James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Stephen Cathalan Jr., 22 September 1804 (Abstract)

§ From Stephen Cathalan Jr.

22 September 1804, Marseilles. “My Caracter in public, & private Capacity has been injured by one named Wm. Baker of Boston,1 who from Leghorn has sailed for Baltimore, & I find myself in the necessity to trouble you with the letter in original that he addressed me, from that place on the 28th. July last, which I have the honor to enclose you quoted No. 1.2—& I Adress you my vindication against it No. 2.3

No. 3.4 a Copy of my letter to Captn. John Burchmore of Salem dated Novr. 14. 1803.

No. 45 an original letter from J. Barnes Esqr. of the 15th April 1803. to me while in this Place on his way to Paris with his vice-Consul Mr. Newton.

No. 5.6 a Copy of a Correspondance, between Wm. Willis, Ogden Schwartz & Co., & me with a Translated Copy of Mr. Faurrat Merchant of this Place’s, Precise for the Concernd of the Ship Pomona, under Thomas Lewis Master.

“Though the whole is all together too voluminous, I think proper to address you all the vouchers in favor of my vindication, to give you a proof that in all occasions that I might be thus Calumniated, I will be ready, to give such proofs on my Support against my Ennemies, if my Behaviour is happily aproved by you, Sir, & by the most Honble. President of the United States, to whom I beg you to make a rappor⟨t⟩ of what has occurred to me, in this instance, I hop⟨e⟩ from your Justice you will Cause a Satisfactory & public reparation to be made in my Behalf.”

Adds in a postscript: “I have the Honor to enclose you a Packet to your address which I have received from Tunis, under my Cover, without letter for me.

“There is news in Town, but not any Official Accounts, by which it is reported via Tunis that Commore. Preble with his Squadron, Bombards &c. was Bombarding Tripoly,7 that the Minister of the Bay had been Wounded, three of his gun Boats taken by the Americans, who had sent back the sick & wounded & kept as prisoners 56. Tripolians, that the Bay had desired the French Agent to make use of his mediation for treating of the peace, with Commodore Preble at moderate Terms, but that Commodore Preble had answered, it was than too late, & that he would not pay any thing. However it was hoped a peace & a Ramsom might take place, he paying about $40.000. he had at first offered.

“No letters direct from Tripoly, & therefore I can’t Answer for the truth of this rapport.

“Your Official letter of the 2d. June last8 reached me, via Gibralter on the 16h. last August.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Marseilles, vol. 2). RC 3 pp.; in a clerk’s hand; docketed by Wagner, with his notation: “Wm. Baker’s calumnies.” For enclosures, see nn. 2–6.

1For Supercargo William Baker’s alleged participation in the forging of the Pomona’s papers, see 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 , 3:582–83 and nn. 2–3, 593, 4:9, 10 n. 2, 21 and n. 2, 125–26 and n. 3, 131, 133, 5:85 and n. 1, 86 n. 2, 376, 568–69 and n. 1, and 6:474.

2Cathalan enclosed William Baker’s letter to him of 28 July 1804 (3 pp.; in English and French; marked “No. 1”; docketed as received 4 Aug. and not answered), with appended notes from Ogden, Schwartz, and Company and from Cathalan (2 pp.) dated 10 Aug. 1804. Baker complained of Cathalan’s writing about him to Thomas Appleton on 13 July 1804. He stated that he was leaving for the U.S. where he would add his complaints against Cathalan to Capt. John Burchmore’s (see n. 4, below) and that Cathalan was not recognized as consul by the French government. He accused Cathalan of mishandling the case of Supercargo Charles Moynier of the Hampden & Sidney and of issuing a passport for “one Newton an Englishman,” claimed William Willis had once been jailed at Leghorn by former consul Philip Filicchi, and consigned Cathalan to the good graces of “Gobet Le Bourreau” (Gobet the Executioner) and to “that oblivion & contempt which so trifling, mean, despicable a wretch merits.” Baker added that his letter had been read by gentlemen from Boston, Salem, New York, Philadelphia, and “by all the houses in the American trade” at Leghorn. Ogden, Schwartz, and Company’s note certified the handwriting and signature of the letter to be Baker’s; Cathalan’s note did the same and authorized Appleton to pursue Baker in Etruria according to the laws of the United States and the treaties between the United States and Etruria.

3Enclosure no. 2 (14 pp.; filed at December 1803) is Cathalan’s 22 Sept. 1804 vindication against Baker’s charges, in which Cathalan offered his judgment that “Self interest alone, not to Say more, was the motive of the respective denounciations of Baker, Mumford, Captn. Thomas Lewis and Willis against one another.” Cathalan related his contacts with Baker and Lewis, beginning when Baker and Lewis appeared before him in April and June 1803 to make depositions about the Pomona, and described Baker’s depositions. He reported Baker’s enraged reaction when omitted from Cathalan’s Independence Day dinner-guest list in 1803 because of Cathalan’s low opinion of his character. He noted that Ogden, Schwartz, and Company’s partner Abraham Ogden “had a Share in the Ship Pomona & Cargo,” making them interested in the case. Cathalan said he had received his exequatur on 12 Aug. 1803, described Baker’s arrest in September 1803 for viciously beating a local woman, his fine and prison sentence, his flight to Leghorn, and Cathalan’s subsequent correspondence with Thomas Appleton about Baker in which several of Baker’s other exploits were detailed. He explained his actions in the case of Charles Moynier and the issuance of a passport to Newton, referring JM to Barnes’s 15 Apr. 1803 letter (see n. 5, below). He quoted his own 15 Apr. 1803 letter to M. Permon, commissary general of police at Marseilles, about the passports and added that M. Gobet was not an executioner but an employee of Permon who had been very active in ferreting out and apprehending “Vagabonds, Thieves and Suspec⟨t⟩ people” such as Baker.

4Enclosure no. 3 (4 pp.; filed at December 1803) is a copy of Cathalan to Capt. John Burch-more of Salem, 14 Nov. 1803, stating that Cathalan had had Burchmore’s fine on 9,000 francs seized from him reduced from 3,000 to 200 francs through his own efforts and his acquaintance with customhouse officials and adding that Ogden, Schwartz, and Company would testify to Burchmore’s refusal to sign and return a certificate of the seizure to Cathalan.

5Enclosure no. 4 (3 pp.; docketed by Wagner; filed at April 1803) is Joseph Barnes to Cathalan, 15 Apr. 1803, explaining that his reasons for visiting Paris were both personal and professional and adding that Newton would return immediately to Sicily from Paris to act as vice-consul should Barnes decide to continue on to Holland and Germany on business. JM enclosed this letter in his 17 Mar. 1805 letter to Jefferson (DLC: Jefferson Papers).

6Enclosure no. 5 (22 pp.; filed at December 1803) includes copies of Willis to Cathalan, 26 Jan. 1804; Ogden, Schwartz, and Company to Willis, 13 Dec. 1802; Willis to Ogden, Schwartz, and Company, 28 Dec. 1802 and 6 Feb. 1803; and a history of the Pomona case, including a financial accounting and claim against Baker’s management certified by Cathalan as given to him by Marc Antoíne Faurrat, a local merchant who was Willis’s agent. The enclosures describe in detail the peregrinations of Lewis and Baker on the Pomona and another ship throughout the Mediterranean and their trading activities involving the houses of Wollaston and Fazy at Genoa, Frederick Degen and Company at Naples, and John Broadbens, as well as Willis’s charges against Ogden, Schwartz, and Company of colluding with Lewis and Baker and attempting to defraud him and other owners of the Pomona, and Ogden and Schwartz’s denials and counterclaims.

7For an earlier report of Preble’s attack on Tripoli, see George Davis to JM, 20 Aug. 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 , 7:623 and n. 2.

Index Entries