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To Thomas Jefferson from Henry Dearborn, 8 September 1802

From Henry Dearborn

War Department September 8. 1802

Sir,

I herewith enclose a letter from Mr. Livingston, Mayor of the City of New York, an extract from which has been transmitted to the Secretary of State, conceiving that the subject generally came more immediately under the direction of his Department—I have doubts whether we can with propriety interfere any farther in guarding those people than affording protection to the Hospital and I am not certain that any other Guard is contemplated by Mr. Livingston, but from an expression in his letter he indicates that he wishes a guard posted in such a manner as to prevent desertions from the Ships—I conceive that some arrangments between the Commanding Officer of the Shipping, Mr. Pichon and the Secretary of State should precede any act of this Department relative to Guards, and as the Secretary of State has been applied to on the subject, I have thought proper to decline any definite answer to Mr. Livingston, until I received your directions—

I have the honor to be with esteem your Hume. Servt.

H. Dearborn

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Dearborn; at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the War Department on 12 Sep. and “French squadron at N.Y.” and so recorded in SJL. FC (Lb in DNA: RG 107, LSP). Enclosure: Edward Livingston to Dearborn, 1 Sep., stating that the French ships holding between 1,100 and 1,200 “black prisoners” are at the “quarantine ground,” where the sick and wounded have been received into the state hospital; the hospital cannot accept those patients “without totally abandoning the principal object of the institution, which was to provide for the numerous emigrants on board of private ships at this season daily arriving”; Livingston believes that either “the General Government” or Louis André Pichon should arrange for the accommodation of the people from the French ships, “the more particularly as their stay is indefinite, and the season will augment the number of the sick”; as the president has the power to use U.S. troops to enforce quarantine laws, “and as numbers of these blacks are daily escaping from the hospital and the Ships,” Livingston asks that “a proper guard” be dispatched from the garrison at New York “to prevent their taking refuge in our Country” (in Daniel Brent to Madison, 7 Sep., in Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:556).

SECRETARY OF STATE HAS BEEN APPLIED TO: Dearborn did not write to Madison directly. A letter from Daniel Brent on 7 Sep. informed Madison of Livingston’s requests. “Mr Pichon intends,” Brent wrote, “if he can effect it, to send the Ships and Negroes to France” (same, 3:555–6).

THOUGHT PROPER TO DECLINE: Brent was apparently mistaken when he informed Madison on 7 Sep. that Dearborn had issued an order for guards from the garrison at New York City. Acknowledging Livingston’s letter on the 8th, Dearborn told the mayor that he was passing his concerns along to the secretary of state and the president, and that if TJ should decide “in favor of a guard conformably to your request, the necessary orders will be immediately given” (in DNA: RG 107, MLS; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:556).

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