James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Sylvanus Bourne, 6 April 1806

Amn. Consulate Amsterdam April 6th. 1806


I have recd from the Department of State two Copies of a Pamphlett entitled "An Examination of the British Doctrine which Subjects to capture a neutral trade not open in time of peace", and I have perused with peculiar interest this volume of laborious & frank & critical investigations of the principles of the Laws of Nations relative to the Subject treated on and their judicious application in support of the commercial rights of our Country against the unjustifiable pretentions of Great Britain. An important change of political circumstances seems of late to have produced a relaxation of these pretensions while however no formal disavowal of the arbitrary principle on which they were grounded has taken place; and indeed in the course of practice the tenets of their Maritime jurisprudence have become so thoroughly interwoven with & dependent on political events they are forced to Stifle the Sentiments of moral propriety & justi⟨ce⟩ least the result of these convictions might be constru⟨ed⟩ as proofs of political weakness.

Every week brings forth a further deve⟨lop⟩ment of Bonaparte’s plans for the due organisation of t⟨he⟩ aditional mass of Power he acquired in the late Camp⟨aign⟩ & which are of a nature at once to sustain & guarantee it against all future Casualties, & to operate all possible injury to t⟨he⟩ interests of his only remaining & Still formidable enemy endeavoring to cut him off from all communication ⟨with⟩ the Continent-- but this latter Scheme militates so Stron⟨gly⟩ against the interests of the greater part of the Continent th⟨at⟩ I doubt of its being carried into efficacious effect.

There remains only then for trial the great project ⟨of⟩ invasion but the physical difficulties here presenting ⟨themselves⟩ are tantamount to the moral ones of the other plan ⟨& pro⟩duce the rational conclusion that a long time mu⟨st⟩ yet elapse before Europe will be in peace. I have the honor to be With great Respect Yr devoted Sert.

S Bourne

DNA: RG 59--CD--Consular Despatches, Amsterdam.

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