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hope you continue so. A letter of the 20th from Mr. Randolph informed me all were well at Edgehill. Mr. Randolph, allured by the immensely profitable culture of cotton, had come to a resolution to go to the Mississippi territory, and there purchase lands and establish all his negroes in that culture. The distance, 1,500 miles, of which 600 are through an uninhabited country, the weakness of that settlement, not more than 800 men, with a population of blacks equal to their own, and surrounded by 8,000 Choctaw warriors, and the soil and commercial position, moreover, not equal to Georgia for the same culture, has at length balanced his determination in favor of Georgia, distant only about 470 or 480 miles from Edgehill. The plan is now arranged as follows: Congress will rise from the 15th to the 20th of April. I shall be at Monticello within a week or ten days after they rise. Mr. Randolph then goes to Georgia to make a purchase of lands, and Martha and the family come back with me and stay till his return, which probably will not be till the latter part of July, when I shall be going on to Monticello for the months of August and September. I cannot help hoping that while your sister is here you will take a run, if it be but for a short time, to come and see us. I have inquired further into the best route for you, and it is certainly by Port Royal, and to cross over from Boyd's Hole, or somewhere near it, to Nangenny. You by this means save 30 miles, and have, the whole of the way, the finest road imaginable, whereas that from Fredericksburg by Dumfries and Alexandria is the worst in the world. Will Mr. Eppes not have curiosity to go up to his plantation in Albemarle the first or second week of May? There we could settle everything, and he will hear more of the Georgia expedition. I inclose you two medals, one for yourself, the other, with my best affections, for Mrs. Eppes. They are taken from Houdon's bust. Present me affectionately to Mr. Eppes, and be assured of my tenderest love. Th. JEFFERSoN.
To MARIA JEFFERson Eppes.
WAshingtoN, May 1, 1802. MY DEAR MARIA :
I received yesterday yours of April 21, bringing me the welcome news that you are all well. I wrote two or three days ago to Mr. Eppes, to inform him that Congress would rise the day after to-morrow; that on the 6th I should set out for Monticello, where I should stay a fortnight, and had some hopes of meeting him there. It is even possible that Congress may rise to-day, which makes me so full of business that I have barely time to repeat to you the above information. I deem this necessary because I directed the other letter to City Point, whereas I find you are at Eppington. I send by Dr. Logan, to the care of Mr. Jefferson, Richmond, some books for you, which I imagine you will find means of getting from thence. Mrs. Eppes's spectacles I will carry with me to Monticello. Dr. Walker was here, but did not call on me, or I should have sent them to her by him. The want of horses shall not prevent your paying us a visit, long or short, while your sister is here, as I can hire a good coachee here to go for you to the Hundred, on any day that shall be agreed on. Your sister will come in the same way. Present my affections to Mr. Eppes, father and son, Mrs. Eppes and family, and accept my con. stant and tenderest love.
Intelligence of the cession of Louisiana and the Floridas by Spain to France reached the United States. The important changes this event caused in our own foreign relations, and the new and decisive line of policy it at once suggested to the President, should be given in his own words. He wrote Mr. Livingston, the American Minister in France, April 18th, 1802:
“The cession of Louisiana and the Floridas by Spain to France, works most sorely on the United States. On this subject the Secretary of State has written to you fully, yet I cannot forbear recurring to it personally, so deep is the impression it makes on my mind. It completely reverses all the political relations of the United States, and will form a new epoch in our political course. Of all nations, of any consideration, France is the one which, hitherto, has offered the fewest points on which we could have any conflict of right, and the most points of a communion of interests. From these causes, we have ever looked to her as our natural friend, as one with which we never could have an occasion of difference. Her growth, therefore, we viewed as our own—her misfortunes ours. There is on the globe one single spot, the possessor of which is our natural and habitual enemy. It is New Orleans, through which the produce of three-eighths of our territory must pass to market, and from its fertility it will ere long yield more than half of our whole produce, and contain more than half of our inhabitants. France, placing herself in that door, assumes to us the attitude of defiance. Spain might have retained it quietly for years. Her pacific dispositions, her feeble state, would induce her to increase our facilities there, so that her possession of the place would be hardly felt by us, and it would not, perhaps, be very long before some circumstance might arise, which might make the cession of it to us the price of something of more worth to her. Not so can it ever be in the hands of France: the impetuosity of her temper, the energy and restlessness of her character, placed in a point of eternal friction with us, and our character, which, though quiet and loving peace and the pursuit of wealth, is high-minded, despising wealth in competition with insult or injury, enterprising and energetic as any nation on earth; these circumstances render it impossible that France and the United States can continue long friends, when they meet in so irritable a position. They, as well as we, must be blind if they do not see this; and we must be very improvident if we do not begin to make arrangements on that hypothesis. The day that France takes possession of New Orleans, fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low-water mark. It seals the union of two nations, who, in conjunction, can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean. From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation. We must turn all our attentions to a maritime force, for which our resources place us on very high ground: and having formed and connected together a power which may render reinforcement of her settlements here impossible to France, make the first cannon which shall be fired in Europe the signal for tearing up any settlement she may have made, and for holding the two continents of America in sequestration for the common purposes of the United British and American nations. This is not a state of things we seek or desire. It is one which this measure, if adopted by France, forces on us, as necessarily as any other cause, by the laws of nature, brings on its necessary effect. It is not from a fear of France that we deprecate this measure proposed by her. For however greater her force is than ours, compared in the abstract, it is nothing in comparison of ours, when to be exerted on our soil. But it is from a sincere love of peace, and a firm persuasion, that bound to France by the interests and the strong sympathies still existing in the minds of our citizens, and holding relative positions which insure their continuance, we are secure of a long course of peace. Whereas, the change of friends, which will be rendered necessary if France changes that position, embarks us necessarily as a belligerent power in the first war of Europe. In that case, France will have held possession of New Orleans during the interval of a peace, long or short, at the end of which it will be wrested from her. Will this short-lived possession have been an equivalent to her for the transfer of such a weight into the scale of her enemy? Will not the amalgamation of a young, thriving nation, continue to that enemy the health and force which are at present so evidently on the decline? And will a few years' possession of New Orleans add equally to the strength of France? She may say she needs Louisiana for the supply of her West Indies. She does not need it in time of peace, and in war she could not depend on them, because they would be so easily intercepted. I should suppose that all these considerations might, in some proper form, be brought into view of the government of France. Though stated by us, it ought not to give offence; because we do not bring them forward as a menace, but as consequences not controllable by us, but inevitable from the course of things. We mention them, not as things which we desire by any means, but as things we deprecate; and we beseech a friend to look forward and to prevent them for our common interests. “If France considers Louisiana, however, as indispensable for her views, she might perhaps be willing to look about for arrangements which might reconcile it to our interests. If anything could do this, it would be the ceding to us the island of New Orleans and the Floridas. This would certainly, in a great degree, remove the causes of jarring and irritation between us, and perhaps for such a length of time as might produce other means of making the measure permanently conciliatory to our interests and friendships. It would, at any rate, relieve us from the necessity of taking immediate measures for countervailing such an operation by arrangements in another quarter. But still we should consider New Orleans and the Floridas as no equivalent for the risk of a quarrel with France, produced by her vicinage. “I have no doubt you have urged these considerations, on every proper occasion, with the government where you are. They are such as must have effect, if you can find means of producing thorough reflection on them by that government. The idea here is, that the troops sent to St. Domingo, were to proceed to Louisiana after finishing their work in that island. If this were the arrangement, it will give you time to return again and again to the charge. For the conquest of St. Domingo will not be a short work. It will take considerable time, and wear down a great number of soldiers. Every eye in the United States is now fixed on the affairs of Louisiana. Perhaps nothing since the Revolutionary War, has produced more uneasy sensations through the body of the nation. Notwithstanding temporary bickerings have taken place with France, she has still a strong hold on the affections of our citizens generally. I have thought it not amiss, by way of supplement to the letters of the Secretary of State, to write you this private one, to impress you with the importance we affix to this transaction.”
This letter was to be sent to M. de Nemours, who was about to proceed from the United States to France. Not calling for it, the President forwarded it to him open; requesting him to possess himself thoroughly of its contents, and then seal it. His object was thus explained :
“I wish you to be possessed of the subject, because you may be able to impress on the government of France the inevitable consequences of their taking possession of Louisiana; and though, as I here mention, the cession of New Orleans and the Floridas to us would be a palliation, yet I believe it would be no more, and that this measure will cost France, and perhaps not very long hence, a war which will annihilate her on the ocean, and place that element under the despotism of two nations, which I am not reconciled to the more because my own would be one of them. Add to this the exclusive appropriation of both continents of America as a consequence. I wish the present order of things to continue, and with a view to this I value highly a state of friendship between France and us. You know too well how sincere I have ever been in these dispositions to doubt them. You know, too, how much I value peace, and how unwillingly I should see any event take place which would render war a necessary resource; and that all our movements should change their character and object. I am thus open with you, because I trust that you will have it in your power to impress on that government considerations, in the scale against which the possession of Louisiana is nothing. In Europe, nothing but Europe is seen, or supposed to have any right in the affairs of nations; but this little event, of France's possessing herself of Louisiana, which is thrown in as nothing, as a mere makeweight in the general settlement of accounts—this speck which now appears as an almost invisible point in the horizon, is the embryo of a tornado which will burst on the countries on both sides of the Atlantic, and involve in its effects their highest destinies. That it may yet be avoided is my sincere prayer; and if you can be the means of informing the wisdom of Bonaparte of all its consequences, you have deserved well of both countries. Peace and abstinence from European interferences are our objects, and so will continue while the present order of things in America remains uninterrupted.”
This was a bold experiment on the ruler of France—the first general and one of the least timid statesmen and diplomatists of modern times | The morality of the President's attitude rests on the basis of necessity—the right to do that which is indispensable to selfpreservation. The practical consequences involved were the same in a single point—so far as Louisiana was concerned—as those contemplated in Hamilton's Miranda scheme.' But the latter made conquest its primary object, and it proposed to fall upon another power because it was weak and defenceless, not because it was dangerously strong. It indeed made some late show of acting for the purpose of guarding against precisely * That is, supposing him to have intended to annex this territory to the United States,
as he sometimes hinted, and not to form it into a separate kingdom as proposed in regard to South America.
what now had taken place, but if we should assume this to be a sincere ground of action, it would only have put our country in the posture of plundering a weak neighbor to prevent a more dangerous neighbor from plundering it—doing a moral wrong in anticipation, for fear some other power might do that moral wrong. This would be a plea on which nations or individuals could always found a right to rob the weaker. But when France actually obtained a title to these contiguous provinces, and proposed to make herself our neighbor, she voluntarily, and by no fault of ours, practically commenced a step which all Americans agreed in considering fraught with the extremest danger to our country. Even then we did not attempt secretly to form confederacies to wrest her property from her. We went to her frankly and told her our views. We went boldly to the then strongest nation on earth, and informed her if she persisted in colonizing at a point which gave her the key of our western possessions, she must prepare for war with us and such friends as we could secure to our alliance. And neither was this made the alternative of her yielding up anything that belonged to her without a rightful equivalent. It was the purpose of our Cabinet, the moment it was found France would negotiate on the basis of parting from her newly acquired possessions, to offer her far more for them than they had cost her. Our Cabinet might or might not judge correctly of our danger. But there was nothing dishonorable or immoral in its conduct. There was nothing which required a covering of false pretences to deceive our people or to draw them into a war on fictitious grounds, when, had they known them, they would have abhorred the true ones. There was nothing in the transaction, or in any of its connections, which would require them to be forgotten or disavowed by chief actors within that brief period in which ordinary memories preserve transactions of very secondary importance. We are not prepared to deny, however, that the President's letter to Livingston showed high diplomatic skill—that it made the most of the circumstances—that it was a shrewd and singu
* We do not, however, find this thrown forward originally, and as a prime motive, between the principal and confidential actors. It was afterwards introduced as an ercuse to members of Congress when preparations for executing the scheme were asked from that body.