ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THOMPSON'S ISLAND OR KEY WEST AS A NAVAL DEPOT OR STATION.
COMMUNICATED TO THE SENATE, DECEMBER 16, 1834.
Navy Department, December 15, 1834.
The Secretary of the Navy, in compliance with the directions contained in the resolution of the Senate of the United States, of the 16th June last, referring the memorial and documents of John Whitehead and others, owners of Key West, for examination into the facts therein stated, to collect the necessary evidence, and report the names, together with copies of such letters and papers in his Department as relate thereto, to the Senate at its next session, has the honor to make the following report:
The parties interested in the case state that, in consequence of a communication made by them on the 7th December, 1821, representing the peculiar importance of Key West as a naval station, to protect our commerce from pirates, and suppress the slave trade, Lieutenant Perry was ordered, on the 7th of February, 1822, to examine said island and its harbors, &c, and, if deemed necessary by him, to take possession in the name of the United States; and that, on the 28th March following, he made a report of his proceedings.
That instructions were subsequently issued to Captain Patterson, on the 15th November, 1822, who reported the result of his examinations on the 11th of March and 10th of July, 1823.
That Commodore Porter, on the 1st of February, 1823, received his general instructions as commandant of the West India station, and was directed to establish a depot at Thompson's Island, usually called Key West, and land ordnance and marines to protect the stores and provisions.
That the said commander assumed entire control and jurisdiction of said island, forcibly appropriating wood already cut, and causing more to be cut down and used; seizing and using, for his officers and men, hogs and sheep running at large, the property of the memorialists; prohibiting the owners and their agents from building or improving without his permission, and enforced military law upon the said island; of which grievances they state that they informed the Navy Department, by a communication dated the 1st of February, 1825.
In support of these allegations, the memorialists offer the deposition of Griffith W. Roberts, the copy of a letter from Commodore Porter to Lieutenant James M. McIntosh, sworn to by John Whitehead; a letter of Master Commandant M. P. Mix to said Whitehead; a letter of Lieutenant James Moorehead to said Whitehead; certified copies of two letters from P. C. Greene & Co. to Commodore Porter, and the
original of Commodore Porter's reply; a certificate of Lieutenant James M. Mcintosh, with copy of Commodore Porter's letter to him, above referred to, and an imperfect copy of the communication of the 1st of February, 1825, which are all hereto annexed, lettered from A to G, inclusive.
The records and files of the Navy Department have been carefully examined, but afford no information nor evidence of the seizures and damages which the memorialists complain that they sustained, nor can any communication be found to have been received from them on the subject, dated the 1st of February, 1825.
The communication of the 7th of December, 1821; the report of the Secretary of the Navy, of the 29th of December, 1822, to the President, and the instructions to Lieutenant Perry, Commodore Patterson and Commodore Porter, and the reports by these officers, to which the memorialists allude, are appended hereto, and numbered from 1 to 8, inclusive.
All which is respectfully submitted.