James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard Worsam Meade, 24 August 1807


Cadiz Augt. 24t 1807
See October 1, 1807


However painfull and disagreeable it is to me to intrude on your time ⟨at a⟩ moment like this, yet I find myself compelled to it by the conduct ⟨pu⟩rsued towards me by Mr. Joseph Yznardi Consul of the United States ⟨for⟩ this port.

Many complaints have been made by the Citizens of the United States ⟨resp⟩ecting this Gentleman grounded principally on his non residence at ⟨Cadi⟩z, and his total abandonment of the office to men not only entirely ⟨unfi⟩t for the employment but disrespectable and in every respect dishonorable ⟨to the⟩ United States. In consequence of these representations I am informed ⟨that the⟩ President was pleased to write Mr. Yznardi requesting him either ⟨to co⟩me and reside at his Port or if his years or business interfered he would advise him to resign Mr Yznardi deeply involved ⟨in a⟩ law suit his own, vizt with the Spanish Government & highly ⟨inter⟩ested on that account in preserving the office as long as possible ⟨   ⟩red taking a house in Cadiz which for many years he did ⟨not⟩ even possess & thus has an apparent residence here, tho’ he is as seldom in Cadiz as before, and consequently no change whatever has taken place in the office. I have for a long time been sensible that numerous impositions have been practised on our Citizens, p⟨ar⟩ticularly by the present Agent or chief Clerk of Mr Yznardi who w⟨as⟩ a clerk of the former Vice Consul Mr Anthy Perry. Owing ⟨   ⟩ to the nature of this Government and the immense complicat⟨ion⟩ of Offices, and bureaus it is a difficult matter for a Citizen wh⟨o is⟩ imposed on by his Consul in the charges said to be paid as d⟨uty⟩ to the Customs to ascertain the Fact.

On or about the month of June last past I discovered that ⟨the⟩ American Consular office made it a practise to charge the ⟨sum⟩ of $7 20/ 100 for all ships and $3 60/ 100 for all Brigs & smaller ⟨Vessels⟩ being in Ballast as paid for "The Manifest at the Custom H⟨ouse"⟩ and which sum was neither paid, nor was there any law or ⟨ what⟩ever to collect the same. Justly irritated at such an impo⟨sition⟩ and finding that I could prove the fact as consignee for e⟨   ⟩ vessels that came to my address in the short space of Six or ⟨   ⟩ weeks I presented a memorial to the Collector of the Port req⟨uesting⟩ that I might be informed whether any such sums had been ⟨paid⟩ or not and I received from him a regular certificate that no ⟨such⟩ sum had ever been received either on those vessels stated or ⟨ot⟩her neutral vessels in ballast. I then wrote to Mr. Erving at Madrid ⟨and to⟩ Mr. Yznardi at Rota, in consequence of which the latter Gentleman ⟨cam⟩e to Cadiz and in an examination into the Charges it was found to ⟨be⟩ an imposition practised by the Clerks in the office under his charge, ⟨   ⟩ tho’ this imposition is said only to have commenced within a few months ⟨   ⟩ I feel fully confident in saying that if it had not been on this particular ⟨   ⟩ that on numerous others of the Port charges, equally scandalous ⟨im⟩positions have been for many years practised in this office on our Citizens Mr Yznardi having tried several means unsuccessfully of compromising ⟨the⟩ business and preventing its reaching the ears of the Government, then ⟨see⟩king to intimidate me threatened publicly that he would ruin me ⟨by a⟩ Spanish Law suit, and having actually commenced a prosecution ⟨again⟩st me for defamation as he is pleased to call it, I found myself ⟨com⟩pelled not only to defend myself but to commence a prosecution for ⟨the⟩ Sums unjustly exacted as due to the Customs & retained by his Clerks. ⟨Enc⟩losed I hand you Sir a Notarial Copy of the letters and ⟨a⟩nswer given by Mr Yznardi in person to the Judge on being ⟨sum⟩moned to return the money. Tho’ he fully acknowledges the ⟨   ⟩ ⟨ he y⟩et refuses to refund the money but directs me to apply to an under ⟨   ⟩ or runner of his who has had that branch of the business under ⟨his ch⟩arge in the American Office for the last ten years and who is the person declared by him to have committed the fraud.

As this Clerk however has not a shilling in the world, It is no⟨t⟩ probable that the Citizens of the United States owners of the many vessels who are equally in the same Situation will recover one farth⟨ing.⟩ I feel confident Sir that these facts fully corroborated by the Pape⟨rs⟩ enclosed will convince the President of the United States of the trut⟨h⟩ of the Complaints made against Mr Yznardi for the total negl⟨ect⟩ of his office. If this fraud had not been discovered by me it mig⟨ht⟩ like many hundreds of others have continued for years

Wishing Sir that this letter may produce the desired effect ⟨&⟩ that some Citizen of the United State may be appointed to the ⟨office⟩ I remain Sir,

DNA: RG 59—CD—Consular Despatches, Cadiz.

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