From Benjamin Stoddert
Nav Dep 26th March 1801
I have the honor to enclose a list1 of the French Vessels, captured since the 1st Octr last, & brought into the ports of the United States. There are no documents in this office to shew whether these vessels have been condemned in our courts, or otherwise,2 except the Berceau,3 which has been condemned, sold, & purchased by the Public, & is now ordered to be restored, under the Treaty.
I have written to the Clerks of the different District Courts of the United States for an account of such vessels, as had been captured prior to the 1st. Octr but not finally condemned on that day. Several Vessels I have no doubt are included in this discription, which have been since sold, & therefore cannot be restored, but the money which they may have produced, can be, & this I presume will satisfy the Treaty.
A question will arise, & unless it be soon determined, will create some embarrassment & much uneasiness among the officers & crews of our ships, whether the Captors shall lose their shares of the prize money, arising from such captured vessels, as are to be restored.
I made an effort, to get an appropriation made by Congress, to settle this question, & wrote to both the Chairman of the Committee on Naval affairs—& the Chairman of the Committee on ways & means, the latter of which I do myself the honor to enclose a copy.4 Neither of the Gentlemen, however, paid the least attention to the subject, & I beleive under an idea, that next session would be time enough. I have the honor to be with great respect sir yr mo Obed Sert