James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John J. Murray, 26 August 1802 (Abstract)

§ From John J. Murray

26 August 1802, Glasgow. Reports problems carrying out the law of 2 Mar. 1799 regulating the collection of duties on imports and tonnage.1 Some captains consider it a hardship to travel to Glasgow from Greenock “for the sole purpose of taking & subscribing the Oaths required before me.” Believes they have no grounds for refusal, as neither Greenock nor Port Glasgow “is above two hours by Land or Water Conveyance from this place.” Encloses a notice he has circulated to importers in the Clyde River. “Should you sir disapprove of my construction of the Law quoted be pleased to signify the same—if not,… to prevent irregularities in future, will you be good enough to guard the Collectors particularly against the injustice pointed at.” Expresses doubts about the claims to American citizenship made by some owners of American vessels and asks two questions: if a foreigner becomes an American citizen but after some years returns to his native land with the intention to remain and a fortune earned in the U.S., is he an American citizen and can he own American vessels?2 If not, would establishing a mercantile house in the U.S. enable him to own American vessels during his residence out of the U.S.?3

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