James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Carlos Martínez de Yrujo, 11 June 1805

To Carlos Martínez de Yrujo

Department of State June 11th. 1805.


From information which seems to claim belief, it appears that the Ship Huntress, laden by the Government of the United States with Stores for their squadron in the Mediterranean, was taken about the third day after her departure from the Port of Alexandria by a Privateer stated to be Spanish.1 This lawless act is marked by circumstances which render it peculiarly impudent and provoking. The Ship was in the public service, was laden with stores material to the event and the operations of the Squadron for which they were sent and was possessed of every requisite proof of her character including a Special Passport under the Signature of the President and Seal of the United States expressing her lading and destination. The departure of the Vessel having been hurried, it was not convenient to obtain from Philadelphia, the Passport which on like occasions you have been so good as to furnish, but the Huntress carried with her Passports from the Ministers near the United States, from the two other Belligerent Powers.

Persuaded, sir that your promptness in taking the measures most likely to reach and redress the insult, will be proportioned, to the aggravations which distinguish it, and to the importance of an immediate and entire liberation of the Ship in order that she may proceed with her supplies to the Mediterranean, I content myself with the simple communication of the occurrence. You will yourself, Sir, be able to select the several places, at which your interpositions will have the chance of finding the prize. From the proximity of East Florida, that is the first that suggests itself; and next to that, Cuba. Permit me to add that it will be agreeable to receive from you copies of your several dispatches, that the opportunities of transmitting them hence, may be added to those which you may yourself employ. I have the honor to be, Sir, with high consideration & respect Your most Obt. Servt.

James Madison

RC and Tr (AGI: Outgoing Papers from Cuba, vol. 1660); Tr (DLC: Records of East Florida, reel 42, bundle 109E9). RC in a clerk’s hand, signed by JM. First Tr marked “(Copy).”

1The Huntress had been chartered by the Navy Department on 18 May 1805 to carry supplies to the U.S. squadron in the Mediterranean. After the ship’s departure from Washington, it was captured on 1 June 1805 by the Spanish privateer La Maria under Capt. Antonio Lobo of Puerto Rico, who robbed the ship of ten barrels of bread, one barrel of tar, and sundry other items and ordered the Huntress to Puerto Rico. The ship was recaptured on 9 June by two British slave ships and sent to Liverpool, where it arrived on 16 June 1805. On 12 Sept. 1805 Sir William Scott of the British High Court of Admiralty decreed that the ship should be returned and the British recaptor should receive only the expenses of submitting the case for trial (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 6:72–74, 278–79).

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