Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate, 11 January 1803

To the Senate

Gentlemen of the Senate

The Spoliations and irregularities committed on our commerce during the late war by subjects of Spain, or by others deemed within her responsibility, having called for attention, instructions were accordingly given to our minister at Madrid to urge our right to just indemnifications, and to propose a convention for adjusting them. the Spanish government listened to our proposition with an honorable readiness, and agreed to a Convention, which I now submit for your advice and consent. It does not go to the satisfaction of all our claims: but the express reservation of our right to press the validity of the residue has been made the ground of further instructions to our minister, on the subject of an additional article, which it is to be hoped will not be without effect.

Th: Jefferson
Jan. 11. 1803.

RC (DNA: RG 46, EPFR, 7th Cong., 2d sess.); endorsed by clerks. PrC (DLC). Tr (NNC); entirely in TJ’s hand and signed by him, with his signed attestation dated 1 Jan. 1824: “The above is truly copied from the press-copy retained of the original sent to the Senate”; enclosed in TJ to John Hollins, 1 Jan. 1824. Recorded in SJL with notation “Spanish convention.” Enclosures: (1) Convention signed at Madrid, 11 Aug. 1802, by Pedro Cevallos for Spain and Charles Pinckney for the United States, providing for the creation of a five-member commission to examine claims by subjects of Spain or citizens of the United States and determine compensation; the commission to assemble in Madrid and conclude its work within 18 months of its first meeting; the negotiators being unable to agree on a means by which the bilateral commission could arbitrate claims stemming from acts of foreign vessels or agents, each government reserves the right to pursue that category of claims at a later time (printed copy in DNA: RG 46, EPFR, endorsed by a clerk; 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 , 2:492–7). (2) Extracts of letters of the secretary of state to Pinckney, 9 June, 25 Oct. 1801, 5 Feb., 25 Oct. 1802; extracts of memorandum from Pinckney to Cevallos, 24 Mch. 1802; extracts of Pinckney’s dispatches to the secretary of state, 1, 6, 8 July, 15, 30 Aug. 1802; in his letters of 15 and 30 Aug., Pinckney reports that Cevallos refuses to include any provision in the convention for the settlement of claims relating to seizures by privateers operating under French authority or to condemnations by French consuls (Trs and PrCs in same; in various hands; endorsed by Jacob Wagner: “Mr. Pinckney’s correspondence. Note. The enclosures referred to in this correspondence have been only partially received. Such as are material have been selected from those received, and accompany this, in original”; endorsed by a Senate clerk). Message and enclosures printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832-61, 38 vols. description ends , Foreign Relations, 2:475–83.

For the instructions to Charles Pinckney that resulted in the convention with Spain, see Joseph Yznardi, Sr., to TJ, 12 Aug. 1802.

advice and consent: Meriwether Lewis delivered the message and the accompanying papers to the Senate on 11 Jan. On the 18th, a resolution to ratify the convention passed, with 18 votes in favor and only one senator, Gouverneur Morris, voting in opposition. Immediately, however, the Senate approved a motion to reconsider that resolution. Beginning on 25 Jan., the chamber took up the matter several times in executive session. On 3 Mch., the last day of the Seventh Congress, the Senate voted again. The tally on that occasion, 13 in favor and 9 opposed, did not meet the requirement for approval by a two-thirds majority. Once again the senators agreed to reconsider their vote, but they had to postpone further action on the issue. During the Eighth Congress, in January 1804, they finally ratified the convention with the required majority. Spain, however, did not ratify the instrument until 1818 (JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States…to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:435, 436, 437, 440, 441, 442, 443, 445, 447–8; 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 , 2:496–7).

to press the validity of the residue: under instructions from Madison dated 25 Oct., Pinckney was to keep negotiating on the issue of settling claims for seizures that had been made under French authority with Spanish complicity (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–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols. Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols. Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:53–6).

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