James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 10 August 1805 (Abstract)

From William C. C. Claiborne, 10 August 1805 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne. 10 August 1805, New Orleans. “I now transmit you a Copy of the Marquis’s answer (marked No 1)1 to my Letter of the 3rd. Inst. You will perceive Sir, that Morales has authority to continue his Sales in West Florida; that he contemplates residing in this City, and proposes to issue Official orders from hence, as Intendant of East and West Florida. I consider a conduct of this kind, not only disrespectful, but insulting to this Government, and I have accordingly addressed on this day a Letter to the Marquis, of which the enclosed (no 2)2 is a copy. Since the possession of this Territory by the United States, the departure of Morales has several times been solicited; I considered him an unprincipled, intrigu’ing Man, and was persuaded that his views were Hostile to the Interest of the United States. His early departure was promised; He once assured me in person (in the month of May last) that his King had ordered him to Mexico, and that he would depart so soon as some necessary Business relating to the Kings revenue was adjusted. I requested him to expedite that Business, and in the mean time promised him protection, and this I presume is the ‘assent’ to which he alludes.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 7); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 15). RC 2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received 17 Sept. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted. For enclosures, see nn.

1The enclosure (2 pp.; marked “No. 1.”; docketed by Wagner; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 3:159–60) is a copy of a translation, certified by interpreter Moreau Lislet, of Casa Calvo to Claiborne, 8 Aug. 1805, transmitting Juan Ventura Morales’s statement that he had received a royal order that removed the obstacles to land transfers laid down by Vicente Folch, who had forbidden the governor of Baton Rouge to permit the survey or transfer of Spanish lands sold since 18 May 1803; that Morales had been instructed to bring to conclusion all pending land sale proceedings; that he would exercise his functions during his stay in the territory; that he had Claiborne’s assent to this; and that he would fulfill his duties as intendant relative to the king’s interests in Louisiana and West Florida.

2Claiborne enclosed a 10 Aug. 1805 copy of his reply to Casa Calvo (2 pp.; marked “No. 2”; docketed by Wagner; printed ibid., 160–61, where it is dated 9 Aug.), repeating that the time prescribed by treaty for the withdrawal of Spanish authorities had long expired, stating that he could not see by what authority Morales presumed to exercise within U.S. territory his functions as intendant, asking Casa Calvo to close Morales’s office and to direct him to repair to Spanish territory to transact his public business, adding that he considered Morales’s remaining there and acting as intendant “not only as disrespectful, but a direct insult to this government.” He requested that Casa Calvo, if he lacked the power to comply with Claiborne’s wishes, inform him promptly so Claiborne might “have recourse to Such other measures as my duty shall enjoin.”

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