« PreviousContinue »
tions. If our Legislature dispose of it with the wisdom we have a right to expect, they may make it the means of tempting all our Indians on the east side of the Mississippi to remove to the west, and of condensing instead of scattering our population. I find our opposition is very willing to pluck feathers from Monroe, although not fond of sticking them into Livingston's coat. The truth is, both have a just portion of merit; and were it necessary or proper, it would be shown that each has rendered peculiar services, and of important value. These grumblers, too, are very uneasy lest the administration should share some little credit for the acquisition, the whole of which they ascribe to the accident of war. They would be cruelly mortified could they see our files from May, 1801, the first organization of the administration, but more especially from April, 1802. They would see, that though we could not say wher war would arise, yet we said with energy what would take place when it should arise. We did not, by our intrigues, produce the war; but we availed ourselves of it when it happened. The other party saw the case now existing, on which our representations were predicated, and the wisdom of timely sacrifice. But when these people make the war give us everything, they anthorize us to ask what the war gave us in their day? They had a war; what did they make it bring us? Instead of making our neutrality the ground of gain to their country, they were for plunging into the war. And if they were now in place, they would now be at war against the atheists and disorganizers of France. They were for making their country an appendage to England. We are friendly, cordially and conscientiously friendly to England. We are not hostile to France. We will be rigorously just and sincerely friendly to both. I do not believe we shall have as much to swallow from them as our predecessors had.
Present me respectfully to Mrs. Gates, and accept yourself my affectionate salutations, and assurances of great respect and es
TO M. CABANIS.
WASHINGTON, July 12, 1803. DEAR SIR-I lately received your friendly letter of 28 Vendem. an. 11, with the two volumes on the relations between the physical and moral faculties of man. This has ever been a subject of great interest to the inquisitive mind, and it could not have got into better hands for discussion than yours. That thought may be a faculty of our material organization, has been believed in the gross; and though the “modus operandi" of nature, in this, as in most other cases, can never be developed and demonstrated to beings limited as we are, yet I feel confident you will have conducted us as far on the road as we can go, and have lodged us within reconnoitering distance of the citadel itself. While here, I have time to read nothing. But our annual recess for the months of August and September is now approaching, during which time I shall be at the Montrials, where I anticipate great satisfaction in the presence of these volumes. It is with great satisfaction, too, I recollect the agreeable hours I have past with yourself and M. de La Roche. at the house of our late excellent friend, Madame Helvetius, and elsewhere; and I am happy to learn you continue your residence there. Antevil always appeared to me a delicious village, and Madame Helvetius's the most delicious spot in it. In those days how sanguine we were ! and how soon were the virtuous hopes and confidence of every good man blasted! and how many excellent friends have we lost in your efforts towards self-government, et cui bono ?. But let us draw a veil over the dead, and hope the best for the living. If the hero who has saved you from a combination of enemies, shall also be the means of giving you as great a portion of liberty as the opinions, habits and character of the nation are prepared for, progressive preparation may fit you for progressive portions of that first of blessings, and you may in time attain what we erred in supposing could be hastily seized and maintained, in the present state of political information among your citizens at large. In this way all may end well.
You are again at war, I find. But we, I hope, shall be permitted to run the race of peace. Your government has wisely removed what certainly endangered collision between us.
I now see nothing which need ever interrupt the friendship between France and this country. Twenty years of peace, and the prosperity so visibly flowing from it, have but strengthened our attachment to it, and the blessings it brings, and we do not despair of being always a peaceable nation. We think that peaceable means may be devised of keeping nations in the path of justice towards us, by making justice their interest, and injuries to react on themselves. Our distance enables us to pursue a course which the crowded situation of Europe renders perhaps impracticable there.
Be so good as to accept for yourself and M. de La Roche, my friendly salutations, and assurances of great consideration and respect.
TO DANIEL CLARKE, ESQ.
WASHINGTON, July 17, 1803. DEAR SIR,—You will be informed by a letter from the Secretary of State of the terms and the extent of the cession of Louisiana by France to the United States, a cession which I hope will give as much satisfaction to the inhabitants of that province as it does to us, and the more as the title being lawfully acquired and with consent of the power conveying, can never be hereafter reclaimed under any pretense of force. In order to procure a ratification in good time, I have found it necessary to convene Congress as early as the 17th of October. It is essential that be
. fore that period we should obtain all the information respecting the province which may be necessary to enable Congress to make the best arrangements for its tranquillity, security and government. It is only on the spot that this information can be ob
. tained, and to obtain it there, I am obliged to ask your agency; for this purpose I have proposed a set of questions, now enclosed,
answers to which in the most exact terms practicable, I am to ask you to procure. It is probable you may be able to answer some of them yourself; however, it will doubtless be necessary for you to distribute them among the different persons best qualified to answer them respectively. As you will not have above six weeks, from the receipt of them till they should be sent off to be here by the meeting of Congress, it will be the more necessary to employ different persons on different parts of them. This is left to your own judgment, and your best exertions to obtain them in time are desired. You will be so good as to engage the persons who undertake them, to complete them in time, and to accept such recompense as you shall think reasonable, which shall be paid on your draft on the Secretary of State. We rely that the friendly dispositions of the Spanish government will give such access to the archives of the province as may facilitate information, equally desirable by Spain on parting with her ancient subjects, as by us on receiving them. This favor therefore will, I doubt not, be granted on your respectful application.
Accept my salutations and assurances of esteem and respect.
TO MR. BRECKENRIDGE.
MONTICELLO, August 12, 1803. DEAR SIR,—The enclosed letter, though directed to you, was intended to me also, and was left open with a request, that when forwarded, I would forward it to you. It gives me occasion to write a word to you on the subject of Louisiana, which being a new one, an interchange of sentiments may produce correct ideas before we are to act on them.
Our information as to the country is very incomplete ; we have taken measures to obtain it full as to the settled part, which I hope to receive in time for Congress. The boundaries, which I deem not admitting question, are the high lands on the western side of the Mississippi enclosing all its waters, the Missouri of
course, and terminating in the line drawn from the north western point of the Lake of the Woods to the nearest source of the Mississippi, as lately settled between Great Britain and the United States. We have some claims, to extend on the sea coast westwardly to the Rio Norte or Bravo, and better, to go eastwardly to the Rio Perdido, between Mobile and Pensacola, the ancient boundary of Louisiaua. These claims will be a subject of negotiation with Spain, and if, as soon as she is at war, we push them strongly with one hand, holding out a price in the other, we shall certainly obtain the Floridas, and all in good time. In the meanwhile, without waiting for permission, we shall enter into the exercise of the natural right we have always insisted on with Spain, to wit, that of a nation holding the upper part of streams, having a right of innocent passage through them to the
We shall prepare her to see us practise on this, and she will not oppose it by force.
Objections are raising to the eastward against the vast extent of our boundaries, and propositions are made to exchange Louisiana, or a part of it, for the Floridas. But, as I have said, we shall get the Floridas without, and I would not give one inch of the waters of the Mississippi to any nation, because I see in a light very important to our peace the exclusive right to its navigation, and the admission of no nation into it, but as into the Potomac or Delaware, with our consent and under our police. These federalists see in this acquisition the formation of a new confederacy, embracing all the waters of the Mississippi, on both sides of it, and a separation of its eastern waters from us. These combinations depend on so many circumstances which we cannot foresee, that I place little reliance on them. We have seldom seen neighborhood produce affection among nations. The reverse is almost the universal truth. Besides, if it should become the great interest of those nations to separate from this, if their happiness should depend on it so strongly as to induce them to go through that convulsion, why should the Atlantic States dread it? But especially why should we, their present inhabitants, take side in such a question ? When I view the Atlaritic States,