James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jacob Wagner, 17 October 1805

From Jacob Wagner

Department of State 17 Octr. 1805

Dear Sir

Enclosed are the abstracts from Sir J. Marriott’s reports, the references to treaties, and an extract from Reeves, respecting the modifications of the navigation laws to suit the course of war. To the latter I have not found time to add the references I have collected to additional acts, including the late order issued by Ld. Hawkesbury: they will follow to morrow.1 The communication from Mr. Yznardi’s deputy exhibits such an importance in the captures by the British under pretence of the blockade of Cadiz and St. Lucar, as almost to compare with the captures of vessels bound to Holland.2 A communication similar to this from Mr. Hill was received some time ago and is now in the hands of the President: it was in a feigned hand, supposed to be that of Mr. Gray, but without signature.3 I had calculated to send you to day the answers to the letters of recredence of Messrs. Freire & Olsen, with the necessary letters to accompany them,4 but the former have been accidentally so much disfigured as to make other copies necessary: they will be ready to morrow, as also a letter to Mr. Merry respecting the Hannah Maria’s case.5 I have written to Johnston and to Mc.Kim. I believe I have not before mentioned, that the effect of the pardons I have from time to time sent you has been anticipated by my writing to the Marshall to consider them as actually completed, when no more than the fiat of the President had been given. The curiosities from Mr. Coffin, occupying but a small space, I have thought it not improper to send them to you.6

Dr. Thornton received a letter, yesterday, from Peacock,7 who dates at Bath, England. He observes that as his expedition was fortunate, he considers it the harbinger of future prosperity. I remain with affecte. respect Your ob. Servt.

Jacob Wagner

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosures not found.

1Wagner’s 18 Oct. 1805 letter to JM has not been found. The enclosure (4 pp.; in a clerk’s hand with additions by Wagner) is a copy of the 29 June 1805 order in council issued by Lord Hawkesbury listing the articles neutral vessels were allowed to carry between British ports and unblockaded European ports of Britain’s enemies. It was published in the United States on 6 Sept. 1805 under a 10 July dateline and in Great Britain in Cobbett’s Weekly Register. Wagner added references to 6 Ann c. 3 7 s. 19 and s. 20, 13 Geo. 2. c. 3, and 39 Geo. 3. c. 98. The first and second authorized the reduction of the component of British seamen of crews of privateers and trading ships to only one fourth and provided that foreign seamen serving on such ships would be considered naturalized after two years of service; the last allowed the importation of Spanish wool in any type of neutral vessels and from any country (National Intelligencer, 6 Sept. 1805; Cobbett’s Weekly political Register 8 [1805]: 92–93; John Raithby, The Statutes Relating to the Admiralty, Navy, Shipping, and Navigation of the United Kingdom, from 9 Hen. III. to 3 Geo. IV. Inclusive [London, 1823], 108, 112, 182, 626).

7This was probably Washington attorney, boarding house keeper, and real-estate investor Robert Ware Peacock, who was acquitted in January 1805 of forging a bill of exchange endorsed by himself and William Thornton. He was convicted at the same court term of forging another bill and was imprisoned and disbarred. On 22 Mar. 1805 he escaped from jail and evidently fled to England (Allen C. Clark, “The Mayoralty of Robert Brent,” Records of the Columbia Historical Society 33–34 [1932]: 275–78; United States v. Peacock, 1 Cranch, C.C. 215–18; Ex parte Levi S. Burr, 2 Cranch, C.C. 387–88).

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