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To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 24 May 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

24 May 1804, New Orleans. “In my letter of the 24th. of January1 I mentioned the agitation in the public mind which the case of St. Julien (on a charge of murder) had occasioned here, and the line of conduct I had pursued. I now enclose the translation of a late letter to me from the Marquis of Casa Calvo on this subject (No. 1),2 and a copy of my answer (No. 2.).3 A copy of the Prefect’s proclamation, to which the Marquis alludes is also enclosed (No. 3).4

“St. Julien has many friends, and the general sentiment is greatly in his favour; his accusers however have great wealth and stand high in the confidence of the Spanish Government; they are now extremely solicitous for St. Julien’s arrest, and seem to think that on his trial they would be enabled to prove his guilt.

“I have already expressed my doubts as to my power to punish offences which were committed in Louisiana, previous to the late change of dominion, nor do I think it would be politic to revive this particular case: under existing circumstances, however, I must pray that the subject may be taken into consideration by the Executive, and that you would forward to me your instructions thereon.

“I understand that a French privateer with two prizes has entered the Mississippi, but I do not know how far my information is correct.

“The passports which were forwarded to me in your letter of the 9th. Ultimo have all been filled up, and I anxiously await an additional supply.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 4); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures nos. 1 and 2 (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 13). RC 2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner. For enclosures, see nn. 2–4.

1PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 6:376–78.

2In the enclosed translation of Casa Calvo to Claiborne, 16 May 1804 (6 pp.; docketed by Wagner; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 2:155–58), the former complained that Laussat had freed St. Julien and declared him innocent without trial in violation of the terms of the retrocession of Louisiana to France, which provided for the continuance of Spanish forms of justice. Casa Calvo requested that Claiborne detain St. Julien and continue the murder investigation.

3Claiborne enclosed a copy of his letter to Casa Calvo, 22 May 1804 (3 pp.; docketed by Wagner; printed ibid., 2:158–59), describing his actions in the St. Julien case, which amounted to ordering the taking of depositions at Attakapas, not releasing St. Julien from his bond to appear in court, and requesting instructions from his government.

4Claiborne enclosed a printed copy of Laussat’s proclamation, “Arreté, Qui met le Sieur St.-Julien en liberté, sous Caution qu’il se représentera devant les Autorités toutes les fois qu’il en sera requis,” 11 Frimaire an XII (3 Dec. 1803) (1 p.; in French), which freed St. Julien, leaving him under bond to appear in court. The proclamation noted that St. Julien was being prosecuted because he was a passionate supporter of France, that this course of action was due to the mutual and implacable hatred between the French and Spanish parties in Attakapas, and that during the attack in which his wife was killed, St. Julien had been bludgeoned and left unconscious.

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