James Madison Papers

From James Madison to John Armstrong, Jr., 26 May 1806

Department of State May 26 1806.

Gentlemen,

On the supposition that by the time this reaches you,

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the negociation prescribed in my letter of March 13th, will have taken a final turn,

and that this may

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not be a favorable one,

it is thought proper

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by the Presidt.

that in such a state

1354

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of things you should endeavor to bring about an arrangement, providing lst:

that the

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status quo,

taking for the 1004

date

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the transfer

of possession

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of Louisiana to the U. S.

shall be established with respect

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882. 112. 859. 945. 1419. 848. 1116.

to the territories in controversy, on both sides

of the 62.

Missii:

so as that neither party

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576. 1541. 1861. 1373. 1129. 352. 1116.

shall strengthen or advance its military force or positions

or make any other

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innovations dissatisfactory

to the

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other party.

Secondly that the

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navigation of the rivers Mobille and others running from the territories

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thro’

those in the

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possession of Spain,

shall be

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freely enjoyed

Citizens of the United States in like manner as that of the

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Miss. is enjoyed by the subjects of Spain

now inhabiting the territory adjoining

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a part of that river. 3d. That the

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Convention of Augt. 1802 be allowed by Spain to go into effect.

If a continuance

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of peace be a sincere object with Spain,

it cannot be difficult

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to place in a convincing light,

the importance

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of these measures,

and if they

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587. 630.

be attained, they will

without any

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350. 1164. 1550. 343. 19. 432. 1217. 1018. 1255. 1116. 849.

dishonorable concessions afford time for farther consideration and discussion,

and for that

1090.

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increase of the [  ] power

of the United States

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for wh. time [  ] is wanted.

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1217. 983. 290. 808. 1216. 1510. 1284. 1064. 854. 241. 1116.

The status quo is so familiar and so reasonable an expedient on such occasions,

that it may be presumed

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1165. 1484.

that if war be not the object, no objection will be made to it.

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Our use of the Mobille and other rivers in the like situation,

is manifestly essential to the interest and tranquility of the people

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living on the waters of them,

Nor can the

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use of them be denied,

without violating the principles on which

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the use of the Misi. was originally permitted by Spain to the U. S.,

and on which the navigation

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1216. 1201. 1324. 910. 899. 1. 1116.

of rivers under analogous circumstances

has been claimed and enjoyed by other nations. Among a variety of examples,

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the Scheldt

is an important and well known one. For the footing on which

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the Spanish inhabitants enjoy the use of the Misi.

I refer you to the

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documents

on that subject

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hereto annexed.

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381. 1354. 972. 303. 1116. 1405. 803. 1236. 1268. 1165.

Should the status quo and the use of the rivers be acceded to,

it will be very material that

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immediate orders

for the purpose

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be dispatched to the proper Spanish officers in that quarter. The documents herewith sent will exhibit a crisis there,

which remonstrates powerfully

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against delay.

With respect to the

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convention of 1802, the ratification of it by Spain is due to her own self respect as well as to the justice claimed by our Citizens.

You will be aware of the care which is to be taken that in 803

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accepting the ratification; no relinquishment be made or implied of claims future

to that date. On the contrary, it may justly be expected

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that Sp. will not make a suspension

of questions concerning

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432. 1116.

boundary and the French spoliations

a pretext for not

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superadding to the Convention of

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1802 provisions for all claims falling

within the principles

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of indemnification therein recognized.

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Should Spain be willing to make

a satisfactory provision

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for these latter claims either by an additional article or a separate Convention,

On conditions that

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her main objection

to the

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ratification of the Convention of 1802

be removed you are authorized to admit such a recital on that subject, as will

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274.

reserve to Spain a right to contest the principle

as well as

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the modes of arbitrating the claims originating

from the wrongs committed

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by foreign citizens

without however

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impairing the right

of the United States

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to advance and support all such claims,

uninfluenced by

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the convention of 1802.

I have the honor to remain with great respect & Consideration, Gentlemen, your most Ob Servt.

James Madison

MHi: Bowdoin-Temple Papers.

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