James Madison Papers
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From James Madison to Congress, 12 January 1811 (Abstract)

§ To Congress

12 January 1811. Transmits a copy of a letter from the U.S. minister in London to the secretary of state1 and a copy of a letter from the same to the British secretary of state for foreign affairs.2

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 11A-D1); RC (DNA: RG 46, Legislative Proceedings, 11A-E3). Each RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by JM. For enclosures, see nn.

1JM forwarded a copy of William Pinkney’s 5 Nov. 1810 dispatch to Robert Smith (2 pp.) reporting that the state of George III’s health was such that the British cabinet was unlikely to withdraw the orders in council in the near future. Pinkney declared that the date for the effective repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees had passed and complained that he had received no indication that Great Britain would repeal the orders. Lord Wellesley’s last communication on the subject on 31 Aug. 1810 had been “vague and equivocal,” Pinkney wrote, and it was “highly important … that this ambiguity should be cleared away with all practical expedition.” If this could not be done, “no presumption should be afforded of a disposition on the part of the United States to acquiesce in it” (printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:372–73).

2In a note dated 3 Nov. 1810 (7 pp.) Pinkney reminded Lord Wellesley that the Berlin and Milan decrees had ceased to have any effect after 1 Nov., and he therefore requested a response to his previous note calling for the repeal of the orders in council. The trade of the U.S. now required a statement of British intentions, Pinkney declared, adding that he anticipated a “speedy recall” of British orders and blockades restricting American shipping. If the British government did not intend to remove its orders in council, Pinkney asked that the U.S. government “be apprized, with as little delay as possible, of a determination so unexpected and of such vital concern to its rights and interests, and that the reasons upon which that determination may have been formed not be withheld from it” (printed ibid., 3:373).

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