From C. Mends
Plymo May the 2d 1782
Most honorable Sir
In Feby last, my Son B. Mends took the liberty of sending yr Excellency a few Lines, with a Petition from the poor American prisoners, in which yr Excellency was inform’d of the good intentions of Coll. Richardson to apply to Docr Franklin in Paris, which he did, as I was inform’d by a Letter from him just as he was going to America: in which he inform’d me his Excellency seem’d rather Cool, and behaved not according to his expcetation, and that when he cd. get to America he shd lay the distressed state of the Americans in England before Congress, and do all in his power to procure some relief for them:1 But as a favourable opportunity now offers by favor of Mr. Fjasink , Agent to the States of Holland, a Worthy Gentleman who has on all Occations lay’d out him self to assist the miserable, I wd embrace the opportunity to address yr Excellency on the subject, and of entreating you to take into consideration.
I have greatly injured my self and Family by relieving of them about five Years, and my circumstance being rather low, have to my sorrow been Obliged to with hold that benevolence I wd otherways have chearfully administred. Many of those unhappy sufferers were forced into the Kings Service; and some of them when unfit for duty, were inhumanely discharged as Invaleeds, without mony, Clothes, and Friends in a Strange Country; and many others, who made their Escape from Prison in the most deplorable state. I have represented their state to many American Gentlemen Who were in the very same predicament, they promisd to do all in their power to procure some relief but to no avail. I am at a loss to conceive the reasons why some provision is not made for those useful men who have nobly venter’d their Lives in behalf of their Countrie’s Just Cause, and the more so, as the small sum of one, or two Hudred pounds wd. have enabled their Friends here to relieve them who were poor and have sent them safe to Holland, Ostend, and other Ports, who thro’ necessity were left exposed to those miseries which God and themselves only know. Some of them have been forced back to Prison again, and others ready to perish wth. Hunger in the Streets—I doubt not but yr Excellency will consider those Worthy sufferers as an object worthy of attention—We hope the Prisoners will soon be exchanged, Yet as there are so many Americans dischrgd from the Hospital as Invaleeds, and others who escape from the Service into which they were forced, whose necessity calls for assistance, that yr. Excellency will make some provision for them. Whatever sum may be judged nessary to this purpose may be sent to Mr. Pjasink.2 But I can’t conclude with out congratulating yr Excellency upon the pleasing prospect of Peace which our new Ministry labor to accomplish. May the God of Empires put his omnipotent Arm to the work, and hush the [tumu]lt of the People into a perpetual calm. I had [the pleasure o]f a visit from his Excellency Mr. Lowrance when [. . .] and expect to have a Letter from him in a Post [. . .] he was in high spirits, and in a fair way of recovery.3
I have the honor to be yr. Excellencies most Obedient & humble sert
RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “The Right Honoúrable John Adams, Esqúire Ambassador of the United States of America, Residing at the Coúrt of their High Mightenesses the States General of the United Provinces at the Hague. Plymouth May 5th 1782 forwarded by Your most humble and most Obedient Servant Gl Fjasink Late the Commissary to the States General of the Unit’d Provinces”; endorsed by John Thaxter: “Mr. C. [Mends] 2d. May .” Some loss of text where the seal was removed.
1. See Benjamin Mends’ letter of 27 Feb., and notes (vol. 12:277–278). Nothing beyond what C. Mends says here is known about William Richardson’s conversation with Benjamin Franklin concerning prisoners.
2. No reply by JA to this letter or specifically to Mends’ appeal has been found. Jean de Neufville & Fils wrote to JA on 24 May, below, and enclosed a letter from Mr. Pjasink, identified as the Dutch consul at Plymouth, containing an account of funds expended on Americans held in Mill Prison. Note that very different spellings of Pjasink’s name appear elsewhere in this volume and are accompanied by this form in brackets. Although the letter from Mends is not mentioned, it may also have been enclosed in the de Neufvilles’ letter. JA received a final accounting of expenditures on the prisoners in a letter from the de Neufvilles, 14 June, below.
3. This is presumably a reference to a visit Henry Laurens made to Plymouth on 31 March or 1 April (Laurens, Papers description begins The Papers of Henry Laurens, ed. Philip M. Hamer, George C. Rogers Jr., David R. Chesnutt, C. James Taylor, and others, Columbia, S.C., 1968–2003; 16 vols. description ends , 15:475).