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It was from a persuasion of this, and from an anxiety for their safety, as well as for that of the important supplies that go with them, that I ventured to submit to you my opinion of the utility of ordering the Alliance immediately to Brest, which I still most earnestly wish may if possible be done. Most of these gentlemen have already experienced the miseries of being made prisoners, to which there is too much reason to apprehend they will return, if they are left upon our coast without convoy. It is a long time too since congress has heard from their servants in Europe. Mr. Izard and myself have written to our constituents, in expectation of our despatches going in safety by the Alliance, or under her convoy, upon matters in which the public honour, interest, and safety, are deeply concerned. I am sorry to have troubled you with so long a letter, but out of the fullness of the heart the tongue speaketh; and I am filled with the most anxious concern for the fate of the fleet, if it is to be left unprotected in any part of the voyage. I have the honour to be, &c. Signed,
“N. B. Mr. A. Lee having waited some time without receiving an answer to the above letter, on the 15th of May I waited on Dr. Franklin to know whether or not he had received it. His answer was, that he had, but that as the ships were then sailed, he did not think it necessary to make any answer. Signed,
LUDWELL LEE.” “ Observation. The ships sailed from Isle Dey, near Brest, the 10th of May; the post is four full days from Brest to Paris; then the date of my letter was eight days before the receipt of that intelligence, which it is pretended made an answer unnecessary. The fact is, that the Alliance was ordered immediately to L'Orient, to join the private cruisers fitted out by Mr. Chaumont. With regard to her not being manned, the Hon. Mr. Adams, who wrote that she was, had been on board of her for some weeks, had sailed in her from Brest to Nantes, and spoke from what he saw; nor is it easy to conceive,
that if she was manned sufficiently to go upon a cruise, she was unfit to go as a convoy, which requires fewer men; since in the latter case she was to fight only; in the former, to fight and man her prizes. A. L."
(d) Memoire to the French Court. “When a conduct of premeditated perjury, shameless perfidy, and unexampled cruelty, on the part of Great Britain during the present war, had so much exasperated the minds of the people of the United States that it was apprehended they would proceed to retaliation, which if once commenced in anger might be carried to extremities the most horrible, the congress issued an address, exhorting forbearance, and a farther trial, by examples of lenity and generosity, to recall their enemies to the practice of humanity amid the calamities of war. In consequence of this, neither the congress of the United States, nor any of the states apart, have ever exercised, or authorised the exercise of the right of retaliation. Their enemies however continued their barbarities, till the issue of war, turning against them, put one of their armies, and a multitude of other prisoners, into the power of the states. From that time till lately, their conduct towards those citizens of the United States whom they had made prisoners, was less stained with atrocious insolence and inhumanity. But since they have found that all the efforts and arts of their commissioners could neither intimidate nor seduce the congress, nor the people of the United States, they have become outrageous, and in that spirit have published a proclamation which contains the following brutal menaces, and which they have already begun to execute, by desolation and murders, wherever they can approach. It is therefore manifestly the enemy's policy, to disgust the people of America with their alliance with France, by convincing them, that instead of shielding them from future miseries, it has accumulated additional calamities upon their country. To stop the progress of these cruelties, and disappoint their purpose,
the commissioners submit to your excellency's consideration two measures, which in their opinion are most likely to answer these ends.
Ist. That the court of France should announce to that of Great Britain that unless this declaration of its commissioners is formally renounced, and the cruel method of carrying on the war effectually stopped, this court will join with the United States, in the severest retaliation. 2nd. That a powerful fleet of thirty or forty sail should be immediately sent to the coast of America, to support this declaration, and secure a naval superiority over the enemy in those seas. The commissioners suggest this measure as appearing to them to be the most sure and effectual means of distressing the enemy, and destroying her commerce, humbling her pride, and reducing her to the necessity of suing for peace. Upon this naval superiority in those seas must depend the valuable commerce of their islands and the islands themselves. The difficulties of provisioning a fleet at such a distance, or of repairing it, in case of any accident, augment with the number to such a degree, that it seems impossible for the enemy to support thirty or forty sail of the line in that quarter, and therefore, though they are able to meet and even out-number Count d'Estaing's fleet, yet against the proposed augmentation it is conceived they could not contend. The commissioners hope the speedy assistance and reparation received by Count d'Estaing's fleet will show the advantages which this country must enjoy in carrying on the naval war on a coast friendly to her, and hostile to her enemy. And these advantages they trust will in future be much more sensible, because the appearance of the fleet this time was sudden and unexpected, and the last season in that particular part of the country was the most unfavourable that has been known for many years. '
END OF VOL. I.
“ Paris, April 19th, 1777. To his excellency Baron Schulenburg at Berlin.
Sir,-We received the letter which you did us the honour to write to us of the 15th ultimo, and should earlier have replied particularly thereto, but from the daily expectation we had, of receiving orders from the congress of the United States on this important subject. We have their commands to inform his Prussian majesty's ambassador here that they propose to send a minister to your respected court with all convenient expedition, properly empowered to treat upon affairs of importance; and that we are in the mean time instructed and authorised by the congress to solicit the friendship of your court, to request that it would afford no aid to their enemies, but use its good offices to prevent the landing of troops by other powers to be transported to America, for their destruction ; and to offer the free commerce of the United States to the subjects of Prussia. We have taken the earliest
opportunity of obeying these commands. But consider