James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Power, 20 July 1803

From Robert Power, 20 July 1803

Teneriffe July 20, 1803.


In the absence of Mr. G. W. Mc.Elroy, who h⟨a⟩s authorized me to act as representative of the United States of America, I have receiv’d your official letter of the 9th. of April, ⟨an⟩d shall do all in my power to enforce a punctual execution ⟨of⟩ the laws, but the following circumstance has hitherto, and ⟨wi⟩ll ever, untill removed, prove an obstacle in the discharge ⟨of⟩ my consular functions. The laws of Spain expressly say, that ⟨no⟩ person whatever can act as representative or agent of a na⟨ti⟩on, unless he be officially named by the ruling power of the ⟨go⟩vernment he is to represent, & his nomination be confirmed ⟨by⟩ the king of Spain; neither can said representative name ⟨a⟩ny other person to act in any official capacity whatever.

When Mr. Mc.Elroy gave me his powers to act ⟨in⟩ his name during his absence, I applied to the Governor ⟨g⟩eneral of these islands for permission to act as vice-Consul, ⟨a⟩nd altho’ I am on the most intimate footing with his Excellency, he cou’d not accede to my request, on account of the above me⟨n⟩tioned law. As it is of great consequence that there shou’d be ⟨a⟩ Representative of the American nation in these islands, esp⟨e⟩cially in time of war, I shou’d be proud of the honour of ac⟨ting⟩ as such, I mean as vice-consul, and shou’d this application of mine meet with your approbation, you will oblige me by forwarding to me an official nomination of the Presiden⟨t⟩ to the said office of vice-Consul, & the necessary instructi⟨ons⟩ for the faithful & punctual discharge thereof. If a perfe⟨ct⟩ Knowledge of the Spanish & French languages are of any us⟨e⟩ I can claim in the highest degree the merit of such an adva⟨ntage.⟩

Of my character in a commercial line, or as a priv⟨ate⟩ individual, you can receive every information from Sever⟨al⟩ houses in New York where I have chiefly resided, such a⟨s⟩ Messrs. LeRoy, Bayard & Mc.Evers, Henry Cheriot, Ed. Goold & Son William Hill, Robert Lenox, George Barnewall & others wh⟨om⟩ it is needless to name. I have the honor to be Sir very respectfully your most obedient servant

Robert Power.

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