2.05.2015

Letter from Andrew Jackson to William Charles Cole Claiborne

Head Quarters 7. M District
New Orleans
5. Feb: 1815
Sir
     Last night, when much engaged in business I received your letter of yesterday, inclosing  requisition from Genl Hopkins for 400 stand of arms with their accountremets, & explaining the views of the Executive & Legislature of Louisiana relative to the special commission or deputation contemplated by them to be sent to the commanders of the British forces on this station in order to procure a restoration of the slaves taken off by them.
     On the latter subject I ca only repeat what I have already told you-- that such a mission for such a purpose is wholly unprecedented in the history of warfare, & incompatible with that dignified demeanour which, on such an occassion, it becomes the representatives of a free state, to observe. Would it not be a degradation of that national character of which we boast, t codescend to solicit the restoration of stolen property from an enemy who avows plunder & burning to be legitimate modes of warfare? If the individual sufferers would disdain such humiliation, by how much stronger motives are those who represent the whole majesty of the state bound to shun it.  Look to your sister states where greater outrages of the same kind have been committed by the same enemy-- do you find any instance of a similar application! Look to Virginia whose citizens have been plundered of millions do you behold the Executive & Legislature of that state debasing the dignity of their stations by an humble application to the plunderer, for a restoration of this property? Is Louisiana alone to be thus degraded? Her free-born sons preferring a sacrafice of their property to that of their honor wd. pour out their execrations on the authors of their disgrace.
     But is it really the province of the governor & Legislature of any state, in such a situation of affairs, to send special commissions confidential deputations to the enemy? At any rate would it not be both decent & wise before such resolution was adopted to inquire whether such confidential deputation would be permitted to pass the guards?
     I am the more surprised at this strange intermedling of these departments (for such I am compelled consider it) from the circumstance of you having been previously apprised of the measures which were in progress for regaining those negroes under the voluntary offer of Genl. Lambert.
     I do not pretend to ascribe bad motives to the Executive & Legislature -- God alone is the searcher & judge of hearts; but I do say that the measure they purposed pursuing is so degrading to the character of freemen, & so great an interference with what I conceive my duties, that I can never approve it.
     Upon your requisition for two hundred stand of arms with their equipments, orders will be given to have them delivered on your executing receipts for them.  I have the honor to be very respectfully Yr. Obt St


Andrew Jackson
Major Genl Comdg.

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