James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Victor Pepin and Cayetano Mariotini, 16 November 1813

From Victor Pepin and Cayetano Mariotini

Philadelphia 16th. November 1813

The subscribers beg leave to represent that having obtained permission from the Spanish Government at the Havanna to transport thither a part of their Company of Equestrian Performers & Horses, for the purpose of public Exhibition in that Place, they are embolded to solicit your Excellency for Permission to equip and clear out a Cartel vessel under proper Stipulations, that the voyage out shall be restricted to Carrying Mr. Pepin with part of the Company & Boards sufficient to build a Circus there, with any other Passengers who may go without violating any of the rules of the War, in which this Country is engaged, & that the voyage back again, shall be restricted to carrying such Spaniards or Americans as may lawfully come.

The subscribers beg leave to add, that this Spanish Permission, being limited in point of time will expire, unless they can speedily avail themselves of it, & that they are induced to believe, that if they can accomplish the voyage, it will prove a very lucrative one. No contravention of any Law of this Country being contemplated, the Subscribers flatter themselves, that this application will not be deemed unreasonable, but that his Excellency the President will be pleased to consent to it, in which Event the Subscribers have reason to hope of obtaining a Passport, from the regular british authorities for the same Purpose, with very high Respect they have the Honor to remain, His Excellency’s most obedient & humble Servants

Vr. Pepin1
Cayetano Mariotini

RC (DNA: RG 59, ML). Cover bears Monroe’s note: “These men to be answerd that a cartel is not necessary—That being subjects of a foreign power at peace with the US, they will not be disturbed by our cruisers—if in a neutral bottom or in an american vessel.”

1Victor Pepin, a native of Albany, New York, spent his youth in France where he became an equestrian and horse trainer. He returned to the United States in 1807 as the co-manager, with Jean Breschard, of a circus troupe. By 1809 Cayetano Mariotini (d. 1817) had joined the company, and the following year he led part of it on a New England tour. Thereafter Pepin and Mariotini performed together and separately in various eastern U.S. cities, including a combined appearance in Charleston in 1812–13. After a summer performance in New York, they played in Philadelphia until 3 Dec. 1813, then moved to Baltimore, where they remained until 11 Apr. 1814. Performances in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati followed, with Pepin returning to Charleston in late 1814. Mariotini worked his way down the Mississippi to New Orleans, where he built a circus and began giving performances in April 1816. He died there of yellow fever in the fall of 1817. Pepin continued to perform throughout the United States, took a troupe to Martinique and Cuba in 1819–21, and retired in 1827 (Stuart Thayer, Annals of the American Circus, 1793–1860 [3 vols. in 1; 1976–93; reprint, Seattle, Wash., 2000], 19, 21, 24–25, 28–30, 33–39, 43, 47, 79).

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