Thomas Jefferson Papers

Extract of a Letter from James Wilkinson, 18 December 1806

New Orleans, December 18, 1806.


Since my last of the 14th inst. writs of habeas corpus have issued for the bodies of Bollman, Swartwout and Ogden: the two latter by judge Workman, who is strongly suspected of being connected with Burr in this conspiracy. I have proof this man declared some time since, that “the republican who possessed power, and did not employ it to establish a despotism, was a fool.” His writ for Ogden was served on captain Shaw, of the navy, who had him in charge at my request, on board the Etna bomb ketch, and delivered him up: and Mr. Workman discharged him without giving me a word of information, although he knew he was confined by my order, for a treasonable combination with Burr; and Mr. Ogden now struts at large. Swartwout I have sent off, and shall so report, holding myself ready for consequences. Bollman was required by the superior court, but I got rid of that affair also, under the usual liability for damages, in which I shall look to our country for protection.

After repeated experiments, I can say positively, I have nothing to expect from the civil authority, which does not depend on the broad letter and tardy course of the law; and, in the mean time, treason stalks abroad, and the advocates of Burr and rebellion ridicule our apprehensions and oppose our preparations for defense.

I know nothing of our relations with Spain; but if they are not well, we must keep an eye towards Natchitoches, at the same time that we guard this point. I speak of things possible, not probable, for indeed, sir, I begin to fear the revolutionary flame will consume us. The Spaniards are so extremely jealous, that Grandpré pays no regard to the information I find it my duty to give him of Burr’s approach and intentions against Baton Rouge.

True extract.

N. Pinkney, Captain

Printed Source--Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker. Early American Imprints. Series II, 1801-1819 (New Canaan, CT)..

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