Notes on a Cabinet Meeting
|July 16.||Present the 4. Secretaries.|
|The cession of Louisiana being to be ratified by the 30. Oct.1 shall Congress be called, or only Senate, & when?|
|answer unanimous Congress on the 17th of October.|
|a Proclamation to issue. a copy to be enclosed to every member in a letter from the Secretary of state, mentioning that the call 3. weeks earlier than they had fixed was rendd. necessary by the treaty, and urging a punctual attendance on the 1st. day.|
|the substance of the treaty to be made public, but not the treaty itself.|
|the Secretary of state to write to our Consul at N. Orleans, communicating the substance of the treaty, and calling his attention to the public property transferred to us,2 & to archives, papers & documents relative to domain and sovereignty of Louisiana and it’s dependencies.|
|if an order should come for immediate possession, direct Govr. Claiborne to go & take possn and act as Governor & Intendant under the Spanish laws, leaving every thing to go on as heretofore, only himself performg functions of Govr. and Intendt. but making no innovation, nor doing a single act which will bear postponing.|
|order down 2. or more companies from Ft. Adams, & get the Spanish troops off as soon as possible.|
|write to Livingston & Monroe, approving their having treated for Louisiana & the price given, and to say we know of no reason to doubt ratification of the whole. mr Gallatin disapproves of this last as committing ourselves or the Congress. all the other points unanimous.—|
|Edward Livingston to be removed from the office of Attorney for the US. in New York for malversation.|
|mr Madison not present at this last determination.|
|Monroe to be instructed to endeavor to purchase both Floridas if he can, West if he cannot East, at the prices before agreed on: but if neither can be procured, then to stipulate a plenary right to use all the rivers rising within our limits & passing through theirs. if he should not be gone to Madrid, leave it discretionary in him to go there, or to London, or to stay at Paris as circumstances shall appear to him to require. we are more indifferent about pressing3 the purchase of the Floridas, because of the money we have to provide for Louisiana, & because we think they cannot fail to fall into our hands.|
MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 131:22677); entirely in TJ’s hand; follows, on same sheet, Notes on a Cabinet Meeting of 7 May.
ratified by the 30. oct.: the tenth and final article of the treaty for the cession of Louisiana to the United States required the exchange of ratifications within six months of the date the negotiators signed the treaty. Officially that was 30 Apr., although the papers were not actually signed on that day (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931-48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:505; Robert R. Livingston to TJ, 2 May).
substance of the treaty to be made public: 16 July was a Saturday. On Monday the 18th, the National Intelligencer printed the proclamation followed by a summary of the terms of the Louisiana cession. TJ drafted or approved the information in the summary, for in letters of the 17th, after the cabinet meeting and before the publication of the newspaper, he assured William C. C. Claiborne and William Dunbar that they could rely on the details they would see in the Intelligencer. The published statement shows evidence of hasty typesetting and perhaps of hurried writing, including the omission of the word “the” before “Executive,” the probable deletion of “conventions” in the phrase “the Treaty and signed on April 30th,” and a mistake in the year of the Convention of 1800: “Dispatches from the American ministers at Paris were received by Executive on Thursday evening. They were brought by Mr. Hughes of Baltimore, as confidential bearer, and contain the Treaty and signed on April 30th which conveys Louisiana to the United States. The extent of the territory ceded is defi[n]ed by a general reference to that in which Louisiana was ceded to France. The terms are, 1st. 11,250,000 dollars to be paid to France in six per cent stock, within three months after the exchange of ratifications and the delivery of possession. 2nd. An assumpsit of the debts due and captures provided for under the Convention of the Sept. 30th 1803, between the United States and the French Republic which are to be liquidated by Commissioners at Paris, and paid at the Treasury of the United States on debts from their Minister at Paris. The assumpsit is not to go beyond 3,750,000 dollars, and it is conjectured, that the amount of the debts and claims will fall short of that sum. 3d. French and Spanish vessels and merchandises directly from their own ports the merchandizes being of the respective countries are to pay, in the ports of the Ceded Territory, for a period of 12 years, no higher duties than are paid by American citizens, and this privilege is not to be extended during that period to any other foreign nation. After that period France and Spain are to enjoy within the ports of the ceded territory the privileges only of the most favored nation. The treaty is to be ratified, and the ratifications exchanged within six month from its date. This circumstance will require the convening of Congress a little earlier than the 1st Monday of November. It is understood that the ratification of the First Consul is on its way to the United States. Immediately after the ratifications of the treaty, possession is to be delivered. The inhabitants of Louisiana are to be incorporated with the U.S. as soon as can consistently with the constitution of the U.S. be effected; and in the mean time are to be secured i[n] their liberties prosperity and religion” (two typesetting errors corrected in brackets). Many newspapers republished the proclamation and summary (corrected to read “the Executive” and “the Treaty, signed on April 30th,” and with the correct date for the Convention of 1800). In most cases the text ended with “possession is to be delivered,” omitting the final sentence as the piece appeared in the Intelligencer. The provisions relating to customs duties were in the seventh and eighth articles of the treaty (Baltimore Republican, 20 July; Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 20 July; New York Daily Advertiser, 21 July; Albany Gazette, 25 July; Northampton, Mass., Republican Spy, 26 July; Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931-48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:502-4).
write to our consul: Madison wrote to Daniel Clark on 20 July, enclosing copies of Articles 2 through 6 of the treaty and probably enclosing a copy of the summary from the National Intelligencer. Madison called Clark’s attention to Article 2, according to which the United States would take possession of public property in Louisiana, including vacant lands, public buildings, and fortifications, as well as the archives of the province. For Madison’s comments to Clark about the third and sixth articles of the treaty, see TJ to Madison, 17 July (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:202-3; Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931-48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:500).
Article 4 of the treaty indicated that a French commissaire would receive the cession of Louisiana from Spanish officials—if that act had not already taken place—and transfer possession to an agent of the United States (same, 501). Madison wrote a brief communication to William C. C. claiborne on 20 July to cover the letter to Clark, which Madison left unsealed so that Claiborne could see its contents. Madison also enclosed a copy of the proclamation calling Congress into session and, probably from the Intelligencer, “a summary of the contents of the Treaty with France.” Not until the end of October, after the Senate had ratified the treaty, did the secretary of state dispatch instructions to Claiborne for taking possession of Louisiana (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:202, 589-92).
order down 2. or more companies: by the terms of the treaty’s fifth article, the United States would take possession of all military posts in Louisiana as soon as both countries had ratified the cession. Fort adams, located on the Mississippi River near the southern border of the United States, “we have been silently making a place d’armes,” TJ reported to Horatio Gates in January 1803. On 18 July, Dearborn issued orders to halt construction of fortifications near the fort and to assemble materials for boats “sufficient for transporting four Companies down the River to New Orleans (say in November).” Dearborn also halted the army’s preparations for a new post at the mouth of the Illinois River. The company of soldiers intended for that post would instead wait at Kaskaskia and be ready to replace the Spanish garrison at Ste. Genevieve (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931-48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:501-2; Dearborn to Decius Wadsworth, 18 July, to commanding officer at Fort Adams, 18 July, and to Amos Stoddard, 19 July, in DNA: RG 107, LSMA; TJ to Henri Peyroux de la Coudrèniere, 3 July; Vol. 39:401, 494n).
Writing to Robert R. Livingston and James monroe jointly on 29 July, Madison conveyed the president’s “entire approbation” of the agreement for the purchase of Louisiana. When the diplomats’ instructions were drawn up, he explained, no one could have anticipated that any territory west of the Mississippi River would be subject to acquisition by the United States. He pointed out that the administration had only received Livingston’s memorandum to the French government proposing a cession of land north of the Arkansas River several weeks after Monroe’s departure for France, that such an arrangement would have left France in control of the west bank of the lower Mississippi, and that the French government had showed no interest in proposals from Livingston. What moved the French to sell any part of Louisiana, Madison declared, was the appearance of “a favorable crisis” through a combination of the revocation of the right of deposit at New Orleans, problems for France in Saint-Domingue, “the distress of the french finances,” and the increase in friction between France and Great Britain. In the expectation that these circumstances would “open the eyes of France to her real interest, and her ears to the monitory truths which were conveyed to her thro’ different channels”—a reference to TJ’s communications with Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours—the administration had sent Monroe to Paris and empowered him and Livingston to negotiate for New Orleans and the Floridas. That the envoys’ “zealous exertions” resulted in the purchase of all of Louisiana was “just ground for mutual and general felicitation.” Although the price of the sale would be considered “highly advantageous” in general, Madison noted that the financial terms “would have been more satisfactory if they had departed less from the plan prescribed” and the appropriated $2,000,000 had been used “to reduce the price or hasten the delivery of possession.” Also, the terms for the payment by the United States of its citizens’ claims were less favorable than what had been anticipated in the diplomats’ instructions. All told, Madison confided, the “unexpected weight of the draught now to be made on the treasury will be sensibly felt by it and may possibly be inconvenient in relation to other important objects.” Madison stated that the president had summoned Congress to meet “in order that the exchange of ratifications may be made within the time limitted,” but he did not declare that there was no reason to doubt ratification by the Senate (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:371; 5:238-9; Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931-48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:518).
monroe to be instructed: understanding from George A. Hughes that Monroe had probably gone to Madrid, Madison in a letter of 29 July authorized the envoy to go ahead with a negotiation in Spain even though the purchase of Louisiana “has more than exhausted the funds” they had expected to use for the acquisition of the Floridas. Soon to be cut off from Spain’s other possessions in North America, Florida would be expensive for the Spanish to maintain and impossible to defend, Madison asserted, and Monroe could prompt the Spanish government to consider the prospect that Britain might seize Florida and offer it to the United States “on some conditions or other.” Although the problem of navigation of the Mississippi River was now solved and it seemed certain that Florida “must drop into our hand” eventually, Madison reported that the president would allow an expenditure of up to $2,250,000 for the acquisition of Florida to bring about “a peaceable and fair completion of a great object.” Both the assumption by the United States of American claims against Spain and indemnification by Spain of damages caused by the revocation of the right of deposit at New Orleans were likely to be issues in the negotiation, Madison advised. If the Spanish would not part with all of Florida, Monroe should try to obtain West Florida, and if that failed he must attempt to get a guarantee of free passage on the rivers that ran from U.S. territory through West Florida to the Gulf of Mexico. Although it would “not be adviseable” to threaten war over access to the rivers, anything “short of that” would be appropriate, Madison indicated (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:240-3).
leave it discretionary in him: Madison sent his letter in duplicate, one copy going to Madrid, the other to Paris with instructions to forward it to London if necessary to catch up with Monroe. Whether a need to be at Paris or London would supersede Monroe’s going to Spain for the Florida negotiation “must be left to your own decision,” Madison wrote (same, 244). For the blank commissions and letters of credence that gave Monroe the choice of becoming U.S. minister to France or Great Britain, see Preparations to Negotiate an Alliance with Great Britain at 18 Apr.
1. TJ first wrote an abbreviation for September before overwriting “Oct.”
2. Remainder of sentence interlined.
3. Word interlined.