James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Randolph McGillis, 20 July 1804

To Randolph McGillis

Department of State, July 20th. 1804.


I have thus long delayed answering your letter of the 2d. ult.1 in expectation of the result of a case somewhat analogous to the one you propose, which was to have been disposed of by the federal judiciary.2 But as that case has gone off on different grounds, I must call your attention to the following principles as those which are to govern.

1st. The privateer may be repaired but not by increasing in any manner her warlike equipments.

2d. She may be permitted to enlist as a new3 french citizens but no other persons: and

3d. Special care is to be taken that the “Act in addition to the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States” passed on the 5th. of June 1794.4 be not violated by her in any other respect. I am &c.

James Madison.

Letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 14).

1Letter not found. Randolph McGillis was collector at the port of St. Marys, Georgia (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 1:332, 333).

2JM may have been referring to the case of the French privateer Télégraphe (see JM to James Simons, 18 Nov. 1803, 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 , 6:63–64).

3The State Department clerk apparently omitted a word here. JM probably meant to write that a French privateer was permitted to recruit new crew members from among French citizens only.

4U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 1:381–84.

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