Albert Shaw lectures on diplomatic...
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The definition and delimitation...
 The occupation of the Natchez...
 The Louisiana Purchase and the...
 The failure of Monroe's special...
 Frontier problems and personal...
 The Burr conspiracy and the...
 American bickering and French...
 The shadow of the Corsican
 The movement for self-government...
 Drifting toward insurrection
 Baton Rouge - insurgent and...
 Filibustering operations on the...
 American intervention in West...
 In defense of intervention
 Incorporation and adjustment
 Mobile and the aftermath
 The conclusion of the controve...

Title: West Florida controversy, 1798-1813 : a study in American diplomacy
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AM00000049/00001
 Material Information
Title: West Florida controversy, 1798-1813 : a study in American diplomacy
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Cox, Isaac Joslin
Publisher: The Johns Hopkins Press
Publication Date: 1918
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: AM00000049
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Florida A&M University (FAMU)
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: notis - AAA1678

Table of Contents
    Albert Shaw lectures on diplomatic history
        Page i
    Half Title
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Title Page
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    The definition and delimitation of West Florida
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
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        Page 15
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        Page 19
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        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
    The occupation of the Natchez District
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
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        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
    The Louisiana Purchase and the Floridas
        Page 64
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
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        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
    The failure of Monroe's special mission
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
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        Page 132
        Page 133
        Page 134
        Page 135
        Page 136
        Page 137
        Page 138
    Frontier problems and personalities
        Page 139
        Page 140
        Page 141
        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
        Page 145
        Page 146
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        Page 181
        Page 182
        Page 183
        Page 184
        Page 185
        Page 186
        Page 187
    The Burr conspiracy and the embargo
        Page 188
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
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        Page 220
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        Page 222
        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
    American bickering and French bargaining
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
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        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
        Page 264
        Page 265
    The shadow of the Corsican
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
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        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
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        Page 288
        Page 289
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        Page 299
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        Page 303
        Page 304
        Page 305
        Page 306
        Page 307
        Page 308
        Page 309
        Page 310
        Page 311
    The movement for self-government at Baton Rouge
        Page 312
        Page 312-a
        Page 313
        Page 314
        Page 315
        Page 316
        Page 317
        Page 318
        Page 319
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        Page 351
        Page 352
        Page 353
        Page 354
        Page 355
        Page 356
        Page 357
    Drifting toward insurrection
        Page 358
        Page 359
        Page 360
        Page 361
        Page 362
        Page 363
        Page 364
        Page 365
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        Page 383
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        Page 386
        Page 387
    Baton Rouge - insurgent and militant
        Page 388
        Page 389
        Page 390
        Page 391
        Page 392
        Page 393
        Page 394
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        Page 433
        Page 434
        Page 435
        Page 436
    Filibustering operations on the Mobile
        Page 437
        Page 438
        Page 438-a
        Page 439
        Page 440
        Page 441
        Page 442
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        Page 480
        Page 481
        Page 482
        Page 483
        Page 484
        Page 485
        Page 486
    American intervention in West Florida
        Page 487
        Page 488
        Page 489
        Page 490
        Page 491
        Page 492
        Page 493
        Page 494
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        Page 523
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        Page 525
        Page 526
        Page 527
        Page 528
        Page 529
    In defense of intervention
        Page 530
        Page 531
        Page 532
        Page 533
        Page 534
        Page 535
        Page 536
        Page 537
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        Page 565
        Page 566
        Page 567
        Page 568
        Page 569
        Page 570
        Page 571
    Incorporation and adjustment
        Page 572
        Page 573
        Page 574
        Page 575
        Page 576
        Page 577
        Page 578
        Page 579
        Page 580
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        Page 599
        Page 600
        Page 601
        Page 602
        Page 603
        Page 604
        Page 605
        Page 606
        Page 607
        Page 608
    Mobile and the aftermath
        Page 609
        Page 610
        Page 611
        Page 612
        Page 613
        Page 614
        Page 615
        Page 616
        Page 617
        Page 618
        Page 619
        Page 620
        Page 621
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        Page 623
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        Page 627
        Page 628
        Page 629
        Page 630
        Page 631
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        Page 638
        Page 639
        Page 640
        Page 641
        Page 642
        Page 643
        Page 644
    The conclusion of the controversy
        Page 645
        Page 646
        Page 647
        Page 648
        Page 649
        Page 650
        Page 651
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        Page 655
        Page 656
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        Page 660
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        Page 699
Full Text


1899 JOHN H. LATANI The Diplomatic Relations
of the United States and Spanish America
1900. (Out of print.)
1900. JAMES MORTON CALLAHAN. The Diplomatic
History of the Southern Confederacy. 1901.
(Out of print.)
1906. JEssE SIDDALL REEVES. American Diplomacy
under Tyler and Polk 3907. $1.5o.
1907. ELBERT JAY BENTON. International Law and
Diplomacy of the Spanish-American War.
1908. $1.50.
1909. EFPRAIM DOUGLAS ADAMS. British Interests
and Activities in Texas, 1838-1846 1910.
1911. CHARLES OSCAR PAULLIN Diplomatic Nego-
tiations of American Naval Officers, 1778-
1883. 1912. $2 o.
1912. ISAAC J Cox. TheWest Florida Controversy.
1798-1813. 1918- $30 o.
1913. WILIIAM R MANNINc. Early Diplomatic
Relations between the United States and
Mexico. 1916. $2.23.

1914. FRANK A IUPDYK The Diplomacy of the
War of 1812. 1915. $2.50.
1916 PAYSON JACKSON TREAT. The Early Diplo-
matic Relations between the United States
and Japan, 1853-1865. 1917. $250






BY '

Wtf-- .ty ({

'- -- *" (!ii



By the liberality of Albert Shaw, Ph.D., of New
York City, the Johns Hopkins University has been
enabled to provide an annual course of lectures on
Diplomatic History. The lectures are included in the
regular work of the Department of History and are
published under the direction of Professor John H.

CONTROVERSY, 1798-1813

c' 2-

Copyright, 1918





FLORIDA .................. .............. I

THE SHADOW OF THE CORSICAN. .............. 266
BATON ROUGE ............................ 312


IN DEFENSE OF INTERVENTION .... ... ...... 530
MOBILE AND THE AFTERMATH ................ 609
.................................. facing I
WEST FLORIDA .................... facig 2
3. THE DISTRICT OF BATON ROUGE .......facing 312
4. THE DISTRICT OF MOBILE.............facing 438


It is to be hoped that the title, scope, and subject-
matter of this study will be self-explanatory, and that
the notes will prove clear and detailed enough to sup-
ply the place of a formal bibliography. But neither
text nor notes show definitely my indebtedness to the
courteous and efficient aid of a number of individuals
who have assisted in gathering material for the volume
and in preparing it for the press. To most of these
persons I can render only a general acknowledgment;
of a few I must make special mention.
No detailed study such as is here attempted would
be possible were it not for the series of helpful guides
published during the last ten years by the Carnegie
Institution of Washington. In addition to these
printed aids, I have had access to the notes, cards, and
manuscript reports belonging to the Bureau of His-
torical Research of that institution, and have been
furnished with extensive excerpts from these sources,
and with proof sheets of reports in process of publica-
tion. For these and many other evidences of helpful
interest in my work, I wish to express my personal
thanks to the director of the Bureau, Dr. J. Franklin
Jameson, and to his efficient associate, Mr. Waldo G
While working over the Papeles Procedentes de

Cuba, in the Archivo General at Seville, I experienced
the usual courteous attention and assistance of Seior
Don Pedro Torres Lanzas, the chief of the archive,
and of the assistant chief, the late Seior Don Jose
GonzAlez Verger. It was also my good fortune to
meet there Professor Roscoe R. Hill, now of the Uni-
versity of New Mexico, who was then engaged in
preparing for the Carnegie Institution his monumental
"Descriptive Catalogue" of the Papeles de Cuba.
By making use of Mr. Hill's notes, which he freely
turned over to me, I was able to avoid much unnec-
essary labor in what proved the most fertile collection
of material for my purpose and also to make my
search infinitely more fruitful. Moreover, Mr. Hill
has made me doubly his debtor by reading the proofs
of the present work.
Several volumes of transcripts from the Papeles
are to be found in the State Department of Archives
and History at Jackson, Mississippi. It was my privi-
lege to examine these before going abroad, with the
aid of Mr. J. A. Robertson's valuable "List of Docu-
ments" (also published by the Carnegie Institution),
and to find that this preliminary work measurably
curtailed my labors at Seville, Moreover, the deposi-
tory at Jackson contains the original letter books of
Governor W. C. C. Claiborne and other valuable docu-
mentary sources for the territorial period of Missis-
sippi history. The letter books, in part duplicated at
Washington, have recently been edited and published

by the director of the Department, Dr. Dunbar Row-
land. This timely publication, of more than local sig-
nificance, will readily supplement my references to the
manuscript sources. In addition to courteous assist-
ance in his own Department, I am also indebted to Dr.
Rowland for many practical suggestions regarding the
local archives in his vicinity.
To the keepers of these archives, and to the officials
in charge of other local, state, and national reposi-
tories, including the archives of the State and War
departments at Washington and the manuscript col-
lections m the Library of Congress, space forbids
more than a general acknowledgment. But I wish to
reiterate the customary expression of oblgation that a
growing list of American scholars gladly render to
these helpful and courteous custodians. In the same
manner I must express my indebtedness to the officials
of historical societies, and to numerous private indi-
viduals, who have opened their libraries and manu-
script collections to me in unstinted measure For
the archives at Washington, the guides prepared by
Messrs. Van Tyne and Leland and D W. Parker for
the Carnegie Institution were very helpful.
The guide of Messrs Paullin and Paxson, or rather
notes prepared for their guide, afforded me a service-
able survey of the collections in the British Public
Record Office. The notes of Mr. Leland rendered
the diplomatic correspondence in the Archives des
Affaires Itrangeres at Paris immediately available.


Professor W. R. Shepherd's guide was of assistance
in the Archivo Historico Nacional at Madrid. At all
these archives the officials in charge gave substantial
aid, but I must mention in particular the helpfulness
of Senior Don Ignacio Olavide, who was temporarily
in charge of the Archivo Historico Nacional at the
time of my visit there.
The preparation of this book is due in a peculiar
manner to the cooperation of three universities. The
greater part of the necessary research was carried on
during a leave of absence from the University of Cin-
cinnati. Subsidies afforded by a Harrison Research
Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and the
Albert Shaw Lectureship at Johns Hopkins University
enabled me to employ this leisure most advantageously.
My colleagues, Professor Merrick Whitcomb, Dr.
Reginald C. McGrane, and Professor Clyde W. Park,
have still further exemplified this spirit of academic
cooperation by a careful reading of manuscript and
proof sheets. Mr. Carl E. Otto and Mr. K. W. Bron-
son, students in my classes, have assisted in preparing
the maps. In/the drudgery of composition and proof
reading my wife, as might be expected, has been my
constant mentor and. indispensable partner.
UxivF;SHY or CIxclnx.ar,
December, 1917.



During the first six decades of the eighteenth cen-
tury, Spain, France, and Great Britain asserted over-
lapping claims in what is now the southeastern part of
the United States. Their uncertain spheres of influ-
ence, to borrow a modern term, comprised coastal
plains on the Gulf and the Atlantic, indented by shal-
low bays and inlets and drained by rivers of moderate
size, together with an indefinite hinterland. This re-
gion was peopled by numerous aborigines, largely
grouped in imposing confederacies, mutually hostile
but generally unfriendly toward intrusive Europeans.
Position, physical characteristics, and native popula-
tion thus jointly served to give an immense strategic
value to the entire region, and these same basic con-
ditions likewise suggested that political control and
development therein must be unified.
For nearly two hundred years after its discovery
the region attracted but casual international attention.
Then, in the early part of the eighteenth century a
series of factors-physical, racial, colonial, interna-
tional-began in more thorough measure to exert their
influence in blocking out a part of the region for fu-
ture diplomatic and border controversies. This period,


which may not inaptly be called the period of defini-
tion, ended in 1763.1 West Florida, first named and
tentatively de d in that year, was the residuary
legatee of the international claims and controversies
that had hitherto characterized the history of the en-
tire region.
Great Britain, now possessing all the territory lying
between the Atlantic, the Gulf, and the Mississippi,
except the Island of New Orleans, was in a position
to establish that unified control so necessary to its
complete development. Her first step to this end, the
Royal Proclamation of 1763, gave West Florida a
name and a northern boundary, the thirty-first parallel.
This line, derived from the earl) Carolina grants, was
destined to play an important part in the succeeding
history of the region. The attempt to prescribe defi-
nite limits for the new province, an attempt repeated
by the British and their successors during the next
thirty-five years, began what we may term its period
of delimitation. Shortly after 1763 the English au-
thorities themselves modified the boundaries that they
had first prescribed, because they found that it was
advisable to extend the jurisdiction of West Florida
to include all white settlements below the junction of
i For a description of the terms definition and "delimi-
ation as used in this chapter, consult my article on "The
Significance of the Louisiana-Texas Frontier" in Proceedings
of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, I909-1910,

I Telritory added to the ollginal jurisdiction of West Florida by Crot Britain in 1y767 in dispute between
piaili ae d the a .Una d State i783- 1 s, rlanquisled by Span i the Treaty of 179S and definitely occupied by the
iUnitel Stales in i7o,
I. Territory clned by the United State, S.o -Siao, as part of the Lonlsiania lPurc1ase proclaimed inde-
lpndent by its inhlabitanl, September, 1810, and occnp.ed by the United States m i th following D ectmnbrli itcor-
porated Mith tlIe Stale of Louisiana in 15,2
SIII Clained by the United States as above, brought under its military and civil -jrisdlicton in 18ir, ncor-
Mississippi Territory in 1812.
S. Iv the Unted States as above, American jiriadiiion roclainmcd there by Claiborne (:181) and
S \ tow nf Mobile, ocullied by the military forces of the United States, April, 83,
\-, estahhislted there, later part of Alabama,
S \' cdedl by Spain to the United States in the Treaty of 1819, part of

j% i


the Yazoo with the Mississippi. During the Ameri-
can Revolution Spain conquered the English holdings
and retained them under the Treaty of 1783. But
that power was immediately involved in a territorial
controversy with the United States and in 1795 was
obliged to yield to her rival the portion of the prov-
ince above the thirty-first parallel.
By the early part of 1798 the stipulations of the
treaty of the Escorial, by which Spain made this ces-
sion to the United States, were in process of adjust-
ment. The thirty-first parallel was reestablished as
the boundary of West Florida, this time becoming an
international line in the area east of the Mississippi.
We may, therefore, take 1798 as the closing date for
what we have called the period of delimitation in West
Florida. The territory of Mississippi and the prov-
ince of West Florida, the frontier jurisdictions of
their respective nations, were separated by a definite
limit, as well marked, in the course of the next two
years, as their needs required. But such a settlement
violated the essential unity of the region and the
quarrel between Spain and the United States that had
lasted fifteen years was soon renewed. In this dual
dispute Great Britain and France, two of the parties
to the original controversy that was settled in 1763
and still bitter commercial and political rivals, threat-
ened to intervene whenever it should suit their indi-
vidual purposes. The United States, ambitious heir


of the former, desired to acquire both the Floridas,
and after 1803 claimed that portion of the western
province lying between the Mississippi and the Per-
dido as part of the Louisiana Purchase.2 This claim,
which was largely responsible for the bitter territorial
disputes in which the United States was immediately
involved, and the measures taken by its officials dur-
ing the succeeding decade to establish the claim and
occupy the disputed area, form the subject of the pres-
ent study.
The American claim included that portion of the
Mississippi delta and its back country of which Baton
Rouge is the natural center, the alluvial bottoms of the
Pearl and the Pascagoula, and the area around Mobile
Bay. The western portion resembled the Natchez dis-
trict, with which it made a common physiographic
unit. Here was found the larger part of West Flor-
ida's scattered population, gathered into considerable
communities along the lakes and streams as far east-
ward as the Pearl. There were isolated habitations
at Bayou St. Louis and Pass Christian, the Bay of
Biloxi, and the mouth of the Pascagoula. The group
of settlements second in importance was that scattered
around Mobile Bay. For these the town of that name
formed a military and business center. Pensacola,
2 Cf. Chambers, West Florida in its Relation to the His-
torical Cartography of the United States," in J. H. U. Studies,
Ser. XVI, No. 5.


beyond the Perdido, lay outside the disputed area, but
was the capital of West Florida under both British
and Spanish rule. The only unity to this artificial
jurisdiction was afforded by the chain of lakes and
bays through which its rivers discharged their waters
into the Gulf.
The significant part of West Florida was, therefore,
merely a strip of the Gulf coast possessing little in-
trinsic value, but rendered temporarily important
through international rivalry. It had even greater
claims to distinction. Its creation, development, occu-
pancy, and division determined the destiny of the
whole region of which it was a part. It afforded at
once an epitome and a prophecy of territorial expan-
sion in the Southwest. The American pioneer in his
varying aspects-turbulent squatter, domiciled subject,
covert revolutionist-found it an adequate stage for
his unconscious propaganda in behalf of democracy.
Small as it was it bulked large enough in contem-
porary diplomacy to modify Napoleon's commercial
system and to further Jefferson's Pan-American views.
Frontier turbulence, foreign and domestic wrangling,
and evasive treaty provisions marked each phase of
its brief history and afforded a warning or an incentive
for subsequent diplomatic procedure. Foreign inva-
sion and filibustering left their marks upon its soil.
After West Florida had thus put its sinister impress
on nearly every important contemporary issue, the


single star, emblem of its short-lived independence,
disappeared and the territory was quietly absorbed
by the neighboring commonwealths.
It was fitting that the first historical event connected
with the region should arouse controversy. The Span-
iard Pifieda discovered what he called the Bay and
River of Espiritu Santo. Whether this was the Mis-
sissippi or the Mobile was long in dispute, but mod-
ern scholarship is inclined to think the latter.A De
Vaca skirted its shores, and De Soto visited upon its
leading Indian community his most signal act of
cruelty. More significant still is the interest mani-
fested in its occupation by the Mexican viceroys, Men-
doza and Velasco. The latter's representative touched
at Mobile Bay in 1558 and made such a favorable
report that the viceroy sent De Luna the following
year to establish a definite settlement. He selected
the nearby Pensacola Bay as his headquarters, but
after two years of discouraging hardships his surviv-
ing followers found refuge in H-ispaniola and Cuba.'
For the next century and a quarter the region re-
mained unnoticed except for random mention such as
that by Father Alonso Benavides ; but the early Span-
3Hamilton, Colonial Mobile (ed. 19po), 1o.
'Lowery, Spanish Settlements within the Limits of the
United States to 1562, 356-375.
SThe Memorial of Fray Alonso de Benavides, 163o, 64-66.
Translated by Mrs. Edward E. Ayer, Chicago, 1916. Pri-
vately printed.


iards had indicated a connection with Mexico and
Cuba that was to characterize in large measure the
later stages of their control.
In the closing years of the seventeenth century the
Spaniards were destined to a rude awakening from
their apathy. The intrepid La Salle, seconded by
his lieutenant Tonty, narrowly missed becoming the
first French colonizer of the region.6 He did link it
with Texas, likewise to be associated in a future
boundary controversy. The English also claimed it
under the Carolina and subsequent grants; and, shortly
after the Peace of Ryswick, a certain Daniel Coxe
dispatched a vessel to explore the mouth of the Mis-
sissippi. This prospective rivalry led La Salle's suc-
cessor, the Sieur d'Iberville, to favor some point east
of the Mississippi for his settlement. He preferred
Pensacola Bay But when, early in 1699, he reached
its vicinity and found the jealous Spaniards already
established there, he led his garrison of eighty men
to old Biloxi. During this period his brother, Bien-
ville, encountered Coxe's captain at the mouth of the
Mississippi, but succeeded in persuading him to de-
part.? Thus by the opening of the eighteenth century
"The most complete collection of La Salle material is in
Margry, D6couvertes et ftablissements des Franvais, Vols. II
and III, passim. For a brief sketch consult the introduction
to my Journeys of La Salle in The Trail Makers' Series."
7 Margry, D6couvertes et ttabhssements, IV, 53, 229, 393.


the future \est Florida was involved in a tripartite
dispute which was to continue for six decades.
Ibervillc wished to combine French and Spanish in-
terests against the English, and for the purpose sug-
gested that Spain should cede Pensacola, or possibly
all Florida, to France in return for a guarantee of its
possessions in Mexico. A century later a more fa-
mous Frenchman made a similarproposal. The Council
of the Indies then resented the presence of the French
in Louisiana, and rejected Iberville's proffer.8 Their
representatives at Pensacola even protested when
Bienville moved his fort from Biloxi to the shores of
Mobile Bay, and later to the present site of Mobile,
but they were powerless to do more. The ensuing re-
lations between their respective frontier garrisons
were generally friendly, although during a few weeks
in 1719 Pensacola was captured by the French, recap-
tured by the Spaniards, retaken by the French, and
finally restored to its original occupants. By this time
the French had established their headquarters at New
Orleans, but they still retained Mobile for the sake of
controlling the Indians. From that date the frontier
commanders at that post and at Pensacola agreed to
observe the Pcrdido as the limit of their respective
jurisdictions." By their silence the home governments
tacitly accepted this boundary.
SMargry, Dtcouvertes et ttablissements, IV, 539-568.
SMargry, Decouvcrtcs et Etablisscmcnts, IV, 381-385. 503.


Above the coast the French government, in the grant
to Crozat and to the Western Company, vaguely spoke
of Carolina as limiting their claims on the east. The
English peril, threatening from the first, became more
pronounced with the founding of Georgia in 1732.
Its leader, Oglethorpe, brilliantly defended the new
colony against the Spaniards and in addition en-
deavored to extend his influence among the western
Indians. From the Carolinas and the colonies to the
north English traders also visited the Choctaws and
the Chickasaws. To maintain French prestige over
his former allies, Bienville, in 1736 and 1740, under-
took expeditions against the Chickasaws, which re-
sulted disastrously and still further weakened the al-
lied Bourbon defense."0
On the eve of the decisive contest for territorial
supremacy in North America, Spanish Florida, extend-
ing over the peninsula and up to the Perdido, was
guarded by Saint Augustine and Pensacola. The
French settlements at Mobile and at New Orleans had
as their eastern outposts Fort Natchez, Fort Tombecb6,
and Fort Toulouse. English Carolina, now divided,
was protected by the buffer colony of Georgia. The
539-541, 56l. 577-580; V, 426, 461; Historia, Vol. 43, Opisculo
I, par. 31, 54, 63-67, MS., Archivo General y P6blico de la
Naci6n, Mexico; French, Historical Collections of Louisiana,
III, 63-65; ibid., new series I 147.
10 Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, 126-130; Gayarri, History of
Louisiana, The French Domination, 470-488, 503-517.


capital of the latter, Savannah, was flanked by forts
Augusta and Frederica. The conflicting claims are
summed up by Du Pratz, who mentions the Perdido
as the limit between the French and Spaniards; and by
De Lisle, who on his map draws an irregular line be-
tween the British and French possessions from that
stream to the mountains, and so to the northward.
Montcalm, in 1758, suggested about the same line as
the limit between the English and the French." The
decision in the Valley of the St. Lawrence, later reg-
istered in the preliminary treaty at Versailles, brought
the contested area between the mountains, the Missis-
sippi, and the Gulf into the hands of the English. At
the same time Spain surrendered the Florida Penin-
sula in exchange for Cuba. By this double transfer
the English sphere of influence was enlarged to in-
clude all the territory east of the Mississippi except
the Island of New Orleans. The first Bourbon com-
bination failed to check the English advance predicted
by Iberville.
West Florida now passed from the period of defi-
nition to that of delimitation, in which the diplomat
plays a more important part than the discoverer or
settler. The first paper marking this period is the
treaty which closed the Seven Years' War. Inci-
"t Le Page d Pratz, Iistoire de Ia Louisiane, I, i6o; Win-
sot, The Mississippi Basin, 63, 74, Thwaites, France in
America, I56.


dentally this document partially delimited West Flor-
ida by a "line drawn along the middle of the Missis-
sippi to the river Iberville, and from thence by a
line drawn along the middle of this river, and the lake
Maurepas and Pontchartrain to the sea." In order to
carry out this provision, the French king ceded to
"His Britannic Majesty, the river and port of Mobile
and everything which he possesses or ought to possess
on the left side of the river Mississippi, except the
town of New Orleans and the island in which it is situ-
ated." The remainder of this seventh article pro-
vides for the free navigation of the entire Mississippi
by the subjects of both nations The twentieth ar-
ticle of the treaty calls for the cession by Spain to
Great Britain of "Florida, with the Fort Augustine
and the Bay of Pensacola, as well as all that Spain pos-
sessed on the continent of North America to the east
or the southeast of the river Mississippi.""
Following the transfer of the territory thus desig-
nated, the English sovereign proceeded to organize
his new possessions. His proclamation for this pur-
pose bears the date of October 7, 1763. It contem-
plates four new colonial governments, of which the
second and third are of immediate concern. East
Florida, the second mentioned in the proclamation,
was "bounded to the westward by the Gulph of Mex-
ico and the Appalachicola river." The third colony,
12 The Annual Register, 1762, 233-247.


West Florida, was to be "bounded to the Southward
by the Gulph of Mexico, including all islands within
six leagues of the coast, the river Appalachicola to
Lake Pontchartrain," and to the westward by the line
laid down in the treaty. Its northern limit was a
"line drawn due East from that part of the Missis-
sippi, which lies m the 3Ist degree of North latitude,
to the river Appalachicola, or the Catahouchee," which
was its eastern limit."
From this time the colony of West Florida is fairly
defined except to the northward, where lay the Indian
country marked out by the same proclamation. It
shortly appeared that the line of the thirty-first paral-
lel would pass below extensive settlements at Nat-
chez, and possibly below some on the Mobile. These
communities were not important enough for an
independent government, and they could not be at-
tached without great difficulty to distant Georgia. Ac-
cordmgly, by a supplemental royal order issued in 1764,
the territory of West Florida was enlarged to include
all white settlements below a line drawn due east from
the mouth of the Yazoo river. This extension was
la Ibid, 1763, 2o9213. C. E Carter states that the selection
by the British of the thirty-first parallel was wholly arbitrary,
because this was "as far north as the Settlements can be
carried, without interfering with lands claimed or occupied
by the Indians But it seems to me that it was by no mere
coincidence that they hit upon the line that had already ap-
peared in the Carolina grants. Cf Mississippi Valley His-
torical Review, I, 365


repeated in the commissions issued to the various
British governors from 1764 onward.4 Very little
of the territory was actually occupied by white settlers,
till at a conference with Colonel John Stuart in 1770
the Chickasaws and Choctaws agreed to sell a portion
of their land to the west and south of what was called
the Chaterpe line. This limit began on the Tombig-
bee, about 135 miles above Mobile, and ran to the
Yazoo some 15 miles above its junction with the Mis-
sissippi, and included territory along the Alabama,
Tombigbee, and Pascagoula rivers, which the Choc-
taws had previously agreed to sell.15 These cessions
may be regarded as establishing a provisional line be-
tween the Indians and the whites under British rule.
Some thirty years later the American government in
new treaties negotiated by General Wilkinson gained
substantially the same territory.
The revolt of the English colonies checked the run-
ning of Indian boundaries, and brought another set
of interests to the front. The new American govern-
ment desired to carry on commerce with the Spaniards
at New Orleans, and to intimidate or occupy the
14 American State Papers, Public Lands, I, 57
Hamilton, Colonial Mobile, 242-246, Farrand, "The In-
dian Boundary Line," in American Historical Review, X, 782;
Gayarr6, History of Louisiana, The Spanish Domination, 412;
Ellicott to Pickering, Sept 20, 1797, Ellicott and the Southern
Boundary, MS., Bureau of Rolls and Library, Department of


British settlements at Natchez, Mobile, and Pensa-
cola. Patrick Henry favored such a scheme. Oliver
Pollock, the American agent at New Orleans, and his
associate, James Willing, tried to carry it out; but the
Tory element at Natchez, led by Anthony Hutchins, a
retired British officer, proved too much for them, even
when their efforts were secretly aided by Bernardo
de Galvez, governor of Spanish Louisiana.' In the
course of a few years diplomatic complications in
Europe forced the Americans to moderate their west-
ern ambitions Accordingly, in 1779, their representa-
tive to Spain was instructed to ask for the thirty-first
parallel as the southern boundary. In this they fol-
lowed the early Carolina grants as did the Proclama-
tion of 1763; but in claiming to the Mississippi, they
disregarded a very essential part of that proclamation.
They likewise demanded the right to navigate this
river and to use a suitable port of entry below the des-
ignated boundary. The instructions furthermore show
that, while they abandoned all hope of conquering the
Floridas for themselves, they were ready to assist
Spain to do so, provided that power would grant a
substantial subsidy 1
I Winsor, The Westward Movement, 147-149, 155; Enclo-
sure No. 6 in Elhcott to Pickering, Nov. 14, 1797, Eliicott and
the Southern Boundary, MS, Bureau of Rolls and Library;
James Dallas to Colonel John McGillivray, July 3, 1778, MS,
Bancroft Collection, University of California.
Foreign Affairs, Secret Journal, 1775-1781, 132, L38, 139,


In 1779 war broke out between Spain and Great
Britain, and the latter power planned to strengthen
Pensacola, and, with the aid of southern Indians, to
push the Spaniards away from New Orleans. But
George Rogers Clark and his men prevented coopera-
tion between Hamilton at Detroit and Campbell at
Pensacola. This indirect aid from the Americans en-
abled GAlvez, in September, 1779, to reduce the British
establishments on the Mississippi. In the following
March he occupied Fort Charlotte at Mobile, and in
1781 forced the English to surrender Pensacola s
Galvez was friendly to the Americans, but the Span-
ish government at home already regarded their terri-
torial ambitions with jealousy. Consequently Pollock
at New Orleans was unable to gain needed assistance
for Clark and other American leaders, while John Jay
at Madrid vainly tried to negotiate a loan of five mil-
lions of dollars. The Spanish representative, Diego
de Gardoqui, plainly told him that this loan was con-
tingent upon abandoning the claim to the navigation
of the Mississippi. Owing to the lack of military
success during 1780, Congress was more ready to
149, 26, 262, Winsor, Westward Movement, 160; Phillips,
The West in the Diplomacy of the American Revolution,
53, 55
is Winsor, Westward Movement, 162, 18, 189; Manuel Ser-
rano y Sanz in Revista de los Archivos, Madrid, Mar-Apr.,
1914, 167.


yield this point; but even so, Jay was unable to take
advantage of the concession."
After he was transferred to Paris, Jay discovered
that the Spanish government wished to retain the ter-
ritory above the thirty-first parallel that G.lvez had
conquered, and also insisted upon absolutely con-
trolling the navigation of the Mississippi The French
minister, Vergennes, tried to maintain an unsatisfying
neutrality towards both Spanish and American preten-
sions, but his secretary, Rayneval, supported Spain.
Under the circumstances, Jay and John Adams per-
suaded Franklin to make a separate provisional treaty
with Great Britain, despite their instructions, and thus
secured from the mother-country a recognition of their
territorial claims and of the right to navigate the Mis-
sissippi.0 A secret article,however,called forthe Yazoo
line, in case Great Britain recovered the Floridas; in
case Spain retained them, the thirty-first parallel.2
10 Revista de los Archivos, Mar. Apr., 1914, 2or; Johnston,
Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay, I, 460.
20 Johnston, John Jay, II, 388; Foreign Affairs, Secret Jour-
nal, IV, 73; Annual Register, 1782 322-324
21 Foreign Affairs, Secret Journal, 78r-86, 338; Revista de
los Archivos, Mar-Apr, 914, 174. In 1802 Lord Lansdowne
told Rufus King that twenty years before he wished to obtain
the Floridas, New Orleans, and some of the West Indies in
exchange for Gibraltar, but that popular outcry prevented.
He also stated that Jay and Franklin were willing for Great
Britain to seize the Floridas, after the provisional treaty, if
they could avoid the appearance of collusion. King, Life and
Correspondence of Rufus King, IV, 93.


This provisional treaty between the United States and
Great Britain was not modified in the later general
peace. But when the latter ceded the Floridas to
Spain she mentioned no definite limits.22 Obviously
here was a chance for dispute, and possibly Great
Britain intended that there should be. Nor was the
prospect of trouble removed when the Spanish authori-
ties shortly afterward learned of the secret article.
The territory involved was a strip about a hundred
miles wide, extending from the Mississippi to the
Chattahoochee, but the strip itself was not the most
significant factor. Spain insisted upon this territory
largely because it strengthened her assumed right to
the exclusive navigation of the Mississippi. This in
turn involved the control of the Indians in the region
west of the mountains and south of the Ohio For
the next two decades these three factors constituted
the leading issues in southwestern diplomacy.
In this struggle the Creeks, under the astute Alex-
ander McGillivray, entered into an alliance with the
Spanish governor, June I, 1784, and agreed to protect
his territory from encroachment. This led to a border
war with Georgia which continued, in spite of the' in-
tervention of the national government under Washing-
ton, until the death of the great half-breed removed
the principal stumbling-block to peace in the South-
west. The Spaniards gained some temporary advan-
2 Annual Register, 1783, 331-338.


tage from their connection with him, as well as from
their treaties with the Chickasaws and Choctaws. They
also exerted some influence over the Cherokees, who
carried on hostilities with the Watauga and Cumber-
land settlements.2 For a generation to come Mobile
and Pensacola, and for a shorter time, New Orleans,
in Spanish hands, continued as recruiting centers for
the Southwestern Indians.
Aside from Indian affairs the most significant event
in the Southwest during this decade was the attempt
by Georgia to organize Bourbon County n the Natchez
district. Thomas Green, the leader in this project,
failed to cooperate with his associates. The greater
part of the inhabitants at Natchez probably sympa-
thized with him, but feared to take a definite stand
that might result in their total ruin. The Spanish
authorities absolutely refused to yield the territory in
question, and Georgia was too far away to conduct a
military campaign to advantage. At the same time
the Indians defeated another attempt by Georgia to
organize a county in the bend of the Tennessee
In this failure of Georgia to uphold its own terri-
torial claims against Spain we have evidence that the
-2 Pickett, History of Alabama, II, 6r, 73, 4l; cf. article by
Jane M. Berry in Mississippi Valley Historical Review, March,
4 American Historical Review, XV, 66-171, 297-353.


problems of the Southwest were too much for a single
State. But under the Confederation it was doubtful
if the national government could succeed any better.
Shortly after the Revolution, La Fayette undertook
without success to initiate diplomatic relations between
Spain and the United States. Ill success likewise ac-
companied the efforts of Jay and Gardoqui, in 1785-
1786, at Philadelphia. The diplomatic duel which
they there resumed over the boundaries and the navi-
gation of the Mississippi led to no other result than
a tentative proposal to forego the navigation of the
Mississippi for twenty-five years Jay submitted the
proposal to Congress; but, influenced by western op-
position, that body refused even to consider it.26 Ne-
gotiations were then suspended during the continuance
of the government under the Confederation.
Meanwhile Spain retained possession of the east bank
of the Mississippi as far north as the present Mem-
phis. To strengthen her hold there her officials opened
intrigues with certain leaders in the Blue Grass region
of Kentucky and in the Cumberland district of Ten-
nessee. In time, however, the element that was loyal
to the American government was reinforced by the
promise of a more perfect union under a new consti-
tution, and checkmated the plans of Wilkinson and
other western disunionists.e6 Their communities suf-
25 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I, 248-251.
6G Shepherd, Wilkinson and the Beginning of the Spanish


fered many genuine grievances that encouraged speci-
ous advances from Spain and half hearted intrigues on
the part of Great Britain. The situation was further
complicated by the desire of France to regain posses-
sion of Louisiana. But despite these untoward cir-
cumstances,.the genuine loyalty of the West was
clearly demonstrated when separatism received a
check in Kentucky and North Carolina resumed con-
trol over the western counties. The West preferred
to seek a remedy by regular means under the new gov-
ernment, rather than attempt the uncertainties of re-
bellion or the restrictions of a Spanish colonial sys-
tem. The French traveler, Brissot de Warville, indi-
cated another possible solution when he predicted the
success of an American campaign against New Or-
The "Nootka Sound Affair," the first serious diplo-
matic question under the new government, threatened
American neutrality The Venezuelan revolutionist,
Francisco de Miranda, urged Great Britain to occupy
New Orleans. The trader and adventurer, W. A.
Bowles, offered to conquer for her the Floridas and
lower Louisiana. Hamilton and even Jefferson inti-
mated to a British agent that American acquiescence,
if not complicity, might be secured by ceding New
Conspiracy," in Ametican Historical Review, IX, 490-506,
27 American Historical Review, X, 258.


Orleans and the Floridas to the United States. Later
Jefferson veered round and refused to welcome Great
Britain as a neighbor west of the Mississippi. In-
stead he hoped to gain New Orleans or some other
suitable port through the good offices of the French
government. He also instructed William Carmichael
at Madrid to propose the cession of New Orleans and
the Floridas to the United States in return for a guar-
antee of Spanish possessions west of the Mississippi.
In neither case did he gain his point. France herself
had designs on the desired territory, and his instruc-
tions to Carmichael arrived too late for use. Jeffer-
son's attitude, however, reminds us of his course just
before the purchase of Louisiana."?
The following ten years presented many diplomatic
episodes equally perilous to the Spanish hold on the
Floridas. But a more insidious peril was developing
in the very region. The original French and Spanish
elements in its population were, after 1763, joined by
British immigrants largely from the Carolinas and
Georgia. There was also some infiltration from the
movement that was peopling Kentucky and Tennessee.
Originally this Anglo-American element was mostly
Tory in sympathy; but after the independence of the
former British colonies, it naturally sided with the
Americans rather than with the Spaniards. After
2s Manning, "The Nootka Sound Episode," in American
Historical Association, Annual Report, 1904


1783 a renewed migration from Georgia and the Caro-
linas poured into the Mobile and Natchez districts.20
These newer immigrants, whether loyalist or Whig,
were for the most part people of character and sub-
stance, and met with an unexpected welcome from
the Spaniards. This attitude arose from a desire to
erect buffer colonies against future illegal immigra-
tion. Gardoqui joined with Colonel Morgan of New
Jersey to found a settlement at New Madrid.0 This
project was largely neutralized by the opposition of
Wilkinson and the jealousy of Governor Mir6, who
wrote to Judge Sebastian of Kentucky, under date of
September 16, 1789, that Wilkinson had mentioned
him as one who expected to leave Kentucky. Mir6
assured Sebastian that he would welcome him and
his companions with pleasure, and permit them to
locate "in any part of Louisiana, or anywhere on the
East side of the Mississippi below the Yazoo river."
Such settlers should receive a liberal land grant, in-
troduce their personal property free of duty, and dis-
pose of their surplus tobacco in the general market.
They might practice their religion without molestation,
and enjoy the privileges and immunities of His Majes-
ty's subjects."3
2s Pickett, Iistory of Alabama, II, 25, 28, 24.
so Ogg, Opening of the Mississippi, 449.
n Mir6 to Sebastian, N. 0., Sept. 16, 1789, enclosed in Bev-
erly Randolph to Washington, May 31, 179o, Miscellaneous
Letters, MS., Vol 3, Bureau of Indexes and Archives, Depart-
ment of State; Revista de los Archivos, May-June, 1914. 356


As a general criticism, we may say that these Span-
iards were playing with fire, and they ought to have
known it. The prediction of John Sullivan, a resident
of Charleston, affords a case in point. After assur-
ing his friend, Major William Brown, that there was
work cut out for him in the western country, he
added: "Take my word for it, we will speedily be in
possession of New Orleans." The American authori-
ties affected to believe that this letter represented Sul-
livan's personal views only; but he may have had some
connection with Dr. James O'Fallon, who was agent
for the Yazoo Land Company of South Carolina. If
so, this letter has added significance. O'Fallon pro-
posed to plant a colony of Americans on the site of
modern Vicksburg. He attempted to allay the fears
of Governor Mir6 by representing his company as
made up of disaffected westerners ready to ally them-
selves with the adjoining Spanish authorities and to
serve as a rampart against future irruptions. He was
to organize his settlers into a semi-military battalion,
under the command of George Rogers Clark. The
latter had been unjustly treated both by the State of
Virginia and by the American government, and was
ready to enter Spanish service in return for a land
grant. WVashington's proclamation rather than Span-
ish reluctance led the prospective colonizers to await
a more favorable opportunity "
American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I, 281; Pick-


Similar encouragement given by the governor of
East Florida led Jefferson to predict the natural re-
sult of this policy. Under date of April 2, 1791, he
wrote Washington: "This [invitation] is meant for
our people. Debtors will take advantage of it and go
off with their property. Our citizens have a right to
go where they please, and it is the business of the
states to stop them till their debts are paid. This
done, I wish loo,coo of our inhabitants would accept
the invitation. It may be the means of delivering to
us peaceably what may otherwise cost a war. In the
meantime we may complain of this seduction of our
inhabitants, just enough to make them believe we see
it a very wise policy for them, and confirm them in it,
this is my idea of it."3"
In 1793 it seemed possible to combine the commer-
cial and territorial demands of the Americans with the
universal revolutionary propaganda of Brissot de War-
ville and his fellow Girondists. The new French min-
ister Genet was the agent selected to make the com-
bination. Thomas Paine in the name of recently nat-
uralized French citizens; Pierre Lyonnet for his fel-
low creoles of Louisiana; Clark and O'Fallon in be-
half of the western frontiersmen, assured him that
ett, History of Alabama, II, 114; Revista de los Archivos,
May-June, 1914, 359-361.
"3Jefferson to XWashington. Apr. 7i91, Miscellaneous Let-
ters, MS., Vol. 5, Bureau of Indexes and Arcluves.


they were ready to cooperate in overthrowing Spanish
rule in Louisiana and the Floridas. Hoping to secure
the latter from France as a reward for quiescence, Jef-
ferson now directed our minister, Carmichael, not to
guarantee the Spanish colonies west of the Mississippi,
and in his personal relations with Genet failed to main-
tain the rigid neutrality that Washington prescribed."
He, too, was playing with fire to gain his coveted end.
Lacking resources and the ability to organize his
heterogeneous volunteers, even with Jefferson's clan-
destine aid, Genet at Phl4adlplua failed to overcome
the administr.,tipn'i.biaIri'poick;. 'Iithe West, Wil-
kinson oppe 8Sdflri4spro ects and' tlhere3y .ntesurably
justifiet4tlh' continuance of his Spanish pe$:tt r .. But
froti.'evw Orleanf Gdiet6rlr.-CalpltdFlet, dis tstng
deneZn and defenseis aluti vuinlyattimpted to reri4e
among the Kentuckians the project of separating fhe
West from the Union." They were beginning to feel
an increased respect for the new national government
and hoped to realize their aspirations through its reg-
ular channels. Fauchet's proclamation," therefore,
"Turner, "The Policy of France toward the Mississippi
Valley in the Period of Washington and Adams," in Ameri-
can I-istorical Review, X, 261-264.
s Gavoso to Alcudia, Sept. 19, 1794, in American Historical
Association, Annual Report 1896, p. ToS ; Carondelet to Al-
cudia, July 3o, 1794, ibid.. o69
Quoted in Mangourit Correspondence, No. 39, in Ameri-
can Historical Association, Annual Report, i897, 629,


disavowing his predecessor's filibustering projects, fell
upon receptive ears.
The diplomatic relations of the United States with
Spain had advanced but little during the preceding
decade. The southern boundary was still unsettled and
the western settlers were without the privilege of navi-
gating the Mississippi. By this time the Indian situa-
tion had become acute. Washington, out of patience
with the double-dealing McGillivray, was on the point
of declaring war against the Creeks. Before doing so
he determined to make, ong more attempt to settle all
outstanding question t:wlth':Sifta.'.:I.r this purpose
he made usaeof-a significant feat ur e'&.u't4arJy diplo-
.. . . . ... . .
macy- .-l special mission. William Shl;ort;' u mm-
isterd t~ .folland. wis av o4.t t w ivitti Carmichl .ih.a
frf .attempt to dvoirdao'm-otiibdifTiostilit and aelay.
The American claim to the Natchez district, Jefferson
informed the joint envoys, was based on the prelim-
inary treaty with Great Britain; that of Spain, on con-
quest. The inchoate right of the latter nation was not
confirmed by formal treaty until some months after
the American pact with Great Britain. Hence the
American claim took precedence. He also naively in-
structed his representatives to deny the secret article
in the preliminary treaty by which the Americans had
agreed, under certain conditions, to accept the Yazoo
line, or to discuss it only hypothetically. What the
United States might do for Great Britain after a long


war could not be used as a precedent for her action
toward Spain under more favorable circumstances.
Moreover, the new constitution of the United States
guaranteed the territory of each State, and only a dis-
astrous war could change this fact. He based the
American territorial claim on the Carolina Charter of
1663, the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and the prelim-
inary and final treaties with Great Britain. But in
connection with the proclamation he disregarded one
very essential point-the source line limiting the east-
ern colonies.
Jefferson founded the American claim to navigate
the Mississippi on the treaties of 1763 and 1783 and
on natural right. Under the earlier treaty the British
colonists had the right to navigate the Mississippi.
They had now become American citizens, but had not
relinquished this right, nor had Spain conquered it
from the United States, with whom she had never
been at war. Great Britain yielded the Floridas to
Spain, it is true, but she did not thereby yield a privi-
lege which belonged to the United States. Aside from
our treaty rights, Jefferson asserted that the inhabi-
tants on the upper course of the river had the right to
pass in and out of its mouth. In support of this view
he cited the case of Antwerp on the Scheldt and
those rivers of Spain which flowed through Portugal.8
17 This principle was not definitely recognized in European
diplomacy until the Congress of Vienna in 1815. Cf. V. E.
Hall, International Law (sixth edition), 131-140


An additional argument in favor of the American
claim was the fact that our population on the Mis-
sissippi and its tributaries surpassed that of Spain. He
quoted from Roman law to prove that the navigation
of rivers was a public privilege. The right to navi-
gate also implied the means to exercise it, and this
meant a place to deposit and transship goods from
river-craft to ocean-going vessels. These rights of
navigation and deposit, as well as our claim to the
thirty-first parallel, were to be regarded as a sine qua
non, for which Spain could not expect compensation.38
When Short reached Madrid in February, 1793,
Spain, at war with France and allied with Great
Britain, was unwilling to treat with our envoys. Her
own representative was the inflexible Gardoqui, now
secretary of finance, and he was as little inclined to
yield upon the points at issue as he had been with Jay
some years before. Nor were the Americans more
successful with Godoy, the Duke of Alcudia. After
some months of fruitless endeavor, Carmichael quitted
Madrid in disgust.ra Short continued as charge, al-
most unnoticed. The Spaniards tried through him to
reopen negotiations with France, but to no purpose.
He then suggested a descent of the Mississippi or an
38 American State Papers, Foreign Relations I, 52255
o3 Ibid, 259ff Dispatches of William Short, MS., III, No
168, Bureau of Indexes and Archives.


invasion of the Floridas to bring the Spanish govern-
ment to terns.-
About this time the Spanish representatives in Phila-
delphia intimated that the United States needed in
Madrid a minister of the requisite character, conduct,
and splendor, with full powers to treat on all subjects
at issue." Edmund Randolph, then secretary of state,
was thoroughly impressed with the idea, and secured
the appointment of Thomas Pinckney, our minister at
London, as special envoy." Both Monroe and Thomas
Paine, who had been instrumental in bringing Spain
and France together, believed that the French Direc-
tory was ready to asist in pressing the American
claims. But all evidences of French friendliness dis-
appeared on news of Jay's treaty with England. Marks
of open displeasure followed when Pinckney passed
through Paris without giving the Directory, or even
Monroe, any inkling of its sterns.4
Nevertheless the fates were working to favor the
Americans. Spain could not become friendly with
France without incurring the hostility of Great Britain.
Accordingly their officials did not wish to add the
United States to the number of their avowed enemies.
U Dispatches of Short, MS., III, No 183, Bureau of In-
dexes and Archiver.
Randolph to 1Vashington. Oct io. 794. Miscellaneous
Letters. MS. Vol. 17, Bureau of Indexes and Archives,
4" Monroe, A View of tie Conduct of the Executive, 203;
American Historical Association, Annual Report, 1903, II,58o.


Yet for a time they resorted to their customary meth-
ods of delay, among which the periodical migration
of the Spanish court to the Escorial was not the least
trying. Pinckney also found himself handicapped by
a lack of definite instructions. When Godoy began to
review the questions at issue Pinckney refused to dis-
cuss them in detail or treat of them separately. The
only point that seemed to cause serious difficulty was
the navigation of the Mississippi. Findingthat Godoy
was again inclined to temporize, Pinckney promptly
asked for his passports. This forced the Spaniard to
yield to his demands.'3 By so doing, as his enemies
later charged, Godoy sacrificed all the advantages
gained from Great Britain in 1783. Yet under the cir-
cumstances, it is hard to see what else Godoy could do.
It was impossible to restrain the Americans any
longer; and if they had once begun hostilities against
Spain, New Orleans and all of the Floridas must have
passed into their possession so much the earlier. Un-
der these circumstances the treaty of 1795 was signed.
Spain accepted the thirty-first parallel as the northern
boundary of the Floridas, conceded the navigation of
the Mississippi with New Orleans as a place of de-
posit, and agreed to restrain the Indians within her
Godoy's signature was no assurance that he would
be prompt in carrying out the terms of the treaty. In
43 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I, 542-546.


the course of a few months he perceived that, despite
the Jay treaty, the United States and England were
not likely to become allies. By this time he had
brought about that agreement with France which
gained for him his most significant title-the Prince
of the Peace. France desired to regain Louisiana,
and with it, as much of the territory formerly included
in that jurisdiction as could be forced from the United
States Godoy, therefore, vainly attempted to gain
French favor by retaining certain posts on the east
bank of the Mississippi. For more than two years
after signing the treaty he found one pretext after
another for delaying its fulfilment. But when, early
in 1798, French influence temporarily forced him from
office, he issued the necessary orders for carrying out
the treaty. By this act he completed the period of
delimitation in West Florida.



Nearly a score of years before the treaty signed at
San Lorenzo el Real in 1795 the Americans had cast
envious eyes upon the Floridas. Later mihtary re-
verses and financial necessities caused them to moder-
ate their desires to the limits of the former British
grant and proclamation. The mother-country acqui-
esced in this modified claim, possibly with the inten-
tion of embroiling her former colonists with the Span-
iards and profiting from the ensuing conflict. But,
fortunately, the trend of affairs in Europe after 1789
and the waxing power of Washington's administra-
tion combined to favor the new nation. However un-
acceptable their cause, Pinckney at the Escorial and
Jay at the Court of St. James scored distinct triumphs;
Sand of the two Pinckney's was by far the more strik-
ing. His treaty guaranteed the possession of certain
posts and probably immunity from Indian warfare, as
did Jay's, and in addition carried with it the formal
acknowledgment of a territorial claim and the coveted
privilege of navigating the Mississippi.
It is reasonable to assert that this treaty did more
than the military demonstration against the whiskey


insurgents to reconcile the West to the national admin-
istration and to overthrow the intrigues of the Span-
ish conspirators. While it did not render acceptable
their remaining limited commercial subserviency to a
foreign nation, the men of the western waters were
content to put up with it for a term of years, being
fully persuaded that the Natchez district represented
but the first step toward New Orleans and the Flor-
idas. It was because Godoy feared this that he de-
layed the carrying out of the treaty. But his formal
protest was directed against a possible invasion by his
recent allies-the British-reinforced by the American
Per contra the American government hastened to
secure the advantages now opened to its citizens.
After the formal ratification of the treaty, April 26,
1796, Andrew Ellicott and Thomas Freeman were
appointed to represent the United States in running
the southern boundary.' But Ellicott's task was by no
means restricted to the stipulated line of demarcation.
In addition to his formal instructions he was verbally
advised to watch Wilkinson, whose intrigues had long
since given rise to damaging reports.? Conditions at
Natchez might cause him to assume indefinite political
functions. Thus his was a semi-diplomatic mission,
I Miscellaneous Letters, MS., Vol. 21, Bureau of Indexes
and Archives.
2Annals of Eleventh Congress, First and Second Sessions,
Pt 2, 2306.


destined to exert considerable influence in the South-
west. As such it may be compared to Casa Calvo's
career in New Orleans after the Louisiana Purchase '
The Quaker certainly rivalled the Marques in finesse.
while the fates were much more propitious toward
The Spanish authorities in Louisiana displayed no
intention of assisting Ellicott in his ostensible mission.
The Baron de Carondelet attempted another intrigue
with Wilkinson, although he believed the latter was
ready to turn against the Spaniards in order to gain
favor with the American authorities.4 More impor-
tant than this tampering with the loyalty of the Amer-
ican commander was Carondelet's determination to de-
lay the evacuation of the posts above the thirty-first
parallel. If it was necessary to yield these posts he
suggested the possibility of moving the inhabitants
below the new boundary line, where they might serve
to guard the other royal possessions against both the
Americans and Indians. For the present, however, if
the people of Kentucky and Tennessee were allowed
to navigate the Mississippi, they would not become
impatient over the delay in surrendering the posts, nor
SSee p 147.
*See my article on Wilkinson's First Break with the
Spaniards," in Eighth Annual Report of the Ohio Valley His-
torical Association, 49, 51; printed in Biennial Report of the
Department of Archives and History of the State of West
Virginia, 1911-1914.


would they assist their government in capturing them.
Furthermore he expected them within a few years to
separate from the Union, and then they would be
glad to have these forts in possession of the Spaniards,
rather than of the Americans.
According to the Spanish governor, the treaty af-
forded many pretexts for disputes, each of which
would require months for settlement. Thus His Maj-
esty would have an opportunity to temporize for two
or three years over the evacuation without exposing
Spain to any disadvantage.' A few days later, his
subordinate at Natchez, Gayoso de Lemos, told Daniel
Clark that he did not believe that the Spanish authori-
ties intended to carry out the treaty with the United
States. Evidently Gayoso's utterance was inspired,
for like his chief he expressed a belief in an early dis-
solution of the Union.' The Indians objected to the
presence of the Americans, and this afforded the Span-
ish officials a strong pretext for disregarding the pro-
posed boundary line
SCarondelet to Alcudia. rcserrado No. 70, June 12, 1796.
Legajo 178 Papeles de Cuba. This collection, the most im-
portant single source for this ork, is located in the Archivo
General de Indias, Seville. For a description of the papers
in this collection relating to the United States, see Roscoe R
Hall's Descriptive catalogue of the Documents relating to the
History of the United States in the Papeles Procedentes de
Cuba deposited in the Archive General de Indias at Seville"-
Carnegie Institution of Wasllngton, ip96.
SAnnals of Tenth Congress, First Session, II, App. 2730


Some two months later, Carondelet sent Gayoso a
very secret dispatch in which he said that it was in-
dispensable to seek pretexts for deferring until De-
cember the evacuation of the posts By that time they
might learn the king's resolution in regard to the
Natchez settlers and the complaints of the Indians.
Gayoso must act so as to afford the Americans no
opportunity for complaint, and while expressing the
greatest desire to carry out the treaty, find obstacles
to prevent it. If the American commissioner arrived
by way of the Ohio, the military authorities along the
Mississippi were to detain him. If he came by sea to
New Orleans Carondelet himself would do so, under
pretense of preparing his escort. Having delayed
him until September or later, they could then point out
the impossibility of evacuating the upper forts on ac-
count of low water. While this condition lasted, he
could not withdraw the garrisons from the lower posts
and leave the upper ones defenseless. This would
provide a plausible reason for not evacuating the forts
until January. Then Carondelet planned to question
the ability of the United States to pacify the Indians
within its limits. This task presented so many diffi-
culties that Spain would be justified in not ceding the
territory without more explicit assurances. Gayoso,
prompt to take the cue from his superior, feared that
he would be unable to equip a party for the work of
surveying. The people of the Natchez district had


been permitted to extend the period of payment for
their lands. The approaching transfer might inter-
fere with this arrangement, and cause some inconveni-
ence. He wrote in November that the Indians near
Fort Confederation7 were greatly excited over the
prospect that Americans might run a line through their
territory. They knew what this had meant for other
Indians, and objected to the Spaniards' taking any
part in the survey or delivering the territory to the
Americans.8 These officials certainly found no dearth
of pretexts for delaying to execute the treaty.
Contemporary events in the West favored their de-
signs. The British authorities in Canada began to
cultivate cordial relations with the western settlers and
with the Indians, with a view to using them in an
expedition against upper Louisiana. At the same time
Senator William Blount of Tennessee planned to in-
vade the Floridas and Louisiana. He feared the loss
of his extensive land holdings should the French be-
come established in New Orleans, and expected to in-
duce the western frontiersmen and the Indians to co-
operate with a British fleet in attacking the Spanish
posts on the Gulf. But the mutual antagonism of
7 On the site of the French Ft. Tombecb6 on the Tombig-
bee River.
Carondelet to Gayoso, Aug. 23, 1796, Gayoso to Caronde-
let, Aug. 31, 1796, Gayoso to Carondelet, Nov. r4, 1796, Legajo
43, Papeles de Cuba; Houck, The Spanish Regime in Mis-
souri, II, 139.


his prospective forces rendered such an undertaking
extremely problematical.
John D. Chisholm, long a resident in the Indian
country, was Blount's chief agent. The British min-
ister, Liston, stated that Chisholm had promised to
deliver the Floridas to Great Britain through the aid
of his friends near the border. The premature reve-
lation of the plot caused the British government
promptly to disavow all responsibility for Liston's
statement. Chisholm's employer resigned his seat in
the United States Senate,O following a demand of the
Spanish minister for his punishment, and thus escaped
impeachment. Before this event, however, he seems
to have interested Vice-President Jefferson and Gen-
eral Wilkinson in his scheme, and to have involved
them so thoroughly that Jefferson was long subject to
Wilkinson's influence0 Aside from this incident, the
main result of this conspiracy was to arouse the Span-
ish authorities to unwonted activity in protecting their
dominions, and to justify them in retaining the forts
above the thirty-first parallel.
Timothy Pickering, the secretary of state, regarded
the whole affair as part of the French plan to regain
Louisiana. The French ministers, Fauchet and Adet,
certainly did nothing to disprove the charge. Both
SAmerican Historical Review, X, 576, 582; Qnaiterly of tile
Texas State Historical Association, X, 65.
o1 Eighth Annual Report of the Ohio Valley Historical As-
sociation, 53.


opposed war with the United States, but believed that
by possessing Louisiana, France could exert the proper
influence on American affairs. Adet employed a
French officer, Victor Collot, to visit the western
country and plan its military defense. Collot's visit
took place during the Blount conspiracy, against which
he warned the various Spanish commandants. More-
over he assured Adet that the same nation must pos-
sess both banks of the Mississippi." In view of the
French plan to reoccupy Louisiana, this suggestion
had a sinister meaning for the American holdings in
the West.
Other French agents besides Collot aroused Ameri-
can distrust. One Samuel Fulton, an American in the
service of the Directory, visited George Rogers Clark,
confirmed him in his French sentiment, and enlisted
him against the British project." Fulton also endeav-
ored to enlist the Creek Indians in the French serv-
tee. At the same time another French adventurer,
Milfort, representing the former McGillivray faction,
was planning to organize the Creeks against the Amer-
icans and to use their country as a foothold from
which the French might later regain Louisiana."
"ICollot. A Journey in North America, etc., II, 230-245,
257; American Historical Reiew, X, 272. 577-582. Wilkinson
later emphasizes this same idea in his letter of July 6. 1803. to
Secretary Dearlorn, Letters Received, MS., War Department
1. American Historical Association, Annual Report, 193,
11, 1o98.
13 American Historical Review, X, 271.


Thus while the Spaniards delayed in delivering the
Natchez district to the Americans, English and French
agents in the Southwest were plotting against each
other and against the United States; and our own offi-
cials, such as Blount and Wlkinson, tried to turn the
general turmoil and uncertainty to their personal ad-
In his journey to Natchez, Ellicott encountered
many evidences of the forces working agamst the
treaty. Philip Nolan joined him at the mouth of the
Ohio. The Spanish commandants at New Madrid,
Chickasaw Bluffs, and Walnut Hills affected ignor-
ance of the treaty and attempted to detain him. Elli-
cott nowhere indicates that these two circumstances
bore any relation to each other. Yet Nolan was the
confidential agent of Wilkinson, against whom Ellicott
had been warned. On this occasion, however, Nolan
proved extremely useful in dealing with the Spanish
officers along the route and in approaching Gayoso."
Within two days after arriving at Natchez, where
the commandant received them with a great show of
cordiality, Ellicott learned that the Spanish authori-
ties had no intention of evacuating the posts as stipu-
"4 The source for Etlicotts career at Natchez is his Journal
(Phila., 1803), supplemented by his correspondence with the
State Department, in Ellicott and the Southern Boundary,
MS., Bureau of Rolls and Library. For the relations of Elli-
cott and Nolan with the Spaniards, cf. Quarterly of the
Texas State Historical Association, X, 53-55.


lated. At the same time they seemed disposed to grant
free navigation of the Mississippi. This concession
was likely to prove illusory, for if Louisiana soon
passed under control of the French, as seemed certain,
the latter might use their superior resources to close
that river and bring about the separation of the western
communities from the Union.
It was precisely because he feared such a result that
Ellicott insisted on beginning the boundary survey at
once. Failing to persuade Gayoso, he strove, as he
later confessed, so "to embarass the Spanish govern-
ment as to force the abandonment of the Natchez dis-
trict. Although not a Houston or a Fr6mont, he
played a similar part in American expansion. Find-
ing himself upon disputed territory which his govern-
ment greatly desired; surrounded by an unsettled pop-
ulation, most of whose elements were eager for Amer-
ican control; facing officials of an expiring regime, de-
termined to make a last despairing effort to hold the
coveted territory, he furthered every effort to stimu-
late a revolt against the Spaniards. The resulting in-
surrection was a bloodless one, but it was none the less
effective. Thus the Natchez district served as a proto-
type for West Florida, as that region in turn did for
Texas and California.
In furthering his design Ellicott from the first dis-
played the American flag over his camp, contrary to
the request of the Spaniards. Against their wish he


brought the military escort under Lieutenant Pope to
Natchez, and united it with his own company in a for-
tified camp of considerable strength. He encouraged
visits from the "inquiet spirits" of the neighborhood,
among them Thomas Green, already a marked man
because of his part in the attempt to organize Bourbon
County; and encouraged those who were dissatisfied
to petition for leave to migrate to the upper American
territory. By arousing undue expectations among the
Choctaws, he detached them from Spanish allegiance,
so that they gave him no difficulty when he ran the
line through their territory. In all of this he exceeded
his instructions and created the impression with some
American officials that he was a blundering busybody.
Doubtless he magnified his services, but honest mo-
tives inspired them, and in the end crowned with a
modest measure of success his Quaker conquest."
His opponent, Gayoso, was not backward in his at-
tempts to retaliate; but he represented a losing cause.
He tried to separate Ellicott from his escort and get
him down the river, but the surveyor refused to be
enticed away from his point of vantage. He sug-
gested to the landed proprietors that their titles would
be unsettled under American control, especially where
there was a conflict between former English and Span-
ish grants and the claim of Georgia. He also at-
tempted to attract the debtor class by promising the
remission of crop liens. His proclamation of March


29 mentioning these points, as well as his attitude to-
ward religious worship and the Indians, repelled as
many as it attracted. Those who had been impru-
dently warm" in declaring their preference for the
American government felt that they had thereby fa-
tally compromised themselves."
At this time, reinforced by a royal order of October
29, 1796, Gayoso began to ask whether the forts be-
low the mouth of the Yazoo were to be demolished
or delivered intact This was obviously another pre-
text to delay the evacuation, but he quoted Caronde-
let's order to retain possession until their governments
should settle this point. Ellicott believed that the
other did not intend to give them up at all. Yet he
rejected Green's offer to raise a hundred men and cap-
ture the forts, and Anthony Hutchins's proposal to
make a hostage of Gayoso. Hutchins seemed too in-
timate with one of Blount's agents and too closely iden-
tified with British interests to gain Ellicott's confidence.
In April, 1797, Carondelet instructed Gayoso to as-
sume a firmer tone in his dealings with Ellicott, should
he find that the Spanish party at Natchez was more
powerful than the American. He should refuse to
evacuate the forts, restrict the number of Ellicott's
escort, and forbid the approach of the remaining
American soldiers. In case Ellicott continued his in-
Riley, "Transition from Spanish Rule," in Publications
of the Mississippi Historical Society I, I261 ft.

trigues or attempted to exercise private jurisdiction
while the territory was under Spanish control, Gayoso
was to escort him courteously to New Orleans, and re-
press with force any attempt on the part of the resi-
dents or soldiers to prevent this act. If, however, the
American party should prove the stronger, Gayoso
was not to risk an attack at Natchez. He should de-
stroy the fort there and abandon that at Walnut Hills,
after withdrawing the artillery from both. This ac-
tion would establish a basis for later claims against
the American government. As Ellicott was now act-
ing with greater caution, Gayoso replied that if Caron-
delet could secretly send more troops, he would be able
to delay the evacuation and keep order in the district.
Early in May Gayoso brought Blount's conspiracy
and the allied Canadian expedition against Upper Lou-
isiana to Ellicott's attention. These afforded other
reasons for holding the forts along the Mississippi and
suspending the boundary survey. It would be neces-
sary to await assurance from the American govern-
ment that it would not permit the British to violate its
neutrality. Ellicott worded his protest against this
decision so as to convey the impression that Gayoso
and his colleagues hoped by delay to court favor with
the French, the prospective owners of Louisiana. This
would compromise the Spaniard with the people of
Natchez. But Gayoso repelled the charge with dig-
nity. At the same time Ellicott advised the secretary


of war that there could be no lasting peace as long
as the Spaniards remained east of the Mississippi.
Meanwhile at New Orleans Carondelet was telling
Nolan that he was determined to suppress the trouble
brewing up the river by a judicious use of lead and
hemp. For the purpose he had already issued orders
to assemble twelve hundred men at Baton Rouge.
He now asked Nolan, who was a favorite of his, if he
wished to take part in the expedition, and received
positive assurance that he did. Yet the American
kept Ellicott informed of these proceedings, through
the younger Clark, and thus enabled the commissioner
to counteract Carondelet's plans and "turn his weap-
ons upon himself." By this course the double-deal-
ing Nolan exposed himself to great peril; but his as-
sociates carefully concealed his agency, and Ellicott
at least conceived a high opinion of his ability and
President Adams's determined attitude toward
France so aroused the American contingent at Natchez
that they formed a plan to add to the Union the two
Floridas with the Island of New Orleans," in case the
Spaniards began hostilities, or permitted the French to
move through their territory. From the caution with
which this affair was managed, together with the num-
ber, character, and resources of its leaders, Ellcott be-
lieved that it would have met with instant success. In
a letter he states: "Nothing was left undone through


confidential channels to embarrass the Spanish govern-
ment in this country till the military authority, (which
was all they had) was abolished in the district of
Natchez, after which it was not worth holding; and if
Baron de Carondelet had persevered in his calling to-
gether the militia at Baton Rouge, our plans were in
such forwardness that the whole country east of the
Mississippi would certainly have been in our posses-
sion in less than six weeks.""6
Aside from military preparations to checkmate the
Americans, Carondelet determined to make a final ap-
peal to Wilkinson and the other disunionists. Ac-
cordingly on the 26th of May, 1797, he commanded
Thomas Power to carry a message to Wilkinson in re-
gard to postponing the delivery of the forts. This
was the ostensible motive for Power's journey, but
his true purpose was to stir up the separatists in Ken-
tucky. In conferring with the various leaders of that
State and with Wilkinson, he was to offer them $1oo,-
ooo immediately, and another $10,000o together with
twenty field guns and other munitions, as soon as they
began the projected revolution. Carondelet had not
written to Wilkinson for fear of compromising him
since Power's unsatisfactory interview of the previous
year. Now the threatening perils led him once more
16 Ellicolt to Secretary of State, Jan. o1, 1799, Elicott and
the Southern Boundary, MS., Bureau of Rolls and Library

to appeal to Wilkinson's former Spanish predilection."
Power accordingly left New Orleans and reached
Natchez early in June, 1797. There Gayoso furnished
him with money for his expenses, and with additional
letters for Wilkinson. The agent endeavored to per-
suade Ellicott to come down to New Orleans, and
assured him that the difficulty over the treaty would
be settled within a month or so. But Ellicott already
knew of Power's mission through Daniel Clark, and
determined to thwart it." He charged some of his
friends in Kentucky and Tennessee to use their best
efforts to the same end. Power reached Kentucky
with great difficulty and reported Carondelet's project
to Sebastian. He promised complete indemnity for
11 The details of this mission are given in Gayoso to the
Prince of the Peace, tune 5, 1798, No. 0o, sumamtente reser-
vado, Legajo 43, Papeles de Cuba
S1 Ellictt's own testimony in regard to Power's mission is
conflicting. In a deposition years afterward (Annals of
Eleventh Congress, First and Second Sessions, Pt II, 2307 f )
he stated that he supposed it had reference only to Wilkin-
son's finances and not to the treaty. Yet in November, 1797,
he informed the secretary of state that the object of Wilkin-
son and his friends was to detach Tennessee and Kentucky
from the Union, unless the treaty were carried out He also
reported a more extensive plan in which Wilkinson was to
combine with Gayoso and Carondelet in revolutionizing Span-
ish America. The administration regarded the latter as highly
improbable, and thus missed the real danger involved in the
intrigue-the possibility that Wilkinson and his confederates
might be bribed to undertake a western revolt. Cf. Wilkin-
son, Memoirs, II, 170.

any loss the conspirators might suffer. He mentioned
the Yazoo as the possible southern limit of the pro-
posed independent state, and informed Sebastian that
it was not the purpose of the Spaniards to deliver the
posts on the Mississippi. Sebastian believed the project
untimely, but promised to communicate it to his
Power then went to Wilkinson's headquarters at
Detroit, and endeavored to persuade him to head the
new revolution and become the Washington of the
western country. Wilkinson, however, refused to con-
sider the matter, for he felt that the treaty, conceding
the free navigation of the Mississippi, had destroyed
the efforts of himself and his companions for the past
ten years. Never again would the western settlers en-
tertain a proposition for separation from the Federal
Government. His own honor and employment would
not permit him to continue his correspondence with
the Spaniards. He had destroyed his cipher and the
previous letters, so that he was relieved of this in-
trigue, but he speedily showed that he was not will-
ing to make this relief permanent. He counseled the
Spanish officials to fulfill the treaty; then perhaps his
own government would place him in command of the
Natchez district, where he might have many oppor-
tunities for new projects. The general also displayed
his ruling passion when he asked Power if he had
brought him the $640 which was due on the last in-
stalment of his pension.


So filled with fear as Wilkinson that he went
through the form of arresting Power and sending him
under guard to New MIadrid. Therefore Power had
no opportunity for another interview with Sebastian
and his friends. Some months afterward Sebastian
went down the river to confer with Gayoso, who by
this time had succeeded CarLindelet at New Orleans.
Ile told the governor that the time was unfavorable
for secession If they should ever become convinced
that their affairs demanded a separationn from the Fed-
eril Government, they would he able to undertake it
alone, and then could treat securely with the Span-
iards for the navigation of the lMisstssippi." Thus
Carondclet failed in his la't appeal to western disloy-
alty. Ellicott believed that the Spaniards greatly over-
rated the advantage to be derived from such intrigues.
The time had passed when such a course promiicd suc-
cess, but Ellicott's own reports were too greatly exag-
gerated to arouse the governmental authorities against
the real peril
So far the people at Natchez had a very indefinite
knowledge of the controversy between the American
commissioner and the Spanish officials. In the latter
part of May Carondelet issued a proclamation warn-
ing them against the "improper measures" of cer-
tain evil-disposed persons He explained that the sus-
pension of the treaty was due to ile threatened British
Cf. nolt 17.


invasion. His explanation offended all British sym-
pathizers, of whom there were many in the district.
With these and the leading landowners largely against
him, the days of Spanish jurisdiction were numbered.
Ellicott now endeavored to organize his adherents
by encouraging a general meeting at which they should
declare themselves American citizens. With only a
feeble garrison of fifty men, Gayoso dared not resist
the circulation of petitions for this purpose. The sit-
uation was so tense that the least opposition threat-
ened to precipitate an outbreak. This occurred on
June 9, when Gayoso arrested a Baptist preacher who
had personally menaced him. The people at once
rose, threatened to seize the commandant, and forced
him and his fellow officials with their families to take
refuge within the fort.
This virtual abdication of authority caused a gen-
eral loosening of all restraint throughout the district.
Ellicott sought to turn the situation to the advantage
of the United States by assisting those who wished
to become American citizens to organize for protec-
tion and the maintenance of order. He circulated
lists to be signed by these prospective citizens, and at
the same time Pope promised to protect all those above
the thirty-first parallel, which he tentatively placed at
twenty-nine miles below Natchez. They must, how-
ever, assist his soldiers in repelling any attempt to
strengthen the Spanish garrison.


Gayoso instructed his men to defend themselves to
the last extremity. Pope's actions, which measurably
justified his nickname "crazy," seemed designed to
exasperate them. A clash between the rival patrols
was narrowly averted. Exerting himself to prevent
hostilities, Stephen Minor, a naturalized Spanish sub-
ject acting as Gayoso's secretary, brought the latter
to an interview with Pope and Ellicott. Gayoso blamed
the Americans for the outbreak and threatened to
bring the Indians down on the settlement. Pending a
final adjustment he agreed to regard as neutral the
people living in the territory above the designated
Meanwhile a meeting of the leading citizens of the
district had selected seven men to serve with Ellicott
and Pope as a temporary committee of safety. This
committee secured Gayoso's reluctant consent to meas-
ures for securing neutrality and for the selection of
local officials. The agreement brought the tumult to
a close. Carondelet ratified the action, because he
could not help himself, but he complained of the
course pursued by Pope and Ellicott, and through
Casa Yrujo requested the American government to re-
strict them to their proper functions. Early in July
a permanent committee, appointed jointly by the tem-
porary body and Gayoso, assumed charge of affairs.
In November the inhabitants put an end to Spanish
control in the district by refusing to receive Colonel


Carlos de Grand Pre as commandant. In the follow-
ing month Captain Isaac Guion definitely established
American jurisdiction there.
These changes were not accomplished without arous-
ing the opposition of Anthony Hutchins and his
friends, who attempted to organize a committee of their
own. Their purpose was to elect a territorial delegate
before Congress organized the district and secure their
individual land claims. By its delay in authorizing a
territorial government, Congress created the impres-
sion that the treaty would never be carried out. Many
were thus led to ally themselves with the Spanish
party In emphasizing their personal claims, Hutchins
and his adherents ignored the American right to the
whole district. In a similar manner the residents of
West Florida later desired American intervention
without giving up the vacant lands.
In September, 1797, Ellicott learned of Blount's con-
spiracy, and with the permanent committee, devised
measures against it in the district and among the In-
dians. By this time he had become extremely cen-
sorious of colleague as well as of opponent. He sus-
pected that the conspiracy might be part of the larger
plan to revolutionize Spanish America, in which he
implicated Wilkinson. He also reported that the gen-
eral was tampering with Indian agents in an attempt
to break up the boundary survey. This made him
anxious to proceed with it as soon as the Spanish gar-


prison should withdraw from Natchez. At the same
time the Spaniards thought that he and Pope were
accomplices of Blount, for such friends of the latter
as came to Natchez rallied around them. Their sus-
picions were heightened by the reports that Wilkinson
was gathering troops around the lakes and Guion en-
trenching himself at Chickasaw Bluff, both with evi-
dent hostile intent against the Spaniards. Ex-Gov-
nor Matthews and Judge Miller of Georgia, agents
for one of the groups of Yazoo grantees, not only
stimulated land disputes in the locality, but suggested
possible complicity with Blount. For a brief period
the Tennessee leader rivalled Burr's later reputation
as the bogie of frontier disturbance
In the following year David Humphreys, American
minister to Spain, used the Blount incident as evi-
dence that his country was unwilling to profit at
Spain's expense. He assured Saavedra, Godoy's nom-
inal successor, that republican neighbors were not so
bad, after all. His countrymen had no desire to ex-
pand by conquest, or to interfere in the domestic af-
fairs of other nations. Sound policy and common
sense must lead the United States to develop its vacant
territory, preserve neutrality, and encourage commerce
with His Catholic Majesty, rather than plan hostile
expeditions against his dominions.20
o Letters of D. Humphreys, Apr. o, 1, 79, MS., Bureau of
Indexes and Archives, Department of State.

Humphreys could well afford to assume this vir-
tuous tone. Before French influence had forced
Godoy into temporary retirement, he had definitely
ordered his subordinates to carry out the treaty with
the United States. By this concession he completed
the service begun some two years before in signing
the treaty. He had no assurance that his tardy action
would long content American ambition; but he knew
that because of it, the French would derive less satis-
faction from the retrocession of Louisiana.
After the Spaniards had determined to deliver the
Natchez district to the Americans, the next step was to
run the boundary line. On January Io, 1798, Gayoso
wrote Ellicott that he was ready to begin this work,
but the Quaker surveyor expressed little confidence in
his declaration, and during the next two months found
many reasons to justify his lack of faith. The ques-
tion of military escort for the surveying party, the
delay in withdrawing the garrisons from Walnut Hills
and Natchez, the fear that the Spaniards, by stirring
up the Indians, were trying to prevent the survey,
all of these matters, coupled with his past experiences,
forced Ellicott to doubt Gayoso's sincerity. Wilkm-
son's protest against the delay and the reported Indian
intrigues did not give him any more confidence.
In the middle of Mfarch Ellicott's friend, Stephen
Minor, was appointed as Spanish commissioner on the
boundary survey. The ill-feeling between him and


Gayoso, however, threatened still further to retard
proceedings. Moreover Gayoso lacked scientific men
and the necessary instruments. This lack was met in
a measure by the appointment of William Dunbar as
temporary representative for the Spaniards, and the
purchase of his instruments. Yet this gave Ellicott
little assurance that the Spaniard was in earnest. On
March 23, however, the Spanish garrison evacuated
Walnut Hills. Three days later Jose Vidal, Minor's
secretary, informed Guion that he lacked the neces-
sary transports to convey the rest of his men down
the river. Guion pointedly told him that the dignity
of his country could no longer brook evasions, and gave
him a peremptory order to evacuate Natchez before
the 3Ist. On the last Wednesday of the month the
Spanish officers waited on Ellicott and Guion in a
formal leave-taking, and two days later, without any
definite ceremony, abandoned the fort.
Following the departure of the Spaniards, Ellicott
conducted his party down the river and began opera-
tions to mark the thirty-first parallel; but the nature
of the country and the condition of the river delayed
him for nearly a month. On the 2ist of May, Minor
and a party of laborers joined him, and Dunbar ap-
peared on the 26th. Gayoso had protested against
their beginning before his arrival and did not join
them until May 31. Ellicott believed that if he had
not proceeded without him, the Spaniard would not
have appeared during the whole season.


Gayoso had to cut short his interview with Sebastian
in order to join the boundary commission. On his
way up the river he met John Montgomery Brown,
bearing letters from the governor of Kentucky and
from Wilkinson. The general briefly mentioned the
vigilance of his enemies, spurred on by Humphrey
Marshall's bitter attacks, and warned Gayoso not to
trust the western people any longer. This advice, so
contrary to Wilkinson's former views, aroused the
Spaniard's suspicions. He believed that the general,
having abandoned his Spanish connection, was deter-
mined to keep Sebastian or any of the other conspira-
tors from continuing them.
By this time Gayoso had entirely lost confidence in
the western people, whom he regarded as mercenary
or seditious, and was equally suspicious of the Amer-
ican government. He commented to his superior on
the forces already gathered in Natchez, and these, ac-
cording to rumor, were to be greatly increased. Wil-
kinson was even'to move his headquarters there. The
most favorable interpretation that he could put on
these movements was that the American government
intended them against France, in case that power de-
clared war and attempted to use Spanish territory for
hostile operations. As Wilkinson had sufficient forces
to prevent this, Gayoso determined not to break
with him but await a more favorable turn in condi-
tions. Yet he fancied that with adequate resources he


could still control a large party among the Amer-
icans, or repel any hostilities on their part.2'
Meanwhile the party on the boundary line was much
disturbed by threats of the Choctaws to break up the
survey. This menace was greatly exaggerated by the
agent, Samuel Mitchell.22 With this task once well
under way and with the difficulties in the Natchez dis-
trict settled by the withdrawal of the Spanish garri-
son, Gayoso reported general conditions to Saavedra.
He felt that the treaty now being carried out gave the
United States the balance of power in North America.
Ultimately that nation planned to control the whole
continent. Its rapid advance and unconcealed ambition
rendered this very probable. The Spanish sovereign
would profit, then, if at the next general treaty in
Europe he could substitute the Yazoo for the thirty-
first parallel. The Americans could not justly com-
plain of this enforced retrocession if they still re-
tained the navigation of the Mississippi.
The Spanish government had gained nothing by
granting concessions in the treaty of 1795, for the
American government still maintained friendship with
Great Britain, failed to restrain the Indians, and
wished to push trade with them west of the Missis-
sippi. By holding Natchez the Americans could cut
the communication between upper and lower Louisi-
21 Cf note 17.
2 Ellhcott to Pickerng, Feb. 20, 1798, Ellicott and the South-
ern Boundary, MS., Bureau of Rolls and Library.


ana, especially if working in harmony with the British
in Canada. Such a combination would gain control
of the highway to the Pacific, and with it the mastery
of North America. The only thing that kept them
out of Louisiana and the Floridas was the jealousy
between the eastern and western portions of the
United States. Gayoso believed that this would even-
tually lead to a separation which would force the West
into an alliance, either with Spain or with England.
He referred to the earlier attempts to bring this about,
and the more recent efforts which had been suspended
by the treaty, yet he was "determined to maintain a
good understanding with the Kentuckians, so as to
attract them in another crisis."a Thus with true Bour-
bon insistence he persevered in a policy already out-
In this same letter Gayoso suggested a method by
which he might counteract American advance. The
Spanish land system was much more liberal than the
American, and this would lead many to emigrate from
the United States to the Spanish dominions. Gayoso
was not inclined to permit this too freely, especially
in the country west of the Mississippi, for he pre
23 Gayoso to Saavedra, Nov. 2, 1798, Spanish Transcripts,
Missouri Historical Society; Robertson, No. 4665 in List of
Documents in Spanish Archines, Relating to the History of
the United States, Carnegie Institution, Washington, 1910.
The documents thus listed will hereafter be referred to by
number only.


ferred to settle French Canadians there. Numbers
from the Natchez district wished to move below the
line. Among them were Anthony Hutchins and his
friends, but Gayoso excluded them because they had
seemed unfriendly during the recent crisis. More-
over Hutchins still received half pay from the British
government." Gayoso permitted others to settle in the
Feliciana district and still others to form a commun-
ity on the Pearl River. He was suspected of aiding
Zachariah Cox,25 in order to attract discontented Amer-
ican citizens. Gayoso assured Daniel Clark that his
purpose was not so much to entice immigrants from
Mississippi Territory as .to encourage a progressive
population in the Floridas and Louisiana."? Within
a decade his successors were to find these settlers alto-
gether too progressive.
The prospect of Wilkinson's arrival in the Natchez
district aroused much interest Daniel Clark the elder
was especially gratified to learn of it. They were
both good republicans, he wrote, who loved, honored,
and served their country. Evidently Wilkinson's com-
ing was heralded by ugly rumors, for Clark stated
that he had not heard that the general had ever held
a commission in the Spanish service, and no Anglo-
4Elhcott, Journal, 183
25 For Cox's plans see Quarterly of the Historical and Phil-
osophical Society of Ohio, 1913, 29-114.
CD Clark, Jr., to Wilkinson, Nov. 30, 1798, Letters Re-
ceived, MS, War Department


American in the district would be more hkely to know
than himself. He advised Wilkinson not to be dis-
turbed by these reports, which only proved the worth
of republican institutions. Under a despotism no one
would dare utter them He mentioned the fact that
the line of demarcation was still in statu quo Pa-
tience had been characteristic of the United States
from the days of Fabius [Washington] to the present
time, but he hoped that Wilkinson was now coming
with a sufficient force to cause the treaty to be car-
ried out."
Wilkinson's arrival at Natchez, about the middle of
August, 1798, caused considerable stir below the line,
and induced Gayoso to organize his militia. This led
Ellicott later to write to the secretary of state that
"the fears and jealousies of the Spanish nation"
would shortly result in its losing all the country on
this side of the Mississippi s Clark himself expressed
a wish to eat his Christmas dinner in New Orleans
with "Governor Wilkinson." To bring this to pass
he offered the assistance of his entire family. "I tell
you, General," he wrote, "you must take New Orleans
ere permanent tranquility can reign in the United
States, or agriculture and commerce flourish. These
23D. Clark to Wilkinson, Mar 18, 1798, Letters Received,
MS., War Department
8 E1licott to Pickering, Nov 8, 1798, Wilkinson, Memoirs,
II, 184 n.


objects I am anxious to see accomplished ere I attain
my three score and ten, to which you know I have but
two or three years to run."'
In January, 1799, Ellicott was in New Orleans on
a visit, partly official and partly social in character.
While there Daniel Clark, Jr., furnished him with con-
clusive evidence that the Spanish authorities had not
intended to carry out the treaty in 1797. Clark felt,
however, that recent British naval victories and the
tone of the last presidential address had induced them
to pursue a different course. Ellicott's report on the
Spanish tenure in Louisiana was prophetic. He had
thought their hold on Natchez very weak, but that on
New Orleans still more so. "I am convinced," he
wrote, "the present government might be abolished by
the materials within itself, and that with but little risk
to those who might undertake it, and what contributes
considerably to this weakness is the general opinion
of the inhabitants that it will unquestionably before
many years, be annexed to the United States. The
arrival of Gen. Wilkinson has greatly strengthened
that opinion. For my own part, I cannot see any
advantages that the United States might derive from
owning this province at present." He believed that
the Americans would profit more from its trade and
commerce while in Spanish possession than if in their
20 Wilkinson, Memoirs, II, 22


own, and he favored its occupation by the United
States should any European nation threaten it."
From this point on, Ellicott's work has but inci-
dental bearing on West Florida. In due course of
time the surveying party established the line on the
Mobile, when the Spaniards to their regret learned
that Fort St. Stephens came above it. Despite rumors
of Indian hostility, encouraged in a measure by the
"crooked talks" of Vizente Folch, the commander at
Pensacola, Ellicott also surveyed along the Appalachi-
cola. Beyond this point the attitude of the Creeks
became so threatening that Ellicott did not attempt
to run the line overland. After -reaching the St.
Mary's River, Ellicott completed his task on April
ro, 80oo, more than, three years after he had first
reached Natchez. During this time he had been much
more than a surveyor, but he firmly believed that his
varied services more than justified his large expense
account.1 With our present information this claim
seems reasonable.
Events in the Natchez district during these critical
years of transition afford many points of comparison
with later developments in West Florida. There was
the long-drawn dispute with Spain over the terms of
a treaty, finally decided more by the exigencies of
'o Ellicott to Pickering, Jan. 13, 1799, Ellicott and the South-
ern Boundary, MS., Bureau of Rolls and Libraiy.
o: Ellicott Journal, passim.


European politics and by happenings on the frontier
than by the skill of the American diplomats or the es-
sential justice of their contention. The Spaniards
were attempting to control a pioneer population, alien
in spirit, custom, and political training, but land hungry
and unscrupulous in appeasing their appetite. It was
inevitable, then, that charge and countercharge, in-
trigue and evasion, should finally result in revolt.
Fortunately the period of disturbance was brief and
bloodless; the neighboring savages were not drawn
into it, or outside nations involved. Yet it estab-
lished a precedent, and led the United States to pursue
a similar course, deviously but without intent, through
the neighboring West Florida into Texas and distant



Diplomatic success at the Escorial and the subse-
quent occupation of Natchez did not afford complete
security to our southern border. Although Spain still
possessed New Orleans and the Floridas, there were per-
sistent rumors that these coveted possessions, along
with the whole of Louisiana, were about to pass un-
der the control of the French. Washington had re-
garded the latter as "unpleasant" prospective neigh-
bors to our Trans-Allegheny possessions, and Secre-
tary Pickering thought that Spain should be equally
concerned for Mexico.' The American alliance ,with
France had been "a mere scrap of paper" since
Genat's mission, so that it would be necessary to exert
pressure elsewhere to prevent the transfer. Our min-
isters to England and Spain were so instructed. King
in London elicited little sympathy from British offi-
cials, who were evidently unwilling to intervene with-
out a definite alliance with the United States;h but
Humphreys, after a special trip from Portugal to
I Washington to Pckering, Feb. 14, 1797. Miscellaneous Let-
ters, IMS., Vol. 22, Bureau of Indexes and Archives; Picker-
ing to R King, Feb. 14, I797. King, Rufus King, II, 147
SK..ing, Rufus King, III. 572


Madrid, secured from Godoy's rival, Urquijo, an as-
surance that France would never get Louisiana while
he was in office.3
Scarcely a year elapsed before the assurance of the
Spanish minister was shown to be worthless. The
Treaty of San Ildefonso provided for the retroces-
son of Louisiana, while the new American agreement
%\ith Bonaparte removed such protection as the for-
mer alliance gave.4 The French were evidently pre-
paring to limit American holdings by the Appalachians
rather than by the Mississippi, as Collot had advised
them to do." Their agents, Milfort and Fulton, were
already at work among the Creeks, and to the great
concern of Ellicott and Governor Sargent were plan-
ning closer connections with Clark and other western
filibusters.- Aroused by this Gallic propaganda, the
attorney-general advised more definite military pre-
cautions in the Southwest Wilkinson should oppose
the passage of French troops up the Mississippi, even
if under the Spanish flag, and if necessary he might in-
vade the Floridas to attack them.n In the following
D. Humphreys to Secretary of State. Aug. 6, 1794, Letters
of D. IlumpIlreys, MS., Bureau of Indexes and Arclnves.
Adams, History of tle United States, I, 365
Ibid.; Kng. Rufus King. III. 414
STurner in American Historical ReviewX. X. 7o 271 ; Ameri-
can Historical Association, Annual Report, 1903. 11, :097.
7 Steiner, The Life and Correspondence of James McHenry,


year Hamilton, as the active head of the American
army, planned a series of military campaigns begin-
ning on the Florida border that were ultimately to
include all Spanish America. Fortunately Adams pre-
ferred diplomacy to militarism, and thus prevented
the Floridas from becoming either the Belgium or the
Balkans of America.
Jefferson openly maintained a friendly attitude to-
ward France and Spain, but he still was apprehensive
in regard to the proposed cession. His first concern
was to learn if it provided for American privileges
under existing treaties; his next, to secure an exten-
sion of these privileges. The most obvious method
was the purchase of part or all of the territory in ques-
tion east of the Mississippi, where the navigation of
the Mobile was presenting a problem secondary only
to that of the navigation of the Mississippi.
Shortly after arriving at his station, Charles Pinck-
ney, our new minister to Spain, essayed this double
task. The Spanish secretary, Cevallos, who was so
long to prove the bete noir of the American diplomats,
gave him little satisfaction about the rumored treaty
or existing guarantees. Finally Cevallos told the
American that if the "King His Master" should think
proper to cede Louisiana to another power, he would
preserve all the rights of the United States. Pinck-
ney advised that Livingston should attempt to secure


a more definite pledge from the French government.'
In his second object Pinckncy was even less success-
ful, although he was authorized to tempt the Spanish
government to part with the Floridas by offering a
guarantee of the remaining Spanish colonies west of
the Mississippi. This was the offer that Jefferson,
as secretary of state, had empowered Carmichael to
make a decade before. To make it with effect Pinck-
ney assumed, as he then fully believed, that the Flor-
idas did not form part of the Louisiana Province, al-
though New Orleans did. Moreover he represented
the desired cession as an act of mutual helpfulness,
"essential to [his nation] and not at all injurious to
the other." If granted it would "fix forever such a
great Natural Boundary between the dominions of
Our Good Friend, His Catholic Majesty and the
United States, as will leave no possible room for dif-
ference hereafter, with the Nation for whom the
United States cherished so much affection."
The American minister also pointed out the fact
that the Floridas had never been productive, and with
Louisiana in the hands of France, would be still less
valuable to Spain. On the other hand the navigation
of the Mobile and other streams was necessary to
those Americans residing on their upper courses.
American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 48r, 482.
The manuscript copy in Spanish Dispatches, MS, VI, Bu-
reau of Indexes and Archives, contains some significant pas-
sages omitted in the folio edition.


Aside from their commercial advantage and the estab-
lishment of a natural boundary like the Mississippi
(which he mistakenly called a "barrier"), he had no
material motive in pressing for the cession. "Our
government," he emphatically asserted, "being one
without ambition, never wishing to extend its territory
except in so similar a case as this, and never having
the least idea or desire to possess colonies or more
than they own, except in this single instance, they trust
that His Majesty will on this occasion consent to the
sale and transfer upon such reasonable terms as may
be agreed upon by the two nations."D
Notwithstanding the "affectionate terms" in which
Pinckney had proffered his request, he did not expect
the Spanish officials to receive it with favor. They
were already enraged over the recent forcible cession
of Trinidad to Great Britain, and might hesitate to
introduce another power into the Mexican Gulf. Nor
were they free to act without the consent of the
French. Moreover, the American diplomat perceived
a domestic difficulty. How could the Floridas, having
never formed part of the original States, be constitu-
tionally received into the American Union? "We
shall however," he added comfortingly, "have full
time to consider the question, as the Spanish court
moves slowly in important negotiations.""1
9Pinckney to Cevallos, Mar. 24, r802, Spanish Dispatches,
MS., VI, Bureau of Indexes and Archives.
10 Pinckney to Madison, Apr. 20, i8os, Spanish Dispatches,
MS, VI, Bureau of Indexes and Archives.


Evidently they would have full time, for Cevallos
guardedly replied that the proposal for the sale of the
Floridas was of such great importance that his gov-
ernment must consider it \\ith the utmost circumspec-
tion." Bonaparte himself afforded an additional
reason for this circumspection. Determined to gain
the Floridas along with Louisiana, in November, 1802,
he proffered Parma in exchange. Godoy, once more
in power, affected to dicker with the French represen-
tative, Beurnonville, and thought that on this basis the
First Consul ought to be satisfied with West Florida
alone. The Frenchman peremptorily asked for a defi-
nite answer to his offer, and Godoy informed him that
the king was unwilling to sacrifice any further terri-
tory in America for a new monarchy in Europe.1"
From a later statement of Bcurnonville, Pinckney be-
heved that his own offer to buy the Floridas was
largely instrumental in defeating the French attempt,
but the concurrent opposition of Great Britain and
Russia was doubtless even more potent.'" Certainly
2 Cevallos to Pinckney, Apr. 7, IS02, Spanish Dispatches,
MS, VI, Bureau of Indexes and Archives
2 Archives des Affaires Etrangires, Louisiane et les Flori-
des, 1792-z8o3, MS., Supplement, Vol. 7, 232-287, passim, Min-
istre des Affaires Etrangtres, Paris. Talleyrand also ad-
vised Napoleon to content himself with W\est Florida. Cf.
page 74
Ia Pinckney to Madison, Jan. 2, 1804, Spanish Dispatches,
MS, VI, Bureau of Indexes and Archives; Livingston to
Madison, Feb 5, 1803, American State Papers, Foreign Rela-
tions, II, 532.


Pinckney obtained no satisfaction when, in response
to a petition from residents on the upper Mobile, he re-
quested the Spanish government to put that stream on
the same footing as the Mississippi." While waiting
for the response of the Spanish authorities, he made
a leisurely trip to Italy. His secretary, John Graham,
thus had the opportunity to write Madison that if
American rights on the Mississippi were preserved,
they might expect similar privileges on the Mobile;
otherwise, not. They could expect little from the
evasive policy of the Spaniards. With regard to the
inclusion of West Florida in Louisiana, Graham
learned, probably from the French minister, that the
boundaries were those laid down in the Treaty of
1763, but his informant added significantly, "We have
not yet taken possession of it "'
Despite the hope or threat implied in these words,
it is evident that none of the diplomats at the court
of Spain believed that power ready to alienate the Flor-
Hunt, Writings of James Madison, VI, 448, 449. This
was doubtful in view of Morales' recent action. Cf. page 73.
"1 John Graham to Madison, Nov. 29, i8o0, Spanish Dis-
patches, MS., VI, Bureau of Indexes and Archives. Perhaps
Graham's attitude was determined by the wishes of his supe-
riors. IHe may have been sent to Madrid to check the erratic
Pmnckney and to give Madison inside information of that
minister's actions If so, it is an interesting commentary on
the mutual lack of confidence existing between the South
Carolinian and the Virginia statesmen. The same distrust
characterized the relations between the latter group and the
incumbent in the Paris ministry.


idas, and certainly none of them regarded the aliena-
tion as already accomplished. In London Rufus King
reported the British authorities as indifferent. Lord
Hawkesbury seemed to think it immaterial whether
Louisiana included New Orleans and the Floridas or
not. As a wilderness area the whole region would be
valueless for years to come. Later, when war with
France seemed probable, the British became more in-
terested in the region and planned to occupy it provi-
sionally or to permit the United States to do so. But
this change did not indicate any marked friendliness
for the latter nation.1'
Paris was the real center of diplomatic pressure dur-
ing this eventful year, and after his arrival there as
minister, in December, 18o1, Robert R. Livingston
did not intermit his efforts to aid his colleague Pinck-
ney. Talleyrand told him that the cession of Louisi-
ana had been merely a subject of conversation between
France and Spain. Another minister, probably Barbe-
Marbois, said that Louisiana was not theirs to use even
partially for paying their debts." Stirred up by re-
ports from the frontier, Jefferson affected to regard
the prospective danger from French neighbors as suf-
ficient to justify a British alliance. As usual his sec-
ond thought was less belligerent, for he preferred to
King, Rufus King, IV, 17-19, 146-148.
1 Livmngston to Secretary of State, Dec. 0, 180l, Dec. I2,
180i, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 512.


buy New Orleans and the Floridas from France, if
that power now possessed them and was ready to sell
on favorable terms.'8 At the same time he wrote Du-
pont de Nemours that such a cession would be only a
palliationn" for the "vicinage" of France. But even
so, if the United States should secure it, the boundary
of our country would then be sufficiently extensive,
and the "chain of the American Union rendered too
strong to be weakened for several centuries."1
Although the Americans hoped to gain the Floridas
through the influence of the French, Livingston pur-
sued a course little calculated to enlist their sympathy.
While Napoleon, incensed at the earlier failure to ex-
tort the Floridas from Spam, along with Louisiana,
was striving to obtain them by preferring Parma, or
Parma and Placencia together, the American minister
assumed that France did not yet possess them and
proceeded to make sure that she should not. Aware
that the two governments were disputing on this point,
he told De Azara, the Spanish ambassador in Paris,
that Spain ought to keep the Floridas as security for
South America."0 What she should do to counter-
act American possession of the Floridas he did not
state. He disputed with Collot and Adet over the
s8Jefferson to Livingston, Apr. 18, 1802, Ford, Writngs of
Jefferson, VIII, 143.
19 Jefferson to Dupont de Nemours, ibid., 203.
Mo Livingston to De Azara, May a 2 80 American State
Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 518.


possible inclusion of Mobile and Pensacola in the
cession to France.2? He contended that the territory
cast of the Mississippi was of little economic value to
France or Spain, but of great strategic importance to
the United States. He even hinted that Great Britain
might join his country in protesting against an increase
of French power on the Gulf."2 By such "short
hints he pursued with little success his double object:
to keep the Floridas from France and to gain them,
wholly or in part, for the United States. France did
not get the desired provinces, but her failure was due
to the fact that the obstinacy of Charles IV and his
advisers far surpassed Livingston's persistence as a
diplomatic factor. The American also retarded his
cause by associating commercial claims with it. I-av-
ing once made this unacceptable combination, it seemed
impossible for American diplomats to dissociate the
claims and the Floridas.
It was at this time that Livingston also presented
another characteristic phase of the future negotiation.
Failing to awaken a response by his offers to purchase
the entire Florida area, he expressed a willingness to
2 Livingston to Secretary of State, June 8, 1802, ibid., 519,
Thomas Sumpter, who acted as secretary of the legation,
charged that Livingston was planning with Daniel Parker
and others to make a real estate speculation out of the Florida
negotiation. Cf. Sumpter to Monroe, Oct. i, 1803, Monroe
Papers, MS., X, 1219, Library of Congress.
Livingston to Minister of Exterior Relations, Jan. 1o,
1803, American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 531.


content himself with West Florida alone. This would
give the United States control of the eastern bank of
the Mississippi and the shores of Mobile Bay. New
Orleans and East Florida would enhance the value of
this limited area; but, if they were unattainable, the
Americans might construct a channel to the sea by way
of Manchac and the Iberville and thus render their
upper settlements independent of the future Crescent
City." The United States would also be able to dis-
regard any feeble colonies that France could maintain
west of the Mississippi, and even acquiesce in her
possession of Pensacola and St. Augustine. This em-
phasis upon the strategic and commercial value of
West Florida may account for his later insistence, con-
trary to his earlier views, that West Florida formed
part of Louisiana.
Another, even more influential than he, held a simi-
lar opinion. In November, 1802, Talleyrand wrote Na-
poleon: "West Florida suffices for the desired en-
largement of Louisiana. It completes the retrocession
of the French colony, such as had been given to Spain.
It carries the eastern boundary back to the river
Appalachicola. It gives us the port of Pensacola and
:a The British had considered the feasibility of such a chan-
nel, while possessing West Florida. Knowledge of this fact
may account for the similar views of Jefferson and Gallatin
Cf. Jefferson to Dr Hugh Wilhamson, Apr. 30, 1803, Works
of Jefferson (Memorial Edition), X, 385; Gallatn to Madison,
Feb. 7, 1803, Hunt, James Madison, VII, 32.


the population which forms more than half that of
the two Floridas. By leaving East Florida to Spain
we much diminish the difficulties little felt today but
which some day may become of the greatest impor-
tance."" Talleyrand did not persuade the other to
abate his demand for both the Floridas. In that
same month the First Consul offered to exchange
Parma for them, but without result. With Talleyrand
advising Napoleon to accept West Florida, in lieu of
a better bargain, and with Decrs counseling him to
"think well" before taking Louisiana without Mo-
bile,2" Livingston's efforts to gain the same region
were likely to be futile.
On October 16, 1802, Juan Ventura Morales, the
intendant, definitely suspended the American right of
deposit at New Orleans. This unexpected act, arous-
ing the entire West and galvanizing Federalist opposi-
tion, demanded some immediate diplomatic achieve-
ment. A special mission seemed the most promising
method. Monroe was asked to associate himself with
Livingston and Pinckney in the endeavor to secure
the Floridas and settle once for all the vexatious ques-
tions of western navigation. If he failed to secure
the coveted territory, the administration hoped that
he would at least obtain an "enlargement" of the right
24 Adams, History of the United States, 40o, 402.
:s Minuit de Decrrs, 13 Vendemiaire An XI, Archives des
Affaires Strangeres, Louisiane et les Florides, MS., Vol. 7,


of deposit, to include all rivers passing from Amer-
ican territory to the Gulf through the Floridas." In
the combined diplomatic and domestic problem thrust
upon them Jefferson and Madison thought half a loaf
better than none.
For a time it seemed likely that Livingston, spurred
into redoubled activity, would fail to secure even this
modest concession. Having found Talleyrand a doubt-
ful channel for his communications to Napoleon, he
availed himself, as before, of such intermediaries as
the friendly Lebrun and even Joseph Bonaparte. Fi-
nally a suggestion to use the American claims against
France in the proposed exchange drew from Talley-
rand the crushing declaration: "It is entirely opposed
to the maxims of Government, adopted by the Repub-
lic, to mingle important and delicate political relations
with calculations of account and mere pecuniary inter-
ests."" After assuming this virtuous tone it must
have been doubly bitter for Talleyrand, a few weeks
later, to offer the whole of Louisiana to the persistent
Livingston could interpret this offer only in keep-
ing with his obsession for the Floridas. France did
not expect to obtain them, along with Louisiana, and
so regarded the latter as of little worth. He told Tal-
2=e Madison to Pinckney and Monroe, Feb. 17, 1803, Ameri-
can State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 533.
7 Talleyrand to Livingston, I Vent6se An XI (Feb. ip),
1803, ibid., 546.


leyrand that the Americans did not want Louisiana;
but at once wrote Madison that if they should get it,
they should exchange all that portion west of the Mis-
sissippi for the Floridas." This, to paraphrase his
own words, seemed like disposing of the skin before
he had killed the bear; hut it showed that after months
of vacillation he fully believed that France had not
acquired the coveted territory. Yet when the con-
scienceless Napoleon performed this act of slaughter
for him, he completely reversed himself, and in the
process carried with him his unacceptable colleague,
Monroe, and the entire administration, with the pos-
sible exception of Gallatin."
In Spain, Pinckney not only protested against the
suspension of the deposit, and with success, but re-
newed his previous proposal to purchase the Floridas.
To render this more acceptable he now offered for the
first time to guarantee the Spanish possessions west of
the Mississippi.30 What he or his superiors hoped to
accomplish by this offer, after the failure to carry out
a similar guarantee with France, under the Treaty of
1778, does not clearly appear, but it indicates their
anxiety to gain the Floridas.
After allowing the Spanish minister a month to re-
2s Livingston to Madison, Apr r1, 1803, ibid., 552.
Cf. pages 101 228.
so Pinckney to Cevallos, Feb. 17, I0P3. Letters of C. Pinck-
ney and R. Livingston, MS, Bureau of Indexes and Archives,
Department of State.


flect upon his generous offer, he reverted to the sub-
ject from a different standpoint. The number, re-
sources, position, and spirit of the western Americans
rendered it problematical how much longer they would
submit to Spanish exactions upon their commerce.
Should they take affairs in their own hands the Span-
iards could not resist their onset, nor could the eastern
States check them, granted that they cared to do so.
He wished this statement to be taken as an evidence
of sincere friendship, rather than of threatening ambi-
tion. His country desired a lasting peace with His
Catholic Majesty, and to ensure it was willing to pur-
chase the Floridas at a fair price and obhgate them-
selves to defend the Spanish possessions near them.
If Spain, however, should persist in her restrictive
commercial policy, war would be inevitable. "We
must have the free navigation of the Mississippi"
(and he might have added "of the Mobile") "or we
will take it by force."3'
This vigorous memoir preceded by one day his an-
nouncement of Monroe's special mission. At the same
time he asked Cevallos if there was anything in the
treaty between France and Spain that affected the
existing rights of the United States, or prevented
compliance with his proposition to buy Florida. In
answer to his first question Cevallos sent him the third
article of the Treaty of San Ildefonso, which Pinckney
s Pinckney to the Prince of the Peace, Mar. 21, 1803, ibid.


at once forwarded to Paris. It may be that this ar-
ticle was inserted verbatim in the subsequent treaty
between France and the United States, because Mon-
roe and Livingston had this official copy before them.
If so, the Spanish minister unwittingly rendered the
Americans a service that was to prove extremely em-
barrassing to himself.
In answer to his second question Cevallos sent a
brief but pointed reply: The system adopted by His
Majesty not to alienate any of his estates deprives him
of the pleasure of agreeing to the concession which
the United States wished to obtain by purchase." Af-
ter stating that France was to regain Louisiana "with
the same limits it had, saving the rights accruing to
other powers," he advised Pinckney that the United
States would be able "to direct itself to the govern-
ment of France to negotiate for the acquisition of the
territories which may be conducive to their interests."'a
In all probability the Spanish minister merely wished
to end an unpleasant discussion with the Americans.
He felt reasonably sure that France would be un-
willing to negotiate in their behalf when she had not
been able to gain the region for herself. Casa Yrujo
was instructed to inform Madison of this decision.
In doing so, he added that the Spanish king, by thus
alienating his dominions contrary to the Treaty of
32 Cevallos to Pinckney, May 4, 1803, Spanish Dispatches,
MS., VI, Bureau of Indexes and Archives.


Utrecht, would injure his reputation and arouse com-
plaints among the great powers of Europe. Besides,
such action would be discourteous to France after
Spain's recent refusal to accept her advantageous of-
fers s3 Both Casa Yrujo and Cevallos speedily learned
that Napoleon was by no means equally scrupulous in
his dealings with them. On May 2 his minister
signed with Livingston and Monroe the treaty that
conveyed Louisiana to the United States.
The recipients of Napoleon's vast and unexpected
gift prospered beyond their dreams, but not in the
pathway of their instructions. This led east of the
Mississippi, while they had wandered far to the west-
ward. Despite the success that had overtaken them,
they must still direct their efforts toward the Flori-
das, which for nearly a quarter of a century had been
the goal of their countrymen. Moreover the defense
of their new acquisition imperiously led them thither.
West Florida intervened between New Orleans and
the rest of the United States and still gave the Span-
iards a chance to close the Mississippi. Thus the great
problem of its commerce was by no means perma-
nently settled, although with Louisiana in their posses-
sion, the Americans were in much better shape to in-
sist upon a favorable solution.
At first neither American diplomat perceived the
Ia Casa Yrujo to Madison, July 2, 1803, Spanish Notes, MS.,
I, Bureau of Indexes and Archives.


solution afforded by the indefinite article that consti-
tuted the only description of their purchase. Each
worked independently to secure for himself all the
advantage that might be gained by further acquisition.
Monroe, anxious to avoid additional expense, at first
proposed to exchange the territory west of the Missis-
sippi for the Floridas." Even this required French
assistance. Napoleon vaguely promised his aid; but
when Spain presented her inevitable but unavailing
protest against the alienation of Louisiana, he deter-
mined to protect her, at least from other aggressors
than himself. He intimated to the special envoy that
it was not a favorable time to negotiate at Madrid,
and afterwards repeated this declaration so decidedly
that Monroe withdrew to his new post in London to
await developments.3
Livingston was equally unsuccessful in attempting
to get a clearer definition of the acquisition. Napo-
leon's cynical threat to render the territorial article
obscure, if it were not already so; Talleyrand's mock-
ing encouragement to make the best possible bargain
out of the treaty; and Barbe-Marbois' evasion over
the claim to Mobile'0-all of these pointed to but one
conclusion: the Americans might interpret the treaty
"'Monroe to Madison, May 18, 1803, Hamilton, Monroe,
IV. 24.
s5 Monroe to Secretary of State, July 20, 1803, ibid., 44.
6 Livingston to Madison, May 20, 1803, American State
Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 561.


to suit themselves. Evidently Napoleon had intended
to do so; at least the Spaniards later accepted this as
the most obvious interpretation of the puzzling third
article in the Treaty of San Ildefonso:" "His Catho-
lic Majesty promises and engages in his part, to retro-
cede to the French Republic the colony or province of
Louisiana with the same extent that it now has in the
hands of Spain, that it had when France possessed it;
and such as it should be after the treaty subsequently
entered into between Spain and other states."38
It is true that the instructions to the French envoys
at Madrid, and to General Victor, who was to take
possession of the province, expressly follow the
Treaty of 1763, and thus exclude West Florida from
the cession. All documents relating to the transfer
are to the same effect.'" Yet Napoleon's general at-
titude toward Louisiana, to say nothing of other phases
in his career, lead one to conclude that he would not
have hesitated to use this article to force the cession
of West Florida, whenever it suited his purpose.
3; See the Memoir dated Dec. 23. 181i4 in the manuscript
volume, Papers in Relation to Burr's Conspiracy, Bureau of
Rolls and Library, Department of State
asDc Clercq, Recueil de Traites de ia France, I, 411
no Adams, History of the United States, II, 5-o. The docu-
ments gathered by Mr. Adams from the French archives and
deposited in the Bureau of Rolls and Library of the State
Department give additional evidence to support this position.
The correspondence of the Spanish colonial authorities in the
Archive General de Indias, Seville, is to the same effect.


Whether he intended to incite the Americans to the
same end is immaterial. They were bound to get
into a controversy with Spain over the article, and
both parties must submit their quarrel to him as ar-
Previous to May, 1803, Livingston had contended
that West Florida formed no part of Louisiana. It
might be awkward to reverse himself so quickly, but
few knew of his previous contention, and the public
credit for obtaining the territory would far outweigh
their disfavor. The ambiguous article lent itself to
his purpose, although he had to adopt an interpreta-
tion that France had not asserted nor Spain allowed.
Less than three weeks after the treaty he was ready
to urge his belief upon Madison. "Now sir," he
wrote, "the sum of this business is to recommend to
you, in the strongest terms, after having obtained the
possession, that the French commissary will give you,
to insist upon this as part of your right; and to take
possession at all events, to the river Perdido. I pledge
myself that your right is good, and after the explana-
tion that has been given here, you need apprehend
nothing from a decisive measure." Eight days later
he wrote Pinckney that West Florida, including Mo-
bile, was regarded as part of the purchase and that
he should act accordingly.40 The conception, clever
enough for the Corsican himself, proved irresistible
o4 Adams, History of the United States, II, 68-73.


to Monroe and later to his fellow-statesmen from Vir-
ginia Their only regret was that they had not thought
of it before it had occurred to the gentleman from
New York.
Early in June Livingston persuaded his colleague
to join him in advising Madison to act just as if West
Florida formed part of the island of New Orleans 1
On the 19th of the month Monroe wrote to Madison
that his opinion on the southeastern boundary of Lou-
isiana was "too clear to admit of a doubt."42 He
evidently intended by definiteness of expression to
neutralize what Livingston had gained by priority. He
then elaborated his opinion in a memoir, which forms
the most complete statement that we have of subse-
quent American opinion upon the boundaries of Lou-
isiana.*- He affirmed that the Spanish government
held views similar to his own, or at any rate that it
would acquiesce in the occupation of the territory to
the Perdido.
Monroe made a detailed examination of each clause
in the puzzling third article. He interpreted the first
that the cession should comprise Louisiana "with
the same extent that it actually has in the hands of
Spain"-as if Spain since 1783 had considered West
Florida as a part of Louisiana. At any rate if Spain
x4 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 563-565.
Hamilton, Monroe, IV, 38, 39.
4 Ibid., Appendix II.


had governed the areas together, she had thus re-
stored the former limit to the Perdido. The second
clause-that "Louisiana shall comprise the same ex-
tent that it had when France possessed it"-he thought
sufficiently obvious. It had only served to render the
first clause clearer Otherwise the fact that Great
Britain had owned a part of the territory for twenty
years under a different name might be confusing. The
third clause-"and such as it ought to be after the
treaties passed subsequently between Spain and other
powers "-referred to the treaties of 1783 and 1795,
and was designed to safeguard the rights of the United
States. This clause, then, simply gave effect to the
others, as was shown by some corroborative evidence
from French sources.
According to Monroe, France never dismembered
Louisiana while it was in her possession. On Novem-
ber 3, 1762, she conveyed New Orleans and the ter-
ritory west of the Mississippi to Spain, and on the
same day transferred the Floridas to Great Britain.
After 1783 Spain reunited West Florida to Louisiana,
thus completing the province as France possessed it,
with the exception of those portions controlled by the
United States. By a strict interpretation of the treaty,
therefore, Spain might be required to cede to the
United States such territory west of the Perdido as
once belonged to France. Such was Livingston's con-
clusion, as elaborated by Monroe and later reinforced
by Jefferson and Madison.


A few weeks later in London, Monroe informed
Lord Hawkesbury that the Perdido was the eastern
limit of the Louisiana Purchase. His lordship seemed
favorably impressed with the idea, and thought that
East Florida would likewise soon belong to the United
States From Madrid, however, Pinckney reported
that the Spanish authorities naturally held the opposite
view; but if the United States made good its claim
there would be little difficulty in getting East Florida
on its own terms. Cevallos and Godoy, however,
were more disturbed by the prospective transfer of
Louisiana than by any mere question of its limits
Unless the Americans could induce France to assist
them in gaining the Floridas, they were liable to have
trouble over this unexpected interpretation of the
treaty. Only through the exigencies of European
diplomacy could they bring the Spanish king to ac-
cept it.'"
Jefferson and Madison needed no urging from Paris
to show them the desirability of claiming part of West
Florida. They had an even stronger sense of the do-
mestic value of such a claim than had their diplomatic
representatives. Despite their meagre archival data
and lack of touch with international affairs, they were
determined to push their bargain to the uttermost. At
4 Hamilton, Monroe, IV, 70
4"Pinckney to Madison (Private), Aug. 30, 18o3, Spanish
Dispatches, MS, VI, Bureau of Indexes and Archives.


separate times during the negotiation both Livingston
and Monroe had advised the administration to ex-
change part of the territory west of the Mississippi
for the Floridas. Madison now warned them to en-
tertain no proposition of the sort, but to collect the
proofs necessary to substantiate their claim to the Per-
dido.4 Jefferson had already included all the waters
of the Mississippi and Missouri in the purchase."
Upon perusing the arguments of Livingston and Mon-
roe he was ready to extend it to the Perdido, "the
ancient boundary of Louisiana," and confidently ex-
pected to possess the whole Florida region, "all in
good time," without sacrificing "one inch of the
waters of the Mississippi.""' Two weeks later he as-
sured his secretary of state that their right to the Per-
dido was "substantial" and could be opposed "by a
quibble on form only.""9 In the autumn he embodied
his views in a pamphlet entitled "The Limits and
Bounds of Louisiana," and this pamphlet, distributed
in manuscript form, determined the future attitude
of the administration and its adherents.s
Jefferson had asked some gentlemen on the border
to give him their views on Louisiana cartography.
46 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 627.
47 Jefferson to Horatio Gates, July I, 18o3, Ford, Jefferson,
VIII, 249.
4s Jefferson to John Breckenridge, Aug. is, 1803, ibid., 242.
Ibid., 245.
*o Published in Documents Relating to the Purchase and
Exploration of Louisiana, Boston, 1904.

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