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well as at home, if the opposition should resort to these constitutional objections as a means of embarrassing the administration.
He had good reason for this caution as it respected France, since the American ministers at Paris soon afterwards wrote, that if the negotiation were then to take place, the same treaty could not be obtained, and that if the United States gave the French government the least opening they would declare it void; and that “ a warning” to this effect had been given to them : and moreover a strange letter relative to the treaty had been recently written by their minister (Pichon) to our secretary of state. In communicating the preceding facts to Colonel Wilson C. Nicholas, then residing in Albemarle, Mr. Jefferson again expresses his opinion that they could not incorporate Louisiana with the United States, without an amendment to the constitution; but Colonel Nicholas had expressed the opinion that the power given to Congress to admit new states into the Union, extended to territory beyond their limits at that period. Mr. Jefferson admitted that the constitution would bear that interpretation; but remarked, that “ When an instrument admits two constructions, the one safe, the other dangerous, the one precise, the other indefinite, I prefer that which is safe and precise;" and that he had “ rather ask an enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found necessary, than to assume it by a construction which would make our powers boundless." After urging strong arguments against the dangers of a broad construction of the constitution, he adds, “ If, however, our friends shall think differently, certainly I shall acquiesce with satisfaction ; confiding that the good sense of our country will correct the evil of construction when it shall produce ill effects.” This letter was written from Monticello in September, where he had been recently visited by Mr. Madison and his old friend
Mr. Page, then Governor of Virginia, and where he had at the same time expected Colonel Nicholas.
The Spanish government, which had reluctantly yielded up the possession of Louisiana to her haughty ally, endeavoured, by her authorities on this side of the Atlantic, to raise some difficulty against the execution of the treaty.She protested against the right of France to make the transfer, and made a show of refusing to surrender the possession. When the ascendency, or rather absolute control which France had long exercised in her councils is considered, it seems highly probable that her course had the acquiescence of France, if it was not acknowledged by her. *
In consequence of the intimation received from the American ministers at Paris, Mr. Jefferson called Congress on the 17th of October, about three weeks earlier than the day that had been previously fixed. And on that day, there being a quorum of both Houses, he addressed to them his opening message. He reminds the legislature of the high state of excitement which had been produced by the suspension of the right of deposit in New Orleans, and that its continuance would have been more injurious to the nation than any mode of redress, but that on proper representations the right had been restored. He says that previous to this the executive had, with the sanction of Congress, endeavoured to obtain the sovereignty of New Orleans, and other possessions important to the future peace of the United States. That the purchase of all Louisiana had been since effected on the 30th of April preceding, by which the United States acquire an independent outlet for their commerce; an uncontrolled navigation of the Mississippi and its waters; an immediate accession to the revenue; an ample provision for posterity; and a wide extension of the blessings of freedom and equal laws.
* But it would seem from a letter addressed by the Spanish minister Yrujo to Mr. Madison, March 10, 1803, that the intendant of Louisiana acted without the authority of his government.
The intendant's proclamation restoring the right of deposit, was dated May 17, 1803; and on the following day the agents of the King of Spain issued a proclamation for surrendering it to France.
He informs them that a convention had been entered into with Great Britain for settlement of the boundary line between her American territories and those of the United States. That the finances continued in a prosperous state; more than three millions of the principal of the debt having been discharged within the year, besides leaving in the treasury nearly six millions, including the two millions placed by Congress in the hands of the executive, for the furtherance of the late negotiation with France.
That by the acquisition of Louisiana, when it was confirmed, the sum of thirteen millions would be added to the public debt; but as most of it was not payable until after fifteen years, when the present debt would be discharged, he hopes that no additional taxes would be required. Adverting then to the renewal of war in Europe, he strongly urges them on the strict performance of the duties of neutrality, of punishing all deviations from it on the part of American citizens. He thus sketches the duties of neutrality:-"Let it be our endeavour,” he says, “as it is our interest and desire, to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent nations by every act of justice and of innocent kindness ; to receive their armed vessels with hospitality, from the distresses of the sea, but to administer the means of annoyance to none; to establish in our harbours such a police as may maintain law and order; to restrain our citizens from embarking individually in a war in which their country takes no part; to punish severely those persons, citizens or aliens, who shall usurp the cover of our flag, for vessels not entitled to it, infecting thereby with suspicion those of real Americans, and committing us into controversies for the redress of wrongs not our own ; to exact from every
the observance, towards our vessels and citizens, of those principles and practices which all civilized nations acknowledge; to merit the character of a just nation, and maintain that of an independent one, preferring every consequence to insult and habitual wrong."
He further inculcates the duties of neutrality by the following forcible appeal to the interests of his countrymen ::
“ Separated by a wide ocean from the nations of Europe, and from the political interests which entangle them together, with productions and wants which render our commerce and friendship useful to them, and theirs to us, it cannot be the interest of any to assail 11s, nor ours to disturb them.-We should be most unwise, indeed, were we to cast away the singular blessings of the position in which nature has placed us, the opportunity she has endowed us with, of pursuing, at a distance from foreign contentions, the paths of industry, peace, and happiness ; of cultivating general friendship; and of bringing collisions of interest to the umpire of reason rather than of force. How desirable, then, must it be, in a government like ours, to see its citizens adopt, individually, the views, the interests, and the conduct, which their country should pursue, divesting themselves of those passions and partialities which tend to lessen useful friendships, and to embarrass and embroil us in the calamitous scenes of Europe. Confident, fellow-citizens, that you will duly estimate the importance of neutral dispositions towards the observance of neutral conduct, that you will be sensible how much it is our duty to look on the bloody arena spread before us, with commiseration, indeed, but with no other wish than to see it closed, I am persuaded you will cordially cherish these dispositions in all discussions among yourselves, and in all communications with your constituents."
The treaty was ratified by the Senate on the 20th of October, by twenty-four votes to seven, and on the 22nd it was officially communicated to Congress, that they might provide for its execution; and on the same day, the injunction of secrecy, as to the appropriation of two millions placed in the hands of the executive, was taken off.
In the House of Representatives the treaty also met with opposition from the federal party. On the 24th of October, Mr. Griswold of Connecticut, offered a resolution to request the President to lay before the House a copy of the treaty between France and Spain, which ceded Louisiana to the former, together with the deed of cession, (if any such existed,) also such part of the correspondence between the government of the United States and the government or minister of Spain, as would show the assent or dissent of Spain to the late purchase of Louisiana, together with such other documents as were in the possession of the government, “tending to ascertain whether the United States had, in fact, acquired every title to the province of Louisiana, by the treaty with France.”
This resolution was opposed by the friends of the admi. nistration, and in an animated debate, each party, referring to the call for papers in 1795, relative to the British treaty, charged the other with inconsistency, as the two parties had now changed places as to this question. It was also urged with great force against the federalists, that while they had recently maintained that the United States must obtain possession of New Orleans, the key to the Mississippi, at every hazard, now when it was offered us, they were scrupulous about receiving it, and were endeavouring to find a flaw in the title. Separate questions being taken on the different members of the resolution, a part passed in the affirmative and a part in the negative, and the main question, so amended as to rid it of its embarrassing features, was finally rejected by fifty-nine to fifty-seven, several of the republicans voting with the minority.
On the next day, resolutions having been brought forward