To the Senate and the House of Representatives
To the Senate & House of Representatives
of the United States.
In my communication to you, of the 17th. instant, I informed you that conventions had been entered into, with the government of France, for the cession of Louisiana to the United States. these, with the advice & consent of the Senate, having now been ratified, & my ratification exchanged for that of the First Consul of France in due form, they are communicated to you for consideration in your legislative capacity. you will observe that some important conditions cannot be carried into execution, but with the aid of the legislature; and that time presses a decision on them without delay.
The ulterior provisions also suggested in the same communication, for the occupation & government of the country, will call for early attention. such information, relative to it’s government, as time & distance have permitted me to obtain, will be ready to be laid before you within a few days. but as permanent arrangements for this object may require time & deliberation, it is for your consideration whether you will not forthwith, make such temporary provisions for the preservation, in the mean while, of order & tranquility in the country, as the case may require.
RC (DNA: RG 233, PM, 8th Cong., 1st sess.). PrC (DLC). RC (DNA: RG 46, EPFR, 8th Cong., 1st sess.); endorsed by Senate clerks. Recorded in SJL with notation “Message. Louisiana Conventions.” Enclosures: Louisiana treaty and conventions (printed for the House of Representatives as Message from the President of the United States, Inclosing a Treaty and Conventions, Entered Into and Ratified by the United States of America and the French Republic, Relative to the Cession of Louisiana [Washington, D.C., 1803], Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819, New York, 1958-63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 5361).
my communication to you: Annual Message to Congress, 17 Oct.
consideration in your legislative capacity: Lewis Harvie delivered this message to the House and the Senate on Saturday, 22 Oct. In each chamber, an administration ally was ready to act. The day before, John Breckinridge had given notice in the Senate that he would “bring in a bill to enable the President of the United States to take possession of the territories ceded by France to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the 30th of April last, and for other purposes.” He introduced his bill immediately after TJ’s message arrived on the 22d. In the House, a motion by John Randolph referred the message to the Committee of the Whole, and Randolph then offered a resolution “That provision ought to be made for carrying into effect the Treaty and Conventions.” Breckinridge’s bill had been furnished to him by Gallatin, probably two days earlier. In a brief letter to the senator dated “Thursday evening,” Gallatin wrote: “I send in the shape of a bill, the substance of what the President seems to think necessary in order to authorize him to occupy & temporarily govern Louisiana. Will you consult with your friends & decide whether the authority be necesary, and if so, what form should be given to it” (in DLC: Breckinridge Family Papers, enclosing text of bill also in Gallatin’s hand). With a slight modification of one phrase, changing “necessary & expedient” to simply “necessary,” the bill as the senator introduced it was identical to what Gallatin sent him. The Senate approved it with no changes on 26 Oct. by a vote of 26 to 6. It had two parts. The first section authorized the president to “take possession of and occupy” the territories ceded by the treaty, and to draw on the military forces of the United States and the funds appropriated by the March act for raising a detachment of militia (see Gallatin to TJ, 5 Sep.). The second section would allow the president to name individuals to maintain existing civil, military, and judicial offices “until Congress shall have made provision for the temporary government of the said territories.” The latter provision met resistance in the House—from Randolph. Stating that “he could conceive no cause for giving a latitude, as to time, so extensive,” Randolph offered an amendment to prevent the ad hoc administration of Louisiana from extending beyond the end of the current session of Congress. A second motion by the Virginian resulted in an addition stating that the temporary exercise of powers under the president’s direction would be “for maintaining and protecting the inhabitants of Louisiana in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and religion.” The bill passed the House, 89-23, with Randolph’s amendments on 28 Oct. The Senate accepted the alterations the following day. TJ signed the bill into law on the 31st (JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820-21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:301-4; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:412; Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834-56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , 13:18, 382, 497-515; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:245).
The House assumed the lead role in creating legislation for the execution of the two conventions. The representatives referred those subjects to Randolph’s Committee of Ways and Means on 25 Oct. Randolph, for the committee, presented bills that became “An Act authorizing the creation of a stock, to the amount of eleven millions two hundred and fifty thousand dollars” and “An Act making provision for the payment of claims of citizens of the United States on the government of France.” The House passed the measures on 29 Oct., the Senate agreed to them a few days later, and TJ signed them on 10 Nov. (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:415, 417, 420, 425-7, 438; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820-21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:307, 309; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855-56, 8 vols. description ends , 245-8).
On 25 Oct., the House of Representatives handed the matter of temporary provisions for governing Louisiana to a select committee consisting of Randolph, John Rhea, William Hoge, Gaylord Griswold, and George M. Bedinger. Breckinridge’s bill superseded that initiative, but on 27 Oct. the House named the same members as a select committee on “permanent arrangements for the government of Louisiana” (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:417, 422).