James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Dawson, 12 January 1796

From John Dawson

Rich: Jay 12. 96

Dr Sir!

I am favourd with your letter of the 30th. of the last month.1 I have nothing to give you in return.

There are at this place two British agents purchasing openly horses to take to the W. Indies.2 They get some & want many. Is this right? I hope to see you in the beginning of the next month. Make to Mrs. Madison & recieve yourself my best wishes! Yr.

J Dawson

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1Letter not found.

2British agents were purchasing horses in Virginia for use in an expedition against Saint-Domingue. American merchant ships—protected by a British naval convoy moored in Hampton Roads—were to transport the horses to the West Indies. In response to a protest by Martin Oster, the French consul at Norfolk, Gov. Robert Brooke of Virginia ordered the militia to prevent the departure of the American ships. The presence of impressed American seamen aboard the British flagship aggravated local tensions, and a Norfolk mob ran one of the merchant ships aground. When Secretary of State Pickering informed Brooke of Washington’s determination that the export of the horses was consistent with U.S. neutrality, the governor rescinded his order, and the convoy departed by 21 Feb. (CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , 8:331–51 passim; Brooke to Pickering, 16 and 30 Jan., 4 and 18 Feb. 1796, Pickering to Washington, 30 Jan. and 6 Feb. 1796 [DNA: RG 59, Misc. Letters]; Pickering to Brooke, 29 Jan. and 6 Feb. 1796 [DNA: RG 59, Domestic Letters]).

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