James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Daniel Clark, 3 November 1803 (Abstract)

§ From Daniel Clark

3 November 1803, New Orleans. “I had the Honor of addressing you on the 8th. September1 respecting a Privateer then fitting out in this Port, and forwarded Copy of a Letter I had written to the Secretary of the Government on the occasion. I had since then made repeated applications to know what measures would be pursued with her, and was always assured that she would not be permitted to sail until sufficient security was given that she should commit no depredations on her intended Voyage. To my remonstrances against her armament & equipment answer was made, that two Guns were necessary for signals, that she could not be deprived of them, but that independent of them there was no Stock of Arms or Ammunition. Finding, this Morning that the Vessel was likely to sail in the course of the Day, I waited on the Secretary and informed him I had seen an additional Quantity of Arms & Ammunition put on board, that I was assured she had more Guns concealed in her Hold, and that the threats of the Crew to capture all our Shipping they met with, were known to all the trading Part of the City. I waited likewise on the Marquis de Casa Calvo who disapproved of the Armament of the Privateer; he advised me to write to the Governor in the name of the American Merchants that he should disarm her, and promised me if he were consulted, to support my demand. The Situation I stand in with respect to the Government (not being recognised) and the certainty that a remonstrance addressed to it by me as Consul would not be received, forced me to adopt the measure, and I hastily wrote the Letter, copy of which is inclosed,2 which I delivered myself to avoid delay. I have been assured, that the Privateer which was then under way should be detained, ’till all Circumstances were well weighed, and until an answer in consequence of what migh⟨t⟩ be determined should be given me. Not confiding entirely in the success of my application I haste to advise you of it, and if disregarded will inform the Government that I have forwarded information to you of what has taken place that you might adopt the measures you saw convenient to procure redress, in case of any insult offered to our Flag or injury suffered by our Citizens. The Governor’s incapacity & weakness have emboldened the French to take this Step which I shall feel a real pleasure in being able to counteract.”

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