In obedience to a resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 3lst ultimo,






January 13, 1820.

Read, and ordered to lie on the table.






January 11th, 1820.

Sir: In obedience to a resolution of the House of Representatives, of the 3lst ultimo, directing the Secretary of the Treasury to lay before the House "copies of such communications as be may have received since 1816, and such information as he may possess, in relation to the illicit introduction of slaves into the United States, with a statement of the measures adopted to prevent the same," I have the honor to submit the enclosed letters, from different collectors of the customs, to this department.

It appears, from an examination of the records of this office, that no particular instructions have ever been given, by the Secretary of the Treasury, under the original or supplementary acts prohibiting the introduction of slaves into the United States.

The general practice of the Department has been to confine its attention, and to limit its instructions, to cases arising under the revenue laws, except where, by directions of the President of the United States, the superintendence of the execution of other laws has been specially required of it. No such duty has, in relation to the laws prohibiting the introduction of slaves into the United States, been required of the Secretary of the Treasury.

His letter to the War and Navy Departments, of the 16th July, 1817, a copy of which is also enclosed, was written during the absence of the President, under the circumstances which did not admit of the delay necessary to obtain his direction and instruction. An additional reason for writing that letter may be found in the fact that the other heads of department were absent, and the officers exercising their functions, provisionally, were unwilling to incur the responsibility of the measures required by the occasion.

I have the honor to be,

Your most obedient servant,


The Honorable Henry Clay,

Speaker of the House of Representatives.



July 16th, 1817.

Sir: From information recently received by this Department, there is just reason to believe that Sir Gregor McGregor has taken military possession of Amelia Island, in the name of the Spanish Patriots. Considering that the restless and adventurous of all nations, and especially of the island of St. Domingo, have ranged themselves under the banners of the different leaders, by sea and land, who are engaged in the civil war now raging between Spain and her colonies, and that the port of Fernandina will necessarily become the common rendezvous of all the vessels sailing under the various flags of the Spanish provinces which have declared themselves independent, apprehensions are justly entertained by the citizens of the southern section of the state of Georgia, that their peace and tranquillity will be disturbed, and their rights infringed, unless protected by the presence of a force sufficient to command respect from the troops thus expected to be congregated in their immediate neighborhood.

In addition to the circumstances already communicated, the disposition which has been manifested by the vessels of Spain engaged in the African Slave Trade, to introduce, illicitly, into that section of the Union, the persons who, in the prosecution of their traffic, have been subjected to their control, seems to require the presence of a force sufficient to enforce the due execution of the laws against the introduction of slaves into the United States. From the known character and conduct of the leader of the enterprize against Amelia Island, there is just ground to apprehend that this illicit traffic, if continued, will, under his auspices, assume a bolder character; and, if abandoned, that it will be substituted by measures, equally derogatory to the laws, and more destructive of the rights and interest of the citizens of the eastern section of the southern states. To guard against the unlawful introduction of slaves, and to repress any attempt that may be made by the foreign belligerent force, collected in that neighborhood, to excite domestic insurrection among the blacks, it appears to me to be absolutely necessary that a land and naval force be stationed at St. Mary's.

As the portion of East Florida immediately bordering on the United States, is but sparsely, if at all, inhabited, the entrance of vessels into the river St. Mary's, freighted with slaves, can have no other object than the violation of our laws by, covertly, introducing a population which is prohibited. Under such circumstances, and especially when the imbecility or indisposition of the local authorities to preserve the accustomed relations between independent states are considered, and, above all, the odious character of the


traffic, intended to be restrained, the seizure of every vessel freighted with slaves which shall be found in the river St. Mary's, or hovering upon our coast, is respectfully submitted.

I have the honor to be, &c.

[Signed] W. H. CRAWFORD.

The Secretaries of War and the Navy.

Extract of a letter from the deputy collector of Nova Iberia to the Secretary of the Treasury, dated July 9th, 1818.

"By Mr. Dick's advice, last summer, I got out state warrants, and had negroes seized to the number of eighteen, which were apart of those stolen out of the custody of the coroner, and the balance condemned by the District Judge of the state; and the informers received their part of the nett proceeds from the state treasurer. Five negroes, that were seized about the same time, were tried at Opeloulas, in May last, by the same judge: he decided that some Spaniards (that were supposed to have set up a sham claim, stating that the negroes had been stolen from them on the high seas) should have the negroes, and that the persons that seized them should pay one half the costs, and the state of Louisiana the other. Their division had such an effect as to render it almost impossible for me to obtain any assistance in that part of the country. There has been lately up the Bayou Nementou two schooners from Galveston; they sold a part of their cargoes, and deposited the balance, and I could get no assistance to take them. I made two seizures of wine, a part of one of their cargoes, in the neighborhood of the Vermillion bridge, about 20 miles to the westward of this place. I summoned assistance, a part of which refused to assist, a part deserted while guarding the property, and the balance, not being sufficiently strong to protect it, it was taken from them the ensuing night. The smugglers had forcibly prevented our removing the property in the day time."

Collector's Office, District of Brunswick, Georgia,

Port of Darien, July 5th, 1818.

Sir: On the 14th March, I did myself the honor to address you on the subject of Africans illicitly introduced into the United States. Not being favored with a reply, it may be proper for me to state, that,


a demand being subsequently made, by the executive of this state, for all such Africans in my possession, in compliance therewith I delivered over to his agent ninety-one negroes.

I have the honor to be, &c.

[Signed], W. I. McINTOSH,


The Honorable William H. Crawford,

Secretary of the Treasury.

Extract of a letter from the Collector of New Orleans to the Secretary of the Treasury, dated April 17th, 1818.

"It has been stated to me, on the authority of a letter to a respectable gentleman of this city, that there were three schooners laying in the river Merineutau, belonging to commodore Aury's squadron, smuggling their cargoes on shore. The audacity of the piratical set, since they find Galveston has not been, and, as they say, will not be, suppressed, knows no bounds. In order to keep them somewhat more in check, and to defeat their nefarious schemes, as far as in my power, until government aid us with such force as it may deem best suited to the purpose, I have determined to station an additional revenue boat and crews, with an active and enterprizing officer at, and near, fort St. Philip, and to increase the crews of the boats at the Balize and fort St. John. It will, I think, render their operations a little more difficult, and I confidently rely on your approbation.— The additional expense can be no consideration. But no efforts of the officers of the customs alone can be effectual in preventing the introduction of Africans from the westward: to put a stop to that traffic, a naval force suitable to those waters is indispensable, and vessels captured with slaves ought not to be brought to this port, but sent to some other in the United States, for adjudication. Inclosed you will also find an act passed by the legislature of this State, respecting slaves imported in violation of the laws of Congress, of the 2d March, 1807. The object and policy of this law requires no comment from me. Vast numbers of slaves will be introduced to an alarming extent, unless prompt and effectual measures are adopted by the general government.

"The master of an American schooner from Havana reports, that he was offered a full freight of Africans for this river, which he refused."


Collector's Office, Dis. of Brunswick, Geo. Port of Darien, March 14, 1818.

Sir: I had the honor to address you per last mail, and to enclose you papers respecting 47 African negroes, taken, by the surveyor of Darien, from one Jared E. Groce, on their way to the Alabama territory, through the Indian nation, and 41 others at the Creek agency, from the negro houses of the agent for Indian affairs. It is a painful duty, sir, to express to you, that I am in possession of undoubted information, that African and West India negroes are almost daily illicitly introduced into Georgia, for sale or settlement, or passing through it to the territories of the United States for similar purposes; these facts are notorious; and it is not unusual to see such negroes in the streets of St. Mary's, and such too, recently captured by our vessels of war, and ordered to Savannah, were illegally bartered by hundreds in that city, for this bartering or bonding (as it is called, but in reality selling,) actually took place before any decision had passed by the court respecting them. I cannot but again express to you, sir, that these irregularities and mocking of the laws, by men who understand them, and who, it was presumed, would have respected them, are such, that it requires the immediate interposition of Congress to effect a suppression of this traffic; for, as things are, should a faithful officer of government apprehend such negroes, to avoid the penalties imposed by the laws, the proprietors disclaim them, and some agent of the executive demands a delivery of the same to him, who may employ them as be pleases, or effect a sale by way of a bond, for the restoration of the negroes when legally called on so to do; which bond, it is understood, is to be forfeited, as the amount of the bond is so much less than the value of the property. And again, sir, an officer disposed to perform his trust with fidelity, is placed at the mercy of the state; for, to carry the intention of the federal laws into execution, great expenses may be inclined, and for which, the state seems not to have made any provision; but has, by its own law of the last session of the legislature, invested the executive with the power of becoming a speculator on the exertions and integrity of such federal officers as feel the weight of their responsibility, and who are willing to perforin their duty. For instance, sir: after much fatigue, peril, and expense, 88 Africans are seized and brought by the surveyor to Darien; they are demanded immediately by the governor's agents, notwithstanding the knowledge which his excellency had, that these very Africans were for some weeks within 60 miles of his excellency's residence, (the seat of government,) there was no effort, no stir made by him, his agents, or subordinate state officers, to carry the laws into execution; but no sooner than it was understood that, a seizure had been effected by an officer of the United States, a demand is made for them; and it is not difficult to perceive, by a com-


pliance, that the very aggressors may, by a forfeiture of the mock bond, be again placed in possession of the smuggled property, at but little additional expense to him, but at the entire ruin of the officers who had executed, with fidelity, the laws they fell bound to observe. There are many negroes, (independent of those mentioned, as having been bartered in Savannah, &c. before any decision had passed respecting them.) recently introduced into this state and the Alabama territory, and which can be apprehended. The undertaking would be great; but to be sensible that we shall possess your approbation, and that we are carrying the views and wishes of the government into execution, is all we wish, and it shall be done, independent of every personal consideration.

I have, &c.

[Signed] WM. I. M'INTOSH, Collector.

The Hon. Wm. H. Crawford,

Secretary of the Treasury.

Collector's Office, Savannah, 25th November, 1817.

Sir: I have the honor of informing you, that the schooner Tentativa, reported to be under Spanish colors, with one hundred and twenty-eight slaves on board, was brought into this port on the 19th inst. by a part of the crew of the United States' vessel the Saranac, John H. Elton, commander, having been captured by said vessel, and at the time abandoned by her crew: the Tentativa has been libelled by the Proctor for the captors; and the slaves, by order of the court, delivered over to the Proctor for the captors and the collector of this port, to be taken care of by them until demanded by the competent authority: this order was procured by the Proctor for the captors, with a view of preserving the lives of the slaves, they being destitute of provisions and clothing, and must have perished had they been longer at sea. Four of them have already died, but the remaining part of them have been so disposed of, as to insure, comfort to them for the present. Under the order of court, and the influence of humanity, it appears to be my duty to interest myself for the sufferers, and having an estate near the city, I inquired of my agent, how many of these people he could accommodate with house-room, and upon his statement I have taken possession of forty in number, all of whom I have clothed and shall continue otherwise to succor, until demanded by the competent authority.

I have, &c.

[Signed] A. S. BULLOCK, Collector.

The Honorable William H. Crawford,

Secretary of the Treasury.


Extract of a letter from the Deputy Collector of Nova Iberia, to the Secretary of the Treasury, dated September 27th, 1818.

"On the 8th day of July last, captain Amelung, with eighteen of his company, agreed to go with me to the Bayou Nementou, to suppress smuggling. On the day and succeeding night after our arrival there, we look thirteen prisoners that came armed to support smugglers, &c. The next day we took one of their vessels; set some hands to work in repairing her, and captain Amelung returned to Nova Iberia for the balance of his company; returned with them, and we proceeded on with twenty-five men to the Bayou Cureuseau. On our arrival there we made more prisoners; seized three African negroes; two vessels, and part of their cargoes. Runners had been sent ahead of us, and five or six vessels run out of the Bayou a few days prior to our arrival there. A large number of African negroes had been on that Bayou, eighty of which left there a short time before our arrival, and about twenty passed us the night before we arrived. We proceeded down the Cureuseau, and came round to the Bayou Nementou. Captain Amelung furnished me with a lieutenant and eighteen men and returned by land to Nova Iberia with the balance of his company. We proceeded with the vessels down the Nementou; met a felluche, commanded by one of Lafitte's captains, off the mouth of the Bayou. The captain took us for smugglers; we got him on board of one of our vessels, and, notwithstanding his directing his men in French, when he left his own vessel, to cut their cable if he did not return with the boat, run down our boat, and kill every man on board, we boarded her after they cut their cable, and took her without the loss of one man. Her cargo consists of coffee, cocoa, refined wax for candles, oil, dry goods, and about 10,000 lbs. of quicksilver. I arrived here yesterday, having suffered much. During the line storm we lost three anchors, sprung one mast, carried away our yards and sails. I left the vessels in the Vermillion Bay; shall start immediately to bring them round to this place. If there was one small cutter on this coast she would be of great service."

Collector's Office,

Savannah, 22d May, 1817.

Sir: I have just received information from a source on which I can implicitly rely, that it has already become the practice to introduce into the state of Georgia, across the St. Mary's River, from Amelia Island, East Florida, Africans, who have been carried into the Fort of Fernandina, subsequent to the capture of it by the Patriot army now in possession of it.


As this species of traffic may be carried on for an indefinite period of time, without the interposition of government, I have deemed it my duty to give you the earliest advice of it.

Immediately after the receipt of your letter of the 19th March last, I instructed Captain Smith to cruize with the Cutter to the southward as far as St. Mary's bar, with a view of preventing the landing of such people on the sea board: but it is not in his power to guard the St. Mary's, which is the route for the introduction of them. It becomes more necessary for a guard to be organized by government, as this state has never legislated on the subject of the importation of slaves; were the legislature to pass an act giving compensation in some manner to informers, it would have a tendency in a great degree to prevent the practice; as the thing now is, no citizen will take the trouble of searching for and detecting the slaves. I further understand, that the evil will not he confined altogether to Africans, but will be extended to the worst class of West India slaves.

I am, &c.

[Signed] A. S. BULLOCK. Collector.

The Hon. Wm. H. Crawford,

Secretary of the Treasury.

Collector's Office, Port of Mobile.

October 7th, 1818.

Sir: It is understood that Judge Webb, one of the Judges of this territory, has resigned. Permit me, Sir, to suggest the importance of an early appointment to the vacancy, in order that the person appointed might be present at the next session of the General Court, on the first Monday of January next. There are now pending before that Court a number of cases of very great importance to the public interest, particularly those of the three vessels, their cargoes, and upwards of one hundred slaves.

I hope the Attorney of the United States has informed the Treasury Department of the proceedings of the court in these cases; not having seen him since, I have not attempted a statement of proceedings, to me, so very strange. This however appears certain, that the vessels and cargoes and the slaves have been delivered on bonds, the former to the owners, and the slaves to three other persons. The Grand Jury found true bills against the owners of the vessels, masters, and a supercargo—all of whom are discharged; why or wherefore I cannot say, except that it could not be for want of proof against them.


It is certainly a matter of great importance that these cases be stamped with the full force of the law, to prevent future importations. Two of the vessels were cleared at Havanna, for N. Orleans, and one for this port; and all American registered vessels, the former at New Orleans, the latter at this port.

Perhaps the magnitude and importance, of these cases would render it expedient to employ additional Counsel, in aid of the United States' Attorney, as he will be opposed by able lawyers from New-Orleans. Should you deem this proper, be pleased, Sir, to direct the sum which may be allowed.

I have the honor to be, &c.

[Signed] The Hon. W. H. Crawford,

Secretary of the Treasury.