Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Caesar A. Rodney to Thomas Jefferson, 8 June 1810

From Caesar A. Rodney

Wilmington june 8th 1810.

Honored & Dear Sir,

Your favor of the 30th ulto found me at this place where I have been detained by the situation of Mrs Rodney who lost her father a few weeks ago, & who has just been confined with her tenth child.

All my papers on the subject of the Batture are at Washington. In the course of eight or ten days I shall be there, & will send you the paper you mention, or any others you may desire.

I should like to have a copy of the declaration filed in the cause which Mr Livingston has commenced. It can not be an action of Trespass quare clausum fregit for that is local. It is perhaps for false imprisonment, or assault & battery, committed by those who removed him, agreeably to your order, from the Batture. These suits are transitory, and the venue may be laid where the defendant is found. The object and design of this extraordinary course of proceeding, is to obtain if possible, by this circuitous mode the opinion of the Supreme Court 1. On the title of the United States to the batture. 2. On the power of the President under the act of congress to remove intruders.Mr Livingston expects that a special justification of the act will be pleaded setting forth the title of the United States to the batture, the law of congress and the order of the President. I can scarcely think he is serious in laying his damages at $100,000 tho’ these may be a secondary object. Your conduct has been so fair throughout the whole business that you can have nothing to apprehend. You acted under an imperious sense of public duty & immediately laid the entire case before Congress with a recommendation to provide for its decision[.] This novel suit will in its progress give birth to a variety of new important & interesting questions upon which I forbear at present to intimate any opinion. They will require & shall receive mature consideration. The precedent, if it may be deemed one, which the plaintiff has pursued, is I suspect the case of Mosetyn vs Fabrigas, in error, reported in Cowp. Reports 161. It will be found more at large in the eleventh volume of the State trials edited by Mr Hargrave page 162. In this work the proceedings in all the stages of the cause are reported at great length.1 I recollect another similar case, tho I do not remember the names of the parties, and my modern reporters being at Washington I cannot turn to it. Nor am I certain whether they contain it. I am pretty sure I have seen it in one of the late “New Annual Registers” & I believe also, either in Easts’ or Bosanquet & Pullers reports. My common place book at Washington will furnish me with a ready reference to it.2 These are the cases most analagous, to which may be added perhaps that of Withes.

In any event congress will unquestionably indemnify you for any costs charges or expences to which you may be put.

With sincere respect I remain Dear Sir
Yours Truly & affectionately

C. A. Rodney

C. A. R.

P.S. The pamphlet containing the opinions of Rawle & Ingersoll, & of Lewis & Tilghman &c. your counsel would wish to see perhaps & indeed all the publications in favor of the U. States as well as against them. The work of Moreau Lily of which I have a manuscript translation is by far the ablest. I have suggested to the President the propriety of publishing it, as it comprises all the arguments, & contains all the authorities at large on the subject.

In Doulson vs Mathews et al.: where the attempt was made, it was decided that trespass will not lie in England for entering a house in Canada & expelling the party. Reported in the 4th vol: of Durnfords & Easts Reports page 503. This case states in some degree a part of the opinion delivered by Ld Mansfeild in Moseten vs Fabrigas which was cited on the occasion.

RC (DLC); edge trimmed; endorsed by TJ as received 17 June 1810 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosed in TJ to George Hay, 18 June 1810.

Susan Hunn Rodney’s father was John Hunn, of Philadelphia. quare clausum fregit: literally, “why he broke the close”; an unlawful entry onto lands that are clearly enclosed (Black’s Law Dictionary description begins Bryan A. Garner and others, eds., Black’s Law Dictionary, 7th ed., 1999 description ends ). Mostyn v. Fabrigas (1774), in which an action of trespass for assault and false imprisonment was heard in a British court even though the alleged misdeed occurred on the island of Minorca, provided a possible precedent for allowing a federal circuit court to adjudicate a case concerning land outside of its territorial jurisdiction. It was described in Henry Cowper, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of King’s Bench: from … 1774, to … 1778, 1st American ed. (Boston, 1809), 1:161–81, and in Francis hargrave, A Complete Collection of State-Trials and Proceedings for High-Treason, and other Crimes and Misdemeanours, 4th ed. (London, 1776–81), 11:162–98.

The new annual registers, subtitled the General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature, were published in London, 1780–1825. The opinions of William Rawle, Jared Ingersoll, William Lewis, and Edward Tilghman, which denied the claim of the United States to the Batture Sainte Marie, were included in Edward Livingston’s Address to the People of the United States … (New Orleans, 1808; Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends nos. 3484, 3497), final section, pp. lxiv–lxxv.

1Manuscript: “lenth.”

2Remainder of paragraph interlined.

Index Entries

  • A Complete Collection of State-Trials and Proceedings for High-Treason, and other Crimes and Misdemeanours (Hargrave) search
  • Address to the People of the United States, on the measures pursued by the Executive with respect to the Batture at New-Orleans (Livingston) search
  • An Act to prevent settlements being made on lands ceded to the United States until authorized by law (1807); and batture controversy search
  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; and Congress search
  • Batture Sainte Marie, controversy over; C. A. Rodney on search
  • Bosanquet, John Bernard search
  • Congress, U.S.; and batture controversy search
  • Cowper, Henry; Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of King’s Bench search
  • Doulson v. Matthews search
  • Durnford, Charles; Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench search
  • East, Edward Hyde; Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench search
  • Hargrave, Francis; A Complete Collection of State-Trials and Proceedings for High-Treason, and other Crimes and Misdemeanours search
  • Hunn, John search
  • Ingersoll, Jared; on batture controversy search
  • Lewis, William (of Philadelphia); and batture controversy search
  • Livingston, Edward; Address to the People of the United States, on the measures pursued by the Executive with respect to the Batture at New-Orleans search
  • Mansfield, William Murray, 1st Earl of; opinion in Mostyn v. Fabrigas search
  • Modern Reports, or Select Cases Adjudged in the Courts of King’s Bench, Chancery, Common Pleas, and Exchequer search
  • Moreau Lislet, Louis; on batture controversy search
  • Mostyn v. Fabrigas search
  • New Annual Register: General Repository of History, Politics, and Literature search
  • Puller, Christopher search
  • Rawle, William search
  • Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of King’s Bench (Cowper) search
  • Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of King’s Bench (Durnford and East) search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; and batture controversy search
  • Rodney, Caesar Augustus; letters from search
  • Rodney, Susan Hunn (Caesar A. Rodney’s wife) search
  • Supreme Court, U.S.; and batture controversy search
  • Tilghman, Edward; and batture controversy search
  • Withe, Mr. search