James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert Montgomery, 15 October 1808

Alicante 15 Octr. 1808.

Since my respects of the 6th. August (of which copy herewith) I have had no good opportunity of Conveying any letters to You til the present which ⟨g⟩oes by the Nancy Capn. Jesse Hoyt of Newburyport who loads at Tarragona

On the 16 August the Ship Leonidas, Makenzie arrived here from Algiers and Washington He brought large packets from the department of State for Mr. Erving at Madrid; which he announced to the health officers when they went first onboard, but that he had orders to deliver them into the hands of his consul only. I learned this too late to go onboard that night and as the Vessel was put into Quarantine, I next day demanded permission from the Governor to go along side accompanied by a health officer in thier own boat. On coming to the Ship Makenzie immediately put ⟨a⟩ll the dispatches into the boat when they were seized by the Crew and delivered to the health officer who told me he had orders to Carry them to the Governor which he did without attending to any remonstrance from me I immediately sent a message to the governor demanding those papers but had for answer that he could not deliver them. I made all this Known to Mr. Erving who by return of post Ordered me to represent to the ⟨S⟩upreme Junta at Valencia (there being then no Goverment in Madrid) In my representation I complained of the irregularity of the Governor of Alicante in intercepting the despatches of ⟨a⟩ Sovereign to his Ambassador in Madrid and demanded he sho⟨uld⟩ be Ordered to return them With a Competent chastisement for t⟨his⟩ Outrage; this Office was Sent back to the Governor for his inform⟨ation⟩ as to the facts represented, and I was advised of this step by my fr⟨iends⟩ in Va⟨len⟩cia. Next day I met the Governor in the street by acc⟨ident.⟩ We Crossed each very Quick His looks were unusually insulting and will acknowledge I could not avoide Smiling with contempt without other notice passed on. We had Seperated about ten Y⟨ards⟩ When he turned and Violently called out, "What sort of Br⟨eeding⟩ have you that does not pull off your hat to the Governor" My breeding is as Good as yours The Governor did not pull off his ⟨to⟩ Me. "So must I pull off my hat first" Just as you please and I turned away He immediately Ordered me under an ⟨arrest⟩ to the Castle. You have no power to arrest me and I shall n⟨ot⟩ go without an armed force. He then ordered his Adjutant to carry me there, in time of which I walked to my own ⟨house⟩ accompanied by the A⟨dju⟩tant, who I desired to aquaint his superior that I was not subordinate to him and shoul⟨d⟩ remain at home. His next order was that I should be sen⟨t to⟩ the common Guard house where I usually put drunken s⟨eamen⟩ to bring them to order. At this I expressed my astonishment that he did not sen⟨d a p⟩arty of soldiers for me as Without them I should not comply With any of his wishes, from which I heard no more from him but represented the matter nearly as above to the Supreme Junta of Valencia, who in reply wrote me the letter of Which ⟨C⟩opy herewith, since which if I salute him he thinks it is Contempt If I do not salute it is more so insomuch that farther harmony is out ⟨o⟩f the Question with a man who was taken out of the ranks made a Brigadier and placed here by the Prince of Peace for Services that ⟨we⟩re only Known to them selves. I have laid the whole matter ⟨b⟩efore Mr. Erving, who writes me he will represent it in a proper light to the Junta ⟨Central⟩ now sitting at Aranjuez

I now submit to your good Judgement Whether thus intercepting your dispatches and taking them out of the confidential servants of Government can be called robbing the Messenger of a Sovereign Power of the Papers Sent to their Ambassador in ⟨a⟩ friendly Court As to the insult offered my self I should be ⟨d⟩istressed to incomode Goverment with it unless you think ⟨o⟩therways your self. In whatever was Personal I stand much ⟨b⟩etter than the General who is dispised by the publick for his Waste and insulting conduct

I shall not trouble with the News of the War Spain being all open by sea. The News of Curiosity you will find in the English Prints better than I can give it as the Contes⟨t⟩ing Armies are now at a great distance from us. I at the begining gave my opinion that Spain would be free, bu⟨t⟩ now there is no doubt of it. They have already destroyed 130,000 troops thought the best in the World, and at a time when ⟨they⟩ had neither Arms amunition money nor dicipline; now they have got everything, what may not be Expected with ⟨the⟩ Prospect of an excelent government from the Junta Centra⟨l.⟩ I have the honor to be with Sincere respect Sir Your Obedient huml. Servant

Robt. Montgomery

MacKenzie had a large Packet from Mr. Lear for Your ⟨dept.⟩ but as he has taken another freight gave it up to me an⟨d⟩ I now send it by Capn. Hoyt of the Nancy and have his recei⟨pt⟩ for it

R. Montgomery

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

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