Letter of Marque
About American Schooner 1814: The War of 1812 was fought between the United States of America, on one side, and Great Britain, the British North American colonies, Upper and Lower Canada, and Nova Scotia on the other. The war was fought from 1812 to 1815 and involved both land and naval engagements. The Americans declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812, for a combination of reasons— outrage at the impressment (the seizure and imprisonment into the navy) of thousands of American sailors, frustration at British restraints on neutral trade while Britain warred with France, and anger at British support for native attacks along the frontier which conflicted with American expansion and settlement into the Old Northwest.
At the time the United States did not have a standing navy so they issued Letters of Marque to private warships in exchange for a share of the captured ships and goods. American Schooner 1814 is a copy of such a Letter of Marque.
War of 1812. It was at this port that the difficulty between the British ship Leopard and the American frigate Chesapeake took place. Several American seamen, having escaped from the former, took refuge on board the latter. The captain of the Leopard demanded their restoration; the captain of the Chesapeake refused submission to the demand. The Leopard fired into the frigate, which, being of inferior force, struck [her flag] to her opponent. As it was a time of peace, the Chesapeake was not kept as a prize; the claimed men were taken from her, and she was restored. This was among the circumstances which led to the war of 1812.
Below is the text of American Schooner 1814.
Letter of Marque
James Madison, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
TO ALL WHO SHALL SEE THESE PRESENTS, GREETINGS :
Be it Known, That in pursuance of an Act of Congress, passed on the fifth day of June one thousand eight hundred and twelve, I have commissioned, and by these presents do commission, the private armed Schooner called the Lucy of the burden of Twenty-five tons, or thereabouts, owned by John Lawton of the city of Taunton, State of Massachusetts mounting six carriage guns, and navigated by twenty-six men, hereby authorizing John Lawton Captain, and Perez Drinkwater Lieutenant of the said Schooner Lucy 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 each captured vessel with her apparel, guns and appurtenances, and the goods or effects which shall be found on board the same, together with all the British persons and others who shall be found acting on board, to bring within some port of the United States; and also to retake any vessel, goods or 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 each capture or recapture in due form of law, and as to right and justice shall appertain. The said John Lawton 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 the seal of the United States of America, at the city of Washington, the twenty second day of December in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fourteen and of the independence of the said states the thirty ninth.
BY THE PRESIDENT James Madison
SECRETARY OF STATE James Monroe