James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard Söderström, 10 August 1801

From Richard Söderström

Philadelphia 10th Augst 1801


I have received the Letter you have honored me with, dated the 23rd Ulto.1 I was well aware that the Executive of the United States could not pay the indemnities claimed by the Danish Subjects, untill appropriations were made by the Legislature for that purpose. I thought however that in the mean time the principles applying to each particular Case might have been agreed upon & the damages liquidated in some amicable mode, as is frequently done in Europe, and has been practised by the American Government while the present President was Secretary of State, particularly in the Case of the William.2 No one can feel a higher respect than I do for the universally acknowledged learning & integrity of the Judges of the United States, at the same time I cannot help considering it as a peculiar hardship for His Danish Majesty’s Subjects to be compelled to have recourse to tedious & expensive judicial proceedings, when the United States have it in their power a more easy method of doing Justice, and I hope you will forgive me Sir, if I presume to differ with you as to the point of general usage, in this particular.

At the same time I am fully sensible that it ⟨is⟩ my duty to submit to the determination which the Government of the United States has made upon this Subject, altho’ my doing so will be attended with considerable hardship & difficulty, particularly in the Case of Captain Maley, who I understand is not only insolvent, but absent from the United States.

I presume, however, that the Government of the United States will have no objection to facilitate my obtaining Justice in the mode which they have chosen, by instructing Mr Attorney for the Pennsylvania District, or if they think proper, Mr Attorney for the District of Columbia, to appear for the United States and defend the Suits I may think proper to institute for the several Claimants. Should they accede to this proposal, I am sure that they will not lengthen the proceedings by unnecessary appeals, but that the matters in variance will be settled in as short a time, as the judicial mode of investigation will admit of.

I beg you will honor me with an answer to this part of my Letter, that I may determine without loss of time on the Course which I shall have to pursue. I have the honor to be with great respect & high consideration Sir Your most Obedt Servt.

Richd: Söderström

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