James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Charles Pinckney, 10 June 1805

From Charles Pinckney


June 10 1805 In Madrid

Dear Sir

I have written you twice since the departure of Colonel Monroe1 & as I suppose You will be anxious to know how things go on here I am to inform You that this Government immediately on the closing the special Mission took every means in their power to prevent alarm by writing to their agents in all the provinces & ports that there was not the smallest reason for alarm nor the most distant apprehension “that the Americans would attempt any thing in consequence of Spain refusing to do what they required”—all this flows from the reiterated opinions of the Marquis de Yrujo & some spaniards whom you have cherished & made comfortable & who are here constantly vociferating the same doctrine, that there is nothing to fear, that Yrujo is right, that it is true as Mr. Cevallos told Mr. Monroe & myself “that we are a nation of calummators [sic] & numbers of our citizens contrabandists,” & these simple men add but that as Money was the great object of the whole there was no fear of our asserting our claims but upon paper—indeed so convinced are all the spaniards of the Truth of this, that it is a curious but to us a degrading truth that on the ending the Special mission & departure of Colonel Monroe the public funds here experienced not the smallest Variation.

Since writing the above I have recieved officially from Cadiz an Order of the Governor of that City which I inclose2—it respects the Syren Captain Stewart & shews You the little fear they now have of us—they would never have dared to issue such an Order, against a French or English Vessel of War when a[t] peace with them—had we been in perfect amity with Spain & such an Order had appeared I should have demanded the immediate dismissal of the Governor of Cadiz as the least reparation that could have been made but under existing circumstances I contented myself with the inclosed letter to Mr Cevallos3 which is the least that could have been said on the subject hitherto there has been no answer to it. I repeat to you my opinion that the same shew now of a firm determination as You made at the stopping of the Deposit will carry you through as triumphantly, as safely & as Oeconomically as that did, & this is the Opinion of all your Ministers now in Europe & of every disinterested Government.

Present me always with affection & Respect to the President & believe me dear sir with regard Yours Truly

Charles Pinckney

In conformity with Colonel Monroe’s & my opinion I have confidentially communicated to the Consuls of the principal ports the failure of the Special Mission, so that our Citizens will be upon their guards—great numbe[r]s of them have lately lost immense sums by the fall of Wheat in Spain & her Crop this Year will be so abundant, that Spanish European Commerce promises but little the ensuing Year as to Grain of any kind. I expect to leave this shortly for Lisbon.

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 6A). For enclosures, see nn. 2–3.

1Pinckney to JM, 28 May and 4 June 1805.

2The enclosure is a copy of Francisco Solano to Anthony Terry, 2<6> May 1805 (1 p.; in Spanish; docketed by Wagner as received in Pinckney’s 10 June dispatch), stating that because his decrees had had no effect in obtaining payment for the water contractor who supplied the Syren and because of Capt. Charles Stewart’s attempt to evade payment of his bill, Solano was warning the heads of the ports under his jurisdiction not to supply the Syren with water for any reason even if Stewart needed it and asked urgently. Solano did this because he knew how Stewart might behave in his future dealings with individual Spaniards.

3The enclosure was a copy of Pinckney’s 6 June 1805 letter to Pedro Cevallos (2 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, except for Pinckney’s signature and date; docketed by Wagner as received in Pinckney’s 10 June dispatch), in which he enclosed a copy of Solano’s letter to Terry (see n. 2 above) and stated that the letter violated the eighth article of the treaty of San Lorenzo guaranteeing mutual assistance to the ships of the signing powers when they were forced to enter each other’s ports (see Miller, Treaties, description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America (8 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1930–48). description ends 2:324–25).

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