James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Simons, 18 November 1803

To James Simons

Department of State 18th. Novr. 1803.


I have received your letter of the 31st. Octr., two of the 3d. and another of the 8th. of this month.1 The British Treaty except the first ten articles having expired on the 1st. of October last,2 all your deductions from it are misapplied.

With respect to Privateirs and their prizes entering the port of Charleston, you will in lieu of that Treaty strictly observe the provisions of the 25th. Art. of the Convention with France of the 30th. September 1800,3 with respect as well to England as to France; impartiality requiring that the same restrictions should be imposed on both. The enlistment of Foreigners on board of Vessels of their own Nation being permitted to a certain extent by the 1st. Section of the act of the 5th. of June 1794,4 it is not to be forbidden until other provisions take place. The prevention of contests and irregularities arising from the admission of privateersmen into the City of Charleston is a subject for the consideration of those alone who have the legal regulation of its police. By remaining in port the Telegraph altho’ she has made a prize, violates no rule of neutrality.5 If on the other hand either that Vessel or the Nancy6 has violated to [sic] the 4th. Section of the act above referred to,7 by increasing their warlike equipments, you will immediately report the facts to the District Attorney, and the Governor of the state, in order that they may sevorally take such steps as the nature of the case requires, and as are incident to their respective functions. The Nancy it would seem has been guilty of another sort of infraction by taking a station in the waters of the United States in order to make captures. You will also report to the Governor the facts relating to this latter subject. Neither of these Vessels being privateers they do not fall within the purview of the French Convention, but are subject nevertheless to the laws and rules founded upon our neutral duties as already transmitted and explained by the Treasury Department to Officers of the Customs. The enclosed rules are those which are to be observed with respect to repairs which may be necessary to be made upon privateers and their prizes. The laws are destributed among the Officers of the Revenue by the Treasury Department. The rules enclosed respect, in their form, only French prizes; but they are to be adapted to all prizes to privateers; and the repairs allowable to the latter in case of absolute necessity may be regulated by an anology deducible from them. I am &c.

James Madison.

The rules enclosed are those contained in the Circular letter of the Treasury Department to the Collectors of 26th. Novr. 1796.8

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