Ranger Crew Members to the Commissioners
[?] June 17781
To the honourable the Commissioners of the United States of North America, the Petition of the Jovial Tars Now on board the Continental Sloop of war Ranger, most humbley Sheweth,
That your Petitioners regard and love For their Countrey, and dutey to there ancient fore Fathers, have most of them left there wives, and Familey Cruized the wide Atalantick, in the most dangerous places, greatley Damadgeing and distressing, our enemys, and all the Satisfaction and recompence we receive for our Labour, are, Vain and Flattering promisses, likewise arbitrary Proceedings, which Causes a general murmer and uneasiness among all on Board. They therefore think it there Duty to make application to your honours for releive, From there pressent Greiveances.
That the greates number of them entered in the Service particulraly upon Mr. Simpsons our first Leiutenants account knowing him to be a Gentelman of honour, Worthey and capeable of his Officeships, and who is now confined inocentley, as we think in a Lousey Dirtey french Goal.
That they that entered for a Cruize, or a Twelve month Expected to be discharged at the expireation of that time, But Capn. Jones, since there entry and without there Concent, has ordered an uncertain term of time to be wrote Against there names, rendering them subservient to him during his absence from the eastern States, which we think Arbitrary and unconstitutional, and must when heard of in America be a hindrance and a preventment For aney Seamen to enter into the Service, or Depending upon the honours of Commanders, Like ours.
There is a number of Prizes brought into this port, but no Satissaction, or account for them, unless Your honours, will take it into Consideration, in those Material affairs, and to See Justice done by the captors. On our first arrival in France we brought in tow  prizes2 one of which fetchd not half the first cost, and the other deliverd to Mr. Delap of Bourdeaux of which can get no Account, or Satisfaction for.
We have been Lying in different ports in France since the first of December last and onley made one Cruize, and that to perfection had we our rights, But we can expect no more when we see our, Faithfull, true and Fatherley Officer our first Leiutenant used so abruptley, and we beleive and what wee have Seen without a Cause, thus have we been Deluded from our Freinds, Famileys by ungratefull and False Promises and deceitfull Advertisements, we have fought and Taken, Ships Sunk and Destroyd them and all the conslation we can send to our distressed and perhaps Famishing wives and Children, is, that there prizes is in the Hands of him, who has Deceived us, from the Begining.
We humbley pray you be pleased to take our Case into consideration and render us some veiw and Satisfaction Of what we have gone thro with and to Send us home and not For us to Let our poor wives, and Famileys Suffer with Dispair,3 and we in dutey bound will ever pray.
Joseph La Plant
John W. Grohmarney
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed: “Petition from the Rangers Men June 1778.”
Sometime later the Commissioners received a second petition (PPAmP: Franklin Papers), dated 15 June and signed by 28 members of the crew, that stated essentially the same grievances, particularly in regard to the conditions of enlistment. It too was docketed by JA: “Petition from the Rangers Men.”
2. These were the brigantines Mary and George, bound for England from Malaga (Morison, John Paul Jones description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, a Sailor’s Biography, Boston and Toronto, 1959. description ends , p. 114–115).
3. In fairness to Jones, it should be noted that on 25 May the Commissioners had refused to honor a bill that he had drawn on them for 24,000 livres, the money intended in part for distribution to the Ranger’s officers and men for the support of their families (see Jones to the Commissioners, 16 May, and the Commissioners to Jones, 25 May, calendared, both above).