James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Isaac Clason and John R. Livingston, 12 May 1801

From Isaac Clason and John R. Livingston

New York. May 12th. 1801


We beg leave to inclose to you by chancellor Livingston a Copy of a Protest and Condemnation of a ship called the Nancy,1 Howard Allen Master, Captur’d on her voyage from Calcutta to New York in the month of December last by two Privateers from Guadeloupe and carried into St. Martins.

As this Ship and Cargo was extremely Valuable having been insur’d at $175000 and as the late Treaty provides for the Restoration of all Captures made Subsequent to the signing and previous to the ratification it is to be presum’d she would have been immediately Surrender’d—her value probably has prevented this as several others taken about the same time have been restor’d. The Captain in behalf of his owners has laid in a claim for the Amt. of the Vessel Cargo & Damages but as yet no determination has taken place that we at present know of altho many months have elaps’d.

As the Treaty on the Part of the United States will be carried into full effect, it may perhaps be of consequence to take some steps, to insure that the french shall also on their Part, act with good faith; We do not however presume to point out the mode of application respecting this Business as your own knowledge of Diplomatic Transactions will no doubt devise measures most likely to succeed—if however Mr Pichon should have instructions upon this Subject it would facilitate the receipt of the Property from Guadeloupe, which would prevent an application to the Treasury in France which it is said is greatly in want of funds of course a lengthy Period would elapse before any thing could be recover’d from thence even if the claim was admitted.

We flatter ourselves sir, that you will not think this application improper and that you will excuse the Liberty we have taken in addressing you to procure that justice which the Citizens of America & France as [sic] reciprocally intitled to. We Remain, with great respect Your Obt. Servts.

I. Clason

John R Livingston

NB. If application is made it must be in Guadeloupe as the Ship was Condemned there and the Privateers owned at that place.

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 76, Preliminary Inventory 177, entry 143, France, Unbound Records Relating to Spoliation Claims, ca. 1885, box 17, folder N). RC in a clerk’s hand, signed by Clason and Livingston, with postscript in Livingston’s hand. Cited in 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 , 2:492 n. 2.

1The enclosures (13 pp.) are a translation from the French of the 19 Dec. 1800 condemnation of the Nancy at Basseterre, Guadeloupe; a certification of the translation of the condemnation; a translation from the Dutch of Capt. Howard Allen’s 29 Dec. 1800 protest at St. Martin; and a certification of the translation of the protest. Allen’s protest, which was assented to by first mate David Bennett and other crew members, states that the Nancy left Calcutta for New York on 30 July 1800 laden with sugar, pepper, and dry goods and traveled with the Delaware, Captain Clay, and the William Penn, Captain Rollins, until the Nancy left the others on 26 Sept. On 2 Dec. the Nancy was hailed by the French privateers Mars and Les Deux Amis. After an exchange of shots the Nancy was surrendered because it was unable to withstand the French vessels and because “the Crew went below and would no longer defend the said Vessel.” The Nancy was carried into St. Martin on 6 Dec.

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