From James Monroe
Aranjuez May 16th. 1805
A favorable opportunity offering by Mr. Sarmiento who leaves this to day for Cadiz and sails immediately on his arrival there for Philidelphia; we avail ourselves of it to transmit you a copy of every note which has passed between Mr. Cevallos and ourselves on the points in question, since the 28th. of Feby.1 We forwarded you by the way of Bordeaux two copies of those which had passed prior to that date, one of which sailed on the 10th. March, so that there is great probability of your having received it.2 I add copies of some letters with General Armstrong,3 several to you;4 and my last letter to the Prince of Peace.5 These several papers give you a correct view of the state of the business to this day, by which I am persuaded you will be enabled to understand the motive of every step which we have taken. The prospect is that nothing will be done: indeed there is no ground on which [to] found a reasonable expectation of a contrary result. Nothing is to be done here but under the impression of fear and under existing circumstance<s> that impression must be made not in <the councils> of this government alone to produce the dessired effect. Unfortunately there is no sentiment more deeply fixed in the mind of both governments, than that our pacific system will not be hazarded for the considerations which are involved in this negotiation. We have done what we could with safety to shake that opinion yet as we have been forced so to modify our movements as while they looked at that object they might not too essentially compromit our government. The part <which> we have had to act has been a difficult one. I should not be surprised if Mr. Cevallos should send us, in reply to our last note, another long essay on the Wester<n> limits of Louisiana, illustrating it with royal orders for the settlement of Texas &c.c. In the present State there can be no doubt of the motive of such a measure; indeed the motive of his conduct has been long apparent, and conscious that if anything was to be done it was to result from a pressure like the present one, we have been endeavouring for some time to bring the affair to this issue. If any thing is done it will be to prevent the rupture of the negotiation and my departure hence, in consequence of it. If I stay here seven years, he will still find topicks for discussion. In a late interview he told us that he had sent to Seville, segovia, and Toledo to ransack the publick archives at each place for documents. And the next step would be to send to Mexico.6 I have no doubt that it is much more for the honor of our government, and more likely to produce ultimate success, to end the negotiation fruitlessly, than to prosecute it in that mode. When I withdraw both France and Spain would be brought to think more seriously on the business. While I am here they think all is safe. Still however, to accomplish the object we will not hesitate to take great responsibility on our selves, provided the accomplishment of it is made secure on their part. I do not go into detail on this point because you will probably understand me without it, and it may not be safe so to do. But if nothing is done after proving the moderation of our government, as our present propositions do, the higher the ground on which we leave the business the better. You will observe that we have endeavoured to give france an opportunity to withdraw from the controversy in case it assumes a serious form. I am now in communication with General Bournonville, or rather am to have a free one with him tomorrow on the subject. He appears to me to be a candid and honorable man; but what part he may be disposed to act in it, and how far his government has marked his course against us, I cannot positively say, as he has in a great measure held aloof to this time. I do not think that the business can be delayed longer than a fortnight from this date. As soon as it is concluded you shall be apprised of it, and of the Manner, by a Special Messenger, perhaps Captn. Dulton who has great merit for his services here. By that conveyance we shall send you a complete copy of every note which has passed, or may hereafter, in the business. I am yr. friend & Servant
I have this moment received Mr. Cevallos’s answer, which rejects explicitly our propositions, declaring that his Majesty will not pay for French Spoliations, or the suppression of the deposit, and that as the line to the West of the Mississippi ought to begin between the Caricut and the Marmentao and run <thence> between the Adais and Natchitoches rivers7 to the red river &c, to adopt our propositions there would also be a concession which he would not make; that the ratification of the Convention of August the 11th. 1802. was suspended by reasons with which we were aquainted; The business I therefore consider as ended. Mr. Pinckney being at Madrid at this moment, I shall write him, and then take my leave of the court, requesting him to remain till he hears from you. We shall write you in full, a joint letter & send it by some safe conveyance.
RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 8); abbreviated summary (ibid.); Tr and Tr of enclosures (DNA: RG 59, DD, Spain, vol. 7); letterbook copy (NN: Monroe Papers). RC is a letterpress copy, in a clerk’s hand; complimentary close and signature in Monroe’s hand. Unless otherwise noted, italicized words are those encoded by Monroe’s secretary and 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). Summary is in Brent’s hand. Encoded words in angle brackets have been supplied from the letterbook copy. For enclosures, see nn. 1 and 3–5.
1. The enclosures are copies of (1) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 8 Mar. 1805 (22 pp.; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:653-55), detailing the reasoning behind the U.S. position that West Florida was part of Louisiana and thus included in the transfer of that province from France to the United States, and rejecting Cevallos’s arguments against that position as well as his arguments against the U.S. claims for reimbursement for losses suffered as a result of the closing of the deposit at New Orleans and of the spoliations committed on U.S. vessels by French privateers operating in Spanish territory; (2) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 16 Mar. 1805 (1 p.) (see Monroe to JM, 21 Mar. 1805, and n. 2); (3) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 30 Mar. 1805 (3 pp.; printed ibid., 657), stating that the length of time in which they had been waiting for a reply to their last note led them to suspect that Cevallos intended to terminate the negotiation, asking if this was true, and stating their willingness to comply promptly with it; (4) Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 31 Mar. 1805 (2 pp.; printed ibid., 658), saying the Spanish government had no intention of terminating the negotiations, and that his many other duties had prevented him from presenting them with the Spanish position on the western boundary of Louisiana, the only point remaining to be discussed; (5) Monroe to Cevallos, 3 Apr. 1805 (1 p.; printed ibid.), requesting a conference; (6) Cevallos to Monroe, 4 Apr. 1805 (1 p.), agreeing to see him at 8:00 p.m. on 5 Apr.; (7) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 9 Apr. 1805 (9 pp.) (see Monroe to JM, 16 Apr. 1805, and n. 5); (8) Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 9 Apr. 1805 (3 pp.) (see ibid. and n. 6); (9) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 12 Apr. 1805 (3 pp.; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:660), acknowledging his 9 Apr. note and the enclosure and urging him to present them promptly with Spain’s position on the western boundary to show that he did intend to continue the negotiations; (10) Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 13 Apr. 1805 (24 pp.) (see Monroe to JM, 16 Apr. 1805, n. 9), reiterating his surprise at the accusation in their letters of 30 Mar. and 9 Apr. that his delay in replying to their notes indicated an intention to end the negotiation and describing Spain’s position on the western boundary of Louisiana; (11) Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 16 Apr. 1805 (2 pp.) (see Monroe to JM, 16 Apr. 1805, and n. 12); (12) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 20 Apr. 1805 (25 pp.; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 2:662-65), acknowledging his note of 13 Apr., replying at length to his remarks about which side intended to end the negotiation and justifying their own conduct, giving a brief history of the settlement of Louisiana by the French and the principles by which European powers were governed when taking possession of territories “in the new world,” and presenting their proofs that this history and these principles supported the U.S. position that the Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana and disproved Spain’s arguments that the Colorado River was; and (13) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 12 May 1805 (3 pp.; printed ibid., 665), stating their final position that if Spain would cede West Florida and agree to the arbitration of claims set out in the unratified convention of 11 Aug. 1802, the United States would agree (a) to make the Colorado River the western boundary of Louisiana, (b) to establish a neutral and unsettled district thirty leagues either side of that line or on the U.S. side only should Spain prefer, (c) to relinquish the claims of U.S. citizens against Spain for spoliations committed by French privateers in Spanish territory as well as all claims to losses suffered from the closing of the deposit at New Orleans, and (d) to compensate the claimants. They enclosed a list of spoliation claims against Spain for 104 ships and 4 cargoes taken by Spaniards and 168 ships taken by the French (4 pp.; ibid., 666). Filed with the Tr are copies of (1) Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 4 Mar. 1805 (11 pp.; ibid., 650-53), denying that he was procrastinating, since he had said he would examine each point separately before dealing with a treaty as a whole, arguing that Spain was not liable for spoliations committed on American ships by French privateers outfitted in Spanish ports, since France had settled all such obligations with the United States in the Convention of 1800, and disputing U.S. claims for losses from the closing of the deposit at New Orleans, since the king had a perfect right to close it; (2) Cevallos to Pinckney and Monroe, 14 Mar. 1805 (8 pp.) (see Monroe to JM, 21 Mar. 1805, n. 1); and (3) Pinckney and Monroe to Cevallos, 13 Apr. 1805 (1 p.) (see Monroe to JM, 16 Apr. 1805, and n. 8), demanding Yrujo’s recall.
3. Monroe enclosed copies of (1) Monroe to Armstrong, 27 Mar. 1805 (2 pp.) (see Armstrong to JM, 2 Apr. 1805, and n. 12); (2) Armstrong to Monroe, 1 Apr. 1805 (2 pp.) (see ibid., and n. 10); (3) Monroe to Armstrong, 4 Apr. 1805 (1 p.) (see Armstrong to JM, 6 May 1805, n. 1); (4) Armstrong to Monroe, 5 Apr. 1805 (1 p.) (see Armstrong to JM, 2 Apr. 1805, n. 12); (5) Monroe to Armstrong, 16 Apr. 1805 (1 p.) (see Armstrong to JM, 6 May 1805, and n. 1); and (6) Armstrong to Monroe, 4 May 1805 (5 pp.) (see ibid., and n. 2). Filed with the Tr are copies of (7) Armstrong to Monroe, 4 Mar. 1805 (1 p.), stating that although he had previously received many inquiries from various French sources as to the likelihood of Monroe’s negotiations being successful, these inquiries had been replaced by “a great indifference to the subject, or rather a positive disinclination to touch it”; (8) Armstrong to Monroe, 12 Mar. 1805 (3 pp.) (see Armstrong to JM, 18 Mar. 1805, and n. 1); (9) Monroe to Armstrong, 12 Mar. 1805 (2 pp.), stating that they had received a letter from Cevallos relative to French spoliations, that they were not enclosing it but were enclosing their 8 Mar. reply to him (see n. 1 above), that if Spain would not accede to the U.S. position, it would be because of French support which would disrupt relations between the United States and France; (10) Monroe to Armstrong, 17 Mar. 1805 (5 pp.), enclosing an extract from Cevallos’s 14 Mar. 1805 letter to Pinckney and Monroe (see n. 1 above), repeating many of the arguments they had used to Cevallos, questioning how France could now state what territory was included in Louisiana after having pleaded ignorance of the boundaries in 1803, and stressing that France would bear much of the responsibility should their negotiation fail; (11) Armstrong to Monroe, 18 Mar. 1805 (2 pp.), with unsigned enclosure (1 p.) from Joseph Bonaparte (see Armstrong to JM, 18 Mar. 1805, and n. 1); (12) Monroe to Armstrong, 21 Mar. 1805 (1 p.) (see Armstrong to JM, 6 May 1805, and n. 1); and (13) Armstrong to Monroe, 5 Apr. 1805 (1 p.), which is the same letter as Armstrong to Monroe, 1 Apr. 1805 (see enclosure (2) in this note).
4. Monroe probably enclosed copies of Monroe to JM, 21 Mar., 4 and 16 Apr., and 3 May 1805.
5. Monroe enclosed copies of (1) Pinckney and Monroe to Godoy, 12 May 1805 (2 pp.), probably covering a copy of their 20 Apr. 1805 note to Cevallos and stating the propositions they had sent him on 12 May (see n. 1 above, enclosure ), and (2) Pinckney and Monroe to Godoy, 14 May 1805 (9 pp.), enclosing a copy of their 12 May letter to Cevallos (see ibid.), saying Monroe would be leaving Spain after they received Cevallos’s reply, which would end the negotiations “by treaty or otherwise,” stating that it was unreasonable to expect the United States to give up its just claims to compensation for spoliations by the French in Spanish territory and for losses due to the closure of the New Orleans deposit, and to agree to a western boundary for Louisiana at the Colorado River rather than the Rio Grande without receiving something in return. They suggested that it would be well for Spain to agree to their propositions, since the United States, being closer than any other nation to Spain’s territories south and west of Louisiana and around the Gulf of Mexico, could prove a valuable friend but, should events develop differently, a formidable foe.
6. On 20 May 1805 the Spanish court did indeed send to Mexico for information on the Louisiana boundaries. The investigation was begun in January 1807 and completed by José Antonio Pichardo five years later when he produced a three-thousand-page work detailing the historic boundaries of the province (Charles Wilson Hackett, ed., Pichardo’s Treatise on the Limits of Louisiana and Texas: An Argumentative Historical Treatise with Reference to the Verification of the True Limits of the Provinces of Louisiana and Texas … by Father José Antonio Pichardo … to Disprove the Claim of the United States that Texas was Included in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 [4 vols.; Austin, Tex., 1931–46], 1:xiv–xviii).