James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James McGreggar, 1 July 1808

Saint Thomas 1st. July 1808


Enclosed are returns of American Vessels ⟨   ⟩ which arrived here, from the 31st. Decr. 1807 to the 30. June, ⟨1808⟩, also accounts of monies received and expended on ⟨acc⟩ount of the United States. I received a letter ⟨from⟩ William Thornton Esqr. who I authorised to ⟨   ⟩th my accompt for the last six months. He informs ⟨me⟩ that they were not drawn out in conformity to Law. ⟨It⟩ was not till then that I Knew there was a particular ⟨   ⟩ for that purpose. I have since endeavoured ⟨to⟩ procure the necessary form. However should there be ⟨   ⟩ informality in those accounts, I shall esteem it as a ⟨par⟩ticular favour, if you will send me such forms ⟨as⟩ are requisite for making out the accots. so as to ⟨   ⟩ me to draw them out in future with satisfaction ⟨to⟩ Government and myself. I am very sensible that the ⟨b⟩usiness of your Department is such, that you have but ⟨short⟩ time to attend to trifling matters, and that it must ⟨be⟩ extremely disagreeable to you, to receive accounts that ⟨are⟩ informal, but being on the eve of my departure from ⟨   ⟩ at the time I had the Honor of receiving my ⟨appoi⟩ntment, I had not time to get such blanks as were ⟨req⟩uired for this Office. The large sums of money spent ⟨for⟩ the relief of Seamen, the quarter ending the 31st. decr. ⟨were⟩ produced by a variety of circumstances that in all ⟨pro⟩bability would never again occur. To point out the ⟨   ⟩ of them would be unnecessary. A few of the leading ⟨causes⟩ thereof will be sufficient to shew the situation I was ⟨place⟩d in. This Island has long been a place of ⟨   ⟩al rendezvous for our Vessels, and particularly for ⟨our⟩ Seamen. It being neutral, they were under no app⟨rehen⟩sion of being impressed, and always sure of getting ⟨pa⟩ssage to their own Country, on so ⟨   ⟩⟨.⟩

The number of Vessels condemned in the Courts of Admiralty to windward, during that period, greatly augmented ⟨the⟩ number of distressed American Seamen in this port, ⟨   ⟩ Vessels were condemned here as unfit for sea, and the ⟨   ⟩ men having in some instances nothing to receive, and ⟨the⟩ situation of the Island, being such, that they could not ⟨find⟩ employment, they are left of course for me to provid⟨e for.⟩

A Great part of the Town had lately been burnt. ⟨Rents⟩ were so enormous, that a small bed room in any pa⟨rt of⟩ the Town, could not be got for less than sixteen Dollar⟨s⟩ Pr. Month; and during the blockade some of the necess⟨ities⟩ of life so dear as not to be within the reach of common People. Another calamity still worse than the ⟨   ⟩ (and all I shall at this time trouble you with) is that ⟨the⟩ Island was at that time extremely unhealthy. You ⟨will⟩ see by the Doctors bills, that those that were sick; w⟨ere⟩ the most expensive, and I never employed a Phys⟨ician⟩ except I thought the disease was dangerous, neither ⟨did⟩ I support any man in health, when they could get ⟨em⟩ployment. The effect of the Embargo in Amer⟨ica⟩ has been but very little felt in this or the adjacent Isla⟨nds.⟩ Flour was at one time as high as $40. However sev⟨eral⟩ arrivals from Halifax & New Brunswick, and other of ⟨the⟩ British possessions in America, has reduced the pr⟨ices⟩ very considerably. There was also a Vessel from East ⟨   ⟩ with provisions. She entered the port under America⟨n⟩ Colours. The Captn. immediately waited on me, a⟨nd⟩ informed me that he had no authority to wear the f⟨lag⟩ but that he had hoisted it in coming into port, as a ⟨pro⟩tection to his property, which I believe to be corr⟨ect.⟩

The last Sale of Flour was at $16, and a quant⟨ity⟩ would not command that price at this moment.

This day the Brig Lydia Captn. William Mitch⟨ell⟩ of and from Philadelphia for Charleston S. C. arrived h⟨ere⟩ in distress. She has an assorted Cargo, but not much. ⟨Th⟩e Captain immediately waited on me, and requested I ⟨shou⟩ld go off and examine the situation of his Vessel, which ⟨I d⟩id, and found that her foremast was carried away, below ⟨   ⟩ Cross trees, and that the mainmast was sprung in the ⟨   ⟩ place. Her spars, rigging and sails are in a very ⟨ta⟩ttered condition. Captn. Mitchell requested I would ⟨ap⟩point a survey to examine the Brig. I accordingly ⟨no⟩minated Jeremiah Vernice, George W Topham, & Benjn. ⟨   ⟩ Lord, three American Merchants residing here, and ⟨   ⟩ Williams & James Welsh as carpenters, there ⟨bei⟩ng no American Carpenters in this place. The ⟨   ⟩ who is the proper person to appoint surveys, has ⟨ap⟩pointed the above named Gentlemen to examine ⟨the⟩ Brig. I have the Honor to be Very Respectfully Sir Your Obt. Servant

James McGreggar

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

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