James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert R. Livingston, 28 May 1802

From Robert R. Livingston

No. 15

Paris 28h. May 1802

Dear Sir,

Since my last I have acquired information which I can depend on relative to the intentions of this government with respect to Louissiania. Bernadotte is as I told you to command C1 to be 2d in command Addet is to be prefet—but the expedition is delayed till about sepr. on account (as Tallerand expressed himself to Bernadotte) of some difficulty which he did not explain—but which I have no doubt has arisen from the different apprehentions of France & Spain relative to the meaning of the term Louissiania which have been understood by France to include the florida’s but probably by Spain to have been confined to the strict meaning of the term. This explains why I could never get an answer to my questions relative to the extent of the cessions—And upon which the french Government had probably no doubt till we started it.

Believing, if this conjecture as to the cause of the delay of the expedition was right, that no time shd be lost in throwing obstructions in the way of its conclusion I wrote the note of which the enclosed is [a] copy2 with the Double purpose of alarming Spain & furnishing her with arguments arising from the good faith they owed us against giving their cessions the construction France would wish. I considered this as the more important because I believe that every negotiation for this object will be carryed on here. I shall however give the earliest & fullest information I can on this subject to Mr. Pinkney3 who will enforce at Madrid the arguments I may use here to excite the alarm of the court of Spain.

I wait impatiently some farther instructions from you those I have in some sort prohibiting such measures as may shew any dissatisfaction on the subject of which however I doubt the policy the subject is so interesting as induce us to risk som[e]thing to defeat it. If I do not hear from you soon I shall present a pointed memorial to this government statg fairly & candidly our objection to their taking possession of the Floridas & demanding security for the rights we had originaly & by treaty with Spain. I am Dear Sir with the most respectful attatchmt Your &c.

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