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British had not in that country a force that was adequate to the execution of such a plan.
At a subsequent period, I am inclined to think it was in the latter part of April, after the Spanish minister had repeated his suspicion of an expedition intended from Canada against Upper Louisiana, and which I again mentioned to Mr. Liston, the latter again said that he had no knowledge of such a design. But he added, that a proposal had been made to him of an expedition to the southward, against the Spanish possessions: but which he had no power to autho rize. And as to General Clarke of Georgia, to whom the Spanish minister said he certainly knew that propositions had been made by the British relative to an attack on the Floridas, he (Mr. Liston) did not recollect ever to have heard of the man; and certainly that he had no knowledge of any such propositions.
Mr. Liston has informed me, that when he objected to the project of an expedition against the Spanish territories at the southward, because on the plan of the projector it could not be attempted without violating the neutral rights of the United States, the projector answered, that the men going from the United States would march unarmed; and not take arms until they should be within the Spanish territory. When he told the projector that he (Mr. Liston) had no authority to institute such an expedition, he asked if the Governor or General commanding in Canada could not authorize it. To this Mr. Liston answered, that the Governor doubtless possessed certain military powers; but he presumed that he would not think himself authorized to direct the execution of a plan of this kind, and all that he (Mr. Liston) could do, would be to write to the British government, and await its answer; which indeed might be long in coming, or might not come at all; partly on account of the important objects which engaged its attention, and partly on account of the strong objections to the project itself. This was about the beginning of January last. The answer not arriving as soon as the eagerness of the projector expected, he became impatient and was extremely pressing to go to England to obtain, in person, an answer to the British goɣernment; to which Mr. Liston said, he, with much reluctance, consented.
I asked Mr. Liston if a trading scheme formed any part of the project which had been proposed to him: He answered in the affirmative.
Governor Blount having, in his letter to Carey, expressed his doubts whether Chisholm was gone to England, I asked
Mr. Liston of the fact. He answered, that he was certainly gone; that he embarked in a vessel from Philadelphia; that he (Mr. Liston) had paid for his passage; and that he had seen letters brought by the pilot, received from Chisholm when he was far down the Delaware or at the Capes.
Having learnt from the Committee, or some of its members, that they had received information, that Chisholm had said that he discharged a debt for which he had become engaged (I think for Governor Blount) by making some sacrifice on a note, or obligation from Mr. Bond, the British Consul, I mentioned the circumstance to Mr. Liston; who answered, that he knew of no such thing; and that he had never communicated to Mr. Bond any information of the project in question. Afterwards (I believe on the same day) I met Mr. Liston, when he told me that he had mentioned to Mr. Bond, the story of his note, or obligation to Chisholm. Mr. Bond said he had never given either; that he had never paid him any money, nor even knew the man. As this story, however, tended to excite a suspicion that other monies might have been paid to Chisholm by Mr. Liston, or by his directions, I asked him if he had ever paid any thing to or for Chisholm, besides his passage-money. He answered that he had not: that even his passage-money was not paid into the hands of Chisholm, but to the master, or owner of the vessel in which he embarked. But as Chisholm on his arrival in London, a perfect stranger, would need some money for his immediate support, he (Mr. Liston) gave him a draught on his banker for twenty pounds sterling: but whether this has been actually paid to him or not, Mr. Liston has not received information. And in his letter to Mr. Hammond concerning Chisholm's voyage, Mr. Liston said he had intimated the necessity of paying for his passage back to America: apologizing for permitting him to go to England, by saying, that the whole would be an expense of only about an hundred pounds. Mr. Liston added, that these were all the monies ever paid or promised by him to any person or persons concerned in the project in question..
With respect to Dr. Romayne, Mr. Liston informed me, that a day or two before he left London, in March 1796, he breakfasted with the American minister, and found there Dr. Romayne, of New-York, who was introduced to him by Mr. Pinckney. That this circumstance, with the Doctor's civility, and the strain of his conversation, led him to form at favourable opinion of his character. That he never saw him before; nor has since seen him. That he did not know of
his return from Europe, till towards the latter part of last April (and a few days after Chisholm had embarked for England) when, with some surprise, he received a letter from the Doctor, dated the 14th of that month.
That in this letter the Doctor reminded him of their interview at Mr. Pinckney's: expressed his good wishes; and, alluding, as it appeared, to Mr. Liston, though in covered terms, to the project of an expedition to be undertaken with the aid of persons resident within the United States, and to certain matters that had been discussed between the British minister and some of the parties, mentioned the delicacy of Mr. Liston's situation: cautioned him against interfering in a business that could not with propriety be patronized by a person in a public character, and particularly put him upon his guard against certain men who had made application to him upon the subject; and who (the Doctor said) were not to be trusted. That Dr. Romayne named no one; but hinted, that if he had an opportunity of communicating with Mr. Liston, he might enter into further particulars.
Mr. Liston said, that as he had already reasons to doubt the good faith of some of those who had come to talk with him on the business, he was still more apprehensive, in consequence of the suspicions thrown out by Dr. Romayne, and hence became anxious to draw from him further explanations, especially with regard to individuals.
He therefore wrote to the Doctor, on the 28th of April, the letter which is in the possession of the committee; calculated, as he thought, for this purpose; as it was meant to inspire confidence, by telling the truth. That the mention in the letter of sending a person of consequence to the scene of action, Mr. Liston said, was occasioned by a passage in the Doctor's letter to him, in which he seemed particularly to dissuade from a step of this nature; falsely supposing that Mr. Liston had already taken some resolution in respect to it. Mr. Liston said, that conceiving the sending of such a confidential person to be a necessary preliminary, in case the project received attention in England, he stated this opinion in a few words to the Doctor, in the hope of inducing him to give his sentiments fully on that point: But that he (Mr. Liston) had been disappointed in the Doctor's answer, which did not give the frank communication which was desired; that his style was still mysterious; that he seemed to have misunderstood what was written to him; and avoided entering into any detail. detail. That Mr. Liston did not reply; and that here the correspondence ended.
I have been enabled to detail so many particulars on this subject of Doctor Romayne's correspondence by conversing with Mr. Liston again, since the committee's request was communicated to me by Mr. Harper. On my hinting to him the wish of the committee (which I did immediately on receiving Mr. Sitgreaves' letter of the 13th inst.) to be possessed of Doctor Romayne's letter to which Mr. Liston's was an answer, he said it was destroyed.
In the same letter the committee expressed their desire to see Lord Grenville's letter, which I informed them Mr. Liston had shewn to me; and intimated that a copy of it would be convenient. I have already shewn you the origi nal, by Mr. Liston's consent; and I now enclose a copy, together with a copy of the note in which Mr. Liston sent it to me, to shew under what reserve it was thus submitted, viz. that it should not be exhibited to prove the criminality of any of the persons concerned in the plan in question; for which reason I have left a blank, in the copy, where the name of one of those persons was introduced.
I return the original letter of April 28th, from Mr. Liston to Dr. Romayne, which was found among the papers of the latter.
1 am, Gentlemen, very respectfully,
Esquires ;-a Committee of the
R. Liston presents his respects to Colonel Pickering, Secretary of State.
I have the honour of inclosing (according to your desire) Lord Grenville's original dispatch to me respecting the proposal for an attack on a part of the Spanish territories in North-America: and you have my leave to shew it to the President, and to make what other use of its contents you inay in your discretion judge expedient; always with the reserve (which I am confident you will not think it improper I
should put in) that it shall not be exhibited to prove the criminality of any of the persons concerned in the plan in question.
Philadelphia, 15th July, 1797.
True copy of the original letter,
GEO. TAYLOR, jun. Chief Clerk
Downing-Street, April 8th, 1797.
In answer to your dispatches No. 2 and 3, I have to inform you that the proposal which has been made to you by Mr.(as mentioned in those dispatches) for endeavouring to wrest the two Floridas from Spain has been taken into consideration by his Majesty's confidential servants, but it has not been thought expedient to accede to it, or to adopt any measures for carrying it into execution.
Without entering into a detail of the various considerations that have led to this decision, I think it merely necessary to observe, that, exclusively of the inadequacy of the means to the end proposed, the two objections which have occurred to yourself, the necessity of employing the Indians, and the impropriety of originating within the United States any hostile expedition against a nation with which they are at peace, are of sufficient magnitude to counterbalance the advantages which are likely to result from the execution of such a plan.
I have therefore to signify to you the King's pleasure, that you take an early opportunity of informing Mr.-——————that you have submitted his design to his Majesty's government, but that it has not been thought advisable to afford any assistance from this country towards carrying it into effect.
I am, with great truth and regard,
Your most obedient humble servant,
Robert Liston, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
True copy of the original letter, blanks being left for the name, which occurs twice.