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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3


From John Hancock

9 February 1777

From Elbridge Gerry

14 February 1777
From Captain John Grannis and others
Grannis, John (Captain) RTP
Much Respected Sir, On board the Ship Warren Feby. 11th. 1777

We the Subscribers, who belong to the Ship warren, voluntarily engaged in the marine Service; we are friends to constitu­349tional liberty; we love America; we are willing to give up every thing that is dear, and, if necessary, Sacrifice life itself in our ravish’d, bleeding, injur’d country’s cause; but Sr. we are very unwilling that our own lives, and that the continental Ships, which might be of Service to the independent States of America, Should be, either ignorantly, or designedly betray’d into the cruel hands of our unrighteous invaders. We think there is Sufficient reason of complaint against our commanders; we are not influenced by prejudice, our own consciences and the regard which we have for our country oblige us to complain; and we have concluded, not having a more convenient opportunity, to take this method of presenting to your Superior Judgement Several accusations against them which can be easily and Sufficiently attested, Sincerely and humbly asking your advice in our present perplexed unhappy Situation.

Accusations against commodore Hopkins

First, he is a man that ridecules religion, and seemes very apparently to despise every virtue: he does not hesitate to blaspheme and take the name of God in vain: in this respect he Sets his officers and men a most irreligious and impious example, and, when on board, is oftener guilty of profane Swearing than any Jack Tar that belongs to the Ship.

Secondly; he allowes himself to Speak publickly in the most profane and disrespectful manner concerning the continental congress, The guardians of our rights and priviledges, calling them a pack of damn’d fools: ignorant fellows, lawyers clarkes &c. a company of men wholly unacquainted with mankind, and perfectly unacqainted with their business, and that if their measures were complied with the country would be undone; this he asserted not only among our own folks, but also in the presence of two captains, who were prisoners, on their passage to newport in order to be exchanged.

Thirdly, he is a man, if possessed of any principles at all, possessed of the most dangerous principles conceivable, especially when we consider his Station, for he positively declares that all mankind are exactly alike: that no many yet ever existed who could not be bought with money; who could not be hired with money to do any action whatsoever: this he also asserted in the presence of the above mentioned prisoners, for what reason we can’t determine, unless he meant to inform Sr. peter Parker that he wanted an opportunity in order to Sell himself.

Fourthly, he has treated prisoners in the most inhuman and barbarous manner.


Fifthly, when a british frigate, a few days ago, was on ground, either for the want of wisdom, or designedly he conducted in a very blamable manner indeed.

Sixthly, he is an effecttual obsticle to the fleets being properly maned, and, perhaps, on that very account, in his present Station, does his country more damage, than he possibly could do in any other capacity.

Many more very criminal things might be alledged and easily proved but the present Opportunity will not Suffer us to be very particular.

Accusations against captain John B. Hopkins

First, he is a person that entertains the Same opinion of virtue that his father does, and is almost as often guilty of profane Swearing.

Secondly, he treats the officers on board the Ship in the most unpolite disdainful manner conceivable.

Thirdly, his character is Such, and So universally known that there is no prospect of the Ships being ever maned So long as he is the commander. The officers have taken unwearied pains in order to man the Ship, but people have Such a Spleen against the capn. that they will not come on board.

In this State, where our commanders character and conduct are best known, notwithstanding the Ship was built here, and has never been from this place, after all our pains and trouble, we have not been able to procure a Single Man.

Fourthly when numbers have been very Sick, even unto death, while living they were not allowed to be carried on Shoar, and although they had nothing in the coldest of the weather to lodge upon but a hammock and one Single blanket, which, in their damp births without the advantages of a fire, were Scarcely enough to keep well men from freezing, our captain had no compassion on them; when perishing with the cold, their dying groans, the repeated and earnest desire of Docters and offercers could not prevail with the unrelenting wretch to afford them another blanket, when there were more than Sixty on board the Ship at the Same time which were in no kind of use.

We consider our commanders as imperious, injudicious men: distitute of humanity and tenderness, of very Small capacities and quite unfit, on every account, for the departments they occupy. Their little contracted Sordid Souls are not only entirely destitute of everything that is noble and virtuous, but are completely filled with everything that is ignoble and vicious.


Thus far, honor’d Sr., we have presumed to accuse our commanders: we have acted conscienciously; we know not what more to do, nor which way to turn; we are incapabl of helping ourselves. We rely upon your benevolence, and presume Sincerely and humbly to petition Some advice; if you are pleased to grant our request, you will do a very great favor to your Sincere friends and humble Servants the Subscribers.

Jno. Grannis Capt. mereens James Brewer, gunr. John Reed Chaplain Samuel Shaw Jas. Sellers } Richd. Marven } Lieutets. George Stillman } Lieutenants of Marines Barnabas Lothrop } Roger Haddock Master. John Truman Carpenter

RC ; addressed: “To the Honure. Robert Treat Pain Esqr. Taunton”; endorsed.


Esek Hopkins (1718–1802) was commander-in-chief of the American fleet assembled in January 1776. His early successes were overbalanced by an inability to follow instructions from Congress, which censured him on Aug. 16, 1776. As a result of the complaints against Hopkins voiced in this letter, he was suspended from his command and in January 1778 was dismissed from service. His son John Burroughs Hopkins (1742–1796) had been appointed captain of the brig Cabot and in 1777 took command of the new frigate Warren. Although he was successful in bringing in enemy prizes, Hopkins (like his father) was suspended from service for not strictly following his instructions ( DAB ).

On the case against Com. Esek Hopkins, see Naval Documents of the Revolution, 7:1166–1168 et seq., especially Esek Hopkins to the Continental Marine Committee, Feb. 14, 1777, 1199–1200).