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1817. Page. Madrid,.... 24th March. 611 Madrid,.. .12th April. 611 Madrid, .9th May. 612
29th June. 614
16. Mr. Adams to Don Luis de Onis
Washington,.. 26th Dec. 615 17. Don Luis de Onis to Mr. Adams
Washington,.. 29th Dec. 616 Papers received from Mrs. Meade. A. Petition of Mrs. Meade to the President... Philadelphia, 4th Dec. 616 B. 1. The Treasurer-General of Spain to the Treasurer of the Revenue at Cadiz...
Madrid.... 22nd April. 620 B. 2. The Treasurer of the Revenue at Cadiz to the Treasurer-General of Spain.....
Cadiz,.. ... 29th April. 620 C. The Treasurer-General of Spain to the Tribunal of
1816. Commerce at Cadiz ...
Madrid, 19th November. 621 D. The Tribunal of Commerce at Cadiz to the TreasurerGeneral of Spain
... Cadiz, 29th November. 620
Royal Order for the Liberation of Mr. Meade.....
1818. Madrid, ...20th April. 621
CORRESPONDENCE concerning Richard W. Meade, communi
cated to the Department of State, by Mr. Erving.
(1.)-Mr. Erving to Mr. Monroe. SIR,
Madrid, 28th September, 1816. Perceiving by the Public Papers that the Case of R. W. Meade, a Citizen of The United States, for many years established at Cadiz in Commerce, and now suffering in Prison by order of this Government, has excited considerable sensation in America, it seems to be proper that I should submit to you my Correspondence with Mr. Cevallos, on this subject.
I have herewith the honour to enclose iny Note to that Minister, of August 27th, his Reply of September 10th, and my further Note of September 16th. To this last I have not yet received an Answer.
I have the honour to be, &c. The Hon. James Monroe.
GEORGE W. ERVING.
(2.)—Mr. Erving to Don Pedro Cevallos. Sir,
Madrid, 27th August, 1816. It is my duty to recall the attention of His Majesty's Government to the Case of Richard W. Meade, a Citizen of The United States, who is imprisoned by the Authorities at Cadiz, under semblance of Law, and of His Majesty's Authority, but, as must be presumed, against his will, and, as cau be substantiated, against His Orders issued on the 10th of August, 1815.
A particular Statement of the circumstances of the Case was trans
mitted to your Excellency by the Secretary of this Legation, in a Note of July 8th last: it is therefore needless that I should now recite them.
I propose to refer to your Documents only, each of them of prin. cipal importance, and which, taken in their connexion, point out most distinctly and indisputably, the illegality of the Proceedings against Mr. Meade, and the course which consistency, as well as justice, requires to be now taken for his relief.
The Documents to which I refer, and Copies of which are herewith enclosed are,
No. 1. An Order of the Consulado of Cadiz, dated February 18th, 1814, directing Meade to deposit in the Office of the TreasuryGeneral of the Province, a certain sum of money, respecting which a Process was then pending in the said Consulado.
No. 2. The Receipt of the Intendant of the Treasury for the De. posite made by Meade, pursuant to the Order of the Consulado.
No. 3. The Reply of the Intendant of the Consulado, when that Tribunal inquired as to the nature of the Deposite made.
No. 4. A Royal Decree of August 10th, 1815, suspending the further proceedings of the Consulado, till the Treasury should be able to collect Funds for the purpose of restoring the sum deposited by Meade.
It is not my intention, for it would be altogether useless, to enter into a history of the original Transactions, upon which, finally, a Suit was brought before the Consulado of Cadiz against Mr. Meade, and is now continued in the name of Mr. John M‘Dermot.
Meade always held the Moneys in question, to be paid over in legal form, as the competent Authorities should direct.
Your Excellency will, I am persuaded, now examine the affair with impartiality, and free from the impressions unfavourable to this American, with which it has been attempted to pre-occupy your judgment. If it were my duty, on the other hand, to state what ought to be his personal merits in the view of this Government, I should dwell upon the very extensive and important services, which, as a Merchant and a Capitalist, he rendered to Spain in the crisis of her atfairs, the most trying and difficult. It onght surely to be known to your Excellency that he contributed, most essentially, to the cause of this Country, by giving large credits to its occasional Governments, and that for these services he is not yet reimbursed. But I have not to ask any favour for him. I desire but strict and impartial justice, and I found my claim to his immediate release from Prison, on the Acts of the Government, in whose name, and of the very Tribunal by which, he is now imprisoned.
By the 2 first of the enclosed Documents, your Excellency will perceive that Mr. Meade, submitting to the Orders of the Consulado,
paid the amount of the Moneys in suit, into the Treasury of the Pro. vince. The payment is said to have been effected in “Libramientos," or Receipts for Libramientos of the Treasury-General or Intendant; Credits of Meade with the Treasury, which were payable in specie, and which were to be paid in specie within a few days. The Jatendant, therefore, readily gave to Meade the Receipt (No. 2,) for a Deposite in specie, the “ Libramientos" being cancelled, and passed to the several Accounts to which they belonged. Thus, therefore, every legal and formal requisite being complied with, Meade was exonerated from all responsibility; and, to make his irresponsibility still more perfect, if that were possible, the Intendant wrote to the Consulado, (No. 3,) stating expressly that the Deposite had been made in specie, and that he would respond to the Consulado for specie.
After such conclusive proceedings, it would seem impossible that Mr. Meade could be again questioned by the Tribunal, in the same matter.
Was the Tribunal wrong in ordering him to make the Deposite ? Sibi imputent, let it answer for its own errors. Was the Intendant culpable in receiving the “Libramientos" as specie ? He is then to be censured: but he has expressly made bimself responsible to the Consulado for specie. Let him then be held to that responsibility. These may be questions between the Government and its Officers, but it is certainly highly unjust that an Individual should be sacrificed to repair their errors. Will it be said that the “Libramientos” delivered to the Treasury, and credited to Meade, as cash, and held by the Treasury in deposite, and promised by the Intendant to be paid over as cash, are not, in fact, equivalent to cash? Certainly not. The Government will not pass this condemnation on its own Securities. But if the contrary supposition were admissible, even then Mr. Meade remains exempt from all responsibility; for the “Libramientos" in question have been already passed into account, as paid in specie, and have been cancelled by the Officer, who had the competent authority to do so. Nevertheless, the Consulado, which, by its own act, bad precluded itself from all further jurisdiction over Mr. Meade, in this matter, still persisted in its Process against him, and decreed that he should pay over to that Tribunal the sum which he had previously deposited, by its own order, in the Treasury. Against this injustice, Mr. Meade appealed to the Superior Tribunal of the Province, but its interference was overruled by the Tribunal of War at Madrid; and this latter confirmed the Sentence of the Consulado of Cadiz.
Mr. Meade was then obliged to resort to the Sovereign, who issued the Decree of August 10th, 1815 (No. 4). This Decree is, in all its parts, perfectly just. It suspends the Proceedings of the Consulado against Meade, and acknowledges the validity of the Deposite made, by directing, as it were, Funds to be collected, for effecting the return
of the money by the Intendant, to the end that it might be paid into the Consulado; and that, in the mean time, till Funds be collected for the purpose of effecting the return of this Deposite, the Tribunal of Commerce shall suspend all Proceedings against Meade, &c.
of this Decree neither Party can complain how then has it been reversed ? If there has been any delay in the payment to be made by the Treasury, that is not Meade's fault; the Decree is illimited; it orders all Proceedings against him to be suspended till that object be effected.
It is not my purpose to call into question the justice of Mr. M'Dermot's demand, or to blame any of his proceedings; but what I state with confidence is, that his claim is now properly on the Treasury or Intendant. If the Consulado or Intendant have, in the course of their proceedings, changed the situation of Mr. M Dermot's case for the worse, they have done him wrong, and it is of them that he should complain; but they have acted in virtue of their regular faculties, and have exonerated Mr. Meade; or had their conduct been even illegal, yet Meade cannot be made responsible for it; he had not any controul over them, or any means of resisting them.
It was very natural for him to offer the Deposite in “Libramientos," but he did not force the Intendant to receive them;- that was his own act. Nor indeed does there appear to have been any thing irregular in that act, since payment was due by the Treasury on the “ Libra. mientos.” The transaction was then the same in effect, as though the Intendant had paid to Meade the amount of the “Libramientos” in specie, and then received back that specie in deposite, and it was effected in that form also; so that if there was any fault in the Inten. dant, it was that of paying Meade what was due to him; but this I presume cannot be called a fault, or if so, the transaction cannot be vitiated by it. The Intendant then, having informed the Consulado that the Deposite had been made in specie, and that he was responsible to the Consulado for specie, Mr. Meade is of course exempt from all further process; and the Royal Decree above cited considered him so to be.
But now, Sir, a second time this Consulado, which, as I have shown, having ordered Mr. Meade to deposit in the Treasury, did thus by its own act absolve him from its jurisdiction, renews its demand on him for another Deposite to the same amount, and in defiance of His Majesty's Decree, on Meade's non-compliance, has thrown him into a dungeon.
Surely there cannot be any Law to authorize the imprisonment, as a condemned Felon, of a Defendant in an Action for debt, yet pending, much less can it be permitted that any Authority should amend its own faults and errors by sacrificing the liberty, property, and domestic happiness of an Individual; and still less is it possible, that His Majesty
should allow the continuance of such proceedings in a case where his own Treasury is the depository of the funds in question, which by his own Decree have been ordered to be paid over in satisfaction of the Judgment. It is with entire confidence, therefore, that I request your Excellency to lay this Representation before the King, not doubting but that he will order that Mr. Meade be immediately released from confinement, and that the Royal Decree of August 10th, 1815, be maintained and observed,
I have, &c. H. E. Don Pedro Cevallos.
GEORGE W. ERVING.
(3.)—Don Pedro Cevallos to Mr. Erving.-(Translation.) Sir,
Madrid, 10th September, 1816. I have given an account to His Majesty of your Note of the 27th of last month, relative to Mr. Richard Meade, and it is His Majesty's pleasure that I should inform you, that as his Case is pending before the Supreme Council of War, he must have recourse to it.
By His Majesty's Orders, the Council of War presented to His Majesty a Report, on the affair pending in the Tribunals of Spain, between the Creditors of a Commercial House in London, in a state of failure, and Mr. Richard Meade.
It states the restitution of a Deposite of upwards of 50,000 dollars in specie, made to Meade by the said House, in failure, at London, and that he attempted to restore the money demanded of him, in credits of the Treasury.
The Council reports against Meade, and states, that he availed himself of this circumstance with a view to surprize the equity of the Sovereign, to the very great injury of strict justice, of the interests of the Bankrupt House and its Creditors; and afterwards gave it as their Opinion (Dictamen) that His Majesty ought not, in opposition to the Laws, to agree to the Petition of Meade, who should deliver up the aforesaid Deposite, in like manner and in the same specie as he had received it, or give full, clear, and sufficient security to the satisfaction of the Tribunal of Commerce of Cadiz; and in default thereof, to be removed to a Public Prison, to prevent all evasion of the Sentence against him.
His Majesty thereupon assented to the Opinion (Dictamen) of the Council, to which Meade is to conform.
&c. Mr. Erving.
(4.)-Mr. Erving to Don Pedro Cevallos. SIR,
Madrid, 16th September, 1816. On the 13th instant, I received your Excellency's Note of 10th instant, in reply to mine of 27th August, respecting the Case of R. W. Meade, a Citizen of The United States, now detained in a Felon's