James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Armstrong, 22 December 1805

From John Armstrong

December 22d 1805. Paris


Since the date of my last dispatch1 I have been so much indisposed as to be quite ⟨un⟩;able to write, and it is now with extreme difficulty that I can keep my chair ⟨lo⟩;ng eno’ to make up even a short letter.

The negociation I mentioned between France & Austria, was of short continuance ⟨a⟩;nd to no effect. Francis in his proclamation of the causes of the new rupture, declared ⟨the⟩; terms offered by his brother Napoleon to be such, as could not be accepted with any ⟨reg⟩;ard either to his honor or his Safety—& closed, by putting his trust in God and his ⟨il⟩;lustrious allies, the Kings of England & Prussia & the Emperor of Russia. Of these Alexander is the most forward, if not the most faithful. He fought the battle of Austerlitz, lost one ⟨h⟩;alf of his army, and withdrew with the other, under conditions which approach the ⟨tr⟩;ansaction very nearly to a Surrender. This ill-judged exertion of courage & friendship ⟨h⟩;as been followed by another Armistice, devoted to another negotiation in which Napoleon may be more generous, or Francis more humble. In either event a peace ⟨be⟩;tween these powers will be the consequence & will probably bring after it a general ⟨pa⟩;cification. I may here notice, that it was at the moment, the most unfortunate ⟨f⟩;or the Allies, that the King of the two Sicilies, with his appropriate wisdom, thought proper to declare for them. He has thus brought down upon himself a vengeance that will be satisfied only with his expulsion. An army of 60,000 men are destined to ⟨t⟩;his service, and it is already whispered, that Joseph is to be his successor.2 Nothing ⟨i⟩;s yet known of the terms prescribed to Austria except by inference from the fact, that Wurtemberg & Bavaria are to be enlarged & erected into Kingdoms. This can only be done out of the clippings of Austria. The Voralberg, the Tyrol & ci-devant Venice, will probabl⟨y⟩; form these.3 Another negociation is opened at Berlin, & will no doubt produc⟨e⟩; some arangements, corresponding with these, in the North of Germany. Hanover must be severed from England, & Pomerania from Sweden. To make this dose palatable to Prussia, she is to have the Hanse towns, but not without giving up Nev[illegible] & Vallangin to France. It is expected that Turkey, European & Asiatic, will furnis⟨h⟩; reasons sufficiently solid for renewing a correspondence between France & Russia & the more so, as Constantine, instead of following his brother to Petersburg, has directed his course to Berlin. The effect anticipated from all this most interest⟨ing⟩; to us, is, a law of Nations, which shall adopt the principle of free bottoms ma⟨ke⟩; free goods, & which shall secure the means of enforcing itself.

The intended marriage between Beauharnois & the Princess Augusta, of Bavaria will detain the court at Munich ’till the 1st. of February.4

Mr. Bowdoin Arrived here some time since from London, and means to remai⟨n⟩; where he is, untill he shall hear from you. I furnished him with a copy of Your letter of the 23 May immediately on his arrival. It is somewhat r⟨e⟩;markable that neither Mr. Monro nor Mr. Pinckney had, as I understand, received copies of this letter. Mr. Irving thinks, that the terms of accomodation indicated in it, would not be acceptable to the Span. Governm⟨ent⟩; but supposes that the whole ground of Mr. M’s negociation might be advantageously opened with them. The reasons for either opinion, have not been given.

I have, with respect to the Dutch business, preferred a correspondence directly with Mr. Schimmelpennick, to one with Mr. Brantzan.5 I cannot yet say, how the thing will turn. With very great respect, I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Most Obdt. & very hum. Servt.

John Armstrong

RC (DNA: RG 59, DD, France, vol. 10).

2On 31 Mar. 1806 Napoleon named his older brother Joseph king of Naples in place of Ferdinand IV (Chandler, Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars, 62).

3For the terms of the Treaty of Pressburg, see William Lee to JM, 7 Dec. 1805, n. 1.

4Napoleon’s stepson Eugène de Beauharnais married Princess Augusta of Bavaria on 15 Jan. 1806 (Lefebvre, Napoleon: From 18 Brumaire to Tilsit, [New York, 1969], 250).

5For “the Dutch business,” see JM to Armstrong, 2 Apr. 1805, PJM-SS, 9:200–201.

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