James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Teasdale, 24 September 1805 (Abstract)

From John Teasdale, 24 September 1805 (Abstract)

§ From John Teasdale. 24 September 1805, Charleston. “Being persuaded the following statement of facts may come under your attention that in September 1803 I loaded my Schooner the Hiram John Fiott master with Provissions to the Bay of Hondoras that on her passage the Capt⟨n.⟩; touched at Cape Mole St Nicholas & was boarded by the Port officer who told him that the government must have his Provissions & Cargo for wch. they woud give him an order on the Commanding Officer at Cape franceway to pay him in money or Coff⟨ee.⟩; His Letter to me says that they was in a distressd state, haveing had nothing for the people to subsist on for some days that they would only allow him the price they pleased. On arrival at Cape france way he applyd agreeable to the order on the government for pay & was informd there was no produce or money there but woud give him Bills on france for the amount, which finally Cap⟨n.⟩; fiott was oblidged reluctantly to receive, dureing this time the place was invested by the brigands & in about a week after Cape Francois was lost, compelling the Schooner to bring as many of the inhabitants as he could from there, on comeing out of that port, he was boarded by an Officer of an English man of war, who sent her down to Jamaica as french Property on the day he landed he was took sick & in four days he died in Kingston, the Bills was forwarded the day on his arrival there in a letter to me & agreeable to their tenor I sent them to Mr Skipwith at Paris for payment, from the account I have recd they yet remain unpaid nor is there any probability of their being soon settled, from the Information of a gentleman who has had some lately paid, that if a representation of facts attending my Bills was represented by the minister resideing there they would have great Influence with the heads of that government. I shoud think myself greatly oblidged could I prevail on you to forward a Statement Of this to the minister at Paris for him to make application & to urge payment of said Bills now in the hands of Mr Skipwith.

“My situation with that of many other⟨s,⟩; here are much distressd intirely oweing to the transactions of this nature with also the spoliations committed on my property on which account am now oblidged to apply for your aid in obtaining for me that Justice they are so unwilling to grant & which the present case requires with much Esteem I am &c1

Copy of the Bills2
No 279 Cape 12 brumair year 12 90 days sight pay to the order of John F⟨i⟩att master of the Schooner Hiram 6222—franks—14—for provissions & Tobacco deliverd at Cape
Mole St Nickolas on the french government at Paris
Indorsed John Fiott & John Teasdale & Signd by B⟨i⟩souard & others
No. 280. same date same sight to John Fiott at 90 dys sight for 39333 franks 12—for provissions deliverd to the french Government at Cape Mole s Nickolas on the french marine at Paris. Indorsed John fi ott & John Teasdale.3

Tr and enclosures (DNA: RG 76, Preliminary Inventory 177, entry 123, France, Convention of 1803 [Spoliation], Misc. Claims, ca. 1798–1804, envelope 3, folder 3). Tr 3 pp. Unsigned; conjectural correspondent assigned based on contents of letter and enclosures. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures (3 pp.) are copies of (1) Teasdale to Fulwar Skipwith, 20 Apr. 1804, which enclosed the two bills of exchange, asking Skipwith to have them paid and converted to cash to be sent to the firm of Andrews & Cook at Bordeaux, who had Teasdale’s order to spend the money on “articles suitable for the consumption of this City,” and to acknowledge receipt of the letter and bills; (2) Teasdale to Skipwith, 31 Oct. 1804, reminding him of the 20 Apr. letter, stating that several of his friends had had such bills negotiated at Paris and Bordeaux at eight percent and the money sent to England, noting that he was not disposed to let a sum as large as that owed to him “lay dormant,” asking Skipwith again to convert the bills into cash, stating that merchant houses in Charleston were distressed because of the seizures in the West Indies by French ships and the withholding of funds by the French governments there, lamenting his own involvement, and suggesting that if the government would not pay, then Skipwith should attempt to have the claim included in those to be paid out of the Louisiana Purchase Claims Convention funds; (3) Teasdale to Andrews & Cook, 31 Oct. 1804, acknowledging receipt of their 18 July 1804 letter, stating that Skipwith’s silence left him ignorant of the fate of the bills he had sent and that he had written Skipwith again asking him to convert the bills into cash to be sent to Bordeaux, asking them to have half the funds laid out on “Course Linen, Brittanies a few cambricks & boxes of fruit in Brandy” and the other half spent on “Clarret Wine in Hhds a few pipes of Brandy & 50 Cases of Oil to be shipped by a good American vessell,” adding that there was an abundance in Charleston of everything but woolen goods and that the hurricane there in early September had done “great Injury” to the cotton crop; and (4) Teasdale to Skipwith, 26 Apr. 1805, acknowledging receipt of the latter’s letter of 4 Jan. explaining his silence, stating that Andrews & Cook had not informed him of Skipwith’s request for information, observing that he saw that commissioners had been named to look into the Saint-Domingue bills and that the wording of the ones he had sent made it clear they were in exchange for provisions for the garrison at Môle Saint-Nicholas, adding that had Captain Fiott been able to sell the provisions to the residents of Cap Français, he could have obtained four times as much money and asking Skipwith to explain this to the commissioners, stating that the current state of the local market discouraged him from having the funds laid out on goods and asking Skipwith to keep them and inform Teasdale that he had them at which point he would be advised to send the money on.

2In 1827 Secretary of State Henry Clay’s report to Congress on ships seized by France between 1793 and 1800 included a list of unpaid claims among which was John Teasdale’s claim for $8,427.67 for two unpaid bills of exchange (Williams, French Assault on American Shipping, 37, 370).

3English-born merchant John Teasdale (ca. 1752–1818) had been a resident of Charleston, South Carolina, for forty years when he died. He left the city with the British army when they evacuated it in 1782 but returned to marry, build a home, and open up the cotton trade (Charleston City Gazette & Daily Advertiser, 23 Nov. 1818; PJM 6:30 n. 5; C. Irvine Walker, The Romance of Lower Carolina: Historic, Romantic and Traditional Incidents of the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras… [Charleston, 1915], 116).

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