James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Anthony Merry, 11 June 1805

To Anthony Merry

Department of State June 11th. 1805


I have the Honor to enclose Copies of the Instructions which the President has caused to be issued to the Marshals and Collectors respectively,1 who may have Occasion to execute certain Provisions in the Act “for the more effectual Preservation of Peace in the Ports and Harbours of the United States, and in the Waters under their Jurisdiction,” of which Act a Copy is also enclosed. It is manifest, that in these Instructions, whilst the necessary Measures are to be pursued for enforcing Obedience to the Laws, e<very> Respect which Usage or Delicacy to<wards> friendly Powers can require, is paid <to> their public Ships, and those comma<nding> them. The President persuades himself, Sir, that this is the Light in which <the> Instructions will appear to your Government, and that animated by <a> like Disposition with that of the United States, to cherish in every Respect, a perfect Harmony between the two Countries, the Conduct of the Comma<nders> of its public Ships will be approved <by> it, so far only, as they may render unnecessary a Resort to the co-ercive and penal Provisions of the Act. I have the Honor to be &c.

(Signed) James Madison

Tr and Tr of enclosures (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 5, 45:216–25); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 115, 14:99–104). Tr and Tr of enclosures enclosed in Merry to Mulgrave, 30 June 1805 (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 5, 45:210–14). Conjectured words in angle brackets are taken from the letterbook copy. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted. JM wrote similar letters to Peder Pedersen, Joseph Rademaker, Louis-Marie Turreau, and Carlos Martínez de Yrujo. These letters have not been found but are listed in the index to the notes to foreign legations (DNA: RG 59, Notes to Foreign Ministers and Consuls, vol. 1). For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures (9 pp.) are copies of JM’s 29 May 1805 circular to the governors, his 29 May 1805 circular to the marshals, and Albert Gallatin’s 25 May 1805 circular to collectors (printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 3:340) instructing them to inform the commanders of “public armed vessels” that arrived in U.S. ports that they were now required to report, either verbally or in writing, to the collector’s office the name of the ship, the commander, the country of origin, the force it carried, the port from which it arrived, and the reason it entered the harbor. The collectors were to continue to enforce all state, quarantine, and health laws and they were advised to make an immediate report to Gallatin “in case of refusal or neglect to conform with the regulations prescribed” (ibid.)

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