James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Jacob Barker, 1 July 1811

From Jacob Barker

New York 7th Mo 1. 1811.

Respected friend

The duties imposed on Cotton imported into England from the United States in American Vessels were so much greater than on Cotton imported in English Vessels that when our ports were open to English Vessels it was very difficult to procure freights at low rates for American Ships while English Ships came here and procured good freights without delay, and it is now understood that the British Government have or are about to increase the duties so considerably on American Cotton and other articles when imported in American Vessels that if the present restrictions imposed by our laws should be removed and those duties continue our vessels will not be able to find employ on any terms as the difference will be much more than the whole freights now charged in American Vessels which I beg leave to suggest for thy consideration as I am deeply interested in navigation. With esteem I am thy assured friend

Jacob Barker1


1Jacob Barker (1779–1871) was born to a Quaker family in Nantucket and entered the commission business in New York where he subsequently became a prominent merchant. In his politics he was a Republican, and he had recently visited Washington as an opponent of the recharter of the Bank of the United States. Although he appears to have had misgivings about the wisdom of the War of 1812, he continued to support JM’s administration and was actively engaged throughout 1813 and 1814 in efforts to raise war loans for the Treasury Department. He also assisted Dolley Madison in evacuating Washington during the British invasion of August 1814 (see Barker, Incidents in the Life of Jacob Barker of New Orleans, Louisiana; with Historical Facts, His Financial Transactions with the Government, and His Course on Important Political Questions [Washington, 1855], pp. 5–6, 30–32, 37, 39–109).

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