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To James Madison from Edward Carrington, 25 November 1805 (Abstract)

From Edward Carrington, 25 November 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Edward Carrington. 25 November 1805, Canton. “I have the honor to inclose you, a Duplicate of the Deposition of John Gardnier,1 first Officer of the Ship New Jersey of Philadelphia, stating the outrage committed onboard that Ship, by the Officers of His Britanic Majesty’s Brig, Harier, commanded by Captain Ratsey, and Duplicates of two Letters, address’d to Captain Ratsey on the subject of that violence.2

“Some days having pass’d, without receiving any answer to the Letters address’d to Captain Ratsey, I conceived it necessary, to make a representation to the Chinese Government, of the indignity offered to the Flag of the United States, in the Port of Canton, by the Officers of His Britanic Majesty’s Brig Harier, and claim that protection due to a friendly nation.

“Accordingly I prepared a representation, (a Copy of which I now inclose you)3 Stating the circumstances of this outrageous violence, but I lament, that I have not been able to present it to the Government.

“All communications from Foreigners to the Chinese Goverment, are made by the Hong or Security Merchants, to whom I have made repeated application, but without success; they always answering, that their Goverment do not, nor will not, take cognizance of disputes between Foreigners, altho’ they arise within their Territory; however I am not disposed to receive this answer as a Conclusive one of the Goverment, and it is my intention, to make a further exertion to present the representation.

“As the Chinese Goverment do not recognize Foreign Ministers or Consuls, I considered it advisable, to join the American Merchants residing at Canton, and the Super Cargoes and Commanders of the American Ships, with me in the representation, hoping it would have the desired influence with their several Security Merchants, to encourage them to present the same to their Goverment, and give to our Complaints their full force; but as the Hong Merchants are So extremely cautious of meddling with anything that regards their Goverment, I fear it will not be possible thro’ them, ever to obtain any satisfaction.

“The Brig Harier left this Port about the 25th. October, (carrying with her the Said Richard Weldon) and has taken her Station in the River of Canton a small distance without the Bocca Tygris, where She has been joined by His Britanic Majesty’s Ships the Phaeton and Cornwallis, and where they bring too all Amercian [sic] vessels bound to or from this Port, for the purpose of examining their Papers and Seaman.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Canton, vol. 1). RC 3 pp.; docketed by Wagner. For enclosures, see nn.

1The enclosure (3 pp.) is a copy of John Gardnier’s deposition, dated both 17 Oct. and 17 Nov. 1805, and certified by Carrington on 25 Nov. 1805, that on 13 Oct. 1805, while Capt. James Cooper was away from the New Jersey, two officers and a boat crew from the Harrier came alongside asking for seaman Richard Weldon. Weldon appeared and said he was a British subject who wished to go on board the Harrier, after which the British officers ordered him to take his personal effects and go into the boat. When Gardnier forbade this and attempted to restrain Weldon, one of the British officers drew his dagger and ordered the boat crew to board the New Jersey, which they did with drawn cutlasses, and forcibly removed Weldon. The officers threatened to return for Weldon’s wages and to take every New Jersey crewmember who wished to enter the Harrier, even if this should deplete the crew. Gardnier added that Weldon had shipped on the New Jersey at Philadelphia, where he represented himself as an American, had sailed with the ship to Antwerp and Canton, and had a protection held by Captain Cooper.

2The enclosures (4 pp.) are copies of Carrington to Edward Ratsey, 14 Oct. 1805, reporting the event of 13 Oct., expressing his hope that this direct violation of the law of nations and the neutrality of China was done without Ratsey’s authority, and requesting the return of Weldon; and Carrington to Ratsey, undated but probably of 16 Oct. 1805 (see n. 3 below), noting that he had received no reply to his previous letter demanding Weldon’s return, and stating that if Ratsey did not comply, Carrington would complain to the Chinese and American governments about “this unprecedented and Outrageous violence against the rights of Nations.”

3The enclosure (4 pp.) is a copy of the 23 Oct. 1805 representation to “John Tuck Governor of the Province of Canton,” signed by Carrington and twenty-seven others and certified as accurate by Carrington, describing the events of 13 Oct. 1805, stating that Carrington had written to Captain Ratsey on 14 and 16 Oct. 1805 and had received no reply, that Ratsey had informed an American that he intended to visit the American ships at Whampoa, that the American captains feared “that they would be robbed of their Seamen” and were determined to repel by force any attack made on their ships, reminding the governor of the extensive trade of America with China, and asking the governor to effect the return of Weldon and to prevent any further such aggressions.

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