James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Tobias Lear, 27 July 1801

From Tobias Lear, 27 July 1801


Cape François, July 27th. 1801


I embrace a favourable opportunity offered by Mr. D’Arcy, who goes passenger in the Schooner Fox to Philada. to write you a few lines, and enclose a Copy of my last of the 25th. inst. which covered a Copy of the Constitution formed for the Island. I would forward another Copy by this Opporty., was it practicable for me to get it; but that seems to be out of the question at present. I hope to be able to forward you a Copy of the organic laws for carrying the Constitution into effect, in a few days. They are now in the press; but it is impossible to get an impression at present, as there is a prohibition upon giving them out until the Printer receives permission.

The Governor arrived in town just now from Gonieaves, where I am told he has had an interview with the British Agent, who has lately arrived from Jamaica at Port Republican, and had come on to the place mentioned to meet the Governor. I have not recd. any communication from the British agent on any subject whatever, altho’ he knows I am here in the Office lately held by Dr. Stevens. I shall wait for something from him before I open any communication with him; for in the present state of things I cannot know him in the Character of a party to the Convention heretofore entered into. I shall leave it to him to make advances, if he has anything to communicate to me. I propose waiting upon the Governor this Evening, when I shall probably have some interesting conversation with him, which, if I should, shall be communicated to you in a few days, as vessels are sailing almost daily from this Port to some part of the U.S.

I must, Sir, do justice to Dr. Stevens’ conduct as a public officer, so far as it has come to my knowledge or observation, by saying that he appears to have served the U.S. with fidelity, and certainly with great ability, so far as relates to establishing the trade of this Island. His influence with the Chiefs has been and still is very great. His local, political & natural knowledge of the Island is at least as great, perhaps greater than any other man in it. His Private Character stands high for benevolence and the social virtues. I have met with every attention from him, and he has on all occasions shewn the best disposition to aid me on entering upon my duties. I owe him these Truths, and give them with much satisfaction. The indisposition which I mentioned to you in my last still hangs upon me. I do not, by any means, impute it to the Climate. It will soon go off.

Vessels from the U.S. are coming in here every day. Many come from the Windward Islands, where they have been to try the Markets; but find none so good as this. The Productions of this Island even in its present Comparatively neglected state, are immense, and the consumption of our Articles great indeed. With the highest respect & sincere Attachment, I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most Obedt. Servt.

Tobias Lear.

P.S. By the Schooner Betsey of Alexa. Capt. Gilpin, I wrote a line to the President, and sent him a sample of the Preserves & Liqueures made here. I did it as a mercht. for I desired him to pay the Amt. to Colo. Gilpin in Alxa.

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