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BRITISH POLICY "VIS-À-VIS" SPANISH COLONIES, 1798
On February 15, 1798, King records that Lord Grenville, in the course of a conversation which was based upon a statement by King that Miranda was still there, stated:
If Spain shd. be able to preserve her independence and prevent a Revolution in her Govt., they shd. not enter into the project respecting S. Amer.; but if it was really to be apprehended Spain shd. fall beneath the control of France, then it was their intention to endeavour to prevent France from gaining to their cause the resources of So. America. In this event they shd. immediately open their views and commence a negotiation upon the subject with the U. S.50
Thus nearly twenty-five years before Canning made to Rush the British approaches regarding the Spanish American colonies, British policy in this connection was in the shaping and was communicated to our representative at St. James. Britain had evidently determined that the Spanish American colonies should not fall into the hands of any European power, except perhaps herself, which she seemingly appreciated would be impossible; and, as later events showed, was willing that the Spanish possessions should in part come to us and be free in part. Specifically, these colonies should not go to France because Britain did not intend the French should gain "to their cause the resources of South America."
In a memorandum of conversation dated September 22, 1798, King, reporting a conference with Lord Hawkesbury, stated that he had told Hawkesbury concerning Louisiana that "we disliked the reported transfer to France, shd. use amicable means to prevent it, and shd. in short be unwilling that Louisiana shd. pass into the hands of new proprietors." To Lord Hawkesbury's statement that there "could be no doubt that France had obtained a cession of it," which was followed by a question from King as to what means England would take to prevent the French from taking possession of it and whether England had any views of taking possession of Louisiana, Lord Hawkesbury replied that they had a well-conceived military project for the purpose of preventing the taking of possession of Louisiana by France, but he (Hawkesbury) did not approve of the same. He continued:
With regard to foreign conquests, he had a fixed opinion that they did not want adl. colonies-colonies to a certain extent were if well governed useful, but if multiplied too much and widely dispersed it was only extending the points wh. they wd. be obliged to defend, and weakening the Empire. France, however, seemed at present to entertain different opinions and notwithstanding her encrease of territory near home, was never more solicitous to obtain distant and numerous colonies. At present Eng. had no thoughts of an
The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, vol. III, p. 561.
pedition to the Mississippi and they wd. adopt one at no time but with the view of holding something to give up at Peace.51
Thus our representative in Great Britain, twenty-five years before the announcement of the Monroe Doctrine, and within six months from the time he had received from Lord Grenville a statement of the British position respecting Spanish colonies in South America, declared to Lord Hawkesbury one of the basic elements of the Monroe Doctrine: namely, that we would be unwilling that certain European possessions "should pass into the hands of new proprietors "--one of the basic principles of the Monroe Doctrine.
Returning to our affairs with France, Adams on June 21, 1798, congratulated Congress upon the return of Marshall and Pinckney, and declared: "I will never send another Minister to France without assurances that he will be received, respected, and honored as the representative of a great, free, powerful and independent nation.” 52
The treatment of the American plenipotentiaries by Talleyrand in Paris raised such a storm of protest in the United States that Talleyrand, influenced also by the measures adopted by Congress, informed the American Minister at The Hague that "whatever plenipotentiaries the Government of the United States might send to France, in order to terminate the existing differences between the two countries, he would undoubtedly be received with respect due to the representatives of a free, independent and powerful nation." 53
Accordingly, Chief Justice Ellsworth, William R. Davie (in lieu of Patrick Henry who was first appointed but who was obliged to decline on account of advancing age) and Mr. Murray were appointed as American plenipotentiaries and proceeded to Paris. Negotiations begun in April 1800 culminated in a convention signed on September 30, 1800, which, while avowedly leaving certain matters open for further determination, did reach an agreement upon other matters and, most important of all, so adjusted the difficulties between the two Governments as to preclude actual war.54
On the day following the signature of the convention with the United States, that is, on October 1, 1800, Spain re-ceded to France the Louisiana territory by a treaty which was kept secret and the existence of which was stoutly denied for many months, certainly as late as November 1801.55
51 Ibid., p. 572.
Moore, International Law Digest, vol. v, pp. 604-605.
This cession was a violation of the principle laid down by King and of the Doctrine later announced by Monroe, as that Doctrine has been interpreted.
Meanwhile the Second Coalition against France had been formed and by a series of victories there was retaken from France much that had been obtained as a result of the war with the First Coalition and of Bonaparte's first Italian campaign. Bonaparte returned from Egypt (he landed in France October 9, 1799); on November 10, 1799, he deposed the Directory, and secured for himself the appointment to supreme military command which was soon followed by the promulgation of a new constitution under which General Bonaparte became First Consul of the French Republic. By his brilliant crossing of the Alps and victory at Marengo, and with Moreau's victory at Hohenlinden, Napoleon compelled Austria to give peace by the treaty of Lunéville, 1801, and negotiations brought peace with England through the treaty of Amiens, March 1802.57
ACQUISITION OF LOUISIANA
These arrangements brought to France a period of temporary respite from extensive military operations, during which the United States acquired the territory of Louisiana.58
Certain expressions which occur in the diplomatic correspondence regarding the purchase of Louisiana by the United States show the further development of ideas which were later embodied in the Monroe Doctrine. These expressions are to be found in the diplomatic exchanges between the United States and Great Britain through our Minister King, then at St. James; between Livingston and Monroe, our plenipotentiaries to France, on the one hand and French authorities on the other; between Mr. Pinckney, the American Minister to Spain, and the Spanish Government; and between Mr. Madison, then Secretary of State, and the American diplomatic representatives at London, Paris, and Madrid.
Hawkesbury discusses Louisiana
Writing to the Secretary of State under date of June 1, 1801, Mr. King reported an interview which he had had with Lord Hawkesbury at the latter's request in the following language:
'Hayes, A Political and Social History of Modern Europe, vol. 1, pp. 516-517; Moore, International Law Digest, vol. v, p. 608.
58 The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, vol. 1, pp. 468 469; vol. IV, pp. 1-163; Moore, ibid., vol. 1, pp. 433-438; vol. v, pp. 614-615; American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. II, pp. 506 et seq.; Hayes, ibid., pp. 528 et seq.; Moore, International Arbitrations, vol. v, pp. 4433-4434.
On this occasion among other topics of conversation, his Lordship 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 thro' the Lakes even to Canada; this would be realising 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 reasons why England must be unwilling that this territory should pass under the dominion of France. As I could not mistake his Lordship's object in speaking to me upon this Subject, I had no difficulty nor 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 content that the Floridas remain in the hands of Spain, but should be unwilling to see them transferred except to ourselves.59
King discusses the Floridas
Thus to the general objection which Grenville expressed early in 1798 to the acquisition of Spanish South American colonies by France (see above), Hawkesbury now added a specific objection to the acquisition by France of the territory of Louisiana. While the earlier British objections to the French acquisition of Spanish South America was put upon the augmentation of French resources by those which it might derive from the colonies, the objection which Hawkesbury now voiced to the acquisition by France of Louisiana territory was the potential danger it had to the British colonies in the northern Mississippi Valley and Canada. So it appears that British opinion and policy were definitely shaping; and the course of that policy was laid down to accord with British interests.
On the other hand, King in his comments to Hawkesbury announced as to the Floridas the same doctrine which he had expressed with reference to Louisiana in 1798 when he stated that we should "be unwilling that Louisiana should pass into the hands of new proprietors." (See above.) He now states that:
The purport of what I said was that we are content that the Floridas remain in the hands of Spain but should be unwilling to see them transferred except to ourselves.60
This expression goes indeed a step farther than the announcement about Louisiana which merely contemplated that the status quo should be maintained and did not expressly look to a transfer to our
The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, vol. III, p. 469. 60 Ibid.
selves; King now enlarges his view to include a possible acquisition of the Floridas by ourselves. This was probably due to his knowledge that we had in mind the possible acquisition of Louisiana by the United States.
Madison objects to transfers of territories
In June 1801, eight days after Mr. King had the conversation narrated above with Lord Hawkesbury (and of course before news of that conversation had time to reach Washington), Secretary Madison instructed Charles Pinckney at Madrid in the following language. (It will be recalled that as a matter of fact Spain had re-ceded Louisiana to France on October 1, 1800.)
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, cannot be mistaken. Whilst 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 adherred 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 pre-occupancy 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 towards 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 co-operation