James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Alexander J. Dallas, 29 July 1815

From Alexander J. Dallas

29 July 1815

Dr. Sir.

I have the pleasure of acknowledging the reciept of your letter of the 24. inst. I hope you will be able to enjoy the calm of Montpelier until the close of October. It does not appear probable, that the return of our Envoys will render it necessary to change the scene. Their protracted absence, and unconscionable silence, authorise a conjecture, that they have been negotiating with the British Government; but I am more inclined, at present, to think that Mr. Bayard’s sickness, and other merely accidental causes, will account for all that seems so unaccountable. I will attend to your request, respecting the War Department, should the Neptune, or her Passengers, arrive at Philadelphia.

It would have been received very kindly, I know, throughout the circle of Gov. Nicholas’s family connections, if the boon requested for his Son could have been granted. The difficulty is great, however, after Mr. Jefferson’s statement of it; and I have written an explanatory letter to Gov. Nicholas upon the subject. I have assured him of your good dispositions; and expressed a wish that the matter might rest for the present, with a promise, that if anything happened to alter the claim of occupancy, I would hasten to present his application again to your view. I do not reccollect any other case, that would interfere with Col. Nicholas. I inclose Mr Jefferson’s letter.

A communication from Bremen, which is now forwarded, claims the benefit of the Act, respecting the countervailing duties.1 It will, perhaps, be thought proper to settle some general rules, upon the execution of the Act: 1: As to the proof which is to be submitted to you, that the discriminating duties of a foreign nation are abolished and 2d. As to the mode of announcing your assent, that the law shall be executed in favor of such nation. But I think policy requires, that the decision should not be made in detail, upon every application, of every petty State; and no great evil can arise, if the subject be kept under advisement, until the general Tariff has been regulated by Congress.

The Barratarians are committing every kind of outrage. The naval force employed against them is not adequate; nor do I think that the evil will be destroyed effectually by breaking up the establishment at Barrataria, for other haunts, equally secure, can be found in the neighbourhood. The subordinate, as well as the principal, pirates, must be brought to examplary justice; and perhaps, you would think it adviseable to offer a reward for apprehending them.

The affair of Malden, and Isle-aux-bois blanc, seems to be pretty well arranged.2 As soon as Michillimacknac is surrendered, I propose to direct a paragraph to be published in the National Intelligence[r] on the subject.

The New-York Banks embarrass me; but all the other important Banks, which have stopped specie payments, will adopt the Treasury proposition. Upon the whole, I have no cause to complain of a want of success. I inclose the Circular intended to be issued on the 1: of August.3

M. Serrurier’s re-appointment is something for the Gazettes to carp at; but the fate of Napoleon is, probably, fixed before this day; and the chances are in favor of his holding the throne. I am, Dear Sir, most respectfully & faithfully Yrs.

A. J. Dallas

RC (DLC). For surviving enclosure, see n. 1.

1For the act of Congress to which Dallas referred, see JM to James Monroe, 18 May 1815, n. 2. Dallas evidently enclosed Frederick Jacob Wichelhausen’s 16 May 1815 letter to him (3 pp.; DNA: RG 59, CD, Bremen), reporting that the Bremen senate had decided that U.S. ships would pay the same duties as ships native to that port, and was requesting reciprocity. Wichelhausen enclosed a 12 May 1815 certificate signed by Bremen chief magistrate Franz Tidemann (1 p.), stating that U.S. ships entering the Bremen harbor would not pay more light-money, higher duties, or greater port charges than Bremen ships. Also enclosed were an English translation of the certificate (1 p.) and Wichelhausen’s 16 May 1815 attestation confirming Tidemann’s magisterial office (1 p.).

2See JM to James Monroe, 26 June 1815, and n. 2. Dallas may have enclosed Col. Anthony Butler’s 3 July 1815 letter to him (3 pp.), reporting that Butler was leaving Detroit with a detachment of riflemen and artillery to take possession of the garrison at Michilimackinac, and asking to be relieved of command since he had not been retained in the peacetime army. Butler enclosed copies of his 25 June 1815 letter to Lt. Col. Reginald William James, British commander at Sandwich (4 pp.), proposing arrangements whereby British forces would vacate Michilimackinac by 15 July 1815, while Butler would deliver Malden to James by 1 July 1815 and withdraw from Bois Blanc Island, maintaining the United States’ claim to the latter pending a decision by boundary commissioners under the Treaty of Ghent; and James’s 28 June 1815 reply (2 pp.), agreeing to the proposals and stating that he did not intend to establish a military post on Bois Blanc (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, B-380:8). Butler may have also enclosed a copy of a 1 July 1815 statement (6 pp.) by which he returned Malden to the British but made the case for the United States’ possession of Bois Blanc and maintained that claim despite his withdrawal of U.S. forces from the island (ibid., B-377:8).

3The enclosure has not been found, but it was probably a draft of the 15 Aug. 1815 Treasury Department notice published in the Daily National Intelligencer on 19 Aug. 1815. That notice referred to one dated 15 June 1815, which appeared in the Intelligencer on 17 June 1815 and in the New-York Evening Post two days later, announcing arrangements whereby the Treasury would make overdue payments on the principal and interest of its notes, and stating that on 1 Aug. 1815, all collectors and other receivers of public funds for the federal government would be instructed to accept payment in bank notes only if the issuing bank either paid specie or received and circulated Treasury notes. The 15 Aug. notice announced that these instructions had been given, to take effect on 1 Oct. 1815. It listed eighteen banks, located for the most part in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, that did not pay specie and had not agreed to the Treasury’s plan, and whose notes would therefore not be honored by it.

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