James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Appleton, 8 July 1803

From Thomas Appleton, 8 July 1803

Leghorn 8th. of July 1803


I have now the honor to inclose you my account of disbursements to distressed American seamen during the preceeding year amounting to 894 Dollar. 52: Cents. A vast ⟨n⟩umber of sailors discharged in the various parts of Italy, ⟨le⟩ft sick in hospitals, or by other circumstances thrown ⟨on⟩ this part of the continent, have of late made it a ⟨p⟩ractice to resort to this port to find Vessels returning to the U: States. More than one half the sum I have advanced ⟨w⟩as to men from Trieste, Naples, the island of Sicily and Genoa.

Every possible care has been taken to discriminate ⟨be⟩tween the unfeigned distressed seaman, entitled to charity, and the vagabond profligate who was undeserving the bounty of government. For the future much less will ⟨I⟩ presume be required, if it be true that some late laws ⟨h⟩ave been enacted respecting American seamen; for I have ⟨no⟩t been honored with a line from the department of State, ⟨ex⟩cepting a printed circular, during three years, nor re⟨ce⟩ived any of the laws of the government for a still longer ⟨te⟩rm. For the amount of the account I have drawn on the department of State in favor of Samuel Emery merchant of Philadelphia. You will find likewise herewith a list of Vessels arrived i⟨n⟩ this port from the first of January to the last of June of the present year, agreeably to my instructions.

I avail myself of this opportunity to inform you of the embarrassments our Vessels now labour under; the City having been declared by the french government in a State of seige. That I may curtail as much as possible the recital ⟨of⟩ circumstances which have attended the arrestation of thre⟨e⟩ American vessels of late, I hand you herewith Copy of my letter to Mr. Livingston at Paris under date of this day. I shall not trouble you Sir with copies of my Corresp⟨on⟩dance in french and italian on this subject: my only weapon is remonstrance, and the existing treaty between the U: States, and the Republick of france, to which their commissaries oppose volumes of new maritime Regulations, where there does not appear a line to exc⟨ept⟩ from their rigour, vessels of nations with whom they may be united by treaties of Amity or of Commerce. The m⟨ost⟩ applicable of any Argument if such it may be termed, is the following clause. “Toutes les lettres trouvées sur des batimens neutres, seront ouvertes et lues en presence de l’armateur, ou de son representant; et Celles qui seront de nature à donner deséclaircissemens sur la Validité de la prise seront jointes à la procedure; les autres lettres seront addressées au Ministre de la Marine et des Colonies.” How applicable this may be, you will easily judge. Finding thus Sir, no palliative for this increasing vexation I have thought it advisable to address a few lines to ⟨M⟩r. Livingston. I presume he will obtain an exception ⟨in⟩ favor of our Commerce, or procure the Acknowledge⟨m⟩ent of a general principle of which I may avail myself, ⟨an⟩d thereby secure our flag from any future insults, and the proprietors of Vessels from a repetition of such injuries.

The immediate departure of a vessel for the U: States leaves me only the time to add the assurances of the high respect with which I have the honor to be Your Most Obedient Servant,

Th: Appleton

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