Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from James Madison, 5 April 1804

From James Madison

Washington. Apl. 5. 1804

Dear Sir

Inclose the Commission for Kirby according to your parting request; also three others for Indian Comssrs. in blank, which you will be so good as to return. The last communications from N. Orleans are also inclosed. They are in several respects interesting.

We have recd nothing from abroad since you left us, and every thing here remains as at that date.

With respectful attachment I remain yrs.

James Madison

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the U.S.”; endorsed by TJ as received from the State Department on 9 Apr. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures were probably: (1) William C. C. Claiborne to Madison, 18 Feb., stating that good order continues in the province, although the inhabitants, as well as Claiborne, eagerly await the establishment of a regular government; Claiborne warns that speculators from the Mississippi Territory have been surveying lands in Concord District; he has sent word to Natchez declaring such surveys to be without legal basis; Spanish and French officials and troops are still in New Orleans; Claiborne and James Wilkinson intend to close their commission once the archives of the province have been delivered in full; Claiborne wishes to know whether Pierre Clément Laussat and the Spanish commissioners should still be treated as foreign ministers once the transfer of the territory is complete and the commission has ceased. (2) Claiborne to Madison, 18 Feb.; the northern mail brings no dispatches from the State Department; merchants in New Orleans are anxious for news of a “revenue act for Louisiana”; speculators in Natchez have raised a “terrible clamour” against Claiborne. (3) Claiborne to Madison, 20 Feb.; Louisiana citizens passing by water to the United States or Europe have requested passports or letters of protection from Claiborne; he has received no instructions on the subject, but forwards “an instrument of writing” that he has provided to applicants who swore they were citizens of Louisiana on or before 20 Dec. 1803; Claiborne wishes to know if he has acted properly. (4) Claiborne to Madison, 26 Feb.; Claiborne has still not received any dispatches from Washington and worries that the postal service is unreliable; the French brig Argo has left New Orleans with some French officers and will carry away the French troops at Fort Plaquemine; the Marqués de Casa Calvo informs Claiborne that Spain continues at peace with the other European powers and that he is now the sole Spanish commissioner in Louisiana; Governor Manuel de Salcedo has retired to the Canary Islands; Claiborne is informed that Spanish military forces will evacuate New Orleans in about 20 days and that Spain is now reinforcing Pensacola and Texas; Wilkinson intends to depart for Washington in 12 or 14 days; Laussat still has not delivered the provincial archives to the American commissioners; emigration from the French West Indies to Louisiana is “considerable,” with several hundred newcomers already on the Mississippi and more expected daily. (5) Claiborne and Wilkinson to Madison, 27 Feb., repeating much of the same information contained in Claiborne’s letter of the 26th; more French refugees from Saint-Domingue are expected, and Claiborne and Wilkinson recommend that the government “keep this Circumstance in View” when making permanent arrangements for Louisiana; Spain has begun dismounting its cannon in New Orleans, but “No other Symptom of their Departure has yet appeared”; Claiborne and Wilkinson suppose that Spain may be calculating upon a “Rupture” with the United States over West Florida. (6) Claiborne to Madison, 1 Mch.; discontent has appeared in some parishes and districts; Claiborne has asked Dr. John Watkins to visit these places and create a more favorable impression of the change of government in Louisiana; Watkins is from Kentucky, but has married a native of the province, resides in New Orleans, speaks French and Spanish, and is well informed and honest; Claiborne encloses copies of Watkins’s instructions and credentials, as well as a copy of his report, which states the “wishes of the people on several subjects highly interesting to Louisiana”; the “prevailing opinion” among residents opposes a ban on slave importations; a provision for a delegate to Congress would “give general Satisfaction here.” (7) Claiborne to Madison, 2 Mch.; Claiborne still has received no dispatches from Washington; the burdens of the temporary government are “at present peculiarly hard upon me,” he complains, and he has exercised his authority reluctantly and only in cases involving the interests of society and at the invitation of the inhabitants; Claiborne has established a court to consider debt claims that debtors consider too zealous, so he has prescribed certain rules to accommodate the debtors; he has also established a night watch in New Orleans to protect against fire “and the designs of evil disposed persons” (RCs in DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, all written at New Orleans and all endorsed by Jacob Wagner as received 4 Apr.; 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- , 39 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 11 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 8 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 3 vols. description ends , 6:493-4, 497, 512-13, 516-17, 524-6, 532-3; 7:5, 22-3). Other enclosures not found, but see below.

commission for kirby: see TJ to Ephraim Kirby, 10 Apr.

three others: probably for David Meriwether as commissioner to treat with the Creek Indians and for Return Jonathan Meigs and Daniel Smith as commissioners to treat with the Cherokees (TJ to Dearborn, 8 Apr.; Dearborn to TJ, 14 Apr.; Appendix I).

Sometime before TJ departed for Monticello, Madison probably forwarded additional letters for his perusal. On 5 Mch., Congressman James Gillespie wrote Madison recommending Roger Moore of North Carolina for an appointment. Moore “stands high in the estimation of all who know him” and would be willing to relocate to any place to which he was appointed (DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by TJ: “Moore Roger of N.C. for office”; see 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- , 39 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 11 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 8 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 3 vols. description ends , 6:549). The following day, 6 Mch., inventor Benjamin Dearborn wrote Madison from Boston to express his interest in standardizing weights and measures throughout the states. Dearborn believed few people had studied the subject more thoroughly than himself, and he wished to offer his services to the country (DNA: RG 59, LAR, endorsed by TJ: “Dearborn Benjamin. to be empld. about weights & measures”; 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- , 39 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 11 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 8 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 3 vols. description ends , 6:551-2).

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