James Madison Papers

Notes on John Randolph’s Assertion as to Florida, [post–5 April 1806]

Notes on John Randolph’s Assertion as to Florida

[post–5 April 1806]

(In reference to J R’s assertion, as to Florida & the alledged expression [“]that France wanted Money & must have it”)1

It may be due to the ⟨N⟩ation &c. to state that without undertaking to recollect the particular expressions made by me on the occasion, or remarking on the facility of misconceptions incident to transient conversations, my consciousness assures me that on no occasion, nor with any person whatever, have I ever attached to expressions used by me a meaning, that it was within the view of the Ex. or of myself, to apply in whole or in part, monies which might be appropriated by Congress in consequence of the Message of the P. of the   day of  2 or otherwise, but in a bona fide purchase for a valuable consideration in territory; or to purchase any territory from, or pay the price thereof to, any other, than the nation owning the territory & conveying the legal title thereto. I may add that this statement coincides with the fact that no other application was even contemplated by the Executive, or is authorized by its instructions given in the case, as will in due time appear from the official records. I might further add that it corresponds with the established principles & sentiments of the Executive sufficiently manifest in recorded transactions considerably antecedent to the occasion which has suggested this statement.

Ms (DLC). In JM’s hand. Undated; filed at November 1804; conjectural date assigned here based on the fact that John Randolph began his attacks on JM and the administration’s plans to buy Florida for $2 million on 5 Apr. 1806. With JM’s headnote: “(For the public if found expedient) Randolph Jno.”

1JM referred to Randolph’s statement in the House on 5 Apr. 1806 that JM had told him that France was the obstacle to the settlement of differences between the United States and Spain “because France wanted money, and that we must give her money.” Randolph added that it was “a base prostration of the national character, to excite one nation by money to bully another nation out of its property” and that his confidence in JM’s principles at that moment “died, never to live again” (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 9th Cong., 1st sess., 947).

2Left blank in Ms. JM referred to Jefferson’s 6 Dec. 1805 message to Congress. For the message, see Ford, Writings of Thomas Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (10 vols.; New York, 1892–99). description ends , 8:397–402.

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