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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 6

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0034

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-21

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Hond Sirs

Yesterdays post brought us advice of the Arrival of a Vessel belonging to this City from Baltimore in 22 Days at Bilboa, a passenger from on board said to be charged with dispatches for your Honors from Congress sett off for Paris on their Arrival.1 Letters from Bayonne give me Account of his having past thro' that City on his road to Paris. I dont learn any Material Inteligence it may be expected he will be with you as early as this. You will thereby be more truely Inform'd than by the reports I have received.
A Prisoner lately escaped from New York who in his resistance lost many of his Men and sufferd severly during his Imprisonment has applied to me to write to your honors for a Commission,2 if convenient to be granted a privateer of Force will be emidiately fitted out and given him. He is a Canadian. There is a suitable vessel just off the Stocks that might be filled [fitted] to { 44 } Sea in twenty days after a Commission obtaind and if agreable to your honors would be a Consort to the Boston.
I am not honord with any of your Commands since the two packets of the 5th and 7th. which leave this3 to Day. I am thereby prevented from proceeding to lay in the Provisions for the Boston not knowing the quantity required which depends on your Instructions. The Ship is taking in her Ballast, the Cordage, Sails and other Articles are and will be ready shortly. With due respect I am Your honors Most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (Adams Papers); MS slightly spotted.
1. Probably dispatch “No. 3” of 24 March from the Committee for Foreign Affairs to the Commissioners (calendared above).
2. The former prisoner remains unidentified, and the Commissioners, as is indicated in Bondfield's letter of 8 May (below), apparently did not act on the request to fit out a privateer.
3. Presumably the packets were to leave Bordeaux “to Day.”

Docno: ADMS-06-06-02-0035

Author: Platt, Ebenezer Smith
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-04-21

Ebenezer Smith Platt to the Commissioners

To the Honorable Commissioners of the United States of America.
The humble Petition of Ebenezer S. Platt Most Respectfully Sheweth,
That your Petitioner is a Native of America, and was a resident in the Province of Georgia, in the year 1775, And was Chosen a Member of the Parochial Committee of Savannah,1 in said Province.
That in the month of July 1775, A Certain Ship Called the Philippa, whereof one Richard Maitland, was Master, Arrived off Savannah Harbour (Laden with Dry Goods, together with Nine Tons of Gunpowder, Four Hundred Stand of Arms, and some Lead, and Musket Balls) Where she was met by an Armed schooner, fitted out by Congress for that Purpose, who Boarded said ship at Sea, and took out all the Gunpowder, and Deposited it safe in the Magazine at Savannah. The Arms, and Musket Balls still remaining onboard, and for fear they should fall into the hands of People who were Inimicable to the Liberty of America—The Provintial Congress of said Place, (then sitting) thought Proper to send Persons Onboard to Protect the same, And accordingly your Petitioner, with two others of said Committee, { 45 } were by them appointed and received a Written Order therefor Signed by the President.
That in the month of Jany. 1776 Your Petitioner Freighted two Vessels for Cape Nicholas Mole,2 With Intent to Purchase War-like Stores, and by Permission of Congress, Embarked onboard one of them himself, which unfortunately was taken within a few Leagues of her Destined Port, by his Majestys Ship Maid-stone Capn. Gardner, and Carried into Kingston in Jamaica. Where she was restored to your Petitioner again on Account of her being English Property; tho' they obliged him to sell his Cargo.
That your Petitioner in Consequence thereof sold his Cargo, and Purchased a Vessel with Intent, to Proceed back to America, When on the 28 day of March as your Petitioner was Proceeding to Sea, his Vessel was Boarded, and Taken, by a Boat from Onboard the Antelope, Ship of War,—Your Petitioner Carried onboard said Ship, and Confined in Irons, upon an Information laid by Capn. Maitland, of his having been onboard his Ship at Savannah in Georgia by Order of Congress.
That your Petitioners Ship in Consequence thereof was Sold Without any Account being given thereof to your Petitioner. After which your Petitioner was removed by Habeas Corpus, before the Court at Kingston, Tryed, and Acquited, but for fear of his recovering Damages of the Admiral, was again remanded by the Cheif Justice onboard the Antelope as an Able Bodied Seaman.
That your Petitioner remained three months longer onboard the Antelope, in Irons, and then was Removed onboard the Boreas, Frigate, And from thence onboard the Palas, Frigate, in which he was Caried to England,3 and sent onboard the Centaur, and from thence to the Barfleur, and from the Barfleur back again to the Centaur, And from onboard the Centaur sent onshore, and up to London, and Committed to Clerkenwell Bridewell, for two Days, When he was Caried before Sr. John Fielding, and One Justice Addington, and by them Committed on the 23 of Jany. 1777 to Newgate, where he remained fourteen Months in Irons—Destitute of every Family Friend or Connection, and Depending for his Daily support, upon the Charity of a few Humane People.
That at length through the Interposition of the Committee for the Support of American Prisoners4 Your Petitioner was set at { 46 } Liberty, in a Strange Country, Destitute of Money, and every Means of returning to his Native Country. And was by said Committee sent to Paris, Relying upon the Commissioners of America, for Assistance to Enable him to Return Home.
Your Petitioner therefore hopes you will be Pleased to take his hard Case into Consideration And allow him such Assistance as you in Your Wisdom shall think Fit.5
[signed] Ebenezer Smith Plat
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr Platt”; in another hand: “Ebenr platts petition Paris 21 Apl. 78.”
1. In 1775, with the breakdown of the royal government, the Parochial Committee of Savannah had assumed the powers and functions of local government for the town and surrounding parish. Among other things, it enforced the Association, embargoed locally needed merchandise, and appointed a lay preacher when the local Church of England minister was banned by the Provincial Congress (Kenneth Coleman, American Revolution in Georgia, 1763–1789, Athens, Ga., 1958, p. 63). Although Platt, as a shopkeeper and supporter of the Revolution, would have been a logical choice for membership on the Parochial Committee, no mention of him in that capacity has been found (Ronald G. Killion and Charles T. Waller, Georgia and the Revolution, Atlanta, 1975, p. 219).
2. Cape St. Nicholas Môle is at the northwest corner of St. Domingue (now Haiti).
3. For additional information about Platt's detention at Jamaica and subsequent transportation to England, see Naval Docs. Amer. Rev., 4:588–589, 761, 794; 5:517–520; 7:807–808. The index of vol. 5 gives Platt's forename erroneously as William.
4. No specific reference to a committee of this name has been found. Functions like that described by Platt were, however, performed by such bodies as the relief committee headed by Rev. Thomas Wren and a London committee which, in December 1777 and January 1778, raised £3,700 for the support of American prisoners (Catherine M. Prelinger, “Benjamin Franklin and the American Prisoners of War in England during the American Revolution,” WMQ, 3d ser., 32:264, 268 [April 1975]; NEHGR, 30 [1876]:348, note 1).
5. On 26 Aug. 1777 the congress had, in response to a letter from Platt from Newgate Prison, voted to supply him with £100 and seek his exchange, and in Dec. 1777 Platt had apparently received money from Benjamin Franklin (JCC, 8:676; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:326; Prelinger, “Franklin and the American Prisoners of War,” p. 265–266). Platt probably never received the former sum, but, as a result of this petition, the Commissioners gave him 30 guineas for his return to America. Platt's passage was not uneventful, for the New Friends of Charleston, on which he and his wife sailed from France, was captured by the British privateer Leveller. On 6 March 1780, after finally reaching his destination, Platt petitioned congress for the £100 voted him in 1777 as compensation for his “exertions and sufferings” (K. G. Davies, ed., Documents of the American Revolution, 1770–1783, Shannon and Dublin, 1972– , 13:321; London Chronicle, 30 July–1 Aug. 1778; JCC, 16:230; PCC, No. 41, VIII, f. 100).
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, 2018.