James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Tatham, 14 January 1813 (Abstract)

§ From William Tatham

14 January 1813. Suggests the “propriety of an immediate application to the State Sovereignties of Delaware Maryland Virginia and North Carolina (perhaps Circular to all the States might be well) for Acts authorizing the President of the United States to provide for the public safety, by causing surveys to be made of the inland hydrography of the Maritime frontier, by the construction of such Military and Maritime Works, and by the extension of such Canals Military and Commercial roads, as he may deem useful in the general defence of the United States; by means of any public or private appropriations which he may have power over in this particular, whether established by act of special incorporation, or otherwise, in such manner & form as he may deem advisable.” Reminds JM of the possibility that the Virginia legislature might adjourn without having made adequate provisions for “the defence of Norfolk as the Maritime Citadel of the United States.”1

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRUS, T-1813). 1 p.

1Tatham had repeatedly argued for fortifications and military defenses in Norfolk. A motion presented by Charles Yancey to the House of Delegates on 20 Jan. 1813 resolved “That the Governor of this Commonwealth be requested to renew his correspondence with the Executive of the U. States, in relation to the defence of the maritime frontier of this State; and, for that purpose, to recommend to the Executive of the United States to call forth and embody so many of the militia of the State as may suffice to furnish, at least, one company thereof, for the security of each of those places of deposit (excepting the city of Richmond) of the munitions of war which may be provided by law” (Norma Lois Peterson, ed., The Defence of Norfolk in 1807, As Told by William Tatham to Thomas Jefferson [Chesapeake, Va., 1970], 97, 98, 104; Richmond Va. Argus, 21 Jan. 1813).

Governor Barbour communicated the resolution on 28 Jan. to Monroe, who passed it on to JM. Monroe responded to Barbour on 3 Feb. that for the protection of coastal towns and ports, “much reliance ought to be placed on the local force in aid of the measures which may be adopted by the General Government for that purpose” (DNA: RG 107, LSMA). John Armstrong, the new secretary of war, replied to Barbour on 10 Feb.: “Colonel Freeman commanding at Norfolk has been instructed to concentrate the Recruits raised in that Vicinity, and is authorized to require of Your Excellency such Detachment of Militia as may be found necessary for the effectual defence of the Harbour.… The President is assured of your zealous cooperation in such measures as may be adopted for the protection of the Country & the support of the Government” (ibid.). By early February, however, Norfolk had been “effectually blockaded by the enemy’s squadron under Admiral Warren” (Richmond Va. Argus, 11 Feb. 1813).

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