James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Carlos Martínez de Yrujo, 19 October 1805 (Abstract)

From Carlos Martínez de Yrujo, 19 October 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Carlos Martínez de Yrujo. 19 October 1805, Neighborhood of Philadelphia. Encloses a true copy of documents lately sent him by secretary of state Pedro Cevallos at the king’s order1 by the contents of which JM will see the offensive threat made by two U.S. citizens called John and James Callier, brothers, one a justice of the peace and the other principal magistrate in the Tensas2 district of the Mississippi Territory, to burn all Spanish ships that should come into their district and to throw the sailors into the water. Leaves it to JM to judge with what fitness there could be left as judges and defenders of the peace two persons so disposed to violate and to break it, as the aforementioned two brothers, if declarations given by several U.S. citizens, who testified to these and other threats of the same tendency many times, can be credited. Persuaded as he is of the good will of the U.S. government in preserving peace and harmony on that border, hopes that in view of these acts, so contrary to preserving them, and supported by irrefutable testimony from American citizens, JM will take appropriate measures so that discord and resentment might not be spread by the same people who by their situation have the double obligations of preventing similar disorders; and so that with time and anticipation, any attempt against the good understanding that ought to rule between individuals of two friendly nations might be prevented.

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, NFL, Spain, vol. 2). RC 3 pp.; in Spanish; in a clerk’s hand, except for Yrujo’s complimentary close and signature; docketed by Wagner, with his note: “Threats of Messrs. Calliers against W. Florida.” For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures (9 pp.; in Spanish; docketed by Wagner) are copies of Vicente Folch’s 18 Sept. 1804 letter to the marqués de Someruelos, with its enclosures Nos. 1 and 2. Enclosure No. 1 is a copy of Carlos Howard to Vicente Folch, 18 Sept. 1804, stating that he was sending his dispatch open to the marqués de Casa Calvo so that he could be aware of the documents he, Howard, was enclosing and might come to an understanding with Governor Claiborne should anything new occur. Howard said that he agreed with [Joaquín] Osorno, [commanding officer at Mobile], that the Calliers’ remarks were empty boasts, but since several of the justices of the peace and magistrates on the American frontier were ignorant or half-civilized, one could not always trust their decisions. Howard enclosed several documents including the 10 Sept. 1804 statement of Joaquín Osorno that he had called several Americans who had just returned from the Calliers’ district to depose, that army lieutenants Francisco Hemeterío de Hevia and Francisco Cañedo had witnessed the depositions with Francisco Fontanilla as the translator. Osorno attached the statements of Robert Chess, John Muirell, and Henry Harvey, who testified variously and with minor differences to the information about the Calliers given by Yrujo. Also enclosed is a copy of Osorno to Folch, 12 Sept. 1804, stating that the inhabitants of Mobile were afraid to go up to American territory because of the Calliers’ threats. Enclosure No. 2 is a copy of Folch to Howard, 8 Oct. 1804, stating that the Calliers’ threats should be considered as the work of foolish individuals, that the government was responsible should their actions fall short of what the law of nations and the treaties between the two countries demanded, advising shipmasters going to the American settlements to conduct themselves moderately, and to inform Spanish officials should they be molested in spite of that. Folch added that the threats were not sufficient to suspend the traffic between West Florida and the settlements, first, because what West Florida got from them was necessary, and second, because if Spanish ships were not to be allowed up the river, the Americans must be prevented from coming down, which would cut off all communication between the two countries, which would be equivalent to a threat of war. Folch further added that so serious a decision was beyond his power and that things should remain as they were until higher authorities could make a decision.


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