James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Delafield, 5 July 1805 (Abstract)

From John Delafield, 5 July 1805 (Abstract)

§ From John Delafield. 5 July 1805, New York. “In behalf of the United Insurance Company in the City of Newyork, I have the honor to transmit to you an account of Captures illegally made by certain french Privateers, of property insured by the said Company.1 We have no reason to believe that the property was ever condemned by any competent tribunal, on the contrary we apprehend the same was converted to the private use of the Captors, without the form of a judicial proceeding.

“Captures of a similar nature having frequently occurred, the United Insurance Company have felt it their duty to transmit to the Government of the United States a correct Statement of the circumstances, accompanying the violation of our Neutral Commerce, and a full detail of the Facts will be found in the enclosed Documents. They confide in the wisdom & justice of Government to adopt all necessary measures for their indemnity for past injuries, and for their security against future ones of a similar nature.”2

RC (DLC: Causten-Pickett Papers, box 7); Tr and enclosures (DNA: RG 46, President’s Messages, 9A–E3). RC 2 pp. Undated; date assigned based on the date of the Tr; docketed by Wagner as received 9 July 1805, with his note: “French & Spanish Union Insurance Company of New York’s losses.” Tr dated 5 July 1805; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:768–69.

1The enclosures have not been found, but they probably included the list of captures by French privateers filed with the Tr (4 pp.; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:767–68) that described the amounts paid out by the company for the Almy, Crowe, the Andromache, Heckle, the Eagle, Barber, the Hector, Harding, the Polly, Bigley, and the Twins, Crowe. Details of the cases are in Williams, French Assault on American Shipping, 51, 58, 123, 176, 286, 346.

2On 11 July 1805 JM replied: “I have duly received your letter enclosing documents respecting several captures, made by French privateers, of property insured by the company of which you are President. As far as they may support the measures deemed necessary to be taken in order to procure a general arrangement for restitution and the means of security against a repetition of similar aggressions, these documents are properly deposited in the Department of State; but it is necessary that you should bear in mind that the judicial pursuit of the captors and their sureties, as far as practicable, may prove a precaution not to be safely neglected” (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 15; 1 p.).

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