James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Robert Purviance, 15 April 1803

To Robert Purviance

Department of State Washington
15th. April 1803.


I have received your letter of the 12th inst.1 respecting the communication made to you by the Consul at London, that Captain Lewis of the ship Birmingham left two destitute seamen behind, whom he was directed to take on board and transport to the United States according to law. If the dispositions of Captain Lewis and one of the seamen of the vessel furnished a less satisfactory exculpation, yet under the late law upon the subject,2 the proof necessary to maintain actions against masters of vessels in like cases is so difficult that it would not be adviseable to institute one in the present instance. You may therefore pass it over, especially as the law lately passed will effect a diminution in the frequency of the offence to ensure its punishment. I am, Sir, &ca.

James Madison.

Index Entries