James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to Congress, 25 February 1815

To Congress

Washington February 25th 1815

Peace having, happily, taken place, between the United States and Great Britain, it is desirable to guard against incidents, which, during periods of war in Europe, might tend to interrupt it: and, it is believed, in particular, that the navigation of American vessels exclusively by American Seamen, either natives, or such as are already naturalized, would not only conduce to the attainment of that object, but, also, to encrease the number of our Seamen, and, consequently, to render our Commerce and Navigation independent of the service of foreigners, who might be recalled by their Governments under circumstances the most inconvenient to the United States: I recommend the subject, therefore, to the consideration of Congress;1 and, in deciding upon it, I am persuaded, that they will sufficiently estimate the policy of manifesting to the world, a desire on all occasions, to cultivate harmony, with other nations by any reasonable accommodations, which do not impair the enjoyment of any of the essential rights of a free and independent people. The example on the part of the American Government will merit, and may be expected to receive, a reciprocal attention from all the friendly powers of Europe.

James Madison

RC, two copies (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 13A–E1; and DNA: RG 46, Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages, 13A–E2). Each RC in Edward Coles’s hand, signed by JM.

1“An Act for the regulation of seamen on board the public and private vessels of the United States,” 3 Mar. 1813, prohibited the employment aboard U.S. ships of foreign seamen whose nations had agreed to reciprocate the measure (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 , 2:809–11). JM apparently now wanted the United States to proceed unilaterally in restricting its maritime personnel to natives and naturalized citizens. He recommended the measure again in his 5 Dec. 1815 annual message to Congress, but Sen. Nathan Sanford’s 21 Dec. 1815 motion that the proposal be referred to a select committee was rejected on 26 Dec. (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1834–56). description ends , 14th Cong., 1st sess., 13, 17, 27–30).

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