To James Madison
Feb. 8. 1803.
Th:J. to J.M.
I had before heard this matter spoken of, but did not suppose it seriously intended. if there be any danger of it, the Secretary at war will be desired to give orders at Massac & Fort Adams to stop them by force. but would it not be well to write to the Govr. of Kentucky to have the persons arrested & bound to their good behavior or the peace?
RC (DNA: RG 59, NL); addressed “The Secretary of State” below a canceled address in Jacob Wagner’s hand to “The President of the United States” from the State Department. Not recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Carlos Martínez de Irujo to Madison, 5 Feb.; he understands that inflammatory statements in newspapers in recent weeks have created considerable agitation in the western part of Pennsylvania along the banks of the Ohio River; according to reports, a desperate individual intends to collect a number of volunteers, who with others from the states of Kentucky and Tennessee will attack Louisiana as a means of exacting justice for their complaints against the intendant at New Orleans; it is likely that enemies of the United States and Spain have fostered this foolhardy expedition by secret means, and although they cannot accomplish the object they desire, they will embarrass the U.S. government and undermine the just, circumspect, and prudent measures that have brought so much honor to American justice and enlightenment; convinced of the good faith and constructive policies of the president, Irujo has no doubt that the government of the United States has heard with due indignation of these plans to create contempt for the laws and the Constitution; he is certain that the U.S. will take—as he asks in the name of the king—action to stop an enterprise so contrary to the internal peace of the United States and to a monarch who has given proof of his good faith and sincere friendship; Madison, recognizing that this spark will ignite a fire fueled by ambition and intrigue in the western country, will see that prompt and decisive measures are the only way to frustrate the sinister designs of a party that is attempting to bring itself to power on the public ruin; Irujo hopes that everything necessary has been done to preserve order and friendship with foreign powers and to confirm the justified reputation of TJ’s administration as a government based on virtue and justice (RC in same, in Spanish; see Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:303).
if there be any danger: Irujo repeated his entreaties to Madison on 14 Feb. (same, 4:321). For orders given by the secretary of war a few days after that, see Topics for Consultation with Heads of Departments, at 10 Feb. below.
write to the govr: Madison wrote to the governors of Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Tennessee on 18 Feb., noting the Spanish minister’s concern about the reports of an armed force being raised to “proceed with hostile intentions” against Louisiana. “As such a procedure would be not only incompatible with the authority and dignity of the Government but dangerous to our peace with foreign nations,” Madison informed each of the governors, “the President entertains the fullest confidence, that your Excellency will take the most early and efficient measures to restrain such an attempt” (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:327).