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of the ships concerted with the Alliance in that expedition, respecting the shares they were severally to draw of the prizes, which might be taken during said expedition ?”
Answer. I never made any such agreement, nor any person in my behalf. I lent the vessel to the King simply at the minister's request, supposing it would be agreeable to Congress to oblige their ally, and that the division, if there should be any thing to divide, would be according to the laws of France, or of America, as should be found most equitable. But the captains, before they sailed, entered into an agreement, called the concordat above mentioned, to divide according to the rules of America, as they acted under American commissions and colors.
Question 3d. “ Whether the Serapis and Scarborough, and other captures made during said expedition, were divided among the captors, and the distribution made according to the resolutions of Congress, and, if not, what mode was pursued in making the distribution?"
Answer. No division has yet been made of the Serapis and Scarborough. It is but lately that I have heard of the money being ready for division at L'Orient. I suppose the mode will be that agreed on by the captains.
Question 4th. “What were the net proceeds of the Serapis, Scarborough, and the other prizes taken during the said expedition ?"
Answer. I have not yet heard what were the net proceeds of the prizes, nor have I seen any account. As soon as such shall come to my hands, I will transmit it to you, and will endeavour to obtain it speedily. No satisfaction has yet been obtained for the prizes carried into Norway, and delivered up by the King of Denmark.
Question 5th. “What benefit the United States of America have received from the prisoners made during said expedition ?”
Answer. I did expect to have had all the prisoners taken by the squadron, to exchange for Americans, in consideration of my having lent the Alliance; and Captain Pearson engaged in behalf of the British government by a written instrument, that those set on shore in Holland should be considered as prisoners of war to the United States, and exchanged accordingly. But I was, nevertheless, disappointed in this expectation. For, an exchange of all the prisoners being proposed to be made in Holland, it was found necessary at that time by the Dutch government, in order to avoid embroiling their State with England, that those prisoners should be considered as taken by France, and they were accordingly exchanged for Frenchmen, on the footing of the French cartel with England. This I agreed to on the request of the French ambassador at the Hague, and also to avoid the risk of sending them by sea to France (the English cruising with seven ships off the Texel to retake them), and as it would be more convenient and certain for us to have an equal number of English delivered to me by France, at or near Morlaix, to be sent over in the cartel. But the English government afterwards refused, very unjustly, to give any Americans in exchange for English, that had not been taken by Americans. So we did not reap the benefit we hoped for.
Question 6th. “What orders were given to Captain Landais ? "
Answer. That he should obey the orders of Captain Jones.
Question 71h. “What was the ground of dispute between Captain Jones and him ?”
Answer. That, when at sea together, he refused to obey Captain Jones's orders.
Question 8th. “What were the disbursements on the Alliance, from the time of her first arrival in France, until she left that kingdom ?”
Answer. The disbursements on the Alliance, from the time of her first arrival in France, till the commencement of the cruise under Captain Jones, as appears by the accounts of Mr. Schweighauser, agent appointed by William Lee, amounted to which I paid. The disbursements on her refit in Holland were paid by the King, as were also those on her second refit after her return to L'Orient, as long as she was under the care of Captain Jones. But Captain Landais, when he resumed the command of her, thought fit to take what he wanted of Mr. Schweighauser's agent, to the amount of 31,668 livres, 12s. 3d., for which, being contrary to my orders given to Mr. Schweighauser, on his asking them upon the occasion, I refused to pay (my correspondence with him will show you my reasons), and of those paid by the King I have no account.
Question 9th. “Why the Alliance lay so long at Port L'Orient, after her arrival there from the Texel, and in general every information in your power respecting the Alliance and the expedition referred to.”
Answer. Her lying so long at L'Orient was first occasioned by the mutinous disposition of the officers and men, who refused to raise the anchors till they should receive wages and prize money. I did not conceive they had a right to demand payment of wages in a foreign country, or anywhere but at the port they came from, no one here knowing on what terms they were engaged, what they had received, or what was due to them. The prize money I wished them to
have; but, as that could not soon be obtained, I thought it wrong
in them to detain the vessel on that account; and, as I was informed many of them were in want of necessaries, I advanced twenty-four thousand livres on account, and put it into Captain Jones's hands to relieve and pacify them, that they might go more willingly. But they were encouraged by some meddling passengers to persist. The King would have taken the prizes and paid for them, at the rate per gun, &c., as he pays for warlike vessels taken by his ships; but they raised a clamor at this, it being put into their heads, that it was a project for cheating them, and they demanded a sale by auction. The minister, who usually gives more when ships are taken for the King than they will produce by auction, readily consented to this when I asked it of him; but then this method required time to have them inventoried, advertised in different ports, to create a fuller concurrence of buyers, &c. Captain Jones came up to Paris to hasten the proceedings. In his absence, Captain Landais, by the advice of Mr. Lee and Commodore Gillon, took possession of the ship and kept her long, writing up to Paris, waiting answers, &c.
I have often mentioned to Congress the inconvenience of putting their vessels under the care of persons living perhaps one hundred leagues from the port they arrive at, which necessarily creates delays, and of course enormous expenses; and, for a remedy, I have as often recommended the appointment of consuls, being very sensible of my own insufficiency in maritime affairs, which have taken up a vast deal of my time, and given me abundance of trouble, to the hinderance, sometimes, of more important business. I hope these inconveniences will now be soon removed by the arrival of Mr. Palfrey.
As the ministry had reasons, if some of the first plans had been pursued, 'to wish the expedition might be understood as American, the instructions were to be given by me, and the outfit was committed to M. de Chaumont, known to be one of our friends, and well acquainted with such affairs. The Marquis de Lafayette, who was to have been concerned in the execution, can probably acquaint you with those reasons. If not, I shall do it hereafter. It afterwards continued in the hands of M. de Chaumont to the end. I never paid or received a farthing directly or indirectly on account of the expedition ; and, the captains having made him their trustee and agent, it is to him they are to apply for their proportions of the captures. There may be something, though I believe very little, coming to the United States from the Alliance's share of a small ransom made contrary to orders.
No account has been rendered to me of that ransom, therefore I cannot say how much; but I will inquire about it and inform you hereafter.
Most of the colliers taken were burnt or sunk. The ships of war taken, I understand, belong wholly to the captors. If any particulars remain, on which you desire information, be pleased to mention them. I think it my duty to give you all the satisfaction in my power, and shall do it willingly. Being with great regard, Gentlemen, &c.