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To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 25 April 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

25 April 1804, New Orleans. “The French privateer mentioned in my letter of the 14th. instant, has just arrived at this port; I enclose you a Copy of the report of Dr. Watkins relative to this vessel,1 and also, of my instructions to the Harbour Master.2

“General Wilkinson sailed for New-York on this morning, on board the Ship Louisiana.

“It is understood that M. Laussat took his departure on Saturday last, and was destined for Guadaloup.”3

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 4); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of second enclosure (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 13). RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received 11 June, with his notation: “Quer. ought not the privateer to have been seized for importing persons of colour.” Letterbook copy dated 28 Apr. 1804. For enclosures, see nn. 1–2.

1In the enclosed copy of his letter to Claiborne, 24 Apr. 1804 (2 pp.; docketed by Wagner; printed in Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:234), John Watkins reported that while making a health inspection of the Sœur Chérie, he learned that it had been armed in Aux Cayes on 1 Oct. 1803 by order of Gen. Jean-Baptiste Brunet. The original crew of over sixty had been reduced to fourteen. Capt. Louis Lafitte claimed this was caused by desertions “principally before he came into the Mississippi” although eighteen or nineteen more had since left, “several of which were negroes from St. Domingo.” Seven of the original ten guns were thrown overboard during a storm that also severely damaged the vessel, forcing it to come to New Orleans for repairs. Those crew members Watkins saw on board were in “perfect good health.”

2The enclosure is a copy of Claiborne to Samuel B. Davis, 25 Apr. 1804 (1 p.; docketed by Wagner; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 2:114), ordering Davis to visit the Sœur Chérie to “ascertain the number of guns and men she has on board” and the damages caused by the storm. Claiborne added, “This Privateer is positively forbad to augment her Cannon, arms or any other implements of war in Louisiana; or to increase her crew by enlisting any citizens of the United States, or any person who now is and was an inhabitant of Louisiana previous to the 30th. of April 1803.”

3See Claiborne to JM, 21 Apr. 1804, and n. 1.

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