Thomas Jefferson Papers

Notes on a Cabinet Meeting, 1 May 1806

1 May 1806

May 1. present the 4. heads of departmts. a letter from the Mayor of N.Y. complaing. of the murder lately committed, & the trespasses by the Leander, Cambrian & Driver, & asking for a naval force. also the deposns of Pierce &   . it was considd. that the laws had made an establishmt of 900 men for the navy in peace, with power to employ them in any vessels we thought proper; that these might man 3. frigates, that if it would have been thought proper with 3. frigates to attack & drive off these 3. British vessels. yet that 2. of the 3. were absent in the Mediterranean, & the 3d. have down; the latter not to be in readiness under a month, & one of the former not possible to be called home under 5. months. that for so distant & uncertain an effect the defence of our commerce in the Mediterranean ought not to be abandoned. that our gunboats were not as yet in place to be stationed in N. York & that therefore no force of either of these descriptions were within our power. it was thought proper therefore to recommend a regular prosecution of the murder by the state courts of N.Y. or N.J. if within their jurisdiction, or if out of it, then by the district court of the US. and to issue a proclmn for apprehending Henry Whitby commander of the Leander for the murder, requiring the 3. vessels to depart, & interdicting them & all other vessels commanded by the prest captains of the Cambrian & Driver from the harbours & waters of the US. and on their failure to depart, or reentering them, to prohibit all intercourse. see the proclmn which was communicated & approved by each of the gentlemen. in all this there was no difference of opn except that Genl Dearborne thought we might hold out some promise of naval defence to N. York.

On the prosecution of Ogden & Smith for participn in Miranda’s expedn the defs & their friends having contrived to make it a government question, in which they mean to have the admn & the judge tried as the culprits instead of themselves, Swartwout, the marshal, to whom, in his duel with Clinton, Smith was second, & is bosom friend, summoned a pannel of jurors, the greater part of which were of the bitterest federalists. his letter too covering to a friend a copy of Aristides, & affirming that every fact in it was true as holy writ. determined unanimously that he be removed.

DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.

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