James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 16 August 1805 (Abstract)

From William C. C. Claiborne, 16 August 1805 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne. 16 August 1805, New Orleans. “The enclosure No, 1 is the last letter received from the Marquis on the subject of Mr. Moralis’s continuance in this Territory, and No, 2 a Copy of my Answer.1

“I do not Know how far the part I have acted on this occasion will be approved of by the President; But I pray you to be assured that my conduct is directed by my best Judgment and a sincere disposition to protect the Interest of my Country.”

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 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received 24 Sept. Filed with the enclosures is a note in Jefferson’s hand: “the papers respecting Morales are retained Th: J. will be glad to see the Volume from Sibley.” For that volume, see John Sibley to JM, 10 Aug. 1805. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1Enclosure No. 1 is a translation of Casa Calvo to Claiborne, 12 Aug. 1805 (3 pp.; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 3:170–72), stating that he had informed Morales of the demand in Claiborne’s 9 Aug. 1805 letter (see Claiborne to JM, 10 Aug. 1805, n. 2), that Morales had replied that “great prejudice for the Spanish Government may be the consequence of Such a measure” and had asked Casa Calvo to ask Claiborne to stay his determination until Morales could execute the orders entrusted to him. Casa Calvo added that although Claiborne had been urging the departure of the Spanish officials since October 1804, and although he himself had repeatedly sent orders to the same effect, it had proven impossible to settle the business that was yet pending because of the “sudden change of Government, in a Country whither the Posts are placed at such a distance,” giving as an example the evacuation of the troops from upper Louisiana which had only been completed in March 1805, adding that Morales’s continued presence was not meant as a mark of disrespect but was necessitated by his duty to uphold the king’s interests. Casa Calvo further added that he would do his best to remove any obstacles to the closing of the Spanish offices and the speedy termination of pending business in any way that would not prejudice the king’s interest. Enclosure No. 2 is a copy of Claiborne’s 14 Aug. 1805 reply (3 pp.; printed ibid., 167–68), stating that he had no desire to injure the king’s interest except when it interfered with that of the United States; that in spite of the time for the departure of the Spanish officers having elapsed, he would allow them to remain a “reasonable time” to settle their business; that because of the pending negotiations between their countries, he could not “suffer a Foreign Officer to make any disposition of Lands” claimed by the United States; that Morales apparently fully intended to complete the sales he had made of Florida lands west of the Perdido River and to sell even more; and that the only basis on which he could allow Morales to remain was if Morales wrote him that “during his residence in this City no further disposition of Lands West of the Perdido” would be made by him. Claiborne expressed his appreciation for the frankness and sincerity of Casa Calvo’s letters, which had disposed Claiborne to make allowance for the difficulties Casa Calvo had suggested.

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