James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Murray Forbes, 5 April 1806

Hamburg 5th. April 1806


Annexed I have the honor to transmit You a Copy of my last Respects under 19th. Ulto. Since which Some events, of considerable interest have occurred in this Vicinity. The Prussian Government now possessing the Electorate of Hanover, through their Regent Count Schulenberg have declared, their determination to renew the same restrictions on British Navigation & trade in our Rivers which were imposed during the Occupancy of the French. I inclose a Translation of this Proclamation originally published in German. It remains to be seen to what steps on the part of England, this Measure will lead. It has been a Condition of the Cession of Hanover, dictated by France, but there will be a strong disposition amongst all Classes of People to connive at the evasion of this Ordinance,-- and though the British Navigation will not be permitted, yet there is little doubt that there will be every facility given to the trade of that Country, under neutral Colours, in which Case I am inclined to think the English will leave the Rivers open to Neutral Vessels.

A few days will decide, but should the English persue a different Course, their Measures will probably be very extensive & strong they may even go to the total interdiction of all Trade, with all such ports and Places, as practise direct or indirect hostility against their Commerce. Should this be the Case, as unwilling as your Excellency may Suppose I ought to be to importune Government on Subjects of a personal Nature, I shall be compelled by inexorable necessity to solicit a direct pecuniary Compensation. From the known derangement of all trade and my Want of fortune, when I came here, I have been living during the greatest part of the time Since I have been here, literally at the expence of my friends. I shall forbear any such application as long as there exists a Chance of my ever deriving those commercial advantage, which form the Compensation expected on accepting the appointment.

Another public event of great importance is, the marching of 40,000 Prussian Troops against Swedish Pomerania, now defended by a very small force, commanded by the King of Sweden in Person. It is thought that a new War will follow in which Russia will immediately take a Part-- the general Consequence of which will be the weakening of those Powers who feel a disposition to oppose France. The particular Consequence to Prussia it is not easy to foresee. there is little probability of her gaining any thing and many Chances of her losing almost to total anihilation. I have the Honor to be with great Respect Your Obedient Servant

J M Forbes

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

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