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Dr. Watkins' Report.
In conformity to your Letter of the 9th Instant whereby I was directed to proceed with all convenient dispatch to the different parishes or districts above the City &c, for the purpose of making suitable appointments of Commandants for the same, I have the Honour of making to you the following report!2
In the Parish of St. Charles or the District of the first German Coast, which begins about seven leagues above Town, I found that the former Commandant Mr. St. Amand had already received his Commission, and instructions directly from your Excellency, and was actually engaged in the different functions of his office. He had no hesitation in taking the oath of allegiance to the United States, or that of his office, and having communicated to him the substance of your Excellency's instructions, and received assurances on his part of the good disposition of the inhabitants of his district, towards the Government of the United States, I proceeded without delay to the Parish of St. John the Baptist, or the District of the second German coast.
Here I presented to Mr. Manuel Andry the former commandant your letter re-appointing him to the same Office. He expressed great satisfaction in this proof of the confidence reposed in him by your Excellency, rejoiced at the annexation of these Countries to the Dominion of the United States, and begged me to assure you that he entered with pleasure into the necessary obligations of his Office, and that nothing on his part should be wanting to promote the happiness and prosperity of the Country, by a cheerful Co-operation in all the measures
1 Claiborne's confidential agent.
2 An intelligent, interesting report of opinion and political and economic conditions in the districts.
which the wisdom of its rulers might think proper to adopt. At the termination of this District, begins the Acadian Coast and the Parish of St. James of which Mr. Cantrell was, and has by reappointment been continued Commandant. He has Exercised the duties of this office for 28 years, to the general satisfaction of all the inhabitants. He is a wealthy and very respectable Planter, a Man of good sense and great uprightness of conduct, possessing popular manners, and the Universal esteem and confidence of his district. He does not however speak english, and requested me to offer this as an apology for his not having answered your Letter of the 14th Ultimo. This however he proposes shortly to do, and begs you in the mean time to be assured of his best exertions in the support of the American Government, and in the discharge of the duties of his civil administration.
The next Parish in ascending the river is that of La fourche de Chatimachur. This District was formerly governed by Mr. Croquer, an officer attached to the Spanish Service, who in consequence of this circumstance was obliged though very reluctantly, to decline accepting a re-appointment. In choosing his successor as well as in the other appointments, I had occasion to make, I kept constantly in view the instructions of your Excellency. After having made myself personally acquainted with many of the principal characters of the Parish, and consulted a great number of the inhabitants, I commissioned in the place of Mr. Croquer, Mr. Joseph L'Andry, a wealthy farmer and the person who had always acted as Commandant Per interim during the absence of Mr. Croquer.
This Gentleman altho born in Acadia, has resided many years in Louisiana, speaks the English and French Languages, professes strong attachment to the Government of the United States, and possesses the unlimited confidence and affections of all the inhabitants of the
District in which he lives. He begged me to assure you of his zeal, and best exertions in discharging the duties of his office, and of his desire to prepare his fellow Citizens for the reception of the inestimable blessings they were entitled to expect, from the wise and just operations of the American Government in this Country. The District of Valenzulla dans la fourche is composed of all that Country situated upon each side of the Fork from its going out of the Mississippi to its entrance into the Gulph. It is in length upwards of fifty leagues, forty five of which are inhabited. The former Commandant of this District Mr. Villaneuva anxious to remain in office, and uniting from the best information I could collect, an attachment to the American Government to the esteem and confidence of the inhabitants, was agreeably to your instructions re-appointed. It is proper that I should here stop in my narrative to communicate to you, a piece of information as coming from Mr. Villaneuva highly important to the Political as well as the Social and Moral interests of the Government and inhabitants of the Country. Some few weeks ago, during the absence of Mr. Villaneuva, there passed up the Fork from Sea, a Vessel having on Board twelve Negroes said to have been Brigands from the Island of St. Domingo. These Negroes in their passage up, were frequently on shore, and in the French Language made use of many insulting and menacing expressions to the inhabitants. Among other things they Spoke of eating human flesh, and in general, demonstrated great Savageness of Character, boasting of what they had been and done in the horrors of St. Domingo. It would appear that this Vessel was either Commanded by, or the Slaves on Board under the immediate directions of, one, Mercier a lame Man, who keeps a Billiard Table at Mr. Languedocks upon the Levee in this Town. The Vessel with the whole of the Slaves on Board passed from the Fork into the
Mississippi, and pursued their route up the River, since which time no accounts have been heard of them. Mr. Villaneuva proposes in a short time to transmit to your Excellency all the information he may be able to collect upon this Subject, but in the mean time he relies upon me for giving you this early notice, and expresses his wish that your Excellency would take such measures relative thereto as the importance of the case may require.
The District next to that of La fourche and extending up one side of the Mississippi as high as Plaquemines and on the other side of the Bayou Iberville was formerly commanded by Mr. Rivas an officer in the Spanish Service. In the place of this Gentlemen, I have appointed Mr. Nicholas Rousseau, who has resided upwards of twenty years in the Country, speaks the English and French Languages, and possesses with the Esteem of his Neighbors, the reputation of an Honest intelligent Man. In justice to Mr. Rivas I cannot help observing, that he expressed in the strongest terms his regret at not being able to continue in Office, and begged me to assure you that the American Government might calculate upon his cordial support, and as it was his intention shortly to withdraw from the Spanish Service, he would then, and even in the meantime as far as it was in his power, and consistent with his situation, offer his services to the Government and do every thing to assist his successor which might be required of him.
From Plaquemines to Taupe Riviere a distance of about 12 Leagues was formerly attached to the Government of Baton Rouge, and was consequently on my arrival found destitute of any Commandant. In this place, which I have called the District opposite to Baton Rouge, I have appointed Mr. William Wikoff a Gentleman well known to your Excellency, a native of the United States
and remarkable for his attachment to the Government. In this District, it may be necessary for your Excellency to take some particular arrangements, relative to the Archives and Public Documents from the circumstances of their all being lodged in the possession of the Spanish Governor of Baton Rouge.
Galvis-Town is situated about ten Leagues from Baton Rouge upon the River Ibberville, a little below its junction with the Amite. There are but a few inhabitants in this place, and notwithstanding its beautiful and advantageous situation there are but about 28 families in the whole of that part of the District which remains to the United States, and not above 25 or 30 Slaves. There is here a small Fort, with a few pieces of bad Cannon and 12 Spanish Soldiers, which are Commanded by Don Thomas Esteven, an Officer in the Service of his Catholic Majesty. This gentleman has solicited his retreat, and Sincerely laments that its not having arrived, prevents him from immediately becoming an American Citizen, and consequently from continuing in the Command he has hitherto occupied. Should this event take place during your administration permit me Sir to recommend this Worthy Man to your notice and protection. The universal affections of a whole District, is the recompense of his past Services, and his integrity and goodness of character, will secure him your favour and patronage. In place of Mr. Esteven I was compelled for the want of a greater variety of Character, to appoint Mr. Alexander Morie Civil Commandant of this District. He is by birth a Scotchman, has passed twenty years in the Country, is a Man of good Sense and incorruptible honesty, but unfortunately a great Drunkard. He speaks the two languages, and I believe him serious when he declares his attachment to the American principles and Government. As it may be necessary to Send a Military Commandant to this Post, your Excellency can take such measures as