James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 8 April 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

8 April 1804, New Orleans. “Enclosed is a copy of an inflamatory production which was posted up at the Markethouse in this City,1 in the course of last night.

“At 8 O’clock this morning I heard of this writing, and immediately caused it to be taken down. The Author is not known, but the general suspicion attaches to some of the late emigrants.

“I find that this inflamatory address, is greatly censured by many of the inhabitants, and I do not apprehend any unpleasant consequences will arise therefrom. Lest however some few deluded people might attempt to disturb the public peace, I shall take some measures of precaution, by increasing the nightly patroles; and directing the officers of the Volunteer Corps to hold themselves in readiness to act at a moment’s warning.

“I deem these precautions the more necessary for the ensuing night, because on tomorrow the Spanish forces are to embark for Pensacola, and I learn that many of the soldiers have discovered some inquietude at their approaching departure; and, it is possible they may be disposed to commit disorders.

“General Wilkinson has not yet returned from exploring the lake.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 4); letterbook copy (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 13). RC 2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; marked “No. 1”; docketed by Wagner as received 17 May.

1The enclosure (3 pp.; in French) is a copy of an allegorical poem addressed to the sheep of Louisiana, warning that the voracious eagle is about to destroy them and promising support for those who strike the first blow against the aggressor. Claiborne wrote Jefferson on 15 Apr. 1804 that “the stile of the writing is such as was used in France during the Revolutionary War, and evinces that these wicked Attempts do not originate with any of the Natives of Louisiana.” The work apparently parodied the idyll “Les moutons,” published in 1677 by Antoinette Du Ligier de La Garde Deshoulières (Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:223; Frédéric Lachèvre, ed., Les derniers libertins [1909–28; reprint, Geneva, 1968], 26, 67–68).

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