James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Frederick Jacob Wichelhausen, 12 June 1803

From Frederick Jacob Wichelhausen, 12 June 1803

Bremen the 12th. June 1803.


I beg leave to refer you to my last respects of the 7th. March, wherewith I had the honor of transmitting you the usual semi-annual list. I have now to acknowledge receipt of the laws of the first session of the seventh congress of the United States, as also a circular letter of the 9th. April, the contents of which I have observed, and shall with my next transmission of the semi-annual report, return a full answer to it, as also inclose the desired tables, accompanied with explanatory observations.

The new war broken out again between france and England, has caused the greatest alterations in the Electorate of Hannover, and as part of said Electorate the Dukedom of Bremen is situated between the rivers Elbe and Weser and nearly surrounds this city, I think it my duty to give you some information respecting the entering of the french troops into this country, which may be considered as the first hostile act on the part of France against England. It was General Mortier who rece⟨i⟩ved order by the french Government of taking possession of the Dominions of Hannover as a province of Engla⟨nd⟩ in consequence of which said General marched into this country on the 28th. day of May, with about 20000 men under his command, and discharged himself of this commission entirely in the course of 14 days, by occupying all capital places in said Electorate, and by obtaining a capitulation of the most favorable term⟨s⟩ and of which the particulars are stated in the publik papers. Although the march of the french troops, in order to occupy the northwest side of th⟨e⟩ Dukedom of Bremen, ought to have gone through this city, yet in order to avoid this territory, they have with much difficulty and with much loss of time rat⟨her⟩ marched a bad side road, before they would pass Breme⟨n⟩ and violate its neutrality, a measure, which caused the greatest pleasure amongst the inhabitants of this city However a demand made by the General in chief Mort⟨ier⟩ and of which I hand you inclosed a copy, caused the greatest consternation again, amongst the whole co⟨m⟩mercial body of this city. The demands were unanimously rejected by the assembled Senate and citizens of bremen, as inconsistent with their neutrality, guaranteed by the French Republick itself, and they flatter themselves with the sanguine hopes, the reasons alledged to in their answer, will be considered as sufficient by the french Government, to withdraw at least the demand respecting the british property in this city Nevertheless it is still to be apprehended, that the navigation of the british on our river and the Elbe, may be stopped entirely by the french, they being in possession of the right banks of the weser and the left of the Elbe. Four english merchantmen, which arrived a few days ago in the Weser, imediatly returned with their cargoes again, when they were informed of the approaching of the french troops. Should any thing further happen, worth your notice, I shall not fail to inform you of it immediatly. In the mean while, I have the honor to subscribe, with the highest respect Sir! Your most obedt humble Servt.

Fredk Jacob Wichelhausen

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