He also insists that the bills submitted by the Attorneys for the U.S. in Britain follow legal formalitiesThe very type of stamp tax Adams wants to see paid here is was what led to the American RevolutionIn 1796, to protect against the malicious depositing of American seamen on foreign shores and to protect its sailors against impressment, Congress passed an act entitled, in part, “For the protection of American seamen.” An amended act was passed in 1803. This provided that when a mariner of the United States shall “with his own consent” [per his contract with the employer] be discharged in a foreign country, it shall be the duty of the master to pay to the consul for the sailor three months pay over and above the wages already due. Two-thirds of that money would go to the sailor, with one-third going into a fund to help stranded seamen return home. In the years leading up to 1810, William Lyman was the Consul General in London and brought some of these cases to the British courts, alleging a breach by shipowners for lack of payment and properly listing discharged cargo.Within months of the United States’ declaration of war against Great Britain in 1812, John Quincy Adams was involved in efforts to bring about a peace - first through Russian mediation and later as a negotiator at Ghent in 1814. His stay in Europe was extended when President James Madison appointed him U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain in 1815. After James Monroe was elected President in November 1816, he named Adams his Secretary of State. Adams began preparing to leave Britain to assume his new role in Washington.Messrs. Creswell and Addams were attorneys who represented the United States in British courts, particularly handling prize cases in the Admiralty Court and representing American prisoners of war. They worked on the Lyman cases. The firm wrote Adams in December of 1816, “We have the Honor of your Excellency’s Letter of the 16th. Instant wherein You inform us that you have received Authority from the Secretary of State of the United States to adjust and settle our Accounts for Services authorized by the late Genl. Lyman on the public Account of the United States.We beg to make our best acknowledgments for the Trouble and Interest your Excellency has taken in the Affair and in consequence to transmit you our Bills of Costs… We likewise send you a Statement of the general Account whereby the Balance now due to Us amounts to the Sum of £776.17.11 exclusive of any Interest your Excellency shall think proper to allow (these Bills having been due ever since the 15th. March 1810) but which matter of Interest We submit entirely to the liberal consideration of your Excellency and the Government you Represent.”This is Adams unpublished response.Autograph letter signed, London, February 1, 1817. “Gentlemen: In examining the accounts which you have transmitted to me I find that they are not taxed or certified by any officer of the Court. As I am informed that this formality is usual, and as under my instructions it will be expected that I should require some evidence that the charges are usual in character and amount, as well as that they were incurred on the public service, I will thank you to let me know whether you would object to having the bills regularly taxed; and if not I will give them to you for that purpose…” The right side of the letter is light. Interestingly, Adams letter shows that taxes in the form of stamps on official papers was still current in Britain at the time. This very type of stamp tax was what led to the American Revolution. (Inventory #: 11126)
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