James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Joseph Warner Rose, 23 August 1806

Antigua 23rd August 1806.


My last respects was dated the 20th, shewing my arrival and as a Court of Admiralty was held yesterday ⟨   ⟩ an Opportunity of informing you of a Trial which took place and the ⟨res⟩ults of the case, with the final issue in this place, strikes particularly at Trade among these Islands and I am fearful the Merchants and Under⟨wri⟩ters in the United States will suffer materially. The case is the Brig ⟨Tri⟩ton Prentiss Master which Vessel sailed from Portland with a Cargo ⟨of⟩ lumber and Provisions arrived at Barbadoes and sold such part of the ⟨Car⟩go as was permitted by the Custom House to be landed, and Cash with ⟨Bi⟩lls of Exchange received in payment; the Vessel proceeded with the remain⟨der⟩ of her Cargo to Vauclain in Martinique, where it was disposed of and ⟨Mo⟩lasses & Sugar taken in return, and Sugar & Coffee purchased, with the ⟨Bi⟩lls & Cash received at Barbadoes; the Vessel was returning to Portland ⟨wh⟩en taken and brought to this Island. A Claim was given in by the ⟨Ma⟩ster in behalf of himself & Thomas Merrill both Natives of America for ⟨the⟩ Vessel & Cargo. The attestation to support the Claim stated very fairly the Circumstances relating to the Voyage. The Captors proceeded against Vessel and Cargo solely on the ground of such Voyage being illegal, in as ⟨mu⟩ch as it was not permitted by the Instructions issued at the Commencement ⟨of t⟩he War to His Majesty’s Cruizers That neutrals were, only allowed to ⟨tra⟩de directly between the Colonies of the Enemy and their own Country, that ⟨su⟩ch a Trade as the Vessel was engaged in, was of the most injurious Conse⟨qu⟩ence to Great Britain & ought not to be tolerated, that this Illegality con⟨sis⟩ted in receiving Money & Bills at Barbadoes & trading with them at Ma⟨rtin⟩ique. For the Claimants it was contended that His Majesty’s Ministers allowing a direct Trade between the Colonies of the Enemy and the Neu⟨tra⟩l Countries to which the Vessels might belong never could have enter⟨tai⟩ned an Idea that such a Trade as the Triton was engaged in, would be ⟨dee⟩med illegal. The Judge was of Opinion that the act of selling part of the ⟨Car⟩go at a British Island and the Remainder at a French Island was ⟨   ⟩ and indirect Trade and not being within the Letter of the Instruc⟨tions⟩ made the Voyage Illegal. He therefore Condemned the whole pro⟨   ⟩ so engaged. I am sorry to have taken up so much of your time but this case will be a precedent for Captors I am fully persuaded an imm⟨en⟩se property will stand on the same grounds without a stop is put to it I must say an Appeal is made. Several Applications has been made to m⟨e⟩ for Certificates of Property as well as for Debentures & Bounty. I have ta⟨ken⟩ the liberty of granting them presuming that the situation I have the ho⟨nor⟩ to hold allows me so to do and I wait with much anxiety for such Instructions as you may deem necessary for me observing that I have n⟨one⟩ other than your Letter of May 13th 1805. I have the honor to be Sir Your most Obt. humble Ser⟨vant⟩

Joseph Warner Rose

DNA: RG 59—CD—Consular Despatches, Antigua.

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