Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to Vergennes, 26 December 1777

The American Commissioners to Vergennes

LS:1 Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères

Passy 26 December 1777

We beg your Excellency’s Permission to make an appeal from the Judgment of the Admiralty at Nantes which ordains a confiscation of two Prizes (British Westindia Ships) taken legally on the high seas by two American Privateers, and that Your Excellency will be pleased to request his Majesty to suspend the Departure of those Prizes, and their Cargoes, until the justice of our appeal shall have been regularly decided by the proper Tribunal.

The great value of the prizes in question, the distressed situation of their Captors, and the discredit which has fallen upon the cause of our Country by the disposition which was made of the ships after their Confiscation, as well as by the indecent exultation of our Enemies on that subject, all unite in making it our Duty to trouble your Excellency with this request and to Pray that you will favourably represent it to the King.2 We have the honor to be with the greatest Respect Your Excellency’s most Humble and most Obedient Servants

B. Franklin
Silas Deane
Arthur Lee

Mr. Le Comte de Vergennes.

Endorsed by Gérard: annoncé le 27. à M. Deane qu’il pouvoit employer la voye juridique.

Notation: Franklin Dean Lée

1In Bancroft’s hand.

2A private letter from Gérard to Deane, produced by the sudden change in the climate at Versailles, encouraged the commissioners to make this appeal: Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, I, 370. Deane answered Gérard in a letter of the same date and purport as this one, and the next day wrote JW that the ships would be detained if they had not already left. Stevens, Facsimiles, XX, no. 1802; Deane Papers, II, 286. They had. On or about Dec. 22 a French and a British frigate had escorted them out of the port on their way to England: JW to the commissioners below, Dec. 30.

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