James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Williams, 1 October 1805 (Abstract)

From Robert Williams, 1 October 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Robert Williams. 1 October 1805, Washington, Mississippi Territory. “By my communication of the 14th. Ulto. you were informed of some outrages committed within this Territory near the Spanish line, and of the steps I had taken in relation thereto.

“I have now the honor to enclose for your further information, Governor Grandpré’s letter in answer to mine of the 6th. ulto. and my reply to him marked and numbered 1. and 2.—also the documents marked 1. 2. 3. which will inform you of the further steps taken in this affair.1

“The military Patrol which I ordered out on the line were organized, and disbanded on holding themselves in readiness, places appointed to rendezvous under a standing order of the officers commanding, to check any disorders that might appear.

“I have the satisfaction to inform you that things in that quarter have become very quiet and settled, which I believe would not have been the case, but for the measures which were authorized.

“Some of our citizens were concerned in this business, and are bound over to Court for prosecution.

“I am afraid affairs are not going on well in and about Orleans. Governor Claiborne was called from here a few days ago by a letter from the Secretary Mr. Graham, urging him to return immediately, without assigning particular reasons; and I have not such information as will authorize me to even give an opinion.2

“I am really concerned for the personal safety of the Governor. He was in so low a state of health as might have justified his not going down; but his remark to me on the subject was, ‘I will go if I were sure to die the week after I get down.’”

Letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures 2 and 3 (Ms-Ar); draft (CSmH); extract and Tr of enclosures (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 9A–D1); extract and Tr of enclosures (DNA: RG 46, President’s Messages, 9B–B1). The second extract and Tr of enclosures is a letterpress copy of the first extract and Tr of enclosures. Draft docketed “Letter to Madison Secretary of State” and “Recorded.” Extract and enclosures enclosed in Jefferson’s 6 Dec. 1805 message to Congress; extract printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:687. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures (12 pp.; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:687–89) are copies of (1) Carlos Grand Pré to Williams, 9 Sept. 1805, acknowledging receipt of Williams’s 6 Sept. letter about the kidnapping of the Kempers, and stating that he had been told by a Spanish officer that the officer had intercepted “a party of men disguised and armed who were conducting three others, who they immediately abandoned”; that the officer was conducting the three Kempers to Bayou Tunica, whence they were to be delivered to Grand Pré; that the American officer at Point Coupée had stopped and detained the party; that Grand Pré had sent an express for more information, listing the various disorders that had been taking place in West Florida, trusting that Williams would be happy with the measures he was going to take, and asking for the return of the inhabitants who had been escorting the Kempers, since they were not participants in the whole business; (2) Williams’s 30 Sept. 1805 reply, stating that Grand Pré’s equivocal letter had caused him to delay his answer until he had more information; reporting that he had learned that the raid on the Kempers was committed by U.S. citizens and Spanish subjects and that he had sent the Kempers and their Spanish guard to Fort Adams; naming the six Spanish subjects who had been conducting the Kempers, adding that he had released them under escort to Spanish territory and had the Kempers “bound to their good behavior” and to keep the peace toward Spain; describing the seizure and detention of William Flanagan Jr. and his wife by twelve men commanded by Lieutenant Glascock “of Capt Jones’s Company of Spanish Light Horse,” who also stole Flanagan’s horse, and asking Grand Pré to look into this; and refusing Grand Pré’s demand for the return of the Kempers; (3) Williams to Judge Thomas Rodney, 23 Sept. 1805, covering Williams’s 23 Sept. letter to Capt. Richard Sparks at Fort Adams, asking Sparks to deliver the prisoners from Point Coupée to Rodney, to have the Spanish subjects, should the civil authorities release them, escorted to the boundary with West Florida and released; and expressing his hope that the Kempers would be dealt with as the law authorized; and (4) Thomas Rodney to Williams, 30 Sept. 1805, stating that his examination revealed that a party composed of twelve white and seven black men had broken into the Kempers’ houses, taken them prisoner, and carried them below the boundary, where the Kempers had been handed over to Captain Alston and a party of twelve; that the original group then had left; that Alston had ordered the Kempers and six of his men onto a boat for Baton Rouge; that as this party was passing the American fort at Point Coupée the Kempers had been rescued by the Americans who had also seized the Spanish guards, who were released when the Kempers testified that those men had done nothing within U.S. territory. He added that the Kempers had been ordered to post bail that they would keep the peace and “to do no injury to any one below the line.”

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