Secretary of State Madison weighs in on the transportation of "destitute seamen"
LS, one page, 8 x 10, April 15, 1803. Letter to Robert Purviance, collector of the customs at Baltimore, in full: "I have received your letter of the 12th inst. respecting the communication made to you by the consul at London, that Capt. Lewis of the ship Birmingham left two destitute seamen behind, whom he was directed to take on board and transport to the United States according to law. If the depositions of Capt. Lewis and one of the seamen of the vessel furnished a less satisfactory exculpation, yet under the late law upon the subject, the proof necessary to maintain actions against masters of vessels in like cases is so difficult, that it would not be advisable to institute one in the present instance. You may therefore pass it over, especially as the law lately passed will effect a diminution in the frequency of the offense & ensure its punishment." Addressed on the reverse in another hand, and franked in the upper left by Madison, "James Madison." In fine condition, with a block of light toning to the center. Accompanied by a handsome custom-made finely bound quarter-leather case.
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