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Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That there be published and bound 6,000 copies of the State papers and all correspondence bearing upon the purchase of the territory of Louisiana by the United States, including the treaty of purchase, 4,000 for the use of the House of Representatives and 2,000 for the use of the Senate.
Passed the House May 10, 1902.
JAN 2 9 1935
STATE PAPERS AND CORRESPONDENCE BEARING UPON THE
PURCHASE OF THE TERRITORY OF LOUISIANA.
Mr. King to the Secretary of State.
LONDON, March 29, 1801. DEAR SIR: In confirmation of the rumors of the day, Carnot's answer to Bailleul, published during the exile of the former, states the project which has been discussed in the Directory, to obtain from Spain a cession of Louisiana and the Floridas. A reference to that performance, copies of which I at the time sent to the Department of State, will show the manner in which it was expected to obtain the consent of Spain, as well as afford a clue to the views of France in seeking this establishment. What was then meditated, has, in all probability, since been executed. The cession of Tuscany to the Infant, Duke of Parma, by the treaty between France and Austria, forms a more compact and valuable compensation to this branch of the House of Spain than was formerly thought of, and adds very great credit to the opinion which, at this time, prevails both at Paris and London, that Spain has in return actually ceded Louisiana and the Floridas to France. There is reason to know that it is the opinion of certain influential persons in France, that nature has marked a line of separation between the people of the United States living upon the two sides of the range of mountains which divides their territory. Without discussing the considerations which are suggested in support of this opinion, or the false consequences, as I wish to believe them, deduced from it, I am apprehensive that this cession is intended to have, and may actually produce, effects injurious to the Union and consequent happiness of the people of the United States. Louisiana and the Floridas may be given to the French emigrants, as England once thought of giving them to the American tories; or, they may constitute the reward of some of the armies which can be spared at the end of the war.
I learn that General Collot, who was a few years ago in America, and a traveler in the western country, and who, for some time, has been in disgrace and confinement in France, has been lately set at liberty; and that he, with a considerable number of disaffected and exiled Englishmen, Scotchmen, and Irishmen, is soon to proceed from France to the United States. Whether their voyage has any relation to the
cession of Louisiana is a matter of mere conjecture; but having heard of it in connection with that project I think proper to mention it to you.
What effect a plain and judicious representation upon this subject, made to the French Government by a minister of talents and entitled to confidence, would be likely to have, is quite beyond any means of judging which I possess; but on this account, as well as others of importance, it is a subject of regret that we have not such a character at Paris at this time.
With perfect respect and esteem, I have the honor to be, dear sir, your obedient and faithful servant,
Mr. King to the Secretary of State.
LONDON, June 1, 1801. On this occasion, among other topics of conversation, His Lordship (Hawkesbury) introduced the subject of Louisiana. He had, from different quarters, received information of its cession to France, and very unreservedly expressed the reluctance with which they should be led to acquiesce in a measure that might be followed by the most important consequences. The acquisition might enable France to extend her influence and perhaps her dominion up the Mississippi; and through the Lakes even to Canada. This would be realizing the plan, to prevent the accomplishment of which, the seven years' war took place; besides, the vicinity of the Floridas to the West Indies, and the facility with which the trade of the latter might be interrupted, and the islands even invaded should the transfer be made, were strong reason why England must be unwilling that the territory should pass under the dominion of France. As I could not mistake his Lordship’s object in speaking to me on the subject, I had no difficulty or reserve in expressing my private sentiments respecting it; taking for my text the observation of Montesquieu, “That it is happy for trading Powers that God has permitted Turks and Spaniards to be in the world, since of all nations they are the most proper to possess a great empire with insignificance.” The purport of what I said was, that we are contented that the Floridas remain in the hands of Spain, but should not be willing to see them transferred except to ourselves.
With perfect respect and esteem, I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient and faithful servant,
Mr. Madison, Secretary of State, to Charles Pinckney.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, June 9, 1801. On different occasions, since the commencement of the French Revolution, opinions and reports have prevailed that some part of the Spanish possessions, including New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi, had been or was to be transferred to France. Of late, information has been received through several channels, making it probable that some arrangement for that purpose has been concerted. Neither the extent of the cession, however, nor the consideration on which it is made, is yet reduced to certainty and precision. The whole subject will deserve and engage your early and vigilant inquiries, and may require a very delicate and circumspect management. What the motives of Spain in this transaction may be, is not so obvious. The policy of France in it, so far, at least, as relates to the United States, can not be mistaken. While she remained on the footing of confidence and affection with the United States, which originated during our Revolution and was strengthened during the early stages of her own, it may be presumed that she adhered to the policy which, in the treaty of 1778, renounced the acquisition of continental territory in North America, and was more disposed to shun the collisions threatened by possessions in that quarter, coterminous with ours, than to pursue objects to which the commanding position at the mouth of the Mississippi might be made subservient. Circumstances are not now the same. Although the two countries are again brought together by stipulations of amity and commerce, the confidence and cordiality which formerly subsisted have had a deep wound from the occurrences
of late years.
Jealousies probably still remain, that the Atlantic States have a partiality for Great Britain, which may, in future, throw their weight into the scale of that rival. It is more than possible, also, that, under the influence of those jealousies, and of the alarms which have at times prevailed, of a projected operation for wresting the mouth of the Mississippi into the hands of Great Britain, she may have concluded a preoccupancy of it by herself to be a necessary safeguard against an event from which that nation would derive the double advantage of strengthening her hold on the United States, and of adding to her commerce a monopoly of the immense and fertile region communicating with the sea through a single outlet. This view of the subject, which suggests the difficulty which may be found in diverting France from the object, points, at the same time, to the means that may most tend to induce a voluntary relinquishment of it. She must infer, from our conduct and our communications, that the Atlantic States are not disposed to enter, nor are in danger of being drawn, into partialities toward Great Britain unjust or injurious to France; that our political and commercial interests afford a sufficient guaranty against such a state of things; that without the cooperation of the United States, Great Britain is not likely to acquire any part of the Spanish possessions on the Mississippi; and that the United States never have favored nor, so long as they are guided by the clearest policy, ever can favor, such a project. She must be led to see again, and with a desire to shun, the danger of collisions between the two Republics from the contact of their territories; and from the conflicts in their regulations of a commerce involving the peculiarities which distinguish that of the Mississippi. Such are the general observations which the President has thought it proper should be communicated to you, that, knowing the light in which the subject is viewed by him, you may be less in danger of presenting it in any other. It is not expected that you will have occasion to make any positive use of them in relation to the councils of the French Republic, the Minister to.which will be charged with that task. In relation to the Spanish Government, although the chief difficulty is not supposed to lie there, the President wishes you to cultivate a favorable disposition by every proper demonstration of the preference given by the United States to the neighborhood of that of every other nation. This may be the more important, as it is not improbable that her councils also may have been affected by rumors of proceedings in this country, connected with schemes of Great Britain for getting possession of New Orleans.
James Madison, Secretary of State, to Robert R. Livingston, Minister to
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, September 28, 1801. You have been already informed of the intention of the President that your departure from France should be hastened, and that you would be furnished with a passage in the Boston frigate, which, after landing you in Bordeaux, is to proceed to the Mediterranean.
From different sources information has been received that, by some transaction concluded or contemplated between France and Spain, the mouth of the Mississippi, with certain portions of adjacent territory, is to pass from the hands of the latter to the former nation. Such a change of our neighbors in that quarter is of too momentous concern not to have engaged the most serious attention of the Executive. It was accordingly made one of the subjects of instruction to Mr. Charles Pinckney, our Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of Spain. You will find an extract of the passage hereto annexed,