James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William C. C. Claiborne, 3 April 1806 (Abstract)

From William C. C. Claiborne, 3 April 1806 (Abstract)

§ From William C. C. Claiborne. 3 April 1806, New Orleans. “As the situation of this Country is somewhat peculiar, perhaps the subject of the inclosed letters1 deserves the Consideration of our Government. I am myself at a loss to know why Mr. Deforgues has not put the business upon the footting I proposed to him, or made to me some other proposition than the one contained in his letter. His silence may be considered by some as a suspicious circumstance: I would therefore wish to be instructed by you how I am to act in case he shou⟨ld⟩ continue to decline sending me a list of the French Citizens who have reported themselves to him. As in some degree connected with this subject, it may be proper to mention to you, that some of our best Lawyers conceive that those of the Inhabitants of this Country, who have not taken the oath of Allegiance (and they are by the by much the greater number) could not under the existing laws be tried for Treason if they were to take arms against us in the event of a war between Spain and the United States.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, TP, Orleans, vol. 8); letterbook copy (Ms–Ar: Claiborne Executive Journal, vol. 16). RC 1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, signed by Claiborne; docketed by Wagner, with his note: “To be answd.” For enclosures, see n. 1.

1Claiborne enclosed copies of (1) French consul François Deforgues’s 11 Mar. 1806 letter to him (2 pp.; in French; docketed by Wagner; printed, with translation, in Carter, Territorial Papers description begins Clarence Carter et al., (28 vols.; Washington, 1934–75). description ends , Orleans, 9:609–11) stating that French citizens who had been summoned to join the municipal guard and the militia had complained to him, saying that many of them had not registered with him out of ignorance of the need to do so, and stating that he had advertised the necessity for this in the local papers, suggesting that in exchange for their passports and other papers he would give them certificates certifying their French nationality, and enclosing an example of that certification; and (2) Claiborne’s 13 Mar. 1806 reply (1 p.; in a clerk’s hand, docketed by Wagner), stating that as soon as Desforgues supplied him with the names and residences of those French citizens who had made themselves known, he would notify the proper officers. He added that it was to be understood that this exemption would not extend to persons who lived in Louisiana at the time of its cession to the United States.

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