Draft of a Message to Congress
[ca. 27 November 1809]
Taking into view the unpresedented dangers, incident to neutral navigation on the high seas: that captures continue to be made of American vessels engaged in commerce guaranteed by the acknowledged law of nations; and that in many cases, the evil might be obviated by defensive equipments to be made by the parties interested I recommend to the consideration of Congs. the expediency of authorizing Merchant vessels to arm for self-defense, under the restrictions that they be registered vessels; be commanded & navigated by citizens only; & that the cargoes as well as the vessels be wholly owned by Citizens actually residing within the U. S.
Draft (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). In the hand of JM. Undated. Dated 5 Nov. 1811 in the Index to the James Madison Papers. Date assigned here on the basis that the note is written on the verso of a cover addressed to JM at Washington and bearing a 5 Nov. postmark from Washington, Mississippi Territory. The paragraph was probably a draft for a message, or part of a message, that JM considered but did not send during the second session of the Eleventh Congress, beginning on 27 Nov. 1809. If JM did not intend the paragraph for inclusion in his annual message of 29 Nov. 1809, he might have considered sending it later in the session, during the debates surrounding Macon’s Bill No. 1 or Macon’s Bill No. 2 (see PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (4 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 2:xxviii–xxix).