Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the Board of War, 3 March 1780

From the Board of War

Williamsburg, 3 Mch. 1780. Capt. Weasy of the vessel from Bermuda awaits a final determination of his case which was submitted to the executive some days ago. He seems to have been influenced by his compassion for the American prisoners of war to come under a flag of truce. It seems proper to allow him the privileges of trade hitherto permitted to the Bermudans by acts of Congress and resolutions of the state in return for his efforts. The Bermudans in general are well disposed to the American cause and it would be good policy to increase that friendship with a moderate quantity of grain and, in return, procure salt for the state. Receipts will be given for the prisoners delivered and it is recommended that privateers and others of the same kind be exchanged. Signed by Innes and Lyne.

Tr in Board of War Letter Book (MiU-C); 2 p.

In TJ’s absence John Page made the following reply, which was copied into the Board’s Letter Book: “In Council March 4th. 1780. The Board approve of the Steps taken by the Board of War with respect to the prisoners brought in the Flag of Truce Captain Weasey from Bermuda. But are unanimously of opinion that a flag ought not to be permitted to carry any kind of merchandize not only as being contrary to the Law of nations but as tending in our situation to establish a precedent, which may be attended with mischievous consequences, and that therefore the Flag vessel from Bermuda should not be permitted to unlade or deliver out any of her Salt; but as it was brought here under the denomination of Ballast it should be actually returned in her as such.” Capt. Weasy: i.e., Vezey, see TJ to Board of Trade, 22 Mch. 1780 (second letter to the Board of that date).

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