§ To the House of Representatives
Printed copy (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 794). Tr of enclosure (DNA: RG 233, Reports and Communications from the Secretary of State, 6A-E1). For the enclosure, see n. 2.
1. On 29 Nov. 1811 the House of Representatives approved a resolution offered by Peter Little of Maryland on 26 Nov. requesting the president to lay before the House “as far as practicable, a list of the whole number of persons impressed, seized, and otherwise unlawfully taken from on board vessels sailing under the United States’ flag on the high seas or rivers, in ports and harbors; by whom, and under the authority of what Power, Kingdom, or State, such impressments, seizures, and other unlawful detentions were made; what number thereof are citizens of the United States; with such other information on this subject as he in his judgment may think proper to communicate” (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 12th Cong., 1st sess., 370, 373).
2. On 15 Jan. 1812 Monroe submitted a two-page report with accompanying lists (46 pp.) to JM, stating: “That the accompanying list A. contains the names of such persons as have been impressed from American vessels, whether on the high seas or elsewhere into the British Service, and which have been communicated to this department, and are within the purview of the said resolution Since the last report to the House of Representatives on the 4th. of April 1810; and that the lists B. C. D. E. F. and G. have been received from the late Agent of the United States at London for the relief of American Seamen, and contain the names of ‘American seamen and citizens who have been impressed and held in bondage in his Britannic majestys ships of war,’ for the Several quarters of 1809 and 1810, commencing with that of April in the first, and ending with that of September in the last year; to which are added, abstracts shewing the results of the applications to the British admiralty, by the said Agent, for the discharge of these seamen. No returns, embracing a later period, have been received from the office of the said agent.”
Monroe referred again “to the report above alluded to from this department, and to two others, one to the House of Representatives on the 5th of March 1806, and the other to the Senate on the 29 of February 1808, for information touching the other particulars now called for by the order of the House, so far as it relates to British impressments.” But he added: “it may be proper to State, that from the want of means to make their cases known, and other difficulties inseparable from their situations, there is reason to believe that no precise or accurate view is now or ever can be exhibited of the names or number of our Seamen who are impressed into and detained in the British Service.”
Monroe concluded that it was “equally impossible … to make an accurate report of the names or number of citizens” held under the authority of the French government, “whether taken from vessels captured on the high Seas, or seized in rivers, ports or harbors; the names of a few only, greatly below the number believed to be so detained, being within the knowledge of this department.”