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The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. I
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We have the honor of being, with the highest esteem, Gentlemen, your most obedient humble servants.

B. FRANKLIN, SILAS DEANE, ARTHUR LEE.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Passy, 28th February, 1778.

Gentlemen,

Our despatches of December 18th, which would have acquainted you with the state of our affairs here, and our expectations of a speedy conclusion of the treaties with this Court, are unfortunately returned; the French man of war, which went on purpose to carry them, having met with some disasters at sea, which obliged her to put back, after a long struggle of six weeks against contrary winds. We now have obtained another ship to sail with them immediately, and with our fresh despatches, containing the treaties themselves, which were happily concluded and signed the 6th instant, though hitherto, for some political reasons, kept a secret from the public.

The English Parliament adjourned in December for six weeks. During that time, their ministers strained every nerve to raise men for their armies, intending to continue the war with vigor. Subscriptions were set on foot to aid Government in the expense, and they flattered themselves with being able to enlist ten thousand volunteers; but whether they found this impracticable, or were discouraged by later accounts from America, or had some intimations of our treaties here, their vaunts and threats are suddenly abated, and on the 17th Lord North made a long discourse, acknowledging the errors of their former conduct in the war with America, and proposing to obtain peace, by the means of two bills, of which we enclose copies.

We make no remarks on these bills. The judgment of the Congress can be at no loss in determining on the conduct necessary to be held with regard to them. And we are confident, that they will not answer the purpose of dividing in order to subjugate, for which they are evidently intended. Our States have now a solid support for their liberty and independence in their alliance with France, which will be certainly followed by that of Spain, and the whole House of Bourbon, and probably by that of Holland, and the other powers of Europe, who are interested in the freedom of commerce, and in keeping down the power of Britain. Our people are happy in the enjoyment of their new constitutions of Government, and will be so in their extended trade and navigation, unfettered by English arts and Custom-house officers. They will now never relish the Egyptian bondage, from which they have so happily escaped. A long peace will probably be the consequence of their separation from England, as they have no cause of quarrel with other nations; an immediate war with France and Spain, if they join again with England, and a share in all her future wars, her debts, and her crimes. We are, therefore, persuaded that their commissioners will be soon dismissed, if at all received; for the sooner the decided part taken by Congress is known in Europe, the more extended and stable will be their credit, and their conventions with other powers more easy to make, and more advantageous.

Americans are every where in France treated with respect and every appearance of affection. We think it would be well to advise our people in all parts of America, to imitate this conduct with regard to the French, who may happen to be among us. Every means should be used to remove ancient prejudices, and cultivate a friendship that must be so useful to both nations. Some transactions here, during the last four or five months, in the rigorous observance of treaties, with regard to the equipments of our armed vessels in the ports, and the selling of our prizes, have no doubt made ill impressions on the minds of our seamen and traders, relative to the friendship of this Court. We were then obliged to observe a secrecy, which prevented our removing those prejudices, by acquainting our people with the substantial aids France was privately affording us; and we must continue in the same situation, till it is thought fit to publish the treaties. But we can, with pleasure, now acquaint you that we have obtained full satisfaction, viz. 400,000 livres for the owners of the prizes confiscated here, for a breach of the laws by a false declaration, (they being entered as coming from Eustatia) and the payment will be made to the owners in America. We mean the prizes taken by Captains Babson and Hendricks, in the Boston and Hancock privateers, which prizes, after confiscation, were, from reasons of state, restored to the English. This is a fresh proof of the good will and generosity of this Court, and their determination to cultivate the friendship of America.

The preparations for war continue in the ports with the utmost industry; and troops are marching daily to the sea-coasts, where three camps are to be formed. As France is determined to protect her commerce with us, a war is deemed inevitable.

Mr William Lee, we suppose, acquaints you with the decease of Mr Morris, his colleague in the commercial agency. On our application to the ministry, an order was obtained to put Mr Lee in possession of his papers. If that department has been found useful, and likely to continue so, you will no doubt appoint one or more persons to take care of the business, as Mr Lee has now another destination. Perhaps the general commerce, likely to be soon opened between Europe and America, may render such an appointment unnecessary.

We would just add, for the consideration of Congress, whether considering the mention of Bermudas in one of the articles, it may not be well to take possession, with the consent of the inhabitants of that island, and fortify the same as soon as possible, and also to reduce some, or all of the English fishing posts in or near Newfoundland.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, SILAS DEANE, ARTHUR LEE.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO WILLIAM BINGHAM.

York, 2d March, 1778.

Sir,

The Committee of Secret Correspondence, which almost a year ago was denominated the "Committee for Foreign Affairs," stands indebted to you for many letters, both of interesting advice and ingenious speculation. Happening to be the only member of that Committee at this time present in Yorktown, I now take up my pen, not to form apologies for their long past silence, so much as to make a beginning of the act of justice due to you. I really fear that the collected ingenuity of the members will be put to it to offer, for a main excuse, any thing better than that they relied upon your getting frequent intelligence of the state of our affairs from the Commercial Committee. In short, sir, I am so deeply concerned with the gentlemen in this affair, that I know what they ought to do; and I am so well acquainted with their just manner of thinking, that I will venture to confess in their name, that their past omission of corresponding with you, is, in a considerable measure, unaccountable. It is certainly better to step forward towards a man of candor, in the straight line of honest confession, than in the zigzag track of awkward apology.

Your letters, exclusive of their intrinsic merit, have been more peculiarly acceptable to Congress, from the circumstance of our having been deprived of the satisfaction of receiving intelligence from the hands of our Commissioners in Paris since May of last year. Besides those of their despatches, which have been lost at sea, we know one has been examined and culled by some perfidious villain, who substituted plain sheets of paper for the real letters of our friends. This was probably done in Europe, before the bearer of it, a Captain John Folger, embarked with it for America.

Your ideas of the policy of the Court of Versailles appear quite just, from the corroborating testimony of whatever information we can collect in any way.

The course of Gazettes, which accompany this, will so well communicate our home affairs, that I shall not enlarge upon them. I will only say, in brief, that you may rest assured, independence is so absolutely adopted by America, as to leave no hope for Britain that we shall ever relinquish our claim. It must, therefore, be only to delude her own islanders and neighbors, that she pretends to expect the contrary.

In addition to the misfortune which you mention respecting the Lexington, we are told of a greater, and one which will more intimately affect you, respecting the Reprisal, which is said to have foundered on the 1st of October. Your acquaintance with Captain Wickes will lead you to lament greatly the loss of so valuable an officer and so worthy a man. I enclose you a list of your letters as they came to hand, both for your own satisfaction and to command your belief of my regard for you, as a faithful corresponding agent, and of my professions of being, Sir, &c.

JAMES LOVELL, For the Committee of Foreign Affairs.

* * * * *

M. GERARD TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

Translation.

Versailles, March 17th, 1778.

Gentlemen,

I am charged to acquaint you, that you will be presented to the King next Friday, if you will have the goodness to render yourselves here at ten o'clock in the morning. Count de Vergennes hopes you will do him the honor to dine with him on the same day.

I have the honor to be, with high consideration, &c.

GERARD.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

York, 24th March, 1778.

Gentlemen,

I cannot consent to omit this opportunity of addressing a few lines to you, though the state of our military operations affords nothing material.

The manners of the continent are too much affected by the depreciation of our currency; scarce an officer, civil or military, but feels something of a desire to be concerned in mercantile speculation, from finding that his salary is inadequate to the harpy demands, which are made upon him for the necessaries of life, and from observing, that but little skill is necessary to constitute one of the merchants of these days. We are almost a continental tribe of Jews; but I hope heaven has not yet discovered such a settled profligacy in us as to cast us off, even for a year. Backward as we may be at this moment in our preparations, the enemy is not in a condition to expect more success in the coming, than in former campaigns. We have the debates of the British Parliament to December 5th, and perceive that the old game is playing, called Reconciliation. Depend upon it, they are duping themselves only.

Yesterday a private letter from Doctor Franklin, dated October 7th, was presented, containing the only political intelligence which Folger brought safe with him, viz. "Our affairs, so far as relates to this country, are every day more promising." This, with a letter from Mr Barnabus Deane, who tells us his brother apologized for his brevity, by saying he was "sending an important packet to Congress," is all the explanation we have of the nature of your despatches, of which we were robbed. I enclose a list, by which you will see the breaks in our correspondence. I send a pamphlet which contains, I hope, the general ideas of America in regard to what Britain may be tempted, foolishly, to call her successes.

We think it strange, that the Commissioners did not jointly write by M. de Francy, considering the very important designs of his coming over, to settle the mode of payment for the past cargoes sent by Roderique Hortalez & Co. and to make contracts for the future. It is certain that much eclaircissement is at this late moment wanting. But I dare not enlarge, for fear of losing this sudden good opportunity.

I therefore close, with assurances of the most affectionate respect, gentlemen, your very humble servant,

JAMES LOVELL, For the Committee of Foreign Affairs.

* * * * *

TO M. DUMAS.

Paris, April 10th, 1778.

Sir,

The within letter to you is so written, that you may show it on occasion. We send enclosed a proposed draught of a letter to the Grand Pentionary, but as we are unacquainted with forms, and may not exactly have hit your idea with regard to the matter and expression, we wish you would consult with our friends upon it, and return it with the necessary corrections.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

DRAFT OF A PROPOSED LETTER FROM THE COMMISSIONERS TO THE GRAND PENTIONARY.

Sir,

We have the honor of acquainting your Excellency, that the United States of North America, being now an independent power, and acknowledged as such by this Court, a treaty of amity and commerce is completed between France and the said United States, of which we shall speedily send your Excellency a copy, to be communicated, if you think proper, to their High Mightinesses, for whom the United States have the greatest respect, and the strongest desire that a good understanding may be cultivated, and a mutually beneficial commerce established between the people of the two nations, which, as will be seen, there is nothing in the above mentioned treaty to prevent or impede.

We have the honor to be, with great respect, your Excellency's, &c.

* * * * *

TO M. DUMAS.

Passy, April 10th, 1778.

Sir,

We received your despatch of the 3d instant, and approve very much the care and pains you constantly take in sending us the best intelligence of foreign affairs. We have now the pleasure of acquainting you, that Mr John Adams, a member of Congress, appointed to succeed Mr Deane in this commission, is safely arrived here. He came over in the Boston, a frigate of 30 guns, belonging to the United States. In the passage they met and made prize of a large English letter of marque ship of 14 guns, the Martha, bound to New York, on whose cargo L70,000 sterling were insured in London. It contains abundance of necessaries for America, whither she is despatched, and we hope she will get well into one of our ports.

Mr Adams acquaints us, that it had been moved in Congress to send a minister to Holland, but that although there was the best disposition towards that country, and desire to have and maintain a good understanding with their High Mightinesses, and a free commerce with their subjects, the measure was respectfully postponed for the present, till their sentiments on it could be known, from an apprehension, that possibly their connexions with England might make the receiving an American minister as yet inconvenient, and (if Holland should have the same good will towards us) a little embarrassing. Perhaps, as our independency begins to wear the appearance of greater stability, since our acknowledged alliance with France, that difficulty may be lessened. Of this, we wish you to take the most prudent methods privately to inform yourself. It seems clearly to be the interest of Holland to share in the rapidly growing commerce of their young sister republic, and as, in the love of liberty, and bravery in defence of it, she has been our great example, we hope circumstances and constitutions, in many respects so similar, may produce mutual benevolence, and that the unfavorable impressions made on the minds of some in America, by the rigor with which supplies of arms and ammunition were refused them in their distress, may soon be worn off and obliterated by a friendly intercourse and reciprocal good offices.

When Mr Adams left America, which was about the middle of February, our affairs were daily improving, our troops well supplied with arms and provisions, and in good order, and the army of General Burgoyne being detained for breaches of the capitulation, we had in our hands above 10,000 prisoners of the enemy.

We are, Sir, your most obedient humble servants,

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE.

* * * * *

TO MR. JOHN ROSS.

Passy, April 13th, 1778.

Sir,

The papers you mention are in the disposition of Mr William Lee, who is gone to Germany. It is therefore not in our power to comply with what you desire. Neither are we able to make you any further advances. We wish you would send us, with all convenient expedition, copies of the invoices and bills of lading for those goods, which were paid for with the money we formerly furnished you. We do not think it within our province to make an entire settlement with you. The money in Mr Schweighauser's hands, which you say is under the direction and order of Mr R. Morris, ought to be disposed of according to those orders. The trade being now free from this country, it seems improper to us to give the passports you ask.

We are, Sir, your most obedient servants,

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

P. S. Mr William Lee is at Frankfort, where a letter from you may possibly find him, but his stay there is very uncertain.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO WILLIAM BINGHAM, AT MARTINIQUE.

York, 16th April, 1778.

Sir,

Herewith you have a copy of what I did myself the pleasure of writing to you, on the 2d of last month; since which time we have received your favors of January 14th and 26th, February 8th and 21st. Your draft of L23,554. 9s. 9d. in favor of the Secret (now Commercial) Committee, has been duly paid. The four first charges in your account current, like many other sums on similar occasions here, have been expended to no sort of profit to the Continent; but I hope we have seen the last of such expenses. Your situation must have been very disagreeable indeed, in consequence of the failure of remittances from hence. Large quantities of tobacco have been long stored; but our bays and coasts are so infested by the enemy's ships of war, that it is impossible for us to conduct agreeably to our earnest wishes, of maintaining the best credit in our commercial concerns abroad. It is probable, that a commercial board, not members of Congress, will be very soon established; so that the whole time of the conductors may be spent in exertions for the public benefit, in that branch of Continental business.

The want of intelligence from our Commissioners at Paris, makes it improper for us to draw largely on them at present; therefore, you must content yourself with the economical bounds of the power, which is given to you by the within resolve of Congress of this day. Be assured, that all possible attempts will be made for your relief, by remittances of our produce.

I find it impossible to convey to you anything of a plan of operations for this campaign. The enemy, having the sea open to them, must have the lead in military matters; we must oppose, or follow them, just as they think fit, either to attempt an advance or to retire. It is hardly probable they will again attack New England without large reinforcements.

Our correspondent at the Hague is very regular, but his intelligence is never in season to form the ground of any of our proceedings. We have packets from him in continuance to the letter Y, December 16th, though our Commissioners have not been able to convey one safely since May last. It is strange that they cannot succeed through you. But, indeed, you appear also to know but little of them.

Mr Deane being wanted here, Mr John Adams sailed the 17th of February, to take his place at the Court of Versailles. It is probable you will hear of his arrival before this reaches you. It seems needless to desire you to give us early notice of that, and other foreign intelligence. Your usual punctuality needed not the spur of the information, which I have given you of our present great ignorance of the situation and transactions of the gentlemen at Paris.

I am, with much regard, your friend and humble servant,

JAMES LOVELL, For the Committee of Foreign Affairs.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

York, 16th April, 1778.

Gentlemen,

This, with my affectionate wishes for your prosperity, may serve to acquaint you, that Congress has this day resolved, "That William Bingham, agent for the United States of America, now resident in Martinique, be authorised to draw Bills of Exchange, at double usance, on the Commissioners of the United States at Paris, for any sums not exceeding in the whole one hundred thousand livres tournois, to enable him to discharge debts by him contracted on account of the said States, for which draft he is to be accountable." Mr Bingham will forward the American Gazettes, with this billet of advice, and tell you why we have enabled him to draw upon you, when we have stores of produce in magazines for exportation. He will also inform you of our anxiety to know something of your proceedings and prospects, an uncommon fatality having attended your despatches ever since the month of May last.

I am, with much esteem, &c.

JAMES LOVELL, For the Committee.

* * * * *

M. DE SARTINE TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Translation.

Versailles, April 26th, 1778.

Sir,

I have received your letter of the 20th instant, accompanied by the translation of the representations addressed to you by the American Commissioners, relative to the fears of the merchants of Bordeaux and Nantes, who have hitherto transacted business with America, and by the request of the Commissioners, with regard to the protection of that commerce. For nearly a month, the French coast along the Bay of Biscay, and a part of that on the channel, have been guarded by twenty frigates and corvettes distributed in the open sea, as well as along the entrances of harbors and rivers. Those stationed at the latter places, take under their protection the French and American ships which sail from those points, and convoy them beyond the Capes. If they meet any vessels inward bound, they convoy them to the entrance of the harbors.

The frigates stationed further out at sea, are employed in chasing away the Guernsey and Jersey privateers, which are a great interruption to commerce. The same orders have been issued in the Colonies, where the frigates there stationed convoy the French and American vessels from the coasts. The reports made to me assure me, that these orders are promptly executed, and that the protection is extended as fully to American as to French vessels. You will agree with me, that this kind of protection is for the present the only one, which it is possible to give to commerce; and that convoys to America would be impracticable under present circumstances, and are always insecure, and subject to great inconveniences. To protect the coasts, to assure a free access to the harbors, to remove the privateers, and afford a convoy beyond the Capes; these aids commerce requires, and has a right to expect, and they have long since been provided by the orders of his Majesty. The Commissioners cannot reasonably complain when in this respect the American vessels are on an equal footing with those of his Majesty's subjects.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DE SARTINE.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO WILLIAM BINGHAM.

York, 26th April, 1778.

Sir,

Herewith you have in triplicate and copy of my former letters. I now send you the proceedings of Congress upon an appearance of the draughts of two bills, said to have been read to the British Parliament. Since Congress took notice of them, Governor Tryon has sent out from New York copies of them, with greater marks of authenticity than those bore which first came to hand. He certifies, that he "has his Majesty's command to cause them to be printed and dispersed, that the people at large may be acquainted with the contents, and of the favorable disposition of Great Britain towards the American Colonies." I will not attempt to lead your judgment upon these proceedings of our enemies. I will only add one anecdote of their late conduct, nearly allied to that of counterfeiting our Continental currency. They have published, in all our forms, a forged Resolve of Congress, purporting a consignment of power to General Washington, to detain in his army, during the war, all militia men who have enlisted or been draughted for nine months or a year; and to treat as deserters such as attempt to leave him at the expiration of their present agreement. Perhaps you will see this properly stigmatized in some of our eastern papers conveyed in the vessel, which may carry this assurance of my being, with much regard, sir, your friend and humble servant,

JAMES LOVELL, For the Committee.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

York, 30th April, 1778.

Gentlemen,

By the Gazettes, which accompany this letter, you will see, that the enemy are entering upon a plan, which must shortly perplex us much, unless we receive despatches from you, to enlighten us as to your situation and transactions, of which we have had no information since the latter end of May. As we have heard of the loss of Captain Johnston and Captain Wickes, and know that John Folger was robbed, we cannot charge our present want of letters to negligence in you; but we think you should not rest satisfied without sending triplicates of all your despatches. The Commercial Committee will transmit to you the contract, which they have entered into with the agent of the house of Roderique Hortalez & Co. the heads of which contract happening to be at hand are enclosed.

We have read a letter written by a friend, dated House of Commons, February 13th, in which we are told, that you had concluded a treaty with France and Spain, which was on the water towards us. Imagine how solicitous we are to know the truth of this, before we receive any proposals from Britain, in consequence of the scheme in Lord North's speech, and the two draughts of bills now sent to you. The state of our foreign connexions is a subject now before Congress; and, dubious as we are about your transactions, some resolutions will probably be formed to be transmitted to you by a special conveyance shortly, when a general account of our affairs will also be sent. We have little uneasiness about the strength of our enemy. Our currency must be supported in due credit, after which we may bid defiance to Britain, and all her German hirelings. We wish every advice and assistance from you for the support of such credit.

I am, with great regard, &c.

JAMES LOVELL, For the Committee of Foreign Affairs.

* * * * *

TO M. DUMAS.

Yorktown, 14th May, 1778.

Sir,

Your several favors, down to the letter Y, had come to our hand before the 2d instant, on which day we received despatches from our Commissioners in France, after an interruption of eleven months. Judge, therefore, sir, how very agreeable your letters must have been to us, though you wrote but briefly, always supposing that we received more full accounts of European politics from our friends at Paris.

We observe, with great pleasure, that the States of Holland are discovering a proper spirit in the conduct of their commerce, by granting convoys, in consequence of the insolent behavior of their British neighbors. The magnanimous conduct of His Most Christian Majesty must have great influence upon all around him. We doubt not of your hearty congratulations upon the success of our cause, which you so early and warmly espoused, and which you have aided with such judgment and resolution by your pen. We shall write particularly to the gentlemen at Paris, respecting the injuries you have received from our enemies, and shall instruct them to pay the strictest attention to our engagements made to you at the commencement of our correspondence.

We must refer you to the prints now sent and to our Commissioners, for the general state of our affairs, only remarking here, that we were actuated in our proceedings on the 22d of April entirely by the uniform spirit, which we have maintained ever since the 4th of July, 1776, being not then acquainted with the favorable state of our cause in France, as an uncommon fatality had attended the letters of our friends for nearly a whole year, before the arrival of their present important packet.

We are, with much esteem, &c.

RICHARD MORRIS, RICHARD H. LEE, JAMES LOVELL.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO WILLIAM BINGHAM.

York, 14th May, 1778.

Sir,

At length, on the 2d instant, we received despatches from our Commissioners at Paris, with treaties of alliance and commerce, concluded on the 6th of February between France and these United States. They were ratified here on the 4th of this month, and the prints herewith sent to you will show the principles upon which they are founded. We are persuaded you will greatly partake of the satisfaction, which we feel on this occasion.

We do not find by the letters, which we have received, that Congress may venture to enlarge the power that was given to you by the resolve of April 16th.[50] But it becomes less necessary that you should be furnished in that way, as commerce will, in all human probability, be more easily carried on between this continent and your islands now, than for some time past.

Great hurry of business must be an excuse for our brevity at this time, though it would not warrant an omission of sending you our congratulations and the Gazettes.

We are, with much regard, &c.

ROBERT MORRIS, RICHARD HENRY LEE, JAMES LOVELL.

FOOTNOTES:

[50] "Resolved, that Mr William Bingham, agent of the United States of America, now resident in Martinique, be authorised to draw bills of exchange at double usance, on the commissioners of the United States in Paris, for any sums not exceeding in the whole 100,000 livres turnois, to enable him to discharge debts by him contracted on account of the said States; for which drafts he is to be accountable."—Journals of Congress.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

York, 14th May, 1778.

Gentlemen,

Our affairs have now a universally good appearance. Every thing at home and abroad seems verging towards a happy and permanent period. We are preparing for either war or peace. For although we are fully persuaded, that our enemies are wearied, beaten, and in despair, yet we shall not presume too much on that persuasion, and the rather, because it is our fixed determination to admit no terms of peace, but such as are fully in character with the dignity of independent States, and consistent with the spirit and intention of our alliances on the continent of Europe. We believe, and with great reason too, that the honor and fortitude of America have been rendered suspicious in Europe, by the arts, intrigue, and specious misrepresentations of our enemies there. Every proceeding and policy of ours have been tortured, to give some possible coloring to their assertions of a doubtful disposition in America, as to her perseverance in maintaining her independency, and perhaps the speeches of many of the minority of both Houses in the English Parliament, who seem to persist in the probability of a reconciliation, may have contributed towards a continuance of that suspicion. But we, at this particular time, feel ourselves exceedingly happy in a proof, from the accidental arrangement of circumstances, such as we could neither foresee nor alter, that the disposition of America on that head was fixed and final. For this proof we desire your attention to what follows.

The English Ministry appear to have been very industrious in getting over to America, as soon as possible, their two conciliatory bills, even before they had been once read; the reason of which haste we did not then see; but the arrival of your despatches since, with the treaties, has unriddled that affair. General Howe was equally industrious, in circulating them by his emissaries through the country, and likewise sent them under a flag to General Washington, who immediately despatched them to Congress on the —— of April. They were in themselves truly unworthy of the attention of that public body; but lest the silence of Congress should be misunderstood, or furnish the enemy with new ground for false insinuation, they were referred to a committee, whose judicious and spirited report thereon was unanimously approved in the House on the 22d, then published and circulated through the several States with all possible expedition. The despatches, in charge of Mr Simeon Deane, did not arrive till the 2d of May, ten days after the said reports were published; and his expedition in bringing his papers to Congress prevented any intelligence from arriving before him. Enclosed are the reports referred to, which we recommend to your attention to make as public as possible in Europe, prefacing them with such an explanatory detail of the before mentioned circumstances, as shall have a tendency to place the politics of America on the firm basis of national honor, integrity, and fortitude.

We admire the wisdom and true dignity of the Court of France, on their part of the construction and ratification of the treaties between us. They have a powerful tendency to dissolve effectually that narrowness of mind, which mankind have been too unhappily bred up in. Those treaties discover the politician founded on the philosopher, and a harmony of affections made the groundwork of mutual interest. France has won us more powerfully than any reserved treaties could possibly bind us, and by one generous and noble act has sown the seeds of an eternal friendship.

It is from an anxiety to preserve inviolate this cordial union, so happily begun, that we desire your particular attention to the 11th and 12th articles of the treaty of amity and commerce. The unreserved confidence of Congress in the good disposition of the Court of France, will sufficiently appear, from their having unanimously first ratified those treaties, and then trusted any alteration, which may be proper to be made, to after mutual negotiations. We are apprehensive, that the general and undefined line of the 12th article may in future be misunderstood, or rendered inconvenient or impracticable, and so become detrimental to that good friendship, which we wish ever to subsist. To prevent this, you will herewith receive instruction and authority for giving up, on our part, the whole of the 11th article, proposing to the Court of France the rescinding, on their part, of the whole of the 12th article, those two being intended as reciprocal balances to each other.

It is exceedingly disagreeable to Congress, to find there has been misconduct in any of the commanders of armed vessels under the American flag. Every authentic information of that kind will be strictly attended to, and every means be taken to punish the offenders and make reparation to the sufferers. The chief consolation we find in this unpleasing business is, that the most experienced States have not been able to restrain the vices and irregularities of individuals altogether. Congress has published a proclamation for the more effectually suppressing and punishing such malpractices. But we are rather inclined to hope, that as the line of connexion and friendship is now clearly marked, and the minds of the seamen thereby relieved from that inexplicable mystery respecting their real prizes, which before embarrassed them, such irregularities will be less frequent, or totally cease, to which end the magnificent generosity of the King of France to the owners of the prizes, which for reasons of State had been given up, will happily contribute.

We are, Gentlemen, your very humble servants,

R. H. LEE, JAMES LOVELL.

* * * * *

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Passy, May 14th, 1778.

Sir,

In the several cruises made by Captains Wickes, Johnston, Cunningham, and others of our armed vessels, on the coast of Great Britain, it is computed that between four and five hundred prisoners have been made and set at liberty, either on their landing in France, or at sea, because it was understood, that we could not keep them confined in France. When Captain Wickes brought in at one time near a hundred, we proposed to Lord Stormont an exchange for as many of ours confined in England; but all treaty on the subject was rudely refused, and our people are still detained there, notwithstanding the liberal discharges made of theirs, as above mentioned. We hear that Captain Jones has now brought into Brest near two hundred, whom we should be glad to exchange for our seamen, who might be of use in expeditions from hence; but as an opinion prevails, that prisoners of a nation with which France is not at war, and brought into France by another power, cannot be retained by the captors, but are free as soon as they arrive, we are apprehensive, that these prisoners may also be set at liberty, return to England, and serve to man a frigate against us, while our brave seamen, with a number of our friends of this nation, whom we are anxious to set free, continue useless and languishing in their gaols.

In a treatise of one of your law writers, entitled Traites des Prises qui se font sur Mer, printed 1763, we find the above opinion controverted, p. 129, Sec. 30, in the following words; "Hence it seems, that it is not true, as some pretend, that from the time a prisoner escapes, or otherwise reaches the shore of a neutral power, he is absolutely free. It is true, he cannot be retaken without the consent of that power, but such a power would violate the laws of neutrality if it should refuse its consent. This is a consequence of the asylum of the ship in which the prisoner or hostage was contained."

We know not of what authority this writer may be, and therefore pray a moment of your Excellency's attention to this matter, requesting your advice upon it, that if it be possible, some means may be devised to retain these prisoners, till as many of ours can be obtained in exchange for them.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

York, 15th of May, 1778.

Gentlemen,

Your pressing request for five thousand hogsheads of tobacco, is a matter as embarrassing to Congress as to yourselves. Their anxiety to get it to you is as great as yours to receive it. We have already lost vast quantities in the attempt, and thereby have furnished our enemies gratis with what was designed for the discharging of your contracts, and for promoting the interest and commerce of our friends. We request your particular attention to this information, as it is a matter of as high moment to our allies as well as to ourselves. In the present state of things it is very probable, that England will be unwilling to interrupt the trade of France in their own bottoms; and our desire is, as well for her benefit as ours, that France would open the trade from her own ports, so that the intentional advantages of the treaties may fully operate for both countries. We need not enlarge on this head, as your discernment will furnish you with all the reasons to be alleged in support of what we desire.

In addition to what is mentioned in our letter, respecting the 11th and 12th articles of the treaty, we observe, that the 12th is capable of an interpretation and misuse, which were probably not thought of at the time of constructing it; we mean, that it opens a door for all, or a great part of the trade of America, to be earned through the French Islands to Europe, and puts all future regulations out of our power, either by impost or prohibition, which, though we might never find it to our interest to use, yet by keeping it in our power, will enable us to preserve equality with, and regulate the imposts of the countries we trade with.

The general trade of France is not under like restriction, every article on our part being stated against the single article of molasses on theirs; therefore, Congress think it more liberal and consistent that both articles should be expunged.

We have no material military transactions to acquaint you with. The enemy yet remain in Philadelphia, but some late appearances make it probable they will not stay long. Our army is yet at the Valley Forge. The enemy, through the course of the winter, have carried on a low, pitiful, and disgraceful kind of war against individuals, whom they pushed at by sending out little parties and revengefully burning several of their houses; yet all this militated against themselves, by raising an unquenchable indignation in the country against them; and on the whole, we know not which most to wonder at, their folly in making us hate them after their inability for conquest and their desires of peace are confessed, or their scandalous barbarity in executing their resentments.

You will see, gentlemen, by the contract which the Commercial Committee have signed with the agent of M. Beaumarchais, that Congress was desirous of keeping a middle course, so as not to appear to slight any determined generosity of the French Court, and, at the same time, to show a promptness to discharge honorably the debts, which may be justly charged against these States by any persons. We depend upon you to explain the affair fully, as you seem to make a distinction between the military stores and the other invoices, while no such distinction appears in the letters of Mr Deane or M. Beaumarchais. In short, we are rather more undetermined by your late despatches, than we were during your long silence. Congress being at this time deeply engaged in a variety of business, and the Foreign Committee thin of members, you will be pleased to excuse us from being more particular in our answer to your several despatches, as well as in our information of the state of our affairs.

We are, gentlemen, &c.

R. H. LEE, JAMES LOVELL.

P. S. You will see what we have written to M. Dumas, and you will point out what will be our line of honor to him and justice to these States.

* * * * *

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Passy, May 16th, 1778.

Sir,

We had this morning the honor of receiving your Excellency's letter of the 13th instant, relative to the Boston frigate. We beg leave to assure your Excellency, that the frigate, called the Boston, now at Bordeaux, is a ship of war belonging to the thirteen United States of North America, built and maintained at their expense by the honorable Congress. We, therefore, humbly presume, that his Majesty's royal determination, on the representation of the Farmers-General, will be according to the usage of nations in such cases, and your Excellency may be assured that Captain Tucker will conform to that determination with the utmost respect.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Passy, May 16th, 1778.

Sir,

Messrs Basmarine, Rainbeau, & Co. having represented to us, that they have applied to Government for a frigate, to be employed in defence of their commerce to and from America, and in making reprisals for the losses they have lately sustained by our enemies, we, the Commissioners of the United States of North America, hereby request that such a frigate may be granted; and in that case, we are ready to give a commission and letter of marque to such frigate, upon Messrs Basmarine & Co. giving bonds to us for the regular behavior of such frigate, according to the law of nations and the usage of the United States.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO MR JONATHAN WILLIAMS, AT NANTES.

Passy, May 25th, 1778.

Sir,

Your favors of May 11th and 18th are now before us. We shall this day acquaint Captain Jones how far it is in our power to comply with his desires, and in what manner. Your letter of the 18th informs us of a dispute between Mr Schweighauser and you, concerning the disposal of the Ranger's prizes; and you are still of opinion, that you have authority to interfere in the disposal of prizes, and that you should be chargeable with neglect of duty if you did not. The necessities of our country demand the utmost frugality, which can never be obtained, without the utmost simplicity in the management of her affairs; and as Congress have authorised Mr W. Lee to superintend the commercial affairs in general, and he has appointed Mr Schweighauser, and as your authority is under the Commissioners at Paris only, we think it prudent and necessary for the public service to revoke, and we do hereby revoke, all the powers and authorities heretofore granted to you by the Commissioners plenipotentiary of the United States of America, or any of them at Paris; to the end, that hereafter the management of the affairs, commercial and maritime, of America, may be under one sole direction, that of Mr Schweighauser within his district.

As to the merchandise and stores of every kind, which you have on hand at present, we leave it to your choice, either to ship them to America yourself, or to deliver them over to Mr Schweighauser to be shipped by him. It is not from any prejudice to you, for whom we have a great respect and esteem, but merely from a desire to save the public money, and prevent the clashing of claims and interests, and to avoid confusion and delays, that we have taken this step.

We have further to repeat our earnest request, that you would lay your accounts before us as soon as possible, because, until we have them we can never know either the state of our finances, or how far the orders of Congress for stores and merchandise to be shipped to America have been fulfilled.

We are, Sir, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Passy, June 3d, 1778.

Sir,

We have the honor of enclosing to your Excellency, an account of duties paid by the agent for necessary supplies to the ship of war the Boston, in the port of Bordeaux. As these duties are very heavy, and the payment of any duties on mere supplies to ships of war, as on merchandise exported, appears to us uncommon, we beg the favor of your Excellency to give such orders relative to it in all his Majesty's ports, as may regulate this for the future.

The Captain of the ship of war the Ranger, belonging to the United States, has, we understand, put his prizes into the hands of the intendant or Commandant at Brest; and no account has been rendered of them to the public agent, or to us. We are also given to understand, that, in consequence of this proceeding, very heavy fees are to be paid upon the sale of them. As the transaction is altogether improper, we must trouble your Excellency for an order to the commandant, to deliver them, without delay or extraordinary charges, to the public agent, Mr Schweighauser at Nantes, or to his order.

It would give us satisfaction to annoy our enemies, by granting a letter of marque, as is desired, for a vessel fitting out at Dunkirk, and, as it is supposed by us, containing a mixed crew of French, Americans, and English. But, if this should seem improper to your Excellency, we will not do it.

We have the honor, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

JOHN PAUL JONES TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

Passy, June 16th, 1778.

Gentlemen,

At the time when I took Lieutenant Simpson's parole, I did not expect to have been so long absent from America; but as circumstances have now rendered the time of my return less certain, I am willing to let the dispute between us drop forever, by giving up that parole, which will entitle him to command the Ranger. I bear no malice, and, if I have done him an injury, this will be making him all the present satisfaction in my power. If, on the contrary, he has injured me, I will trust to himself for an acknowledgment.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of esteem and respect,

Your obliged, &c.

JOHN PAUL JONES.

* * * * *

TO DAVID HARTLEY.

Passy, June 16th, 1778.

Sir,

I received yours of the 5th instant, acquainting us that the ministry have at length agreed to an exchange of prisoners. We shall write to Captain Jones for the list required, which will be sent you as soon as received. We understand there are at least two hundred. We desire and expect, that the number of ours shall be taken from Tortune and Plymouth, in proportion to the number in each place, and to consist of those who have been longest in confinement, it being not only equitable that they should be first, but this method will prevent all suspicions, that you pick out the worst and weakest of our people to give in exchange for your good ones. If you think proper to clear your prisoners at once, and give us all our people, we give you our solemn engagement, which we are sure will be punctually executed, to deliver to Lord Howe, in America, or to his order, a number of your sailors, equal to the surplus, as soon as the agreement arrives there.

There is one thing more which we desire may be observed. We shall note in our lists the names and numbers of those taken in the service of the King, distinguishing them from those taken in the merchants' service; that, in the exchange to be made, you may give adequate numbers of those taken in the service of the States, and of our merchants. This will prevent any uneasiness among your navymen and ours, if the seamen of merchantmen are exchanged before them. As it will be very troublesome and expensive, as well as fatiguing to them, to march our people from Brest to Calais, we may endeavor to get leave for your ship to come to the road of Brest, to receive them there; or, if that cannot be, we must desire from your Admiralty a passport for the ship, that is to convey them from Brest to Calais. If you have any of our people still prisoners on board your ships of war, we request they may be put into the prisons, to take their chance of exchange with the rest.

B. FRANKLIN.

* * * * *

TO JOHN PAUL JONES.

Passy, June 16th, 1778.

Sir,

Upon the receipt of this letter, you will forthwith make preparations, with all possible despatch, for a voyage to America. Your own prudence will naturally induce you to keep this your destination secret, lest measures should be taken by the enemy to intercept you. If, in the course of your passage home, opportunities should present of making prizes, or of doing any material annoyance to the enemy, you are to embrace them; and you are at liberty to go out of your way for so desirable a purpose.

The fishery, at the banks of Newfoundland, is an important object, and possibly the enemy's men of war may have other business than the protection of it. Transports are constantly passing and repassing from Rhode Island, New York and Philadelphia to Halifax, and from all these places to England. You will naturally search for some of these as prizes.

If the French government should send any despatches to you, or if you should receive any from us, to carry to America, you will take the best care of them, and especially that they may not fall into improper hands. You are not, however, to wait for any despatches, but to proceed upon your voyage as soon as you can get ready. If there is any room on board your ship, where you could stow away a number of chests of arms, or of clothing, for the use of the United States, you will inform M. Schweighauser of it, that he may send them to you before your departure. We do not mean to encumber you with a cargo, which will obstruct the sailing of your ship, or will impede her fighting; but if, consistent with her sailing and fighting, she can take any quantity of arms or clothing, it will be a desirable object for the public.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

FROM THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

York, 21st June, 1778.

Gentlemen,

The British Commissioners have arrived and transmitted their powers and propositions to Congress, which have received the answer you will find in the Pennsylvania Gazette of the 20th instant.

On the 18th of this month, General Clinton, with the British army, (now under his command) abandoned Philadelphia, and the city is in possession of our troops. The enemy crossed into Jersey, but whether with design to push for South Amboy, or to embark below Billingsport, on the Delaware, is yet uncertain. General Washington has put his army in motion, and is following the enemy into Jersey.

There has arrived here a M. Holker, from France, who has presented a paper to Congress, declaring that he comes with a verbal message to Congress from the minister of France, touching our treating with Great Britain, and some other particulars which, for want of his paper, we cannot at present enumerate. The style of his paper is as if from the representative of the Court, but he has no authentic voucher of his mission for the delivery of this verbal message. We desire of you, gentlemen, to give us the most exact information in your power concerning the authenticity of M. Holker's mission for this purpose.

We are, gentlemen, with esteem and regard, &c.

RICHARD H. LEE, THOMAS HAYWARD, JR. JAMES LOVELL.

* * * * *

M. DE SARTINE TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

Translation.

Versailles, 14th July, 1778.

Gentlemen,

Notwithstanding the precautions, which I have taken to supply the inhabitants of the islands of St Pierre and Miquelon with provisions for their subsistence, who, in their present circumstances, can receive very small or no succors from the commerce with France, it may happen that the intervention of one or more of the vessels sent to those islands with provisions, may reduce the people to great distress, and it will be too late to apply a remedy after the knowledge of the event shall reach us. I have thought, that in case of pressing necessity, we might count on supplies from the United States of America, and have indicated the same to the administrators of the islands of St Pierre and Miquelon. It will be highly agreeable to his Majesty if you should concur in this opinion, and do what may be in your power to procure such succors, by recommending to the United States, and particularly to the government of Boston, to induce the fitting out of expeditions to those isles, for the purpose of taking provisions to the inhabitants, and supplying their wants.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DE SARTINE.

* * * * *

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Passy, July 16th, 1778.

Sir,

We have the honor of your Excellency's letter of the 14th instant. We shall embrace the first opportunity of writing to Congress, and to the government of the Massachusetts Bay, and enclosing copies of your Excellency's letter to us, which we are persuaded will have the most powerful influence with them to exert themselves, and to recommend to their fellow citizens to engage in expeditions for the relief of the inhabitants of St Pierre and Miquelon. There is not the smallest doubt of their ability to supply the wants of their friends at those places, provided the British men of war should be withdrawn from the Halifax and Newfoundland station. But if there should remain as many ships of war on those stations as there have been for the last two years, the difficulty will be very great.

We have the honor to enclose to your Excellency a copy of a letter just received from Mr Schweighauser, whereby your Excellency will see the difficulties that still embarrass our frigates in relation to their prizes. We entreat your Excellency's further attention to the subject, that orders may be given for the relief of our officers and men from these embarrassments.

We have the honor to request your Excellency's attention to another subject, that of the British prisoners made by our frigates, the Providence, the Boston, and the Ranger, and all others in future. As it is necessary for these frigates, forthwith to proceed to sea, and as we have some hopes of an exchange of prisoners in Europe, we request your Excellency that we may have leave to confine them in your prisons, to be maintained there at our expense, until exchanged or sent by us to America, and that your Excellency would give the necessary directions accordingly.

We have the honor to be, with respect, your Excellency's, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO THE COUNCIL OF THE MASSACHUSETTS BAY.

Passy, July 16, 1778.

May it please your Honors,

We have the honor to enclose a copy of a letter just received from M. de Sartine, the minister of state for the marine of this kingdom, in answer to which we have had the honor to assure his Excellency, that we would embrace the first opportunity of communicating it to your honors. We have not the smallest doubts of the good inclinations of the people in America, to supply the necessities of their friends in St Pierre and Miquelon, nor of the abilities of those in the northern States to do it effectually, provided the British men of war are withdrawn from the Halifax and Newfoundland stations, and perhaps it may be done, notwithstanding the dangers of men of war. We hope, however, it will be attempted. There is no doubt but a good price may be obtained, at the same time that an acceptable act of friendship and of humanity will be performed.

We have the honor to request, that this letter and its enclosure may be laid before the General Court, and that such measures may be taken as their wisdom shall dictate to the accomplishment of so desirable a purpose.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Passy, July 17th, 1778.

Sir,

We herewith communicate to your Excellency a resolution of Congress, relative to the treaties, which we request may be laid before the King. Thereby his Majesty will perceive the unfeigned sentiments of that body, as well as the whole American people, whose hearts the King has gained, by his great benevolence towards them, manifested in these treaties, which has made so deep an impression on their minds, that no time will efface it.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Passy, 20th July, 1778.

Sir,

We have the honor to inform Congress, that the Spy, Captain Nyles, has arrived at Brest, and brought us a ratification of the treaties with His Most Christian Majesty, which has given much satisfaction to this Court and nation. On the 17th instant we had the honor of exchanging ratifications with his Excellency the Count de Vergennes. The treaties ratified, signed by his Majesty, and under the great seal of France, are now in our possession, where, perhaps, considering the dangers of enemies at sea, it will be safest to let them remain at present. Copies of them we shall have the honor to transmit to Congress by this opportunity.

War is not yet declared between France and England, by either nation, but hostilities at sea have been already commenced by both, and as the French fleet from Brest, under the command of the Count d'Orvilliers, and the British fleet, under Admiral Keppel, are both at sea, we are in hourly expectation of a rencontre between them. The Jamaica fleet, the Windward Island fleet, and a small fleet from the Mediterranean, have arrived at London, which has enabled them to obtain by means of a violent impress, perhaps a thousand or fifteen hundred seamen, who will man two or three ships more, in the whole making Admiral Keppel's fleet somewhat nearer to an equality with the French. In the mean time, the Spanish flotilla has arrived, but the councils of that Court are kept in a secrecy so profound, that we presume not to say with confidence what are her real intentions. We continue, however, to receive from various quarters encouraging assurances, and from the situation of the powers of Europe it seems highly probable, that Spain will join France in case of war.

A war in Germany, between the Emperor and King of Prussia, seems to be inevitable, and it is affirmed that the latter has marched his army into Bohemia, so that we apprehend that America has at present nothing to fear from Germany. We are doing all in our power to obtain a loan of money, and have a prospect of procuring some in Amsterdam, but not in such quantities as will be wanted. We are constrained to request Congress to be as sparing as possible in their drafts upon us. The drafts already made, together with the great expense arising from the frigates which have been sent here, and the expenses of the commissioners, the maintenance of your ministers for Vienna and Tuscany, and of prisoners who have made their escape, and the amount of clothes and munitions of war already sent to America, are such, that we are under great apprehensions that our funds will not be sufficient to answer the drafts, which we daily expect, for the interest of loan office certificates, as well as those from Mr Bingham.

We have the honor to enclose a copy of a letter from M. de Sartine, the Minister of Marine, and to request the attention of Congress to the subject of it.

We are told in several letters from the honorable Committee for Foreign Affairs, that we shall receive instructions and authority for giving up, on our part, the whole of the 11th article of the treaty, proposing it as a condition to the Court of France, that they on their part should give up the whole of the 12th. But unfortunately, these instructions, and authority were omitted to be sent with the letters, and we have not yet received them. At the time of the exchange of the ratifications, we mentioned this subject to the Count de Vergennes, and gave him an extract of the Committee's letter. His answer to us was, that the alteration would be readily agreed to, and he ordered his secretary not to register the ratification till it was done. We therefore request that we may be honored with the instructions and authority of Congress to set aside the two articles as soon as possible, and while the subject is fresh in memory.

The letter to M. Dumas[51] is forwarded, and in answer to the Committee's inquiry, what is proper for Congress to do for that gentleman, we beg leave to say, that his extreme activity and diligence in negotiating our affairs, and his punctuality in his correspondence with Congress as well as with us, and his usefulness to our cause in several other ways, not at present proper to be explained, give him, in our opinion, a good title to two hundred pounds sterling a year at least.

The other things mentioned in the Committee's letter to us shall be attended to as soon as possible. We have received also the resolution of Congress of the 9th of February, and the letter of the Committee of the same date, empowering us to appoint one or more suitable persons as commercial agents, for conducting the commercial business of the United States in France, and other parts of Europe. But as this power was given us before Congress received the treaty, and we have never received it but with the ratification of the treaty, and as by the treaty Congress is empowered to appoint consuls in the ports of France, perhaps it may be expected from us, that we should wait for consuls. At present, Mr John Bonfield of Bordeaux, and Mr J. D. Schweighauser at Nantes, both by the appointment of Mr William Lee, are the only persons authorised as commercial agents. If we should find it expedient to give appointments to any other persons, before we hear from Congress, we will send information of it by the first opportunity. If Congress should think proper to appoint consuls, we are humbly of opinion, that the choice will fall most justly as well as naturally on Americans, who are, in our opinion, better qualified for this business than any others, and the reputation of such an office, together with a moderate commission on the business they may transact, and the advantages to be derived from trade, will be a sufficient inducement to undertake it, and a sufficient reward for discharging the duties of it.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

FOOTNOTES:

[51] Private Agent for American Affairs in Holland.

* * * * *

The Functions of Consuls,

Are to maintain in their department the privileges of their nation according to treaties.

To have inspection and jurisdiction, as well civil as criminal, over all the subjects of their States who happen to be in their department, and particularly over commerce and merchants.

This sort of commission is not given, but to persons above thirty years of age.

Those appointed should cause their powers to be registered in the nearest Court of Admiralty, and in the Chamber of Commerce, if there is one, near the place of their residence.

On his arrival there, the Consul should publish his powers in the assembly of merchants of his country happening to be there at the time, and put them on the records of the Consulate.

When there is any question that affects the general affairs of the commerce of his nation, he ought to convoke all the merchants and masters of vessels of his nation then in the place, who are obliged to attend, under penalty, according to the resolutions taken in these assemblies; the Consul issues orders which ought to be executed, and of which he should send copies every three months to the Lieutenant General of the nearest Admiralty and Chamber of Commerce.

The jurisdiction of Consuls extends to several objects, for he not only supplies the place of a Court of Admiralty, but also of a common court of justice.

In civil matters the judgments are to be executed, provisional security being given for the sum adjudged; in criminal matters definitively and without appeal, if given with two of the principal merchants of his country assisting, except where corporal punishment appertains to the crime, in which case the process and proofs are to be drawn up by the Consul, and sent with the criminal by the first vessel of the nation, to be judged by the proper authority in the first port thereof where he arrives.

The Consul may also oblige any of his nation to depart, if they behave scandalously, and captains are obliged to take them, under a penalty.

If the Consul has any difference with the merchants of the place, the parties are to appear in the next Court of Admiralty, and the cause is to be there adjudged.

The Consul has a clerk, who keeps an office, in which all the acts of the Consulate are registered. He names also the officers who execute his precepts, and takes their oaths. If war happens, the Consuls retire.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Passy, 23d July, 1778.

Sir,

We have just received a message from the Count de Vergennes, by his secretary, acquainting us that information is received from England, of the intention of the cabinet there to offer, (by additional instructions to their commissioners) independence to the United States, on condition of their making a separate peace, relying on their majority in both Houses for approbation of the measure. M. de Vergennes upon this intelligence requests, that we would write expressly to acquaint the Congress, that though no formal declaration of war has yet been published, the war between France and England is considered as actually existing, from the time of the return of the Ambassadors; and that if England should propose a peace with France, the immediate answer to the proposition would be, "our eventual treaty with the United States is now in full force, and we will make no peace but in concurrence with them." And we have given it as our firm opinion, that such an answer will be given by you without the least hesitation or difficulty, though you may not have been informed before, as you now are, that war being actually begun, the eventual treaty is become fully and completely binding.

We are, with great respect, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS.

Passy, 29th July, 1778.

Sir,

Mr Livingston received a commission from us, as Lieutenant of the Boston, and made a cruise in her, in which he had the good fortune to take four prizes. He is now obliged to leave the ship, but we have the pleasure of a letter from Captain Tucker, in which he gives us a handsome character of Mr Livingston, and of his conduct during the cruise. We have also a good opinion of him, and recommend him to the favor of Congress.

We are, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO THE COMMITTEE OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.

Passy, 29th July, 1778.

Gentlemen,

We have the honor of your letters of May 14th and 15th. We congratulate you on the general good appearance of our affairs, and we are happy in your assurances, that it is your fixed determination to admit no terms of peace, but such as are consistent with the spirit and intention of our alliance with France, especially as the present politics of the British cabinet aim at seducing you from that alliance, by an offer of independence, upon condition you will renounce it, a measure that will injure the reputation of our States with all the world, and destroy their confidence in our honor.

No authenticity from Congress to make an alteration in the treaty, by withdrawing the 11th and 12th articles, has yet reached us. But we gave an extract of your letter to the Count de Vergennes, when we exchanged ratifications, who expressed an entire willingness to agree to it. We wish for the powers by the first opportunity. We have not yet seen M. Beaumarchais, but the important concern with him shall be attended to as soon as may be.

We have the honor to be, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

M. DE SARTINE TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

Translation.

Versailles, 29th July, 1778.

Gentlemen,

I have received the letter, which you did me the honor to transmit on the 16th instant. His Majesty relies greatly on the succors of provisions, which the government of Massachusetts Bay may furnish the islands of St Pierre and Miquelon.

The difficulties which the privateers of the United States have experienced till now in the ports of France, either as to the sale of their prizes, or to secure their prisoners, must cease, from the change of circumstances. I make no doubt on the other hand, but that the United States will grant the same facilities to French privateers. To accomplish this double object, I have drafted a plan of regulations, which I earnestly request you to examine, and to note what you think of it; or even to point out such other means as may answer the same purpose, so that I may receive his Majesty's orders. I have the honor to be, &c.

DE SARTINE.

* * * * *

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Passy, August 13th, 1778.

Sir,

Your Excellency's letter of the 29th of July, enclosing a plan for a system of regulations for prizes and prisoners, we had the honor of receiving in due time, and are very sorry it has remained so long unanswered.

In general, we are of opinion, that the regulations are very good; but we beg leave to lay before your Excellency the following observations.

Upon the 2d article we observe, that the extensive jurisdiction of the Judges of Admiralty in America, which, considering the local and other circumstances of that country, cannot easily be contracted, will probably render this regulation impracticable in America. In France it will, as far as we are able to judge of it, be very practicable, and consequently beneficial. But we submit to your Excellency's consideration, whether it would not be better in America after the words "les dites Juges" to add,—or the Register of the Court of Admiralty, or some other person authorized by the Judge. The jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty in America extending for some hundred miles, this regulation would be subject to great delays, and other inconveniences, if it was confined to the Judge. The 4th article seems to be subject to the same inconveniencies, and therefore to require the same amendment.

Upon the 14th article, we beg leave to submit to your Excellency's consideration, whether the heavy duties upon British merchandise and manufactures, if these are to be paid upon prize goods, will not operate as a great discouragement to the sale of prizes made by American cruisers; and whether it would be consistent with his Majesty's interest to permit merchandise and manufactures, taken in prizes made by Americans, to be stored in his Majesty's warehouses, if you please, until they can be exported to America, and without being subject to duties.

We know not the expense, that will attend these regulations and proceedings in the courts of this kingdom; but as the fees of office in America are very moderate, and our people have been accustomed to such only, we submit to your Excellency whether it will not be necessary to state and establish the fees here, and make the establishments so far public, that Americans may be able to inform themselves.

As we are not well instructed in the laws of this kingdom, or in the course of the courts of Admiralty here, it is very possible that some inconveniencies may arise in the practice upon these regulations, which we do not at present foresee; if they should, we shall beg leave to represent them to your Excellency, and to request his Majesty to make the necessary alterations.

We submit these observations to your Excellency's superior wisdom, and have the honor to be, with sentiments of the most perfect respect, your Excellency's most obedient and most humble servants,

ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

P. S. Dr Franklin concurs with us in these sentiments, but as he is absent, we are obliged to send the letter without his subscribing.

* * * * *

JOHN PAUL JONES TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

Brest, August 15th, 1778.

Gentlemen,

I have now been five days in this place since my arrival from Passy, during which time I have neither seen or heard from Lieutenant Simpson. But Mr Hill, who was last winter at Passy, and sailed with me from Nantes, informs me truly, that it is generally reported in the Ranger, and of course through the French fleet and on shore, that I am turned out of the service, and that you, gentlemen, gave Mr Simpson my place with a Captain's commission; that my letter of the 16th of July to you was involuntary on my part, and in obedience only to your orders to avert dreadful consequences to myself. These, gentlemen, are not idle, ill-grounded conjectures, but melancholy facts; therefore, I beseech you, I conjure you, I demand of you, to afford me redress—redress by a Court Martial, to form which we have now a sufficient number of officers in France, with the assistance of Captain Hinman, exclusive of myself. The Providence and the Boston are expected here very soon from Nantes, and I am certain that they neither can nor will depart again, before my friend, Captain Hinman, can come down here, and it is his unquestioned right to succeed me in the command of the Ranger.

I have faithfully and personally supported and fought for the dignified cause of human nature, ever since the American banner first waved on the Delaware, and on the ocean. This I did when that man did not call himself a Republican, but left the Continent, and served its enemies; and this I did, when that man appeared dastardly backward, and did not support me as he ought.

I conclude, by requesting you to call before you, and examine for your own satisfaction, Mr Edward Meyers, who is now at the house of the Swedish Ambassador, and who, having been with me as a volunteer, can and will, I am persuaded, represent to you the conduct of the officers and men towards me, both before I left Brest, and afterwards in the Irish channel, as well as my conduct towards them.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of due respect and esteem, your very obliged and very humble servant,

JOHN PAUL JONES.

* * * * *

M. DE SARTINE TO THE COMMISSIONERS.

Translation.

Versailles, 16th August, 1778.

Gentlemen,

I take the earliest opportunity to answer the observations addressed to me in the letter, which you did me the honor to write me the 13th instant, on the project of a regulation for the prizes and prisoners of the respective United States. I conceive that I have fulfilled the object by digesting anew the 2d and 14th articles, of which I annex another text, with copies of the different laws that have been lately published respecting prizes. Moreover, I will at all times receive with pleasure your representations of the inconveniences which may attend, in your opinion, the execution of the regulation, and you may be assured that his Majesty will be always disposed to grant the inhabitants of the United States every facility, compatible with the interests of his finances and the commerce of his subjects.

I have the honor to be, &c.

DE SARTINE.

* * * * *

Regulations for Prizes and Prisoners.

By the King.

His Majesty, desirous of making known his intentions, as well with respect to the prizes, which his subjects may carry into the ports of the United States of America, as also respecting admitting into his own ports the prizes made by American privateers, and calculating on the perfect equality which constitutes the basis of his engagements with the said United States, he has ordained and does ordain as follows.

ARTICLE I. French privateers shall be permitted to conduct and cause to be conducted, the prizes made from his Majesty's enemies, into the ports of the United States of America, to repair them so as to proceed again to sea, or to sell them definitively.

ARTICLE II. In the case of simple anchoring, the conductors of prizes shall be bound to make before the Judges of the place, a summary declaration containing the circumstances of the capture and motives of anchoring, and to request the said Judges to go on board the captured prizes and seal up such places as may admit of it, and make out a short description of what cannot be contained under the said seals, the state of which shall be verified in France by the officers of the admiralty, on the copy which the officer conducting the prize shall be obliged to report.

ARTICLE II., amended. In case of simple anchoring, the Captains conducting the prizes shall be bound to make before the Judges of the place, their secretaries, or other persons authorised by them, a summary declaration containing the circumstances of the capture and motives of anchoring, and to request the said Judges, their secretaries, and other persons authorised by them, to go on board the captured vessels, and seal up such places as may admit of it, and make out a short description of what cannot be contained under such seals, the state of which shall be verified in France by the officers of the admiralty, on the copy of which the officer conducting his prize shall be bound to report.

ARTICLE III. His Majesty, nevertheless, permits captains conducting prizes to sell in the ports of the United States, either perishable merchandise, or such other as may supply the wants of the vessels during the time of their stay, the said conductors of prizes shall be bound to ask permission from the Judges of the place for this purpose in the ordinary form, and proceed to the sale by the public officers appointed for that purpose, and to report copies, as well of the proceedings as of the verbal process of the sale.

ARTICLE IV. The prize-masters, who shall be authorised by the owners or captains of the capturing privateer to sell the said prizes in the ports of the United States, shall be obliged to make before the Judges a detailed report, which shall afterwards be verified in the hearing of at least two of their crew, and to request the said Judges to go directly on board of the prizes to make out a verbal process, seal up the hatches and cabin, take an inventory of what cannot be sealed, and appoint sequestrators. Which Judges shall proceed afterwards to interrogate the captain, officers, and other persons of the crew of the captured vessel to the number of two or three, or more if it is judged necessary, and shall translate the useful papers on board if there are interpreters, and annex compared copies of the said useful papers to the minutes of the proceedings, to have recourse to them in case of necessity, as is prescribed for prizes conducted into the ports of the Kingdom by the 42d article of the declaration of the 24th of June last.

ARTICLE V. As soon as the copies of the said proceedings, and the original papers and translations shall have been addressed to the Secretary-General of the Marine at Paris, for process in judgment by the Council of Prizes, the captain or his agent may require the provisional sale of the merchandise and effects subject to perishing, and even the definitive sale of the prizes and all the merchandise of their cargoes, whenever they shall evidently appear the enemy's property, from the papers on board and the interrogatories of the prisoners, in the manner that shall be ordered by the Judges of the places, and as is prescribed for prizes conducted into the ports of the kingdom by the 45th article of the said declaration of the 24th of June last.

ARTICLE VI. The discharge, inventory, sale, and delivery of the said prizes and merchandise shall be made agreeable to the formalities practised in the ports of the United States. The captains, conductors of prizes, shall be bound to report the particular liquidations or summary statements of the proceeds of the said prizes and expenses incurred on their account, that the said particular liquidations or summary statements may be deposited by the owner or the secretary of the Admiralty, at the place of outfit, agreeable to the 57th article of the declaration of the 24th of June last, to which secretary the judgments and prize papers shall be sent, in order to be registered.

ARTICLE VII. All the prisoners that shall be found on board either of the French privateers, that shall come to anchor in the ports of the United States, or on board the prizes which shall be brought there, shall be immediately delivered to the governor or magistrate of the place, to be secured in the name of the King, and maintained at his expense, as shall likewise be done in the French ports, with respect to the prisoners made by the American privateers. The captains who carry back their prizes, to be sold in the ports of the kingdom, shall nevertheless be bound to carry with them two or three principal prisoners, in order to be interrogated by the officers of the Admiralty who shall make the inquiry.

ARTICLE VIII. The privateers of the United States may conduct, or cause to be conducted, their prizes into the ports belonging to his Majesty, whether for the purpose of anchoring and remaining there, until they are in a condition to proceed again to sea, or for the purpose of selling them definitively.

ARTICLE IX. In case of simple anchoring, the prize-masters shall be bound to make, within twentyfour hours after arrival, their declaration before the officers of the Admiralty, who shall go on board of the vessels, in order to seal up such places as may admit of it, and to make a brief description of what cannot be comprehended under the said seals, without allowing any thing to be landed from on board of the said prizes, under the penalties contained in his Majesty's arrets and regulations.

ARTICLE X. His Majesty nevertheless permits the said American privateers to sell in his ports, either the perishable merchandise, or such other, in order to defray the expenses of the vessels during the time of their being in port, charging them to request permission from the officers of the Admiralty, in presence of whom the said sale shall be made.

ARTICLE XI. When the subjects of the United States would wish to sell their prizes in the ports of the kingdom, the captain who shall have made the prize, or the officer intrusted with bringing it in, shall be bound to make before the officers of the Admiralty a detailed report, which shall be verified in the hearing of at least two of their crew; the officers of the Admiralty shall go immediately on board of the prize to make out a verbal process, seal the hatches and cabins, make an inventory of what cannot be sealed, and appoint keepers; they shall afterwards proceed to interrogate the captains, officers, and other people belonging to the crew of the prize; shall cause the useful papers on board to be translated, of which they shall annex compared copies to the minutes of the proceedings; and the original and translated pieces, as also the copies of the said proceedings, shall be sent to the deputies of the United States at Paris.

ARTICLE XII. The captains, conductors of prizes, or their agents, may request the officers of the Admiralty to proceed to the provisional sale of such merchandise and effects as are subject to perish, and even to the definitive sale of the prizes and of all their merchandise on board, when they shall appear to have belonged to the enemy, from the papers on board and the information of the prisoners, in the same manner as is prescribed for the prizes taken by French privateers, by the 45th article of the declaration of the 24th of June last.

ARTICLE XIII. The discharge, inventory, sale, and delivery of the said prizes shall be made in presence of the officers of the Admiralty, whose fees, either for discharging, inventory, or sale, shall be reduced one half, agreeable to the terms of the 52d article of the declaration of the 24th of June last. The said officers shall not proceed to a particular liquidation of the proceeds of the prizes until they shall be required by the parties concerned, and in every case where the delivery of several copies is required, no more shall be paid to the register for the second and third, than the price of the stamped paper and the expense of writing.

ARTICLE XIV. It is his Majesty's pleasure, that the arret of his Council, by which, agreeable to the second article of the 24th of June last, it shall be determined what kind and quality of merchandise, proceeding from prizes, shall be consumed in the kingdom, as also what duties they shall be subject to, shall likewise extend to the merchandise proceeding from prizes taken by American privateers, who are charged to fulfil the formalities prescribed by the arrets and regulations.

ARTICLE XIV., amended. It is his Majesty's pleasure that the arret of his Council, by which, agreeable to the second article of the 24th of June last, it shall be determined what kind and quality of merchandise, proceeding from prizes, shall be consumed in the kingdom, as also what duties they shall be subject to, shall likewise extend to the merchandise proceeding from prizes taken by American privateers, who are charged to fulfil the formalities prescribed by the arrets and regulations, especially with respect to the merchandise which they would export, whether to the ports of the United States, or to all other foreign countries, and that they shall be permitted for this purpose to keep them during a year, in the magazines of deposit, free from all duty.

ARTICLE XV. The American privateers may deliver in the ports, to the commissioners of the ports and arsenals of the marine, the prisoners they may have on board; his Majesty will give orders that the said prisoners shall be conducted, guarded, and maintained in the name and at the expense of the United States.

* * * * *

TO M. DE SARTINE.

Passy, August 18th, 1778.

Sir,

We embrace this first opportunity to answer the letter, which your Excellency did us the honor to address to us, the 16th of this month.

We have examined with some attention the alterations, which your Excellency has made in the 2d and 14th articles of the projected regulations, and are of opinion, that they will remove the difficulties we apprehended from the first draught.

We thank your Excellency for the obliging expressions of your readiness to receive any representations, which we may hereafter have occasion to make, of inconveniencies arising in the execution of these regulations; which, however, we hope will not occur. We submit the whole to your Excellency's deliberation and decision, and are, with sentiments of the sincerest respect, your Excellency's most obedient humble servants,

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

JOHN PAUL JONES TO ABRAHAM WHIPPLE.

Brest, August 18th, 1778.

Sir,

I request that you will summon a court martial for the trial of Lieutenant Thomas Simpson, with whose conduct I have been and am unsatisfied, and who is now under suspension for disobedience of my written orders.

I am, Sir, with due regard, your most humble servant,

JOHN PAUL JONES.

* * * * *

ABRAHAM WHIPPLE TO JOHN PAUL JONES.

Brest, August 19, 1778.

Sir,

I am honored with your letter of this day, requesting that I will summon a Court Martial for the trial of Lieutenant Thomas Simpson, with whose conduct you have been and are unsatisfied, and who, you say, is under suspension for disobedience to your written orders. Having maturely considered the contents of your letter, and with as much accuracy as possible attended to every particular, I return for answer the subjoined reasons, which will at once explain the impossibility of calling a Court Martial, and fully acquaint you with my sentiments on that subject.

You are sensible that the Continental regulations have expressly ordered, that a Court Martial shall consist of at least three Captains, which is impossible, as Captain Hinman declines to sit, he expecting a Court of Inquiry upon his own conduct on his arrival in America, and having assigned a reason of so forcible a nature, I think he is acting a part at once prudent and becoming.

You will permit the remark, that by Lieutenant Simpson's parole, taken by yourself June 10th, 1778, Lieutenant Simpson engaged on his parole of honor to consider himself as under suspension till he shall be called upon to meet you face to face before a Court Martial, unless you should, in the meantime, release him from his parole, which I conceive that you have done by your letter of the 16th of July to the honorable Commissioners, where you mention that you are willing to let the dispute drop forever, by giving up that parole, which would entitle Lieutenant Simpson to the command of the Ranger; that this, as you bore no malice, would be making him all the present satisfaction in your power, provided that you had injured him, and that you will trust to himself to make an acknowledgment, if, on the contrary, he has injured you. In my opinion, this is giving up his parole in the most ample manner, as it does not appear to me that you made, by letter or otherwise, any compact or agreement with Lieutenant Simpson, that he should make any concessions on his part, or any thing of that nature, neither that he was to be answerable to a Court Martial when the supposed crime was blotted out, for which he was at first responsible.

I believe that the honorable Commissioners accepted it in the same light, as by their letter of the same date it would seem you gave them the greatest satisfaction in affording them an opportunity to reinstate Lieutenant Simpson on board the Ranger. The Commissioners further order him to take the command of the Ranger, as her first Lieutenant, and to join me and to obey my orders, all which sufficiently evinces that Lieutenant Simpson is no longer considered as under suspension, and consequently cannot be responsible to a Court Martial for disobedience to written orders from you, from which he is amply released by your voluntary surrender of his parole. However, if this explanation, attempted to be made in the most candid manner, should not prove agreeable, I beg leave to refer you to the absolute impossibility of calling a Court Martial, agreeable to the resolves of Congress, and flatter myself that you will believe me to be, with due respect, Sir, your most obedient and most humble servant,

ABRAHAM WHIPPLE.

* * * * *

TO JOHN PAUL JONES.

Passy, August 22d, 1778.

Sir,

We have received your letter of the 15th, and have written to Captain Whipple to appoint a Court Martial for the trial of Lieutenant Simpson, provided there is a sufficient number of officers to constitute one. This, however, is not to make any change in his command of the Ranger until the trial is over; nor then, unless the judgment of that Court is against him.

We are, sir, &c.

B. FRANKLIN, ARTHUR LEE, JOHN ADAMS.

* * * * *

TO COUNT DE VERGENNES.

Passy, August 28th, 1778.

Sir,

There are several subjects which we find it necessary to lay before your Excellency, and to which we have the honor to request your attention.

At a time when the circumstances of the war may demand the attention of government, and, without doubt, call for so great expense, we are sorry to be obliged to request your Excellency's advice respecting the subject of money; but the nature of the war in America, the vast extent of country to defend, and this defence having been made chiefly by militia engaged for short periods, which often obliged us to pay more men than could be brought into actual service; and above all, this war having been conducted in the midst of thirteen revolutions of civil government, against a nation very powerful both by sea and land, has occasioned a very great expense to a country so young, and to a government so unsettled. This has made emissions of paper money indispensable, in much larger sums than in the ordinary course of business is necessary, or than in any other circumstances would have been politic. In order to avoid the necessity of further emissions as much as possible, the Congress have borrowed large sums of this paper money of the possessors upon interest, and have promised the lenders payment of that interest in Europe, and we therefore expect, that vessels from America will bring bills of exchange upon us for that interest, a large sum of which is now due.

It is very, true that our country is already under obligations to his Majesty's goodness, for considerable sums of money; the necessities of the United States have been such, that the sums, heretofore generously furnished, are nearly if not quite expended, and when your Excellency considers, that the American trade has been almost entirely interrupted by the British power at sea, they having taken as many of our vessels as to render this trade more advantageous to our enemy than to ourselves; that our frigates and other vessels, which have arrived in this Kingdom, have cost us a great sum; that the provision of clothing and all the necessaries of war for our army, except such as we could make in that country, have been shipped from hence at our expense; that the expense we have been obliged to incur for our unfortunate countrymen, who have been prisoners in England, as well as the maintenance of those taken from the enemy has been very considerable; your Excellency will not be surprised when you are informed, that our resources are exhausted.

We, therefore, hope for the continuance of his Majesty's generosity, and that the quarterly payment of seven hundred and fifty thousand livres may be continued. And we assure your Excellency, that the moment we are furnished with any other means of answering this demand, we will no longer trespass on his Majesty's goodness.

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