James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Carlos Martínez de Yrujo, 20 May 1803 (Abstract)

§ From Carlos Martínez de Yrujo

20 May 1803, Philadelphia. Reports that the king has been informed that American ships have assembled at points occupied by his subjects on the Patagonian coast, which indisputably belongs to Spain. These gatherings are prejudicial to the interests of the king’s subjects who come from Spain and from Spanish settlements on that coast to fish for seals and other sea life, and in many cases these Americans have violently resisted the Spanish authorities in order to conduct a trade and fishery upon coasts to which Americans have not the least right. To prevent abuses that could arise from such repeated infractions on the part of American citizens, the king has decided to shelter his subjects from danger and defend his rights by taking efficacious measures. Wishing to show anew his friendship for the U.S. and his moderation in all cases, even those calling for prompt and decisive action founded on justice and indisputable rights, he has commanded Yrujo to communicate to the president through JM his determination to end the infractions occasioning this resolution, not doubting that the U.S. on its part will take opportune measures so that its citizens will cease to act in ways that could result in disagreeable incidents.1

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