James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Maury, 11 April 1811

From James Maury

Liverpool 11th. April 1811

Dear Sir

With this is a Copy of the letter I had the honour to write to you on the 14th November, since which I have not received any instructions about your Tobacco per Adeline. No part of it has been sold.

It now is more than twelve months since the commencement of the Unparalleled distresses to which the Trading Interest of this Country has been subjected. They still are so great that Government offer a Loan of Six millions to the sufferers; but, as the Act is but just passed and the Money not yet diffused, one cannot speak as to it’s effects. It may produce relief, tho’, probably, but temporary; because those distresses are more to be attributed to the difficulty of introducing goods from this Country into the ports of the Continent than to any other Cause.1

Under these circumstances foreign produce in general is greatly depressed and very unsaleable. The Stocks of Tobacco in this port and London only now are about 36.000 Hhds, of which 15.000 are here; about double the quantity at any past period. With great respect & esteem I have the honor to be your obliged friend and servant

James Maury

RC (DLC). Marked “Duplicate.” In a clerk’s hand, signed by Maury. Docketed by JM.

1Beginning with banking failures in London in July 1810 and followed by company failures in Manchester the next month, the British economy experienced a sharp downturn, leading to a severe depression in 1811. Rising war expenditures had contributed to inflation, depreciation of the pound, and a drain on the gold reserves of the Bank of England. Napoleon’s efforts to enforce the Continental System more stringently, especially in the Baltic region, resulted in a fall in British exports to Europe in 1811 to only 20 percent of the level attained in the previous year. At the same time, British exports to both the U.S. and Latin America declined to a comparable extent. Rather than reduce expenditures and return to the gold standard, however, Prime Minister Spencer Perceval responded by continuing to borrow money to carry on the war against France, and in March 1811 the ministry authorized the issue of £6 million in exchequer bills to assist business houses in distress (Watson, The Reign of George III, pp. 468–70; for a more extended discussion, see Crouzet, L’economie britannique et le blocus continental, 2:563–769).

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