James Madison Papers

To James Madison from an Unidentified Correspondent, 12 May 1813

From an Unidentified Correspondent

12 May 1813


I see with pain by the public papers that the British have burnt several places of no Importance but this Shews they mean to carry on the War to distroy & burn all they can1 of course we must relatiate, there are 500 Towns in Cornwal, Scotland, & Ireland where the Cheasepeak frigate, might go & burn with as much ease as the British ships now burn our little Towns in Virginia & Maryland, as a proof of It The famous Paul Jones in a Small Ship last war went into a Small Town in Scotland & plunderd the Earl of Selkrek houses & might have burn the Town if he had chose, but he was above that,2 I therefore recomd. that the Cheasepek be orderd to sail & burn Sink & distroy every thing in Every Town she can get into in England, This will be paying them in there Own Coin. I am with great respt

One of the people

RC (NN). Docketed by JM.

1For the destruction of the Maryland villages of Frenchtown, Havre de Grace, Fredericktown, and Georgetown, see James Monroe to JM, 13 Apr. 1813, n. 1.

2In April 1778, John Paul Jones sailed to St. Mary’s Isle, Scotland, with the intent of kidnapping the Earl of Selkirk and holding him hostage until the British agreed to exchange prisoners with the Americans. Finding that the Earl was not at home, Jones decided to abandon the mission. His men, however, demanded some compensation for their efforts, so he allowed them to carry off the Selkirk silver but gave strict instructions that they take nothing else and harm no one. His orders were followed, and the Americans returned to their ship with the silver, having encountered no defenders (Samuel Eliot Morison, John Paul Jones: A Sailor’s Biography [Boston, 1959], 143–47).

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