James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jacob Wagner, 5 August 1805

From Jacob Wagner

Dep. State 5 Augt. 1805.

Dear Sir

I have been honored with your several favors of the 30th. ult. 1 & 2 currt.1 When I conversed with Mr. Merry about the privateer Les Amies, he expressed no decided sentiment, on which account a communication for him is enclosed.2 He proposed proceeding for Philada. to day or to morrow, whither, I am told, Mr. Foster is already gone. I have, as you directed, made the enquiry, respecting the Golden Grove, from the Collector of Norfolk.3 An answer to Oliver is enclosed.4 Lamson’s account amounts to about $1400 but it is altogether inadmissible, and the enclosed answer, which, if you approve it, I beg you to return, has been drafted on that idea.5 Having in the office a survey of Passamaquoddy Bay taken by the Commors. who decided the Northern Boundary, I shall be able, on the return of the papers to ascertain, whether the place, where the Busy insulted the Revenue Boat and captured the Brig belonging to Newbury Port,6 is within the jurisdiction of the U.States. The papers of Nicklin and Griffith being very voluminous, I had it not in my power to read more than the memorial.7 It appears to me, that until Genl. Armstrong’s report upon it is received, it would be unsafe to recommit it to him, more especially as it seems to have been definitively acted upon whether correctly or otherwise. How far they have fairly represented his impressions respecting the incapacity of insurers to step into the shoes of the insured in case of loss is to me very doubtful.

Mr. Lear has lately drawn £6000 Stg. on Baring & Co. on whom he had a credit to a considerable amount, but without a correspondent remittance having been made on account of their engaging to advance. Mr. Lear has not advised us of the purpose of his drafts nor indeed of their being made. As Mr. Gallatin will probably purchase the remittance at NewYork, the enclosed letter requesting it to be made is addressed to him there.8 Mr. Sheldon’s note will further explain the affair.9

Mr. Grainger has mentioned to me some circumstances with a view to guard against the appointment of a Mr. Seymour, who he understands is about to apply for a Consulate.10 He observes that Mr. S. belongs to a very respectable family in Connecticut, but his own character is so much tainted as to render him unworthy of such a trust and as to justify the many criticisms which will doubtless be made upon him, if he should succeed in his expectations of an office.

The aid of Colo. Simms & Mr. Deblois has not been sufficient to enable me hitherto to obtain a passage for the five 18 pounders for Algiers, which are ready to be shipped to meet the other stores at Kennebec.11 They shall be forwarded as soon as possible.

Capt. Murray’s frigate is now proceeding down the River. When Dulton was here12 he shewed me a letter from M. LaFayette to Genl. Moreau,13 which he was to deliver; a proof that the latter may be expected.

It gives me the sincerest pleasure to hear the favourable opinion of Dr. Physic respecting the cause of your going to Philada. Be pleased to present my best respects to Mrs. Madison. Yesterday I saw Mrs. Payne and her grandson in good health. We had a severe gale of wind the day before yesterday, which blew down parts of several houses in the City between the office and Georgetown.

I enclose a letter from the Collector of Salem respecting the impressments from the fishing vessels.14 The part which Mr. Allen15 has taken in endeavouring to procure the release of the seamen affords a very favourable presage of his conduct, and it is the more valuable from his connection with the British office of Foreign Affairs. I have the honor to remain, with the highest respect, Dr. Sir, Yr. affecte. obed. servt.

Jacob Wagner


1Letters not found.

2The enclosure has not been found, but for the French privateer Les Amies, see Anthony Merry to JM, 9 July 1805 (second letter), and nn., and JM to Merry, 16 July 1805 (second letter).

3For the capture of the Golden Grove, see Merry to JM, 25 July 1805, and n. 1. On 5 Aug. 1805 Wagner wrote to Wilson Cary Nicholas, enclosing a copy of Francis Blair’s protest and asking Nicholas to report any information he had “respecting the abuse of the waters of the United States” by the privateer in question (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 15).

4The enclosure was JM to Francis J. Oliver, 5 Aug. 1805 (see Oliver to JM, 19 July 1805, n. 2).

5For John Lamson’s account and JM’s reply, see Lamson to JM, 31 May 1805, PJM-SS, 9:422, 423 n. 2.

6Wagner may have referred to an incident in which the British armed brig Busy seized a Marblehead, Massachusetts, schooner that was drifting in Passamaquoddy Bay, and carried it into Saint John, New Brunswick, where the Busy had gone to impress men. The collector there refused to admit the schooner, and the Busy, whose press gang was driven back on board by the local citizens, carried it to Halifax, Nova Scotia (Boston Columbian Centinel, 31 July 1805).

8The enclosure was a letter from JM to Albert Gallatin, 5 Aug. 1805, stating: “Mr. Lear having lately drawn upon Sir Francis Baring & Co. for Six thousand pounds Sterling, it seems proper that the sum of about Sixteen thousand dollars should be remitted to those Bankers to answer it. It may be drawn from the appropriations for Barbary Intercourse” (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 15; 1 p.). For £5,000 of this money, see Francis Baring & Co. to JM, 7 June 1805, PJM-SS, 9:441. For its probable use, see Timothy Mountford to JM, 30 May 1805, ibid., 419.

9This note has not been found.

10This was Yale graduate Ledyard Seymour of Hartford, Connecticut (1771–1848). He established himself in business in New York but declared bankruptcy about 1797 after having several ships seized by the British in the West Indies. In 1800 he went to Havana, where he lived for three years. In June 1805 he had applied to Jefferson for appointment as a consul in any Spanish colony (Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale, 5:37–38; Seymour to Thomas Jefferson, 14 June 1805, DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–9, filed under “Seymour”).

11For the cannon for Algiers, see JM to Charles Simms, 10 July 1805, and n. 1.

12See Wagner to JM, 28 and 29 July 1805.

13Exiled French general Jean Victor Marie Moreau and his family arrived in Philadelphia on 25 Aug. 1805 (Philadelphia United States’ Gazette, 26 Aug. 1805).

14No letter from William R. Lee, collector at Salem, Massachusetts, has been found. In late July a dozen or more fishermen from Salem, Beverly, and Marblehead were impressed on the Grand Banks by Capt. Robert Laurie of the British frigate Ville de Milan. British consul Andrew Allen (see n. 15 below) advised Vice Adm. Andrew Mitchell at Halifax to return the men (Salem Register, 22 July 1805; New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 29 July 1805).

15Andrew Allen (d. 1850), British consul at Boston from 1805 to 1812, was the son of Pennsylvania Loyalist Andrew Allen (1740–1825). His sister Margaret was married to George Hammond, former British minister to the United States, and at this time undersecretary in the British Foreign Office (Emma Siggins White, comp., Genealogical Gleanings of Siggins and Other Pennsylvania Families… [Kansas City, Mo., 1918], 455; Charles P. Keith, “Andrew Allen,” PMHB 10 [1887]: 361, 364–65).

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