James Madison Papers

To James Madison from DeWitt Clinton, 22 June 1804

From DeWitt Clinton

New York 22 June 1804


Since my letter to you,1 having received a notification from Genl Rey that the french frigates intended to remain in this port until a more favorable opportunity as they were now prevented from sailing with the first fair wind by a superior force, I permitted the Pilots to rejoin the British vessels of war at the Hook; altho’ I should have conceived myself perfectly justified in withholding from them every facility and comfort until they delivered up the men and particularly the American Citizen or Citizens impressed within the State. It is now reported that they have done this, but I have received no information respecting it sufficiently authentic to authorize my communicating it to you in any other way than as a report which I think probably correct.

I inclose you certain documents2 to support the affidavit of John Squire and I shall transmit the affidavits of the Health Officer and his assistant as soon as I can procure them. I have the honor to be &c

(Signed)   De Witt Clinton

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, ML); letterbook copy (NNC). RC in a clerk’s hand; marked “(Copy).” Letterbook copy is followed by a note: “Sent on Wilsons Affidavit No. 11 / Mc.Lean & others No. 12.” For enclosures (3 pp.), see n. 2.

2Clinton enclosed copies of two depositions, both dated 21 June 1804: Alexander Wilson testified that he had witnessed Lt. John Squire’s attempt to board the Pitt while the British “appeared to have full possession” of it and heard the statements of a British officer who “commanded the said Lieutenant to keep off and damned the revenue officers and the UStates”; Allen McLean and three others testified that they were in the Vigilant’s boat with Lieutenant Squire alongside the Pitt and witnessed the actions of the British officers who forbade Squire to board and threatened him with cutlass and pike if he attempted to do so.

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