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General Armstrong wrote home from France, advising an immediate occupation of the Floridas. The President thus commented on the recommendation in a letter to the Secretary of State, of September 13th (1808):
“This letter of June 15th, is written after the cession by Carlos to Bonaparte of all his dominions, when he supposed England would at once pounce on the Floridas as a prey, or Bonaparte occupy it as a neighbor. His next will be written after the people of Spain will have annihilated the cession, England become the protector of Florida, and Bonaparte without title or means to plant himself there as our neighbor.”
He wrote the Governor of Louisiana, October 29th :
“The patriots of Spain have no warmer friends than the Administration of the United States, but it is our duty to say nothing and to do nothing for or against either. If they succeed, we shall be well satisfied to see Cuba and Mexico remain in their present dependence; but very unwilling to see them in that of either France or England, politically or commercially. We consider their interests and ours as the same, and that the object of both must be to exclude all European influence from this hemisphere. We wish to avoid the necessity of going to war, till our revenue shall be entirely liberated from debt. Then it will suffice for war, without creating new debt or taxes.”
Here is the germ of what has been termed the “Monroe doctrine.” We shall find it taking its definite and ultimate form among the political maxims of Mr. Jefferson—and that it was proposed by him to Monroe before the latter (some years from the date of which we write) officially proclaimed it a policy of his administration.
The whole tenor of the President's correspondence, during the summer, shows that he was sincerely anxious for a friendly adjustment with England—that “to nobody would a repeal” of the orders in council “be so welcome as to himself.” Mr. Pinkney wrote from London, June 5th, that he was to have a free conference with Mr. Canning in a few days. On the 29th of June, he informed the Government that he had had a long interview with Mr. Canning that day, which had given him hopes of a repeal of the orders in council, if he would authorize an expectation of the repeal of the Embargo; and he also
was permitted to hire a vessel to take him and his property home, the President basing his permission on the ground of national comity, and that the case came fairly within the view of the first section of the embargo law
* Letter to Lieper, May 25th.
thought satisfaction would be made for the attack on the Chesapeake. The results of these expected negotiations will be
On receiving this intelligence, the President directed a suspension of orders which he had authorized for calling out a hundred thousand militia, and he wrote the Secretary of State, “if they repeal their orders, we must repeal our Embargo. If they make satisfaction for the Chesapeake, we must revoke our proclamation, and generalize its operation by a law. If they keep up impressments, we must adhere to nonintercourse, manufacturers' and a navigation act.”
But the President's anticipations of a speedy adjustment, if he entertained any, were very transient. It is not, indeed, probable that he expected anything more favorable than another period of temporizing. His views of the real nature of our relations with both England and France, are disclosed in the following hitherto unpublished letter:
To John W. EPPEs. Mosticello, Sept. 20th, '08. DEAR SIR:
Your letter of the 5th, mentioning that you should be at Eppington till the 14th and then proceed to Cumberland, did not get here till the 15th; it had either been put into the post-office at Richmond after the mail hour, or loitered there a week. I thank you for your attention to the purchase of a horse. I now send for him, and the bearer goes first to Cumberland, and if yourself or the horse should not be there, he will go on as shall be necessary. I will thank you to inform me by him of what blood he is by the dam, if you know it. I shall leave this for Washington on the 28th. We had a marriage in our family on the 17th, between Anne and Mr. Bankhead. All are well here. A letter from Mr. Pinkney expresses a hope that the British Government will repeal their orders on his engagement that we will repeal our embargo. He infers this from a conversation with Canning; but I have little faith in diplomatic inferences, and less in Canning's good faith. Bonaparte being absent from Paris, we can get nothing important from thence. His beginning now for the first time to condemn our vessels augurs nothing friendly. I hope Spain will give him serious employment; for although nothing in the newspapers, except the public documents, is at all to be believed as to details, yet the information from our consuls shows a determined resistance. I am happy to hear of your own confirmed health as well as Francis's, and shall hope to see you both at Washington as usual. I salute you
with affection and respect. Th. JEFFERSoN.
The following letters in regard to Indian affairs explain themselves and the occasions under which they were written;
and they are worthy of the notice of all just and humane persons. The President wrote to Merriwether Lewis, Governor of Louisiana Territory, August 21st (1808):
“I regret that it has been found necessary to come to open rupture with the Osages, but, being so, I approve of the course you have pursued—that of drawing off the friendly part of the nation—withdrawing from the rest the protection of the United States, and permitting the other nations to take their own satisfaction for the wrongs they complain of I have stated to General Dearborn that I think we may go further, and as the principal obstacle to the Indians acting in large bodies is the want of provisions, we might supply that want, and ammunition also, if they need it. With the Sacs and Foxes I hope you will be able to settle amicably, as nothing ought more to be avoided than the embarking ourselves in a system of military coercion on the Indians. If we do this, we shall have general and perpetual war. When a murder has been committed on one of our stragglers, the murderer should be demanded. If not delivered, give time, and still press the demand. We find it difficult, with our regular government, to take and punish a murderer of an Indian. Indeed, I believe we have never been able to do it in a single instance. They have their difficulties also, and require time. In fact, it is a case where indulgence on both sides is just and necessary, to prevent the two nations from being perpetually committed in war, by the acts of the most vagabond and ungovernable of their members. When the refusal to deliver the murderer is permanent, and proceeds from the want of will, and not of ability, we should then interdict all trade and intercourse with them till they give us complete satisfaction. Commerce is the great engine by which we are to coerce them, and not war. I know this will be less effectual on this side the Mississippi, where they can have recourse to the British ; but this will not be a long-lived evil. By this forbearing conduct towards the Mississippian Indians for seven years past, they are become satisfied of our justice and moderation towards them, that we have no desire of injuring them, but, on the contrary, of doing them all the good offices we can, and they are become sincerely attached to us; and this disposition, beginning with the nearest, has spread and is spreading itself to the more remote, as fast as they have opportunities of under. standing our conduct. The Sacs and Foxes, being distant, have not yet come over to us. But they are on the balance. Those on this side the Mississippi, will soon be entirely with us, if we pursue our course steadily. The Osages, Kanzas, the Republican, Great and Wolf Panis, Matas, Poncaras, etc., who are inclined to the Spaniards, have not yet had time to know our dispositions. But if we use forbearance, and open commerce with them, they will come to, and give us time to attach them to us.”
And he again wrote to Governor Lewis, three days later:
“Isham Lewis arrived here last night and tells me he was with you at St. Louis about the second week in July, and consequently, after your letter of the 1st of that month, that four Iowas had been delivered up to you as guilty of the murder which had been charged to the Sacs and Foxes, and that you supposed three of them would be hung. It is this latter matter which induces me to write again.
Appointed Governor by the President in 1807.
“As there was but one white murdered by them, I should be averse to the execution of more than one of them, selecting the most guilty and worst character. Nothing but extreme criminality should induce the execution of a second, and nothing beyond that. Besides their idea that justice allows only man for man, that all beyond that is new aggression, which must be expiated by a new sacrifice of an equivalent number of our people, it is our great object to impress them with a firm persuasion that all our dispositions towards them are fatherly; that if we take man for man, it is not from a thirst for blood or revenge, but as the smallest measure necessary to correct the evil, and that though all concerned are guilty, and have forfeited their lives by our usages, we do not wish to spill their blood as long as there can be a hope of their future good conduct. We may make a merit of restoring the others to their friends and their nation, and furnish a motive for obtaining a sincere attachment. There is the more reason for this moderation, as we know we cannot punish any murder which shall be committed by us on them. Even if the murderer can be taken, our juries have never yet convicted the murderer of an Indian. Should these Indians be convicted, I would wish you to deliver up to their friends at once, those whom you select for pardon, and not to detain them in confinement until a pardon can be actually sent you. That shall be forwarded to you as soon as you shall send me a copy of the judgment on which it shall be founded.”
The circumstances which led to the celebrated “Batture Case” between the President and Edward Livingston, arose, or rather came to a head, during the summer of 1808.'
* The Batture was “a shoal or elevation of the bottom of the river [Mississippi) adjacent to the bank of the suburb St. Mary [in the city of New Orleans], produced by the successive depositions of mud during the annual inundations of the river, and covered with water only during those inundations. At all other times it had been used by the city, immemorially, to furnish earth for raising the streets and courtyards, for mortar, and other necessary purposes, and as a landing or quay for unloading firewood, lumber, and other articles o: by water.” It extended “from one hundred and twenty-two to two hundred and forty-seven yards from the water's edge into the river.” While covered with water (from February to July inclusive), it was the port for all the small craft and boats from the upper country, which, in high water, “ could land or lie nowhere else in the neighborhood of the city.” It was estimated, even then, to be worth half a million of dollars, could it be used for private purposes. But it had been considered the ublic property time out of mind, and had been treated as such during the French and § janish governments in the island. (It will be understood that we follow the general historical version of the facts as they are given by Mr. Jefferson in his paper on the Batture case.) The owner of the adjacent property (J. Gravier) suddenly, in 1805, claimed, and commenced a suit against the city to recover, the whole Batture. On the 14th of December, 1806, he executed a deed of two-thirds of the property to one Peter de la Bigarre, on condition that the latter should pay the expenses of the suit and $50,000 additional, if the land was recovered—the |...] to remain meanwhile unsold and hypo. * the purchase-money till paid; and Bigarre was to receive nothing if the suit failed. The President, when this matter was brought before him, came to the conclusion that this “was a mere speculation on the chance of a lawsuit in which " the parties “were to divide the spoils if successful and to lose nothing if they failed”—“a criminal purchase of a pretence title.” He believed also that Bigarre was the mere instrument, in this matter, of Edward Livingston, who had originated and contrived all the steps in the affair; and this appears to have been the impression of the inhabitants of New Orleans generally. The deed to Bigarre was not executed before witnesses or notaries, nor recorded until the day before the court decided on the title, and when the nature of their decision was known to the parties. The court, two against one, adjudged the title of the whole Batture to be in Gravier. This produced much popular excitement, and it was freely charged that the court had been bribed. When Mr. Livingston appeared as the owner, and commenced certain excavations on the land (August, 1807), his workmen were driven away by the people. This happened several times, until Governor Claiborne restored order by promising to immediately dispatch an agent to |. the subject before the General Government, in which, he claimed, lay the title of the disputed land. A grand-jury, composed of the most respectable characters in the territory, made a presentment, in November, against Livingston's structures on the Batture, in which they said: “Whether it be private or public property, is immaterial, so long as the laws do not permit such use of it as to injure and obstruct the navigation: and we present it as our opinion, that all such measures should be taken as are consistent with law to arrest these operations which are injurious for the present, and, in changing the course of the river, are hazardous in the extreme.” To show the kind and degree of hazard these structures produced, it was brought in proof before the President, that in consequence of them, the Batture was by one single particular tide extended seventy-five or eighty feet further into the river, and raised from two feet to five feet and ten inches generally. The tide already, it was in proof, generally brought the water within eight or ten inches of the top of the levee, or artificial banks of the river, and sometimes within two or three inches of the top, so that “it splashed over with the wind.” None need to be told that the plain on which New Orleans stands is lower than the surface of the river, and that a breach in the levee might therefore cause that city and the adjacent country to be submerged almost instantly under the descending torrents of the largest river in North America. Governor Claiborne repeatedly called the attention of the General Government to the subject, invoking its interposition, and declaring that otherwise he could not be responsible for the peace, or even the safety, of New Orleans. The President submitted the facts to the Attorney-General, and that officer (October 28th, 1807) gave it as his opinion that the title to the disputed land was in the United States. Gravier's title was considered wholly defective on various grounds. The United States had been no party to the suit of Gravier against the city, the court had not undertaken to decide on the right of the United States, and if it had so undertaken, the question was wholly out of its competence or jurisdiction. By the act of Congress of 1807, chap. 91, it had been enacted, “If any person should take possession of any lands ceded to the United States by treaty, he should forfeit all right to them, if any he had; and it should be lawful for the President of the United States to direct the marshal, or the military, to remove him from the lands; providing however, that this removal should not affect his claim until the Commissioners" should have made their reports, and Congress decided thereon.” This law was expressly designed to prevent the seizure and possession (“nine points of the law") of the most valuable tracts in the newly-acquired territory of French Louisiana, by greedy speculators, under all sorts of fictitious and fraudulent claims. And, inasmuch as the new territory (where the title had not been legally vested in individuals) belonged equally to the people of all the States, Congress reserved the ultimate decision of these claims to itself, and did not delegate it to local courts, or any other local tribunals. The President called a Cabinet consultation on this subject, November 27th, 1807, at which the Attorney-General and heads of departments were present. After a long and signally careful scrutiny into the facts, and an investigation into not only the Spanish, French. and United States laws, in regard to riparian possessions, but the analogous statutes and customs of other nations, running back to the most remote antiquity, the Cabinet came unanimously to the conclusion, that the Executive was “authorized and in duty bound, without delay to arrest the aggressions of Mr. Livingston on the public rights, and on the peace and safety of the city of New Orleans, and that orders should be immediately dispatched for that purpose.”f. The Secretary of State, accordingly, wrote Governor Claiborne, November 30th, inclosing instructions for the marshal “to remove immediately, by the civil power, any persons from the Batture Ste. Marie, who had taken possession since the 3d of March, and authorizing the governor, if necessary, to use military force; for which purpose a letter of the same date was written by the Secretary at war to the commanding officer at New Orleans.” . The instructions were delivered to the marshal, January 25th, 1808. At the order of this officer, Livingston's workmen peace: ably retired. They soon returned, however, by direction of their principal, and informed the marshal that they were commanded not to give up the Batture until they should be compelled to do so by an adequate armed force. In the meantime, Livingston “obtained from a single judge of the Superior Court of the Territory, an order, purporting to be an injunction, forbidding the marshal to disturb Edward Livingston in his possession of the Batture, under pain of a contempt of court.” This was not the first nor last instance of a single New Orleans judge (invested by the acts Congress, from which he solely derived authority, with merely common law and no