James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Edward Thornton, 1 June 1803

To Edward Thornton

Department of State June 1. 1803


The documents annexed1 explain, at the same time that they attest, a very gross violation of the laws and authority of the United States by the officer commanding the British frigate Boston in boarding by force a French merchant vessel lying within thir protection, and in otherwise ill-treating the master and crew. The frigate proceeded it seems to sea immediately after the transaction.

Whatever mitigating circumstances may have escaped the enquiry instituted by the government, it cannot be doubted that a high insult has been offered to the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, as well as to ⟨the?⟩ commerce of a friendly nation, whose public Minister has made it the ground of a just representation.2

The President persuades himself Sir, that you will lose no time in transmitting this case to your government; and he equally persuades himself, that its friendly disposit⟨ion⟩ will concur with its justice, in producing so prompt and exemplary an animadversion on th⟨e⟩ misconduct calling for it, as will guard the harmony happily subsisting between the two countries aga⟨inst⟩ the tendency of repititions of such occurrences. I have the honour to be &c

(signed)   James Madison.

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