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latter could receive from the former as a far weaker and more ephemeral engagement than it would actually have proved. Necessity would have broken it. But he believed the merest pretext would suffice. It was both for his advantage and credit, then, to get rid of it for the best equivalent he could obtain, before another war should break out between France and England. We have stated the object the President had in view in sending Monroe to France, and clothed with a still higher grade of ministerial functions than Livingston. Let the reader carefully examine the following letter and judge:
To GoverNor Mon Roe.
I dropped you a line on the 10th, informing you of a nomination I had made of you to the Senate, and yesterday I inclosed you their approbation, not then having time to write. The agitation of the public mind on occasion of the late suspension of our right of deposit at New Orleans is extreme. In the western country it is natural, and grounded on honest motives. In the seaports it proceeds from a desire for war, which increases the mercantile lottery: in the Federalists, generally, and especially those of Congress, the object is to force us into war if possible, in order to derange our finances, or if this cannot be done, to attach the western country to them, as their best friends, and thus get again into power. Remonstrances, memorials, etc., are now circulating through the whole of the western country, and signed by the body of the people. The measures we have been pursuing, being invisible, do not satisfy their minds. Something sensible, therefore, has become necessary; and indeed our object of purchasing New Orleans and the Floridas is a measure liable to assume so many shapes, that no instructions could be squared to fit them. It was essential, then, to send a minister extraordinary, to be joined with the ordinary one, with discretionary powers; first, however, well impressed with all our views, and therefore qualified to meet and modify to these every form of proposition which could come from the other party. This could be done only in full and frequent oral communications. Having determined on this, there could not be two opinions among the Republicans as to the person. You possessed the unlimited confidence of the Administration and of the western people; and generally of the Republicans everywhere; and were you to refuse to go, no other man can be found who does this. The measure has already silenced the Federalists here. Congress will no longer be agitated by them: and the country will become calm as fast as the information extends over it. All eyes, all hopes are now fixed on you; and were you to decline, the chagrin would be universal, and would shake under your feet the high ground on which you stand with the public. Indeed, I know nothing which would produce such a shock. For on the event of this mission depend the future destines of this Republic. If we cannot, by a purchase of the country, insure to ourselves a course of perpetual peace and friendship with all nations, then as war cannot be distant, it behoves us immediately to be preparing for that course, without, however, hastening it; and it may be necessary (on your failure on the Contiment) to cross the Channel. We shall get entangled in European politics, and figuring more, be much less happy and prosperous. This can only be prevented by a successful issue to your present mission. I am sensible, after the measures you have taken for getting into a different line of business, that it will be a great sacrifice on your part, and presents from the season and other circumstances serious difficulties. But some men are born for the public. Nature, by fitting them for the service of the human race on a broad scale, has stamped them with the evidences of her destination and their duty.
But I am particularly concerned that, in the present case, you have more than one sacrifice to make. To reform the prodigalities of our predecessors is understood to be peculiarly our duty, and to bring the Government to a simple and economical course. They, in order to increase expense, debt, taxation and patronage, tried always how much they could give. The outfit given to ministers resident to enable them to furnish their house, but given by no nation to a temporary minister, who is never expected to take a house or to entertain, but considered on the footing of a voyageur, they gave to their extraordinary missionaries by wholesale. In the beginning of our Administration, among other articles of reformation in expense, it was determined not to give an outfit to ministers extraordinary, and not to incur the expense with any minister of sending a frigate to carry or bring him. The Boston happened to be going to the Mediterranean, and was permitted, therefore, to take up Mr. Livingston and touch in a port of France. A frigate was denied to Charles Pinckney, and has been refused to Mr. King for his return. Mr. Madison's friendship and mine to you being so well known, the public will have eagle eyes to watch if we grant you any indulgences out of the general rule; and on the other hand, the example set in your case will be more cogent on future ones, and produce greater approbation to our conduct. The allowance, therefore, will be in this, and all similar cases, all the expenses of your journey and voyage, taking a ship's cabin to yourself, nine thousand dollars a year from your leaving home till the proceedings of your mission are terminated, and then the quarter's salary for the expenses of your return, as prescribed by law. As to the time of your going, you cannot too much hasten it, as the moment in France is critical. St. Domingo delays their taking possession of Louisiana, and they are in the last distress for money for current purposes. You should arrange your affairs for an absence of a year at least, perhaps for a long one. It will be necessary for you to stay here some days on your way to New York. You will receive here what advance you choose."
Accept assurances of my constant and affectionate attachment.
Mr. Livingston, meanwhile, had continued vigorously to press his applications to the French Government, and he had succeeded in obtaining a direct access for his memorials to Bonaparte, without the intervention of a minister. He procured some concessions on incidental questions, but nothing looking towards a sale of the Floridas, or of another province which it has been assumed that nobody in America had yet
1 The vote in the Senate on confirming Monroe's appointment stood fifteen to twelve —a strict party division.
thought of purchasing ! He again wrote the Secretary of State, March 11 (1803), that Talleyrand “had assured him no sale would be heard of,” and on the 12th as follows:
“With respect to a negotiation for Louisiana, I think nothing will be effected here. I have done everything I can, through the Spanish Ambassador, to obstruct the bargain [between France and Spain] for the Floridas, and I have great hope that it will not be soon concluded.”
The Consul had not yet spoken. Talleyrand had not reached this point in the negotiation. A better offer was hoped for. But Bonaparte would soon be obliged either to speak—to give up a great European measure matured in his mind—or to undertake that measure under circumstances which would strip him of Louisiana, and possibly the French West Indies in addition, without any equivalent. The “first cannon fired in Europe” was about to roar the knell of the Peace of Amiens, and it was for Bonaparte to say whether it should be the “signal” also for “holding the two continents of America in sequestration for the common purposes of the united British and American nations.” There is little doubt that his mind was fully made up which was the preferable alternative long before Mr. Livingston was apprised of the fact.
In Livingston's dispatch of March 12th he mentioned an interview between the Consul and Lord Whitmouth, the English ambassador, in the drawing-rooms of Madame Bonaparte, in which the former assumed that vehemently angry and menacing tone with which he was accustomed to overwhelm the ministers of hostile powers, on the eve of war. The nerves of the stout Englishman did not shiver. None of Bonaparte's rage on this occasion, however, was affected. He had been deeply incensed by the bitter denunciations heaped upon him in the British Parliament, and by a stream of English publications, which represented him in the most odious light.' Causes of dissatisfaction had been constantly accumulating between the nations. England, indeed, wanted war. France was gaining a rapid ascendency on the Continent. The war was, therefore, inevitable. Its approach was announced by Bonaparte on the 13th of March, in an
* Bonaparte took particular offence at Sir Robert Wilson's narrative of the English Expedition to Egypt, dedicated by permission to the Duke of York, and publicly presented by the author to George III. and accepted at a levee.
audience of foreign ministers. It soon broke out on both sides with peculiar vindictiveness, and with mutual outrage." On the 11th of April, Livingston wrote his government that Talleyrand had that day asked him whether the United States “wished to have the whole of Louisiana”—that he “told him no ; that our wishes extended only to New Orleans and the Floridas.” Talleyrand replied, if the French “gave New Orleans, the rest would be of little value, and that he would wish to know what we would give for the whole.” Livingston says:
“I told him it was a subject I had not thought of; but I supposed we should not object to twenty millions, provided our citizens were paid. He told me this was too low an offer; and that he would be glad if I would reflect upon it, and tell him to-morrow. I told him that as Mr. Monroe would be in town in two days, I would delay my further offer until I had the pleasure of introducing him. He added, that he did not speak from authority, but that the idea had struck him. I have reason, however, to think that this resolution was taken in council on Saturday.”
On Friday, Livingston had received Ross's motion in the United States Senate, and given copies to Talleyrand and Marbois. Other news of the same tenor had been for some time reaching the French Government. Monroe arrived on the 12th. On the 13th, Marbois (into whose hands Bonaparte had put the negotiations, on hearing through the English press that the United States had appropriated two millions of dollars to bribe the persons about him), informed Mr. Livingston that Bonaparte said to him on Sunday: “You have charge of the treasury; let them [the Americans] give you one hundred millions of francs, and pay their own claims and take the whole country.” Livingston declined to answer this proposition without consulting Monroe. The ministers, on the 15th, offered fifty millions, including the claims; and then shrewdly “resolved to rest a few days on their oars.” War was swiftly coming; additional funds were more desirable to France than additional enemies 1 On the 30th of April—just eleven days before Lord Whitmouth received his passports and left France—a treaty and two conventions were entered into between the American and French ministers, by which France ceded the entire province of 1 England, before declaring war, seized two hundred French vessels, worth, with
their cargoes, three millions sterling. France retaliated by ordering the arrest of about ten thousand English in France and treating them as prisoners of war.
Louisiana to the United States, for the sum of sixty millions of francs, to be paid to France—twenty millions to be paid to citizens of the United States due from France (for supplies, embargoes, and prizes made at sea)—and in further consideration of certain stipulations in favor of the inhabitants of the ceded territory, and certain commercial privileges secured to France. It was provided that the inhabitants of Louisiana should “be incorporated into the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States; and, in the mean time, they should be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they professed.” It was provided that French or Spanish ships coming directly from their own country, or any of their colonies, and loaded only with the produce or manufactures thereof, should for the space of twelve years be admitted to any port within the ceded territory, in the same manner and on the same terms with American vessels coming from those places. And for that period no other nation was to have a right to the same privileges in the ports of the ceded territory. But this was not to affect the regulations the United States might make concerning the exportation of their own produce and merchandise, or any right they might have to make such regulations. After the expiration of the twelve years, and forever, the ships of France were to be treated upon the footing of the most favored nations in the ports of the ceded territory. The financial arrangements were included in the “Conventions,” as France exhibited a sensitive disinclination to have this territorial transfer formally assume its real character of a sale for money. But a careful inspection of the treaties will show that she had much less reason to blush for her conduct on this occasion than nations commonly have which either cede or acquire territory. Her stipulations in behalf of the existing and future population of Louisiana were most humane and noble, and those which affected her American creditors were conceived in the highest spirit of magnanimity and honor. It is curious to
* It was stipulated that, in this convention, five franc 3333-10000 (or five livres eight sous tournois) should equal the dollar of the United States.