James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Lee, 15 October 1807

Bordeaux, October 15th 1807.


I think it my duty to inclose you a copy ⟨of⟩ a letter I received the day before yesterday from Genl. Armstrong. I ha⟨ve⟩ advised all the American masters, to get home as fast as they can, and this in a manner not calculated to alarm them very much. It is m⟨y⟩ firm beleif, that if our affairs are adjusted with England, that som⟨e⟩ restrictions will be laid on our Commerce by this Government. I f⟨orm⟩ this opinion from letters of the first Bankers in Paris to Merchants in this City, containing hints of this nature, and advising at the sam⟨e⟩ time speculations in Colonial produce. As it is a fact well known, tha⟨t⟩ some of the great Dignitaires of the Empire are frequently concerned ⟨in⟩ these speculations, I infer there is some ground for my suspicions. ⟨What⟩ these restrictions are to be I cannot say. At the meeting of the Chamber of Commerce a few evenings ago, the same information contained in General Armstrongs letters to me, was communicated ⟨to⟩ that body by one of its members, with this addition, that it was even ⟨con⟩templated to shut our trade out of all the ports of Europe, under the do⟨mi⟩nation of this country.

The Chambers of Commerce of this Empire, are ⟨a⟩ sort of constituted authorities. They are frequently consulted by th⟨e⟩ ⟨   ⟩ of the ⟨   ⟩, and the heads of Departments on great Com⟨mer⟩cial questions, and I have generally found their hints and opinions ⟨cor⟩rect. I pray they may not prove so in this particular, and that ⟨this⟩ alarm may be a false one.

The army destined against Portugal has entered Spain. ⟨An⟩ immense train of heavy artillery is now following it thro’ this City. ⟨They⟩ have left within our Walls, Genls. Kellermann & Aug⟨   ⟩ on ⟨their⟩ way to Iberia. The news that the Court of Portugal have ⟨abandon⟩ed that Kingdom for the Brasils, wants confirmation. With great respect, I am, Sir, Your obd. Servt.

Wm Lee

Bordeaux October 20th. 1807.


The Ship George Washington, Capn. Hidelius of Phila⟨de⟩lphia, arrived here on the 14th August from Plymouth in England ⟨wh⟩ere she had been conducted by a British Ship of War, who captured ⟨he⟩r at the mouth of this river. Application was immediately made ⟨to⟩ the Director General of the Customs for permission to enter this ship, ⟨whi⟩ch was refused. Another application was made by my advice, through ⟨Gen⟩l. Armstrong, which proved equally unsuccessful, and the Ship was ordered out. One of the Owners of the Cargo of this ship after the ⟨last⟩ decision, presented a petition to the Emperor (a copy of which I ha⟨ve⟩ the honor to enclose) which though containing many truths is cou⟨ched⟩ in such terms as gave offence, and produced not only an order to arrest the author, and the Ship, but also for the strict and rigid execu⟨tion⟩ of the Decree of the 21st November last.

The Ship had very fortunately left the Roads of this ri⟨ver⟩ about one hour before the officer arrived there to seize her. With great Respect, I am Sir, Your Obt. Servt.

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

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