John Bondfield to the American Commissioners3
ALS: American Philosophical Society
<Bordeaux, November 28, 1778: We are without interesting intelligence. Because of their heavy losses the merchants here must reduce their exports, to the detriment of the United States. Only three small cutters belonging to Virginia have sailed in the past three months. A 24-gun vessel of Beaumarchais & Co. sails to join their Fier Roderigue and Drake at Rochefort.4 Reinforced by two frigates, they will make a fine convoy for our ships at Nantes. Letters from Brittany confirm that La Motte Piquet has intercepted the Jamaica fleet.5 English ships keep together so that no valuable vessel is left alone. The farmers general doubt that supplies of tobacco from other places will make up for the short supplies from Virginia. They are pressuring to contract with the holders of the tobacco for future purchase before a rise in price takes place.6>
3. Published in Taylor, Adams Papers, VII, 238–9.
4. For the current activities of Beaumarchais’ firm, Roderigue Hortalez & Cie., see Morton, Beaumarchais Correspondance, IV, 270–2. The Fier Roderigue (XXVII, 59n) was preparing to convoy ten merchantmen: Morton, Beaumarchais Correspondance, IV, 284n. JW had purchased the Drake, a prize of Jones, the previous month: XXVII, 536.
5. Toussaint-Guillaume, comte Picquet de la Motte, known as La Motte-Picquet: XXV, 470. The “fleet” was a convoy of merchantmen: see Mackesy, War for America, p. 211, for its safe arrival.
6. The price of tobacco at Dunkirk, coming mainly from Virginia, rose from under 20 l.t. per quintal in 1774 to 36 in 1775 and 125 to 150, or even higher, thereafter. The average price paid by the tobacco monopoly during the year from October, 1778, to September, 1779, for tobacco from Virginia and Maryland was 771 l.t. per lb., or 77.10 per quintal: Price, France and the Chesapeake, 720–1, 725.