James Madison Papers

From James Madison to the House of Representatives, 31 January 1805

To the House of Representatives

Department of State January 31st. 1805.

The Secretary of State to whom by a resolution of the House of Representatives on the 15th. instant1 was referred the memorial of Stephen Sayre, has the honor to report, as follows:

That he has had the said Memorial and accompanying ⟨doc⟩uments under his consideration, but having no new facts illustrative of the same to lay before the House, he begs leave to refer to those which form the result of the several reports of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Congress Dated 7th. April 1785,2 and of the Secretary of State, Dated 21st. April 1794;3 that from these Documents it sufficiently appears that Mr. Sayre ought to be considered as having been in the service of the Public, as Secretary to Arthur Lee Esqr. on his Mission to Berlin, for four months, computed from the 1st. of May 1777 (being the interval between Mr. Sayre’s appointment and the actual return of Mr. Lee to Paris) with a compensation at the rate of £1000. stg. per annum; in part payment of which he received from the Commissioners at Paris the Sum of 2000 Livres: that his claim to a larger allowance on account of his having remained longer than is above stated at Berlin for the Public benefit and at the request of the Commissioners, being supported only by the kind of proof which he adduces, must necessarily be submitted on its peculiar merits: That the reasonableness of his claim to a remuneration for services of a general nature, after he left Berlin, as it is in the nature of an appeal to the liberality of Congress, can be best appretiated by them on a view of all the circumstances he sets forth and the Species of evidence he adduces to support them. All which is respectfully submitted

James Madison

RC (DNA: RG 233, Reports and Communications from the Secretary of State, 8A–E1); Tr (DNA: RG 233, Transcribed Reports and Communications from the Secretary of State, 5C–B1, 3:327–28; printed in Report of the Secretary of State on the Memorial of Stephen Sayre [Washington, 1805], Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 9629). RC in a clerk’s hand, signed by JM. Torn.

1On Tuesday, 15 Jan. 1805, the House “Ordered, That the Committee of Claims, to whom were referred, on the 18th: ultimo, the memorial of Stephen Sayre, and sundry accompanying documents, be discharged from the consideration thereof; and that the said memorial and documents, be referred to the Secretary of State, with instruction to examine the same, and report his opinion thereon to the House” (1 p.; docketed by Wagner; DNA: RG 59, ML).

2In his 7 Apr. 1785 report, John Jay listed and analyzed Sayre’s several claims and his supporting documents and concluded that Sayre was “entitled to a reasonable Compensation for his Expences and Services while actually employed by the American Commissioners” at Paris. Jay suggested that a copy of his report be sent to Arthur Lee and Benjamin Franklin, asking them to state what Sayre’s compensation should be (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1832–61). description ends , Claims, 81–82).

3Edmund Randolph’s 21 Apr. 1794 report on Sayre stated that although Randolph could not judge legally by the evidence presented that Sayre was entitled to more than four months’ salary, he suggested that the House consider “whether the additional circumstances … place the claim of Mr. Sayre upon more favorable ground” (ibid., 82).

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