James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson, 14 February 1804

From William C. C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson

New Orleans Feby 14 1804.


You will receive under cover herewith a duplicate of our last of the 7th current, also a copy of a Report made to us by Docr. Watkins1 Physician of the Port, relative to the Situation of the People on Board the French Transport from St Domingo, and the arrangements to be made for them at Placquemines.

On the first of the present Month we received a Letter from the French Commissioner a copy of which is inclosed,2 containing a Report & Complaint made by the Captain of the French Transport against the Commandant at Placquemines, for having fired two cannon Shot at his Vessel & forced him to cut his Cable, whereby he lost his only remaining Anchor. We immediately wrote to Capt. Cooper at Placquemines to enquire into that Transaction, and answered the Letter of the French Commissioner3 by observing, that as no Orders had been given to justify the Outrage described, the Officer would be called to account and punished if guilty, but that in the mean Time we flattered ourselves the affair had originated in some Misunderstanding. Having received the Answer of Capt. Cooper (a Copy of which is under cover)4 the French Commissioner was furnished with a Copy thereof, together with an Extract of that Part of Docr. Watkins’ Report, which explains that Transaction.5 In his Reply dated the 9. current (a Copy of which is under Cover)6 a further Specimen is given of the Insolence, which marks the Character of this Man in his Correspondence with us. We have not yet thought proper to notice this Letter or that which he wrote us on the 25 ulto.7 but we shall not fail to reply to them in proper terms, before we close our Correspondence, which we expect to do in a few Days. We renew to you the Assurances of our high & respectful Consideration.

William C. C. Claiborne

Ja: Wilkinson

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