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Lot #100
James Madison and James Monroe

Signing papers for a ship captured soon after during the War of 1812

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Signing papers for a ship captured soon after during the War of 1812

Partly printed DS, signed “James Madison” as president and “Jas. Monroe” as secretary of state, one page, 21 x 16.5, November 13, 1812. A four-language ship’s papers issued to “Henry Davis, master or commander of the Brig called the Ducornau of the burthen of 261.90 tons or thereabouts, lying as present in the port of New York bound for Bordeaux and laden with Sugar, Coffee, Cotton, and Oars….” [Note: Though a bit unusual, “oars” is correct, confirmed by the foreign translations, and not “oats.”] A passenger, James Doolittle, later detailed the vessel’s capture in March 1813, evidently during the return from the same voyage: “On the 12th March 1813 I sailed from L’Orient, passenger on board the Brig Ducornau, of and for New York, Henry Davis Master. On the 14th we were captured after a chase of eight hours, by his Britannic Majesty’s Sloop of War Pheasant, John Palmer, Esquire Commander and carried to Plymouth. Captain Palmer & his officers treated us all with the greatest possible politeness, attention & humanity. We arrived to Plymouth on the 16th, but did not disembark until the 20th. When we landed, Captain Palmer consented that Captain Davis, his mate and myself should remain in the town a few more days until Captain Davis should go through the necessary formalities of making protest &c. before we delivered ourselves up at Mill prison. This is an indulgence which rests with the Commanders of ships of war on their own responsibilities and is generally, thou not always granted to masters, mates, supercargoes & passengers….” In very good condition, with intersecting folds and a few creases (short separations), scattered light toning and wrinkling, and two small holes to blank portion at upper left. Both signatures are clear and dark. Auction LOA John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and R&R COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title:
  • Dates: #335 - Ended July 16, 2008