James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Lee, 18 February 1802

From William Lee, 18 February 1802

Bordeaux February 18. 1802


I have been under the necessity of sending home by the Ship Thames, bound to Philadelphia a number of distressed, and invalid seamen who are particularized in the annexed document. I did not feel myself authorized to make any arrangement with Captain Wood for the passage of these men without the consent of Mr. Livingston, and as it would take some time to consult him on the business and perhaps detain the ship, Captain Wood like a friendly honest American who feels for the sufferings of his countrymen, has consented (by my agreeing to furnish them with provisions and every thing necessary) to take them on board his Vessel, fully persuaded that the Government will make him such compensation for his trouble, as he is justly entitled to.

Enclosed is a copy of my instructions to Captain Wood, as also an account of my disbursements for this particular object.

With much exertion I have in the course of three weeks, disembarrassed myself of upwards of one hundred and fifty seamen, by dis⟨tribu⟩ting them among the American Vessels bound home and those in port. I shall in future deman⟨d⟩ of all the Captains who enter at this place, their shipping Articles; and oblige them to settle with such of their men as are turned on shore in the off⟨ice⟩ of the Agency. By a rigid observance of this rule, and forcing the masters to furnish a passage home for each seaman, they discharge, I expect to avoid in fut⟨ure⟩ much trouble to myself, as well as expence to the United States.

I hope you regularly receive the gaz⟨ettes⟩ I send you by every oppty. With great respect I am ⟨Sir⟩ Your obt. Servt.

William Lee

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