James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Willis, 15 September 1802

From William Willis, 15 September 1802

Barcelona 15th. Sept. 1802.

Respected Sir,

I enclose you with this Copies of Letters giving information of the affairs of Tripoli, with the objects the Tripolins Seem to have in view.

Comodore Morris passed this Port on the 12th. inst. in Sight with the Schooner Enterprize and I Extremely regret his not Calling, because but three or four days before, there was a Tripoline Cruiser of About thirty Tons on this Coast, and the Schooner might have Still found him.

I have been ever Since my Arrival investigating a piece of information which I heard: That there had been some Counterfeit American Papers made in this Place, and Although Some Circumstances have furnished strong presumptions, I have not yet been Able to obtain any positive proof of it.

A Person informed me on the Evening that I left this place, that he had reason to think that there had been Some false Papers made here, & I Gave orders to my Vice-Consul Mr. Stirling to investigate it, and not hearing Any thing from him on the Subjec⟨t⟩ in my Absence, Altho’ I receiv’d Several Letters from him, I thoug⟨ht⟩ it might have been a mistake; but on Demanding of Mr. Stirling whether he had obeyed my orders, I found he had not, and he has given me no very Satisfactory reasons, why he did not; at which I have Expressed to him my displeasure.

The most Certain information I have, of the Existence of false Papers, is, through Mr. Adams, whose affidavit I enclose you, and Also the information of Mr. Kirkpatrick, who, I think did not act properly in Shewing my official Letter to the Capn., and with put⟨ting⟩ up with the insinuations only of Capn. Lee, and in Neglecting taking ⟨his⟩ Oath upon the Subject, and not taking the name of the Person he Receiv’d these Papers from. Capn. Lee Seems very Angry at my enquiry, and insinuates to Mr. Kirkpatrick quite a different name from those he told Mr. Adams, he receiv’d the papers from, as Mr. Adams could never have mistaken the Name of Samadet & Cushing for Lewis, and a Mercantile house no way Ressembles a master of a Ship, So that he Could not have told Mr. Adams, he Receiv’d them from Lewis, as the name of Lewis was very familiar to Mr. Adams. But Capn. Lee Seems in his Anger to have insinuated the name of Lewis, in order to bring Suspicion on me if possible, because no doubt he had understood I had a Share in the Ship Lewis Commands, which I have. This Ship was fitted out in my Absence and Sailed from this Port while I was in france, and about the day of my marriage there; the Persons who had the direction of fitting her out, were Mr. Benjamin B. Mumford, Mr. Wm. Baker, & Capn. Lewis, the two first of which were the Principal promoters of fitting out Said Ship, and the two first were interested in her.

I Shall Continue my investigations and give you the result of it in a few days, as well as a Copy of all the Documents I have Relating to the Subject, and hope, Capn. Lee will be more Explicit to those who may hereafter make enquiries of him, than he has been to Mr. Kirkpatrick, or me, and give the Real name of the person from whom he Receiv’d those papers. Had he Called on our Consul at Marseilles, the affair would then have been Canvassed, but his views do not Seem to be good; by his not taking that Step, ⟨where⟩ the persons were who he has at different times insinuated or Said he had the Papers from.

It Appears from the Affidavit of Mr. Adams that Capn. Lee told him he intended to Shew the papers to the Collector of Boston, but it Seems he told Mr. Kirkpatrick he only intended to Shew them to Some of his friends. Thus his Story agrees no better about the object he had in view, than it Does about the Names of those he took them from. The insinuations of Capn. Lee Seem to be the result of Anger and deliberate malice on Acct. of my investigating the business as he has treated me with every Respect and attention.

The fitting out of the Ship Pomona originated with Mr. Benjm. B. Mumford of Rhode island, Mr. Wm. Baker of Boston, and Capn. Thomas Lewis, and it was with much Persuasion that I took a Small Share of 4/40th. parts, upon Condition of my house having the Commission of fitting her out and have Since found to my Cost that it was little better than a Swindling trick, of the two first, for having Confided the fitting out of the Ship to them in my Absence to france, and particularly to Mr. Mumford, they hurried away the Ship and brought my house into the Advance of Abt. fifteen thousand Drs. which I have not Since been Able to get, and Almost despair of ever getting it. How many other tricks of vilany were played by Mr. Mumford, I know not, but know him very Capable of them, for he has Even Seduced one of the Clerks of my house to falsify my books and then to attest to the Accounts in favour of himself and the house of Murray & Mumford of New york. I am Sir with Respectfull Esteem your Hble Sevt.

Willm. Willis

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