James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Anthony Merry, 22 November 1804

To Anthony Merry

Department of State November 22nd. 1804.


I have the Honor to inclose a Copy of the Deposition of William Brown,1 Master of the Brigantine Argus of New Haven in Connecticut, stating that his Mate Joseph Trowbridge has been impressed by Captain Timothy Clinch of the British public armed Brig Busy. By that Deposition, as well as a Certificate of the Collector of New-Haven, a Copy of which is inclosed,2 no Room is left to doubt that Mr. Trowbridge is a Native and Citizen of the United States. Without remarking at present upon the peculiar Enormity of impressing, without regard to the most satisfactory Proof of his Citizenship and Station, the Officer of a Vessel on whose Skil⟨l⟩ and Care, in case of Accident to the Master, ⟨her⟩ Safety would essentially depend, I beg Leave ⟨to⟩ request your Intervention to procure his Release, not doubting that, when you are informed that Mr. Trowbridge is represen⟨ted⟩ to me as belonging to a Family of Respectab⟨ility⟩ in his native Town, whom his Misfortun⟨e⟩ ⟨has⟩ plunged in the deepest Affliction, your Benevolence will not fail to adopt the mos⟨t⟩ certain, as well as prompt, Means of restori⟨ng⟩ him to his Liberty. I have the Honor to be, &c⟨a.⟩

(signed)   James Madison

Tr and Tr of enclosures (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 5, 42:279–82); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 115, 12:241). Tr enclosed in Merry to Harrowby, 3 Dec. 1804 (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 5, 42:277–78). Words and parts of words in angle brackets, obscured by binding in the Tr, are supplied from the letterbook copy. For enclosures (5 pp.), see nn.

1In his 14 Nov. 1804 deposition, certified by notary Dyer White, Brown stated that the Argus had left New Haven for the West Indies on 20 July 1804; that after stopping at Barbados and Tobago, he was bound for St. Vincent’s when on 3 Sept. the ship was stopped and boarded by the Busy; and that in spite of Trowbridge’s protection and other documents, Clinch had impressed Trowbridge and sailed away.

2In his 14 Nov. 1804 statement, Abraham Bishop certified that Joseph Trowbridge, who was personally known to Bishop “as a Native and Inhabitant of the City of ⟨New⟩ Haven,” had received a protection as a U.S. citizen from Bishop’s office on 29 Mar. 1804.

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