James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Robert R. Livingston, 20 December 1802

From Robert R. Livingston

Paris 20. Decr. 1802

Dear sir

As this letter will go to Rouen without being certain of finding the ship there by which I hope to send it, I must defer writing fully, and particularly to you, this being principally intended to cover the enclosed letter from Mr. Obrien,1 which it is of consequence that you should have as soon as possible.

I have recd. your favor by Mde. Brogniard,2 and had as you will find anticipated your wishes in finding another channel to the First Consul the consequence of which is that I have at this moment some very strong memorials under his eye and some projects that appear to be well received. But the subject is too delicate to treat here, when a safe conveyance offers, I shall write to you more at large. The minister has changed his conduct very much for the better either because of our late difference3 or because he suspects that I have another passage to the First Consul. France has not yet got Florida, but there is not much doubt that her negociations on this subject will succeed, as Parma is a favorite object with Spain. Pray be explicit in the amount of what I may offer and consider the value of the country in the views of its importance to peace the expensive establishments it will save and its intrinsic worth from the price of the land and actual revenue. I do not however mean that you should infer from this, that my prospects of attaining the object are great, because I find as Mr. Talleyrand told me yesterday the First Consul entete4 with this project. But I have made so many Converts, that I would wish, in case favorable circumstances should arise, to know how to act. If left to myself I may go beyond the mark. General politics you will collect from the papers I send. I have mentioned that the storm in England will blow over for the present And the peace will not be lasting. The armament for Louisiana has not yet sailed—the civil officers are yet here, If I am rightly informed by the Minister from whom I had it yesterday.

The necessity of my sending this immediately prevents my adding any thing but my assurances of the highest Esteem. I have the honor to be Sir Your most Obt. Hble Sert

Robt R Livingston

23d Decr. This day had a long conversation with both the minister of foreign affairs, & of the marine on the subject of Louisiana—the Armament not yet sailed—Florida not yet ceded—more hesitation & doubt on this subject than I have yet observed. I have in a private memorial now5 under the consul’s eye touched a string that has alarmed them.6 I can not now explain. The minister knows nothing of this. Set on foot a negotiation for fixing our bounds with Britain but by no means conclude til you hear from me that all hope here is lost. It is an important card in my hands and must for the present at least be some what under my controul. Do not absolutely despair tho you may have no great reason to hope should New Orleans be possessed by a small force.

This letter goes by the way of England by Mr. Merry7 who has not allowed me time to give it you in any better dress I must wait for some more direct conveyance to write fully to you.

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