James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Jefferson, 18 November 1804

From Thomas Jefferson

Nov. 18. 04.

Th: J. to J. M.

I send you 2. sheets of my common place, because on the 5. last pages of them are my abridgments of certain Admiralty cases interesting to us, with some observations;1 it will be well that we mutually understand how far we go together, & what consequently we may propose with joint satisfaction. I think the English practice of not requiring a prize to be hazarded further than to the nearest neutral port is so much for the interest of all weak nations that we ought to strengthen it by our example, & prevent that change of practice which Sr. W. Scott seems to be aiming at; evidently swayed by considerations of the interest of his nation.

RC (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

1Jefferson doubtless referred to articles 901–3 of his legal commonplace book, which dealt with the practice of allowing captors to take their prizes into neutral ports rather than requiring them to be taken to ports of a belligerent party while awaiting judgment by the prize courts of the belligerent. This was a practice, disallowed in earlier times, that had latterly been increasingly used by countries at war. In his commonplace book Jefferson recorded some of Sir William Scott’s statements in which Scott seemed to be leaning toward reviving the earlier requirement (DLC: Jefferson Papers, ser. 5; printed in Gilbert Chinard, ed., The Commonplace Book of Thomas Jefferson: A Repertory of His Ideas on Government [Baltimore, 1926], 368–74).

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