Benjamin Franklin Papers

Elijah Hall to the American Commissioners, 3 June 1778: résumé

Elijah Hall to the American Commissioners4

ALS:5 American Philosophical Society

<The Ranger, June 3, 1778: I request, for the officers and crew, that you find some way to sell the prizes. We are short of necessities, and have distressed families at home. Captain Jones has deceived us: he tricked us into enlisting for longer than we thought and promised us wages that have not been paid.6 He put Lieutenant Simpson, whose character is of the best, in a common gaol, whereas we beg that he be suitably housed until sent home. The Captain charges his officers with neglecting discipline, whereas a crew was never more willing to fight, as our late action proves. No man of spirit can serve cheerfully under him; if I cannot be where I am of use to my country, I beg to resign. Despite my best efforts to keep peace on board, the men are determined not to sail with the Captain except to America. We have been out for seven months and not two at sea; our time is spent in useless refitting. We have 300 mouths to feed, and M. Bersolle denies us all supplies. Please do something for us.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

4Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VI, 176–7.

5Or perhaps LS; the handwriting of this letter is commonplace, whereas the signature is sui generis.

6See the petition from the Ranger’s petty officers below, June 15. Jones, in a letter to Hall before leaving Portsmouth had promised that half the monthly wages of every one who enlisted for a year would be paid to his family at home: John Henry Sherburne, The Life and Character of John Paul Jones . . . (2nd ed.; New York, 1851), p. 40.

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