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Butts, Thomas (fl. 1777) to his cousin

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01450.613 Author/Creator: Butts, Thomas (fl. 1777) Place Written: Hommerton, England Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 17 March 1777 Pagination: 4 p. ; 37.2 x 23.2 cm.

Butts is glad to be back in England, where thinking is not a crime worthy of tar and feathering. Butts left Gravesend, New York on the ship "Thomas" on 17 July 1776. Gives account of his attempted voyage to England. Says they had an uneventful journey until the 9th week, when they met a 70 ton sloop that easily caught up to them because of the bad sailing condition of the "Thomas." The sloop raised the Union Jack and said they were sailing from Virginia under the orders of Lord Dunmore to stop Americans from fishing on the banks. They wanted the Captain, a man named Bell, to take his boat and come to them so they could examine the ship's papers. Bell refused, saying the boat was leaky. The captain of the Virginia ship, a man named Crawford, came over himself and examined the papers and was entertained. He expressed anger at the "Yankies" - and when he returned to his ship Crawford and his crew decided to capture it. A chase occurred and the officers of the "Thomas" finally realized the ship was an American privateer. They caught up to them and they were fired upon. Bell was wounded by small arms fire and the "Thomas" boarded. Bell died two hours later. Mockingly says that justice for this crime "are too trivial matters for such mighty Men as the Congress of the United States of America to trouble themselves about." They privateer then brought them back to Rhode Island. Said the cargo was bought for 15,000 pounds and sold for 100,000 pounds in Providence. Proceeds to disparage Providence and its citizens. Decides to travel to Boston and visits Bunker Hill. Travels back to Rhode Island and praises its beauty. Says Rhode Island's sailors are so caught up with the West Indies trade that only "Sea Sick Country Bumpkins" are left to man the warships. After a petition for their release was accepted by the government of Rhode Island, the 79 captives bought the ship "Tryton" and sailed to England. Says Congress is depraved before closing letter.

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