James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Simons, 8 May 1804 (Abstract)

§ From James Simons

8 May 1804, “Custom House,” Charleston. “In compliance with your standing orders1 I have furnished his Excellency the Governor of this State, and also the Dt Attorney, with Copies of a letter from the french Commissary of Commercial relations, Mr Soult,2 and Certain affidavits all similar to those which I now have the honor to transmit to you. I also do myself the honor to enclose you copies of my Letters to his Excellency the Governor & to Mr Soult.”3

RC (DNA: RG 76, Preliminary Inventory 177, entry 143, France, Unbound Records Relating to Spoliation Claims, box 11, no. 425); enclosures (DNA: RG 59, ML). RC 1 p.; docketed by Wagner as received 19 May, with his notation: “capture of the French Corvette L’Africaine.” For surviving enclosures (all docketed by Wagner as received in Simons’s 8 May 1804 letter), see nn. 2–3.

1See JM to Simons, 18 Nov. 1803, PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 6:63–64 and n. 8.

2Simons enclosed a copy of Jean-François Soult’s letter to him, 15 Floréal an XII (5 May 1804) (3 pp.; in French), asking him to intercede in the affair of the French corvette Africaine. The ship had lost its mizzenmast at sea and was forced to seek shelter in the port of Charleston. It arrived on 3 May before the bar and was led to an anchorage outside of the port. On 4 May the Africaine was captured by the Garland, a British privateer from Nassau, and taken into the port of Charleston. Since the capture was made in U.S. waters, contrary to the law of nations, Soult requested Simons to order the commander of the Charleston forts to see that the Africaine did not leave the port until justice was done.

3Simons enclosed a copy of his letter to Governor James B. Richardson, 8 May 1804 (1 p.), covering Soult’s letter of 5 May (see n. 2, above) and copies of affidavits (not found), with the acknowledgment that “I can give no military order on the occasion.” He also enclosed a copy of his letter to Soult, 8 May 1804 (2 pp.), stating that he had forwarded Soult’s request to the governor, district attorney, and JM and that “it is in [the governor’s] power alone to issue the Military Order you have requested.”

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