James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Robert R. Livingston, 10 November 1802

From Robert R. Livingston

Paris 10th Novr 1802.

Dear Sir

France has1 cut the knot. The difficulties relative to Parma and Placentia that stopped the expedition to Louisiana have ended by their taking possession of the first.2 As you see by the enclosed paper, orders are given for the immediate embarkation of troops (two demi brigades) for Louisiana they will sail in about twenty days from Holland. The government here will give no answer to my notes on the subject. They will say nothing on that of their limit or of our right under the Spanish treaty. Clerk3 has been presented to General Victoire4 as a merchant from Louisiana taking him for a French5 citizen the general he says did not conceal their views which are nothing short of taking exactly what they find convenient. When asked what they meant to do as to our right of entrepôt he spoke of the treaty as wastepaper & the préfet did not know that we had such right tho it had been the subject of many conversations with the minister & of three different notes. The sum voted for this service is two millions & a half as to the rest they expect to compel the people to support the expences of government which will be very heavy as the number & suite of the officers civil & military are great, and they are not empowered to draw so that the first act of the new government will be the oppression of their people and of our commerce. I believe you may add to this early attempt to corrupt our western people & if I may judge by the temper that the general will carry with him an early attempt upon the Natchez which they consider as the rival of New Orleans. If you will look back to some of my letters on this subject6 you will see my opinion of the necessity of strengthening ourselves as soon as possible both by forces and ships at home and by alliance abroad. No prudence will I fear prevent hostilities ere long and perhaps the sooner their plans develop themselves the better. In a letter to the president sent by the way of England I mention a conversation with Joseph Bonaparte from which I derived some small hopes,7 but they are of no avail now that the expedition is determined upon. I had yesterday written you a long letter upon the general state of our affairs but having no one to copy it & anxious to give you this intelligence as early as possible I confine myself to this single object least I should miss the ship which is about to sail from Havre. I am Dr Sir with the most respectful consideration Your Most Obt hum: Servt

Robt R Livingston

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