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To James Madison from Thomas Lewis & Son (Abstract), 8 May 1805

§ From Thomas Lewis & Son1

8 May 1805, Washington. “Two months after the Treaty with France made in October eighteen hundred, was Arrested from the Subscribers by the French without any motive whatever, the Ship Hope & Cargo.2

“After two years diligent persevering to recover this Property, under the fourth Article of Said Treaty, and at great Expence did obtain a Decree from the Council of Prizes at Paris against the Captors in Guadaloupe, for Restitution of the Value of our Property with Intrest, (which appears by the Goverm<ent> records of that Island to be One hundred twenty six thousand five hundred & eighty two Livers, five Sous; that sum with Intrest to this time, is Seventeen thousand eight hundred and Sixty two Dollars 16/100.)

“We sent an Agent to Guadaloupe to put in Execution upon the Captors the aforsaid Decree.

“But to our great Supprize, and the Astonishment of all that is acquainted with those Circumstances, the Goverment of that Island, after detaining our Agent three months with promises of payment—did in Contempt of Said Decree, and of all Justice and in Violation of the aforesaid Treaty, on the fifth of December last, make an Arrett, preventing the Captors from paying the aforesaid Amount, and order’d every Judicial Prosecution on Account of Said Restitution, to remain Suspended untill the publication of Peace between France and England be Officaly declared, they also forbid all Sheriffs and Other Officers of their Goverment, from receiveing, or Acting upon the Aforsaid Decree, (of the Council of Prizes), or any Other that might take place under penalty of Nullity, and of all costs, damages, and Intrest, in this Situation, After the Sacrifice of much time and large Sums of money, we find ourselves left to no other Alternative in the recoverey of our Property aforesaid, but to look up too, and pray for the assistance of our Goverment.

“As that Loss, (with the loss of two other Vessells and Cargos taken from us by the French prior to the aforesa<i>d Treaty,) has much injured our Commercial Concerns, and makes us more desireous of Assistance in this Case.

“We feel Satisfied you will render us all in Your Power.”

RC (DNA: RG 76, Preliminary Inventory 177, France, entry 143, Unbound Records Relating to Spoliation Claims, ca. 1885, box 16, folder H). 2 pp.; under signature: “of Boston State Massachusetts.”

1Thomas Lewis (1750–1813) founded Lewis Wharf in Boston, owned property in Malden and Hallowell, Massachusetts, and with his son Thomas (1771–1824) operated the merchant firm of Thomas Lewis & Son (George Harlan Lewis, “Edmund Lewis of Lynn and Some of His Descendants,” Essex Institute Historical Collections 43 [1907]: 137–39, 44 [1908]: 191; archivist’s memorandum, 1986 [MWebaC: Lewis Family Collection]).

2On 21 Dec. 1800, the Hope, Josiah Bacon master, sailing from Barbados to Boston, was seized by the privateer Le Patriote and taken into Guadeloupe, where the ship and cargo were condemned on 28 Dec. 1800. The Lewises claimed restitution of $23,736.37 for the ship, the cargo, and legal expenses incurred. One hundred years later the case was still unsettled (two United States Court of Claims, Claimant’s Petitions, 5 Nov. 1886, [MWebaC: Lewis Family Collection]; Theodore J. Pickett to Gustavus Clapp, 18 Sept. 1900 [ibid.]).

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