Adams Papers

To John Adams from Pierre Landais, 14 June 1780

From Pierre Landais

L’Orient 14 June 17801


I think it my duty to inform you that I have wrote several Letters to his Excellency Dr. Franklin desiring to know by what authority I was Kept from my Ship, I inclosed him an order from the Secretary of the Honble. Navy board Philadelphia the purport of which was, to take in a few goods for his use As the Ship was Ordred home by Congress, My Officers and Crew Inform me that they have also wrote his Excellency, beging that their Lawfull Commander might be restored to them again, As they knew of no other Commander but me, they Inform me that no answer has come to their hands.2

I have Sir with the Advice of the Principle Americans and the desire of my Officers and Crew, Taken the Command Yesterday As my Right,3 and am determined to keep her, and Carry her to America as Required by Congress, in the Letter from the Secretary of the Honble Navy Board. I have wrote his Excellency Dr. Franklin Beging that he would be pleased to pay the Officers and Crew their Prize money, And to Send me his dispatches that I may fullfil the orders of Congress.4

On my going on board yesterday I was Received with the greatest Cheerfulness by my Officers and Crew and acknowledged me to be their Lawful Commander and no other till they see a Resolve of Congress to place another in my Station. I have also inform’d him I am ready to sail whenever he will please to pay my Officers and Crew and Send me his Dispatches, And if you have any to send I shall take the Greatest Care of them.

I am sir with the Greatest Respect yr most obedient & very humble Servant.

P: Landais

RC (Adams Papers.)

1This letter is identical to that from Landais to Benjamin Franklin of 14 June except for changes due to its recipient (Edward Everett Hale and Edward Everett Hale Jr., Franklin in France, 2 vols., Boston, 1886–1888, 1:333–334). For JA’s position regarding Landais and the Alliance, see his reply of 20 June (not sent) and his letter to Benjamin Franklin of 26 June (both below).

2For the unrest among the officers and crew of the Alliance, as well as other circumstances leading to Landais resuming command of the Alliance, see the letters from Arthur Lee of 26 March, and note 2, and 5 June, and notes 3 and 4; and from Benjamin Pierce of 1 June, and notes 1–3 (all above). In letters of 10 Feb., 11 March, and 29 May, Landais demanded that Benjamin Franklin reinstate him as captain of the Alliance. Franklin steadfastly refused to do so in replies of 12 Feb., 12 March, and 7 June, declaring in that of 12 March that “if, therefore, I had 20 ships-of-war in my disposition, I should not give one of them to Captain Landais” (Franklin in France, 1:323–331). For the letter of 1 April from John Brown, secretary of the Board of Admiralty, which Landais sent to Franklin on 31 May with a duplicate of his letter of the 29th, see Arthur Lee’s letter of 5 June, and note 4 (above).

3The “Principle Americans” were Arthur Lee and Alexander Gillon, to whom Landais had written on 12 June, requesting their advice. In their replies dated 12 June, both Lee and Gillon strongly supported Landais’ claim to command, based on a resolution of Congress appointing him to the Alliance, and urged him to take his rightful place. A letter from eleven officers of the Alliance, also dated 12 June, acknowledged Landais as captain and requested him to assume command (all in PCC, No. 193, f. 708–711). For Arthur Lee’s position regarding the respective claims of Landais and John Paul Jones to the command of the Alliance, see Lee’s letter of 14 June to JA, and note 1 (below). For an account of Landais’ assumption of command by a midshipman on the Alliance, see Nathaniel Fanning, Fanning’s Narrative, ed. John S. Barnes, N.Y., 1912, p. 82–83. Fanning gives the date of the incident as 23 June, rather than the 13th.

4Here and for the remainder of the letter Landais refers to his letter of 14 June to Benjamin Franklin.

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