§ From William C. C. Claiborne
8 October 1804, New Orleans. “I have by Letter advised each Member of the Legislative Council of his Appointment,1 and requested his Acceptance: two answers have been returned; the one from Doctor Watkins; the other from Mr. Jones, & both of which are herein enclosed.2 Doctor Watkins Accepts, and will make a valuable Member; But Mr. Jones declines, and the Reasons which influence him will, I fear operate with all those named for the Council, who had signed the Memorial to Congress:3 Mr. Edd. Livingston has said, that their Acceptance would betray a dishonorable Inconsistency, and the opinions of the Man who advised and wrote the Memorial, cannot fail to make an Impression. I shall however by Proclamation, call a Meeting of the Council on the 12th. of next Month; The Interest of the Territory requires an early session of the Legislature, and I sincerely hope a majority of the Members appointed will act; But should it so happen, that the signers to the Memorial (eight of the Council) should withhold their services, I shall regret the Circumstance, and console myself with the reflection, that I have done my duty.
“I am persuaded Sir, that a few designing Men may easily acquire a mischievous Influence in Louisiana, & I do fear that sooner or later, this District will give Inquietude to the local Majistrates, and prove a source of some trouble to the Executive of the United States.”
RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 5). RC 3 pp.; docketed by Wagner. For enclosures, see n. 2.
1. For the names of the men appointed to the legislative council, see Jefferson to Claiborne, 30 Aug. 1804, and Jefferson to Henry Dearborn, 6 Sept. 1804, in Carter, Territorial Papers, Orleans, 9:281–84, 291. The commissions were enclosed in JM to Claiborne, 30 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 , 7:655–56).
2. The enclosures are John Watkins to Claiborne, 8 Oct. 1804 (2 pp.; docketed by Wagner; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books description begins Dunbar Rowland, ed., Official Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801–1816 (6 vols.; Jackson, Miss., 1917). description ends , 2:351–52), accepting the appointment to the legislative council with the proviso that should it prove incompatible with his position as port physician he would decline the former and retain the latter, and Evan Jones to Claiborne, 8 Oct. 1804 (3 pp.; docketed by Wagner; printed in Bradley, Interim Appointment, 37–38), declining the appointment on the grounds that his acceptance would be inconsistent with his signing of the petition to Congress protesting the act instituting a government for Louisiana.
3. For the memorial protesting the form of government established for Louisiana, see Claiborne to JM, 1 July 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 , 7:405–6.