James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Williams, 14 September 1805 (Abstract)

From Robert Williams, 14 September 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Robert Williams. 14 September 1805, Washington, Mississippi Territory. “The enclosed affidavits marked No, 1 to 11 inclusive will inform you of some outrages committed within this Territory by two Spanish parties.1 The letters marked No. 1. to 5 and an Order to Colo Ellis will inform you of the steps which I have thought it advisable to take.2 The Messenger with my letter to Governor Grand Pré has not returned altho he was requested and undertook to be back by this Morning. I have not rec’d any answer to my dispatch to you on this subject of the 14th of June [not found].

“If Sir I am to risque any thing on this occasion it shall be in the defence of the liberties and the property of the Citizens and in the support of the Honor and Independence of my Government. And I hope the measures taken and advised by me will not be found adverse to the views of the Executive or to the Interest of the United States.”

Letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures 1, 4, and 5 (Ms-Ar: Executive Journal, 1805–1810); Tr and Tr of enclosures (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 9A–D1); Tr and Tr of enclosures (DNA: RG 46, President’s Messages, 9B–B1). Second Tr and Tr of enclosures are letterpress copies of first Tr and Tr of enclosures. Tr and enclosures printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:683–87.

1The affidavits (14 pp.; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:683–86) describe the kidnapping of Nathan, Reuben, and Samuel Kemper from their homes in Pinckneyville, Mississippi Territory, on the night of 3 Sept. 1805 by a large group of men, residents of that territory and of Spanish West Florida; the Kempers being carried into West Florida and delivered to militia captain Solomon Alston, who placed them on a boat to be taken to Baton Rouge; their rescue by an American army unit when they called for help while passing Point Coupée; and an earlier invasion of American territory on 21 Aug. 1805 by a contingent of Spanish light horse in search of William Flanagan Sr., who had purportedly killed a man in West Florida and fled across the border into Mississippi Territory.

2The letters (6 pp.; printed ibid., 686–87) are copies of (1) Williams to Carlos Grand Pré, 6 Sept. 1805, describing the kidnapping attempt on the Kempers and asking Grand Pré to explain the incident and to “provide against similar outrages”; (2) Lt. William Wilson, commandant at Point Coupée, to Williams, 5 Sept. 1805, describing his rescue of the Kempers and asking that Williams consult with William C. C. Claiborne, who Wilson assumed was visiting the town of Washington, and tell Wilson what to do; (3) Richard Sparks, commandant at Fort Adams, to Williams, 7 Sept. 1805, transmitting Wilson’s letter and stating that he could send twenty-five men and a subaltern to Wilson’s aid should Williams wish; (4) Williams to Wilson, 9 Sept. 1805, approving his conduct and asking him to send the Kempers and their assailants to Fort Adams under the guard of the men Captain Sparks would send to Point Coupée; (5) Williams to Sparks, 9 Sept. 1805, transmitting his letter to Wilson and asking Sparks to keep the men Wilson was to send under military guard until they could be delivered to civilian authority; and (6) Williams to Col. John Ellis, of the Fifth Regiment of the Mississippi militia, 9 Sept. 1805, ordering him to send one hundred and six troops in two companies to patrol the boundary with West Florida and to intercept any suspicious parties attempting to cross from there.

Index Entries