James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Levin Winder, 27 April 1813

From Levin Winder

Council Chamber Annapolis Apl. 27. 1813


Major Tenant of Balte. was the sole owner of the schooner Brutus, which has lately been captured by the Enemy.1 It is his wish, to make an effort to ransom her, and with that view came to this place, and asked of us a flag, to proceed to the British admiral now off this harbour.

Under an impression that we have no authority to comply with this request, we have referred him to you, and would solicit the Earliest attention to his application. An additional reason, for granting the flag is that according to information received at Baltimore, a considerable slaughter took place on board of this schooner, before her capture, and the friends of the persons on board, are in great distress and anxious to learn their fate. If the application to ransom should be unsuccessful, yet information of the safety of individuals, which might thereby be obtained would relieve the anxiety of a number of respectable citizens.

As repeated applications of this nature may be made to us, if any regulations upon this subject have been or shall be adopted, we would ask the favor of you, to direct a communication of them to be made to us for our future government.

Major Tenant is anxious for the immediate decision of the proper authority, as his success may very much depend upon expedition. We have the honor to be With due consideratio⟨n⟩

Lev. Winder

There are at this time, the Admirals Ship & two Schooners lying off here—a frigate went down last evening.

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML); letterbook copy (MdAA). RC addressee not indicated; identified as JM on the basis of the letterbook copy. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1The Baltimore American & Commercial Daily Advertiser of 27 Apr. 1813 reported that a “Baltimore schooner captured on Willoughby Point” was “No doubt … the Brutus, capt. Forbes, belonging to Major Tenant,” and that “a number of her men” had been lost in action with the British. James Monroe wrote John Mason, commissary of prisoners, on 29 Apr. (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, U.S. Marshals’ Returns of Enemy Aliens and Prisoners of War, Part II), explaining that Tenant wished to obtain the release of the Brutus’s crew and to confer with Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren about ransoming the ship and cargo. The secretary of state informed Mason that if Warren were amenable to a ransom, JM was “disposed to allow it,” and asked Mason to “take the necessary measures for the purpose.” On 30 Apr., however, the American & Commercial Daily Advertiser noted that the captured Baltimore schooner was not the Brutus, which had “actually arrived at Beverly.”

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