James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Newton, 4 September 1805 (Abstract)

From Thomas Newton, 4 September 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Thomas Newton. 4 September 1805, Norfolk. “I have made inquiry after Mr Jas McHenry in this place & Portsmouth & can hear nothing of him. Mr Ashley a respectable Merch⟨ant⟩; of this place informd me that Mr McHenry would not Act as Agent at Jamaica & that he ha⟨d⟩; forwarded his commission to you:1 from the accounts I have heard there are a vast number of our Citizen⟨s⟩; impressed at that Island, our vessels are taken & al⟨l⟩; the Crew forced into the Brittish service from report. A vessel belonging to this place was taken & Condem’d with her Cargo as Spanish property when she had never been in a Spanish port, but wholly own’d here. You will have this case laid before you, when you’l see the injustice done to us. I can see no other way of getting our men which [illegible] are impressed but by sending an American Agent, in a vessel to demand & bring them away, as they can not get passages home & if they should it is probable they will be again pressed by some other Man ⟨o⟩;f War & as to a Brittish subject acting as an Agent it will have little effect & make him live, very uncomfortably, with the officers of the Governmen⟨t⟩; Ships of War.”2

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML). 2 pp.

1JM had been informed of James M. Henry’s disinclination to go to Jamaica but had written to him on 20 July 1805 in an attempt to persuade Henry to accept the post.

2On 13 Sept., Newton wrote again, saying, “the first letter you sent to Mr McHenry was delivered him & I understood from Capt Ashly that he would not take the office of Agent. Two packets are here for him, from yr department. I have made every inquiry, without obtaining any knowledge where he is. We never shall obtain our impressed men until a vessel is sent for the purpose of bringing them home, as soon as they get Clear of one ⟨s⟩;hip they are taken by another. The Centaur & some other Ships, who have many of our men, are now at Halifax I have heard dismasted in a gale” (DNA: RG 59, ML; 1 p.).

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