James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, 13 December 1803

To James Monroe

Department of State 13th. December 1803.


You must be already acquainted with many of the circumstances respecting the purchase made in France by General Ira Allen of a quantity of Arms and field pieces which on their passage to the United States were captured towards the close of the year 1796 by the British Ship of War Audacious. General Allen having requested a recommendation of his interest to your patronage, I the more readily give it, as according to the proofs he has produced, the interruption of his voyage was not confined in its effects to his private concerns, but operated to deprive the Militia of Vermont of a supply of the articles which formed the object of his Speculation. In the enclosed statement and remarks1 he has entered so fully into the details of the transaction and the reflections arising out of it, that on comparing them with the information which Mr. Erving may obtain for you from the proctor who has the management of the business, you will be enabled to appreciate its merits and ascertain its present state. The letter from the Department of State to Mr. King of which a copy is herewith enclosed2 must have long ago satisfied the British Government that the arms and Artillery were really intended for the militia of Vermont and not for any hostile purpose against their Dominions. How justice has happened to be so long delayed, whether from the tardiness of the Courts or any laches imputable to the claimant is to be ascertained best at London; but if the latter has not been in fault, the delay which has taken place amounts almost to a refusal of justice and in its effect may produce consequences equally injurious, as Messrs. Bird, Savage and Bird who were bail on the return of the arms to General Allen, and to whom he therefore mortgaged and was compelled to deliver them as a counter security, have lately failed after having sold them.3 I have the honor to be, Sir, With great consideration your most obed. servt.4

James Madison

Index Entries