James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Sylvanus Bourne, 1 September 1801

From Sylvanus Bourne, 1 September 1801

Amsterdam Septr. 1 1801.


Inclosed I send you the Leyden Gazette to this date by which you will perceive that Cairo has eventually fallen into the hands of the English & that the conquest of that Country is viewed as being accomplished altho Alexandria yet holds out. This event appears to be considered as a very important one towards the promoting of peace between E & F. That it removes one great obstacle to that desired end is very probable, but many other knotty points yet remain for adjustment on the theatre of Europe, & as the negotiations are Still active we may indulge the hope that the influence of a reciprocal Spirit of reconciliation, may smooth the way to such an arrangement as may comport with the honor of each of the great parties in the contest & ensure the future tranquillity of this quarter of the World.

Mr. Murray will sail for the US in course of a fortnight, when I shall duly attend to every matter which may require my interference arising out of the intercourse between the two Countries & such as the interest of my own may specially dictate. The new system which the Supreme Executive ⟨of⟩ the U States has been pleased to adopt relativ⟨e⟩ to the medium of communication with this Coun⟨try⟩ may render it necessary & proper that some aditio⟨nal⟩ powers & instructions should be given to the Con⟨sular⟩ Department here & such as may deserve attenti⟨on⟩ whenever the Legislature shall think fit to take ⟨up⟩ the several points recommended in the letter I ⟨had⟩ the honor to write you on the 20 June last. It is now ten years I have been employed in the public service without any adequate emolumen⟨t⟩ tho’ (I hope) with integrity & fidelity to the [. . .] of my Countrymen. During this period I have suffered in property to the amount of 10,000 Do⟨lls⟩ from my public Situation, viz. 2000 Dolls spent in my consular mission to Hispaniola in 1791, ⟨where⟩ I remained nearly a year without being received ⟨or⟩ acknowledged by the Govt. & 8000 Dolls. taken fro⟨m⟩ me & confiscated by the English Court of Admi⟨ralty in 1799⟩ because I inhabit⟨ed⟩ an enemys Country where ⟨my⟩ public Character obliged me to reside. These losses ⟨fell⟩ heavy on me at a time when the expences of ⟨living⟩ became daily more & more extravagant.

I am sensible that Govt. cannot be influenced exclusively ⟨by⟩ considerations of the kind here urged, but I hope it may ⟨be⟩ found to consist with the public Interest to grant some [. . .] & Stable Compensation to their Consular Agents abroad. I shall ever Strive to merit the Confidence of Govt. by a ⟨p⟩unctilious attention to every object involved in my official duty. Under the former Govt. of this Country it would have been difficult to have introduced ⟨in suc⟩h cases ⟨a⟩ Consul as the organ of communication between the two Govts., as not being consistent with practice ⟨or⟩ Court Etiquette; but at present no such weak ⟨reasons⟩ are suffered to interrupt the due intercourse between two peoples whose interests, are reciprocal & who are capable of duly appretiating the value of National harmony & friendship. To sustain this principle in all its force within the sphere of my private action & public Influence shall ever be my constant & anxious Study & With Sentiments of the highest Respect I am Sir Yr. Ob Servt.

S: Bourne

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