James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George W. Erving (Abstract), 24 April 1805

§ From George W. Erving

24 April 1805, London. No. 56. “On the 16th. Instant I received letters from Mr. Monroe dated at Aranjuez on the 12th. of March. Finding that Mr. Purviance’s illness has disabled him from attending to the duties of his station,1 & under an apprehension that the public interests might in some degree suffer by his absence, Mr. Monroe has thought proper to desire me to take charge of our affairs ’till his return, or during Mr. Purviance’s indisposition; and to enable me to act in this trust has transmitted the necessary letters of introduction to Lord Mulgrave the Secretary of State for foreign Affairs.2

“On the 17th. I wrote to Lord Mulgrave requesting an interview, which I obtained on the 20th. when I delivered Mr. Monroe’s letters; with these he expressed himself perfectly satisifed. I was received on this occasion with polite attention; As Lord Mulgrave was at the moment extremely occupied, I did not seek to prolong the interview after the principal object of it was satisfied, & therefore nothing passed between us of sufficient importance to be communicated to you.

“I have the honor herewith to transmit a note3 addressed to me on the 11th. Instant by Baron Jacobi the Prussian Minister at this Court, respecting certain regulations & precautions adopted by his government with a view to prevent the introduction of the Yellow fever into the Prussian Dominions, by vessels arriving thither from the United States. Upon this subject the Baron was referred to me some time since by Mr. Purviance, copies of the notes which passed on that occasion are also inclosed:4 In a conversation which I had with him on the 17th. Instant I learnt that he had transmitted those notes to his government, and I then renewed the assurances which they contain as to the precautions which are taken in the United States to guard against the introduction of the Fever, and its extension in places where it breaks out; and of the credit which shoud be given to our Bills of health.

“I take this first opportunity of transmitting to you two Acts of Parliament which have been lately passed,5 & which may be considered very important to the commercial interests of the United States; The first an Act to continue ’till June 1806 certain commercial regulations of our late treaty with this country, the second an act to continue in force during the war and ’till six months after a definitive treaty, allowing of importations in neutral bottoms from the Spanish Colonies in America for English or American Account under special licence to be granted to British Subjects.6 A third is also inclosed [not found] which sanctions the permissions heretofore given by the Council for importing and exporting to and from Spain in neutral bottoms; These permissions will still be occasionally granted, tho’ the act contains no prospective authority to that effect.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, London, vol. 9). RC 4 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Erving; docketed by Wagner. For surviving enclosures, see nn. 3–5.

1For Purviance’s illness, see Erving to JM, 2 Mar. 1805, and n. 2.

2For Erving’s assignment to act, see Monroe to JM, 21 Mar. 1805.

3The enclosure (3 pp.; in French; docketed by Wagner) is baron Konstans Philipp Wilhelm von Jacobi-Kloest to Erving, 11 Apr. 1805, saying that to prevent the spread of yellow fever Frederick William III had decided to adopt the measures established in Denmark, and that henceforth Prussian ships coming from U.S. ports would have to have passports of health, of which he enclosed a copy (1 p.; in German), from the local consul, Prussian, or in his absence Danish, where the cargo was loaded; U.S. vessels would be required to obtain a certificate of health from their own government as well as the abovementioned passport; all ships from the northern United States without such documents would have to undergo the usual quarantine at Christiansand. Jacobi-Kloest asked Erving to inform the U.S. government of this.

4The enclosures (4 pp.; docketed by Wagner), are copies of (1) Jacobi-Kloest to Erving, 20 Feb. 1805, saying that the Hamburg newspapers reported that yellow fever had extended beyond Charleston to Pennsylvania and the interior of the United States and asking Erving for any information he had about that or about precautions taken by the U.S. government to prevent this spread; (2) Erving to Jacobi-Kloest, 20 Feb. 1805, acknowledging receipt of Jacobi-Kloest’s letter and stating that the reports were presumably false since he had not heard of any yellow fever in Philadelphia and that the disease had never spread from the cities into the U.S. interior, but that he would make particular inquiries among the American merchants in London; (3) Erving to Jacobi-Kloest, 22 Feb. 1805, adding that in all localities where yellow fever had appeared, boards of health were established made up of “respectable inhabitants and Medical Gentlemen” who took measures to prevent its spread and who published accounts of the extent of the disease to prevent alarms created by exaggeration or negligence due to lack of information; (4) Jacobi-Kloest to Erving, 24 Feb. 1805, thanking him for the explanation, enclosing a list of questions from the Prussian government, and asking Erving to correct the English translation and transmit the list to Benjamin Rush, who might be able to provide answers; (5) Erving to Jacobi-Kloest, 26 Feb. 1805, saying he would do so promptly, since Rush was “upon this subject the best authority in the United States”; (6) Jacobi-Kloest to Erving, 27 Feb. 1805, thanking him again and suggesting that it might be better to transmit both the original German list and the translation to Philadelphia, where the German language was so well known that a proper comparison might be made between them; and (7) Erving to Jacobi-Kloest, 1 Mar. 1805, saying that he would transmit both to Rush. For Erving’s probable earlier transmissions of the correspondence, see Erving to JM, 2 Mar. 1805, and nn. 1–3.

5The enclosures are printed copies (4 pp.; marked “1” and “3,” respectively; docketed by Wagner as enclosed in Erving’s 24 Apr. 1805 dispatch; filed at 18 May 1805) of (1) the 10 Apr. 1805 “Act to continue, until the First Day of June One thousand eight hundred and six, and amend an Act, passed in the Thirty-seventh Year of His present Majesty’s Reign, for carrying into Execution the Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, between His Majesty and the United States of America,” which acknowledged that the commercial provisions of the Jay treaty had expired but continued them with the imposition of certain lately passed duties (45 Geo. 3, c. 35, printed in Tomlins et al., Statutes of the United Kingdom, 2:364), and (2) the “Act to make valid certain Licences granted by virtue of an Order in Council for allowing the Importation and Exportation of certain Goods and Merchandize from and to Spain in Neutral Vessels; and for indemnifying all Persons concerned in advising such Order, or granting or acting under such Licences” passed on 10 Apr. 1805 (45 Geo. 3, c. 33, printed ibid., 363).

6“To be granted to British Subjects” is interlined here in Erving’s hand. This referred to the 10 Apr. 1805 “Act to permit the Importation of Goods and Commodities from Countries in America belonging to any Foreign European Sovereign or State in Neutral Ships, during the present War, and until Six Months after the Ratification of a Definitive Treaty of Peace” (45 Geo. 3, c. 34, printed ibid., 364).

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