James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 25 July 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

25 July 1804, New Orleans. “In my letter of the 14th. instant I enclosed you a copy of the Moniteur (No. 422) containing an address from a number of the citizens of Louisiana to the Marquis of Casa Calvo accompanied by certain remarks from the Marquis.

“The enclosure No. 1, is a literal translation of the remarks of the Marquis and that No. 2, is a copy of a letter which I this day addressed to him.1

“An opinion prevails among the inhabitants West of the Mississippi, that they are shortly to return to the dominion of Spain, and the Marquis’s letter has tended to strengthen this opinion. I may add Sir, that reports to the same effect, are daily circulated by the inferior officers and Agents of Spain, and they have so far acquired credit, as to lessen in some degree the respect of the people for the Authorities of the United States.

“The Marquis continues to style himself Commissioner of his Catholic Majesty; has stationed at his lodgings a guard of Spanish Soldiers and seems to view himself entitled to all the respect due a high diplomatic character. In a former letter, I requested your opinion how far, it would be proper in me to recognize the Marquis as a public Agent,2 and I again solicit your advice upon this subject. The Marquis is an agreeable man, and hitherto there has existed between us, the most friendly understanding; but I must confess, that I wish his departure from the province: while he remains in Orleans, the ancient citizens of Louisiana, will look up to him as a kind of Chief; his counsel will be resorted to, and this will serve to keep alive among the inhabitants that attachment for their former masters, which I am sorry to observe is very sincere, and much more general, than I had heretofore supposed.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 4); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of second enclosure (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 13). RC 3 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received 4 Sept., with his notation: “Letter to M. Casa Calvo.” For enclosures (5 pp.; docketed by Wagner), see n. 1.

1Enclosure no. 1 is a translation, certified by Pierre Derbigny as a true copy, of remarks by Casa Calvo, dated 7 July 1804, that had been printed in the New Orleans Moniteur de la Louisiane. Casa Calvo wrote that despite “the wound made to the dignity of the Spanish Government” by one or two inhabitants responsible for the “famous pamphlet printed in the Télégraphe,” “almost all” Louisianians, “or at least the greatest, most notable & most reputable part,” were grateful for “the favours & benefits which they enjoyed” under Spanish rule, as was evident from the “annexed letter … signed by a considerable number of citizens,” which they had sent to him “in order that at all times proofs may exist of [their] gratitude … & that in the future it may have the convenient effects.” Enclosure no. 2 is a copy of Claiborne to Casa Calvo, 25 July 1804 (printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 2:265–66), taking issue with Casa Calvo’s letter for encouraging sentiments that “weaken the present and permanent allegiance of the country” in light of rumors that Louisiana “will by some means or other Shortly return under the dominion of Spain.”

2Claiborne to JM, 18 Feb. 1804, 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 , 6:493.

Index Entries