James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 14 April 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

14 April 1804, New Orleans. “I this morning received information from the officer commanding at Plaquemines, that he had brought to, opposite the Fort a French Privateer of Five Guns, and added that the vessel was in a leaky condition and in want of provisions: Shortly thereafter, I received from M. Laussat a letter upon the subject, a Copy of which No. 1 is enclosed, to which I returned the Answer No. 2 and gave the Orders No. 3.

“Immediately after replying to M. Laussats letter, I was advised that a British armed Schooner of two guns was also detained at the Fort; upon which I addressed to M. Laussat a Note of which No. 4 is a copy, and after receiving (as I suppose) correct information as to the British vessel, I gave to the officer Commanding at Plaquemine the instructions No. 5.” Adds in a postscript that he has just received a letter from Laussat “of which No. 6 is a copy.”1

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 4); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosures nos. 2–5 (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 13). RC 2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received 17 May. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures are copies of (1) Laussat to Claiborne, 14 Apr. 1804 (1 p.; in French), stating that he had been informed by Capt. Louis Lafitte that the Sœur Chérie was detained at Fort Plaquemine, asking that the ship be permitted to enter New Orleans, and reminding Claiborne that the British privateer Maria had been allowed entry; (2) Claiborne to Laussat, 14 Apr. 1804 (2 pp.; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 2:97–98), stating that “subsequent to” the passage of the Maria, orders had been given prohibiting armed vessels from passing Fort Plaquemine without Claiborne’s permission, but as the Sœur Chérie was leaking and in need of provisions, the ship would be allowed to proceed to New Orleans for relief; (3) Claiborne to William Cooper, 14 Apr. 1804 (1 p.; printed ibid., 2:98), giving permission for the Sœur Chérie to “proceed to New-Orleans, for the purpose only of obtaining relief from her present distress”; (4) Claiborne to Laussat, 14 Apr. 1804 (1 p.; printed ibid., 2:99), informing him that the armed British schooner Ann had just been detained at Fort Plaquemine and citing this as an example of the equitable enforcement of his order; (5) Claiborne to Cooper, 14 Apr. 1804 (1 p.; printed ibid.), stating that since the Ann appeared to be a merchant vessel with a cargo of salt and a seven-man crew, it could pass to New Orleans; and (6) Laussat to Claiborne, 24 Germinal an XII (14 Apr. 1804) (1 p.; in French), thanking Claiborne for his letters and expressing regret that efforts to maintain harmony between their two nations should ever be clouded by misunderstanding.

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