James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Nathaniel Cutting, 27 November 1810

From Nathaniel Cutting

Tuesday morning, 27th. Novr. 1810.

Mr. Cutting has the honor to present his best respects to the President of the United States and to transmit him a “Project for a new Organization of the Consulate, alias, Commercial Agency, of the United States in the Empire of France”:1 one Copy of which is also sent to the Department of State.2

RC and enclosures (DLC).

1Cutting’s “Project” was a twelve-point proposal, dated Washington, April 1810 (12 pp.), to reorganize American consuls or commercial agents throughout the French Empire into five geographical districts, all to be accountable to a single, salaried consul general in Paris. The consul general would be responsible for issuing passports, for the relief of distressed seamen, and for communicating with the French authorities. He was also to make monthly reports to the State Department, compiled from manifests that all American ship captains would be compelled to file with the consuls upon entering a French port. Among the purposes of the plan, Cutting declared, was “to identify those who have a right to the Protection of the Flag of the U. S., and to inform all whom it may concern what becomes of every Individual who sails under it.”

2Cutting enclosed a copy of a covering letter to Secretary of State Smith, November 1810 (1 p.), in which he stated that he had originally submitted his proposal in April 1810, but in the “precarious state” of relations with France it was then “thought inexpedient to bring this Subject fully on the Tapis.” He was resubmitting the proposal “now that those Relations present a more agre[e]able aspect.”

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