James Madison Papers

To James Madison from an Unidentified Correspondent, 15 May 1801 (Abstract)

§ From an Unidentified Correspondent

15 May 1801. “It has been cause of surprise that the Schooner 3 sisters a british privateer sho’d be permitted to refit & arm in the port of Alexandria made now into a snow & peirc’d for 20 guns and ready for sea & takes in flour to cover her destination—this is a hint if the naval officer hath been silent.”1

RC (NHi: Gallatin Papers). 1 p. Unsigned. Dated “May 15th” and postmarked at Alexandria, 17 May; year assigned here on the basis of information in n. 1. Addressed to JM and apparently forwarded by him to Albert Gallatin.

1On 20 May 1801 Gallatin wrote Charles Simms, collector at Alexandria, stating that Jefferson had instructed him to have Simms investigate the report received by the State Department and take the appropriate steps should it prove true (NHi: Gallatin Papers). On 21 May deputy collector Charles Page replied that the ship in question was the British polacre Three Brothers of Gibraltar, “piratically brought into the United States” on or about 5 Aug. 1800, for which the captain and crew were jailed at Richmond; that the vessel had been seized at Alexandria and returned to the owner; that although it had been rerigged as a brig and the hull repaired, its armament had not been increased; and that the ship was destined for Liverpool “with a Cargo of Wheat and Indian Meal” (ibid.).

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