James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Elbridge Gerry, 18 September 1813

From Elbridge Gerry

Cambridge 18th September 1813


I have the honor to transmit a letter received from Jacob Gerrish Esq of Newbury Port of the 16th instant, with the statements therein enclosed.1 As they relate to supplies for the enemy, I have no doubt thereof; & it is much to be regretted that your wise proposition for laying an embargo last session was not adopted.2 With the highest esteem & respect, I have the Honor to remain, Sir, yours very sincerely

E. Gerry

RC and enclosures (PHi: William Jones Papers). For enclosures, see n. 1.

1Gerrish’s letter to Gerry of 16 Sept. 1813 (3 pp.) reported that “several respectable Gentlemen” of Newburyport had asked him to convey to Gerry their conclusions “on the unhappy situation of Public affairs in this place,” as stated in an 8 Sept. 1813 letter to Gerry (1 p.) that Gerrish enclosed. The concerned citizens believed that “direct voyages” were being made from Newburyport to the Bermudas and Halifax, that British ships were being supplied with food from the town, that British officers had visited the town as spies and “purchased provisions in the market,” that the British could easily burn the sloop of war being built at Newburyport, that the town needed two gunboats and a revenue cutter, and that the collector of customs had ignored information given him about illegal voyages. They asked that their statements “be laid before the General Government.” Gerrish added that on a recent Saturday “strangers to the Town” had purchased “butter, eggs, apples &c … in considerable abundance” along with a large quantity of meat, apparently in response to signals from a British ship offshore, that the meat had been “put on board a large sail boat, which proceeded to sea the same evening,” and that payment for the provisions had been “guaranteed by a citizen of this Town, whose name” Gerrish would “for the present … omit to mention.”

Gerry also enclosed a copy of his 18 Sept. 1813 reply to Gerrish (1 p.), which stated that he had forwarded Gerrish’s letter and enclosures to JM, who would probably refer them to William Jones.

2For the embargo legislation proposed by JM, see his message to Congress of 20 July 1813, and n. 1.

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