George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Dobbs Spaight, 16 February 1794

From Richard Dobbs Spaight

North Carolina New Bern 16th Feb: 1794


I now do myself the honor to enclose to you the papers which I enformed you of in my last letter respecting the Spanish brig St Joseph.1

I likewise enclose you copy of a letter from Edwd Jones esqr. Atto. for the Spanish Commissioners demanding from me a reimbursement of the monies expended by him as Atto. for said Commissioners, in sending expresses, seeing lawyers &c. and also for me to repay a deduction of a 3 P. Ct which he says the Marshal is entitled to under the laws of the United States for safe keeping the money. As I did not conceive the instructions which I had received authorized me to pay any monies whatever, or that by them it was understood the General Government would pay any other expences than those which might have been incurred by the Marshall in guarding and securing the mony, I wrote to Mr Jones to that effect, a Copy of my letter is also enclosed.2 I have the honor, &c.

R.D. Spaight

LB, Nc-Ar: Governors’ Letterbooks.

1For a description of the enclosed papers, which have not been identified, and for background on the legal questions concerning the Spanish request for restoration of the San Josef and its cargo, which included a trunk filled with gold and silver, see Spaight’s second letter to GW of 8 February.

2Edward Jones was hired by diplomats José Ignacio de Viar and José de Jaudenes to represent Spanish interests in the case of the San Josef. In his first letter of 8 Feb. to Spaight, written from Wilmington, N.C., he wrote that “the order for the restoration of the money empowers your Excellency also to discharge all incidentall expences incurred by the former owners recovering their property, that in consequence thereof as Attorney to the Commissioners from the Court of Spain I respectfully make a requisition of five hundred dollars being a part of the charges already incurred. . . . It may not be improper to inform your Excellency that the Marshal expects the three per cent as by law established for the safe keeping” of the money. In a letter of 31 Oct. 1793, Spaight had charged U.S. deputy marshal John Blakeley with the responsibility of guarding the confiscated gold and silver (both letters, Nc-Ar: Governors’ Letterbooks). For the law regarding compensation for U.S. marshals and their deputies, see section 4 of “An Act for regulating Processes in the Courts of the United States, and providing Compensations for the Officers of the said Courts, and for Jurors and Witnesses,” 8 May 1792 (Stat description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends . 1:277). For the instructions sent Spaight to restore the money, see Henry Knox’s letters to him of 13 and 18 Jan., in n.1 of Spaight to GW, 8 Feb. (second letter).

Spaight, in his reply to Jones of 11 Feb., wrote: “I have Sir agreable to the directions of the President to me given orders to Mr Blakely the Deputy Marshal at Wilmington to deliver to you as agent for the Spanish Commissioners the money papers and other property now in his possession taken from the Spanish brig St Joseph he taking the receipt for the same.” He also wrote that he had no authority to pay the legal costs incurred by Jones, nor did he “conceive that the president contemplated anything of that kind in the decision which he has given.” Spaight, however, promised to consult with GW about the correct procedure for paying Blakeley for his services (Nc-Ar: Governors’ Letterbooks). For GW’s response, see Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., to Henry Knox, 6 March.

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