Description: War–dated DS as secretary of state, signed “Jas. Monroe,” one page, 7.75 x 7.5, no date but circa 1812. Printed State Department circular issued “by command of the President of the United States of America.” In part: “The public and private armed vessels of the United States are not to interrupt any vessels belonging to citizens of the United States coming from British ports to the United States laden with British merchandize, in consequence of the alledged repeal of the British Orders in Council, but are on the contrary to give aid and assistance to the same; in order that such vessels and their cargoes may be dealt with on their arrival as may be decided by the competent authorities.” In fine condition, with expected document wear, soiling to upper right, and a small hole below the heading.
The US Congress declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812, as the result of several diplomatic conflicts, including the British 'Orders in Council,' a series of decrees that restricted American trade with France. At the same time, the British were in the process of repealing the Orders in Council, which was finalized on June 23. Word of the repeal did not reach President James Madison until August 12, but he refused to halt hostilities because he did not know how Britain had reacted to the declaration of war. However, he did issue this instruction in response to the "alledged repeal," ordering naval and privateering ships to assist, rather than obstruct, any American-owned ships bringing British goods back to the United States, and that the cargo is to be dealt with on arrival. A fascinating presidential document from the country’s early days of naval warfare.
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