James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jones, 6 June 1813

From William Jones

Navy Department June 6, 1813


The enclosed report1 is prepared in consequence of a call from the Chairman of the Naval Committee of the Senate for a return of the number of Gun Boats in service and their Stations, with a view as I understood him in conversation to propose an additional special defence for Baltimore of a number of Barges or Galleys which the City of Baltimore during the late excitement built and now wish to charge them upon the general Government. I deemed it proper on this occasion to exhibit a general view of our Coast & harbour defence which I think you will believe with me is amply sufficient to absorb all the resources of the Department applicable to that branch of the Service. I have had a great deal of correspondence with Corporations and Committees from Maine to Georgia which I did not think necessary to trouble you with. It became my duty to resist their claims and I believe I have adduced arguments and reasoning which has satisfied the most of them. I consider it indispensable to resist the pretensions of local bodys who undertake to prescribe not only the extent but the nature, and manner of employing the public force.

As you have repeated applications on this subject the enclosed paper may be a useful reference. I am very respectfully your obd Servt

W Jones

RC and enclosure (DLC). Docketed by JM. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Jones enclosed an “Exhibit Shewing the number of Gun Boats and Vessels substituted for Gun Boats, in Service for harbour and Coast defence at the several naval stations and elsewhere in the U States” (2 pp.; printed in Dudley, Naval War of 1812, 2:145–48). The report, dated 7 June 1813, indicated that the United States had a total of 106 gunboats currently in service, of which New York had the largest allotment at thirty-one, followed by Norfolk with twenty. Baltimore, with only one, had the fewest. In addition to including comments on the situation at each specific station, Jones noted that “the residue of the Gun Boats that are fit for service are kept in ordinary ready to be put in service on any sudden emergency—those that are decayed and unfit for service are laid up.”

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