James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Silas Lee, 17 July 1805 (Abstract)

To Silas Lee, 17 July 1805 (Abstract)

§ To Silas Lee.1 17 July 1805, Department of State. “I enclose a Certificate from the Consul at London of an oath taken before him, that the Brig Harry and Jane, said to belong to Portland, has been concerned in the Slave trade.2 If on examining the circumstances of the case you are of opinion that it admits of a prosecution, and after enquiry you are led to believe, that you can be furnished with the evidence necessary to support it, I request you to lose no time in instituting one against every person and thing liable to it.”

Letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 15). 1 p.

1Harvard graduate Silas Lee (1760–1814) was admitted to the Massachusetts bar and served in the state legislature in 1793 and 1797–98. From 1799 to 1801 he was a Federalist in the U.S. House of Representatives. From 1802 until his death he was the federal district attorney for Maine, and from 1805 to 1814 he also served as probate judge.

2For George W. Erving’s report on the Harry & Jane, see Erving to JM, 20 Apr. 1805 (second letter), PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (10 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 9:265. In April 1804 the Harry & Jane, Captain Turner, “arrived at Rio de Janeiro from the river Zaire (Congo) in Africa” (Chandler, “United States Merchant Ships in the Rio de La Plata,” Hispanic American Historical Review 2 [1919]: 37, 39; Chandler, “List of United States Vessels in Brazil,” ibid. 26 [1946]: 609).

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