Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, 10 October 1801

From the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

Philadelphia, 10 October 1801. The memorial of the Chamber of Commerce represents that ships “cruizing under Spanish Colors” threaten the extinction of American trade with Mediterranean ports. According to recent information, a number of American-owned ships have been captured and taken into the port of Algeciras, including three vessels from Philadelphia and one from Baltimore with a combined value of more than $400,000. Even if the courts free the ships, the captors have taken “a considerable amount” of property from the vessels and “grossly abused and ill-treated” the crews and passengers. Americans do little trade at Gibraltar, but the United States has advised the masters of merchant vessels to assemble at that port to sail in convoy under protection from “the Barbary Corsairs.” The merchants of Philadelphia have received no notice of a blockade of Gibraltar “as is usually given, by Nations acting with good faith to each other.” Ships that do not put into that port except in distress or to meet their convoys, and which have “fair & clear” papers, should not be molested. The merchants hope that the president “will take such Measures thereon, as the nature and Importance of the Case, may, in his opinion, require.”

RC (DNA: RG 76, Claims against Spain); 4 p.; at head of text: “To Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States”; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Thomas FitzSimons as president of the Chamber of Commerce. Tr (DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); in a clerk’s hand; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Foreign Relations, 2:441. Enclosed in a letter from FitzSimons to Madison, 10 Oct. 1801, discussing the problems caused by the seizures of American ships; FitzSimons enclosed letters from owners of captured vessels and asked Madison to bring the papers to TJ’s attention (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 2:168–9).

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