Copy: Library of Congress
Passy, 7. Oct. 1780.
Your Excellency will perceive by the inclosed Extract of a Letter to me, from Messrs. Parsons Alston & Co. of Martinique, that certain Prisoners made by American Vessels, & carried in there were with others taken by French Vessels, sent to France via St. Domingo in order to be exchanged.4
If the sd. Prisoners are arrived, or when they do arrive, I desire your Excellency would cause those captured by the Americans (of which inclosed is a List)5 to be deliver’d as such to the Capt. of the Cartel & a Rect. in Consequence taken for the same.
With great Respect & Esteem, I am Sir, Your Exy.
M. De Sartine.
4. William Bingham had chosen the firm of Parsons and Alston to represent American commercial interests in Martinique after his departure. It provided intelligence, but conducted little public business: Elizabeth M. Nuxoll, Congress and the Munitions Merchants: the Secret Committee of Trade during the American Revolution, 1775–1777 (New York and London, 1985), p. 452; Smith, Letters, XVII, 175n. The firm did, however, write BF on Aug. 1 (APS). BF indicated on that letter that an extract should be made of its first two paragraphs. These, after announcing the firm’s appointment, reported that Bingham had arranged that prisoners made by American ships and confined at Martinique should be exchanged by the French commandant, the marquis de Bouillé (XXIV, 60n); when Admiral Rodney refused to exchange prisoners with Bouillé, he sent them to France for exchange. In the remainder of the letter the firm gave naval intelligence and volunteered to send news in the future.
5. This Aug. 1 list sent by Parsons and Alston contains the names and nautical titles of 34 British subjects captured at sea by American armed vessels. APS.