Benjamin Franklin Papers

The American Commissioners to John Bondfield, 4 June 1778: résumé

The American Commissioners to John Bondfield5

AL (draft): Massachusetts Historical Society; copy: National Archives

<Passy, June 4, 1778: We have received your accounts for supplying the Boston; some of the articles are dear, but we trust you to obtain everything as cheaply as possible. Your bills will be paid, and we hope the ship has left by now. You tell us of a plot against her, and we have forwarded the affidavit to the ministry; Capt. Tucker has dealt with the guilty men on board, we trust, and the authorities with the guilty ashore.6 We seem to have a junto of enemies in the neighborhood.>

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Published in Butterfield, John Adams Diary, IV, 127.

6Bondfield enclosed the accounts in a letter of May 26 and discussed the conspiracy in another of the 30th; both are missing. Tucker reported the plot at length in his letter above of the 27th and mentioned it in that of the 28th. The affidavit forwarded to Versailles was in all likelihood the deposition of one Jerome Cazeneuve, a native of Toulouse, dated May 27, 1778 (University of Pa. Library). He had lived in Bordeaux for months, much of the time with a British bookbinder named Wyer, and when he applied for a berth on the Boston Tucker made him a sergeant of marines. A huckster turned up, offering to make purchases ashore for the men; he became friendly with one of them, a Londoner captured on the Boston’s prize and eager to get home, and recommended him to Wyer. With this opening the bookbinder apparently hatched his scheme to get the ship to a British port. Cazeneuve got wind of the plot, ostensibly informed Tucker, and was told to find out more. Deserters from the ship would return to duty, he learned; when at sea they would drug most of the crew and, while Cazeneuve and his marines held the hatchways, would take care of the officers.

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