James Madison Papers

Bowie and Kurtz to James Monroe, 18 August 1813

Bowie and Kurtz to James Monroe

George Town 18th August 1813


As you were pleased to say to our Senior, at the interview he had the honor to have with you on Saturday last, that you would take into consideration, and give an early answer, to the proposal he made to you, of trying our claim on the United States, for the ship Allegany and our part of her Cargo, lost at Gilbraltar in their service, in the form of an amicable Suit, in one of the Courts of the United States—We now beg leave formally to propose to you that mode of settlement.1 To us it appears least exceptionable and most likely to do justice to both parties, and at all events will save much time and expense, for should we be obliged to resort to Congress they must take time to understand the case, and probably it might then be productive of many days discussion the expense of which would exceed the amount of the claim.

Should you think proper to meet our Views, which we hope you will do, we propose that the suit be instituted in the Circuit Court of Pensylvania, and that it be brought to trial at the ensuing Session in October. We have the honor to be Sir Your mo: obd Servts.

Bowie & Kurtz

P.S. We prefer the Pensylvania Court, because it will be convenient to our Counsel, who reside in Philadelphia.

RC and Tr (DNA: RG 59, ML). RC docketed by Monroe: “For the President / case of the Allegheny.”

1The Allegany, hired by the U.S. government to carry a cargo of tribute stores to the dey of Algiers, was captured by the British at Gibraltar in August 1812 after the dey forced it to leave his country (for the circumstances of that departure, see Tobias Lear to JM, 31 Aug. 1812, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 5:230–33 and n. 3). Bowie and Kurtz subsequently made a claim through the State Department for indemnity for the loss of the ship, which Monroe declined to pay on the advice of Attorney General William Pinkney. The case was apparently not settled in court, as it became the subject of numerous petitions to Congress beginning in 1813. In 1830, that body finally passed an act granting $16,400 for the loss of the Allegany (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Claims, 615–16; Monroe to William Pinkney, 3 June and 26 Aug. 1813, DNA: RG 59, DL; Digested Summary and Alphabetical List of Private Claims Which Have Been Presented to the House of Representatives [Washington, 1853], 1:170–71; 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 , 6:442).

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