Adams Papers

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to John Paul Jones, 10 August 1778

Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to John Paul Jones

Passy Aug. 10 1778


We do not think ourselves authorized to give any Orders concerning the Deductions to be made from the Seamen’s Price1 money or Wages, of what was advanced to them. The Resolutions of Congress must be complied with as to your Stores and Furniture, we suppose there can be no Difficulty, but that M. Simpson will as he ought to deliver you your private Property upon Request.

We are not informed particularly what Receipts for your Indemnification you desire, and therefore we are not able to give any Advice concerning them. But we hope that all proper Receipts will be given you, such as you have a Right to expect, readily upon Request.

We shall recommend the Men who Landed with you at White haven to the Favour of Congress, because we think they have merited it; but least our Recommendation Should miscarry, we wish you to recommend them yourself and inclose in your Letter an extract of this Paragraph of ours.2 As these People belonging to the Ranger have done themselves so much Honour in their expedition under your Command, perhaps Congress would approve of the Deductions being made from their Wages to be paid in America that the Men may have their Price Money here.

We have received a Letter concerning Some Price Plate3 deposited by you in the Hands of a Gentleman who waits your Orders to deliver it, which we suppose, as you are upon the Spot, you will give of Course. We are Sir, with all due Respect Your most obedient and very humble Servants

B. Franklin

John Adams4

RC (PCC, No. 168, f. 183–186); docketed: “from The American Plenipotentiaries Passy Passy Augt. 10th. 1778 Reed. Brest Augt. 17th. 1778 No.2.” LbC (Adams Papers).

1That is, “Prize money.” “Price” was an obsolete form of “prize” even in 1778 (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends ). JA used the word “prize” in his Letterbook copy.

2Jones wrote to the Marine Committee on 18 Aug. (Cal. Jones Manuscripts description begins Calendar of John Paul Jones Manuscripts in the Library of Congress, Washington, 1903. description ends , p. 46).

3Possibly the plate seized when Jones raided Lord Selkirk’s mansion on St. Mary’s Isle during the Ranger’s expedition in April. Jones ultimately returned the plate to Lord Selkirk after paying out of his own pocket the prize shares accruing to his officers and men from its capture (Morison, John Paul Jones description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, a Sailor’s Biography, Boston and Toronto, 1959. description ends , p. 145–146,154–155).

4An explanation of why this letter was not signed by all three Commissioners was inserted by JA at the bottom of his Letterbook copy: “Signed by F. and A. Lee being at Versailles, and the opportunity pressing.”

Index Entries