James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Sylvanus Bourne, 5 May 1801

From Sylvanus Bourne, 5 May 1801

Amsm. May 5h. 1801.


Inclosing you the Leyden Gazette of this date I avail myself of the opportunity to express to you my regret at finding by the Gazettes of our Country, that the memorial which I had the honor to transmit your Predecessor last fall in behalf of the Consuls of the U States, has not met with the expected success in Congress, which I think must have resulted from a misapprehension of the nature & object of our request on the part of Govt. as I see by the papers ⟨refered⟩ to that it was regarded as an exclusive prayer for having a salary attached to the Consular Appointment  a reference however to the letters & papers accompanying the memorial will tend to prove that the mode of compensation for our services was left entirely to the discretion & wisdom of Govt. & that the grant of a Consular fee on vessells according to their tonnage was more particularly expected to be allowed than any stipulated sums by way of Salary from the public Chest, & I can not but yet flatter myself that on a review of the arguments on which our applic⟨ation⟩ is founded, joined to a sense of the justice & proprie⟨ty⟩ of the thing that Govt. will in course of next yea⟨r⟩ be disposed to make some more favorable arra⟨nge⟩ment for the support & protection of their Cons⟨uls⟩ especially when the fact is duly appretiated ⟨of⟩ their being considered to have forfeited their ⟨Rights⟩ & priviliges of Amn. Citizens by their Resid⟨ence⟩ in a Country which happens to be at war with another, their property thereby Subject to Con⟨fisca⟩tion & capture. It appears but just that G⟨ovt.⟩ ought to protect their Rights or as a substitute make them a due consideration in equival⟨ence⟩ for the loss of them—as that loss is the nec⟨essary⟩ effect of their Residence in a foreign Country ⟨by⟩ the appointment of Govt. (according to the ⟨arbitrary⟩ rule laid down & acted upon by the present [. . .] of the Seas⟨)⟩ I feel confident my re⟨spected⟩ Sir that you will duly appretiate the pre⟨sent⟩ situation we are placed in & be disposed to give aid & influence to have such provision ma⟨de⟩ for us as a due regard to the Officer & the ⟨public⟩ Interest may dictate & justify. I beg leave to refer you to Mr. Polanen for ⟨an⟩ Account of the actual state of affairs ⟨in⟩ Europe which seems as yet to be of a very problematical complexion & as little susceptible of a due delineation as at any time since the existence of the unhappy contest in Europe. I have the honor to be with great Respect Yr. Obt. Servt.

Sylvanus Bourne

Please forward the inclosed to the President of U.S.

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