James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Joy, 15 February 1812

From George Joy

London 15th. Feby. 1812.

Dear Sir

The inclosed will shew you the cause and the sole cause, of my continuing ’till this time in England. The magnitude of the object and the encouragement of some friends have induced this attempt, against my own opinion of any advantage being derived from it.1 And to the general discouragement, arising from the prejudices complained of therein, I have an addition in a note this moment received from Lord Holland. In reply to an expression of my conviction of the error of these prejudices, accompanying a wish for the preservation of peace, his Lordship say’s “I sincerely concur with you in wishes for peace with the United States and am convinced that with temper on both sides (thus marked) it may yet be preserved.” You will observe it is the emphasis that I regret; as indicating an apprehension, in a quarter where I did not expect to find it, that there is a want of temper with us. I am sorry I have not a copy prepared of the following letter which takes up the judgment of Sir Wm. Scott on the Fox and others;2 especially as my notice of this conveyance is sudden and I hear that the Ship’s at Liverpool have been induced to stop, for the chance of freights, by the permission to import goods already bought; under which it is expected that many others will be admitted; and from which it is unfortunately inferred, that a greater relaxation on the part of the U. S. is meditated. I have a letter of the 10th. Ult. from Copenhagen mentioning a report that the house of Dumlzfelt have received permission to import American produce, and other goods in American bottoms on conditions which, under my own notion of a license trade, I could not encourage and which I take to be directly hostile to yours, it is with me a subject of much regret that I am still prevented from making to you those personal communications relative to Denmark which I think ought to be known. I should probably have been able to have given you more particulars of the above project but that on inquiring for a Mr Hodge,3 who has been here some time from Copenhagen I find he has left town to embark in the ship in which this is to be sent. It is not improbable that he is employed in the business. I have barely time to transcribe a marginal note made on a first re[a]ding on a passage in Mr Munro’s letter to Mr Foster of the 23rd of July 1811 which I subjoin4 and rest very respectfully Dear Sir Your Friend and Servant

Geo: Joy.

“The Violations of neutral Commerce alluded to in this act where5 such as were committed on the high seas.”

Note. This is inference qry. as to the correctness of it. I think the words of the Act of May 1st 1810 Q: V: authorized the inference more than the words here given. They are, if I rem[em]ber right: “If either G. B. or France shall so revoke or modify its edicts as that they shall cease[”] &c—this would be more conformable with the inference here drawn than the words as they now stand. It would define the duty of the president to issue his proclamation—and make it incumbent on him to do it upon the revocation of existing decrees, without reference to any future fetters whether municipal or of Foreign import.

“It was the revocation of those edicts so far as they committed such violations, which the United States had in view when they passed the law May 1st 1810.[”]

Note. “had in view”—if I am correct in the opposite (above) note an accurate quotation from the Act of the 1st of May 1810 would have shewn not only that they had this in view but that the revocation of these edicts was the express condition precedent of the proclamation.

(After Note) I have now seen this Act and find as I supposed that is that the important words are left out, the insertion of which would shew that the hypothetical business of future invasions of neutral rights could not enter into the consideration of the President.

RC (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers). Marked triplicate. In a clerk’s hand, signed by Joy. For enclosure (DLC), see n. 1.

1Joy began forwarding to JM at this time manuscript copies of a series of eight letters he was to publish in London in the spring of 1812 as a pamphlet entitled The Dispute with America, Considered in a Series of Letters from a Cosmopolite to a Clergyman (see Joy to JM, 22 Feb. 1812 and 16 May 1812). The manuscript copies of these letters, totaling eighty-two numbered pages of material, have survived and are dated 1812 in the Index to the James Madison Papers. Triplicate copies of Letters IV and V (13 pp.) have also survived (DLC: Rives Collection, Madison Papers, filed after 19 Feb. 1812). It is impossible to determine precisely which numbers of the “Cosmopolite” JM received in particular letters written by Joy, and it is also evident that Joy sent some of the letters to the Liverpool consul James Maury, who in turn forwarded them to JM. By the time Joy wrote to JM on 16 May, it seems clear that he had sent the president all of the manuscript and that on that date he forwarded a printed copy of the pamphlet, which is now located in the collection of Madison pamphlets held in the Special Collections Department of the University of Virginia Library.

The eighty-two pages of the “Cosmopolite” letters JM received in manuscript form resulted in a pamphlet of 175 pages in length, to which Joy then added a 42–page appendix. The pagination of the letters in the pamphlet with the corresponding pagination in the manuscript is: Letter I, pp. 1–11 and pp. 1–5; Letter II, pp. 12–26 and pp. 5–12; Letter III, pp. 27–48 and pp. 12–21; Letter IV, pp. 49–58 and pp. 22–26; Letter V, pp. 59–74 and pp. 27–33; Letter VI, pp. 75–128 and pp. 34–54, 57–58 (pages 55–56 are missing); Letter VII, pp. 129–62 and pp. 58–76; and Letter VIII, pp. 163–75 and pp. 76–82. The appendix consists of copies of the following letters and documents: George Canning to William Pinkney, 23 Sept. 1808; the proclamation of Fox’s blockade of May 1806; the proclamation of the orders in council of January 1807; an extract of William Pinkney to Lord Wellesley, 14 Jan. 1811; JM to George Rose, 5 Mar. 1808; and an extract of the 4 Sept. 1775 petition from Congress to George III.

Throughout these letters Joy labored manfully to defend the positions taken by the Madison administration in its maritime disputes with Great Britain, and he argued at length that the U.S. had pursued genuinely impartial policies during Great Britain’s conflict with France. He also discussed in great detail the legality of Fox’s blockade of May 1806 and was critical of the antineutral operation of both the admiralty courts and the Perceval ministry’s system of licensed trade with the Continent (see Bradford Perkins, “George Joy, American Propagandist at London,” New England Quarterly, 34 [1961]: 199–202).

2On the case of the Fox, see Monroe to JM, 11 Aug. 1811 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (4 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 3:412 and n. 3).

3Mr. Hodge was probably the master of the ship Alexander that had been seized by a privateer in Danish waters in 1809 (see ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:332).

4For the text of this letter, which Joy discusses in the notes appended to his letter, see ibid., 3:439–42.

5“Were” in Monroe’s letter (ibid., 3:440).

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