James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Lee, 27 June 1803

From William Lee, 27 June 1803

Bordeaux June 27th 1803


I have the honor to enclose ⟨y⟩ou a packet which came to hand the day ⟨be⟩fore yesterday from Mr. Monroe.

Since my last respects of which the annexed is a copy (and which also covered your letter from the same Gentleman) I have been much troubled with seamen. The Crews of [. . .] ten American Vessels now in port all deserted ⟨in⟩ order to enter on board of privateers. The number ⟨of⟩ these deserters together with the Stragglers amounted ⟨to⟩ about ninety, sixteen of whom had actually ⟨en⟩gaged in the Blonde and had proceeded down the River on a cruize. The others had some of them ⟨re⟩cd. their bounty and were preparing to go on ⟨bo⟩ard the Bellone and other Corsairs. Through the ⟨ki⟩nd assistance of the Commissary of Marine & ⟨Po⟩lice I had all that could be found arrested ⟨a⟩nd put in prison amounting to sixty in ⟨nu⟩mber. Those of them who were only about engaging in privateering I have distributed among the American Vessels but the sixteen who were taken from on board the Blonde and for whom I paid the Captain the amount of their bounty as per list enclosed I shall detain in prison until I receive instructions respecting them from Mr. Livingston whom I have written on the subject and recommended the⟨ir⟩ being sent home in Irons to take their trial under the persuasion that their being made an example of would prove a good lesson to our seamen during the War and of great utility to the United States. If the Minister should not think with me I can find them births on board American Vessels and receive of the Captains the amount of the money I have paid for them.

In the moniteur of the 21 June wh⟨ich⟩ you have herewith is inserted a Law regulating the Importation of W Indies produce the third article of which if not altered will operate to the injury of our merchants who are in the habit of anticipating a part of their Cargoes to Europe by valuing on Amsterdam & London and ordering their friends in this Country to remit to those places to meet their bills. This mode is so general that out of fifty Cargoes ⟨w⟩hich I have had consigned to me here but two have been returned in French produce and manufactures. Most of the Vessels therefore which may arrive before this law can reach america ⟨w⟩ill not be permitted to enter for I know of no houses in this Country who will be willing to meet the bills which may be drawn on those ⟨sh⟩ipments and return a Cargo of Wine Brandies ⟨&⟩ ⟨dry⟩ goods equal in value to the import. No ⟨m⟩ention is made in the arreté of Merchandise the produce of the Colonies of Spain & Holland which under existing circumstances ought to be entitl⟨ed⟩ to the same priviledges as French Colonial prod⟨uce⟩. The General opinion among merchants here is that some alteration will take place in this Law and I believe the Chamber of Commerce are occupied in making a representation in consequen⟨ce⟩ of some statements I have made to them. I have also written Mr. Livingston on the subject & no doubt he will endeavour to effect some change therein.

Your favor of the 6 April came to hand a few days since and I have given orders for the Wine to be shipped in the Brig Mary to sail for Norfolk in the course of th⟨is⟩ week. The letter to Mons. de Poleau I have forwarded with a request that he would return me an answer. With much respect I am Sir your obedient Servt.

William Lee

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