James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne (Abstract), 1 April 1805

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

1 April 1805, New Orleans. “I enclose you an Answer to Mr. Walsh’s Pastoral Letter by Colonel Bellechasse.1 Neither the Letter or answer is yet in circulation, but I learn both will be distributed in a few days. This religious contest at present occupies much of the public attention!”

Adds in a postscript: “The Post from the Northward continues irregular; we were much disappointed in not receiving the Mail due on this Evening; I presume these failures may be attributed to the Severe Winter and high Waters.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 6); letterbook copy (ibid.); letterbook copy (LU: LOUISiana Digital Library, Official Letter Book W. C. C. Claiborne). RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received in May. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1For Walsh’s letter, see Claiborne to JM, 31 Mar. 1805, and n. 1. The enclosure (1 p.; printed in French, with marginal notes by Claiborne) is a copy of Joseph Deville de Goutin Bellechasse’s letter to the inhabitants of New Orleans, stating that although Walsh had declared sacraments administered by Fr. Sedella nullities, marriages performed by the latter were still legally valid. Bellechasse pointed out that Walsh had refused to cooperate with Laussat during the French administration and asked Walsh to declare whether he now was a Spanish or an American ecclesiastic, adding that if he was the former, he no longer had powers in Louisiana, and if the latter, he was not a vicar-general. Bellechasse further stated that his aim was to avoid public alarm; he urged the people to have the authorities demand proof that Walsh was vicar-general and if such could not be produced, Walsh should restrict himself to simple priestly duties unless elected to a supervisory position by the people.

Index Entries