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A SHORT HISTORY OF THE     UNITED STATES NAVY
By R. CLARK, Rear-Admiral, U. S. Navy, (Ret.) c1910

 

NAVAL PRISONERS, PRIZES, AND THEIR EFFECTS ON
NEUTRALITY

NA VAL PRISONERS, PRIZES, AND THEIR EFFECTS ON
NEUTRALITY

Neutrality of France and Spain


This matter of naval prisoners in England, combined with the violations of neutral rights comitted by our vessels, was a great source of worry to the American Com missioners. These officials, having merely the status of private citizens in France, were treated by the French court with all civility, but they could not yet be openly.
received or recognized. Hence their work required the utmost' tact and delicacy. That naval prisoners in Eng land" were treated with extreme harshness is admitted even by British authorities. This cruelty was undoubtedly -
due partly to the low conditions of prison systems in England, as indeed in other parts of Europe in the
/ eighteenth century. One of the reasons for the cruises of American vessels in British waters was to capture Englishmen in retaliation for the treatment of Americans in Forton  prison at Portsmouth, Mill prison at Plymouth, and the prison ship Jersey at Brooklyn.
"The British Government resisted the exchange of prisoners taken in European waters on three grounds: (1) This involved a recognition of belligerent rights in the insurgents. (2) The American prisoners could be kept out of harm's way in England; the same condition did not apply to British prisoners taken by American vessels, as long as France refused to permit such prisoners to be landed and imprisoned on her shores. (3) British Mamen, being far more numerous than American, exchange would tell more favorably for the latter than for
. tho former."  
    To end their sufferings, some of these prisoners in England enlisted in the British Navy, or in whaling fleets, while others escaped from prison. Conyngham and sixty companions, in November, 1779, burrowed their way out of captivity, thus" committing treason through his Majesty's earth," as Conyngham remarked'. It was long After the secret treaty between France and the United States  was signed in February, 1778, before Franklin could persuade the English to take a more liberal view'" regards exchanging prisoners. In fact, the first exchange was not effected till March, 1779. The Americans, before the treaty with France, had to confine their captives taken in British waters on shipboard, or let them go. After the treaty. and after the breaking. out of war between Spain and England in 1779, these men were im prisoned in France and Spain. So, likewise, the question of the disposition of prizes captured in European waters was a difficu1t one before the treaty. Many prizes were taken to France, where they were secretly sold, in spite of official orders commanding the American Captains to leave port with their prizes. Indeed, it is very probable that, if hostilities between France and England had not for other causes broken out in 1778,  The countries would have gone to war because of the connivance  of the French at these breaches of neutrality.

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CAUSES OF NAVAL ACTIVITY IN THE COLONIES
THE MARINE COMMITTEE
 
IMPORANT NAVAL EVENTS DURING THE REVOLUTION
THE FIRST BATTLE OF LAKE CHAMPLAIN
WICKES AND CONYNGHAM IN EUROPEAN WATERS
NAVAL PRISONERS, PRIZES, AND THEIR EFFECTS ON
 
 
 
 
 

  

 

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  A SHORT HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES NAVY By R. CLARK, Rear-Admiral, U. S. Navy, (Ret.) c1910 

This is scan from a very old copy of the book we have done some editing and corrections but their are many typos

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