Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation
Marly, 12 October 1778
I have not forgotten, gentlemen, the interest you took in Mr. Jones and your request that he be granted an armed vessel to carry him to America.1 The King, to whom I have rendered a report, is disposed to give the captain this facility. But I would like to know, beforehand, if it would be at all possible to make up the crew of the vessel, which will be provided Mr. Jones, from American sailors, since the activity and the number of His Majesty’s ships in commission would not allow him to provide a French crew. I will await your response on this subject before receiving the final orders of His Majesty.
I have the honor to be, &c.
RC (DLC: Franklin Papers).
1. The Commissioners’ representations to Sartine on behalf of John Paul Jones may have been made in person, for no letter on the subject has been found. Jones’ letters for this period indicate that by the date of this letter he was almost frantic for a ship, having refused or been denied the commands of the French vessels Indien, L’Epervier, and Renommee and the captured British frigates Lively and Fox. Apparently this letter produced no tangible results, for no reply from the Commissioners has been found. It was not until 10 Nov. that Jones learned of the availability of the French East Indiaman Le Duc de Duras, which he renamed Bonhomme Richard (Anna Farwell De Koven, The Life and Letters of John Paul Jones, N.Y., 1913, 1:369–388; Morison, John Paul Jones description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, a Sailor’s Biography, Boston and Toronto, 1959. description ends , p. 174–181).