James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Nathan Sanford, 2 July 1804

From Nathan Sanford

New York 2nd. July 1804.


On the 21st. Ultimo I received information from the Collector of this port that John Squire an officer of the Customs had been forcibly resisted in the exicution of his duty by a party of armed men belonging to the Cambrian and Driver two British Ships of War.

On the 22d. ultimo I applied to the Judge of the District upon Mr. Squire’s affidavit for a Warrant against the offenders, and on the next day the Judge issued his Warrant against Lieut. Pigott of the Cambrian. The Warrant was immediately delivered to the Marshal. The inclosed statement furnished by Mr. Swartwout1 exhibits the attempts which were made by him to exicute the Warrant and the reasons why he failed to do it. I also inclose a copy of Mr. Squire’s affidavits.2 As the laws of the United States have been thus violated by the armed force of a foreign power I have thought it my duty to make this communication to you. I have the honor to be &c.

(signed)   Nathan Sanford

Tr and Tr of enclosures (DNA: RG 59, ML); Tr and Tr of enclosures (PRO: Foreign Office, ser. 5, 42:114–19). For enclosures, see nn.

1The statement of John Swartwout, marshal of the district of New York, 2 July 1804 (4 pp.), described his attempts to execute the warrant on Lieutenant Pigot of the British frigate Cambrian. He stated that on 24 June 1804 after boarding the ship, he spoke with Captain Bradley, who, in Pigot’s absence, promised that the lieutenant would be at the British consulate the next day. When Pigot failed to arrive, Swartwout attempted to board the Cambrian again but was refused entry.

2John Squire’s deposition, 22 June 1804 (3 pp.), related his attempt, as a customs officer and first lieutenant of the U.S. revenue cutter Vigilant, to inspect the British merchantman Pitt. He testified that on 17 June 1804 he had been forcibly prevented from boarding the ship and cursed by Lieutenant Pigot, the commander of a group of armed sailors from the Cambrian and Driver.

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