James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Savage, 24 March 1801

From William Savage, 24 March 1801

Kingston Jamaica March 24th: 1801.


The preceeding is a Copy of my last respects, ⟨si⟩nce which I am without any of your favors.

Lord Hugh Seymour in his letters to me of the & 8th. February assures me that the persons whose ⟨n⟩ames have been represented to him as American Subjects ⟨s⟩hall be liberated if their persons answer the description given. ⟨H⟩e further assures me upon enquiry no person by the name ⟨of⟩ James Hughes is on board the Squadron under His ⟨co⟩mmand. William Morley Keeling, Nathaniel Rutland Abraham Rutland, Alexander Washburn, & Benjamin Littlefield with Zachariah Bond have been liberated & ⟨I⟩ have every reason to believe all that can be found ⟨a⟩mong the Several lists transmitted have been liberated.

On the 24th. Ultimo I received a letter from His Lordship Copy of which I beg leave to transcribe


“It haveing been my desire to releive with as much dispatch as is consonant with the Justice to the Public Service as well as to the Individuals, such Ame⟨rican⟩ Seamen as are serving in this Squadron under my Comma⟨nd⟩ you will easily believe that I feel some regret at having been obliged to change my plan in consequence of an American Schooner having been employed at Kingston in receiving Deserters from His Majestys Ships.

The officer of the Surprize boat previous to that ⟨Ship⟩ Sailing found two of her Deserters headed up in Casks, w⟨hile⟩ a Third jumped over board from her & swam to the Shore ⟨in⟩ his view

The Departure of the Surprise will for some tim⟨e⟩ delay the prosecution of the Master of the Vessell, but a⟨s⟩ I must complain of this conduct to the Government of America when fully master of the circumstances of this extraordinary outrage which requires satisfaction, I shall defer discharging any more claim’d as Subjects of the Unit⟨ed⟩ States of America, but when the application for their ⟨re⟩lease pass through the Hands of His Majestys Minister ⟨near⟩ that country”

Signed H Seymour

I had two days before the receipt of this Letter been ⟨ap⟩plied to by the Captn. of the American Vessell to interfere ⟨fo⟩r his Mate who was taken with the Deserters. I ⟨re⟩monstrated against the great impropriety of the measure I found the facts the master acknowledged was very ⟨si⟩milar to what is afterwards set forth by His Lordship ⟨an⟩d peremptorily declin’d, as I then thought and still ⟨th⟩ink the Mate deserved the treatment he met with for ⟨so⟩ manifest a violation of the Law, & in so doing I trust ⟨yo⟩u will approve of my Conduct.

After receiving His Lordship’s Letter I considered ⟨m⟩yself called on to Investigate this Case, which I did & on a very particular examination of the Master it ⟨ap⟩pear’d evident that He was on shore & by no means privy ⟨to⟩ the business. On this I immediately formed a very long ⟨an⟩d special affidavit stating all the Master knew and ⟨the⟩n waited on His Lordship with the same who received me very politely. Upon arguing the Business I observed to him under existing circumstances, I flatter’d myself that the Affidavit & what I personally communicated would operate to take away any doubts in his mind & trusted he was convinced of the Masters innocence. He was pleased to say every thing appear’d candid & I am convinced He is satisfied of the Masters innocen⟨ce⟩

In consequence of this Business I assembled at m⟨y⟩ office every American Master and requested their Seriou⟨s⟩ attention to this Business & pointed out what would be the consequence if any thing of the kind took place, wh⟨ich⟩ I have reason to think has a very happy effect. I have the pleasure to inform you all American Sea⟨men⟩ who have my protection are immediately liberated and I have personally & by letter assured His Lordship that I shall at all times be exceedingly correct to whom I give protections.

During Admiral Parker being on this Station ⟨I⟩ have often been in imminent danger of my life from armed Men in rescuing American Seamen by virt⟨ue⟩ of my Commission as a Magistrate in this community and I have to assure you that the emolument of my ⟨o⟩ffice does not exceed Twelve Hundred Dollars ⅌ annum My predecessor Cap Talbot if I am rightly informed had between Two & Three Thousand Dollars annually. As I have ⟨n⟩ever received any thing by way of Salary, under these ⟨ci⟩rcumstances & particularly in a Country where every ⟨n⟩ecessary of life are four times what they are in Ameri⟨ca I⟩ beg leave to solicit the favor of you to state this to His Excellency the President of the United States who I ⟨tr⟩ust will consider my services entitled to some pecuniary ⟨s⟩um. My time from Eight in the Morning to near ⟨F⟩our o Clock every day except Sundays is taken up in ⟨t⟩he various dutys of my office & I am continually ⟨ca⟩lled on by unfortunate people for advice, protections ⟨&⟩ other matters that occasionally occur for which I ⟨ne⟩ver obtain a Farthing With Great Respect Your ob Servt.

Wm. Savage

Agent for U. S. of America

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