James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Charles Pinckney and James Monroe, 2 February 1805

From Charles Pinckney and James Monroe

Aranjuez February 2nd. 1805.


Although the negotiation with which we are charged with the Government of Spain is only in the earliest stage, yet we consider it our duty to communicate to you what has passed on that interesting subject, by the safe opportunity furnished by Mr. Gorham, who leaves Madrid to Morrow for the United States. As soon as the Mission Extraordinary was received by the King, & we were apprized by Mr. Cevallos that he was authorized to treat on the subject of it, by his request, we presented to him on the 28th, ulto, a project of a Convention for the adjustment of its several objects, with a note explanatory of each. To this note we received this Morning his answer; copies of which several papers we have the pleasure to transmit to you.1 We shall pursue this business with the most unremitted attention & industry, & labour by all the means in our power to bring it to a just & honorable conclusion. It is however utterly impossible at present to form any satisfactory opinion of the result. Some circumstances are discouraging; yet we flatter ourselves that the Government of Spain will prove itself to be too enlightened not to estimate with due discernment the strength and disposition of the United States, in case justice should be with-held from them, on so respectful & solemn an appeal, to yield to improper suggestions on that head, or to improper calculations or support, which we trust can never be given her in such a cause. In case a Convention is formed, or the negotiation fails to produce one, we shall hasten to transmit to you the result by a special & confidential Messenger. We are, Sir, with great respect & Esteem Your very obt. Servants.

Chas. Pinckney

Jas. Monroe

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 8); Tr (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 7); letterbook copy (NN: Monroe Papers). RC in a clerk’s hand, signed by Pinckney and Monroe; docketed by Wagner as received 1 May. Minor variations between the copies have not been noted. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1The enclosures are first, a copy of Pinckney and Monroe to Pedro Cevallos, 28 Jan. 1805 (12 pp.; marked “[1.]”; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:636–38), proclaiming U.S. friendship for Spain and describing the issues depending between the two countries as claims for Spanish depredations on U.S. shipping and for losses suffered during the suspension of the deposit at New Orleans from 1802 to 1803; the settlement of the boundaries of Louisiana; U.S. willingness to relieve Spain by the purchase of Florida, the Spanish possession of which could only be a source of irritation to both countries as time went on; and offering to replace the unratified 1802 treaty with a new one; second, a copy of the “Project of a Convention” (10 pp.; marked “[2.]”; printed ibid., 638–39) in which Spain would agree to the settlement of the eastern boundary of Louisiana at the Perdido River; to the cession of the Floridas to the United States; to the establishment of a neutral ground on the western edge of Louisiana between the Colorado and Red rivers and the Rio Grande; to the eventual permanent settlement of the western boundary; to the establishment of a joint board of commissioners authorized to settle all claims depending by U.S. citizens against Spain and Spanish citizens against the United States, both for depredations against shipping and losses attendant on the closure of the deposit; and to the payment by both governments of then unspecified amounts of money to each other’s citizens in settlement of those claims; third, a copy of Cevallos to Pinckney, 7 Jan. 1805 (2 pp.; in Spanish; with Pinckney’s note: “Mr Cevallos letter in answer on the presenting the joint letter of Credence &c.”; docketed by Wagner as received in Pinckney and Monroe’s 2 Feb. 1805 dispatch), in reply to Pinckney’s 2 Jan. 1805 letter to him (not found) announcing the arrival of Monroe at Madrid, their joint commission, and Monroe’s desire to be presented to the king; and fourth, a copy of Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 31 Jan. 1805 (2 pp.; in Spanish, with English translation [4 pp.; marked “(3)”; docketed by Wagner as received in Monroe’s 2 Feb. 1805 dispatch]; translation printed ibid., 639–40), acknowledging receipt of Pinckney and Monroe’s 28 Jan. 1805 letter. Cevallos also expressed Spain’s friendship for the United States, noting that the first issue of claims had been almost entirely settled by the 1802 convention and needed little discussion; rejected completely the claims stemming from the closure of the deposit; divided the matter of the Louisiana boundaries into two questions, that of the eastern and that of the western, noting that the king had named the marqués de Casa Calvo at New Orleans as commissioner for both questions; insisted that all these issues must be arranged separately; and offered to begin with that of the treaty of 1802, which was in an “almost finished State.”

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