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TO DON FRANCISCO DIONISIO VIVÉS
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, 8 June, 1820.
I have had the honor of receiving your note of the 28th ultimo, communicating the information by order of your government, that his Catholic Majesty, being divested by the political constitution of the Spanish monarchy of 1812, adopted and sworn to by him, of all power to "alienate, cede, or exchange any province, city, town or place, or any portion whatever thereof of the Spanish territory without the consent of the Cortes," will lay before that body which is to meet in July next, the treaty of the 22d of February, 1819, in which the cession of the Floridas to the United States is stipulated.
From the correspondence which had passed between the governments of the United States and of Spain upon this subject before his Catholic Majesty had assented to this limitation of his powers, you are aware that the United States have maintained their perfect right to the ratification of that treaty within the term of six months from its signature, limited by one of its stipulations. This right was derived from the solemn and unqualified promise of his Catholic Majesty, contained in the full power which he had committed to your predecessor, Don Luis de Onis, who, by virtue of that power, signed in his name and behalf the treaty. The same promise which with the sanction of his oath, his Majesty has pledged to his people, of adherence to the constitution of 1812, had already been pledged to the United States for the ratification of the treaty; and it cannot be necessary to urge to you the undeniable principle that the rights of the
United States in their relations with Spain can in no wise be affected or impaired by any engagement of the king to his own people subsequent to an engagement equally sacred contracted with them.
The assurance of the earnest wish of his Majesty to establish on a solid basis the closest amity and most perfect harmony with the United States, corroborated by that sympathy which may be expected from congenial sentiments of liberty, is in a high degree acceptable to the President; and as there is no nation upon earth more qualified than these United States by their own experience to feel the connection between sentiments of liberty and national happiness, so there is no one which will more sincerely rejoice to find that the same connection will result from the experience of a constitutional government to the people of Spain.
In the firm conviction that the Cortes will feel every disposition to do justice in their political relations with this Union, and that they will immediately perceive the justice of enabling his Majesty to perform the promise already pledged to the United States, the President is gratified with the reflection that by the performance of this promise the Cortes will be called to no sacrifice incompatible with the honor, or derogatory to the interests of the Spanish nation. The sacrifices made by the United States in assenting to that treaty were neither inconsiderable, nor at the time of its conclusion unconsidered. They were agreed to in the spirit of concession, of harmony, and of magnaminity, which in the opinion of the President and Senate by whose concurrence it was ratified, ought to preside in all the important negotiations between independent nations. It was neither their policy nor their desire to obtain burdensome or unequal conditions from Spain. They believed the treaty would be eminently advantageous to both nations, and in the anticipa
tion of mutual benefit and mutual satisfaction to be derived from it, they looked forward to its execution for results more permanent, comprehensive, and salutary, than could ever be foreseen from a compact in which concession would have been all on one side, with extortion or delusion on the other.
While the United States, therefore, have insisted, and yet insist, upon their perfect right to the ratification of that treaty, there is no unwillingness on their part that it should be decided upon by the Cortes on its merits as a compact involving the interests of Spain. Their decision, however, it is expected, will be without delay; and as you have been informed, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate of the United States, on the question whether it shall now be accepted in exchange for the ratification of the United States. That the willing assent of both parties may tend to the stability of the stipulations between them, to the general harmony of their future intercourse, and to the internal contentment of both nations, is the earnest desire of the President, as it is the motive to every measure which has been adopted by his direction, or at his recommendation. Be pleased to accept, etc.1
1 "It escaped my attention before I left the city to make an arrangement under your direction, for the publication of the secret journal of Congress, for the interval between the definitive treaty of peace with Great Britain, and the adoption of the present constitution, for which I understand that an act or resolution had passed the last session. It is very important that this be done in the most correct and faithful manner, and I shall be glad that you will take charge of it." Monroe to John Quincy Adams, June 5, 1820. Ms. See Adams, Memoirs, September 9, 1820. Upon the Secretary of State also fell at this time the burden of preparing the instructions to marshals for taking the census of 1820, and the two forms of blanks to be used in the process. Ib., June 10, 1820.
TO THE PRESIDENT
WASHINGTON, 15 June, 1820.
On receiving your letter of the 9th instant by the return of the messenger, I immediately sent to request the Secretaries of the Treasury and of War, the only other members of the administration then in the city, to call at the office of this Department; when your letter concerning Rosewaine 1 and the papers relative to the case were considered, and the opinion in concurrence with yours being unanimous I answered the letter of Marshal Prince 2 accordingly.
Under the instructions in your letter of the 2nd instant, and in pursuance of the principles decided by you after full deliberation heretofore, pardons were made out for Samuel Poole and Francis Oglesbee (whose real name is Speir), under sentence of death for piracy at Richmond. It had been determined that the whole number convicted at that place should be reprieved with the exception of two, and the Chief Justice and the district attorney were requested to give information, if there were extenuating circumstances in the cases of any of the individuals recommending them to mercy more than the others. The letters received from those officers are herewith inclosed.
In the Richmond Enquirer of the 6th, received here on the morning of the 9th, there was a long statement and repre
1 Edward Rosewaine, convicted at Boston of piratical murder and sentenced to be hanged. The sentence was executed.
sentation addressed to you invoking the exercise of mercy in behalf of all the persons under sentence at Richmond. On consideration of that paper, together with the letters of the Chief Justice and Mr. Stanard,1 which left it scarcely possible to distinguish who should be the two sufferers of fourteen, and that those indicated by the order of the list were, one a foreigner, and the other a man of color, it was presumed by Mr. Crawford, Mr. Calhoun, and me, that you would approve the extension of the reprieve to them all: and as there would have scarcely been time to give you this information, to receive your orders, and then to transmit the reprieve to Richmond before the day fixed for the execution, a respite till further order was made out for the whole fourteen, and forwarded to the marshal on the 11th.
After it was gone Mr. Fenwick 2 of Richmond came with petitions, signed by many highly respectable names, praying for the extension of clemency to all those unfortunate men. It was his intention to have proceeded with them to your residence in Albermarle; but upon my informing him that the pardon and reprieve had issued, he concluded to return to Richmond, leaving with me the petitions and other papers herewith enclosed.
I have now the honor to forward a statement of all the person's who were under sentence at the time when you left the city, and of the disposal which has been made of them.
There have been two executions at Baltimore, two at Charleston, one at Savannah, two at New Orleans, and this day is fixed for three at Boston. Seven have been pardoned and thirty-four are under reprieves till further order, to be kept in close confinement until you shall give further directions concerning them. This was thought safer as well as
1 Robert Stanard.
2 William Fenwick.