James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Pinkney, 22 June 1808

London June 22. 1808

⟨Dea⟩r Sir

My Letters, since the Departure of the ⟨O⟩sage, were of the following Dates, May 30th. (private) June 5th. (private), June 6th. (private) and June 5th. (public). Duplicates of two of these Letters are now enclosed. I had intended to write by the Packet, but lost the Opportunity by the Mistake of a Gentleman, who meant to take Passage in her to America and ⟨w⟩as to have Been the Bearer of my Letters.

The Interview which (as stated in my ⟨Le⟩tter of the 5th.) I supposed would occur ⟨be⟩tween Mr. Canning & myself, has not yet ⟨ta⟩ken place. Upon Enquiry I found that ⟨h⟩e had probably received Dispatches from ⟨Mr.⟩ Erskine, brought by the St. Michael, and ⟨d⟩elivered, off L’Orient, to the Officer who ⟨vi⟩sited her from the British Squadron; and ⟨I⟩ knew that private Letters had been received ⟨by⟩ those about the Government, enclosing ⟨A⟩merican Newspapers &c. It was quite ⟨po⟩ssible, therefore, that Mr. Canning was ⟨in⟩ possession of material American Intelligence ⟨to⟩ which I was a Stranger, although a Disposition had been shewn to give me the Benefit of their Information, and much had in Fact been communicated to me The St. Michael was expected from Day to ⟨Day⟩ and the Attention of Ministers, and in⟨deed⟩ of every Body else, was engross⟨ed⟩ by the novel Position of Spain, from wh⟨ich⟩ against all sound Calculation, an un⟨defined⟩ something, of great Importance, was (a⟨nd⟩ still is) anticipated. Un⟨der⟩ all these Circumstances it did not app⟨ear⟩ to be adviseable to break in upon M⟨r⟩ Canning’s Time (which the Business of the Spanish Deputies & of the House o⟨f⟩ Commons might be supposed comple⟨tely⟩ to occupy) by claiming the promis⟨ed⟩ Interview, which would undoubted⟨ly⟩ be more in its Place after the arri⟨val⟩ of the St. Michael. Thus the Mat⟨ter⟩ rests at present. The St. Michael ⟨has⟩ not appeared, and I have no other Tidings of her than will be found ⟨in⟩ the enclosed Copy of Mr. Cannings No⟨te⟩ to me of the 6th. referred to in one of ⟨the⟩ Letters above mentioned. She m⟨ay, ho⟩wever, arrive in a few Days.

Parliament will very soon ajourn. ⟨So⟩me of its late proceedings remain to be ⟨ex⟩plained to you.

The act (for carrying into Execution ⟨t⟩he Treaty of 1794) which has for the last eleven or 12 years regulated the ⟨co⟩mmercial Relations of the U. S. & G. B., expires with the present Session of Par⟨li⟩ament, & has not been continued. ⟨A⟩s a Substitute for it Mr. Rose has brought ⟨in⟩ a Bill which applies to our Intercourse ⟨wi⟩th Great Britain their Navigation Act & ⟨(⟩as to Duties) the Rule of the most favoured Nation. Nothing is said in the Bill of their E. India Possessions, ⟨wi⟩th which, of course, we shall not be ⟨a⟩uthorized to trade. Our Commerce ⟨wi⟩th their W. Indian & N. American Colonies ⟨res⟩ts upon other Laws with which you ⟨ar⟩e acquainted & in which no Change ⟨ha⟩s been made. Some Friends in ⟨the⟩ House of Commons have promised ⟨m⟩e several Copies of Mr. Rose’s Bill, ⟨(⟩which has been printed) and, if obtained in Time, one shall be forwarded to you by this opportunity.

The Committee of the House of Com⟨mons⟩ on the Distillation of Sugar & Molasses, at ⟨the⟩ Head of which is Lord Benning, have lately made a third Report, which has ⟨re⟩ference to us. It recommends, as I ⟨am⟩ told, that, during the present War, Colo⟨nial⟩ proprietors shall, in addition to ⟨   ⟩ Ru⟨m⟩ & Molasses, be allowed to exchange ⟨Sugar⟩ & Coffee for our provisions & Lumber It seems that Ministers do not me⟨an⟩ at this Session to propose any Bill in ⟨Con⟩formity with this Recommendation; al⟨though⟩ if they had not approved of the Rep⟨ort⟩ it certainly would not have been made. I shall probably be abl⟨e to⟩ send you at the same Time with ⟨this⟩ Letter, a printed Copy of this Report which I have not yet seen.

Attempts have been made ⟨to⟩ ensure Supplies, for their W. Indian Colonies, of those Articles for which ⟨they⟩ have hitherto been dependent on ⟨us⟩ by (as I understand) three Prov⟨isions.⟩

The first is said to authorize the ⟨Ex⟩portation of W. Indian Commodities, from ⟨the⟩ Islands direct, to any port or place in Europe south of Cape Finisterre, and ⟨the⟩ Importation in Return of Flour &c. ⟨If⟩ confined to Europe (as I am told it is) ⟨this⟩ Provision must relate almost wholly ⟨to⟩ Sicily, & can have no Effect.

The second is said to authorize ⟨a⟩ similar Communication with South ⟨A⟩merica, and the third is said to ⟨look⟩ to the Carriage from New ⟨B⟩runswick &c. to the B. Islands of ⟨ar⟩ticles previously smuggled, in Violation ⟨of⟩ our Embargo, from the U. S. I ⟨tr⟩ust you will have guarded effectually ⟨ag⟩ainst this last disgraceful practice, ⟨if⟩ any such exists, as is here pre⟨ten⟩ded.

Of all these Bills (the purport ⟨of⟩ which I state to you upon Information ⟨on⟩ly,) I will send You Copies by the ⟨St.⟩ Michael, but, as they have not been printed (as is usual with Bills of so much Importance) I fear I can⟨not⟩ send you Copies now.

I am not sure that I am sufficiently apprized of what has lately been done in Congress; but as far as it is understood here it has had a good Effect. For my own Part I do not doubt that the admirable Combination of Firmness Spirit, & Prudence, which led to the Non Importation Act, the Presid⟨ent’s⟩ Proclamation, & the Embargo, wi⟨ll⟩ be found to have distinguished ⟨our⟩ Conduct to the last. I have the Honor to be, w⟨ith⟩ sincere attachment and the highest Consideration, dear Sir, Your most obedie⟨nt⟩ humble Serva⟨nt⟩

Wm: Pinkn⟨ey⟩

DNA: RG 59--DD-Diplomatic Despatches, Great Britain.

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