Adams Papers

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine, 2 January 1779

The Commissioners to Gabriel de Sartine

Passy Jany. 2 1779


We had the Honour of receiving your Excellency’s Letter of the 22d, and are much obliged to you for the Interest you take in what concerns the unhappy Prisoners who may escape from England. We have not been inattentive to that Subject. There are Persons who Supply them at Bourdeaux, Brest, l’Orient, Nantes and Dunkirk. A Gentleman at Calais1 has voluntarily done this service for which We have directed him to draw upon us for his disbursements; And We Shall as readily discharge what may have been disbursed by your Commissaries when We have their Accounts.

As there is very little Probability of any Prisoners coming to other Ports, We will not give your Excellency the Trouble you are so good as to offer to take.

The Regulation your Excellency proposes relative to the Prisoners We may take from the Enemy and bring into the Ports of France, is entirely agreeable to us; and We shall direct our Agents accordingly who will readily deliver such Prisoners to the Persons your Excellency may appoint to receive them, having already requested us to procure written <Answers> Orders2 from you, without which your Commissaries were unwilling to take Charge of them.3

We have the Honour to be4

LbC in Arthur Lee’s hand (Adams Papers).

1James Leveux (see James Smith to the Commissioners, 15 Nov. 1778, above).

2Benjamin Franklin substituted “Orders” for “Answers.”

3This whole paragraph was bracketed in the left margin; it is not known by whom, or for what purpose.

4In his reply of 13 Jan. (MS, in French, PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 181; English translation, Wharton, ed., Dipl. Corr. Amer. Rev. description begins Francis Wharton, ed., The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Washington, 1889; 6 vols. description ends , 3:22), Sartine agreed that measures had been taken regarding American prisoners in most French ports, but noted that the Commissioners apparently had neglected to provide for those entering the ports of Normandy and asked that this omission be corrected. He then stated that the requested accounts were forthcoming and that orders had been sent to all French ports for the reception of English prisoners brought in by Americans.

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