Benjamin Franklin and John Adams to J. D. Schweighauser
Passy feby 10 1779
Capt. Jones has represented to us his Desire and Intention of returning to the Countess of Selkirk, some Plate which his People took from her house.1
We apprehend that Congress would not disapprove of this Measure, as far as it should depend upon them; and We therefore consent on the Part of the United States that this Plate should be return’d. This Consent is to be understood to extend no farther than to the share to which the U.S. may be suppos’d to have a Claim. The Claim of the Officers and Men, Cap. Jones must be responsible to them for. This Plate in the whole is represented to be worth about 100 Guineas.2
LbC in the hand of William Temple Franklin (Adams Papers).
1. The Selkirk plate had been taken on 23 April 1778, when Jones raided St. Mary’s Isle on the coast of Scotland during the Ranger’s expedition in the Irish Sea. For an account of the raid, see Jones to the Commissioners, 27 May 1778, and note 1 (vol. 6:159–167). Jones’ offer to return the silver, made in a letter to the Countess of Selkirk, dated 8 May 1778, was rejected by the Earl of Selkirk in a letter of 9 June to Jones, which he never received (Morison, John Paul Jones description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, a Sailor’s Biography, Boston and Toronto, 1959. description ends , p. 148–150, 151–154). When Benjamin Franklin learned of the contents of the Earl’s letter, he informed Jones, in a letter of 24 Feb., that the booty would not be accepted if it came from his hands (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 , 3:61). The affair ended when, after the war and at considerable expense to himself, Jones successfully returned the plate (Morison, John Paul Jones description begins Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones, a Sailor’s Biography, Boston and Toronto, 1959. description ends , p. 154–155).
2. At the bottom of his letterbook copy of this letter, Arthur Lee wrote: “not signd by A. Lee” (PCC, No. 102, IV, f. 152).