James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Samuel Fulton, 20 April 1810

From Samuel Fulton

West Florida, Baton Rouge 20 Apl 1810


On my quittal of the Service in the year Eighteen hundred and three I had the Honour of addressing you1 on the Subject of my quitting a foreign Service, and offring it to my Native Country. Some Short time after I had the Honour of receiving from you an answer2 Informing me that nothing Could be Done at that moment nor untill a new organization would take place. About five years past I became a Spanish Subject and have [done] evry thing in my power to merit the Confidence of the Government as I would wish to do under what ever Government I may recide; I have organized the Millitia of the Provence over whom I act, as Adgt. Gnl. and Commandt. of their Cavelry. Some of your Generals have assured me that they have never Seen Millitia under better Subordination in any part of the United States.

Seeing the unhappy Situation of old Spa⟨in I⟩ have But Little hopes that She can hold out much Longer against the Colossal power of Bonaparte, Should She fall we must of Course Change our Masters here; the Choise would be General, in favour of the Government over which you have the Hono⟨ur⟩ to Preside. Should the President & Congress jud⟨ge⟩ Wright to take possession of this Detatch provin⟨ce⟩ I will make to reclaime of you that friendship and Service which you so Generously offerd me when I had the pleasure of seeing you in Phillidelphia In the year 1795, But not at the Expence of an ancient Veteran.

Possibly my Knowledge of the Local Situation of this Country; the Charecters & Manners & Languages of the people might render my Services usefull to the Government. I have the Honour to remain your Very obedt. Servt

S. Fulton3

RC (NN). Headed by Fulton, “Samuel Fulton formerly Lieutanant Colol. In the Service of France; To Mr. James Maddison President of the United States of America.” Docketed by JM.

1Probably Fulton to JM, 10 Aug. 1802 (DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–9).

2Letter not found.

3Samuel Fulton was a military adventurer who had entered French service in 1793, becoming actively involved in the intrigues of Citizen Genet and George Rogers Clark against Spanish territory in Florida and Louisiana. He had met JM in 1795 and left for France in May 1796, carrying with him JM’s letters and State Department correspondence to James Monroe in Paris. Fulton continued to serve in the French army in Europe and Saint-Domingue but resigned his commission after hearing of the Louisiana Purchase while on a furlough in New Orleans. His repeated applications to JM for an army commission or any position, preferably on the southwestern borderlands, were unsuccessful. He settled at Baton Rouge by 1804, married the Spanish governor’s daughter, and commanded the Spanish militia in West Florida. American leaders of the movement for self-government met at his house in Baton Rouge, and he became lieutenant colonel of the Louisiana territorial militia (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (1st ser., vols. 1-10, Chicago, 1962-77, vols. 11-17, Charlottesville, Va., 1977-91). description ends , 16:304 n. 6; Fulton to Jefferson, 29 Apr. 1801, Monroe to Jefferson, n.d. [received 26 Aug. 1801] [DNA: RG 59, LAR, 1801–9]; Fulton to JM, 12 Oct. 1812, and enclosure [NN]; Cox, The West Florida Controversy, pp. 342, 380).

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