James Madison Papers

Robert Taylor to James Monroe, 3 June 1813

Robert Taylor to James Monroe

Head Quarters Norfolk 3rd. June 1813.


I have reason to believe, that a very nefarious trade with the enemy is now carrying on, from the ports of North Carolina. I think it my duty to lay the enclosed original affidavit before you; that the Government may take such measures thereon, as, in their wisdom, may seem proper.1 I have written to the Governor of North Carolina & enclose a copy of my letter.2 I have the honour to be, Very respectfully, Your ob. Servt.

Robert Taylor
Brigr. Genl comg.

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, ML). RC docketed by Monroe, “For the President.” For enclosures, see nn.

1The enclosed deposition (1 p.; marked in an unknown hand: “file June 1. 1813.”), was sworn to by William R. Smith before William B. Lamb, mayor of Norfolk. It stated that Smith, a pilot boat captain, had been captured on 17 May 1813 by the British schooner Highflyer, “fifteen leagues from Cape Henry”; that off the North Carolina coast on 23 May, the Highflyer “brought too and boarded the Sloop Wm. Alfred of New york just out from Ocacoke with a cargo of tar and corn”; that the supercargo of the William Alfred came on board the Highflyer and, in Smith’s presence, displayed a “licence for Halifax” signed by Sir John Poo Beresford; and that the captain of the Highflyer, a Lieutenant Lewis, learned that “there was thirteen or fourteen sail of Vessels then nearly ready to sail under the same license.” After allowing a second American ship to pass for the same reason, Lewis ridiculed the “weakness of the American Government to suffer one half to be feeding” the British “while the other half were fighting” them. The Highflyer then returned to the Chesapeake and put Smith ashore at Cape Henry.

2Taylor’s letter to William Hawkins, 3 June 1813 (1 p.), enclosed copies of his letter to Monroe and Smith’s affidavit, and stated that he had “deemed it proper” to notify the governor of Smith’s allegations.

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