James Madison Papers

From James Madison to James Sullivan (Abstract), 11 March 1805

§ To James Sullivan

11 March 1805, Department of State. “The Secretary of the Treasury has handed me your letter of the 22d. ult. respecting the Ship Hibernia,1 in as much as the substance of it appertains to this Department. Should the indemnity due the owners of that Vessel & Cargo not be received under the Convention respecting Louisiana, it will be incumbent on those persons to carry into effect the decree of the Council of prizes by exicuting it upon the adverse party or by taking the usual Judicial steps for that purpose, until it is ascertained that a recovery under the decree cannot be had. If the latter should be the result, it will resemble some other cases which in due time will call for the attention of the Executive.”

Letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, DL, vol. 14). 2 pp.

1The letter has not been found, but it presumably dealt with the capture of the Hibernia, James Fanning, captain. The Hibernia, owned by Matthew Cottrell, James Kavanaugh, and James Smithwick of Maine, sailed from Waldoboro, Maine, on 7 Dec. 1800, bound for Jamaica with a cargo of lumber. On 22 Dec. the Hibernia was stopped by Captain Bairon of La Jeune Créole, privateer of Puerto Rico, who took Captain Fanning into the privateer and sent the Hibernia to San Juan, Puerto Rico. On 1 Jan. 1801 La Jeune Créole was captured by the U.S. frigate Chesapeake, Capt. Samuel Barron, and sent to Norfolk. Captain Fanning was taken to St. Bartholomew and made his way to Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where he learned that the Hibernia and its cargo had been sold without trial. On 3 Feb. 1801 the Hibernia was formally tried and condemned at Guadeloupe, and on 18 Feb. Fanning filed a protest before Henry Hammond, the U.S. consul at Cap Français. In 1824 an award of $22,641.30 was made to Cottrell, Kavanaugh, and Smithwick’s executor under the 1819 U.S. treaty with Spain (Greg H. Williams, The French Assault on American Shipping, 1793–1813: A History and Comprehensive Record of Merchant Marine Losses [Jefferson, N.C., 2009], 180; Knox, Naval Documents, Quasi-War, description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War between the United States and France (7 vols.; Washington, 1935–38). description ends 7:42, 67; William L. Lucey, “A Late Report on the Ship ‘Hibernia’ Captured by a French Privateer in the Year 1800,” New England Quarterly 17 [1944]: 101–5).

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