PRESIDENT JAMES MADISON - SHIPS PAPERS 04/25/1809 CO-SIGNED BY: DAVID GELSTON, ROBERT SMITH (POLITICIAN) - HFSID 5680
Sale Price $2,720.00
JAMES MADISON and ROBERT SMITH
Ship's papers issued at beginning of Madison's administration during the six weeks in which the President permitted U.S. trade with Great Britain
Partly Printed DS: "James Madison" as fourth U.S. President and "R. Smith" as Secretary of State, 1 page, 10x15. Countersigned: "David Gelston Collector", District and State of New York. Washington, D.C., 1809 April 25, but issued out of New York City. Ship's passport on vellum. In full: "Suffer the Schooner Hamilton of New York, William J. Brown master or commander of the burthen of One hundred twenty four & 86/95 tons or thereabouts mounted with Two guns navigated with Twelve men to pass with her Company Passengers Goods and Merchandize without any hindrance seizure or molestation the said Schooner appearing by good testimony to belong to one or more of the Citizens of the United States and to him or them only." Issued just eight weeks after Madison became President and at a tenuous time in the relations with France and England. As Jefferson's Secretary of State (1801-1809), Madison had supported the series of Embargo Acts against England to stop harassing America's ships and citizens. By the end of 1808, contrary to Jefferson's intentions, the Embargo Acts nearly destroyed the U.S. shipping industry and adversely affected the domestic economy. On March 1, 1809, three days before Madison's inauguration, outgoing President Jefferson repealed the Embargo Acts by signing the Non-Intercourse Act. This reopened to American shipping all overseas commerce, except to England and France, with a proviso. Should either or both countries stop their interference with neutral shipping, trade could resume upon presidential proclamation. Just seven days before signing this document, President Madison opened trade with Great Britain in exchange for certain assurances from British Minister David Erskine. When Madison found that Erskine had misled him, he reinstated the provisions of the Non-Intercourse Act against Great Britain on May 30, 1805. The President suspended and reimplemented this Act numerous times until 1812. During this period, both England and France, at war with each other, would lie to U.S. officials with assurances of non-harassment in exchange for America's trade and transport on the high seas. On June 19, 1812, the United States declared war on Great Britain with the harassment of American shipping and impressment of American seamen as the primary reasons. ROBERT SMITH served as Jefferson's Secretary of the Navy from 1801-1809 and Madison's Secretary of State from 1809-1811. At his death in 1842, Smith was the last surviving member of the Electoral College that elected George Washington first U.S. President in 1789. DAVID GELSTON was a prominent figure in New York politics and served as Collector of the Port of New York from 1801-1820. 2½-inch diameter white embossed paper seal affixed with red wax at lower left. Stained at left vertical fold with minor separation at blank area. Lightly discolored at right vertical fold, which touches the lower loop of the "J" in James and the "t" in "Smith". Superb dark vignettes of ships and a lighthouse at top scalloped edge. Overall, fine condition.
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