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The undersigned, acting as Secretary of State, to whom was referred the resolution of the Senate of the 24th October last, requesting the President of the United States to lay before the Senate, (provided he shall not consider the same improper to be communicated) the proof of any traffick carried on in the West Indies, by the sale of negroes taken from the United States, by the British forces since the present war, has the honour to state, that such proof was transmitted to the Executive by the honourable St. George Tucker, in the form of an affidavit of captain Williams, from which it appeared that he had been a prisoner in the Bahama islands, and that whilst there, he had been present at the sale of negroes taken from the vicinity of Norfolk and Hampton. · This affidavit, voluntarily given, and strengthened and corroborated by a variety of circumstances, was considered at the time, as full proof of the fact, and was transmitted to our ministers at Ghent. When the resolution of the Senate was transmitted to this department, application was made to judge Tucker, and subsequently to major Griffin, for the original affidavit, or for an authenticated copy; as neither have yet been received, and as it is deemed improper longer to delay this report, the undersigned begs leave to refer to the accompanying papers, marked 1, 2, 3, and 4, from which the material facts stated in the affidavit, may be collected, and the circumstances which have prevented its transmission to this department explained. This subject will be further investigated with a view to place it, in all its circumstances, in the most satisfactory light. All which is respectfully submitted,
JAMES MONROE. Department of State, February 28, 1815.
Richmond, November 24, 1814.
Sir, I do myself the honour to enclose you a letter from my friend, Mr. Cabell, and one from Mr. John Tabb Smith, the magistrate before whom the affidavit was made, a copy of which I transmitted to the President. Mr. Cabell has written to major Griffin, to endeavour to procure the original, and if he should fortunately obtain it, I will lose no time in forwarding it to you. I have the honour to be, &c.
ST. G. TUCKER. John Graham, Esq.
Department of State, Washington.
Copy of a Letter from Joseph C. Cabell, Esq. 10 the Hon.
St. George Tucker. Richmond, November 22, 1814. MY DEAR SIR, I have received your favour of the 14th instant, embracing an extract from the letter recently written to you by Mr. Graham, of the department of state, on the subject of the resolution of the Senate of the United States of the 24th ultimo.
I distinctly recollect all the material circumstances in regard to the copy of the affidavit, which you forwarded to the President. About the period that major Thomas Griffin, of York, went on board the British squadron in Lynnhaven bay, for the purpose of endeavouring to recover his negroes, who had gone off to the enemy, I happened to be in Williamsburg. The destination of the slaves that had been taken or received by the British, was then a subject of curiosity and concern throughout the lower country.
I understood that a seafaring man of the name of Williams, who had been a prisoner with the enemy, and had recently arrived at Hampton, had gone in company with major Thomas Griffin, of York, before John Tabb Smith, a respectable magistrate of the county of Elizabeth City, and had made oath that while a prisoner in one of the Bahama Islands, he had been present at the sale of the negroes that had been carried off from the vicinity of Hampton and Norfolk ; tbat the negroes were sold at a high price; and that a negro carpenter from Norfolk, was purchased for a thousand dollars. Several gentlemen of the first
respectability, who had conversed with major Griffin, informed me that he spoke of Williams as a man whose appearance entitled him to credit, and that he had accordingly published the affidavit in the town of York. Through the medium of Mr. Coke, of Williamsburg, 1 procured a copy of this paper, which I handed to you, and was forwarded by you to the President. This affidavit was a subject of general conversation about that time. The circumstances under which Williams arrived at Hampton, the manner in which he described the negroes sold in the Bahamas, and particularly the carpenter from Norfolk, and the appearance of entire sincerity in his narrative, left no doubt, I was assured, on the mind of either Mr. Smith or major Griffin, that the alleged sale had actually taken place. I did not see major Griffin, nor did I inquire what he intended to do with the original affidavit of Williams; my conjecture was, that he would send it on to the committee of Congress, charged with the business of collecting proofs of the barbarous conduct of the war, by the enemy. As it seems he has not done so, I presume it remains in his possession. I will write immediately to him with the view of ascertaining whether this be the fact; and if it be, to request the favour of him to enclose me the affidavit. The result of my inquiries of that gentleman shall be made known to you without delay.
In the interim, I remain, most respectfully and sincerely
JOS. C. CABELL.
Copy of a Letter from John Tabb Smith, Esq. to Judge
Tucker. Hampton, November 21, 1814.
Sir,-Your favour I have now before me. Some time in the year 1813, there came before me a captain Williams (I think his name was) in company with major Thomas Griffin, of York, with the affidavit you speak of in your letter, which he swore to before me, and I gave my certificate thereto. I then gave the affidavit to major Griffin, and expected to see it published in one of the Richmond
papers, but never heard of it since, but from your letter. I expect the original can be got from major Griffin. But if it is mislaid, I will recollect the substance of the affidavit, and will render you any service in my power. I am, with respect,
JOHN TABB SMITH.
If it can be got from major Griffin, it had better be in the captain's own words, with my certificate.
J. T. S. St. George Tucker, Esq. &c.
York, Virginia, Feb. 16, 1815. SIR, Your favour of the 6th instant has been received. I have examined my papers, and cannot find the original affidavit of captain Williams, therein alluded to. The copy I gave Mr. Cabell was literally correct; the original has been mislaid, or I fear lost in the bustle of moving papers from hence so frequently as has been done, to place them
without the reach of the enemy during the war. I will again examine, and endeavour to recover the affidavit, and will forward the same to the department of state as soon as it shall be recovered. Very respectfully, I am, sir, your obedient servant,
THOS. GRIFFIN. John Graham, Esq.
Department of State, Washington.