James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Burgomasters and Senate of Hamburg, 13 November 1815

13 November 1815


The blessings of peace having been restored to the world, and Hamburgh having resumed her pristine liberty and independence, it was amongst our foremost and most ardent wishes not only to renew our friendly intercourse with the Government of the United States, but, if possible, to make it more intimate and extensive. It is with a view of expressing these sentiments that we take the liberty of addressing your excellency, in full confidence that the friendship which the Government of the United States has formerly shown to us and our citizens is not changed by the severe misfortunes of which our city has been the victim of late years. We presume to rely the more on those sentiments, as we require the support of friendly Powers, and in particular of mercantile states, in order to raise us again to our former useful importance. It will be an object of our greatest care to improve our friendly relations with the Government of the United States, and nothing would give us more satisfaction than the mercantile intercourse which connects our town with the United States assuming the greatest importance, and resting upon the most solid foundation. To promote this desirable object, we have, immediately after the reorganization of the constitutional Government of this republic, caused the custom-house laws to be reported, and the duties to be determined as moderate as possible. These custom-house laws, which establish for the inhabitants of the United States, in respect of their ships, goods, and importations, a perfect equality with our own citizens, and the importations under our own flag, have passd and have already been promulgated last year. We are led, however, to dwell upon them at present, and to refer to these laws, the board of trade of this place having called our attention to an act of Congress dated the 3d of March, entitled "An act to repeal so much of the several acts imposing duties on the tonnage of ships and vessels, and on goods, wares, and merchandise imported into the United States, as imposes a discriminating duty on tonnage between foreign vessels and vessels of the United States, and between goods imported into the United States in foreign vessels and vessels of the United States;" desiring we might give to your excellency the assurance required by the said act of Congress of the 3d of March. To this effect we certify to your excellency by these presents:

That, by virtue of the existing laws of Hamburgh, and particularly the custom-house laws, the American ships, their loading and importations, are not subject in our city and its port to any higher duties on the tonnage and on the goods than our own Hamburgh ships, their loading and importations; and beg leave to request that your excellency may please to order that the trade and navigation of this city, as much as respects German produce and manufactures, may be relieved from the additional burdens which have till now been exacted, and that they may be admitted to the same privileges which have been bestowed on the trade and navigation of other nations in amity with the United States. We have the honor to sign, with the sentiments of high consideration and respect, your excellency’s most obedient servants, the Burgomasters and Senate of the free Hanseatic city of Hamburgh,

Wilhelm Amsinck,
Burgomaster, President

T. H. Heised,

Given the 13th of November, 1815.

Printed Source--American State Papers. 38 vols. (Washington, D.C.: Gales and Seaton, 1831-61)..

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