May 18. 1778. We wrote the following Circular Letter to all the Seaports.
Paris May 18. 1778
Certain Intelligence having been received, that Eleven British Ships of War, vizt. one of 90 Guns, nine of 74 and one of sixty four Guns, are in the road of St. Hellens near Portsmouth, bound for North America, and the United States being in Allyance with France, you are requested as speedily as possible to convey this information to the Commanders of any French Fleet or Ships of War in America, by sending them this Letter, and also to publish the Contents of it, in all the Continental Newspapers. We have the honor to be, Gentlemen, your most obedient humble Servants.
Twenty Copies of this Letter, signed by B. Franklin and John Adams were sent on the day of the date of it.1
This day, May 18, We dined at Mr. La Frété’s country Seat, at the foot of Mount Calvare. The House, Gardens and Walks were very spacious. The Seat is upon the River Seine, nearly opposite to that Castle, whimsically called Madrid, built by Francis the first, and called by that name, to quiet his conscience and save his honour by a Punn, for violating his Parol given to Charles the fifth.
1. This notation follows the text of the letter in JA’s letterbook. The circular was addressed “To the Governor, or any Counsellor, or Senator, or Member of any House of Representatives, in any of the Thirteen United States of America.” On receipt of a text, Congress ordered it to be published, 8 July (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 11:675); it was printed as a broadside, and three copies are in Arch. Nat., Marine, Paris, B4, vol. 146, one of which is reproduced as an illustration in the present volume.
For further information about the document, see the document summary now available in the Papers of John Adams, volume 6, for Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to American State Officials, 18 May 1778.