James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Edward Thornton, 19 November 1803

From Edward Thornton

Washington 19 November 1803


Messrs W. & J. Crooks, Merchants trading in the British town of Niagara,1 have addressed a complaint to me, that they are refused in the War Office of the United States payment of the balance of an account for sundry articles furnished by them about three years ago to Major Rivardi, then commanding at the American Garrison of Niagara, in conformity to the instructions understood to be given to that officer. From the papers which I have seen, it appears that the payment is refused, partly because a sale was made to these merchants of sundry articles the property of the United States, which Major Rivardi it is asserted had no authority thus to dispose of; partly because various articles were supplied by them to the garrison of Niagara of a kind and to an extent, not admitted by the regulations of the department of war.2

As nothing which has been exhibited to me gives room to suspect any improper practices, or to suppose that the commodities were not fairly and actually supplied, I hope to have your good offices in procuring the adjustment of this account, because I am persuaded you will think it consistent neither with justice nor with sound policy, that a foreign merchant trading upon the good faith of an authorized agent should be the sufferer for any departure from instructions, with the limits and regulations of which it is not to be presumed he can be fully acquainted. I have the honour to be with perfect truth and respect, Sir, Your most obedient humble servant,

Edwd Thornton

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