Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Smith, 29 March 1806

Navy Department March 29th 1806


I consider it proper to submit to your consideration the proceedings of William Lyman Esq Consul at London in relation to the Ship Huntress, and her Cargo consisting of Provisions & Stores for our Squadron in the Mediterranean—I would however premise, that, Mr. Lyman not having made to me any kind of Communication upon the Subject the only information I possess is derived from papers that have been transmitted to me by the Owner of the Huntress and from a letter from Mr Lyman to the Secretary of State dated Jany 14th 1806.

This Vessel and Cargo having been acquitted by the decree of the Admiralty Court the Captain was thereupon bound by Virtue of his Bill of Lading and Charter party to have proceeded on the Voyage and to have delivered the Cargo at Malta or Syracuse. But it seems, Mr Lyman authorised him to land the Cargo in England for Sale & to return to the United States without performing the Contract made by him with the Navy Department—

From this interference of our Consul our Squadron has been deprived of a very valuable and a well assorted Cargo of Stores & provisions and the United States have moreover been subjected to the payment of Freight to which the Owner would not have been entitled but upon the delivery of the Cargo at Malta or Syracuse

From the papers, I have seen it further appears that Mr Lyman has (upon what principle I know not) paid the Expences of certain repairs of the Huntress and has by his letters Countenanced an expectation that the United States would defray all other Expences for her Repairs and all other Costs and Charges of the Captain in relation to her—an account has accordingly since the return of this vessel been presented to me by the Owner to the amount of $7407 54/100—This claim not being sanctioned by Law, nor by the usage of merchants I have informed the Owner it cannot be paid by the Navy Department

This Cargo was by the Sentence of the Court restored to us on the 12th of September 1805 and Mr Lyman has not yet rendered to me an account of the Sales thereof nor has he given me any kind of information respecting it. And the first Communication made by him to the State Department of the Decree of the admiralty Court was dated Jany 14th 1806—four months after the date of the Decree

It is not unworthy of notice that this Cargo cost in the United States $49,503 84/100 and was probably worth more in England—

Mr Lyman in One of his letters to the Captain states that he has advised him to return with the Huntress to the United States. “as not only the Condition of the Cargo but the future probable want thereof at the place of Original destination render it unadviseable that the Same shall be sent there”

With respect to the Condition of the Cargo it does not appear that Mr Lyman had caused as is usual, a Survey to be made thereon or that he was in possession of any sort of proof to Satisfy himself that the Cargo was not in good Condition. And when I consider the articles that Composed the Cargo I cannot permit myself to believe that any such proof could have been produced—For what could have injured the most Valuable articles of the Cargo—such as Beef Pork—Whiskey—Rum—molasses—Cannon Shot—Powder—masts—Spars, plank & Scantling, Cordage and the like—There were in the Cargo but a few articles and those of little importance that could have been injured—

And with respect to the “probable want of the Cargo in the Mediterranean” Mr Lyman not having been apprised of the Views or the arrangements of the Government ought to have known that he was utterly incompetent to Judge and in truth in his judgment he did err most egregiously

I have the honor to be Sir, yr mo Obt St.

Rt Smith

DNA: RG 76--Miscellaneous Claims.

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