James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Maury, 20 April 1812

From James Maury

Liverpool 20th April 1812

Dear Sir,

I am requested by Mr Joy to forward the inclosed.1

I wish there was a better prospect than now presents for amicable adjustment between our country & this. It daily appears more & more the determination of administration to continue the orders in council; yet petitions for their revocation increase;2 as do the prices of Grain & other articles of food, which, adding to the distresses of manufacturers, has occasioned serious riots in many parts of this country. Good wheat is worth 20/. per 70 ℔ &, expected to be higher.

I pray you to accept my assurances of the high esteem & respect with which I have the honour to be your obliged friend & Sevt

James Maury

RC (DLC). For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Maury presumably forwarded some of the numbers of Joy’s “Letters from a Cosmopolite to a Clergyman” (see Joy to JM, 15 Feb. 1812, n. 1).

2Throughout 1811 Great Britain had experienced a severe economic crisis resulting from a sharp downturn in exports and the failure of several financial houses. Social unrest too increased, particularly in the industrial regions, where there were outbreaks of rioting combined with machine breaking. Yet despite the widespread discontent with its policies, the ministry seemed to be both secure and determined to stay its course, the more so after the prince regent decided in February 1812 to retain most of his father’s appointees in office. On 3 Mar. 1812 Perceval and his supporters defeated with relatively little difficulty an attempt by their opponents, led by Henry Brougham, to remove the orders in council and the license system. The outcome of the debate, however, served only to stimulate the ministry’s critics to greater efforts, especially among manufacturers, who became convinced that Perceval’s adherence to the orders in council was responsible for prolonging the depression. Consequently, beginning in March and April 1812, the ministry was subjected to a sustained petitioning campaign against the orders in council, organized for the most part from industrial communities in Lancashire, Leicestershire, and Yorkshire but also including protests from Liverpool, Sheffield, Glasgow, Paisley, and Dunfermline. As Maury noted, the ministry at first seemed unmoved by this latest outbreak of discontent, but the day after he wrote his letter to JM, it took the first step toward retreating from its policies by issuing a statement to the effect that the orders in council would be repealed as soon as France made an unambiguous and public declaration that the Berlin and Milan decrees had ceased to operate. One week later the ministry retreated still further by consenting to committee hearings on the advisability of lifting the orders in council (see Crouzet, L’Economie britannique et le blocus continental, pp. 809–21; Perkins, Prologue to War, pp. 317–31).

Index Entries