James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Stephen Kingston (Abstract), 11 February 1805

§ From Stephen Kingston

11 February 1805, Philadelphia. “The papers relative to my Claim for Ship Ann & Susan Condemnd at Curacoa, haveing been transmitted by Mr. Fitzsimons Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce to the Department of State,1 Duplicates were sent to Mr. Skipwith, in hopes of redress under the French Convention, but which haveing intirely fail’d, I beg leave to hand Copy of his Letter,2 also of a Letter from Mr. Van Polanan3 Minister from the Batavian Republic, on whom I waited the 30 Septr. 1797 at Princeton with a friend & takeing occasion to enquire the nature of the advice he had given the fiscal? he replied ‘it was to restore or pay for the property, the Government being committed by answers to the Memorials.’

“My present embarasments requireing every aid, allow me Sir, to entreat such information as to the means pursued by the U States in regard to the proceedings at that Island as may direct my further steps herein? and to enquire, if not very favorable result appears probable from such measures, will the Government assist the Claimants in pursuing redress & seeking compensation by their own Agent, to be by them appointed in Holland or in Paris? and in what manner can they hope such beneficial support will be exercised or applied?

“The Loss of above $100,000 Dollrs. within a recent period is attended by difficulties from which I seek relief, & to pay all my own debts, only by the pursuit of my own property according to the Law of Nations & of Judicial proceedings, in which I presume to look with confidence for the Countenance of my Government.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 76, Preliminary Inventory 177, France, entry 143, Unbound Records Relating to Spoliation Claims, ca. 1885, box 15, folder “French Claims, Folder A: Ship Ann & Susan, Captain: Richard West, Owner: Stephen Kingston [No. 205]”). RC 2 pp.; docketed by Wagner. For enclosures, see nn. 2–3.

1See Thomas FitzSimons to JM, 19 Sept. 1803, PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 5:449–50 and n. 1.

2The enclosure (1 p.) is a copy of Fulwar Skipwith’s 16 Dec. 1803 letter to Kingston’s representative Henry Waddell stating that he had examined the papers Waddell left and had found that the Ann & Susan was “positively excluded, by both the letter & spirit of the 4th. & 5th. Arts.” of the Convention of 1800 between the United States and France. For the articles, see Miller, Treaties, description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America (8 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1930–48). description ends 2:459–62.

3Kingston enclosed a copy of an 8 Sept. 1797 letter (1 p.) to him from Roger Gerard van Polanen, Batavian minister to the United States 1796–1802, stating that although Van Polanen was willing to help all Americans whose property was condemned at Curaçao, it was out of his line of duty to interfere with the transactions of that government. He had, however, given his advice on the case to the Curaçao fiscal and hoped it would be followed (PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 3:445–46; Ludwig Bittner and Lothar Gross, eds., Repertorium der diplomatischen Vertreter aller Länder seit dem Westfälischen Frieden [1648] [3 vols.; Berlin, 1936–65], 3:271).

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