James Madison Papers

To James Madison from DeWitt Clinton, 26 June 1812 (Abstract)

§ From DeWitt Clinton

26 June 1812, Mayor’s Office, New York. Transmits the sentiments of the Common Council “with respect to the defence of this Port.”1

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, C-361:6). RC 1 p. Docketed by a War Department clerk as received 29 June 1812. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Clinton enclosed a two-page report to the Common Council from the Committee of Defense on “the present state of our defensive preparations, and whether any & what measures ought to be adopted by this Corporation, for the protection and defence of this City against any atta⟨ck⟩ of the Enemy.” The committee determined that New York’s defenses were “altogether incomplete and inadequate.” They suggested “erecting a Castle, or other strong fortification, on Hendricks Reef, and a line of old vessels or Hulks, to be anchored at convenient distances from each other across the Channel at the Narrows from Hendricks reef to fort Richmond on the Staten Island shore, to be united by a Chain, which is already prepared, the line to be in form of a Crescent, and the Chain to be settled so far beneath the surface of the Water, as to be secure against the fire of an Enemy, and at the same time so near the surface as to prevent the passage of Ships—Also a line of block Ships in the rear of the Chain, in the nature of strong floating batteries.” They also recommended the immediate erection of a battery on the Long Island shore and two floating batteries. On 27 July 1812 Eustis wrote to Jonathan Williams to inquire as to the feasibility of the plan for an underwater chain in New York harbor (DNA: RG 107, LSMA).

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