Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William C. C. Claiborne, 3 May 1804

From William C. C. Claiborne

New-Orleans May 3rd. 1804.

Dear Sir,

I was last evening honored with the receipt of your Letter of the 30th. of March.—It would personally be a source of great satisfaction to me, to see the Marquis de la Fayette a Citizen of Louisiana, and I believe his permanent residence therein, would be a great public Benefit.—I shall hasten to make the enquiries you solicit, and to communicate to you, the Result: My present Impression is, that there would be no difficulty in locating the Land granted to General Fayette in situations the most elligable in lower Louisiana; perhaps the greater part of it, on the Island of New-Orleans:—But I will inform you more particularly by the next Mail.

The 30th. April, being the Day on which our late Treaty with France was signed, I presented an elegant Standard to the Battalion of Orleans Volunteers; It was received with much enthusiasm, and will I am persuaded have a happy effect.—I have another Standard for the Regiment of City Militia, and a third for the Battalion of free people of Colour, which I shall shortly present—The two former, I obtained from General Wilkinson; they were formerly attached to the 4th. Regiment, & had been little used;—I solicited them from the General in order to avoid the expense of purchasing new ones; The Ensign for the people of Colour I had made here.

The most perfect harmony continues to prevail in this City.—

With sentiments the most respectful—I have the honor to subscribe myself—Your faithful friend

William C. C. Claiborne

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “Thomas Jefferson President of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received 12 June and so recorded in SJL.

The presentation of a standard to the orleans volunteers was part of a day-long celebration in New Orleans on 30 Apr. commemorating the anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. Following a military review, Claiborne presented the commanding officer of the battalion, Eugene Dorsière, with a U.S. flag “beautifully adorned with the American Eagle, and other appropriate embellishments,” while a military band played “Yankee Doodle” and a 17-gun salute was fired. Claiborne had intended to present a standard to the city militia as well, but its commanding officer, Joseph Deville de Goutin Bellechasse, was indisposed. The presentation instead occurred during the Fourth of July celebrations in New Orleans. At Bellechasse’s request, the ceremony took place in a Catholic church, where the standard received a benediction (National Intelligencer, 15 June 1804; 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 , 7:421-3). On 21 June, the free Colored Battalion received its flag made of “white silk, Ornamented with fifteen Stripes (alternately red and white).” According to Claiborne, the standard “was thankfully received & apparently excited a great share of Sensibility and gratitude.” The governor had recently appointed two white officers to command the battalion, Michel Fortier and Lewis Kerr (Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 2:199-200, 217-19; Erin M. Greenwald, “To Strike a Balance: New Orleans’ Free Colored Community and the Diplomacy of William Charles Cole Claiborne,” in Gene Allen Smith and Sylvia L. Hilton, eds., Nexus of Empire: Negotiating Loyalty and Identity in the Revolutionary Borderlands, 1760s-1820s [Gainesville, Fla., 2010], 123-7).

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