James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, 5 March 1813

From Albert Gallatin

March 5th 1813

Dear Sir

You will perceive by the enclosed letters from Collector Dearborn, that the information given by E. Mix has enabled him to seize two vessels bound to Halifax with provisions and to arrest several of the merchants concerned.1 E. Mix has arrived here & was in fact obliged to leave Boston. He states that he has not one cent & by the enclosed letter asks for some compensation.2 As his information appears to have been correct & his services faithful, I submit the propriety of your authorizing an advance of 500 dollars to him from the contingent fund; this being the only one from which such payment can be paid. Respectfully Your Obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML). For enclosures, see nn. 1 and 2.

1Gallatin enclosed two letters he had received from Henry A. S. Dearborn, collector at Boston, dated 22 and 23 Feb. 1813. In the first (2 pp.), Dearborn reported that he had taken possession of a “Schooner under Swedish Collours which had cleared & sailed for Fayal,” but whose papers, discovered hidden in a jug due to a tip from Elijah Mix, contained a “Passport or Licence from Sir John Sheirbrook to be inforced for two months giving permission for the importation of provisions … from the U.S. into the Ports of Lower Canada, New Brunswick & St Johns.” Further information found on the ship enabled Dearborn to seize, in addition, a brig “laden in port with a full Cargo of Provisions for Halifax.” These discoveries, Dearborn wrote, had made him aware of “a series of outrages upon our laws, which has been carried to a great extent and was to be continued and increased.” The second letter (1 p.) covered copies of the documents found aboard the schooner, and recommended Mix, who was to deliver them, as “an active and intelligent man … capable of doing much for the discovery of such illegal transactions” (Papers of Gallatin [microfilm ed.], reel 26).

2Enclosure not found. Mix’s previous attempts to obtain the patronage of the federal government included letters to James Monroe of 12 and 28 Oct. 1812, in which he offered to transport British prisoners to England or Halifax and to operate a cartel out of New York. The second letter enclosed a copy of a certificate dated 11 Aug. 1812 and signed by British vice admiral Herbert Sawyer, granting Mix safe passage from Halifax to Boston and permission to transport “a Cargo of Flour and other dry provisions and Naval Stores” from “an American port to Halifax” (DNA: RG 59, ML). In the spring of 1813, Mix claimed compensation not only for having informed on the Boston licensed traders, but also for having caused the British ship Emulous, on which he had been a prisoner, to run aground off Ragged Island, Nova Scotia, on 2 Aug. 1812. On the basis of these claims, Mix wrote Monroe on 7 Mar. 1813 requesting a letter of introduction to Richard Riker, a prominent New York Republican, and Monroe indicated that the request would be granted (DNA: RG 59, ML). In addition, the Navy Department supported Mix’s efforts to torpedo British ships in the spring and summer of 1813 (Hamlin, Latrobe, 390–91; Dudley, Naval War of 1812, 2:354–56).

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