James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jones, 15 May 1813

From William Jones

Navy Depmt May 15. 1813


I return the proceedings of the Court Martial at Sackets Harbour for your decision on the Sentence of dismission, of sailing master Hutton which forms an exception to the power vested in the commander of the fleet. See act. April 23. 1800 Vol. 5. page 121. art. XLI.1 I believe the Sentence to be perfectly correct. I am very respectfully Sir your Obdt Servt

W Jones

Permit me to observe that the sentence in the Case of FitzGerald 500, lashes is terribly severe and as there is nothing in the proceedings to mark the extraordinary criminality of his case whether your power to mitigate the punishment to 200 lashes the same as Robert Boatswains sentence may not be properly exercised. It is at best a barbarous punishment and when carried to excess is even worse than death.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Jones referred to the forty-first article of “An Act for the better government of the Navy of the United States,” 23 Apr. 1800, which stated that court martial sentences other than that of death could be “carried into execution on confirmation of the commander of the fleet … except such as go to the dismission of a commissioned or warrant officer, which are first to be approved by the President of the United States” (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends , 2:45, 51).

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