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No. 1. A paragraph connected with the same subject, in a letter to Mr. King, is also extracted and annexed, No. 2. In these extracts you will see the ideas entertained by the Executive, and the general considerations which, it is presumed, will have most tendency to is dsuade the parties from adhering to their object. As soon as you shall have prepared the way by the necessary inquiries at Paris, it will be proper for you to break the subject to the French Government, and to make the use of these considerations most likely to give them their full weight. You will probably find it advantageous to press, in a particular manner, the anxiety of the United States to maintain harmony and confidence with the French Republic, the danger to which these will be exposed by collisions, more or less inseparable from a neighborhood under such circumstances, and the security which France ought to feel that it can not be the interest of this country to favor any voluntary or compulsive transfer of the possessions in question from Spain to France.
Among other topics to be employed on the occasion, you may, perhaps, find it eligible to remark on the frequent recurrence of war between France and Great Britain, the danger to which the Western settlements of the United States would be subject, of being embroiled by military expeditions between Canada and Louisiana, the inquietudes which would be excited in the Southern States, whose numerous slaves have been taught to regard the French as the patrons of their cause, and the tendency of a French neighborhood, on this and other accounts, to inspire jealousies and apprehensions which may turn the thoughts of our citizens toward a closer connection with her rival, and possibly produce a crisis in which a very valuable part of her dominions would be exposed to the joint operation of a naval and territorial power. Suggestions of these kinds must be managed with much delicacy, or rather the expediency of hazarding them at all, as well as the manner of doing it, must be left to your own information and discretion.
Should it be found that the cession from Spain to France has irrevocably taken place, or certainly will take place, sound policy will require in that state of things, that nothing be said or done which will unnecessarily irritate our future neighbors, or check the liberality which they may be disposed to exercise in relation to the trade and navigation through the mouth of the Mississippi; everything being equally avoided at the same time, which may compromit the rights of the United States beyond those stipulated in the treaty between them and Spain. It will be proper, on the contrary, to patronize the interests of our Western fellow-citizens by cherishing in France every just and liberal disposition toward their commerce. In the next place, it will deserve to be tried whether France can not be induced to make over to the United States the Floridas, if included in the cession to her from Spain, or at least West Florida, through which several of
our rivers (particularly the important river Mobile) empty themselves into the sea. Such a proof on the part of France, of good will toward the United States, would contribute to reconcile the latter to an arrangement in itself much disrelished by them and to strengthen the returning friendship between the two countries; and by affording a fund for indemnifying and soothing our fellow-citizens who have suffered from her wrongs, would, in that view also, be a measure founded not less in an enlarged policy than in solid justice. The great importance of West Florida to the United States recommends to your patriotism the prudent use of every fair consideration which may favor the attainment of the object.
These ideas suppose that the cession to the United States is to be obtained from the single will of France. But it may happen that the Floridas are so far suspended, on unfinished negotiations between her and Spain, as to admit or require the concurrence of both in gratifying the wishes of the United States. In this state of things, France may yield to the considerations suggested with less of concession and reluctance; and as Spain, too, must feel an interest in the good will of the United States, and is responsible, in justice, for very considerable depredations on their commerce, there may be the greater possibility of her joining in the measure.
Should the Floridas neither have been ceded to France, nor be an acquisition contemplated by her, still it will be material, considering her intimate and influential relations to Spain, to dispose her to favor experiments on the part of the United States, for obtaining from Spain the cession in view. The interest which the latter has in cultivating our friendly dispositions, and the obligation she is under to satisfy our claims for spoliations, for doing which no other mode may be so convenient to her, are motives to which an appeal may be made with no inconsiderable force. Mr. Pinckney is accordingly to avail himself of the most auspicious occasions for sounding and exciting the dispositions of the Spanish Government on this subject; and your efforts at Paris can not be too attentively combined with his at Madrid, as well on the last supposition that Spain alone is to make the cession, as on the former, that France is to have a direct share in the transaction. Mr. Pinckney's instructions will relate to each alternative, and you will be sensible of the advantages of such a correspondence between you as will give the proper concert to your operations.
Mr. King to the Secretary of State.
LONDON, November 20, 1801. Sir: If the annexed copy of the treaty between France and Spain, respecting the establishment of the Prince of Parma in Tuscany, be
genuine, of which I have no reason to doubt, you will perceive the value which these Powers seem to have placed upon Louisiana; the cession whereof to France is confirmed by the seventh article of this treaty.
I am in hopes that I shall be able to obtain and send you a copy of the treaty ceding Louisiana to France: this would enable us to determine whether it includes New Orleans and the Floridas.
There is, doubtless, an understanding between England and France in respect to the expedition now nearly ready to proceed to Saint Domingo, and I think I am not mistaken in the belief, whatever may be the intentions of France in respect to the occupation of Louisiana, that no part of the forces now collecting and which are going to Saint Domingo, will be employed for this purpose.
It is not a little extraordinary that during the whole negotiation between France and England not a word was mentioned on either side respecting Louisiana, though this Government was not ignorant of the views of France in this quarter.
With perfect respect and esteem, I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient and faithful servant,
Mr. Livingston to the Secretary of State.
Paris, December 10, 1801. I found, from a variety of sources here, and some I think I can depend on, the business of Louisiana has been concluded, and it was understood it had been given in exchange for the Spanish port of St. Domingo, to be restored to its old master. Several circumstances concurred to induce me to believe this report was not void of truth. I therefore took the earliest opportunity to touch upon that subject with the Minister, and to hint at the reason of policy (as it respected the French Government as well as ourselves) that made the object interesting to us. He seemed at first inclined to waive the subject; but when he found I pressed more closely he admitted that it had been a subject of conversation, but nothing had been concluded or even resolved on, in that affair.' I left him with a hint that perhaps both France and Spain might find a mutual interest in ceding the Floridas to the United States.
Mr. Livingston to the Secretary of State.
PARIS, December 12, 1801. In addition to what I wrote yesterday, I have only to mention that I am more and more confirmed, notwithstanding what I there say of
the Minister's assurance, that Louisiana is a favorite object, and that they will be unwilling to part with it on the condition I mentioned.
I Speaking of the means of paying their debts to one of their Ministers, yesterday, I hinted at this. His
“None but spendthrifts satisfy their debts by selling their lands;" adding, however, after a short pause, “but it is not ours to give.”
Mr. Livingston to Mr. King, Minister to England.
Paris, December 30, 1801. Among the objects that would most naturally engage my attention on my arrival was the state of the negotiation between France and Spain regarding Louisiana; with a view, if it had not been concluded on, to throw obstacles in the way, so far as it could be advantageously done; or, if it had been effected, to make some such arrangements as would lessen the inconveniences which might result from it to our Western territory. I have, however, reason to think the whole business had been settled before my arrival. I took occasion, on my first private audience of the Minister of Exterior Relations, to press him directly upon the subject, taking the common reports as a foundation for my inquiry. He explicitly denied that anything had been concluded, but admitted that it had been a subject of conversation. I know, however, from a variety of channels, that it is not a mere matter of conversation, but that the exchange has actually been agreed upon; that the armament destined, in the first instance, for Hispaniola, is to proceed to Louisiana, provided Toussaint makes no opposition. General Collot, whom you may have seen in America, was originally intended for Governor of the province, but he is at present out of favor. I think it probable the Minister will justify his concealment to me, by its not having been definitely closed with Spain, as this, though determined between the two Governments, may form an article in the general treaty. His absence (being at Lyons) prevents my coming to something more explicit with him. That Spain has made this cession (which contravenes all her former maxims of policy) can not be doubted, but she is no longer a free agent.
I wish to know from you in what light this is seen by England. It will certainly, in its consequences, be extremely dangerous to her, as it will give an almost unbounded power to her rival.
It puts Spain in a perpetual state of pupilage, since she must always tremble for the safety of her colonies in case of rupture. To avoid this evil, she must grant every commercial and political advantage to France. Her manufactures will find their way, through this channel, into every part of the Spanish territory, to the exclusion of those of
Britain. Our Western territory may be rendered so dependent upon them as to promote their political views, while the interest they have always nurtured with the Indians, and the national character of the peasantry of Canada, may render the possessions of Britain very precarious, to say nothing of the danger which must threaten her islands in case a respectable establishment should be made by France in Louisiana, which will not fail to be the case, as the territory is uncommonly fine, and produces sugar and every article now cultivated in the islands.
I suggest these hints, that they, with many others which may occur to you, may be made use of with the British Ministry to induce them to throw all the obstacles in their power in the way of a final settlement of this business, if it is not already too late. You know, however, the importance of not appearing yourself or permitting me to appear much opposed to it, if you find the thing concluded, since it might be made use of to embroil us with France, and Britain will have sufficient address to endeavor to keep up a mutual jealousy, if possible, between us.
Mr. Livingston to the Secretary of State.
PARIS, December 31, 1801. The business of Louisiana is very disagreeable to Spain, as far as I can learn. If it should be equally so to Britain, perhaps it may meet with some obstacles. It is a very favorite measure here. Marbois told me yesterday it was considered important to have an outlet for their turbulent spirits; yet would not explicitly acknowledge that the business had been concluded.
Mr. Livingston to the Secretary of State.
PARIS, January 13, 1802.
Paris My former letters left you little doubt on the subject of the cession of Louisiana. By the inclosed copy of the late treaty between France, and Spain you will find that it is a transaction of pretty long standing.
The absence of the Minister prevents my applying to him for the former treaty, which he will hardly know how to give me after absolutely denying that any had been formed on the subject. By the secrecy and duplicity practiced relative to this object, it is clear to me that they apprehend some opposition on the part of America to their plans. I have, however, upon all occasions, declared that, as long as France conforms to the existing treaty between us and Spain, the