James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Stephen Cathalan, 16 March 1802

From Stephen Cathalan, 16 March 1802

Marseilles 16th: March 1802.


By my last Respects of the 29th. September, I had the honour of advising you, I had Sent to Mr. Felix Imbert Mercht. of Philadelphia the Blank Bound, which the law required to be executed on my Entering upon the office of Commercial Agent of the United States in this place; I doubt not that he will have forwarded the same to you, filled in the Regular form, as he has acknowledged me it’s Receipt, and that he would follow my directions on the Same.

I have duly Received your Circular of the 1st. last August, whereof I have duly noted the Contents in order to follow your directions accordingly, when the occasion will occur. I gave a Certify’d copy to the health office of this place, of the paragraph of your Said Letter, as well as of the Circular from the treasury department to the Collectors of the Customs, on what is relative to the bills of health to be delivered by them to the Masters of Vessels, before they Sail out from the ports of the United States; also a copy of the form of Such bills of health; I beg your reference to the here inclosed Copy of their answer to me on that Subject. Our Ships from the United States are Continuing to obtain their free pratick, being Submitted only to a quarantine, when they have touched to some ports in the Mediterranean, from whence a quarantine is ordered here, or when they have been visited at Sea.

I Have also the Honour of inclosing you a State of the American Vessels Entered into this Harbour of Marse⟨illes⟩ from the 1st. of January 1801 to the 31st. of December last, also a State of Such Vessels sailed out from this port or the others of this district in that same Epocha. I beg you to Excuse me for my having not Sent you Sooner the Said States, and having so much delayed of addressing you, but I had two Manifestes of outward Cargoes which the Captains had not delivered to me I was obliged to procure them from the Custom house of this place and I was long time before I could get them there. In future you may rely on my Exactitude in sending them to you, in the first days of July and Janûary.

I have been of late so much busied while the President was repairing in Toulon, that when Sh⟨e⟩ Sailed from that Road on the 10th. February, I had only a moment while She was under Sail to write a Letter to the President of the United Stat⟨es.⟩

The Washington Freegate under Command of Captn. John Shaw arrived there on the 10th. ditto and in this road of Marseilles, on the 14th. ditto; I Supplied her with Provisions &ca: & She Sailed with 4 american Vessels under her Convoy for the coa⟨st⟩ of Spain and down the Streights on the 26th. The dispatching of these Ships, employed so much my time, that I could not embrace their opportunity to write you a line and Since, I having been Sick, ha⟨ve⟩ been the Motives which prevented me to write you t⟨ill⟩ this Moment.

Three weeks ago two Sweedish Fregates arrived here; on⟨e⟩ of 44 Guns is ready to sail for the coast of Italy and then to Cruize before Tripoly. The other of 2⟨8⟩ Gu⟨ns⟩ in this port is on repairs having much suffered in her upper works and will not be ready before 3 Weeks to follow the same destination.

The U. S. Fregate Philadelphia Capn. Barron which was ordered by Commodore Dale to be at Leghorn about the 10th. inst: and then proceed with any Vessels ready to sail under her Convoy, to this Road, I am informed by an English Brig of War, now in quarantine here from Malta, it is reported She was there about 3 Weeks ago obliged to heave down for a leak to repair it. The Boston Capn. Mac Niell was also there: but I don’t Know when any of these Fregates may appear this way, and, the American Vessels here which could not be ready to Sail with the Washington have Sailed Since and will now Sail without convoy.

I have also learned that two Tripolitan Cruisers were preparing to Sail out from the Bay of Tripoly, but in a violent Storm one was lost and the other reintered in the port of Tripoly in a poor State.

Toulon is the port and the Arsenal the best situated in the Center of the Mediterranean for Repairing our Freegates; there all Kinds of Conveniences are to be found, the days works at half prices, they are paid in this port and others in the Mediterranean; that Road Could be pointed as a Rendez-vous for our Freegates, as long as it will be deemed necessary to Keep an american Squadron in the Mediterranean, and I doubt not that Commodore Dale will mention the same to the secretary of the Navy.

Naval Stores and provisions will be procured here or at Toulon cheaper, now than while the President was there.

But I would wish when the New Squadron Expected will be arrived in the mediterranean and the Commodore will have organised with the Sweedish Admir⟨al⟩ a Number of Fregates for Convoying Regularly the Merchant Vessels of Both Nations, the American Consuls or Agents Should receive positive orders to forbid Any American Vessels to Sail out from their respective ports without Convoy; but Such Convoy ought to be regulated in a manner, that each 30 days or thereabout Such convoy Should offer in our ports; we have been, hitherto, Very fortunate, ⟨that⟩ any of our merchant Vessels have not been taken by the tripolitans, but if any Should be, the consequence would ⟨be⟩ of the greatest prejudice to our Government!

Tho’ I have not yet Received my Exequatur which has been lately refused by the minister of Foreign Relations in a conversation the Minister Plenipy. of the Un. St: at Paris had with him on that Subject, I have not yet lost all hope of obtaining it by my relations who are also relations to the first Consul and probably I would even already have it now, if I had had the time of making a petition to him thro’ their Channel. I am doing it now. In the mean time I Continue in the full Exercise of this office and ⟨to⟩ be acknowledged dayly by the French Autorities here as well as at Toulon &a. on my Certificates Passports and official Let⟨ters⟩ the same as if I had Such Exequatur, and the first Consul having lately accepted the office of first Presid⟨ent⟩ of the Italie Republik I Confide in his Justice that ⟨he⟩ will let me enjoy of the same exception to the Fren⟨ch⟩ Constitution. I beg you, Sir, in Such a Circumstance, to entreat the President of the United States to be so good as to wait till all hopes of Success Should be lost, before he would appoin⟨t⟩ any of the Competitors I may have to fulfill the office, or as long as the Service of the United States, will not suffer for my holding it, which is far to be the case at present.

It will be a new obligation, under which I will be endebted to you, Sir, and with sentiments of Gratitude I have the Honour to be with great Respect Sir, Your most obedient Humble & devoted servant

Stephen Cathalan Junr.

P.S. Sir

I am to the 24th. March; the british Brig I mention you having had his free pratick yesterday I wrote to the Commander for detailed informations about the Und. States Freegates at Malta; there is a Copy of his answer—

on board the Victorieuse, Marseilles 23d. March 1802—


In answer to your letter of this date I have to acquaint you His Majesty’s Sloop, under my Command departed from Malta on the 17th. of February. At that time two american Fregates was at Malta not wanting any repairs to my Knowledge, nor can I answer for their destination. I have the honor to be your most obedt. Hble Servt

signed J. Richard

There is also at Toulon a British Fregate of war arrived from Malta; the Commander Said he left there the Philadelphia and Boston and has not mentioned that the Philadelphia wanted repairs; your most obedient servant

Stephen Cathalan Junr.

Index Entries