Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Vergennes, 24 February 1782

From Vergennes

L (draft):8 Archives du Ministère des affaires étrangères; press copy1 and transcript: National Archives

A Versailles le 24e fevr. 1782

Vous trouverez ci-joint, M, un office qui m’a été remis de la part de la Cour de Coppenhague;2 cette piéce est relative à des excès qui doivent avoir été commis près des côtes de Norwège par trois Vx. [Vaisseaux] Americains; je ne doute pas que vous ne vous empressiez à le faire parvenir au Congrès, afin qu’il puisse prononcer d’après les principes du droit des gens sur les reclamations de S M. Danoise.

M. franklin

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

8In Gérard de Rayneval’s hand.

1Of a copy made by L’Air de Lamotte of both Vergennes’ letter and the enclosures.

2He enclosed copies of a Feb. 6 letter from Danish Envoy von Blome and an accompanying document, the proceedings of a Dec. 4–8, 1781, hearing conducted at the port of Mandal, Norway by a Danish judge, Norway then being part of the Kingdom of Denmark. (A copy and transcript in French and an English translation are at the National Archives; the English translation of the covering letter is printed in Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, V, 148.) At the hearing the captains and crew of the English brig Constant Ann of Yarmouth (Charles Lines, master) and the Scottish brig Elliott of Kirkcaldy (David Ray, master) reported on their mistreatment by three American ships. The Americans captured them off southern Norway, refused ransom, and then burned their ships. According to Blome, the French consul claimed that the American ships did not have letters of marque, and he asked that the American captains be punished for piracy and the owners of the British ships be indemnified. In fact, two of the American ships did have letters of marque, the Pa. brig Ariel (Peter Miller, master) and Pa. brigantine Virginia (Peter Hodgkinson, master): Claghorn, Naval Officers, pp. 153, 208; Charles H. Lincoln, comp., Naval Records of the American Revolution, 1775–1788 (Washington, D.C., 1906), pp. 230, 488. We have been unable to trace the third vessel, a three-masted Pa. ship named the Norfolk (with a master named Lyon or Lines).

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