A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close

Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 7


Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0139-0001

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-12

Gabriel de Sartine to the Commissioners

Mr. Defleury, Messieurs, m'a réprésenté que son fils unique, s'embarqua en 1776 pour se rendre en Amerique, ou il a servi les Etats Unis dans l'Armée du General Washington, avec assez de distinction pour mériter le grade de lieutenant Colonel, mais qu'ayant ête fait prisonnier et conduit au fort St. Augustin il n'a pas encore pû obtenir son Echange, et il se trouve dans l'Etat le plus deplorable.1 La Distinction que ce jeune militaire à merité au service des Etats Unis, parle en sa Faveur, et je suis persuadé, Messieurs, que vous aurez égard a la demande du Sr. Defleury, et je vous serai obligés de comprendre cet officier dans le premier Echange des Prisonniers. J'ai l'honneur d'etre avec la Consideration la plus distinguée, Messieurs, Votres tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur
[signed] De Sartine

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0139-0002

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-12

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

Mr. De Fleury, gentlemen, has informed me that in 1776 his only son embarked for America where he has served the United States in General Washington's army with enough distinction to merit the rank of lieutenant colonel, but that having been made prisoner and taken to Fort St. Augustine he has been unable to obtain his exchange and finds himself in a most deplorable state.1 The distinction this young man has earned in the service of the United States speaks in his favor, and I am sure, gentlemen, that you will consider Mr. De Fleury's request, and I would be grateful if you included this officer in the first exchange of prisoners. I have the honor to be, with the most distinguished consideration, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Sartine
1. No evidence has been found that Lt. Col. of Engineers Francois Louis Teissèdre de Fleury was ever captured. Indeed, at the time of this letter he was presumably serving with Washington's army, having returned from the expedition against Newport. For the elder Fleury, see his letter to JA of 26 April, note 1 (vol. 6:56–57). For his son's career, see the same letter and references there as well as Mark M. Boatner III, comp., Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, N.Y., 1966.
In their reply of 17 Nov., the Commissioners promised to write to the congress and recommend that it secure Fleury's exchange as soon as possible, but no further mention of this matter has been found (NN: Berg Collection).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0140

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
DateRange: 1778-11-12 - 1779-02-11

The Commissioners' Accounts with Ferdinand Grand

Doit Compte des Etats Unis par Messieurs Franklin, Lee et Adams chez Fd. Grand

1778       Debit   Credit  
Novemb.   12   Pour Solde du précédent Compte.         439728.   15.   7.  
    Pour une traite de Mr. Hy. Laurens Président du 7. 9bre. 1777. à 30. jours de vue, dont ces Mrs. ont été debités deux fois au lieu d'une.         900.1      
  12   Acceptation de M. B. Franklin à une traite de J. Philips du 28. Septemb. à uso   1200.            
  17   Payé à Mr. Arthur Lée sur recu   4800.            
  18   Acceptation de Mr. B. Franklin, à traite de Ph. Hancock de Bruxelles du 2. 7bre. à vue   124.   5.   9.2        
  23   Acceptation de M. B. Francklin à traite de Daroy et Moylan du 17. 9bre. à vue   246.   15.          
  28   Mandat de Mrs. Lée et Adams à John Brown   480.            
  28   Acceptation de Mrs. B. Franklin à traite de Rt. Niles de Bordeaux du 9. 9bre. à vue   240.            
  30   Mandat de Mrs. Franklin, Lee et Adams a J. Adams   240.            
  30   Mandat de M. John Adams a Son ordre   285.            
Decembre   1   Mandat de Mrs. Franklin, Lée et Adams à La plaine   840.            
  2   Mandat de M. J. Adams payé à Jardy   265.   10.          
  4   Autre de Mrs. Franklin, Lée et Adams à Luther Turner   240.            
  7   Acceptation de Mr. B. Franklin, traite de J. D. Schweighauser de Nantes du 17. 9bre. à 8 jours de date.   9954.   18.          
{ 211 } | view
  14   Mandats de Mrs. Franklin, Lee et Adams à L. Brook 288. à R. Brook 288. à A. Blée [C. Blue], Coggeshall, E. Butes, G. Sugar 192. chaque   1344.            
  14   Acceptation de B. Francklin, à traite de Horneca Fizeaux & C. d'Amsterdam du 12. 9bre. à vue   114.   11.          
  16   Payé à Mr. J. Adams Sur Son reçu   2400.            
  16   Payé à Mrs. Franklin et Adams sur recu   5000.            
  19   Acceptation de M. Arthur Lée a traite de Th. Diggs de Bristol, du 5. Xbre à un jour de vue, sur A. Johnston   803.   13.   3.3        
  28   Acceptation de M. B. Francklin a traite de Greenleaf de Rotterdam du 11. Xbre. a vue   159.            
  28   Mandat de Mrs. Franklin, Lée et Adams, du 24 Courant   480.            
  29   Ditto de Mrs. Franklin et Adams à Young   240.            
  30   Acceptation de M. B. Francklin, à traite de W. Bingham de la Martinique du 16 Juillet à 3 mois de vue   600.            
  31   Mandat de Mr. B. Franklin   2400.            
  31   Acceptations de Mr. B. Franklin du 19 Xbre. à deux traites du Loan office, du 31. 8bre. de 1500. et du 9. 9bre. de 600.   2100.            
1779                  
Janvier   2   Mandats de Mrs. Franklin Lée et Adams à R. Moor 360. à Hyfield et J. M. Carthy 192. chaque, R. Robinson, Shoemaker, J. Cobb, J. Williamson 240. chaque, Wm. Doliver 144   1848.            
  2   Acceptation de Mr. B. Franklin du 1er. Janvr. a traite du Loan office du 20. 8bre. ord. N. Gilman.   120.            
{ 212 } | view
  4   Mandat de Mr. B. Franklin du 29 Xbre. à Par ordre   131.   10.          
  5   Acceptation de Mr. B. Franklin à traite de Wm. Bingham du 26. Juillet, à 3 mois vue   6600.            
  7   Mandats de Mrs. Franklin, Lée et Adams du 6 Courant à Rt. Niles 288., Meredith 192., J. Brehon, J. Verbers 240. chaque   960.            
  8   Mandat de Mrs. Franklin et Adams à Rt. Niles   192.            
  8   Acceptation de Mrs. Lée et Adams, à traite de Wm. Lée de Francfort du 4 Xbre. à un mois de date   24000.            
  9   Acceptation de Mr. B. Francklin du 30. 7bre. à traite de Wm. Bingham de la Martinique du 15. Juillet a 3 mois vue   4400.            
  9   Acceptation de Mr. B. Franklin du 31. 8bre. à la traite de Wm. Bingham du 11 Août. à 2 mois de vue   4144.   18.          
  12   Acceptation de Mrs. Lée et Adams au Mandat de R. Izard à vue   12000.            
  12   Payé à M. Arthur Lée sur reçu.   4800            
  12   Payé à Mrs. Francklin et Adams sur reçu   4800.            
  19   Mandat de Mrs. Francklin Lée et Adams, a officers   240.            
  19   Pour une remise de J. Williams sous ce Compte a été crédité mal à propos   2400.            
  22   Mandats de Mrs. Lée et Adams à S. Merchant à J. Arnold 240. chaque   480.            
  26   Acceptation de M. Francklin, à traite de Wm. Bingham du 10 Août. à 2 mois de vue   15000.            
{ 213 } | view
  26   Acceptations de Mr. B. Franklin à 74. traites du Loan office, 4 de ces traites sont acceptés du 24. Xbre., 14 du 16 ditto, 18 du 22 ditto, et 38 du 19 ditto   34950.            
  28   Mandat de Mrs. Franklin et Adams à Hog 240. W. Davis 240   480.            
Fevrier   6   Acceptation du Dr. Francklin du 26. Xbre. à 14. traites du Loan office et du 27. Xbre. à 34 autres aussi du Loan office   43260.            
  6   Acceptation du Doctr. Franklin à une traite de Schweighauser de Nantes du 16. Janvr. à 10 jours de date   10550.            
  8   Ditto   19450.            
  11   Payé à Mr. Arthur Lée sur reçu   12000.            
  11   Ports de Lettres, Paquets, Comissions &c   318.   9.          
  11   Pour solde il revient a ces Messieurs   202946.   5.   7.        
      L440628.   15.   7.   L440628.   15.   7.4  
Ainsi arété quadruple sauf Erreur ou Omission
[signed] Grand
{ 214 }
RC (MH-H: Lee Papers). This account was later copied into the Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787 (DNA: RG 39 [Microfilm]), where errors in addition were corrected, and entries sometimes contain additional information. The account printed here should be used in conjunction with the other accounts submitted by Ferdinand Grand of 30 March, 30 June, and 9 Aug. 1778 (vol. 6:2–6, 246–247, 359–362), as well as with the household accounts of 9 April (vol. 6:16–20) and 1 Oct. 1778 (above).
1. In the Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787 (DNA: RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 92, 97) this entry is amplified. On the page containing entries for payments to foreign officers it is noted that the credit was made “by Ferdinand Grand for Henry Laurens Bill charged as for Le Balm by mistake 9. Augt.” For that entry, see vol. 6:359. Le Balm appears there as “de la Balan.”.
2. This entry and those for 28, 30 Nov., 1, 4, 14 (2) Dec., and 2, 7, 19, 22, 28 Jan., are for payments to American prisoners.
3. Beginning in March 1780, Thomas Digges would become a frequent correspondent, under a variety of pseudonyms, of JA. In the transaction noted here Digges used the name Alexander Johnston. A mark in the left margin beside this entry refers the reader to an explanatory note at the bottom of the page. There Arthur Lee wrote “for money lent on the public Account to Capt. Alexander Dick a prisoner, and for which he left his Receit at Passy.” The receipt has not been found. The transaction is more fully explained in the Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787 (DNA: RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 104). There, on the page pertaining to payments made to Thomas Digges in 1778 and 1779, the entry reads “To Ferdinand Grand paid his Bill on Alexander Dick under the fained name of Alexander Johnston £32.6 English a 28 15/16” That is, the exchange rate was 28 15/16 pence per ecu of 3 livres.
4. Because of the error noted in previous accounts (see descriptive note) the total should be 440,629. . 7 livres.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0141-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-13

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Les affaires deviennent ici extrêment sérieuses. La résolution (dont ma lettre du 10 vous parle) de refuser les convois aux Matieres marines, n'est pas encore formellement prise ici. On a décidé seulement, que Mercredi prochain on prendra à cet égard une résolution à la pluralité. Mrs. d'Amsterdam ont protesté contre cette pluralité, comme contraire à la Constitution, qui, dans ce cas, demande l'Unanimité; et ils ont fait insérer leur protest dans les Actes.1 Pour le coup ils se sont vus abandonnés de toutes les autres villes. Mr. Van Berkel a soutenu héroiquement, dans l'Assemblée, les efforts de tous: on peut dire qu'il a eu2 toute la province, et par conséquent, toute la republique sur le corps, excepté sa ville. Ces Mrs. partirent hier pour Amsterdam, faire rapport au Conseil de la Ville. Si ce Conseil soutient sa Régence, et si le Corps des Marchands éleve de nouveau la voix, comme il y a toute apparence, ils doivent réussir dans leur juste cause. Si le Conseil, contre toute apparence, mollissoit, Mr. V. B. assure qu'il ne reviendra pas ici, mais qu'il laissera faire à qui voudra la triste figure.
{ 215 }
Mr. l'Ambassadeur de France a de son côté déclaré verbalement, il y a déjà plusieurs jours, aux principaux personnages du Gouvernement, et par eux à tous les Pensionaires des Villes,—Que le Roi s'attend à ce que la Republique fasse respecter le Pavillon Hollandois, et protege efficacément, et sans renvoi, son Commerce, dans toute l'extension de ses Traités de 1674 &c entr'elle et l'Angleterre, sur la foi desquels pose la confiance accordée à ce Pavillon; et que, si la Republique ne répond point à une si juste attente, et prétend modifier quelque partie de ces Traités au préjudice du Commerce, le Roi est irrévocablement déterminé à priver la nation des faveurs, dont sa Majesté, par pure affection, et sans y être obligée par aucun Traité, l'a fait jouir jusqu'ici dans les Ports de France.3
Je fais part aujourdhui de cela aux Amis d'Amsterdam pour le publier en pleine Bourse.
Je pars dans une heure pour où ma presence a été jugée nécessaire dans cet intervalle.
Je suis avec un très grand respect, Messieurs Votre trés humble et trés obéissant serviteur
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0141-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-13

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

Things are becoming extremely serious here. The resolution (mentioned in my letter of the 10th) to refuse convoys to naval stores has not yet been formally adopted. It has been decided only that next Wednesday a resolution in this regard should be adopted by a plurality. The gentlemen from Amsterdam have protested against this as being contrary to the Constitution which, in this case, requires unanimity, and have registered their formal protest in the Actes.1 For the moment, they have seen themselves abandoned by all the other towns. Mr. van Berckel has heroically supported their efforts in the Assembly: one could say that, with the exception of his city, he was assaulted by2 the entire province and, by extension, the whole Republic. These gentlemen left yesterday for Amsterdam to report to the council of the town. If the council upholds its regency, and if the corps of merchants again raises its voice, as seems most likely, they should succeed in their just cause. If the council, against all probability, weakens, Mr. van Berckel swears that he will not return here, but rather will let whoever so wishes cut a sorry figure for himself.
A few days ago the French ambassador declared verbally, to the principal members of the government and through them to all the pensionaries of the towns, that the King expects the Republic to insure that the Dutch flag is respected, and to protect its trade effectively and without delay, to the full extent of her Treaties of 1674 &c with England, on the strength of which rests the respect accorded her flag; and that, if { 216 } the Republic does not meet so just an expectation and tries to modify any part of those Treaties to the detriment of trade, the King is irrevocably determined to deprive the nation of the privileges which his Majesty, through sheer affection and without being obligated by any treaty, has thus far allowed her to enjoy in the harbors of France.3
Today I am informing our friends from Amsterdam of this in order to have it disclosed to the full financial community.
I leave in an hour for where my presence has now been judged necessary.
I am, with great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plenipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Dumas 13 Nov 78.”
1. For the publication of this protest, see Dumas' letter of 20 Nov., note 1 (below).
2. The following six words were interlined.
3. See Dumas' letter of 10 Nov., note 3 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0142-0001

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-14

Gabriel de Sartine to the Commissioners

J'ai mis Sous les yeux de Roy, Messieurs, les Raisons qui pouvoient determiner Sa Majesté à accorder la Liberté au Sujets des Etats Unis prissoniers en France; mais elle à pensé Sagement que cette Faveur ne devoit être acordée qu'à ceux qui ont été pris Sur des Batimens americains et forcés de servir contre leur patrie. En Consequence, Messieurs il Seroit nécéssaire que vous prissiez la Peine, d'en faire former un Etat certifié par vous, que vous voudres bien m'addresser afin qu'il n'y ait en effet que les bons et fideles Sujets des Etats Unis qui jouissent de la Grace que sa Majesté veut bien leur accorder.1 J'ai l'honneur d'etre avec la Consideration la plus distinguee, Messieurs, Votre tres humble et tres obeissant Serviteur
[signed] De Sartine

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0142-0002

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-14

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have placed before the King, gentlemen, the reasons which might convince His Majesty to grant freedom to the subjects of the United States who are prisoners in France. He thought wisely, however, that this favor should be accorded only to those who have been taken on American ships and forced to serve against their country. Therefore, gentlemen, it will be necessary that you take the trouble to assemble a list, certified by you and kindly addressed to me, so that only the good and faithful subjects of the United States may benefit from the favor that His Majesty kindly wishes to grant.1 I have the honor to be, with { 217 } the most distinguished consideration, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Sartine
1. In their reply of 17 Nov. (LbC, Adams Papers), the Commissioners thanked the King for “his Goodness” and promised to submit the required certificates, which they did in a letter of 7 Jan. 1779 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0143

Author: Smith, James
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-15

James Smith to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

I have the honour to enclose you the Testimony of Mr. Anthy. Payn1 concerning the detention of my Goods at Calis with the names of the Officer by whom they were taken and the Servant of Mr. Payn who was also eye witness to the transaction and lives at the Hotel Lyon d'Argent at Calais. It may be also proper to inform you that a Gentleman who I have been given to understand by Mr. Williams is the private Agent2 of the Commissioners at Calais together with Mr. Whitall and Miss Farrel were made acquainted with the circumstances of the case at the time it happened and may be brought as colaterol evidences to the truth of this matter if necessary.
Seized and Detained goods I am informed by Mr. Williams are usually deposited in different Bureaus therefore merit different inqueries. This circumstance may have escaped you when you represented my Case to the Minister and consequently explains this answer “J'ai pris à cet egard les Informations les plus exactes, et il en resulte qu'il ne s'est trouvé absolument aucune Trace à Calais de l'Affaire dont il S'agit.”3 If this is not the Case it manifestly appears that the Officers of the Customs mean to defraud me of my property and it will depend upon your efforts whether they shall be allowed to do it with impunity.
As I have affairs to settle in England before I can return to America and which requires my immediate presence I should be glad you would send me a pass for me and my Family.4 If my remonstrance against any part of your conduct shall either through prejudice or resentment influence you to refuse me this request I am willing to give the most solemn assurances of my affection and Duty to my Country. I thought it within the line of my duty to express freely my opinion upon certain points. The Zeal I have constantly professed by my conduct for that Glorious cause in which you are engaged will never suffer me to flatter any man, neither shall the misconduct of others in the least abate my Ardor and under this influence I think proper to tender you my will• { 218 } ingness to exicute faithfully any commission that shall promote the interests and independancy of America.
I have the honour to be Gentlemen Your Most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] James Smith
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To Doctor Benjn. Franklin Arthur Lee and John Adams Commissioners for the United Independant States of America At Passi”; docketed: “Dr. Smith ans. 17th:”; by William Temple Franklin: “Dr. Smith Nov 15. 78 ansd 17th.”
1. Not found.
2. Presumably James Leveux, who had acknowledged his appointment to assist Americans at Calais in a letter to Franklin on 20 May (Franklin, Papers, 26:515) and to whom the Commissioners had written on 9 Nov. (LbC, Adams Papers), concerning his expenditures to aid American prisoners.
3. That is: In this regard I have collected the most exact information with the result that absolutely no trace of the matter with which he concerns himself has been found at Calais. This passage is taken directly from Vergennes' letter to the Commissioners of 17 Oct. (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 5), which was a reply to the Commissioners' letter of 28 Aug. (vol. 6:401–405). In his letter Vergennes suggested that the Commissioners might be mistaken about the town in which the seizure had taken place.
4. In their reply to Smith of 17 Nov. (LbC, Adams Papers), the Commissioners stated that in regard to his property they had again written to Vergennes and had enclosed the statement by Anthony Paine. In that letter, also of the 17th (LbC, Adams Papers), it was suggested to Vergennes that Smith's property might be in the office containing goods detained, rather than seized. Vergennes replied on 18 Dec. (below). In regard to securing a passport, the Commissioners told Smith that, if he had not already done so, he would have to take an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0144

Author: Gilbank, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-16

John Gilbank to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

Not having received from you any Answer to two letters which I have had the honour to write to you,1 requesting to be supplied with Money to enable me, with the first Opportunity, to join my Regiment; And as a Convoy is very shortly expected, and the Vessels will be ready to sail, I am compelled to trouble you a third time on the subject, and to assure you that, without such Supply, it will be utterly impossible for me to proceed any further.
I beg leave to submit to your Consideration, That my requisition is by no means unreasonable, as it falls far short of what is due to me from the Continent of North America.
It is I believe the Custom of every Nation to supply an Officer, (who shall happen to be taken Prisoner, and, without Breach of Parole, can arrive at any place where there is an Ambassador, Consul or other person in a public Capacity of the Country to which he belongs,) at least, to the Amount of his pay, to enable him to join his Station. No Am• { 219 } bassador would refuse to supply him, I dare venture to say, to a much greater Amount, if that should not be sufficient, rather than surfer him to want the Protection he has a right to expect.
If that was not the Case, I do not know what Gentleman would risque his life and Connections, and leave all that is dear to him for the Service of his Country. It certainly is enough to bear all the hardships attendant upon Captivity and Disappointment when it is impossible to come at Relief; But to be exposed to sufferings worse than Captivity itself, and to endure all the Contempt attendant upon want, when within the reach of Protection, is too much.
Many Arguments might be used to enforce the reason and Necessity of affording such Supplies to Officers in such Situations, But it would be an insult upon the Understanding to endeavour by that means to point it out, As self reflection upon such a subject must of Course be sufficient to convince.
It appears to me, that Congress will very chearfully allow any Accounts on that head; As I am certain they would wish, and do all in their power, (and sure 'tis their duty) to relieve an Officer of theirs in distress, when that distress is brought upon him by reason of their Service. Wherefore I hope, as soon as the post will admit, (No time being to be left) to receive an Order for such reasonable supplies, as occasion may require and I can assure you I will not abuse that Privilege.
I need not again mention the great Expence it has been to me in endeavouring to get thus far on my way, after the many disappointments I have met with; and that this application, if to have been avoided, woud not have been made, As I would wish to be thought possessed of a Spirit superior to such Meanness; At the same time I can't think any Wrong (tho' my feelings suffer) in asking what I think I have a right to expect.
If it shou'd be your absolute Determination not to supply me (tho' I can't see with what reason or propriety a State Officer shou'd be preferred in that respect to a continental one, which is the Case; [There being a State Officer now here who has an Order to receive what he may want;]2 As I think if any preference is due 'tis to a Continental one, He being subject to much greater inconveniences, tho' I wou'd not wish any to be made, As every Officer in the service of the Country ought in similar Situations to be treated alike;) I hope you will not refuse to favour me with an Answer, and the reason of your refusal, As it is a Subject well worthy the legislative Consideration, and on which future instructions ought to be given; Which Answer will enable it to come before the legislature in a proper manner.
{ 220 }
But in such Case What I am to do, I know not. In a strange Country without friends. In a Country too where without the Expectation of tenfold interest 'tis impossible to procure Sixpence to save one from perdition. Deprived of those at home. And refused the protection I expected, with some reason, to receive; is a situation not to be wished! and will require something more, than I am capable of, to extricate myself from!
I will not trespass longer on your Patience at present than to mention that it has been hinted to me by a Gentleman who was lately at Paris, That some Censures have fallen from you on Gentlemen in the Continental Service trifling away their time and not doing All they can to join their Country. If that Censure is by any means aimed at me, I must beg leave to insist, That my Stay here has been unavoidable, and that I have not suffered any Opportunity to escape me, As no Ship whatever has sailed from hence to America since I have been here but those which sailed the day or two after I arrived, and which were so full of Passengers as not to be able to take in any other, and of which I instantly informed you; Neither do I recollect to have heard of any sailing from any other Port; And if I had, I cou'd not have availed myself of them by reason of the want of Money to defray travelling Expences; And if I shou'd be prevented by the same reason from taking Advantage of the Opportunity which will shortly offer, I must beg leave to protest against any delay being occasioned by any fault of mine, and that without Supplies it will be impossible to go.
If there is any Officer in particular who has delayed and trifled away his time let him be held forth, but a general Censure promiscuously thrown out, I conceive to be, not only ungenerous, but unjust. As to myself I am sure I have no pleasure in staying here but on the Contrary great Dissatisfaction, and would be glad to embrace any Opportunity of getting away.
I flatter myself You will not take any thing herein mentioned as meant disrespectfully, As I would always wish to treat Gentlemen, especially in a public Character, with All the respect due to them, At the same time not omitting to say any thing necessary to be said.
I am with respect Honourable Gentlemen Your most Obedient and humble Servant
[signed] Jno. Gilbank,
1st. & eldest Lieutenant of the Continental
Regiment of Artillery of South Carolina3
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mr. Gilbank”; in another hand: “16 Novr 78.”
{ 221 }
1. Of 6 Oct. (not found) and 4 Nov. (above). The Commissioners had replied to the letter of 6 Oct. on 10 Nov. (above).
2. Brackets in the original. The “State Officer” cannot be positively identified, but it may have been Capt. Jacques Le Maire who was seeking military supplies for Virginia. He had written from Nantes on 10 Nov. (above).
3. Gilbank received no reply either to this letter or one very similar in content and tone that he wrote on 17 Nov. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). As a result, he renewed his demands for funds in letters of 28 Nov. and 15 Dec. (both PPAmP: Franklin Papers). The first emphasized the imminent departure of Muscoe Livingston and the Governor Livingston, and ended with the statement that “I shall hope, Gentlemen, not be treated with so much Contempt, as not to be favoured with an Answer Which I think my Station entitles me at least to expect.” Gilbank's letter of 15 Dec. was written in the same tone and demanded that he either be sent 1000 livres “or that you will give me Leave to draw upon you, by next Tuesday's post, for that Sum to be placed to the Account of the honourable continental Congress in part of pay due to me; Your Silence on which head will be deemed Your approbation of the latter Proposition.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0145-0001

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-16

Gabriel de Sartine to the Commissioners

J'ai reçû, Messieurs, avec la Lettre, que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'ecrire, le 12 de ce mois, la Copie de celle qui vous a été Adressée par M. Schweighausser Agent des Etats Unis de l'Amerique Septentrionale à Nantes, au Sujet de l'Escorte qu'il demande, ainsi que plusieurs Negociants Americains, pour un certain nombre de Navires qu'ils doivent expedier vers la fin du mois. J'aurois été fort aise que les Circonstances m'eussent permis de les faire escorter jusqu'à leurs destinations; mais au moyen de celles qu'il a plu au Roi d'assigner à ses fregates et autres Batimens, je ne puis vous offrir de faire convoyer ceux dont il S'agit, que jusqu'au dela des Capes.1 J'ai l'honneur d'etre avec la plus parfaite Consideration, Messieurs, votre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur
[signed] De Sartine

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0145-0002

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-16

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have received with the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 12th of this month, gentlemen, the copy of the letter addressed to you by Mr. Schweighauser, agent for the United States of North America at Nantes, on the subject of the escort that he, together with several other American merchants, requests for a number of vessels that they hope to send off toward the end of the month. I would be most pleased if present circumstances permitted me to have them escorted all the way to their destinations, but in view of the ports to which it has pleased the King to assign his frigates and other vessels, I cannot offer to have those in question convoyed any farther than the Capes.1 I have the honor to be, with utmost consideration, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Sartine
{ 222 }
1. Another, and perhaps more important reason for the reluctance to provide convoys was recorded by JA in his Diary. There he wrote that John Lloyd, one of the merchants who had signed the Schweighauser letter of 7 Nov. (above), had informed him “that the french officers of Marine consider Convoys a disgracefull Service. They hate to be ordered to convoy Merchant Vessells” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:357). For a letter from Vergennes setting the “Capes” at the northwestern corner of Spain as the limit for convoys, see his letter to the Commissioners of 29 April (vol. 6:73–74, and note 2).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0146

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1778-11-17

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

We have received the Letter which your Excellency did Us the Honour to write to Us, on the 14 of this Month,1 and in answer to the <Proposal> Enquiry, contained in it, We beg Leave to acquaint your Excellency that there is not now in France, nor to our Knowledge, in Europe, any Frigate or other Vessell of War, belonging to the United States. If there was, We should not hesitate to order her, forthwith, upon an Enterprise against the English Whale Fishery on the Coast of Brazil2 because, those Vessells now in that Fishery destroyed or taken and their officers and Men captivated the English can never revive this fishery, there being no such sett of Hands, in any <other> Part of the <World> British Dominions, none but the Americans having yet learned the Art of Killing that sort of Whales; and because We apprehend that Wounding the English in their Fisheries and Commerce is wounding their Vital Parts. Nor is there any Privateer, in this Kingdom, belonging to Americans, that We know of excepting the General Mifflin Captain McNeil, if indeed, he is not yet Sailed, as We expected he would have done before now. But We have no Authority over, this or any other Privateer. They all follow the orders of their owners. And We suppose, as Captain McNeil has been so long from home, and has made a Cruise already so extensive, hazardous and fatiguing, it is not likely that he would venture to undertake this other Expedition without the orders or Knowledge of his owners.
1. Sartine had suggested that the proposed expedition against the whale fishery seemed particularly well suited for an American privateer and asked whether such a vessel was available (LbC, Adams Papers).
2. The remainder of this sentence was written at the end of the letter for insertion here.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0147

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-17

From Jonathan Williams

[salute] Sir

By the Tenor of your Favour of the 8th Instant I apprehend I have committed an Indiscretion. The Satisfaction I feel in contributing to your Pleasure was my only motive and I beg that may be considered as my excuse.
The Rum cost me nothing, I cannot therefore fix a price, but Billy Franklin is my Banker in small affairs and you may settle it with him as you think proper.
I am with great Respect, Sir Your most obedient and most humble Servant
[signed] Jona Williams

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0148-0001

Author: Adams, John
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Franklin, William Temple
Date: 1778-11-20

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to William Temple Franklin

You are to go by the shortest Road to Dieppe, and make all the Dispatch possible.1
At Dieppe enquire for Mr. Baron, Merchant there, and take his Advice whether to go off to the Ship, or to acquaint the Captain with your Arrival2 send him the Letters you have for him, and desire him to come and meet you on shore. The last is safest for the Intelligence you may obtain, as well as for you, if the Weather should be stormy.
You are to make all the Enquiries noted in the Paper annexed; and put down the Answers in Writing; as well as other Matters he may communicate to you: in which be very exact and clear.
You are to enquire if he wants Hands, and acquaint him that there may probably be some to be had here at his Return from his Cruise, if that should occasion a Diminution of his Numbers.
You are to keep an exact Account of your Expences, and use the utmost Frugality therein:3 By this, your Diligence and Expedition in going and Returning, and your Exactness in executing these Orders, you will recommend yourself to our Approbation.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] John Adams
RC with one enclosure (NIC). The instructions and the first page of the enclosure containing questions one through fifteen are in Benjamin Franklin's hand. The canceled question and those numbered sixteen through nineteen appear on the second page of the enclosure and are in JA's hand.
1. On 17 Nov. a man claiming to be Capt. Job Prince of the privateer Concord wrote to Le Baron at Dieppe, announcing his arrival with a Dieppe shallop recaptured from two English privateers and requesting supplies and advice for a proposed cruise against British shipping (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:276). On the 18th both Le Baron and Prince (same, 1:534) wrote to Franklin: the first to report his provisioning of the Concord and probably to enclose Prince's letter of the 17th; the second to announce that he had important information for the Commissioners that could not be trusted to writing and to request advice on his intended cruise and the disposal of prizes.
With the letters from Le Baron and Prince in hand, JA and Franklin decided to send Temple Franklin to Dieppe, carrying these instructions and two letters of the same date from Benjamin Franklin (The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Albert Henry Smyth, 10 vols., N.Y., 1907, 7:201–202). The first, to Le Baron, approved moderate expenditures for provisioning the Concord; the second, to Prince, stated that Temple Franklin could be trusted with whatever he wished to communicate to the Commissioners.
A letter from Benjamin Franklin to Le Baron of 21 Nov. (same, 7:202) indicates that the younger Franklin was to leave later that day. In the interval between the drafting of the instructions of 20 Nov. and Temple Franklin's departure, JA and Benjamin Franklin had second thoughts and prepared a second set of instructions (see below under [21 Nov.?]) that, in part, superseded those of the 20th. When Temple Franklin arrived at Dieppe he found that Prince and the Concord had sailed, thus justifying the doubts about Prince expressed jointly in the second set of instructions, by Franklin alone in his letter to his grandson of 26 Nov. (same, 7:203), and by Le Baron in a letter to Franklin of the 30th (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:539).
Initially JA and Franklin may have thought that this “Job Prince” was either Capt. Job Prince or his son, Job Prince Jr., of Boston. However, although both men had interests in numerous privateers during the war, there is no record that either had any connection with a vessel named Concord and the dates of bonds bearing their names make it likely that both were in America in the fall of 1778 (Allen, Mass. Privateers, p. 66–278 passim).
A garbled account of this affair appeared in the London Chronicle of 12–15 Dec. The report, dated 29 Nov. at Paris, stated that on 20 Nov. a vessel with dispatches from the congress had arrived at Nantes. The captain, after requesting a guard to prevent his crew from going ashore, sent an express to Franklin asking him to send someone “to whom he might explain the object of his dispatches. Dr. Franklin immediately sent his grandson; and it has been said since he is gone that there has been a bloody battle in America, and that 6,200 men of Washington's army have gone over to the English.”
2. The words “with your Arrival” were written in the wide left margin, probably after the body of the letter.
3. The degree to which Franklin and JA wished to keep this mission secret, even from Arthur Lee, is indicated by the payment of Temple Franklin's expenses at Dieppe, not from the funds held by Ferdinand Grand, but rather those used for the household at Passy (Household Accounts, 1 Oct. 1778 to 21 Feb. 1779, entry for 21 Nov., above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0148-0002

Author: Adams, John
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Franklin, William Temple
Date: 1778-11-20

Enclosure: List of Enquiries

1. Force of his Vessel, Number of Men, &c.
2. What time he left America, and from what Port.
3. What Instructions he had from Congress.
{ 224 }
4. If he knows the Contents of his Dispatches.
5. Ask for News, and Newspapers.
6. What Account there was of Differences between Count D'Estaign's People and those of Boston.
7. Whether he was well supply'd with Necessaries there and Provisions.
8. Whether he was repair'd and sail'd; and where Suppos'd to be bound.
9. What the present situation of the Armies.
10. Whether Burgoyne's Corps continu'd entire, or were much diminish'd by Desertion &c. and where canton'd.
11. Whether the great Ships are finish'd, that were building.1
12. What the present State of Paper Money.
13. Whether Taxes are begun, to sink it.
14. If he is acquainted with any late Resolutions of Congress material for us to know.
15. What Persons of Note have of late taken the Oath of Allegiance to the States.
<Whether the C. D Estaing found Provisions, Masts and other Materials and Workmen as he wanted?>
16. Where the Enemies Fleet were in America?
17. Whether any and what Vessels were bound to France from any Part of America?
18. Whether the Providence Boston and Ranger had arrived and with what Prizes?2
19. Where the Warren Rawley Alliance and other Continental Frigates?
The content of all or some notes that appeared on pages 224 and 225 in the printed volume has been moved to the end of the preceding document
RC with one enclosure (NIC). The instructions and the first page of the enclosure containing questions one through fifteen are in Benjamin Franklin's hand. The canceled question and those numbered sixteen through nineteen appear on the second page of the enclosure and are in JA's hand.
{ 225 }
1. Presumably a reference to the three ships of the line that the congress had authorized in 1776, but whose construction had later been suspended. William Vernon Sr. had mentioned the suspension in his letter to JA of 26 May (vol. 6:156, and note 2).
2. For this and the following question, see the letters from William Vernon Sr. of 2 and 22 Oct. (both above) and 17 Dec. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0149-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-20

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

De retour ici depuis Mercredi matin, j'appris après-dîner de notre Ami, que l'acte de despotisme, que ma derniere du 13 Nov. vous annonçoit, a été consommé dans l'Assemblée provinciale après une Séance de 3 heures, et que l'avis préalable avec sa queue, dont je vous ai rendu compte dans ma Lettre du ioe., a été résolu à la pluralité: sur quoi la Ville d'Amsterdam a fait insérer un Protest formel contre cette Résolution, la déclarant nulle, pour avoir été prise d'une maniere contraire à la Constitution de cet Etat, qui, dans ce cas, veut l'unanimité: Protest, dans lequel sont indiquées les suites que cette affaire pourra avoir de la part de la ville lésée.1 S. Y. n'a eu rien de plus pressé, que { 226 } d'envoyer en Angleterre une Pinque de Scheveling, avec la nouvelle de ce prétendu triomphe de son Parti ici. Sa Cour ne manquera pas de faire étalage de ce succès dans le Parlement et dans les Papiers: il paroît avoir été mendié pour cet effet.2 On se gardera bien de faire mention du Protest, qui fait que ce succès n'est dans le fond que de la fumée, laquelle sera bientôt dissipée: car ceux de la grande Ville ont averti, que si l'on tarde ici de faire imprimer son Protest avec la Résolution, elle le fera imprimer chez elle, afin qu'au moins cette nation ici ne soit pas induite en erreur. On prévoit deux suites de tout cela, trèssérieuses: l'une le coup de foudre prédit dans ma Lettre du 10e.; l'autre, la Clôture d'une grande Caisse, dont on ne voit pas comment les autres pourront se passer.
Je pourrois entrer dans de plus grands détails; mais, outre que le temps me manque, je crains de les confier au papier. J'ajouterai seulement que demain matin ceux de la grande Ville partent, et avec eux toute la gloire Belgique. Les autres ont honte de leur propre ouvrage, n'osent se vanter, et baissent la tête. On fait même, tant qu'on peut, courir le bruit, que la fameuse Résolution a été prise unanimément et conforme aux desirs de la grande Ville.
Pour achever de vous peindre notre Village, je vous dirai qu'il y a prodigieusement de Boue: on ne voit que cela, dès qu'on met le pied dehors. Bienheureux celui qui peut se tenir chez soi, et ne converser qu'avec sa pantouffle: si elle ne lui dit rien d'agréable, du moins elle ne lui en impose pas.
Vous ne sauriez croire, Messieurs, combien vos ennemis se sont acharnés à répandre, dans la circonstance présente, pour soutenir les esprits de leur parti et déprimer ceux du vôtre, des contes à l'infini de prétendues divisions et mésintelligences entre les Américains-mêmes, aussi bien qu'entre eux et les françois. On pourroit les mépriser et en rire: mais ce qui désole nos meilleurs amis, c'est qu'il ne vient point de nouvelles directement de l'Amérique par la France. Je prie Dieu qu'il en arrive bientôt, et des meilleures; et suis avec un très-grand respect, Messieurs, Votre très-humble et très obéissant serviteur
[signed] Dumas
Les Etats de la Province se rassembleront dans 3 semaines.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0149-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-20

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

I returned here Wednesday morning and, after dinner, learned from our friend that the act of despotism, described in my last of 13 November, had been consummated in the Provincial Assembly after a three-hour session. Also, the preliminary advisory together with its concluding provision, described in my letter of the 10th, has been resolved { 227 } by a plurality. The City of Amsterdam has inserted a formal protest against the resolution, declaring it null from having been adopted in a manner contrary to the constitution of the state which, in this case, requires unanimity, and another protest indicating the actions that could be taken by the injured city.1 Sir Joseph Yorke could hardly wait to send a pink from Scheveling to England with the news of the supposed triumph of his party here. His court will not fail to show off this success in Parliament and the newspapers: it apparently having been solicited to that end.2 They will take care that no mention is made of the protest, which essentially makes this success only smoke that will soon dissipate: for those from the great city have warned that if the publication of their protest against the resolution is delayed here, they will have it printed at home so that at least this nation would not be misled. Two very serious consequences were forseen: first, the thunderbolt I predicted in my letter of the 10th; and second, the closing of a great treasury, which it is difficult to see how the others can do without.
I could go into greater detail, but, in addition to a lack of time, I am afraid to put it in writing. I will only add that tomorrow morning those from the great city are leaving, and with them all the glory of Belgium. The others are ashamed of their own work and, instead of boasting, bow their heads. The rumor is even being circulated that the said resolution has been adopted unanimously and conformed to the desires of the great city.
To complete my description of our village, I will tell you that there is an enormous quantity of mud: that is all you see as soon as you set foot outside. Happy is the man who can stay home and converse only with his slipper: if it has nothing pleasant to tell him, at least it will not try to take unfair advantage of him.
You would not believe, gentlemen, how your enemies have struggled to spread, in the present circumstances, endless tales about alleged divisions and misunderstandings between the Americans themselves, as well as between them and the French, in order to boost their party's morale and depress that of ours. One could despise them and laugh, but what distresses our best friends is that no news comes directly from America by way of France. I pray to God that some will arrive soon, and that it is favorable, and am, with very great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
The Provincial States will reassemble in three weeks.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “M. Dumas. 20 Nov. 1778.”
1. Amsterdam's protests against both the method of adoption and the resolution itself were printed in Secrete Resolutien van de Edele Groot Mog[ende] Heeren Staten van Holland en Westvriesland (The Hague, 16 vols., 1670–1796, 13:455–463). Amsterdam ultimately carried out the threat to publish its protest, for in his letter of 18 Dec. (below), Dumas reported that he had received the document comprising 20 { 228 } pages in folio. This publication was entitled Protesten en Aantekening der Stad Amsterdam, in de Registers van Haar Ed. Gr. Moog. Vergadering geinsereert; tegen de Resolutien by meerderheid van stemmen aldaar genemen, op de klagten der Nederlandsche Kooplieden, over het neemen en opbrengen hunner Schepen, door de Engelschen; the title page gives no information on its publication other than the date, “1778.” It contained the committee report on the preliminary advisory of the Admiralty (p. 1–9), the actions taken by the Assembly on 11 Nov. in anticipation of the passage of the resolution on the 18th (p. 9–10), Amsterdam's protest against the method of adoption (p. 11), and the protest against the resolution itself (p. 12–20). The latter was composed of a short preamble and a resolution adopted by the Vroedschap of Amsterdam on 17 Nov. (Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, Eerste Afdeling, Dumas Coll., Inventaris 2). A second edition, with some differences in the title and pagination, was apparently published in 1779 at Breda by J. F. Berkmeyer (L. D. Petit, ed., Bibliotheek van Nederlandsche Pamfletten-Vezameling in de Bibliotheek van Johannes Thysius te Leiden, 4 vols., The Hague and Leiden, 1882–1934).
2. No mention of the resolution has been found in any English papers surveyed, perhaps because of the reservations of the British government about it, which were reported in Dumas' letter of 18 Dec. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0150

Author: Walshe, John
Author: Wardell, Jonathan
Author: Hills, S.
Author: Moore, William
Author: Borland, Archibald
Author: Douglas, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-20

John Walshe and Others to the Commissioners

Memorial of the Officers late of his Britanic Majesty's Sloop Drake, Captn. Wm. Moore of the Patience Brig, Archibald Borland of the Tryal Schooner, John Douglass of the Sally Sloop, Prisoners on board the said Brig.1
Sheweth.
That your Memorialists were brought into this Road of Brest on the 7th May last and on the 11th were put on board this Vessel and allowed the Cabin to be in, which they were untill September 11th. when a French Officer came on board and turned them out, and placed the Guard in the said Cabin, since which, they have been among the Foremast Men, and not allowed to walk the Quarter Deck.
That they are under the continual apprehension when it blows hard, of driving on shore and loosing their Lives on the Rocks, the Anchors being too light, and the Cables rotten, and not fit to be trusted, and no Spare Anchors and Cables to bring the Vessel up, shou'd she part from those she is moored with.
That the Seamen are in danger (should they escape the Rocks) of perishing on board, there being no lower Deck in this Vessel, and some of the People on board have not Clothes to skreen them from the Cold in Winter, and others that are oblig'd to lie on the wet Ballast in the Hold, not having Beds, it is needless to observe how unfriendly these Things are to Health.
That they are informed they are allowed a Pound of Bread, a Pound { 229 } and a half of Beef and half a Pint of Brandy a Day, which allowance they have never2 since the departure of the Ranger received, and the quantity they do receive bad in Quality, the Bread in particular being full of Vermin and not fit for Men to eat.
That they are in danger of going altogether without Provisions and Water, in boisterous Weather, the Vessel lying a great way from the shore, which renders it hazardous for a Boat to attend us, and <we> they have never more than three Days Provisions on board at a time, and a Gale of Wind at the approaching Season, may last two or three Weeks.
That it is now seven Months since they have been confin'd within the narrow Limits of a Vessels Sides, and have suffered in their Health, for want of Exercise, therefore request that the American Plenipotentiaries take it into their most serious consideration and admit them on Parole, and favour them with an Answer.3
And your Memorialists subscribe themselves with due respect their most Obedt. Servants
[signed] John Walshe—Master late of the Drake
[signed] Jno Wardell—Purser Ditto
[signed] S. Hills—Surgeon Ditto
[signed] Wm. Moor—Captain of the Patience
[signed] Archd. Borland —Tryall
[signed] John Douglas —Sally
N.B. Since the departure of the Ranger, two good Cables were taken away from this Vessel, and two under sized ones substituted.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Memorial from Prisoners of the Drake”; in another hand: “Nov. 20. 1778.”
1. That is, they were imprisoned on the Patience.
2. The following six words were interlined for insertion at this point.
3. This memorial was enclosed in John Paul Jones' letter of 9 Dec. (below). There is no indication that the Commissioners took any action to alleviate the prisoners' situation in response to either their memorial or Jones' plea on their behalf.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0151

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Williams, Jonathan
Date: 1778-11-21

To Jonathan Williams

[salute] Sir

I have received your Favour of the 12 and yesterday, the Rum was brought here consisting of forty Eight Bottles. Two I Suppose had been used to wet the Whistle of the Porters.
I paid Seventy five Livres1 and the Man was or pretended to be wroth that I gave him no more.
{ 230 }
Mr. Alexander Shall have his Dozen and his Packet and Dr. Bancroft, his.
I beg of you to draw upon me for the Cost of the Rum which shall be paid immediately.2
Inclosed you have the Acquit Caution, as you desired.
I am your humble servant.
1. This sum was paid by JA on 20 Nov. (Household Accounts, 1 Oct. 1778 – 23 Feb. 1779, above).
2. No record of a payment to Williams for the rum has been found, but see Williams to JA, 17 Nov. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0152

Author: Adams, John
Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Franklin, William Temple
Date: 1778-11-21

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to William Temple Franklin

Upon reconsidering Job Prince's Letter, it is observable, that there is not a single Circumstance mention'd in it by which one may [be] assured that it is either an honest Letter or a Forgery and a Trick to get into their Power from us some Person of Confidence from whom or from the Letters we might write by him they might pick out some useful Intelligence. The releasing a French Fisherman taken perhaps by a Comrade for that purpose, might be only to commence an Intercourse and procure Trust on our Part. This Captain may be the same Genius that so artfully trapanned Burnel.2 You are therefore by no means to go on board his Vessel. But write to him that you have Letters for him from the Commissioners which you are to deliver only into his own Hands, and request his comming on shore to receive them. In the meantime communicate the Suspicion to Mr. Baron, and by his Means obtain Authority to seize the Captain and his Boats Crew as soon as they land, and have the Men separated and examined each by himself. If on Examination they appear to be true Men and not artful Enemies from Dover or Guernesey, you may then give him the Letters, and acquaint him with the Reasons of his being so examined, which he cannot take amiss.
It seems strange that a Ship after so long a Voyage should not chuse to enter any Port: That she should come in preference to lie off Dieppe: That the Captain in his Letter to us should not relate a Syllable of News of any kind, should say Nothing of the Port he came from, the Time of his Departure, should suppose us acquainted with every particular concerning his Vessel and her Destination,3 tho' he has lost { 231 } | view the Dispatches, and yet tell us that tho' he knows the Intention of Congress he wants our Orders for his Cruise.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] John Adams
RC in Benjamin Franklin's hand (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); titled: “Private Instructions to W. T. Franklin.”
1. For this date as well as the letter from Job Prince, see Benjamin Franklin and JA to W. T. Franklin, 20 Nov. (above).
2. Capt. John Burnell and Lt. William Morris of the Md. privateer Montgomery had been captured by an English cutter in the harbor at Cherbourg in June 1777 (NEHGR, 32 [1878]:188, 306–307; PCC, No. 196, X, f. 115).
3. The following six words were interlined for insertion at this point.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0153

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-21

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

I attended yesterday to the Vissit made by the Inspector of the Artillery of the Cannon laying at this Port belonging to Monsr. Le Bertin. The report is as favorable as can be given as to their appearance which is all that can be said of them until Proved. The following is the list given me in by the person who has them under his care.
77   Cannon du Calibre de   36£   du poids de   75     quintx   la piece foreé et tourné  
8    Do   24£    do   55   1/2   quintx    Do  
5    Do   12£    do   33   1/2   quintx    Do  
Les fraix d'epreuve des   pieces de   36£   vont environ de   80£   la piece  
  celles   24£    Idem   57    idem  
  celles   12£    idem   27    idem1  
There are in other Ports more belonging to the same concern on the same Mold. You will please to observe that the proving [of such?] heavy Artilery amounts to a considerable Sum. [Sh]ould you see fitting to order the proving be assured of my due attention as also to the quality of the Powder which being a perquisite of the Captain of the Port is made frequently with very little precaution.
Monsieur de La Touche has been so obliging as to order a frigate to take our Ships round from La Rochelle to Nantes where I expect they are arrived and loading the Various Articles there lodged which Mr. Schweighauser assured us would be prepared ready at their Arrival.
The latest Arrivals we have at this Port is from Alexandria of 20 Septembre of course we are without any intelegence other than is at your hands.
I have the Honor to be with due Respect, Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
{ 232 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honbe Benj Franklin Arthur Lee John Adams Esqrs Commissioners from Congress at Paris”; docketed: “Mr Bondfield Letter”; in another hand: “J. Bondfield 21. Nov. 78.” The removal of the seal resulted in the loss of two words.
1. Bondfield here reports on his effort to procure cannon for the ship of the line America, as directed in the Commissioners' letter of 19 Aug. (not found, but see Bondfield's letter of 29 Aug., vol. 6:406–407). His figures indicate that, in quintals or hundredweights and after being bored and turned, a 36-pounder weighed approximately 7,500 pounds; a 24-pounder 5,550 pounds; and a 12-pounder 3,350 pounds. The cost of proving the cannon, according to his figures here, would be 6,751 livres.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0154

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Montgomery, Robert
Date: 1778-11-24

To Robert Montgomery

[salute] Sir

Your Favour of the Sixth of this Month, reached me, three days ago, I am much obliged to you, for communicating to me, the Intelligence contained in it. These orders of Government, afford no Ground for any decisive Conclusions respecting the Intentions of Spain, yet they discover that the Court is attentive to the Progress of the War, and We may expect that the more they think upon the Subject, the Sooner, they will be convinced of the Importance of it, to their Interests, and of the Wisdom of their taking a Part in it.
I can give you, no News from America, because Several Vessells have arrived at Bilboa, which left Boston and Newbury Port later than any We have from America.
All the News We have here respects the Captures of French Vessells by the English Privateers, and of English Privateers, by the French Men of War, in which they have been very Successfull. The Number of British Sailors, which has been captivated, is very considerable much more so than the Number of French Sailors taken by the English, which is perhaps a greater Loss to them, than the Capture of larger Portions of their Property, would have been.
I Shall be much obliged to you, for the Continuance of your Favours, because Intelligence is the soul of War, as it is indeed of every Thing human, but ispecially because every Thing that happens in Spain in Consequence of orders from Government, is important. I am, with much Respect, Sir, your humble servant.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0155

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Date: 1778-11-25

The Commissioners to J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

In Answer to your Letter of the seventeenth Instant,1 We desire you { 233 } would ship to America, all the Goods belonging to the United States, of every sort. And consequently to write for no more Workmen, but dismiss, immediately, all that remain if any.
We can give you no Directions about the Articles “entreposed” for the Coast of Guinea: because We understand nothing about the Matter. We neither understand, why, they were entreposed—nor what entreposing is.2
It is impossible for Us to apply to the Minister, without understanding the subject and knowing what Minister We are to apply to, and what Favour We are to apply for.
We leave it to your Judgment, to remove the salt Petre in the cheapest And best Manner for the Interest of the states.
1. Not found.
2. Schweighauser's meaning is no clearer to the editors than it was to the Commissioners, but “entreposed” may have been Schweighauser's attempt to anglicize the French word “entreposer,” which means to warehouse or store.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0156-0001

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-25

Gabriel de Sartine to the Commissioners

Le Roi a fait expedier, Messieurs, des Passeports pour quatre Batimens anglois, qui doivent venir d'un Port etranger a Dunkerque, il est egalment necessaire de les mettre a l'abri d'insulte de la Part des Corsaires Americaines, et Je vous prie de m'envoyer a c[e]t Effet quatre Lettres ostensibles ou Passeports, dont ils puissent1 Se Servir dans l'occasion. Je vous observe, qu'ils doivent être en blanc ne pouvant être remplis, que Sur les Lieux.2 J'ai l'honneur d'etre, avec beaucoup de Consideration, Messieurs, votre tres humble et tres obeissant Serviteur
[signed] De Sartine

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0156-0002

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-25

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

The King, gentlemen, has sent passports for four English vessels which are to come from a foreign port to Dunkerque. It is equally necessary that they be protected from insult by American privateers and I ask you to send me, in this regard, four open letters or passports, which they could1 use if needed. Please note that they must be left blank since they can only be filled out on the spot.2 I have the honor to be, with the utmost consideration, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Sartine
{ 234 }
1. In copying the French text JA wrote the following five words in larger letters than the remainder of the letter.
2. The Commissioners enclosed the four requested documents, to be completed as Sartine wished, in their letter to Sartine of 30 Nov. (LbC, Adams Papers), which he acknowledged on 1 Dec. (DLC: Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0157

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1778-11-27

To Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear sir

Yesterday the B. Parliament met. The 2d of Decr., We shall have the Speech. We hope to make Inferences from it of the Intentions of Spain, as well as Great B.1
Among the innumerable Falshoods that the English Emmissaries propagate every Year, to keep up the Spirits of stockjobbers and others, one has constantly been that Russia will take a Part with them. This is repeated lately. But I have taken some Pains to inform myself, and I think you may depend upon it, that there is an Understanding between this Court and that of Russia, and this last has taken an Engagement with the former, not to assist England in any Way. There is also a good Understanding with Prussia. In short England has not and cannot obtain a Single Ally in all Europe.
Nobody pretends to penetrate the Mysteries of Spanish Councils: but the late order from Court to take the Names of all foreign Merchants in the Kingdom, and the other to admit all armed Vessells to bring in their Prizes condemn and sell them in the Ports of the Kingdom are considered as preparatory Steps, and the Edict of the K. of the two Sicilies, the eldest son of the K. of Spain2 to admit the American Flagg into his Ports, is looked upon as an unequivocal Indication of the Designs of Spain.
The French Marine has hitherto shewn itself in every Encounter equal at least to the British, in the Bravery and Skill both of officers and Men: But the French Merchants have not exerted themselves in Privateering so much as the English, and have not had so much success.
What Reinforcement will be sent to the Comte D'Estaing, I cannot say: But of one Thing I am sure that the only wise Method of conducting the War would be to send a clear superiority of naval Force to America, an opinion which has been suggested and will be urged where it ought.
What Shall I say on the subject of Money? We can get no Answer from Mr. B. ——3 respecting the Contract. I shudder for fear, our Army should not be well supplied in the approaching Winter. But can { 235 } do no more than has been done. And knowing what they have done and suffered I am at no Loss what th[ey] will do and suffer. But I should be happier if I was more sure they would be warm.
Crossing the ocean does not cure a Man of his Anxiety. But We are contending for as great an Object as ever Men had in View, and great Difficulties and Dangers, will lay the Foundation of a free and flourishing People broad and deep, in great Virtues and Abilities. I am my dear sir, your Friend and servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (NN: George Bancroft Collection); docketed: “From J Adams Esq Passy Novr 27. 1778.”
1. JA's reference is to George III's speech of 26 Nov. opening the session, the newspaper account of which he presumably expected to reach Paris by 2 Dec., but which in fact was delivered to him on the evening of the 1st (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:125). In it the King strongly attacked France's unprovoked entry into the war, noted the mixed success of his war measures, regretted the failure of the Carlisle Commission, and promised renewed efforts to achieve victory and restore peace. Although Spain was not mentioned by name, George III did state that “the great armaments of other powers ... must necessarily engage our attention” (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1277–1279).
2. SeeCommissioners to the president of the congress, 7 Nov., and note 12 (above).
3. Beaumarchais.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0158

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1778-11-27

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] My dear Sir

I have not received a Line, nor heard a Syllable from you Since my Arrival, but I know your incessant Application to things of the first Moment, and therefore presume you have good Reasons.
Our Ennemies are Still in a Delirium: and are pleasing themselves with Hopes that Clinton will be more bloody than How. Nothing is so charming to their Imaginations as Blood and Fire. What an Heart must this People have?
The Two Howes are in a sort of Disgrace, and now Clinton is to do wonders. The Howes have returned, without Laurels, with melicious Tempers bloody Hands, and the pleasing Reflection that their Names are hearafter to be recollected, by all virtuous and humane Men with those of Alva and Grizler.1
I think there should be a Clubb formed in London of all the Sages and Heroes that have returned from America—Bernard, Hutchinson and Train,2 Gage, How, Howe, &c. &c. &c.3 and to be sure Burgoigne. What a respectable society it would be? How entertaining to hear them in Turn recounting their memorable Deeds of Fraud and Violence in America, and their glorious tryumphant success?
{ 236 }
You will see by the Papers, which I shall send by this opportunity that there is great Animosity, in Holland vs England. Sir J.——4 it is said flatters the Prince, with Hopes of marrying his Daughter to the Prince of Wales, and the Prospect of having a Daughter Queen of England is too tempting for a Prince to resist. Yet he cannot do great Things, and there is a spirit rising in the Low Countries which will give England Trouble. The situation of that Republic is so defenceless, and they consider England in such a state of Desperation, ready to do any Mad Thing, that I dont expect they will very soon take any decisive Part in our Favour, but the Determination against taking any Part against Us is decisive. They wish America independant. It is their Interest. They wish to see England humbled. She is too overbearing. Yet they are afraid to provoke England, by any open Engagement against her. Yet they have discoverd a manifest solicitude least America should in a Treaty with G. B. agree to exclude the Dutch from some Part of their Trade. And they have Reason for this suspicion.
It is a delicate Thing to negociate with this People, but We have constant Intelligence, from them, and shall watch every favourable Opportunity. Their Purses, their sailors and ships have been employed against Us from the Beginning, and England could not possibly do without them, I cannot therefore but wish, that something may turn up, to awaken the old Batavian Spirit. I am as ever your Friend & sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (H. L. Seaver, Mass., 1956); docketed: “Braintree Letter Mr. J. Adams Novr 27 1778.”
1. See JA to the president of the congress, 20 Sept., and note 2 (above).
2. Presumably JA means Hutchinson and his followers.
3. The following five words were interlined for insertion here.
4. Sir Joseph Yorke.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0159

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1778-11-27

To James Lovell

[salute] My dear Sir

It is now a Year, Since I left you, and I have heard very Seldom from you, since that Time. I have written as often as I could, but so many Vessells have been taken that I fear you have heard as seldom from me.
There is no News, any where excepting the innumerable Reports circulated in every Part of Europe, by the Emmissaries of England, every one of which I know to be false: they still however find Stockjobbers and other Persons to believe them. These Lyes are calculated to make it believed, that there are great Dissentions between the { 237 } French and Americans, and between the Americans with one another. No Extravagance is too great. Ten Thousands of General Washingtons Army gone over to Clinton. C. D'Estaing making a Procession through the Streets of Boston with the Hoste, and Seizing a Meeting House for a Chappell and the D——knows what.
I Suffer as much for Want of Intelligence from A. as we used to Suffer in Congress for Want of it from Europe.
Mr. D. writes a Gentleman here, that on the 14 of September Congress took up forein Affairs, and determined to have but one Commissioner here.1 If this is the Case I shall be at a Loss, how to conduct myself, unless you recall me. Dr. F. no doubt will be appointed for this Court: if you appoint me for any other, especially that which is mentioned to Me Vienna, it will be more disagreable to me than to be recalled. Because Vienna, is the Court of all Europe, as I conceive at present, the least likely to receive your Agent. I should therefore be reduced to the Necessity of residing at Paris in Idleness, or of travelling to Germany and living there in greater Idleness Still in either Case at a great and useless Expence.
In Time of Peace, nothing would give me greater Pleasure, than travelling: but at present my Heart is too much affected, with the Miseries of this War, for me to take Pleasure in a mere Gratification of Curiosity, or even in a Pursuit of Taste in Arts, or Knowledge in the Sciences.
To return home immediately, Some Persons here say would give offence, and be wrong. To Wait to write for Leave, would be loosing Time, and putting you to Some Expence. However, I will determine nothing untill I know what is done. Remember me with the tenderest affection, and greatest Respect to your Colleagues and all others that deserve it, and believe me your Friend.
1. Silas Deane's letter to Benjamin Franklin of 15 Sept. (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:496). For an excerpt from that letter, see JA to AA, 27 Nov., note 4 (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:123). In his letter to AA, JA also expressed his puzzlement over what the congress expected him to do, assuming that the report of Franklin's appointment was correct.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0160

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1778-11-28

To Arthur Lee

The Bearer, is first Lt. of the Boston—was sent by the Navy Board at Boston to S. Carolina and thence to France Commander of the Dispatch: but was taken. I think our Rule has been to lend Lts. of the { 238 } Frigate's twenty Guineas, but considering Browns unhappy Circumstances on Account of Cloaths, and knowing his long Attachment to our Cause and his uncommon Merit, I wish he could have more but have not ventured to propose it.1 Dr. F. is gone out.
RC (MH-H: Lee Papers); addressed: “Hon. Mr. Lee Rue de Battail N. 5 Chaillot”; docketed: “This was accompanied with an Order on the Banker for 20. Louis dores signd by Mr. Adams.”
1. JA's plea was successful, for on 28 Nov. the Commissioners ordered Ferdinand Grand to pay Lt. John Brown 480 livres (Commissioners' Accounts, [12 Nov. 1778- 11 Feb. 1779], above). Brown was with Capt. Hector McNeill when the Boston captured the frigate Fox in June 1777, but no mention of him in command of a vessel called the Dispatch or its capture has been found (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, 1:206).
The next day JA made a similar request of Lee (MH-H: Lee Papers) on behalf of a privateersman, Lt. John Adams of Boston, which was also successful, an order being issued on the 30th to pay Adams 240 livres (Commissioners' Accounts, [12 Nov. 1778–11 Feb. 1779], above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0161

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11-28

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

Tho' we are without any interesting inteligence in this or the neighbouring Ports I hold it my duty to advise you that so it is. The Merchants from their heavy Loss's are obliged to contract their concerns which unfortunately will be sensibly felt by the short Exports for the United States. Excepting three small Cutters belonging to Virginia it is three Months since any expedition went from hence.
Messr. Beaumarchais and Co. have bought a vessel of 24 Gunns that is to Sail about the 10th of next Month for Rochfort there to join the Roderique and the Drake bought by the same Company. These Vessels I am told are to be reinforced by two ships or Frigates. It will be a fine Convoy for our two Ships at Nantes if it dont too long detain as the fierre Roderique was not hove down [when?] I past Rochfort ten days ago that I much doubt if they will be at Sea of two Months.1 The inteligence of Monsr. La Motte Piquet having fallen in with a Jamaica fleet outward bound is confirmd to Us by Letters this Post from Britaigne.2 Our Privateers have not yet sent us in any Capital Prizes. The English Ships keep in Fleets that a vessel of Value is not to be met singly.
The Farmers General begin to doubt that the abundant supplies they were to receive from Spain, the Brazils, the Ulkraine and Holland of Tobacco will not make up the short Imports from Virginia and are tampering with the holders to engage all at Market before a rise take place. No capital Stock can be expected for many Months. A start in { 239 } this article very sudden may be expected which may probably engage the Merchants to renew their speculation to America.
I have the Honor [to be?] with due Respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. Benj Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams, Esqrs. Commissionairs du Congré a Paris”; docketed: “Mr. Bonfeild”; in another hand: “J. Bondfield 28 Nov. 1778.” The removal of the seal has resulted in the loss of two or three words.
1. In a letter of 12 Dec., Beaumarchais requested that Sartine supply the Fier Roderigue with the men needed to fill out its crew and thereby permit its immediate departure. With ten merchant ships in its convoy, the Fier Roderigue apparently sailed in April 1779 and arrived off Grenada in late June or early July. There, pressed into service as part of the French fleet under Estaing that met the British under Byron on 6 July, it was heavily damaged (Louis De Loménie, Beaumarchais et son temps, 2 vols., 3d edn., Paris, 1873, 2:162–164; Laporte to JA, 4 April 1779, below).
2. It was reported that La Motte-Picquet, at sea since late October with four ships of the line and several frigates, had taken seven British ships and a frigate escorting them (London Chronicle, 14–17 Nov., 1–3 Dec.).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0162

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1778-11-28

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

Your Letter1 informing me of the Alteration of your Intention, not having reached my House till some time after the Hour you had appointed for setting out for Versailles, I was gone before it arrived. I informed Count Vergennes, that you were coming, and we waited till 5' O'Clock under no small Embarressment, especially myself, to conceive what detained you.
Count Vergennes says, that as there was such bad Management last year in dispatching our Ships, as to detain the Convoy Six Weeks; he wishes we would write him, when the Ships, for which we now desire a Convoy, will certainly be ready to sail, and he will do all in his Power to obtain what we desire.2
I have the honor to be with the greatest Respect Gentlemen, Your Mos. Ob Servt.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Hon. A. Lee Nov. 28. 1778.”
1. In JA's hand and docketed by the kitchen boy who received it, the one-sentence letter, dated “Friday Morning” [27 Nov.], asked “that the Journey to Versailles may be postponed to Sunday at 8 O Clock in the Morning for several particular Reasons besides the bad Weather” (NNPM).
2. Vergennes' request led the Commissioners to write to J. D. Schweighauser and the other merchants at Nantes (LbC, Adams Papers), who had written to both Sartine and the Commissioners on 7 Nov. (above). The Letterbook copy, which served as the draft, is dated 27 Nov., probably erroneously in view of the { 240 } present letter. Arthur Lee's copy in his letterbook is dated 28 Nov., Lee having placed an “8” over the original “7” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 128).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0163-0001

Author: Quillau, M
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-29

From M. Quillau

[salute] Monsieur

Je viens de voir Monsieur Dubourg à qui je dois l'honneur et l'avantage d'être Connu de vous, qui m'a dit que vous m'avies écrit au sujet de Livres que vous voulies vous procurer. Il faut que la personne que vous aves chargée de votre lettre, ne se soit point acquittée de sa Commission, Car je n'ai reçu aucune lettre de votre part. Si elle me fut parvenue, vous deves etre persuadé que j'aurois mis toute la diligence possible pour executer ce dont vous me chargies par cette Lettre. Aussitot que par une nouvelle lettre; vous m'aures instruit des Livres que vous souhaiter avoir, je m'empresserai à vous les faire parvenir le plus promptement possible.1
J'ay l'honneur d'etre avec Respect, Monsieur, Votre très-humble et très-obeissant serviteur
[signed] Quillau

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0163-0002

Author: Quillau, M
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-11-29

Quillau to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have just seen Mr. Dubourg, to whom I owe the honor and pleasure of being known to you. He told me that you had written me concerning some books you would like to procure. The person to whom you gave the letter must not have carried out his commission, for I never received any letter from you. If it had reached me, you can be assured that I would, with the utmost diligence, have undertaken to carry out your request in that letter. As soon as I receive a new letter with your instructions as to what books you wish to have, I will hasten to send them as soon as possible.1
I have the honor to be with respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Quillau
1. Neither JA's letter nor any reply to this one has been found. JA had dealt with Quillau earlier, having paid him 192 livres on 30 June and 170 livres on 9 July (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:331). There is, however, no evidence of any later transactions and, indeed, JA's personal accounts indicate that most of his book purchases were made from the longestablished firm of Paris booksellers, C. and J. Hochereau (same, 2:327, 331–336, 343, 435–438).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0164

Author: Smith, James
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-11

James Smith to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Your very extraordinary letter of the 17 of Novr.1 I have received and acknowledge myself Obliged to you for the representation of my Case to his Excellency the Count De Vergennes.
{ 241 }
You say you do not think you can consistantly Grant my request unless I previously Subscribe the decliration and take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America and that when I comply with this condition you will then give the Customary Passport to Calis. If this Customary Passport shall be sufficient to obviate all impediments to my passage to Dover I can understand the Consistency of these expressions otherwise I am at a loss to guess your meaning. I could have no Objection to take the Oaths of Allegiance when I arrive in America But I submit it to your farther Consideration whether this is the proper time and place for such a Measure to a person in my circumstances. The active part I have taken upon every occasion to manifest my Atatchment to the interest of my country through out the whole of this controvercy is no equivocal proof of my sincerity and I am not a little surprised that you should make my taking the Oath of Allegiance a condition when you must be sensible how fatal that measure might prove to my Liberty and even Life should it transpire in England before I could finish my private business. What a happy opportunity would a discovery of this kind Afford a wicked Abandoned Ministry to wrack their vengance upon me whose conduct has rendered him Obnoxious by every effort to oppose them within the compass of his Abilities. Is this the reward of Public Virtue? And Shall the Official Guardians of our lives furnish the very means of our distruction without any one possible benefit to our country.
I have attentivly perused all the public acts of the Congress and I do not find that they insist upon imposing the Oath of Allegiance upon any person going to England. It is not there that our Enemies can do us mischief. To suspect a mans fidelity with out assigning reasons and insist upon this condition at the time the necessity of his Affairs Oblige him to go amongst his Enemies is a Species of Cruelty and Abandoned profligacy which for the honor of human nature I cannot suppose you intentionally Guilty. You certainly did not consider the consequences of such a proceedure and I am obliged from the respect I owe the commission and for the honour of my Country not to Suppose from any misunderstanding between us that you mean any thing more by this extraordinary propo[s]al than to manifest an inconsiderate Zeal for the Cause of our Country. Did you tender the Oath of Allegiance to Doctor Bancroft Mr. Austin and Mr. Williams whose connection with the British minister you was acquainted with.2 Without any disparagement to the Characters of those worthy Gentlemen why am I to be suspected more than others. Had you entrusted me with the secrets of Goverment upon which the interests and welfare of our Country depended this conduct would be justifiable. If any thing has been { 242 } wispered to my prejudice which has given any just grounds of Suspicion and thereby abused your private Confidence, Let him bring his Charges openly. Let me be confronted before witnesses. Let him come from his lurking hole, assume the Character of a Generous open Enemy, and not secretly Stab me in the dark like a private Assassin.
When I wrote that I was willing to give the most Solemn Assurances of my affection and duty to my Country, could it be supposed that I meant to expose myself to the wispers of secret Enemies and the Rage of a Merciless disapointed and consequently inveterate Administration. It must have occurred to you from a moments reflection that I could only mean such assurances as were binding upon a man of honor and yet would not subject me to the laws of England. When I requested a Passport I intended to pay you the usual compliments payed to the public Ministers of my Country. It gives me pain to remind you that the power werewith you are invested was never given to distress or indanger the Lives and liberties of your Countrymen and I sincerely wish for the honor of the Commission that you may be able to explain your selves in such a manner as to wipe away the foul imputations and suspicions which such behaviour may make you liable to in the opinion of the World, and that private resentment has no share in this transaction. Whatever be your determination I beg you will be speedy in your resolutions as my private affairs are suffering by my absence.3 I beg leave to Subscribe my self Gentlemen Your much injured Countryman and Humble Servt.
[signed] James Smith
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed on the last page: “Dr. Smith”; on the first page by William Temple Franklin: “Dr. Smith.”
1. Not printed; but see Smith to the Commissioners, 15 Nov., note 4 (above).
2. Edward Bancroft and Jonathan Williams had been residents in England before the war, and Bancroft and Jonathan Loring Austin had been there in 1777 and 1778 respectively. Any connection with a specific “minister,” however, remains speculative.
3. No reply from the Commissioners has been found, nor is there any evidence that Smith ever took the oath of allegiance.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0165

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vernon, William Sr.
Date: 1778-12-02

To William Vernon Sr.

[salute] Dear Sir

This Evening I had the Pleasure of yours of the Twenty Second of October, with Duplicate of another of the same day and Triplicate of another of the Second of October, neither of which have arrived.
I have before received one Letter from you inclosing 2 Letters to your Son. I answered your Letter,1 and forwarded those to your son which he has since informed me he received.
{ 243 }
Your Son is at a Place called Montauban, a manufacturing Town, in the Province of Guienne, not very far from Bourdeaux. He lives with Mr. Revellat ainé, one of the principal Negociants of that City, a Gentleman of very good Character. Here, your Son, will have an Opportunity of tracing Commerce to its first Sources, and of acquiring the Language, at the Same Time, in both of which I am informed he is very assiduous. The Description, which M. Revellat gave me of his Conduct, the other Day, when he was at Passy, having been introduced to me, by a Letter from him,2 was very much to his Honour which from what I know of him I was well inclined to believe.
I thank you, Sir, for the full and clear Accounts you have given me from Time to Time of the State of our little Navy: and not withstanding the long Catalogue of Disasters that has attended it, I Still build great Hopes upon it. I am extreamly happy to hear of the Arrival of the Providence, Boston and Ranger, but am disappointed that they made no more Prizes. While the Merchant Fleets of Great Britain are covering all the Seas, it is to me astonishing that our Frigates take no more of them. I lament with You the Loss of the brave Captains Chew and Skimmer.
Your Letter to your son shall be forwarded forthwith,3 So shall all others you may intrust to my Care. I am, with great Respect, your hum sert.
[signed] John Adams
RC (RNHi: Vernon Papers); docketed: “John Adams Esqr Decr. 2nd 1778 Answerd Apl.” and “Mr. Quesnel from the City of Rouen.” The reference to “Mr. Quesnel” remains obscure.
1. Vernon's letter was of 26 May, while JA's reply was dated 27 July (vol. 6:156–157, 324).
2. That is, by a letter from William Vernon Jr., which has not been found.
3. The letter to William Vernon Jr. was enclosed in JA's letter to the younger Vernon of this date (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0166

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vernon, William Jr.
Date: 1778-12-02

To William Vernon Jr.

[salute] Dr Sir

This Evening, I received the inclosed in a Letter from your Father.1 He writes that he has never herd from you nor me—I have wrote him several Times. Soon after Mr. Revellat was here, I had accounts from America that Congress were about to take into Consideration the State of foreign Affairs, and I did not know but they might make Such Alterations in the System of Their Affairs here as might render any assistance to me in the Character of a Clerk unnecessary.2 I have waited to this Moment without Intelligence, excepting, by the Packet received { 244 } this day, that Congress on the 12 of October had Still foreign Affairs under Consideration. We shall soon learn their Determination, and that will determine me, mean Time, I am with Esteem
1. The letterfrom Vernon Sr. was that of 22 Oct. (above).
2. JA is referring to the clerkship that he had offered William Vernon Jr. in a letter of 15 Sept., but which Vernon had declined in his reply of 26 Sept. (both above). JA's observation that soon he might no longer need a clerk is significant because this is the only extant letter written to anyone in Europe, prior to the official end of the Joint Commission in February 1779, in which JA indicates that the congress might be considering a revision of its diplomatic establishment in Europe.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0167

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1778-12-02

To James Warren

[salute] My dear Sir

Last Night, I received your Letter of Octr. 7th by a Special Messenger from M. De Sartine, who writes me that he knows not how where nor by whom it arrived.1 I mention this that it may serve as an Answer in some Measure to the Complaint in your Letter, that neither you nor my other Friends have heard from me. I have wrote very often, to you and them but there is Strange Management with Letters and most that We write are sunk in the Sea.
I Sincerely grieve for my Country in the News that you are not of either House. But it is Some Comfort to me to think that I shall be Soon a private Farmer, as well as you, and both pursueing our Experiments in Husbandry. The longer I live and the more I see of public Men, the more I wish to be a private one. Modesty is a Virtue, that can never thrive, in public. Modest Merit! is there Such a Thing remaining in public Life? It is now become a Maxim with some, who are even Men of Merit, that the World esteems a Man in Proportion as he esteems himself, and are generally disposed to allow him, to be what he pretends to be.
Accordingly, I am often astonished at the Boldness with which Persons make their Pretensions. A Man must be his own Trumpeter—he must write or dictate Paragraphs of Praise in the News Papers, he must dress, have a Retinue, and Equipage, he must ostentatiously publish to the World his own Writings with his Name, and must write even some Panegyricks upon them,—he must get his Picture drawn, his statue made, and must hire all the Artists in his Turn, to set about Works to Spread his Name, make the Mob stare and gape, and perpetuate his Fame. I would Undertake, if I could bring my Feelings to bear { 245 } it, to become one of the most celebrated trumpeted, Admired, courted, worshipd Idols in the whole World in four or five Years. I have learned the whole Art I am a perfect Master of it. I learned a great deal of it from Hutchinson and the Tories, and have learned more of it since from Whigs and Tories both, in America and Europe.2 If you will learn the Art I will teach it you.
I have not yet <learned to> begun to practice this. There is one Practice more which I forgot. He must get his Brothers, Cousins, sons and other Relations into Place about him and must teach them to practice all the same Arts both for them selves and him. He must never do any Thing for any Body who is not his Friend, or in other Words his Tool.
What I am going to say, will be thought by many to be practicing upon some of the above Rules. You and I have had an ugly Modesty about Us, which has despoyled Us of, almost all our Importance. We have taken even Pains to conceal our Names, We have delighted in the shade, We have made few Friends, no Tools, and what is worse when the Cause of Truth, Justice, and Liberty have demanded it We have even Sacrificed Those who called themselves our Friends and have made Ennemies.
No Man ever made a great Fortune in the World, by pursuing these Maxims, We therefore do not expect it, and for my own Part I declare, that the Moment, I can get into Life perfectly private, will be the happiest of my Life.
The little Art and the less Ambition with which I see the World full disgusts and shocks me more and more. And I will abandon it to its Course, the Moment I can do it with Honour and Conscience.
Remember me, Sir, in the most respectfull Manner to your good Lady, whose Manners, Virtues, Genius, and Spirit will render her immortal, notwithstanding the general Depravity. I am, her & your Friend
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll).; docketed: “Mr. J. A. Lettr 2 Decr 78.”
1. Sartine's letter (not foundAdams Papers) also served to transmit letters from AA of 29 Sept. and 10 Oct. From JA's comments in his letter to AA of 3 Dec., the content of her letter of 10 Oct. (not found) was apparently similar to Warren's of 7 Oct. (above). Their arrival together may explain JA's tone in this letter, which was to some degree duplicated in his letters to AA of 2 and 3 Dec. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:94–96, 124–126, 128–130).
2. JA's strictures on the pursuit of fame were stimulated by Warren's comments on the conduct of John Hancock in his letter of 7 Oct. (above). That letter reflected Warren's dismay over Hancock's role in the rise of factions in Massachusetts politics and the consequent decline of the position of himself and his friends. While JA clearly had Benjamin Franklin in mind when he replied, his comments were more general and less personal than { 246 } Warren's. JA never disputed Franklin's position as the preeminent American in France and his frustration at Franklin's appointment as minister to France was not directed at Franklin, but toward the congress for its apparent refusal to either recall him or appoint him to a new position. Thus JA could write more as an observer than as a participant with a position to defend, and Franklin became a kind of generic seeker of fame rather than an enemy to be denounced.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0168-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-02

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

J'ai l'honneur de vous envoyer aujourdhui la Résolution1 dont je vous ai tant parlé. Ce qui l'a un peu retardée, c'est mon dernier voyage à Amsterdam, un rhume fort incommode que j'en ai rapporté, et les trois copies que j'en ai fait faire, pour les envoyer successivement au Congrès. Cette Piece mériteroit bien d'être imprimée, tant en François, qu'en Anglois pour le service des Etats-Unis, à cause de l'intime connoissance qu'elle donne de l'état respectif des Finances, de la Politique, et des forces terrestres et navales de cette Republique. C'est le Parti Anglois qui intrigue, pour que la republique augmente les premieres, et continue de négliger les dernieres: s'il réussissoit, il est indubitable qu'on engageroit tout de suite la republique à prendre le parti de l'Angleterre. Jugez de là, Messieurs, de quelle importance est la fermeté de la grande ville.
Le calme où nous sommes présentement, durera encore 10 à 12 jours, jusqu'à-ce que les Etats de la Province se rassemblent. Dieu nous envoie d'ici-là quelque grande et bonne nouvelle d'Amérique: j'en ferois plus d'un bon usage, et elle produiroit peut-être plus d'un bon effet. Le London Evening-post du 26 Nov.2 nous fait esperer que Clinton a été fort mal mené.
Je suis, avec un très-grand respect, Messieurs Votre très-humble et très-obéissant serviteur
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0168-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-02

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

Today I have the honor to send you the resolution1 of which I have already spoken. What delayed me a little was my recent trip to Amsterdam, a bothersome cold which I brought back with me, and the three copies which I had to make to send in successive letters to the congress. This piece fully deserves to be published in both French and English for the service of the United States because of the intimate knowledge that it displays respecting the finances, politics, and the ground and naval forces of this Republic. It is the English party that schemes to have the Republic increase the former and continue to neglect the latter. If it were to succeed, there is no doubt that the Republic would immediately { 247 } be put to the service of England. Judge, therefore, gentlemen, of what importance is the strong resolve of the great city.
The period of calm in which we are now will last another ten to twelve days, until the States of the Province reconvene. May God send us before then some great and good news from America. I would put it to more than one good use, and it might produce more than one good result. The London Evening Post of 26 November2 makes us hope that Clinton has been very roughly handled.
I am, with great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant,
[signed] Dumas
RC with one enclosure (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy, pres Paris.”
1. This was Dumas' 22-page French translation of Amsterdam's resolution against the augmentation of the army, which had been placed before the Provincial States on 8 Sept. and promised to the Commissioners. See Dumas' letters of 4 and 9 Sept., and 27 Oct. (all above).
2. The London Evening Post of 26 Nov. carried a report, apparently obtained from vessels that had left New York on 19 Oct., that Gen. Clinton had gone out with two-thirds of his Army to attack a convoy of 300 wagons carrying supplies to Boston for the use of Estaing's fleet. The escort, however, proved to be stronger than expected, forcing Clinton to retreat to New York. No account of such an engagement has been found in American sources.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0169

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1778-12-03

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to inclose to Congress, the latest News Papers: As they contain the Speech at the Opening of Parliament,1 and Some of the Debates in both Houses upon the Addresses in Answer to it, they are of very great Importance. I learn by Some Newspapers, and private Letters that an opinion has been prevalent in America, that the Ennemy intended to withdraw from the united States, and considering the cruel Devastations of the War, and the unfortunate Situation of our Finances nothing would give me so much Joy as to see Reasons to concur in that opinion, and to furnish Congress with Intelligence in Support of it.
But I am sorry to say that the Reverse is too apparent. We may call it Obstinacy or Blindness, if We will, but such is the state of Parties in England, so deep would be the Disgrace, and perhaps so great the personal Danger to those who have commenced and prosecuted this War, that they cannot but persevere in it, at every Hazard. And nothing is clearer in my Mind, than that they never will quit the united States, untill they are either driven or starved out of them.
{ 248 }
I hope therefore that Congress will excuse me, for suggesting that there is but one Course for Us to take, which is to concert every Measure and exert every Nerve, for the total Destruction of the British Power within the united States. I have the Honour to be with the most respectfull Consideration sir, your most humble, and most obedient servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 25–28); docketed: “2 Letter from J. Adams Passy Decr. 3. 1778 Read March 4. 1779 Referred to Mr G Morris Mr Drayton Mr Paca.” JA's letter of 8 Dec. to the president of the congress (below) was also read on 4 March. The “2” may indicate that this letter was considered after that of the 8th.
1. This is the first of four letters to the president of the congress enclosing copies of the King's speech of 26 Nov., the others being dated 6, 7, and 8 Dec. That of the 6th, read by the congress on 25 Feb. 1779, was a simple letter of transmission that noted only the importance of the speech for understanding British intentions (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 29—30; Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:851). The letter of the 7th, existing only as a Letterbook copy (Adams Papers), may have been superseded by that of the 8th (below) and not sent, for there is no evidence that the congress ever received it. In his letter of the 7th, JA stated that it could be inferred from the speech that the British had neither allies nor any prospects of gaining any, feared the appearance of additional enemies, and would prosecute the war as long as possible. JA also noted the surprising amount of opposition in Parliament, which he believed would grow.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0170

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Gerry, Elbridge
Date: 1778-12-05

To Elbridge Gerry

[salute] Dr Sir

It is necessary that you should be minutely informed, of the minutest and most secret Springs of Action here, if it is possible. Yet the Danger is so great of our Letters, being taken and getting into English News Papers, that it is very discouraging to a free Correspondence.
I will however take all the Precaution in my Power, to have the Letters sunk, but if all these fail and my Letters become public the World must take them as they find them, and I hope they will do more good upon the whole than Harm.
This Court and Nation appears to me, to be well convinced of the Utility to their Interests of the American Alliance. But notwithstanding this they appear to me to have too much Diffidence of Us. Too much Diffidence of the People of America, and too much Reserve towards the Commissioners here. I am not Satisfyed in the Cause of this.
Whether they think, that the obstacles of Language Religion, Laws, Customs and Manners are Obstacles in the Way of a perfect Friendship, which cannot be removed, and therefore that they shall loose our { 249 } Connection as soon as Britain, comes to her senses, or whether they are Embarrassed by the Conduct of Spain, and are acting in this reserved manner, and with an Appearance of Irresolution in hopes of her coming in, or whether they have any Prejudices against the Personal Characters of the Commissioners, and are loth to be unreserved with them, for fear they should communicate either indiscreetly, or by design any Thing to the English, or to any Body here, who might convey it to England1 or whether all these Motives together have a share in it, I know not.
Thus much is certain, that ever since I have been here, I have never seen any Disposition in any Minister of state to talk with any of the Commissioners, either upon Intelligence from Spain, or England, upon the Designs or Negociations of Either, or any other Court in Europe, or upon the Conduct of the War by sea or Land, or upon their own Plans and Designs of Policy or War.
If this Reserve was ever thrown off, to any one, I should think, that putting it on to others, had some personal Motive. But it is exactly equal and alike to all three.2
Each Commissioner here, before I came, had his own set of Friends, Admirers, and Dependants, both among the French and Americans. Two Households united in some degree against one, very unjustly I fear and impolitically. But this set the Friends of the two, to injuring the third, in Conversation, and they cant forbear to do it, to this day. This Dissention I suspect has made the Ministry cautious, lest in the Course of Altercations, improper Use should be made of free Communications.
For my own Part however Odd you may think it in me to say it3 I have no Friends, much less Dependants here, and am determined to have none, for I am convinced that Competitions among these have done the Evil: But I am determined, if I am continued here to have free Communication, with the Ministry upon these subjects and to search them to the Bottom. The Ministry are candid Men and sensible, and I am sure that some Ecclaircissements would do good.
However, I am reckoning without my Hoste, for by the Bruits which Mr. D's Letters have Scattered, I may expect that the first Vessell will bring my Recall, or Removal to some other Court. But wherever I am, my Heart will ever be axious for the good of our Country, and warm with Friendship for her Friends, among whom you <are> will ever be reckoned, in the formost Rank, by your most obt
{ 250 }
1. The previous eleven words were inserted into the text.
2. The “Diffidence” of the French government discussed by JA in this and the preceding four paragraphs had important consequences for American foreign policy. As JA indicates, Vergennes' failure to consult with the Commissioners prevented them from informing the congress of the aims, conduct, and possible consequences of French policy. Their inability to provide adequate intelligence was of special significance in regard to Spain's attempt to mediate between France and Great Britain, which had begun the previous April. No mention of the mediation can be found in any of the Commissioners' letters to the congress between April 1778 and the end of JA's first mission in February 1779. In instructions of 26 Oct. to France's minister at Philadelphia, Conrad Alexandre Gerard, Vergennes directed him to use the prospect of a successful mediation to draw from the congress its peace ultimata in order to moderate the American objectives and bring them into line with those of France and Spain (Gérard, Despatches and Instructions, p. 358). Gerard, with a zealous regard for his instructions, emphasized the chances for a successful outcome of the Spanish effort and the urgent need for a determination of peace objectives. The congress, lacking any independent assessment of the mediation by its representatives in Europe, was forced to rely on his interpretation of events. Thus the congress took a more optimistic view of the mediation than was warranted, particularly in view of Vergennes' belief, indicated in his instructions to Gerard and which he must have held even more strongly by the date of this letter, that the Spanish mediation would fail and that Spain would enter the war regardless of what the congress did.
Although correct in his appreciation of the problems that might result from French “Diffidence,” JA erred in assuming that the “reserve” was “exactly equal and alike to all three” Commissioners. In his instructions to Gerard of 26 Oct., Vergennes stated that he had not informed the Commissioners about the Spanish mediation because of an injunction of secrecy by Spain and because he feared Arthur Lee and his associates (same, p. 358). Whether this included JA is uncertain, but Vergennes saw no danger in consulting with Benjamin Franklin, as is clear from a conversation that took place between the two, probably between the date of JA's letter to Gerry and 25 Dec. In his instructions to Gerard of that date, Vergennes noted that it had become clear to Spain in the course of its mediation effort that Britain would not recognize American independence or enter into negotiations in which that was to be considered. As a result, Spain had suggested a long truce, similar to that of 1609 between Spain and the Netherlands. Vergennes then wrote that he had concluded that the Spanish proposal merited attention and had not hesitated to communicate it to Benjamin Franklin under the seal of secrecy and unknown to his two colleagues (same, p. 451).
Secret consultations seemed appropriate because by December, Vergennes was aware that the congress had elected Franklin to be its minister plenipotentiary to France and also because the French minister could be reasonably sure that Franklin would not divulge the conversations to the congress. In an instruction to Gerard of 19 Feb. 1779, Vergennes indicated that he was convinced that Franklin would not inform the congress of either Vergennes' confidence or his own ideas because he would fear to inform them of something in which his two colleagues had no part (same, p. 535).
In the short run the situation that developed was advantageous to France, but in the long run it created serious problems for the Franco-American alliance. By consulting secretly with Franklin, Vergennes effectively prevented news of the Spanish mediation from reaching the congress through any source other than the French minister in Philadelphia, thereby permitting France to exert an inordinate amount of influence on the deliberations over the American peace ultimata. Indeed, Franklin's first mention of the mediation was in a letter to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 26 May 1779, by which time Spain was about to enter the war under the terms of the Franco-Spanish Convention of Aranjuez, which had been signed on 12 April (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:186; Henri Doniol, { 251 } Histoire de la participation de la France à l'etablissement des Etats-Unis d'Amérique, Paris, 1886–1892, 5 vols., 3:803–810).
Of even more importance was the fact that by excluding Arthur Lee and JA from the consultations, Vergennes relied on Franklin's views as an accurate representation of American policy and objectives. The problem with this assumption can be seen in Vergennes' statement in his instruction to Gérard of 25 Dec., that Franklin had declared to him that nothing was of less importance to the colonies than Great Britain's recognition of their independence because it existed in fact and was irrevocable, and that the only thing that they held sacred was their close and constant union with France. As a result, Franklin held the opinion that America could, without inconvenience, accept a long truce (Gérard, Despatches and Instructions, p. 451).
Franklin was correct in saying that for the United States, British recognition of American independence could only confirm what already existed. In concluding from that, however, that the United States in 1778 or 1779 would agree to a cessation of hostilities based on anything less than direct negotiations with Britain to secure a definitive peace treaty was a serious misrepresentation. The American response to the British Parliament's conciliatory bills and the Carlisle Peace Commission in April and June 1778, as well as the draft peace ultimata presented to the congress on 23 Feb. and those ultimately adopted on 14 Aug. 1779, clearly indicated that the sine qua non was direct negotiations with British representatives empowered to treat with the United States as an independent, sovereign state (JCC, 10:374–380; 11:615; 13:239–244; 14:956–960).
In accepting Franklin's view, which he may have put forward because it was what he believed Vergennes wanted to hear, Vergennes could not fail to develop a perception of American policy that was considerably different from that held by JA, Arthur Lee, and others, and to ascribe all conflicting statements by Americans to an anti-French or pro-English party. Thus the real dangers of too much “Diffidence” toward the three Commissioners, and secret consultations with only one of them, were that they prevented France from obtaining a true understanding of the American view of the Franco-American relationship and of the objectives to be sought in a peace, while they deprived the United States of any basis upon which to judge French motives.
3. The previous eleven words were interlined for insertion here.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0171

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-05

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

A french Brig belonging to La Rochelle arrived at this port the 2d Instant from Boston, he left that port the 4 November in Company with Adml. D'Estaing with all his fleet reinforced by some American Frigates. The Report circulated in Boston their intent was against Halifax, the Season was far advanct for an attempt of that nature.1 He kept company thirty Six hours, the Fleet steerd N.E., he struck off for France.
A vessel equipt by Messr. Decater freind to Monsr. Rey de Chaumont arrived at Pray.2 His procés verbal contains that he saild from Boston with the Fleet the 4th. Novr., his orders from the Admiral was to keep under his Stern, a Gale of Wind on the 7th. seperated him from the Fleet, not having any rendezvous assi[gned] he stood for France.
{ 252 }
A report prevails of Ad. Byrons leaving N York the 2 Novr with 17 Ships 100 Transports having on board 5000 Troops.3 I cannot trace the Source of this advice to bring it to a certainty.
The Boston, Providence, and Ranger Arrived safe at Boston with many prizes eight days before the Brig saild.
I have the Honor to be with due Respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. The Commissioners from Congress Passi”; docketed: “Mr Bondfield.” in another hand: “J. Bondfield s Decr 1778.”
1. Estaing's real destination was Martinique. Here and elsewhere in this paragraph the editors have supplied periods and commas for clarity.
2. Both the friend of Chaumont and the location named by Bondfield remain unidentified.
3. On the same day that Estaing left Boston, Como. William Hotham left New York with eight ships convoying 5,000 troops under Gen. James Grant to Barbados (Mahan, Navies in the War of Amer. Independence, p. 100).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0172

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1778-12-06

To James Lovell

[salute] Dear sir

Yours of 12 Oct.1 We have received, by which We learn that foreign affairs were under Consideration. Mr. D. had wrote on 14 Sept.2 that they were then under Consideration. From the Time taken We have reason to Expect they will be well digested. There are great Expectations here among the interested. Mr. D and others have written in a manner which makes it expected that one will be left alone here. But what is to be done with the other two is left to conjecture. If I am recalled, I Shall have nothing to do but get home if I can. If appointed to another Court, I shall be in Some Perplexity, because I see no Probability of being received at present. However I can digest nothing, till I know the Premisses.
If the Plan of having only one here is adopted, it will be in my opinion absolutely necessary that maritime and commercial affairs should be put into other Hands, and the public Money too. The one who will be left here, is not sufficiently attentive to Business, to have So large a Field of it, nor Sufficiently parcimonious to have the Disposition of so much Money, in our <pernurious> necessitous Circumstances. This is not said from any unfriendly Motive for I have none: but it is impartial Truth, and such as the public Interest demands of me that I should tell.
The K's Speech, I have already Sent to Congress by Several opportu• { 253 } nities, you will see that he dreads the great Armaments of other Powers in the plural. He must mean Holland and Spain. You will see also that the opposition is more Strong than it ever was before, in both Houses. I will omit no opportunity of sending the other Papers, with the debates as they come, and I pray they may go safe, but immense Numbers of our Dispatches are Sunk in the Sea. I beg of you to write as often as possible to
[signed] J. A.
1. A brief letter informing the Commissioners of the congress' deliberations and enclosing newspapers (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
2. JA meant Silas Deane's letter of 15 Sept. (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:496).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0173

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Rush, Benjamin
Date: 1778-12-06

To Benjamin Rush

[salute] Dr Sir

I had the Pleasure of a Letter from you,1 a few days before I Sailed from Boston, which I have never been able to answer.
I think I find more to do here; more Difficulty to do right and at the Same Time give Satisfaction, than I did, you know where.2
We Suffer here extreamly for Want of Intelligence from America, as We did there, and as I fear you do still for Want of it from Europe.
We have very imperfect Information concerning the State of the Army especially its Health, which you used to have the Goodness to inform me of sometimes. I hope it is better than it was heretofore.
I should be very happy to hear from you as often as you can, and to know the state of the Hospital as well as Army in General, and every Thing that relates to Government or War. There is a periodical Pamphlet in French under the Title of the <Courier de L'Europe>3 Affairs D'Angleterre & De L'Amerique, in which Intelligence and Letters from America are published, for the Information of the People in Europe.
I have a Strong Curiosity to know, the Artifices, and Subterfuges, with which the Tories still keep alive each others Hopes. When England has not and cannot get an ally, and many Nations are preparing to league themselves against her. When her Merchants are breaking, her Manufacturers Starving, and they are obliged to take them into public Pay, under the Name of Militia, to prevent their Picking Pocketts, robbing on the High Ways, and plundering in Companies all before them.
I have but one Peace of Advice to give. I never had any other. “Be not deceived.” Tho B. is in a deplorable Situation, the Administration { 254 } will neither Acknowledge our Independance nor withdraw their Troops. You must kill, Starve or take them all.4 Your Frid & sert.
[signed] John Adams
RC (CtY: Franklin Papers). LbC (Adams Papers).
1. JA's reference is probably to Rush's letter of 22 Jan, which was received on 6 Feb., rather than to Rush's letter of 8 Feb. The letter of the 8th could not have arrived before JA sailed for France, and there is no evidence that AA forwarded it. JA, however, had answered the letter of 22 Jan. on 8 Feb., thus making his statement in the present letter confusing (Benjamin Rush, Letters, 1:190–192, 199–200; vol. 5:402–404). It is possible that JA forgot that he had replied on 8 Feb.
2. Presumably in the congress.
3. This cancellation does not appear in the Letterbook copy, indicating that it was made from the recipient's copy and was not a draft as was often the case.
4. Through Rush's efforts this final paragraph, with minor changes, was printed in the Pennsylvania Packet, 25 March 1779, as an “Extract of a letter from an American Gentleman in a high position at the Court of France, dated Passy (near Paris) Dec. 6th” (Rush to JA, 19 Aug. 1779, below). It was widely reprinted, see for example the Virginia Gazette (Dixon and Nicholson), 9 April; the Connecticut Courant, 20 April; and the Boston Gazette, 26 April 1779.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0174

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Sherman, Roger
Date: 1778-12-06

To Roger Sherman

[salute] Dear Sir

From the long Series of arduous services, in which We have acted together, I have had Experience enough of your accurate Judgment, in Cases of Difficulty, to wish very often that I could have the Benefit of it here.
To me it appears that there will be no more cordial Friendship, nor for many Years to come any long Peace, between G. B. and America, and therefore the French Alliance is and will be an important Barrier to Us, and ought to be cultivated with perfect Faith and much Tenderness. But Still it is a delicate and dangerous Connection. There is Danger to the Simplicity of our Manners and to the Principles of our Constitution, and there may be dangers that too much will be demanded of Us.
There is Danger that the People and their Representatives, may have too much Timidity in their Conduct towards this Power, and that your Ministers here may have too much Diffidence of themselves and too much Complaisance for the Court. There is Danger, that French Councils and Emmissaries and Correspondents, may have too much Influence in our Deliberations.
I hope that this Court will not interfere, by Attaching themselves to Persons, Parties, or Measures in America. It would be ill Policy, but no Court is always directed by sound Policy, and We cannot be too much { 255 } upon our Guard. Some Americans, will naturally endeavour to avail themselves of the Aid of the French Influence, to raise their Reputations, to extend their Influence, to strengthen their Parties, and in short to promote the Purposes of private Ambition and Interest. But these Things must be guarded against. I wish for a Letter from you, as often as you can, and that you would believe me your Frnd.1
1. Assuming that this letter was sent (no recipient's copy has been found), it is remarkable for two reasons: it is the first letter in which JA clearly stated his apprehensions about the French alliance; and it was to Roger Sherman, whom JA knew well from having served with him on important committees at the congress, but who, according to the Adams Papers Editorial Files, had no previous correspondence with JA. One can only speculate on JA's reasons for unburdening himself to Sherman, rather than to one of his intimates, but it may have been owing to Sherman's standing in the congress, as well as to JA's high regard for him. JA described Sherman to AA in a letter of 16 March 1777 as “an old Puritan, as honest as an Angell and as <stanch as a blood Hound> firm <as a Rock> in the Cause of American Independence, as Mount Atlass” (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:176).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0175

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Adams, Samuel
Date: 1778-12-07

To Samuel Adams

[salute] My dear Sir

On the 21 May, I wrote you a very long Letter, on the Subject of foreign Affairs in general, and particularly in this Country: on the 28 July, I wrote you another lengthy Letter, on the 7 August I wrote you again in answer to yours of 21 June, which is all I have ever received from you, on the 27 November I wrote you again.2 I hope Some of these have reached you, but So many Vessells have been taken that I fear Some have miscarried.
I wish I could unbosom myself to you without Reserve, concerning the State of Affairs here, but you know the danger. The two Passions of Ambition and Avarice, which have been the Bane of Society3 and the Curse of human Kind, in all ages and Countries, are not without their Influence upon our Affairs here, but I fancy the last of the two has done the most Mischief. Where the Carcass is there the Crows will assemble, and you and I have had too much Experience of the Greediness with which the Loaves and Fishes were aimed at under the old Government, and with which the Continental Treasury has been Sought for under the new, to expect that the Coffers of the American Banker here, would not make Some Mens Mouths Water. This appetite for the Bankers Treasure, I take to have been the Source of most of the Altercations and Dissentions here.
{ 256 }
Your old Friend is a Man of Honour and Integrity, altho to be very frank and very impartial, he cannot, easily at all Times any more than your humble servant govern his Temper,4 and he has some Notions of Elegance Rank and Dignity that may be carried rather too far. He has been of opinion that the public Money has been too freely issued here, and has often opposed. The other5 you know personally, and that he loves his Ease, hates to offend, and seldom gives any Opinion untill obliged to do it. I know also and it is necessary you should be informed, that he is overwhelmed with a Correspondence from all Quarters, most of them upon trifling subjects, and in a more trifling Style; with unmeaning Visits from Multitudes of People, chiefly from the Vanity of Having it to say that they have Seen him. There is another Thing which I am obliged to mention, there are So many private Families, Ladies and Gentlemen that he visits So often, and they are So fond of him that he cannot well avoid it, and So much Intercourse with Academicians, that all these Things together keep his Mind in Such a constant State of Dissipation, that if he is left alone here, the public Business, will Suffer in a degree beyond Description, provided our Affairs are continued upon the present footing.
If indeed you take out of his Hands the public Treasury, and the Direction of the Frigates and continental Vessells that are sent here and all Commercial affairs, and intrust them to Persons to be appointed by Congress, at Nantes and Bourdeaux, I should think it would be best to have him here alone, with such a secretary as you can confide in, but if he is left here alone, even with such a secretary, and all maritime and Commercial and pecuniary as well as political affairs, are left in his Hands, I am perswaded, that France and America both will have Reason to repent it. He is not only so indolent that Business will be neglected: but you know that altho he has as determined a soul as any Man, yet it is his constant Policy, never to say Yes or no decidedly, but when he cannot avoid it: and it is certain, in order to preserve the Friendship between the two Countries your Minister here must upon some occasions speak freely and without Reserve, preserving Decency and Politeness at the same Time.
Both he and the other Colleague,6 were I am sorry to say it, in a constant opposition to your old Friend; and this Misunderstanding was no secret, at Court, in the City, or in the seaport Towns, either to French, English or Americans, and this was carried So far, that Insinuations, I have been told have been made at Court against your old Friend, not by Either of his Colleagues, that I have ever heard, but probably by somebody or other emboldened by and taking Advantage of the Misunderstanding among the three, that he was too friendly to { 257 } the English, too much attached to Ld. Shelbourne, and even that he corresponded with his Lordship and communicated Intelligence to him. This whoever suggested it, I am perfectly confident was a cruel Calumny, and could not have made an Impression if the Colleagues had contradicted it, in the manner that you and I should have done. You and I had opportunity to know his invariable Attachment to our Cause long before Hostilities commenced, and I have not a Colour of Ground for Suspicion, that from that Time to this he has deviated an Iota from the Cause of his Country in Thought, Word, or Deed. When he left England or soon after, he wrote a Letter of mere Compliment to his Lordship, a mere Card to bid him farewell, and received such another in Return, which he assures me are all the Letters that ever passed between them, and I have not a doubt of the Truth of it.7
The other Gentleman8 whom you know, I need not Say much of—You know his Ambition his Desire of making a Fortune and of promoting his Relations. You also know his Art and his Enterprise. Such Characters are often usefull, altho always to be carefully watched and controuled, especially in such a Government as ours.
There has been so much said in America, and among Americans here, about his making a Fortune by Speculating in English Funds, and by private Trade that it is saying nothing new to mention it. Our Countrymen will naturally desire to know if it is true, and it will be expected of me that I should say something of it. I assure you I know nothing about it. An intimate Friend of his,9 who recommended, the Major to you, certainly Speculated largely in the Funds, from whence the suspicion arose that, the other was concernd with him, but I know of no Proof that he was. Combinations, Associations, Copartnerships in Trade have been formed here, in which he and his Brothers are supposed to be connected, but I know nothing more than you do about them. But10 supposing it was proved that he speculated and traded, the Question is whether it was justifiable. Neither you nor I Should have done it, most certainly.11 Nor would it have been forgiven or excused in either of Us. Whoever makes Profits in public Life, neither of Us must be the Man. But does not prove it unlawful in him. If he did not employ the public Money, nor so much of his Time as to neglect the public Business, where is the Harm? That is the Question. And it ought to be remembered, that he was here a long Time, not as Ambassador, Envoy, Commissioner, Minister, or in any other Trust or Character from Congress, but merely as an Agent for the Committees of Commerce and Correspondence.
Some of the Gentlemen of Character, who are now in America from this Country, particularly the Minister and Consul, although their { 258 } Characters are very good, it is to be feared, have had Prejudices insinuated into them, against your old Correspondent.12 I am extreamly Sorry for this, because I think it is against a worthy Character, and because it will be likely to have unhappy Effects both with you and abroad.
The other Gentleman,13 whose Consolation, when left out by his first Constituents was that he stood well with the Body to which he was sent, consoled himself also, when recalled by that Body, with the thought that he was esteemd by that Court, where he had resided. This no doubt will be displayed in all its variegated Colours. The Letter from the Minister, expressing high Esteem, the Present from an higher Personage, and above all the Fleet and the Magnificence that accompanied it, will be all repeated and rung in Changes14 in order to magnify Merit. Yet I am Sorry to see in the Newspapers such Expressions as these Mr.——“ who was the principal Negociator”—such Expressions if true, ought not to be used, because they have only a Tendency to occasion Division and Animosity, and cannot do any Good. But there is Cause to doubt the Justice of them. In short I think upon an Examination of the Treaties and a Comparason of them with the Treaties and Instructions sent from Congress, I think it is probable that there was not much Discussion in the Case. I wish with all my Heart there had been more.
This Letter is not so free as I wish to write you, but still it is too free, to be used without Discretion. You will use it accordingly only for the public Good. Knowing the Animosity that has been in two against me here, which I believe to have been carried unwarrantable Lengths, knowing the Inveteracy of many subaltern and collateral Characters, which I think is injurious, to the Individual as much as the Public, and knowing that you will have these Things in Contemplation and much at Heart I have said thus much of my sentiments upon these subjects which I hope will do no Harm.
Believe me to be your Friend
[signed] John Adams
RC (NN: Emmet Collection); docketed: “from J Adams Passy Decr 7 1778.” Samuel Adams enclosed extracts from this letter in his own letter to James Warren of 24 March 1779 (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.). Warren may later have sent these extracts to JA, for a document in Samuel Adams' hand entitled “Extracts of a letter from France dated Decr. 7th 1778” is in the Adams Papers. LbC (Adams Papers).
1. The Letterbook copy, dated 5 Dec., was clearly the draft.
2. For the letters of 21 May, 28 July, 7 Aug., and 21 June, see vol. 6:144–145, { 259 } calendar entry (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:106–108), 325–327, 353–355, 226–227. JA's letter of 27 Nov. is printed above.
3. The Letterbook has “Liberty” for “Society.”
4. In the Letterbook this description of Arthur Lee begins: “One of the Commissioners, your old Friend, I take to be a Man of Honour and Integrity, yet to be very frank he cannot easily govern his Temper.”
5. Referring to Benjamin Franklin, this sentence in the Letterbook originally began “The Dr.,” “other” being interlined as a replacement.
6. In the Letterbook this sentence, obviously referring to Silas Deane, begins: “Both he and his Colleague, who is or has been lately with you.”
7. JA is substantially correct in his characterization of Arthur Lee's letter to Lord Shelburne of 23 Dec. 1776 and Shelburne's reply of I Feb 1777. In the latter, either inadvertently or in reference to the date received, Shelburne states that Lee's letter was of 3 Jan. (R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee, 1:62–63; 2:354–355). However, Lee did write to Shelburne on 10 Dec. 1777 with news of the northern armies (PCC, No. 102, II, f. 11–12).
8. Silas Deane. For an examination of Deane's financial transactions, referred to in this and the following paragraph, see Thomas Perkins Abernethy, “Commercial Activities of Silas Deane in France,” AHR, 39 (1934):477–485; Julian P. Boyd, “Silas Deane: Death by a Kindly Teacher of Treason?,” WMQ, 3d ser., 16:319–336 (July 1959).
9. Probably Dr. Edward Bancroft. In the Letterbook version of this sentence, “the Major” was interlined as a replacement for a heavily canceled word: “Wrixon.” Maj. Elias Wrixon, a former British Army officer who sought employment in the Continental Army, was appointed chief engineer for the army in Canada on 12 April 1776, a position he declined because it carried only the rank of colonel. Both JA and Samuel Adams served on committees that considered Wrixon's qualifications and made recommendations on his employment. JA's Autobiography states that Samuel Adams strongly supported Wrixon, and Richard Smith's diary for 25 March 1776 indicates that Adams presented a committee report recommending Wrixon's appointment as adjutant general in Canada (vol. 4:17, 148; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:382362; Wrixon to the president of the congress, 23 April 1776, PCC, No. 78, XXIII, f. 273; Burnett, ed., Letters of Members, 1:407–408). Although no letter to Samuel Adams urging Wrixon's appointment has been found, such a recommendation might have come from Edward Bancroft. Bancroft, certainly a close associate of Silas Deane, had written to Benjamin Franklin on 23 Dec. 1775 in support of Wrixon (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 1:177–178).
10. In the Letterbook JA began a new paragraph here.
11. In the Letterbook this sentence ended “it is true” in place of “most certainly,” and the following three sentences did not appear.
12. The “Minister and Consul” were Conrad Alexandre Gérard and John Holker the younger. Samuel Adams' “old Correspondent” was Arthur Lee.
13. Silas Deane. For his replacement as a delegate to the congress by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1775, see vol. 3:279. For his recall from France and subsequent return to America, see his letter to JA of 8 April, note 2, and references there (vol. 6:10–15).
14. In the Letterbook the remainder of this sentence was interlined and marked for insertion at this point.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0176

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-12-07

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

To His Excellency Count de Vergennes, Minister & Secretary of State for foreign Affairs:1
At the time the American War began there was very little real Money in that Country, the same having been constantly drawn out as { 260 } fast as it came in to pay for British Manufactures and Importations of foreign Goods by the British Merchants, with the Duties and other Expences occasioned by their Monopoly.
This Scarcity of Money, together with the Stoppage of Commerce by the War, would have made it difficult for the People to pay Taxes in support of it; And the new Governments were scarcely sufficiently settled at first to venture upon imposing them.
The Congress therefore issued Paper Bills in Lieu of Money, which during the first and most Part of the second Year, answered well the Purposes for which they were emitted, in Supporting a vigorous internal Defence, and furnishing a Marine Force which greatly annoyed the Enemy's Commerce.
But the too great Quantity of this Currency (which, tho' the War called for it and required it to be issued, was much more than the diminish'd Commerce could find Employment for) at length naturally occasioned a Depreciation of its Value, which being once begun, could not easily be stopt, or recovered; And it fell so low, as that seven or eight Dollars in Paper have been valued at not more than one of Silver.
The Treaty with France and the Naval Aid sent from thence having given a more general Confidence in the Stability of the new Government, and in the publick Ability to discharge and pay off the Bills; And Congress, in Proportion as they could supply the Treasury by Borrowing the old Bills of the Possessors upon Interest, having forborne to issue new Ones; they have now recover'd so much Credit, as that the Difference is not at Present more than three for one.2
But a principal Means of recovering and supporting so much of their Credit, has been a Promise made by the Congress, to pay the Annual Interest by real Money in France.3 This Promise was made for all the Bills that were borrowed before the Month of March 1778, which it is Said amount to near fourty two Millions of Livres Tournois, the Interest whereof at the Rate of six Per Cent, will be two Millions and an half.
The Congress hoped to fulfill this Promise by Means of Remittances to be made hither of American Produce; or by Loans of Money to be procured in Europe from private Persons, on the Credit of the States; or finally by a Subsidy or Loan from their great and good Friend and Ally his most Christian Majesty. Those Remittances have been mostly intercepted or prevented. The Wars in Europe, and the Demand for Loans of Money on the Credit of more settled States, have made it more difficult to borrow on Account of the Congress. Thus their only { 261 } remaining Hope at Present is in the Wisdom and Goodness of his most Christian Majesty.
The Bills of Exchange will probably begin to arrive in December being drawn in September by the Congress Treasurer on the Commissioners here for Payment of the Interest due. And they will continue to be drawn till the Month of March next, and to arrive till the May following. In America those Bills of Exchange will be purchased of the Proprietors who are not in Trade, by Merchants who are; and will be sent here to pay for the Manufactures and Produce of France which those Merchants would import into America.
The Commissioners will begin to accept, and will pay those Bills as far as the Money they now have, or which they can hereafter borrow, will enable them to go. But if they cannot compleat the whole; If they are obliged to protest any of them; it will be attended with the most mischievous Effects. As not only the Schemes of Commerce will be deranged, and the beginning Correspondence between the Merchants of the two Nations be nipt in the Bud; but the public Credit of American Paper will be ruined, and can no longer be made Use of as an Instrument to continue the War; which will give great Advantage to Britain, by disabling one of the Allies from co-operating against her.
On the Contrary, if the Bills of Exchange now coming are punctually paid here (which Some have doubted, and therefore the Promise of the Congress has not had the full Effect intended) the Paper Money will, with the Aid of the Taxes4 which are begun to be levied for calling in and diminishing the Quantity, recover its Value and Importance, and the Congress will be enabled to continue the Use of that Instrument for the Payment of their Forces and the Annoyance of the common Enemy.
Such is the Fertility of the Lands and Industry of the People in America, that being no longer impoverish'd by the British Monopoly, there is not the least Doubt to be made of their future Ability of repaying with Interest and Thankfulness such Aids of Money as his Majesty in his Goodness shall think fit to afford them.
The Commissioners therefore pray that his Majesty would graciously take the Premises into Consideration, and compleat the good Work of securing the Liberties of America which he has so magnanimously and successfully commenc'd, by giving Orders for furnishing such Sums from Time to Time as may be wanted for the Purpose abovementioned.5
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
{ 262 }
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 5); docketed: “Joint à la lettre de M. Franklin &a. du 7. Xbr. 1778.”
1. The date, written at the close of the letter, and the title are in Arthur Lee's hand and appear to have been afterthoughts. This document, which should be compared with the Commissioners' similar request of 28 Aug. (vol. 6:401–404), was sent under a covering letter of the same date in which it is referred to as a “Memorial” (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 5). Arthur Lee's journal indicates that the Commissioners held a conference on 4 Dec. to discuss this appeal to Vergennes, which had been drafted by Benjamin Franklin. According to Lee, JA “observed 'that he thought we ought to state the interest France had in supporting us, how little the expense was in proportion to that interest, and not make it a matter of mere grace.' It was his opinion, he said, 'that this court did not treat us with any confidence, nor give us any effectual assistance.'” Lee supported JA's position and the question of the sufficiency of French naval assistance was taken up. Franklin opposed making the present letter any stronger or injecting new issues until “we saw the effect of begging it [additional financial aid] as a favour” (R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee, 1:404–406). It seems likely that one result of this exchange over the extent and sufficiency of French aid was the Commissioners' letter to Vergennes requesting that additional naval forces be sent to American waters ([ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779, below).
2. This statement is misleading because it implies that the emission of currency by the congress had been or was about to be substantially diminished. Although it is undoubtedly true that the congress wished to restrict emissions and follow the course outlined here—such a resolution had been proposed in April 1778, but not acted upon—the emissions in fact continued through 1778 at an enormous rate and even increased in 1779. For those two years the total was $188,200,000, a fivefold increase over the previous three years (JCC, 10:323; E. James Ferguson, Power of the Purse, Chapel Hill, 1961, p. 30).
3. This resolution was adopted on 10 Sept. 1777. On 8 April 1778 a resolution was placed before the congress in an effort to extend its provisions, but no action was taken (JCC, 8:730–731; 10:323).
4. The need to raise revenue and call in paper money caused eight of the thirteen states to pass tax laws in 1777, a course taken by only three states over the previous two years. This movement toward taxation received added impetus with the congress' adoption, on 22 Nov. 1777, of a series of economic measures to be recommended to the states, including the requisition of funds from each according to its ability to pay (Ralph V. Harlow, “Aspects of Revolutionary Finance,” AHR, 35 [1929]:66; JCC, 9:953–958).
5. The French government, because it had made two payments in November totaling 750,000 livres (Commissioners' Accounts with Ferdinand Grand, [9 Aug. – 12 Nov.], vol. 6:362), may not have seen this request as particularly urgent. In any event, no additional funds were received until a payment of 250,000 livres was made in June 1779 (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA: RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 107).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0177

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Cushing, Thomas
Date: 1778-12-08

To Thomas Cushing

[salute] Sir

I had the Favour of a Letter from you some time ago which I answered immediately,1 but so many of my Letters are among the Fishes of the sea, that I fear that may be one.
You know very well that is a long time that I have had a very bad { 263 } Opinion of the Designs and Dispositions of the B. Court towards America. I assure you I have not conceived a more favourable Idea, since my Arrival in Europe.
The Malignity of their Intentions is one of the deepest Die, and their Inveteracy is such that nothing but Want of Power will prevent their Annihilating Us. It has been said by Merchants who have made fortunes out of our Labour, at their own Tables even with Americans in Company, that if every Man Woman and Child in America were upon one Plank in the Ocean and it was in their Power to sink or save it, they would sink,2 and I learn that Expressions of such deep rooted Rancour are so common, and have been so for Years, that it is much to be apprehended it is a general sentiment.
Our Bayonets, under God must be our Defence. We are contending for all the Ends of Government. The best Government and the Worst are set before Us—Prosperity and Adversity for Posterity are set before Us—We have nothing to do but make the Choice, and surely no Man of Reflection and feeling will hesitate. I wish for the Continuance of your favours & have the Honour to be your vy humble sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (NhD); docketed: “Honle. Jno. Adams Esqr Letter Decr. 8. 1778.”
1. For Cushing's letter of 9 June, see JA's reply of 25 July, vol. 6:315–316.
2. The preceding passage was underlined, presumably by Cushing, with a different color ink than that used for the text.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0178

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1778-12-08

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[salute] Dear Sir

I had last Night, very late your Card, respecting Mathews.1 I cannot recollect that any Thing was ever done in Congress, respecting him or his Conspiracy. I remember too have heard of the Transaction at the Time, but it was not an affair of sufficient Moment to excite any <extensive> Allarm, or make any extensive Impression; and I believe it was thought so little of, as never to have been sent to Congress.2 If it had, I think I should have known and remembered it, for no Man attended Congress more incessantly than I did from Septr. 1774 to Novr. 1777. I remember to have been told by the Judge Advocate who attended the Tryal of Sedgwick an officer of the Army who I think was tryed by a Court Martial, for some Conduct <connected with> in the same affair that there was no Plan, or Concert whatsoever.3 That there was Evidence against a few Individuals of Treasonable Wishes and Speeches, { 264 } but no <concerted Plot> digested Plot. The Papers relative to this affair have taken up much more Room than they deserve.
In your last Number Gen. Washington is quoted as Writing to Congress after Burgoines Captivity that <now>, then was the favourable Moment for Treaty.4 You may depend upon it that this is false. I read every Letter he wrote upon that occasion and I know there was no such Idea in any of them. I know fa[r]ther, that so rapid and irresistable Ways [i.e. was] the popular Torrent the contrary Way, that such a sentiment would have lost even General Washington the Confidence <of his Army, and> of his Country and even of his Army. But there is no End to the Lyes, that our Ennemies make and propagate, from every quarter of the World5 in Excuse of their own Injustice and Inhumanity and I am weary of complaining of them. The Gazettes of the united Provinces and of Germany, are filled with Fictions, by the Emmissaries of Great Britain, and almost every Newspaper in their Dominions is equally crouded with them, and no Improbability is too gross.6 And indeed it is not to be wondered at, for if they had not previously set all the Laws of God and Man at Defyance they would never have begun this War, but having begun it, they have not hesitated at any atrocious Enormity, nor will they hesitate. For my own Part I think that all Christendom and indeed all Humanity, ought to unite in order to arrest the Massacres and Conflagrations that are meditated under the Colour of such Forgeries, as all the Neighbourhood should unite to kill or chain a mad Dog. Dont print this Letter because all that know me will know from the Egotism of it, and other Characteristicks that it comes from your Friend
[signed] John Adams7
1. Genet's note (Adams Papers), undated but probably written on the 7th, was a request for information on the alleged conspiracy in June 1776 involving David Matthews, mayor of New York City. Genet planned to deal with the incident in the next issue of Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique, “Journal,” under the date of Sept. 1776 and wished to know what action the congress had taken and how the affair had ended. The arrangement of the “Journal” volumes of Affaires makes it difficult to determine when a particular issue appeared and thus, with certainty, whether Genet was deterred by this letter or carried out his plan. If the latter was the case then it was most likely done in Affaires, “Journal,” vol. 12, p. 207–208. There, under Sept. and Oct. 1776, Matthews is referred to under the heading “Découverte d'un Traitre auprès du Général Washington.” An earlier reference under June, July, and August, is in Affaires, “Journal,” vol. 11, p. 187–193. For additional information on the conspiracy, see Samuel Cooper to JA, 1 July 1776, note 1; and William Tudor to JA, 7 July 1776, and note 2, vol. 4:356, 367–369.
2. The investigation was carried out by a committee of the New York Provincial Congress headed by John Jay (Force, Archives, 4th ser., 6:1152–1183).
3. In the summer of 1776 William Tudor, judge advocate and a frequent correspondent of JA, would have been in• { 265 } volved in any court-martial stemming from the Matthews conspiracy. In late July and early Aug. 1776 Tudor was in Philadelphia and met with JA (Adams Family Correspondence, 2:63, 89). But if the two men discussed the Matthews affair and a court-martial connected with it then JA's memory had dimmed with the passage of time. There is no evidence that any army officer was tried, but on 26 June a member of Washington's personal guard, Thomas Hickey, was court-martialed for treason in connection with the conspiracy and on the 28th was executed (Washington, Writings, ed. Fitzpatrick, 5:161–162, 170, 179, 182 and note, 193–195).
4. The quotation from Washington appeared in Affaires, “Lettres,” vol. 12, cahier 60, p. ccci. Although he printed it, Genet doubted its accuracy and included a note at the bottom of the page in which he stated that the item had not been found in any American paper of the time and it was well known that the English ministry had engaged in previous fabrications.
5. The remainder of this sentence was interlined.
6. The following two sentences were written below the closing for insertion at this point.
7. In addition to the Adams-Genet correspondence for December, printed and mentioned here and below, two other letters, both to Genet, are noteworthy. The first was of [ca. 3 Dec.] (RC, J. G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958) and contained a long passage taken from Cotton Tufts' letter of 5 Aug. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:68–70), concerning the French fleet and a valuable prize taken by it. Although JA clearly intended it for publication in Affaires, Genet did not use it, apparently because he already had a letter giving the same information (see “Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 63, p. lv). The second, of 11 Dec. (RC, PWacD: Feinstone Coll., on deposit PPAmP), transmitted two letters for Genet's consideration and possible inclusion in Affaires. The first enclosure was Thomas Cushing's letter of 21 Oct. (above), which Genet printed (Affaires, “Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 63, p. lv–lviii). For the second enclosure from a “Mr. A.,” possibly Benjamin Austin, see Thomas Cushing's letter of 21 Oct., note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0179

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Henry, Patrick
Date: 1778-12-08

To Patrick Henry

[salute] My dear Friend

Mr. Le Maire, writes me1 that he is about returning. I wrote you on the 9 July a long Letter in Answer to the one he brought,2 which is the only one I have received from you, altho by a Letter from Lisbon,3 from a Master of a Vessell taken by the English and carried in there, I learn that he had Letters for me which he sunk.
I wish, I would give you hopes of Peace. And I would not excite a needless alarm. But by the Hints in both Houses of Parliament in the present session, and by possitive Information, from Persons in England who pretend to know, They the Cabinet, are not only determined to pursue the War, at all Hazzards, but to alter the Mode of it, and make it more bloody and fiery if that is possible. Clinton and Byron with their Army and Fleet are to ravage the sea coast and bombard the seaport Towns—the Army in Canada is to be reinforced, and Parties of Regulars, with as many Tories and Indians, and [as] they can perswade to join them, are to burn and massacre, upon the Frontiers of Mass Bay, N. York, N. Jersey, Pensylvania, Virginia the Carolinas &c.
{ 266 }
This Kind of Sentiments it is pretty certain at present, occupy their Thoughts, please their Imaginations and warm their Hearts.
I know very well, that they have already done as much of this humane Work as they had Power to do, and dared to do. I know also that they must ask Leave of the French as well as Americans, and probably of other Powers, to do more Mischief than they have done. I know too that this Plan will be their certain and their Speedy destruction, because it will unite America more decisively, and it will excite that Earnestness4 Activity and Valour which alone is wanting to compleat their Destruction, and because, by relaxing their Discipline, and becoming less cautious and guarded than they have been, Desertions and Diseases will be more frequent among their Troops and they will more frequently expose themselves to the Snares and Attacks of ours.
The Spirits of the Nation are terribly sunk, the stocks are very low, lower than ever last War, and there is a Stronger Minority in both Houses than ever there was before. But they are now playing a desperate Game, and I think that the true Principle of their Conduct now, is not expecting ever to get America back, they mean to extinguish in the Hearts of the English Nation ever kind Sentiment towards America, that they may be and by wish to give them up and consider them forever in future with all the <Malice,> Envy, Jealousy and Hatred that they feel towards the French.
There is so great a Body of People in the Nation who are terrified at the Foresight of the Consequences of American Liberty—the Loss of the West India Islands of Canada Nova Scotia and the Floridas—a dangerous Rival in Commerce and naval Power, worming them out of their East India Trade, and other Branches—An Assylum, for all, Conspirators, and Minorities in Great Britain, that the Ministry expect such Disgrace and Danger to their Heads from giving it up, that they dare not do it, untill they have wrought the Nation into the rankest Hatred against America,5 and reduced her to the lowest possible degree of Weakness.
Many Persons, and I believe the Body of the Nation, foresee more Grandeur and Prosperity to America, and more Humiliation to themselves, in the Train of the Consequences of American Independence, than the Americans themselves do. It is certainly an Object worth contending for another Campaign, and many other Campaigns afterwards, if there was nothing in View but the future Grandeur, Glory and Prosperity of our Country. But We are contending for all the Ends of Government, for nothing less than the Difference between the best Form of Government, that ever existed, and the Worst that ever was { 267 } formed even in Imagination, for Aristotle himself never thought of such a Government, as that of Ten or fifteen Men in a little Island, composing the Legislature of a vast Continent 3000 Miles off.
You cannot do me more Honour, or give me more Pleasure than by Writing often. Remember me, to all that I knew, particularly to Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Wyth two Characters, which no Circumstances of Time or Place will ever induce me to forget. I have the Honour to be, with great Respect, <your> and Affection, your Friend and sert.
1. For Capt. Jacques Le Maire's letter of 3 Dec. (Adams Papers), see his earlier one of 10 Nov. (above). JA wrote to Le Maire on 8 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers), entrusting to his care this letter to Patrick Henry.
2. Henry's letter of 5 March is in vol. 5:408–409. For JA's reply of 9 July, see vol. 6:273, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:153–154.
3. Not found.
4. “Earnestness” was interlined.
5. This comma was done over a period and the remainder of this sentence appears to have been an addition.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0180

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Paine, Robert Treat
Date: 1778-12-08

To Robert Treat Paine

[salute] Sir

I have now been Eight Months in Europe, and have received very few Letters from America, and I fear my friends have received very few from me, both I suppose, not owing to a failure in Writing but to Miscarriages in the Conveyance.
Nothing is of more importance than to be informed of the Designs of the Ennemy. By all that I can learn from every Quarter they [are] as hostile as possible. Yet their Power is very limited.
Their ruling sentiment towards Us has heretofore been Contempt: but it is now Fear. They dread Us as the most formidable Rival, that ever arose against them. They fear We shall take from them their four remaining Provinces on the Continent, their West India Islands, their East India Trade, their Whale and Cod Fisheries, their naval Power, their People even they expect will migrate by Thousands. They fear that We shall drain away so many sources of their Financies, As to bring upon them a national Bankrupcy, and this they fear would produce an Arbitrary Government in Form. In short all the Chimeras that Fables have faigned or fear conceived, as well as many real Dangers to them. These fears have arrived too late. But still they will stimulate them to desperate Attempts. And you cannot be too early apprized of the Danger or too well prepared to meet it. It is our Lot to live in these disagreable Times and we must discharge our Parts as well as We can. { 268 } I hope We shall get honourable through our Difficulties some time or other. So Wishes your humble sert
[signed] John Adams
RC (MHi: R. T. Paine Papers); addressed: “The Honourable Robert Treat Paine Esqr Attorney General of the State of Massachusetts Bay Taunton To be sunk in Case of Capture”; docketed: “John Adams Esqr Decr. 8. 1778.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0181

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Laurens, Henry
Recipient: President of Congress
Date: 1778-12-08

To the President of the Congress

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to inclose, to Congress one other Copy of the Speech, at the opening of Parliament, together with the Debates in Consequence of it.1
The Hints in those Debates, especially those given out by Lord Suffolk, are confirmed by the general Strain of Intelligence from London.
Letters from Persons, who are supposed to know, announce the Determination of the Cabinet to be, That Clinton and Biron with their Fleet and Army shall ravage the Coast, and bombard and burn the Towns, that their Army in Canada shall be reinforced and that Parties of Regulars, with such Tories and Indians as they can perswade to join them, shall ravage, burn and Massacre on the Frontiers of Massachusetts Bay, New York, New Jersey, Pensylvania, Virginia and the Carolina's.
These magnificent Menaces, We know, it is not in their Power to execute, entirely. Yet We may depend they will do as much [as they can. They will] neither Acknowledge our Independence nor withdraw their Fleets and Armies, nor shall We ever get rid of them but by destroying them or making them Prisoners, untill the Nation is so exhausted and their Credit so sunk that the Minister can raise no more Money.
It has been usual to consider this as a Ministerial War, but I have ever thought they would Sometime or other discover it to be a national War. The few Men in the Nation who think seriously of this Business See clearly in the long Train of Consequences of American Independance, the Loss of their West India Islands, a great Part,2 of their East India Trade, the total Loss of Canada, Nova Scotia, the Floridas, all the American Fisheries,3 a Diminution of their Naval Power, as well as national Bankruptcy and a Revolution in their Government in Favour of Arbitrary Power. And the Nation in general has a confused Dread upon its Spirits of all these Things. The Inference they draw from all this is to go on with the War, and make it more cruel, which is the Way in the opinion of Impartial Persons, to make all those gloomy { 269 } Visions Realities, whereas the only Way to prevent them is to make Peace, now, before a total Alienation <of> takes Place on both Sides.
However all that We can do is to be prepared for the Worst that they can do. I have the Honour to be, with the greatest Respect, sir your most obt servant
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 33-35); docketed: “Letter from Jn Adams Passy Decr. 8. 1778 Read March 4. 1779 Referred Mr. G. Morris Mr. Drayton Mr. Paca.” LbC (Adams Papers). A tear in the manuscript has resulted in the loss of several words which have been supplied from the Letterbook copy.
1. This is the fourth letter from JA to the president of the congress giving details of the King's speech and the parliamentary debate over it. For the others, see JA's letter of 3 Dec., and note 1 (above). Lord Suffolk, in the speech referred to below, declared that the Franco-American alliance made the vigorous prosecution of the war all the more necessary, regardless of past reverses, if a “secure and honourable peace” were to be achieved (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1288–1291).
2. “Islands” comes at the end of the line, without a comma, in the recipient's copy, but is followed by one in the Letterbook copy. “Part” is not followed by a comma in the Letterbook copy.
3. The Letterbook has “all the American Fisheries both of Cods and Whales.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0182-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-08

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Le Calme dont vous parloit ma Lettre du 2, a cessé plutôt que je ne croyois. On étoit déjà inquiet, depuis quelques jours, de la baisse des fonds Anglois; et les Lettres venues de l'Angleterre augmentoient les transes de nos rentiers. D'un autre côté, le refus de faire imprimer ici le Protest de la grande ville contre la résolution du 18e. Nov.1 avoit engagé cette ville à le faire imprimer, et à le distribuer non seulement chez elle, mais à l'envoyer à toutes les autres villes de la province: ce qui avoit consterné le parti Anglois, qui ne s'étoit pas attendu que la Ville effectueroit sa menace à cet égard. Voilà où en étoient les choses, lorsqu'hier matin le Mémoire ci-joint2 mit le comble à l'embarras de ce parti. Mr. l'Ambassadeur a eu la bonté ce matin de me donner luimême une Copie de ce Mémoire, afin de vous en faire part, Messieurs, ainsi qu'au T[rès] h[onorable] Congrès. Ce Mémoire a déjà été envoyé à toutes les Provinces et Villes, comme sujet de convocation et de Délibération. Les Etats de la Province d'hollande se rassembleront le 16. Les villes viendront alors munies de nouvelles Instructions. Je vous rendrai, Messieurs, un compte exact de ce qui s'ensuivra. Je ne doute pas que ce ne soit une nouvelle résolution conforme à ce Mémoire. Par conséquent la manoeuvre Britannique ici tournera à la confusion de l'Ouvrier.
{ 270 }
Je suis avec un très-grand respect, Messieurs Votre très-humble et très-obéisst. serviteur
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0182-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-08

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

The calm of which I spoke in my letter of the 2d has ended much sooner than I had anticipated. There already had been uneasiness for several days about the fall in the English funds, and the letters from England have increased the qualms of our fundholders. On the other hand, the refusal to publish the great city's protest against the resolution of 18 November1 has forced this city to print and distribute it, not only at home, but to all the other towns of the province. This has shocked the English party, which did not anticipate that the city would carry out her threat in this regard. This was where things stood until yesterday morning, when this party was further embarassed by the enclosed mémoire.2 This morning His Excellency the Ambassador had the kindness to give me a copy of the mémoire so that I might send it to you, gentlemen, and also to the very honorable congress. It has already been sent to all the provinces and towns, as a subject for meeting and deliberation. The States of the Province of Holland will reconvene on the 16th and the towns will return armed with new instructions. I will send you, gentlemen, a precise account of what ensues, which I do not doubt will be a new resolution in accordance with this mémoire. Thus the British maneuver will have resulted only in its own confusion.
I am, with great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
RC with one enclosure (PPAmP Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis [de] l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “M. Dumas 8 Dec. 78.”
1. For this protest, see Dumas' letter of 20 Nov. (above).
2. The enclosed memorial of 7 Dec. was the formal, written version of the verbal representation made by La Vauguyon early in November. The Ambassador demanded a clear and precise statement of the United Provinces' determination to maintain a strict neutrality and declared that if any derogation of that neutrality was permitted, then France would withdraw the privileges enjoyed by Dutch vessels under the ordinance of 26 July regarding neutral commerce. For the ordinance of 26 July, see Dumas' letter of 10 Nov., note 3; and for La Vauguyon's earlier statement concerning it, see Dumas' letter of 13 Nov. (both above). An English translation of this memorial is in Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:854–855.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0183

Author: Jones, John Paul
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-09

John Paul Jones to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

It is my duty to forward to you the within Memorial of Facts1 from Gentlemen whom the fortune of War made Prisoners to the American { 271 } Arms under my command. In their application to me they observe that “I am well acquainted with their situation.”2 The late treatment which these unfortunate Men have met with appears to me to carry with it a degree of severity which cannot be Justified by reason nor by Law, and which is by no means compatible with the dignified Humanity of our Imperial Republic. It is my duty to inform you that out of two hundred Prisoners there now remains only an hundred and thirty one on board the Patience. It is pretended that the rest have been disposed of agreeable to your Orders—but this I cannot believe. I cannot believe that you have Ordered any of these Prisoners to be carried away in the continental Ships or Privateers after having returned their Names and Rank for exchange to the Court of London, and after their having cost America a very considerable expence in Victuals for several Months. Far less can I believe that you have Ordered some Prisoners to be set at liberty without a Parole—While others, who have subscribed the within Memorial, being exactly of the same Rank and then in the same Situation, are held Prisoners. One of the Men who have been thus set at liberty, I myself detected communicating intelligence to the Enemy. When even the Cables of the Prison Ship could not escape the Rapine at Brest, it is not strange that these poor prisoners should complain. The Fellow who now holds the Rod over their wretched Heads, has menaced them if they “dared to complain”3—And would have intercepted their Memorial had I not prevented it. This Riou4 is the Scoundrel who by his falsehoods promoted discord in the Ranger and got the deluded People to appoint him thier particular Agent. Before that time he never could call Twenty Louis his own—and he is now too Rich for his former profession of Kings Interpreter. He does not denay that he is a Scoundrel, for as I have called him Oftener than once before Witnesses—and so every Person of Sense thinks him at Brest.
If the exchange of Prisoners does not take place immediately I conceive it would be the most eligable Method to have the people on board the Patience Landed. They are convinced that if you should think fit to return them an Answer it will never come to their hands thro' the Means of any person who calls himself Agent at Brest—and they, having full confidence in the honor and humanity of the Revd. Father John professor of English and Chaplain to Comte D'Orvilliers at Brest, have desired me to inform you that, thro' that Gentleman, they beg you to favor them with an Answer. In granting their request you will confer a very singular Obligation on, Gentlemen, Your most Obedient and very humble Servant
[signed] Jno. P Jones
{ 272 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “P. Jones L'Orient 9e Xbre. 1778.”
1. John Walshe and others to the Commissioners, 20 Nov. (above).
2. An accurate paraphrase of John Walshe and others to Jones, 20 Nov. (PCC, No. 168, I, f. 163).
3. Jones may be quoting from a personal conversation with the prisoners because these words do not appear in either their memorial or their letter to Jones.
4. D'Albert de Riou wrote to the Commissioners on 23 Oct. regarding the privateer Hampden and its prize the Constance and there described himself as a Brest merchant and interpreter to the King. For that letter, see the Commissioners to Sartine, 7 Jan. 1779 (below). Jones' criticism of Riou's treatment of the prisoners apparently brought no response from the Commissioners.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0184

Author: Jones, John Paul
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Date: 1778-12-09

John Paul Jones to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

I have the honor to inform you that this day Arrived here a Virginia Pilot boat from Boston in 23 days.1 The master reports—that Comte Destaing had saild from thence a fortnight before on a Secret destination—that the Summerset was lost on Cape Cod, the materials saved and the Crew Prisoners2—that the Providence, Boston, and Ranger were Arrived having taken two or three Merchant Vessels—That the Enemy were embarking their Stores and provision at N. York—That the Raleigh was chaced ashore to the Eastward of Boston, the Crew made Prisoners and the Ship got off by the Enemy3—that it was reported that three of Byrons Fleet were ashore on Nantucket Shoals,4 and that Barbados and Granadoes &ca. were taken.5
I have the honor to be, with due esteem & respect Gentlemen, your most Obedient and very humble Servant
[signed] Jno P Jones
RC (NhD: Ticknor Autograph Coll.).
1. This was the schooner Dauphin, which had left Boston on 16 Nov.; it was identified in another letter to the Commissioners of 9 Dec. from the Lorient mercantile firm of Gourlade & Moylan. That letter contained the same information as this one from Jones (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), adding only that the Dauphin had brought no letters for the Commissioners.
2. The 64-gun ship of the line Somerset was driven aground during a storm on 2 Nov. An account of the wreck appeared in the Boston Gazette of 9 Nov. and is reprinted in Adams Family Correspondence, 3:118.
3. For the Raleigh, see William Vernon Sr. to JA, 22 Oct., and note 1 (above).
4. Sightings of two overturned vessels and the masts of a third were reported in the Boston Gazette of 16 Nov.
5. On the day that the Dauphin left Boston the Boston Gazette printed the erroneous report that the French had captured three or four West Indian islands in addition to Dominica, taken in September. According to the Boston Independent Chronicle of 19 Nov., the islands were Montserrat, Nevis, St. Christopher, and Antigua.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0185

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-09

William Lee to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Conformable to the resolution of Congress, of which a Copy is inclosed,1 I have drawn on you the 4th instant for Twenty four Thousand Livres at One Months date payable to Mr. Grand, which you will please to pay due honor to, by acceptance and payment when at maturity, and place the same to the Account of Congress.
'Tis generally beleived that a Congress will be held in the course of the Winter, between Ministers from the Courts of Versailles and Petersburg to endeavor at a reconciliation between the Emperor and King of Prussia;2 I am assured that G. Britain has prevail'd on the Court of Petersburg to take advantage of this opportunity to negotiate also an accommodation between France and G. Britain. It is to be proposed to France to relinquish her Treaties and engagements with America, but what advantages G. Britain means to offer as an inducement to France I have not yet properly learnt. I have no doubt that France will reject with disdain Such an ignominious attempt upon her Honor, even if her solid and substantial interests were out of the question, but still I think it adviseable to give you the information that you may act as you think proper on the occasion.
I have the Honor to be with very great Regard Gentlemen Your most Obedt. & most Humble Servant
[signed] W: Lee
RC with one enclosure (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Hon. Wm. Lee Ans Jany 13 1779.”
1. Lee enclosed the third paragraph of the resolution of 7 May 1778, which empowered commissioners at other courts to draw bills of exchange for their expenses on the Commissioners at Paris (JCC, 11:473).
2. Lee's report of the Franco-Russian intervention to reconcile Austria and Prussia over the question of Bavarian succession, which resulted in the Peace of Teschen, was accurate, but his reference to a Russian effort to mediate between France and Great Britain was premature (Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 73–74).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0186

Author: Gunnison, Benjamin
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-14

Benjamin Gunnison to the Commissioners

[salute] Dear Sir

I have just arrived and tak the Liberty To Right to your Honour to in form you of The Condision of the Brig morris. After a Passig of forty two Days I have arrived in Roscoff In the Province of Britancy and shall weight your in structions. I did intend for Nants or Bourdaux but from violant gaills of wind I had on this Coast have been obliged to { 274 } make this port as my Riggin and sails are much Dammiged on the passig by voilant gails of wind. But I belive they would answar to Carry with a llittal Repair the Brigg To Carry hur to Morlaix should you Chuse to have hur Carried to that place as it not above four Leags Distance from wheir she now lays. I am Dear Sr your very humb to Serve and Obey
[signed] Benja Gunnison1
Post Crip
Sr as the Kings frigget Serin Commanded by Mr Cunat Dumeny Esqr2 is now hear and Expects to stay should the wind not shift befour I Receve your answar he offars his servis to Escort the Brig to Nants or Bourdaux.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble The Commissoners of the United States of america at Paris”; docketed: “Gunnison”; in another hand: “Gunnison 14 Dec. 1778.”
1. No reply has been found, but on 28 Dec. the Morlaix mercantile firm of Cornic et fils, having twice written to Franklin with no reply, wrote to the Commissioners asking advice on what action to take regarding the Morris and its cargo of tobacco (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). On 2 Jan. the Commissioners informed J. D. Schweighauser of the Morris' arrival and ordered him to weigh the tobacco, deliver it to the Farmers General, and reimburse Cornic et fils, who were informed of these orders in a letter of the same day, for any money advanced to the Morris (both LbC, Adams Papers). On 14 Jan. the Commissioners wrote to Gunnison, ordering him to deliver his cargo to Schweighauser and to follow Schweighauser's instructions insofar as they did not conflict with his orders from the congress (LbC, Adams Papers).
2. Presumably Gunnison is referring to the French corvette Serin commanded by Duménil (Vicomte de Noailles, Marins et soldats français en Amérique pendant la guerre de l'indepéndence des Etats-Unis, 1778–1783, Paris, 1903, p. 374).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0187

Author: Warren, Mercy Otis
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-12-15

From Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Sir

I Cannot but think myself a sufferer by the Many Captures on American Navigation, for as you are undoubtedly a Gentleman of the strictest Veracity, I must suppose the Watery Damsels that Attend the ouzy Board of the Grey Headed Neptune, are much more Fortunate than the Woodland Dames of America. Otherways, Notwithstanding the Bussy and important scenes in which You are ingaged a folio from the Court of France Must have Reached Braintree, and one Octavo sheet at least would have found Its way to Plimouth before this.
But if by thus Frequently Leting Down the Most Weighty secrets of state, as well as the sociel Communications of the Friendly Heart, the Dark Counsels of the Deities Below do not Gain an influance sufficient to Embarass your Negotiations, we Can better forgive this pecu• { 275 } lation of the Nereides, as we may suppose the Females Beneath, have some Curiosity as well as Those who walk upon the surface of a World, where knowledge is Circumscribed within such Narrow Limits, and the sex too often Forbidden to taste the Goldden Fruit.
But perhaps You May have forgot Through the Multiplicity of your Avocations, And the Magnitude of the objects, And say surely I Never promissed to write to more than one Lady, on the Western side the Atlantic. But that Lady has Furnished me with it written testimony signed by yourself,1 that the first safe Conveyance should Forward some observations, and Remarks, to Mrs. W——n, which if Collected by Mr. Adams must surely be a treasure.
And I have still a Further Demand upon you. You May Recollect six years ago, at a Certain Fire side, where many Political plans were Laid, Discussed, and Digested, you said2 it was your Opinion, the Contest Between Britain and America would not be setled till your sons, and my sons, were able to Visit, and Negotiate at the Different Courts of Europe. A Lady Replied (Though perhaps not from prescience, presentiment, or anything but presumption,) that you Must do this Work yourselves. And that she Expected from you, a pleasing Naration of the Different Customs Manners, Genius, and Taste of Nations with whom we were little acquainted.3
You have been absent almost a year, and None are yet arrived. You Must Remember sir, that when we are Descending a precipice, the Velocity is much more Rapid than when we Mount: Though Expectation points us to the summit, and hope spreads her Wings to accelerate our Motion.4
And if you postpone your Communications by the year, I Cannot Expect to Receive many, for if no premature stroke precipitates the Moment, the sun will not Revolve Many times round this Inconsiderable Globe, before I hope to tread the starry pavement, And Look Down with pity, on the Regalia of princes, the Empires of a Day, the pomp of Royalty, and Even the pride of Republican or Aristocratic Grandeur.
I Wrote you a long Letter Dated October 15th. which went in a packet Forwared by the Count De Estaign. It was Void of poetick Imagery, or any Flights of Fancy, but Contained many solemn Truths, which if that packet arrived safe, were doubtless Corroborated by better Hands.
I write this in a solitary Hour. Mr. Warren yet at the Navy Board, Exerting all the powers of a Good Head and an Excellent Heart, to put the affairs of the American Marine on a Respectable Footing: as far as { 276 } falls within His Department. We have hitherto been unfortunate by sea, the Causes shall leave for others to Investigate.
Mrs. Adams will Doubtless write you by this Conveyance.5 She has latly made me an agreable Visit, and I often see her on my way to the Capital: whither I Repair when I Can leave my little Family, which now Consists of only my two younger sons in the parlour, the three Elder being at an age that makes it proper they should leave the parental Roof. Probably you do not Remember any of them, but I shall in a few days have a young person with me, whom you will Never forget, one Miss Naby Adams, who I Expect will spend the Winter at Plimouth.6
There are Certain Moments in the lives of the Greatest philosophers, and polititians, when the Mind is Relieved, and Gathers fresh Vigour, from some trivial interruption accidentally Thrown in the way.
This Reflection quiets the Bussy Monitor within, who sometimes Wispers, why do you Break in (by Recounting the uninteresting occurrances that fall in your way) on the important Moments of a Gentleman whose time is not his own.
And I wish the same Reflection would have an influance on Him so far as to unbend his Mind Enough to write a person very Avaritious of the Notices of the Worthy, and of Every Attainable Means of improvement in this scanty portion of Existence.
This Gos by Capt. Landais of the Alliance with whom I have a son.7 I took up my pen Intending only a few lines to let you know Notwithstanding the Convulsions of Nations, the Fluctuation of Events, And the Vicissitudes of time, there are yet a few, a very few, of Your acquaintance whom you most Esteemed in the Days of Tranquility who Remain Invariably the same. Nor Can I lay it down, till I have told you that both you, and your Country have lost a Friend in the Death of Coll. Otis: who after long and patiently waiting to be Called from his; post, Bid Adieu to Mortality, the 9th of Nov. 1778.
When He paid this last Debts to Nature, both public and private Virtue Might justly Mourn the Deseased patron, while a large tribute of Gratitude Mingle'd with tears, is Due to the Memory of an Excellent Father, from your unfeigned Friend and Humble servant
[signed] Marcia Warren
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mrs Warren. December 15th 1778.” Tr (MHi: Mercy Warren Letterbook). For the nature of the transcript, see Mercy Warren's letter to JA of 15 Oct., descriptive note (above).
1. Mercy Warren's reference is to JA's letter to AA of 25 April (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:17).
2. In the transcript, to this point, this { 277 } sentence was altered to read: “I claim it as my right, doubtless you will accede to the validity of the claim, when you recollect that six years ago, by the Plymouth fire side, where many plans originated, and were discussed and digested, you observed in a moment of dispondency that.”
3. In the transcript an additional sentence was added: “You assented a compliance, if the prediction took place.” Compare Mercy Warren's remarks in this paragraph with those made in the next to last paragraph of her letter to JA of 10 March 1776, as well as with the passage added to that paragraph in the transcript of that letter (vol. 4:49–52, and note 4).
4. In the transcript, “Thus time in advance is beheld with rapture by youth, while age looks back with regret on the past” was added.
5. This was AA's letter to JA of 13 Dec. (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:135–136).
6. AA2 visited the Warrens in Plymouth from about 20 Dec. 1778 to 9 April 1779 (see Adams Family Correspondence, 4:index).
7. James Warren Jr. was about to sail as a 1st lieutenant of marines on board the Continental frigate Alliance (Charles R. Smith, Marines in the Revolution, Washington, 1975, p. 475).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0188

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-15

William Lee to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

I had the Honour of writing to you the 9th instant and then mention'd the Congress that it is generally beleived will take place this Winter between Ministers from the Courts of Versailles and Petersburg to accommodate the difference between the Emperor and King of Prussia; and that I was inform'd G. Britain had prevail'd on the Court of Petersburg to endeavour at the same time to mediate a Peace between France and G. Britain, and from farther information I have reason to beleive that G. B. has certainly such a plan in agitation. Reflecting on this business it occurr'd to me that it wou'd be serviceable for America to have an Agent at this Congress, who might counteract the schemes of G. B. and if it was not in his power to bring Russia entirely over to our interests, her attachment to our Enemies might be renderd less forceable.
For this purpose I conceive in the present State of things, a Stranger might be able to render us more service, than an American, and therefore I have sounded a Gentleman on the Subject, who is now in the King of Prussias Service, and has been formerly employed by his Majesty in some negotiations with the Court of Petersburg. His reply is as follows, “Dans ce cas la il falloit m'employer sous Mains, ou publiquement. Si je dois le faire publiquement, il seroit necessaire de quitter le service du Roi. Si je puis le faire avec avantage je ne hesiterois pas; alors il falloit me marquer les conditions pour lesquelles je devois sacrifier mon Poste. Je crois de puvoir etre utile au Congrès dans ses differentes negociations avec les Cours du Nord, connoissant les affaires, le façon de trailer, et meme presque la plupart des Ministres. Si { 278 } je devois agir sous mains, je serai prêt d'observer l'interet des Americains à le Congrès qu'aura lieu pour terminer les differences entre les puissances de l'Europe. Aussi dans ce cas la il falloit des conditions acceptable. Je ne pourrai pas aller et demeurer qu'aux frais de Congres Americain et outre cela les Etats Unies pourroient me gratifier à mesure de mes services et de leurs effets. Si je travail sous main sans pouvoir venir au bout sans me declarer comme chargé d'affaire il me sera permis de me decharger dabord de ma Commission pour ne pas perdre mon tems et causer des depenses inutilement. Ou si on veut que je me déclare du moins clandestinement au Roi, comme Commissaire des Etats-Unis, et que cela ne pourroit pas subsister avec le service du Roi, il faudroit me garantir un dedommagement avec avantage pour pouvoir prendre ma demission et me sacrifier uniquement au Service du Congrès.”1
Thus you have the Gentlemans propositions and if you are of opinion with me, that the measure is in itself adviseable, I would beg leave to offer as my Idea, that he should be engaged to attend the Congress and act, as an unauthorized individual, under such instructions as you may think proper to give him with a reasonable allowance for his expences, and a promise that if his negotiation is succesful he will be fully recommended to Congress for an adequate reward. I shall not proceed farther in this business without your concurrence and therefore beg your answer as soon as is convenient.
That you may not be surprized at my not mentioning the Gentlemans Name, 'tis necessary to say, that it is at his desire, his Name is concealed until your determination is known; but I can assure you that he is a Gentleman of reputation, a Man of Literature and an author of approved Fame.2
I have the Honour to be with great Regard Gentlemen your most Obedient & most Hble Servt.
[signed] W: Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Hon. Wm. Lee. ans Jay 13. 1779.”
1. Translation: In this case I should be used either under cover or publicly. If I am to do the work publicly, I would have to leave the service of the King. If I can do so to advantage, I will not hesitate, in which case the reasons why I should give up my present position should be indicated. I think I could be very useful to [the American] Congress in its various negotiations with the Northern Courts, since I know their concerns, their manner of negotiating, and even most of their ministers. If I were to act secretly, I would be prepared to look after the interests of the Americans at the Congress which will meet to end the differences between the European powers. In this case, too, the conditions would have to be acceptable. I could not go and remain except at the expense of the American Congress and, in addition, the United States would have to compensate me proportionately for my services and their effects. If I work secretly, unable to iden• { 279 } tify myself as a chargé d'affaires, I should first be permitted to discharge my present commission in order that I not waste time and money. Or, if I was to declare myself, at least in a clandestine fashion, to the King as Commissioner of the United States, and this function could not coexist with being in the King's service, then I should be guaranteed advantageous compensation to enable me to tender my resignation and dedicate myself solely to the service of [the American] Congress.
2. The agent proposed by Lee remains unidentified.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0189

Author: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-15

J. D. Schweighauser and Others to the Commissioners

[salute] Honbl. Gentlemen

We are favour'd with yours of the 5th. instant together with duplicates of your favours of the 11th and 27 Ultimo.1 The original of the first never came to hand, the last we received in due course of post.
We hold ourselves greatly obliged to you for the trouble you have taken, in endeavouring to obtain a sufficient Convoy, for the Vessels bound to America, for the whole Voyage.
We have been honoured with a letter from the Secretary of State for the Marine, informing us that he could not grant a Convoy farther than Cape-Finister, and as we did not look upon one, that far, and no farther, as an object worthy our attention, we had given up all thoughts of renewing our application, until we were honoured with yours of the 27th which has revived our hopes, and we flatter ourselves that it may be in your power to procure a Convoy to the westward of the western Islands2 if not for the whole Voyage.
In our former letter3 we mentioned that the Vessels would be in readiness by the end of the last month, many of them were ready to sail at that time, and have waited ever since for a favourable opportunity of geting out, and as your honours must be sensible that the trade cannot be carried on to the advantage of either Country, unless it is properly protected, we have not the smallest doubt, but that you will take every step in your power to procure a sufficient Convoy as soon as possible, by which means America will be supplied with a large quantity of goods, and many of us get safe to our desired homes.
We have the honour to be with great Esteem and Respect Honbl. Gentlemen Your most obedient and most humble Servants
[signed] J. Dl. Schweighauser
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] Cha. Ogilvie
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] Josiah Darrell
[signed] J. Grubb
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
[signed] Robert Elliot
[signed] H. Thompson
{ 280 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “from several Gentn. at Nantes Dec. 15. 78.”
1. The Commissioners' letter of 5 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers) merely transmitted their letters of 11 and 27 Nov., neither of which is printed, but see Schweighauser and Others to the Commissioners, 7 Nov., note 2; and Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and JA, 28 Nov. (both above).
2. Presumably the Azores.
3. That of 7 Nov. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0190

Author: Vernon, William Sr.
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-12-17

From William Vernon Sr.

[salute] Dear sir

The foregoing of the 22nd. of Octr. is copy of my last. Being yet without any of your favors, since you left N. England gives me Pain, for many Reasons, that are too delicate to touch upon; I hope my Son, has not forfeited your friendship, by ill conduct and mis-behaviour.
Since my last, we have lost the Brigantine Resistance that was given to Capt. Burke. She was sent out as far as Cape Cod, to look for Count de Estaings Fleet, that was expected here, after the Rhode Island expedition was given up, missing of them, he stood to the Southward, and the Third day fell in with Lord Hows Fleet, who captured him?
We have now in this Harbour, the Continental ships, Warren, Providence, Boston, Queen of France, and the Dean, the last full Man'd and ready to sail, the Others are in great forwardness and may sail in Three Weeks, if it was possible to get Men for them, which we shall never be able to accomplish, unless some method is taken to prevent desertion, and a stopage of Private ships sailing, until our ships are Man'd, their infamous practice of seduceing our Men to leave the ships, and taking them off at an out Port, with many other base methods, will make it impossible ever to get our ships, ready to sail in Force, or Fleets, or perhaps otherwise then single ships, from whom we cannot expect any great matters; indeed it hath generally proved fatal—I wish, I hope and pray for an Embargo, upon all Private ships, whether Arm'd or Merchants ships may take Place thro' the United States, until the Fleet is Man'd.2 This is the only method, that can be taken—they elude our utmost efforts at Present; and at a most enormous expence, it was truely great before you left us. But you can scarsely form an Idea of the increase and groth of the extravagancy of the People in their demands for Labour &c. Dissipation hath no bounds at present, when or where it will stop, I dare not predict.
The ship Built at Norwich is given to Capt. Harding and call'd the Confederacy, near ready to sail, she is a fine Frigate, its said exceeds the Alliance if possible?3
{ 281 }
The Trumbul remains in Connecticut River, perhaps may never be able to get out of that hole, unless Camels are built to carry her out.4
The Ranger at Portsmouth, in good forwardness. I think. Capt. Simpson will be able to get his Men for that ship very soon?
The Two ships that were sunk in the Deleware their upper Works burn't by the Enemy are now got up, and fitting at Phila.5
The Brigantine Genl. Gates and sloop Providence, are out upon a Cruise—thus you have a general state of remains of the Navy.
I have taken up much of your Time in this detail. If its any satisfaction to you, I shall have pleasure in being your most Obedt. Hble. servt.
[signed] Wm Vernon
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Mr. Vernon 177<9>8”; in a different hand: “October 22d.” This letter begins on the second page of the recipient's copy, being preceded by a triplicate of Vernon's letter of 22 Oct. (above).
1. JA did not receive this letter until his return to Paris in 1780 (JA to Vernon, 16 March 1780, RNHi: Vernon Papers).
2. Vernon's is an accurate account of the problems faced by the Continental Navy in its competition with privateers for seamen. Privateers offered the prospect of less discipline and more prize money because they concentrated on destroying commerce and avoided, whenever possible, battles with enemy naval vessels. Embargoes, bounties, advances on pay, and the equalization of the prize shares alloted the crewmen of privateers and naval vessels had no lasting effect. For a more detailed discussion of the issues raised by Vernon, see Charles O. Paullin, The Navy of the American Revolution, Cleveland, 1906, p. 144–149; Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, p. 48–51.
3. The Confederacy was launched on 8 Nov. at Norwich, Conn., and in Dec. was at New London being outfitted for sea. It displaced 959 tons and was armed with 28 twelve-pounders and 8 six-pounders, while the Alliance was 900 tons with 28 twelve-pounders and 8 nine-pounders (Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships).
4. The Trumbull, launched in 1776 at Chatham, Conn., was not floated over the sand bar at the mouth of the Connecticut River until the summer of 1779. Then, as Vernon suggested, it was done by the use of “Camels,” large casks filled with water which were tied to the vessel's sides and pumped dry to reduce the draft (Allen, Naval Hist. of the Amer. Revolution, 2:498).
5. For the burning of the Effingham and the Washington, see Vernon's letter to JA of 20 May, and note 5 (vol. 6:143, 144). The congress resolved on 8 April 1779 to sell, rather than repair, the hulks (JCC, 13:432).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0191

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, Mercy Otis
Date: 1778-12-18

To Mercy Otis Warren

[salute] Madam

A few days ago I had the Pleasure of your obliging letter of the 15 of October. It came by the Post, and single, not a line from any other Person, so that I know not by what means it reach'd L'orient. It was not, however the less welcome to me, its intrinsic Excellence, would have recommended it, whoever had written it. The Merit of the writer would have made it dear to me if the Letter itself had been indifferent, a supposition not very easy to make in this case.
{ 282 }
I am sorry very sorry for our Common Country that the unshaken Patriot you mention should think of retiring but I cannot blame him because my own thoughts are constantly running the same way and I am determined with submission to do the same thing.
I hope however Madam that there is not so total a change of Manners, as some appearances may indicate, paper Currency fluctuating in its Value will ever produce appearances in the Political, commercial, and even the Moral World, that are very shooking1 at first sight, but upon Examination they will not be found to proceed from a total Want of Principal but for the most part from Necessity.
Who will take the helm Madam, and indeed who will build the ship I know not but of one thing I am well convinced that a great part of the Evils you mention arise from the neglect to model the constitution and fix the Government. These things must be finished, and the dispute who shall be the head, is much less important than whether we shall have any. I am happy Madam to learn that so many of the most respectable strangers have had an opportunity to visit you. I am pleased with this because it has given you an opportunity of speculating upon those illustrious characters, and because it has given them an opportunity of observing that their new Ally can boast of Female Characters equal to any in Europe.
I have not the honor to know Mrs. Holker, she lives at Rouen at a distance however I have gratified Mr. H's father with a sight of his sons Portrait drawn by a Lady, which he could not read without the tears gushing from both his eyes.
As to Portraits Madam I dare not try my hand as yet. But my Design is to retire, like my Freind, and spend all my leisure hours in writing a history of this revolution. And with an Hand2 as severe as Tacitus, I wish to god it was as eloquent, draw the Portrait of every character that has figured in the business. But when it is done I will dig a Vault, and bury the Manuscript, with a positive injunction, that it shall not be opened till a hundred years after My Death.
What shall I say, Madam, to your Question whether I am as much in the good graces of the Ladies as my venerable Colleague. Ah No! Alas, Alas No.
The Ladies of this Country Madam have an unaccountable passion for old Age, whereas our Country women you know Madam have rather a Complaisance3 for youth if I remember right. This is rather unlucky for me for I have nothing to do but wish that I was seventy years old and when I get back I shall be obliged to wish myself back again to 25.
{ 283 } { 284 }
I will take the Liberty to mention an anecdote or two amongst a multitude to shew you how unfortunate I am in being so young. A Gentleman introduced me the other day to a Lady. Voila, Madame, says he, Monsieur Adams, notre Ami, Le Colleague de Monsieur Franklin! Je suis enchante de voir Monsieur Adams. Answer'd the Lady. Embrassez le, donc. Reply'd [the Gentleman]. Ah No, Monsieur, says the Lady, il est trop jeune.4
So that you see. I must wait patiently, full 30 years longer before I can be so great a favorite.
Madam I can give you no news. The Lords and Commons have refused to <Comply> censure5 the Manifests6 of the Comissionners. That unhappy Nation are going on in their Frenzy, but there is an awfull Gloom and Melancholy among them and with reason. I am Madam with every sentiment of Respect your affectionate Freind and humble servant
[signed] John Adams
Mrs. Warren will pardon my sending her a Letter, in another Hand Writing when she knows, that a little Friend of hers is the Clerk, who desires to send his profound Respects.
RC in JQA's hand (MHi: Warren-Adams Coll.); docketed: “J Adams Esqr Decr 18th 1778 Passy.” LbC (Adams Papers). This letter was copied by JQA from the Letterbook and is, with another of the same date to AA (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:138–139), the first known instance in which JQA acted as his father's secretary. The emendations indicated below, the signature, and the postscript are by JA.
1. JQA's misreading of “shocking.”
2. The preceding four words were interlined by JA to correct an omission by JQA from the Letterbook.
3. JQA misread this word as “Complisance.” JA interlined the missing “a.”
4. Although JA corrected most of JQA's misreadings and omissions, he unaccountably did nothing about JQA's revisions in punctuation. Such changes as JQA made have little, if any, effect on the reading of this letter, except in regard to this anecdote, which is almost impossible to understand without reference to the Letterbook copy. As a result, the punctuation and the bracketed words, beginning at “Voila,” are supplied from the Letterbook.
5. In the Letterbook the word is “censure.” JA interlined his correction of JQA's misreading.
6. “Manifesto” in the Letterbook.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0192-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-18

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

J'ai vu notre Ami. Il y a deux Committés, pour besogner, l'un sur de nouvelles plaintes auxquelles les Anglois viennent de donner lieu; l'autre sur la réponse à faire au Mémoire de Mr. l'Ambassadeur de France, dont je vous ai envoyé copie.1 On ne saura le résultat que la semaine prochaine.
On m'a envoyé d'Amsterdam, afin d'en faire part au Congrès, la { 285 } Protestation imprimée de cette ville contre la Resolution du 18. Cette importante Piece est de 20 pages in folio.2 Ainsi j'aurai bien à faire avant avoir traduit, et tiré copie double et triple, &c.
Si l'on ne fait pas une réponse satisfaisante à la France, Amsterdam protestera encore.
L'Amirauté, disoit-on, ne donneroit son Préavis pour une Résolution, que la semaine prochaine; mais les mesures étoient secrettement prises pour en faire passer un ce matin, où l'on promet de belles choses à la France, sans rien changer, en attendant, au Convoi refusé pour les provisions navales. Mr. l'Ambassadeur en ayant eu le vent, est allé remettre aujourd'hui, de grand matin, au g. P., avant qu'il sortît pour l'Assemblée, une note si énergique, que je ne crois pas qu'on pourra éviter, après cela, de donner une réponse précise, un oui ou un non, qui conservera aux sept provinces le Commerce de la France, ou qui le leur fera perdre.
Malgré la note de Mr. l'Ambassadeur, le parti Anglois a prévalu dans l'Assemblée, et tous, excepté Amsterdam, ont adopté, à la pluralité, l'avis de l'Amirauté. Là-dessus Amsterdam a délivré sa Protestation, dans laquelle confirmant ses précédentes Protestations, et spécialement celle contre la Résolution du 18 Nov., elle déclare en outre, se tenir non responsable et déchargée de toutes les suites désavantageuses à la republique que pourra avoir la réponse non Satisfactoire qui va être donnée à la France. Notre Ami m'a fait lire ce Protest, qui est court, et aussi modéré quant à la forme, que fort quant à la chose.3
On m'a laissé prendre copie de la résolution et de la protestation. On m'a assuré de très bonne part, qu'une Lettre du Comte de Welderen est arrivée, par laquelle la Cour de Londres n'est pas contente non plus de la résolution prise par cet Etat le 18 Nov. Ainsi, ceux qui ont voulu tant ménager la dite Cour sont bien mal payés de leur complaisance. [N'ou]vriront-ils-pas les yeux [à la] fin? Je n'en sais rien. Ce qui est certain, [c'est] que la Résolution prise par la pluralité des Etats d'Holl[ande le] 19 de ce mois, n'a pas encore été portée aux Etats-Generaux. L'Assemblée d'Hollande, qui devoit se séparer cette semaine, a été ajournée à Mardi prochain. Les Députés de Villes partiront Jeudi. Vont-ils chercher de nouvelles Instructions, pour une autre réponse, que Mr. l'Ambassadeur de France puisse recevoir? Cela sepeut. Il n'y a que ceux d'Amsterdam qui restent ici, parce qu'ils n'ont pas besoin d'ad referendum:Stat sententia civitatis.4
{ 286 }
La Lettre de l'Envoyé Comte de Welderen consiste dans le Reglement de la Cour Britannique qui lui a été remis par Suffolk, par lequel les Vaisseaux de Roi et Armateurs Britanniques sont autorisés à saisir tous les Navires neutres portant en France des munitions de guerre terrestre, ou navales, c'est-à-dire, mâts, &c. Ce Reglement est directement contraire à la résolution du 18 Nov., par laquelle les Etats refusent de laisser mettre en question cet Article, que les Traités leur assûrent.
En attendant que je puisse, Messieurs, vous donner le dénouement de tout cela, je crois devoir vous faire part d'une Lettre singuliere qui m'a été écrite et de ma réponse. L'Ecrivain, Avocat, et frere du Fiscal du Conseil d'Etat, vint en Carosse la laisser lui-même à ma porte avec un paquet et une Carte de visite. Parmi les Pieces du Procès étoit aussi copie d'une Lettre qui vous a été écrite l'année passée, et de votre réponse Messieurs, au sujet d'un vaisseau Hollandois de Rotterdam, pris en mer, conduit et déclaré bonne prise à Charlestown.5
Je fus chez Lui en conséquence; il me dit qu'il étoit lui-même l'un des Interessés dans ce Navire; qu'il y étoit pour 10,000 florins &c. Enfin il me dit Mais Monsieur, Vous avez pourtant été chargé de quelque affaire auprès des Etats; du moins elle a passé par vos mains; on me l'a assuré positivement. Je répondis: Si cela étoit, je serois bien indiscret de le dire. Mais, Monsieur, croyez en ma Lettre; faites-en l'usage qu'il vous plaira: montrez-là à Mr. le G. P. et à tout autre, qui vous instruiront mieux que moi de ce que vous voulez savoir.
J'ai fait part de tout cela à G. F. qui m'a fort approuvé.
J'ai porté cette Lettre avec moi à Amsterdam où certaines personnes [ . . . ] conférer avec eux sur des entreprises qui pourroient être très favorables à l'Amérique. [Je] donnerai les mouvements nécessaires pour porter [à un?] certain point de maturité, avant de vous en pa[rler?] Demain je repartirai pour la Haie, d'où je vous apprendrai ce qui aura été résolu quant à la réponse à faire à la Cour de france. Je suis avec un très grand respect, Messieurs, Votre très-humble et très-obeissant serviteur
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0192-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-18

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

I have seen our friend. There are two committees: one to work on the new British complaints; the other on the response to be given to the French Ambassador's mémoire, of which I sent you a copy.1 We will not know the result until next week.
{ 287 }
The protest published by Amsterdam against the resolution of the 18th was sent to me so that I might send a copy to Congress. This important document is 20 pages in folio.2 I will thus have much work to do, first translating it and then having it copied in duplicate and triplicate &c.
If a satisfactory response is not made to France, Amsterdam will protest again.
We were told that the Admiralty would not give its preliminary advisory regarding the resolution until next week, but measures were secretly taken to issue one this morning that promises fine things to France without, in the meantime, changing anything regarding the refusal of convoys for naval stores. Early this morning the Ambassador, having heard of it, visited the Grand Pensionary, before he left for the Assembly, to deliver a note so strong that I do not think that it will be possible to avoid giving a precise yes or no answer, which will either maintain or destroy the commerce of the seven provinces with France.
Despite the Ambassador's note, the English party has prevailed in the Assembly, and all but Amsterdam have adopted by a plurality the Admiralty's position. Thereupon Amsterdam delivered its protest which, after confirming her previous protests, especially against the resolution of 18 November, declared that she considers herself not responsible for and thus free from all the unfavorable consequences for the Republic that might result from the unsatisfactory answer to be given to France. Our friend made me read this protest which is as short and moderate in form as it is strong in content.3
I have been permitted to make a copy of both the resolution and the protest. On good authority I have been assured that a letter from Count Walderen has arrived which indicates that the Court of London is no longer content with the resolution taken by this state on 18 November. Thus have those who were so eager to spare the said Court been badly paid for their complaisance. Will they not finally open their eyes? That I do not know. What is certain is that the resolution taken by a plurality of the States of Holland on the 19th of this month has not yet been brought before the States General. The Assembly of Holland, which was to separate this week, has been adjourned to next Tuesday. The delegates of the towns will leave Thursday. Are they going to seek new instructions for another response that the French ambassador can receive? It is possible. Only the Amsterdam delegates remain, for they do not need ad referendumstat sententia civitatis.4
The letter from the Envoy, Count Welderen, contains the order of the British Court, given him by Suffolk, by which the Royal Navy and British privateers are authorized to seize all neutral vessels carrying mu• { 288 } nitions for land or naval forces, that is to say masts, &c., to France. This ruling is directly contrary to the resolution of 18 November, in which the States refused to call into question this article guaranteed them by their treaties.
Until I can give you, gentlemen, the outcome of all this, I think that I should inform you of a curious letter that I received and my reply. The writer, a lawyer and brother of the State Council's fiscal agent, came by coach to deliver it, together with a package and a visiting card. Among some legal documents, gentlemen, was a copy of a letter written to you, last year and your reply regarding a Dutch vessel from Rotterdam, captured at sea, taken into Charleston, and there declared good prize.5
As a result, I went to see him and was told that he was one of those interested in the vessel, having invested 10,000 florins, etc. Finally, he said to me: But sir, you have nevertheless been entrusted with some business matters by the States or, at least, they have passed through your hands. I have positive assurances of it. I replied: if that was so, I would be very indiscreet to admit it. But, sir, please believe my letter; make whatever use of it you please; show it to the Grand Pensionary or anyone else, who will tell you far better than I what you wish to learn.
The Grand Facteur, to whom I told all this, fully approved.
I carried this letter with me to Amsterdam, where certain persons [had invited me?] to confer with them on some undertakings which could be very beneficial to America. [I] will make the necessary moves to bring [this matter to?] fruition before [speaking?] to you [about it?]. Tomorrow I leave for The Hague, whence I will inform you as to what will have been resolved regarding the answer to be given the French Court. I am, with very great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
RC (MH-H: Lee Papers). LbC (Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, Eerste Afdeling, Dumas Coll., Inventaris I, p. 242–243). Water damage to the recipient's copy has resulted in the obliteration of several words. In the section of the letter dated 22 Dec. these have been supplied, in brackets, from the Letterbook copy. The section dated 28 Dec., however, does not appear in the Letterbook and missing words there are conjecturally supplied.
1. See Dumas' letter of 8 Dec. and note 2 (above).
2. For this pamphlet protesting the resolution of 18 Nov., see Dumas' letter of 20 Nov., note 1 (above). No translation by Dumas has been found.
3. The Duc de la Vauguyon's note or mémoire of 19 Dec., the Provincial Assembly's response, and Amsterdam's protest were copied by Dumas and sent to the Committee for Foreign Affairs as enclosures in his letter of 7 Jan. 1779 (PCC, No. 93, I, f. 258–259). For the text of an explanatory note to the mémoire of the 19th, see Dumas' letter of 12 Jan. to the Commissioners (below). In his note La Vauguyon demanded a precise explanation of the means by which the United Provinces intended to maintain a perfect neutrality and declared that the absence of such an explanation would be seen as partiality and result in the implementation of the measures promised in his mémoire of 7 Dec. The resolution { 289 } adopted by the Assembly in response to La Vauguyon's representations did not mention convoys for ships carrying materials for naval construction, the real issue, but only reiterated the Assembly's desire to maintain a perfect neutrality and intention to put the issue before the States General. Amsterdam's protest is summarized accurately by Dumas.
4. That is, to carry back an answer—the decision of their city stands.
5. This was a letter from Franco and Adrianus Dubbeldemutts to the Commissioners of 30 Oct. 1777. The Rotterdam firm sought the Commissioners' help in recovering its sloop Chester which, bound for Rotterdam with a cargo of dyewoods and hides, had been seized by American privateers on 14 June 1777 and brought to Charleston, S.C., where it was condemned. Because the privateers had put the Chester's captain ashore at St. Eustatius, he was unable either to testify concerning the sloop's ownership or appeal the ruling within the statutory time limit. In their reply of 10 Nov. 1777, the Commissioners deplored the seizure and promised to send all of the documents in their possession to the congress for its consideration. Not until 24 July 1786, however, did the congress authorize a new trial for the Chester (Franklin, Papers, 25:122–124, 147–148; PCC, No. 45, f. 93–254 passim; JCC, 30:423–424).
Immediately following this paragraph Dumas inserted copies of two letters, which have been omitted. The first, dated 4 Dec. 1778, was from H. J. d'Oldenbarneveld, also known as Witte Tullingh. Understanding that Dumas handled the interests of the Americans, had a commission from the congress, and was friendly with Franklin, Tullingh requested Dumas to use his influence for the recovery of the Chester. In the second, dated 6 Dec., Dumas denied that he held any such commission, but agreed to do what he could in the case.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0193-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-18

The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners

L'on vient enfin de decouvrir, Messieurs, Les Effets du Dr. James Smith de New York.1 Ils sont a la Douane de Calais, et consistent en un Paquet contenant 12 Napes, 12 Couteaux et 12 fouchettes de fer, a Viroles d'Argent.2 Si M. Smith pretend introduire ces effets dans le Royaume, il ne Sauroit se dispenser d'en acquitter les Droits ordinaires, Mais Si Son Intention est de les renvoier en Amerique il Sera libre de le faire et n'aura aucune Droits a Payer, pourvû qu'il ait l'Attention de se pourvoir d'un Acquit a Caution.
J'ai l'honneur d'etre tres parfaitement, Messieurs, votre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0193-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-18

The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

The effects of Dr. James Smith of New York have, gentlemen, finally been found.1 They are at the customs office at Calais and consist of a package containing 12 table cloths and 12 knives and forks of iron with silver ferrules.2 If Mr. Smith plans to bring these goods into the Kingdom, he cannot avoid paying the regular charges, but if he intends to return them to America, then he will be free to do so without having to pay any charges, provided that he takes the trouble to obtain an Acquit à Caution.
{ 290 }
I have the honor to be very sincerely, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Vergennes
1. See Smith's letter to the Commissioners of 15 Nov., and notes 3 and 4 (above).
2. The following is a one-page document found in the Franklin Papers (PPAmP) and docketed: “Brought from M. Grand's to Passy, Decr 27th. 1778.”
List of Dr. Smith's Effects detain'd at
Calais.
2. Middle siz'd Diaper Table Cloths.
2. Ditto of Huckaback.
8. Diaper Breakfast Cloths.
1. Diaper Towel.
12. Green handle Knives and Forks tiped with Silver.
The whole wrapped up in an Ell of Crocus.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0194

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1778-12-19

To James Lovell

[salute] Dear Sir

It is unhappy that So many People in America, should perswade themselves that the Ennemy intend to evacuate New York and Rhode Island. This opinion cannot fail to damp their Ardour, and Slacken their Nerves. But you may depend upon it, they mean no such Thing. On the Contrary it is their unalterable Resolution, to maintain the Possession of both, as long as they can. Indeed either without the other would be in a manner useless to them. Without Rhode Island, their Fleet could not remain in the United States, during the Winter—Without New York and the Resources of Provisions from Long Island, Staten Island, and frequent Excursions into the Jerseys, for Depredation, they could not well subsist their Army. It is therefore certain that they will keep both, untill you destroy or captivate them all.
They have it now in Contemplation to fortify New York at a vast Expence and if they do this, they will oblige you to keep a great Army constantly up, Winter and summer at an infinite Expence, without being able to prevent them from making frequent Inroads upon you by Surprise, pillaging, burning and laying Waste.
There have been great Debates in the two Houses of Parliament, concerning the Manifesto of the Commissioners, and the Minorities appear to have a just Sense of its horrid Nature, but it has been Sanctifyed by triumphant Majorities in both, and it is past a doubt, that the Cabinet intend to execute it as far as they shall be able. Burn the sea coast and massacre upon the Frontiers, is now the Cry. This will harrass, distress, exhaust, and at length divide, and then Will conquer for think of it as you will the Hope of Conquest is not yet given up.
{ 291 }
Ministers, Ambassadors, Generals, Admirals are all together by the Ears, in England, accusing, reproaching, and threatning each other.1 No allies their Fleet rotten, Army small, Funds low, gloomy, desponding Stupid, yet all together dont discourage Administration.
There has been no Engagement between the two Fleets, since the first, and I fancy there will not be another, very Soon. The attention of both Nations turns towards the Islands in the West Indies.
You have all the Intelligence from Holland, from the Same Hand which sends it here.2 There is a monarchical, and a Republican Party there, from which division, as their Constitution requires Unanimity We are Safe from their taking Part against Us, but I fear We may infer from it too that they will not take a Part in our favour. Spain is as enigmetical as ever. We are impatiently waiting for Advice of your Determination upon foreign affairs, according to the Bruits propagated here, I expect to be recalled. Wherever I may be, I shall be your Friend.
1. For JA's more detailed comments on these controversies, as well as the debates in Parliament mentioned above, see his letter to Francis Dana of 25 Dec., and notes (below).
2. C. W. F. Dumas.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0195

Author: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-12-19

From J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

In compliance with your order1 I have made enquiries for a Vessell bound to Boston but have found none—during my search I was told Yesterday that Cap. McNeil was lately arrived and imediately sent to know when he would take your few articles. He told me that it is true he offered it while his Ship laid at L'Orient, but that since that time he had taken-in, goods and Passengers and that he had no room left. I expressed my surprize and represented to him that one hogshead more or less was not an object in such a Ship as his,—but he repeated his refusal—which puts me under the necessity of waiting for another occasion at which time I shall take care to have them shipt in due time. I am most respectfully Sir Your mo. humble & mo. obedient Servant
[signed] J. Dl. Schweighauser
1. JA had written on 8 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers) to ask Schweighauser to send wine, sugar, and tea to Braintree by the first available ship. JA's letter is largely quoted in the notes to his letter to AA of 9 Dec., informing her of his intention (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:131). Schweighauser had acknowledged JA's request on 12 Dec. (Adams Papers). It is not known whether these goods were actually sent or ever received.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0196-0001

Editorial Note

The Commissioners' letter or memorial to Vergennes of early January 1779 is highly significant. Despite its long dissertation on the evils of the Carlisle Commission's manifesto of 3 October 1778 and its appeal for a French declaration to counter the manifesto's effects, the principal object of the letter was the dispatch of naval reinforcements to America. John Adams later wrote to Elbridge Gerry (11 Sept. 1779, below), that it represented the culmination of Adams' long effort to persuade his colleagues that an appeal to the French government for additional aid was necessary. He had pursued that objective since October, when he engaged in conversations with Ralph Izard and Edmé Jacques Genet on the subject and had been encouraged by the latter, in a letter of 29 October (above), to compose a memorandum that might be submitted to the appropriate ministers.
Adams wrote such a paper (to Genet, 31 Oct., above), but did not send it because, as he stated in his letter to Gerry, he determined that the participation of Benjamin Franklin and Arthur Lee was needed to give the appeal additional impact. Such unified support was not automatic, particularly in the case of Franklin, because implicit in a request for additional naval forces was a criticism of France's past efforts, an echo of American criticism of Admiral Estaing for his failures at New York and Newport earlier in 1778. For this reason presumably, Adams told Gerry, Lee entered into the project with “zeal,” while Franklin did so with “moderation.” What may have made such a letter more palatable to Franklin was the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, which by December had become an issue, as can be seen in Ralph Izard's letter to Adams of 22 December (below). The manifesto, proposing a change in the character of the war, justified an appeal for more naval aid, which would then not be seen as a criticism of previous French efforts.
{ 293 }
Upon that basis the drafting of the letter began in mid-December. Four drafts have been found, and there may have been a fifth that is not extant. The first draft was by Arthur Lee. According to John Adams in his letter to Gerry, Lee's draft was too short. As a result, Adams wrote in his Letterbook a second, much longer draft, which is printed as No. I. It became the basis for the letter as actually sent. Arthur Lee then copied John Adams' draft, incorporating insertions and deletions made in the course of its composition, thus producing a third draft on which Lee entered his alterations, while Franklin made his revisions in Adams' Letterbook. For a more detailed comment on these three drafts and the possibility that there was another, see the descriptive note to No. I. For a fourth extant draft, see the descriptive note to No. II.
The recipient's copy (No. II) shows the effects of intensive editing, being half as long as Adams' initial draft, with whole paragraphs removed, repositioned, or considerably shortened. Many changes were made for the sake of clarity or to avoid repetition, but protocol was the prime consideration in the decision to direct the letter to Vergennes rather than to Louis XVI. Other changes were of more substance, as for example, those in portions of the memorial that dealt with the French alliance, made to avoid any implication that the Commissioners' memorial was an ultimatum and that the lack of a favorable response to its requests would lessen the attachment of the United States to the alliance.
The Commissioners' letter brought no response from Vergennes beyond his reply of 9 January (below) acknowledging its receipt. Vergennes' decision to ignore the plan probably resulted from three considerations: his belief that French assistance was adequate; a plan, presumably unknown to the Commissioners, to invade England with a combined French and Spanish force in the event that Spain entered the war; and the French navy's size, which prevented any substantial augmentation of its forces in American waters at that time. It is significant that the request for “a powerful Fleet of thirty or forty sail” in Adams' Letterbook draft was scaled down in the recipient's copy to “sending of a powerfull Fleet sufficient to secure a naval superiority” (No. II, note 6).
Despite the lack of a positive response from Vergennes, John Adams did not abandon his belief that the dispatch of additional French ships was a necessity, as is apparent in his letter to Gerry in September 1779, as well as in the letters between him and Lafayette of 21 February and 9 April (both below). The drafts and the resulting letter to Vergennes provide a fascinating glimpse of the Commissioners' efforts to deal with the French government on a most sensitive issue: the amount of material aid to be supplied the United States.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0196-0002

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-12-20

I. John Adams' Draft of the Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

<Certain><The> Some late Proceedings of the common Ennemy, are of a Nature so extraordinary, and may if not in some Way or other controuled, produce Consequences so <disagreable>[injurious] not only to <all the belligerent Powers>[France and the United States], but by their Example to other Nations, that We have thought it our Duty, to Submit a few observations upon them, to <the>[your Excellency's] Superior Lights and Judgment <of his Majesty and his Council>.2
The Earl of Carlisle, Sir Henry Clinton and William Eden Esq. his Britannic Majestys Commissioners, appointed for Purposes Sufficiently known, have seen fit on the third day of October 1778 to publish a Manifesto in America, in which, among many other exceptionable Paragraphs (not necessary to be here remembered,) are the following (Words vizt.)
“But if there be any Persons, who divested of mistaken Resentments, and uninfluenced by Selfish Interests, really think that it is for the Benefit of the Colonies to Seperate themselves from Great Britain, and that So Seperated they will find a Constitution more mild, more free, and better calculated for their Prosperity, than that which they heretofore enjoyed, and which We are empowered and disposed to renew and improve; with Such Persons we will not dispute a Position, which Seems to be Sufficiently contradicted by the Experience they have had. But We think it right to leave them fully aware of the Change, which the maintaining Such a Position, must make in the whole Nature and future Conduct of this War; more especially when to this Position is added the PRETENDED Alliance with France. The Policy, as well as the Benevolence of Great Britain, have thus far checked the Extremes of War, when they tended to distress a People Still considered as our Fellow Subjects, and to DESOLATE a Country Shortly to become again a Source of mutual Advantage: But when that Country professes the unnatural Design, not only of estranging herself from Us, but of mortgaging herself and her Resources to our Ennemies, the whole Contest is changed; and the Question is, how far Great Britain may, by every Means in her Power, DESTROY or RENDER USELESS a Connexion contrived for her Ruin and for the Aggrandisement of France. Under Such Circumstances, the Laws of Self Preservation must direct the Conduct of Great Britain, and if the British Collonies are to become an ACCESSION to France, will di• { 295 } rect her to render that ACCESSION of as little avail as possible to her Ennemy.”
The Congress, on the Thirtyeth of October, in a Resolution, a Copy of which We have the Honour to inclose, holding in just abhorrence, the Threats in the British Manifesto, <unanimously determined> declared with great solemnity and perfect Unanimity, that if their Ennemies dared to execute their Manaces and persist in their Plan of Barbarity, that they would take a Vengeance So exemplary, as should deter all others, who might hereafter be under a Temptation to imitate Great Britain.3
Motions have been made in both Houses of the British Parliament, to address the King to disavow the barbarous Clauses in the Manifesto of his Commissioners <,>[;]<and We have read with Pleasure the virtuous Detestation of the wisest and best Men in that Nation against this Measure.> But these Motions have been rejected, by Majorities in both Houses, and the Manifesto Stands, avowed by King Lords and Commons, an eternal Monument of <their Revenge, their> Inhumanity, <their malevolent Passions> and <their anti> unchristian Policy.4
<The Artifice, of representing, that the united States, had mortgaged themselves and their Resources to France—[and that]5 the Connection between the two Countries [was] formed for the Ruin of Great Britain, is very obvious. They know full well, the Americans have made no Mortgages of themselves or their Resources, but for their own Preservation. That the Connection was not made for the Ruin of G.B. or for any Ruin, but for the Independance of the united States, which is but another Word, for their Preservation from Ruin.6 Indeed if the United States had formed an Alliance with France, for the Purposes of ruining Great Britain, it would have been but an Imitation of her Example, a Retaliation—and much more excuseable than her Alliances with Germans Indians, and Negroes for the Ruin of the United States—but.>
<The Artifice of calling that a pretended Alliance, which their own Feelings as well as their Consciences, attested and which the Interests of their Posterity will acknowledge to be a real Alliance, <is too litt> an Artifice so unworthy of any great Character, and much more so of Characters representing Nations and Sovereigns, is however So little important, as scarcely to be worth an observation.>7 That the Aggrandisement of France, would be a Consequence of this Connection, We acknowledge to have foreseen and <all> America would join with Us, <in [ . . . ] from> from her essential Interests as well as her Gratitude in avowing this is Part of the Proclamation. But G.B. must thank her own Injustice Ingratitude and Impolicy for this.
{ 296 }
The Declaration <amounts, to a formal annonciation><of>[announces] a Settled Design, to make their Utmost Exertions in the <horrid> barbarous Work of Conflagration and Massacre.8 There is to be “a Change in the Nature and Conduct of the War.” <We know of no>[A] Change for the Worse <that it is possible for them to make>[must be horrible indeed!]9<unless it be to burn every House they can put fire too, and to murder upon the Spot every Soldier at least if not every Woman and Child that unfortunately shall fall in their Way. Whether Such a Change would be for the Worse is a Point that may be disputed. This would put our People upon their Guard, and prevent their making so many Prisoners as they have, to be destroyed, by the lingering Torments of Hunger Cold, and Disease.>
<They have already burned [burnt] as many of our Towns, as they had Power <to burn>, and <dared> Courage to burn.> They have burned the beautiful Towns of Cha[r]lestown, Falmouth, <Bedford> Norfolk, Kingston, Bedford, and Egg Harbour and German Flatts.10 It is true they left Boston and Philadelphia, unburnt, but in all Probabi[li]ty, it was merely the dread of a Superiour Army, and of immediate Destruction that in these Cases restrained their Hands. Not to mention they have more Secret <treacherous> Friends in Boston <and> Philadelphia and New York than in all America besides.
They have not indeed hitherto murdered upon the Spot, every Woman and Child that unfortunately fell in their Way, nor have they in all Cases refused Quarter to the soldiers that at times have fallen into their Power, tho they have in <Some>[many]. <Yet they have gone great Lengths>[They have also done their utmost] in seducing Negroes and Indians to commit inhuman Bucheries, upon the Inhabitants, <in some Instances> Spearing neither Age nor sex, <or>[nor] Character.
<Alltho they have not in all Cases refused Quarter to the soldiers <they> and sailors <they have made Prisoners>[that have fallen into their hands.] Yet t>[T]hey have done what is perhaps worse [than refusing them quarter]. They have thrust <them>[the prisoners] into such Dungeons, <confined> loaded them <in> with such Irons, exposed them to such lingering Torments of Cold Hunger and Disease, as has probably destroyed greater Numbers than they could have <murdered>[had an Opportunity of murdering], if they had made it a Rule to give no Quarter. Many others they have in a most tyrannical and inhumane Manner compelled by Force, to serve and fight against their Relations and Countrymen, on Board their { 297 } ships<, a>[. A] Destiny to many brave and generous <Men> Minds more terrible than Death itself.
This is not exaggeration, but serious and melancholly Truth<, i>[. I]t is therefore difficult to comprehend, what they mean by a Change in the Nature and Conduct of the War. But there is no doubt to be made that they meant to be understood to threaten something, more cruel, more terrible and more desolating than any Thing they have yet done, greater Extreams of War <than we have yet felt>—Measures that shall distress the People <more>, and desolate the Country more, than any Thing We have yet felt.
All this is to be done to destroy and render Useless, our Connection with France, to prevent Us as an Accession to France, from becoming usefull to her, at least in any great degree.
<Here is a Change indeed of the Principle of the War.>[The object of the war is now entirely changd.] Heretofore their Massacres and Conflagrations, were to reclaim Us to Great Britain. [But] Now <indeed> despairing of that End, despairing of seducing, deceiving and dividing Us, the Sole Principle of their former Policy, and perceiving that We shall be faithfull to our Treaties, and consequently lost to them, their Principle now is by destroying Us to make Us <less usefull>[useless] to France.
<The Language here <is artfull>, Accession to France, is indeed artfull, but So grossly fallacious, that the <lowest> least discerning of the People for whom it was intended cannot be deceived by it. They meant to insinuate that our Connection with France, would make Us for the future an Accession to France in the Same manner, as We were formerly an Accession to Great Britain. They knew otherwise very well, and that the United States are no more an Accession to France, than Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, the Empire or any other Sovereign State in Alliance with her, or than Holland Portugal, Prussia or Russia is an Accession to Great Britain. Yet such are the Artifices that our Ennemies are capable of Using, and such is the Principle upon which our Destruction is to be accomplished if they can effect it.>
This Principle ought to be held in Utter Execration, not only by all Christians, but by all civilized Men and Nations. If it is once admitted as a Principle that Powers at War, have a Right to do whatever, will weaken or terrify an Ennemy, <there is no> or make him less powerfull it is not possible to foresee, where it will end. It would be very easy to burn the great Cities of Europe, and <this would weaken>[and bring infinite calamities on]11 the Nations to whom they belong. The Sav• { 298 } ages, who torture their Prisoners, do it to make themselves terrible <to> And their Ennemies less powerfull in Battle. In short all the Assassonations all the Horrors of the Savage ages,12 all the Desolations that in ancient times have been practiced by the Scourges of Mankind, may be introduced again and justified by this Shocking Principle.
The persevereing Cruelties of our Ennemies, have heretofore more than once exasperated the Minds of the People in America So much, as to excite Apprehensions that they would proceed to Retaliation, which if once commenced might be carried to horrible Extremities; to prevent which the Congress issued an Address exhorting to Forbearance and a farther Tryal by Examples of Generosity and Lenity, to recall their Ennemies to the Practice of Humanity amidst the Calamities of War. In Consequence of which neither the Congress of the united States, nor any of the States apart, have ever exercised or authorized the Exercise of <this> the Right of Retaliation. Their Ennemies however continued their Barbarities, till the issue of War turning against them, put one of their Armies, and <many thousands><Six> Several Thousands of other Prisoners into the Power of the States. From that time, till lately, their Conduct towards those Citizens of the united states, whom they had made Prisoners, was less Stained with atrocious <Insolence and> Inhumanity.13 At least their Cruelties were more disguised, under Professions of Care and Tenderness.
But Since they have found that all the Arts of their Commissioners could neither intimidate nor seduce the Congress nor the People,14 but that both are unalterably determined Not only to maintain their Sovereignty, but their Alliance with France, with perfect Faith, they have become outrageous,15 thrown off all Disguises, and the three Branches of their Government in the Face of all Europe, have avowed the Manifesto, Part of which We have before recited.
Congress, <in order still to restrain their impious Hand> have published their Manifesto in Answer, in order still if possible to restrain their impious Hands.
It is manifestly the Policy of the Common Ennemy, whatever may be their Pretences to disgust the People of America, with their new Alliance, by <convincing>[attempting to convince] them that instead of Sheilding them from future Distresses it has accumulated Additional Calamities upon them.16
Certainly nothing can more become any Character that is both great and good, than to stop the progress of their Cruelties, <and> disappoint their Purpose,17 and vindicate the Rights of human Nature and of all { 299 } Society, <with an> which with such shameless Boldness, are set at open Defyance by this <Savage> Proclamation.
We therefore beg Leave to suggest to Consideration, whether it would not be eligible for his Majesty to interfere, by some Declaration to the Court of London, and to the World, bearing Testimony against this barbarous Mode of War, and giving assurances that he will join the United States in practising Retaliation if G. Britain shall make it necessary.
There is another Measure, however, which would more effectually put a Stop to their new Mode of War, and seems to bid fairer than any other, to bring the whole War to a Speedy Conclusion,18 that of sending immediately to the Coast of America, a powerfull Fleet of Thirty or forty sail, to Secure a naval Superiority over the Ennemy in those Seas. Such a Measure as this, to all human Probability acting in Conjunction with the Armies of the United States, would take and destroy the whole of the British Power both by sea and Land, in that Country. It would put their Wealth and Commerce into the Power of France, and19 reduce her to the Necessity of Suing for Peace.
Upon a naval Superiority in those Seas depend, not only the rich Commerce of their Islands, and the Dominion of the Islands themselves,20 but the supply of the Armies and Fleets with Provisions and every Necessary.
The Ennemy have near four hundred Transport ships, constantly employed in the service of their Fleet and Army in America, passing backwards and forwards from New York and Rhode Island to England, Ireland, Nova Scotia, the West India Islands and other Places. Great Numbers of these would necessarily fall into the Hands of the French Fleet, and as Prizes go to a sure and Speedy Market in the United States. By this Means also great Numbers of Seamen, on board those Transports would fall into french Hands, a loss that England cannot repair.
It is conceived that it would be impossible for G.B. to send So great a Fleet, after the French into that part of the World. Their Men of War, now in Europe are too old too rotten, too ill manned, and their Masts and Yards are of two bad Materials to endure such a Navigation. The Impossibility of the English obtaining Provisions, Artists and Materials of every Kind in that Country, which would be easy for the French, makes it Still clearer that they cannot send so great an Additional Force to America. And furthermore the Fear of Spain's interfering with her powerfull Navy would restrain them. Whereas France has { 300 } little to fear in Europe from them, as the Numbers and Excellence of her Armies are an ample security against the feeble land Forces of Great Britain in Europe.
Such a naval Superiority in the American Seas, would farther, open immediately such Commerce between the United States, and the <West India Islands><<dutch and Spanish but especially the>> French West India Islands, as would be of great Utility to both, would give new Spirits and fresh Vigour to both, would enable our People to supply themselves with those European as well as West India Articles which they now most Want, and to send abroad Such of the Produce of the Country as they can Spare.
The late Speedy Assistance and Reperation of his Majestys Fleet under the Comte D'Estaing at Boston, will shew the Advantages which this Country must enjoy in carrying on a naval War, on a Coast friendly to her and hostile to her Ennemy. And these Advantages we trust will in future be much more Sensible, because the appearance of the Fleet this time was sudden and unexpected, and the last <Season>[Harvests] in that Part of the Country unfavourable.21
It is true that the Comte found a Difficulty in obtaining Bread at Boston. But <<this is no just objection, and>> as this <<Subject>>[Circumstance] may not be perfectly understood We beg Leave to enlarge a little in Explanation of it.
Of all the thirteen united States of America, the Massachusetts Bay alone, has never raised its own Bread. Their Soil or Air is unfavourable for the Culture of Wheat, and their Fisheries and other Branches of Trade, enabled them to import flour and Corn so easily from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, that it has been computed that about fifty-thousand People Inhabitants of the sea Port Towns Boston, Salem, Marblehead and Newbury Port, were annually fed with Corn imported, the Province not producing a sufficient Quantity for its Inhabitants.
Since this War commenced the Inhabitants have raised more grain than before but still not enough and they have supplied the Deficiency partly by Land in Waggons from Connecticutt and the state of New York, and partly by sea from Pensylvania, Maryland And Virginia, by small Vessells, with Skillfull Navigators which all the Vigilance of the British Frigates, has never been able wholly to prevent.
This Year unfortunately the southern States, for good Reasons of State however, had laid a Strict Embargo on Grain, which cutt off entirely this Channell of Supply from Boston. General Burgoines Army near 6000 Men, were at Cambridge, within a League of Boston and { 301 } must be Supplyed with Bread. So that in the Moment when his Majestys fleet arrived in Boston Harbour So great was the real Scarcity of Bread among the Inhabitants, and so great the fears of Famine arising from the sudden Addition of so great a Demand,22 probably a little fomented among Sailors by treacherous Individuals concealed23 as to produce the Insult and Injury, to some of the french Guards which every good Man in Boston laments and abhors. Yet notwithstanding, a sufficient Quantity was brought by Land. And We think it may be depended on that no fleet his Majesty may send, will ever want for Bread in any Part of the United States<.>[, especially if a little previous Notice is given of the Ports they may touch at.]
We beg leave before We close this long Memorial to observe, that altho the ruling Passion of Great Britain towards her Colonies was Contempt it is now most effectually changed towards the United States for another which is much more violent, we mean fear.
They fear the united States in Alliance with France as the most dangerous Rival that has ever risen against them. In the long Train of Consequences of American Independance they see or fancy that they see, <the> Canada, Nova Scotia and the Floridas following the other thirteen—their West India Islands in the Hands of the French—the Americans trading to the East Indies—the French and Americans drawing off their Fisheries both of Cods and Whales—the French obtaining all Kinds of Timber of Construction <and> naval stores, Masts and Yards, cheaper and of better Quality than they. Their Commerce and Consequently finances So diminished that they shall not be able to sustain <its> their Credit at its height, national Bankrupcy, and a Revolution in their Government. Nothing less than these frightfull objects Staring in their Faces could have produced, so <universal> general a Ratification of a Manifesto so outrageous as that We have been considering. And these will stimulate them to Exertions which will probably make more of these fearfull Apprehensions, Realities than would otherwise happen. But these Apprehensions, these Exertions, <and> the Passions they have excited in their own Breasts as well as in the Americans, added to the situation of the two Countries, and the Nature of their Commerce all conspire to induce Us to consider great Britain as likely to be <forever hereafter> for Ages our natural Ennemy, and consequently France as our natural Friend. And as it is obvious to all Europe, that nothing less is at stake in this Contest between France and England, than the Dominion of the Sea, at least the Superiority of naval Power, We do not expect that G.B. will easily give it up, or ever indeed without some decisive Effort, Some capital Stroke on the Part { 302 } of France. Such an Effort and such a Blow is the Measure of Sending a Great Fleet to America, which We have taken the Liberty to propose. With such an Exertion, We see nothing in the Course of human affairs, that can possibly prevent France from obtaining this naval Superiority, without delay. Without it the War may languish for many Years, to the infinite Distress of our Country to the exhausting both of France and England, and the Question at last left to be decided by another War.
We are the more zealous to represent these Things to <<his Majesty>>[your Excellency], as all our Correspondence from England for some Time past has uniformly represented, that the Intention of the Cabinet, is conformable to the Spirit of the Manifesto. That all Parties grow more out of Temper with the Americans, that it is become fashionable, with the Minority as well as with the Majority and the Administration to abuse Us, both in and out of Parliament. That all Parties perceiving that We are forever lost as fellow subjects, join in Speaking of Us, in the bitterest Terms and in heartily wishing We could be well chastised, that great Clamours are raised about our Alliance with France, as an unnatural Combination to ruin them. That Multitudes of Fictions are framed and propagated, to make it believed that the People of America, are weary of the Government of Congress, that there are great Dissentions in our Army, and that nothing is wanting to make the People desert France, and resign their Independance, but a Speedy and powerfull Reinforcement of Clintons Army and a Spirited Exertion of a Fleet with it—to make descents on the sea Coasts, while murdering and desolating Parties are let loose upon the Frontiers of the Carolinas, Virgini[a], Pensylvania, N.J., N.Y. and N. England. And that Very early in the Year, they will carry all these Projects into Execution, as far as they can, unless Spain should soon openly join its fleet to that of France, in which Case it is hardly credible that they should send any more of their Force out of Europe. That Strong Hopes are entertained that Spain will not join—That a pacific Negociation is going on with Spain, to cede Gibralter to her. That their best Politicians think it would be better to give Spain Gibralter than suffer the great Branches of the House of Bourbon to be confederated with America in a War against them. That all their Regiments of Infantry, are to be Sent in February to America to reinforce Gen. Clinton, and their Place supplied, by an Act of Parliament, obliging each Parish in the Kingdom to furnish a certain Number of Men, a Measure that if Ministers move it will certainly take Place.
This whole system, may as we <humbly> conceive be totally de• { 303 } feated, and the <whole> Power of Great Britain now in America, <totally> captivated or destroyed, even without the Interposition of Spain, which however We ardently wish, by the Measure We have proposed of sending thirty or forty ships of War forthwith to America.
There are two other Arguments in favour of this Measure, that We beg Leave to suggest.
The two principal sources of Unhappiness in America, at present, and the two principal Causes of Disputes <[ . . . ] Army, and among the People are> altho all these Controversies are very far from being dangerous, to the Confederation, are the <unhappy>[depreciated] state of their Currency, and the <inconsiderable>[remaining] Number of Persons who secretly wish from Sinister Motives to become again subject to G.B.
The Maintenance of such a Fleet in America, would circulate so much Cash and Bills of Exchange, there as would in a great Measure relieve them from the Evils of a depreciating Currency, and this Money would all return to France for Goods, thereby cementing the Connection and extending the Trade between the two Countries.
And the Appearance of such a Fleet would annihilate Toryism in every state in America.
LbC (Adams Papers). The Letterbook copy is a draft with numerous additions and deletions—in ink by JA and in pencil by Benjamin Franklin—and takes up eight full pages in the Letterbook, making it twice as long as the recipient's copy (No. II). Additions by Franklin are enclosed in double parentheses. JA's deletions are indicated by single angled brackets, while those by Franklin appear in double angled brackets. Where both marked a deletion, it is enclosed in triple angled brackets. The Letterbook copy constitutes the second extant draft, and proceeded from Arthur Lee's earlier, undated, and much shorter draft (MH-H: Lee Papers), with some deletions, on four pages, each approximately half the size of a page in JA's Letterbook. For portions of Lee's draft used by JA, see notes 13–21. A copy of a third draft, dated 20 Dec. 1778, is in PCC, No. 102, III, f. 1–10. It was made by Ludwell Lee, who, at the bottom of the final page, certified it “to be a true copy from the original Letter in possession of the Hble Arthur Lee Esqr.” The “original Letter” has not been found.
The draft in the PCC poses some problems when compared with the Letterbook and recipient's copies in determining when and by whom changes were made. The copy made by Arthur Lee from the Letterbook was clearly a third draft, for Ludwell Lee's copy of it incorporates the changes made by JA in the course of his drafting. It also includes, as interlineations, the changes that appear on the Letterbook copy in Benjamin Franklin's hand, indicating that Lee probably consulted the Letterbook after making his own changes and transferred those by Franklin to his copy. On the final page of Ludwell Lee's draft, however, there is a notation in Arthur Lee's hand stating that “the Paragraphs, parts and words marked were left out in { 304 } the letter that was sent. Those with a mark only, were Dr. Franklin's corrections; those with hooks [parentheses] added, Mr. Lee's.” Despite this, many of the changes that are in Franklin's hand on the Letterbook copy are enclosed in parentheses on the PCC copy, thus raising questions regarding who actually made what changes, a problem that the editors have been unable to resolve. Moreover, when the revisions made on the third draft are compared with those incorporated into the recipient's copy, it is clear that many of the changes were not entered on the draft. This may indicate that there was a later draft, now lost (for a fourth extant draft, see No. II), on which additional changes were indicated or that the unrecorded changes were made by JA when he recopied his draft to produce the final version of the letter. In order to facilitate comparisons between the Letterbook copy and the recipient's copy, major changes marked on the third draft are indicated in the notes that follow. For notes regarding matters of substance referred to in the draft, see No. II.
1. For this date, which is derived from the third extant draft, see the descriptive note.
2. On the third draft this paragraph was reduced in length and put into the form that appears in the recipient's copy.
3. This paragraph was followed by a wide gap, indicating that JA may have intended to add more, perhaps a quotation from the countermanifesto. In addition, on the third draft it and the preceding two paragraphs were marked for deletion, but the form of the single paragraph that replaces them in the recipient's copy was not indicated.
4. On the third draft this paragraph was reduced to a single sentence and put into the form that would appear in the recipient's copy.
5. Franklin's insertion was intended to replace the dash, which was not canceled.
6. To this point this paragraph was interlined in a wide gap between the preceding and succeeding paragraph. The remainder of the paragraph was written in the left margin and marked for insertion at this point.
7. The remainder of this paragraph was interlined. Franklin did not mark the interlined passage for deletion, but his marginal mark here shows some uncertainty. Moreover, JA may have added the interlined passage after Franklin marked his deletion, so it cannot be assumed that Franklin approved of the remainder of the paragraph. In any event, it was not retained in the recipient's copy.
8. In the third draft this and the preceding two paragraphs were marked for deletion, but no substitute language, such as appears in the recipient's copy was indicated.
9. The remainder of this paragraph also appears in the third draft, indicating that it was first canceled after Arthur Lee had copied it.
10. JA added “and German Flatts” above the line.
11. In the Letterbook Franklin's insertion is mostly illegible and has here been supplied from the third draft. It appears that Franklin intended the final word to be “upon” rather than “on.”
12. To this point in the paragraph and through the previous seven paragraphs, all of the changes that were “inserted into the recipient's copy were marked on either the Letterbook copy or the third draft. From this point to the end of the letter, however, except for the canceled passage mentioned in note 22, the third draft, like the Letterbook copy, contains no significant canceled passages or important insertions, despite the fact that over half the remaining material was not included in the recipient's copy.
13. To this point this paragraph is taken, with only a few changes, from Arthur Lee's initial draft.
14. To this point this sentence is taken almost directly from Arthur Lee's draft.
15. “Have become outrageous” is taken from Arthur Lee's draft.
16. This paragraph is taken almost verbatim from Arthur Lee's draft.
17. Including the canceled “and,” the passage beginning “to stop the progress” and continuing to this point is an exact { 305 } quotation from Arthur Lee's draft.
18. The remainder of this sentence was taken, with some changes in word order, from Arthur Lee's draft.
19. The remainder of this sentence was taken from Arthur Lee's draft.
20. To this point this sentence is taken, with minor changes, from Arthur Lee's draft.
21. This paragraph was taken, with only minor changes, from Arthur Lee's draft.
22. To this point this paragraph, as well as the two preceding ones, were inserted in JA's letter to Edme Jacques Genet of [30 Dec. 1778] (below). The substance of the remainder of this paragraph was also included in that letter. In the third draft the text from this point to “and consequently France as our natural Friend. And as” in the second paragraph that follows was marked for omission.
23. From the previous comma, this passage was interlined.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0196-0003

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-01-09

II. The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

Some late Proceedings of the Enemy, have induced us, to submit a few Observations to your Excellency's superior Lights and Judgement.
His Britannic Majesty's Commissioners, in their Manifesto of the 3d of October, have denounced “a Change in the whole Nature and future Conduct of the War,”2 they have declared “that the Policy as well as Benevolence of Great Britain, have thus far checked the Extremes of War,” when they tended to “distress the People, and desolate the Country.” That the whole Contest is changed, that the Laws of self Preservation, must now direct the Conduct of Great Britain, that these Laws, will direct her, to render the United States of as little avail as possible to France, if they are to become an Accession to her. And by every means in her Power, destroy, and render Useless the new Connection contrived for her Ruin.
Motions have been made and supported by the wisest Men in both Houses of Parliament to address the King to disavow these Clauses; But these Motions have been rejected by Majorities in both Houses, so that the Manifesto stands avowed by the three Branches of the Legislature.3
Ministers of States have made in Parliament a Question, concerning the meaning of this Manifesto. But no Man who reads it and knows the History of their past Conduct in this War, can doubt its import.
There is to be “a Change in the Nature and Conduct of the War,”—A change for the worse must be terrible indeed!
They have already burnt the beautiful Towns of Charles Town, Falmouth, Norfolk, Kingston, Bedford, Egg Harbour, and German Flatts,4 besides innumerable single Buildings and smaller Clusters of Houses, wherever their Armies have march'd. It is true, they left Boston and Philadelphia unburnt, but in all probability it was merely the dread of { 306 } a Superior Army, that in those Cases restrained their Hands, not to mention, that burning these Towns would have been the Ruin of the few Secret Friends they have still left, of whom there are more in those Towns than in all America besides.
They have not indeed murdered upon the Spot, every Woman and Child, that fell in their Way, nor have, in all Cases refused Quarter to the Soldiers, that at times have fallen into their Power, tho' they have in many; they have also done their utmost in seducing Negroes and Indians to commit inhuman Butcheries upon the Inhabitants sparing neither Age, Sex, nor Character. Altho they have not in all Cases refused Quarter to Soldiers and Sailors, they have done what is worse than refusing Quarter: they have thurst their Prisoners into such Dungeons, loaded them with Irons, and exposed them to such lingering Torments, of Cold, Hunger and Disease, as have destroyed greater Numbers, than they could have had an Opportunity of murdering, if they had made it a Rule to give no Quarter. Many others they have compelled by Force, to serve and fight on Board their Ships against Fathers, Brothers, Friends and Countrymen, a Destiny to every Sensible Mind more terrible than Death itself.
It is therefore difficult to comprehend, what they mean by a Change in the Conduct of the War; yet there seems to be no Room to doubt that they mean to threaten something more cruel—greater Extremes, Measures that shall distress the People and lay waste the Country, more than any thing they have yet done.
The object of the War is now entirely changed. Heretofore their Massacres and Conflagrations were to divide Us, and reclaim us to Great Britain. Now despareing of that End, and perceiving that we shall be fait[h]ful to our Treaties, their Principle is by destroying us, to make us useless to France.
This Principle ought to be held in Abhorrence, not only by all Christians, but by all civilized Nations. If it is once admitted, that Powers at War, have a Right to do whatever will weaken or terrify an Enemy, it is not possible to foresee where it will end. It would be possible to burn the great Cities in Europe.
The Savages who torture their Prisoners do it to make themselves terrible: in fine all the Horrors of the barbarous Ages may be introduced again and justified.
The Cruelties of our Ennemies, have heretofore, more than once, exasperated the Minds of the People so much, as to excite Apprehensions that they would proceed to Retaliation, which if once commenc'd might be carried to extremities, to prevent which the Congress issued { 307 } an Address,5 exhorting to Forbearance, and a farther Tryal by Examples of Generosity and Lenity, to recall their Ennemies to the Practice of Humanity, amidst the Calamities of War. In consequence of which, neither the Congress, nor any of the States apart, have ever exercised, or authorised the Exercise of the Right of Retaliation.
But now that the Commissioners vested with the Authority of the Nation, have avowed such Principles, and published such Threats, the Congress have by a Resolution of the 30th. of October, solemnly, and unanimously declared that they will retaliate.
Whatever may be the Pretences of the Enemy, it is the manifest Drift of their Policy, to disgust the People of America, with their new Alliance, by attempting to convince them, that instead of shielding them from Distress, it has accumulated, additional Calamities upon them.
Nothing certainly can more become a great and amiable Character, than to disappoint their Purpose, stop the Progress of their Cruelties, and vindicate the Rights of Humanity, which are so much injured by this Manifesto.
We therefore beg leave to suggest to your Excellency's Consideration, whether it would not be adviseable for his Majesty to interfere, by some Declaration to the Court of London, and to the World, bearing his Royal Testimony against this barbarous Mode of War, and giving assurances that he will join the United States in Retaliation, if Great Britain by putting her Threats in Execution should make it necessary.
There is another Measure however, more effectual to controul their Designs, and to bring the War to a speedy Conclusion; that of sending a powerfull Fleet sufficient6 to secure a naval Superiority over them in the American Seas. Such a naval Force, acting in concert with the Armies of the United States, would in all human Probability, take and destroy the whole British Power, in that Part of the World: It would put their Wealth and West Indian7 Commerce into the Power of France, and reduce them to the Necessity of suing for Peace.
Upon their present naval Superiority in those Seas depend, not only the Dominion and the rich Commerce of their Islands, but the supply of their Fleets and Armies with Provisions and every Necessary. They have near 400 Transports, constantly employed in the Service of their Fleet and Army in America, passing from New-York and Rhode Island, to England, Ireland, Nova Scotia and their West India Islands, and if any one Link in this Chain was struck off—if their Supplies from any one of these Places should be intercepted, their Forces could not subsist. Great Numbers of these Vessells would necessarily fall into the { 308 } Hands of the French Fleet, and go as Prizes to a sure Market in the United States: great Numbers of Seamen too would become Prisoners, a Loss that England cannot repair.
It is conceived that it would be impossible for Great Britain to send a very great Fleet after the French, into those Seas. Their Men of War now in Europe are too old too rotten, too ill mann'd, and their Masts are of too bad Materials, to endure such a Navigation; the Impossibility of their obtaining Provisions, Artists and Materials, in that Country, which would be easy for the French, makes it still clearer, that they cannot send a great additional Force, and the Fear of Spains interfering with her powerful Navy would restrain them. Wheras France has nothing to fear in Europe from them, as the Numbers and excellence of her Armies, are an ample Security against the feeble Land Forces of Great Britain.
This Naval Superiority would open such Commerce between the United States and the French West India Islands, as would enable our People to supply themselves with the European and West India Articles they want, to send abroad the Produce of the Country, and by giving fresh Spirits and Vigour8 to Trade, would employ the Paper Currency, the want of which Employ has been one Cause of its Depreciation.
The Maintenance of such a Fleet, in America, would circulate so many, Bills of Exchange, as would likewise in a great Measure relieve them from that Dangerous Evil. And these Bills would all return to France for her Manufactures thereby cementing the Connection and extending the Trade between the two Countries.9
Such a naval Superiority, would contribute very much to extinguish the Hopes of the remaining Number of Persons who secreetly wish from sinister motives to become again subject to Great Britain, and would enable the People of the several States to give such Consistency, and Stability to their Infant Governments, as would contribute greatly to their internal Repose, as well as to the Vigour of their future Operations against the common Enemy.
The late speedy supply and Reparation of his Majesty's Fleet at Boston, will shew the Advantages, which this Country must enjoy, in carrying on a Naval War, on a Coast Friendly to her and hostile to her Ennemy. And these Advantages will in future be more sensible, because the appearance of the Fleet, before was unexpected, and the Harvests in that Part of the Country had been unfavourable.
It is obvious to all Europe, that nothing less is at Stake in the present Contest than the Dominion of the Sea, at least the superiority { 309 } of naval Power, and we cannot expect that Great Britain will ever give it up, without some decisive Effort on the Part of France. With such an Exertion as that of sending a superior Fleet to America, we see nothing in the Course of human Affairs, that can possible prevent France from obtaining such a Naval Superiority without Delay. Without it, the War may languish for Years to the infinite Distress of our Country to the exhausting both of France and England, and the Question left to be decided by another War.
We are the more earnest in representing these Things to your Excellency, as all our Correspondence from England for some time has uniformly represented that the Intention of the Cabinet, is conformable to the Spirit of the Manifesto; that all Parties grow more and more out of Temper with the Americans, that it is become fashionable with the Minority as well as the Majority and Administration to reproach us, both in and out of Parliament, that all Parties join in speaking of Us in the bitterest Terms, and in heartily wishing our Destruction: that great Clamours are raised about our Alliance with France as an unnatural Combination to ruin them. That the Cry is for a speedy and powerful Reinforcement of their Army, and for the activity of their Fleet in making Descents on the Sea Coast, while murdering and desolating Parties are let loose upon the Frontiers of the Carolinas, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, New-York and New-England, and that very early in the Year they will carry all these Projects into execution.
This whole System, may as we conceive be defeated and the Power of Great Britain now in America totally subdued (and if their Power is subdued there, it is reduced every where) by the Measure we have the honour to propose. We submit the whole merely as our Opinions to your Excellency's superior Wisdom, & have the honour to be, with the greatest Respect Your Excellency's, most obedient and most humble Servants.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed on the first page: “rep. le <8> 9,” “Les deputès americains demandent que la france oppose des Secours efficases aux [me]nacer que contient le manifeste des deputès anglois en amerique,” and on pages 5, 9, and 13: “[ . . . ] suite avant le 9. Janvr. 1779.” LbC (Adams Papers); this is the fourth extant draft (for three earlier drafts see No. I). Undated and written on a loose sheet folded in half to make four pages, it is very similar to the recipient's copy, with only a few changes by JA and Franklin, some of which are indicated in the notes that follow. It was laid in between pages 1 and 2 of the second ex• { 310 } tant draft (No. I; p. 112 and 113 of the Letterbook) and was filmed immediately following those two pages in the Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 92. At the top of the first page is a notation by CFA: “The American Commissioners to Count de Vergennes first draught Paris 1. January. 1779. Dipl. Correspondence 1.500.” When CFA wrote this note he was unaware that JA's Letterbook contained an earlier draft and concluded that the fourth draft, probably found among JA's loose papers, constituted his first effort. The reference in the notation is to Jared Sparks, ed., Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, 12 vols., Boston, 1829–1830. In 1852 when CFA published this same draft in JA, Works, 7:72–77, he had become aware of the earlier one (No. I) and wrote in a note at the end of the printed letter: “it is proper to state that the original draft of this letter bears the marks of considerable reduction in extent and tone from the hand of Dr. Franklin.”
Two additional copies of the letter to Vergennes, both in John Thaxter's hand and done from the fourth extant draft, can be found in the PCC, No. 85, f. 240–249 and in the Edward Davis Townsend Collection at the Huntington Library. The first is part of the copy made by Thaxter of Lb/JA/4, containing the Commissioners' letters during JA's first mission to France, for transmission to the congress (see Introduction, part 2, John Adams and his Letterbooks). The second, probably made at the same time, was enclosed in JA's letter to Elbridge Gerry of 11 Sept. 1779 (below). On both copies JA wrote in the dateline and the name of the intended recipient and on that in the PCC supplied the Commissioners' names.
1. As previously published in volumes or correspondence edited by Jared Sparks, CFA, and Francis Wharton, this letter has been assigned the date of 1 January 1779. That date, however, was apparently supplied conjecturally by Sparks and then accepted in later editions. The editors have been unable to find supporting evidence for such a date; in fact all of the extant copies of the letter as sent bear only the month and year: January 1779; and Vergennes' reply of 9 Jan. (below) refers to the letter as being undated. Therefore, it has been thought more accurate to date the letter in terms of Vergennes' reply.
2. “Denounce” is used here in the now obscure meaning of “announce” or “promulgate” (OED). For the full text of the passage from which this and later quotations were taken, see No. I. For the manifesto, see Evans, No. 15832.
3. For debates over motions opposing the manifesto offered by Thomas William Coke in the House of Commons on 4 Dec. and by the Marquis of Rockingham in the House of Lords on 7 Dec., as well as a protest signed by 31 members of the House of Lords, see Parliamentary Hist., 19:1388–1402; 20:1–46.
4. Charlestown, Mass.; Falmouth (now Portland), Maine; Norfolk, Va.; Kingston, N.Y.; Bedford (now New Bedford, then part of Dartmouth), Mass.; Egg Harbor, N.J.; German Flats (now Herkimer), N.Y.
5. See JCC, 12:1080–1082.
6. Originally this passage in the fourth draft read “a powerfull Fleet of Thirty or Forty Sail,” as it did in No. I. The deletion of the exact size of the force requested and the substitution of “sufficient” are in Benjamin Franklin's hand.
7. These two words were inserted by Franklin in the Letterbook.
8. The remainder of this sentence was inserted by Franklin in the Letterbook to replace the canceled passage: “would be of great utility to both.”
9. This paragraph is based on the final paragraph of No. I. By the time it was inserted into the fourth extant draft it had undergone considerable changes, none of which were indicated on any of the drafts referred to in No. I. In the fourth draft it read: “The Maintenance of such a Fleet, in America, would circulate so <much Cash and> many Bills of Exchange, as would likewise in a great Mea• { 311 } sure relieve them from <the next> that dangerous Evil. <they have now to fear, a depreciated Currency. This Money> And these Bills would all Return to France for <Goods> her Manufactures, thereby cementing the Connection and extending the Trade between the two Countries.” The insertion of the words “many,” “likewise,” “that dangerous,” and “her Manufactures” was by Franklin. The deletions were marked by both Franklin and JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0197

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1778-12-22

From Ralph Izard

[salute] Sir

A considerable time has elapsed since I had the honour of conversing with you on the subject of the Proclamation, and Manifesto of 3d. Octr. issued by the British Commissioners in America.
Every attempt should be made to prevent their carrying their bloody purposes into execution. The more I think on the subject, the more I am convinced that it would be proper for the Representatives of our Country at this Court, to urge the Ministry to transmit a firm, and spiritted Declaration to the Court of England, setting forth the resolution of the King to retaliate, if any mode of carrying on the war in America should be adopted, but such as can be justified by the custom, and Law of Nations. I was happy to find that you agreed with me in opinion. Mr. Lee was afterwards consulted about it, and approved of the measure; and you both, promised that the business should be entered into immediately.
I have since waited on you at Passy, to request that you would allow of no delay in a matter of so great importance; and I have done the same to Mr. Lee. I can not help expressing to you my astonishment at finding that there has not yet been any Memorial presented to the Ministry on this subject. You have frequently expressed your uneasiness to me at the dissipated life which Dr. Franklin led; and at his inattention to, and almost total neglect of the public business.
For God's sake do not allow his misconduct to operate more to the injury of our cause, than what must arise from absolute necessity. His name would certainly add weight to the application; but should he refuse to concur in it, there can be no impropriety in your applying as an individual, if not as a Commissioner. The distresses of our Country, the sanguinary purposes of both Houses of Parliament, and the alarming preparations making by the enemy, call aloud for every exertion on our part. The cruelties threatened by the Manifesto are declared to be intended to render the accession of America to France “of as little avail as possible to her.”
The Court of France might with propriety reply, that as Jamaica, { 312 } and the other English West India Islands are a great accession of strength to her enemies, the same reason might be supposed to exist, for destroying the property, and extirpating the inhabitants by fire, and sword.
I entreat that you will take in good part what I have said, and written to you on this subject. It can not possibly have proceeded from any other motive but that of an anxiety, <for t> occasioned by the calamities of our Country, and a sincere desire of attempting every thing that seems likely to afford relief to them.
I have the honour to be Sir with esteem Your most obedient humble Servant
[signed] Ra. Izard1
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Hon. Mr Izzard 22 Dec. 1778.”
1. No reply by JA to this letter has been found, but for the application to Vergennes that was its object, see the Commissioners' to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0198

Author: Gardner, Shubael
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-22

Shubael Gardner to the Commissioners

Gentlemen you will Excuse all in these From one that is not used to adress in Such undertaking as the present. But Being prompt By your known Com' and abilatys I hope you will Accept my offering as Simple as it may appear.
There has Sundry men Belonging to the united States of North America Ben Brought in here that knowd Not what to Do Being in a friendless place they Being monyless have Enterd into the whalfisherry to Save themselves from a man of war as they Could be protected in that trade, there is I think none in the trade that would have Gone if they Could have Done any thing Else, it was against there wills Soarly as I have hard them Say often. Namely: Benjamin Clark, Elisha Clark; Francis Macy: Paul Pease: John Lock: William Folger.1 I Believe if they with their men Could have the Liberty to Go to America they would with all their harts. Now I have to Inform there is in Denan prison a youth John Blyth by Name Son of John Blyth Taken with Benjm. Clark in Brig Falkland. His father is a Sincear Friend to all Americans which I have provd often Both By Day and night and Likewise all the Family: their has been more then Forty Secreted in the house Sence I have Known it and Some Coming and Goiing Every week. They have hurt themselves in welth by it, But I Truss not in Futer for Sundry men has Experencd their Kindness Namely Benjamin { 313 } Hill Mr. Tuck Harmon Corter David Lyman Mr. Pulsifurd: Doct. Seegar, Matthew Coxdrill Charls Phipping Enoch Buts and Sundry more we have on hand at presant that Lately Broke prison Lately2 and Expect more Daly which will meet the Like as Long as in their powers.
Now Gentlemen if you would Deign to Read this and Give it its proper waight I Should be imboldend to ask one favour for them. Thats to make your intersesion for to Gitt the Lad Cleard from prison and Send him home to them as it may be the means of Sundry others Gitting Clear as well French as Americans which may be usefull for your fellow Citticans for the futer.3
Them that are Friends to America are almost Exosted. I Can Speek for one, But I have Some money in my hands Belonging to America and think it Cant Be applyd Better then by helping the Distressed of my Countrymen.
Gentlemen men I hope you will Excuse all Falts in your Hum Servant
[signed] Shubael Gardner
Capt. Barnard is Now almost Ready to Sail, Capt. Joseph Chace:4 Capt. Jeames McCobbe: Capt. John McCarty are Jest Going From hence to France who Can Give more purticallars than I Can Rite.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To Honble. Commisioners of the United States of North America in Paris France”; docketed: “Shubael Gardner”; in another hand: “Shubael Gardener Dec. 22. 78.” The editors have supplied several periods in this virtually unpunctuated text.
1. With the exception of Folger, the Commissioners already knew of the involvement of these men and several others in the English whale fishery and had sent the information to Sartine in a letter of 30 Oct. (above). Gardner does not mention it here, but he too was involved in that enterprise, as the Commissioners had learned on 12 Oct. (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:322).
2. Benjamin Hill, Sewall Tuck, Hammon Corter, Dr. George Seger, Matthew Cogshall, and Enoch Butts had all escaped from Forton Prison (William Richard Cutter, “A Yankee Privateersman in Prison in England, 1777–1779,” NEHGR, 33:36–37 [Jan. 1879]). The other three men remain unidentified.
3. No reply has been found.
4. See Joseph Chase's letter of 1 Jan. 1779 regarding the prisoner at Dinant (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0199-0001

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-22

Gabriel de Sartine to the Commissioners

Vous etes sans Doute informés, Messieurs, qu'il arrive souvent dans Les Ports de france des sujets des Etats-Unis qui s'échappent des Prisons d'Angleterre, et comme La plupart de ces Marins se trouvent depourvus des Choses les plus necessaires, plusieurs Commissaires des Ports ou vous n'avez pas d'Agent et qui ont deja fait quelques Avances { 314 } a des sujets des Etats-Unis echappés des Prisons d'Angleterre, me demandent d'etre authorisés a leur fournir Les Objets de premiere necessité, je vous prie Messieurs de me faire connoitre votre Intention sur cet objet et si vous desirez qu'ils soient traités comme Les Prisonniers francois Le sont lorsqu'ils reviennent d'Angleterre.
A légard des Prisonniers que Les Batimens des Etats-Unis pourroient faire sur Les Anglois; par L'Article 15 du Reglement du Roi du 27 7bre dernier,1 il est dit qu'il sera donné des Ordres par sa Majesté pour que Les Prisonniers que Les Corsaires Americains ameneront en france soient conduits, gardés et nourris dans ses Places et Chateaux aux fraix des Etats-Unis. Je me propose de donner des Ordres dans Les Ports afin que ces Prisonniers y soient traités et nourris comme ceux qui ont été fait par Les Batimens de sa Majesté. Vous voudrez bien, Messieurs me faire connoitre si ces Dispositions vous sont agreables, et donner a vos Agens dans Les Differens Ports, Les Ordres que vous Jugerez convenables.
J'ai l'honneur d'etre &c.,
[signed] De Sartine

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0199-0002

Author: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-22

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

You are undoubtedly aware, gentlemen, that United States citizens who have escaped from English prisons often arrive in French ports, and since most of these sailors find themselves without articles of first necessity several Commissioners of Ports where you have no agent and who have already made some advances to these escapees request me to authorize them to furnish these objects. I request that you gentlemen, make known to me your intentions concerning this matter and whether you wish them to be treated like French prisoners returning from British jails.
Regarding prisoners that might be taken from the British by American vessels, Article 15 of the King's ordinance of 27 September last,1 states that His Majesty will give orders that prisoners brought to France by American privateers will be escorted, guarded, and fed in his establishments and chateaus at the expense of the United States. I propose to issue orders in the ports so that such prisoners there will be treated and fed as those that have been taken by His Majesty's vessels. Please, gentlemen, inform me whether these arrangements are agreeable to you and give your agents in the different ports the orders you judge appropriate.
I have the honor to be, &c.,
[signed] De Sartine
FC in William Temple Franklin's hand (DLC: Franklin Papers).
1. For the regulations, see Sartine to the Commissioners, 29 July, and references there (vol. 6:334, calendar entry).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0200-0001

Author: Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (business)
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-24

Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Nous n'avons reçu que le 15 La Lettre dont vous nous aves honnorés le 6 du Courant;1 nous avons Informés Exactement nôtre Sr. Grand, Actuellement à Paris, de ce qui est Relatif au plaçement des Promesses des Etats Unis de L'Amerique. Il vous en aura sans doute Egalement fait part, tous ce que nous avons pú êcouler Jusqu'a prêsent, de ces Promesses se Reduit à 51. mais nous ne doutons point qu'avec un peu de patiençe nous ne parvenions peu à peu, à plaçer le Reste, et à pouvoir ensuitte agir pour des Objets de Considêration. Il faut pour cela êtablir et mênager le Credit de ces Effets, et Il faut pour ÿ parvenir agir avec Circonspection et avec Reservé, car en voulant forcer les choses nous ne ferions que Reculer, et nuire à l'avenir; Nous vous prions Messieurs, de vouloir bien vous Reposer surtout Nôtre Zêle, et nos soins à contribuër au bien de la chose, et être persuadés que les Intêrets que vous voulés bien nous confier nous occupent et nous attachent autant que les nôtres prôpres.
Nous attendrons les Ordres que vous Jugerés à prôpos de nous donner, pour la disposition de vos fonds en nos mains, pour nous ÿ conformer.
Nous sommes avec un Dêvouëment Respectueux Messieurs Vos tres Humbles & tres Obeissants Serviteurs
[signed] Horneca fizeaux Comp.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0200-0002

Author: Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (business)
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-24

Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

It was not until the 15th that we received the letter that you honored us with of the 6th instant.1 We have precisely informed Sir Grand, currently in Paris, of that which is relative to the placement of the promissory notes of the United States of America. He undoubtedly will also have told you that all we have been able to place up to now is 51, but we do not doubt that with a little patience we will succeed, little by little, in placing the rest and then be able to proceed to some important business. For this it is necessary to establish and maintain the credit of these notes, and for that it is necessary to proceed with circumspection and reserve. By trying to force these things we would only be taking a step back, thereby jeopardizing the future. We beseech you, gentlemen, to trust above all in our zeal and our attention to the success of the project, and to be persuaded that the interests that you were kind enough to confide to us occupy and engage us as much as our own.
We will await the orders that you will judge appropriate, and to which we will conform, for the disposition of your funds in our hands.
We are with respectful devotion, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servants
[signed] Horneca, Fizeaux & Co.
{ 316 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mess. Horneca, Fizeau's & Co.”; in another hand: “24 Dec. 1778.”
1. In that letter (LbC, Adams Papers) the Commissioners noted that they had received no “intelligence” concerning the progress of the loan and asked for news so that they could inform their “Constituents, and regulate our Conduct in other Things.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0201

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Dana, Francis
Date: 1778-12-25

To Francis Dana

[salute] dear Sir

In Some of the latest Letters from England, We are told, that they grow more and more out of humour with the Americans every day, and that it is the Fashion now of the Minority, as well as the Friends of Administration to abuse them, both in and out of Parliament. In a Particular Mr. Powis Mr. Fox &c. express their Abhorrence of Congress—call them the worst of Tyrants and Say they deserve to be treated as savages for Shamefully violating the Convention of Saratoga. In truth all Parties are disposed to Speak very harshly of them, and heartily wish that they could be well drubbed; as they plainly perceive, they are forever lost, as fellow subjects. A great Clamour is also raised about the Treaty of Alliance, with France, it is called an unnatural Combination to ruin England. That the Minority deserve little Credit for their late Interference about the Commissioners Manifesto, as very few of them acted from any other Motive than Opposition to Ministry.1 That it is not to be conceived with what Strange Fictions Your old Friend the Governor,2 amuses the Members of both Houses. He has let both his Imagination and his Tongue loose. He says that the present General Assembly of Massachusetts Bay is composed of a Majority of Tories, that they are impatient to throw off, the Congress Yoke and conciliate with England. That the several Assemblies of the thirteen States are not considered by a vast Majority of the Inhabitants, as their legal Representatives, because Congress have imposed an Oath of Abjuration, upon all Persons who elect, or shall be elected Members of Assembly, and not a Fifth Part of the People of the thirteen States have taken this Oath. That there are great Dissentions in the American Army, and nothing is wanting to make the Rebells desert France, and throw off their Independance, but a Speedy and powerfull Reinforcement of Clintons Army, and a Spirited Exertion of a Fleet with it; these to make descents on different Parts of the Sea Coast, while Parties3 are let loose upon the Frontiers of the Carolinas, Virginia, Pensylvania, New York, and Massachusetts Bay. That these Measures will be attempted to be carried into Execution early in the Spring, there is not the Smallest doubt, unless the Spaniard shall Soon openly join his { 317 } Fleet with that of the French, in which Case they will not think it prudent to send any more of their Force to North America. That however, Strong hopes are entertained, that the Spaniard will not unite with France. That many of the best informed of their Statesmen are of opinion, that it would be better, at present to give Spain Gibralter, than suffer the great Branches of the House of Bourbon to be confederated, in a War against them. They have ventured even to drop Hints of this Kind to Some of the Leaders in opposition. That their officers and public Affairs, are in an extraordinary Way—their Admirals in the Channell service, are at an irreconcileable Variance. Keppell complaining in the House of Commons against Palliser, and the latter filing a String of Charges in the Admiralty against Keppell. This has produced an order for a Court Martial on the 7th of Jany. and an Act of Parliament, for trying him at Land.4 Lord How unemployed, and disobliged. His Brother, making a positive Charge against one of the Ministers.5 The late Ambassador at the Court of Versailles, suggesting such Information about the Treaty, as must bring on a Serious Enquiry, into the Conduct of another of their Ministers.6 General Keppell has resigned,7 and will not Act under Amherst, that all the great military People freely express their dislike of him, Say that he is all Grimace and possesses no shining military Talents &c. That all the Regiments of Infantry are to be sent in February to America, and their Place to be immediately supplied by new Regiments, to be raised by an Act of Parliament, not yet passed however, obliging each Parish in the Kingdom to furnish a certain Number of Men, a bold Measure, to be sure, but if moved by Ministers, it will go through, as that for the Militia did before.
The Tryal of Keppell, will work up Parties to a Frenzy. Palliser I think would never have ventured upon So daring a step, if he had not assurances of the highest support. Keppell has had a vast Popularity, especially in the Navy. If the Ministry aim at his Life, and it is said that four of the Charges against him, are capital, it is as desperate an Effort as ever they made. Whether they succeed in destroying his Life or not, they will certainly destroy or greatly injure his Reputation. Where all these Things will End, I know not. G. Burgoine had certainly some Colour, when he said that he saw his Country8 under every Symptom of immediate Dissolution. The Proceeding of Palliser is conjectured to be set on by Mr. James Twitcher, who is Supposed to be a favourite, there is in the Nation as vast a Mass of Prejudice, against Twitcher and his Patron as there is in favour of Keppell. What the Effect of all will be Time must discover, but We must be prepared
{ 318 } { 319 }
for the Effect, of all these Fermentations, which may possibly turn upon Us.
I am &c.
1. JA is largely summarizing the proceedings of Parliament from its opening on 26 Nov. through approximately 17 Dec. His observations on the debates and the positions of both the ministry and opposition are essentially correct. Few members of the opposition, with the exception of Edmund Burke, were willing to support independence for the American colonies. Instead, they continued their routine charges of incompetence against the North ministry and, with the Franco-American alliance and the outbreak of war with France, saw the vigorous prosecution of the French war as Britain's primary interest and, to some degree, the best means to win back the American colonies (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1277–1402 passim; 20:1–94 passim; Parliamentary Reg., 11:1–193 passim).
Condemnations of the Continental Congress by both friends and opponents of the ministry appeared frequently during the debates. Charles James Fox, a leader of the opposition and perhaps the leading exponent of the position outlined by JA, declared during the debate over the King's speech and in reference to the treatment of Burgoyne's army: “I think the conduct of the Congress is blameable in the highest, and that they have departed from every principle that ought to bind men” (Parliamentary Reg., 11:10). Others, such as Thomas Powys, were more general and severe in their condemnations. On 4 Dec., while professing opposition to the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, he declared that if the members of the congress were “put to the most exemplary punishment, they should all fall unpitied by him, because they really deserved every severity that could be inflicted on them” (Parliamentary Hist., 19:1393–1394). William Conolly and Archibald MacDonald, the speakers immediately preceding Powys, took the same line. Conolly stated that he would support the manifesto only “if the Congress, that assembly of men who had set every right of nature and humanity at defiance, could be seized and punished according to their deserts,” but he thought they would escape (same, 19:1390–1391). MacDonald, in supporting the manifesto, referred to the Americans' “unnatural alliance” and declared that “by their alliance with France, the natural enemy of our country, they had forfeited all right to clemency” (same, 19:1392–1393).
2. George Johnstone, former governor of West Florida, was seen by many in England as an authority on American affairs. His statements regarding the relative strengths of whigs and tories in America were made in the debates over the King's speech and later during those over the army estimates on 14 Dec. In the first instance he declared that “two thirds of the people of North America wish to return to their ancient connection with Great Britain, and that nothing but a surrounding army, and the diffidence they have in our support, prevented it” (same, 19:1354). On the 14th he stated that discontent was so general in Pennsylvania “that out of 32,000 electors who voted for the first Congress, only 600 and odd had taken the abjuration oath to qualify them to vote for another Congress,” and that in “New England, the Whigs and Tories were so nearly equal in the provincial assembly, that the Whigs had only a majority of two” (same, 20:77).
3. A reference to Britain's expanded use of its Indian allies on the frontier, the prospect of which was a major reason for opposing the Carlisle Commission's manifesto in both houses of Parliament.
4. The Keppel-Palliser affair was the cause celebre of the new session of Parliament. It proved to be an embarrassment to the North ministry because it showed the government's fundamental weakness, the divisions between it and the military and naval officers ordered to carry out its policies, and it highlighted the problems inherent in the involvement of generals and admirals in politics. Ostensibly the affair concerned the men's behavior during the battle off Ushant in July. Many, { 320 } however, recalled the trial and execution of Admiral Byng in 1757 and saw it as an effort by Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty and the “James” or “Jemmy Twitcher” mentioned by JA below, to find a scapegoat in the person of an opposition admiral for his failure to attain a decisive victory.
Keppel complained privately that Palliser had failed to obey his signal to reform the line of battle at Ushant, and thus prevented the British fleet from reengaging the French under Orvilliers. The matter remained private until an open letter by Palliser defending his conduct led Keppel to raise the issue during debates over the naval estimates on 2 Dec. Palliser, considered by many to be the creature of Lord Sandwich, then demanded that Keppel be tried on the capital charges of incompetence in preparing to engage, breaking off the fight prematurely, running away, and failing to pursue the enemy. On 11 Dec. the Admiralty agreed to a court-martial and, because of Keppel's health, the Commons on 17 Dec. and the Lords on the 23d passed a bill permitting the trial to be held on land. The court-martial began at Portsmouth on 7 Jan. and ended on 11 Feb. with Keppel's complete exoneration. The decision was greeted with riotous celebrations, during which the Admiralty, as well as the homes of Palliser, Sandwich, North, and Germain, were attacked (Mackesy, War for America, p. 239–243; Alan Valentine, Lord North, 2 vols., Norman, Okla., 1967, 2:56–59; Parliamentary Hist., 19:1379–1385; 20:91–111; London Chronicle, 22–24 Dec.).
5. Lord Richard Howe had aroused considerable animosity among the government's supporters by not coming directly to London after resigning his command in America and returning to England without notice. With the opening of Parliament, both he and Sir William Howe called for an inquiry into their conduct, and on 4 Dec., during the debate over the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, Sir William charged that the failure of British arms in America resulted from his lack of support from Germain (Gruber, Howe Brothers, p. 325–332; Parliamentary Hist., 19:1394–1395).
6. On 7 Dec. Lord Stormont, former ambassador to France, stated in the House of Lords that he had had early knowledge of the Franco-American commercial treaty of 6 Feb. and had promptly communicated the intelligence to Lord Weymouth, Secretary of State for the Southern Department. Lord Grafton then asked why, if that was the case, Weymouth had denied certain knowledge of the treaty on 5 March (Parliamentary Hist., 20:26–29).
7. Gen. William Keppel, brother of Adm. Keppel, resigned his commission as commander of the militia at Cox Heath Camp on 11 Dec. and was soon involved in the debates over his brother's court-martial (Mackesy, War for America, p. 243–244).
8. The remainder of this sentence is a direct quotation from a speech by Burgoyne during the debate over the King's speech opening Parliament as related in the Parliamentary Hist., 19:1360.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0202

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1778-12-29

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

We have been favoured with a Letter signed by many Gentlemen of Nantes and dated the fifteenth of this Month, informing us that most of their Vessels were ready to sail to America, and that others were expected to be ready immediately, so that the Convoy need not wait at all, but might be ordered as soon as Convenience will permit.
These Gentlemen are very desirous of a Convoy through the whole { 321 } Voyage, if it might any Way consist with his Majesty's Service. But if this cannot be granted, they hope for such a Protection at Least as far as to the Westward of the Western Islands.
It is of so much Importance to our Countrymen to be supplied with Goods of various kinds, and especially with warlike Stores, and there are so many belonging to the United States and to the Commonwealth of Virginia as well as to the Individuals now ready to go, that We cannot avoid interesting ourselves with your Excellency that a sufficient Convoy may be appointed, and that as soon as possible to Rendezvous at Nantes.
We have the Honour to be with great Respect Sir Your Excellency's most obedient and most humble Servants
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 5); docketed: “M. de R. Rep. le 9 Jer. 1779”; and in the left margin: “Convois que demandent les deputés americains pour des expeditions preter á partir.” Joseph Mathias Gérard de Rayneval presumably wrote the reply of 9 Jan. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0203

Author: Gilbank, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1778-12-29

John Gilbank to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

Since my last informing you of my having drawn upon you for one thousand Livres in conformity to a prior Letter1 I learn that Mr. Livingstones Ship is arrived and that in about fifteen days hence she will sail, Which Circumstance has induced me to trouble you again to remind you of my Wants and to hint to you what a very disagreable thing it will be not only to me but to the public in general if I am not as I ought put in a Situation to leave this place along with the rest of our Countrymen. The people here in that Case must know the reason which I wou'd wish to keep them ignorant of, as they will have a Strange Idea of a people who are unable (much more UNWILLING) to assist an officer who by the chance of War is unable to avoid applying to their representatives for such Assistance as every Nation in such Cases affords <and> according to the Rank of the person applying; And it will be cold Encouragement for Young Gentlemen to enter into their Service even on the most pressing Emergency, if they are to be exposed to the horrors of Prison and the Contumely of not being able to discharge just and only necessary Debts when within reach of a { 322 } power which ought to protect them, and after escaping in an honorable manner from the hands of an Enemy, especially when the Country they are serving is indebted to them.
If Gentlemen wou'd consider that it is for no advantage to himself that a Young Man wou'd enter into the Army I think they wou'd not hesitate a Moment to assist him to the Utmost of their power in such a situation as I find myself—I have risqued and lost every Connection of my own—and am denied (if to neglect is to deny) the Protection and assistance of the Power for whom I have risqued and lost every thing.
I wou'd wish to conceal matters of this sort from the World to prevent the Evils which will arise therefrom but 'twill be impossible to do it lo[ng]er than the sailing of the Vessel, if I am left unpr[ovid?]ed, in Which Case it will be for Congress to determine whether You are right in refusing or I wrong in asking what I think you ought to accede to and I to receive—Proper and Suitable support according to the Rank I bear in the Army of the united States.
If not too much trouble, be please to ask Mr. Izard if the State of Carolina in his Opinion, shou'd Congress refuse to do it, wou'd not indemnify any Expense you incur on such a head.
Mr. de Sartine if applied to, I am sure will inform you 'tis the practice of all Nations and most justly.
I am sorry to give you the Expence of so much postage, but I can't blame myself as it might have been prevented by a speedy and ingenuous, (not studied and cautious) polite and explicit Answer, as there have some Months passed since our first Correspondence.
I hope to finish a Correspondence disagreable I dare say on both Sides, to me I am sure peculiarly by receiving notice of my draft being duly honoured, by the first post. In Expectation of which I am Honourable Gentlemen Your most obedient humble servant
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
[signed] Chez Madame Boucher a la Fosse
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “Aux Honorables Les Honbles. Messrs. Franklin, Lee et Adams, Ecurs. Ambassadeurs Americains a Paissy ou Chaillot preés de Paris”; docketed: “M. Gilbank”; in another hand: “Gilbank 29 Deer. 78.” A small tear in the MS has resulted in the loss of portions of two words.
1. Gilbank had written on 24 and 26 Dec. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) to report his draft on the Commissioners. The “prior letter” was presumably that of 15 Dec. (see Gilbank to the Commissioners, 16 Nov., note 3, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0204

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1778-12-30

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[As many] Gentlemen may apprehend [that one is exposed to a shortage of]2 Provisions, <especially of Bread> in America, from the Difficulty which the French Fleet found at Boston, to obtain a Supply, especially of Bread, I beg Leave to suggest to you, an Observation or two upon that Subject.
It would be Sufficient to Say, that the Comte D'Destaing, did, in Fact obtain, a Sufficient Quantity, altho the Price was Somewhat high, and that a French Fleet may always depend upon a Supply even at Boston, altho it will be dearer, there than in other Parts of the united States.
Of all the thirteen united States of America, the Massachusetts Bay alone, has never raised its own Bread. Their Soil, or Air, is less favourable for the Culture of Wheat, and their Commerce enabled them to import Corn, and Flour, So easily, from Pensilvania, Maryland, and Virginia, that it has been computed that about Fifty thousand People, Inhabitants of the Seaport Towns of Boston, Salem, Newbury Port, and Marblehead, were annually fed with Corn, imported, the Province not producing a Sufficient Quantity for its Inhabitants.3
Since the Commencement of this War, the Inhabitants have raised more Grain, than before, but Still not So much as they wanted, and the Deficiency has been Supplied, partly, by Land, in Waggons, from the States of Connecticutt and New York, and, partly, by Sea, from Pensylvania, Maryland and Virginia by Small Vessells, with Skillfull Navigators, which [all the Vigilance of the British Frigates, has never been able wholly to prevent.]
This Year, the Southern States, for good Reasons of [State however, had] laid an Embargo on Grain, which cutt off, entirely this Channell of Supply from Boston, and rendered the Article of Bread very Scarce and dear, and what added to the Misfortune, was the Demand for General Burgoines Army near Six Thousand Men, who were in Barracks at Cambridge, within a League of Boston. So that in the Moment when the Fleet arrived in their Harbour, So great was the real Scarcity of Bread among the Inhabitants, that the Sudden and unexpected Addition of so large a Demand excited Apprehensions among some of the People of a Famine.
But it may be depended on, that there is no other Part of the united States, but produces more Grain that it consumes. It may also be depended on that even at Boston any Fleet that may be sent there, may { 324 } procure Supplies of Bread, at all Times, paying only the Additional Price of transporting it to that Town by Land.
It was this Scarcity of Bread, which excited or at least gave the Pretence to the Disturbances that happened on the first Arrival of the Fleet.4
[There were in the port several privateers of which, in general, the crews were more or less English, Scottish, and Dutch sailors. There were also some] Deserters, not only from General Burgoines [army, but also from sever]al Corps of Prisoners at discretion of whom there [are]5 upwards of five thousands in the several states, and other Deserters, from the Main Army of the English, and their several Outposts, have at times inlisted on board of Privateers. A Number of Persons, As it is Supposed of this Discription, pretending a Want of Bread, and probably stimulated by secret Ennemies, went to the Bake houses, and began a Bickering, which proceeding from Words to Blows, produced the Disorders which every good Man in Boston abhors.
It is not indeed Surprizing. The Wonder is that there were not more and greater Quarrells. For the Sailors, of every Nation of the Earth, Seem to have a Kind of mixed Passion of Contempt and Hatred towards the sailors of all other Nations. It is the opinion of all who come from Boston that had a British Fleet of the same Size, lain in that Harbour so long in Time of the profoundest Peace and Strictest Friendship between England and America, there would have been more Quarrells and Disturbances between them and the Inhabitants, which is much to the Honour of the French Fleet and its Commander, and is the best of Proofs of Discipline and good order.
Whenever French and Spanish, English and Portuguese Sailors come together, they fight as naturally as Cats and Dogs, or if they chose to be compared to Animals of a nobler Nature, as the Elephant and Rhinoceros. Indeed, the English Sailors, of London and Bristol, and [even those of Salem and Marblehead in America are never found together unless fighting among themselves with fists or clubs. Such is the sailor's nature] and Character. And they [display] their Heroism in this Way, as in contending [among] Cannon Balls.6
I mention these Things for your particular Consideration. Perhaps it would not be prudent, to say any Thing in your Publication, concerning, the Affray at Boston. But you will Use your own Pleasure.7
The affair of Bread at Boston is of Importance to [be] well understood. All other Provisions, especially Beef and Pork, are very plenty there and of good Quality. The Resources of these Articles are inexhaustible in New England. The Cornucopia is there poured out. The { 325 } English intend to render this Resource Useless to France. They may as easily dry up the Ocean. If they were to burn the Town of Boston, which however they must ask leave of a brave and hardy Race of Men to do, this Resource would remain to France undiminished. An Harbour in which all the Fleets of Europe may ride securely, and a Country abounding with Provisions of every Kind excepting Bread, and even enough of that to be had by Land for a little higher Price.
Accept the Respects of your
[signed] John Adams
RC (PWacD: Feinstone Coll., on deposit PPAmP). The tops of all four pages of this letter have been damaged by fire, with the loss of the dateline, salutation, and several lines of text. As a result, except for the dateline and portions of the fifth and sixth paragraphs (see note 3), missing text has been supplied in brackets by reconstructing the English text from the French translation in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (see notes 1, 2, 5, and 6).
1. This letter probably was written sometime between 20 and 29 Dec. The former date is that of a copy of an early draft (PCC, No. 102, III, f. 1) of the Commissioners' letter to Vergennes of [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779 (above); drafts of the letter contained several paragraphs on the Boston riots that JA appropriated for this letter, but which were deleted from the Vergennes letter as finally sent (see note 4). The latter date is one day prior to JA's letter to Genet (below), containing additional assurances of the good will of Bostonians toward France and the French fleet which may have been intended to supplement those in the present letter. The time that it would have taken Genet to show JA's letter to Vergennes and then draft his reply of 1 [Jan.] (below) seems to preclude JA's having written after the 29th.
The letter was put to good use. Virtually all of it, without signature, appeared with other letters under the general heading “Extraits de diverses lettres écrites de Boston” in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 63, p. xlix, lxiii–lxvii). To justify its inclusion with the other letters and further conceal JA's authorship, the letter was dated 4 Nov., the approximate date of a letter sent from Boston that would arrive in France in time to be included in an issue of Affaires printed in early January.
2. In Affaires this paragraph begins: “Comme plusieurs personnes peuvent croire qu'on est exposé à manquer de.”
3. This and the following three paragraphs are almost identical to corresponding paragraphs in Commissioners to Vergennes, [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779, No. 1 (above). Words lost through fire damage in the next two paragraphs have, therefore, been supplied from that document in brackets.
4. For the Boston riots, see James Warren to JA, 7 Oct., note 5 and references there (above).
5. In Affaires this paragraph begins: “Il y avoit alors dans le Port plusieurs corsaires dont en général les equipages avoient plus ou moins de Matelots Anglois, Ecossois et Hollandois. Il y avoit aussi quelques déserteurs, non-seulement de l'armée de Burgoyne, mais encore de divers corps de prisonniers sur leur parole, dont le nombre est.”
6. In Affaires the text of this paragraph following Bristol reads: “et en Amérique meme ceux de Salem et de Marblehead ne se sont jamais trouvés ensemble sans se disputer d'adresse à coups de poing ou de gourdin. Telle est la nature et le caractere du Matelot; et il attache autant d'honneur à la bravoure héroïque qu'il montre de cette maniere, que si le canon étoit de la partie.”
7. This paragraph, which did not appear in Affaires, was set off, probably by Genet, by a vertical line placed next to it in the left margin.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0205

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1778-12-30

To Edmé Jacques Genet

M. Adams is very Sorry, it is not in his Power to Send Monsieur Genet a Copy of the Manifesto of Congress. He lent the only Copy he had to Mr. Lee, who promised, Yesterday, to send a Copy to M. Genet, this Morning. M. A. gave to Monsieur Garnier a Translation of it into French done by a young Gentleman here, which Mr. Garnier has probably sent.1 I have Seen, in a Virginia News Paper, an Answer to the incendiary Manifesto,2 which well deserves a Place in your Pamphlet. I requested it for you. But the Gentleman, who had the only one sent it to England, So that you may expect to find it in the English News Papers.
Several Gentlemen have arrived here, [within] a few Days, from Boston who all give the most agreable Accounts of the Union and Resolution of the People, and particularly of the agreable Impression that the Comte D'Estaing and his Officers and People, have left of themselves, in the Minds of the Inhabitants. They all agree, that no British Fleet in Times of the greatest Security, could have lain there, and communicated so much with the Inhabitants, without exciting [more] Uneasinesses and Disturbance.
With great Respect, your most obedt.
[signed] John Adams
RC (Justin G. Turner, Los Angeles, 1958). Words lost to fire damage are supplied in brackets from a transcript in the Edmond Charles Genet Papers (DLC).
1. In a letter of 26 Dec., Genet had requested a copy of Congress' response to the Carlisle Commission's manifesto, which had been brought to his attention by a “M. Garnier” (RC, Adams Papers; JCC, 12:1080–1082). This was probably Charles Jean Garnier, secretary of the former French ambassador to Great Britain (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:298). Genet printed a translation of the countermanifesto, perhaps that supplied by JA through Garnier, in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique, “Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 62, p. xxiii–xxvii.
2. Probably the reply to the Carlisle Commission's manifesto signed “Americanus” that appeared in the Virginia Gazette of 30 Oct. and was reprinted by John Almon, without signature, in vol. 2 of his Remembrancer for 1778 (London, 1779, p. 133–137). It has not been found in Affaires.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0206-0001

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-01

From Edmé Jacques Genet

[salute] Monsieur

J'ai lu à M. le Comte de Vergennes ce qui concerne M. le Comte d'Estaing, dans le billet dont vous m'avés honoré. Il m'a recommandé d'en faire mention dans mon Journal. Mais ce sera pour le numéro d'après celui qui paroitra demain. J'y ai mis une piece anglois—Signée Fire and Sword2 qui vous amusera.
{ 327 }
Je suis avec respect Monsieur Votre très humble et très obéissant Serviteur,
[signed] Genet
Je veillerai sur la piece de la Virginie dans les papiers anglois.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0206-0002

Author: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-01

Edmé Jacques Genet to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Dear Sir

I read to Count Vergennes that which concerns the Count d'Estaing in the note with which you honored me. He recommended that I mention it in my journal. But it will have to appear in the number after that which will appear tomorrow. I have also included an English piece—signed Fire and Sword,2 which should amuse you.
I am, with respect, sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,
[signed] Genet
I am keeping an eye out for the piece from Virginia in the British papers.
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “m. adams député du Congrez a Passy”; docketed: “M. Genet”; by CFA: “1779.”
1. Undoubtedly written in January, as it is a reply to JA's letter of [ante 30 Dec.] as well as that of 30 Dec. (both above).
2. Presumably the satirical piece published by Genet in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique under the heading: “Conseils aux Ministres Anglois pour donner à la proclamation ou manifeste du 3 Octobre encore plus d'efficacité”; and the signature: “Le Fer & le Feu” (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 62, p. xxvii–xxxi). It listed monetary rewards as incentives for carrying out the Carlisle Commission's manifesto of 3 Oct. (Richard Henry Lee to JA, 29 Oct. 1778, note 4, above). Among them were £5,000 for burning a town of 1,000 houses, £30 for the scalp of a member of congress, and £5,000 for the scalp of General Washington.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0207

Author: Warren, James
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-01

From James Warren

[salute] My Dear Sir

I keep no Copies of Letters and therefore am Unable to refer to the dates or the Contents. I know I have wrote you many and some of them very Lengthy. The Contents may be of no great Consequence whether they are lost or received. How many you have wrote me, you can best tell, only one has yett reached me. I have been now ten days from the Capital, and therefore Unable to give you such Intelligence as I might if there. However I beleive you will not get much from there at this Time Nothing very Remarkable haveing taken place the last three weeks I was at Boston. The Papers that will be sent by the Navy Board by this Good Oppertunity and your Friend the Marquiss Fayate will give you every thing you can wish to know from here.1 The principal Subject of Conversation seems to be a Letter lately published by Mr. Deane Attacking with great Freedom the Character and Conduct of Doctr. Lee, and Indeed that of his whole Family.2 This Letter { 328 } if neither Elegant or Nervous, is Calculated to Command the Attention, and fix the prejudices of the People and is designed to strike deep, as neither Congress or Individuals that Compose it are spared.
It is no difficult Matter to Engage the prejudices of the people in a Country where Jealousy is Excited on the Slightest Surmise.
Whether the Author has sufficient Grounds for his Charges against Doctr. Lee, and for his Complaints against Congress, or whether this is a political dust he designs to avail himself of, you can better tell in France than I can here. If Dr. Lee and his Connections are guilty of Treachery or any Misconduct I hope they will be discovered and they punished, but I must own at present I doubt it, and Some People think the Author might as well have bent his Attention to clear himself from some Insinuations not much to his Advantage. However let Matters be as they May this has a Tendency to Lessen the Confidence of the People in <their> Congress, and to Create Factions that may Injure the Common Cause. The Tories have by such means a full Swing for their Arts, which they Improve to the greatest Advantage. I say Nothing to you of the State of our Currency and other difficulties we have to Struggle with. The Enemy still retain N York and R Island. The French and English Squadrons are supposed to be gone to the West Indies, from whence we Expect great Events. Mrs. Adams writes you by this opportunity. Your pretty Daughter is here on a Winter's Visit to Mrs. Warren. She is very well, and wont own that she is not happy. I am with every Wish for Your Happiness Your Friend & Servt
[signed] J Warren
1. Lafayette carried the official notification of Franklin's appointment as the minister plenipotentiary to France, and letters from AA to JA of 13 and 27 Dec. and presumably that to JQA of 15 Dec. 1778 (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:135–138, 139–141; see also James Lovell to JA, 24 Oct., note 3, above).
2. For JA's reaction to the attack on the Lees and their loyalty to the American cause in Silas Deane's address, “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” first printed in the Pennsylvania Packet of 5 Dec. 1778 and then reprinted in the Boston Independent Chronicle of 31 Dec., see his letter to Vergennes of 11 Feb. 1779 (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0208

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

I have the Honor to pay my most respectful Compliments of Season wishing prosperity to all your undertakings.
We are without any Arrivals since I had the Honor to write you the 5th Ultimo. By Letters from Nantes I am inform'd the Chasseur is { 329 } | view Loaded and all is ready for the other Ship which contrary winds have detaind near two Months at Isl of Rhé not more than 24 hours sail from Nantes.1 I rejoice to learn a Convoy is appointed as we may thereby promise ourselves more protection than merchant Ships could otherways give to each other. The continued advices of Captures has Stagnated all private expeditions. Premiums out or home are at 60 P Cent which absorbs the Capital. I have the Honor to be respectfully Sirs Your very hhb Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
Loss's sustained at this [port?] since January 1778
Ships going or coming from the West Indies taken   48  
Ships going or coming from the United States   56  
 lost on the Coast of America and the Islands   31  
  135  
Most of them ships from 200 to 500 tons.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. Benjn. Franklin, Arthur Lee & John Adams Commissrs. from Congress at Paris”; docketed: “J. Bondfield 1 Jan. 79. to Commrs.”
1. The Chasseur and the Governor Livingston (see Bondfield's letter of 9 Jan., below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0209

Author: Chase, Joseph
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

Joseph Chase to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentelmen

These are to Request you to give your asistance To Benjamin Clark, William Folger, John Locke, Frances Macy, John Headon, Thorndrick Chase, Reuben Chase, John <B>2 and <a> Numbers of others, Americans Now Prisoners in Different Prisons in France Dinant Mayenne3 in Britange &c. which I Think are as good Subjects as any America has as I know thay given Numbers of donations to asist the Americans in England Such as has got out of fourtune Prison and Else whare and done all that is in there power to get them To France. And I am Very Certain that they would be Very glad to go in the American Service as I know the greatest part of them has been obliged to go in the English Service being First Taken by and ceeped on Bord of Man of War and gard Ships for a number of months. Some longer Some Shorter.
If you will be So kind as to get them Clear of Prison you Much Oblige your Humble Servant
[signed] Joseph Chase
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mr Chases Request concerning Americans”; in another hand: “M. Chases Request concerg. Americans.”
1. An inadvertance caused by the change to a new year.
2. Together with Caleb Gardner and Ecobud Clark, mentioned by Chase in a letter of 8 Feb. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), the men listed here had all been involved in the English whale fishery. John Blyth, the last listed, whose surname Chase begins and then crosses out, and Clark, Folger, Lock, and Macy were all known { 330 } to the Commissioners. Chase renewed his plea, particularly for the release of his brother, Reuben Chase, in his letter of 8 Feb. No reply to this letter has been found, nor is there any indication that the Commissioners took any action on Chase's request.
3. Dinan is in Brittany, but Mayenne, where the prisoners were presumably housed in the castle for which it is noted, is in the old province of Maine.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0210-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

De retour ici Mardi au soir, j'allai voir notre Ami. Il me dit qu'il n'y avoit encore rien de fait, mais que, malgré tout ce qui se pourroit passer encore le lendemain, les choses finalement iroient bien. Je compris son idée. Il me dit aussi, que le crédit excessif de Sir J. Y. auprès d'un grand personnage se manifestoit de plus en plus; et qu'il n'y avoit plus moyen de douter, que ce dernier n'eût des engagemens secrets avec son Cousin.1
Je fus le lendemain mercredi après diner chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur de F——. Pendant qu'il avoit été faire un tour de Promenade, l'Agent des E. Généraux avoit porté chez lui la réponse au Mémoire. On lui dit de revenir. Son Excellence, qui s'attendoit déjà au contenu, me dit qu'il la renverroit: et il le fit.2 Il me dit aussi, qu'il avoit toute prête la Déclaration, par laquelle les sujets de l'Etat sont exclus du Reglement du Roi en faveur des Neutres, et privés des faveurs dont ils jouissent dans ses ports; et que cette Déclaration sera bientôt notifiée et publique.
G——F——pense, que cette affaire fera autant de bien aux Anti-Anglois, que la prise de Bergopzoom3 leur fit de mal il y a passé 30 ans; et que le temps viendra où les autres devront avoir recours à celui-ci, pour faire lever l'anathême, que leur complaisance pour——4 leur attirera présentement.
Mercredi au soir je fus chez notre Ami. Il ne put me donner qu'un instant. La réponse des Et. Généraux au Mémoire de la France est la même que celle prise à la pluralité par les Et. d'hollande, à quelques additions près, qui ne disent rien. Les Députés n'ont pas même consulté leurs Provinces respectives là-dessus: autre coup porté à la Constitution. L'un de ces Messieurs, avec qui j'ai eu occasion d'en discourir, m'a dit pour toute excuse, ce n'est pas la premiere fois que nous l'avonsfait. Je lui ai repliqué, qu'une fille de joie peut en dire tout autant. J'ai vu une Lettre, de très-bonne main de l'une de ces provinces, où l'on fait des censures et reproches graves de cette façon d'agir. La Frise est celle de toutes qui peut le moins se passer du Commerce de la France.
{ 331 }
Il y a aujourdhui grand Concert à l'Hôtel de France. La Cour y est. Mr. l'Ambassadeur fait le rebours de se qui se pratique au théatre; il commence par le divertissement, et finira par la tragédie. On se flatte néanmoins ici, qu'il ne se pressera pas, parce qu'on a fait sousentendre que l'on avoit convoqué toutes les Amirautés, pour délibérer plus amplement sur les convois. Mais on n'a pas dit, ce que pourtant tout le monde sait, qu'on a envoyé la réponse, qu'il a refusé de recevoir, à Mr. de Berkenrode5 à Paris, pour tâcher de l'y faire agréer: peine perdue.
Notre Ami est fortuné. Il a, dans tout ceci, le plus beau rôle à remplir, et il en viendra à bout à sa gloire. Il marche à grands pas sur les traces des jadis grands hommes de la Republique. D'un autre côté, le Mémoire de France est venu admirablement à propos seconder la fermeté de la grande Ville. Je ne doute pas, Messieurs, que la suite ne vous fasse voir l'importance de ce qui se passe ici, et combien les démarches du Serviteur des E. U. ici, auxquelles vous avez concouru, ont été utiles à l'affaire.
Nous venons de recevoir d'Angleterre la confirmation du retour de leurs Commissaires: l'expédition de Campblell contre la Caroline échouée.6 Byron sorti de N. York avec 15 Vaisseaux, battu de la tempête le 2 Nov., rentré à Rhode-Island avec 10 délabrés; le Sommerset de 64 canons et le Cornwall de 74 péris; le Bedford traîné démâté à N. York; le Culloden revenu en mauvais état en Angleterre: D'Estain, sorti de Boston le 4 poursuivant Hotham et Grant, ou allant conquérir peut-être les Isles Angloises, &c. Il y a si longtemps, Messieurs, que vous ne me donnez plus des nouvelles de l'Amérique, que je dois bien vous parler de celles que l'ennemi nous en donne.
Mr. l'Ambassadeur attendra jusque vers le milieu de ce mois que les Etats d'hollande se soient rassemblés; et alors, s'ils ne se mettent pas parfaitement en regle, il frappera le grand coup.
On me mande de Hambourg du 29 Xbre., que le bruit court, que le Prince Henri se démettra du Commandement de l'Armée, qui sera conféré au Prince de Prusse;7 mais que cela mérite confirmation: que le Prince Repnin est à Breslau,8 où il reçoit de grands honneurs: que c'est-là que se font présentement les Plans d'Opérations pour la Campagne prochaine: que les Russes feront diversion en Hongrie: que c'est pour la communication avec leur Corps que le Roi9 veut maintenir ses Postes dans la Haute-Silesie: qu'il est en bonne santé et gai: qu'on travaille à deux nouveaux Traités de Commerce, l'un entre les Cours de { 332 } Berlin et de Saxe, l'autre entre celles de Berlin et Petersbourg: Qu'il n'y a nulle apparence à la paix en Allemagne.
Dieu la donne glorieuse et fertile en bénédictions aux Et. U. C'est mon voeu de tous les jours. Puissions-nous, Messieurs, Vous et moi, célébrer ensemble dans le cours de cette nouvelle année cet heureux évenement.
Je suis avec un très-grand respect, Messieurs, Votre très-humble et très-obéissant serviteur
[signed] D

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0210-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-01

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

Upon returning here, Tuesday evening, I went to see our friend. He told me that nothing had been decided yet, but that, in spite of all that might still happen tomorrow, things would end well. I knew what he meant. He also told me that Sir Joseph Yorke's excessive influence on an important person manifested itself more and more, and that there was no doubt that the latter had made secret arrangements with his cousin.1
After dinner on the following day, Wednesday, I visited the French ambassador. While he was out walking, the States General's answer to the memorandum was delivered by its agent, who was told to return. His Excellency, who already knew its content, told me that he would reject it and did so.2 He also told me that he had in readiness the declaration by which the citizens of the state are to be excluded from the King's regulation in favor of neutrals and deprived of the privileges they enjoy in his ports, and that the declaration will soon be made official and public.
The Grand Facteur thinks that this affair will benefit the anti-British party as much as the taking of Bergen-op-Zoom3 harmed them thirty years ago, and that the time will come when the others will have to have recourse to the latter in order to lift the opprobrium which their catering to []4 has brought upon them.
Wednesday evening I went to see our friend. He could spare me only a moment. The States General's response to the French memorandum is the same as that taken in the plurality by the States of Holland, with a few minor, meaningless additions. The members did not even consult their respective provinces on the matter: another blow to the constitution. One of these gentlemen, with whom I had the opportunity to speak, told me, as the only excuse, that this is not the first time that we have acted in this manner. I replied that a prostitute could say the same. I have seen a letter from a very important official of one of the provinces in which he censures and reproaches such behavior. Friesland is the one province that can least do without French trade.
Today, there is a big concert at the French embassy. The Court is { 333 } there. The ambassador is doing the reverse of what is done in the theater: he begins with the entertainment and will end with the tragedy. People here flatter themselves, however, that he will not proceed too urgently, because it is understood that all the Admiralties have been summoned to deliberate more extensively on the matter of convoys. What is not openly said, but known by all, is that they have sent the response, which the ambassador refused to receive, to Mr. de Berkenrode5 in Paris in order to seek agreement there: but in vain.
Our friend is lucky. He has in all this played a prestigious role and will achieve glory in the end. He is following in the footsteps of the Republic's great men of old. On the other hand, the French memorandum was very timely in promoting the resolve of the great city. I do not doubt, gentlemen, that the events which will follow will show you the importance of what passes here, and how much the démarches of the servant of the United States, in which you have concurred, have proved useful in this affair.
We have just received confirmation from England of the return of their Commissioners. Campbell's expedition against Carolina failed.6 Byron sailed from New York with 15 vessels, was hit by a storm on 2 November, and returned to Rhode Island with 10 cripples; the Somerset of 64 guns and the Cornwall of 74 were lost, the Bedford towed dismasted to New York, and the Culloden returned to England in poor condition. D'Estaing sailed from Boston on the 4th in pursuit of Hotham and Grant, or perhaps to conquer the English islands, &c. It has been so long, gentlemen, since you have given me any news from America, that I am reduced to telling you what I hear from the enemy.
The French ambassador will wait until about the middle of the month when the States of Holland will reconvene, and then, if they do not place themselves in perfect compliance with the regulation, he will carry out his threat.
From Hamburg, the 29th of December, I am informed that there is a rumor, which needs confirmation, that Prince Henry will step down from the command of the army, which will then be conferred upon the Prince of Prussia;7 that Prince Repnin is in Breslau,8 where the operational plans for the next campaign are being made, and is receiving high honors; that the Russians will create a diversion in Hungary; that it is for communication with their army that the King9 wishes to maintain his posts in Upper Silesia; that he is in both good health and spirits. Also, that two new treaties of commerce are being worked on, one between the Courts of Berlin and Saxony, the other between those of Berlin and Petersburg; and that there is no sign of peace in Germany.
May God bestow glorious and fruitful benedictions upon the United States. This is my daily wish. May we, gentlemen, you and I, celebrate together, in the course of this year, this happy event.
{ 334 }
I am, with a very great respect gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] D
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plenipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “M. Dumas 1. Janry. 79.”
1. That is, the Stadholder, William V of Orange, had made secret arrangements with his cousin, George III. In extracts from this and other letters to the Commissioners that he enclosed in his letter to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 7 Jan. (PCC, No. 93, I, f. 255), Dumas replaced “son Cousin” with “la Cour de Lond.”
2. La Vauguyon rejected the answer on 30 Dec., the same day that it was adopted by the States General in the form of a secret resolution (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 117).
3. Located in the southwestern corner of the Netherlands, the fortress of Bergen-op-Zoom was taken by the French in 1747 (Cambridge Modern Hist., 6:248).
4. In the extracts from this letter sent to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, Dumas replaced the blank with “la Cour de L.”
5. The effort by Mattheus Lestevenon van Berkenrode, Dutch ambassador to France, to present to Vergennes the States General's response to La Vauguyon's mémoire was unsuccessful. On 5 Jan., Berkenrode informed the States General that Vergennes had refused to accept the answer, requested that it be withdrawn, and advised that in the future the States General negotiate with La Vauguyon (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 120). In fact, the only acceptable reply would be one declaring unequivocably the determination of the United Provinces to protect its vessels, particularly those carrying ships' timbers, through the use of convoys.
6. Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell's objective was Georgia rather than the Carolinas. Leaving New York at the end of Nov., Campbell captured Savannah on 29 Dec. and shortly thereafter, following the arrival of additional troops from Florida under the command of Gen. Augustine Prevost, all of Georgia was in British hands (Ward, War of the Revolution, 2:679–681; Mackesy, War for America, p. 234).
7. The change in command from Prince Henry of Prussia to his nephew, Prince Frederick William (later Frederick William II), did not take place.
8. Prince Nicolai Vasilievich Repnin had arrived at Breslau on 20 Dec. with powers to mediate between Austria and Prussia. In May he signed the Treaty of Teschen ending the War for the Bavarian Succession (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale).
9. Frederick II, or Frederick the Great of Prussia.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0211

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-01-02

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

We had the Honour of receiving your Excellency's Letter of the 22d, and are much obliged to you for the Interest you take in what concerns the unhappy Prisoners who may escape from England. We have not been inattentive to that Subject. There are Persons who Supply them at Bourdeaux, Brest, l'Orient, Nantes and Dunkirk. A Gentleman at Calais1 has voluntarily done this service for which We have directed him to draw upon us for his disbursements; And We Shall as readily discharge what may have been disbursed by your Commissaries when We have their Accounts.
{ 335 }
As there is very little Probability of any Prisoners coming to other Ports, We will not give your Excellency the Trouble you are so good as to offer to take.
The Regulation your Excellency proposes relative to the Prisoners We may take from the Enemy and bring into the Ports of France, is entirely agreeable to us; and We shall direct our Agents accordingly who will readily deliver such Prisoners to the Persons your Excellency may appoint to receive them, having already requested us to procure written <Answers> Orders2 from you, without which your Commissaries were unwilling to take Charge of them.3
We have the Honour to be4
LbC in Arthur Lee's hand (Adams Papers).
1. James Leveux (see James Smith to the Commissioners, 15 Nov. 1778, above).
2. Benjamin Franklin substituted “Orders” for “Answers.”
3. This whole paragraph was bracketed in the left margin; it is not known by whom, or for what purpose.
4. In his reply of 13 Jan. (MS, in French, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 181; English translation, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:22), Sartine agreed that measures had been taken regarding American prisoners in most French ports, but noted that the Commissioners apparently had neglected to provide for those entering the ports of Normandy and asked that this omission be corrected. He then stated that the requested accounts were forthcoming and that orders had been sent to all French ports for the reception of English prisoners brought in by Americans.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0212

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lovell, James
Date: 1779-01-03

To James Lovell

[salute] Sir

I Suffer So much Uneasiness, on Account of the State of Things here, that I cannot fail to communicate my Anxieties, so [to?] some one in Congress, <which you may>
We are very much Straightened for Funds, and you send Us no supplies, and yet you draw upon Us, from America from the West Indies, and from many other Quarters. We are continually exposed to the <Insolen> Reproaches, and the Insolence of American Prisoners who escape from England, Ireland, Scotland, Jersy, Guernsy because We do not furnish them with as much Money as they want. We lend them more than We can afford and yet We [are] obliged to pay away large Sums of Money for Purposes less necessary.
It is a delicate subject that I am about to touch, and I suppose Gentlemen will think hard of it, but my duty to the public demands of me that I should State Facts for your Information, and for the Information of all others to whom you may think proper to communicate them.
The three Commissioners at this Court, in the Article of their Ex• { 336 } pences merely1 consumed ten Thousand Pounds Sterling, in the first Year. The Commissioner to the Empire last Feby. received two thousand Pounds sterling, and on the 4 of December drew on Us for one Thousand more. The Commissioner, to the Grand Duke had Two Thousand Pounds Sterling in February and two days ago told me, he must draw for more. So that at the most moderate Computation, you will have three thousand Pounds each to pay for five Commissioners, whereas in my Opinion, one Commissioner is all that is wanted, and he might live upon three Thousand Pounds. But then you must appoint Consuls to manage the Commercial Business. Twelve thousand Pounds a Year would go a great Way in, relieving the Wants of our Countrymen, suffering in Prison or escaping from it. Besides the Waste of Money, We are accumulating a Debt here which will be a heavy Load, <and> give great Discontent and excite great Clamours hereafter.
Reports are propagated here, that Congress are about sending out a greater Number of Commissioners, and all I suppose must draw, Upon Passy. If this should be the Case it is my duty to tell you, that their Bills and ours both, will in my opinion be protested. It will be impossible they should be paid.
With both the Commissioners, that to Vienna and that to Tuscany, I have a good Understanding, and think them honourable and worthy Men. But there is not in my opinion any Probability of their being received, and therefore their Missions are totally Useless.
My opinion and Advice therefore is, to recall, every Commissioner, You have in the World, excepting one to this Court and one to Spain. And appoint Consuls or Commercial Agents at Nantes and Bourdeaux.
Recall me, and Leave Dr. F. here alone, but then you must take from him, all Money Matters all commercial and maritime matters. His Character, has excited such an Enthusiasm, that it would do us great Harm to recall him—and one alone is enough.2
LbC (Adams Papers); notation following the close: “Feb. 13 1779. The foregoing Letter was never sent nor copied, the Account of the Commissioners Expences, upon further Deliberation having been found too inaccurate and much exagerated.”
1. JA may have been using an obsolete definition of “merely” to mean “absolutely” or “completely.”
2. Although not sent, this letter reflected JA's long held views concerning the expense of maintaining three Commissioners at the French Court and the need for consuls. See, for example, his letters to Samuel Adams, 21 May 1778, and to the Committee of Commerce, 24 May 1778 (vol. 6:144–145, 150, calendar entries; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:106–108, 111–112).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0213

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Genet, Edmé Jacques
Date: 1779-01-04

To Edmé Jacques Genet

[The resolve] of Congress of the 10 October, [that]2 you have inserted in your No. 62 is another Forgery.3 It has internal Marks of it enough.
1. Congress are not so much allarmed. They know the Ennemy have not the Power, tho they very well know they have the Will to do the Mischief.
2. Congress, would never recommend the building of such Hutts. There are Houses enough in the Country to receive the Inhabitants of the Towns, even in Case of such an Extremity.
3. Congress would never recommend the Burning the Houses of the Tories. They would sooner banish or Harry them and confiscate their Houses to carry on the War.
[A simple glance is sufficient] to any Man who knows [the country]4 and the Congress to perceive Marks of the Beast, in such ridiculous Fictions. Yet they impose of British Mobs, Ministers and Members of Parliament.5
[signed] John Adams
RC (CLjC). This letter was translated into French and printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 63, p. lxxxiii). Fire damage at the top of the page has resulted in the loss of the salutation, dateline, and several words. As a result, except for the salutation which is not reproduced in Affaires, the dateline and other missing portions have been supplied in brackets by reconstructing the English text from the French translation in Affaires.
1. In Affaires the dateline read: “De P.*** le 4 Janvier 1779.”
2. In Affaires this paragraph begins “L'arrête du Congrès du 10 Octobre que.”
3. Printed on pages xxii and xxiii of cahier 62, the fictitious resolve noted an expected final British attempt at the destruction of American towns and directed Americans living in threatened areas to build huts at thirty miles distance and, if the attack came, to destroy all tory property. In the reply to this letter and his apology for being duped (cahier 63, lxxx–lxxxii), Genet gave as the source for the resolution a New York gazette, probably Rivington's Royal Gazette because the Courier de l'Europe of 22 Dec., cited in Genet's apology, contains the “resolve” of 10 Oct., the congress' countermanifesto of 30 Oct., and a reply to the latter by a loyalist writer; and all appeared under a heading that implied they were from the Royal Gazette of 18 Nov. The London Chronicle of 17–19 Dec. carried the same pieces with the same heading. The countermanifesto and the answer were printed in the Royal Gazette of 18 Nov., but the spurious resolve was not, nor did it appear in the other paper, Hugh Gaines' New York Gazette and Weekly Mercury. The resolve, therefore, was probably taken by Genet from an English newspaper that cited Rivington and was fabricated in England, not America. Further evidence of the resolve's wide circulation in Europe and its evident authenticity in the minds of those who read it can be seen in its appearance in the Gazette de Leide of 5 Jan.
4. In Affaires this sentence begins “Il suffit d'un simple coup d'oeil à toute personne connoissant le pays.”
{ 338 }
5. In this sentence JA's probable meaning is obscured by his use of “impose of.” The “of” may have been an inadvertence for “on,” but he meant “to obtrude or 'put' (a thing) upon (a person) by false representations; to palm or pass off” (OED). JA means that an effort is being made to impose false rumors or statements on the British people and politicians regarding the policy of the congress on the conduct of the war. Genet's French translation of the paragraph in Affaires is clearer than the sentence as JA wrote it. It reads: “Cependant elles reussissent a merveille pour tromper le vulgaire Anglois, les Ministres et les Membres du Parlement.” Translation: Yet they succeed to perfection in deceiving the British mob, ministers, and members of Parliament.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0214

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Date: 1779-01-04

The Commissioners to J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

We are honoured with yours <of> without a date.1 We wrote you on the Second of this Month2 to which We refer. We have written to Mr. Gilbank several Times that We could furnish him with no more Money, and that We should protest his Bills. If he will not believe Us, When the Bills arrive if they ever do, which We hope they will not, our <Protest> Refusal and the consequent Protest Will Convince him. We have been trifled with too much by that Gentleman, and hope We shall be so no more.
We have made the most pressing application in our Power to <Mr. De Sartine,> the Ministry, for the Convoy, and hope to suceed, but have not yet an Answer. We approve of [y]our Tenderness to the Prisoners. We wish to hear whether you have recovered the Cargoe of the Therese.
1. Not found.
2. Not printed, but see Benjamin Gunnison to the Commissioners, 14 Dec. 1778, and note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0215

Author: Cooper, Samuel
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-04

From Samuel Cooper

[salute] My dear Sir

Four days ago I received the Favor of your Letter of Aug: 12th.,2 and it gave me the highest Pleasure to hear you were well. The Marquiss de la Fayette will do me the Honour to take the Charge of this Letter who carries with him the Esteem and Affection of the Army and the States. His Intrepidity and Discretion, his Conduct in the Field, in Council, and in all private Circles have gained him an uncommon Reputation. He has done our Country no small Service, and reflected no little Honour upon his own with which at this trying Season we are so happy as to be allied.
{ 339 }
You will know before this reaches you the Affairs of the Count d'Estaing, who is in my Opinion an Officer of great Ability and Merit, and accomplished every Thing that human Prudence and Fortitude could effect in his Circumstances. The Winds and Weather were against him; and tho he felt his Disappointments most sensibly, he commanded himself greatly upon every trying Occasion, and conducted with equal Wisdom and Resolution. He did every Thing in his Power for the Service on which he was sent, and tho not equal to what would have been done, had he arrived sooner, it was yet much. I had the Pleasure of spending a day, not long before he left us with your good Lady and a Number of the Count's Officers at Col. Quincy's in Braintree.3 All admired the good Order, and polite Behavior of the Officers of the Fleet of which the Count gave the Example as well as the <Orders> Injunction.
You will see by our Papers that Mr. Deane has opened a public Contest here. He attacks the Family of the Lee's—and is supported by a Number of Pens. Common Sense4 defends them—Congress seem to be divided upon this Point5—I have had no Letters from any of our Friends there, and know little more than the public Papers. As Mr. Deane is to have an Hearing before Congress,6<of> which he complains he has been denied, the Matter may perhaps be stopped, and7 the Discussions in the Papers cease. At present we form no Judgement here, and take no Side, waiting for further Information and the Decision of that Body.8 We must expect Altercations and Divisions of this Kind, and perhaps by awakening in the People a more particular Attention to our public Affairs, they may produce common Good.
Our Enemies still keep a Garrison in New York and Rhode Island, and the Count it is supposed is now in the West Indies. Byron has been torn to Pieces with Storms, and wasted by Sickness, and was not able to follow the Count till six or seven Weeks after his Departure; The latter had all the Appearance of a good Season off, having escaped by Detention here, the Storm that shatter'd Byron's Fleet, and obliged him to repair from this Coast to Newport, in Order to refit9—Referring you to the Papers, that go by this Opportunity, and to the Marquiss for Details of News, I am, my dear Sir, with the warmest Respect and Attachment, Your most humble servant
[signed] Saml: Cooper
RC (Adams Papers); docketed: “Dr Cooper”; in another hand: “4 Jan'y 1779.”
1. Under this date, with the heading “Lettre de M. Samuel Cooper (Pasteur de la principale Eglise de Boston) à M. *** à P——y,” and with some alterations (see notes 5, 7, 8, and 9), this letter was printed in Affaires de l'Angleterre et de l'Amérique (“Lettres,” vol. 13, cahier 65, p. clxxvii–clxxix). It, together with letters { 340 } from Samuel Adams of 25 Oct. and Richard Henry Lee of 29 Oct. 1778 (both above), was sent with JA's letter to Edmé Jacques Genet of [ca. 14 Feb.] (below).
2. Vol. 6:367–368.
3. It is impossible to determine when Cooper was in company with AA at Col. Josiah Quincy's house, but for her meetings with Estaing and other French officers, see her letters to JA of [21] and [25 Oct. 1778], and that from Isaac Smith Sr. to JA of 9 Nov. 1778 (Adams Family Correspondence, 3:108–111, 117–118).
4. In a series of articles in the Pennsylvania Packet (15, 29, 31 Dec. 1778, and 2, 5, 7, 9 Jan. 1779), Thomas Paine answered Deane's address “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” which had appeared in the Packet of 5 Dec. 1778.
5. In Affaires Cooper's comments on the newspaper controversy, beginning with “He attacks the Family” and proceeding to “this Point,” were omitted.
6. The date of Deane's hearing was to have been 7 Dec. 1778; but on that day, because of the uproar over his address, he was ordered to put his report in writing. On 22, 23, and 31 Dec., Deane read his account before the congress, which then informed him that he would be notified of further orders. Although Deane was not again called before the congress, it was not until 20 Aug. 1779 that he was released from attending it (JCC, 12:1192, 1200–1201, 1265–1266; 13:930).
7. The preceding fourteen words were omitted from the translation in Affaires.
8. This sentence was omitted from the translation in Affaires.
9. In Affaires the remainder of this paragraph and the signature were omitted and there the printed letter ends as follows: “Si la lenteur de sa marche, qui l'a fait arriver en Amerique deux jours trop tard, a été contraire à ses desseins, en revanche nous avons bien lieu de nous féliciter des circonstances qui ont fait retarder son depart de deux jours. Voila comme la Providence sait nous faire adorer la profondeur de ses desseins.” Translation: If the slowness of his passage, which made him arrive in America two days too late, was contrary to his plans, in compensation we have good reason to congratulate ourselves for the circumstances that delayed his departure by two days. See how Providence makes us worship the profundity of His designs.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0216

Author: Boylston, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-05

From John Boylston

[salute] Dear Sir

When I wrote you Per G. Tailer1 requesting the favour of your Advice and Assistance in procuring him a speedy return to America I did not thereby mean your assistance in any pecuniary Advance but only your recommendation to him of the first good oppertunity for his return to his Native home, as I suspect many Such Juvenile, Volatile, and capricious Subjects, have been and may be to you and your Worthy Colleague2 very troublesome. Let the said G. T. for this reason know that no Bill on me will be paid of his draft.
Adieu; my sincerest and best wishes attend you,
[signed] J. B.3
1. No previous letter from Boylston has been found, but William, or Guillaume, Taylor had served as John Hancock's secretary while he was president of the congress. He had sailed from Boston for France on 26 July 1778, bearing packets from the congress for the Commissioners and possibly also letters to JA from AA (PCC, No. 79, I, f. 236–237; No. 37, f. 119; Adams Family Correspondence, 3:59,62). That Boylston wrote regarding him seems to indicate that the vessel on { 341 } which he sailed was captured. Except for a letter of reference by the Commissioners dated 18 Dec. 1778 (LbC, Adams Papers), no previous reference to Taylor has been found in the Commissioners' correspondence.
2. Undoubtedly Benjamin Franklin; see Boylston's letter of 6 Feb. (below).
3. John Boylston was a first cousin of JA's mother. He had gone to England in 1771 and, despite indications that in 1778 he considered returning to America, remained there until his death in 1795. For additional information on Boylston, particularly his sympathy for the American cause, see Adams Family Correspondence, 4:201.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0217

Author: MacCreery, William
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-05

From William MacCreery

[salute] Sir

Meerly for want of something agreeable or interesting to communicate to you, It is now a very long time since I had the pleasure of paying you my respects. But as I have taken the liberty on a former occasion, to trouble you on the Subject of our Commercial Interests in this Country, I beg leave to mention to you some more particulars relating to it, which at this Port we find very irksome, and which I really think, only want bare mentioning to be removed.
The first, and at present the greatest, is our inability to Load Salt here, without paying the old established Duty thereon, which amounts to a meer prohibition,1 so that Vessels which wou'd take in Salt for ballast, finding it too much to pay the Duty, and by far too expensive to touch at St. Martin's for it, are obliged to carry Sand. In this manner hath many Vessels, half loaded with useless Earth, gone to America from hence, to the great detriment of the Owners, and disapointment of the expecting Poor People in America, who no doubt built hopes on supplys coming to them by those Vessels. We have also found that it wou'd have been cheaper to pay Freight for Salt from St. Martin's here, (provided there was no charge of duty) than to send Vessels thither to take it, even supposing they loaded Salt entirely, for the Port-Charges, loss of time, and other incidental expences, come allways very Heavey on such traffic.
There is another circumstance which I shall take leave to point out to you, and which I wou'd be glad to have set to rights as soon as may be. In our Treaty of Freindship and Commerce, I think it is stipulated, that in regard to Dutys and imposts in the Ports of France, We shall be on as favourable a footing as any Power Whatever.2 But unfortunatly, hitherto, either from mistake, or oversight, Our Vessels have been put down in the Custom-house Books, etrangers. And in place of paying Three and an half Per Cent, We are obliged to pay Six Per Cent on most Goods, and in some cases, the difference is much more to our { 342 } prejudice. Now as custom is very apt to establish a thing into a Law, I shou'd be glad to have this matter placed on a clear footing as soon as may be, for altho' that from the smallness of our Trade to this Place at present, the difference seems triffling, it may in future become a matter of very great importance to the Trading part of America directly, and to every part of it indirectly. The Hambourghers I beleive are on as favourable a footing in point of Trade with this Country, as most others. Therefore, were it expressly fix'd that we shou'd be dealt by in the same manner, We shou'd Know at once what our right was, and when we were aggrieved. But I must confess that I am not able to enlighten you much upon this Subject, having no great opportunity of procuring Knowlege in it myself, but what I Know I thought my Duty to communicate. Shou'd Yourself and Honorable Colleagues think proper to mention these matters at Court, I have no doubt you wou'd readily procure the releif desired by us here, in which I sincerely wish you Success.
I had lately an Account of the arrival at Baltimore, of the Brigantine Saratoga,3 which I expedited from Nantes last Augt. She had coarse Goods on board to the amount of £100,000 Tournois which woud cloath a great many of our Countrymen. I hope to see her, Daily, and that she will be the messenger of Good News, which shall be very happy to Communicate to you being allways with the greatest Respect Sir Your much obliged and very Obedient Servant
[signed] Will MacCreery
RC (Adams Papers); docketed by JA and others: “Mr. McCreery 5th Jany. 7th 1779.” The name, month, and year are by JA, the “5th” by CFA, correcting the earlier notation of “7th,” which is in an unknown hand. Both days' dates are added above the line, with the “7th” probably being a misreading of the dateline abbreviation Jany, where the “y,” written as a superscript, looks much like a “7.”
1. The issue of duties on salt at Bordeaux had been raised in John Bondfield's letter to the Commissioners of 16 July 1778 (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). Bondfield wrote that a quintal of salt loaded at St. Martin on the Ile de Ré, an island off La Rochelle, cost approximately 23 sous. Foreign vessels paid a duty of 3 sous, 9 deniers per quintal. This duty was a concession to promote the exportation of salt from the Ile de Ré and had been extended to exportations from Nantes, but not from Bordeaux. At Bordeaux salt cost one and a half times what it did at the Ile de Ré, approximately 35 sous per quintal; but the duty paid by foreign ships was more than eleven times greater, 41 sous, 9 denier per quintal, than that paid at the Ile de Ré or Nantes. According to Bondfield's figures, 720 quintals of salt cost approximately 950 livres at the Ile de Ré or Nantes, but 4,332 livres at Bordeaux. The difference resulted, in addition to the higher cost and increased duties, from the fact that at Ile de Ré or at Nantes a single payment equal to the duty was required, whereas at Bordeaux a sum equal to double the actual duty was deposited with the authorities. The Commissioners apparently took no action regarding the Bondfield letter, and there is no indication that MacCreery was any { 343 } more successful.
2. Articles 2 through 5 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce granted the United States most-favored-nation status and defined its application to Franco-American trade (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:5–7). Compare MacCreery's complaints with those voiced in the letter from John Lloyd and others to the Commissioners of 7 Jan. (below).
3. For the Saratoga, a Continental privateer out of Baltimore (PCC, No. 196, XIV), see MacCreery's letters to JA of 4 and 25 July 1778 (vol. 6:258, 316).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0218

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-01-07

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

We have the Honour to inclose to your Excellency two Memorials1 concerning a French2 Vessell retaken from an English Privateer by An American Privateer the Hampden commanded by Captain Pickering.
As there is nothing in either of the Treaties between his Majesty and the united States, respecting such Rescues and Recaptures the Laws of each State must govern the Cases of the Vessells carried into it, <and no La> untill Some new Regulation Shall take Place <and>. The Sale was made before the new Regulations took place and we apprehend that3 no Law or Ordinance can justly be made to have a Retrospect or a Retroactive Effect.
We beg the favor of your Excellency to order what appears to you just in this particular case.
1. Presumably these were the petitions, of which this letter gives the substance, from D'Albert de Riou, a Brest merchant, of 23 Oct., and from Riou and Capt. Thomas Pickering of 23 Dec. 1778 (both PPAmP: Franklin Papers). The controversy centered on La Constance, a French vessel taken by a Guernsey privateer on 29 Sept. and recaptured by Pickering and the Hampden on 2 Oct. Because it had been in the enemy's hands for more than 24 hours, La Constance was a legal prize to the American captors under the terms of the Marine Ordinance of 1681. Basing their actions on that ordinance and past practice, Pickering went before the admiralty clerk within 24 hours of his arrival at Brest on 6 Oct. and presented the circumstances of the capture. As a result, the admiralty judges determined La Constance to be a good prize. Pickering then entered into an agreement with Riou for its disposal, and made payments to the crew in anticipation of the sale. However, on 22 Oct. the regulations for the disposal of prizes and prisoners that had been issued on 27 Sept. were registered at Brest. This caused the admiralty judges to reconsider their decision in the case of La Constance and to decide that it should come under the provisions of the new regulations. This meant that the evidence in the case would have to be presented again and a new determination made of the legitimacy of the capture, but, because the prize had already been sold, such a course would have resulted in long delays and litigation. Therefore, the petitioners desired the Commissioners to obtain from the Ministry of Marine an order exempting La Constance from the provisions of the new regulations. Pickering wrote again, to Benjamin Franklin on 28 Jan., concerning the case (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:16). Nothing is known of its outcome since no reply by Sartine has been found. For the French regulations concerning recaptures, see Sartine to the Commissioners, 16 Sept. 1778, above; and for the regulations of 27 Sept. 1778, { 344 } see Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:684–687.
2. This word was interlined for insertion at this point.
3. The preceding fourteen words were interlined by Benjamin Franklin for insertion at this point.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0219

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Sartine, Antoine Raymond Jean Gualbert Gabriel de
Date: 1779-01-07

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

[salute] Sir

Your Excellency did Us the Honour to inform Us, sometime ago, that in order to obtain the Liberty of Americans, taken on board of English Vessells by his Majestys ships it was necessary, that We should inform your Excellency, that they had been made Prisoners by the English and forced into their service.1
We accordingly request the Liberty of William Berry, William Keating, John Williams, Abraham Fairman, Robert Boughoss [Bongass], John Hanlen [Handly], James White, all Prisoners in Dinant Castle. These Persons, have most of them been in the American service by sea or Land, and all have been taken Prisoners by the English and forced into their service, as they affirm and We believe.2
There is another Person Prisoner in Granville, whose Name is Jonathan Akin who was taken Prisoner by <the> an English Frigate, and imprisoned for some Time at Portsmouth.
1. Sartine to the Commissioners, 14 Nov. 1778 (above).
2. For the memorial of 21 Oct. 1778 signed by Berry, Keating, Williams, Fairman, Bongass, and Handly, see the Commissioners to Sartine, 12 Oct. 1778, note 8 (above). No previous mention of James White or Jonathan Akin has been found. Presumably this letter resulted in the release of the men, but no reply from Sartine has been found.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0220

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-07

John Lloyd and Others to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

Having been induced to believe, and to expect, in consequence of The Treaty of Alliance, Friendship, and Commerce, entered into, by, and between, His most Christian Majesty, and, The Honorable Congress, of The United States of America; That every possible encouragement, and protection would be readily granted, to our Commercial intercourse, with this Kingdom. We presumed, under that confidence to address Monsieur de Sartine, the Minister of the Marine, and Your Honors,1 to solicit a protection for a respectable number of Vessels, destined with very valuable, and consequential Cargoes, to different States. The Minister did us the honour to acknowledge immediately, { 345 } the receipt of our letter, but, was pleased to refuse, a compliance with our request. Notwithstanding which, we flattered ourselves, that by the means of your interest, and by the exertion of your influence, at the Court of Versailles, we should obtain it. With that hope, we have waited for Your Honors, explicit information; although we must confess, that it has not been without anxiety, and impatience, as our own, and our Vessels detention, are attended with many disagreeable circumstances, and destructive consequences: insomuch, that we should in future, even prefer the risque of capture, to any reliance upon an application for protection.
The American Merchants, and Adventurers carry on their Commerce at present, to this Kingdom, under so many disadvantages, that we presume, to think, they ought to have every possible assistance, and attention, and without it is given, and granted to them, we are very apprehensive, that they will be soon discouraged from pursuing of it.
As we have been induced to say, thus much, Permit us to inform Your Honors, that we are very desirous, to know, What are the particular privileges, benefits, and exemptions to which we are intitled, by virtue of the Treaty of Commerce? As hitherto, we have not found any difference, in the mode of conducting our business, for the same imposts are exacted, which were required, when our Vessels first entered this Port.
We take the liberty farther to observe, that we think it is essentially requisite, that the Import, and Export Duties for which the Americans are to be held liable to the payment of, should be precisely ascertained, and the same made publick by authority, as well to prevent imposition as for the Merchants government, and satisfaction.
There are several of us, on the point of embarking for different States, we are therefore solicitous to have Your Honors information, respecting these particulars, that we may carry to America certain intelligence relative thereto, and from the best authority.
We are, with all due respect Your Honors Most Obedt. and most Hble Servts.
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] William Blake
[signed] M Livingston
[signed] Laurence Brooke
[signed] Alexr. Dick
[signed] H Thompson
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
[signed] Jno. Ross
[signed] Cha: Ogilvie
[signed] Jos. Wharton
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] J. P. Whitall
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] Robert Brooke
[signed] Jas. Grahame
{ 346 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “From several American Gentlemen at Nantes Jan 7. 1779.”
1. See the letters from J. D. Schweighauser and others to the Commissioners of 7 Nov. and 15 Dec. 1778(both above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0221

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

I had the Honor to pay my respects to you the 1st. Instant since which am without any of your Commands. The Convoy for the French Islands left this yesterday and with them three small Cutters for the States of America. We have a Vessel from Edenton arrived at Bayonne sail'd in October of course no News only Tobacco is at ten pounds that Currency the hundred weight by which the Traders in making returns at this day sink great part of their Capital, there is no forming any conjectures to what hight the price of Goods will get to. They are at Present above all conceiption and that Owing to too great an emission of Paper as the motives which produced the quantity are no longer there being more than is nessessary for all emergencies. Could a plan be put in practice to reduce the quantity there might be a prospect of its retaking a Substantial value, its present State is hurtful and affects the Credit in Europe. I saw a return a few days past from Martinico transmitted to a Merchant at this City of the present Circulating Currency in the United States amount Seven hundred Million of Livres, tho' the sum is incredible yet allowing the prices giving for every Article say near 20 for I taking therefore 19/20ths. from the Sum will make 35 million of livres or one and half Million Sterling a sum that its very probable may exist. The grand difficulty lays how to sink the 19/20ths. and thereby reduce the Current Circulation to its true Standard, it is to be done with ease provided Funds could be raised on this side the Water to support the operation. In the Present Course Forreigners reaping the high Price by their Sales throwing their Stock so accumulated into the Funds of the States become Creditors of Consiquence. Interest paying to them is a dead blank and if management is not timely observed they may become holders of so much as to draw the attention of their respective Goverments who may at an unseasonable Period form a National Debt of it and demand a reimburssment difficult to perform. I am informd Purchases have been made of Continental Paper to very considerable amount at great discompt by Men of the first distinction in the Kingdom who Act not from Momentary Views and from these Circumstances I form my remarks of the danger that { 347 } may attend heavy debts due contracted to Forreigners in the present reduced State of the Paper Credit.
From the above digressions permit me to go a little farther. France is now borrowing 40 million of livres. The Loan its said is filld with a considerable Surplus. Has France sufficient confidence in the States that independent of the Sums advanct by convention will she advance a further Sum on the same plan as borrowd for themselves say on Annuities at 8 1/2 and 10 Per Cent could a Capital of two Million be granted and the Money appropriated to the purpose of sinking the Continental Paper not for paying the Interest to Forreigners which tho' a most favorable plan for giving it Credit in reality only encreases the debt. I dare engage with two Million Livres Capital to sink thirty Million of Paper, This continued for few Years would so change the face of the Country that no difficulty would succeed to execute every Publick Operation dependant on the Funds without any new Emissions.
Certain Operations are now on Foot that will bring if successful America in debt to France many Millions and if continued must in the end Create a debt that America will find difficult to Cancel. Should the Publick Creditors be neither Landholders nor yet Inhabitants the Natives must be Rackt with Taxes to discharge debts not revertable amongst them but entirely detatcht and reversable in the State to whom the debt is due and that contracted by an advance of 20 for I on the Capital.
Two young Men Arrived this morning by a dutchmen from Weymouth, they were taken by an English Privateer. The One had a ball thro his thigh the other in the Shoulder. Their situation dont permit them to perform any Labourious service. I shall get them a Passage so soon as oppertunity offers to America being destitute of Money or Credit I shall be assistant to them as far as required. Some allowance in Circumstances of this Nature should be granted.
The first payment for the fifty six pieces Cannon1 now Carting [Casting?] by your order is payable in February. Twenty four Thousand Livres for which I shall when wanted Pass my drafts on you. By Letters from Nantes I have the Satisfaction to find the Governor Livingston and the Chasseur were advanct in their Loading and would be ready to Sail when order'd. I was informd a Convoy was appointed. Mr. Livingston writes me it is uncertain. I pray your advices on this head that we may pursue such measures as will be most Seasonable. The Retardment by Contrary Winds have greatly broke in upon our plans, it was intended the ships at this day should have been on the { 348 } Coast of America. I have the Honer to be with due Respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. Benjamin Franklin Arthur Lee, John Adams Esqrs. Commissioners from Congress a Paris”; docketed, not by JA: “John Bondfield Bordeaux 9. Jr. 1779”; in another hand: “M. Bondfield Jany. 9 1779.” Part of the first and all of the third paragraphs are without punctuation; the editors have inserted several commas and periods.
1. The cannon were for the ship of the line America; see Bondfield to the Commissioners, 12 Sept. and note 1 (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0222-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners

J'ai reçu, Messieurs, la Lettre, Sans datte, que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'ecrire.1 Ne doutez pas que nous ne prenions son contenu en Consideration, Selon que les Circumstances le permettront: Vous en avez un sûr garant dans l'interet Sincere que le Roi prend à la prosperité des Etats-Unis. J'ai l'honneur d'etre tres parfaitement, Messieurs, vôtre très humble et tres obeissant Serviteur
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0222-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have received, gentlemen, the undated letter that you did me the honor to write.1 Rest assured that we will, as much as circumstances will permit, take its contents into consideration. You may rely on the sincere interest that the King takes in the prosperity of the United States. I have the honor to be very perfectly, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] De Vergennes
1. That this is the letter of [ante 9] Jan. (printed under the date [ante 20] Dec. 1778 – [ante 9] Jan. 1779, above), is indicated by the notation in the left margin of the draft: “[Atten]tion que le Roi donnera [à la] mesures contennu [à] le manifeste du deputés [Ang]lois en amerique.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0223-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners

J'ai communiqué á M. de Sartine, Messieurs, la Lettre,1 par la quelle vous demandez qu'il soit donné escorte aux Batimens en partance qui Sont destinés pour les Ports des Etats Unis. Ce Ministre vient de me repondré qu'il n'est point possible d'accorder cette Escorte pour toute { 349 } la traversée, mais que les Batimens en question seront conduits jusqu'aux parages qui pourront les mettre a l'Abri des insultes des Corsaires Ennemies. Je vous prie en Consequence, Messieurs de vouloir bien m'indiquer les Ports ou se trouvent les Batiments qui sont prêts a faire voile pour l'Amerique Septentrionale afin que M. de Sartine puisse donner des ordres pour les Convois.2 J'ai l'honneur d'étre tres parfaitement, Messieurs, votre tres humble et tres obeissant serviteur3
[signed] De Vergennes

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0223-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-09

The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have communicated to M. Sartine, gentlemen, the letter1 in which you request that an escort be provided for the vessels about to sail, which are bound for ports in the United States. This minister has just replied that it is not possible to provide an escort for the entire crossing, but the vessels in question will be conducted to waters where they can be safe from the attacks of enemy privateers. Therefore, gentlemen, would you be so kind as to indicate to me the ports where these ships, which are about to sail for North America, can be found so that M. Sartine may give orders for the convoys.2 I have the honor to be very perfectly, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant3
[signed] De Vergennes
1. Of 29 Dec. (above).
2. For the Commissioners' reply of 13 Jan., see the Commissioners to Vergennes, 24 Jan., and note 3 (below).
3. This letter is the last entered in Lb/JA/6 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 94). For information about this Letterbook, see Introduction, part 2, John Adams and his Letterbooks.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0224-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-12

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Les Et. d'Hollande se rassemblent demain. Notre Ami arrive ce soir; et je vais lui souhaitter bon succès. L'on est de plus en plus embarrassé ici. Au lieu d'agréer la Réponse au Memoire, envoyée comme je vous l'ai marqué à Mr. De Berkenrode, Mr. l'Ambassadeur a reçu un Exprès de sa Cour, dont nous saurons <bientôt> le Message en même temps que le Résultat des Délibérations des Etats d'Hollande. En attendant je vous transcrirrai ici la Note explicative du dit Mémoire, remise par Mr. l'Ambassadeur le 196 Xbre au Grand Pensionnaire, et dont S. E. m'a fait donner copie.
“Le Roi, déterminé à se procurer une entiere certitude des Résolutions ultérieures des Etats Généraux, se flatte que L. H. P. s'explique• { 350 } ront d'une maniere nette et précise sur les caracteres de la parfaite neutralité dont Sa Maj. se persuade qu'elles ne veulent pas s'écarter. Elle s'attend qu'elles conserveront au pavillon des Provinces-Unies toute la liberté qui leur appartient comme une suite de leur indépendance, et à leur Commerce toute l'intégrité que le Droit des Gens lui assure, et que les Traités lui confirment. Mais cette liberté deviendroit illusoire, et cette intégrité seroit altérée, si L. h. p. ne la maintiennent pas par une protection convenable, et si elles consentent à priver leurs sujets des convois, sans lesquels ils ne peuvent jouir, dans toute leur étendue, des Droits qui leur sont acquis, et qu'ils réclament. Une Résolution, de quelque nature qu'elle soit, dont l'effet les frustreroit d'une protection aussi légitime, soit pour toutes les branches de leur Commerce en général, soit en particulier pour celle des provisions navales de toute espece, seroit regardée, dans les circonstances présentes, comme un acte de partialité, dérogatoire aux principes d'une absolue neutralité, et entraîneroit inévitablement les consequences annoncées dans le Mémoire qui à été remis à L. H. P. C'est notamment sur cet objet essentiel, et sur l'intention ultérieure d'observer une neutralité ainsi caractérisée, que le Roi demande à L. H. P. une réponse claire et précise.”
L'Assemblée d'aujourd'hui s'est bornée à de simples formalités. Je sai de très-bonne part, qu'Amsterdam aura la permission de commercer aux Isles françhises en Amérique, tant directement, que par voie de St. Eust. et Cur. et j'ai été autorisé d'en avertir certaines maisons amies, pour qu'elles puissent spéculer d'avance là-dessus.
On vouloit résoudre aujourd'hui, à la pluralité, un délai de 4 mois encore quant aux Convois pour les Bois de Construction. Pour le coup, Harlem s'est rangé absolument, et sans réserve, du côté d'Amsterdam; et Alcmar a pris la chose ad referendum: ce qui a beaucoup déplu à un grand personnage présent: le G—— P——se récrioit aussi beaucoup sur cela, et vouloit engager les Députés de cette Ville à accéder au sentimens de la pluralité; mais ils ont allégué les ordres de leur ville, pour s'en excuser. Ceci est cause que la Résolution ne pourra être prise que la semaine prochaine. Elle sera telle, néanmoins, que la Cour de France la regardera comme dérogatoire à la parfaite neutralité; car la pluralité l'emportera toujours; mais alors Amsterdam, Harlem, et peutêtre Alcmar, protesteront, &c.
Vous voyez, Messieurs, que l'opposition non seulement se soutient, { 351 } mais gagne du terrein; cette opposition n'étoit presque rien il y a 6 mois; c'étoit un foible roseau, qui ne se soutenoit qu'en pliant lorsque Borée souffloit: aujourdhui c'est un corps solide et robuste, bien appuyé, qui résiste à tous les efforts du Parti Anglois, qui les rompt, et qui parviendra enfin à l'emporter sur ce parti, et rendre à la republique son ancienne dignité.
Les <Anglois> Rois de la Mer ont été mal étrennés le jour de l'an par leur sujette: leur flotte pour N. York est presque entierement détruite; et le rivage françois et flamand est couvert de leurs débris.1 Dieu donne à l'Amérique la paix la plus glorieuse, et à vous, Messieurs, d'être longtemps les joyeux temoins de sa prospérité; ce sera ma joie aussi tant que je vivrai. Je suis avec un trés grand respect Messieurs, Votre trés humble et trés obéissant serviteur
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0224-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-12

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

The States of Holland reassemble tomorrow. Our friend arrives tonight, and I will wish him great success. People here are more and more perplexed. Instead of agreeing to the response to the memorandum, which as I mentioned was sent to M. Berkenrode, the [French] Ambassador received an express from his court, the contents of which we will <soon> learn at the same time as the results of the deliberations of the States of Holland. In the meantime, I will transcribe here the explanatory note to the memorandum presented to the Grand Pensionary by the Ambassador on 19 December, and of which His Excellency gave me a copy.
“The King, determined to obtain complete assurances regarding the future resolutions of the States General, flatters himself that Their High Mightinesses will explain themselves, in a clear and precise manner, on the character of the perfect neutrality from which His Majesty persuades himself that they do not wish to deviate. He expects that they will maintain under the flag of the United Provinces all of the liberties vested in them as a result of their independence; and for their trade, the complete integrity assured them by the law of nations and confirmed by their treaties. However, this liberty could be illusory and its integrity altered if Their High Mightinesses did not maintain it by an adequate protection and decided to deprive their subjects of the convoys, without which they cannot enjoy, to their fullest extent, the rights which they have acquired and which they claim. A resolution, of whatever nature, whose effect would be to frustrate so legitimate a protection, either of all branches of their commerce in general or that in all kinds of naval stores in particular, would be regarded in the present circumstances as an act of partiality, derogatory to the principles of absolute neutrality, and thus would inevitably bring about the consequences set forth in the { 352 } memorandum which has been delivered to Their High Mightinesses. It is particularly on this essential point and on the subsequent intention to observe a neutrality so characterized that the King requests from Their High Mightinesses a clear and precise response.”
Today's assembly dealt with simple formalities. I know from a good source that Amsterdam will have permission to trade with the French Islands in America, either directly or by way of St. Eustatius and Curaçao; and I have been authorized to convey this information to certain friendly houses so that they can speculate in advance.
Today the assembly sought to resolve, by a plurality, upon a fourmonth delay in regard to convoys for ships' timber. For the moment Haarlem has ranged itself absolutely and without reservation on the side of Amsterdam; and Alkmaar submitted the matter ad referendum, thus greatly displeasing an important personage who was present. The Grand Pensionary, himself, also protested and sought to induce the delegates of that town to accede to the judgment of the plurality, but they have cited the orders of their town in excusing themselves. This is the reason that the resolution will not be adopted until next week. It will be such, however, that the Court of France will regard it as being derogatory to perfect neutrality, for the plurality always prevails; but then Amsterdam, Harlem, and maybe Alkmaar, will protest, etc.
You see, gentlemen, that the opposition is not only powerful, but gains in strength. Six months ago it was virtually nothing; a feeble reed, which survived only by bending whenever the north wind blew. Today it is a force, solid, robust, and well founded, which resists, disrupts, and in the end will prevail over all the efforts of the English party and return to the Republic its former dignity.
On New Year's Day the <English> Kings of the Sea were ill-rewarded by their vassal. Their fleet bound for New York was almost completely destroyed, and the French and Flemish coasts were strewn with its debris.1 May God give America the most glorious peace, and to you, gentlemen, at long last the joyous evidence of his prosperity, which will also be my greatest joy as long as I live. I am, with great respect, gentlemen, your very humble, and very obedient servant
[signed] Dumas
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by Arthur Lee: “opend by A Lee Esqr”; and in another hand: “Dumas 12 Jan 79.”
1. Dumas' report is similar to an item from Calais in the Gazette de Leide of 15 Jan. There it was reported that a force of naval and merchant ships, presumably bound for America and which had gathered in the Downs off the east coast of Kent, had been forced by the storm that struck England and the continent on the night of 31 Dec. and the morning of 1 Jan. to cut their cables and run before the wind, resulting in the loss of many vessels. Although there are numerous reports concerning the storm in the British press—see, for example, issues of the { 353 } London Chronicle from 31 Dec. 1778 – 1 Jan. 1779 through 16–19 Jan. 1779—no specific reference has been found of extensive damage to a fleet bound for America.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0225

Author: Izard, Ralph
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-12

Ralph Izard to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

I had the honor of writing to you, on the 2d. instant informing you that the credit which I had received from the Commissioners was exhausted, and that I shoud be obligd to you if you woud let me know whether it was most agreable to you to renew it, or that I shoud draw on you for what money I might have occasion for.1 As this matter appeard to require no great deliberation, I expected to have been favord with an immediate Answer. I find myself in arrear with the Banker to the amount of 2 or 3000 Livres and think it proper that the Account shoud be settled. I have therefore drawn on you for 500 Louis dores payable to his order, and you will be pleasd either to accept it immediately or inform me that you will not do it, that there may be no time lost in laying the matter before Congress. I have the honor to be Gentlemen yr. most Obedt. Hbl. Servt.
[signed] Signd. Ra. Izard
LbC in Arthur Lee's hand (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 179–180).
1. Izard's letter of 2 Jan. 1778 [1779] (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) with its request for 12,000 livres and that made by William Lee in a letter of 9 Dec. (above) for 24,000 livres, together provide a glimpse of the animosities existing among the Americans in Europe, for Benjamin Franklin refused to agree to either demand. In Feb. 1778 Izard and Lee had each been given 2,000 louis d'or—the French equivalent of the British guinea—or 48,000 livres to defray their expenses at the courts to which they had been commissioned by the congress: Izard to Florence, Lee to Berlin and Vienna (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 64, 65). Ralph Izard never went to Florence and William Lee was at Vienna and Berlin for only a short time in mid-1778—and then to no effect.
Izard and Lee based their new requests on a congressional resolution of 7 May 1778, which permitted them to draw on the Commissioners in France for their expenses (JCC, 11:473). Despite this authorization, Franklin was adamant in his refusal and defended his position in letters to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 15 Jan. (incomplete MS) and 26 May (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:24–25, 190). Franklin believed that since neither man had carried out his mission as the congress had intended and thus had not incurred the expenses that the initial advance of 48,000 livres had been intended to defray, neither should expect any more money from the Commissioners.
On 4 Jan., Franklin drafted a reply from the Commissioners to Izard's letter of the 2d, which was never sent because his colleagues apparently refused to sign it. There, in terms that could equally be applied to William Lee, Franklin was even more explicit about his refusal than in his letters to the Committee for Foreign Affairs. After presenting a detailed picture of the Commissioners' finances on which there were so many competing demands, Franklin wrote: “we hope you will not insist on our giving you a farther credit with our banker, with whom we are daily in danger of having no farther { 354 } credit ourselves.” Because the Commissioners were in such severe straits, and Izard had not accomplished his mission, Franklin continued: “we should rather hope that you would be willing to reimburse us the sum we have advanced to you” (same, 3:10–11).
On the 12th Izard went to Passy to discuss his demand and probably to deliver the present letter. Franklin remained adamant in his refusal but, according to later letters from Izard, promised to provide a copy of the draft letter of 4 Jan. containing his reasons for refusing so that Izard might submit it to the congress if he wished. There is no evidence that Franklin ever fulfilled this obligation (Izard to Franklin, 20 Jan., Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:10; Izard to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, 28 Jan., Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:33–34; see also Izard to JA, 26 April and 21 May, both below).
Franklin's refusal to honor their demands did not mean that Izard and Lee were denied the money. Arthur Lee and JA apparently believed that the resolution of 7 May 1778 left them no recourse and on 12 Jan. approved Izard's draft, as they had that of William Lee on 8 Jan. (see letters of 13 Jan. from Arthur Lee and JA to William Lee, below, and to Ralph Izard, LbC, Adams Papers; and the Commissioners' Accounts, 12 Nov. 1778–11 Feb. 1779, entries for 8 and 12, above). Although he was paid, Izard continued to press the matter, presumably in an effort to embarrass Franklin, but nothing came of it. His protest to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 28 Jan. did not reach the congress until 27 July, more than a month after he and William Lee had been recalled (JCC, 14:892, 700–701, 703–704).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0226

Author: Adams, John
Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Lee, William
Date: 1779-01-13

Arthur Lee and John Adams to William Lee

[salute] Sir

The Letter which you did Us the Honour to write Us on the 15 December, We have received. As We have heard nothing further of the Congress in Germany, which you inform Us was talked of, We presume that no such Measure will take Place.
However, whether there be a Congress or not, We cannot comply with the Terms of the Gentleman you mention, nor Advise him to take any Steps in the Business.
We have also the Honour of your Letter of the 9th december, informing Us of your draught upon Us, for Twenty four Thousand Livres, at one Months date payable to Mr. Grand. The Bill of Exchange itself has also been presented to Us, and accepted. We have the Honour to be &C.1
1. Although this Letterbook copy does not indicate the signatories of the letter as finally sent, it may be assumed that Benjamin Franklin did not sign it. The opinions expressed in the first two paragraphs may well reflect the thinking of the three Commissioners, but the final paragraph does not. An entry for 8 Jan. in the Commissioners' accounts for the period from 12 Nov. 1778 to 11 Feb. 1779 (above) indicates that only Arthur Lee and JA approved Lee's draft, Benjamin Franklin being adamant in his refusal to supply William Lee with additional funds (Ralph Izard to the Commissioners, 12 Jan., note 1, above). For the same reasons it can be assumed that only Arthur Lee and JA signed the letter to Ralph Izard of this same date (LbC, Adams Papers) approving his draft on the Commissioners.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0227

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Lloyd, John
Date: 1779-01-13

The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others

[salute] Gentlemen

We had Yesterday the Honour of your Letter of the seventh of this Month, and at the same Time that of a Letter from his Excellency the Comte De <Sartine> Vergennes,1 Copy of which We inclose. We have this Day written to his Excellency, requesting, that the Convoy may be sent without delay to Nantes, where the Vessells are waiting for it.2
We are very sorry, that the Kings service will not Admit, of a Convoy for the Vessells now Ready at Nantes, quite to America, <but We have made Use of several Applications> for which favour We have made several Applications, But We hope the Convoy will go beyond the Western Islands.
We have answered every Letter We have received upon this subject, on the same day on which We received it, or on the next day, and We have transmitted to you, every Intimation We have received concerning it from the Minister, either the same day or the <next> day following.
You desire to be informed what Particular Priviledges, Benefits and Exemptions, you are intitled to, by Virtue of the Treaty of Commerce? To which We answer that the Citizens of the United states are not intituled to any Priviledges, Benefits or Exemptions, but such as are stipulated in the Treaty of Commerce. This Treaty is public, and has been printed perhaps in every News Paper in Europe. We send you however an authentic Copy enclos'd.3
Our Countrymen, We suppose are Treated in Relation to duties of Import and Export like other Nations the most favoured4 in Friendship with France, <and like French subjects>. But it is extreamly difficult to obtain any Alterations or particular Exemptions in our favour, as the whole affair of Duties and Finances in this Kingdom5 is a system which it is not easy to alter. If however you will be so good as to state to Us the Duties you have paid, We will lay it before the Minister, and endeavour to obtain the Satisfaction you desire.6
<Notwithstanding which> Several Branches of American Trade might be carried on with this Kingdom, to more Advantage than any other Country of Europe, and7 a little Patience <however> and Perseverance, will insure you and your Posterity forever, the Right of trading to all the Countries of the World, and of preferring such as shall give you the best Terms, instead of being compelled like slaves to carry all the produce of8 Your Industry to one selfish <Land> Nation, and to <bring> purchase9 all you wanted from one little Spot. That the Year 1779 may produce you such a Blessing, and that you may all arrive { 356 } safely in our Country, and be there ready to enjoy it, is the Wish of, Gentlemen your Countrymen and most obedient humble servants10
1. Vergennes' second letter of 9 Jan., reporting Sartine's position (above).
2. This sentence was interlined for insertion here, indicating that this letter was drafted before the Commissioners' letter to Vergennes (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7). The Commissioners informed Vergennes that the vessels in question were at Nantes and hoped that the convoy would be ordered immediately. In his reply of 20 Jan. (same), Vergennes indicated that the information on the ships at Nantes had been sent to Sartine for action by him. See also the Commissioners to Vergennes, 24 Jan. (below).
3. This sentence was added by Benjamin Franklin.
4. The preceding three words were interlined for insertion here.
5. The preceding three words were interlined for insertion here by Benjamin Franklin.
6. This sentence was interlined for insertion here.
7. Inserted, in place of “however,” to join the two sentences.
8. The preceding three words were interlined by Benjamin Franklin for insertion here.
9. This word was interlined by Benjamin Franklin for insertion here.
10. lmmediately below the closing was a list of those who had signed the letter to the Commissioners from John Lloyd and others of 7 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0228

Author: Cushing, Thomas
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-14

From Thomas Cushing

[salute] Dear Sir

Permit me to Introduce to your Acquaintance Mr. Samuel Bradford son of Capt. John Bradford a young Gentleman bound to France upon Bussiness. I recommed him to your Freindly Notice, any Advice you may give him and any civilities you may shew him shall be gratefully Acknowledged.
The British Troops have not as yet left New York or Rhode Island and whether they design to Evacuate there Places this Winter is at present uncertain. Admiral Byron has lately Sailed with his Squadron from Rhode Island in pursuit of Count D Estaing, who, it is Conjectured, left this Place for the West Indies the fourth of November last, we Expect there will be warm work in those parts this Winter. About six or seven thousand Troops, it is said, are left at New York and about as many at Rhode Island. Congress are Consulting, as you will doubtless be advised, upon measures to give Stability and Credit to our Currency. I hope they will be directed to such determinations as are Wise proper and Effectual and that no partial narrow Contracted veiws will Govern in the adjustment of a Matter of such Importance.
Mr. Deans Publication, which you will meet with in our late Papers, has occasioned much Concern and anxiety among thinking People here. They wish Congress by an Early attention to him and by thor• { 357 } oughly examining into what he had to offer with respect to the Conduct of our affairs on Your Side the Water had prevented his Publishing. However Congress have Agreed to give him a full hearing and I hope will with the utmost Candour and Impartiality thoroughly examine into Matters and so Remove all Difficulties. I should be Glad to hear from you as often as your Engagements will permit upon the State of Affairs in Europe.
I am with truth & Sincerity Your Freind and humble Servt
[signed] Thomas Cushing
1. A space was left for the day of the month; the supplied date is derived from the sailing of the frigate Alliance, which carried both Bradford and this letter, on 14 Jan. (Dict. Amer. Fighting Ships; William Smith to AA, Adams Family Correspondence, 3:143). Immediately above the year, in CFA's hand, is the notation: “should be 1779.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0229-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-16

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Je sais que vous avez reçu mes Lettres des 2 et 8 Dec. J'ai eu l'honneur depuis de vous en écrire 3 autres, du 18–24 Dec., 1–3 Janv., et 12–15 Janv.
Hier 15 au soir, au moment où j'avois expédié ma derniere, Mr. l'Ambassadeur me fit chercher, pour aller confirmer de sa part à notre Ami, que ce matin il présenteroit un Mémoire au Président de L. H. P. avec le nouveau reglement du Roi, qui exclut le Commerce et la Navigation de la Republique des faveurs dont la France laisse jouir les neutres sur mer et dans ses Ports, et les conserve au Pavilion seul d'Amsterdam;1 et qu'après cela il iroit (quoique centre l'usage) faire la tournée des Hôtels de toutes les Villes d'Hollande, et témoigner à leurs Pensionaires respectifs le regret et la répugnance avec laquelle le Roi se verra forcé par elles-mêmes à publier le dit reglement.
J'attendis à l'hôtel jusqu'à 2 h. après minuit, pour rendre à Mr. l'Ambassadeur, qui soupoit ailleurs, la réponse de notre Ami. Il expédia la même nuit un Exprès é sa Cour; et je me tiens prêt, ce matin, à aller rapporter de sa part à notre Ami, la maniere dont tout se sera passé.
Ce matin Mr. l'Ambassadeur, après avoir présenté son Mémoire, &c. au Président de LL. h: P. a fait sa ronde, pour en donner connoissance au Grand Pensionnaire d'Holl. et au Greffier de L. h. P., puis aux Pensionaires des Villes de Dort, Amsterdam, La Brille et Rotterdam. Il { 358 } a été près de deux heures avec les Députés de cette derniere Ville. Il a témoigné à tous le regret du Roi, d'avoir dû leur retirer ses faveurs, et en laisser jouir Amsterdam seul. Tous ont témoigné plus de mécontentement de cette distinction, que de la privation, et d'en craindre je ne sai quelles funestes suites. Ils prétendoient que c'étoit une chose sans exemple, et contre leur Constitution, de trailer avec une Ville seule. Mr. l'Ambassadeur leur a repliqué que c'étoit mal voir; qu'il n'y avoit ni Traité ni Convention quelconque entre la France et Amsterdam; qu'on laissoit tout simplement celle-ci continuer de jouir de ce dont elle jouissoit auparavant; et que la Republique devroit, au contraire, être bien aise de ce que, par le moyen de cette ville, elle ne perdoit pas tout. La Semaine prochaine il verra les Pensionaires des autres Villes.
Du reste, j'ai opinion que tout ceci s'arrangera encore à l'amiable que la Republique, voyant combien la chose est sérieuse, prendra le parti de donner satisfaction à la France.
Je n'ai fait que rendre compte aujourdhui à Mr. l'Ambassadeur, de l'entretien que j'eus hier avec notre ami. Je dois retourner demain chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur qui aura alors quelque commission à me donner. Je ne vous dis, Messieurs, que l'essentiel des choses, et vous épargne le détail de mes allées et venues, et des messages dont je suis chargé réciproquement. Après le résultat, qui seul est interessant, le récit des minuties, par lesquelles il a fallu passer avant d'y parvenir, seroit superflu et ennuyant. Je vous dirai seulement, que mon entremise sauve l'éclat que feroient des entrevues trop frequentes, qu'on ne manqueroit pas d'épier.
Il n'y a rien de nouveau aujourd'hui. Demain les Etats d'Hollande se rassembleront, et nous saurons le parti qu'aura pris Almar, et quelle resolution aura pris la Province. Je suis avec un très-grand respect, Messieurs Votre très-humble et tres obeissant serviteur2
[signed] Dumas

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0229-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-16

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

I know that you received my letters of 2 and 8 December. Since then, I have had the honor of writing you three more, dated 18–24 December, 1–3 January, and 12–15 January.
Yesterday, the 15th, in the evening, just as I was sending off my last, the French Ambassador sought me out in order to have me meet with our friend to confirm, on the Ambassador's behalf, that this morning he will present a mémoire to the President of Their High Mightinesses together with the King's new order excluding the commerce and naviga• { 359 } tion of the Republic, excepting only that under the flag of Amsterdam, from the favors that France permits neutrals to enjoy at sea and in its ports1 and will, although it is contrary to custom, afterwards make the rounds of the town halls of all the towns of Holland in order to express to their respective pensionaries the regret and repugnance of the King at being forced by them to issue the said order.
I waited at the Embassy until two in the morning to give the Ambassador, who was dining elsewhere, our friend's answer. The same night he sent an express to his Court, and this morning I hold myself in readiness to report, on his behalf, to our friend on what happened.
This morning the Ambassador, after presenting his memorandum, &c., to the President of Their High Mightinesses, made his rounds to inform the Grand Pensionary of Holland, the greffier of Their High Mightinesses, and the Pensionaries of the towns of Dordrecht, Amsterdam, La Brille, and Rotterdam. He spent nearly two hours with the deputies of this last town. He expressed to everyone the King's regret at having to rescind, except in the case of Amsterdam, his favors. All expressed their displeasure, more at this discrimination than the deprivation, and seemed to fear I know not what bad consequences. They claimed that it was unprecedented and contrary to their constitution to treat with only one town. The Ambassador replied that this was untrue, that there was no treaty or convention whatsoever between France and Amsterdam, and that it was being permitted continued possession of what it already enjoyed and, to the contrary, the Republic should deem itself lucky that, thanks to Amsterdam, it did not lose everything. Next week he will see the Pensionaries of the other towns.
As to the rest, I think that all this will resolve itself quite amicably and that the Republic, seeing how serious this is, will decide to give full satisfaction to France.
I did nothing today but give an account to the Ambassador of yesterday's meeting with our friend. Tomorrow I am to meet again with the Ambassador, who will then have some message to give me. I will tell you, gentlemen, only the essentials and spare you the details of my comings and goings and the messages with which I am charged as a result. After the outcome, the only interesting part, an account of the minutia by which it was achieved would be superfluous and boring. I will say only that my intervention avoids the sensation that would result from too frequent visits which one would not want noticed.
There was nothing new today. Tomorrow the States of Holland will reassemble, and we will learn of Alkmaar's decision and the resolution adopted by the Province. I am with very great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant2
[signed] Dumas
{ 360 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amerique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “16 Jan. 1779 Dumas to the Commrs.” LbC (Algemeen Rijksarchief, The Hague, Eerste Afdeling, Dumas Papers, vol. 1).
1. That is, the Netherlands, except for Amsterdam, was to be excluded from the privileges granted neutral ships under article I of the regulation of 26 July 1778 (see Dumas to the Commissioners, 10 Nov., note 3, above). For the French text of the new regulation, which was dated 14 Jan. but was to go into effect on the 26th, see Martens, ed., Recueil des principaux traités d'alliance, 4:xxx; for English translations, see vol. 2 of Almon's Remembrancer for 1778, p. 357–358, or the Annual Register of 1779, p. 423–425. According to the regulation, Amsterdam was excluded because of its vigorous efforts to force the Republic to obtain British assurances that the Dutch flag would be respected as that of a sovereign state and that Dutch commerce would enjoy the freedom guaranteed by the dictates of its treaties and the law of nations.
2. This paragraph does not appear in Dumas' Letterbook. There, under 18 Jan., is only the notation: “Expedie celle-ci par voie de Rotterdam” (Sent by way of Rotterdam). For an explanation of this, see the paragraph dated 24 Jan. in Dumas' letter of the 19th (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0230-0001

Author: La Blancherie, Pahin Champlain de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-18

From Pahin Champlain de La Blancherie, with a Contemporary Translation

[salute] Monsieur

J'ay l'honneur de vous envoyer les details relatifs a l'Etablissement de la correspondance generale sur les sciences et les arts que j'ay preparé depuis quatre ans, et dirigé particulierement depuis le comencement de l'année derniere; la consistence qu'il a acquise d'abort par la recomandation de l'academie des sciences, et ensuite par des temoignages recues de la protection de Leurs Majestés, me font esperes que vous voudrés bien, Monsieur, contribuer au succès de cette entreprise par tous les moyens qui dependront de vous, et principalement en honnorant de votre presence, l'assemblée ordinaire des sçavants des artistes et des etrangers distingués qui en font partie; et surtout celle de mecredi prochain, la premiere aprés les vacances d'automne.
J'ose vous demander cette grace au nom des sea van ts et des artistes empressés de vous rendre juge de leurs travaux, et protecteur de leurs talens; je ne serai pas moins flatté qu'Eux, Monsieur, de pouvoir vous rapporter une partie de ma gloire et de mes succès.
Je suis avec un Respect infini Monsieur Votre très humble et très obeissant Serviteur
[signed] La Blancherie1

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0230-0002

Author: La Blancherie, Pahin Champlain de
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-18

Pahin Champlain de La Blancherie to John Adams: A Translation

[salute] Sir

I have the Honour to send you some Particulars relative to the establishment of a general Correspondence upon Sciences and Arts { 361 } which I have prepared, four years since, and particularly directed since the Beginning of the last year. The Consistency which it has acquired firstly by the Recommendation of the Academy of Sciences, and since by many Proofs of the Protection of their Majesty's, make me hope, Sir, that you will be so good as to contribute to the success of this enterprize by all the Means in your Power, and particularly, in honouring with your Presence, the Assembly of the Learned, the Artists, and the distinguished Strangers who are a Part of it; and above all, that of Wednesday next, the first after the Vacancies [holidays] of Autumn.
I take the Liberty of begging this favour, in the name of the Learned and Artists, who desire to have you a Judge of their Labours, and protector of their Talents. I Will not be Less flatter'd, Sir, than they, to be able to pay you the Hommage of my Glory and of my Successes.
I am with an infinite Respect, Sir &c.
[signed] de la Blancherie1
RC and translation (Adams Papers).
1. There is no indication that JA responded to this invitation from Pahin Champlain de La Blancherie, who, between 1778 and 1788, sought to create an international center for the promotion of relations between learned men. In pursuit of this goal he established a “Salon de correspondance,” where meetings could be held at no charge, and a periodical, Nouvettes de la République des Lettres et des Arts, to which JA subscribed in 1782 (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale; Jefferson, Papers, 12:99, 317).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0231

Author: Price, Richard
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-18

Richard Price to the Commissioners

Dr. Price returns his best thanks to the Honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams Esquires, for conveying to him the resolution of Congress of the 6th. of October last, by which he is invited to become a member of the united States, and to give his assistance in regulating their Finances.1 It is not possible for him to express the Sense he has of the honour which this resolution does him, and the Satisfaction with which he reflects on the favourable opinion of him which has occasioned it. But he knows himself not to be Sufficiently qualified for giving Such assistance; and he is So connected in this country, and also advancing So fast into the evening of life, that he cannot think of a removal. He requests the favour of the honourable Commissioners to transmit this reply to Congress, with assurances that Dr. Price feels the warmest gratitude for the notice taken of him, and that he looks to the American States as now the hope, and likely Soon to become the refuge of mankind.2
RC (PHi: Franklin Papers).
{ 362 }
1. Richard Price of Newington Green was a dissenting minister and friend of Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Priestly, and later JA. His strong support of the American cause in pamphlets and sermons, as well as his writings on extinguishing the national debt, led congress to seek his assistance in putting its finances in order (DNB). In their letter of 7 Dec. 1778 (CtY: Franklin Papers), the Commissioners had transmitted the congress' resolution and offered to pay Price's expenses to America. Benjamin Franklin informed the congress of Price's refusal in his letter to the Committee for Foreign Affairs of 26 May (PCC, No. 82, I, f. 135).
2. For an elaboration of the sentiments expressed here, as well as Price's compliments to Franklin and JA, see a copy of his letter to Arthur Lee of this date in PCC, No. 102, II, f. 362–365.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0232-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-19

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Ma derniere étoit du 16–18 de ce mois. Aujourd'hui, contre toute attente, et à notre grande surprise, il ne s'est rien passé du tout à l'Assemblée d'Hollande, si ce n'est qu'on y a lu le dernier Mémoire de Mr. l'Ambassadeur, mais on n'a rien mis en délibération. J'ai été aujourdhui 5 fois chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur, autant de fois chez notre ami (une fois au bout de la ville, où il dînoit). J'ai écrit ce billet au premier. “Demain il y a besogne des Amirautés d'Hollande. Je le tiens de trèsbonne part. Je conjecture que c'est la cause de l'inaction d'aujourd'hui et qu'il y aura un nouveau préavis. Je passerai ce soir encore où votre Exc. sait.” Je lui avois écrit celui-ci le 15. “On compte, et l'on est persuadé, que S. E. ne fera mention nulle part du secret confié des Déliberations d'hier, des 4 mois;1 puisque la résolution n'en étant pas encore prise, on demanderoit, qui vous l'a dit? et que, d'ailleurs, la raison du délai de répondre au Mémoire suffit, pour n'avoir besoin d'alléguer qu'elle seule, &c.” Tous les autres détails de mes messages seroient aussi tédieux à lire qu'à écrire. Les 2 pensionaires d'Amsterdam, après avoir rendu compte le 16 à leur ville de la visite ministérielle de Mr. l'Ambassadeur, ont reçu la réponse, et iront demain matin la rendre publiquement à Mr. l'Ambassadeur chez lui. Celui-ci n'attend que la Résolution finale des Etats d'hollande, qui sera prise après-demain, pour l'envoyer par un Exprès à sa Cour.
Les deux Pensionaires d'Amsterdam sont allés ce matin de la part de leur ville chez Mr. l'Ambassadeur, rendre grace, et dire qu'Elle espere, que Sa Maj. voudra bien ne pas priver les autres Confédérés des faveurs qu'Elle veut bien lui conserver. Delà ils sont allés chez le Grand Pensionnaire lui donner connoissance de cette démarche. Au lieu des Aigres mines et des altercations auxquelles ils s'attendoient, tant à { 363 } l'Assemblée des Etats aujourd'hui, qu'ailleurs, ils ont été agréablement surpris de se voir traités par-tout avec beaucoup d'égards. Ceux des autres Villes, et notamment de Rotterdam, recherchent leur intercession pour leurs Villes. <Mr> Des Marchands de Rotterdam sont venus implorer la protection de Mrs. D'Amsterdam, qui les ont renvoyés, comme de raison, à leurs propres Magistrats. Mr. l'Ambassadeur, de son côté, a été notifier ce matin au Grand Pensionnaire, d'abord de bouche, et puis, à sa requisition, par une note en forme de Lettre que le Roi a fixé le 26 Janvier, pour publier son nouveau reglement, s'il ne reçoit pas d'ici-là une réponse telle qu'il l'a demandée. L'Ambassadeur et notre Ami ont actuellement ensemble une entrevue secrete, que je leur ai ménagée. J'attends le jour de demain avec la derniere impatience. J'ai dit à notre Ami, que j'espere, lorsque nous aurons amené à bonne fin l'importante affaire du jour, que nous reprendrons celle de notre projet; il m'a dit, assurément.
Rien n'est fait encore. L'Avis de l'Amirauté, proposé aujourd'hui aux Etats d'Hollande, est en contradiction avec lui-même. Ils annullent, à la verité, leur fameuse résolution du 18e Nov., quant à la restriction des Convois (d'où l'on vouloit exclure alors les bois de Construction). Mais ils voudroient suspendre la résolution à prendre quant à l'extension de ces Convois, jusqu'aux temps où ils regleroient leurs équipages. Ce n'est que pousser le temps par les épaules; c'est l'hydre de Lerne, à laquelle il recroît d'autres têtes, à la place de celles qui ont été abattues: Car on est d'accord sur tout le reste. Il n'y eut hier qu'altercations et rproches, auxquels ceux d'Amsterdam ont répondu avec autant de modération et de décense, que de fermeté. Tout a été renvoyé <aujourdhui> à demain; et si l'on veut décider l'affaire à la pluralité, Amsterdam protestera encore. Je n'ai fait que courir toute la journée; et j'ai fini par ménager encore une entrevue cette nuit. G—— F——m'avoit envoyé ce billet à 3 heures. “Mr. D—— est prié de vouloir bien aller où il sait bien, à l'heure où doit finir l'Assemblée, et de venir ensuite faire rapport de ce qu'il aura appris.” J'avois prévenu ses desirs; et je sortois de là en rencontrant le porteur de billet.
Encore rien de fait à l'Assemblée d'Hollande. Mr. le Grand Pensionnaire avoit proposé un Plan de résolution, qu'Amsterdam n'a pu agréer, parce qu'il y a des termes qui ont paru captieux, et dont on pourroit faire l'explication auprés de la Cour de L—— d'une toute autre maniere qu'auprés de celle de France. La principale est celle-ci: on { 364 } voudroit suspendre la Résolution, pour l'extension des Convois, jusqu'au 26, jour où l'Amirauté doit régler les Equipages et Armemens. Or cette extension ne signifieroit auprés de l'une des Puissances que la force des Convois; auprés de l'autre, la suspension de convoyer les bois de construction. Ceux de Harlem ont donc proposé des Amendemens.2 Si tous y acquiescent, on pourroit prendre demain une Résolution unanime, qui contenteroit peut-être la France. Quand notre Ami m'a raconté ces ambiguités, je l'ai bien fait rire par la comparaison des chats, qui tombent toujours sur leurs pattes: il l'a trouvée trés-juste.
Encore irrésolus. Toutes les villes, cependant, sont d'accord avec Amsterdam sur le plan proposé par Harlem. Mais un grand personnage, avec la Majorité de la Noblesse, dispute encore sur les termes. En attendant, un Courier s'expédie aujourd'hui à Paris, pour obtenir, s'il est possible, un dernier délai d'une semaine, par complaisance pour Amsterdam, qui a fortement intercédé. Reste à savoir si ce Courier pourra arriver à temps d'ici au 26. Ce qui est sûr, c'est que, s'ils ne prennent pas ici le bon parti dans la semaine, le 4 du mois prochain le nouveau reglement sera promulgué en France sans plus de renvoi.
Je fais partir la présente, comme la précédente, sous couvert d'un ami à Rotterdam; où elle sera mise à la poste. J'en use ainsi pour dépayser les curieux indiscrets. Je suis avec un trés grand respect, Messieurs Votre trés humble et trés obeissant serviteur
[signed] D
Amsterdam a déclaré aujourd'hui qu'elle restera ferme et inebranlable, et ne se laissera ni forcer ni tromper. Expression bien forte.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0232-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-19

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

My last was of the 16–18 of this month. Contrary to our expectations and to our great surprise, nothing happened today at the Assembly of Holland. There were no deliberations, only the reading of the Ambassador's latest memorandum. Today I have had five meetings with the Ambassador, and as many with our friend (once at the edge of town where he was dining). To the Ambassador I wrote the following note: “Tomorrow there will be work for the Admiralties of Holland. I have this from a very good source and surmise that this is the reason for today's inaction and will produce a new preliminary advisory. I will return this evening to Your Excellency knows where.” On the 15th I had written him the following: “One expects and is persuaded that His Excellency will disclose nothing concerning the secret—the four month's delay—confided from yesterday's deliberations1 because, since the resolution { 365 } has not yet been adopted, he would be asked: Who told you so? Moreover, the reason for the delay in responding to the memorandum is sufficient to have no need to unburden oneself, &c.” All the other details of my messages would be as tedious to read as to write. Amsterdam's two pensionaries, having on the 16th rendered their town an account of the Ambassador's official visit, have received its response and tomorrow morning will present it officially to the Ambassador. He awaits only the final resolution of the States of Holland, which will be adopted the day after tomorrow, in order to send it by an express to his Court.
This morning, on behalf of their town, Amsterdam's two pensionaries went to the Ambassador to pay their respects and state that the town of Amsterdam hopes that His Majesty would be kind enough not to deprive the other towns of the confederation of the favors which he is willing to retain for it. They had already gone to the Grand Pensionary to inform him of their démarche. Instead of the bitter looks and altercations for which they had prepared themselves, when at the Assembly of States and elsewhere today, they were pleasantly surprised to be treated everywhere with much respect. The representatives of the other towns, notably Rotterdam, seek Amsterdam's intercession on their towns' behalf. <Mr> Some Rotterdam merchants have gone so far as to beg the protection of the gentlemen of Amsterdam, who, with reason, sent them to their own magistrates. For his part, the Ambassador this morning informed the Grand Pensionary orally and then, at his request, by letter that the King had chosen 26 January to promulgate his new regulation, if by then he had not received a response such as he had requested. The Ambassador and our friend are at present having a secret conference arranged by me. I await tomorrow with the greatest impatience. To our friend I expressed my hope that, once we have brought this important affair to a satisfactory conclusion, we will be able to resume our old project; he agreed.
Nothing has yet been done. The Admiralty's advisory, proposed today to the States of Holland, contradicts itself. In fact, they are rescinding their famous resolution of 18 November with regard to the limitation of convoys (from which they would then exclude ships timbers), but would suspend the pending resolution concerning the extension of these convoys until such time as they would have assigned their crews. This is only playing for time. It is like the Hydra of Lerna, whose heads keep growing back to replace those chopped off, for everything else had been agreed upon. Yesterday there were only disputes and recriminations to which the gentlemen from Amsterdam responded with as much moderation and decency as firmness. Everything has been delayed <today> until tomorrow and if the matter should be decided by a plurality, Amsterdam will protest again. I have made the rounds all day and finished by arranging another meeting tonight. At 3 P.M. the Grand Facteur sent { 366 } me the following note: “When the Assembly adjourns, Mr. Dumas will kindly go to the place that he knows well and report back to me on what he has learned.” I anticipated his wishes, and was just leaving there when I ran into his messenger.
Again nothing has been done in the Assembly of Holland. The Grand Pensionary proposed a solution to which Amsterdam could not agree because some of its terms seemed specious and subject to differing interpretations by the Courts of London and France. The essential point is this: the resolution for the extension of the convoys would be suspended until the 26th, when the Admiralty would assign crews and ships. But to one of the powers this extension would indicate only the strength of the convoy and to the other only the suspension of the carrying of ships timbers. Consequently, Haarlem's representatives have proposed some amendments.2 If everyone agrees, a unanimous resolution, which might satisfy France, could be adopted tomorrow. When our friend recounted these ambiguities, I amused him greatly by comparing the situation to that of cats who always land on their feet. He found it very appropriate.
Again indecision. All the towns agree, however, with Amsterdam on the plan proposed by Haarlem. But an important personage, with a majority of the nobles, still disputes its terms. Meanwhile, today a messenger was sent to Paris to secure, if possible, a final delay of one week out of consideration for Amsterdam, which strongly interceded. It remains to be seen whether this messenger will be able to get there by the 26th. What is certain is that, if they do not take the correct course here during that week, on the 4th of next month the new regulation will be promulgated in France without further delay.
I am sending this letter, as I did the preceding, under cover of a friend from Rotterdam, where it will be taken and posted. I do this to confuse the curious gossipers. I am, with very great respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] D
Today Amsterdam declared that it would remain firm and resolute, permitting itself to be neither coerced nor deceived. A very strong statement.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amerique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Dumas Jan 19. 79.”
1. See the entry for 14 Jan. in Dumas' letter to the Commissioners of the 12th (above).
2. Haarlem's support for Amsterdam's position was significant. It indicated that France's policy of seeking to force the towns and thus the provincial states of Holland to support its demand for unlimited convoys was succeeding. In pursuit of that goal France agreed to delay the publication and execution of the new regulations until 8 Feb., as requested by the { 367 } States General and noted by Dumas in his entry for 23 Jan. When the postponement produced no results the regulations were published, but their execution was again delayed, this time until 1 March. In the meantime, as a reward for its support of unlimited convoys and to increase the pressure on the other towns, Haarlem was excluded from the effect of the regulations, as Amsterdam had been previously (Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, p. 120–123).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0233

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-20

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

My fever not being yet sufficiently removd to permit me to come to you; I write to you to submit the absolute necessity there is of informing the Minister without delay of the State of our Finances and that the Supply we have askd is immediately necessary. It is possible they may wait for such information before they put the intention we are told they have of supplying us in execution. We wrote them we shoud pay the Bills drawn by order of Congress as long as our funds lasted; and they will naturally expect to be advisd, when these are so nearly exhausted, as to demand a farther supply.2
I have the honor to be with great respect Gentlemen Yr. most Obedt. Humble Servt.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Hon. A. Lee Jan 20. 1770.”
1. This date can be read as either the 20th or the 26th. It seems likely, however, that William Temple Franklin would have docketed the letter soon after it arrived. Moreover, Lee's letter to Benjamin Franklin and JA of the 22d (below) indicates that he was already ill on the 20th. On the other hand, if the letter was of the 26th, it probably resulted from a conversation on that date between Lee and Abbé Raimondo Niccoli, secretary of the legation from Tuscany. According to Lee's journal for the 26th, the minister advised “representing the condition of the United States as desperate, unless France would exert herself, especially in furnishing money” (R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee, 1:407).
2. The Commissioners had written to Vergennes on 7 Dec. (above) concerning additional loans from the French government. No letter by the three Commissioners in response to this request by Lee has been found, and no further money was received from France until June, when a payment of 250,000 livres was made (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 107).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0234

Author: Gilbank, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-21

John Gilbank to the Commissioners

[salute] Honble. Gentlemen

Last Tuesday Week Mr. Dobrie informed me of an Additional mortification I had received by your refusing to accept my Bill, adding at same time that you informed him You had wrote to me; Since which time I have, without Effect, been waiting for your letter.1 It is to be lamented that such a Fatality should attend your Correspondence as to { 368 } subject your Answers to miscarriage or some other Cause whereby they in general are prevented from reaching the hands of the persons they are addressed to.
I can't however forbear to remind you that without being supplied I cannot go and how to procure such Supply but from you I don't know. There is one method yet by which I may raise the money I want and to which no Scantiness of Funds on your part can be put in Opposition—That is—to indorse a Bill drawn by me upon the president of Congress; No reason, I think can be urged for a refusal of this proposition, As it is every days practice in every nation, And it is well known to you that Ambassadors of every Country never hesitate to indorse their officers Bills.
If this mode, a most disadvantageous one to me, shou'd meet your refusal also, I am afraid it will be attributed in general to an absolute resolution in you not to regard the protection or care what becomes of any officer in the Service of the United States2 (Except some particulars who have received better Treatment.)
No Blame, or at most a little inattention, can be imputed to the honble. the Congress in not having given direct Orders for your proceeding in such Cases, As they certainly look upon it as part of your duty of Course, to give the necessary protection and supply to every one who has the honour to bear a Commission in the Service of America. And I am certain when they shall know that you have omitted it they will give you positive instructions on that head.
Tho' they may not all of them, as some Gentleman may have, laboured for fifteen or twenty years past to bring about this revolution, Yet I dare venture to say they know the interest of their Country too well to neglect any means for the protection of any of its subjects or suffer any one to be treated with Contempt who has a right to require their Assistance. At least I may venture to assure myself they wou'd politely have answered every decent and respectful letter which they received, And which I can't with Justice avoid observing You have most cruelly neglected.
Whatever may be your Determination I hope you will favour me with an answer and shall be glad if it may be any means of taking away the discontent which I am sorry to observe too generally prevails here.
If you shoud imagine that I take too great a Liberty in complaining to you of neglect and inattention—I beg leave to observe that 'tis the privilege and right of every one who thinks himself injured by any one who for the present may be out of the reach (tho' perhaps not always) of other resentment; and that an easy way is open to prevent like Complaints in future.
{ 369 }
I have the honour to be with due respect Honble. Gentlemen Your most obedt. and hble. Servant
[signed] Jno. Gilbank
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee and Jno. Adams, Esqrs. Commissioners deputed from the United States of North America at Paissy near Paris”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Gilbank 26 Janr. 1779”; and twice in another hand: “Answerd Janr 2<5>6. 1779” and “Gilbank ansr 26 Janr. 1779.”
1. The only letter from the Commissioners to Gilbank that has been found previous to this date is that of 10 Nov. 1778, in reply to a letter of 6 Oct. that has not been found (see Gilbank to the Commissioners, 4 Nov. and note 1, above). No letter to Peter Frederick Dobrée concerning Gilbank has been found, but since Dobrée was J. D. Schweighauser's son-in-law, the letter was probably that of 4 Jan. from the Commissioners to Schweighauser (above).
2. In their one-sentence reply of 26 Jan. (LbC, Adams Papers), the Commissioners declared: “We assure you that we cannot indorse your bills, as you propose.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0235

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-21

John Lloyd and Others to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

We had the honour to receive your letter of the 13th of this month in due course, and are thankful for Your Honours polite attention to us.
We are obliged for the transmission of the Copy of the letter which Your Honours received from His Excellency The Count de Vergennes, and with pleasure observe, that in consequence an application had been made to His Excellency, to request, that the Convoy might be sent here without delay.
It is with concern We inform Your Honours, that the weather has been, and still continues so very severe, as to prevent any navigation upon the River, and that We have been obliged for the preservation of our Vessels to lay them on Shore, but so sudden and unexpected was the appearance of the Ice, that we could not do it before they had received more or less damage, and which We are sorry to say cannot be repaired until after the River opens. We flatter ourselves, that the injuries which they have sustained will not be found so considerable, but that they may be refitted in a few days, and which shall be done with all possible dispatch, as soon as the weather permits.
We are sorry, that the King's Service will not admit of a Convoy for our Vessels, quite to America. Your Honours repeated applications for that purpose, merit our grateful thanks. We however hope, and flatter ourselves, that we shall be protected beyond the Western Islands.
We are obliged to Your Honours, for the authentick Copy of the Treaty of Commerce, it being the only one we have seen. Your Honours will be pleased to excuse our saying, that we are surprised you { 370 } should observe to us: “That it has been printed perhaps in every News paper in Europe.” Certainly Your Honours cannot imagine, that We who are so materially interested ought to give faith to such a mode of communicating a transaction of so great, and so important a nature.
The Treaty having been finally, and formally ratifyed We presume to request, that Your Honours will be so obliging as to let us know What Port, or Ports, is, or are, made free, pursuant to the 30th Article?
As the risque of falling into the hands of the Barbary Corsairs, is, a circumstance that gives us serious concern, We should be glad to receive an acceptable information respecting the consequences of the gracious promises contained in the 8th Article, and We pray Your Honours to favour us with your advice, how we ought to proceed, to protect ourselves, and properties, from their violence, and depredations. We did not intend that any expression in our letter should induce Your Honours to think, that we complained of impositions. But, we beg leave to observe, that the Subjects of France can readily, and precisely obtain a certain account of the Imposts, which they are liable to pay, in each of the United States, and it is a knowledge, that we think essential for conducting with satisfaction a Commercial intercourse between the two Countries. However, if the System of Duties and Finances in this Kingdom, is such, as will not permit any alteration, we must submit.
We agree with Your Honours that several branches of American Trade might be carried on with this Kingdom, to more advantage than any other Country of Europe.
With respect to the great, and noble object of our present Contest, Your Honours may be confident, that Patience and Perseverance, shall on our parts never be wanting to obtain it, and We heartily concur in wishing, that the present Year may produce to us the blessing, we have in prospect.
We request that Your Honours will accept our thanks for your friendly wishes, and be assured, that We are with due respect Honourable Gentlemen Your Countrymen and most Obedt. Servants
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] Jno. Ross
[signed] Jos. Wharton
[signed] Laurence Brooke
[signed] Robert Brooke
[signed] William Blake
[signed] H Thompson
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] Cha: Ogilvie
{ 371 }
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “concerning a Convoy Ansr. 26 Janr. 1779” and “Answer'd 2<5>6 Jan. 1779.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0236

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-22

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlem.

M. Monthieu calld on me yesterday, but I was too ill to see him. I suppose it was to urge the payment of his demand, which I am by no means yet satisfyd is due.1 The Papers he has given in, instead of vouching <it>, render it suspected. The only true and sufficient Voucher is the receit which Mr. Williams did give, or ought to have given to M. Peltier de Doyer at the time he sa<id>ys he deliverd to him the goods chargd to the Public. It is impossible that men one year engaged in Merchandize, coud have faild the one asking and the other giving a Receit for goods really deliverd. It is to no purpose to remark the contradictions and defects of the Papers given in. They are abundant, but the want of the necessary and usual receit gives such an appearance to the business that I cannot think myself justifiable in giving my consent to pay the demand. I am only sorry that I have consented to the payment of so much already on the faith of a man who had no receit to shew.2
I have the honor to be, with the greatest respect and esteem &c. &c.
[signed] A L.
P.S. The delivery of Mr. Williams's receit is the more necessary, as it is that only which shoud satisfy us, that the Articles deliverd were for the public and make Mr. Williams accountable for them, as having been receivd by him for the public use. The evidence Mr. Peltier has given in to us, says only, that he delivered certain Articles to Mr. Williams, but not to whose use nor with any mark or numbers, nor has it any date of year, month, day or place. We know perfectly well that Mr. Williams was shipping goods for himself and others as well as for the Public. It might therefore be true that M. Peltier did deliver such goods, but it will not enable us to determine for which of these uses they were deliverd. Neither does Mr. Williams in his Letter say that what he receivd was for the public use, nor does he specify what he has receivd, so as to render himself liable for the re-delivery.
N.B. M. Montieu had assurd us that he had the receit and woud send it to us.
Tr (ViU: Lee Papers); notation at the head of the letter: “LetterBook N. 4. p. 203. Honble. B. Franklin & John Adams”; at the foot of the letter: “L'Orient 15th. May 1780 Examined with the Letter book & found to be { 372 } a true copy. John G. Frazier Joseph Brown Junr.” The letterbook has not been found. The transcript, made when Lee was awaiting passage to America, probably was prepared to support his case against the charges made by Silas Deane.
1. John Joseph Montieu's demand concerned his contract of 6 Aug. 1777 with Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane. Under its terms he was to supply 6,000 uniforms, 12,000 pairs of stockings, 100,000 pounds of copper, 22,000 pounds of copper sheeting and nails, 20,000 pounds of English tin, and 4,000,000 flints at a cost of 456,300 livres (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 387–390). The merchandise reportedly was received and then shipped by Jonathan Williams from Nantes on the Duchesse de Grammont, which sailed on 7 April and arrived in Portsmouth, N.H., on 20 June 1778 (Misc. Papers of the Continental Congress, Reel No. 5, f. 445–446, 449–452; PCC, No. 102, II, f. 357; Williams to the Commissioners, 14 April 1778, Franklin, Papers, 26:286).
To support Montieu as well as to absolve himself from any liability in the matter, Williams wrote to him on 23 Dec. 1778 and enclosed documents that Montieu then submitted to the Commissioners in support of his claim. These were Williams' letter of the 23d, in which he acknowledged receiving the goods from Peltier du Doyer; an undated receipt from Doyer stating that he had received the merchandise from Montieu and delivered it to Williams; and a statement by John Langdon, dated 30 June 1778, stating that the supplies had been received at Portsmouth.
The documents were probably first submitted to Benjamin Franklin who, in a letter written before 28 Dec. (RC, with Lee's reply attached, MH-H: Lee Papers), noted that the receipts had been submitted and that Montieu (and by implication he also) “earnestly requests that his Accounts may be finished.” When Lee did not reply, Franklin and JA, in a letter to him dated “Monday 3/4 after 11. Clock” [28 Dec.], wrote: “Monthieu is here, and being bound to Nantes is desirous of settling his accounts [and] beg Mr. Lee to come, directly if he can, and bring any of Mr. Monthieus Papers if he has any” (CtY: Franklin Papers). Lee's response to the first letter is dated 2 Jan.; no reply to the second letter has been found.
By 30 Dec., Arthur Lee had examined the documents submitted by Montieu. In a report of that date Lee took the same position regarding his claim as in the present letter, although in more detail, notably regarding the lack of information on the numbers, weights, and quality of the goods received, the date of Williams' letter to Montieu, and the absence of a receipt made out by Williams at the time the merchandise was received from Peltier du Doyer (PCC, No. 102, II, f. 358–360). It is not known whether Lee showed his report to either Franklin or JA, but in his reply of 2 Jan. to Franklin's letter of [ante 28 Dec.] he reiterated the objections contained in his report and then or later added the following to his letterbook copy of it: “Dr. Franklin who was always urging us to pay M. Monthieu's demand without farther examination and whose importunity prevaild upon us to pay him a considerable part, upon his promise to send us Mr. Williams's Receit; was perfectly satisfyd with the above pretence of receits” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 136). Lee's objections were ultimately without effect, for in the end Montieu was paid 426,300 livres (the stockings apparently not received) by the departments of Clothing and Military Stores (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 335).
2. The last payment to Montieu was on 11 Nov. 1778, for 150,713 livres (vol. 6:362), and that had been authorized by Franklin and JA. However, neither that entry nor the one in the Foreign Ledgers (f. 14) indicates whether or not it was part of the money owed him under the terms of the contract of 6 Aug. 1777.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0237

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-22

From Benjamin Franklin, with an Appended Memorandum

Dr. Franklin presents Compliments to Mr. Adams, and requests that all the Public Papers may be sent him by the Bearer.2 Dr. Franklin will undertake to keep them in order; and will at any time chearfully look for and furnish Mr. Adams with any Paper he may have occasion for.
Mr. Adams on receit of this put all the Public Papers, then in his Possession, into the hands of W T Franklin.
Dft (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Notes between Mr Adams & me (BF) about the Papers. Jan. 22. 1779.” The initials in parentheses were presumably a later addition.
1. This date was written in the space between the draft to JA and Benjamin Franklin's memorandum, in a different hand.
2. For the consequences of JA's transfer of the Commission's papers to Franklin, see Jonathan Williams' letter of 31 Jan. to Benjamin Franklin and JA (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0238

Author: Niles, Robert
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-22

Robert Niles to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

On my arival here Mr. Dobree told me he was informed By a line from you1 that I had Said that I was taken By a Privateer that belonged partly to his father2—and Desired me to give him in Wrighting What the Captain Said. But as it is a matter that Concerns my Country and You being part of the legislative body of my Country To Whom I am accountable for my Conduct—I told Him I Rather Chose to leave it With you and if you thought Proper to give a Coppy or the original I Should be Content. I Shall now Relate Matters in such a Manner as if Called upon I Shall be Ready and Willing To make oath to the truth of them. Viz. Capt. de lagarde Of the mars Cutter Privateer belonging to Jersey Accidentally Said Mr. Dobree of Guernsey was one of His owners. On his mentioning the name of Dobree I Asked if he had a Son in Nants—He answered yes. I then Told him I knew the young gentleman and that he had married A Daughter of Mr. Scheiwghauser3 in Nants. He answered Yes he is married Some where there. I then told him I Should Acquaint the Commissioners of it as Soon as I arived in France. These Gentlemen are undenyable facts. I have the honour To be your most Obedient humbl Servt
[signed] Robt Niles
I have heard Capt. de le gard of the Mars Cutter say when interogated by Capt. Niles that Mr. Dobree was part owner of his Pr[i]vateer { 374 } and that the said Mr. Dobree had a son in France which I believe he said remained in Nantes.
[signed] Saml. Brehon4
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble Commissioners of The united States of america at Paris”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Capt Niles about Dobrée's Concern in Enemy's Privateers 22. Jany. 1779.”; stamped: “NANT[ES].”
1. Not found.
2. For Peter Frederick Dobree and his father, Thomas, see vol. 6:366–367, and Richard Grinnell to the Commissioners, 15 Sept. 1778 (above).
3. Thus in MS.
4. Brehon remains unidentified.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0239

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-23

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

The 9th Instant I had the honor to pay my respects to you and to request your information tutching the Convoy we Solicited for the Ships at Nantes.
I meet with some difficulty in expediting of our Ships. They being American property must of course be furnishd with American Pass's. I have to request you will favor me with your Pass's by return of Post1 for the following; Vessels otherways met at Sea are subjected to be taken by our Own Ships as well as by the Enemy.
(The Brig Molly. 120 Tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Rochelle.
(The Ship Le Chasseur 250 tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Rochelle.
(The Ship Mary Fearon 350 tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Lorient.
(The Ship Governor Livingston 500 tons) a Prize taken from the English bought at Rochelle. For this Ship we have your Commission of Letter of Marque that may serve the Place of a Pass tho every Vessel belonging to America clear'd out in France ought to have one from you to serve instead of Register no Court or office being yet establish'd to grant the latter. These four Vessels are the Sole Property of James Price, William Haywood and John Bondfield.
Letters from Cadiz mention the Capture of an American Vessel sent into Gibralter having on board Tobacco and Rice. He reports an engagement betwixt Comte d'Estaing and an English Fleet the latter end of November but no pert [particular?] Circumstances.2
{ 375 } | view
Letters from Martinico mentions their Ports being blockt up by English Cruizers. That they dayly expected the Arrival of Cte. D'Estaing. We are without other Inteligence. The Arrival of a Vessel at Morlaix from the States you will have been duely Advised.3 With due Respect I have the Honor to be Sirs Your most Obedient Humble Servant
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble Benj Franklin Arthur Lee John Adams Esqrs. Commissionairs du Congrés a Paris”; docketed: “Mr Bondfield ans. Jany 30th. 1779.”
1. The Commissioners enclosed passes in their reply of 30 Jan. and informed him that they had no precise information concerning the convoy (LbC, Adams Papers). Bondfield acknowledged their letter on 9 Feb. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
2. A false report.
3. Probably the Morris (see Benjamin Gunnison to the Commissioners, 14 Dec. 1778, and note 1, above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0240

Author: Lee, William
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-23

William Lee to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

In consequence of directions to me from the State of Virginia, to endeavour to obtain from the French Ministry a quantity of Canon, arms and ammunition, for the use of that State,1 I applyed accordingly to Count de Vergennes, when his Excellency replyed, that was a business in the department of the Secretary at War, and that he tho't it best to get you to apply to Prince Mont Barry for them: accordingly I am now to request that you will endeavor to procure these articles, of which a List will follow this, for the State of Virginia, which will not only be a service to that State, but of an essential benefit to the common cause of America.
The State is willing to engage to pay for these things, as soon as ever circumstances will permit it, to send their Commodities to Europe for that purpose. I have no doubt of your willingness to render the State this Service and if you are fortunate enough to succeed, on your informing me at what Ports in France these articles can be most conveniently deliver'd, I will endeavour to have them convey'd to Virginia.
I have the Honour to be with the Highest Consideration Gentlemen Your most Obedt. & most Humble Servt.
[signed] W. Lee
A List of Canon &c. wanted by the State of Virginia
16 Iron Canon   —of 36 lb. ball.      
20 Do. Do.   —of 24 lb. Do.      
16 Brass Do.   —of 24 lb. Do.      
{ 376 } | view
50 Rounds of grape shot   }   for each <size> of the canon  
30 Do. Chain and Double headed Do.  
Carriages, Rammers, Ladles, and all the necessary apparatus for the above Canon      
2 Brass Mortars of 10 Inches bore      
200 Shells for Do.      
6 Brass 5 Inch Howitzers      
2 Do.—8 Inch Do.      
11 Do.—5 1/2 Inch Do.      
100 Shells for each Howitzer, with fusils, match Stuff, carriages and every thing compleat      
20,000 Stand of Fusils with Bayonets compleat.      
30 Tons of best Canon powder.      
20 Ditto of Do. for Fusils.      
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To The Honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee & John Adams Esqires Commissioners from the United States of America, to the Court of Versailles at Paris”; docketed, probably by William Temple Franklin: “Wm Lee Jany. 23 1779.”
1. On 19 May 1778 the Council of Virginia requested Patrick Henry to order William Lee, the state's agent, to procure the arms and ammunition needed to fortify Yorktown. No action was taken on Lee's request to the Commissioners. In a reply to Lee's renewed request of 30 March, Franklin denied having seen the original and asked whether the supplies had not already been obtained by Arthur Lee. Not until 17 June, in reply to yet another letter from Lee, did Franklin state, in terms indicating his lukewarm support for the project, that he had applied to the French government. The matter apparently ended on 1 Sept., when Lee, having heard nothing more, informed Franklin that he should take no further action (H. R. McIlwaine, ed., Official Letters of the Governors of the State of Virginia, 3 vols., Richmond, 1926–1929, 1:276; Letters of William Lee, ed. Worthington C. Ford, 3 vols., Brooklyn, 1891, 2:611–614; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:91, 136; Lee Family Papers, Microfilm, Reel 6, f. 197–198). For accounts by Lee of his own and his brother's efforts to procure arms, see his letters to Benjamin Franklin of 27 June 1779 and to Thomas Jefferson of 24 Sept. 1779 and 15 Aug. 1780 (Letters of William Lee, 3:695–696; Jefferson, Papers, 3:90–93, 551).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0241

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-23

Jonathan Williams to the Commissioners

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

I had the honour of writing you December 12 1778 inclosing a Letter from Messrs. Horneca Fitzeau & Co.1 relative to 13 Bales cases and Barrells marked illustration No. 1 to 13 which are the property of Mr. Simeon Dean and which were delivered to Mr. Schweighauser on a supposition that they belonged to the commissioners as mentioned in my said Letter.2 I have not had the honour of an answer on this Subject.
I now inclose you Mr. Schweighauser's receipt3 for the goods I delivered him the first article of which is the Bales cases &ca. above { 377 } mentioned. I hear that one of these Cases still remains in Mr. Schweighausers possession. I therefore request you to give orders for it to be returned to me and to direct Messrs. Horneca Fitzeau and Co. to replace the others here.
I have also the Honour to inclose you Mr. Schweighausers receipt4 for the magazine and its appartenances. I should long since have forwarded these receipts, but waited for the delivery of the remainder of the Gunstocks. This is now done and the man who furnished them demands his money which I must pay agreeable to my Contract, but Mr. Schweighauser declines giving me a receipt for them, for what reason I can't conceive, but I suppose he has writen to you on the Subject. I beg you will please to give him the necessary Directions that I may pay the man his money and finish the affair.
I delivered from the magazine to Mr. Montieu ships sundry articles agreeable to the inclosed note5 charged at the estimated prices, as that Gentleman chooses to settle the matter with you I have taken it from the account and beg you to settle it with him accordingly.
I have the honour to be with great respect Honourable Gentlemen Your most obedient & most humble Servant.
[signed] Jona. Williams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Mr. Jona. Williams ansd. Feb. 9. 1779”; by William Temple Franklin: “F. 11. Jany. 1779 Mr. Williams Letter.” The meaning of “F. 11” is unclear.
1. Neither Williams' letter of 12 Dec. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) nor the enclosed letter from Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. of 26 Nov. (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 173–175) is printed here, but in this and the following paragraph Williams provides an accurate summary of their contents. In his letter of 12 Dec., he said that it was Ferdinand Grand who had informed him that the thirteen cases, with the other goods, all belonged to the Commissioners; this was the basis of Williams' “supposition” of their ownership. Of particular interest was Williams' request in that letter, alluded to here, that the Commissioners pay for the mistake.
2. For an inventory of the goods, which comprised 2 bales and I case of cloth and 8 cases and 2 barrels of medicine, see Benjamin Franklin to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co., 20 April 1778 (PU: Franklin Papers).
3. Not found.
4. Not found, but see Schweighauser to the Commissioners, 26 Sept. 1778, and note 2 (above).
5. Not found.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0242

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-01-24

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

We had the honor of receiving your Excellency's Letter of the 20th. enclosing M. de Sartine's Answer, relative to the Convoy which we requested of your Excellency, for the Ships now assembled at Nantes.1
We are totally at a loss to understand what Mr. de Sartine writes of four Vessels mentioned by us, as ready to sail and a Convoy having { 378 } sailed with two of them. We never mentioned any thing concerning those four Vessels, nor has the appointment of a Convoy been announced to us, nor to those who have apply'd through us; and consequently they remain in Expectation of an Answer, and of a favorable one, thro' his Majesty's goodness and our application. We therefore apprehend that Mr. de Sartine is under some misinformation upon the Subject.
On the 29th. of December we had the honor of writing to your Excellency that “We had received a Letter signed by many Gentlemen at Nantes and dated the 15th of the Month informing us that most of their Vessels were ready to sail to America, and that others were expected to be ready immediately, so that the Convoy might be ordered as soon as convenience woud permit. That they were desireous of a Convoy quite to America if consistent with his Majesty's Service, or at least to the westward of the Western Islands. That it was of so much importance to our Countrymen to be supply'd with goods of various kinds, and especially with Warlike Stores, and there are so many belonging to the United States and to the Commonwealth of Virginia, as well as to Individuals now ready to go, that we cannot avoid interesting ourselves with your Excellency that a sufficient Convoy may be appointed, and that as soon as possible to rendez-vous at Nantes.”2
On the 9th. of this Month your Excellency wrote us, desiring to know at what port the Vessels for which we sollicited a Convoy were collected.
To this we replyed on the 15th.3—“Those Vessels are at Nantes, where they wait for the Convoy, which we hope may be ordered immediately, as a Letter we received yesterday from a large number of Gentlemen at Nantes, informs us that many Vessels with valuable Cargoes have been waiting a considerable time for the Convoy.”
We are since well informed that the Number of Vessels is about fifteen. Your Excellency will perceive by these proceedings, that from the middle of last Month to this Time, the Gentlemen who have apply'd thro' us for a Convoy, and among whom are some as respectable as any in our Country, have been waiting at a considerable Expence, in Expectation of their request being granted. They had so full a Confidence, that such an Application woud be successful, if made, that they for sometime imputed their disappointment to our Neglect.
We therefore beseech your Excellency that as Strong a Convoy as can be spared, either quite thro', or to the westward of the western Islands, may be granted immediately; as we conceive the supplies that are to go are of very great Importance to the United States; and that they will certainly fall into the Enemy's hands, if unprotected.
{ 379 }
We have the honor to be, with much Respect, yr. Excellency's Mo. Obt. & Very humble Servts.
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “M. de R. [rela]tif aux convois demandés pour expediés en amerique. nouvelles à ce Sujet.”
1. Neither Vergennes' letter of the 20th (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7) nor the enclosed letter of 18 Jan. from Sartine to Vergennes (extract, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 186) has been printed, but in his letter Sartine stated that two American ships were to have met a French frigate at the Ile d'Aix on 2 Jan. and that if four American vessels remained at Nantes, they would have to wait for another convoy.
2. The portion of the letter of 29 Dec. 1778 (above) that here is within quotation marks is, in part, a paraphrase of the actual text.
3. An inadvertence; the Commissioners' reply, which has not been printed, was dated the 13th (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7). The passage taken from that letter is an exact quotation.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0243

Author: Gillon, Alexander
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-25

Alexander Gillon to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Permit me to embrace this earliest opportunity of acquainting you of my arrival here this day from Our Continent, Via Havana, were I embark'd in A Spanish Vessel for Spain the 17 Novr. last, and on the 19th. Instant fell in with A Small Fleet from here under the Command of Count de Grace,1 (Cape Finisterre bearing E S E about 50 Leagues) who immediately with his Usual Politeness, offer'd me this Frigate Le Fortunée Capn. Marigny, to conduct me here or to Land me at the first convenient place if met with contrary winds. This friendly offer I accepted, because I tho't it wou'd be forwarding the business I am sent on, and it is with very great pleasure I assure you, that I received every attention from Capn. Marigny and his officers, also from the Gentlemen in the above Fleet, and that I esteem their Politeness as A proof of the friendship of their Nation for Ours. I have some Letters for your Excellencies, but as I conceive them to be introductory ones,2 I propose myself the happiness of presenting them to you soon, as I only go to Nantes, to be inform'd what property there is arrivd in Europe belonging to the State of South Carolina, and to give directions about its disposal. This business with the few days I propose tarrying here, will make it the 6th. Feby. ere I can leave Nantes, which admits time for any Letters of yours to Reach me there, under cover to Messrs. H. Q. Chaurand freres, if any of your Excellencies will Condescend to favour me with a Reply hereto; if so, you will Much Oblige me in communicating to me any interesting intelligence, you may have Received from { 380 } our Continent Since the 23d. July last,3 as it was then I set out for France, but A long detention at the Havana, and allmost continual contrary winds the different passages, has caus'd my thus long Journey. I am with all due Respect Your Excellencies Most Obedt. hble. Servt.
[signed] A. Gillon
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Mr. Gillon answd. Feb. 2. 79.”
1. Count de Grasse had sailed with four ships of the line from Brest on 14 Jan. for the West Indies, where he arrived on 19 Feb. (Charles Lee Lewis, Admiral de Grasse, Annapolis, 1945, p. 73).
2. For several of these letters, as well as an account of Gillon and his mission, see Edward Rutledge to JA, 16 July 1778, and note 1 (vol. 6:294–295).
3. In their reply of 2 Feb., Benjamin Franklin and JA congratulated Gillon on his arrival, but stated that they had no news from America since November and nothing interesting since Estaing's departure from Boston (LbC, Adams Papers; PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 149).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0244

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Lloyd, John
Date: 1779-01-26

The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others

[salute] Gentlemen

We had Yesterday the Honour of your Letter of the Twenty first of this Month.
You desire to know what Port or Ports, is or are made free, pursuant to the Treaty? We believe that none have as yet been determined on. At present all the Ports of France, are open, to American Vessells of all Denominations, and we are at present rather doubtful whether it would be politick in Us to apply1 to have any Distinction made. If the Appointment of free Ports would, relieve Us from the payment of Duties, of Import or Export, We should apply immediately. But as We apprehend, this Advantage would not be the Consequence. The Limits of the free Port would be prescribed, and the same Duties must be paid upon removing Goods within or without those Limits as are now paid upon Imports and Exports. Goods however might be, brought into Such free Ports from abroad and there landed and stored for a Time, and then exported without paying Duties, but whether this would be any great Advantage to our Trade, at present you are better Judges than We. We should be glad of your Advice upon this Head, and if you think of any Advantages, of considerable Moment that would arise We shall be always ready to apply, for such an Appointment.
We are sorry it is not in our Power to give you any acceptable Information respecting the <Eighth> Article of the Treaty which relates to the Barbary Corsaires. All We can Say is, that We have applied to the Ministry upon this Head, some Months ago, and received Satisfactory Expressions of the Disposition of this Government to do every { 381 } Thing which is stipulated in that Article of the Treaty. But Some Things remain to be determined by Congress, to whom We have written upon the subject and We must necessaryly wait their Instructions.2
There are two Enquiries to be made, vizt. which of all the Nations who now Trade with France is the most favoured, and what Duties are paid by that Nation. These Duties, and these only, We suppose, We are to pay, and as soon as Circumstances will permit, (two of Us having been for a fortnight very ill, and one of Us continuing so)3 We shall apply to the Ministry for an Ecclaircissement upon this Head, which We will endeavour to communicate to you, as soon as We shall obtain it.4
We have received an Answer to our last Application for a Convoy from their Excellencies the Comte De Vergennes and M. De Sartine, but the Answers convinced Us that M. De Sartine was Under Some Misinformation or Misunderstanding relative to the Business, which obliged Us to write again.5 As soon as We shall be honoured with an Answer, We will communicate the Result of it to you. Mean Time, We have the Honour to be with great Respect, Gentlemen, your most obedient humble servants6
1. The preceding four words were interlined for insertion here.
2. The correspondence between the Commissioners and Vergennes concerning Art. 8 was dated 28 Aug. (vol. 6:403), 27 Sept., and 1 Oct. 1778 (both above). The Commissioners had written to the president of the congress concerning the article on 7 Nov. (above).
3. Lee, as is indicated by his letter to Benjamin Franklin and JA of 20 Jan. (above), had been suffering from a fever, while JA had had a severe cold (JA to AA, 18 and 19 Jan., Adams Family Correspondence, 3:149–150).
4. No letter by the three Commissioners on this subject has been found.
5. For the Vergennes and Sartine letters, see the Commissioners to Vergennes, 24 Jan., and note 1 (above).
6. There follows a list of all those, except Robert Brooke, who had signed the Lloyd letter of 21 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0245-0001

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-27

C. W. F. Dumas to the Commissioners

[salute] Messieurs

Enfin j'ai la satisfaction de pouvoir vous apprendre, que les choses ont tourné au gré d'Amsterdam. Hier les Etats d'Hollande prirent la Résolution d'annuller celle du 18e. Nov. passé, qui exceptoit des Convois les Bois de construction, et de protéger leur Commerce dans toute l'extension que lui assurent les Traités; suspendant, du reste, toute délibération ultérieure sur cette matiere, jusqu'à-ce que les Amirautés de toutes les Provinces, actuellement occupées à régler les armemens et { 382 } équipages avec L. H. P., aient fini leur besogne. Quant à la réponse à donner à Mr. l'Ambassadeur de France, ce sera demain que l'Assemblée provinciale devra s'en occuper. Après quoi elle se séparera; et notre Ami partira après-demain. Je ne suis plus en peine de cette réponse. Reste à savoir si elle n'arrivera pas trop tard en France. Car je sai de bonne part, que L. H. P. ont reçu des Lettres là-dessus de leur Ambassadeur à Paris, qui doivent les inquiéter. Il y a vu le nouveau Reglement tout imprimé. Quoiqu'il en soit, il est toujours sûr, que ce qui vient d'arriver ici est une victoire signalée sur l'influence Angloise.
Je profiterai de l'inaction où l'on sera ici pendant quelques semaines, pour expédier des paquets en Amérique pour le Congrès.
Les Papiers Anglois du 9, 12, 14 &c. de ce mois manquent par toute la Republique. On les retient en Angleterre, nous ne savons pourquoi. Ce ne sera donc pas ma faute, si ceux que je suis accoutumé d'envoyer au Congrès manquent, ou sont retardés. En attendant, il aura toujours la suite des Papiers de Leide et du Bas-Rhin.
L'Assemblée d'Hollande siegera encore demain et samedi. Aujourd'hui il ne s'y est rien fait d'important. Demain l'on y résoudra la réponse à la France; mais, comme je l'ai dit, il n'y aura point de difficulté là-dessus. Les Etats-Généraux ont pris aujourd'hui la même résolution que prirent les Etats d'hollande le 26.1 Voilà ce que j'ai appris de notre Ami, et rapporté à Mr. l'Ambassadeur un moment après que l'Assemblée s'est séparée.
Contre toute apparence, on n'a rien résolu aujourdhui. La réponse proposée par l'Amirauté, étoit si obscure et si ambigue, qu'Amsterdam a averti qu'elle protesteroit à nouveaux fraix: qu'il n'y avoit qu'à communiquer tout uniment à la France la Résolution de 26e. courant par laquelle la Republique révoque celle du 18 Nov., qui avoit déplu à la France, et embrasse la plus exacte neutralité. On n'a point voulu suivre cet avis; et l'on a de nouveau prolongé l'Assemblée jusqu'à Mardi ou Mercredi prochain. On voudroit nous tromper, dit notre ami, mais on n'y réussira pas.
Je suis avec un vrai respect, Messieurs, Votre très-humble et trés-obeissant serviteur
[signed] D2

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0245-0002

Author: Dumas, Charles William Frederic
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-27

C. W. F. Dumas to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

[salute] Gentlemen

Finally I have the pleasure to inform you that things have turned out to Amsterdam's liking. Yesterday the States of Holland resolved to annul the resolution of 18 November, which excepted ships timbers from the { 383 } convoys, to protect their commerce to the fullest extent guaranteed by the treaties, and, moreover, to suspend any further deliberation on this matter until the Admiralties of all the provinces, now busy with Their High Mightinesses assigning ships and crews, have finished their task. As to the response to be given to the French Ambassador, the Provincial Assembly will occupy itself with that tomorrow, after which it will adjourn, and our friend will leave the following day. I no longer am concerned about the answer. It remains to be seen whether the message will not arrive in France too late, for I learn from a good source that Their High Mightinesses have received letters on the subject from their ambassador in Paris, which must worry them. There he has seen the new regulation already in print. Regardless of what happens, it is certain that what has happened here marks a signal victory over the English influence.
I will take advantage of the several weeks' lull here to send some packets to America for the congress.
The British newspapers of 9, 12, 14, &c. of this month cannot be found in the Republic. They are being held back in England, we know not why. It will not, therefore, be my fault if those that I usually send to the congress are missing or late. In the meantime, it will still have the rest of the papers from Leiden and the Lower Rhine.
The Assembly of Holland will sit again tomorrow and Saturday. Today it did nothing of importance. Tomorrow it will decide on the answer to France, but, as I have said, there will be no difficulty regarding it. Today the States General adopted the same resolution as that passed by the States of Holland on the 26th.1 I learned this from our friend and reported to the Ambassador shortly after the Assembly adjourned.
Contrary to all expectations, nothing was decided today. The response proposed by the Admiralty was so abstruse and ambiguous that Amsterdam warned that she would protest anew, and that all that was needed was to communicate unanimously to France the resolution of the 26th, by which the Republic revokes that of 18 November which had so displeased France, and embrace the most exact neutrality. They would not follow this advice and again prolonged the Assembly until next Tuesday or Wednesday. They would deceive us, said our friend, but they will not succeed.
I am with true respect, gentlemen, your very humble and very obedient servant
[signed] D2
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “à Leurs Excellences Messieurs les Plénipotentiaires des Etats-Unis de l'Amérique à Passy”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Dumas 29 Janv. 79.”
1. The States General's resolution was less significant than it seemed. Convoy protection was to be extended to vessels carrying ships timbers, but only when the Republic's resources were adequate to do so, a solution that was unacceptable to France (Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 142).
{ 384 }
2. This is the final letter addressed to the Commissioners by Dumas before Benjamin Franklin officially became the sole American representative at the French Court. In January 1779 the Netherlands was no closer to formulating a policy amenable to both Britain and France that would also preserve its rights as a neutral trader than it had been when the issue of unlimited convoys first arose. In the months that followed, the competing pressures of the two belligerents caused a continuation of the indecision that had characterized the deliberations of the States General. Britain, through Sir Joseph Yorke, adamantly refused to relax its orders regarding the seizure of Dutch vessels carrying naval stores, particularly ships timbers, but even more significant was its request, after Spain entered the war in June 1779, that the Netherlands supply the aid (6,000 troops and 20 warships) required by the Anglo-Dutch alliance of 1678, which had been renewed by later treaties (Charles Jenkinson, Collection of all the Treaties of Peace, Alliance, and Commerce, between Great-Britain and other Powers, 3 vols., London, 1785, 1:214). That demand, like the French insistence on unlimited convoys, required a clear choice between the belligerents and a commitment of resources that the republic was unwilling and unable to make. France's ambassador, La Vauguyon, continued his efforts to obtain unlimited convoys, using trade discrimination in favor of those cities supporting the French position in the States of Holland and before the States General as his major weapon. Ultimately Yorke's arrogance, coupled with the British seizures of Dutch ships and the financial losses to merchants from the duties levied in French ports, produced growing opposition to the Stadholder and a weakening of the English party. On 24 April 1780, following the British interception of a Dutch convoy on 31 Dec. 1779 and renunciation of all treaty obligations to the Netherlands on 17 April because of the Dutch refusal to provide aid under the alliance of 1678, the States General finally resolved to provide unlimited convoys.
French diplomacy won a clear victory. It had further isolated Britain, but at great cost to the Dutch Republic. Although France removed all restrictions on Dutch ships in its ports, neither the French nor the Netherlands' navy was strong enough to protect the Dutch merchant fleet, and thus it suffered great losses. In an effort to protect its trade, the Netherlands joined the League of Armed Neutrality, a decision that, by the end of 1780, brought war with England. For detailed accounts of events in the Netherlands in 1779 and 1780, see Bemis, Diplomacy of the Amer. Revolution, p. 142–163; Edler, Dutch Republic and the American Revolution, chaps. 5–6; F. P. Renaut, La neutralité Hollandaise durant la guerre d'Amérique, Paris, 1924, chaps. 8–9, 12–15.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0246

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-01-28

John Lloyd and Others to the Commissioners

The Memorial of several of the American Gentlemen, Merchants, and Commanders of Vessels at Nantes, whose names are underwritten—
Sheweth—
That, the Merchants of America, during the War, are at an inconceivable expence in fitting out their Vessels—in navigating, and insuring them—and often the prospect of repayment, and adequate profit, is destroyed by detention, through accident, or misconduct:
In the Port of Nantes there are many American vessels, which probably will be prevented sailing with the Convoy, by the unjust conduct { 385 } of the Seamen, and the want of a proper Officer to adjust the disputes between American Captains, and their Sailors; At this time, Seamen, knowing there is no power to oblige them to a conformity with their engagements, have abandoned the Vessels, after receiving two months advance, to navigate them back to America—have entered on board french Vessels—have insulted their Officers openly, and are forming combinations to incite all their Brethren, to follow their own atrocious, and most dishonorable behaviour.
Your Memorialists, desirous, if possible, to prevent unnecessary trouble to your Honours, applied by deputation to the Commissary of Marine, of this Port, to grant them relief: They are happy in paying a tribute to his Zeal to serve America but found he had no power to liquidate the Disputes alluded to; and in consequence referred them to you.
That by the 29th. Article of the Treaty of Friendship, and Commerce, They observe that Consuls, Vice Consuls, Agents, and Commissaries are to be appointed in the respective Ports of each Dominion; and your Memorialists having understood that Mr. Schweighauser was invested with the name of American Agent for Nantes, made application also to him, but were informed he had no Authority to redress the grievances they complain of.
Your Memorialists, therefore convinced of the propriety of the said Article of the Treaty, request your Honors that Consuls may be appointed, as soon as the exigency of Public Affairs will admit of it—and in the meantime, that your Honors will nominate some Officer, or Officers with competent powers to take cognizance of the present differences, and for the prevention of future ones; for your Memorialists have apprehensions, and they believe many instances may be adduced, of persons who find it their Interest to foment Quarrels, in order to gain by the Parties, and that your Honors may be satisfyed of the truth of these Complaints, They beg leave to refer you to the enclosed grievous Case of Josiah Darrell Commander of the Brig Polly, belonging to the State of South Carolina;1 a Case by no means singular, because others of a similar nature, they could transmit were it necessary.
Your Memorialists, sensible of the important Business which daily commands your attention, have reluctantly addressed your Honors; but as a free Commerce, is one of the main objects, and pursuits of America, and as the removal of embarrassments from it, is, They apprehend, worthy your consideration, and within your Controul, They are induced to lay before you the preceding Representation of Impediments and Grievances and to solicit your Redress.
{ 386 }
[signed] John Lloyd
[signed] Danl. Blake
[signed] William Blake
[signed] Phil Rd. Fendall
[signed] Jos Wharton
[signed] Jno. Ross
[signed] H Thompson
[signed] Jno: Gilbank
[signed] Cha: Ogilvie
[signed] Wm. Robison
[signed] Matthew Mease
[signed] F. Speak
[signed] Charles Jenkins
[signed] Josiah Darrell
[signed] John Joyner
[signed] Stephen Johnson
[signed] Robert Brooke
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed by William Temple Franklin: “From several Gentlemen at Nantes. 28 Janv. 1779.”
1. Josiah Darrell's account (PPAmP: Franklin Papers) was dated 25 Jan. and complained about the desertion of five of his crew members to French privateers and his involvement in five lawsuits, particularly that which resulted in a judgment ordering him to pay the debts of his sailors.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0247

Author: Williams, Jonathan
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-01-31

Jonathan Williams to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Honourable Gentlemen

I am well informed that two Indorsements have been made on the Accounts1 I have had the Honour to present to the Commissioners, one of which contains Accusations as injurious to my Reputation as they are false and malignant. The first of these Indorsements is on my Account dated Sept. 10 1778 and is written in the following Words.—
“N B The Order from B Franklin and John Adams Esqrs. to the public Banker for the Payment of all Mr. Williams's Demands is dated the 10th July,2 yet he charges a Louis d'or a Day from that Time to the 11th of August, besides the whole Charge being such as was never heard of before.”
(signed)
[signed] A Lee
The Charge here mentioned appears to me reasonable, and is by no Means unprecedented. I left Nantes by Order of the Commissioners to lay my Accounts before them—I was a long Time in Paris for the sole Purpose of having them settled, and I returned as soon as I thought myself justifiable in so doing. Five Louis Per Day is certainly not an Object for a Merchants Absence from his Business.
The second Indorsement contains Accusations of a most criminal and atrocious Nature, and which if true would deservedly brand me { 387 } with the Name of Villain; but I trust in God my Character (hitherto unimpeached) will stand the piercing Eye of Justice, and this Appelation be elsewhere more effectualy applied.
On the Back of my Accounts settled May 30. 1778 is thus written.—
“I have examined the within Accounts, the Articles of which may be distinguished into such as are without Orders or manifestly unjust, or plainly exorbitant, or altogether unsatisfactory for want of Names, or Dates, or Receipts, or any other Voucher whatsoever. Being also perfectly satisfied from his own Accounts that Mr. Williams has now and has long had in his Hands upwards of an hundred thousand Livres belonging to the Public, and which have not been employed to the Public Use, or by Order of those who were entrusted with the Public Money, I do refuse to concur in passing these Accounts or allowing the Balance demanded and do protest against such Use of the Public Money.”
[signed] signed A Lee3
This violent Attack on what is most dear and valuable to an honest Man was so privately made, that I am indebted to Accident only for the Knowlege of it. He who can deliberately massacre the Reputation of an other, must not only be lost to the exquisite Feelings of Humanity in himself, but must delight in glutting his Soul with the Carnage of Characters.
The Accusation of my Transactions being without Authority, is an Affront to the Characters of Doctor Franklin and Mr. Dean for I have their express Orders to support me in them—but if I had not, would the sending Cloathing for thirty thousand american Troops be considered as a Crime—That my Charges are “exorbitant” I deny, and I pledge myself to prove that the whole Profit issueing to me from the Public Business for eighteen Months, and for shipping Supplies to the Amount of near three Millions two hundred thousand Livres (of which only about two hundred thousand Livres were taken) does not exceed an averaged Commission of one and a quarter Per Cent. Compare this, Gentlemen, with the common Charges on American Business in Nantes, and you will find that if five Per Cent was to be charged only on the Sale of three Cargoes of Tobacco (and this is the usual Charge) it would more than equal all the Reward of all my Services. In short the being usefull to my Country and the Establishment of my Reputation, have been Considerations with me superior to any Emolument, as is evinced by the moderate Commission I charged.
{ 388 }
Mr. Lees Assertion that I have upwards of an hundred thousand Livres Public Money in my Hands, I have Charity to think he does not believe to be a Fact; and surely the Protest is an Insult on you who have approved my Drafts for the Money which is here said to be used for private Purposes.
My Character, Gentlemen has been too long wounded by Mr. Lee—my Accounts too long unsettled, and as it is my Intention to depart soon to America, I humbly conjure you to fix on some Method whereby my Reputation can be vindicated from such unjust Slanders, or my Conduct publicly reprehended and condemned. To this Purpose as the major Part of the Public Debts under my management were contracted in and near Nantes, and as the Persons live in this Neighbourhood, I earnestly request you to order an Examination of my Accounts. There are here several Gentlemen of Character Residents of America who are well versed in commercial Transactions—permit me to mention their Names—Mr. William Blake, Mr. Daniel Blake, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Fendall, Mr. Wharton, Mr. Ridley, Mr. Ross, Mr. Lloyd and Mr. Oglivie. Choose if you please, all these Gentlemen to scrutinize my Charges and Vouchers, or refer them to any three of them, and I will recall every Allowance for my Services, whether under the Name of Commission, or otherwise, and for these as well as for the whole of my Accounts, I will abide by their Decision.4
It is Justice I want;—Justice is my Due—and it is equaly indifferent to me who are my Judges, so that Honesty and Impartiality are the Umpires.
I have the Honour to be with the greatest Respect Honourable Gentlemen Your most obedient & most humble Servant
[signed] Jona. Williams
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Jonathan Williams about his Accts.”; in another hand, a crossed out calculation adding: “£387.18. 9,” “. 6. 5,” and “. 7,” with an incomplete total of “[.]1.”
1. The accounts to which williams refers comprised two groups: the first settled through 30 May 1778; the second through 10 Sept. 1778. What is apparently a duplicate of the first group, for it does not contain Lee's endorsement, is in the Lee Papers (ViU). The second group has not been found, but see Williams to the Commissioners, 22 Sept. 1778 (above). The fate of the specific set of accounts on which Lee entered his endorsements and returned to the Commissioners' archive at Passy is unknown.
As is indicated on the second endorsement copied by Williams in this letter, Lee apparently examined the accounts and made his entries in Oct. 1778. According to Lee, he returned the accounts to Passy, presumably to the Commissioners' papers that were in JA's custody (Lee to Franklin, 16 March, PCC, No. 83, I, f. 341–342). There they lay until Franklin received Arthur Lee's letter of 22 Jan. (above) concerning the Williams-Montieu accounts and was moved, on the same day, to write to JA (above) to ask { 389 } for the “public papers” in his possession. In a letter to Arthur Lee on 27 March, Franklin explained both his request for the papers and the reason that the accounts had gone so long unnoticed: “It was not till lately that, being pressed by M. Monthieu for a settlement of his accounts, and finding that they had a reference to Mr. Williams, I got those from Mr. Adams. They were put up in a paper case, which covered the note you had made upon them, and that case was fastened with wax. This prevented the notes being before seen either by myself or by Mr. Adams, among whose papers you had left those accounts” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:101).
JA delivered the papers to William Temple Franklin, who probably undertook the examination, for it was he who informed Jonathan Williams, in a letter not found, of Arthur Lee's endorsements (Williams to Temple Franklin, 28 Jan., Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:14). JA was as displeased with the endorsements and Lee's apparent effort to conceal them as were Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Williams. In his letter to Lee of 27 March, Franklin wrote: “Mr. Adams spoke in strong terms of your having no right to enter notes upon papers without our consent or knowledge, and talked of making a counter entry, in which he would have shown that your assertion of our having 'given an order for the payment of all Mr. Williams' demands' was not conformable to truth nor the express terms of the order (that of 10 July to Ferdinand Grand, vol. 6:277–278), but his attention being taken up with what related to his departure, was probably the cause of his omitting to make the entry” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:101–102).
So far as Lee was concerned, the present letter may have been the last straw. (Williams sent him a copy on 8 March [ViU: Lee Papers, with an attached note by Hezekiah Ford; Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 4:283]). Although Lee had written the congress in the past, criticizing Williams' dubious accounting practices, on 23 April he composed a 46-page “Memorial” (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 176–222), which was later published as Observations on Certain Commercial Transactions in France (Phila., 1780; Evans, No. 16819). There Lee, using portions of his correspondence with Williams and Franklin, sought to support his charges of wrongdoing, including those in the two endorsements, and to refute Williams' defense. In doing so, he bitterly attacked Benjamin Franklin's acquiescence in his nephew's activities.
2. See vol. 6:277–278.
3. Williams gives only the last half of the endorsement. The first half, containing some details of Williams' reparation of arms at Nantes, can be found in Lee's “Memorial” (f. 197–198).
4. In a letter of 13 March (MH-H: Lee Papers) Franklin stated that, as a consequence of the charges made in the endorsement of 6 Oct., he had decided to have the accounts carefully examined and asked Lee to inform him of any other charges against Williams. He also expressed regret that Lee had informed neither him nor JA of the endorsement at the time that it was made, so that the matter could have been resolved then. On 16 March, Franklin wrote to Williams to inform him of this decision and added J. D. Schweighauser to the list of disinterested referees proposed by Williams (Edward E. Hale and Edward E. Hale Jr., Franklin in France, 2 vols., Boston, 1887–1888, 1:283–284).
Although the exact makeup of the panel cannot be determined with certainty (see Hezekiah Ford's note on the copy of this letter of 31 Jan. sent to Lee by Williams, ViU: Lee Papers), it apparently met and, from Williams' point of view, exonerated him (Williams to JA, 1 Feb. 1780, below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0248

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Lloyd, John
Date: 1779-02-01

The Commissioners to John Lloyd and Others

[salute] Gentlemen

We have this Moment the Honour of your Letter of the Twenty Eighth of last Month, and shall give the earliest Attention to its im• { 390 } portant Contents, but We are unhappy to think that it is not in our Power to give effectual Relief.
By the Treaty Consuls &c. are to be appointed, in the respective Ports,1 But the Power of appointing, Such important officers is wholly with the Congress—they have not delegated it to Us, and it is not probable that they will delegate it at all, at least it is our Opinion that so important a Trust, would not be so safe in any other Hands, as in theirs. We therefore cannot presume to appoint any such officers. Indeed We have not Power to appoint any officers, but Agents to execute <our> any Orders We may have occasion to send to the seaports. Excepting that Congress, Some few days before they received the News of the Treaty passed a Resolution impowering Us to appoint commercial Agents for the united States.2 But Supposing, that this Resolution would not have been passed if they had then been apprized of the Treaty, and expecting that soon after the Ratification of the Treaty they would, appoint Consuls, We have as yet done nothing in Consequence of that Resolution.
We have long since written to Congress advising and requesting that Consuls might be appointed, and We have expected every day for Some Months, Intelligence of such appointments.
There is nothing therefore remains in our Power to do, at present for your Relief, but to lay your Letter, And the other Representation which accompanied it, before the Ministry, which We will do without Loss of Time,3 and request their Advice upon it, and their Interposition in your favour as far as they shall judge it consistent with their Characters to interfere. We have the Honour to be, with very great Respect, Gentn. your most humble servants4
1. Art. 29 of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce provided for the appointment of consuls and lesser commercial functionaries, but stated that their functions would “be regulated by a particular agreement” (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:26). France appointed a vice-consul for Philadelphia in Sept. 1778 and named consuls for Maryland and South Carolina in October and November, but the United States did not name its first consul until 14 Nov. 1780, when the congress elected William Palfrey to be consul in France (JCC, 12:948, 1066, 1098; 18:1018). Not until 14 Nov. 1788 did the United States sign a consular convention with France, thus fully implementing Art. 29 (Miller, ed., Treaties, 2:228–241).
2. The resolution concerning commercial agents was adopted on 9 Feb. 1778 (JCC, 10:139), while the Commissioners' letter concerning the resolution and the appointment of consuls, referred to in the following paragraph, was dated 20 July (vol. 6:306–307, calendar entry; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:168–170).
3. The memorial of 28 Jan. and the enclosed statement of 25 Jan. by Josiah Darrell were sent to Sartine on either 1 or 2 Feb. (LbC, Adams Papers; Arthur Lee's LbC, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 149).
4. Immediately following the closing was a list of those who had signed the letter of 28 Jan.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0249

Author: Bondfield, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-02

John Bondfield to the Commissioners

[salute] Sirs

Captain Jason Laurence belonging to the Schooner General Arnold Arrived here Yesterday by a dutch Ship being put on board by a Jersey Privateer that took the Schooner the 1 Decr. fifteen Leagues from Belle Isle.
He informs me the Vessel belonged to Genl. Arnold that she was the first that had been Launcht at Phila. since the recovery.1 He left that City the 4 Novr. had on board Packets from Congress for you and many Letters and Packets and for Account of the Owner 84 hhds. Tobacco and three Thousand Pounds sterling in Bills of Exchange drawn by order of Congress on you, all which he destroyd when taken.
Greater Unanimity than ever in the State of <Philadelphia> Pensilvania and Spirrit in Philadelphia. The three Frigates set on fire by the Enemy being only on One Side Burnt they had got them upon the Stocks and repairing them with deligence.2 When he left Port they had not receiv'd one Vessel from Europe but as he past the Capes he met a small french Brig from this Port going in. All European Goods were scarce and are dear Salt seven pounds ten Shilling the Bushell. He was unacquainted with the State of Affairs to the Southward and to the Eastward all appeard to him as favorable as situations would admit. He knew of no other vessel at Philadelphia destind emediately this way but understood many were preparing at Cheasapeak Bay.
The English Privateers are Numerous off this Bay. A vessel belonging to Bayonne in the Space of three degrees chased and was chased by upwards of Thirty—Two she took. Four stout frigates sent amongst them would make a clear Coast very shortly. We hope our Ships will be so escorted as to put them out of Danger. We are as well as the Publick deeply concernd not being able to get ensured, our Interest and the little we have got done is at 60 Per Cent.
I have the Honor to be with due Respect Sirs Your most Obedient Humble serviteur
[signed] John Bondfield
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To the Honble. Benjm. Franklin, Arthur Lee, John Adams Esqrs. Commissioners from Congress Paris”; docketed by William Temple Franklin: “John Bondfield Bordeaux Feb 2d. 1779.”
1. That is, since the reoccupation of Philadelphia by the American forces after Gen. William Howe abandoned it in June 1778.
2. Only two frigates, the Washington and the Effingham, were burned. For them and their fate, see William Vernon Sr. to JA, 17 Dec., note 5 and references there (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0250

Author: Lloyd, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-04

John Lloyd to the Commissioners

The Letter which Your Honors have been pleased under date of the 26th of last month, to address to several American Gentlemen, came duly to hand.
Although I am not authorized to reply to it, nevertheless I should think, there would be a failure in the points of respect, and politeness, if the receipt of it, was not acknowledged. The reason why it is not done jointly, I believe proceeds from the Gentlemens being disinclined to give any advice, upon the head of the Free Ports. The subject is important, and as the Commerce of all the States is interested therein, I imagine they apprehend that they might be justly censured by their Countrymen should they presume to say what Your Honors ought to do in the matter.
The weather is become very moderate, and I hope in the course of a few days the River will be so free of Ice, as to permit the Vessels to be got ready for Sea.
With great respect I have the honor to be Your Honors Most Obedt. Serv,
[signed] John Lloyd
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed, not by JA: “Merchts. Nantes about Free Ports.”

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0251

Author: Boylston, John
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-06

From John Boylston

[salute] Dear Sir

Least it might possibly have escap'd the joynt notice of you and your Most worthy Colleague Doctr. Fr——k——d I tho't it most needful to inform you that from publick reports as also private opinions the Friends of A——m——a have but too much reason to fear that you have about you insidious and dangerous Parricides in the Persons of Freres Lee Men who readily adopt any Measures which may promote their own interest tho' derogatory to that of their parent Country whose In——d——ce intirely depends on a Harmony and Unity of Sentiment.1
Self preservation being the first Law and it being necessary to eat to live I heartily wish that no person whose indigent circumstances may expose them to corruption or Stock Gambling, may be in any manner employ'd by <you> C——ng——ss during the continuance of this present dispute.
Pray be pleas'd to acquaint G. Tailer that I advise him to return home by the very first opportunity for as poverty is shun'd as contagious he will not find a single friend when reduc'd to a single shilling. { 393 } When I wrote you my wishes to assist him I meant with your advice only.2 My best wishes attend you and your most worthy—being with great esteem Dr. Sr.
1. Boylston is referring to Silas Deane's charges against the Lees in his address “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America,” which appeared serially in the 26–28 and 28–30 Jan. issues of the London Chronicle; an extract was printed in the Courier de l'Europe of 2 Feb.
2. For William Taylor see Boylston's letter of 5 Jan. (above).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0252-0001

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-06

The Comte de Vergennes to the Commissioners

J'ai communiqué à M. de Sartine, Messieurs, la lettre que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'écrire le 24. du mois dernier. Ce Ministre vient de me répondre, qu'il n'est point possible de vous promettre qu'il Sera donné des escortes particuliéres aux batiments destinés pour les Etats-unis jusques aux ports de l'amérique Septentrionale ni même jusques audelà du méridien des Açores; mais que vos bâtiments Seront conduits avec ceux appartenants aux Sujets de Sa Majesté jusques aux parages où ils auront peu à craindre des Corsaires. Si ceux qui Sont actuëllement en armement à Nantes ayant destination pour <l'Amérique> les Etats-unis, descendent promptement la rivíere, ils Seront conduits à l'ile d'aix dans le courant de ce mois, et ils Seront escortés jusques audelà des Caps, et plus loin encore, c'est-à-dire pendant tout le tems qu'ils voudront Suivre la route du convoi des bâtiments Francois destinés pour les iles de l'Amérique.1

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0252-0002

Author: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-06

The Comte de Vergennes to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

I have communicated to M. Sartine, gentlemen, the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 24th of last month. This minister has replied that it is not now possible to promise you that he will provide special escorts for the vessels bound for the United States all the way to the North American ports, nor even beyond the meridian of the Azores, but that your vessels will be escorted, with those belonging to his Majesty's subjects, to waters where they will have little to fear from privateers. Those vessels which are presently being prepared at Nantes and are bound for <America> the United States and can promptly go down the river, will be escorted to the Isle of Aix this month, and will be escorted beyond the Capes, and even farther; that is to say, as long as they wish to follow the same route as the convoy of French vessels bound for the American islands.1
{ 394 }
Dft (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); notation in the left margin of the first page: “convois dont peuvent profiter les batiments qui Sont à Nantes, destinés pour les Etats unis.”
1. The recipient's copy of this letter was likely enclosed to John Lloyd and others in a letter dated 9 Feb. 1778 [i.e. 1779] (LbC, Adams Papers). A copy, not found, of what may have been Sartine's reply to Vergennes or a separate letter to the Commissioners concerning convoys, was enclosed in a covering letter of 11 Feb. to John Lloyd and others (LbC, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0253

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-07

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

To a written Letter,1 one of you was civil enough to return me a verbal answer, that Doctor Bancroft was appointed to transact business for us in England, and that his instructions shoud be sent to me.
Why you shoud think that in the choice of a person to represent us, I shoud have no voice; I am at a loss to conceive.
The notorious character of Dr. Bancroft as a Stockjobber is perfectly known to you. The dishonor of his transactions in that way, having been visited upon the Commissioners you also know.2 His living in open defiance of decency and religion you are no strangers to;3 nor to his enmity against me, and the constant means he employs to calumniate my character. You know also that he is the creature and Agent of that Mr. Deane, who has just publishd a most false and scandalous libel against Congress and some of their Servants; which, in the opinion of all persons of honor whom I have heard speak of it, is likely to injure the affairs of the United States in Europe, and greatly disgrace our national character.
For these reasons I shoud have imagind that Dr. Bancroft woud have been the last person in the World you woud have chosen to represent us, or to vest with public Confidence. There are, most certainly in Paris, Americans of untainted Reputation and undoubted abilities, who I am sure woud be willing to undertake any Commission from us for the service of their Country.
I have farther to inform you as one of your Colleagues, that I have evidence in my possession, which makes me consider Dr. Bancroft as a Criminal with regard to the United States, and that I shall have him chargd as such, whenever he goes within their jurisdiction.4
If after consideration of these Reasons, and of this information, you shoud still be of opinion he is a proper person to represent us; you will give me leave by this letter to dissent from, and wash my hands of, his appointment.
{ 395 }
I have the honor to be, with the greatest esteem & respect, Gentlemen Your most obedient Humble Servant
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
1. In a brief letter written earlier this day, Lee had demanded to know whether it was true that Dr. Edward Bancroft was being sent to England on a mission (to Franklin and JA, 7 Feb., PPAmP: Franklin Papers). Also on this date Bancroft wrote to inform Lee that he had been requested by Franklin and JA to go to England to facilitate the exchange of American prisoners, and asked that Lee send him those portions of Lee's letter that pertained to him (MH-H: Lee Papers).
2. See Lee's letter to the Committee of Correspondence of 26 April 1778 (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 2:562), as well as Muscoe Livingston's signed statement of 11 April 1778 (PCC, No. 83, II, f. 49) declaring that he had seen evidence that Bancroft had used his knowledge that a Franco-American treaty would be signed in Feb. 1778 to speculate on the London market.
3. A reference to Bancroft's mistress. For more information on him, see vol. 6:14, note 3; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 4:71–74, and note 4.
4. Presumably a reference to Lee's suspicion that Bancroft was a British spy and to which he referred in the letter to the Committee of Correspondence of 26 April 1778 and elsewhere.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0254

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-08

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

Having not seen the Letter of Mr. Williams to which one of those sent me is an Answer I cannot form any judgment of it.1
As there are no marks mentiond by which Mr. Deanes claim to any of the Goods in the possession of the public Agent can be ascertaind—as all the Goods in question, were, when receivd, declard to be on account of the public; and as I perceive in the Banker's Accounts very large Sums of public money paid for Goods purchasd in Holland, which Goods I am satisfyd these are; I cannot think it consistent with my duty to concur in delivering them to any person upon so indefinite a claim.
I have the honor to be, with the greatest esteem & respect, Gentlemen Yr. most Obedt. Humbl. Servt.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers).
1. Lee is writing about the answer to be given Jonathan Williams' letter of 23 Jan. (above), but in this paragraph he is referring to Williams' letter to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. (not found). Their reply, dated 26 Nov., was enclosed in Williams' letter to the Commissioners of the 23d (see note 1 there), and apparently sent on to Lee by Franklin or JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0255

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-02-09

The Commissioners to the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

It is now near six Months that Capt. McNeil, of the Mifflin Privateer from America, has been embarras'd with a Process on Account of { 396 } a French Ship, which he retook from the English after she had been three Days in their Possession. The Laws of France are clear with regard to the Validity of this Prize, and our Captains have Orders, contained in their Commissions, to submit their Prizes to the Laws of the Country into which they carry them, and they ought undoubtedly to regulate their own Conduct by those Laws, without any regard to the Laws of America, relating to this Matter, which may be different in every one of the United States, and therefore too Uncertain to be made the Rule for Judgement in the Courts here.1 But <if> the Persons reclaiming this Prize, insist, among other Reasons, which seem no better founded, that their Cause should be judged by the Laws of Capt. McNeils Country, because more favourable for them. We believe that no Americans in France will ever think of claiming here any Advantage by virtue of the Laws of their own Country, and it seems not just to put those Laws in force against them in France, when it may be done to their Detriment. The Vexation of these kind of Processes, and the Slowness and length of these expensive Proceedings before a Decision can be obtained, discourage our armed Vessels, and have tended to impress them with an Opinion, that their Operations against the English cannot be carried on to Advantage in the European Seas.
We therefore request your Excellency to join your Sollicitations with those we have had the Honor to make to M. De Sartine, that these Processes may be more speedily determined, and that the Americans in France may be treated in these Respects, on the same Footing with the Subjects of his Majesty. Of which we shall be glad to give Information to the Congress, that so, some Popular Prejudices occasioned by these Affairs, may be effectually removed, and the American armed Ships be encouraged to return and cruize again upon the Coasts of England.
We have the honor to be, with the greatest Consideration & Respect, Your Excellency's, most obedient & most humble Servants.2
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] Arthur Lee
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “M. de R. rep le 16 fev. [Les?] deputés americains Se [... ment] du retard qu'eprouve le [... ment?] du procès entre le Srr. [Mc]Neal Capne. du Corsaire le [Gener]al Mifflin et le Srr. Risteaux.”
1. For the respective laws regarding recaptures, see Sartine to the Commissioners, 16 Sept. 1778, and notes (above).
2. In his reply of 16 Feb. (Dft, Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7), Vergennes stated that the Commissioners' letter had been sent to Sartine for his consideration. The case, however, dragged { 397 } on for at least another year. In a letter dated 17 Jan. but without a year given, Daniel Marc Antoine Chardon, Procurer Général près du Conseil des Prises, informed Franklin that the McNeill case had been tried and settled in his favor. An editorially supplied date of 1779 is in error (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 2:9).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0256

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Author: First Joint Commission at Paris
Recipient: Williams, Jonathan
Date: 1779-02-09

The Commissioners to Jonathan Williams

[salute] Sir

We have received your Letters of the 12 Decr.1 and 23 of January. In the first You propose that We should write to Messrs. Horneca and Fitzeaux to pass the Amount of the Goods you mention to our Debit. In that of 23 of January, you propose that one of the Cases Still remaining in Mr. Schweighausers Hands should be delivered to you, and that We should give orders to Mess. Horneca &c. to replace the others, at Nantes.
As this Business was brought upon Us, by Accident or Mistake, without our Knowledge or Consent, it appears to Us that the Public ought not to be put to any extraordinary Expence or Risque about it. But still it is our Desire that Justice may be done, and therefore We think that the most equitable Way will be, for Us to give orders that these Goods be delivered to Mr. Deane in America, if they arrive there, and then they will be his Loss if they do not.
If this is agreable to you, We will readily give orders that the Case which remains in Mr. Schweighausers Hands be delivered to you and the others delive[re]d to Mr. Simeon Deane or his order in America.2
We are &c.
1. Not printed, but see Williams' letter of 23 Jan. (above).
2. The Commissioners here are seeking the middle ground between Arthur Lee's position in his letter of 8 Feb. (above) and Benjamin Franklin's in the unsent letter to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. of 9 Feb. Franklin, acceding to Williams' wishes, requested that Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. charge the Commissioners' account for the goods mistakenly sent to the congress (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., 3:517). Because JA's Letterbook copy is a draft, he may well have devised this compromise to obtain the signatures of both his colleagues. He may or may not have been successful, but see Lee to Franklin and JA of 10 Feb., and note 1 (below).
Apparently the issue remained unsettled. In his reply of 20 Feb., Williams noted that the solution proposed was impracticable because the goods had either been used up at Nantes or had long since arrived in America, and again he proposed that the goods be paid for by the Commissioners (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). In his answer of 16 March, Franklin informed Williams that he had shown his letter to JA, “who found the proposition reasonable” (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:83–84). Thus on 20 April, Franklin wrote to Horneca, Fizeaux & Co. and, except for “case No. 3,” ordered them to replace the goods “at the risque and expence of the United States” (PU: Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0257

Author: Pringle, John Julius
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: First Joint Commission at Paris
Date: 1779-02-09

John Julius Pringle to the Commissioners

[salute] Gentlemen

Having heard that it is your intention to dispatch some person to England to negotiate an Exchange of Prisoners,1 I presume to offer you my services on that occasion. Having ever professed the purest attachment to the Cause and Interests of my Country, and ready to embrace every opportunity within my power of demonstrating it, the present will be extremely agreeable to me. If therefore no person should offer more able or likely to give entire satisfaction in the discharge of this commission, I shall think myself highly honoured and obliged if you will be pleased to intrust it to me, pledging myself for the prompt and faithful discharge of it, and shall be happy to defray myself the Expences I may incur on account of it.
I have the honour to be Gentlemen, Your most obedt. hble. Servt.
[signed] J. J. Pringle
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “To The Honourable, B. Franklin A. Lee J. Adams Esquires American Plenipotentiaries at Passy.”
1. Pringle presumably had heard of the Commissioners' “intention” from Arthur Lee, who saw him as an alternative to Edward Bancroft, the original choice of Franklin and JA (Lee to Franklin and JA, 7 Feb., above). Lee forwarded Pringle's letter with his own to Franklin and JA of 9 Feb., endorsed Pringle as a gentleman “unexceptionable as to character and ability,” and hoped he would meet with Franklin's and JA's approval (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). Although Pringle's offer was accepted by Lee and JA on 12 Feb. (below), it is not known whether he went to England.
At the outbreak of the Revolution, John Julius Pringle of South Carolina was a member of the Middle Temple in London, but soon went to France, where he served as Ralph Izard's secretary in 1778 and 1779. In 1781 he returned to South Carolina, where he became active in state politics (DAB).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0258

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Recipient: Jones, John Paul
Date: 1779-02-10

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to John Paul Jones

[salute] Sir

As your Separation from the Ranger, and the Appointment of Lieutenant Simpson to the Command of her, will be liable to Misinterpretations and Misrepresentations by Persons who are unacquainted with the real Causes of those Facts.
We hereby certify, that your leaving the Ranger was by our Consent, at the express Request of his Excellency Monsieur De Sartine, who informed Us that he had occasion to employ you in some public Service. That Lieut. Simpson, was appointed to the Command of the Ranger with your Consent, after having consented to release him from an Arrest, under which you had put him.
{ 399 }
That your leaving the Ranger in our Opinion ought not and cannot be any Injury to your Rank or Character, in the Service of the United States; and that your Commission in their Navy continues in full Force.1
We have the honor to be Sir, Your most obedient humble Servants
[signed] B Franklin
[signed] John Adams2
RC (PCC, No. 168, f. 229–231); docketed: “Certificate letter from their Excellencies B. Franklin & J. Adams Esqrs. dated Passy Feby. 10th. 1779. No. 5.”
1. For Jones' earlier complaint of false reports about his replacement by Thomas Simpson as captain of the Ranger, see his letter to the Commissioners of 15 Aug. (vol. 6:372–373). This letter, intended to put to rest those damaging reports that had persisted during the fall and winter as Jones awaited a new command, may have received its immediate impetus from Sartine's appointment of Jones to command the Duc de Duras, i.e. Bonhomme Richard, on 4 Feb. (PCC, No. 168, f. 279–281).
2. For the absence of Arthur Lee's signature, see his letter to Benjamin Franklin and JA, 10 Feb. (below).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0259

Author: Franklin, Benjamin
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Schweighauser, John Daniel
Date: 1779-02-10

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to J. D. Schweighauser

[salute] Sir

Capt. Jones has represented to us his Desire and Intention of returning to the Countess of Selkirk, some Plate which his People took from her house.1
We apprehend that Congress would not disapprove of this Measure, as far as it should depend upon them; and We therefore consent on the Part of the United States that this Plate should be return'd. This Consent is to be understood to extend no farther than to the share to which the U.S. may be suppos'd to have a Claim. The Claim of the Officers and Men, Cap. Jones must be responsible to them for. This Plate in the whole is represented to be worth about 100 Guineas.2
LbC in the hand of William Temple Franklin (Adams Papers).
1. The Selkirk plate had been taken on 23 April 1778, when Jones raided St. Mary's Isle on the coast of Scotland during the Ranger's expedition in the Irish Sea. For an account of the raid, see Jones to the Commissioners, 27 May 1778, and note 1 (vol. 6:159–167). Jones' offer to return the silver, made in a letter to the Countess of Selkirk, dated 8 May 1778, was rejected by the Earl of Selkirk in a letter of 9 June to Jones, which he never received (Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 148–150, 151–154). When Benjamin Franklin learned of the contents of the Earl's letter, he informed Jones, in a letter of 24 Feb., that the booty would not be accepted if it came from his hands (Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev., 3:61). The affair ended when, after the war and at considerable expense to himself, Jones successfully returned the plate (Morison, John Paul Jones, p. 154–155).
2. At the bottom of his letterbook copy of this letter, Arthur Lee wrote: “not signd by A. Lee” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 152).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0260

Author: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-10

Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams

[salute] Gentlemen

I perceive by the letter you have sent me that Mr. Deane's claim is ascertaind by marks, and therefore have signd the letter.1 But I think enquiry shoud be made after those goods which were bought with the public Money in Holland, and which those now given up were supposd to be.
I am unwilling to sign the Letter to Capn. Jones, because it does not contain the whole of the facts on that Subject, and gives an opinion which in my humble judgment belongs to Congress only to give after an examination into the whole of that officers conduct.2
I have proposd to Capn. Jones that we shoud certify upon His commission, that it is still in force and he remains in the american Service.3 This as I conceive will relieve us from what may be hereafter embarrassing the entering into a question which will probably come before a proper Court of enquiry; and at the same time will silence those who report he is dismissd from the american Service.
I have to complain to you, that I have receivd a very indecent Letter from Dr. Bancroft telling me of my having made “By letter a direct and personal opposition to his appointment”—and demanding to have a Copy of my letter to you, “that he may judge whether my particular opposition to him arises from a regard for the public Good, or from personal Enmity.” That <the> A communication of the dissent of any particular Commissioner to the person affected by it, cannot but have the effect of exposing that Commissioner to the abuse and malevolence of that Individual, you must be sensible; and that such communications must put an end to all confidence among the Commissioners, and make it impossible to carry on the business of the public.4
I have the honor to be Gentlemen your Mo. obt. Hble. Sert.
[signed] Arthur Lee
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); addressed: “The Honble. B. Franklin & John Adams Esqr. Ministers plenipotentiary at Passi.”
1. Lee is referring to Williams' letter of 23 Jan., which mentioned the numbers on the packages belonging to Simeon Deane, and apparently to the reply of the Commissioners to that letter of 9 Feb. (both above). The decision to print the reply as being from the Commissioners is based on Lee's statement here that he “signd the letter,” and on Jonathan Williams' reply, directed to the Commissioners, of 20 Feb. (PPAmP: Franklin Papers). At the foot of Lee's letterbook copy of the response, however, is the note: “not sign'd by A L.” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 151–152). Since the recipient's copy of the letter has not been found, it is impossible to determine whether Lee did sign the letter.
2. That is, Benjamin Franklin and JA to Jones, 10 Feb. (above). At the bottom of his letterbook copy of that letter Lee { 401 } wrote “not signd by A Lee” and added: “See Jones's letter contradicting this dated Augt. 18. 1778” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 152–153). This note referred to the second and third paragraphs of the letter to Jones of 10 Feb. Jones' letter may be that directed to Abraham Whipple, which is also in the letterbook, where Jones called for a court-martial for Thomas Simpson with whose conduct “I have been and am unsatisfied and who is now under suspicion of Disobedience of my written order” (same, f. 50). Lee may have believed that in their letter of the 10th Franklin and JA were giving official approval of what he saw as Jones' hypocrisy.
3. An interesting sidelight to this affair is Jones' statement in his journal of 1782 that Lee “was willing to sign but I did not wish him to, for reasons which I explained to Dr. Franklin, and which the Doctor communicated to Mr. Adams; the said reasons being obviously quite satisfactory to both those most eminent gentlemen” (quoted in Augustus C. Buell, Paul Jones: Founder of the American Navy, 2 vols., N.Y., 1902, 1:140). Considering Lee's statements in both the present letter and in his note to his copy of the Franklin-JA letter of 10 Feb., Jones' recollection seems questionable.
4. Lee's quotations from Bancroft's letter of 9 Feb. are almost exact (MH-H: Lee Papers). Lee assumed that Bancroft received his information from one of Lee's colleagues, probably Franklin; but, in a letter of 13 Feb., Bancroft informed Lee that “the information which produced my Letter to you, was given to me by your honorable Colleagues, and first by Mr. Adams” (CtY: Franklin Papers).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0261

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Vergennes, Charles Gravier, Comte de
Date: 1779-02-11

To the Comte de Vergennes

[salute] Sir

As Your Excellency reads English perfectly well, my first Request is, that you would do me the Favour to read this, without a Translation after which I Submit it to your Excellency to make what Use of it, you shall think proper.
I have hitherto avoided, in my Single Capacity, giving your Excellency, any trouble, by Letter, or Conversation: but the present Emergency demands that I should ask the favour to explain my Sentiments, either by Letter, or in Person. If you will permit a personal Interview, I am persuaded, I can make myself understood: if you prefer a Correspondence, I will lay open my Heart in Writing, before your Excellency.
It is the Address to the People, in America, under the Name of Mr. Silas Deane, that has occasioned, this Boldness, in me.1 It is to me, the most unexpected, and unforeseen Event that has happened. I hope, your Excellency, will not conclude from thence, that I despair of the Commonwealth. Far otherwise. I know that the Body of the People, in the united States stand immoveable against Great Britain: and I hope that this Address of Mr. Deane, (altho it will occasion much Trouble to Individuals) will produce no final Detriment to the common Cause: but on the contrary, that it will occasion, so thorough an Investigation of Several Things, as will correct many Abuses.
{ 402 }
It is my indispensible Duty, upon this Occasion to inform your Excellency, without consulting either of my Colleagues,2 that the Honourable Arthur Lee was as long ago as 1770, appointed by the House of Representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, of which I had then the Honour to be a Member, their Agent at the Court of London, in Case of the Death or Absence of Dr. Franklin. This honourable Testimony, was given to Mr. Lee, by an Assembly, in which he had no natural Interest, on Account of his inflexible Attachment to the American Cause, and the Abilities of which he had given many Proofs in its Defence. From that Time, to the Year 1774, he held a constant Correspondence, with several of those Gentlemen, who stood foremost in the Massachusetts Bay, against the Innovations, and illegal Encroachments of Great Britain. This Correspondence I had an opportunity of Seeing, and I assure, your Excellency, from my own Knowledge, that it breathed, the most inflexible Attachment, and the most ardent zeal in the Cause of his Country. From September 1774 to November 1777, I had the Honour to be in Congress and the opportunity to See his Letters to Congress, to their Committees, and to Several of their Individual Members.
That through the whole of both these Periods, he communicated, the most constant, and certain Intelligence, which was received from any Individual within my Knowledge. And since I have had the Honour to be joined with him here, I have ever found in him the same Fidelity and Zeal, and have not a Glimmering of Suspicion, that he ever maintained an improper Correspondence in England or held any Conference or Negociation with any body from thence, without communicating it to your Excellency and to his Colleagues. I am confident therefore, that every Insinuation and Suspicion against him, of Infidelity to the united States or to their Engagements with his Majesty is false and groundless,3 and that they will assuredly be proved to be so <, to the Utter Shame and Confusion of all those, who have rashly published them to the World, and particularly of Mr. Deane>.4
The two Honourable Brothers of Mr. Lee, who are Members of Congress,5 I have long and intimately known. And of my own Knowledge I can say, that no Men have discovered more Zeal, in Support of the Sovereignty of the united States, and in promoting, from the Beginning a Friendship and Alliance with France. And there is nothing of which I am more firmly perswaded, than that every Insinuation that is thrown out6 to the Disadvantage, of the two M. Lees, in Congress, is groundless.
{ 403 }
It would be too tedious, to enter, at present, into a more particular Consideration of that Address, I shall therefore conclude this Letter, already too long, by assuring your Excellency, that I am with the most entire Consideration, your most obedient and most humble Servant7
[signed] John Adams
RC (Arch. Aff. Etr., Paris, Corr. Pol., E.-U., vol. 7); docketed: “rece. le 13 fev. M. Adams Se plaint de l'apel au Peuple publié par M. Silas Deanne.” Dftprinted: JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:347–350. The draft is approximately one-third longer than either the recipient's copy or the Letterbook copy (see below) because JA made numerous deletions in the drafting process. It should be compared with the RC as printed here. The recipient's copy and the Letterbook copy contain some text that does not appear in the draft. LbC (Adams Papers); notations: “Sent by a Comis, early in the Morning of the 12. Feb. 1779” and “The next Day after the above Letter was written, and within a few Hours after it was Sent, Dr Winship arrived and not long after him the Aid du Camp of the Marquiss De la Fayette, with Letters, and with Dispatches from Congress, a Letter among the rest to Me, from Messrs. Lee and Lovell of the Committee of foreign affairs [28 Oct. 1778 (above)] acquainting me, with the new Commission to Dr. Franklin, <and>.” Compare this passage with the second paragraph of JA's Diary entry for 12 Feb. (Diary and Autobiography, 2:353).
1. The recipient's copy is more reasoned and focused than the draft, but from both it is clear that JA's chief motive for writing was concern over the implications for the conduct of American foreign policy raised by Silas Deane's address “To the Free and Virtuous Citizens of America” (Pennsylvania Packet, 5 Dec. 1778). In his Diary entry of 8 Feb., JA called it “one of the most wicked and abominable Productions that ever sprung from an human Heart” and described Silas Deane as “a wild boar, that ought to be hunted down for the Benefit of Mankind,” the only alternatives being “the Ruin of Mr. Deane, or the Ruin of his Country” (Diary and Autobiography, 2:345). The depth of JA's anger owed to his belief that such an appeal by a private person over the head of the congress, combined with that body's refusal to censure its author, appeared “like a Dissolution of the Constitution,” well calculated to create in the European mind a perception of the American government as being weak and untrustworthy (same, 2:353). More specifically, the address dramatically called into question the fundamental support of the congress, or significant elements within it, for the French alliance and the war effort as well as its competence to appoint its own representatives.
Although he never showed this letter to him, JA writes in his Diary that he explained to Franklin on 8 Feb. why such an approach to Vergennes seemed to him necessary. It was imperative to know what the chief ministers of the French government thought of Deane's conduct because “if they, and their Representatives in America, were determined to countenance and support by their Influence such Men and Measures in America, it was no matter how soon the Alliance was broke” (same, 2:345). When Deane left France in 1778 he had received testimonials to his conduct from various French officials, including Louis XVI and Vergennes, as well as from Benjamin Franklin, who described him as “an able and faithfull Negotiator” (same, 2:352). JA hoped to convince Vergennes that Franklin had been deceived, but he also wanted to know if the French testimonials indicated support for the views expressed in Deane's address, for then it would indicate, at least in JA's mind, a desire to dictate the foreign policy of another sovereign state.
Had Deane simply criticized congress' foreign policy, it is unlikely that JA's re• { 404 } sponse would have been construed as a defense of Arthur Lee's conduct as a Commissioner. No one with whom JA dealt during his first mission is treated more harshly in his Diary than Arthur Lee. On 9 Feb., JA wrote that Lee, “whom I have allowed to be honest, has such a bitter, such a Sour in him, and so few of the nice feelings, that G[od] knows what will be the Consequence to himself and to others.” He had “Confidence in no body,” believing “all Men selfish—And, no Man honest or sincere. This, I fear, is his Creed, from what I have heard him say. I have often in Conversation disputed with him, on this Point.” Finally, Lee “with his privy Council, are evermore, contriving” and “their Contrivances, render many Measures more difficult” (same, 2:346–347). Arthur Lee's reputation became part of the assault on the address because Deane had cast doubt on Lee's loyalty (and that of his brothers William, Richard Henry, and Francis Lightfoot), and on his legitimacy as an appointed executor of the policies set down by the congress. Such “a Contempt of Congress committed in the City where they set, and the Publication of such Accusations in the Face of the Universe, so false and groundless as the most heinous of them appeared to me, ... made too by a Man who had been in high Trust, against two others, who were still so, ... ought to unite every honest and wise Man against him” (same, 2:345). Clearly JA felt compelled to remove any doubts about the authority of the congress or the credibility of its representatives; in so doing, he defended Arthur Lee the Commissioner, not Arthur Lee the man.
2. In fact, as the Diary entry quoted in note 1 indicates, JA had informed Benjamin Franklin of his intention to approach Vergennes regarding Deane's address. In the draft, however, he stated that he had not shown nor did he intend to show his letter to either of his colleagues because Franklin had allied himself with Deane against Lee. In regard to Franklin, JA held to his plan, but he did provide Lee with a copy on 9 June, eight days before JA sailed from France, in response to Lee's appeal for a testimonial to his loyalty contained in a letter of 5 June (below).
3. At this point the Letterbook copy originally read “are groundless,” but the “are” is canceled and “is false and” is interlined for insertion.
4. This passage, so thoroughly canceled in the recipient's copy that it cannot be read independently of another version, is also heavily canceled in the Letterbook, indicating that JA decided that it was inappropriate after the recipient's copy was completed. The final five words, however, are also deleted in the draft. Moreover, in the draft the words “and particularly of Mr. Deane” are followed by a further canceled passage: “who has been so forsaken by his Discretion as to have published to the World many such Insinuations.”
5. Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee.
6. At this point the paragraph in the draft continues with “of Mr. R. H. Lees holding improper Intercourse with a Dr. Berkenhout, is a cruel and an infamous Calumny.” The entire paragraph is then canceled. Dr. John Berkenout was a British agent who had known Arthur Lee in London and met Richard Henry Lee when he came to America in 1778. JA's assertions, explicit in the draft and more veiled in the recipient's copy, regarding Richard Henry Lee's conduct, are accurate.
7. This paragraph does not appear in the draft.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0262

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Date: 1779-02-12

To Arthur Lee

[salute] Sir

We duly received the Letter which you did us the honor of writing on the 9th. of Feb.1 accompanyed with a Letter from Mr. Pringle, herewith you have the Draught of an Answer to that Gentleman,2 which you are requested, if you approve of it to subscribe and forward. As { 405 } Mr. Lee is best acquainted with the Places, Persons and Officers to which Mr. Pringle must apply—it is requested of Mr. Lee to make a Draught of Instructions, for Mr. Pringle, which Mr. Adams will subscribe, if he approves them, as he doubts not he shall.3
I have the honor to be &ca.
(signed)
[signed] John Adams4
LbC in William Temple Franklin's hand (Adams Papers). This is the last letter to be recorded in Lb/JA/4, which contains letters written by the Commissioners during JA's first mission.
1. Not printed here, but see Pringle's letter of the 9th (above).
2. Lee and JA to Pringle, 12 Feb. (below).
3. No instructions to Pringle have been found, but see the letter to Pringle immediately following.
4. Although this letter was signed only by JA, it is clear that he was speaking also for Benjamin Franklin. Franklin probably was unwilling to sign because of Lee's severe criticism of the original appointment of Edward Bancroft in his letter of 7 Feb. to Franklin and JA (above). That neither JA nor Franklin was pleased by the appointment of Pringle in place of Edward Bancroft can be surmised from both the tone of the letter and the implication that Pringle's instructions would be the work of Arthur Lee, not Franklin or JA.

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0263

Author: Lee, Arthur
Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Pringle, John Julius
Date: 1779-02-12

Arthur Lee and John Adams to John Julius Pringle

[salute] Sir

We have received your Letter of Feb. 9. offering your Services to the public by going to England to negotiate an Exchange of Prisoners. We have considered this Subject and judging it necessary to send some Person upon this Business, We have determined to accept of your Proposition, and We desire you to prepare yourself for the Journey, with all convenient Dispatch. Your Instructions shall be prepared immediately.1
We are Sir your humble Servants
[signed] Arthur Lee
signed only
John Adams
LbC in William Temple Franklin's hand (Adams Papers). This letter was enclosed in the preceding letter from JA to Lee and appears before that letter in JA's Letterbook.
1. This letter may be considered the last official act by Arthur Lee and JA as members of the joint commission to the French court. Benjamin Franklin's official notification of his appointment as minister plenipotentiary arrived on 12 Feb., presumably after this letter had been drafted and sent (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 2:353). Franklin did not go forward with Pringle's appointment, reverting instead to his plan to name Edward Bancroft as agent. But Bancroft apparently did not go to England either. According to David Hartley, to whom Franklin had written concerning a safe conduct for Bancroft, the British ministry saw no need for an American agent in England to expedite the exchange, In any event, the first shipload of American prisoners reached France on 1 April (Cal. Franklin Papers, A.P.S., { 406 } 2:35; Catherine Prelinger, “Benjamin Franklin and the American Prisoners of War in England during the American Revolution,” WMQ, 3d ser., 32:275–276 [April 1975]).

Docno: ADMS-06-07-02-0264

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Franklin, Benjamin
Recipient: Lee, Arthur
Recipient: Adams, John
Date: 1779-02-13