James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Appleton, 15 January 1802

From Thomas Appleton, 15 January 1802

Leghorn 15th. January 1802.


I had the honor of addressing the Department ⟨of⟩ State on the 14th. Ultimo, and now inclose you a duplicate ⟨th⟩ereof, also the account of American vessels which have arrived ⟨in⟩ this port during the last year, together with a very detailed ⟨st⟩atement of the different Sums I have expended for the ⟨re⟩lief of distressed seamen during the year 1801. You will ⟨fi⟩nd likewise inclosed Sir a translation of the constitution ⟨pr⟩oposed by Buonaparte and accepted by the republic ⟨of⟩ Lucques, and finally an estimate of the losses of ⟨the⟩ Empire during the late war. The number of ⟨A⟩merican ships arrived here the last year has been ⟨sm⟩all, when compared with the three preceeding ones. ⟨This⟩ has principally arisen in the first instance from a long blockade ⟨of⟩ the port by the british Ships of War, and in the second ⟨fr⟩om the justifiable apprehensions of a War with Tripoli which so immediately ensued. The amount of money paid to distressed seamen may appear great in proportion to the number of American Ships Arrived; but it must be observed that very near one half the amount was given to sailors who came fr⟨om⟩ Naples, Ancona and Trieste, and frequently bordering on th⟨e⟩ most extreme wretchedness. The amount of this account Vizt. 279 Dollrs. and 60 Cents I have drawn in favor of Nathan Robin⟨son⟩ Esquire on the Department of State. In my former letters to t⟨he⟩ Government I have given a general Sketch of the Commerce of Leghorn. It may now not be perhaps unnecessary to recapitu⟨late⟩ what I Conceived then, the duties my office principally pointed out. On my arrival at this place in the year 1798, I found from the public documents that only 23 american ships had arrived in the port from the peace of 17[. . .] to the period I have mentioned above. It did not requi⟨re⟩ a long investigation of the resources of Tuscany to perceive that the exports of the U: States would meet with a rea⟨dy⟩ market here, nor that the productions of this Dutchy w⟨ould⟩ tend to increase our Commerce with the W: India Island⟨s.⟩ I therefore in a great variety of letters to America, pointed out ⟨the⟩ advantages which would result from sending their ships ⟨to⟩ this place: and the more effectually to attend to the duties ⟨of⟩ my Office, I avoided giving any part of my time to ⟨co⟩mmercial affairs here, being persuaded that, otherwise, I ⟨co⟩uld not faithfully fulfill the duties my office imposed on me. In short Sir from my arrival, to the present period (& I have an ⟨un⟩questionable right to presume, it has Arisen from the infor⟨m⟩ation I have so unceasingly Spread in the U: States) a number ⟨no⟩ less than 152 Ships have arrived here. There may ⟨fai⟩rly be calculated that from the high prices W: India, ⟨&⟩ East: India produce, have borne, that their cargoes singly, averag’d [. . .]000. Dollars, which will amount to Something more ⟨tha⟩n Twelve millions; and I am equally persuaded that ⟨in⟩ no instance less than 50. in many, 75. and in some 100 ⟨Pr.⟩ Ct. was gained on the voyage. Therefore taking the moyenne for the Sum mentioned above is the amount of Sales here (⟨no⟩t surely less than Four millions and a half of dollars) must have been the advantage to the commercial interest⟨s⟩ of the U: States, exclusive of the emoluments on the cargoes of Oil, Soap, Silks &c. &c. which went in the return Ships; and I am informed have for the most part been sent to the islands. My motive in this detail, is to shew you the extent of the commerce of this place, and the resources which Italy offers. Naples from its various manufactures, would become nearly as beneficial, were th⟨e⟩ advantages as generally known, though most assuredly not ⟨a⟩ third part of the number of american ships have hitherto entered that port. The island of Sicily likewise offers a var⟨iety⟩ of productions suitable to the american market. I shall n⟨ot⟩ trouble you Sir, with my ideas of a reform of the Consula⟨r⟩ establishment of Italy, having fully enlarged on that subj⟨ect⟩ in the duplicate letter herein enclosed.

With respect to the constitution of Lucques, it ⟨is⟩ a Circumstance not unworthy of notice, with what Care it has provided against the passing any law, unless it shal⟨l⟩ have been discussed three days previous; while the Constitu⟨tion⟩ itself, which surely Could not but be as important, w⟨as⟩ accepted by unanimous voice, in much less than as many hours. Tho’ this promptitude of business may not prove ⟨t⟩hat they deemed it unworthy of a more mature Con⟨si⟩deration, it must nevertheless incontestably shew, that ⟨re⟩lative dependance in which Italy stands towards France

In order to explain this, in a manner more precise, it will suffise I presume to Say, that a Certain ⟨Sa⟩licetti, a Corsican by birth, but long since famed ⟨for⟩ his enthousiasm in the cause of liberty, was ⟨c⟩harged by the first Consul to present this form ⟨to⟩ the republic. This little government apprehensive ⟨le⟩st it should be annexed to Some neighbouring ⟨po⟩wer, and fearful even for its political existence, ⟨ha⟩sten’d to accept any mode of legislation, in ⟨pre⟩ference to So distressing a State of uncertainty.

When we compare the present Constitution, with ⟨the⟩ one that has been abolished, it will surely appear more ⟨con⟩ducive to the general happiness of the community.

The right of being princes of the republic (or what is now term⟨ed⟩ Gonfalonieres), a dignity claimed heretofore by a few priviledged families, while the greatest part of the order of nobility [. . .] was deprived of this momentary honor, while all men who pursued the Study of the Sciences, merchants, or land-holders (not noble) were debarred from every avenue to political influence. I say therefore it cannot but be viewed as preferable to the former. The Counsel of Lyons formed of nearly 500. deputies from the different orders of State composing the Cis-alpine republic is Still assembled; but as the Arrival of the first Consul has bee⟨n⟩ from some cause for a few days Suspended, they have not as yet entered on the object of their mission. The remainder of Italy tranquilly waits the fate which may be allotted to them. The Pope is of all the sovereigns the least apprehensive of any innovations on his temporal power, and may in truth remain so, as long As it shall be necessary to sacrifise the political interest o⟨f⟩ france to religious prejudices. The destiny of the King ⟨of⟩ Naples depends on a basis much less solid, for it has ⟨hi⟩therto been Spared but from the interest the Court of St. Petersbourg enjoys in the counsel of Paris. Should the ⟨ca⟩prices of that unstable cabinet occasion at any time a ⟨di⟩minution of the warmth which seems at present to animate ⟨the⟩ republic, the Kingdom of Naples will most assuredly ⟨ex⟩perience its vengeance. No Nation during the last 18 ⟨mo⟩nths has so wantonly abused of every indulgence, nor ⟨an⟩y one excited so legitimate a requital for an ill ⟨ti⟩med leniency. In Tuscany, or what is now termed ⟨Etr⟩uria, the utmost tranquility prevails; for the King ⟨is⟩ of all men the most pacifick, while the french ⟨Am⟩bassador (General Clarke) governs with the greatest ⟨mo⟩deration. The little sketch I have enclosed you of ⟨the⟩ parts which have been lopped from the Empire, I have stated from a private letter. It will shew more precisely ⟨the⟩ir losses, which the treaty has but generally designated.

In mentioning the situation of the Cis-alpine republic of which Turin is the Capital, I have forgotten to observe, that the King of Sardinia, as no provision appears to have been made for him in the treaty between England and France, th⟨at⟩ instead of embracing the valuable resources which the island⟨s⟩ of Sardinia Offer, he has become a host of the King of the two Sicilies at Palermo, and appears to have found in devotion a solace for the calamities he endures.

The Vessel being on the eve of departure, I Can only add that no event shall occur of which you will not be informed, and that I remain with the highest Consideration Your most Obedient and most humble Servant,

Th. Appleton



It is necessary to apologize at this late hour ⟨for⟩ repeating the substance of what I had the honor to write you the 28th. of September respecting Navy-Agents having been ⟨appointed⟩ in this Port by Mr. Smith, and to which letter I beg ⟨to⟩ refer you. It will now I am sure suffise to say, that I am the only Consul of 18 in this place who is not charged with ⟨the⟩ Concerns of the Marine of their Nation; and on which ⟨I⟩ have fully enlarged in the letter I have mentioned above. ⟨A⟩ Circumstance however of much weight in my mind, ⟨is⟩ that I am the alone Consul from the United States ⟨in⟩ the Mediterranean who has experienced this disgrace. Disgrace, I may in truth Call it, since I am an ⟨ex⟩ception to a rule hitherto without example: for ⟨in⟩ every Port, excepting Leghorn the Affairs of the Squadron ⟨of⟩ Como. Dale have been transacted by the Consuls ⟨of⟩ the U: States. What I may with much truth add, is, that ⟨I⟩ have been the single medium through which all information ⟨of⟩ the War of Tripoli, has passed, and which Communication, has been made Known in more than two hundred letters I have written, not only to the Consuls bordering on the Mediterranean but even by duplicates to every american Consul in Europe and were my situation not uncommonly singular, I should ha⟨ve⟩ forebore to mention that I have receiv’d letters expressed in terms of gratitude, from the Consuls of Algiers, and of Tun⟨is,⟩ for the timely information I imparted to them, when they were menaced with chains. The former in his letter to me says, "I have shewn your letter to the Dey, and hostilities are suspended.⟨"⟩ This was in the year 1798, and relative to t⟨he⟩ Brig, and two schooners destined for him. The latter was respecting the Ship Hero loaded with Store for Tunis, and th⟨e⟩ long delay had brought on him the most outrageous threats which subsided on my forwarding him Copies by various Conv⟨ey⟩ances, of the singular misfortunes which attended that Ship and which silenced the menaces of the barbarian Ki⟨ng⟩ until her arrival there. Having then ever viewed the dignity of my Consulate, as inseperable from the duties of ⟨it⟩ and preserved that dignity inviolate. I am fearfu⟨ l that⟩ this derogation from rule, and of which I am ⟨eq⟩ually persuaded that you have not been made ⟨ac⟩quainted with, may tend to weaken a respectability ⟨w⟩hich was my first object to establish, and shall be ⟨my⟩ last to maintain.

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