From: Robert E. Perdue, Jr.
Attachments to the April 13, 1861 letter, from G. Eustis Hubbard, Commercial Agent, Cap Haitien, to the Secretary of State.
The Hubbard letter and attachments were recorded from a microfilm print-out of hand-written documents in the National Archives, College Park, MD: "Despatches from U. S. Consuls in Cap Haitien, Haiti, 1797-1906", M9, 17 rolls. (These documents are on Roll 9.)
My thanks to Maria Persinos for creating these files from very difficult hand-written copy.
Robert E. Perdue, Jr.
Copy of affidavit of Isaac B. Gage, Master of the American Schr Joseph Nickerson, about his having met a French vessel under suspicious circumstances.
I, Isaac B. Gage, Master of the American Schooner Joseph Nickerson, of Boston, of the burden of 19831/95 tons, now at anchor in the port of Cape Haytien, do hereby depose and certify, that on the 29th March at 2 o'clock AM, he then approaching the land of Hayti, hove to his vessel, at day light, 1/2 past 4, Point Picolet bearing S.S.W 18 miles made a bark 3 miles in shore from him; it being then calm, with a heavy sea running, both vessels stood off shore, the bark gaining somewhat on the Schooner; at 9 o'clock a little breeze sprung up and he, fearing the two vessels would come too near together, kept off, and wove ship and passed astern of the bark about a mile to leeward, the bark still continuing off shore- as the vessels passed the Bark saluted with the French flag and the Schr answered by showing her colors in her main rigging.
The bark had two royal yards, two quarter boats, and when seen by the deposer was under the following easy sail - two topsails, spinnaker, mizzen staysail foresail and flying - jib everything about the vessel was taut and ship shape and he should judge her to be a vessel of about 400 tons. Under the circumstances in which he met the vessel, the deposer could not tell where she was bound nor from, nor what she was about.
signed) Isaac B. Gage
Signed in the presence of
(signed) John L. Wilson
(do) Benja P. Sears
Translated Copy of a letter addressed by Captain A. Pelletier of the American Bark William, under the fake name of Captain J. Letellier of the French Barque Guillaume Tell, to the French Consul in Cape Haytien, the original letter written in French.
To the French Consul at Cape Haytien
I have the honor of informing you that the French Bark "Guillaume Tell" from Havre bound to Havanna, got aground on her return for her point of departure, in the passages in a gale of wind from S.E. to N.E., and that she has experienced heavy damage, amongst others, broken her rudder, top masts and false keel, lost a chain, 2 anchors sails etc., etc.
In the impossibility to continue my voyage, I have to let the vessel drift to reach the first port to repair damages; and it is by the effect of this drifting that I find myself in the Port of Fort Liberte, which port is not, as I have been informed, open to commerce.
I have the honor of informing you, Mr. Consul, that my intention is only to arrange here my rudder to enable me to steer my vessel, in order to render myself to Cape Haytien where I shall have the honor to put myself under your protection. This will be tomorrow or the day after.
I have the honor to be, Mr. Consul with respect, your very Obedient Servant and countryman.
(signed) J. Letellier
Fort Liberte le 1re April 1861.
Copy of letter from Captain A. Pelletier to G. Eustis Hubbard, United States Commercial Agent at Cape Haytien
Fort Liberte, April 6th 1861
To Mr. Hubbard, Commercial Agent of the United States at Cape Haytien
It is in a miserable dungeon that I write you, where I was placed yesterday with all of my crew. I am Master of the American Barque William of New Orleans some time ago I left Port au Prince, where I was the victim of great vexation and injustices inflicted upon me by the authorities of that place; Mr. Lewis, our American Agent did his utmost to get redress, but at last I was obliged to leave for New Orleans and had a misfortune in a gale of wind to drift on shore into the Bahama passage on a bank, which carried away my false keel and rudder spring fore and main top masts etc., etc. I was drifting about at sea for many days almost unable to steer my Vessel and the first land which I reached was this place where I could not get a pilot and I had to put in at any rate for to save my vessel, and there again I had the misfortune to run aground. A boat put off from shore and I was really thunderstruck when I see she was flying the Haytien flag, because I was unsure that if they should find out that I was the Barque William I should certainly get myself into more trouble; as to her bad name I will explain to you; that vessel was sold by the United States to me having been captured on the coast of Cuba with slaves, and ever since I have owned that vessel I have been tormented by injustice of people which don't wish to inquire into the private character of a man before they should act in the manner they did against me, my social position in the United States is very good, as I will be able to prove to you, if, as of no doubt, you come here to reclaim American citizens and property to a large amount which today is completely in their possession; with great trouble I got my vessel afloat again and put myself to work with my men to repair my rudder and other injuries to enable me to put off immediately as I were fearful they would find out who I was, and with the purpose of keeping secret I hoisted up a private signal at the head of may main mast which was a small French flag leaving the American Ensign always ready but to hoist up at the mizzen peak in case of necessity. Two boats full of Officers the second day I was there came aboard to inquire who I was and at the same time to register my ship, they made me open my hatches and overhauld everything in the hold, when they found everything was right and that I had in nothing but was lawful, they came in the cabin and demanded my papers, and I had for the sake of saving myself, ship and crew telling them that my papers having been wet with salt water after running aground as it would be dangerous to touch them as they would fall to pieces; that falsehood obliged me to keep up the appearance of a French vessel, and I told them that the vessel's name was the Guillaume which means in French William and that my name was Tellicer, this is my only crime Mr. Consul, and if it is one I will leave you to be my judge; I was expecting to leave in two days and wrote to the Commander of the Place I didn't wish any communication with the shore as this Port was not a Port of Entre, the only thing I was wishing to do was to fix my rudder to steer as far as the Cape to put myself under the protection of my lawful protector; you will see by this that I was acting with best of motives which were to save myself ship and crew which are all under American protection, which I beg of you in the name of myself, crew, wife, and family which are all here with me to protect us, and if I am guilty by having employed those means before stated for the purpose of saving my ship, at least save a poor woman and family and my crew which are not guilty and if you wish to send me to the United States to be judged by Christian laws, but here I am in danger so the rest are with the feeling of hostility which exists against me and crew and family in this place.
You will allow me the last act of this drama, which has put me completely in their power, and which will be our complete destruction if without a moment lost, you don't reclaim us and prohibit our transportation to another part of the Island which they may do at any moment. On the night of the 3rd one of my men run away from the Ship and made declaration that I was the Bark William of New Orleans, that she has or was a slaver and that I meant to rob and I don't know how many falsehoods guided by the spirit of vengeance. I was then requested immediately to come on shore with my papers; my boat was stopped, my men examined and then sent on board again, then I received a communication from the commander of the Place if I wanted to leave he would take means to detain me; that night having fixed my rudder a little I very slowly got under weigh with the purpose of going to the Cape to put myself under your protection, the wind very light and the currents strong I ran aground close to their Fort at the mouth of the river; that morning having received a communication from the French Consul which had arrived from the Cape to come ashore immediately with my papers and that if I didn't hostile steps would be taken against me and Vessel; he was very angry as he had been misled to believe it was a French vessel and he is a man of great influence here with the people of the country I am afraid my lot will be a hard one if you don't look upon me with mercy and come immediately to the rescue and for God's sake do it.
On the morning of the 5th five Schooners and several boats full of men about two or three hundred armed with loaded muskets and swords came and took me by assault and firing; I was obliged to hoist a white flag to the main for the purpose of getting a conversation with the commanding Officer which came alongside, I asked him what that meant, his answer was by order of the French consul although the American flag was up; and to save bloodshed I had to give myself up. I was ordered to take my papers along with me and the moment I arrived ashore I was searched as well as my boats crew and my papers were overhauled and taken away from me as well as the protections of all my men and private correspondence which is now in the possession of the Commander of this place. My ship was got off and put under weigh and brought back here to town losing my anchors and other damages which I don't know yet to what amount and we were all put in dungeon; from hour to hour I don't know what will be our fate.
Therefore Mr. Consul I beg of you as a Christian and representative of the United States to give me that protection which we stand so much in need, at the same time note my protest and I beg of you not to condemn me until you hear me, as I am very sure the French consul will try to inflame you against me, but you must recollect if there is one which has committed any fault it is nothing but me and I only demand a lawful trial of my country, therefore my crew and family are innocent and deserve your pity and your protection with all respect due to the representative of the United States you will immediately grant to them.
Your Most Obedient Servant
signed) A. Pelletier
Master of the Am. Barque William
Since writing this last, my Family were likewise put in a prison. For God's sake do come; the French consul is at the head of all.
Copy of Dispatch from G. Eustis Hubbard Commercial Agent of the United States of America, to Captain A. Pelletier in answer to his communication of the 6th April 1861
Cape Haytien 11th April 1861
Captain A. Pelletier
Prison of Fort Liberte
Your communication of the 6th inst has been handed to me open by the Haytien authorities and its contents have had my careful attention.
You endeavor to prove to me that after having left Port au Prince you run ashore in one of the Bahama passages in a gale of wind and there lost your rudder and part of false keel; that after drifting about without being able to steer the vessel, the first land you made was Fort Liberte; that on discovering the Haytien flag you became frightened and hoisted a small French flag at the main, proclaiming your vessel to be the French Bark Guillaume. These assertions are entirely untrue - had you lost your rudder and part of false keel as you pretend, it would have been impossible for you to beat up to windward from the North western point of this Island to Fort Liberte a distance of 100 miles, that Fort Liberte was not the first land you made, and that you was perfectly aware that you were on the Haytien coast, and where you were going, is proved by the fact that you were in sight from the signal station of Point Picolet for 5 days, laying off and on the coast under easy sail, gradually working your way up to windward; on the 26th of March at 2 o'clock PM I saw your vessel with my own eyes, jammed on a wind with a stiff breeze, in such a position that you might have arrived in this port in 3 hours had such been your intention, that you hoisted the French colors before you arrived in Fort Liberte, and for purposes which you alone can explain, is proved by the fact that on the 29th inst you saluted an American Schr at sea, by running the French flag up and down three times at the mizzen peak - Point Picolet at the time beaming from the two vessels S.S.W. distant about fifteen miles; of this I have in my possession the written affidavit of the Master of the Schr, and this alone would prove you to have acted as a pirate.
I am sorry to inform you, Sir, that under the circumstances I do not deem it my duty to interfere in the least with the Haytien authorities in their actions with regard to you and your crew; and most positively, in consequence of your late suspicious actions, withhold from you that protection which you might otherwise have claimed under the American flag. You have rendered yourself by your proceedings amenable to the law of nations and you will have to prove your innocence before a competent court of law and justice.
I am, Sir
Your Obedt Servt
(signed) G. Eustis Hubbard
Translated Copy of a dispatch from E. Mennan, Vice Consul of France at Cape Haytien, to G. Eustis Hubbard, United States Commercial Agent
Cape Haytien, 12 April 1861
To the Consul of the United States of America
I have the honor of advising reception of the letter which you have addressed to me this day, asking me if the American flag was floating on the vessel seized at Fort Liberte.
I hasten to write you that I remained two days in Fort Liberte and that never the flag of your nation was hoisted, for in that circumstance I should have guarded myself about writing to Captain Letellier and not Pelletier, as he calls himself today; the correspondence even which I have had the advantage to communicate you proves that he claimed protection from me as his countryman.
The authorities and the entire population of Fort Liberte, besides my statement, can always confirm this fact.
Receive Mr. Consul, the
assurance of my high consideration
The Vice Consul of France
(signed) E. Mennan
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