James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne (Abstract), 3 March 1805

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

3 March 1805, New Orleans. “The Prize Brig Active1 and her Cargo are sources of great litigation. It has I understand been made appear that the Captors had sold their Interest in the Prize to three different persons, and on the investigation of the case in the District Court, I learn a tremendous scene of fraud was unfolded. The French Consul having esteemed it his duty to make enquiries upon this subject I enclose for your perusal a Copy of his Letter to me and of my answer.”2

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 6); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures (ibid.); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures (LU: LOUISiana Digital Library, Official Letter Book W. C. C. Claiborne). RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted. For enclosures, see n. 2.

1For the history of the Active, see Anthony Merry to JM, 12 Oct. 1804, and Claiborne to JM, 26 Nov. 1804 (PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 8:162–63 and n. 1, 324).

2The enclosures (3 pp.; docketed by Wagner as received in Claiborne’s 3 Mar. dispatch; printed in Bradley, Interim Appointment, 187–88) are: a translation of French consul Paul Martel’s 1 Mar. 1805 letter to Claiborne, stating that while the Active had been in U.S. custody Martel had refrained from interfering in the case, but having learned that the ship had recently been restored to the New Orleans merchant firm of Amory and Callender, he now asked Claiborne to communicate to him the decision rendered by the courts and the reasons for it; and Claiborne’s 3 Mar. 1805 reply, stating that the disposition of all property in litigation belonged exclusively to the judiciary, that he knew nothing of the court’s decision, and that Martel could obtain a transcript by applying to the clerk of the district court.

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