About the James Madison

"The most precise element about this model is her measurements. This model has been thought to be that of the James Madison, but recent research has shown that the legend concerning the capture of that vessel and its refitting to become H.M.S. Alban is incorrect. The Alban, according to British Admiralty lists, was formerly the William Bayard, presumably a sister vessel. As well as can be determined, the late Frederick W. Snow used the lines of the Alban to make the model in the belief that the Alban was originally the James Madison."

"This model served in the Revenue Cutter Service (now known as the U.S. Coast Guard) to prevent smuggling and to suppress the slave trade. They were fast schooners, built in the region of Baltimore. From them the Clipper Ships later evolved."

Length 94 feet; Beam 25 feet; Depth 10 feet.

Historical Context

"Congress created the Revenue Cutter Service on 4 August 1790 at the behest of the secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton. He wanted a maritime service to help suppress smuggling and aid in the collection of customs revenues. From its creation, the Revenue Cutter Service was a multimission service. In addition to its customs responsibilities, the service cooperated with the Lighthouse Service, assisted mariners in distress, and regularly participated in naval operations. The Revenue Cutter Service was the nation's only naval establishment until the creation of the Navy Department (1798), and it played an important role in the building of the newly reestablished navy.
The Revenue Cutter Service saw extensive action in the 1798–1800 war with France. Cruising in company with naval vessels, eight cutters helped patrol the eastern seaboard of the young nation. Revenue cutters were credited with capturing 15 of the 39 French warships taken during the Quasi-War and with assisting with the capture of five others. The service emerged from the war with a fleet of 15 cutters and a firm place in the nation's growing naval establishment.
During the War of 1812, nine cutters served with the navy and saw their greatest success in single-ship actions. Among highlights were the capture of the brig William Blake by the USRC Gallatin in 1812 and the capture of British privateer Dart by the cutter Vigilant near Block Island in October 1813. Even in defeat the revenue cutters fought bravely, as when the cutter Surveyor was taken by the much larger Narcissus, a British frigate, at the mouth of the York River in June 1813." (American History Online)

During the War of 1812, the "Navy also took into service several Revenue Cutters, all schooners, at least two of which, Surveyor and James Madison, were built at Baltimore. The Madison took a British brig early in the war, and then was captured by the Royal Navy off Savannah." (Tidewater triumph; the development and worldwide success of the Chesapeake Bay pilot schooner by Geoffrey Footner p. 120)

Important People in the Life of the Ship

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Additional Resources

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Revenue Cutter Officers - Washington Post article from November 22, 1901