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December and the 2d of January. As thiese Letters dwell largely upon transactions affecting the neutrality of the United States, which are said to have occurred, and to be still occurring here, and as they charge the Public Authorities of this city with giving, in the face of the President's Proclamation of the 1st of September last, protection and support to the Enemies of His Catholic Majesty, I think it not improper to address you in relation to these charges.
It is affirmed by the Chevalier de Onis, "and it is,” says he, "universally public and notorious, that a factious band of Insurgents and Incendiaries continue, with impunity, in the Province of Louisiana, and especially in New Orleans and Natchitoches, the uninterrupted system of raising and arming Troops to light the flame of Revolution in the Kingdom of New Spain." “All Louisiana," he continues, "bas witnessed these Armaments-the Public Enlistments—the transportation of Arms--re-junction of the Insurgents and their hostile and warlike march from the Territory of this Republic, against the Possessions of a friendly and neighbouring Power.”
No Troops at present are, or at any former period were, openly raised, armed, or enlisted at Natchitoches, or at New Orleans, or at any other point within the State of Louisiana. Arms have been transported from this Place by sea, and otherwise, as objects of Merchandise, and probably have been disposed of to some of the Revolutionary Governments of New Spain. It has not been supposed here that there was any Law of The United States, any provision by Treaty, or any principle of National Law, that prohibit this species of Commerce : it was considered that the purchasing and exporting, by way of Merchandise, of articles termed contraband, was free alike to both Belligerents; and that if our Citizens engaged in it, they would be abandoned to the penalties which the Laws of War authorise.
What is said, too, about the junction of the Insurgents, and their hostile and warlike march from the Territory of The United States against the Possessions of Spain, is unfounded. In the Summer of the year 1812, a band of Adventurers, without organization, and apparently without any definite object, made an incursion into the Province of Texas, as far as San Antonio, by the way of Nacogdoches. No doubt many of the Persons belonging to this Party passed by the way of Natchitoches ;—but separately, in no kind of Military array, and under such circumstances as to preclude the interference of the Civil or Military Authorities of The United States, or of the State of Louisiana.
What could be effected in this respect was done ;-twice in the years 1811, 1812, parties of Adventurers who had assembled between the Rio Honda, and the Sabine, (the Neutral Territory,) were dispersed by the Garrison of Natchitoches, their huts demolished, and their whole establishment broken up.
'The Party that marched upon San Antonio assembled to the west of the Sabine, beyond the operation of our Laws, and from thence carried on their operations. So far from Troops, upon this occasion, assembling at different points, forming a junction within the Territories of The United States, and marching thence, I am assured, by various and most respectable Authorities, that, although it was generally understood at Natchitoches that some enterprise was on foot, it was extraordinary to see 2 of the Persons supposed to be engaged in it together. The Officer commanding at that time The United States Troops at Natchitoches, (Major Wolstoncraft) offered his Services to the Civil Authority in aid of the Laws, and to preserve inviolate the Neutrality which they enforce.
In consequence, several Individuals found with arms were arrested; they alleged that they were hunters, and there being no evidence to the contrary, or rather no proof of their being engaged in any illegal undertaking, they were of course discharged. So well satisfied, indeed, were the Spanish Authorities of the adjoining Province, that neither our Government, nor its Agents, gave succours or countenance to this Expedition, that, during the time they knew it to be organized, or organizing, they applied to the Garrison at Natchitoches for an Escort to bring in some specie, which was immediately granted.
Toledo, who, at the time of its defeat, commanded the Party that penetrated to San Antonio, came to this City in the Autumn of 1814, when he was immediately arrested, and recognised to answer, at the succeeding Term of the Federal Court, to a Charge of setting on foot, within the Territory of The United States, a Military Expedition or Enterprise, to be carried on from thence against the Territories or Dominions of the King of Spain :-6 months having passed, and no testimony whatever appearing against him, his recoguisance was
After the discomfiture of the Party under Toledo, no Enterprise destined to aid the Revolutionists of New Spain appears to have been set on foot from the vicinity of The United States, until late in the Summer of the last year, when it was rumoured that a Party, voder a Person of the name of Perry, was forming for that purpose, somewhere on the Western Coast of Louisiana. Upon the first intimation that this Enterprise was meditated, steps were taken here to frustrate it. Nothing occurred to justify prosecutions or arrests; a large quantity of arms, however, supposed to be intended for this Party, were seized on the River, and detained at the Custom-house for several months ; and Commodore Patterson, Commanding Naval Officer on this Station, instructed the Officers under his command, cruizing in the neighbourhood of the suspected place of rendezvous, (Belle Isle, at the mouth of Bayou Peche,) to ascertain the truth of the ruinours in circulation, and, if verified, to use the Force under their respective (1816-17.)
commands in dispersing the Persons assembled, and in frustrating their illegal intentions. In obedience to these Orders, the Coast, as far as the Sabine, was examined, and no Persons discovered. It is now ascertained that Perry, Humbert and their Followers, inconsiderable in number, passed separately through Attakapas, and assembled about 2 leagues to the west of the Sabine. Thence they embarked for some place on the coast of Mexico, were wrecked, dispersed, and their plans, whatever they were, totally defeated.
I have in the foregoing detail, Sir, given, partly from information entitled to perfect confidence, and partly from my own knowledge, a brief and hurried outline of two fruitless attempts, of a handful of restless and uninfluential Individuals, stimulated by the desire of aid. ing the cause of Mexican Independence, or that of bettering their own fortunes : these are the only military enterprises against the Dominions of the Spanish Crown, that have drawn any portion of their aid or support from Louisiana: in both, the mass of Adventurers was composed of Spaniards, Frenchmen and Italians. I need not say that these enterprises, whether in aid of the Revolutionists, or merely predatory, were not only feeble and insignificant, but that they were formed under circumstances which forbid a surmise of their being sanctioned or connived at. Every Man acquainted with the state of public feeling throughout the Southern and Western Sections of The United States knows, that had our Government but manifested the slightest disposition to sanction enterprises in aid of the Revolutionists of New Spain, the condition of these Provinces would not at this day be doubtful.
It is said that Troops have been recently enlisted, and that Expeditions have been preparing, or are prepared, in this City to invade the Dominions of Spain. The enlisting of Men, and the preparing of enterprises, or the means for enterprises, of the kind spoken of, cannot be accomplished without means, or be carried on in the midst of a populous City in solitude and silence. Yet it is known, in the first place, that neither Mr. Toledo or Mr. Herrera had or have pecuniary means for such purposes; and, in the second, so far as negative proof can go, or so far as the absence of one thing implies another, it is most certain that no enlistments have taken place, and that no Expeditions, or the means of Expeditions, have been prepared or are preparing here.
A regard to truth makes it necessary to say, that what is alleged respecting the arming and fitting out of Vessels within the Waters of Louisiana, to be employed in the service of the Revolutionary Governments against the Subjects or Property of the King of Spain, is unfounded. At no period since the commencement of the struggle between the Spanish Colonies and the Mother Country have Vessels, to be employed in the service of the Colonies, been permitted to fit out and arm, or to augment their Force, at New Orleans, or elsewhere within the State of Louisiana.
On the contrary, it is notorious, that to no one point of duty have the Civil and Military Authorities of The United States directed more strenuously, or, it is believed, more successfully, their attention, than to the discovering and suppression of all attempts to violate the Laws in these respects. Attempts to violate them, by fitting out and arming, and by augmenting the force of Vessels, have no doubt been frequent, but certainly in no instance successful, except where conducted under circumstances of concealment that eluded discovery, and almost suspicion; or where carried on at some remote point of the Coast, beyond the reach of detection or discovery. In every instance where it was known that these illegal acts were attempting, or where it was afterwards discovered that they had been committed, the Persons engaged, as far as they were known, have been prosecuted, while the Vessels fitted out, or attempted to be fitted out, have been seized and libelled, under the Act of the 5th of June, 1794 ;* and when captures
* An Act in addition to the “Act for the Punishment of certain Crimes against The
United States.”—5th June, 1794. Sect. 1. Be it enacted and declared by the Senate and House of Representatives of The United States of America in Congress assembled, That if any Citizen of The United States shall, within the Territory or jurisdiction of the same, accept and exercise a Commission to serve a Foreign Prince or State in War, by land or sea, the Person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined, not more than 2,000 dollars, and shall be imprisoned, not exceeding 3 years.
Sect. 2. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any Person shall, within the Territory or jurisdiction of The United States, enlist or enter himself, or hire or retain another Person to enlist or enter himself, or to go beyond the limits or jurisdiction of The United States with intent to be enlisted or entered, in the Service of any Foreign Prince or State as a Soldier, or as a Marine, or Seaman, on board of any Vessel of War, Letter of Marque, or Privateer, every Person so offending shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined, not exceeding 1,000 dollars, and be imprisoned, not exceeding 3 years. Provided, That this shall not be construed to extend to any Subject or Citizen of a Foreign Prince or State, who shall transiently be within The United States, and shall, on board of any Vessel of War, Letter of Marque, or Privateer, which, at the time of its arrival within The United States, was fitted and equipped as such, enlist or enter himself, or hire or retain another Subject or Citizen of the same Foreign Prince or State, who is transiently within The United States, to enlist or enter himself to serve such Prince or State on board such Vessel of War, Letter of Marque, or Privateer, if The United States shall then be at Peace with such Prince or State. And provided further, That if any Person so enlisted shall, within 30 days after such enlistment, voluntarily discover, upon oath, to some Justice of the Peace, or other Civil Magistrate, the Person or Persons by whom he was so enlisted, so as that he or they may be apprehended and convicted of the said offence, such Person, so discovering the Offender or Offenders, shall be indemnified from the penalty prescribed by this Act.
have been made by Vessels thus fitted out and armed, or in which their Force was augmented or increased within our Waters, where the property taken was brought within our jurisdiction, or even found upon the High Seas by our Cruisers and brought in, it has been restored to
Sect. 3. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any Person shall, within any of the Ports, Harbours, Bays, Rivers, or other Waters, of The United States, fit out and arm, or attempt to fit out and arm, or procure to be fitted out and armed, or shall, knowingly, be concerned in the furnishing, fitting out, or arming of any Ship or Vessel, with intent that such Ship or Vessel shall be employed in the Service of any Foreign Prince or State, to cruise or commit hostilities upon the Subjects, Citizens, or Property of another Foreign Prince or State with whom The United States are at Peace, or shall issue or deliver a Commission, within the Territory or jurisdiction of The United States, for any Ship or Vessel, to the intent that she may be employed as aforesaid, every such Person so offending shall, upon conviction, be adjudged guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall be fined and imprisoned at the discretion of the Court in which the conviction shall be had, so as the fine to be imposed shall in no case be more than 5,000 dollars, and the term of imprisonment shall not exceed 3 years; and every such Ship or Vessel, with her Tackle, Apparel, and Furniture, together with all Materials, Arms, Ammunition, and Stores, which may have been procured for the building and equipment thereof, shall be forfeited, one-half to the use of any Person who shall give information of the offence, and the other half to the use of The United States.
Sect. 4. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any Person shall, within the Territory or jurisdiction of The United States, increase or augment, or procure to be increased or augmented, or shall be knowingly concerned in increasing or angmenting the Force of any Ship of War, Cruiser, or other armed Vessel, which, at the time of her arrival within The United States, was a Ship of War, Cruiser, or armed Vessel, in the Service of a Foreign Prince or State, or belonging to the Subjects or Citizens of such Prince or State, the same being at War with another Foreign Prince or State with whom The United States are at Peace, by adding to the number or size of the Guns of such Vessel prepared for use, or by the addition thereto of any equipment solely applicable to War, every such Person, so offending, shall, upon conviction, be adjudged guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be fined and imprisoned at the discretion of the Court in which the conviction shall be had, so as that such fine shall not exceed 1,000 dollars, nor the term of imprisonment be more
than 1 year.
Sect. 5. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any Person shall, within the Territory or jurisdiction of The United States, begin or set on foot, or provide or prepare the means for, any military expedition or enterprise, to be carried on from thence against the Territory or Dominions of any Foreign Prince or State, with whom The United States are at Peace, every such Person so offending shall, upon conviction, be adjudged guilty of a high misdemeanor, and shall suffer fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the Court in which the conviction shall be had, so as that such fine shall not exceed 3,000 dollars, nor the term of imprisonment be more than
ct. 6. And be it further enacted and declared, That the District Courts shall take cognizance of complaints, by whomsoever instituted, in cases of captures made within the Waters of The United States, or within a marine league of the Coasts or Shores thereof.