American Letter of Marque, 1812

The Letter below is an example of an American letter of marque of an actual privateering commission issued by the government of the United States to the schooner Patapsco during the War of 1812.

JAMES MADISON, President of the United States of America.
BE IT KNOWN, That in pursuance of an Act of Congress passed on the eighteenth day of June one thousand eight hundred and twelve, I have commissioned, and by these presents do commission, the private armed Schooner called the Patapsco of the burthen of 159 tons, or thereabouts, owned by Andrew Clopper, Levi Hollingsworth, Amos A. Williams and Henry Fulford of the City of Baltimore

mounting 6 carriage guns, and navigated by 40 men, hereby authorizing James M. Mortimer Captain, and William Ross Lieutenant of the said schooner Patapsco and the other officers and crew thereof to subdue, seize and take any armed or unarmed British vessel, public or private, which shall be found within the jurisdictional limits of the United States or elsewhere on the high seas, or within the waters of the British dominions, and such captured vessel, with her apparel, guns and appurtenances, and the goods and effects which shall be found on board the same, together with the British persons and others who shall be acting on board, to bring within some port of the United States; and also to retake any vessel, goods and effects of the people of the United States, which may have been captured by any British armed vessel, in order that proceedings may be had concerning such capture or recapture in due form of law, and as to right and justice shall appertain. The said James M. Mortimer is further authorized to detain, seize and take all vessels and effects, to whomsoever belonging, which shall be liable thereto according to the Law of Nations and the rights of the United States as a power at war, and to bring the same within some port of the United States in order that due proceedings may be had thereon. This commission to continue in force during the pleasure of the President of the United States for the time being.

Given under my hand and seal of the United States of America, at the city of Washington, the 17 day of September in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and 12 and of the Independence of the said states the Thirty seven.

By the President James Madison
James Monroe Secretary of State

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