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by Mr. Dawson of Virginia, for carrying the treaty into effect, objections to its constitutionality were urged by the opposition, first, because the government had no power to acquire new territory; and secondly, because by the seventh article of the treaty, by exempting French and Spanish vessels in the ports of the ceded territory from higher duties than American vessels, a preference was given to those ports over those in the other states.
To maintain the first point, the opposition party entrenched themselves on the single ground, that the constitution having framed a government with limited powers, for a particular territory, within boundaries ascertained or to be ascertained, and having given no power to acquire territory, such power was not possessed by the government, and could be obtained only by an amendment to the constitution.
In reply to this, it was urged by Mr. Randolph of Virginia, that the capacity in the United States to acquire territory necessarily arose from the fact, that their boundary was unsettled when the constitution was framed; nay, that a part of it was incapable of being established according to the limits assigned by the treaty of 1783, as it was now well ascertained that a line running west from the Lake of the Woods would not touch the Mississippi at all; and consequently that new territory must be acquired, or the United States would be without precise boundary in the north-west.
He also, not very logically, asked whether, supposing “the commissioners under the treaty of London had determined the river St. John, or St. Lawrence, to be the true St. Croix,” part of the province of New Brunswick or Quebec, would not at this time be a part of the United States. It was on the same side urged by Mr. Nicholson of Maryland, that the right to acquire territory was incident to every sovereign nation ; that the states confederately had this power after their independence, and having surrendered it, with the power to declare war and make treaties, to Congress, first under the confederation, and afterwards under the constitution, it now belonged to the federal government : that territory can be acquired only by conquest or purchase ; of which the first mode is given to Congress in the power to make war, and the last to the President and Senate in the power to make treaties; and lastly, that these powers are expressly taken from the states by the constitution, and, being essential to sovereignty, they must exist somewhere."
In answering the second objection, the arguments of the administration party seem more satisfactory. They urged that the discrimination in favour of American shipping, out of which the objection grew, was a creature of the law, and not of the constitution ; and if they were found to be in conflict, the former could be repealed : that the provision in question, by putting American vessels on the same footing as French and Spanish, seemed a benefit to American shipping, and therefore could not be fairly regarded as violating a provision made for their advantage; and at most, if after Louisiana became one of the states of the Union, the exemp. tion of French and Spanish vessels from higher duties, in its ports, than were paid by American vessels, would be really giving a preference to those ports, then the other states might insist that the same exemption should be extended to their ports. But as the general discrimination, with the single and temporary exception in the ports of Louisiana, operates very beneficially to American shipping, the other states would not ask its repeal, but would acquiesce in this small deduction from the commercial benefits conferred by the treaty. These arguments prevailed with the republican party, who now found that the very strict construction of the constitution for which they had contended when in the opposition, was not suited to them when in the exercise of power ; and which, if pushed to that extreme of nicety which some
affected, would often defeat the main purposes for which the constitution was established. The general resolution for carrying the treaty into effect was adopted by a vote of ninety to twenty-five; and the resolutions for a provincial government over the ceded territory, and for providing the purchase money, were passed without a division. 1332
A letter from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Livingston about this time, Nov. 4th, shows that he very correctly estimated the feelings and policy of the first consul in relation to a matrimónial connexion, which one of his brothers formed at this time in the United States. Jerome Bonaparte had accompanied Le Clerc in the expedition to St. Domingo, and when the subjugation of that island was found impracticable, and he and some others had decided on returning to France, they came to the United States for the sake of obtaining a conveyance in a neutral ship. During his short stay ho became enamoured with a young lady of Baltimore of great beauty and attractions, married her, and soon afterwards they embarked for France. Mr. Jefferson mentioned the circumstance to Mr. Livingston, and requested him, if the first consul should think that the executive of the United States ought to have prevented a match, which for political reasons was so little likely to be acceptable to him, to enter into the requisite explanations, and to state that, by the laws of this country, no one can prevent the marriage of persons twenty-one years of age, and none but the guardian, the marriage of persons under that age. But Napoleon was able to remedy the mischief which Mr. Jefferson had been incompetent to prevent.
When M. Pichon, the French minister was about exchanging ratifications of the treaty, he proposed to add a protestation against any failure of execution in time or other circumstances, on the part of the United States. He was however told that in that case they would annex a counterprotestation," which would leave the matter exactly where it was ; that this transaction had been conducted throughout with a frankness honourable to both nations ; that to annex to it such an evidence of mutual distrust, would be discreditable to both: that both branches of the legislature had passed one of the bills for carrying the treaty into execution and would soon pass the other;" on which he exchanged the ratifications without the protestation. - It further seems from this letter that Spain had entered a protestation against the ratification of the treaty by the United States, on the grounds—First, that the first consul had not executed the conditions of the treaties of cession; and secondly, that he had broken a solemn promise not to alienate the country to any nation. Mr. Livingston was also i told that if the French commissioner Lausat was heartily disposed to carry the order of the first consul into execution, he could command a volunteer force at New Orlcans, and would have the aid of the troops of the United States ; but that if he was not so disposed, they would take possession, and leave it to France to adopt the act as her own, and thus entitle herself to the complete execution of the treaty.
The President recommends a repeal of the Bankrupt Law. Bank of the
United States. Statistics of Louisiana. Amendment to the Constitution. Naturalization Law. Judge Pickering impeached and removed. Yazoo claims. Loss of the frigate Philadelphia. His increasing popularity. Views of the Federal Party. Death of Mrs. Eppes. Correspondence with Mrs. Adams. Mr. Jefferson vindicates his course. Letter to Mazzei. Various speculations to which the acquisition of Louisiana gave rise. Mr. Jefferson's view of the consequences of a separation. Expedition against Tripoli. Presidential Election. Meeting of Congress. President's Message.Gun-boats. Impeachment of Judge Chase—his trial and acquittal
Mr. JEFFERSON's steadfastness in the principles he had professed before he was in power, was exhibited on more than one occasion at this period. It was at his instance, it is believed, and certainly with his hearty concurrence, that the bankrupt law, which had been first enacted in one of the last years of Mr. Adams's administration, and afterwards modified, was at this session repealed. As this law authorized a majority of the creditors to discharge a bankrupt trader from all his preceding debts, it was regarded by many of the other classes of men as an invidious privilege to the mercantile community; especially in the southern states, where the agricultural pursuits are predominant; and as it was found that by the power of making discriminations in favour of some creditors, and in fact of making surreptitious creditors, there was no difficulty in general in obtaining the sanction of the requisite majority for the debtor's discharge,