James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George W. Erving, 10 July 1805 (Abstract)

From George W. Erving, 10 July 1805 (Abstract)

§ From George W. Erving.1 10 July 1805, London. No. 62. “My letter No 59 (May 18th.) transmitted by original & duplicate,2 acknowledged the receipt of yours dated March 19th. addressed to Mr. Purviance, and directing him to make a proposition to this government for paying in London, instead of at Washington, the third instalment becoming due to it from the United States, under the late Convention: With the same letter I inclosed a copy of Lord Mulgrave’s Note acceding to the proposition. The payment will accordingly be made by Messrs. Baring on the 15th. of this month, to some person who will be properly authorized by the British government to receive it.

“I have now the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the following letters for the minister Vizt.

  • March 2d. "  "
  • March 6. and its inclosures by original & duplicate3
  • March 11. by original, duplicate & triplicate4
  • March 15. by original and duplicate
  • March 25. by original, duplicate and triplicate
  • March 26. by original duplicate and triplicate
  • April 4.   " " "
  • April 12. duplicate and triplicate5
  • May 13. by original and duplicate6
  • and one from the Secretary of the Navy dated April 16th.7

“I have from time to time advised Mr. Monroe of the receipt of the most material of these dispatches, & that I shoud act on the directions which they contain as far as may be proper, during his absence. The important subject to which that of April 16th. relates, I presume it is not your wish that I shoud touch upon, but rather that Mr. Monroe shoud find it on his return in the same state which he left it in.

“I have duly communicated to this government, that the President has thought proper to revoke the commission of Mr. Harry Grant as Consul at Leith; & have written also to Mr. Grant to that effect, in such terms as you directed.8

“I have lost no time in taking measures to procure the documents referred to in the legislative resolve transmitted by your Letter of May 11;9 the latter part of them are very difficult to be obtained, but yet I hope to be able to complete & send them in the course of a few weeks.

“Upon the subject of your letter of March 26h. I had an interview with Mr. DeRehausen the Swedish Minister on the 23d ultimo, in which I opened and urged the claims upon his government therein referred to: he expressed himself in terms of indignation and surprize at the proceeding of the Governor of St. Bartholomews—assured me that he woud transmit with great pleasure the note which I shoud address to him on the subject, and was persuaded that his government woud immediately attend to the representation: He found it the more difficult to conceive a motive10 for the extraordinary conduct of the governor; since at that period, Sweden & France were not on an amicable footing; & he particularly desired, if I had any private information on the subject, and more especially in what related to the governor, that I woud communicate it, as it woud enable him to strengthen the representation which he shoud make: I replied that the conduct of the governor might certainly be considered as very mysterious, that we had no acquaintance however with his private motives, that I woud communicate in my note all the facts which had come to the knowledge of our government, by which he woud see that it was a pure case, unembarrassed with any questions or difficulties which coud impeach the justice of the claim. He again assured me that he woud do all in his power to promote the object, but observed that some considerable delay woud arise, from the necessity of sending out to St. Bartholomews to make formal investigations; to this I observed, that in consequence of Mr. Soderstrom’s interference, all these preliminary steps had been taken, and therefore I did not doubt that the present application, thro’ the channel of his representations, woud produce without much delay, the remuneration which the claimants had so long awaited. Mr. De Rehausen promised immediate attention to the subject, and on the 24. I addressed to him a note of which the inclosed is a copy.11

“Having received from Doctor Rush, answers to the enquiries made by the King of Prussia respecting the yellow fever, I took occasion in transmitting them to Baron Jacobi, to write to him further upon the subject, as I perceived by your letter of May 13. that the measures taken by his government had created a great deal of concern. Copy of that letter and his note in reply are herewith inclosed, as are also some Prize questions proposed by the medical college of Berlin, which he has since transmitted to me.12 I made the alarms of Prussia upon this subject a topic of conversation with Mr. DeRehausen, and learnt from him, that not the least apprehension of a similar kind existed in Sweden; that so far from embarrassing our trade with restrictions of this sort, his countrymen regretted that we had so little intercourse with them, and were desirous, by affording us every possible facility & advantage, to invite us to their ports.

“I have scarcely heard any complaint here, as to the severity of the quarantine regulations, & see no reason to apprehend that this government has fallen into the views of Prussia, or is likely to enter into a concert with her to impose any similar restrictions on our trade, more strict than those which have hitherto been in use. On enquiry at Liverpool I learn from Mr. Maury that though fourteen days were added to the term of quarantine last year, yet that it was only applied to vessels arriving from Charleston, Georgia, & New Orleans, that they have not placed our vessels, arriving from all parts of the United States indiscriminately under quarantine, but those only coming from a state, in some part of which the disorder was known to exist; and that these restraints have been applied impartially to the[ir] own vessels: and with respect to this so far indiscriminate regulation, it has been intimated to me to have arisen from some discoveries of fraud in clearances, as tho’ vessels actually from Philadelphia, had brought cl[e]arances from NewCastle.13 Under these circumstances I have doubted whether it woud be your wish that any immediate representation should be made upon the subject, yet seeing that the general apprehension of importing the infection is greater than the real danger warrants, that this particular measure of the addition of fourteen days to the term of quarantine may be considered oppressive, and as you may also think that a more exact discrimination shoud be made of places deemed to be infected; I have concluded that you woud not disapprove of a communication adverting to those points, & covering the instructions of the Secretary of the Treasury to the Collectors of the customs which you have directed to be communicated to this government.14 A Copy of my letter to Lord Mulgrave on this subject is herewith inclosed.15

“Mr. Lorentz Chargé d’Affaires of the Elector of Hesse, has requested me to obtain information respecting a Mr. George Gattere—this enquiry he is directed by his government to make: I have promised to transmit it to you, and that he woud be furnished with the information desired.16

“Count Staremburgh the Imperial Minister has also requested me to forward the two letters inclosed.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, London, vol. 9). 4 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Erving; docketed by Wagner as received 12 Sept. For surviving enclosures, see nn. 11–13 and 15–16.

1Boston native George William Erving (1769–1850) was the son of Loyalist George Erving who moved to England during the American Revolution. The younger Erving was educated at Oriel College, Oxford, and at the age of twenty-one returned to the United States where he became a supporter of Thomas Jefferson. Erving served as agent for seamen and also chargé d’affaires in London. He was legation secretary and chargé d’affaires in Madrid from 1805 to 1809, and JM named him special minister to Denmark in 1810 and minister to Madrid in 1814. Erving resigned that post in 1819 and spent his remaining years traveling and translating a Spanish work of philology. He died in New York (Senate Exec. Proceedings, 2:156, 531).

2PJM-SS, 9:368.

3JM to James Monroe, ibid., 109–14.

5Ibid., 135–36, 173, 179–80, 209, 234–39.

7Robert Smith’s 16 Apr. 1805 letter to Monroe dealt with the apprehension of Mark Vigna who was suspected of a forgery committed in Edward Preble’s name (Preston, Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, 1:167). For this case, see Monroe to JM, 18 June 1804, Erving to JM, 27 June 1804, and William Jarvis to JM, 19 Jan. 1805 (PJM-SS, 7:330 and n. 1, 380, 8:493–94).

8See JM to Monroe, 25 Mar. 1805, ibid., 9:173.

9Erving referred to JM’s 11 Mar. 1805 letter to John Henry Purviance (see n. 4 above).

10Wagner placed a cross here and another at the foot of the page with his note: “†The governor was the son-in-law of the Govr. of Guadeloupe, where the privateers were fitted out.”

11Erving enclosed a copy (3 pp.; docketed by Wagner) of his 24 June 1805 note to Baron Gotthard Mauritz von Rehausen, transmitting copies of protests made at St. Bartholomew on 27 June 1799 before U.S. consul Job Wall by Capt. Ira Canfield of the brig Matilda and Capt. Joseph Chandler of the schooner Reliance, both of which had been seized in St. Bartholomew waters by French privateers. Erving stated that although Wall had demanded restitution on the very day of the captures, the governor had ignored the request and allowed the sale of Reliance without condemnation; both vessels were later condemned at Guadeloupe. Erving added that the U.S. secretary of state had complained to the Swedish government through Swedish consul Richard Söderström, but since Söderström’s notes had had no effect, JM had instructed Erving to apply through von Rehausen. For more information on the Matilda and the Reliance, see Söderström to JM, 10 Jan. 1805, PJM-SS, 8:465–66.

12The enclosure is a copy of Erving’s 24 June 1805 letter to baron Konstans Philipp Wilhelm von Jacobi-Kloest (2 pp.), enclosing a letter from Benjamin Rush with three of Rush’s pamphlets and his answers to Jacobi-Kloest’s questions. Erving added that the U.S. government had taken measures to monitor outbreaks of yellow fever in order to prevent frequent occurrences, to limit the spread of the disease, and to diminish its severity and mortality. For Jacobi-Kloest’s original request for information, see Erving to JM, 24 Apr. 1805, ibid., 9:285–86 and nn. 3–4. For the yellow fever competition sponsored by the Prussian Royal Academy, see Frederick Jacob Wichelhausen to JM, 9 July 1805.

13Erving enclosed copies of his 24 June 1805 letter to James Maury (2 pp.; docketed by Wagner), asking for information about quarantine and health regulations at Liverpool, how they differed from previous years, and if they applied to all vessels from the U.S. coast regardless of port of departure; and Maury’s 27 June reply (2 pp.), stating that all ships arriving from New Orleans, Georgia, and Charleston had been required to undergo an extra fourteen days’ quarantine, but that in January they had been allowed immediate discharge of their cargoes with permission, which was granted in all cases except those where there had been sickness or death on board. He added that Charleston had been so healthy the previous fall that many American and British captains had neglected to get clean bills of health, and their arrival without them had subjected them to a seven-shilling-per-ton duty surcharge, which he had heard would be returned. Maury said that all vessels from a state where yellow fever had been reported were subject to quarantine regardless of their port of departure, but those leaving from adjacent states were not. No distinction was made on this point between British and American ships.

14See JM to Armstrong, Bowdoin, and Monroe, 13 May 1805, PJM-SS, 9:344–45 and n. 4.

15Erving enclosed a copy of his 9 July 1805 letter to Lord Mulgrave (4 pp.; docketed by Wagner) that enclosed a copy of the Treasury circular to collectors (ibid., 2:1–4 and n. 1).He told Mulgrave that the increased restrictions on ships from the United States were not lifted until late into the winter, and that steps taken by the U.S. government, including encouraging all government officials to report outbreaks promptly and to ensure that all bills of health were strictly accurate, had diminished the frequency and mortality of yellow fever. He observed that the length of the voyage between the United States and Great Britain made it unlikely that the disease could be unknowingly imported. He suggested that all these facts should lead to a shorter quarantine period, adding that since yellow fever in the United States never continued past the first frost in November, the same would apply to Great Britain, so there was no need to continue any quarantine after the start of cold weather. Erving stated that it was unnecessary to prohibit vessels from clean ports in states where yellow fever existed because it rarely spread beyond a narrow range, therefore it was highly unlikely the fever would be imported into Great Britain from these ports.

16Erving enclosed a copy of Richard Lorentz’s 22 June 1805 note (1 p.), inquiring about George Gatterer, a physician and apothecary from Göttingen whose sister was married to a privy councilor of Hesse-Cassel. Lorentz said Gatterer had been practicing in Savannah about two years previously, but was since said to have died, leaving an estate worth $20,000. Wagner noted on the verso: “wrote to the Coll. of Savannah 13 Septr 1805.” George Gatterer, age thirty-six, “a native of Hanover,” died at Savannah, Georgia, on 1 Sept. 1803 (New York Daily Advertiser, 24 Sept. 1803; New York Morning Chronicle, 24 Sept. 1803).

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