James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Tobias Lear, 19 September 1814

From Tobias Lear

Washington, Sept. 19th: 1814


It is with extreme regret I learn, that the British Prisoners, detained in Kentuckey and Ohio, and who were to have been released and delivered, by the Convention concluded on the 16th of July, are still retained within the United States.1

As I was the Agent, on the part of the U. States, in concluding that Convention, which I beleive was highly advantageous to our Country, I feel a deep interest in its faithful and prompt execution on our part, as I consider the honor and good faith of the Nation pledged for its fulfilment. I therefor cannot but express my earnest hope and expectation that the cause of its non-execution hitherto, will be fully investigated, and placed in a light to prevent any imputation of its having been intentionally delay’d.

I beg you will impute this application to the anxiety I feel on the subject from having been an agent in concluding the Convention, and knowing the good faith with which it was intended to have been executed on our part. With the highest Respect and most sincere attachment I have the honor to be Sir, Your most Obedt Set

Tobias Lear.

RC (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, L-68:8). Docketed as received in the War Department in September 1814.

1See Lear to JM, 17 July 1814, and n. 1. The original agreement that the United States would immediately release the prisoners of war held “on the western side of the Alleghany mountains” was not altered by the 16 July 1814 modification (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:728). U.S. Commissary of Prisoners John Mason wrote James Monroe on 19 Sept. 1814, stating that he had recently learned that about seven hundred British prisoners sent to Sandusky from Chillicothe and from Newport, Kentucky, were still at Sandusky on 7 Sept., and that despite Mason’s June and July arrangements with the War and Navy departments for the prisoners’ transportation to British territory, no U.S. vessels were available for the purpose, and the commander of the district was waiting for orders from the War Department on the matter (DNA: RG 107, LRRS, M-89:8). Monroe replied on 20 Sept., enclosing an order of the same date to the commander at Sandusky for a guard to escort the prisoners to the point designated for their release, and an extract of John Armstrong’s 18 June 1814 order to Brig. Gen. Duncan McArthur to provide a guard. On 21 Sept., Mason explained in response that the prisoners already had a guard and that he was not sure why the commander at Sandusky, whom he presumed to be McArthur, had not seen to their delivery but guessed that the delay might have been requested by Maj. Gen. Jacob Brown. He suggested that Monroe ask Brown and McArthur to cooperate in having the prisoners transported to British territory immediately (ibid., M-134:8). Monroe accordingly ordered McArthur on 1 Oct. 1814 to send the prisoners to Brown at Fort Erie, and to explain why they had been held so long at Sandusky. He wrote Brown the same day, instructing him to see that the men were delivered forthwith to the British army at the most convenient point on Lake Ontario, and to give the War Department any information he had as to why they had been detained (DNA: RG 107, LSMA). Writing to William Jones on 23 Sept. 1814, Capt. Arthur Sinclair reported that “an officer at Sandusky” had asked him to transport “1100 British prisoners.” Sinclair disagreed with Brown, however, as to where best to deliver them, and would await orders from Jones on the matter (DNA: RG 45, Captains’ Letters).

Index Entries