James Madison Papers

John D. Lewis and Others to Robert Smith, 1 April 1810 (Abstract)

§ John D. Lewis and Others to Robert Smith

1 April 1810. The petitioners, Americans residing in Malta, urge that John Hudden Lander, “an Englishman by birth,” be appointed to replace the present consul,1 who is “negligent & inattentive in his Office” and who “neither speaks, writes, or understands the English language.” As Malta is a rendezvous for the Royal Navy, the interests of American seamen there “require consular interference.”

Ms (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1809–17, filed under “Lander”). 2 pp. Signed by Lewis and eight others. Enclosed in Lewis to William Jones, 17 Apr. 1810 (DNA: RG 59, ML). Both Lewis’s letter and the memorial were forwarded by Jones in a letter to Robert Smith, 17 July 1810 (ibid.), in which Jones added his protests about the failure of the American consul at Malta to protect American seamen from impressment. Jones suggested that the administration consider retaliatory measures against British seamen in American ports. In reply, Smith promised Jones that he would forward his “very Interesting” letter and its enclosures to JM, who was spending the summer at Montpelier (Smith to Jones, 21 July 1810 (DNA: RG 59, DL). A pencil note on the last page of the Ms, in JM’s hand, is apparently the president’s response to Smith: “⟨For?⟩ the person recommended to act for the present as Agent for Seamen, which might perhaps be known from Capt. Jones, it may be best, under present circumstances, to subs[t]itute him in that character, for Pulis. Among the objections to a Consular appt. of Lander are the uncertainty ⟨whether⟩ the B. Govt. wd. sanction it at Malta; and the repugnance to ask what wd be deemed a favor.”

1Joseph Pulis had been nominated by Jefferson to be consul at Malta on 6 Jan. 1802 (Senate Exec. Proceedings description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (3 vols.; Washington, 1828). description ends , 1:402).

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