Character 1 (holding a bag and wearing a beret) on the left
Finally, we can set sail! Once the captain has finished negotiating conditions, we’ll give him our names, ages, places of birth and residence for the compulsory list. A good thing we don’t need a trade to work on this ship! We’re going to hunt those pirates! And once we catch them, we won’t let them go! We’ll take them prisoner and bring them back to port for a good price.
Character 2 (with an orange scarf around his waist, leaning on a table)
I am captain J. B. Jouhau of the ship Elizabeth. With this letter of marque, my men and I have official permission to capture those who wish to steal and pillage the ships of our glorious Navy! With our guns and cannonballs, our gunpowder and our knives, we’re ready for war! We can take their ships, their weapons and their supplies and sell all of it for a good price. I know – we are not very nice. But neither are they!
Character 3 (sitting at the table)
These privateers are a good thing for the government. Thanks to the privateers, we of the Ministry of Marine and Colonies can chase down enemies of the State without putting our ships and crews at risk. The shipowners and captains take all the risks, but when they sell their prizes, a share in the profits is due to the King. Meanwhile, we’re getting rid of those who could stop us from winning the war.
You are witness to the last negotiations before the signing of a letter of marque, an official document, issued by a State, which gives a private ship the right to seize goods, ships, and weapons, and to imprison the crew of an enemy ship in time of war. The letter on this table, issued by the French government, is valid for ten months; a rather short time, since we never know when the war will end. During this time, the privateers will attempt to intercept the enemy, return to their home port with their loot and sell it for a profit. Of course, this letter of marque, this permission, comes with a price: all profits must be shared with the State.
Letter of marque (with errors)
Letter for a French privateer ship.
The date on the document is “8 Ventôse Year 9”, according to the French revolutionary calendar, or February 27, 1801.
Letter of Piracy
The Consuls of the Republic hereby authorize Captain J. B. Jouhau to equip for war a privateer, the Julia, with such number of guns, cannonballs, and such amount of gunpowder, lead and other weapons of war and supplies as are deemed necessary to capture all of the Allies of the Republic, and, regarding the Pirates, to capture them and release them with their ships, weapons and other objects that they are seized with; the ship owner must register this Letter with the Maritime Inspection Office in the city where his ship was launched and deposit there the list of the men of its crew; said Captain must, upon his return, present his report to the Administrator of the Navy.
The Consuls of the Republic invite all the Allied Powers and Friends of the French Republic to offer to the Captain any help, safe passage or withdrawal into their harbours.
This document is valid for ten years only, from the date of its registration.
In witness whereof the Consuls of the Republic have had this Letter signed by the Minister of the Navy.
Given in Paris on 8 Ventôse of Year 9 of the French Republic
By the Ministry of Marine and Colonies,
[Signed] M. Furier [?]
Comments on the answers for the letter of marque
This is indeed a letter of marque, as pirates did not have permission from the State for their deeds.
Captain Jouhau’s ship was christened the Elizabeth.
The enemies, not the allies of the Republic, are the ones to be pursued.
Release them (Take them prisoner)
All good privateers bring back their prisoners and definitely do not let their captives go!
10 years (10 months)
Valid only during a conflict, the letters of marque covered a fairly short period because no one was ever sure when peace would reign again.