James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Lee, 16 July 1805 (Abstract)

From William Lee, 16 July 1805 (Abstract)

§ From William Lee. 16 July 1805, Bordeaux. “I have the honor to enclose you a duplicate copy of my correspondence with General Armstrong concerning Consular Certificate Vessels1 accompanied by a copy of my letter to the Secretary of the Treasury on the same subject.”2

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Bordeaux, vol. 2). RC 1 p.; docketed by Wagner as received 8 Oct. For enclosures, see nn.

1The enclosures are copies of: (1) Lee to John Armstrong, 15 Apr. 1805 (4 pp.), enclosing a copy of his instructions from JM (not found, but see PJM-SS, 5:479 and n. 1) and a copy of the certificate (not found), stating that he had refused certificates for the Susan and Olive Branch, explaining the evasions of U.S. laws that often took place, and asking Armstrong’s opinion as to whether or not he should refuse the certificate to ships that he was certain were not going directly to the United States as the law required; (2) a list (3 pp.) of eleven ships “fitting out at Bordeaux under the Consular Certificate April 16th. 1805,” containing a paragraph on each vessel with the names of the owners and captains and the owners’ cities of residence; and (3) Lee to Armstrong, 26 Apr. 1805 (3 pp.; docketed by Wagner), listing the names of five individuals who had applied for certificates for eight ships since Lee’s 15 Apr. letter, adding that these made a total of fifty-one ships fitted out at Bordeaux “under american colours since the commenceme⟨nt⟩; of the present war, forty two of which appear to m⟨e⟩; to be on french Account.” Lee also noted that such vessels often undercut legitimate American ships on pricing and enticed away crew members, and if the practice continued, American trade to Bordeaux would “sooner or later suffer greatly.” He added that between 120 and 150 ships had sailed from Bordeaux and neighboring French ports “of which two thirds are owned by foreigners,” and that if American consuls were allowed to charge for the certificates, it might check the practice.

2Lee enclosed a copy (2 pp.) of his 10 July 1805 letter to Albert Gallatin, stating that on Armstrong’s advice he now required the owner, captain, or consignee of any vessel to which he had issued a certificate, and which he suspected was not bound to the port for which it cleared, to post a bond of $2,000 that the ship would proceed directly to the United States. He enclosed two bonds, one for the Mercury and one for the Olive Branch, because he had heard that the former went to Portugal before sailing for New York and the latter was bound to Cádiz and then to Philadelphia. He asked Gallatin to transmit the bonds to the collectors at New York and Philadelphia with orders for them to prosecute the captains.

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