James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Charles Pinckney, 22 May 1805

From Charles Pinckney


May 22: 1805 In Aranjuez

Dear Sir,

Unwilling as you will perceive by my Accounts, to charge any thing as Contingencies which really ought not to be admitted, I think it however a duty I owe myself to enter into some explanations with you on Expenditures, which I have been obliged to make here on the public account, and which perhaps you do not recollect. I mentioned to you already that as I had taken Colonel Humphreys house, & had no room to give Mr. Graham when he arrived, that I had placed him in Mr. Young’s house, and allowed him three Dollars a day out of my own pocket the whole time he was here,1 and that during my absence in Italy, I made up his Salary Twelve Dollars a day, notwithstanding the Court was absent from the Sitios, where it always resides & Madrid, the whole time I was, & of course no business could be done with them, which was the reason of my asking the leave of absence.2 I have since conversed with many Ministers, who were all surprised that I made the allowance in either one case or the other, as many Ministers have Secretaries who live in other houses without extra-allowances, and many have leave to take short excursions in times of leisure, such as mine, without making the allowance I did—however as I did not wish it ever to be supposed I had not done what was not only honorable but liberal, I now only mention it to you, in order that it may be known I did so. I am extremely pleased Colonel Monroe is come here, to be a Witness & see the very heavy expences a Minister is put to here, on account of Mule hire to the Sitios, and the inevitable expences at the Sitios, where a Minister is obliged to go there to the Galas & on business, which must keep him there some time, staying in public hotels at great expence, while all his establishments in Madrid must remain & go on there at the same rate, as if he was present—Mr. Monroe therefore is clearly of opinion with me that these Sitio Accounts ought to be allowed as Contingencies, & advises me to send you the particulars, & thinks there can be no doubt the President will order them to be allowed, & the more particularly as other Ministers have extra allowances here on account of the expences of the Sitios. By his advice therefore I now send them to you, & I trust you will have no objection, nor do I suppose the President can, to have them being carried to my Credit. I have had an immense deal of business here, as my Office-books will shew, & of the most perplexing and difficult, as well as important kinds, having for nearly two years past had the whole business of not only Minister, but of Consul & Agent for Claims to do, and these have been very troublesome, and often times difficult. Mr. Young who was four or five years Secretary to Colonel Humphreys, always lived apart in his own house, & finding what I allowed Mr. Graham out of my own Pocket, has often told me Colonel Humphreys never allowed him anything but his Salary & I believe I am the only one who ever did such a thing. It cost me near three thousand Dollars extra out of my own pocket, & as I repeated to you before, I now only mention it that you may know I did it, & that for the two last years I have acted as Consul & Agent, as well as Minister here.

On the arrival of Colonel Monroe, as I was joined in the Commission & Letters of Credence he presented of course, I commenced the negotiation with him, & it became proper for me to come to Aranjuez a3 join him, in taking an establishment with him at the Hotel del Oso, where, with our Secretaries & Interpreter, & occasionally other Gentlemen as Couriers &ca. it has become extremely expensive, & as I halved the expences with him of course the President & yourself will, I suppose, have no objection to allow them to me—these are included & are indorsed so as to distinguish them.

I cannot help here remarking that the allowance to Ministers in Europe, & particularly in Spain, is really so inadequate, that it becomes our Government to increase it, or else none but of fortune, can be so—the last winter, from the price of Grain here, it cost me upwards of Three hundred Pounds Sterling, to have three horses tollerably kept, and every thing in proportion, & as I am now returning immediately, I give this opinion impartially & of course disinterestedly.

In settling what ought to be allowed me, I repeat to you that the increased price of Grain & every thing in Spain, increased horse & Mule hire, & every thing carried by horses and mules so much, that you will find that a heavy Article in the mule-hire here, as it is now, & has been for a considerable period, three4 times the antient price. In fixing the estimation of the contingent expences of this Mission, there ought to be at least Six hundred Dollars a year estimated for mule & horse hire, and eight hundred Dollars a year for Sitio expences, as these are inevitable expences which none of the other Missions to Europe have, & Colonel Monroe will tell you the same, as he now sees & knows it.5

Having no doubt that you will suppose this consider this as a claim that I ought not to withhold & that Colonel Monroe’s opinion from being on the Spot ought to have much Weight, I send them to you in the hope they will meet the Presidents assent to allow them. I am dear sir with affectionate regard & respect Yours Truly

Charles Pinckney

RC (owned by Dr. Herbert E. Klingelhofer, Bethesda, Md., 2009); RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 6A). First RC in a clerk’s hand, except for Pinckney’s final paragraph, complimentary close, signature, date, address, and cover endorsement: “Letter to Mr. Madison No 7 May 22 1805”; cover docketed by Wagner as received 29 July 1805, with his note: “his accounts”; additional notes in unidentified hands: “extra Exps. at the Sitios in 1802. 3. & 4.” and “Tavern Exps. at the Sitios $1650.” Second RC, in a clerk’s hand; unsigned; undated; marked “(Duplicate . . Private)” by Pinckney; docketed by Wagner: “his accounts”; filed following Pinckney’s 28 Sept. 1805 dispatch. For enclosures, see nn. 67.

1See Pinckney to JM, 28 Mar. 1802, PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (1st ser., vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11–17, Charlottesville, Va., 1977–91). description ends -SS, 3:80.

2For earlier discussions of Pinckney’s arrangement with John Graham, see Graham to JM, 28 Nov. 1802, and JM to Pinckney, 8 Mar. 1803, ibid., 4:149–51, and nn. 1 and 4, 400–401.

3The second RC has an ampersand here.

4The second RC has “for & some times five” here.

5The second RC ends here.

6Filed with the second RC and possibly meant as a postscript to this letter are two copies of an undated sheet. One, in Pinckney’s hand, reads: “Postscript . . I have lately seen a copy of a paper here which it is said Mr Yrujo sent to this Government translated into Spanish under the Signature of Publius Numero 18—this mentions it was principally owing to me that Spain did not carry her point in 1786 & that the River Misissipi was not then shut for 25 or 30 Years & all Questions respecting its Navigation prevented—that he sent it accompanied by some observations I made at that time respecting it in Congress & to shew ‘that my Views of enlarging & aggrandizing the American Territory in the southern Quarter had been uniform & persevering & that I never had, nor ever would lose sight of them.’ “ The second copy, in a clerk’s hand, has “Curtius” inserted in Pinckney’s hand in place of “Publius,” differs slightly in wording, and contains a final sentence: “For what end this could have been sent I cannot even guess, but it shews you what pains are taken to rake up every thing that has passed on the subject.”

7Also filed with the second RC is an extract (2 pp.; in Spanish) from pages 16 and 35 of Tomás López de Vargas Machuca’s Atlas Geographico de la America Septentrional y Meridional, dedicado á la Catholica sacra Real Magestad de el Rey Nuestro Señor Don Fernando VI (Madrid, 1758), with comments in English (1 p.) describing López’s siting of Louisiana’s western boundary at the Rio Grande and Santa Fe as lying east of that river. In his journal of the Spanish negotiations (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 8; filed at 1 Jan. 1805), Monroe cited López as an authority for the U.S. claim “to the Rio Bravo, and of course to the mines of santa Fei.” The comments also note that López describes the eastern boundary of Louisiana as the Perdido River and they further observe that López’s depiction of the rivers of East Florida flowing into the Atlantic is “very inaccurately laid down.” López de Vargas Machuca was Spain’s royal cartographer in the latter half of the eighteenth century (Alfred E. Lemmon, John T. Magill, and Jason R. Wiese, eds., Charting Louisiana: Five Hundred Years of Maps [New Orleans, 2003], 77).

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