James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Vincent Gray, 4 February 1803

From Vincent Gray, 4 February 1803

Havana 4th. Feby. 1803.


I wrote you on the 21st. ⟨u⟩lt. by the ship Jupiter Captain ⟨Gernon⟩ for ⟨N⟩ew york, to which I will refer you.

Since that time a Licence hath been ⟨re⟩ceived here, by a merchant of this place, ⟨T⟩omas Cruz Muñoz, granted by his Catholic Majesty, to Dr. Francisco Figueros y Vargas, ⟨n⟩amed therein, allowing the importation ⟨of⟩ Provision &c. from the United States, into ⟨t⟩his Island. This Licence it is said ⟨w⟩as purchased from Figueros by the House ⟨of⟩ Torrys of Cadiz for 100, 000 Dollars, & ⟨se⟩nt out to their agent here, to be carried ⟨in⟩to execution, a copy of which you have ⟨h⟩erewith enclosed.

On its being presented at the Intendency ⟨fo⟩r the purpose of being recorded and pub⟨lis⟩hed in the usual manner and form the Intendant withheld his assent and which hath not yet been obtained; but, I have lit⟨tle⟩ doubt but what it will, as his refusal aris⟨es⟩ not from patriotic but pecuniary views and which the holder of the Licence will ⟨not⟩ indulge. I have also been informed that the "Junta Economico y de Gobierno", have been convened on the subject, and are not disposed to see the said Licence carried into effect

It is also confidently stated that they intend forwarding a remonstrance to his Catholic Majesty, against it; and of offering to refund the Sum paid, to the person to whom it was granted. This I do not believe will be done, as the councils of this Government, are too much divided, and too much operated upon by other motives than the good of the colony, to oppose legally a Royal Edict, however prejudicial to their interest and that of their Country or Colony.

In my last I mentioned the arrival here of General Noailles, since which time I have visited him twice. In conversations with him ⟨r⟩especting the United States, I found that he spoke ⟨op⟩enly, and with great respect, on the subject ⟨of⟩ her relations with his Government; and ⟨in⟩ one, on the subject of taking possession of ⟨Lo⟩uisiana by his nation, he informed me that ⟨he⟩ expected the arrival of the Troops at the cape ⟨so⟩on, for that purpose, but as the number ⟨w⟩ould not be so great as generally supposed ⟨the⟩ Commander in cheif at the cape, would ⟨be⟩ under the necessity of detaining them ⟨in⟩ order to recover the whole of the Island, before ⟨th⟩e commencement of the unhealthy season; therefore it was uncertain, when they would have it in their power to take possession of Louisiana.

The General hath not yet succeeded ⟨in⟩ the objects of his visit here, and I am almost certain that he will not.

When I see him again, which will be at ⟨h⟩is country House, when I have recovered ⟨m⟩y health, I will endeavor to learn, whether ⟨i⟩t is his intention, in case of not succeeding here, to proceed to Veracruz or to the United States. I am Sir, very respectfully Your mo: Obt. serv.

Vincent Gray

P.S. Since writing the foregoing, I have rec⟨d.⟩ information that I can depend upon, stating that the Frigate in which General Noailles arrived here, will sail from hence for the Cape in four or five days, and that the General will remain here for some time, and then proceed to the Cape, instead of the United States.

Having consented to act as attorney for some Americans, having large concerns in this Island unsettled, my departure fro⟨m⟩ this country, will be procrastinated for at least 12 months longer.

Vt. G

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