James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Jarvis, 24 October 1805 (Abstract)

From William Jarvis, 24 October 1805 (Abstract)

§ From William Jarvis. 24 October 1805, Lisbon. “The foregoing of the 11th. I had the honor to forward by the Brig Neptune Captn. Delano, for New York, with the inclosed papers.1 Duplicates of those from me go inclosed.

“A few days since three sailors belonging to the Laura of Boston Captn. Higginson, were imprisoned for striking the Mate. One who was not protected as an American, having wrote to Mr. Gambier the British Consul General claiming his protection as a British Subject, he sent the letter to me by his secretary & demanded him. I replied as a matter of right I certainly could not give him up, but as the Seaman wished to go on board a Man of War & Captn. Higginson did not want him, I might consent to his release from prison as a favor. This Mr. Gambier declined accepting contending that he, (Michl. Chase) ought to be given up as a thing of right. For which purpose, Mr Gambier’s Secretary & the Merinho General, informed me that, Mr. Gambier had written to the Secretary of State. Upon which I wrote the inclosed to His Excellency.2 I am sorry to be under the necessity of troubling you Sir about such trifles; but when they are attempted to be made matters of consequence it is unavoidable. This Government has done nothing about the seaman.

“Inclosed is also a Copy of my letter to His Excellency to try to obtain some alteration in the arrangement relative to the franquia of Bread Stuffs,3 but I doubt any thing coming of it, as the present method was introduced by the Minister of Finance, who is administrator of the Corn Market, & therefore it is probable will not consent to an alteration.

“It appears that a Bill of Lading of the Cargo of the Schooner Trio of Boston Captn. Storey was unthinkingly shown to one of the House of Messrs. John Bulkley & Son, Agents of the Privateer Admiral Saumarez that captured her, by Mr. Turner the Consignee, by which it appeared that the Cargo was French property; upon which Messrs. Bulkely & Sons wrote to Mr. Gambier retracting their permission for the payment of the freight, and Mr. Gambier inclosed Copy of their Letter to His Excellency Mr. de Araujo & which occasioned the original of the inclosed of the 15th: Instant.4

“Nothing as yet has been done about the Venus,5 altho the Spanish Minister applied ten days ago for her to be delivered up.

“General Junot left this Court for France the 26th. Instant; leaving the Secretary of Embassy Chargé d’Affaires. Madam is now drinking the Waters at the Caldres. So soon as she is restored to health she will follow him.

“The Rochfort Squadron made its appearance off this Coast about a fortnight ago consisting of 5 Ships of the line 2 frigates and a Brig of War. It has captured several Merchantmen & among the rest two or three of a Convoy from England for Porto. A Man of War had come within shot of the Frigate in which Lord Robt. Fitzgerald the British Minister was returning; which had nearly a Million sterling on board for Malta; but the port Convoy heaving in sight, a signal was made to the Man of War to give over the Chase. His Lordship was landed at Faro & reached here four days since.

“Twenty nine Transports & two Frigates, part of the British expedition, has put in here from stress of Weather. There is on board two s⟨c⟩;ots regiments. It is supposed they are for Italy. Much field & heavy artilery & equipage is said to be on board. A transport loaded principally with Cannon Balls foundered a short distance off the Bar and the Crew perished.

“Mr. Pinckney writes me that he shall be on here in a few days, to embark for the United States. He says not a word about Spanish Affairs. Inclosed is a Packet from him.

“Common fame says that hostilities have commenced between France & Austria and a Battle been fought; the friends of each side alternately claiming the Victory; but as this Lady has not the best reputation in the World for truth, those who pretend to think, give no Credit to these reports. It is asserted however upon better grounds, that the King of Prussia has refused a passage to the Russains [sic] troops through His Dominions; and it is added, declared he would repel force with force if attempted.

“This Country is in the most perfect state of Tranquility; altho the paragraphists in the English & French papers occasionally involve it in a War.”

RC, two copies, and enclosures, two copies (DNA: RG 59, CD, Lisbon, vol. 2). First RC 4 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, except for Jarvis’s complimentary close, signature, and address. Second RC marked “(Dup).” Minor differences between the copies have not been noted. For enclosures, see nn. 2–4.

1The Neptune, Captain Delano, arrived at New York about 28 Dec. 1805 in seventy-two days from Lisbon (New-York Commercial Advertiser, 28 Dec. 1805).

2The enclosure (5 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Jarvis) is a copy of Jarvis to António de Araújo, 20 Oct. 1805, stating that Michael Chase had shipped on the Laura from Boston to Lisbon and thence to India and back to the United States; that he had been arrested in Lisbon for striking the first mate, an act that would have brought him a court-martial and the death penalty in the British navy; that there was “not the Shadow of Proof” that Chase was British; and that a letter written for Chase by a third party, in which Chase asked the protection of British consul James Gambier as a British subject and offered to serve in the British navy, was not proof. Jarvis said that for one nation to claim a subject who was guilty of a crime against another state would allow criminals to evade the laws and subject the persons and property of any community to crimes by foreigners. He noted that whenever an American citizen entered the British service, he was treated as a subject of Great Britain, and he argued that Chase had signed a contract to serve on the Laura, which Britain had no right to abrogate. He contrasted Gambier’s demand for Chase’s release with “the almost weekly impressments” of Americans in Lisbon and asked Araújo to arrange the release of five impressed American seamen then being held on British ships at Lisbon including two who had disappeared from their American ships leaving their clothing and possessions behind.

3The enclosure (3 pp.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Jarvis) is a copy of Jarvis to Araújo, 18 Oct. 1805, stating that because of “an abundant harvest” the United States would have much flour and grain to spare, but that there were delays in obtaining franquia (admission) to Lisbon because of the papers ships were required by Portuguese law to have. He noted that since American captains were often also the owners of the cargoes, they carried no charter party or letters of orders. He said that if Americans decided to take their cargoes elsewhere, Portugal would be denied the opportunity to buy flour at a cheaper rate than in Europe as well as to sell return cargoes of wine, salt, and fruit, and he asked that the government approve a return to the previous regulations.

4The enclosures (4 pp.; in Portuguese and English) are a copy and translation of Araújo to Jarvis, 15 Oct. 1805, stating that after the Bukeleys had written the letter identifying themselves as agents for the Owner of the Admiral Saumarez, and agreed to pay the freight out of the proceeds of the cargo, “some circumstances occurred which hindered their agreeing to the said payment.” As a result the matter was to be decided in the courts. Araújo added that the Portuguese government would not hesitate in facilitating the payment in that manner.

5For the Venus, see Jarvis to JM, 16 Sept. 1805, and n. 10, 26 Sept. 1805, and 11 Oct. 1805, and nn. 2–4, and 9.

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