Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Paul Jones, 21 August 1786

From John Paul Jones

Paris Aug. 21st, 1786.


I am much obliged by the letter you sent me from the Count de Vergennes to Baron de la Houze, with your own to the Baron de Blome. An indisposition, that has confined me close for three days, has prevented me from observing to you sooner, that Dr. Franklin, in the letter he wrote me from Havre, says, the offer made by the Baron de Waltersdorff was ten thousand pounds sterling. As you have misapprehended the amount of that offer, I take the liberty to return your letter to the Baron de Blome, praying you to alter the word five with your own hand. I should be glad to be favored with your opinion whether I ought to accept of any sum less than what was offered to Dr. Franklin? It is very improbable that a less sum will be offered by the Danish ministers; but supposing them less favorably disposed now than formerly, it is necessary for us to be determined beforehand.

I have the honor to be, &c.

MS not found. Text printed from Sherburne, John Paul Jones, p. 273. Noted in SJL as received 21 Aug. 1786. Enclosure: TJ to Blome, 18 Aug. 1786.

The letter … from the count de vergennes: a copy of the formal letter from Vergennes to Baron de la Houze, 15 Aug. 1786, asking the latter to receive Jones “favorably” and to assist him with “counsels” and “good offices” (printed in Dipl. Corr., 1783–89, iii, 697; also, Sherburne, John Paul Jones, p. 280). TJ was at Versailles on 15 Aug. and may have obtained this letter from Vergennes at that time; if so, he probably forwarded it immediately to Jones; no covering letter of transmittal has been found and none is recorded in SJL. Franklin, in the letter … from havre, 21 July 1785, said that the offer made by the baron de waltersdorff “was to give us the sum of ten thousand pounds sterling as a compensation for having delivered up the prizes to the English. I did not accept it, conceiving it much too small a sum, they having been valued to me at fifty thousand pounds” (Dipl. Corr., 1783–89 description begins The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, from the Signing of the Definitive Treaty of Peace … to the Adoption of the Constitution, Washington, Blair & Rives, 1837, 3 vol. description ends , iii, 698). In DLC: TJ Papers, 4: 624–6, there is a PrC in Short’s hand of a letter, signed Dechesaulx, French consul at Bergen, Norway, 26 Oct. 1779, reporting the transfer to the English of the two prizes captured by The Alliance and stating: “La valeur de ces deux prises que l’on vous enleve injustement est au moins de £40,000 sterling indépendamment des frais, et l’argent deboursé par le banquier M. Dankert DtKrohn, dont je vous remettrai le compte.”

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