James Madison Papers

To James Madison from DeWitt Clinton, 13 November 1804

From DeWitt Clinton

New York 13: Novr. 1804


I do myself the honor of enclosing to You some documents together with a correspondence which has recently taken place between the Commissary of Commercial Relations of the French Government and myself1 respecting a violation of our laws by some of the Officers of the French Frigates recently in this port.

It may be proper to mention That the french Officers unquestionably supposed that they had the sanction of the Civil authority—that Genl. Rey upon my representation immediately made every reparation in his power and that I have reason to be satisfied with his conduct on this as well as other occasions.

I have never been furnished with the Names of any of the Offenders except that of George Raymond the Marshal and have therefore only been able to institute a prosecution against him. His conduct will undergo an investigation at our next Criminal Court.

Guedron’s representations from his situation and character are not in themselves entitled to much credit.

I also enclose some papers respecting Joseph Pierson, a Citizen of the United States which may enable you to obtain his release from impressment thro’ the medium of our Minister at London.2 I have the honor to be With great respect Your obedt. Sert

DeWitt Clinton

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, ML); letterbook copy (NNC). RC in a clerk’s hand, except for Clinton’s complimentary close and signature. For surviving enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures (14 pp.) are the letters exchanged between Clinton and Antoine-Gabriel-Venance Rey, French commissary general at New York, regarding the seizure of six supposed deserters from the French frigates Cybele and Didon on 18 Oct. 1804 from the house of innkeeper Robert Guedron by several officers from the Cybele accompanied by Marshal George Raymond, and the threats of the officers to seize a ferryman, “a frenchman who has been in this Country near eleven years.” The correspondence is accompanied by the supporting statements of several of the persons involved in the incidents. The men were returned from the ships after Clinton protested to Rey about the “high handed violation” of the law. Rey said that he had ordered their return but that Guedron was well known to have “seduced” sailors by circulating cards promising them support and better jobs, adding that since the circulation of his cards, “more than fifty Men” had deserted from the two frigates. Clinton also enclosed statements from Marshal Raymond and two supporters that the Frenchmen had voluntarily gone with the officers and that his actions had been proper.

2According to a list compiled at the State Department and submitted to the House with JM’s 19 Jan. 1805 report, Pierson was impressed into the Blenheim (DNA: RG 233, Reports and Communications from the Secretary of State, 8A–E1).

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