James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Lee, 18 March 1807

Bordeaux March 18. 1807.


I have understood that the owners of the Ship Ocean Capt. Harrison of New Orleans intend to complain of my conduct in forcing them to allow the crew of that ship three months pay over & above their wages for having discharged them in a foreign port. In order to parry such a complaint I take the liberty to transmit you herewith a copy of the declaration of Capt. Harrison and his two mates and of the discharge each man received from that Captain. The Consignees, and I believe real owners of this Ship after unloading her ordered Captain Harrison to drop her two league’s below the City opposite the Town of L’ormand and there discharge his crew. When the Seamen after being t⟨hus⟩ irregularly discharged had spent all their money and were imprisoned by the police as Vagabonds I became acquainted with the affai⟨r.⟩ The Ship having been sold to Capt. S. Hatch of Boston it was not until the 14 february wh⟨en⟩ I was called on to deliver up the papers to h⟨im⟩ that I had it in my power to make the Consi⟨gnees⟩ do justice to the Seamen. It would be usel⟨ess⟩ and only taking up your time to no purpose were I to enter into the particulars of this affai⟨r⟩ by sending you copy of the Consignees protests ag⟨ainst⟩ me, their letters to General Armstrong and to ⟨me⟩ and my answers to both on the subject. Th⟨e⟩ annexed pieces will I trust shew that I have ⟨only⟩ done my duty, and as an example was necesar⟨y⟩ to check the unlawful discharge of Seamen I feel gratified that it has fallen on persons so well able to support it.

The Collectors of the different ports are not vigilant enough in their examination of the crews of the Vessels which return to the United States or what is most probable, the Captains find some means of deceiving them.

Accompanying this I have the honor to transmit you a list of seamen that I have had to provide for the four or five months past. With great respect I have the honor to remain your obedient Servant

Wm: Lee

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

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