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History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson/Second/I:13


Chapter 13: Claiborne and WilkinsonEdit

Samuel Swartwout and Peter V. Ogden, the young men whom Burr and Dayton charged with the duty of carrying despatches to Louisiana, crossed the Alleghanies in August and floated down the Ohio River to Louisville.[1] There they stopped to find Adair, for whom they brought letters from Burr. After some search Swartwout delivered the letters, and continued his journey. Adair never made known the contents of these papers; but they probably contained the same information as was conveyed in the despatches to Wilkinson which came in their company.

Supposing Wilkinson to be at St. Louis, the two young men bought horses and rode across the Indiana Territory to Kaskaskias; but finding that the General had gone down the Mississippi, they took boat and followed. At Natchez they learned that the object of their search had gone up the Red River. Swartwout

was obliged to follow him; but Ogden went to New Orleans with despatches from Burr to his friends in that city.

Among the mysteries that still surround the conspiracy, the deepest covers Burr's relations in New Orleans. That he had confederates in the city was proved not only by Ogden's carrying letters, but also by Erick Bollan's arrival by sea, as early as September 27, with a duplicate of Burr's letter of July 29 to Wilkinson; and above all, by the significant disappearance of Burr's letters carried by Ogden and Bollman to persons in New Orleans. The persons implicated proved their complicity by keeping Burr's letters and his secret.

One of these correspondents was almost certainly Judge Prevost, Burr's stepson, whom Jefferson had appointed District Judge for the Territory of Orleans. That Daniel Clark was another hardly admits of doubt. Swartwout assured Wilkinson of the fact;[2] but apart from this evidence, the same reasons which obliged Burr to confide in Wilkinson required him to confide in Clark. The receivers of the letters, whoever they were, hastened to make their contents known to every one whom they could trust. Immediately after the arrival of Bollman and Dayton about October 1, before any serious alarm had risen in Ohio, the town of New Orleans rang with rumors of Burr's projects. The news excited more consternation than hope; for although the Creoles had been bitter in complaints of Claiborne's administration and of the despotism imposed upon them by Congress, they remembered their attempt to revolt in 1768, and were far from eager to risk their safety again. Nevertheless, the temper of the people was bad; and no one felt deeper anxiety as to the number of Burr's adherents than Governor Claiborne himself.

Nearly three years had elapsed since Dec. 20, 1803, when the Spanish governor surrendered Louisiana to the United States, and the history of the Territory during that time presented an uninterrupted succession of bickerings. The government at Washington was largely responsible for its own unpopularity in the new Territory, its foreign and domestic policy seeming calculated to create ill-feeling, and after creating it, to keep it alive. The President began by appointing as Governor of Louisiana a man who had no peculiar fitness for the place. Claiborne, in contrast with men like Wilkinson, Burr, and Daniel Clark, rose to the level of a hero. He was honest, well-meaning, straightforward, and thoroughly patriotic; but these virtues were not enough to make him either feared or respected by the people over whom he was to exercise despotic powers; while Claiborne's military colleague, Wilkinson, possessed fewer virtues and a feebler character. The French Prefect, Laussat, who remained for a time in New Orleans to protect French interests, wrote his Government April 8, 1804, an interesting account of the situation as seen by French eyes:[3]
"It was hardly possible that the government of the United States should have made a worse beginning, and that it should have sent two men (Messrs. Claiborne, governor, and Wilkinson, general) less fit to attract affection. The first, with estimable private qualities, has little capacity and much awkwardness, and is extremely beneath his place; the second, already long known here in a bad way, is a flighty, rattle-headed fellow, often drunk, who has committed a hundred impertinent follies. Neither the one nor the other understands a word of French or Spanish. They have on all occasions, and without delicacy, shocked the habits, the prejudices, the character of the population."

Claiborne began his sway, assuming that the Creoles were a kindly but ignorant and degraded people, who must be taught the blessings of American society. The Creoles, who considered themselves to be more refined and civilized than the Americans who descended upon them from Kentucky and Tennessee, were not pleased that their language, blood, and customs should be systematically degraded, in defiance of the spirit in which the treaty of cession had been made. Their anger was not without an element of danger. England and France could safely defy public opinion and trample on prostrate races. Their empire rested on force, but that of Jefferson rested on consent; and if the people of New Orleans should rebel, they could not be conquered without trouble and expense, or without violating the free principles which Jefferson was supposed to represent.

The colonists in Louisiana had been for a century the spoiled children of France and Spain. Petted, protected, fed, paid, flattered, and given every liberty except the rights of self-government, they liked Spain[4] and loved France, but they did not love the English or the Americans; and their irritation was extreme when they saw Claiborne, who knew nothing of their society and law, abolish their language, establish American judges who knew only American law, while he himself sat as a court of last resort, without even an attorney to advise him as to the meaning of the Spanish law he administered. At the same time that as judge he could hang his subjects, as intendant he could tax them, and as governor he could shoot the disobedient. Even under the Spanish despotism, appeal might be made to Havana or Madrid; but no appeal lay from Claiborne's judgment-seat.

Before this temporary system was superseded, the Creoles already yearned for a return to French or Spanish rule. They had but one hope from the United States,—that, in the terms of the treaty, Louisiana might be quickly admitted into the Union. This hope was rudely dispelled. Not only did Congress treat their claims to self-government with indifference, but the Territory was divided in halves, so that it must be slower to acquire the necessary population for a State; while as though to delay still longer this act of justice, the growth of population was checked by prohibiting the slave-trade. Years must pass before Louisiana could gain admission into the Union; and even when this should happen, it must be the result of American expansion at Creole expense.

Jefferson's Spanish policy, which kept the country always on the verge of a war with Spain, prevented the French and Spanish population from feeling that their submission was final. In case of war between the United States and Spain, nothing would be easier than to drive Claiborne away and replace Casa Calvo in the government. Claiborne soon found himself confronted by an opposition which he could neither control nor understand. Even the leading Americans joined it. Daniel Clark, rich, eccentric, wild in his talk and restless in his movements, distinguished himself by the personal hatred which he showed for Claiborne; Evan Jones, another wealthy resident, rivalled Clark; Edward Livingston, who had come to New Orleans angry with Jefferson for removing him as a defaulter from office, joined the old residents in harassing the Governor; while the former Spanish officials, Casa Calvo and Morales, remained at New Orleans under one or another pretext, keeping the Spanish influence alive, and maintaining communications with Governor Folch of West Florida, who controlled the Mississippi at Baton Rouge, and with General Herrera, who commanded the Spanish force in Texas. So bad was the state of feeling that when Oct. 1, 1804, the new territorial system was organized, Messrs. Boré, Bellechasse, Cantrelle, Jones, and Daniel Clark, whom the President had named as members of the legislative council, refused to accept the office; while Messrs. Sauvé, Destréhan, and Derbigny were deputed by a popular assembly to present their grievances at Washington. Two months elapsed before Governor Claiborne could form any council at all; not until Dec. 4, 1804, was a quorum obtained.

No pretence of disguising their feelings was made by the Spanish population. In French minds the power of Bonaparte was a stronger reliance than the power of Spain; no Frenchman willingly admitted that Napoleon meant to sacrifice Louisiana forever.[5]

"The President's Message," wrote Governor Claiborne to Madison, Dec. 11, 1804,[6] "has been translated into the French language, and I will take care to have it circulated among the people. It will tend to remove an impression which has heretofore contributed greatly to embarrass the local administration; to wit, that the country west of the Mississippi would certainly be receded to Spain, and perhaps the whole of Louisiana. So general has been this impression, particularly as relates to the country west of the Mississippi, that many citizens have been fearful of accepting any employment under the American government, or even manifesting a respect therefor, lest at a future time it might lessen them in the esteem of Spanish officers."

Under the remonstrances of Sauvé, Destréhan, and Derbigny, and at the intercession of John Randolph, Congress was induced to yield a single point. The Act of March 2, 1805, gave Louisiana ordinary Territorial rights, an elected legislature, and a delegate to Congress. After its passage, Claiborne wrote to Madison that the people were disappointed; and in fact the concessions were so trivial as to irritate rather than soothe. Claiborne, whom the people obstinately disliked, was re-appointed governor under the Act, and nothing in reality was changed.

Burr visited New Orleans in June and July, 1805. The new Legislature assembled, Nov. 4, 1805, when Claiborne found himself surrounded by a council partly elected by the Legislature, and a Legislature wholly elected by the people. He was soon at odds with both. The leader of opposition was Daniel Clark; and for a moment in May, 1806, the quarrel went so far that the two legislative bodies were on the point of voluntary disbandment, and a majority of the council actually resigned. The Legislature chose Daniel Clark as their delegate to Congress. Claiborne thought that the choice was made merely out of personal spite; but no sooner did he hear of Burr's disunion scheme than he wrote to Madison,[7]

"If this be the object of the conspirators, the delegate to Congress from this Territory, Daniel Clark, is one of the leaders. He has often said that the Union could not last, and that had he children he would impress early on their minds the expediency of a separation between the Atlantic and Western States."

In the same month of May Lieutenant Murray of the artillery, an intimate friend of Daniel Clark, came with a Lieutenant Taylor from Fort Adams to New Orleans, and heard the ordinary conversation of society.

"Lieutenant Taylor and myself," he afterward testified,[8] "were invited to dine with a gentleman there whose name was on the list before mentioned [of persons engaged in an expedition against Mexico]; it was Judge Workman. We three dined together. After the cloth was removed, Mr. Lewis Kerr came in. . . . After a number of inquiries about Baton Rouge and the Red River country, they proceeded to lay open their plan of seizing upon the money in the banks at New Orleans, impressing the shipping, taking Baton Rouge, and joining Miranda by way of Mexico. . . . When I told Mr. Clark that I was calculated on as the officer to attack Baton Rouge, he advised me by all means to do it. He urged as an inducement that he was coming on to Congress, and would do all he could in my favor; that he would represent to the Government that it would require a large force to retake it; and he further observed that, at any rate, if the Government should be disposed to trouble me, before they could send off a sufficient force I should be in a situation to take care of myself."

This attempt to seduce officers of the United States army into Burr's conspiracy was flagrant; for although Burr's name was not mentioned, no one could fail to see that the seizure of government money in the banks at New Orleans was an act of treason, and that the attack on West Florida implied a permanent military establishment on the Gulf.

June 7, 1806, the first Louisiana legislature adjourned, and Governor Claiborne felt relief as deep as was felt by Jefferson at escaping the stings of John Randolph; but although for a time Claiborne flattered himself that his difficulties were lessening, he soon became aware that some mystery surrounded him which he could not penetrate. General Herrera began to press upon the Red River from Nacogdoches in Texas with a force considerably stronger than any which Claiborne could oppose to him. The militia showed indifference. August 28 the Governor wrote to the Secretary of War that the French population would not support the government in case of hostilities.[9] September 9 he wrote to Cowles Meade, then acting-governor of the Mississippi Territory, a letter of uneasiness at the behavior of Wilkinson's troops: "My present impression is that all is not right. I know not whom to censure, but it seems to me that there is wrong somewhere." The militia could not be stimulated to action against Herrera, and the feeling of hostility between Americans and Creoles was so bitter that Claiborne intervened for fear of violence.[10]

October 6, 1806, the Governor returned to New Orleans after a tour of inspection. Erick Bollman had been then ten days in the city, and young Ogden had arrived about October 1, bringing Burr's despatches. According to Bellechasse and Derbigny the Creole society was already much excited; but this excitement showed itself to Claiborne in a display of assumed stolidity.

"There is in this city," wrote Claiborne to the Secretary of War October 8,[11] "a degree of apathy at the present time which mortifies and astonishes me; and some of the native Americans act and discourse as if perfect security everywhere prevailed. . . . I fear the ancient Louisianians of New Orleans are not disposed to support with firmness the American cause. I do not believe they would fight against us; but my present impression is that they are not inclined to rally under the American standard."

Claiborne's spirits fluctuated from day to day as he felt the changes in a situation which he could not fathom. October 17 he was elated because the militia of New Orleans unexpectedly, and contrary to the tenor of all its previous conduct, made a voluntary tender of services. November 7 he was again discouraged; and November 15, and even as late as November 25, he fell back into despondency. During all that time the enemies whom he feared were Spaniards in Texas and West Florida; the thought of conspiracy among the apathetic Creoles had not yet entered his mind.

Yet around him the city was trembling with excitement; and of all persons in the city Daniel Clark was the one whose conduct showed most signs of guilty knowledge. A few months later, he collected affidavits from four or five of the most important gentlemen in New Orleans to show what his conduct had been. At the moment when Bollman and Ogden arrived, Clark was preparing for his journey to Washington, where he meant to take his seat in Congress as the Territorial delegate. The news brought by Bollman and Ogden that Burr was on his way to New Orleans placed him in a dilemma. Like Senator Smith and Andrew Jackson, his chief anxiety regarded his own safety; and he adopted an expedient which showed his usual intelligence. An affidavit of Bellechasse,[12] on whose character he mainly depended, narrated that—

"in the month of October, a very few days before Mr. Clark left this city to go to Congress, he called together a number of his friends, and informed them of the views and intentions imputed to Colonel Burr, which were then almost the sole topic of conversation, and which, from the reports daily arriving from Kentucky, had caused a serious alarm; and he advised them all to exert their influence with the inhabitants of the country to support the Government of the United States and to rally round the Governor, although he thought him incapable of rendering much service as a military man,—assuring them that such conduct only would save the country if any hostile projects were entertained against it, and that this would be the best method of convincing the Government of the United States of the attachment of the inhabitants of Louisiana, and of the falsity of all the reports circulated to their prejudice. And Mr. Clark strongly recommended to such members of the Legislature as were then present not to attend any call or meeting of either House in case Colonel Burr should gain possession of the city, stating that such a measure would deservedly expose every individual concerned to punishment, and would occasion the ruin of the country."

According to Bellechasse, the society of New Orleans between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, 1806, was in serious alarm. Burr's intentions formed "almost the sole topic of conversation;" daily reports were arriving from Kentucky, although in Kentucky, down to October 1, no alarm existed, and Burr's intentions were not even developed. Each of the four affidavits which Clark obtained, one of them signed by Peter Derbigny, affirmed that about the middle of October, 1806, Burr's projects were the general theme of conversation in the city; but nothing was more certain than that this knowledge of Burr's projects must have come not from Kentucky, but from Burr's own letters and from the messages brought by Ogden and Bollman.

Clark, having thus secured himself from the charge of abetting Burr, sailed for the Atlantic coast, and in due time made his appearance at Washington; but neither he nor Bellechasse nor Derbigny nor Bouligny, although officers of the government, giving each other excellent advice, communicated to Governor Claiborne what they knew about Burr's plans. From October 1 to November 25, the projects of Burr were "the exclusive subject of every conversation" in the city, yet the single official who ought to have been first informed, and who bore all responsibility, had not a suspicion that any conspiracy existed. Claiborne's isolation was complete. This isolation was natural, since all the gentlemen of New Orleans quarrelled with the Governor; but the same silence was preserved where their social relations were friendly. Neither Clark nor any of the persons who talked so much with each other about Burr's projects communicated with General Wilkinson, who was in full sympathy with their hatred of Claiborne. Wilkinson stood in relations of close confidence with Clark; intimate letters passed between them as late as October 2. [13] Clark knew that Wilkinson was Burr's most intimate friend; yet he neither warned Claiborne nor Wilkinson nor President Jefferson, although as early as October 15 he warned a number of other gentlemen who needed no warning, and although October 17 the militia of New Orleans, evidently in consequence of his advice, tendered their services to the Governor.

For two months, between September 27 and November 25, Burr's emissaries were busy in New Orleans, without suspicion or hindrance from the United States authorities; while every prominent Frenchman in the Territory knew the contents of Burr's letter to Wilkinson as soon as Wilkinson could have known have known them. That Burr had few active adherents might be true; but nothing showed that Bollman regarded the result of his mission as unfavorable. Toward the end of October Bollman sent letters by a certain Lieutenant Spence, who reached Lexington in due course, and November 2 delivered his despatches to Burr; [14] but whatever their contents may have been, they were not so decisive against Burr's hopes as to stop his movement. The people of New Orleans were careful not to commit themselves, but they guarded Burr's secret with jealousy. They warned no United States official of the danger in which the city stood; they wrote no letters to the President; they sent no message to Burr forbidding his approach.

This was the situation in New Orleans Nov. 25, 1806, the day when District-Attorney Daveiss at Frankfort made his second attempt to procure an indictment against Burr, and when President Jefferson at Washington was startled into energy by receiving a letter, almost equivalent to a confession, from General Wilkinson. From the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico the conspiracy had numerous friends; and in New Orleans it had the most alarming of all qualities,—silence.

Meanwhile young Samuel Swartwout, after parting from his friend Ogden, had slowly ascended the Red River, pursuing General Wilkinson, as Evangeline pursued Gabriel, even as far as "the little inn of the Spanish town of Adayes." The military point for Wilkinson to decide was whether he should make an effort to drive the Spaniards back to their town of Adayes, or whether he should allow them to fix themselves on the Red River. The movements of the Spanish General Herrera, who had brought a considerable mounted force to Nacogdoches, were supposed at the moment by many persons to have been made in concert with Burr; but in reality they were doubtless intended only to derange the plan, recommended by Armstrong and Monroe to Jefferson, by which Texas should be seized for the United States, while West Florida for the moment should be left aside. The Spanish government saw the danger, and sent a little army of some fifteen hundred men to the Red River, where they posted a strong garrison at Bayou Pierre, and pressed close upon Natchitoches. The Americans, instead of taking the offensive and advancing with five thousand men, as Wilkinson wished, to the Rio Grande, were thrown upon the defensive, and trembled for New Orleans, protected only by a French militia which neither Claiborne nor Wilkinson could trust.

Under orders from Washington, General Wilkinson reached Natchitoches September 22, and found the Spaniards in force between his own post and the Sabine. For a few days Wilkinson talked loudly, after his peculiar manner. War seemed imminent. September 28 he wrote from Natchitoches a letter to Senator Smith of Ohio, the contractor for his supplies:[15]

"I have made the last effort at conciliation in a solemn appeal to Governor Cordero at Nacogdoches, who is chief in command on this frontier. Colonel Gushing bore my letter, and is now with the Don. I expect his return in four days; and then,—I believe, my friend, I shall be obliged to fight and flog them."

Governor Cordero, whose object was probably no more than to restrict American possession within the narrowest possible limits, withdrew his troops from Bayou Pierre, September 27, to the west bank of the Sabine, and left open to Wilkinson the road to the eastern bank. The Spanish forces recrossed the Sabine before September 30, but a week later, October 8, General Wilkinson had not begun his ostentatious march, of some fifty miles, to retake possession of the east bank of the river.

On the evening of October 8, General Wilkinson was sitting with Colonel Gushing, of the Second Infantry, alone in the Colonel's quarters at Natchitoches, discussing the military problem before them, when a young man was introduced who said that his name was Swartwout, and that he brought a letter of introduction from General Dayton. After some little ordinary talk. Colonel Gushing having for a moment been called out of the room, Swartwout slipped into General Wilkinson's hands a packet which he said contained a letter from Colonel Burr. Wilkinson received the letter, and soon afterward retired to his chamber, where he passed the rest of the evening in the labor of deciphering Burr's long despatch of July 29.[16]

If the falsehoods contained in the letters of Burr and Dayton found any credit in Wilkinson's mind, they should have decided him to follow his old bent toward revolution. Everything beckoned him on. His secret relations, nearly twenty years old, with the Spanish officials guaranteed to him the connivance of the Spanish force. The French militia of Louisiana, deaf to Governor Claiborne's entreaties, would have seen with pleasure Claiborne deposed. About five hundred United States troops were under Wilkinson's command on the Red River, of whom few were native Americans, or cared for the Government except to obtain their pay. In New Orleans a breath would blow away the national authority; and what power would restore it? If it were true, as Burr wrote, that a British fleet stood ready to prevent a blockade of the Mississippi, the success of the Western empire seemed assured.

Severance of the ties that bound him to Dayton and Burr was not a simple matter for Wilkinson. That they were old friends was something; and that all three had fought side by side under the walls of Quebec in the winter of 1776, with the father of young Peter Ogden for a friend, and with Benedict Arnold for their commander, was still more; but the most serious difficulty was that Wilkinson stood in the power of these men, who knew his thoughts and could produce his letters, and who, in case of his deserting them, would certainly do their utmost to destroy what character he possessed.

Whatever may have been his reflections, Wilkinson took at once measures to protect his own interests. Like Senator Smith, Andrew Jackson, and Daniel Clark, his first step was to provide against the danger of being charged with misprision of treason. The morning after Swartwout's arrival, Wilkinson took Colonel Cushing aside, and after telling him the contents of Burr's letter, announced that he meant to notify the President of the plot, and that after making some temporary arrangement with the Spaniards, he should move his whole force to New Orleans. In one sense this avowal was an act of patriotism; in another light it might have been regarded as an attempt to sound Colonel Cushing, whose assistance was necessary to the success of the plot.

In any case the deliberation of his conduct proved no eagerness to act. A week passed. Although time pressed, and Burr was to move down the Ohio River November 15, Wilkinson did not yet warn the President or the authorities in Mississippi and Tennessee, or the commanding officers at Fort Adams or Chickasaw Bluffs. About October 15 a troop of militia reached Natchitoches; and Wilkinson confided his plans to Colonel Burling, who accompanied it. One might almost have suspected that he was systematically sounding his officers. Not until October 21 did he send the promised letter to President Jefferson, and in that letter he did not so much as mention Burr's name.[17] He spoke of the expedition as destined for Vera Cruz. "It is unknown under what authority this enterprise has been projected, from whence the means of its support are derived, or what may be the intentions of its leaders in relation to the Territory of Orleans." The communication was so timed as to reach Washington after Burr should have passed down the Ohio; and it was so worded as to protect Wilkinson in case of Burr's failure, but in no event to injure Burr.

After sending this despatch to Washington by a special messenger, Wilkinson wrote October 23 a letter of mysterious warning to Lieutenant-Colonel Freeman, who commanded at New Orleans.[18] He wrote also a letter to Burr, which he afterward recovered at Natchez and destroyed.[19] He sent his force forward to the Sabine, and passed ten days in making an arrangement with the Spanish officers for maintaining the relative positions of the outposts. Not until November 5 did he return to Natchitoches. Then, at last, his movements became as rapid as they had hitherto been dilatory.

November 7 he wrote to Colonel Cushing from Natchitoches:[20] "On the 15th of this month Burr's declaration is to be made in Tennessee and Kentucky. Hurry, hurry after me; and if necessary, let us be buried together in the ruins of the place we shall defend!" He had at last chosen his part; and having decided to act as the savior of the country, he began to exaggerate the danger. "If I mistake not, we shall have an insurrection of blacks as well as whites to combat."[21] "I shall be with you by the 20th instant," he wrote to Freeman the same day;[22] "in the mean time be you as silent as the grave!" He left Natchitoches November 7, and reached Natchez on the 11th, whence he wrote "from the seat of Major Minor" a letter of alarm to the President, confiding to the messenger an oral account of Burr's letter, for Jefferson's benefit:[23]

"This is indeed a deep, dark, and widespread conspiracy, embracing the young and the old, the Democrat and the Federalist, the native and the foreigner, the patriot of '76 and the exotic of yesterday, the opulent and the needy, the 'ins' and the 'outs;' and I fear it will receive strong support in New Orleans from a quarter little suspected. . . . I gasconade not when I tell you that in such a cause I shall glory to give my life in the service of my country; for I verily believe such an event to be probable, because, should seven thousand men descend from the Ohio,—and this is the calculation,—they will bring with them the sympathies and good wishes of that country, and none but friends can be afterward prevailed on to follow them. With my handful of veterans, however gallant, it is improbable I shall be able to withstand such a disparity of numbers."

If this was not gasconade, it sounded much like intoxication; but on the same day the writer indulged in another cry of panic. He should have written to Governor Claiborne a month before; but having made up his mind to speak, he was determined to terrify:[24]

"You are surrounded by dangers of which you dream not, and the destruction of the American government is seriously menaced. The storm will probably burst in New Orleans, where I shall meet it, and triumph or perish!"

If the courage of Claiborne did not, on the arrival of this letter, wholly desert him, his heart was stout; but he had yet another shock to meet, for on the same day that Wilkinson at Natchez was summoning this shadowy terror before his eyes, Andrew Jackson at Nashville was writing to him in language even

more bewildering than that of Wilkinson:[25]
"I fear treachery has become the order of the day. This induces me to write you. Put your town in a state of defence; organize your militia, and defend your city as well against internal enemies as external. My knowledge does not extend so far as to authorize me to go into details, but I fear you will meet with an attack from quarters you do not at present expect. Be upon the alert! Keep a watchful eye on our General [Wilkinson], and beware of an attack as well from your own country as Spain! I fear there is something rotten in the state of Denmark. . . . Beware of the month of December! . . . This I will write for your own eye and for your own safety. Profit by it, and the ides of March remember!"

A storm of denunciations began to hail upon Claiborne's head; but buffeted as he was, he could only bear in silence whatever fate might be in store, for General Wilkinson, who was little more trustworthy or trusted than Burr himself, arrived in New Orleans November 25, and took the reins of power.


  1. Wilkinson's Evidence, Burr's Trial; Annals of Congress, 1807-1808, p. 515.
  2. Wilkinson to Daniel Clark, Oct. 5, 1807; Clark's Proofs, p. 154.
  3. Laussat to Decrès, 18 Germinal, An xii. (April 8, 1804); Archives de la Marine, MSS. Gayarré's Louisiana, iii. 10.
  4. Gayarré, Spanish Domination, p. 627.
  5. Laussat to Decrès, 18 Germinal, An xii. (April 8, 1804); Archives de la Marine, MSS.
  6. Gayarré's Louisiana, iii. 35.
  7. Gayarré's Louisiana, iii. 161.
  8. Report of the Committee to inquire into the Conduct of General Wilkinson, Feb. 26, 1811; 3 Sess. 11 Cong. p. 320.
  9. Gayarré's Louisiana, iii. 151.
  10. Gayarré's Louisiana, iii. 153.
  11. Gayarré's Louisiana, iii. 154.
  12. Clark's Proofs, p. 145.
  13. Clark to Wilkinson, Oct. 2, 1806; Clark's Proofs, p. 157.
  14. Wilkinson's Evidence, Burr's Trial; Annals of Congress, 1807-1808, p. 518. Evidence of Lieutenant Spence, Report of House Committee, Feb. 26, 1811; 3 Sess. 11 Cong., p. 312.
  15. Wilkinson to Smith, Sept. 28, 1806; Senate Report, Dec. 31, 1807, p. 41.
  16. See p. 253. [Ch. 11]
  17. Wilkinson to Jefferson, Oct. 20 and 21, 1806; Wilkinson's Memoirs, ii. Appendix, xcv.
  18. Wilkinson to Freeman, Oct. 23, 1806; Wilkinson's Memoirs, ii. Appendix, ci.
  19. Wilkinson's Evidence, Burr's Trial; Annals of Congress, 1807-1808, p. 541.
  20. Wilkinson to Cushing, Nov. 7, 1806; Memoirs, ii. Appendix, xcix.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Wilkinson to Jefferson, Nov. 12, 1806; Memoirs, ii. Appendix, c.
  24. Wilkinson to Claiborne, Nov. 12, 1806; Memoirs, ii. 328.
  25. Jackson to Claiborne, Nov. 12, 1806; Burr's Trial. Annals of Congress, 1807-1808, p. 571.