James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Lee (Abstract), 20 April 1805

§ From William Lee

20 April 1805, Bordeaux. “I beg leave to transmit you a copy of my correspondence with Mr Skipwith respecting the Imprisonment at this port of disorderly American Seamen.”1

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Bordeaux, vol. 2). RC 1 p.; docketed by Wagner. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures (7 pp.) are copies of (1) Fulwar Skipwith to Lee, 28 Mar. 1805, stating that he had received a petition from seven American seamen in Bordeaux complaining that they had been arrested and imprisoned on Lee’s orders because they refused to serve on board ships in which Lee was “individually interested” and asking Lee to explain the case; (2) an extract from Lee to Skipwith, 2 Apr. 1805, stating that the petition was the work of the same “forecastle lawyers” who had originated a petition against Lee that the brokers and the Chamber of Commerce had sent to Robert R. Livingston, that there were at any given time in the vicinity of Bordeaux fifteen to twenty American deserters, who were hiding until they could embark on French privateers, that he had found it necessary to pay the French police “six francs per head for every run away sailor” they brought him, and that, although he had bought and sold several vessels on speculation, he had fitted out none since his residence in France; (3) a “Memorandum of the Causes of the Imprisonment of those sailors who petitioned to Mr Skipwith,” listing the men’s ships, captains, and the causes for their detention, which included arson, desertion, seduction of others to desertion, theft, refusal to perform duties, and enlistment on privateers; and (4) Skipwith to Lee, 10 Apr. 1805, stating that he had shown Lee’s letter and the enclosed memorandum to John Armstrong “who expresses intire approbation of your conduct.”

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