James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Field, 14 August 1804 (Abstract)

§ From John Field1

14 August 1804, Philadelphia. “I take the liberty of inclosing a Letter [not found] lately received from F. Skipwith Esqr american Consul at Paris on the Subject of Claims on the F Government & my reply,2 the perusal of which will explain the occasion of this address.

“I do not wish to indulge injurious suspicions respecting the conduct of any person, & especially those in whom our Government has placed confidence—but so many things have been said to the disadvantage of our Consul at Paris, that in combining them with appearances that may be discovered in his communication my mind is laid under a load of anxiety from which I know of no better way to procure relief than to lay matters before those appointed to watch over & guard the interests of the Citizens of the U.S.

“If others should represent their situation, & it should appear that my apprehensions are well founded it may induce our executive to interpose its influence to prevent undue preferences & no doubt the subject will be attended to accordingly.

“If thou would indulge me with information of what papers & notes are in thy office relating to the Case in question & thy advice on this occasion it would be very acceptable.”3

RC and enclosure (DLC: Causten-Pickett Papers, box 13). RC 1 p.; docketed by Wagner, with his notation: “Answd. him as to the papers & notes in the office.” For surviving enclosure, see n. 2.

1John Field was a Philadelphia Quaker merchant (Crane et al., Diary of Elizabeth Drinker, 3:2147).

2The enclosure is a copy of Field to Fulwar Skipwith, 13 Aug. 1804 (3 pp.), acknowledging receipt of Skipwith’s letter of 6 May 1804 about Field’s claim against the French for a cargo seized at Leghorn. Field enumerated the many documents sent in support of his claim and complained that Skipwith’s request for further evidence looked “something like a preconcerted intention to render those Claims of no avail.” He requested that Skipwith use all the evidence at hand “to strengthen my Claims if necessary & prosecute them with attention.”

3On 23 Aug. 1804 Jacob Wagner wrote Field that on searching the office files, he had found “two official letters from Mr. Fellechi, late our Consul there [Leghorn], dated in July and September of the same year [1796] fully detailing the circumstances of the seizure and intimating that he had advised Mr. Monroe, then our Minister at Paris, of the occurrence: and also there is on record a letter written by the Secretary of State, at the instance of Messrs. Ketland of Philadelphia, to our Envoys to France, dated 15 July 1797, enclosing sundry papers furnished by Messrs. Ketland together with copies of Mr. Fellechi’s letter as above referred to” (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 14).

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