James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Fontaine Maury, 2 January 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Fontaine Maury

2 January 1805, New York. “In the month of November last I received a Consignment of Coffee from Baltimore, the duties on which amounted to upwards $2400 dollars & Sold it for Exportation, intending to reserve for my friend the advantage of the Drawback, but not knowing that it was necessary to reenter the Same, at the Custom House here, untill too late to effect my object, as you will See by the inclosed Copy of my letter to Mr. Gelston (the Collector),1 I have to request the favour of you to be at the trouble of perusing the Same, as well as to peruse a letter written by Mr. Gelston to the Comptroller of the Revenue of the United States, dated on the 24 Novr., to which he has received no reply, & in which he declares every thing attending this business to be perfectly regular, except that I had failed to make the necessary entry at this Custom House, before the Capt of the Vessel in which this Coffee was, commenced landing it. This business being clearly explained in my letter to the Collector, & his to Mr. Duval, & the loss in case it Shall be one, heavy to me, without any possible intention of Fraud or incorrectness, I have only to beg the favor of your interference So far as it may be convenient & proper.”

RC and enclosure (DLC). RC 2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Maury. For the surviving enclosure, see n. 1.

1The enclosure (2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, except for Maury’s complimentary close and signature) is a copy of Maury to David Gelston, 20 Nov. 1804, stating that on 5 Nov. 1804, 380 bags of coffee consigned to him by Christopher Johnston arrived from Baltimore on the Enterprize “with a regular certificate to Secure the drawback.” Maury sold the coffee to another firm for export and on inquiring as to the proper procedure to follow to obtain the drawback was told that all he had to do was take an oath at the customhouse. He went there while the coffee was being unloaded, but “the proper Officer” was busy and asked Maury to return the following day, by which time the coffee was all on shore and no longer eligible for the drawback. Maury asked Gelston to allow the drawback since Maury’s failure to comply with regulations was owing to his own ignorance and the customs official’s unavailability on Maury’s first application.

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