James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to Albert Gallatin, [ca. 23 February] 1813

To Albert Gallatin

[ca. 23 February 1813]

What are the provisions, & for what purpose? Is it strictly regular for the Govt. to have any positive relation to a trade, in its own Vessels contrary to the Law of N? Govts. are not bound to prevent. Still a passport to protect agst. American cruisers, seems to be the minimum of interposition. The Scy. of State will decide the case; in consequence of an interview with Mr. Dashkoff.1 The Frigate & Marines will be subjects of consultation with the Scy. of the Navy.2

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers). Unsigned; written on the verso of a cover sheet addressed to “The President.” Docketed in an unknown hand: “N.Y. July 14–18, 1813 / J. J. Astor.” Undated; conjectural date assigned here based on the assumption that the docket actually refers to John Jacob Astor’s letters to Gallatin of 14 and 18 Feb. 1813 (ibid.), and that this note is JM’s response to Astor’s requests in those letters as conveyed to him by Gallatin (see Astor to Gallatin, 14 Feb. 1813, and nn.). Addressee not indicated; identified as Gallatin on the basis of internal evidence and the letter’s location in the Gallatin Papers.

1On 3 Mar. 1813, James Monroe issued a passport requesting that “all Officers commanding the public, or Private armed Vessels of the United States” allow to pass freely the ship Lark of New York, which Andrei Dashkov had informed him was sailing “to the North west Coast of America with a Cargo of Provisions shipped on Russian account for the supply of the Russian settlements on that Coast” (DNA: RG 59, DL).

2By the end of April 1813, Astor had persuaded William Jones to send the U.S. frigate John Adams to the Columbia River with one of Astor’s ships. In late June, however, shortages of naval officers and sailors in the crucial Great Lakes theater of the war demanded that the crew of the John Adams be transferred there, and the ship’s voyage to the Columbia was cancelled (Ronda, Astoria and Empire, 267–69).

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