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Translation of a letter from the Secretary of State of Spain to Charles Pinckney, Minister of the United States to Madrid, refusing to sell the Floridas to the United States.
ARANJUEZ, April 7, 1802.
SIR: I have communicated to his majesty the proposition which your excellency made in the name of your government, in your official letter of the 24th of March last, respecting the session of the two Floridas to the United States of America, by sale. His majesty having been made well acquainted with every thing advanced by your excellency in support of that idea, has commanded me to inform you, in reply, that his majesty rejoices in every opportunity of strengthening the bonds of friendship with the United States of America, but that the subject in question, being one of the utmost weight and importance, merits great circumspection before it can be determined.
With regard to the request made by you in the same official letter, that a mercantile agent of the United States should be permitted to reside at New Orleans, his majesty does not accede to it, as it is prohibited by our laws of the Indies; and from the just consideration that, by making one example of that kind, the door would open for like demands on the part of other nations.
I embrace this opportunity to assure you of my distinguished consideration, &c.
TO CHARLES PINCKNEY, Esq.,
Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
of the United States of America.
The above was translated by Robert Greenhow, translator of foreign languages to the department of state of the United States, from a copy in Spanish of the original, existing in the archives of the department of state at Madrid; which is authenticated by the certificate of Don Ceferino de Cevallos, the keeper of those archives, and by that of Don A. Calderon de la Barca, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Spain in the United States.
From Charles Pinckney, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, of the United States of America at Madrid, to his Excellency Don Pedro Cevallos, Secretary of State of Spain.
ARANJUEZ, February, 17, 1803. I had the honour, last evening, to state to your excellency the
nature of the information I had received from our government, and their instructions respecting the conduct of the intendant of New Orleans, in prohibiting the deposit of American effects, stipulated by the treaty of 1795. I trust, from the statements then made, your excellency was fully impressed with the delicacy and pressing importance of the subject, and the sensibility and anxiety of our government and citizens to have this order of the intendant immediately revoked, under the conviction that it was issued without the knowledge of his majesty or his government, on whose honourable and exact compliance with treaties they had the most perfect reliance. It was with particular pleasure, therefore, I received from your excellency the information that this order of the intendant had been issued by him, without the knowledge of his majesty or his government, and that orders should be immediately sent to New Orleans to the intendant and proper authorities there, to regulate the commerce and intercourse of the citizens of the United States in that port by the treaty of 1795, and to place the same on the footing it had been from the foundation of that treaty to the issuing of the intendant's order. Your excellency was pleased to add that you would transmit a duplicate of this order to the minister plenipotentiary of his majesty in the United States, to be shown to their government, and forwarded by your minister at New Orleans. I will, at the same time, thank your excellency to be so obliging as to favour me with a copy of the order, that I might also be enabled to transmit it by some safe and speedy opportunity. I had the honour, yesterday, to state to your excellency the anxiety of our government on the subject of possessing the territory on the east side of the Mississippi. The importance of this acquisition to them for the purpose of securing to the citizens of one-half of the United States the certain means of exporting their products, has been so fully explained to your excellency in my letter written in March last, and in subsequent conversations, that I need not, at this time, go again into the subject. Referring your excellency to them, I have now to say that the government of the United States, from many circumstances, as well as from the conduct of the intendant, feel themselves every day more convinced of the necessity of their having a permanent establishment on the Mississippi, convenient for the purposes of navigation and belonging solely to them. To obtain this, they have authorized me to say that, should his majesty be now inclined to sell to the United States his possessioas on the east side of the river Mississippi, or between that and the river Mobile, agreeably to the propositions enclosed, the United States will make to his majesty, and I do now in their name make, the important offer of guarantying to him and his successors his dominions beyond the Mississippi. It is with his majesty and his ministers to consider, for the reasons I had the honour to state in our conversation of last evening, the immense importance of this offer to the Spanish crown, and to reflect how far may be in the power of any other nation to make an offer so truly valuable and precious as this is to Spain—one that the United States
would never have made, but from a conviction of the indispensable necessity of their possessing a suitable establishment on this river, and which this territory can alone furnish. The unshaken, and, indeed, unimpeached honour of the United States, in the exact performance of treaties and guaranties, and in all their public contracts and transactions, is so well known as certainly to convince his majesty and his ministers that any stipulations on their part will be faithfully executed. Referring your excellency to our conversation the last evening, in which I opened to you many of the reasons for making this offer, I wish your excellency to submit them to his majesty, and in a short time I will have the honour to see your excellency again, on my return from Madrid, for which place, for the present, I will thank your excellency to direct your letters for
I have the honour to be, &c.
Propositions made to Spain on the 17th of February, 1803, by Charles Pinckney, on the part of the United States.
1. The United States will purchase the possessions of his catholic majesty, on the east side of the river Mississippi, for which they will pay
2. They will purchase these possessions, for which they will pay dollars; and, moreover, guaranty to his majesty and his successors his possessions beyond the river Mississippi.
3. They will purchase the country between the rivers Mississippi and Mobile, belonging to his majesty, and, also, places of deposit near the mouths of the other rivers passing from their territory through either of the Floridas, for which they will pay dollars, or enter into other obligations, which may be thought equivalent to the acquirement.
4. If none of these propositions can be acceded to, they will then purchase certain tracts of country on the banks of the Mississippi and the other rivers passing from their territory into that of his catholic majesty, for which they will pay dollars, or enter into other obligations which may be thought equivalent to the acquirement.
Translation of a letter from the secretary of state of Spain to Charles Pinckney, Minister of the United States of America at Madrid.
PALACE, July 19, 1803.
To the Minister of the United States of America :
SIR: His majesty the king having given orders to his minister near the United States of America to make known to that government the absolute nullity of the proceedings of France in disposing of Louisiana, which she had formally and positively engaged not to sell, I now communicate the same to you, in order that you may submit it to your government, which will thus receive it by distinct channels. At the same time, I must inform you, in reply to the assurance given me by you at our last conference that France had also ceded West Florida, that the said province never has at any time or by any title belonged to the French.
I am, &c.,
Translated by Robert Greenhow, translator of foreign languages to the department of state of the United States, from a copy of the original in Spanish, which is deposited in the archives of the department of state of Madrid; which copy was authenticated by the certificates of Don Ceferino Cevallos, keeper of those archives, and of Don A. Calderon de la Barca, minister of Spain in the United States.
Protest of the Marquis de Casa Calvo, commissioner of Spain, respecting the pretensions of the United States, addressed to M. Laussat, the Colonial Prefect of Louisiana, with the reply of the latter.
Translated by Robert Greenhow, translator of foreign languages to the department of state of the United States, from copies taken from originals in the archives of the department of state of Madrid; which copies were authenticated by the certificates of Don Ceferino de Cevallos, keeper of the said archives, and of Don A. Calderon de la Barca, minister of Spain in the United States of America.
NEW ORLEANS, March 31, 1804.
To the Colonial Prefect and Commmissioner of the French Republic:
I should be guilty of a great dereliction from my duty, and from the necessities imposed by the confidence of the king, my master, when he gave me my commission, if, while you are preparing for
your voyage, and terminating the operations in which I was also destined to bear a part, I should neglect to communicate to you, in the name of the king, that Spain cannot, with indifference, regard the exorbitant propositions which the United States are beginning to set forth, with regard to the limits both to the east and the west of the province of Louisiana. The limits on the east are established by solemn treaties, and for that very reason are absolutely unquestionable; it however appears that France herself is supporting the establishment of those on the west, at the mouth of the river Bravo. I cannot, therefore, refrain from entering my most solemn protest against any operations or intentions of establishing the limits beyond the river Sabine, until his majesty shall have resolved upon some measure with regard to the subject; as such a proceeding would be prejudicial to the interests of Spain, and would tend to dismember a considerable portion of the internal provinces of Mexico, to the great damage of the dominions of his majesty and of his subjects.
And in order that this may forever be public, I beseech you, sir, to inform your government of it, in order that the limits may be settled truly, which now appear undetermined, and the operations of tracing them may be begun upon the bases already acknowledged by France when she formerly possessed the province of Louisiana. May God preserve you many years.
THE MARQUIS DE CASA CALVO.
Reply to the foregoing Protest.
NEW ORLEANS, 12 of Germinal, year 12, (2d of April, 1804.) To the Marquis de Casa Calvo, brigadier of the armies of Spain, and commissioner of his Catholic Majesty:
SIR: I will faithfully submit to my government the declaration in the form of a protest, which you placed in my hands by your letter of the 10th of Germinal of the present year (March 31, 1804,) respecting the limits which should be established for Louisiana, according to the treaty of restoration and of cession, in execution of which I here represent the French people, by commission from the first consul. I have the honour to salute you, sir, with the greatest consideration.