From Albert Gallatin
Treasury Department 11th Augt. 1803
I have the honor to enclose copies of a letter from the collector of Charleston, and of my letters to him & to the Collector of Beaufort respecting the illegal landing of a number of Africans on the island of Beaufort.
The only step which, besides what has been done, could legally be taken on that subject would be to sell one of the three small cutters employed at Wilmington N.C., Charleston, & Savannah and to substitute one of greater force. Whether that measure be immediately necessary is respectfully submitted to your consideration.
I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Your most obedt. Servt.
RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 17 Aug. and “St. Domingo negroes—buy cutter” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) James Simons to Gallatin, 21 July, reports on the seizure of the brig Vinscal after it landed 149 African slaves on the island of Beaufort; he is taking action against the armed ship Nile for the same violation; proper measures will be taken to recover the penalty of $1,000 “for each Negro imported” as provided by law; Simons pledges that with the support of a properly armed vessel, he “will clear the Coast, and put a stop to this traffic”; he advises that the situation of the collector at Beaufort is a “delicate one, as no doubt many Purchasers of Negroes there are his immediate connections”; he requests that Gallatin instruct the Beaufort collector to inform Simons “of the arrival of any Vessel in his neighbourhood with slaves”; a proper force will be required “to seize such vessels and slaves,” but “one such seizure brought up to Charleston with the Negroes on board—and this traffic will end!”; without a proper armed vessel, however, he will not be able to prevent the traffic or “preserve the Neutrality” of the port; he requests that the “Commandant of the Troops” at Fort Johnston and Fort Moultrie be instructed to aid him “with as many Men as I may deem necessary to make seizure of any Vessels fitting out” as French or English privateers at Charleston. (2) Gallatin to James Simons, 10 Aug., informing the collector that “no extraordinary armed force” was contemplated by Congress to execute the act of 28 Feb. 1803; he will refer Simons’s letter to the president at Monticello. (3) Gallatin to Robert G. Guerard, collector at Beaufort, South Carolina, 11 Aug., informing him of the seizure of the brig Vinscal after it landed 149 slaves at Beaufort Island; Gallatin questions how such a “daring violation” of state and federal law was “suffered to pass with impunity” and requests information on “the circumstances of the case and particularly of the causes which enabled the Parties concerned to land those men without your knowledge, and without the fact being afterwards noticed in your District”; Gallatin advises, “it is above all important that you should take the most efficacious measures to detect all those who may have been concerned, in order that the penalties may be recovered, and the Africans taken from those who may have them in possession”; Gallatin orders the Beaufort collector to correspond and exchange information on the subject with the collector at Charleston and with the U.S. attorney for the District of South Carolina (Trs in same; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:205-6). Enclosed in TJ to Madison, 18 Aug.
illegal landing: the act of 28 Feb. 1803 prohibited the importation of slaves into states that had laws against it under penalty of forfeiture and payment of $1,000 “for each and every negro, mulatto, or other person of colour aforesaid, brought or imported.” The collectors and other customs officers were charged with enforcing the law (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:205-6).