James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Appleton, 29 August 1803

From Thomas Appleton, 29 August 1803

Leghorn August 29th. 1803


I stated to you in my last respects the situation of our commerce with this port, & in a particular man⟨ne⟩r of the Brig Boston of Philadelphia; this vessel is still under arrestation and has been the subject of much dis⟨cus⟩sion. The french commercial agent after repeated assurances of speedily examining the papers, together with ⟨the⟩ cargo, has nevertheless determined that the former should ⟨be⟩ sent to Paris, and that the business of the latter should ⟨fi⟩nally be decided by the tribunal of prizes there. ⟨Co⟩me. Morris arriving at leghorn about the same time, ⟨w⟩as desirous of knowing from the french commanding ⟨ge⟩neral here, under what allegiance he Viewed this ⟨ci⟩ty, to which the most unequivocal reply was given, that he regarded it in all respects as a port of the french Republick.” It became therefore indispensable that the ⟨m⟩erchants who usually transact american business ⟨he⟩re, should without any loss of time be apprized of this ⟨ev⟩ent, that they might by this means inform the merchants ⟨of⟩ the U. States, & thus avoid the inconvenience arising from the arrette of the first Consul under date of 1t. Messidor 11th. year, a printed copy of which is now enclosed. The merchants on this information conceived it necessary to address her majesty the Queen Regent, explaining the ma⟨tter⟩ of the arrette, and the extreme injury that would arise out of the execution of a law apparently intended only, for the ports of France. I therfore in company with Come. Morr⟨is⟩ proceeded to Florence to present the petition to the Queen and to make an impartial Statement of facts to the ministe⟨r.⟩ We were very favorably received by them, nor was it difficult to impress their minds with the importance of my mission in an especial manner, as the commerce of Leghorn is pro⟨bably⟩ more productive to her majesty than all the remainder of her dominions. I obtained the assurances from the Que⟨en⟩ in conjunction with the ministers, that letters should be written to Genl. Murat commanding in Italy for a temporary suspension of the law; and to the first Consul to obtain a modification of it, so that american vessels loaded in p⟨art⟩ or wholly with the manufactures of Great Britain or her colonies, should not be subjected to any undue detentions or vexatious suits.

Genl. Clark the french ambassador at Floren⟨ce⟩ was not less incensed at the conduct of the french General here; ⟨bu⟩t as this city has been declared in a state of seige, it came by no means within the limits of his jurisdiction; he could ⟨the⟩rfore only recommend a less rigorous interpretation of the law, and remind him of his personal responsibility in ⟨ca⟩se he should extend the real intent of it. Thus having obtained the assurances of the Queen and her ministers, together with the intercession of the french ambassador in our behalf, (a circumstance of no small import) and to ⟨wh⟩ich you may add the efforts of Mr. Livingston at Paris ⟨w⟩ho is acquainted with every particular, I returned this morning from Florence. As the Come. sails this afternoon ⟨the⟩ shortness of the time will of course apologize for my not ⟨de⟩tailing the business more at length, or enlarging upon ⟨su⟩bjects of a political nature, which but for the impor⟨ta⟩nce of the transaction I have related, would appear of ⟨s⟩uch moment. I have the honor to be with the highest respect Your Most Obedt. Servant

Th: Appleton

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