James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Josiah Blakeley, 1 July 1805 (Abstract)

From Josiah Blakeley, 1 July 1805 (Abstract)

§ From Josiah Blakeley. 1 July 1805, Santiago de Cuba. “My last to you was dated 7th. June last,1 which I hope has reached you. Since my last to you, I have received a letter from Mr. Henry Hill at Havana, informing me of his arrival there with the Commission of Consul. But, that the Capt General refused to receive him.2 He requested me to Continue Charge of the Consulate office here. Also, to name Some one to act for our Nation at Baracoa. But, I know of no one here I could recommend. The scenes of robery, destruction, evasion, perjury, Cruelty & insult to which the americans Captured by French Privateers, & brought into this, & the adjacent ports, have been subjected, perhaps, has not been equalled in a Cent[u]ry past. The american Consulate here is forbidden by the Spanish Govt., insulted by the French, Complained of for want of liberality by the americans, & possibly will be censured by Govt. for want of promptitude. Mr. Hill wrote me it was then a little uncertain if he Should act or not in the Consulate office. That he Should write & advise me on the Subject, to which I Shall attend.

“You will have been informed of what has taken place with Mr. Gray.3 They have placed him in the Crucible through which they compelled me to pass, at the expense & loss of more than $20,000. Their real motive for these arrests they neve⟨r⟩; declare.

“With this I forward you my third acct. against the U.S., amounting to $3317.7 Continued unto the last June [not found]. Whilst this port Continues open ’tis not probable it will be necessary to again put govt. to a like expense. A number of American vessels were here during part of the time I was feeding those distressed Seamen. But, the masters refused feeding them onboard their vessels, Saying they had no work for them to do & had only provisions sufficient for their voyage. Many of the Seamen were Sick, with Veneral Complaints & fevers Some had lock-jaw many had been wounded. More than Sixty were landed here & arrived from other parts of the Island, within a few days when they moved together as they Sometimes would they appeared quite firmidable. Many of the masters Complained that I would advance them no more. The Seamen that I would give them no more clothes, All were fed, none naked, Such people will co⟨m⟩;plain.

“The French Cruisers here are using every possible excitement to prevail on american seamen here, to enter on board their privateers. Some have gone with them. Had not those captured & brought into this been well fed & attended to many more would have gone. Sickness here is very expensive. I have used all the economy I could the govr. of the hospital is my friend & I employed a Surgeon physician by the month or the Charges for the wounded & Sick would have been much more very few have died I have given them but few clothes, but sufficient to accomodate them to the U.S. The list of Captured vessels Contains all I can officially name.4 Tho I am pretty Certain others have been brought into bye ports & unloaded. The govr. here & Dn. Duhart the high judge are good men & would restrain these french privateers had they power. They are our friends but want authority to act.

“Capt Hathaway’s vessel the Snow Cornelia was not released.5 I intended Sending you a Copy of his protest, but on his leaving this he told me he should wait on you in person with it & other papers I have not been informed if my last acct. dated 3d. April 1805 have ever reached you.6 My Confidence in administration excludes fear for its fate.”

RC and enclosure (DNA: RG 59, CD, Santiago de Cuba, vol. 1); extract and copy of enclosure (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 9A–D1); extract and copy of enclosure (DNA: RG 46, President’s Messages, 9B–B1). RC 3 pp.; marked “Duplicate”; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Blakeley; docketed by Wagner as received 7 Oct. 1805. Extract printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:670. For surviving enclosure, see n. 4.

1PJM-SS, 9:441.

2For the marqués de Someruelos’s refusal to recognize Hill as consul, see Hill to JM, 12 June 1805, ibid., 460–61, and 463 nn. 2–3.

3For Vincent Gray’s detention and the seizure of his papers, see John Morton to JM, 26 Apr. 1805, and Gray to JM, 4 May 1805, ibid., 289, 290 n. 1, 320–21.

4The enclosure (1 p.; docketed by Wagner; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:671) is a list of captured U.S. ships, showing the name of each ship, its captain, home port, port of departure, destination, date of capture, cargo, and the name of the capturing privateer and its captain; the list was published in the 16 Dec. 1805 National Intelligencer.

5Shadrach Hathaway in the Cornelia was on route from Kronstadt, Russia, to Providence, Rhode Island, when he encountered a series of storms that damaged the ship severely and delayed its progress for so long that his supplies of food and water were depleted. After spending several months fighting the weather, Captain Hathaway headed south along the American coast only to be captured on 8 Mar. 1805 by the French privateer General Ernouf, Capt. L. Boyer, and taken to Santiago de Cuba. In his protest Hathaway stated that he was also robbed of his clothing, possessions, and papers. He added that Boyer repeatedly offered him money to sign a paper in French saying that the Cornelia was bound for New Providence and carrying British goods, but Hathaway refused. After an extra-legal hearing before French agent J. Audebut, Hathaway was persuaded to sign statements releasing his captor from liability after which his papers, cargo, and vessel, which he heard had been sent to Baracoa, would be returned. When they were not, Hathaway appealed to Governor Someruelos, who said he had instructions “not to interfere in any differences between the French and Americans.” Hathaway remained in Santiago de Cuba negotiating the return of his ship and papers but at last departed for Rhode Island without them on 2 June. In late March 1805, the “General Ernouf, of Guadeloupe” was captured by the British and taken to Barbados (New York Morning Chronicle, 9 May 1805; Providence Gazette, 30 Mar., and 3 and 10 Aug. 1805).

6PJM-SS, 9:207–8.

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