When Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane were in Paris they wrote the following letter to Lord Stormont, the English Ambassador to France.
Paris, April 2nd, 1777.
We did ourselves the honor of writing some time since to your Lordship on the subject of exchanging prisoners: you did not condescend to give us any answer, and therefore we expect none to this. We, however, take the liberty of sending you copies of certain depositions which we shall transmit to Congress, whereby it will be known to your Court, that the United States are not unacquainted with the barbarous treatment their people receive when they have the misfortune to be your prisoners here in Europe, and that if your conduct towards us is not altered, it is not unlikely that severe reprisals may be thought justifiable from a necessity of putting some check to such abominable practices. For the sake of humanity it is to be wished that men would endeavor to alleviate the unavoidable miseries attending a state of war. It has been said that among the civilized nations of Europe the ancient horrors of that state are much diminished; but the compelling men by chains, stripes, and famine to fight against their friends and relatives, is a new mode of barbarity, which your nation alone has the honor of inventing, and the sending American prisoners of war to Africa and Asia, remote from all probability of exchange, and where they can scarce hope ever to hear from their families, even if the unwholesomeness of the climate does not put a speedy end to their lives, is a manner of treating captives that you can justify by no other precedent or custom except that of the black savages of Guinea. We are your Lordship's most obedient, humble servants, Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane.
The reply to this letter was laconic.
"The King's Ambassador recognizes no letters from Rebels, except when they come to ask mercy."
Inclosed in the letter from our representatives were the following depositions.