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Colonel Jewett
Colonel David Jewett is notable figure in the history of the sovereignty disputemarker between Great Britainmarker and Argentinamarker as he commanded the Frigate Heroína that visited the Falkland Islandsmarker ( ) in 1820 and raised the first Argentine flag on the islands.

Jewett was born in New Londonmarker (North Parish), Connecticutmarker (presently the town of Montville, Connecticut), United Statesmarker, on 17 June 1772, and died 26 June 1842. He studied for a career in law and joined the United States Navy, where he commanded the 18 gun sloop-of-war USS Trumbull in the Quasi-War. Following the end of hostilities with France with the Treaty of Mortefontaine, Trumbull was paid off in 1801. Jewett left the Navy but rejoined during the War of 1812 against Britain, when he acted as a privateer.

After that conflict Colonel Jewett offered his services to the newly-independent United Provinces of the River Plate (later Argentina), which accepted his proposal and authorized his corsair activities against the Spanishmarker; he was appointed a Colonel in the Argentine Navy.

He was given command of the frigate Heroína in 1820 and set out on a voyage marked by misfortune, a mutiny, and scurvy. Some 80 of his crew of 200 were either sick or dead by the time he arrived in October at Puerto Soledadmarker (later renamed Puerto Luis by Argentine settlers, it was the one-time Spanish capital of the Falkland Islandsmarker). At anchor there he found some fifty British and U.S. sealing ships.

Captain Jewett chose to rest and recover in the islands seeking assistance from the British explorer James Weddell. Weddell reports only 30 seamen and 40 soldiers out of a crew of 200 fit for duty, and how Jewett slept with pistols over his head following an attempted mutiny. On 6 November 1820, Col Jewett raised the flag of the United Provinces of the River Plate and claimed possession of the islands. Weddell reports the letter he received from Jewett as:

Sir, I have the honor of informing you that I have arrived in this port with a commission from the Supreme Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata to take possession of these islands on behalf of the country to which they belong by Natural Law.
While carrying out this mission I want to do so with all the courtesy and respect all friendly nations; one of the objectives of my mission is to prevent the destruction of resources necessary for all ships passing by and forced to cast anchor here, as well as to help them to obtain the necessary supplies, with minimum expenses and inconvenience.
Since your presence here is not in competition with these purposes and in the belief that a personal meeting will be fruitful for both of us, I invite you to come aboard, where you'll be welcomed to stay as long as you wish; I would also greatly appreciate your extending this invitation to any other British subject found in the vicinity; I am, respectfully yours.
Signed, Jewett, Colonel of the Navy of the United Provinces of South America and commander of the frigate Heroína.


modern authors report this letter as the declaration issued by Jewett. Weddell did not believe that Jewett was acting with the interests of the United Provinces of the River Plate in mind, rather Jewett had merely put into the harbour in order to obtain refreshments for his crew, and that the assumption of possession was chiefly intended for the purpose of securing an exclusive claim to the wreck of the French ship Uranie that had a few months previously foundered at the entrance of Berkeley Soundmarker. Weddell left the islands on 20 November 1820 noting that Jewett had not completed repairs to the Heroína.

Jewett had earlier crossed the line between privateer and pirate after taking the Portuguese ship Carlota as a prize. On leaving the Falkland Islandsmarker he took the American Schooner Rampart as a prize causing a diplomatic incident with the United States of Americamarker. He was relieved of the command of the Heroína in February 1821.

Jewett subsequently entered the services of the Brazilian navy, ironically later in his career he found himself fighting against the forces of the United Provinces of the River Plate. Jewett died in Rio de Janeiromarker in 1842.

References



Bibliography

  • Child, Jack. Geopolitics and Conflict in South America: Quarrels Among Neighbors. New York; Praeger, 1985, pp. 112-115.
  • Gough, Barry. The Falkland Islands/Malvinas: The Contest for Empire in the South Atlantic. London: Athlone Press, 1992, pp. 55-59.
  • Strange, Ian J. The Falkland Islands. London: David & Charles Press, 1983, p. 194.



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