James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James McGreggar, 4 January 1808

St. Thomas January 4-6, 1808


Enclosed are Returns of the American Vessels which arrived here from the 22d. Septr. to the 21st. December, at which time ⟨th⟩is Island surrendered to the Forces of His Britannic Majesty ⟨by⟩ Capitulation, a Copy whereof is also enclosed. I have ⟨li⟩kewise sent the Registers of Vessels, deposited in my Office, which ⟨have⟩ been sold or condemned as unfit for sea, together with ⟨s⟩undry Sea Letters found in the Custom House, and given to me ⟨by⟩ the Danish Collector, previous to the surrender of the Island, also a Copy of a Letter from the American Seamen on board ⟨the⟩ Brig Hart, now in this port. I made application to the ⟨Com⟩manders for their release but did not succeed.

Since the Capture of this Island I have not been permit⟨ted⟩ to act in a public Capacity, on account of my being appointed as ⟨Cons⟩ul. Had the Letter Patent expressed Commercial Agent in lieu ⟨of⟩ Consul I should have been permitted to act, but in a very ⟨lim⟩ited manner; Should affairs be arranged between the two Govern⟨me⟩nts and His Excellency think proper to send me such a commissi⟨on I⟩ have no doubt but I shall be permitted to act on the same prin⟨ciple⟩ as other Agents do in English Islands.

The Brig Charleston Packet Captn. Charles Connell, with whom ⟨I se⟩nt all the distressed American Seamen, was boarded off this ⟨harbour⟩, and had several Seamen impressed, which I put on ⟨boar⟩d. It would be unnecessary for me to make any comments on the ⟨   ⟩ persued by the British Commanders in those seas with regard ⟨to i⟩mpressments. Government no doubt has good information on that ⟨sub⟩ject.

By some very late arrivals from England, there has a ⟨   ⟩ Orders of Council come out, (and I am sorry that I have not had ⟨an⟩ opportunity of taking Copies) which are so very pointed at the ⟨   ⟩ destruction of our Commerce, that I conceive it my duty to give ⟨Y⟩ou the outlines of them, as they appear to me.

First, They declare all ports belonging to the enemies of Great B⟨ritain⟩ or all Ports where British Vessels are excluded, under Bl⟨ockade.⟩

Secondly. All Neutral Vessels bound to any Port in Europe not ⟨in⟩ Amity with Great Britain must first touch at a port ⟨in⟩ England, and there enter and clear, pay duties outward and ⟨in⟩ward, and obtain permission from His B. M. to proceed ⟨to⟩ French or other Ports.

Thirdly No Produce to be exported in a Neutral Vessel excep⟨t it⟩ be the growth of a British Colony and accompanied with proper proof of the same.

Fourthly. No Neutral Vessel will be permitted to go South of ⟨the⟩ Equator without His Britannic Majesty’s permission

and lastly, That all Neutral Vessels will be considered to K⟨now⟩

the contents of these orders after the 20th. day of Febr⟨uary⟩ and if found acting contrary to them will be good and lawful ⟨prize⟩ to the Captors. In consequence of the situation of this Is⟨land⟩ for some time past I have been under the necessity of advan⟨cing⟩ More Money for the releif of Distressed Seamen than I have received on account of the United States, The Accounts ⟨and⟩ Vouchers for which shall be forwarded by the next opportun⟨ity.⟩

The Schooner Friendship by which this is forwarded goes s⟨o much⟩ sooner than I expected that I have not time to send them.

The Arrangement of Commerce, since the Capture of this Isla⟨nd⟩, has placed it upon the same footing as it was under the Danis⟨h⟩ Government for six months, untill his Majesty’s Pleasure is ⟨known.⟩

You will observe by the Returns that I did not receive the ⟨   ⟩ of American Vessels untill the 22d. Septr. I could not make ⟨the⟩ Necessary arrangements with the Danish Government sooner [  ] The Blockade commenced on the 24th October, after which ⟨date⟩ No American was pemitted to enter. I shall still con⟨tinue⟩ to give you every information that I may conceive beneficial ⟨to our⟩ Country, and render to my Countrymen that may chance to ⟨be⟩ here, every service in my power. I have the Honor to be very ⟨   ⟩ Sir, Your most obt & very ⟨humble Servt⟩

James McGreg⟨gar⟩

DNA: RG 59—CD—Consular Despatches, St. Thomas.

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