James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Turell Tufts, 16 December 1802

From Turell Tufts, 16 December 1802

Paramaribo Decr. 16. 1802


Lately I recd. a Letter from Wm. P. Gardner Consul of the USA at Demarary informing me that he had heard that I had deceased, and that He had communicated that report as a fact to your Department. So much folly is not often exhibited. Public Agents more than any other People, should ascertain reports before they Circulate them.

While I was visiting some Plantations with the view of recovering health, a Squadron arrived here from Holland Commanded by W. Bloys van Theslong with powers to accept the restoration of the Colony according to the Treaty of Peace. This business was Completed on the 2nd. Decr. The English troops embarked the same day, and on the   Governor Friderici was Suspended by proclamation of the Provisional Government; consisting of the Commodore and the two oldest Councillors, whom he had chosen for his Assistants. Commissioners to supercede this Provisional Government are daily expected who will be empowered to arrange & regulate the affairs of the Colony as they may judge Proper. In the mean time the Colony is placed under the Antient Laws, and revenues Collected in the same manner & rates as formerly. At present Merchandize is admitted from foreign Vessells according to the want or policy of the moment. I believe however that no article has been denied admittance from our Vessells, and Sugar as well as Melasses (no Cotton Coffee or Cocoa) is permitted to be taken away.

I was too unwell to appear before the Government untill yesterday, the 14h. Decr., when in a Letter, I congratulated them on the return of Peace, and the restoration of the Colony; and said therein, "As Soon as it is convenient The President of the USA. would be pleased to be informed through me, of what will be the dispositions respecting our Commerce with this Colony". I was received with much politeness and respect. In regard to my Commission as Consul, they said it was well known to them that I had resided here in that Character, and that it was perfectly agreeable to them that I should continue therein. My Letter is so formed that an answer ought to be given; if recd., Copies of both I will transmit by the first chance.

Here is much rejoicing on account of the departure of the British, and they left us with much Chagrine. While writing, the Mail Boat has arrived from Barbados. Letters mention that a Vessell was dispatched from that place to recall the orders for delivering up this Colony, on account of some new difficulties with France, but having met the fleet at sea, returned to Barbados. Had such orders been recd. here in season the consequences would have been unhappy.

While I was sick, an American Vessell commanded by one De Lance, and owned in Charlestown So. C.— arrived here with Slaves from Africa. The Commander of an English armed Brig. seized her, put all her men on Shore, except the Captain, and ordered her for Antigua as a prize to be libelled before the Admiralty there. Information is just recd. that no Lawyer would undertake the business, as our prohibitory Laws could not be plead in their Courts, v’s our Vessells. In my next I will give you more particular information v’s this Vessell. A Vessell from Boston brings an account that a report of my decease was there circulated and so far believed that none of my friends wrote to me, but were preparing powers to be Sent here for the Settlement of my affairs. This is vexatious. I am Sir with great respect Your humble Servant

Turell Tufts

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