James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert R. Livingston, 16 November 1805

From Robert R. Livingston

Baltimore 16h. Novr 1805

Dear Sir

Mr ⟨F⟩; Skipwith may probably have brought letters for me. If so I shall deem it a favor to have them sent to me at Philadelphia where I shall remain till the 23d. of this month. I saw here the new order of council relative to colonial commerce.1 It led me to reflect upon what you observed with respect to Russia but not only Russia but Sweden Austria & Germany are deeply interested in a change of this system since while it lasts England will engross the whole west India trade & sell at her own price & as the articles we purchase from those powers are paid in colonial produce they must be doubly injured by our being driven from this markets—prusia must be sensibly affected as she disposes of an immense quantity of linnen by this means & her merchants are our factors to a considerable extent.

It appears to me therefore that this would be the moment to engage all Europe in compelling England to change her system, & that ministers should not only be sent to Russia but to Austria and Germany. And the object of the embassies should be avowed to france that she may take no umbrage at our fixing on this time for sending them & that her aid may be procured at the diet & wth. prusia. I pray you to be assured of the sincerity of the attachment with which I am Dear Sir respectfully Your most Obt hume Servt

R R Livingston


1The minutes of the 3 Aug. 1805 meeting of the king’s council stated that the council had resolved to continue to allow neutral trade with the American and West Indian colonies of Britain’s enemies to be carried on only through British free ports in the West Indies, but because some neutral ships may have sailed under an impression that the regulations would be enforced less strictly, the council ordered that naval commanders, privateers, and admiralty courts be instructed that ships that had sailed from Havana and other enemy ports prior to 1 Nov. 1805 should not be molested or condemned (Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser, 15 Nov. 1805). Lord Hawkesbury’s 17 Aug. 1805 letter conveying these instructions to admiralty courts, commanders of warships, and privateers is printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 3:266. On 11 Nov. 1805 Phineas Bond, the British consul at Philadelphia, sent a copy to the State Department, and both Bond and Thomas Barclay, the British consul general at New York, submitted copies to the newspapers (DNA: RG 59, NFC, vol. 1; Philadelphia Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 11 Nov. 1805; New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 12 Nov. 1805).

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