James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from William Lee, 14 July 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William Lee

14 July 1804, Bordeaux. “It having been represented to me that some of my Countrymen in London and Paris ⟨co⟩mment severely on my conduct respecting the Joseph & Phoebe of Castine from Virginia with Tobacco via Cowes the situation of which Vessel I mentioned to you in my respects of the 11th of April1 I have thought it a duty I owe myself to enclose you copies of my letters on this affair2 (in which I fear I have done too much) in order to parry those misrepresentations which may reach you.

“It gives me very sensible pain to be obliged to call your attention to what concerns myself but if you knew anything of that system of intrigue and wickedness I have continually to combat with here you would excuse my thus troubling you.”

Adds in a postscript: “Many rumours are circulating this morning of a nature to lead us to suppose that a rupture between this Country & Russia is inevitable. Of this however I suspect you will have better information than can be procured at Bordeaux.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Bordeaux, vol. 2). RC 2 pp. For enclosures, see n. 2.

2The enclosures are copies of Fulwar Skipwith to Lee, 4 July 1804 (2 pp.), informing Lee that complaints had been made against him for his role in the condemnation of the cargo of the Joseph & Phoebe; and Lee to Skipwith, 8 July 1804 (4 pp.), denying any role in the confiscation of the ship’s cargo and noting that had the matter been left to him, the ship would have been released long since. Lee enclosed in his letter to Skipwith copies and extracts of an exchange of letters with Robert R. Livingston (6 pp.) about this affair.

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