James Madison Papers

To James Madison from John Armstrong, 18 March 1805

From John Armstrong

Paris 18 March 1805

I enclose copies of two late letters written to Mr. Monroe.1 They will shew the State of the negociation at Madrid on the 1st. of March & the views of this Government in relation to it. The Express being on the point of setting out I can but Add assurances of the very sincere esteem with which I am, Dear Sir, Your most obedt. humble servt.

John Armstrong.

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, France, vol. 10). RC docketed by Wagner, with his note: “N.B. One of the enclosures contains passages of inexplicable cypher.” For enclosures, see n. 1.

1Armstrong enclosed a copy of Armstrong to Monroe, 12 Mar. 1805 (7 pp.; docketed by Wagner as received in Armstrong’s 18 Mar. dispatch, with a penciled note in an unidentified hand: “copy the part in brackets”; first three paragraphs printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 2:636, where it is dated incorrectly “1804”), stating that he had received Monroe’s letters of 15 and 26 Feb. 1805 and had told the French that relations between the United States and Spain seemed to be heading for a rupture; that he had received a lukewarm response that disinclined him from showing them Monroe’s correspondence with Cevallos; that the French had stated they could take no position on indemnity for the suspension of the deposit at New Orleans; that they supported Spain’s position on the question of U.S. claims for depredations committed by French citizens against U.S. property on Spanish territory; and that they had already given an opinion on the boundary of Louisiana and saw “no reason to change it.” When queried, they had replied that in the event of a rupture between the United States and Spain they must support Spain as their note of 30 Frimaire was intended to convey (see Armstrong to JM, 30 Dec. 1804, PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 8:428–30, 431 n. 2). Armstrong commented that their positions on the first and second matters were understandable because they wished to see Spanish funds go nowhere except to France and that he suspected they opposed the United States on the boundary issue because they wished to obtain West Florida for themselves. He added that Great Britain insisted there would be no peace without a change in France “either in physical force, or moral character”; that Russia, agreeing with Great Britain, was negotiating an arrangement that would include Prussia and create a new balance of power for Europe and was occupying the western shore of the Adriatic and the Seven Islands; that Austria was cautious about involvement in the war; that Prussia appeared to be on the brink of a change that made France uneasy; that the Ottoman Empire did not acknowledge Napoleon as emperor; that Sweden and Denmark maintained their previous positions; and that no claim for French actions against the United States in Spanish territory had been made under the Convention of 1803. Armstrong also enclosed a copy of Armstrong to Monroe, 18 Mar. 1805 (3 pp.; partly in code; docketed as received in Armstrong’s 18 Mar. dispatch and interlinearly decoded by him, with penciled notes in an unidentified hand: “copies [ ... ] as before stated” and “to be decyphered—the cypher being here that [of] Genl. A.”; extract printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 2:636), stating that he had again raised these questions with the French, had been rebuffed, and had dropped the issue lest it lead to estrangement between the United States and France, and because he did not wish to give Joseph Bonaparte, a supporter of the United States, a reason to withdraw that support. He said he appended a letter showing Joseph’s view of the matter and he rejected Monroe’s suggestion that the British be informed of the state of the Madrid negotiations, which he believed could be better done by Monroe himself when he returned to London. Armstrong stated that his earlier conjecture that the French wanted Florida for themselves had been strongly denied by a person in the know. The appended letter, undated, unaddressed, and unsigned, is a copy of Joseph Bonaparte to Armstrong (1 p.; in French), stating Joseph’s wish that negotiations between Spain and the United States would end soon in a manner that would lessen the influence of France’s enemies in the United States and strengthen ties between the two countries.

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