James Madison Papers

To James Madison from David Bailie Warden, 2 December 1811

From David Bailie Warden

Paris, 2 December, 1811.


On my return here, I found an Edition, in 8vo, of the Essai politique sur La Nouvelle Espagne—of which I have forwarded a copy for your acceptance.1 Baron Humboldt is, at present, in Germany, and proposes to return soon to Paris. He accuses Major Pike of having copied a part of his map, without even the mention of his Name.2 A french translation of Pikes’ Journal is in the press.3 I beg leave, sir, to inclose a copy of queries which I submitted to the Secretary of State, before my departure from Washington.4 I wish much to possess more correct information concerning my duties as Consul; and permit me, Sir, to repeat that I will never voluntarily deviate from them when well understood.

The Emperor seems, at present, disposed to enter into some negotiation which, it is hoped, will put an end to the seizure of american property, and renew friendly relations between the Two Countries.

I have taken the liberty of sending under cover to you, a ms. for Mr Jefferson, from Senator Tracey,5 the father in law of young La Fayette. I am, gentlemen [sic], with great respect Your most obedient and very humbe Servt

D. B. Warden

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD, Paris); letterbook copy (MdHi: Warden Papers).

1Since Baron von Humboldt sent to Jefferson at this time the sixth and the seventh livraisons of his Essai sur la Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne, it is possible that he left the same material at the American consulate in Paris to be forwarded to JM (see Sowerby, Catalogue of Jefferson’s Library, 4:292).

2Humboldt made the same complaint to Jefferson, writing on 20 Dec. 1811: “Mr. Pike a profité d’une maniere peu genereuse de la communication que lui à eté faite sans doute à Washington de la copie de ma Carte: d’ailleurs il a extriqué tous les noms.… Mon nom ne se trouve pas dans son livre et un leger coup d’oeil sur la Carte de Mr. Pike” (ibid., 4:352).

3Warden referred to Voyage au Nouveau-Mexique, à la suite d’une expédition ordonnée par le gouvernement des États-Unis, pour reconnoître les sources des rivières Arkansas, Kansès, La Plate et Pierre-Jaune, dans l’intérieur de la Louisiane occidentale. Précédé d’une excursion aux sources du Mississippi, pendant les années 1805, 1806 et 1807 (2 vols.; Paris, 1812). This was a translation by M. Breton of Zebulon Montgomery Pike’s An Account of Expeditions to the Sources of the Mississippi, and through the Western Parts of Louisiana, to the Sources of the Arkansaw, Kans, La Platte, and Pierre Jaun, Rivers; Performed by Order of the Government of the United States during the Years 1805, 1806, and 1807. And a Tour through the Interior Parts of New Spain, When Conducted through These Provinces, by Order of the Captain-General, in the Year 1807 (Philadelphia, 1810; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 21089).

4Warden probably enclosed a copy of a seven-page letter he had written to Monroe in Washington on 23 May 1811 (RC and copy, DNA: RG 59, CD, Paris) seeking clarification of his duties, especially those that involved the taking of fees for the performance of services or agencies not covered by consular instructions or the laws of the U.S. John Armstrong had complained particularly of Warden’s behavior in this respect (see Armstrong to JM, 3 Mar. 1811, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (4 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 3:196–99), and the consul accordingly was seeking Monroe’s instructions on eleven sets of circumstances, most of them relating to his activities in French prize courts, which he anticipated he would have to confront. Specifically, Warden requested Monroe to provide instructions to cover such cases, or failing that, he suggested that he (Warden) might keep a register of all official acts, no matter how insignificant, that he could submit from time to time to the inspection of either the secretary of state or the American minister in Paris.

5In November 1811 Antoine-Louis-Claude, comte Destutt de Tracy, wrote Jefferson to inform him that he was sending him a more complete version in three volumes of his treatise on Montesquieu, the first two of which Jefferson had recently arranged to have translated and published in Philadelphia as A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws … to Which Are Annexed, Observations on the Thirty-first Book, by the Late M. Condorcet: And Two Letters of Helvetius, on the Merits of the Same Work (Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819 (22 vols.; New York, 1958–66). description ends 22689) (see Destutt de Tracy to Jefferson, 15 Nov. 1811 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]; Sowerby, Catalogue of Jefferson’s Library, 3:3–11).

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