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But we, I hope, shall be per-
You are again at war, I find. mitted to run the race of peace. 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 before 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 obtained, 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 northwestern 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 Louisiana. 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 ocean. 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 Atlantic States,
procuring for those on the eastern waters of the Mississippi friendly instead of hostile neighbors on its western waters, I do not view it as an Englishman would the procuring future blessings for the French nation, with whom he has no relations of blood or affection. The future inhabitants of the Atlantic and Mississippi States will be our sons. We leave them in distinct but bordering establishments. We think we see their happiness in their union, and we wish it. Events may prove it otherwise; and if they see their interest in separation, why should we take side with our Atlantic rather than our Mississippi descendants? It is the elder and the younger son differing. God bless them both, and keep them in union, if it be for their good, but separate them, if it be better. The inhabited part of Louisiana, from Point Coupée to the sea, will of course be immediately a territorial government, and soon a State. But above that, the best use we can make of the country for some time, will be to give establishments in it to the Indians on the east side of the Mississippi, in exchange for their present country, and open land offices in the last, and thus make this acquisition the means of filling up the eastern side, instead of drawing off its population. When we shall be full on this side, we may lay off a range of States on the western bank from the head to the mouth, and so, range after range, adancing compactly as we multiply.
This treaty must of course be laid before both Houses, because both have important functions to exercise respecting it. They, I presume, will see their duty to their country in ratifying and paying for it, so as to secure a good which would otherwise probably be never again in their power. But I suppose they must then appeal to the nation for an additional article to the Constition, approving and confirming an act which the nation had not previously authorized. The Constitution has made no provision for our holding foreign territory, still less for incorporating foreign nations into our Union. The executive in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much advances the good of their country, have done an act beyond the Constitution. The Legislature in casting behind them metaphysical subtleties, and risking them
selves like faithful servants, must ratify and pay for it, and throw themselves on their country for doing for them unauthorized, what we know they would have done for themselves had they been in a situation to do it. It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him when of age, I did this for your good; I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get out of the scrape as I can: I thought it my duty to risk myself for you. But we shall not be disavowed by the nation, and their act of indemnity will confirm and not weaken the Constitution, by more strongly marking out its lines.
We have nothing later from Europe than the public papers give. I hope yourself and all the western members will make a sacred point of being at the first day of the meeting of Congress; for vestra res regitur.
Accept my affectionate salutations and assurances of esteem and respect.
TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE.
MONTICELLO, August 25, 1803.
DEAR SIR,-Your two favors of the 18th and 20th were received on the 21st. The letters of Livingston and Monroe were sent to Mr. Gallatin as you proposed. That of Simpson to Mr. Smith for the purpose of execution. All of them will be returned. Thornton's, Clarke's, Charles's, Picnau's, Appleton's, Davis's, Newton's, and Dericure's letters are now enclosed. With respect to the impressment of our seamen I think we had better propose to Great Britain to act on the stipulations which had been agreed to between that Government and Mr. King, as if they had been signed. I think they were, that they would forbid impressments at sea, and that we should acquiesce in the search in their harbors necessary to prevent concealments of their citizens. Mr. Thornton's attempt to justify his nation in using our ports as cruising stations on our friends and ourselves, renders