10.17.2014

Letter from William Charles Cole Claiborne to Andrew Jackson

New Orleans
October 17th. 1814

Sir,

         Your letter of the 27th. of September, with its inclosures, did not reach me until the evening of the 15th. Instant. By some mistake, this letter was sent to Natchez, and from that place it descended to New Orleans, & in this way arose the delay. I regret it, because your address to the Louisianians is calculated to produce the Greatest Good, and I should have been happy to have laid it earlier before the people; But it shall be printed on this day, & I will take care to give it circulation; the General order respecting the Glorious defence of Fort Boyer, has already been printed in all the papers here, and a republication is unnecessary. The Publication of your address to the free people of Colour, is delayed a few days; an unfortunate misunderstanding between the officers of the Battalion of Colour, which excites much Interest, is the subject of investigation before a court of Enquiry now Sitting; the difficulties will I hope be soon arranged, & in the mean time I have deemed it best to postpone giving publicity to your address. I must not disguise from you the fact, that many excellent citizens will disapprove the policy, you wish to observe towards the free people of Colour; The Battalion already organized, limited as it is, excites much distrust, and I should not be surprised, if at the insuing legislature, an attempt should be made to put it down; I must confess however, that for myself, I have no cause to lament the confidence, which the local Government has placed in these men; their General Deportment has been correct and they have done nothing to create in my mind, any doubt as to their fidelity. It does appear to me; that at the present crisis these men ought to be attended to; that is it not probable, they will remain careless and disinterested spectators of the Present Contest, and more particularly if the war (as is apprehended) should be brought into the bosom of Louisiana. But on the contrary, that their feelings & best wishes would be enlisted in some way, and that if we distrusted their fidelity the Enemy might with the more ease, acquire their confidence. But Sir, this mode of reasoning, makes no impression upon some respectable citizens here; they think, that in putting arms into the hands of men of Colour, we only add to the force of the Enemy, and that nothing short of placing them in every respect upon a footing with white citizens (which our constitution forbids) could conciliate their affections. To two Gentlemen of Influence (members of the committee of defence) with whom I conversed on last evening, your policy of raising a Regiment was suggested, and that by removing it from the state, the Jealousy & distrust of the citizens would surely cease; they however, seemed to think, that the measure was only advisable, provided there could be a guaranty, against the return of the Regiment; But thus if at the close of the war, the Individuals were to settle in to Louisiana, with a Knowledge of the use of arms, & that pride of Distinction, which a soldiers pursuits so naturally inspires, they would prove dangerous. Such are the Sentiments of men, well informed, and well disposed, and I transmit them for your perusal. My impression is, that several companies composed of men of Colour may be raised upon the plan you suggest; But I cannot say to what number; such as are natives of Louisiana, are much attached to their families & Homes, and I am inclined to think would not inlist during the war; But such as have emigrated, from St. Domingo & Cuba, may most probably be desirous to Join the army. I am sir, with the greatest Respect Your mst obt svt

                                                                                     William C. C. Claiborne

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