James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Charles Pinckney, 30 September 1804

From Charles Pinckney


September 30 1804 In Madrid

Dear Sir

I informed you in my two last1 that on account of the great Exertions making by this Government to equip four or five line of Battle ships & frigates to convey troops to Cuba & Florida I found it necessary not to wait Mr Monroes arrival so far only as respected the proposal not to increase the force of either nation in the territory between the Ibberville & the Perdido until the intended negotiation should be terminated & that an order to that effect & to prevent any interrupti[o]ns to the Navigation of the Mobille should be issued by this Government as it was become important or rather essential & that a refusal of Spain to acquiesce in it must commit the peace of the Nations to the greatest hazard—that although I had recieved as yet no official answer to the proposition, the Prince of Peace being absent, yet that I had just recieved official information from our Consul there that they had discontinued all their armaments at Ferrol & had sent their ships back into the Arsenal & that no Troops would be embarked as was intended which information I hastened to communicate to you by every route I could find, except the common post which is now not to be trusted unless letters are put under cover to some unsuspected house as I shall send this. You thus see my good sir that the only way is to talk firmly to this Government when things press & all will end well.

I gave you an account before of the treacherous conduct of the Moor which you must have had in detail from Commodore Barron2 & that there can be no doubt the Emperour has been supplied by Spain with Cannon & ammunition & that it is very probable she knew how they were to be used—my best & most affectionate respects to the President & yourself & our friends at Washington conclude me Dear Sir always Yours Truly

Charles Pinckney

I have ordered all my accounts in the form of an account current to be made out up to the end of three Years & three months now nearly compleated & have for the last month stopped all the foreign Gazettes coming here as I am expecting daily my permission to return home.

RC (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 6A). Docketed by Wagner as received 20 Feb.

1Only Pinckney’s 26 Sept. 1804 letter to JM mentions his decision not to await Monroe’s arrival before initiating discussions with Spain.

2No reference to Moroccan “treachery” has been found in Pinckney’s surviving letters of July, August, or September. He may have referred to a rumor current in Spain that James Simpson was “confined” and that Mawlay Sulaiman had issued orders to his cruisers to seize U.S. vessels (Knox, Naval Documents, Barbary Wars description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers (6 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1939–44). description ends , 4:510).

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