James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Joy, 24 May 1809 (Abstract)

§ From George Joy

24 May 1809, London. Reports varied reactions from members of the American community in London to news of the Erskine agreement. In a postscript he adds: “the Committee of American Merchants have been apprised that Mr: Erskine had exceeded his instructions & the Govt: will not ratify his Agreemt:—since confirmed by two of the Committee whom I have seen.”

RC, two copies (DLC). 4 pp. One copy sent “per Nancy,” postmarked New York [21?] July. The other copy has an additional postscript, dated 29 May, stating: “I heard too by way of whisper that ministers had intended to ratify Mr. Erskine’s agreement … but having sent the papers to the King … [he] returned them, saying he would not ratify anything in which he was so personally insulted.” This is an allusion to the final statement in Robert Smith’s 17 Apr. letter to Erskine accepting the British envoy’s proposals. An obiter dictum, attributed to JM, concerned punishment of the British admiral in charge of the North American station and hence responsible for the attack on the Chesapeake: “I have it in express charge from the President to state, that, while he forbears to insist on a further punishment of the offending officer, he is not the less sensible of the justice and utility of such an example, nor the less persuaded that it would best comport with what is due from His Britannic Majesty to his own honor” (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:296).

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