James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 16 January 1812

From James Monroe

Department of State, January 16. 1812.

The Secretary of State to whom was referred the Resolution of the Senate requesting information on certain points respecting the trade of the United States to France,1 has the honor to report to the President that he has examined the files of this Department, and found no precise information on the subject of the said Resolution, which has not been heretofore communicated to Congress.

That in consequence thereof he applied to the French Minister for the requisite information, who, not possessing it, referred the application to the Consul-General of France, from whom, as yet, nothing has been received, as will more fully appear by the accompanying letters; marked A and B.2

It may be proper to observe, that it is generally understood, as well from the letters of Mr. Russell, communicated to Congress at the commencement of the present Session, as from other sources, that the trade of the United States to France is subjected to very severe restrictions; but the precise extent and nature of them is not distinctly known to this Department. The instructions of the Minister of the United States at Paris embracing this as well as other subjects, communications from that source may soon furnish more particular information. An expectation of the speedy arrival of despatches from France, together with a hope that the French Consul-General would have been enabled to throw some light upon the enquiry, have caused the postponement of this Report until the present time.

Jas Monroe

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 46, Legislative Proceedings, 12A-E3); letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, DL). RC in a clerk’s hand, signed by Monroe. Letterbook copy dated 6 Jan. 1812. RC and enclosures forwarded by JM to the Senate on 16 Jan. 1812. For enclosures, see n. 2.

1On 13 and 18 Nov. 1811 the Senate considered and agreed to a resolution submitted by Samuel Smith of Maryland and amended by James Lloyd of Massachusetts seeking information on whether the “Administration en regie” in France purchased American tobacco “to the full extent of the consumption of France”; if not, what proportion of such tobacco was purchased; whether the surplus of tobacco imported into France and then reexported was subject to a transit duty; and whether such surplus could be “exported by sea to any country in amity with France.” The Senate further requested a tariff of the duties imposed on American produce and manufactures permitted to enter France, especially tobacco, cotton, fish oil, and dried fish, “stating (if any) the difference of duty charged on such goods imported from the United States, and similar articles when introduced into France from other States, either over land or otherwise” (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., 19, 21).

2Enclosure A is a copy of a 4 Jan. 1812 letter from Monroe to Sérurier (1 p.; printed ibid., 101) recalling the French minister’s attention to the Senate resolution of 18 Nov. 1811 and reminding him of the minister’s promise that he would supply the information when he had received it from the French consul general in Philadelphia. Monroe inquired whether the consul general had made any report to Sérurier. Enclosure B is a translation of Sérurier’s 5 Jan. 1812 reply to Monroe (1 p.; printed ibid., 101) to the effect that he had received no report from the consul general. The minister further noted that it “would not be extraordinary” if the consul general had no information about France’s tariff, “as it is of little use to the French in this Country.” Sérurier promised to repeat his inquiry to the consul general and to supply the information requested as soon as he received it.

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