James Madison Papers
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John C. Payne (for JM) to Charles J. Ingersoll, 14 May 1836

Montpellier May 14. 1836.


Mr. M. being at present too much indisposed to use his own pen desires me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 9th. instant, and to thank you for your friendly solicitude on the subject of his health. I am sorry to say that the change in it since you left Montpellier has not been favorable. You need not be assured of the pleasure he always feels in the society of his friends especially the most intelligent and enlightened of them, when his condition permits him to enjoy it.

No favorable moment, he thinks, ought to be omitted to press on G. B. a settlement of the great questions of free goods & free sailors in neutral vessels, blockades, contraband of war &ca. He recollects that a letter to you some years ago sketched the grounds on which the principle that free ships free goods might even then claim as de jure to be a law of nations, and in the present state of the world, with the prospect of an American navy which will equal hers in a few years, she can no longer hope to continue mistress of the seas. The trident, if there be one, must pass to this Hemisphere, where it may be hoped it will be less abused than it has been on the other. The effects of a due reform of Belligerent claims on the Ocean will change essentially the relations between them and neutrals; and make the latter, not the former, the gainers in time of war. On the subject of Blockades a communication of the British Govt. brought by Mr. Merry came fully up to our demands. It resulted from our protest against a spurious blockade of the islands of Martinique & Gaudaloupe by Admiral Duckworth. The case merits a resort for an explanation of it to the records & files in the department of State. Mrs. M. with her niece & son beg to be united in the expression of all the good wishes felt at Montpellier for yourself & Miss Ingersoll

J. C. Payne


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