To James Maury
Department of State July 2d: 1804.
I have received your letter of the 4th. May last. By a law passed during the last Session of Congress, which will be transmitted to you as soon as the volume is printed, a naturalised Citizen returning to the Country from which he originated, and residing there a year is disqualified to hold a registered Vessel.1 But this as well as the position stated in my circular of the 1st. of October2 do not affect the case you put for solution respecting itinerant or temporarily resident Citizens, holding as American property Vessels not registered. In fact as the laws now stand it is a mere question of National character; and whenever you can satisfy yourself of an individual being bonâ fide a Citizen, it follows that you ought to attest his property as such; leaving it to those, who are so disposed, to contest in any particular case the relation existing bet[w]een the asserted owner and the Vessel as affected by his residence in a belligerent Country. I am &c.
Letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, IC, vol. 1).
1. JM referred to “An Act to amend the act intituled ‘An act concerning the registering and recording of ships and vessels,’” 27 Mar. 1804 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 2:296–97).
2. For JM’s Circular Letter to Consuls and Commercial Agents, 1 Oct. 1803, see PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 5:479 and n. 1.