James Madison Papers

Juan Bautista Bernabeu to James Monroe, 29 August 1813 (Abstract)

§ Juan Bautista Bernabeu to James Monroe

29 August 1813, Baltimore, “Spanish Consul’s Office.” “On my return home from a little excursion I had the honor to receive the letter you was pleased to address me under date of the 19th. inst. inclosing copies of one from the Collector of Savannah and another from the prize-master of the British Schooner Maria; who with other Citizens of the United States, is detained at the Havana; in consequence whereof you have thought proper to require my interposition with the Spanish authorities there to the end of obtaining the liberation of the men and restor⟨a⟩tion of their property.1 And in answer thereof with due deference I beg leave to inform you Sir, that as the Spanish Nation has a Minist⟨er⟩ Plenipotentiary in this Country, on whom all His Majesty’s Consuls depend, and to whom it exclusively belongs to correspond on affairs of this nature with the Governors and Commanders of Spanish America; it became my dutty to refer your letter and inclosures to the Minister aforesaid; who from his known philanthropy and the lively interest he has always manifested in whatever can contribute to the Satisfaction of this Government; I am fully persuaded, that waving the consideration of whatever motives may have occassioned your not addressing him direct; he will doubtless use every means in his power to oblige you Sir and obtain the object of your request.2 A hope which I flatter myself will be realized, and I soon enabled to confirm the same.”

RC (DNA: RG 59, Notes from Foreign Consuls). 3 pp. Docketed by Monroe, “For the Presidt / Mr Barnebeu.”

1On 29 May 1813, Francis Boggs, prizemaster of the Maria, wrote on behalf of himself and five others to Archibald S. Bulloch, collector at Savannah, stating that due to damage to the Maria and a shortage of provisions, they had landed at St. Martha (Santa Marta, New Granada) in November 1812, where the Spanish confined them and confiscated the ship, its cargo, and the Americans’ personal property. They were put to work on Spanish government ships, subjected to slave labor, and sometimes kept in irons, even after being moved to Havana, where there was “no American consul or Agent or any one to do any thing” to aid them. Boggs observed that they would “without doubt remain here until our Govt. demands us,” and asked that Bulloch “as soon as possible get us released” (DNA: RG 45, Area File 8). Bulloch forwarded Boggs’s letter to Monroe on 10 July 1813 (DNA: RG 45, Area File 7). A copy of Monroe’s 19 Aug. 1813 letter to Bernabeu is filed in DNA: RG 45, Area File 11.

2For JM’s refusal to acknowledge Luis de Onís as Spain’s minister to the United States, see his letter to Caesar A. Rodney, 22 Oct. 1809, PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (6 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984–). description ends , 2:26 and n. 2.

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