James Madison Papers

To James Madison from the Junta of the Provinces of the Río de la Plata, 13 February 1811 (Abstract)

§ From the Junta of the Provinces of
the Río de la Plata

13 February 1811, Buenos Aires. Declares that “Don Josef R Poinsetts has just presented himself to this Junta” with his credentials as commercial agent of the U.S. and that “this Government conformably to the cordial and friendly intentions which it made known to Y E in its official Letter dated yesterday,”1 has admitted him to the full exercise of the powers of his agency. Regards this agency as “a preliminary to the Treaties between Nation and Nation which will be formed to point out the Rules of a permanent Commerce and of the greatest amity and Union between the two States.”2

Translation of RC (DNA: RG 59, NFL, Argentina). 1 p. In the hand of John Graham, who noted that the letter was “signed by the Members of the Junta.” Printed in Manning, Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States concerning the Independence of the Latin-American Nations, 1:320–21. RC (DNA: RG 59, ML) in Spanish; filed with Telésforo d’Orea to Monroe, 18 June 1811 (see Junta of the Provinces of the Río de la Plata to JM, 11 Feb. 1811, n.).

2Joel Roberts Poinsett had arrived in Buenos Aires on 13 Feb. 1811 and he lost no time in presenting his letter of appointment as agent for commerce and seamen to the junta. When it was translated, he recorded in his journal, “it produced a sensation of disappointment and irritation.” The members of the junta apparently had hoped to receive the credentials of a representative of the U.S. government who had been sent directly to them by the president. Poinsett explained that JM was unaware of the magnitude of the changes that had occurred in Buenos Aires and that his letter of appointment had followed the forms used by the administration in sending unofficial agents to Havana. He requested, however, that JM send him a letter of credence which, he believed, would give him “a decided advantage” with the junta, whose members he wished to persuade to declare the province’s independence from Spanish rule. In response, the president elevated Poinsett’s status to consul general for Buenos Aires on 30 Apr., but he did not otherwise alter the administration’s earlier instructions respecting Poinsett’s duties (Joel Roberts Poinsett, “Journal to Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Ayres & Chile, 1810–11” [DLC]; Poinsett to Robert Smith, 13 and 23 Feb. 1811, Monroe to Poinsett, 30 Apr. 1811 [PHi: Poinsett Papers]).

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