James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Vincent Gray, 25 May 1803

From Vincent Gray, 25 May 1803

Havana 25th. May 1803.


By a spanish vessel Just about ⟨to⟩ depart for New York, I have only time ⟨to⟩ say that Dn. Francisco Arango, sent ⟨so⟩me time since by this Government, to that of ⟨S⟩anto Domingo, hath this moment arrived ⟨fr⟩om that place, after a passage of ten days; ⟨in⟩ company with a French Sloop of War.

The sudden departure of the Schooner ⟨b⟩y which this goes, puts it out of my power, ⟨to⟩ say any thing as to the situation of that devoted ⟨I⟩sland; but if I was to Hazard an opinion, from the silence of the Commissary and other French officers, whom have been on board, ⟨i⟩t would be, that the Island is in a Worse situation than at any time since the arrival of the French Troops in that quarter.

However I learn that a Military Deputation hath been sent by the commander in chief to the First Consul, in order to urge the necessity of immediate relief; and that three places only are now in their possession, to wit: the Cape Port au prince and Aux cayes.

This Deputation not having sailed until about the 8h. of april will not arrival until some time in this month; therefore the required relief can not reach the Sea Port Towns, and be ready to depart the Ports of France, until about the last of June; Consequently can not reasonably be expected at Santo Domingo until the first of September, befor which time, as the unhealthy season is approaching I am fearful, from the best information I can collect, that the blacks will be in full possession of every part of the Island.

I am led to believe that Barracks are now preparing in this Island, at Matanz⟨as⟩ for the purpose of receiving the sick and wound⟨ed⟩ French Troops; to be sent from Santo Domingo.

From accounts recently received here, from different quarters, We apprehended an immediate rupture between the French and English Nations. However should such an event take place, our Citizens Trading in these Seas, and to this Port, whose property is realy and truly American, shall leave it prepared to meet an investigation, by any of the Belliger⟨ent⟩ Powers. I am Sir, Very respectfully Your mo: Obt. Servt.

Vincent Gray

P.S. By a vessel this ⟨m⟩oment arrived from ⟨St.⟩ Thomas, we are led ⟨to⟩ believe that the differences ⟨be⟩tween the British & French ⟨Go⟩vernments, have been adjusted.

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