18th Congress.] 

No. 250. 

[2d Session.



To the Speaker of the House of Representatives: Washington, December 28, 1824.

In compliance with the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 27th instant, requesting information explanatory of the character and objects of the visit of the naval officer of the United States commanding in the West Indies, to the town of Faxardo, in the island of Porto Rico, on the ----- day of November last, I herewith transmit a report of the Secretary of the Navy, with a letter from Commodore Porter, which contains all the information in the possession of the Executive on the subject. Deeming the transaction adverted to of high importance, an order has been sent to Commodore Porter to repair hither without delay, that all the circumstances connected therewith may be fully investigated.


Navy Department, December 28, 1824.


In answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 27fh instant, that "the President of the United States be requested to communicate to the House any information in his possession, not improper to he communicated, explaining the character and objects of the visit of the naval officer of the United States commanding in the West Indies to the town of Faxardo, in the island of Porto Rico, on the -----day of November last," I have the honor to enclose to you a copy of a letter from Captain David Porter to the Department, dated 15th November, which is the only information on the subject in possession of this Department.

An order has been given that Captain Porter should return to this place without unnecessary delay, and an officer will sail from the United States to relieve him, and take command of the squadron, in a very few days, as soon as a vessel can be prepared for the purpose.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


The President of the United States.

United States' ship John Adams, Passage Island, November 15, 1824.


I have the honor to inform you that, on my arrival at St Thomas's, I was informed that Lieutenant Commandant Platt, of the United States' schooner Beagle, who had visited Faxardo, a town on the east coast of Porto Rico, about two miles from the sea, for the purpose of making inquiries respecting a quantity of dry goods supposed to have been deposited there by pirates, was, after being recognised as an American officer, by the proper authorities there, imprisoned and shamefully treated.

Indignant at the outrages which have so repeatedly been heaped upon us by the authorities of Porto Rico, I proceeded to this place, where I left the ship, and, taking with me the schooners Grampus and Beagle, and the boats of the John Adams, with Captain Dallas and part of his officers, seamen, and marines, proceeded to the port of Faxardo, where, finding preparations were making to fire on us from the battery on shore, I sent a party of seamen and marines to spike the guns, which was done in a few minutes, as the Spaniards fled on the landing of the party. I then landed with two hundred men, and marched to the town, spiking on the way the guns of a small battery, placed for the defence of a pass on the road, and reached the town in about thirty minutes after landing: I found them prepared for defence, as they had received information from St. Thomas's of my intentions of visiting the place. I halted about pistol shot from their forces, drawn up on the outskirts of the town, and sent in a flag, requiring the Alcaide, or Governor, with the captain of the port, the principal offenders, to come to me to make atonement for the outrage; giving them one hour to deliberate. They appeared accordingly, and, after begging pardon (in the presence of all the officers) of the officer who had been insulted, and expressing great penitence, I permitted them to return to town, on their promising to respect all American officers who may visit them hereafter. We then returned to the vessels, and left the harbor, after being at anchor three hours.

As we were getting under way, a number of persons appeared on the beach, bearing a white flag, and having with them some bullocks, and a number of horses, apparently laden, no doubt a present from the authorities of the place, which they informed me they should send me.

There is no doubt that our persons and our flag will be more respected hereafter than it has been by the authorities of Porto Rico.

Every officer and man, on this occasion, conducted themselves in a manner to meet my entire approbation.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Samuel L. Southard, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.