James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Bentley, 8 June 1814

From William Bentley

Salem. June 8 1814


Your indulgence to me has led to many intrusion, which your goodness must forgive. I am now at the post office with the British Agent to obtain if possible the exchange of my good friend Capt John Crowninshield, of the Diomede, for Capt Bass of the Liverpool Packet, now at Portsmouth.1 I never made a plea in such circumstances, or on a more urgent occasion. If Sir, your kind concurrence can be obtained, it will relieve one of the best of men, & the Agent assures me that every thing will be done in Halifax.2 Sir with the unchanged affection I have ever expressed your devoted Servant,

William Bentley.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.

1The Diomede, a privateer from Salem, Massachusetts, had taken at least nine prizes before being captured by the British sloop of war Rifleman on 28 May 1814. Crowninshield was imprisoned at Halifax, and Lt. William Miller, British agent for prisoners there, suggested that he be exchanged for Bass. The latter, also a privateer captain, had been captured in June 1813 and held as a retaliation hostage. After being released on parole, he disappeared, and Crowninshield was therefore not exchanged. Despite Bass’s recapture in the fall of 1814, Crowninshield did not return to Salem until March 1815, following the war’s end, when Bentley learned that Miller had “advised Bass to violate his parole” (Mass. Salem Gazette, 7 June 1814; Hallowell, Maine American Advocate, 19 June 1813 and 5 Nov. 1814; Bentley, Diary of William Bentley, 4:258, 272, 295, 320, 322).

2JM evidently replied to this letter by 12 July 1814, assuring Bentley that Crowninshield’s case would be attended to (Bentley, Diary of William Bentley, 4:266).

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