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The communication concluded with observations which assume a peculiar significance when the later discussions between Canning and Rush are brought in mind. Lord Hawkesbury said:

In making this communication to you for the information of the Govern ment of the United States, I think it right to acquaint you that his Majesty will be anxious to learn their sentiments on every part of this subject, and the line of policy which they will be induced to adopt in the event of this arrangement being carried into effect."

American proposal to acquire New Orleans and the Floridas

On May 11, 1802, Madison, again instructing Charles Pinckney. stated that "the latest information from Paris has confirmed the fact that it [Louisiana] was ceded by a treaty prior to that of March, 1801," but he felt "there still are chances of obtaining a reversal of the transaction." He spoke of the "repugnance of the United States " to the cession. Later in his despatch he added:

Should the cession actually fail from this, or any other cause, and Spain retain New Orleans and the Floridas, I repeat to you the wish of the President, that every effort and address be employed to obtain the arrangement by which the territory on the east side of the Mississippi, including New Orleans, may be ceded to the United States, and the Mississippi made a common boundary, with a common use of its navigation for them and Spain. I am charged by the President now to add, that you may not only receive and transmit a proposition of guaranty of her territory beyond the Mississippi, as a condition of her ceding to the United States the territory, including New Orleans, on this side, but, in case it be necessary, may make the proposition yourself, in the forms required by our constitution. You will infer from this enlargement of your authority, how much importance is attached to the object in question, as securing a precious acquisition to the United States, as well as a natural and quiet boundary with Spain;


Mr. Livingston, reporting to the Secretary of State under date of August 10, 1802, transmitted a mémoire which he had delivered to certain officials, including Talleyrand. The mémoire was devoted to the question whether or not it would be advantageous to France to take possession of Louisiana, first, from the standpoint of its effects upon the commerce and manufactures of France, and, secondly, from the standpoint of its effects upon her positive or relative strength. In the course of this mémoire he declared that he was aware of the delicacy of touching upon the political evils that may result to France and to the United States from the former possessing itself of New Orleans and the Floridas," but stated that as a citizen of one of the States involved and warmly attached to the other, he trusted


The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, vol. IV, p. 123.

"American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. II, p. 517.

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that the motives for his observations would be appreciated. He then continued:

I have observed that France and the United States are so happily placed with respect to each other, as to have no point of collision. They can mutually aid, without having the smallest temptation to injure, each other. And, as there is no nation at present on the globe whose consumption offers such encouragement to foreign manufactures as that of the United States; as this consumption is rapidly increasing; as they have the means of establishing a navy whenever their situation shall render it necessary, how strong, how powerful, should the inducement be that compels France to lose these advantages, and convert a natural and warm ally into a jealous and suspicious neighbor, and perhaps, in the progress of events, into an open enemy!

Experience has evinced that no two nations can border upon each other, without having the spirit of rivalry excited: and if this is true with respect to neighboring nations, it will be found to apply more forcibly to the colony of a great and powerful nation placed at a distance from home, and a sovereign adjoining such nation."

Here again is brought out the dangers incident to mere neighborhood.

Mr. Madison, Secretary of State, instructing Mr. Charles Pinckney, our Minister to Spain, under date of November 27, 1802, closed his instructions with this paragraph:

It has long been manifest that, whilst the injuries to the United States, so frequently occurring, from the colonial officers scattered over our hemisphere, and in our neighborhood, can only be repaired by a resort to their respective sovereigns in Europe, that it will be impossible to guard against most serious inconveniences. The instance before us strikes with peculiar force, and pre sents an occasion on which you may advantageously suggest to the Spanish Government the expediency of placing in their minister on the spot, an authority to control or correct the mischievous proceedings of their colonial officers towards our citizens; without which any one of fifteen or twenty individuals, not always among either the wisest or best of men, may, at any time, threaten the good understanding of the two countries. The distance between the United States and the old continent, and the mortifying delays of explanations and negotiations across the Atlantic on emergencies in our neighborhood, render such a provision indispensable, and it cannot be long before all the Governments of Europe, having American colonies, must see the policy of making it."

It will be observed that Mr. Madison is here enlarging the point of view with reference to the difficulties and embarrassments resulting from colonial possessions on this side of the ocean, and speaks now of such colonial possessions as are scattered over our hemisphere, and in our neighborhood." "7

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Possible British occupation of New Orleans

Mr. King, reporting to the Secretary of State under date of April 2, 1803, incorporated the following:

In a late conversation with Mr. Addington, he observed to me, if the war happen, it would perhaps be one of their first attempts to occupy New Orleans. I interrupted him by saying, I hoped the measure would be well weighed before it should be attempted; that true it was we could not see with indifference that Country in the hands of France, but it was equally true that it would be contrary to our views, and with much concern that we should see it in the possession of England. We had no objection to Spain continuing to possess it; they were quiet neighbours, and we looked forward without impatience to events which, in the ordinary course of things, must, at no distant day, annex this Country to the United States. Mr. Addington desired me to be assured, that England would not accept the Country, were all agreed to give it up to her; that were she to occupy it, it would not be to keep it, but to prevent another power from obtaining it, and in his opinion, that this end would be best effected by its belonging to the United States. I expressed my acquiescence in the last part of his remark, but observed that if the country should be occupied by England, it would be suspected to be in concert with the United States, and might involve us in misunderstandings with another Power with which we desired to live in Peace; he said if you can obtain it well, but if not, we ought to prevent its going into the hands of France, tho' you may be assured, continued Mr. Addington, that nothing shall be done injurious to the interest of the United States. Here the conversation ended.78

The view here expressed also marks an advance over the expressions theretofore used because here Mr. King made it clear to Great Britain that not only should we look with apprehension upon the occupation of New Orleans by France, but also by England. Mr. King writing to Mr. Livingston a few days later (April 12, 1803) with reference to the then pending war between Great Britain and France, stated:

Should the war take place, as I still think it must if the first Consul persist in respect to Malta, it is to be hoped you will have authority to assume a principle in regard to Louisiana which at all times, but more easily in time of war between England and France, we can and ought to assert and maintain. To the country West of the Mississippi we have no claim; from the country East of it, in virtue of the irrevocable renunciation of France and the duty we owe to ourselves and posterity, we have the Right to exclude her forever; and it is only by adhering to this principle, that we shall be able to preserve the Union and protect the Independence of our Country."

Marbois' suggestion to sell the whole of Louisiana

On April 13, 1803, Mr. Livingston reported to Mr. Madison the status of negotiations with reference to the purchase of Louisiana.

78 The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, vol. IV, p. 241.


Ibid., p. 246; for report by Mr. Livingston regarding a colloquy between Napoleon and Lord Whitworth regarding Malta, see American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. II, p. 547.

Up to this point apparently the United States had contemplated merely purchasing that part of the Louisiana territory which lay east of the Mississippi River, but on the day of the despatch Marbois had reported Napoleon's suggestion that the United States "take the whole country." After some discussion Livingston asked "in case of a purchase, whether they would stipulate that France would never possess the Floridas, and that she would aid us to procure them, and relinquish all right that she might have to them. He told me that she would go thus far."

Napoleon had suggested 100,000,000 francs as the purchase price. Livingston had told Marbois that this was impossible. However, in his despatch to Mr. Madison he made this rather curious suggestion: As to the quantum, I have yet made up no opinion. The field open to us is infinitely larger than our instructions contemplated; the revenue increasing, and the land more than adequate to sink the capital, should we even go the sum proposed by Marbois; nay, I persuade myself, that the whole sum may be raised by the sale of the territory west of the Mississippi, with the right of sovereignty, to some Power in Europe, whose vicinity we should not fear. I speak now without reflection, and without having seen Mr. Monroe.80

Treaty of purchase

On April 30, 1803, a treaty was signed between the United States and France ceding Louisiana to the United States. A second treaty, signed on the same day, provided for the payment to France of the sum of 60,000,000 francs and a third treaty, signed the same day, provided for the assumption by the United States of "debts due by France to citizens of the United States in an amount not to exceed 20,000,000 francs." 81

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On May 12, 1803, King reports a conversation with Mr. Addington-knowledge of the cession of Louisiana had not yet reached King-as follows:

I then spoke to him respecting the probable cession of Louisiana by France to the U. S. He declared his hope that it had been done. I alluded to the provisional expedition to occupy N. Orleans. He said that would be wholly out of view if we acquired it, and on this point was very explicit that England would be satisfied if the U. S. obtained Louisiana.82

British approval of purchase

On May 15, 1803, King wrote to Lord Hawkesbury advising him of the consummation of the treaty of April 30, 1803,

by which the complete sovereignty of the town and territory of New Orleans, as well as of all Louisiana, as the same was heretofore possessed by Spain, has been acquired by the United States of America.



American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. 11, p. 554.

Malloy, Treaties, Conventions, etc., vol. 1, pp. 508-514.

82 The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, vol. iv, p. 255.

In drawing up this treaty, care has been taken so to frame the same as not to infringe any right of Great Britain in the navigation of the river Mississippi.

I flatter myself that this communication will be received with satisfaction, and regarded as a new proof of the disposition of the United States to observe towards His Majesty a spirit of amity and confidence, important at all times, and more especially so in present circumstances, to the harmony and mutual prosperity of the two countries."


To this letter Lord Hawkesbury replied under date of May 19, 1803, as follows:

Having laid before the King your letter of the 15th of this month, in which you inform me that a treaty was signed at Paris on the 10th of last month by the plenipotentiaries of America and France, by which the complete Sovereignty of the Town & Territory of New Orleans, as well as of all Louisiana has been acquired by the U. S., I have received his Majesty's commands to express to you the pleasure with which his Majesty has received this intelligence, and to add that his Majesty regards the care which has been taken so to frame this Treaty as not to infringe any right of Gr. Britain in the Navigation of the Mississippi as the most satisfactory evidence of the disposition on the part of the Government of the U. S., correspondent to that which his Majesty entertains to promote and improve the harmony and good understanding which so happily subsists between the two countries and which are so conducive to their mutual benefit.

I have it also in command to assure you, Sir, that the sentiments which you have expressed in making this communication are considered by his Majesty's Government as the additional proof of the cordiality and confidence which you have uniformly manifested in the whole course of your public mission, and which have so justly entitled you to the Esteem and Regard of his Majesty's Government.84

On October 17, 1803, Jefferson sent to Congress (which had been convened in regular session) a message in which the following language is used:

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Separated by a wide ocean from the nations of Europe and from the political interests which entangle them together, with productions and wants which render our commerce and friendship useful to them and theirs to us, it can not be the interest of any to assail us, nor ours to disturb them. We should be most unwise, indeed, were we to cast away the singular blessings of the position in which nature has placed us, the opportunity she has endowed us with of pursuing, at a distance from foreign contentions, the paths of industry, peace, and happiness, of cultivating general friendship, and of bringing collisions of interest to the umpirage of reason rather than of force.85


Up to this point in our history there had been developed and announced the following principles that lie at the base of the Monroe Doctrine:

83 The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, vol. rv, p. 262.

84 Ibid., p. 263.

85 Messages and Papers of the Presidents (1917 ed.), vol. 1, pp. 349–350.

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