James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard Wilkerson Taylor, [ca. January 1814]

From Richard Wilkerson Taylor

No 96 South Third Street Philadelphia
[ca. January 1814]

Dear Sir

You will excuse me takeing the liberty of writing to you but assure you that there is not a more unfortunate young man than what I am. I was a Midshipman on Board HM sloop of War Jaseur1 and I brought a vessell into Cape May to be ransomed and they took possesion of her and made me a prisonor and I told them I wished to become a Citizen of the U,States know I have had no money and have been intirely liveing upon one or the other in this Country. I have nothing to do and am intirely destitute of money and Cloaths and I trust that your Excellency will be kind enoug to procure me a birth on Board one of the U States Frigattes as it is the Only way in which I can serve myself. I could not apply my self to business. I cannot return to England because I have left the service owing to the ill treatment on Board. I gave Genl Mason when at washington every information Resspecting the Situation of Ships on the Coast. I hope your ever Resspected Excellency will assist a poor unfortunate Officer as you are the Only person that I could write to. I am Destitute of Friends and every thing else you hav⟨e⟩ no Idea of my unfortunate Situation and soon hope I Shall have some Relief from your excellency. I have the Best of friends in England bu⟨t⟩ I exspect they will all be lost know. God bless your Excellency and hope to remain always your most Obedient Humble Servant

Richd Wilkerson Taylor2

PS Excuse Haste. I will die or Concour as I know that must be my situation.

RC (DLC). Undated. Dated 1814 in the Index to the James Madison Papers; conjectural date assigned here based on evidence presented in nn. 1–2. Docketed by JM.

1The Jaseur, commanded by Capt. George Edward Watts, cruised off Delaware Bay in the fall of 1813. The following spring, the Jaseur was in the Chesapeake (John Marshall, Royal Naval Biography; or, Memoirs of the Services of all the Flag-Officers, Superannuated Rear-Admirals, Retired-Captains, Post-Captains, and Commanders … [5 vols. in 12; London, 1823–35], supplement pt. 3:277, 292–95).

2Pennsylvania marshal John Smith’s return of alien enemies for December 1813 included Richard W. Taylor, “Accomptant,” who reported himself on 15 Dec., stating that he was nineteen years of age, had been in the United States since 23 Nov. 1813, resided at 3 South Fourth Street, and wished to remain in the country and become a citizen (DNA: RG 59, War of 1812 Papers, U.S. Marshals’ Returns of Enemy Aliens and Prisoners of War, Part I).

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