James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to James Monroe, [ca. 11 August 1814]

To James Monroe

[ca. 11 August 1814]

Is not Mr. Neilson’s request within the opinion of Mr. Rush agst the departure of American vessels with B. licence.1

Walkers case falls under a general regulation wch. Genl. Mason has in view.2

RC (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Correspondence regarding Passports). In JM’s hand. Undated; addressee not indicated. Conjectural date assigned and addressee identified based on evidence in nn. 1–2.

1Robert Neilson wrote Monroe from Washington on 9 Aug. 1814, requesting State Department passports to the West Indies for himself and his sister, Eliza Neilson, whose doctors had recommended the voyage as the only hope for her recovery from a “Pulmonary aff[l]iction” (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Correspondence regarding Passports). In a 28 July 1814 letter to Monroe, Attorney General Richard Rush had given his opinion that under “An Act to prohibit the use of licenses or passes granted by the authority of the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,” 2 Aug. 1813, it would be illegal for an individual to request a passport from the British for a voyage to be made for health reasons. JM evidently concluded in error that Neilson was requesting permission to obtain a British passport, for Rush’s opinion did not address the granting of such protections by the U.S. government, and the law itself stipulated “that nothing contained in this act, shall be so onstrued as to prevent the acceptance or use of a passport or any other paper authorized by the government of the United States” (Monroe to Rush, 28 July 1814, Letters and Papers of Richard Rush [microfilm ed.], reel 3; Preston, Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe, description begins Daniel Preston, A Comprehensive Catalogue of the Correspondence and Papers of James Monroe (2 vols.; Westport, Conn., 2001). description ends 1:407; 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 3:84–85).

2JM referred to a 2 Aug. 1814 letter to Monroe from John Walker, a British subject, requesting a passport to return to England. Monroe docketed the letter with the notation: “This gentleman is strongly recommended by the Secry of the navy & many others. Shall any relaxation be adopted in consequence of a change said to have been adopted in Engld in favor of our citizens there?” (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Correspondence regarding Passports).

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