James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert R. Livingston, 10 May 1802

From Robert R. Livingston

No. 11.

Paris 10h May 1802

Dear Sir

I am just informed by a letter from Mr. Curwen at Antwerp that he has brought despatches for me but that he can not come up with them in less than 10 days. This will necessarily suspend any farther application to the government on the subject of debts or Luissania having not been favoured wh. a line from you since last decr. I wish to receive your instructions on these interesting subjects. By a letter of the 5th. of March from Mr. Lear1 I find that the merchants are satisfied with the measures persued at St Domingo so that my application to the government on that subject will of course be considered as premature.2 I however am very much surprized that the business has been so easily acquiesced in, I had hoped that past experience would have kept our merchants from granting new credits and thereby rendering the payment of their old debts more remote & our demands less attended to. In daily expectation of the arrival of these bills I have procured a promise from the minister of marine that they shall be pun[c]tualy paid. But 60 days makes a great change in the state of things here and had our merchants given no farther credits money would have been found for no provissions can be sent from here And the necessity for esstablishing a future credit wd have had great effect on the measures that might be taken with respect to our past contracts.

I was much pleased to find in Mr. Lears letter the instructions you had given him relative to his conduct with respect to France3 it was an unequivocal proof that their suspicions as to our wishes & views with respect to the Islands were unfounded & it had a tendency to exonerate the government when our merchants were suspected of favouring the blacks. For this reason I put it in the hands of the Minister & told the first consul that I had done so, at which he appeared to be pleased.

A few days ago another plot was discovered against the life of the first Consul in which Genl Delmas4 & a Coll. of Dragoons were concerned both have escaped from the officers sent to arrest them some obscure people have been taken up & the thing is as little noticed as possible tho it has given serious uneasiness as discontents prevail in the army particularly in that part of it which composed the army of the Rhine who are dissatisfied with the little notice that is taken of Moreau5—as well as with the number of new officers that have been made from among those that were opposed to the revolution. This among other circumstances will lead this government to pass over this plot without endeavouring to dive too deeply into it.* I pray that I may not be quoted for any matter of intelligence from this country as I find I have been in some of our newspapers. You will find in the papers a state of the finances of france6 I have no doubt that if no accident happens to the first Consul that they will be able very soon to look all demands in the face & that they will ultimately pay them but for the present every claim meets with great difficulty. I am very sorrey that I have had yet no official information of the sums voted by us for carrying the treaty into effect as I would have made it the basis of a new demand. Indeed I know nothing of what passes with you except from my private friends who are often inaccurate. Not a single paper has reachd me from any port but New York tho there are constant arrivals from the eastern ports. As I have but just heard of the conveyance by which this goes I can only send you this hasty letter. After receiving your despatches I shall take such measures as you may direct & send you the result. I pray you to believe that I am Dear Sir With the highest essteem Your Most Obt hum: Servt.

R R Livingston

Authorial notes

[The following note(s) appeared in the margins or otherwise outside the text flow in the original source, and have been moved here for purposes of the digital edition.]

* You will find a vote of the Tribunate to give to the first consul “un gage é[c]latant de la reconnaissance nationale.”7 This has excited various conjectures & by many considered as leading to an immediate change of government it has recd. some check from the discovery of the discontents I have mentioned but is not yet laid asside.

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