Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 16 August 1803

To James Madison

Monticello Aug. 16. 03.

Dear Sir

Your favor of the 13th. came to hand yesterday. I now return Paine’s Duane’s, Lear’s, Simpson’s & Toulman’s letters, and the two protests on impressment by a British and a French armed vessel. I am glad of the latter, as it will serve as a set-off against French complaints on the British trespasses on us. but the former is an afflicting subject. with every disposition to render them all justifiable services, I fear they will put our patience to the proof. their making our ports also stations for cruising from will require regulation. it seems to me that we shall be obliged to have a battery or two in our principal seaports, and to require armed vessels to lie under them, while they are using our ports for repairs or supplies, the only legitimate purposes of entering them. Toulman’s application is at least premature. I presume Congress will enlarge the Indian fund and authorise us to send embassies to the Indian tribes of Louisiana, who may at the same time explore the country and ascertain it’s geography. those large Western rivers of the Misipi & Missouri whose heads form the contour of the Louisiana territory ought to be known. I think Duane’s zeal merits tenderness and satisfaction, while his precipitancy makes him improper to be considered as speaking the sense of the government. with respect to Clarke’s application for a consulship at Embden, I am for holding our hand as to new Consular establishments, and letting a great proportion of those existing drop with the first occasion. their number has obliged us to be very little choice in the characters appointed, and I fear they will degrade our national character. Accept my affectionate salutations and assurances of constant esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

P.S. I inclose for your perusal a letter from Cork on the same subject of the impressment of our seamen.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State.” PrC (DLC). Enclosures: (1) See Enclosures Nos. 1-6 listed at Madison to TJ, 13 Aug. (2) Reuben Harvey to TJ, 3 June. For other enclosures, see below.

The first of the two protests was a complaint by Louis André Pichon about the British navy’s use of ports in the United States; see Madison to TJ, 13 Aug. The other protest may have been from Edward Thornton about armed vessels outfitted at Philadelphia. Although the arms were nominally for protection against rebels along the coast of Saint-Domingue, Thornton asserted that one of the vessels was “commanded by a Frenchman capable of any abandoned enterprize.” Madison refused to order the detention of the vessels, explaining that the ships were not owned by French citizens or intended for illicit purposes (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:158-60, 215-16).

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