Prudence Lawrence:

Her husband taken away at gunpoint to serve in the Royal Navy; leaving no diplomatic, journalistic, governmental, business, or social contact unexploited as she seeks her husband’s liberation . . .        


     The following Wednesday in Washington City, Mrs. Laughinwell introduced Prudence and her Uncle Goodbody to the Springardens, an elderly couple from Philadelphia who were acquainted with the President and his wife, having owned a house on the same block of Sansom Street on which the then-Secretary of State lived for three months in 1806 while being treated for problems with his knees by the famous physician Dr. Phillip Syng Physick.  Mr. Madison had busied himself during his period of treatment by composing a treatise on the respective rights of neutral trading nations and belligerents in time of war.  Had Mr. Goodbody perhaps read this treatise?

     “My husband’s late father read it, Mr. Springarden,” Prudence replied interceptingly, “and I recall his being greatly taken with the cogency of Mr. Madison’s argument, though the elder Mr. Lawrence, engaged in foreign trade in time of war, was predisposed to welcome arguments affirming the right of free trade by neutral nations.  I did not myself read the treatise, nor did you, Uncle, if I am correct,” and turning toward Mr. Goodbody, she received a confirming nod, “and our present concern is not so much with freedom of trade as it is with freeing a particular impressed man, my husband.”

     “Ah, yes,” replied Mr. Springarden, “‘Free trade and sailor’s rights,’ as the slogan goes, though not necessarily in that order, and indeed understandably in the opposite order of priority for you, dear lady, and your uncle.  And the President is quite concerned about both issues, concerned to the point that he may already have decided to ask the Congress for a declaration of war.  He is, moreover, concerned not only with the great issue of war and peace among nations but with the issues of individual freedom, as was demonstrated repeatedly during his time as Secretary of State, and I am sure he would lend an open ear to your case.”

     “If,” said Prudence, “we were able to present our case to him.”

     “As, indeed, you shall be able,” rejoined Mr. Springarden.  “The President and Mrs. Madison hold drawing rooms each Wednesday afternoon, and I would ask that you accompany Mrs. Springarden and me on Wednesday next.”


Prudence does what she can to rescue her husband…