James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Monroe, 4 April 1805

To James Monroe

Department of State April 4th. 1805


Mr George W. Murray, whose cargo shipped on board of the Active of Philada was condemned in January last, by the Judge of the Vice Admiralty at Antigua, considering the condemnation as particularly oppressive, has requested that his case might be recommended to your patronage. It seems, that a residence he formerly had in France, for a particular purpose, was considered by the Court of Admiralty and Court of Appeals as constituting him a domiciliated Frenchman, and some former adventures of his were accordingly condemned, as mentioned in 2 Robinson’s reports, in the case of the Harmony. Bool.1 Though the Commissioners under the 7th Article of the British Treaty on reviewing the question of his domicil freed him from the effect of the former decisions, though his residence in France had been discontinued for an interval of years including that of a Peace, and though he was not more than a few weeks in France when last there and for the special and transitory business only in question, the Judge at Antigua has not scrupled to pronounce the original disqualification for carrying on neutral commerce as continuing to affect him.2 If you can render a service to Mr Murray by any proper interposition which would abridge the usual delay before a decision from the Court of Appeals, or in any other manner, I beg you will do it, on the ground that it is considered a case of particular hardship. I have the honor to be &c

James Madison

Letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, IM, vol. 6).

1English-born American George William Murray’s prolonged stay in France caused the British Admiralty Court to judge him domiciled there and to affirm the condemnation of his share of the cargo of the Harmony on 16 Jan. 1800 (Robinson, Admiralty Reports [London ed., 1799–1808], 2:322, 325–42).

2Judge Edward Byam’s 11 Jan. 1805 decree in the Antigua vice-admiralty court condemned the cargo of the Active on the grounds that Murray had been adjudged a resident of France in 1800, that the judgment had been affirmed by the Admiralty lords in 1803, and that Murray had not since then behaved in a way that would make it seem he had abandoned “the National Character” then assigned him because he had again returned to Holland and France to conduct business (1 p.; DNA: RG 76, Preliminary Inventory 177, Great Britain, entry 180, Treaty of 1794 [Art. VII], British Spoliations, 1794–1824, Unsorted Papers, box 1, folder A; Robinson, Admiralty Reports, [London ed., 1799–1808], 6:ix). Filed with the decree are Murray’s 27 Mar. 1805 deposition (4 pp.) before Washington County, D.C., justice of the peace Thomas Corcoran of the facts of his background and of the seizure of the Active, and his 1 Jan. 1805 testimony at the trial in Antigua (3 pp.).

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