Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Board of Admiralty, 28 March 1780

From the Board of Admiralty5

ALS: American Philosophical Society; copies:6 Library of Congress, National Archives

Board of Admiralty Philadelphia March 28th. 1780.


By the annex’d list you will perceive the present disposition of the Continental Navy in North america.7 The detachment of four Ships to gaurd the Harbour of Charles Town8 has subjected our Coasts to the depredations of the enemys armed vessels from New York who of late have frequently appeared in our Bays and made many Captures.

For these reasons the Board think it will be necessary that the frigate Alliance should be forthwith Ordered to proceed for this port, and should any Supplys for our Navy and Army be ready in France a part may be sent in the Alliance and the residue on other armed Vessels under her Convoy.

I have the honor to be Your Excellencys Most Obedt Hble servant

Fra: Lewis by order

P.S. The board woud be highly obliged to your Excelly to send them a set of drafts of the New ships in the Royal navy of France for the use of our Master Builders.—

His Excellency Benjamin Franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

5Which was now responsible for the administration of the Continental Navy: XXXI, 520–1n. It had one non-congressional member (ex-delegate Francis Lewis, for whom see XXX, 125n) and two congressional members (William Ellery and James Madison): JCC, XV, 1366; XVI, 277; XVII, 490.

6The copy at the Library of Congress was made by Thomas Hutchins in August, 1780. The one at the National Archives is in L’Air de Lamotte’s hand (except the dateline, which is in WTF’s). BF enclosed it in his letter to Jones of June 1, below.

7This enclosure (Harvard University Library) is labeled “List of the Navy of the United States March 1780.” It lists eleven warships (including several still under construction) with their captains and their locations: America, 74, Confederacy, 36, Alliance, 36, Bourbon, 36, Trumbull, 28, Deane, 28, Providence, 28, Boston, 28, Queen of France, 20, Ranger, 18, and Saratoga, 18. Someone has crossed out Landais’ name as captain of the Alliance and substituted Jones’s.

8Three of these ships, the Providence, Boston, and Ranger, were captured when the city surrendered on May 11 and subsequently taken into the British Navy. A fourth, the Queen of France, had been sunk in the Cooper River as an obstruction to the British: Gardner W. Allen, A Naval History of the American Revolution (2 vols., Boston and New York, 1913), II, 491–7.

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