« AnteriorContinuar »
The Louisiana Treaty.
you may have the most fatal consequences; and if, as some gentlemen have hinted on former occasions, the French are sick of their bargain, will give them an opportunity to break it altogether, or create such jealousies between the two nations as may render the ceded territory and its inhabitants of little value to us. In my opinion, policy, as well as justice, requires, that we should comply with the stipulations on our part, promptly and with good faith, and leave no opening for complaint with the other party. We shall then stand justified in the eyes of the world, and to ourselves, not only to take, but keep possession of this immense country, let what nation will oppose it.
It is to be observed that the latter part of this article refers to that convention which stipulates for the payment of money to the French Government. But who, I ask, could understand it in this way? The convention here referred to, is said to be relative to a definitive rule between the contracting parties." Why these dark, obscure, and unintelligible expressions? Is a consideration a definitive rule?" The first article speaks of the cession as being made, "from a desire to give to the United States a strong proof of the friendship of the First Consul," and when you turn to the convention, which is said to establish the "definitive rule," you find a provision binding the United States to the payment of money to the French Republic, but not a word is said about its being But the honorable gentleman (Mr. WELLS) has the consideration of the cession. Suspicion hangs said that the French have no title, and, having over the whole of this business. If the territory no title herself, we can derive none from her. Is is, beyond all doubt, to be put quietly and peace- not, I ask, the King of Spain's proclamation, deably into our hands, whence the necessity of send- claring the cession of Louisiana to France, and ing down to receive it an imposing force? Admit his orders to his Governor and officers to deliver that a nominal possession of the territory has been it to France, a title? Do nations give any other? given by the Spaniards to the French, the latter I believe the honorable gentleman can find no it is well known have not a single soldier at any solitary instance of feofment or conveyance beof the posts. Suppose, upon the arrival of our tween States. The Treaty of St. Ildefonso was troops, the Spanish forces should refuse to obey the groundwork of the cession, and whatever the orders of the French Prefect, who then can might have been the terms to be performed by only give you possession by the twig of a tree or France, the King of Spain's proclamation and the knob of a door; your army left to possess orders have declared to all the world that they itself of the fortifications as it can, is half destroyed were complied with. The honorable gentleman, ere resistance by the Spaniards is overcome. In however, insists that there is no consideration exthat case, shall we be willing to pay the whole pressed in the treaty, and therefore it must be amount of the fifteen millions of dollars? I trust void; if the honorable gentleman will but look not. If however we pass this bill, we shall have attentively at the ninth article, I am persuaded he no control over the subject. We have already will perceive one: the conventions are made part strong reasons for doubting the validity of the of the treaty; they are declared to have execution French title to the territory in question: sup-in the same manner, as if they had been inserted pose our doubts should be confirmed before the payment of this money, will you then consent to pay any part of it for what you will not be able to hold? I conceive, therefore, that I am fully justified in withholding my assent from the passage of this bill, seeing that no advantage can result from delegating this power to the President; that it may be, without inconvenience, exercised by ourselves, as we shall remain for some time in session; that even in common cases the unnecessary delegation of power is not to be justified; and that, in this particular instance, circumstances exist of a very extraordinary nature, which render it peculiarly improper.
Mr. JACKSON. Mr. President: In answering the honorable gentlemen who has just sat down, I shall take the liberty of commencing. with repeating what I said yesterday, in answer to another honorable gentleman from Delaware, (Mr. WHITE,) that every argument they have made use of would better have applied at the time the treaty was on its passage for ratification, or at the time of the passage of the bill for taking possession of Louisiana; and it appears extraordinary now, after voting, if not for the treaty, for that bill, to see those gentlemen rise to oppose the conditions to be performed on our part, when France has issued the necessary orders to comply, on her part. The delay of the passage of the bill before
in the treaty; they are to be ratified in the same
The Louisiana Treaty.
Floridas, to use the language of a late member of Congress, the road to Mexico is now open to us, which, if Spain acts in an amicable way, I wish may, and hope will, be shut, as respects the United States forever. For these reasons, I think, sir, Spain will avoid a war, in which she has nothing to gain and everything to lose. But what possession, say the honorable gentlemen, are we to receive, the twig of a tree or the knocker of a door? No, sir, I reply; but possession of New Orleans, the capital, and its defence. By whom, will the honorable gentleman ask? I answer, the same men who the honorable gentlemen were so anxious to send forward and take forcible possession the last session, which could not have failed to involve us with the French, for, if we had succeeded and taken possession, whose territory should we have violated? Spain was barely the tenant, at will, of France, and France the real owner. If, in private life, I were to enter a house the honorable gentleman had purchased, and kick his tenant out, would he not feel aggrieved and seek redress? So would France, if we had rashly taken the measures proposed, and what should we have had then to do? Fling ourselves at once into the arms of Britain for protection. Is this what honorable gentlemen wish? It cannot be. I hope, Mr. President, that the citizens of the United States will never see the day when their defence shall depend on a British army or navy, or the army or navy of any other Power on earth. We are happily divided from the distractions and tumults of the Eastern world by the Atlantic Ocean, and I trust we shall steer clear of entangling alliances with any of them.
larger portion from being sacrificed? Is not the establishment of a Monarch's connexions sometimes an object and consideration for a cession? The very instance before us is a convincing proof -the establishment of the King of Etruria in Italy. Honorable gentlemen have, however, whenever the treaty has been the subject of debate, expressed their fears that the Treaty of Ildefonso has not been complied fully with by France; that Spain will keep possession, and that we shall be involved in war with that Power. The King of Spain's proclamation fully satisfies me on that head, and I hope, and believe, he will be more prudent than in existing circumstances to involve himself in war with us. The English nation, after the handsome letter of Lord Hawkesbury to our Minister, Mr. King, expressing the approval of His Britannic Majesty of the treaty, cannot, in decency, interfere; and Bonaparte is bound in honor and good faith, to protect us in the possession of that country; disgrace would cover him and his nation if he took any part against us. Whom, then, should we have to contend with? With the bayonets of the intrepid French grenadiers, as the honorable gentleman from Delaware, last session, told us, or with the enervated, degraded, and emaciated Spaniards? Shall we be told now that we are no match for these emaciated beings? Last session we were impressed with the necessity of taking immediate possession of the island of New Orleans in the face of two nations, and now we entertain doubts if we can combat the weakest of those Powers; and we are further told we are going to sacrifice the immense sum of fifteen millions of dollars, and have to go to war with Spain, for the country, afterwards; Mr. President, the honorable gentleman appears when, last session, war was to take place at all to be extremely apprehensive of vesting the powevents, and no costs were equal to the object. Gen-ers delegated by the bill, now on its passage, in the tlemen seem to be displeased, because we have procured it peaceably, and at probably ten times less expense than it would have cost us had we taken forcible possession of New Orleans alone, which, I am persuaded, would have involved us in a war, which would have saddled us with a debt of from one to two hundred millions, and perhaps have lost New Orleans, and the right of deposit, after all. I again repeat, sir, that I do not believe that Spain will venture war with the United States. I believe she dare not; if she does, she will pay the costs. The Floridas will be immediately ours; they will almost take themselves. The inhabitants pant for the blessings of your equal and wise Government; they ardently long to become a part of the United States. An officer, duly authorized and armed with the bare proclamation of the President, would go near to take them; the inhabitants by hundreds would flock to his standard, the very Spanish force itself would assist in their reduction; it is composed principally of the Irish brigade and Creolesthe former disaffected, and the latter the dregs of mankind. With two or three squadrons of dragoons, and the same number of companies of infantry, not a doubt ought to exist of the total conquest of East Florida by an officer of tolerable talents. Exclusive, however, of the loss of the
President, aud wishes to retain it in the Legislature. Is this a Legislative or an Executive business? Assuredly, in my mind, of the latter nature. The President gave instructions for, and, with our consent, ratified the treaty. We have given him the power to take possession, which his officers are, perhaps, at this moment doing; and surely, as the ostensible party, the representative of the sovereignty to whom France will alone look, he ought to possess the power of fulfilling our part of the contract. Gentlemen, indeed, had doubted, on a former occasion, the propriety of giving the President the power of taking possession and organizing a temporary government, which every inferior officer, in case of conquest or cession, from the general to the subaltern, if commanding, has a right to do; but I little expected these doubts, after we had gone so far. For my part, sir, I have none of those fears. I believe the President will be as cautious as ourselves, and the bill is as carefully worded as possible; for the money is not to be paid until after Louisiana shall be placed in our possession.
Sir, it has been observed by a gentleman in debate yesterday, (Mr. WHITE,) that Louisiana would become a grievance to us, and that we might as well attempt to prevent fish from swimming in water, as to prevent our citizens from going across
the Mississippi. The honorable gentleman is not so well acquainted with the frontier citizens as I am. I see an honorable gentleman in my view, who knows whether or not what I am going to assert be the fact he was part of the time high in office, (Mr. PICKERING.) The citizens of the State I represent, scattered along an Indian frontier of from three to four hundred miles, have been restrained, except with one solitary instance, by two or three companies of infantry and a handful of dragoons, from crossing over artificial lines and water-courses, sometimes dry, into the Indian country, after their own cattle, which no human prudence could prevent from crossing to a finer and more luxuriant range, and this too at a time when the feelings of Georgians were alive to the injuries they had received by the New York Treaty with the Creek Indians, which took Tallassee county from them, after even three Commissioners appointed by the United States had reported to the President that it was bona fide the property of Georgia, and sold under as fair a contract as could be formed by a civilized with an uncivilized society. If the Georgians, under these circumstances, were restrained from going on their ground, cannot means be devised to prevent citizens crossing into Louisiana? The frontier people are not the people they are represented; they will listen to reason, and respect the laws of their country; it cannot be their wish, it is not their interest to go to Louisiana, or see it settled for years to come; the settlement of it at present would part father and son, brother and brother, and friend and friend, and lessen the value of their lands beyond all calculation. If Spain acts an amicable part, I have no doubt myself but the Southern tribes of Indians can be persuaded to go there; it will be advantageous for themselves; they are now hemmed in on every side; their chance of game decreasing daily; ploughs and looms, whatever may be said, have no charms for them; they want a wider field for the chase, and Louisiana presents it. Spain may, in such case, discard her fears for her Mexican dominions, for half a century at least; and we should fill up the space the Indians remoyed from, with settlers from Europe, and thus preserve the density of population within the original States. For, sir, I will agree with the honorable gentleman, (Mr. WHITE,) that it will be as impossible to prevent fish in the water from swimming, as to prevent the distressed of every country from flying to this asylum of the oppressed of the human They will come from the ambitious and distracted States of Europe to our mild and happy Government, if they commit themselves to the mercy of the ocean, or on a few planks nailed together. In a century, sir, we shall be well populated, and prepared to extend our settlements, and that world of itself will present itself to our approaches, and instead of the description given of it by the honorable gentleman, of making it a howling wilderness, where no civilized foot shall ever tread, if we could return at the proper period we should find it the seat of science and civilization.
Mr. President, in whatever shape I view this
bill, I conceive it all-important that it should pass without a moment's delay. We have a bargain now in our power, which, once missed, we never shall have again. Let us close our part of the contract by the passage of this bill, let us leave no opportunity for any Power to charge us with a want of good faith; and having executed our stipulations in good faith we can appeal to God for the justice of our cause; and I trust that, confiding in that justice, there is virtue, patriotism, and courage sufficient in the American nation, not only to take possession of Louisiana, but to keep that possession against the encroachments or attacks of any Power on earth.
Mr. WRIGHT Mr. President, I presumed from the observations of the honorable gentleman from Delaware (Mr. WELLS,) that he had not minutely attended to the provisions of this bill, on which the transfer of this stock is made expressly to depend. The treaty has in the most guarded manner secured us in the possession of the ceded territory, as a condition precedent the payment of the purchase money, and this bill has expressly provided that no part of the stock shall be transferred till the possession stipulated by the treaty shall have been obtained. Not such a possession as the gentlemen has said the President may be satisfied with-"the delivery of a twig and turf, or the knocker of a door." The treaty has defined the possession intended, it is the possession of Louisiana, the island and city of New Orleans, with the forts and arsenals, the troops having been withdrawn from thence. But, sir, from his remarks, it would seem that his objections to this bill bad been predicated on his want of confidence in the Executive, as he has expressed his fears that the stock would be transferred, before the pre-requisite conditions had been performed. He says, we ought to be satisfied that the possession stipulated by the treaty shall have been delivered up before we pass this bill. Has he forgot that, by the Constitution, the President is to superintend the execution of the law? Or has he forgot that treaties are the supreme law of the land? Or why, while he professes to respect this Constitution, does he oppose the commission of the execution of this law to that organ of the Government to which it has been assigned by the Constitution?/Why, I ask, does he distrust the President? Has he not been throughout the whole of this business very much alive to the peaceful acquisition of this immense territory, and the invaluable waters of the Mississippi? A property which, but the other day, we were told was all-important, and so necessary to our political existence that if it was not obtained the Western people would sever themselves from the Union. This property, for which countless millions were then proposed to be expended, and the best blood of our citizens to be shed, and which then was to be had at all hazards, per fas aut per nefas, seems now to have lost its worth, and it would seem as if some gentlemen could not be satisfied with the purchase, because our title was not recorded in the blood of its inhabitants. But that this is not the wish of the American people, has been unequivocally declared by their immediate representatives
The Louisiana Treaty.
securing them in their property and in their civil and religious liberty, agreeably to the principles of our own Constitution? Can they be so unwise as to prefer being the colonists of a distant European Power, to being members of this immense Empire, with all the privileges of American citizens? Can any gentleman seriously entertain such an unauthorized opinion-that that people, whom we have seen so lately, with so much respect to their late King, submit cheerfully to be citizens of the French Republic, will now, in direct violation of the royal order, refuse to obey it, and treasonably take up arms to resist its execution? It is as cruel as it is unfounded! But should an infatuation so treasonable beget in them insurgent principles of resistance, I hope and trust that our troops on the spot may be permitted to aid the officers of His Catholic Majesty to reduce them to reason and submission to the royal order of their King; that they may be delivered up to be brought to condign punishment, and that their treasonable project may be nipped in the bud.
in Congress, as well as by this House, who had each expressed their approbation of the peaceful title we had acquired, by majorities I thought not to be misunderstood. And the gentleman, although he voted for the ratification of the treaty, now again calls on us to investigate the title. It is certainly too late. But I ask, if he was not possessed of the most satisfactory evidence of the title, why he consented to the ratification of the treaty? Does he not know that France, the original proprietor, ceded it to Spain? Does he not know that Spain retroceded it to France, in exchange for Tuscany, which is now held as the kingdom of Etruria, by the King of Etruria, the relative of His Catholic Majesty, by virtue of that exchange? Does he not know that Spain disclaims all title to it, and has issued the royal order for delivering it to France under its original limits, and that that order was lately in the possession of the Minister of the French Republic near the United States? that the treaties had been ratified and exchanged for the sale of Louisiana to the United States, and that the Minister of the First Consul had concerted with our Government such measures as were deemed necessary to put us in possession of the ceded territory, agreeably to the treaty? How correct, then, it may be to investigate the title after we have ratified the treaty, and become thereby the purchasers, or how prudent to question that title when claiming under it, are questions the gentleman's own feelings will best decide! But of this I am sure, that we can have no just cause of complaint against the French Republic until an eviction under a pre-existing title paramount, which Spain herself disclaims. But if after we shall be in possession, under this peaceful, this legitimate title, any Power on earth shall attempt to disturb our possession, I trust we can obtain injunctions from our Secretaries of War and of the Navy, and secure our title in the way it was wished by some gentleman to have been originally obtained. The gentleman tells us he understands Mr. PICKERING said, if he entertained the opinwe are to be opposed by the subjects of His Cath-ion just now expressed by the gentleman from olic Majesty in taking possession of the ceded ter- Delaware, (Mr. WELLS,) of the binding force of ritory, or why send so many troops to take posses- all treaties made by the President and Senate, he sion? I cannot tell where the gentleman got his should think it to be his duty to vote for the bill information, either as to the opposition intended now under consideration. "The Constitution, or the number of troops to be sent. I have never and the laws of the United States made in pursuheard there was to be any opposition, but the re-ance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall verse. I have never heard the number of troops that are intended to take possession; but I hope and trust a number sufficient to preserve the forts in good order, and to defend them against any Power that may presume to invest them. This, I have no doubt, will be done, as it is committed to the President, under his high responsibility, aided by the heads of the departments to which it belongs, who will be possessed of all necessary information, and who will, I trust, do their duty in preserving and defending these important posts.
Can it be supposed that the Louisianians, who so lately gave so demonstrative proof of their loyalty in their answer to the address of the Prefect of France, will be less disposed to loyalty to the United States, when they recollect that we have treated them as our children, and ourselves, by
I had for myself, however, supposed that from the time of the address of the French Prefect he had been in possession of and in the discharge of the civil functions of the government, and that the Spanish troops in the forts held the possession of them to preserve and protect them till the French troops should arrive under his direction; but I never did suppose that after the First Consul consented to sell that country, that he would send over his troops to take possession of it, but to surrender it; nor did I ever entertain a single doubt that after the King of Spain had sold that property to France and secured and held the property in exchange of which his royal order for the delivery of the possession was full proof, that if it was not in his power to induce the First Consul to keep it, that he would commit that integrity hitherto unsullied, by any measure violative of the faith of his own treaty.
be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land."-But a treaty to be thus obligatory, must not contravene the Constitution, nor contain any stipulations which transcend the powers therein given to the President and Senate. The treaty between the United States and the French Republic, professing to cede Louisiana to the United States, appeared to him to contain such an exceptionable stipulation-a stipulation which cannot be executed by any authority now existing. It is declared in the third article, that "the inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States." But neither the President and Senate, nor the President and Congress, are competent to such an act of incorporation. He believed that our Administration admit
ted that this incorporation could not be effected without an amendment of the Constitution; and he conceived that this necessary amendment could not be made in the ordinary mode by the concurrence of two-thirds of both Houses of Congress, and the ratification by the Legislatures of threefourths of the several States. He believed the assent of each individual State to be necessary for the admission of a foreign country as an associate in the Union (in like manner as in a commercial house, the consent of each member would be necessary to admit a new partner into the company; and whether the assent of every State to such an indispensable amendment were attainable, was uncertain. But the articles of a treaty were necessarily related to each other; the stipulation in one article being the consideration for another. If, therefore, in respect to the Louisiana Treaty, the United States fail to execute, and within a reasonable time, the engagement in the third article, (to incorporate that Territory into the Union,) the French Government will have a right to declare the whole treaty void. We must then abandon the country, or go to war to maintain our possession. But it was to prevent war that the pacific measures of the last winter were adopted they were to "lay the foundation for future peace."
(Mr. P. had never doubted the right of the United States to acquire new territory, either by purchase or by conquest, and to govern the territory so acquired as a dependent province; and in this way might Louisiana have become a territory of the United States, and have received a form of government infinitely preferable to that to which its inhabitants are now subject.)
There was another serious objection to this treaty. It purported to contain a cession of Louisiana to the United States. The first article had often been read and commented upon; yet he begged leave to refer to it once more. It was therein stated, by the third article of the Treaty of St. Ildefonso, made the first of October, 1800, that the King of Spain promised and engaged, on certain conditions, "to cede to the French Republic the 'colony or province of Louisiana, with the same ' extent that it then had in the hands of Spain and that it had when France possessed it, and such as 'it should be after the treaties subsequently en'tered into between Spain and other States." Now, under this mere conditional promise of Spain, the First Consul (declaring that the French Republic had thereby an incontestable title to the country) undertakes to cede Louisiana to the United States; and how does he cede it? "In 'the same manner as it had been acquired by the French Republic, in virtue of the above-men'tioned treaty with Spain." That is, by that treaty, France acquired a right to demand an actual cession of the territory, provided she fulfilled all the conditions on which Spain promised to cede. But we know Spain declares that those conditions have not been fully performed; and, by her remonstrances, warns the United States not to touch Louisiana. Now we, standing (as some gentlemen have expressed themselves) in
the shoes of France, can have only the same right relative to the subject in question. We can ask of Spain an actual cession, or a confirmation of the claim we have purchased of the French Republic, provided we will and can fulfil the conditions of the Treaty of St. Ildefonso; and what are these conditions? We cannot tell. Mr. P. believed that our Executive knew not what they were; and he believed, too, that even our Envoys, who negotiated the treaty for Louisiana, were alike uninformed. He believed that they never saw (for they had not intimated that they had ever seen) any other part of the Treaty of St. Ildefonso, than what is recited in the first article of our treaty with France; and this defect has not been supplied by any guaranty of the territory on the part of France. She had not stipulated, nor is under any obligation, to procure the assent of Spain, as a confirmation of the cession to the United States.
Such is the nature of our title to Louisiana. We had, indeed, been told of a publication, long since made at New Orleans, of the King of Spain's orders to his officers there, to deliver possession of the province to the French Republic. Mr. P. would also take the liberty of mentioning what he had heard, and from good authority: that the Prince of Peace, more than a year subsequent to the Treaty of St. Ildefonso, declared that the King of Spain (his master) had not ceded Louisiana to France.
Another honorable gentleman has entertained us with an account of the animating address of the French Prefect to the inhabitants of Louisiana, the largest portion of whom are French; and of the cordiality with which they received, and echoed, in their answer, the sentiments of the Prefect. But what were the feelings and conduct of the Spanish officers on seeing these French proceedings? Mr. P. had heard from an honorable member in his eye, (Mr. DAYTON,) that they sent for the printer, and forbade all further promulgation of the address and answer, on pain of his being sent to the dungeon, or to the mines, for life. Thus tenacious was Spain of her right to Louisiana, and thus severe in her prohibition of whatever might disparage her title.
But gentlemen rely on the royal order, now in the hands of the French agent here, for the delivery of the possession of Louisiana to the French Republic. They seem to consider it as full evidence of the cession of that territory to France; and as supplying all apparent defect of title under the Treaty of St. Ildefonso. That order (said Mr. P.) is a year old. Before that time France had concluded a peace with Great Britain; and whatever the French Government should demand of Spain would be given.
It is likewise supposed that the Spanish officers in Louisiana will not dare to refuse obedience to that order; and one gentleman has expressed his opinion, in case such refusal should happen, that the American troops, whom the President should send thither, would be justified in compelling them to obey. But what if a subsequent royal order had been issued requiring those officers not