James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne (Abstract), 26 June 1805

§ From William C. C. Claiborne

26 June 1805, New Orleans. “The Legislative Council is again in Session. They were to have met on the 20th, but a Quorum was not formed until the 22nd Instant, and on the Same day I communicated a Message in writing, of which a Copy is contained in the enclosed Paper.1

“I shall prorogue the Council on the third day of July, Sine die; and in the mean time it is expected they will pass several very necessary Laws. An impression exists here that the Council does not necessarily cease under the late Act of Congress until the first of November next; I myself hold a contrary opinion, but I should like to have your Sentiments on the subject. Colonel Burr arrived in this City on this Evening.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 6); letterbook copy (ibid.); letterbook copy and letterbook copy of enclosure (Ms-Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 15). RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner as received on 13 Aug. 1805, with his note: “To be answd.”

1The enclosure is a newspaper clipping containing Claiborne’s 22 June 1805 message to the legislature (1 p.; printed in Rowland, Claiborne Letter Books, description begins Dunbar Rowland, ed., Official Letter Books of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801–1816 (6 vols.; Jackson, Miss., 1917). description ends 3:103–5), in which he noted that the congressional act establishing a government for Orleans Territory required the courts to adhere to the common law; he asked the legislature to consider what steps it should take to prevent whatever inconveniences might arise during the transition from the present judicial system to that of common law. He also urged the council to regulate the fees and duties of notaries public, to address omissions in the laws concerning debtors, to take steps to remedy the situation created by its having set the salaries for the master and wardens for the port of New Orleans so low that they had all resigned, and to consider means of improving inland navigation that would encourage useful enterprise, while protecting the public from “the arts and frauds of unprincipled speculators.”

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