James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Lamson, 4 April 1803

From John Lamson, 4 April 1803

Trieste 4 April 1803

Respected Sir

My functions as Consul for the United States in this port ceased on the 31 March Ulto. by a decree of the Goverment of this City in favor of the commission received by Wm. Riggin Esqr. an American citizen resident here. In my letter of the 22d. May 1802 I forwarded you a report of all the American vessells that had ever entered this port to that date; I now enclose you a report of those that have entered since that period to 31st. March last, by which you will observe that the Brig two Betsys from Baltimore was driven on shore and sunk the 12 Jany. last, that the vessell and cargo was sold at public Auction for the benefit of the concerned & purchased by an Austrian subject. By this unfortunate event the crew were placed in a very distressed situation, and required the assistance of the Government; those of them that were Americans, I provided for at the expence of the United States, the accounts for which with the vouchers I have forwarded to our Minister at Madrid for settlement; the Others I refered to the Consuls of their respective Nations for their assistance.

After having made a long and expensive voyage to be dismissed from Office in so short a time after my arrival without any information from the Goverment; and as far as I can Judge without even the shadow of a pretence of Mal-conduct is the more unfortunate for me, as I have not a fortune to expend in travelling, and seems to be discouraging native Americans from accepting commissions which subject them to additional expences without any salary to reimburse them, on such precarious conditions, at least if they are not already permanently established in business in the ports to which they are appointed, in which case the consequence of a dismisall would be small compared with what it is to one who relinquishes prospects at home to seek business in a foreign country, relying much upon and firmly persuaded that; the patronge of his Goverment will contribute very much to his success. In such a case to be deprived of such flattering support is doubly unfortunate and a persons reputation suffers in proportion as the office is respected, a circumstance which it should seem ought to have weight and which does not I beleive generally take place without previous examination and evident proof of Mal Conduct or incapacity, which has not been the case with respect to me, and I feel conscious that I have done my duty with fidelity and Zeal; for the truth of which I can with confidence appeal to every American that has been in this place since my arrival, and it is worthy of consideration that what would be an unimportant thing at home among friends & Neighbors who know the character of the person interested becomes a very important consideration in a foreign country among strangers who generally put the worst construction on every circumstance. But perhaps reasons unknown to me makes it necessary that I should suffer this mortifying disappointment; to which I submit with chearfullness if the views of the Goverment or the intrest of our citizens are better promoted by it. If however it should happen that this change has been made in consequence of representations to the President that I had not arrived and that the post was still vacant & no personal objection exists against me I still venture to sollicit the patronage of the Goverment for some port that shall be vacant, And can only say that if Upright intentions and a Sincere wish to be usefull as far as my abilities will permit, will be any security for my future conduct, I feel a confidence in assuring you of these intentions and this desire. Enclosed you will find an account of the principle part of my expences from the time I left America to the time I ceased to be Consul which I doubt not you will find Just that I should be reimbursed, that in case there should be no further employ for me abroad, I may return to my Native country with no greater ⟨loss⟩ than that of my home which I hope will be thought a sufficient sacrifice for me. I am sensible Sir that I am intruding on your time which is necessarily employed on subjects of infinitely more consequence than attending to the complaints of an individual but hope that a sufficient excuse will be found for me in my particular situation. I pray you most earnestly to favor me with a reply & that as soon as possible that I may be releived from this state of suspence. Please direct to me to the care of the American Consul Leghorn. I have the honor to be Sir Your Most obedient & very Humble Servant

John Lamson

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