Benjamin Franklin Papers

Samuel Tucker to the American Commissioners, 1 April 1778

Samuel Tucker9 to the American Commissioners

ALS: American Philosophical Society

Burdeux April 1st. 1778.


These with my due Respects on my Arrival may serve to inform your Honours, that after a very fatigueing Passage of forty two Days I arrived at this port with Joy, having the pleasure of landing the Honble: John Adams Esqr. safe in the City. By Richard Palmes Esqr. the Capt. of Marines under my Command1 I send you inclosed a Copy of my Instructions and Signals, which Signals may serve to acquaint any other Commander in our Service how to distinguish each other at Sea; if sent while in France by your Honours,2 these I send being the only Ship that has such Signals, they being just sent to the Honble. Navy Board before my Sailing. On Capt. Palmes Arrival at Paris, I beg your Honours would dispatch him with an Answer respecting my further destination, in the Mean Time I shall take upon me to get the Ship as far in Readiness for the Sea as Possible during the Absence of Capt. Palmes. I should inform your Honours more perticular relative to the Ship if the Honble: Mr. Adams was not going for Paris, who will acquaint you with the situation of the Ship &c. On my Passage out, I took the Ship Marthy from London bound for New York Commanded by Peter McIntosh taken the 10th of March in the Latitude 43.30 No. Longitude 17.40 W. the Ship mounting fourteen Guns, (8 Nine and 6. Six pounders). The Capt. having a Commission, I took upon myself to send Home in her my 3d Lieut. which I hope will be exchussed. Since that I’ve had the Misfortune to loose my 1st Lieut. Wm. Barron by the Busting of a Gun.3 At present I have but one Lieutenant on Board. If your Honnours Know of any Persons sufficient to Act in their Stations, beg you would Recommend them, or if your Honours think fit to let me Appoint them from the Officers on Board, pray inform me by the Barer. I remain Gentlemen with due Respect Your Obedient Humble Servant

Saml Tucker

To the Honble: American Commissioners at Paris

Addressed: To / The Honble: American Commissioners / att / Paris

Notation by John Adams: Captn. Tuckers Letter to Commissioners. Ap. 1. 78

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9A native of Marblehead, who at the age of eleven had gone to sea in the British navy during the previous war. Washington first appointed him to an American command in January, 1776; he was commissioned captain in the Continental navy in March, 1777, and assigned to the Boston the following November. William J. Morgan, Captains to the Northward: the New England Captains in the Continental Navy (Barre, Mass., 1959), pp. 129–30.

1Richard Palmes had held the same position on the Boston under Hector McNeill, who had arrested and imprisoned him for insubordination; the naval authorities had released him: ibid., pp. 93–6.

2Tucker had brought with him new identification signals, which he was leaving for others to use.

3The Martha was a British privateer with a valuable cargo; she was captured without an engagement. Barron’s accident was several days later, when he fired a warning gun; he had his leg amputated, while Tucker and John Adams held him, and died in less than a fortnight. Butterfield, John Adams Diary, II, 285–6, 288; IV, 24–6.

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