James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 30 August 1804 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

30 August 1804, New Orleans. “In the commencement of my late illness I received from the Commandant of Nachitoches the letter No. 1, enclosing the petition of which No. 2 is a translation, and returned the answer No. 3.1 These papers would have been forwarded to the Department of State at an earlier period had not the rapid advance of my indisposition totally prevented me from attending to any kind of business.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 4); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosure no. 3 (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 13). RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner. For enclosures (10 pp.; docketed by Wagner), see n. 1.

1Enclosure no. 1 is a copy of Edward D. Turner to Claiborne, 30 July 1804 (printed in Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:271–73), in which Turner described the anxiety of the people of his district, “who appear to be extremely and justly alarmed” at a decree promulgated by Spanish officials providing protection to foreign slaves seeking refuge in Spanish territory, and enclosed a petition against it. Enclosure no. 2 is a translation of the petition from the inhabitants of the district of Nachitoches to Turner, dated 29 July 1804 (printed ibid., 9:273–74), requesting that he solicit Claiborne’s help to combat the threat to person and property implicit in the decree, which had already produced “the most dangerous sensation” among the slave population, and “enforce upon the slaves a strict & severe police.” Enclosure no. 3 is a copy of Claiborne to Turner, 10 Aug. 1804 (printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, 2:303–4), ordering him “to employ the Militia of the Country as well as the small body of regular Troops … to keep up a strict police in the country” and to report the escape of any slaves in the district in order to make a “final adjustment of the affair with the Spanish Government.” Claiborne wrote that he believed the decree did not originate with the king and that Casa Calvo, whom he had informed of this affair, had pronounced the conduct of the local Spanish commandant to be “extremely reprehensible, and altogether unauthorized.”

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