James Madison Papers

From James Madison to John Broadbent and Abraham Gibbs (Abstract), 11 May 1805

§ To John Broadbent and Abraham Gibbs1

11 May 1805, Department of State. “You will before now have received your Commission as Consul of the United States for the Port of Messina.2 That Mr Barnes late Consul for the Island of Sicily may be apprized of this arrangement, which supersedes his Commission, I request you to forward him the inclosed letter after perusing and sealing it.”3

Letterbook copy (DNA: RG 59, IC, vol. 1). 1 p. Addressed to Broadbent at Messina and Gibbs at Palermo.

1John Broadbent (d. 1826) was a British merchant at Messina who was also U.S. naval agent. Abraham Gibbs (1758–1816) was a British merchant at Palermo who handled the finances of Horatio Nelson’s Bronté estate in addition to acting as American consul (“Travels in Europe for Health in 1820,” Christian Advocate 3 [1825]: 399; James F. Hopkins et al., eds., The Papers of Henry Clay [11 vols.; Lexington, Ky., 1959–92], 5:873; Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland [2 vols.; London, 1871], 1:498; Nicholas Harris Nicolas, ed., The Dispatches and Letters of Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson [7 vols.; 1845–46; reprint, London, 1997–98], 5:118 n. 3, 164, 213, 256, 6:95, 141–42, 181).

2Gibbs’s commission was forwarded to him by John Gavino on 12 Nov. 1805. Broadbent received his commission sometime prior to 16 Jan. 1806 (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 6:342, 347).

3The enclosure was JM to Joseph Barnes, 11 May 1805, stating: “Your absence from the Island of Sicily, for which you were heretofore appointed Consul, having continued so much longer than comports with the nature of the office, and the exigencies of the public Service, added to the superior convenience of a division of the Island into two Consulates have induced the President to appoint Mr John Broadbent to be Consul at Messina and Mr Abraham Gibbs at Palermo. As these are the only ports in Sicily for which a Consular provision was intended, this arrangement of course supersedes your Commission; and the grant of Exequaturs to those gentlemen will involve a revocation of yours” (DNA: RG 59, IC, vol. 1; 1 p.). For Barnes’s excuses for his absence from his post, see his 16 Feb. 1805 letter to JM. For Jefferson’s opinion of him, see Jefferson to JM, 23 Mar. 1805, and n. 1.

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