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JAMES MADISON, ROBERT SMITH and DAVID GELSTON Ships' papers for the safe passage of the Thomas Murdoch. Partly Printed DS: "James Madison" as fourth Presidentand "R Smith" as Secretary of State, 1p, 10x9. Washington, D.C., 1810 March 22.

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Ships' papers for the safe passage of the Thomas Murdoch.
Partly Printed DS: "James Madison" as fourth Presidentand "R Smith" as Secretary of State, 1p, 10x9. Washington, D.C., 1810 March 22. Ships' papers for the safe passage of the Thomas Murdoch of Portsmouth. Certificate No. 58. Headed: "By the President of the United States of America". In part: "Suffer the Ship Thomas Murdoch of Portsmouth, Joseph K. Salters master or commander of the burthen of Two hundred Thirty [illegible] tons or thereabouts mounted with no guns navigated with Eleven men To Pass with her Company Passengers Goods and Merchandise without any hinderance seizure or molestation the said Ship appearing by good testimony to belong to one or more of the Citizens of the United States and to Him or them only...." Also signed: "David Gelston Collector" as Collector of the Port of New York. On parchment. Three-inch diameter paper seal affixed at lower left margin. Because ships leaving U.S. ports needed ships' papers before a voyage, the documents were signed by the President and Secretary of State ahead of time and forwarded to the port. The Collector of the Port would then fill in the required information. This document was signed 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 On March 1, 1809, three days before Madison's inauguration, outgoing President Jefferson repealed the Embargo Acts by signing the Non-Intercourse Act.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. In 1809, 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 implemented 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 impressments of American seamen as the primary reasons. ROBERT SMITH served as Secretary of the Navy under Jefferson and Madison (1801-1809) and was Madison's Secretary of State (1809-1813). DAVID GELSTON was a prominent figure in New York politics and served as Collector of the Port of New York from 1801-1820. Creased with folds, vertical fold at the "J" of James the "h" of Smith and nicking the "D" in David. Writing on document is light (signatures are completely legible). Heavily soiled on document and seal, stains on verso show through, touching the "R" in Smith's signature. Pinhead-size hole at blank area. Overall, fair condition for a document of its age.

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