James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Anthony Merry, 17 October 1805

To Anthony Merry

Department of State October 17th. 1805


I have the Honor to enclose Copies of a Letter from Messrs. Johnston, Pringle and Sherlock of Baltimore, owners of the Schooner Hannah Maria and her Cargo,1 and of the Deposition of Mr. A. S. Thomas of Baltimore referred to therein, exhibiting the Circumstances of the Detention of that Vessel by the British Ship of War Diana. It must be evident that whatsoever might be the Cause or the Pretext, which induced the Capture, the Detention, on board of the Ship of War, of the Supercargo, Master and Crew of the Schooner for so long a Peri⟨od⟩; as is stated in the Letter from the Supercargo, of which a Copy is enclos⟨ed⟩; and the Conversion of her into a Crui⟨zer⟩; before any legal Adjudication took p⟨lace⟩; whereby the Proprietors are debarre⟨d⟩; from the usual Means of vindicating their Rights, are Irregularities with⟨out⟩; Excuse and perhaps without Preced⟨ent⟩; and I am led by the Persuasion th⟨at⟩; you will look upon them to be such, to request for the Parties concerned the Benefit of your Go⟨od⟩; Offices in promoting the Justice which is due to them.2 I have the Honor to be &a.

(Signed) James Madison

Tr (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 5, 45:296–296v); letterbook copy (UkLPR: Foreign Office, ser. 115, 14:142–143). Tr enclosed in Merry to Mulgrave, 2 Nov. 1805 (ibid., ser. 5, 45:293–294v).

2On 25 Oct. 1805 Merry replied: “I have received the Honor of your Letter of the 17th. Instant, with its Inclosures, stating the Circumstances of the Detention of the American Schooner Hannah Maria, and her Cargo, by His Majesty’s Ship Diana.

“I shall not fail, Sir, to avail myself of the earliest Opportunity to transmit Copies of the Papers with which you have been pleased to furnish me respecting this Occurrence to the Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Ships on the Jamaica Station, to which it is probable that the Diana belongs, as well as to His Majesty’s Government, in Case that Ship should be returned to Europe, in order that Inquiry may be made into the Case, and Justice rendered upon it, in the most expeditious Manner” (DNA: RG 59, NFL, Great Britain, vol. 3; 2 pp.; docketed by Wagner as received 27 Oct.). A 2 Oct. 1805 Baltimore newspaper reported that the Hannah Maria had been retaken by the Spanish armed brig Volador and carried into Campeche, Mexico (New-York Gazette & General Advertiser, 5 Oct. 1805).

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