfull both by Sea and Land, has occasioned a very great Expence for a Country so young and a Gouvernment so unsettled; this has made Emissions of paper Money indispensable in much larger Sums, than in the ordinary Course of Business is necessary, or than in any other Circumstances would have been politick. In order to avoid the Necessity of further Emissions as much as possible, the Congress have borrowed large Sums of this paper Money of the possessors upon Interest, and have promised the Tenders payment of that Interest in Europe,1 and we therefore expect that Vessels from America will bring Bills of Exchange upon us for this Interest, a large Sum of which is now due.
It is very true that our Country is already under Obligations to his Majestys Goodness, for considerable Sums of Money; but the Necessities of the United States have been such, that the Sums heretofore generously <promised>2 furnished us are nearly if not quite expended, and when your Excellency considers that the American Trade has been almost entirely interrupted by the British power at Sea, they having taken so many of our Vessels as to render this Trade more advantageous to our Enemy than to ourselves, that our Frigates and other Vessels which have arrived in this Kingdom have cost us a great Sum, that the provisions of Cloathing and all the Munitions of War for our Army, except such as could make in that Country, have been shipped from here at our Expence, that the Expence we have been obliged to incur for our unfortunate Countrymen who have been prisoners in England, <added to the unavoidable Expences of the Commissioners to this and to other Courts has been very>as well as Maintenance of those taken from the Enemy3 has been very considerable, your Excellency will not be surprised when you are informed that our Resources are exhausted. We therefore <humbly?>hope the Continuance of his Majestys Generosity, and that the Quarterly payment of seven hundred and fifty thousand Livres may be continued.4 And we assure your Excellency that the Moment we are furnished with any other Means of answering this Demand, we will no longer trespass on his Majestys Goodness.
We have further to inform your Excellency that we are im• { 403 } powered and instructed by Congress to borrow in Europe a Sum of Money to the Amount of Two Million Sterling,5 which is to be appropriated to the Express purpose of redeeming so many of the Bills of Credit in America, as will be sufficient it is apprehended to restore the Remainder to their Original Value. We therefore <humbly?> request his Majesty's permission to borrow such a part of that Sum in this Kingdom as we may find Opportunity. Altho' we may be impower'd to offer a larger Interest than is usually given by his Majesty yet that we may not be any Interruption to his Majesty's Service, we are willing and desirous of limiting the Interest which we may offer, to the same that is given by his Majesty: and altho' most persons will chuse to lend their Money to his Majesty, yet there may be others desirous of forming Connections in Trade with the People of America who would be willing to serve them in this way. And perhaps nothing would have a greater Tendency to cement the Connection between the two Nations, so happily begun, or to insure to the French Nation the Benefit of the American Trade, than Connections of this kind.
By the Eighth Article of the Treaty of Commerce his Majesty has engaged to employ his good Offices and Interposition with the Emperor of Morocco and with the Regencies of Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and the other powers on the Coast of Barbary, in order to provide as fully as possible for the Convenience and Safety of the Inhabitants of the United States, and their Vessels and Effects, against the Violence Insult Attacks or Depredations on the part of the said princes and States of Barbary and their Subjects. We have received Information that there are already American Vessels in Italy desirous of returning home, and that there are Merchants in Italy desirous of entering into the American Trade; but that an Apprehension of Danger from the Corsairs of Barbary is a Discouragement. We therefore request your Excellencys Attention to this Case; and such Assistance from his Majestys good Offices as was intended by the Treaty.
There is another thing that has occurred of late on which we <hereby?>have the Honor to request your Excellency's Advice. There are many Americans in England, and in other parts of Europe, some of whom are excellent Citizens who wish for nothing so much as to return to their native Country, and take their Share in her Fortune whatever that may be; but are apprehensive of many Difficulties in removing their property. Whether it { 404 } will be practicable and consistent with his Majesty's Interest to prescribe any Mode by which Americans of the above Description may be permitted to pass thro' this Kingdom with their Apparel, Furniture, plate and other Effects not Merchandises for Sale without paying Duties, we submit to his Wisdom. In the mean time, we have received a Letter from Dr. James Smith6 of the State of New York, who has been several Months in Paris, representing that part of his Baggage is detained at Calais by the Custom House Officers under an Idea of their being contraband that they consist of Household Linnen and some Articles included under the Denomination of plate, which had been in use for some time; if there is nothing improper in it, we should take it as a Favor if your Excellency would procure permission for the Doctor to take his Effects with him to America, without paying any Duties.
We likewise request of your Excellency a passport, for such Cartel Ship as shall be employed by the English, in sending our people, who are their prisoners, to France to be exchanged. They propose Calais as the port at which the Exchange may be made, But as the prisoners we have are at Brest, and the Expence of removing them to Calais would be considerable, we should be glad that the passport would permit the landing of our people as near Brest as maybe without Danger of Inconvenience to the State.7 We are with the greatest Respect Your Excellencys most humble and most Obedient Servants.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
1. On the redemption of loan certificates in Europe, see congress' resolution of 9 Sept 1777 (JCC, 8:724–725). For a critique of this measure, see E. James Ferguson, Power of the Purse, Chapel Hill, 1961,p. 36–37.
2. Here and below double angle brackets are used to indicate significant deletions made in the Letterbook copy, which almost certainly was the draft.
3. In the Letterbook copy, the passage beginning with the words “as well as” is interlined, possibly by Arthur Lee.
4. In JA's Letterbook this paragraph apparently was to end at this point. The remainder is inserted in another hand, possibly that of Arthur Lee. In addition, the words “for another Year” were inserted in pencil, and not by JA, after the word “continued,” but were then canceled.
5. For this instruction of 3 Dec. 1777, see JA to Samuel Adams, 28 July, note 3 (above).
6. See Smith to the Commissioners, 24 Aug., and note 3 (above).
7. In JA's Letterbook this paragraph and the closing were presumably added by Arthur Lee after the body of the letter was written. The paragraph, but not the closing, was first written in pencil and then traced over in ink.
As to the substance of the paragraph, it was meant to supplement a request already made of Sartine, which was re• { 405 } newed in the Commissioners' letter to the Minister of Marine on 30 Aug., to which Sartine replied on 6 Sept. (LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel Nos. 92, 94). On 9 Sept. Vergennes sent the promised document, which designated either Nantes or Lorient as the point at which the British prisoners might be embarked (same, Reel No. 94). Yet the first exchange of prisoners did not occur until Feb. 1779 (Larry G. Bowman, Captive Americans, Athens, Ohio, 1976, p. 112). See also John Paul Jones to the Commissioners, 28 Aug., and note (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0310

Author: Jones, John Paul
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-28

John Paul Jones to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

I have this moment been with Mons. De la Prévalaye by Accident. That Gentleman you know, Commands here in the Absence of Comte D'Orvilliers. He has told me that as there are now no Ships of War in the Road he can no longer furnish a Guard for the Prisoners taken by the Ranger and now on board the Prize Brigantine Patience.
I could have no dependence on the Officers and Marines of the Ranger because they had suffered the Prizoners to Escape at Nantes which were taken on the Passage from America. Therefore on my arrival from the Irish Channel the 9th. of May I applied to my Friend Comte D'Orvilliers who immediately furnished a Guard of Twelve Soldiers with Officers. This Guard has been releived daily ever Since by French Boats and Seamen—has been fed and Supported altogether at the Expence of France—and has not suffered any of the Prisoners to Escape. Were Comte D'Orvilliers here, I am sure he would at my request Order the Guard to be Continued and tho' he is Absent I will Use every direct and Indirect Means to have it prolonged Until this reaches your hands.
For the Sake of Humanity I entreat you to make immediate Application to the French Minister—that my favorite Object a Cartel may not be lost after I have taken so much pains to furnish and preserve the Means of bringing it about.1
I must not loose the post; therefore I can only add that I have the Honor to be with due Esteem and Respect Gentlemen Your Very Obliged very Obedient very humble Servant,
[signed] Jno P Jones
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Captain Jones 28 Aug. Brest”; in another hand: “1778.”
1. In response to Jones' request, the Commissioners wrote to Sartine on 30 Aug. enclosing a copy of this letter (LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 92). Sartine { 406 } replied on 6 Sept. that orders had been sent to Brest to continue the guard until the prisoners were finally exchanged (same, Reel No. 94). No reply to the present letter has been found. See also Commissioners to Vergennes, 28 Aug., and note 7 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0311

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-29

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

Since my last of the 26th I an honord with your favor of the 19th.1 Commissioning the emediate purchase of fifty six pieces of Cannon say Twenty eight 24 pounders and Twenty eight eighteen pounders. From the search I have already made I suspect it will be November before they can be all colected. I propose going to the Forges next week on that Account. I shall take every precaution both with regard to price and quality that so interesting a charge requires. I presume they are for the Marine Service from the proportions and by your instructions for the Bill of Loading to be forwarded to the Marine Committee of course short guns.2 Please to inform me for what part of the United States you intend that I should forward them. I shall exert my diligence in the execution.
I am without any instructions for the Genl. Arnold Packet Boat. The Wages and other charges are very heavy on such small craft and every delay in Port appears against the Agent. Excuse my remarks which my attention and desires to be thought to do my duty occations.
Another Prize taken by the General Mifflin bound from London to Archangel is arrived at La Rochelle to the address of my friend Monsr. Jean Bte. Nairac. The Captain, not having any instructions,3 valued on4 the Gentleman as being charged with the business that may fall into that Port who I apointed to take charge of any concerns that Arrived dependant on the department I have the Honor to fill. He advises that this Vessel was the Eleventh prize taken by the privateer on that Station. The Oliver Cromwell Privateer was spoke with to the Northward of the Azores intended apparently to intercept the Quebec and Newfoundland men.
The Trading Interest at this Port begins to take the Alarm. Their ships from the West Indies by the Misconduct of the Convoy who forsook them off Bermudas are left prey for the British Cruizers. [The]ir Loss's may probably engage a more exact [ . . . ] in the Instructions that may in future be given to the Captains { 407 } having Convoys under their care and by which we may flatter ourselves to participate in the care that will be taken of the Ships bound to the United States.
We are without any arrivals on this Coast since that mentiond in my last5 of 7th July from Edenton. With due respect I have the Honor to be sirs Your most humble Servant,
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. Benj Franklin Arthur Lee. John Adams Esq Commissioners from Congress at Paris”; docketed, not by JA: “M. Bondfield 29 Aug. 78.” A small piece torn from the top of the third page has removed parts of three words.
1. Not printed here ||(Commissioners to Bondfield, omitted)||, but see letters to the Commissioners from the Marine Committee, 10 June, and John Bondfield, 17 [16] Aug. (both above). Bondfield's fear that the cannon would not be immediately available was justified; he reported to the Commissioners on 12 Sept. that they would not be ready until Feb. 1779 (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
2. “Short guns” were for use on ships as opposed to the longer siege or garrison guns (Albert Manucy, Artillery Through the Ages, Washington, 1949, p. 45).
3. This and the preceding comma have been supplied.
4. Perhaps, relied on?
5. That of 23 Aug. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0312

Author: MacCreery, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-30

From William MacCreery

[salute] Dear Sir

I am very much obliged to you for yours of 19th. Instant and am glad to find that there is a prospect of an end being speedily put to the troubles which arise to us in the Sea Ports of this Kingdom from our differences with Seamen, by the appointment of Consuls. I have not lost less than £100 Sterling by the People of one little Vessel. These People too, are renderd useless to our Vessels while such Money lasts them, and probably much longer—for in the expenditure of it, they commonly contract such diseases by intemperance, as render them unfit for Service.
The Winds having been for some time past, and still continuing Easterly, we have no arrivals from America; hope it will soon change, and waft us favourable Accounts from thence.
Of late several of our Captured Sea-Men, chiefly Masters of Vessels, have got to this place from England—and I have been very much vex'd at finding that in general they complain of the Conduct of the Commissioners to them. Their complaints commonly are want of Money—and want of attention.
As to the former, it is impossible for them to expect it in a very profuse manner, under our present circumstances—when { 408 } Funds I think must be pretty low with us in a Public, as well as in a Private line—and as to the latter, there can be no accounting for the whims of Men who will find a fault for a deficiency in Compliments and congratulations where People in the line of the Commissioners must—at least ought, to be much better employ'd.
However it is devoutly to be wish'd that a Provision of some kind was made for those People, in order that they might benefit by it according as they are fortunate enough to escape from the hands of the Enemy. If there cou'd for this purpose, be a Vessel appropriated at this, or any other Port, where they wou'd be received and rashions dealt out to them regularly, they wou'd all resort thither, and be ready to go on board the first Public Vessel that shou'd stand in need of them—Or—they wou'd answer to Man our Merchant Vessels which are often distress'd for want of Sea-Men in which case their expences to the Public wou'd be reimbursed here by the Agent of such Vessel—if required.
It is further advanced by these Gentlemen that their Bretheren in Gail in England, are at a loss how to account for the behavior of the Commissioners to them, having wrote several Letters to them, modestly requesting to know, if they might hope for a speedy exchange, to which they had never received any Answer. In vain did I argue the improbability of such Letters Reaching the Commissioners and the still greater uncertainty of a Letter getting back from them. They have also declared, that, if these People in Prison, were to know the Reception which they met with at Paris—the Major part of the Prisoners wou'd embrace any other means1 of getting out of their present loathsome confinement.
On the other hand—complaints are made of the treatment of the Prisoners in our hands at Brest, where 180 Men are confined on board of a small Brigg and where, in case of a high Wind, their daily subsistance is rendered very precarious—besides which, Notice has been given by an officer there, that the Guards wou'd be discontinued in a few days, in which case, many must soon escape.
I may perhaps be thought officious in entering on this Subject, People being allready employ'd to attend to these matters, however, I have this intelligence to day from a Gentleman just come from thence, and in whom I can confide. You know that I am not { 409 } ignorant of their treatment of us at New York, but even there, I assure you that their Prison-ships were not so much crowded even in the Winter Season, besides, I hope we wou'd not wish to take example from them, on the contrary, I really am perswaded, that it is the wish of the Commissioners to make them as comfortable under their misfortunes as possible, but I am well aware of the difficulties they must find in attending to all these matters and that it is impossible to have every thing done to their wish or intentions, at such distances.
It is my earnest wish to have all these complaints removed, and no one can doubt but it is the same with the Honorable the Commissioners. I know not a more probable way of effecting it, than by settling a Cartell which I hope is in their power to do. And I beg leave on this occasion to make them a tender of my services, shou'd they be in the least acceptable, or necessary. I am at present quite disengaged from business, and will freely go to England or elsewhere should they think me capable of furthering the above purpose, without any expectation of proffit or emolument. I shall only ask a reimbursement of my necessary expenses on such an expedition. Therefore, Sir, Shou'd they think, or rather, shou'd they determine on doing this, I pray you, if you think it necessary, to inform your Honorable Colleagues, of my disposition that way. You are as well acquainted with me as most People here, so that I need not Refer you to any body for a Character, but if you do not think me worthy of such confidence, I need not tell you to desist, but from what has pass'd, I have no right to expect any such thing.
I have been detain'd at this place 'till now, contrary to my expectations, and shall now remain ten days longer, that I may receive your Answer to this Letter, by which I shall govern my next movements,2 being allways Dear Sir most Respectfully Your very obedient Hble Servt.,
[signed] Will M.Creery
1. Presumably they would accept a pardon and enlist in the British Navy.
2. In his reply to MacCreery of 7 Sept. (LbC, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 93), JA strongly defended his actions and those of the other two Commissioners with regard to the escaped prisoners. He also thought it unlikely that MacCreery's services would be needed in the proposed prisoner exchange.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0313

Author: Jones, John Paul
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-08-30

John Paul Jones to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

I had the honor of writing to you by the last Post1 that Monsieur De la Prevalaye, the present Commandant here, had absolutely refused to continue the Guard which Comte D'Orvilliers lent me for the security of Prisoners of War taken by the Ranger, and Confined on board the Prize Brig Patience in the Road.
I then promised to use every possible means to have the Guard continued until you could make application to the French Minister of the Marine: and I am now happy to inform you that I have Succeeded thro' the Intrest of my good Friend Monsieur De la Porte the Intendant who has this day informed me that if I will obtain your consent, he will Immediately furnish a Vessel and send them with a Flag to England.
I am persuaded that you will agree with me in thinking this Offer too generous to be Rejected; as it will at once free the Public from a considerable expence and releive a number of our Unfortunate Fellow Citizens: If it is rejected I do not think it will be repeated.
The Guard has been continued, at my request, Since the 9th of May without any order from the Minister, and without any expence to America; but it will be continued no longer than Until your Answer becomes due, Unless you Procure an Immediate Order for that Purpose from the Minister of the Marine.
I apprehend that you will have Occasion only to send a proper Person here to Negociate the Exchange in England—Or perhaps, if you ask it, Monseigneur De Sartine may agree to transport them by Water to Calais: Transporting them there by Land would be Attended with great Expence; And if a direct exchange can be effected, it will be attended with the least Risque, the least trouble, and the least Expence both in time and Money.

[salute] I have the Honor to be with due Esteem and Respect Gentlemen Your very Obliged very Obedient very humble Servant,

[signed] Jno P Jones
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Capt Jones Aug. 30. Brest” in another hand: “1778”; in a third hand: “Capt Jones Augt. 30th.”
1. See Jones' letter of 28 Aug., and note (above). No answer to this letter has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0314-0001

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (business)
Date: 1778-08-31

The Commissioners to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co.

[salute] Messieurs

Nous avons profité de l'Occasion de Mr. Whitall1 pour vous faire parvenir un Livre relie en Burane [Basane] con tenant deux cent cinq promesses de mille Florins chaque ce qui forme, un Capital de deux cent cinq mille Florins Argent Courant d'Hollande payable le premier Janvier mil sept cent quatre vingt huit a votre Domicile, garnies de dix Coupons de cinquante Florins d'Interet pour Année le tout au Porteur et signé par nous.2
Vous nous en accuserez la Reception.
Il faudra timbrer ce Livre A et consequemment de memes toutes les deux cent cinq promesses. A chaque Livraison que vous en ferez vous aurez soin de remplir les Blancs c'est à dire le Numero de la promesse que vous pouvez designer par No. 2001 si vous ne vouliez pas commencer par un pour ne pas faire voir que c'est la première, son folio, le Nom du preteur et la date du Jour de la delivraison. Vous observerez de remplir egalement touts ces Blancs sur le Talons qui restera attache au Livre quand vous en aurez coupé la promesse en feston pour le Milieu du Timbre: Etats unis de l'Amerique septentrionalle suivant le modele ce Joint en Francois. Il seroit Souhaiter que l'on trouvat sur le Talon les mémes dates donnes aux promesses afin que l'un et l'autre se rapportent exactement et puissent servir de Controlle chez vous independamment de celui que l'on aura ici. C'est pourquoi il sera essentiel que toutes les fois que vous delivrerer une ou plusieurs promesses vous en donniez exactement Avis et une Note conforme a la promesse delivrée et a son Talon.3
Il est superflu de vous observer de ne placer ces promesses que contre de l'Argent comptant4 il est bien plus sans doute de vous recommander d'operer la Vente de ces promesses avec toute la promptitude et en meme tems avec toute la prudence et la Circonspection possible pour ne rien compromettre et surtout le Credit de cet Emprunt. Pour parvenir a ce But vous serez dans le Cas de donner des Encouragements a vos Agens et de faire de fraix, pour en supprimer les details et vous mettre en meme tems et meme de ne rien menager, au lieu de cinq pour cent que portent les promesses nous vous en allouerons six sur toutes celles que vous aurez placées et cela pour toutes fraix quelconques, meme de ports de Lettres et de Remises d'Argent, ne voulant pas dans touts le Cas que ce fonds revienne au dela de six { 412 } pour cent5 toutes depenses faites. Vous observerez une Marche uniforme pour le Coupon d'Interet c'est a dire qu'en le delivrant vous vous ferez bonifier l'lnteret qui aura couru jusqu'au Jour que vous l'aurez delivré.
Enfin pour tout ce qui a Attrait a ceci vous en correspondrez directement avec nous ou ceux qui nous succederont avec qui vous vous entrendrez pour la Remise des fonds a sur et Mesure qu'ils vous entreront a fut qu'il n'y ait point de Retard en d'Interet d'Argent perdu. Nous sommes tres parfaitement Messrs Votre tres humble Serviteurs,
[signed] BF
[signed] AL
[signed] JA

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0314-0002

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (business)
Date: 1778-08-31

The Commissioners to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co.: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

We take the opportunity of Mr. Whitall's1 visit to convey to you a leather-bound book containing 205 promissory notes, each worth 1,000 florins, making a capital fund of 205,000 florins lawful money of the Netherlands, to be paid on 1 January 1788 at your residence with, in addition, 10 coupons of 50 florins in interest for the year, the whole payable to the bearer and signed by us.2
You will please acknowledge their receipt.
You will stamp this book “A” and then do likewise on all 205 promissory notes. At each delivery that you will make you will carefully fill in the blanks, that is to say, with the number of the note which you may designate as 2,001 should you not wish to show that it is the first, its folio, and the date of delivery. You will also carefully fill in all the blanks in the counterfoils which should remain attached to the book after you have detached the notes at the scalloped pattern in the center of the stamp marked United States of North America, according to the enclosed model in French. It would be advisable that the same dates appear on both the counterfoil and the promissory notes in order to have a perfect match which may serve as a model for you, independent of the record we will have in our possession. Therefore, it will be essential that, with each delivery of one or more promissory notes, you keep an exact record consistent with the delivered note and its counterfoil.3
It is superfluous to mention to you not to sell these promissory notes for anything but cash.4 It is even more superfluous to recommend that you undertake the sale of these notes promptly but, at the same time, with all possible prudence and circumspection so as not to jeopardize anything, particularly the success of this loan. To achieve this end you will be able to reward your agents and cover the expenses of the operation. In order to do away with the details and, at the same time, to enable you to spare nothing, instead of the 5 percent carried by the prom• { 413 } issory notes, we will give you 6 percent on all those you have sold. This will cover any expenses, even postage and petty cash; in any case, we do not want this sum to exceed 6 percent5 for all expenses incurred. You will observe a uniform procedure for the interest coupon, that is to say, upon delivering it you will have the interest which will be accrued up to the date of delivery given to you.
Finally, for all that concerns this matter, you will correspond directly with us or our successors in order to arrange the remittance of funds as you receive them so that there will be no delay or loss of interest. We are very respectfully, gentlemen, your very humble servants,
[signed] BF
[signed] AL
[signed] JA
LbC (Adams Papers); Dft (ViU: Lee Papers). Both are in Arthur Lee's hand.
1. Joseph P. Whitall of Philadelphia, an American commercial agent in France (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 5:316).
2. Despite the hope expressed in this letter, the proposed loan was a failure because Dutch investors were not yet ready to risk investment in a cause that might still be lost. For the origin of this effort and the Commissioners' views on the difficulty of raising a European loan, see JA to Samuel Adams, 28 July, note 3 (above).
3. In the draft this paragraph was followed by another, beside which in the margin was Arthur Lee's note: “objected to and expunged.” The canceled paragraph read: “Nous n'avons pas voulu datter ces Promesses pour vous donner par la une nouvelle Preuve de notre confiance” (We have not wanted to date these promissory notes so as to give you by it, a new proof of our confidence).
This, as well as two other alterations suggested by Arthur Lee and mentioned in notes 4 and 5 below, reflect Lee's split with Franklin and JA over the financial transactions of the Commissioners. Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. were the Dutch agents of Ferdinand Grand, the Commissioners' banker who had close ties with the French government and held his position with the Commissioners partly for that reason. Lee's suspicions of France, Franklin, and thus Grand, made the use of Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. very questionable in his mind, particularly when he preferred the firm of Jean de Neufville, an Amsterdam banker, who had had previous contact with William Lee and was eager to undertake any American business that came his way. Franklin was, however, adamant about maintaining his ties with Grand and thus employing Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. in the Netherlands (Pieter van Winter, American Finance and Dutch Investment, 1780–1805, transl. and rev. James C. Riley, 2 vols., N.Y., 1977, 1:29–33). It is understandable, therefore, that Lee would object to passages in this letter that might imply that all three Commissioners had confidence in the firm; might give some freedom of action; or seemed to allow a profit that was, at least to Lee, “out of the ordinary course.”
4. At this point in the Draft was the phrase “ou contre les Marchandises que nous pouvons être dans le cas de vous demander” (or such merchandise as we might request of you). In the left margin was the note: “objected to and expunged.”
5. At this point, in the Draft's left margin, was the note: “The giving one pr. ct. in lieu of all Charges Objected to, as being out of the ordinary course and suspicious, but I was overrulld.” Lee thought that the extra 1 percent being paid Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. for expenses was excessive.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0315

Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Moylan, James
Date: 1778-08-31

The Commissioners to James Moylan

[salute] Sir

Our last to you was of the twenty second,1 since which We have received yours of the 26th., and are much pleased to hear of the good success, as well as the Adventurous and patriotic Spirit of Captn. Mc.Neal.
We have been negociating with the English for an Exchange of Prisoners, and have a Promise that it shall be accomplished, when an opportunity will present of exchanging those of C. Mc.Neal, with the rest at Nantes and Brest for a like Number of our Suffering Countrymen now in English Prisons. We expect a Pasport to send all the Prisoners to England, and another to bring an equal Number back. As soon as it arrives, you will be informed of it.
We have some Time expected a general Regulation of this Government respecting the subject of Prises and Prisoners, and have Reason to believe it will be accomplished in a few days. But an order is gone already from Government to keep the Prisoners in french Prisons. The Parols of officers however, have generally been taken. We are, sir; with Respect your humble servants.
1. Not printed here, but see Moylan's letter to the Commissioners of 17 Aug., note 2 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0316-0001

Author: La Vauguyon, Paul François de Quélen de Stuer de Causade, Duc de
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-05-15

La Vauguyon to Vergennes

J'ai1 receu, Mr. le Comte, les depesches que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'addresser.
La2 lettre de Mr. Franklin est arrivée,3 comme Je m'y attendois; mais j'ai engagé son Emissaire,4 ainsi que je vous en avois assuré, à suspendre la demarche qui lui étoit prescrite, sans lui faire connoitre mon motif. Je lui ai temoigné qu'il me paroissoit prudent, de sonder encore les dispositions de notre ami d'Amsterdam,5 et de lui demander des nouveaux Conseils avant de S'acquitter de la Commission des Membres du Congrès. Je l'ai bien prevenu qu'il devoit uniquement parler en son nom, et s'abstenir de prononcer le mien. Il a suivi mon avis, et à trouvé notre vertueux Republicain constamment penetré du meme desir, et de la meme esperance. Il venoit me rendre compte de son entretien avec lui au moment où votre derniere depesche m'est parvenuë. Je lui ai dit alors, que, comme je n'avois recu aucun ordre relatif à la demarche dont il étoit chargé, et que je m'en avois avis que par la communication qu'il m'en avoit donnée, je ne pouvois, ni la hater, ni la suspendre, ni la diriger; que j'avois lieu de croire que le Roi verroit avec Satisfaction le rapprochement des Etats unis et des Etats generaux; mais que je savois, qu'il desiroit essentiellement que rien ne troublat la tranquillité des Hollandois, et que ses dispositions à cet égard me paroissoient egalement conformes aux veritables interets de la France, et des deux Republiques.
La lettre de Mr. Franklin a été remise hier matin. J'apprends par l'Emissaire du Congrès que notre ami d'Amsterdam a eu à cette occasion une Conversation très interessante avec le Conseiller Pensionnaire, qui lui a paru flatté de la Confiance que lui témoignoient les Chefs des Etats unis, et aussi favorablement disposé, qu'il pouvoit le desirer. Mr. de Bleiswyk n'a nullement été embarrassé du parti qu'il devoit prendre. Il a senti la necessité de faire part aux membres des Etats de Hollande du temoignage de prévenance du Congrès envers la Republique; mais pour ne pas donner à cette Communication un éclat nuisible à ses { 416 } vuës, il a cru ne devoir dans ce moment rendre aucun compte à cet égard dans l'assemblée meme. Cette demarche auroit exigé une Resolution des Etats à l'effet de prendre la lettre ad referendum, et de la communiquer aux differentes villes et au Corps des Nobles, et cette resolution, quoique provisoire, auroit pu exciter les reclamations de la part de l'Ambassadeur d'Angleterre, à qui il paroit Sage, de n'en pas fournir encore le motif. Il s'est determiné à donner secrettement à chaque Membre des Copies de la lettre. Par ce moyen les differentes villes recevront l'information necessaire pour deliberer sur cet objet interessant, et lorsque le Conseiller pensionnaire jugera convenable de faire son rapport aux Etats assemblés, chaque deputé pourra avoir une connoissance légale du voeux formel de ceux qu'il represente. Notre Ami d'Amsterdam est enchanté de la tournure que prend cette affaire, et se flatte du plus utile Succès.6
(Le reste est en écrit:)7
P.S.8 J'ai l'honneur de vous envoyer ci joint la copie de la lettre de Mr. Franklin au Conseiller pensionnaire traduite de l'Anglois.
Vous9 êtes vraisemblablement informé de la mort du Ld. Chattam, que nous venons d'apprendre.
Suite un passage chiffré d'un Chiffre que nous n'avons pas.

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0316-0002

Author: La Vauguyon, Paul François de Quélen de Stuer de Causade, Duc de
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-05-15

La Vauguyon to Vergennes: A Translation

I1 have received, M. le Comte, the dispatches that you did me the honor to send.
Mr.2 Franklin's letter arrived3 as I expected, but I convinced the emissary,4 in accordance with my promise to you, to suspend the démarche he had been prescribed without revealing my motive. I indicated to him that it seemed wiser to me to explore deeply again the dispositions of our friend from Amsterdam5 and ask for new advice before undertaking the commission of the Members of Congress. I duly warned him that he should speak only in his own name and refrain from mentioning mine. He followed my advice and found our virtuous Republican steadfastly imbued with the same desire and hope. He had just come to give me an account of his visit with him when your last dispatch arrived. I then told him that since I had received no instructions in regard to his démarche, and since the only information I had about it was through the communication he himself had made, I could neither accelerate, suspend, nor direct it, but that I had reason to believe that the King would see the rapprochement between the United States and the States General with a favorable eye; but that I knew { 417 } that his main desire was that nothing disturb the peace of the Dutch nation, and, in this regard, his dispositions seemed to me to conform to the true interests of France and of the two republics.
Mr. Franklin's letter was delivered yesterday morning. The emissary from Congress told me that our friend from Amsterdam had, on this occasion, a very interesting conversation with the Councillor Pensionary, who seemed to be flattered by the trust shown him by the leaders of the United States and as favorably disposed as he could wish for. Mr. de Bleiswyck was in no way embarrassed by the measures he had to take. He understood the necessity of conveying to the members of the Dutch States the testimonial of the amiable dispositions of Congress toward the Republic; but, in order not to give this communication a notoriety harmful to his plans, he thought it better at present not to communicate it to the Assembly itself. Such a démarche would have required a resolution by the States, for the letter would have to be submitted ad referendum and communicated to the different towns and to the Corps of Nobles. In addition, this resolution, although provisional, might have provoked protests by the British Ambassador, and at present it seems wise not to furnish him the opportunity. He therefore decided to distribute copies of the letter secretly to each member. As a result, the different towns will receive the necessary information for their deliberations over this interesting matter; and when the Councillor Pensionary deems it appropriate to make his report to the assembled states, each deputy will be officially informed of the precise wishes of those he represents. Our friend from Amsterdam is delighted with the way things are proceeding and anticipates the greatest success.6
(The rest is in ordinary writing.)7
P.S.8 I have the honor to enclose a copy of Mr. Franklin's letter to the Councillor Pensionary, translated from the English.
You9 have probably already heard of the death of Lord Chatham, news of which has just reached us here.
There follows a ciphered passage in a code that we do not have.
Tr (Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, Fagel Papers, No. 5216). This Tr resulted from the clandestine interception by the Dutch government of letters to and from foreign representatives (except the British) in the Netherlands. In view of the pro-British sympathies of those to whom copies of the intercepted letters were sent, particularly Hendrik Fagel, the griffier or secretary of the States General (see sketch in JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:5), and in accord with past practice, it is likely that the British ambassador, Sir Joseph Yorke, received a copy of this letter (Miller, Sir Joseph Yorke, p. 34). A second Tr is in the Koninklijk Huisarchief, The Hague.
1. Immediately opposite in the left margin is the notation “Von.” Presumably it is an abbreviation for “Vauguyon.”
2. Immediately opposite in the left margin is the notation “En chiffre,” probably an indication that the first paragraph was not enciphered. In the deciphered text there were numerous instances of underlining of both a few words at the beginning of lines and entire passages, but because { 418 } of its apparent randomness the editors have determined not to include such instances in the text as printed.
3. That is, the letter of 28 April from the Commissioners to Pieter van Bleiswyck, the Grand Pensionary, referred to in the present letter as the “Conseiller Pensionnaire.” A copy of that letter is included with this transcript but is not printed here.
4. That is, C. W. F. Dumas.
5. That is, Englebert van Berckel, also referred to as “notre vertueux Republicain.”
6. Besides confirming the accounts contained in Dumas' letter of 7 May, wording in this letter also suggests the French desire to deal with but one American commissioner, Benjamin Franklin. Although the letter to van Bleiswyck was also signed by JA and Arthur Lee, it was, for La Vauguyon and probably for Vergennes as well, solely “La Lettre de Mr. Franklin.”
7. Presumably this refers to the formal, stylized closing that the copyist saw no need to transcribe.
8. Immediately opposite in the left margin is the notation “En chiffre.”
9. Immediately opposite in the left margin is the notation “En écrit.”
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/