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remarks as that of Mr. Von Scholten, but from an enormous load both of slave trading and piracy.1
I have had the honor of receiving your letters of 24 and 28 ultimo with the enclosures. I have written to Governor King conformably to your directions, and to Mr. Van Ness, the Commissioner, enclosing copies of the Governor's letter and of the resolution of the legislature. I see no reason for doubting your power to appoint a person to assist the agent, if he wants assistance. But Governor King's letter strongly insinuates neglect of duty or incompetency on the part of the American agent, and the appointment of an assistant such as he proposes might be attended with great inconvenience. It has more the complexion of a superintendent or overseer than of an assistant, and I should think it doubtful whether Mr. Bradley, if he is conscious of having discharged his duty, could either accept such an assistant, or hold his office encumbered with him. It may however be otherwise. He may possibly readily consent to receive an auxiliary, and may need one. The resolution of the legislature as well as the letter of the Governor imports dissatisfaction at the slow progress of the business of the commission.2
I am, etc.
1 "I have long suspected that there was a remissness in the revenue officers at Baltimore to perform all that might have been justly claimed of them under the laws for the suppression of the slave-trade and piracy. The collector [McCulloh] enjoys the reputation of being an honest man, and a patriot. He was badly wounded in the late war, and had, I think, merit in our revolutionary struggle. His defect, therefore, may be imputed, in respect to the latter object especially, to zeal in favor of the colonies." Monroe to Adams, August 11, 1820. Ms.
2 On the north eastern boundary.
TO THE PRESIDENT
WASHINGTON, 21 August, 1820.
I have had the honor of receiving your two letters of the 14th instant, together with the papers enclosed in them. I shall attend particularly to your instructions, as far as may be practicable in the absence of the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War and of the Attorney General.
This circumstance will of course preclude me from the means of consulting them with regard to the issuing of a pardon to Ralph Clintock, and makes it necessary to recur again to you for directions in that respect. I have no doubt that the sentence of death passed upon him was just; yet if my impression of the evidence against him in the case is correct, there is nothing in it contradictory to his own statement to me in his letter. He admits that he did give orders to the men whom he commanded to fire upon the island where they landed the crew of the Nordberg, but affirms that he had previously given them the most positive orders to fire over their heads, and the fact was that no person was hurt by the firing.
There seems to me also to be this difference in his favor, between his case and that of Ferguson: that he did not personate the captain of the Nordberg to enter the vessel at the Custom House at Savannah, and that Ferguson did. He says that Smith the Captain proposed it to him, and that he refused. There is nothing in the evidence to confirm this, but there is nothing to contradict it.
1 Adams, Memoirs, June 14, 1820.
With regard to the Bullocks, I take the offence of James S. Bullock and of the collector to have been that of accessories to the piracy committed upon the Nordberg both before and after the fact, and that of the clerk of the court, who made the instructions in James S. Bullock's handwriting to disappear from the files of the court, to be misprision of piracy. Whether either of the three is guilty of the crime is not for me to say. The charge against James S. Bullock rests not alone upon Clintock's declaration. One of the witnesses against Clintock says Smith read the instructions to the crew, and told them they were written by Bullock. Clintock, when he wrote me that they were in Bullock's handwriting, did not know that they had been purloined from the files. He appealed to them as being there, and supposed they might be produced and testified to by others. Their disappearance, Bullock's brother being the officer in whose custody they were, is a fact stronger than Clintock's declaration or oath. So the admission of the Nordberg to entry in violation of the law, and the compromise by which 45,000 dollars was paid to the supercargo to get rid of his suit, are facts far more significant than would be the testimony of Clintock. By the laws of the United States the punishment of the crime of James S. Bullock, if he was the author of the instructions, is capital. Whether the proof is sufficient to convict him is another consideration. But whether questions of law or questions of evidence might be started to save them from the gibbet or not, I believe the very exposure of the facts which a trial of the case would bring forth, would do more to put down piracy than the execution of a whole navy of common sailors.
Since I began this letter, your favor enclosing the papers relating to the case of Cornell, the young man under sentence of death in Rhode Island, have come to hand. Last week
I transmitted to you a letter from Mr. Hunter, the Rhode Island Senator, to the Attorney General, which perhaps will suggest additional reasons for a reprieve. As the impression of that letter upon the mind of Mr. Wirt himself may have weight, I now inclose his letter to me transmitting it, which ought indeed to have been forwarded to you with it. After having advised Mrs. Cornell not to go to Virginia to present herself personally to you as a petitioner for her son, I cannot resist the impulse of becoming myself a petitioner in her stead. There seems to me little, if anything, to discriminate the case unfavorably with regard to the convict from that of the man in Alexandria under similar sentence, who has been reprieved for twelve months.
The Abbé Correa is here, and called upon me this morning. His conversation is moderate, and he professes to be satisfied with the disposition of the executive; but he broached something about his American system which I noticed in the manner suggested by your letter by saying, that it would be taken into serious consideration by you, and something of complaint against the District Judges at Baltimore and Charleston, South Carolina, as well as against several officers of our navy (midshipmen), who he says have been concerned in the piratical privateers, and whom he told me he should in an official note indicate to me by name.1
1 "Mr. Correa will, I presume, soon be with you. He intimated to a friend [Jefferson] in this neighborhood that a proposition had been made in the Brazil cabinet, either to declare war against the United States, or that the United States were in a state of war with Brazil. He has in his intercourse in this neighborhood, as I have understood, spoken much of an American system of politics, in contradistinction to the European; illustrating the idea by an example of this kind: that we, that is, the United States and Portugal, would undertake to suppress piracy in the neighboring seas, if the powers of Europe would suppress it in Africa. The idea has something imposing in it, but I am inclined to think that the effect would be to connect us with Portugal in some degree against the revolutionary colonies. Their governments are badly organized; those who profess friendship for them easily
A letter from you to Mr. Rush is among the present enclosures.
I am, etc.
TO ALBERT GALLATIN 1
DEPARTMENT of State, WASHINGTON, 24 August, 1820.
It is sincerely hoped by the President that this counteracting and countervailing system will give way to the disposition for an amicable arrangement in a conciliatory spirit and with a view to the interests of both parties. The temper which has been manifested in France, not only on this occasion 2 but in relation to all the just claims of citizens of the United States upon the French government could not possibly terminate without coming to a crisis. And at the same time that a positive rejection of the most indisputable demands of our citizens for indemnity was returned for answer to every note which you presented in their behalf, upon the untenable pretence that the government of the Bourbons cannot be responsible for the outrages of its immediate predecessors, claims equally untenable were advanced and reiterated with the most tenacious perseverance of privileges contrary to our constitution in the ports of Louisiana,
impose on them, and under their name commit piracy on other powers. It requires time to get them in the right road. We must allow them some time and point out the road to them. In this way I think we shall suppress piracy sooner and more effectually than by any aid to be derived from Portugal, and certainly more consistently with our general scheme of policy." Monroe to Adams, August 11, 1820. See Adams, Memoirs, September 19, 1820.
1 Printed in American State Papers, Foreign Relations, V. 646.
2 Tonnage duties and the act of Congress of May 15, 1820.