James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Monroe, 16 April 1805

From James Monroe

Aranjuez April 16th. 1805.

Dear Sir.

My last to you was of the 4th. by original and duplicate, to the care of Mr. Jarvis at Lisbon.

Since Captain Dultons return1 we have done every thing in our power to conclude the negotiation by a treaty in case one could be obtained, or without it,2 if not to be had. The great delay of the Minister to send us an answer on the Western limits,3 induced us to enquire whether he meant to give one, or that we should understand his silence as terminating the negotiation where it was, informing him that if it was we should immediately comply; that if it was not that we expected that paper without delay; and his propositions for the adjustment of the business.4 He replied that he did not mean that we should draw such an inference from his silence, which was attributable to the nature of the subject and other business, and that he should furnish that paper as soon as he could. As we did not hear from him, we asked an interview a few days afterwards in which an explicit answer could be obtained on no point, but that he thought the negotiation would take at least three months more to terminate it. It was evident that he was endeavouring to gain time only. Shortly after this we wrote him a letter in which we took new ground. We told him that the conduct of his government had essentially terminated the negotiation; that we would proceed no further in the discussion without his propositions, and remain but a short time for them.5 He sent us the next morning of the same date with ours to him (the ninth. inst.) an extract of one from Mister Tallayrand respecting West Florida, in the sentiment of those heretofore communicated, with a proposition that we should abandon all claim to West Florida before he proceeded to the Western limit.6 We referred him to our former notes and repeated our demand of his propositions or my determination to withdraw. This was sent yesterday.7 To day we have sent a note to demand the recall of Yrujo.8 The motive for delaying it to, and making it at, this time, instead of waiting till the negotiation is ended, will be explained hereafter we conclude that the negotiation will fail in which case I think I ought to take leave of the government in the ordinary mode. As soon as it is concluded I shall hasten to Paris, where it is probable as heretofore suggested propositions may be made. We shall from this place write you fully by Captain Dulton, and send copies of all our communications. Yrujo has invariabily assured his government that nothing was to be apprehended from [its firmness and] the failure of the negotiation. That our mercantile spirit would senk under than [sic] trial. If not soon recalled he ought we think to be suspended, since decision is indispensable.

Since writeing the above we have received his letter on the Western limits, an extract of which we send you9 we have no doubt that this pretention is supported by France, or that it has been a job contrived to swindle us out of money.

He complains much of our pushing the business and suspecting his motives. It is manifest that nothing can be done here, and that winding it up with decency I must get off as soon as possible. I very much hope that mister Bowdoin will not have sailed before you get our final report, that you may take your measures on a view of the whole business.

Mr. Preble was invited from this by his friend at Paris, to return there to set out for America on some commercial project of great importance.10 We do not know what it is but suspect it is something connected with Mexican operations such as getting dollars thence for France. I give you the hint that you may, if the fact is so take it into your calculations.

It has been hinted that if the negotiation breaks off that there is danger of all our property being embargoed, in Spain France and Holland, but this I should think could not happen.

I send you a copy of my letter of the 27th. of Nov of wh. I had sent origl. & duple. from Bordeaux, both of which I hear are lost by the vessels being stranded. Mr. Pinckney and myself are always here together & act in perfect harmony.11 I am dear Sir very sincerely yr. friend & servt12

Jas. Monroe

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 8); Tr (ibid.); Tr and Tr of enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 7); letterbook copy (NN: Monroe Papers). RC in a clerk’s hand, except for Monroe’s final paragraph, complimentary close, and signature; docketed by Wagner as received 14 June. Unless otherwise noted, italicized words in the RC were written in code; decoded interlinearly by Wagner; decoded here by the editors (for the code, see 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 4:352 n. 1). Minor errors in encoding and decoding have not been noted. For the enclosures, see nn. 8–9, and 12.

2Trs and letterbook copy read “or otherwise.”

3Trs and letterbook copy have “of Louisiana” added here.

4Trs and letterbook copy read “whole business.”

5This letter, Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 9 Apr. 1805, is printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:658–59. According to the journal of the negotiations enclosed in Monroe to JM, 26 May 1805, the American ministers also sent a copy of that letter to Godoy.

6Cevallos’s 9 Apr. 1805 letter to Pinckney and Monroe (printed ibid., 659) contained a copy of Talleyrand to the Chevalier Angél de Santibáñez, 5 Germinal an XIII (26 Mar. 1805), stating that France had “no pretensions but to the territory situated to the west of the Mississippi and of the river Iberville … and … did not cede any other to the United States” (printed ibid.).

7Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 12 Apr. 1805, printed ibid., 660.

8Monroe enclosed a copy of Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 13 Apr. 1805 (3 pp.; unsigned; docketed by Wagner as received in Monroe’s 16 Apr. dispatch), stating that Jefferson had ordered them to demand Yrujo’s immediate recall because of “the very disrespectful conduct & expressions of this Minister towards the Government of the United States, on different occasions; his attempt to suborn a Citizen of the said States, in violation of an Act of Congress, into a combination with him to attack the measures of their Government; his own direct attacks on the same, by the publication of papers in the Gazettes, which were the no less obnoxious, by being addressed to the Secretary of State himself, in which he attemp<ts> to make an appeal to the people against their own Government; as well as the whole tenor of his conduct for a considerable time past.”

9The enclosure (1 p.; docketed by Wagner as received in Monroe’s 16 Apr. dispatch) is an extract in English of Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 13 Apr. 1805 (letter printed in full in English in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:660–62), stating that the boundary line between Texas and Louisiana should begin “at the Gulf of Mexico, between the rivers Carecut, or Cascasiu and the Armenta or Marmentos, should go to the north, passing between the Adaes and Natchitoches, untill it cuts the red river,” and adding that as the limits on the northern side were “doubtful and little known” they should be referred to the decision of commissioners appointed by Spain and the United States. Cevallos referred to the Calcasieu and Mermentau rivers in present-day Louisiana.

10Monroe probably referred to a plan then afoot to transfer the subsidy due from Spain to France, in gold and silver from Mexico, with the cooperation of intermediary American trading firms. (See Philip G. Walters and Raymond Walters Jr., “The American Career of David Parish,” Journal of Economic History 4 [1944]: 151–54.)

11The preceding two sentences, in Monroe’s hand, are omitted from the Trs and letterbook copy.

12Filed with this letter is a copy of Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 16 Apr. 1805 (2 pp.; in English), acknowledging receipt of their 13 Apr. letter (see n. 8 above), and stating that Yrujo had requested and obtained permission to return to Spain at the season when it could be done with the most safety, that the king believed this would comply with the U.S. government’s wishes without offending Yrujo or injuring his reputation, and that he hoped this mode of procedure would be acceptable to the United States.

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