James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from John Dawson, 25 June 1797

From John Dawson

Philadelphia June 25th 1797.

Dear Sir!

I wrote to you by the last mail, & now enclose a letter entrusted to my care for Mrs. Madison.

On saturday we passed a bill, which came from the Senate, for the protection of our commerce, after disrobing it of the clauses, which authorisd the president to purchase nine additional vessels of 20 guns each, & directing that the three frigates shoud not be used as convoys—& that the law shoud be limited to one year. Whether the Senate will agree to our amendments I think very doubtful & thereby trust it may be lost, as I have in every stage voted against it, considering it as an expensive usefless [sic] & dangerous measure.1

On yesterday a resolution was laid on the table authorising the president, in the recess of Congress to lay an embargo, which I think will not pass.2 I think we shall adjourn in Eight or ten days. Yrs with Esteem

J Dawson

RC (DLC).

1After a House-Senate conference and reconsideration in both houses, the “Act providing a Naval Armament” was approved 1 July 1797 and fixed the number, rations, and compensation of the crew, the method of appointing officers, and the appropriation necessary to man and employ three frigates. No mention was made of convoying merchantmen (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 5th Cong., 1st sess., 408–9; 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 , 1:523–25).

2The resolution, proposed by William Loughton Smith on 24 June, called for a committee to “prepare and report a bill empowering the President of the United States to lay and revoke embargoes during the recess of Congress.” The resolution was tabled. A Senate bill to authorize the president to “lay, regulate and revoke embargoes” was proposed but rejected on 27 June on its third reading (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 5th Cong., 1st sess., 30, 386).

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