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Enclosure: Thomas Pinckney to Secretary of State, 21 July 1795

Thomas Pinckney to the Secretary of State

Madrid 21st July 1795

My dear Sir,

I arrived at this Metropolis on the 28th of the last month but finding that the Court were still at Aranjuez I proceeded to that place: their residence there however was so short after my arrival, that I could do no more than obtain an introduction to the Duke de la Alcudia. I returned to Madrid on the 2d of July where the Court remained only ten days; of course every thing was in a kind of hurry and confusion unfavourable to business. I however passed through all my ceremonials & have had two conferences with the minister, the result of which is that [number code].1 The Duke de la Alcudia received me with politeness, but at the same time informed me that he could come to no conclusion on the principal points of my mission until he should have received an answer to the propositions which he directed the spanish Chargé des affaires to make to our Government in America in the months of July and August last. I told him in reply that Mr Jaudenes did not conceive himself authorized to make any direct proposition to the President so late as the month of March last, notwithstanding he had received the instructions to which the Duke alluded and therefore that it was in vain to wait for an answer to propositions which without farther instructions could not be brought forward in a mode through which any answer could be given to them.

He seemed to doubt the possibility of M. Jaudenes not having made the proposals he had directed and said he expected an answer thereto daily and would immediately apprize me thereof. I then told him that I had undoubted proof of the matter being as I had stated, having in my possession a letter from M. Jaudenes to you ascertaining the fact, with a copy of which at his request I promised to furnish him. I accordingly inclosed it to him in a note the copy of which is herewith—2 The Court leaving Madrid for San Ildefonso within a few days I have received no answer thereto—I cannot help here lamenting that when you inclosed to Mr Short Mr Jaudenes’s letter containing these proposals (however informally expressed) you had not stated the sense of our Government thereon,3 & that consequently I must either acquiesce in a farther delay or take upon myself to determine what will be the resolution of our Government upon a question of great importance. It is true that I can deduce by inference from the instructions heretofore given and from reasoning upon our situation and circumstances that the United States will not [number code]4 and will not consent to purchase what is their right. But upon a proposition so new it would have been desireable that I could have stated to the spanish Government that I was directly instructed on this head in case any such proposal should be made here. I conceive however that it is of such importance that our controversy with this Government should be determined during the present war (which I think will not be continued another campaign) and it is also so essential to our internal harmony that the President should be made acquainted with the real intentions of this Court during the next session of Congress, that I mean to urge the decision5 as strongly as propriety & attention to my instructions on the subject will admit. Mr Short has already informed you of the line which this Court has determined to pursue to us respecting navigation during the present war and of the reasons which prevent them from entering into written stipulations on the subject.6 This line of conduct while observed, is as favourable to us as we could expect, but as no general orders can be published on the occasion individual cases will occasionally occur in which it will be necessary to apply to this administration for a compliance with their verbal agreement; and to these the duke promises to pay immediate attention: this took place in a joint conference which Mr Short and I had with him, when we thought it prudent to state to him what his engagements were on that subject, to which statement he readily acquiesced (namely that the [number code]7). In addition to the propositions said to have been directed to be made to our Government as above stated I find in conversation with the Duke that another object is started which I presume may be brought forward, still farther to retard the negociation: in our first conversation he said that our negociation seemed so connected with [number code]8 that it would be best to let them proceed together, when I observed that I could not discover the connection he did not then explain himself to my comprehension, but in a joint conference with Mr Short and myself, he expressed a wish [number code].9 He received the answer from Mr Short which he had previously given him with great propriety on former occasions of a nature somewhat similar: which is in substance that a generous and friendly conduct would ensure to both parties all the benefits [number code]10 and that the first object was to establish our rights on just principles, when objects of mutual convenience and accomodation might with propriety be resorted to. Mr Monroe has informed you of the [number code].11 I had no conversation with them on the subject as I conceived the business placed on as good a footing as I could desire and since I have been here I conclude that the [number code]12 the duke having informed me that he had certain information that our [number code].13

The repairs which so long a journey had rendered necessary for my carriage have detained me here a few days beyond the departure of the Court tomorrow however I set out to join them and will inform you of the result of my next conference by the earliest opportunity.

I have received all possible assistance and information from Mr Short since I have been here. He has placed in my hands all the papers of which he was possessed relative to the objects of my mission. I am personally obliged to him for the readiness and friendly good will with which he has rendered me this service, and the United States are I conceive much indebted to him for the assiduity and ability with which he has conducted his negociations at this Court. I do not conceive that it can be necessary for me to remain here until an answer can be obtained to this letter as it must be decided long before that time whether [number code].14 In either case it will be necessary that you should have a decided answer during the ensuing session of Congress. After that answer is obtained my present idea is that my presence here will be unnecessary; at all events however I will observe the directions contained in the cyphered part of your letter of 28 Nov. 1794.15 I would however submit to you the propriety of an explicit instruction to whoever may be here on the subject of [number code]16 if it should not have been done previous to your receipt hereof, as from the circumstances which have already occurred, I do not expect that it will be brought before our Government soon in an official manner, and if the instructions should arrive too late to be of service, they can do no harm. I have the honor to be, Dear Sir, With great respect Your obedient & faithful servant

Thomas Pinckney

Copy, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1The parts of this letter that were left in cipher on the copy enclosed to GW were deciphered on the copy sent to Congress with Pinckney’s treaty on 26 Feb. 1796 (ASP, Foreign Relations, 1:534–35). The deciphered text here is “they are still anxious for further delay, which is to them equivalent to a cession of our rights, so long as we shall acquiesce therein, they being in possession of the object of controversy.”

2Pinckney’s letter to Manuel Godoy y Alvarez de Faria, Duque de Alcudia, dated 10 July, reads: “Agreeably to the promise which I had the honor of making to your Excellency, I herewith send you inclosed the letter written by the C[h]argé des affaires of his C[atholic]k majesty to the Secretary of State of the U.S. of America dated the 28 of March 1795 by which it appears that at that time Mr Jaudenes did not think himself authorized to make propositions to the President of the United States in consequence of the Instructions from your Excellency, altho’ he therein acknowledges the receipt of your Excellency’s letter of the 26th of July, which according to the communication with which you honored Mr Short on the [ ] contained his instructions upon the propositions that the Court of spain thought proper to make to the Executive Power of the United States, and altho’ he has also written to the Secretary of State of the U.S. that your Excellency had notified him by a letter of the 21. november 1794 that you had nothing to add to your informations of the 26. July and to your duplicates of the 6 & 15. August. Therefore I request your Exc[e]llency to be pleased to inform me whether Mr Jaudenes has comprehended his instructions of the 26 July and whether the five articles which he has cited under the denomination of insinuations are such as his Majesty wished to propose to the U.S.” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

A copy of the letter of 28 March from José de Jaudenes to then–secretary of state Edmund Randolph is in DLC: William Short Papers. The five articles mentioned above expressed the king’s willingness to negotiate once a person with full powers was sent to the Spanish court, to adjust borders so far as was compatible with Spain’s Indian treaties, and to grant Mississippi River navigation so far as was compatible with the interests of Spanish subjects, asking in return for a treaty of alliance with a reciprocal guarantee of possessions, as well as a settlement of commercial differences on the basis of reciprocity.

3Randolph enclosed copies of “a short correspondence between Mr Jaudenes and myself of the 25th and 28th ultimo” in his letter to William Short of 4–5 April. He added: “The hints of propositions in Mr Jaudenes’s letter convince me, that the Spanish government feel a want of our guarantee, but their evasions, the depressions of their temper at one moment, and exstacy at another, as events smile or frown, prove, that they are governed by a species of political cowardice, which dares not face their own affairs, which deceives itself by merely postponing the evil day, and which will grant nothing, upon principles of liberal policy” (DLC: William Short Papers).

4The deciphered text is “guaranty the possessions of Spain in America.”

5Before the preceding word, the copyist placed an X to reference the following note: “this word was written with a pencil in the original.”

6Pinckney may be referring to Short’s letter to the secretary of state of 13 March. In that letter Short reported that the Spanish minister’s opposition to a specific declaration of an American right to free navigation of the Mississippi was “not so much to the thing itself, as what he considers the incongruity of coming to a specification at present, whilst … the Kings instructions are now before the President” and while the arrival in Spain of an envoy extraordinary was expected. Short added: “The fact is that this Court wish sincerely for an alliance with the U.S. they hope that the Chargé des Affaires at Philadelphia may have obtained the consent of our Government to this measure as a means of obtaining their limits and the navigation of the Misisipi” or that the envoy might be “authorised to do it in the case of his finding this Country unwilling otherwise to yield” on the Mississippi navigation and on American spoliation claims. The minister feared that a declaration that the king would consent to those would damage Spain’s effort to gain an alliance (DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Spain).

7The deciphered text is “stipulations on this subject in our treaty with France should be observed.”

8The deciphered text is “their accommodation with France.”

9The deciphered text is “to establish a triple alliance between France, Spain, and ourselves.”

10The deciphered text is “of an alliance.”

11The deciphered text is “intentions of the French Government with respect to our negotiation here.”

12The deciphered text is “French commissioners have complied with their instructions.”

13The deciphered text is “minister at Paris opposed an accommodation between Spain and France, unless our rights were previously acknowledged by the former.”

14The deciphered text is “this court means to proceed in their system of delay, or whether they will yield to us our rights.”

15According to the letter-book copy of Randolph’s letter to Pinckney of 28 Nov. 1794, the following text was rendered in cipher: “If we break off in ill humour, we in some degree lose the choice of peace or war. If we shew no symptom of ill temper, we are not debarred from resorting to any expedient, which we approve. It is not impossible too, that in the settlement of peace with France, some opportunity of pressing the Mississippi may be presented, if we should be disappointed now. If any hint of this sort should be capable of improvement, you will doubtless communicate your ideas to our Minister at Paris. Our reputation with the French government is on a strong footing.

“It is of immense importance for us to know, if it can be ascertained, Whether Great Britain is under no engagement to Spain, to support her in the retention of the Mississippi” (DNA: RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions).

16The deciphered text is “alliance and guaranty.”

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