James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Albert Gallatin, 14 June 1801

From Albert Gallatin

June 14th 1801

Dr Sir

I enclose the papers relative to Priestmann’s case.1 The bearer is Mr Priestmann himself. The papers marked 1. 2. 3 belong to this office and are to be returned.

If the Secy. of the Treasy., after Mr Wolcott’s decision, had still a power to act, I would not hesitate to remit the whole forfeiture as well the part belonging to the informer as that belonging to the U. States. But the previous decision of the former Secy. precludes my having any authority in the case.

The President has agreed to grant a pardon. Shall that extend to the remission of the informer’s share? I have not the least hesitation in saying that, if the President’s power extends so far it ought to be exercised in this instance. Read the statement of facts & certificate of Judge Peters annexed to & at end of paper No. 1. Why Mr W. refused to remit is inconceivable. But the question is whether the President has power or not. I thought Upon a first impression that he had not & wrote him so. Mr Steele,2 (see paper No. 2) seems to think otherwise. I wish you Would investigate the case; for I do know this to be a persecution case. Mr Priestmann is an Englishman, rather eccentric & one of his eccentricities consists in lending money to republicans. This he had done in favor of some persecuted & obnoxious ones. And I have had no doubt these two years, still less since I have seen the papers, that this was the true cause of the No Remission OW endorsed on paper No. 1. This perhaps is judging with too much severity; but I do not believe myself mistaken. Your’s sincerely

Albert Gallatin

It is understood that the costs & Mr Rawle’s fee must be excepted out of the remission. At all events the U. States must lose nothing.

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