James Madison Papers

From James Madison to United States House of Representatives, 6 March 1806

Dept. of State, March 6th. 1806.

The Secretary of State, in compliance with the order of the House of Representatives of the 6th. January directing him to lay before it, “a return of the number of American Seamen, who have been impressed or detained by the Ships of War or Privateers of Great Britain, whose names have been reported to the Department of State since the statement was made to the House, at the last Session of Congress, mentioning the names of the persons impressed, and the times of the impressment; together with any facts and circumstances in relation to the same, which may have been reported to him; stating also the whole number of American Seamen impressed from the commencement of the present war, in Europe, and including in a separate column the number of passengers, if any, who may have been taken out of American Vessels coming to the United States from Europe,” has the honor to transmit herewith the names of Nine hundred & thirteen persons who appear to have been impressed from American Vessels, and whose names have been reported to the x Department of State since the last statement was made to Congress, together with a discrimination in the particulars required by the order except as hereafter mentioned.

The aggregate number of Impressments into the British service since the commencement of the present war in Europe is found to be Two thousand, two hundred & seventy three. It is not easy to distinquish, with accuracy, how many of these persons were really not “Citizens of the United States, but the column of remarks added to the list in lieu of this discrimination will exhibit some ground for judging of the fact. It has not been deemed necessary to make a separate column for Impressed Passengers, as this description of persons have been reported to be impressed but in the few cases subjoined.* It is proper to observe, that for a small part only of the period since the last statement there was an Agent for Seamen for the Leward Islands at Jamaica: the gentleman who then held the charge having resigned it, and another who had been appointed to succeed him having declined accepting it. The Agent appointed for Antigua having been absent from that Island since his appointment in May last, no returns have been received from the Windward Islands. From these circumstances it is very probable that many Impressments have been made in the West Indian Seas, which tho’ of a recent date, are not included in the present report.

All of which is respectfully reported.

James Madison

DNA: RG 59—DL—Domestic Letters.

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