James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 31 January 1803 (Abstract)

§ From William Jarvis

31 January 1803, Lisbon. Last wrote on 20 Dec.1 enclosing a dispatch from Graham to JM and a letter to Robert Smith from Murray. Having received no instructions from JM about the prohibition of flour, and thinking it should not be passed over, he submitted new arguments. Hopes JM will not disapprove. “At present no Vessel has been refused an entry with flour under the slight pretext of a long passage when it is publicly known that they have not had more than thirty or thirty five days.” The small quantity of grain on hand, combined with the impossibility of obtaining supplies from the Baltic before spring or any at all from the Levant, arouses hopes that if he waits “untill they are very short of bread stuff (which will be the case in 5 or six weeks if much does not arrive from the U. S)” and then replies to the minister’s answer, the government may again admit flour. “To see the property of ⟨my⟩ fellow Citizens falling a sacrifice to the Quarantine has chagrined me beyond measure.… I have written what my information or ingenuity suggested … but without effect.” Presumes the severity is due to Spain’s turning away indiscriminately all U.S. vessels that have not performed quarantine in other countries. The Portuguese may assume that Spain, having a minister and consuls in the U.S., possesses information which they lack. There are now under quarantine five ships mentioned in his last letter and two that “arrived the last evening.” Mentioned in his last note to the minister that breadstuffs do not carry infection, having heard that the officers wished to enforce the order of 10 Jan. by purging the cargoes in the lazaretto. “A quarantine is their harvest, & I assure you Sir it does not lessen my difficulty.” Having had no reply to his letter requesting the proceedings against the Aurora and the Four Sisters, has written again and expects to receive them soon. Owing to the accumulation of enclosures, has numbered them: (1) 15 Oct. circular from O’Brien and 20 Dec. letter and 29 Dec. extract from Gavino;2 (2) 9 Nov. circular from Eaton and extract of a 29 Dec. letter from Willis;3 (3) a letter, with a copy of the chancellery translation, from the regent announcing the birth of a son, the minister’s 23 Dec. letter, and his own 10 Jan. reply;4 (4) his 3 Jan. letter regarding flour prohibition and the minister’s 10 Jan. reply, with translation;5 (5) a 4 Dec. order for U.S. ships arriving at Oporto and Figueira to come to Lisbon to perform quarantine;6 (6) his 8 Jan. letter on the subject;7 (7) an order of 10 Jan. to outlying ports;8 (8) the minister’s 10 Jan. reply to his 8 Jan. letter;9 (9) his own reply of 17 Jan.; (10) the minister’s answer of 21 Jan.; (11) his own reply of 22 Jan.; (12) his 24 Jan. note requesting the Aurora papers; (13) the minister’s reply of 26 Jan.; and (14) his own 29 Jan. reply, which also addresses the quarantine.10

In a 20 Jan. letter Graham reports receiving a 14 Dec. letter from Pinckney at Rome stating that he would leave there immediately via Naples. Graham expects him daily. Jarvis hopes JM will excuse his not including a semiannual report. Was prevented by the press of business and by not having received returns from Oporto until the last post.

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