James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Mitchell, 10 March 1806

Paris 10 March 1806


Since I had the Honor to Acknowledge your Letter covering Me a New Commission for the Vice Agency at Havre, Nothing has passed at that Port worthy of Notice. The Port continues to be Blockaded by the British, and the Town abandoned by the former Inhabitants.

I now beg leave to Notice to you a Decree of the 24 feby. imposing a Duty of 60 francs P Quintal decimal (or 30 fs. pr 100 lb. on all Cotton Wool imported, and a prohibition of all Cotton Goods.-- A second, of the 6 March, imposing the Dutys as at foot.-- This does not include the Duty on Consumation (or Exise). You will percieve that there is a great dimunition of the Duty on Tobacco When imported in ⟨a⟩ french Bottom. The Difference is more than the freight & which must deprive Us of the Carriage on that Articles. To save this duty, is one reason perhaps Why some french Citizens have by means of th⟨eir⟩ Correspondents in America contrived to put their Vessels under our flag & on their Arriving with Tobo ⟨they⟩ Manage by a previous declaration at the Custom ho⟨use⟩ to have a diminution on the Dutys. To depriv⟨e⟩ this class of Vessells of the Advantage they posess ov⟨er⟩ the truly American Bottom, I would beg leave to Suggest to You a Law, to deprive evry Ves⟨sel⟩ of a Regis⟨ter⟩ or Sea Letter on Her return to the United States, whe⟨n⟩ it could be proved that such Vessells cargo paid a less duty in france, than similar Goods pay P American Vessells, as it appears to me to carry a proof, that such Vessell, altho sailing under our flag, is bona fide french property.

At a very little expence and trouble I ⟨am⟩ Confident the American Agents at the different Por⟨ts⟩ may obtain from the Custom house this information. The Consignee or Proprietor together with the Broke⟨r⟩ of his Choice will no doubt take pains to hide all such entrys. But I presume alltho there is a Decree formal Nominating the Ships Brokers & interpretors, was it required, this Government would Admitt of ⟨the⟩ Consuls to appoint a Confidential Clark for to Accompany the Captn. and report His Vessell & Cargo, and sign the declarati⟨on⟩ at the Custom house, and for Which his (the Consuls) charges should never exceed that of the Sworn Broker & interpritor. This Measure I think wd. also prevent many dificulties that Arrise from the Negligence & ignorance of the Ship Broker. Excuse Sir, the Liberty I take in Suggesting this to you, And believe Me with due respect and perfect Consideration Sir, Your Most Obedient & very Hble ⟨Servt.,⟩

John Mitchell
Vice Consul, Agent at Havre.

As yet I have not received My exequatur for my New Commn. None have yet been granted.

As Mr. Barnet has named as I formerly advised You, His Sub Agents at all the ports depending on Havre, it is from Him only you can receive the reports of Entry &c none being Made to Me.

DNA: RG 59—CD—Consular Despatches, Havre.

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