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To James Madison from Louis-Marie Turreau, 8 February 1806 (Abstract)

From Louis-Marie Turreau, 8 February 1806 (Abstract)

§ From Louis-Marie Turreau. 8 February 1806, Washington. Reports that the marqués de Casa-Yrujo, extraordinary envoy and plenipotentiary minister of His Catholic Majesty, informed him that the American ship Leander, armed with eighteen cannons and long employed in the odious commerce of Saint-Domingue, had boarded many guns, carbines, lead, gunpowder, pikes, saddles and other war stores, a printing press, six journeyman printers, and much merchandise and provisions.1 Yrujo also reported to Turreau that Miranda was on board, and among the officers and aides-de-camp joining him were young men from New York, including the son of Col. William Smith and another young man by the name of Armstrong, a relative of the U.S. minister to the Emperor Napoleon.

States that Yrujo added that the government whose agents are numerous at New York cannot ignore the particularities of this fitting out nor the purpose of the ship’s destination, which has been quite clearly revealed in many prior and related circumstances. The government is responsible for this violation of its neutrality and the consequences that may follow. Yrujo believes the United States would do right to waste no time in dispatching one or more of the frigates that are ready to sail, according to the secretary of the navy, in order to return these new freebooters to U.S. ports. Unable to make claims in the proper way himself, Yrujo asked Turreau to speak with the U.S. government on his behalf and to state that if the prompt and immediate efforts expected of U.S. justice do not prevent the success of a plan that is unbelievable to civilized nations, American citizens found armed in this band of brigands will be treated as pirates.

Such is the substance of Yrujo’s letter. Turreau declares that the statements he makes on Yrujo’s behalf are literal extracts. Adds that the Spanish minister could employ no other mouthpiece to present his claims to JM than the French minister of His Imperial and Royal Majesty allied with the king of Spain, as Yrujo has been removed from the seat of government for reasons that are undoubtedly known.2 Flatters himself to expect that the response JM deems appropriate to send him will calm Yrujo’s just complaints.3

RC (DNA: RG 59, NFL, France, vol. 2–3). Tr, three copies (AAE: Political Correspondence, U.S., 59:41r–v, 118–19, 208). RC 3 pp.; in French; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Turreau; docketed by Wagner. First Tr enclosed in Turreau to Talleyrand, 13 Feb. 1806, ibid., 34–39v; second Tr enclosed in Armstrong to Talleyrand, 29 Apr. 1806, ibid., 117r–v; third Tr enclosed in Carlo Sebastiano Ferrero Fieschi to Talleyrand, 16 June 1806, ibid., 186–88v.

3In a 7 Feb. 1806 letter (AAE: Political Correspondence, U.S., 59:209; 1 p.; in French), Turreau wrote to Yrujo [translation]: I was with Madison this morning. I shared with him my suspicions and yours. I sought his eyes and made contact, which is rather rare. I believe I detected in his eyes the conviction of our fears. He was in a state of extraordinary despondency as I asked him for a positive explanation of the proceedings in question.

He had difficulty breaking the silence, and finally he responded that the president had already anticipated my representations in ordering measures against the accomplices remaining on the continent and against the guilty who would return there.

I leave you to judge whether I was satisfied with this response. I left him rather abruptly to write him. I am taking care of that.

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