Adams Papers

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation, 16 November 1778

Gabriel de Sartine to Benjamin Franklin: A Translation

Versailles, 16 November 1778

I have received with the letter that you did me the honor to write on the 12th of this month, gentlemen, the copy of the letter addressed to you by Mr. Schweighauser, agent for the United States of North America at Nantes, on the subject of the escort that he, together with several other American merchants, requests for a number of vessels that they hope to send off toward the end of the month. I would be most pleased if present circumstances permitted me to have them escorted all the way to their destinations, but in view of the ports to which it has pleased the King to assign his frigates and other vessels, I cannot offer to have those in question convoyed any farther than the Capes.1 I have the honor to be, with utmost consideration, your very humble and very obedient servant

De Sartine

LbC (Adams Papers).

1Another, and perhaps more important reason for the reluctance to provide convoys was recorded by JA in his Diary. There he wrote that John Lloyd, one of the merchants who had signed the Schweighauser letter of 7 Nov. (above), had informed him “that the french officers of Marine consider Convoys a disgracefull Service. They hate to be ordered to convoy Merchant Vessells” (Diary and Autobiography description begins Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols. description ends , 2:357). For a letter from Vergennes setting the “Capes” at the northwestern corner of Spain as the limit for convoys, see his letter to the Commissioners of 29 April (vol. 6:73–74, and note 2).

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