Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 17 July 1803

To James Madison

July 17. 1803.

Th:J. to J.M.

It was agreed yesterday

1. that a copy of the proclamation should be inclosed to each member in a letter from the Secy. of state, mentioning that the meeting of Congress had been necessarily anticipated three weeks, because the ratificns of the treaty & conventions for the cession of Louisiana were to be exchanged on the 30th. day of October, & suggesting the importance of a punctual attendance on the 1st. day.

2. that the Secretary of State should write to Messrs. Livingston & Monroe, expressly approving their obtaining Louisiana, and sum agreed to be given for it.

3. that Monroe be instructed to endeavor to purchase both or either Florida at the prices before settled, or at any rate to establish a plenary right to the use of all rivers which rising within the Spanish territories, pass thro’ ours. to observe at the same time that we are not now so anxious for the purchase of the Floridas, because of the large sum we have to provide for Louisiana, & because we believe they will fall into our hands in good time:1 but still if to be obtained easily, we will purchase.

 he should know their pretensions & proofs of the boundaries of Louisiana.

 if not gone to Madrid, he must determine according to circumstances whether to go there, or to London, or to stay at Paris.


The Secretary of state to write to our Consul at N. Orleans communicating the substance of the treaty and calling his attention to the public property transferred to us, to wit public buildings &c archives &c and to give assurances that the rights of the inhabitants will be liberally protected.

RC (DLC: Madison Papers, Rives Collection); final paragraph added as postscript; addressed: “Mr. Madison”; endorsed by Madison.

For what was agreed at the meeting of the heads of departments and actions that Madison took as a result, see Notes on a Cabinet Meeting, 16 July.

know their pretensions & proofs: in his letter of 29 July, Madison asked Monroe to collect “useful information and proofs” in Spain “of the first limits or of the want of fixed limits to western Louisiana” and information about “whether any and how much” of West Florida could be “fairly included in the Territory ceded to us by France.” In his communication to Monroe and Robert R. Livingston jointly on that same day, Madison indicated that TJ wanted to know what understanding of the bounds of Louisiana had “prevailed in the negotiation,” especially with regard to the Perdido River (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:239-40, 243).

rights of the inhabitants: Madison enclosed a copy of the third article of the treaty, the one relating to citizenship, with his letter to Daniel Clark on 20 July and authorized the consul to “give the most ample assurances that all the rights of the Inhabitants, provided for, will be faithfully maintained; and in general that their situation will experience every proper mark not only of justice but of affection & patronage. The provision contained in this Article was particularly enjoined in the instructions to our Ministers,” Madison continued, “and there is every reason to believe that it formed a perfect coincidence in the wishes and purposes of the French Government.” For the provision of the treaty relating to citizenship, see Vol. 40:684-5. In his letter to Clark, Madison also discussed the sixth article of the treaty, which obliged the United States to continue Spain’s treaties with Native American tribes until the United States negotiated new agreements with them. Madison asked Clark to begin collecting information about the relationship between the Indians and the Spanish and about “any meliorations thereof, which the mutual consent of the United States and these Tribes may introduce. As far as there may be opportunities,” Madison suggested, “it will be equally proper to prepare the Indians for the change which is to take place” (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 5:202-3; Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931-48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:501-2).

1Preceding three words interlined.

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