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most serviceable to the United States, in respect of the object he had in view; —and, like a good merchant, undervaluing the tract of land he had set his heart upon, he spoke of the Floridas, excepting the portion already granted, as a barren sand. He also was careful to exaggerate the possibility, nay, the certainty of the loss of the alliance of the United States, should France take possession of the only outlet for the produce of the great valley of the west.
In Congress, later in the session, other motions were presented respecting this important business; for the western states began to show symptoms of increasing impatience, under so serious a restriction to their trade as the interdiction of the right of deposit at New Orleans. Mr. Ross of Pennsylvania, in the Senate, proposed, on the 14th of February, that the president should call out some fifty thousand militia, and occupy New Orleans*, and that $5,000,000 should be appropriated to that retaliatory measure. But Mr. Breckenridge of Kentucky, was more successful in his resolutions, raising the numbers of the militia, or of volunteers, to eighty thousand, but not defining the work they should be set to do, nor appropriating any specific sum of money, as the service was contingent merely. The president also asked and obtained an ap
* For tho debate, in the Senate, on "the Mississippi Question," see Benton's "Abridgement of the Debates of Congress," voL ii., pp. 668-92. With regard to the "Yazoo claims," and their various connections, see Tucker's "Life of Jefferson," voL ii., pp. 138-141.
propriation of $2,000,000, under the head of "foreign intercourse," as the commencement of a fund for effecting the purchase of New Orleans and the Floridas.
Napoleon had paid but slight attention to the memorial which Mr. living4ston presented on learning the fact of the retrocession of Louisiana to France. The sudden change, however, in his plans, led him to look favorably upon Livingston's representations; and so, most unexpectedly, he offered to the United States not New Orleans only, but the whole of Louisiana, for the sum of fifty millions of francs.
The Marquis de Marbois was the agent with whom Livingston had to treat, and Talleyrand was superintendent of the negotiation. At first, it seemed to the American ambassador a mere artifice to gain time; and he had no authority to do more than treat for the indemnity which was claimed in behalf of the American citizens, whose vessels had been taken or plundered by the French privateers, before and during the war under John Adams's administration. He ventured, however, lest he should be throwing away a fair opportunity of serving his country, to offer thirty millions of francs, and to sink the claims for indemnity.
Matters were in this condition when Monroe arrived. He left the United States in March, and reached Paris on the 12th of April, where he found Mr. Livingston so persuaded of the want of good faith in the French government, that he hoped to hear from his coadjutor, that possession had been taken of New Orleans. "Only force," Ch. n.j
he said, "can give us New Orleans. We must employ force. Let us first get possession of the country, and negotiate afterwards."
After his first astonishment,—and well might he be astonished, when, asking for a town, a province was offered; when, asking for the freedom of a river, the river itself, and others as mighty, nay, a new sea-coast, was offered;—the negotiations proceeded all the more rapidly, because of this surprise. And beside that, the whole tone of the diplomacy of the statesmen of France was changed when Napoleon made himself the head of the government.
Perceiving that more was to be made of the vast extent of territory which was offered for sale to the United States than Napoleon had thought of asking, Marbois fixed the price at eighty millions of francs,—insisting, with truth, that for the United States, that sum even was very far below the real value of the province. And the American plenipotentiaries finally acquiesced in this demand, on condition that twenty millions out of the eighty should be assigned to the payment of what was due from France to citizens of the United States.
The treaty was concluded on the 30th of April, and the instruments were signed by the three ministers four days afterwards. On that occasion, Mr. Livingston, expressing his satisfaction, said, —" We have lived long, but this is the noblest work of our whole lives. The treaty which we have just signed has not been obtained by art, or dictated by force. Equally advantageous to the 'wo contracting parties, it will change
vast solitudes into flourishing districts. From this day the United
States take their place among the powers of the first rank; the English lose all exclusive influence in the affairs of America."
Napoleon, on his side, was greatly pleased with the bargain. He had at first objected to the reduction of the eighty millions to sixty; but when reminded that he had named fifty, and had not expected to obtain even that, he said,—" True;—the negotiation does not leave me any thing to desire. Sixty millions for an occupation that will not, perhaps, last for a day! I wish France to enjoy this unexpected capital; and that it may be employed in works beneficial to her marine. This accession of territory strengthens forever the power of the United States; and I have given to England," he added, with characteristic sagacity, "a maritime rival that will, sooner or later, humble her pride."
England, under the influence of fears and jealousies, equally strong, on her side, was willing to acquiesce in this transfer of the province of Louisiana; and it is a curious fact in the history of this transaction, that the purchase money "was, in the midst of a raging war, with the knowledge and assent of the British government, furnished by English bankers, to be expended in preparations for the conquest of England by invasion!"
At the very time that hostilities broke out afresh, in May, 1803, between France and Great Britain, Napoleon, presuming that no delay in the ratification of the treaty could take place at Washington, ratified the cession of Louisiana to the United States. He was desirous of leaving no ground for considering the country as a French colony; so that if any attempt were made upon it by Great Britain, it might embroil her with America.
THE TREATY CONCLUDED.
The treaty, which had just been concluded, first of all set forth the claims of France to the territory, by the cession of Spain, and formally renounced them in favor of the United States; but stipulated for the security of the inhabitants in their persons, property, (the fprty thousand slaves being guaranteed as the property of their owners,) and religion; and also for their admission to the full rights of citizens of the Union.* It was further agreed, that the port of New Orleans should, for the next ensuing twelve years, be open to both French ships and Spanish, as freely as to American vessels; and that forever afterwards the former should be put on the looting of the most favored nations. One additional"convention" provided for the payment of the claims of American citizens before referred to; and another arranged the method of payment for the bargain; viz., three months after the delivery of the country to the American authorities, the sixty millions of francs, reckoned to be equal to $11,250,000, were to be paid to France in six per cent. stock of the United States; the interest of which was to be payable in Europe, and the stock itself, after fifteen years, redeemable to the amount of not less
* The population amounted to some 80,000, includnp above 40,000 slaves.
than $3,000,000 yearly, or in three equal annual instalments. The principal, if France thought proper to sell the stock, was to be; disposed of so as to. conduce most to the credit of the American funds.
"Thus closed these negotiations," says Mr. Gayarre, who has related them at large, and with great fulness of detail, "which eventuated in the most important treaty, perhaps, ever signed in the nineteenth century, if it be judged by its consequences to the United States and to the rest of the world. Among those consequences were the extension of the area of freedom, an immense accretion to the physical and moral power of the great American Republic, and the subsequent acquisition of the Floridas, Texas, California, and other portions of the Mexican territory. Other results, of at least equal magnitude, may be clearly foreseen, and it may be permitted to the pride of patriotism, to hope for the realization of Bonaparte's prevision, 'that the day may come when the cession of Louisiana to the United States, shall render the Americans too powerful for the continent of Europe.'"*
We can imagine the strong feelings of gratulation which filled the mind of the president in view of what had just been accomplished by Messrs. Livingston and Monroe. Writing, in July, to General Gates, he says, "I accept with
* Gayarres "History of Louisiana: Spanish Domination" pp. 450-526. See also the Appendix to the same volume, for the treaty and conventions between the United States and the French Republic, pp. 640-49.
nation; and the act of indemnity will confirm and not weaken the Constitution, by more strongly marking out its lines."
It having been arranged that the ratifications should be exchanged within six months of the conclusion of the treaty, the president called Congress together at as early a date as he could, in order that they might take such action as the case required. In his message of the 17th of October, he stated the fact of the purchase and the treaty, as briefly as possible, and informed the Representatives, that as soon
as the instruments transferring the sovereignty of Louisiana to the United States, "had received the constitutional sanction of the Senate, they would, without delay, be communicated to them, for the exercise of their functions, as to those conditions which are within the powers vested by the Constitution in Congress."
The treaty was ratified by the Senate on the 20th of October, by twenty-four votes against seven; and as the French charge d^affaires held in his hand the ratification of his government, they were immediately exchanged, and the treaty was just kept from being voided by the expiration of the time specified. On the 22d it was officially communicated to Congress, that they might provide for its execution; and on the same day, the injunction of secrecy as to the appropriation of the two millions of dollars placed in the hands of the executive, was taken off.
Mr. Jefferson, before the assembling of Congress, sketched for Mr. Lincoln, the attorney-general, such an amend
ment of the Constitution as he thought would be required in consequence of the purchase of Louisiana. At the same time, he very prudently remarked, "The less that is said about any constitutional difficulty, the better: and it will be desirable for Congress to do what is necessary in silenced In September, writing from Monticello to Colonel Nicholas, the president says; "Whatever Congress shall think it necessary to do, should be done with as little debate as possible, and particularly so far as respects the constitutional difficulty." And yet in the same letter he says; "When an instrument admits two constructions, the one safe, the other dangerous, the one precise, the other indefinite, I prefer that which is safe and precise. I had rather ask an enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found necessary, than assume it by a construction which would make our powers boundless. One peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it blank paper by construction." He further adds; "I confess I think it important in the present case, to set an example against broad construction, by appealing for new power to the people. If, however, our friends shall think differently, certainly I shall acquiesce with satisfaction; confiding, that the good sense of our country will correct the evil of construction, when it shall produce ill effects."
The Spanish government, which had very unwillingly yielded Louisiana to France, made loud complaints against its sale to the United States; for in this transfer to the American republic, Spain