James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Rufus King, 21 July 1802 (Abstract)

§ From Rufus King

21 July 1802, London. Explains an item in his contingent account relating to the publication of Robinson’s admiralty reports.1 Decisions of British prize courts are not published by the government. Observes that although it is a “pretty general opinion” that Great Britain “administers the Law of Nations in matters of prize with great rigour, Englishmen have uniformly asserted that these Tribunals have manifested greater moderation” than those of any other nation. When Sir William Scott2 was appointed judge of the High Court of Admiralty, King persuaded the government to allow the admiralty cases to be reported and published so as to end this “Disagreement.” Believed that publication would give “this important branch of public Law, a fixed character in place of the uncertain and contentious Reputation it has hitherto possessed.” Since anticipated demand was not sufficient to defray expense, he subscribed for fifty copies; has sent them to the State Department, except for a few copies he distributed to U.S. ministers in Europe. Hopes with this explanation the expense will meet the president’s approval. Expects an appendix to be published containing examples of all documents used in the prize courts.

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