From James Madison
Aug. 20. 1803
I have recd. yours of the 16th. with the accompanying papers. The communications &c. recd. since my last are enclosed. The letters from Paris are important, but I do not see in them the Wish of the F. Govt. to retract the bargain with our Ministers, so much as an anxiety to secure its execution agst. the intrusions of G.B. and to feel thro’ their pulse, whether we were or were likely to be in any understanding with G.B. on the subject. Thornton’s letters &c. are in the spirit, tho’ beyond the degree to have been anticipated. I should for that reason have given him no opportunity for his very exceptionable remarks on the subject of impressments, had not his interposition been wanted immediately. I presume it will be best to give no answer, notwithstanding the allegations of some facts which might seem to require notice. Clarke’s remarks are judicious, but I think he might have assumed the proper course to be pursued, takg care to foster individual expectations as little as possible. The letters from C. Pinkny1 will require no particular answer, till we hear from Monroe. What is to be said to Graham? Will it not be best to say nothing to him also, till we hear from the same quarter? You will please to decide on the subject of the Gun Carriages. If good ones can be sent from the Navy in time, I think Simpson’s advice ought to be followed. Should this be your opinion, Mr Smith will probably expect it to go to him immediately from yourself. Perhaps you may think it proper to inclose Mr. Gallatin the letters from Paris, which refer to arrangements which touch his Dept.
With respectful attachment yrs always
What ought to be the decision of Derieux’s claim. With an exception of the gratification for which there is no good pretext, and for which he offers very bad ones, his charge is less objectionable in itself, than as it exceeds the idea of Monroe who could best appreciate the proper extent of it.
RC (DLC); endorsement torn; at foot of text: “The President of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the State Department on 22 Aug. and
“Liv’s & Monr’s lres.
Thornton’s on impressmts.
cruizing from our ports
Clarke’s on indemnificn N. Orleans
troops from Rochambeau
Thos. Appleton’s. Leghorn
George Davis. Tunis
Mitchell. Havre. blockade
Simpson’s. gun carriages
Thos. Newton. man restd by B[oston]
and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Robert R. Livingston and Monroe to Madison, 7 June, reporting their concern that the French government may be dissatisfied with the Louisiana transaction and will seek ways to change the terms; they also enclose a copy of the Baring firm’s contract and warn against any delays on the part of the United States in complying with the conditions of the sale; they consider it “incontrovertible” that West Florida must be included in the Louisiana cession; and they report that they have organized a board of commissioners to process American claims against France as specified by the Louisiana treaty (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:66-72; see also Livingston to TJ, 2 June; enclosed in TJ to Gallatin, 23 Aug.). (2) Monroe to Madison, 7 June, enclosing his examination of the question of the bounds of Louisiana (see Livingston to TJ, 26 May); he reiterates “the propriety of an early decision on and complyance with the stipulations in the treaty & conventions”; he is hesitating about whether to go to Spain or wait in France for word from the United States; he also encloses letters exchanged by Rufus King and Lord Hawkesbury in May about the Louisiana purchase (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:72-7; enclosed in TJ to Gallatin, 23 Aug.). (3) Edward Thornton to Madison, 13 Aug., replying to Madison’s complaint about the actions of the British frigate Boston; he notes that the impressed seamen are no longer being held by the British and believes that in the correspondence between the collector of customs at Norfolk and the British consul there, one can see “on the part of Captain Douglas some willingness to repair any error, in which the notorious frauds practised by pretended American Seamen cannot fail occasionally to lead him”; Thornton regrets that at a time when Britain is entering a war upon which may hinge “the existence of every independent nation,” some newspaper editors in the United States “have seized with an avidity and with a malignity perfectly unaccountable the barely plausible ground of complaint, which His Majesty’s Commanders have afforded in a very small number of instances,” and so he gives his own views on the subject of impressment; a nation has a right, he asserts, to prevent its subjects from being conveyed to an enemy port; also, in times of war every nation “has an unquestioned claim on the assistance of all its members,” and neutrals cannot with justice aid the subjects of another country in avoiding their duty; problems arise with British impressment in America because of the “extreme difficulty” of distinguishing “between persons, whose language, manners and usages are absolutely the same”; few people would deny the right of a French naval commander to remove from a neutral ship “bound directly or by contingency to the country of his enemies, French artisans, French passengers, French sailors, who might eventually contribute to the strength of the enemy, or whose services might be usefully employed for his own country”; it is the “prescribed duty” of a commander of a British ship of war “to demand from every foreign vessel any British Seaman whom it may have on board”; he will not detail the “abuses and frauds” he knows to have occurred to prevent the impressment of British subjects, but surely the U.S. government “will see the necessity of adopting some more effectual regulations” or of cooperating with Britain “in some arrangement, which may tend to place the navigation of the two countries upon a more desirable footing in this particular”; responding to Madison’s complaint that British ships use American ports as stations for cruises along the coast, he asserts that without a British squadron on the U.S. coast “these seas would swarm with privateers, either furtively equipped in the ports of the United States, or entering and receiving in them refreshment and asylum”; ships of a nation at peace with the United States “have an undoubted right to an hospitable reception in the country” and a right to obtain information to protect their nation’s interests; a “very extensive commerce in articles contraband of war is at this moment carrying on from the ports of the Union to the ports of the King’s enemies”; the U.S. government, “while it does not prohibit, does not defend or justify this commerce, which to say the best of it in the hands of a neutral individual is a debasing and nefarious traffic”; ships of the U.S. squadron engaged in war with a Barbary state have used the harbors of Britain and of other friendly nations in the Mediterranean, have made use of information obtained in those ports, have blockaded an enemy vessel in the port at Gibraltar, and once entered a port on Minorca in search of a Tripolitan corsair; no one should question the right of the United States to take these actions, and Thornton does not believe that the “justice” and “necessity” of those measures “can be at all weakened by increasing in any assigned ratio the power, the ingenuity, or the civilization of the enemy” (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:304-7; see Madison to TJ, 13 Aug.). (4) Thornton to Madison, 13 Aug., enclosing a copy of a letter from Douglas to John Hamilton, the British consul at Norfolk, regarding Douglas’s actions in the incident involving the French vessel Anne (see Madison to TJ, 13 Aug.); Thornton is certain “that the sentiments of respect” that Douglas “professes to entertain for the government of the United States are equally genuine and sincere”; Thornton cannot deny the “irregularity of sending a boat to examine a foreign vessel lying within the territorial protection of the United States” but asserts that there was no “intention of offering disrespect either to the American or French Government”; the actions were motivated by a misunderstanding about the instructions to British officers and by the practice of maritime nations “of mutually enquiring after and surrendering deserters from each other’s service” (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:308). (5) Daniel Clark to Madison, 20 June from New Orleans, regarding instructions from Madison to keep accounts of “payments exacted from our Citizens” during the suspension of the right of deposit; in addition to payments made by Americans to land their cargoes, there were considerable losses due to “the loss of a market & fall in value of our Commodities which the owners were forced to sell while afloat at any Price offered for them”; if compensation is to be sought from the Spanish crown, “it ought to be on a large Scale, say at least half the Value of the Exports of a Year from the whole of our Western Country,” to enable the payment of any claim, “without which it would I think be imprudent to awaken Expectation by calling for an account of Losses from Individuals” who have “generally neglected taking the necessary Precautions to substantiate the damages they have sustained”; Clark will “carefully avoid mentioning the circumstance until I hear again from you,” but if anyone applies to him to register a claim he will do so (same, 107-8). (6) Clark to Madison, 1 July, informing him that Spanish colonial authorities believe that the French colonial prefect, Pierre Clément Laussat, has requested troops from Saint-Domingue to help him take possession, and that the troops will soon arrive; the Spanish want Clark to inform the U.S. government of the situation and say that they “will do all in their power” to resist the landing of any force that does not have a royal order from Spain for the transfer of possession; the Vicomte de Rochambeau has informed Laussat that although the situation at Saint-Domingue is “critical,” he will send support; the Spanish have asked for sloops of war from Havana; there is obvious “jealousy” between French and Spanish officials in Louisiana, which, Clark notes, “I wish we could turn to our own advantage” (same, 133). (7) Charles Pinckney to Madison, 4 May from Madrid, enclosing a copy of a letter he has received from Pedro Cevallos, the Spanish minister of state, reporting that the king “declines selling the Floridas”; the Spanish government also declares that the 1795 treaty does not provide for indemnification of American losses caused by the closure of the deposit at New Orleans; the Spanish now refer to the right of deposit at New Orleans as a favor granted by the crown, which Pinckney believes reinforces the view that the French want American rights on the Mississippi to be in a doubtful state when France takes possession of Louisiana; he encloses copies of two letters he wrote to Livingston and Monroe; he has not heard from Washington since January and is “entirely in the dark” about actions that Congress may have taken recently; “I am happy I obtained the restoration of the Deposit & hope the Order is arrived before this time”; the Spanish quarantine on ships from America has also been lifted (same, 4:571-2). (8) Pinckney to Madison, 12 May; he hopes that Madison has received the copy he sent of the secret article of the Treaty of San Ildefonso for the retrocession of Louisiana from Spain to France; he sent it also to Monroe and Livingston, who had not been able to obtain it from the French; as war in Europe appears imminent, the United States will be in a strong position as a neutral, for the “spirit shewn by our Country, in the business of New Orleans, has had a very good effect in raising the national Character in Europe, & I hope will prevent agression in future”; he has received Madison’s letter informing him that the convention for settlement of American claims will be submitted for further negotiation, and he awaits instructions about whether claims for French captures must be included; it has just been reported in Madrid that France and Britain are at war (same, 595-8; Vol. 38:207-8n). (9) Thomas Appleton to Madison, 23 May from Leghorn; he has not been able to have the quarantine on American ships removed; he reports that Leghorn is “the entrepot of distressed seamen” yet the amount of money allowed by the U.S. government for the support of distressed seamen is too low; having learned that Stephen Cathalan, Jr., has been made naval agent for supplying U.S. ships within his consulate, Appleton hopes that he will receive similar powers; France controls much of Italy, and Bonaparte has troops poised to take the ports of Naples; British forces have left Egypt and strengthened Malta; he encloses letters (not identified) for the president (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:25-6). (10) George Davis to Madison from Tunis, perhaps a letter of 8 Mch. reporting that Richard V. Morris left him at Tunis to act temporarily in the consular post following William Eaton’s departure (same, 4:405). (11) John Graham to Madison, 7 May from Aranjuez, Spain, stating that he does not believe the Spanish government will indemnify American claims for damages caused by the revocation of the deposit; the Spanish have shown little disposition to be friendly toward the United States, which, he believes, could successfully seize New Orleans by force; if the army is called into service for this purpose, he “should be happy to join it” and asks in any event to be permitted to retire from his present position as secretary to the U.S. legation in Spain (see Vol. 35:190n), “which from various causes, has long been to me an uncomfortable one” (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:578-81). (12) John Mitchell to Madison, 14 June from Le Havre, forwarding dispatches from Livingston and Monroe and reporting that British ships have prevented several neutral vessels, including two from the United States, from entering this harbor; the British boarded two other American vessels and allowed them to pass after examining their papers; he asks for a permanent appointment as commercial agent (same, 5:98). (13) James Simpson to Madison, 8 June from Tangier, urging that the gun carriages be sent to Morocco, for with the renewal of war it will be impossible to procure gun carriages from Europe, and “it would be hazardous to offer Cash” in place of them; he reports a general belief that Morocco will declare war on the Batavian Republic (same, 5:84-5; enclosed in TJ to Robert Smith, 23 Aug.). (14) Thomas Newton, Jr., to Madison, 8 Aug. from Norfolk, reporting that the British had released the fourth man detained by the Boston from the Charles Carter (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- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:290). (15) J. P. P. Derieux, account of expenses, not found, received by Jacob Wagner on 17 Aug. (same, 320).
idea of monroe: Monroe promised Derieux reimbursement for the time he had to wait in Paris for the preparation of the papers he carried, his passage across the Atlantic, and his expenses to reach Washington, but “it will remain with you,” Monroe wrote to Madison, to give Derieux “such compensation as you may think just & reasonable.” The total, Monroe thought, would not exceed $200 (same, 5, 24).
1. Name interlined in place of “Madrid.”