James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Ray, 22 March 1809

From William Ray

Amsterdam, Montgomery County,
State of New-York,

March 22nd. 1809.


Although something of my situation is hinted at in the poem, yet perhaps not sufficient to give satisfaction.

I am really in a very distressed condition. My late publication is about to be sacrificed to pay the expenses of printing,1 and I have no resources left. I had the misfortune, some years since, to commence business with a partner, who, by his imprudent and dishonest conduct involved me in embarrassments as yet inextricable. The money which I have since earned by the toils of the seas, by enduring all the horrors of Barbarian Slavery, and by other means, has been swept from me by insatiable creditors; and myself and beloved family abandoned to starvation. If I had money enough to transport myself & family to Washington in a decent way, perhaps I might find some situation or employment in which I might obtain an honest subsistence, and rescue myself and family from impending ruin. I therefore throw myself entirely on your mercy. I am, Sir, With profound respect, Your most obedient And most humble servant.

Wm. Ray.

RC and enclosure (DLC). Docketed by JM. Enclosure is a three-page poem, in Ray’s hand, addressed to JM, “President of the United States.”

1William Ray (1771–1827) wrote two works published in 1808—Horrors of Slavery; or, The American Tars in Tripoli (Troy, N.Y., 1808) and Poetry, Published in the Albany Register during the Summer of 1807 … (Albany, 1808).

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