James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from William Jones, 17 March 1814

From William Jones

March 17. 1814

Dear Sir

I enclose these papers as a partial illustration of the ruinous extent to which smuggling is rapidly progressing and the danger to be apprehended from settled habits of turpitude and the expertness and intrepidity acquired by the practice of lawless gain. Can any thing short of the removal of the temptation correct the evil? The opportunities on our middle and Southern coast are manifold greater than on the Eastern coast which is less indented and where every mile is thickly settled and revenue officers within call of each other.

The cargos of the pretended neutral vessels detained at St Marys clearly indicate their destination.1 Very respectfully and Sincerely your Obdt Servt

W Jones

Smuggling on the sea frontier of Louisiana has assumed a character of piracy truly alarming.

Should it be deemed advisable to repeal in toto the nonimportation law, smuggling and the countenance ⟨g⟩iven to it by faction would be one of the strong arguments in support of the measure. A law continuing the double duties for two years after peace I think would be satisfactory.

In the remarks I took the liberty of submitting to you a few days since2 I omitted to notice one potent cause of the balance of trade in favor of the eastern states. I mean the operation of the Embargo which locks up the immense resources of the provision states, as well as the Cotton rice &c of the southern states which has hitherto kept the balance in favor of those states by the eastern capital which is now drawn in specie, being invested in those products.

The causes which were referred to were the refusa⟨l⟩ of the eastern people to subscribe to the Loan which was of course derived from the capital of the middle states—The liberation from Blockade of that section.

The vast amount of smuggled goods, and of the unlawful importations (remitted by the too lenient Act of Congress)3 the greater part of which was purchas⟨ed⟩ for the southern market and the unknown but doubtles⟨s⟩ great extent of British capital together with the organ⟨i⟩zed plans of faction to give to all these causes the greatest possible effect. As a measure of coerscion I am satisfied the nonimportation has lost its effect as well from the foregoing causes as from the state of Continenta⟨l⟩ Europe. I have endeavoured to show the reciprocal bearing and connection of the nonimportation & Embargo laws and that the⟨y⟩ cannot be seperately repealed without injury. Reflection strengthens the impression that they ought both to be repealed. The only objection is that of feeding the enemy and that appears to be over balanced by more weighty considerations.

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML); FC (PHi: William Jones Papers). FC is a letterpress copy. Enclosures not found, but see n. 1.

1Capt. Hugh G. Campbell’s 26 Mar. 1814 letter to Jones (PHi: William Jones Papers) referred to Campbell’s previous letter (not found) on the subject of smuggling vessels captured by his flotilla at St. Marys, Georgia, and listed subsequent detentions of such ships carrying cargoes of dry goods, oil, rum, salt, and hardware. Campbell stated that several of the captured vessels sailing under the Swedish flag were “manned with Americans who acknowledge themselves natives of Massachusetts.” The ships were “all American Built,” he reported, adding that “it appears notorious they belong to some of the northern ports—not a regular Swedish paper among them yet.” On 8 and 9 Mar. 1814 several newspapers, including the Alexandria Herald and Richmond Enquirer, published accounts of the capture of a cargo of British dry goods smuggled onshore near Savannah from a brig ostensibly Portuguese but actually owned in Boston.

3Jones referred to the Nonintercourse Act of 2 Mar. 1811, which exempted certain vessels and cargoes from the provisions of previous nonintercourse laws (U.S. Statutes at Large, description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends 2:651–52).

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