James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Thomas Tenant, 16 January 1813 (Abstract)

§ From Thomas Tenant1

16 January 1813, Baltimore. Writes as “a resident merchant in the city of Baltimore” and as “the owner of the Brig or vessel called the Herald that was captured on the twenty fifth of December last, on the American Coast by a British Squadron, being then in the prosecution of a voyage from Bordeaux in France to the port of Baltimore.”2 Requests JM’s permission to “dispatch a vessel in the character of a Cartel” to Bermuda “for the purpose of bringing home the officers and crew of the said vessel” and returning “several Prisoners of War now in the port of Baltimore, belonging to the Island of Bermuda who might also be sent back to their Homes in the same vessel.”3

RC (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Requests for Permission to Sail from the U.S.). 2 pp.

1Thomas Tenant (1769–1836), a Federalist, was a Baltimore merchant, shipowner, wharf owner, and prize agent. He served as a major in the Sixth Regiment of the Maryland militia. Tenant was director of the Bank of Baltimore and the Baltimore Insurance Company and vice president of the Charitable Marine Society of Baltimore (Garitee, The Republic’s Private Navy, 269).

2The Niles’ Weekly Register for 16 Jan. 1813 reported: “The British squadron off the Chesapeake have captured the very valuable brig Herald, from Bordeaux for Baltimore. The brig had encountered a gale of wind off the Western islands, in which she carried away her fore-top-mast, part of her foremast, and was otherwise crippled. She was becalmed to the leeward of the squadron, which came down upon her with a stiff breeze, and she did not take it until they were within 30 yards of her. She still attempted an escape, and had 150 shot fired at her before she struck!”

3Tenant wrote in a 29 Jan. 1813 letter to Alexander McKim, “I am inform’d that the permission to send a Cartel to Bermuda is granted me.” He expressed his belief that there were 300 to 500 prisoners at Bermuda and his desire to return to Bermuda two boys captured on the British brig Porgia by the schooner High Fleet (DNA: RG 59, ML).

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