From William Jones
[ca. May 1813]
Will the President please to say what answer I may give to Mr Gray and if the prayer of his petition cannot be granted what reasons I may assign.1
I recollect that the distinction in Gerards case was that he had entered the waters of the US not knowing of the War and was taken and detained there until ransomed.2 I do not recollect the merits of the other cases to which Mr Gray alludes, but I believe in some cases analagous to his, permission has been refused. If however his case shall upon investigation be found to justify the permission he solicits it would be very satisfactory as he is a warm and liberal friend to the cause of the country and has I believe lost ten vessels by capture in a very short time.
RC (DLC). Cover docketed by JM. Undated; dated 1814 in the Index to the James Madison Papers; conjectural date assigned here on the basis of evidence presented in nn. 1 and 2.
1. Jones probably referred to William Gray of Boston, who wrote James Monroe on 23 Apr. 1813 requesting permission to send an agent to Halifax to carry out some “private business.” It is not clear whether Gray’s request was granted, but on 5 May 1813, U.S. Commissary of Prisoners John Mason stated, in reply to a query from Monroe of the same date, that Gray’s agent would need to obtain a passport signed by Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, Correspondence regarding Passports).
2. For Stephen Girard’s successful request for permission to ransom his ship, the Montesquieu, in early April 1813, see JM to Albert Gallatin, 5 Apr. 1813, and n. 3. By the end of that year, however, JM had concluded that the practice of ransoming ships was detrimental to the U.S. war effort, and he recommended legislation against it in his embargo message to Congress of 9 Dec. 1813 (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 13th Cong., 2d sess., 549–50).