James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Dawson, 29 December 1793

From John Dawson

Norfolk 29 Der 1793

Dear Sir

I have this day written a letter to our friend Colo: Monroe relative to the arrival and continuance of a British frigate in this harbour. The contents of this letter I presume he will communicate to you, & if with myself & many in this place you are of opinion that it is a subject that demands serious & immediate attention I am persuaded that you will interest yourself in a business wh may prove very serious to our country.

On the arrival of this vessel application was made by the british councel at this place to the Executive.1 We then learnt that she only wanted water, & a few repairs wh were absolutely necessary for her safety at sea. But we were also of opinion that we had nothing to do with the affair—that it belongd to the fœderal goverment, & to the commander in chief of the militia of State. I wish to know whether a report was made by that officer to the Secy. of State. With real esteem Yr. friend & Ser

J Dawson


1On 27 Nov. HMS Dædalus arrived in Norfolk, as British consul John Hamilton explained to Gov. Henry Lee on 6 Dec., “to have a supply of provisions and some little repair.” The mayor of Norfolk reported that the frigate “has her sails unbent and appears to be repairing her rigging” and assured Lee that “every Step shall be taken to prevent any confusion from the mixture of English and French Seamen.” A French fleet, moored in Hampton Roads, bottled up the Dædalus in port until April 1794 (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , 6:660–61, 673, 7:76, 106).

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