James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Robert R. Livingston, 29 June 1805

From Robert R. Livingston

New York 29th. June 1805.

Dear Sir

I arrived here with my family this Morning, having <left> Nantes the 26th. May. I should proceed to Washington as <soo>n as I had a little recovered the fatigue<s> of my voyage, <did> I not apprehend that at this season1 both the president & <your>self would have left it before I could arrive. I am extrem<ely> <an>xious to have the pleasure of seeing you both, & to give <you an> accomt of my stewardship. As some of the letters I trans<mitted> you were written after I had left Paris, they will contain <fuller> information than any I can bring, having been three <months> from Paris before I sailed.2 I am sorry that your af<fairs> with Spain do not bear the most favourable aspect <bu>t the moment for negotiating with it thro’ the interven<tion> of france was as I intimated3 unfortunately chosen. <The> note written about July or Augt Last to admiral Gravina <as> I mentioned to you at the time, but which I then kept from being delivered, has I believe been transmitted sinc<e> <after> the arrival of Mr. Monroe at Paris, tho dated at the <time> that I informed you of its having been written.4 It was <natu>ral to suppose that when France had many things to <ask> of Spain, & little to fear from us, that she would gratify <her> at our expence if we pressed her to decide between us. <It> was for this reason I thought it most5 prudent after pu<tting> in my note, & the war had broke out with Spain to let <the> matter rest, so far as related to the interference of franc<e> till a more favourable juncture should offer.6 There was <a> moment when this business might I am persuaded have <been> happily settled & East florida obtained at a just7 price. I<t was> when the prince of peace was out of favor at Paris,8 & wh<en> <a>greeably to my request Genl. Bournonville was, as he inform<ed> Mr Pinkney instructed to aid his negotiations <had> the <seat> of it th<en,> or at an earlier period been transferred to <Paris> as I had projected & which might have been easi<l>y <e>ffected the difficulties I now apprehend would have been greatly diminished: I have at different periods recommended the taking possession the state of things, & is so much changed, & we have so far embarked <france> in the <que>stion, that it can not I think be saf[e]ly done at present <u>nless, we are prepared for a war with France as well as Spain. I take the liberty to mention this least any thing <I> should have written during a different state of things <sho>uld have any influence upon the presidents determi<na>tion. I transmit a number of Letters by Mr. Townsend with [ ... ] & shd have sent two books9 from Mr Tracy to the <pr>esident, but they are packed up with mine <&> I can not yet get them on shore. I shall send or <bring> them with me when I go to Washington. Do me <the> favor to inform me when I shall have the plea<sure> of finding you there, & I shall take the earliest <oppo>rtunity, after having vissited the banks of the Hudson to pay my respects to you & the president. I pray y<ou> to present me respectfully to him & to Mrs. Madison <& to> believe me to be with the highest respect & es<teem> Dear Sir Your Most obt Huml sert

Robt R Livingston

RC (DNA: RG 59, DD, France, vol. 9); draft (NHi: Livingston Papers). RC docketed by Wagner. Minor differences between the copies have not been noted.

1Draft reads “from the advanced season of the year that.”

2In place of the preceding sentence, the draft reads “I bring you no fuller information than you will probably find in the enclosd Letters, some of which were send [sic] me after I had left Paris having been detained a fortnight at Nantes.”

3Draft has inserted here “to you in my last official letters.”

4In the draft the previous sentence reads: “The note written to Gravina about July or august last which I kept from being delivered at that time (as I informed you), has I find been since transmitted, & as I have reason to think, tho it may bear that date, not till after the arrival of Mr Monroe.” For Talleyrand’s 30 Aug. 1804 note to Admiral Gravina, see Monroe to JM, 21 Mar. 1805, n. 1. No letter from Livingston mentioning this note has been found.

5Draft has “more.”

6In the draft, the preceding passage reads “prudent to let the business rest after I had put in my note with out urging the thing so far as to commit france till a more favorable juncture offered.”

7Draft reads “very moderate.”

8Draft reads “it was when the prince of peace had incurred the displeasure of france & wished to be reconciled on any terms.”

9In the draft, the beginning of this sentence reads only “I have a book or two.”

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