James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson, 27 February 1804

From William C. C. Claiborne and James Wilkinson

New Orleans Feby 27. 1804.


Since our last of the 14 current, of which a Duplicate was forwarded by the last Mail; the French national Brig the Argo has dropped down the River, to Placquemines, for the Purpose, as we understand, of taking on Board the People, who came in the Brig Express from St. Nicholas Mole, and proceeding to France. We hope in Consequence thereof, to be relieved from the accumulating Embarrassments attending their Stay at Placquemines. We inclose you Copies of two Letters from below,1 received yesterday, relative to the Situation of those People.

A Report is in Town, of a Vessel, from Jamaica, with 350 People on board, Men, Women & Children, Fugitives from St. Domingo, destined for this Province, who having missed their Passage into the River and fallen to the Westward into the Bay of St. Bernard are supposed to be now detained there, by the Currents and to be in the utmost Distress for Want of Provisions.

Many Persons have already arrived here from the French Islands and we think it probable that a great Part of the Fugitives from St. Domingo, who may reach the United States, will ultimately find their Way hither, and it may be proper for our Government to keep this Circumstance in View, in Relation to the Arrangements both internal & external, which may be adopted for the Province.

The Spaniards have begun to dismount the Cannon in the different Posts about this City. No other Symptom of their Departure has yet appeared; if indeed that may be so considered. For supposing them to calculate upon a Rupture with us on Account of our Pretensions to West Florida, the dismounting of the Cannon the Posts being now in our Possession, necessarily diminishes our Security here, and may be a precautionary Step on their Part. It may be proper however, to mention that the Governor of West Florida,2 who is in Town, informed Governor Claiborne in a private Conversation yesterday, that a Part of the Spanish Troops would be embarked from hence for Pensacola in three or four Days; and that a complete Evacuation would take Place in about 20 Days. Accept the Assurances of our sincere Respect and high Consideration.

William C. C. Claiborne

Ja: Wilkinson

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