Diplomacy and the borderland

Material Information

Diplomacy and the borderland the Adams-Onís treaty of 1819
Series Title:
University of California publications in history
Brooks, Philip Coolidge, 1906-
Place of Publication:
Berkeley Calif
University of California press
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
x, 262 p. : 2 port. (incl. front.) fold. maps, facsim. ; 24cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
History -- Florida -- To 1821 ( lcsh )
Foreign relations -- United States -- Spain ( lcsh )
Foreign relations -- Spain -- United States ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


General Note:
"References": p. 220-251.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Philip Coolidge Brooks.

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University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
023102345 ( ALEPH )
01599610 ( OCLC )
AAP2994 ( NOTIS )
a 40000130 ( LCCN )

Full Text



t-, i )IIl the' )IV)SV (X#f JIfl'V~) ......IC Fe ,ic de lis~



The Adams-Onms Treaty of1i8i



EDTonB: H. E. BoLTON, W. A. MosaIs, J. W. THOMPSON
Volume 24, pp. x + 262, 3 ilm., 2 maps
Transmitted August 28, 1936
Issued December 30, 1939
Price: cloth, $2.50; paper, $2.00


CAMzBBIDG Unwvmarrr Pass




Tms ACCOUNT of the Transcontinental Treaty of 1819 between
Spain and the United States has resulted from an investiga-
tion of its background and of the interests and activities of
all the countries represented in the negotiation. In it I have essayed
to weigh the comparative influences of frontier conditions and of
political considerations upon the diplomats. Certain aspects of the
agreement involved inevitable recognition of existing occupation
of territory, whereas others were largely matters of arbitrary bar-
gaining on paper by the negotiators, who faced some circum-
stances unknown on the frontiers.
Heretofore the treaty has been subjected to limited interpre-
tations because of its having been studied in the archives and li-
braries of only one of the nations concerned. Profiting by an
examination of materials in Spain, France, and England, as well
as in the United States, this portrayal, it is hoped, will give a
broad view of all the major complications involved.
The rl1e played by Spain has been the phase most neglected by
historians, and it forms the core of this narrative. Accordingly,
the central theme is the career of Don Luis de Onfs as Spanish
minister in this country from 1809 to 1819. The intricacies of fol-
lowing the thread of a single negotiation through the kaleidoscopic
tangles of the post-Napoleonic period have made the selection of
materials a difficult task.
The treaty was intimately concerned with the boundaries of the
Louisiana Purchase, but it did not define them as such. The de-
cisions reached were not based upon the rights acquired in that
purchase, but were determined by the comparative power of the
two nations, the conditions of settlement on the frontiers, and the
skill of the negotiators.
Certain of the territorial claims which were advanced are still
disputed among historians. These claims did not determine the
delineation of 1819, nor were they settled by it; some conclusions
regarding them, however, are reached in this study. It appears that
the United States had no justifiable title to West Florida as a part
of the Louisiana Purchase, but the fact that the United States had
occupied the region was a strong bargaining point. Partly through

vi Preface

the dexterity of Onis in concealing the nature of his instructions,
the United States was led to relinquish a claim to Texas based on
the French title. His Catholic Majesty gave up a strong claim
to the Oregon territory, and the acquisition of that claim by the
United States added appreciably to those the latter country al-
ready had by discovery and settlement Aside from the bartering
of these conflicting territorial interests, an agreement was made
concerning financial obligations. There was no pecuniary purchase
of territory.
The aggressiveness of popular opinion in this country was some-
what offset by the fine sense of legal rights and international
amenities displayed by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams.
Nevertheless Adams had unbounded confidence in the future
growth of the nation and devoted himself to it. In defining and
extending the nation's boundaries in this treaty he gained a diplo-
matic victory which he regarded as the greatest achievement of
his career. In its accomplishment he deftly availed himself of
Spain's embarrassments and of the desire of the European Powers
to maintain peace.
Onis, with the aid of only one constructive statesman among the
officials of his own government, and with the fires of revolution
consuming the empire more rapidly than his superiors in Spain
realized, acquitted himself ably. He prevented the United States
from taking Texas, established a definite boundary for the colonies
which Spain still dreamed of saving, and freed his country from
financial obligations which would have plagued her long after-
ward and in far greater amount. This he accomplished cleverly,
but I do not believe, as Adams charged, that Onis himself intended
to defraud the United States in the notorious matter of the Florida
land grants, although King Ferdinand was probably culpable.
I have designated the agreement as the "Adams-Onis Treaty"
to give credit to the diplomatists who achieved a solution to com-
plex problems of many years' standing. At other times I have em-
ployed the phrase "Transcontinental Treaty" (originated by Dr.
Samuel Flagg Bemis) to give alliterative emphasis to the broad
scope of the subject. The necessity of recognizing the true signifi-
cance of the western boundary issues has led to the rejection of
such a limited term as the "Florida Treaty."
Many persons have assisted me in this study, but space allows


the mention individually of only q few who have taken especial
interest beyond their regular lines of duty. Thanks can be but
small measure of my gratitude to Dr. Herbert E. Bolton, by whose
breadth of vision and inspiring guidance I have profited. As one
of the concluding chapters in the narrative of the "Spanish Border-
lands" and as one of many illustrations of the finely interwoven
texture of United States and Hispanic American aairs, this work
is, I am pleased to feel, a contribution in the great field he has de-
Dr. Bemis has aided incalculably through his knowledge of diplo-
matic history and its sources, and with editorial counsel It was at
his suggestion that this research was begun.
To the Native Sons of the Golden West my thanks are extended
for financing a sojourn in Europe. Their generosity was accepted
in the belief that this demonstration of the sea-to-sea aspect of the
treaty would add to the knowledge of Pacific Coast history. Pro-
fessor Federico de Onis, of Columbia University, a direct descend-
ant of Luis de Onis, graciously allowed me to use a manuscript
biography in his possession, and to reproduce the portrait which
appears as frontispiece to this work. The late Professor John C.
Parish, sometime managing editor of the Pacife Historical Beview,
kindly consented to the reprinting of quotations used in an article
of mine in that journal.
Dr. Charles C. Griffn, of Vassar College, has cordially conferred
with me on various matters. It should be noted, however, that my
research and that which led to the publication of his United States
and the Disruption of the Spanish Empire, 1810-1822 (New York,
1937) were done independently of each other. His work is a com-
mendable study emphasizing the Spanish political background and
the Spanish American Revolution, rather than territorial prob-
I wish to acknowledge the aid and encouragement received from
Seflor Don Miguel G6mez del Campillo, chief of the Archivo His-
t6rico Nacional in Madrid; Sefior Don Juan Tamayo y Francisco,
former chief of the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla; Profes-
sor Charles E. Chapman, Professor Herbert I. Priestley, Mrs. Edna
M. Parrat, Dr. Victor M. Hunt, and Dr. Lawrence Kinnaird, all
of the University of California; the late Dr. J. Franklin Jameson,
Colonel Lawrence Martin, Miss Grace Gardner Griffin, and Mis

viii Preface

Clara Egli, of the Library of Congress; Mrs. Natalia Summers,
formerly of the Department of State but now of the National
Archives, and Mr. Fred W. Shipman, Dr. Vernon D. Tate, and
Mr. Jesse S. Douglas, all of the latter institution; the late Dr.
James A. Robertson, of the Maryland Hall of Records; the late
Mr. W. Harold May, of Columbia University; Dr. and Mrs. Louis
C. Nolan and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Louraine, of Washington, D. C.;
also Martha Latimer Willard, assistant editor of the University of
California Press. My wife, Dorothy Holland Brooks, has given
invaluable technical assistance and encouragement.
T=3 NasMINA Awcmva x
Jume 1, 1939

I. FOUNDATIONS or CoNyrovManS, 180-1816 ....................... 1
Diplomatic Complexities-Maritime Claims and Louisiana-
Napoleon, Ferdinand, and the Wellesleye-Don Luis de Ont-
Wartime Efforts

II. Tem BODUBMLAND, 1810-1816................................... 29
Territorial Complexities-East Florida-West Florida-Loui-
siana-Temxa-New Mexico-The Pacific Northwest

III. CavAu.s AND MoosNB Rmowzr THm DUisPaT, 1815-1816..... ..... 57
After the War-Onfs Is Admitted-The Issues Stated

IV. PiaARo AnI ADAms TAze UP THr BATr, 1816-1818 ........... 71
Fresh Leadership-Spanish Procedure and Policies-Monroe's
Last Effort and New Spanish Proposals-Heredia's Great
State Paper-Ons' New Problems-John Quincy Adams-Dis-
turbing Factors

V. SPAr ArPPa o TOHm Powzns, 1814-1819......................... 106
British Influence in Spain-Bases of Spanish Persuasion-The
United States Stands on Its Own-Russian Evasion-France
and the Louisiana Frontiers-French Conciliation

-VI. FnxI. WaiarNu AND AeBmuamr, 1818-1819 ................. 131
Fears of a Collision-Erving's ast Efforts-Exciting Mid-
summer Days inWashington-New Proposals-Adams Defends
Jackson-The Columbia River-Irujo Takes the Reins-Con-
cessions and Compromises

VII. RATuacATIoN A"D ExnrCmroN, 1819-1821....................... 170
Jubilant Reactions-Europe's Reception of the Treaty-For-
syth's Mission Fails-Spain's Attempted Evasion-The In-
evitable Ratification-Legacies of the Treaty
I. TuH ADAnM-ONS TRant ...................................... 205

II. THMa MasM AP........................................... 215

III. RuIRNCBS ................................................ 220

INDmr ............................ ........................... 255


Luis de Onis, Spanish Minister to the United States from 1809 to 1819.
From a Portrait in the Possession of Professor Federico de Oni
Map to Illustrate the Negotiation of the Adams-Onfs Treaty......facing 64

John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State from 1817 to 1825. From a Por-
trait by Thomas Sully, Reproduced by Courtesy of the A. W. Mellon
Educational and Charitable Trust..........................facing 88

Despatch of Onsf to the Secretario de Estado Announcing the Signature of
the Treaty. From the Archive Hist6rico Nacional, Madrid......facing 164

"Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Poe-
sessions, Compiled ... by John Melish. ... Improved to the 1st of
January 1818." From a Copy in the National Archives.........fcing 216


A.G.I.: Arehivo General de Indis, SeviIla
A.G.S.: Arehivo General de Simaneas, Simaneas
A.H.N.: Arehivo Hist6rieo Naeional, Madrid
A.M.A.E.: Arehives du Ministare des Affaires Etrangres, Paris
A.M.E.: Arehivo del Ministerio de Estado, Madrid
A..P., .j.: Americans tate Papers (Washington, 1832-1861), Class I, For-
eig Belations
B.N.M.: Biblioteea Nacional, Madrid, Seeei6n de Manuseritos
D..: Division of State Department Archives, the National Archives, Wash-
P.BLO., P.O.: Public eeord Ofiee, London, Foreign Omee Papers

These abbreviations are employed in the notes. Arabic numerals after
"A.GI.," "A.G.S.," "A.H.N.," and "A.M.E." represent legajo bundlee) num-
bers. Arabe figures are used to indicate volumes after "A.M.A.E." Two sets
of Arabic numerals after "P..O., P.O." denote series and volume, respee-
tively. Boman numerals after "D.8." indicate volumes.


SA TIANSCONTmNENTAIr BONTIE our brilliant if cantan-
kerous secretary of state and an able, suave Spanish min-
ister struggled in 1818 and 1819. John Quincy Adams and
Luis de Onis, the diplomatic combatants, faced controversies in-
volving territories from the Floridas to Oregon, as well as complex
maritime difficulties. Their treaty of February 22, 1819, concluded
a quarter-century of kaleidoscopic diplomatic and frontier rival-
ries.1 For the United States this agreement involved the longest
border concerned in any negotiation since her founding, and
marked the end of the first great wave of territorial expansion
with her first treaty title to land on the Pacific. For Spain it was
a phase of a desperate conflict to protect her American colonies at
once from foreign intrusions and from seething internal uprisings,
and to maintain her own prestige.
The negotiations took place during a postwar period of colonial
uprisings, maritime competitions, economic rivalries, and anxious
efforts to avoid another war. There were difficulties enough to test
the abilities not only of such famous statesmen as Adams and
Castlereagh, but also of Onis, Pizarro, and Erving, men whose
names have until now been obscure but who merit real attention
in Spanish and United States history.
Despite these complexities Adams and Onis managed to secure
the following major settlements: the session of the Floridas to the
United States, a disposition of numerous claims growing out of
the European wars, and (the issue most prominent in the final
stages of the negotiations) the delineation of the international
boundary from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Northwest.
It will be seen that in the three years of his actual official nego-
tiations with our secretaries of state Onis considered the solution
of the territorial problems to be a vital factor in the larger field of
Spanish colonial and foreign policy. To give the colonies a well-
defined border line on the north would help in defending and con-
trolling them, and would set a limit at which, it was hoped, restless
1For note to chap. see pp. 26-88.

2 University of California Publications in History
adventurers who desired to aid the revolutionary movement could
be stopped. Further, and more significant, the settlement of con-
troversies with the United States would ease diplomatic tension,
and perhaps ward of the evil day when that Power might become
the open protagonist of the insurgent Spanish American provinces.
In that tension the most disturbing factor to the people of the
United States was the question of boundaries.
The disposition of much of the territory was to be fixed by con-
ditions of settlement which the diplomats were obliged to recog-
nize. In other directions ambitions for occupation were still in the
stage of mere projects, so that the negotiators could bargain on
paper, sometimes with scant geographicalinformation. Inasmuch
as the eastern part of the frontier was better known and settled,
its role in the narrative is more obvious and offers less demonstra-
tion of diplomatic skill than does the farsighted Oregon-California
boundary delineation. Even in that, however, the diplomats de-
pended for their interest in and their knowledge of the region on
the men who had explored it and who coveted its wealth-men who
were proving history to be the concrete experience of human life,
and not merely political and diplomatic vicissitudes.
Effective negotiations were long delayed. Onis, when he arrived
in 1809, was not recognized as minister by the United States gov-
ernment owing to civil war in Spain, and he could do no bargaining
until his acknowledgment in December, 1815. Long before he was
recognized, however, the basic points of contention had been voiced,
not alone by Onis, but by his predecessors. These issues had their
origin in the very nature of European colonial rivalry in the Amer-
icas, and their development must be traced before one can intelli-
gently view the work of Onis.
Even in his time, Onis' country still dreamed of maintaining the
colonial empire which had arisen with Pope Alexander's division
of the colonial world between Spain and Portugal in 1493. From
that date Spain claimed virtually all of the Americas. Actually,
her holdings had been modified appreciably by the encroachments
of competing nations in sections she herself had not occupied. "La
Florida," once vaguely delineated as all the known region east of
the Mississippi River, had been reduced, roughly, to the area south
of the Thirty-first Parallel. As the result of disputes marked by
the treaty of 1670, which recognized English claims as far south

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands 3

as Charleston, and by the activities of Oglethorpe in the War for
Georgia (1739 to 1748), Spain had had to yield to the English the
Atlantic Coast above the St. Mary's River (now the northern
boundary of the state of Florida). She likewise had had to yield
to France on the Gulf, allowing that Power to colonize the region
about Biloxi, Mobile, and New Orleans. After a petty war in 1718
and 1719 the boundary was tacitly admitted as being at the Perdido
River (the western limit of the state of Florida today).
England held the region for twenty years after the French and
Indian War. During this time it was again, at least in name, ex-
tended to the Missisippi, and was separated into two parts, a di-
vision which gave the terms "East" and "West" Florida.
After Yorktown, more and more had to be conceded to the United
States. Spain's military actions saved the Southwest for what was
to be the new republic, and in the treaties of 1783 she regained the
Floridas, although they were again limited by the Thirty-first
Parallel on the north, instead of being enlarged as they had been
under English domination. In spite of Spanish protest, the same
parallel was agreed upon in the treaty signed by Thomas Pinekney
in 1795,' and it remained the boundary line until Onis' time. That
agreement also provided that the rapidly growing settlements in
Kentucky, Tennessee, and western Georgia, in transmitting goods
to market via the Misissisppi, should have the right to deposit them
at New Orleans to await transfer to sea-going vessels.
Out of Pinekney's Treaty grew one aspect of the desultory diplo-
matic controversies which centered in Madrid from 1802 to 1805.
The right of deposit, although originally guaranteed for only three
years, was continued until 1802. Then it was suddenly suspended
by the Spanish intendant at New Orleans, but without the sub-
stitution of another port-a stipulation made in the treaty to care
for such a situation. Resentment over this cessation was only one
element in the bitter bickering between the two countries in
succeeding years.
Representing their respective countries in these dealings were
Charles Pinekney, United States minister at Madrid; James Mon-
roe, sent to Spain as special agent of the United States after the
purchase of Louisiana; Don Pedro Cevallos, Spanish foreign min-

4 University of Caiforni Publications in History

sister; and the Marquis of Casa Irujo, Spanish minister in this
country. Major points of contention were the right of deposit,
claims for damages to United States shipping during the European
wars, Spain's objections to the Louisiana Purchase, and the con-
tinued efforts of the United States to obtain the Floridas.
Pinekney began the debate over claims, which included those
for the spoliations by Spanish vessels in the European wars just
ended and those for prizes captured by French ships and sold or
condemned in Spanish ports. In negotiations with Cevallos, he
was able to arrange a convention, signed on August 11, 1802, by
which the claims of the United States against Spain were to be
adjudicated by a joint commission. That body was to meet in
Madrid and was to conclude its business within eighteen months
after the ratification of the agreement. Rights of the two parties
concerning the French spoliations were to be determined later.'
The convention was rejected by the United States Senate in
1803, but was approved when reconsidered a year later. By this
time, however, other events had made Spain change her mind about
ratifying. Robert R. Livingston, minister to France, had been
instructed to ascertain the possibility of acquiring New Orleans
and the Floridas, it being erroneously suspected that both had
been ceded to France. Out of French embarrassments in Europe
and Livingston's designs on the lower Mississippi came the sudden
engineering of the Louisiana Purchase. Monroe arrived in Paris as
a special commissioner, just in time to help clinch the transaction.
Louisiana, originally a huge French colony, had been lost to
France in 1763. England at that time acquired the part east of the
Mississippi by conquest and Spain gained the western part through
a diplomatic maneuver, without, however, having its limits defi-
nitely established." At the same time, the transfer of the Floridas
to England had cut off from Louisiana, at least temporarily, the
region between the Mississippi and the Perdido rivers. Livingston,
during his negotiations over the Floridas, learned that by the
secret Treaty of San Ildefonso, October 1, 1800, Spanish Louisiana
had been retroceded to France at the demand of Napoleon. Later
Livingston realized that a now-famous ambiguity in the treaty
left uncertainty whether West Florida was included in the retro-
cession (as if it had always been a part of Louisiana) or remained
Spanish (as having been separated from Louisiana by the Anglo-

Brooks: Diplomay and the BorderiMnda 5

Spanish treaties of 1763 and 1783). Livingston, after the purchase,
began arguing for the former interpretation.
Great consternation on the part of Spain arose over the Louisi-
ana Purchase. Irujo at Washington protested its illegality, on two
counts. First, the French ambassador in Madrid had signed a
promise that Louisiana would not be alienated by France. The
United States contended that this in no way affected her title,
which could not be impaired by such an agreement. A similar re-
buttal was offered to Irujo's complaint that the French title was
void owing to nonfulfillment of Napoleon's promise, likewise in
the Treaty of San Ildefonso, to provide for Charles IVs son-in-law,
the Duke of Parma, the kingdom of Tuscany, enlarged to have a
population of a million. Failing in these protests, Irujo in 1804
was instructed to withdraw his contentions.
Shortly before the transfer of Louisiana to the United States,
Spain had restored the right of deposit at New Orleans. But her
consternation over the Louisiana Purchase was expressed when
she declined to ratify the Convention of 1802, brought back to Ma-
drid in 1804 after its Inal approval by the United States Senate.
This convention hung in the balance for the next fourteen years
More trouble ensued over the vagueness concerning West Flor-
ida. Spain maintained that, having received the Floridas back
from England, she still held them, with the same western limits
that the English had enjoyed, but with allowance for the establish-
ment in 1795 of the limit of thirty-one degrees on the north. Quot-
ing the Treaty of San ldefonso, and the Louisiana Purchase treaty
in its definition of Louisiana as having "the Same extent that it
now has in the hands of Spain, & that it had when France possmed
it; and Such as it Should be after the Treaties subsequently entered
into between Spain and other States," the United States countered
that this provided for the extension of Louisiana to the Perdido,
the Franco-Spanish boundary of 1719. The latter opinion was so
definitely held that in 1804 the Mobile Act authorized the organi-
zation of the territory as a United States customs district.
Meanwhile Pinekney had threatened war if the Convention of
1802 were not ratified. He went to the foreign office with a chip
on his shoulder, only to find that it became a heavy burden when
his bluff was called. Monroe arrived in Spain as a special commis-
sioner in January, 1805, to act with Pinckney.

6 University of California Publication in Hiutory
Monroe and Pinckney endeavored to obtain Spanish recognition
of the Louisiana Purchase, including West Florida, and to pur-
chase East Florida. Instructions to them stipulated that, in the
event of a money payment by the United States, the funds in-
volved should be applied to claims of United States citizens against
Spain. Though their mission was a failure, certain of the points
in their discussion are of interest because they were revived after
the fall of Napoleon.
An alternative proposal in their advances concerned the western
limits of Louisiana, which, as the United States had contended
since shortly after the purchase, extended to the Rio Grande, thus
including the present Texas. This opinion was that of Livingston,
Secretary of State Madison, and President Jefferson, and has been
shown to have been originally that of Napoleon.' Pinckney and
Monroe were instructed to offer a compromise, accepting the Colo-
rado River of Texas (about 250 miles east of the Bfo Grande) as
the boundary, if Spain would cede East Florida and withdraw
claims to West Florida.
Cevalloe, answering peremptory notes of Monroe and Pinckney
with voluminous evasiveness, reinjected the Claims Convention of
1802, and the right of deposit, into the argument. He demanded
that for ratification of the convention the time for filing of claims extended; that the clause reserving rights in the French
spoliation claims should be canceled on the ground that France
and the United States had completely settled their controversies
by their conventions of 1803; and that the part of the Mobile Cus-
toms Act which affected Spanish territory should be rescinded. He
also stated that the right of deposit at New Orleans, which had
been extended for four years beyond the stipulation of Pinckney's
Treaty, had been abused by contraband trading. Finally, Cevallos
did come to the boundary issue. But instead of answering the pro-
posal on western limits, he presented a letter from Talleyrand, who,
wanting Spanish aid against England, now said that Spain had
not ceded West Florida to France. Cevallos also stipulated that
French spoliations on United States commerce be ignored by
Spain. Later, he expounded Spain's claims to Texas.
Monroe and Pinckney, following an assurance of the French
foreign office to the United States minister, General John Arm-
strong, that France would back Spain even in a war, resolved on

Brooks: Diplowaoy and the Borderiusds

abandoning the project, after one more effort. Accordingly, they
stated that the United States was willing to set the western line
at the Colorado River, with a thirty-league no-man's land on the
eastern bank, and, by accepting Spain's cemnion of both East and
West Florida, to admit that West Florida was not a part of the
Louisiana Purchase. Cevallos declined, and Monroe left, followed
shortly after by Pinekney, in the summer of 1805.
There now entered the foreign service of the United States, as
charge d'affaires in Spain, George W. Bring, who was to be min-
ister during the final negotiation of the Adams-Onis Treaty. Ap-
pointed secretary of legation under his cousin James Bowdoin,
whom Jefferson had named minister, Erving became charge when
Bowdoin decided to avoid Madrid and was sent instead to Paris as
a special commissioner.
Erving continued the discussions with Cevalloe, but to slight
avail He had to protest a renewal of seizure of United States ships
by Spanish officials, but, in view of the close backing of Spain by
France, the United States could not press matters too firmly. The
same difficulty deterred action on the boundaries. Strong opinions
were held that Texas should be seisd, but fear of antagonizing
Napoleon, as well as the Republican party's hesitation to befriend
England through such an attack on Spain, combined to prevent its
In increasing measure the close relationship between the French
and Spanish ministries complicated the efforts of United States
agents abroad. In Madrid the court of Charles IV was dominated
by men of the type of Prime Minister Don Manuel de Godoy, and
Cevallose Though thoroughly schooled in the traditions of eight-
eenth-century diplomacy, they were not well versed in the geo-
graphical details of American problems. Their activities were at
this time largely governed by their subordination to Napoleon,
who continued to hold the whip hand in Spanish affairs until the
entry of the British in 1809. Consequently, the well-nown franco-
phile tendencies of the Republican party made any affront to
Spain a disavowal of its prevailing diplomatic policy.
In the hope of obtaining concessions from Spain through French
intercession, Madison instructed Armstrong to continue at Paris
the efort to get the Floridas. Armstrong proposed an arrange-
ment much like that offered at Madrid. The Floridas were to be

8 University of Caifornia Publiations in History

purchased for five million dollars, and both France and Spain
were to be allowed commercial privileges there equal to those of
the United States; four million dollars were to be paid by Spain
in satisfaction of all claims; and the Colorado River was to be the
boundary on the west. A counterproject, inspired by the French
prime minister, Talleyrand, was broader in scope. It included the
payment of six million dollars to meet claims against Spain by bills
on the Spanish colonies, the payment of ten million dollars by the
United States for the Floridas, and the extension of the western
boundary northward from the source of the Colorado along the
headwaters of the Missiesippi tributaries. Both schemes included
the earlier proposal of a thirty-league desert or neutral zone along
the border. The expectation of French assistance was based in part
on Armstrong's well-founded belief that any money which might
be paid to Spain would promptly find its way to the coffers of
It was necessary to make provisions at home for the execution
of such arrangements as those proposed at Paris. Although the net
amount to be paid by the United States had been reduced to four
million dollars, Jefferson had difficulty in obtaining any appropria-
tion. After a bitter dispute with John Randolph, chairman of the
House committee which considered the matter, he managed to get
a two-million-dollar grant for the purchase of the Floridas. But
the whole negotiation fell through, chiefly because Napoleon's
financial needs had been relieved by his successful campaigns in
Central Europe.
It is important, for a proper perspective on the liter develop-
ment of United States policy, to note that, in his instructions of
1806 to Armstrong and the newly appointed Bowdoin, Madison
held the Floridas to be cf much greater importance than the west-
ern boundary. He considered West Florida "essential" and East
Florida "important," id was willing to yield if necessary to the
Sabine River as the western limit in order to obtain the Floridas.
That concession meant the relinquishment of all Texas. Thus Mon-
roe's plan foreshadowed the agreement which was ultimately con-
summated in 1819.
Irujo, meanwhile, was becoming increasingly unpopular with the
government at Washington. In 1804 he raised a storm of protest
over the Mobile Act; shortly thereafter it was discovered that he

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands 9

had offered inducements to a Philadelphia newspaper man for the
publication of articles presenting the Spanish side of the Florida
question. And like Merry, the British minister, he developed quite
obvious wrath over the informality of Jefferson's and Madison's
social customs.
His protests against the Mobile Act were followed by bitter com-
ments on Jefferson's message of 1805 leading to the two-million-
dollar Florida appropriation. At that time, with a request for his
recall, the Cabinet determined to hold no further correspondence
with him. Irujo, unable to communicate directly, voiced his opin-
ions and his complaints against developments, such as the arming
in this country of an expedition to revolutionize Venezuela, by
means of the press and through the French minister, L. M. Turreau
de Garambouville, who took some of his messages to Madison orally.
Irujo's efforts were futile, however, and in 1807 he was removed
to Milan.
Irujo's departure brought to an end any effective representation
of Spain in this country, although there were two men left to dis-
pute between themselves the rights and duties of encargado de
negocios, or charge d'affaires. Valentin de Foronda had been
consul-general during the ministry of Irujo, and had quarreled
with that minister. The arguments were continued between Fo-
ronda and Jos6 Ignacio Viar, the other encargado, who had been in
the Spanish service in this country as early as 1792." The two re-
ported on affairs in the United States, and attempted to convey
complaints to the government, but did so with difficulty, inasmuch
as they were permitted no official diplomatic intercourse. Finally
in July, 1809, fearing war between England and the United States,
they appealed for the appointment of a minister with sufficient
rank and powers to cope with the situation."
Their request was in fact anticipated by the appointment of
Onis in the summer of 1809. He left for the United States at once,
but was doomed to wait for seven years before he could open official
negotiations. In order to understand the causes of that embarrass-
ment, and the difficulties of the r61e Onis undertook, one must turn
to the development of the civil war in Spain. It was due to the
ostensibly neutral but really pro-French policy of Madison that
the government failed to acknowledge Onis' credentials from a
Spanish patriot assembly.

10 Unversity of Calforni Publications i History

That Spanish diplomacy was ineffective in these years is far from
surprising in view of the interference of France. Godoy had won
a dubious honor by signing the Treaty of Basel in 1795, by which
Spain deserted the first anti-French coalition. In the next year a
treaty of alliance with the French government of the Directory
had been signed. And now Napoleon, since his accession to power,
had become oppressive. Following his defeat at Trafalgar, he sought
economic instead of navali aid from Spain; and after imposing
heavy tribute on the country, and obtaining her adhesion to the
Continental blockade, he forced her into a scheme to bring Portu-
gal into the same system. French troops were to march through
Spain, and, following the joint conquest, a tripartite division of
Portugal was to be efeted."
Napoleon made this arrangement with Godoy, his chief hench-
man in the Peninsula. He had been dealing also, treacherously,
with Crown Prince Ferdinand, Godoy's bitter enemy. The new
treaty concerning Portugal brought rebellion from Ferdinand,
but in October, 1807, witl the discovery of a plot which had been
hatched by the Crown Prince and some of the nobility, Ferdinand
was again brought under the Emperor's thumb. French troops
conquered Portugal, and were turned back on Spain itself to make
French domination complete.
Popular uprisings their began the movement which ultimately
led to the downfall of NaIoleon. King Charles IV, caught between
the French and his own subjects, abdicated on March 19, 1808. His
son, supported by the populace who lauded his anti-French con-
spiracy, reigned briefly as Ferdinand VII. But Napoleon's diplo-
macy and troops soon caused the complete and abject yielding of
the Spanish royal family. They were all forced to gather at Ba-
yonne, in southern France, where on May 5 father and son re-
nounced their rights to the crown, and remained virtual captives
of Napoleon."
The Emperor called aniassembly of Spanish notables in Bayonne
to draw up a constitution for the country. And to be constitutional
monarch, he chose his brother Joseph, who for the two years previ-
ous had been king of Naples. Joseph set out for his new capital in
July of 1808.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

Terrific resistance was encountered almost immediately. Spec-
tacular public resentment had flared forth in Madrid on the fa-
mous second of May, when the youngest prince was forced to leave
for Bayonne. Local junta, or governing bodies, sprang up all over
Spain; and guerrilla armies fell on the French, distinguishing
themselves at the battle of Bailhn, on the day before Joseph's
entrance into Madrid. That and other succeess forced Joseph to
retire to northern Spain, and to appeal to his brother for aid.
Napoleon himself was forced to campaign in Spain that autumn to
reestablish the "rey intro" (intruder king).
A Junta Suprema de Gobiero (supreme governing body),
formed in April, 1808, under the French commander Joachim
Murat, failed to hold the people, who followed their organization
of local juntas by drawing up a rival to the Murat group under the
presidency of Count Floridablanca. This institution, the Junts
Central Suprma Oubernativa del Beio (central supreme gov-
erning body of the kingdom), carried on in the name of Ferdinand
VII, refusing to acknowledge his renunciation in favor of the
Bonapartes. It met first at Aranjues in September, 1809, then
moved to Sevilla4 and in the fall of 1810, when Napoleon again
invaded Spain, it was driven to the Island of Le6n in the harbor
of Cadiz, the one spot that could be defended against the French
This organization, or its successors, the Consojo de Regenia (re-
gent council) and the Cortes (assembly), both first formed in 1810,
maintained a government in opposition to the French throughout
the Napoleonic Wars which followed, and provided the legal con-
tinuation of the monarchy as a truly Spanish institution. But their
efforts would have been fruitless without the powerful aid of
The English, especially after the battle of Trafalgar and Na-
poleon's invasion of Portugal, Britain's ally, bent their efforts to
attacking the French through the Peninsula. It was the most
vulnerable point in the Continental system. Thus Britain was
amenable to diplomatic advances made by the Spanish Justa and
Regency-in fact encouraged and guided them. On January 14,
1809, a treaty of alliance against France was drawn up in London,
which laid the foundation for the Peninsular campaign and the
eventual expulsion of the Corican."

12 University of California Pubitcations in History
British interests in Spain were largely carried forward by mem-
bern of that notable family the Wellesleys. Richard, Marquis
Wellesley, former viceroy df India, was minister to Spain in the
latter half of 1809, and foreign secretary during the early part of
the Peninsular campaign; his brother Arthur, later Duke of Well-
ington, led the combined troops; and another brother, Henry, later
Baron Cowley, will appear in this study as secretary of legation
in 1809, minister in 1810, and ambassador from 1811 to 1822.
A detailed military account of the war is hardly needed here;
but for the background of Qnis' narrative it should be remembered
that until 1813 there were two active governments in Spain, Ferdi-
nand finally being restored in 1814; and that the intervening
period was one of bitter fighting in the northern part of the Penin-
sula between the French under various generals and the Anglo-
Spanish under Wellington.
An interested, though no doubt discouraged, spectator of the
beginning of these troubles was George W. Erving, the United
States charge, who chose to follow the Junta Central to Sevilla and
CAdiz. His position, however, was only that of an observer. Since
his government declined to acknowledge either Joseph or the Junta
Central as the ruler of Spain, it could not officially accredit Erving
to either. In instructions sent by Robert Smith, secretary of state,
November 1, 1809, this policy was explained, and Erving was told
to use his own judgment about remaining."
Erving had obtained the release of some United States ships
which had fallen afoul of the commercial restrictions of the Eu-
ropean wars, had complained against British impressments in
the harbor of Cadiz, and had answered Spanish denunciations of
Jefferson's embargo." But finally he decided nothing could be ac-
complished through informal relations with such an unstable ad-
ministration, and he left in August, 1810.
In the interim after Ervig's departure, three men represented
the United States: Anthony Morris, special agent; the Reverend
Thomas Gough, unofficial representative; and Thomas Brent, later
named secretary of the legation. Their lack of rank and the dis-
putes among them prohibited any effective diplomacy, even if any
could have been carried on between countries without formal re-
lations. Furthermore, it is difficult to believe that much could have
been accomplished in connection with the patriot government,

Brooks: Diplomaoy ead the BorderlSmd&

which in the years from 1809 to 1814 had no lee than fifteen ofMi-
cials successively in charge of its foreign office."
Not only was the Spanish Empire troubled at home. Shortly
after the Napoleonic invasion, the American colonies, which had
long fretted under an outdated administrative system, became torn
by violent rebellions. These popular movements were led by local
juntas similar to those in Spain, which likewise acknowledged
Ferdinand VII, disavowing his renunciation of the crown. In a
few years, however, their loyalty had become mere lip service, and
their movements had steadily developed into wars of independence.
But in 1809 the patriot government at home took it for granted
that they would remain true and could be pacified.
Napoleon's ambitions had extended to the colonies as well, and
paralleling the Peninsular War a contest developed between the
rival governments of Spain for the fealty of the colonies French
agents roamed over both American continents, actively spreading
Several circumstances combined to make the presence of an able
Spanish representative at Washington imperative. It was essential
for Spain to have information concerning, and influence in, the
United States; and the extension of our ambitions toward the south
and west,-the increasing complexity of British-American affairs,
and the desirability of learning the position of the United States
on European developments made the need more evident. Thus the
Junta Central at Aranjues anticipated the plea of Foronda and
Viar by appointing a minister.
DON Lurs Dn ONfs
For this position they chose a man who had served the foreign
office for more than thirty years, Luis de Onis y Gonszlez." He was
a native of the town of Cantalapiedra, in the province of Sala-
manca, where his family still maintains its ancestral home. He
received the best education available, beginning the study of Latin
and Greek at the age of eight, attending the University of Sala-
manca, and having two years of legal training. In 1780 he went as
secretary with his uncle, Don Jose de Ons, ambassador to Saxony.
After four years the uncle (later ambassador to Russia) returned
to Spain, leaving Don Luis as charge for more than ten years In
that office he won the approval of the secretary of state, Count

14 University of Califoia Pubications in History

Floridablanca. He was chosen to be minister to the United States
in 1792, but the fall of Floridablanea's Cabinet prevented his serv-
ing in that capacity.
Onis remained in Germany until 1798, when he was made an
official of the ministry of st te in Madrid. He had charge of mat-
ters concerning France for some time, and was active in the nego-
tiation of the Peace of Amiens in 1802. Six years later he went with
the court to Bayonne, and at the request of Cevallos wrote his opin-
ion of Ferdinand's renunciation. It was a categorical statement
to the effect that the King neither could nor should make such a
concession. This stand made it necessary for him to flee to Spain,
where he at once joined the patriot Junta Centra at Aranjuez.
During part of his year's service as senior official in the min-
istry of state under the Junta Central he virtually controlled the
office as chief adviser to Don Martin de Garay, who succeeded
Cevallos as secretary of state in 1809. It was in the summer of
that year that he was chosen, no doubt at the instance of Cevallos
and Floridablanca, to repre ent the Junta Central (and according
to their view the King, in Whose name they governed)' at Wash-
ington." He was then forty-seven years of age.
Onis left immediately, arriving in New York on October 4, 1809,
and had his first interview with Secretary of State Robert Smith
in Washington on October 21. He noted that, whereas he could
understand Spanish, Frence, German, or Italian better than Eng-
lish, he knew the last well enough to conduct the conversations with
Surely he had learned to be suspicious from observing and par-
ticipating in the intrigues Of the court of Madrid. Shortly after
his arrival he wrote that h understood that
Mr. Madison and Mrs Smith receive presents, and that this is one of the
means of which the French master avails himself to obtain all that he
wishes. ... I wish that you would tel me if you believe it advisable that I
should follow an example which (an be so advantageous to us in whatever eae
ofter itself.

He sent a spy to Washington to investigate the possibilities of
such a plan, but apparently had no success; meanwhile his gov-
ernment had discouraged it on account of the expense.
Onis played an important r61e in the scheme of Spanish service

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlead 15

in America, and his position had interesting phases aside from his
dealings with the United States government. On him naturally
fell the organization and direction of the Spanish service in this
country. Disgusted by the disputes of Foronda and Viar (the
encargados who requested his appointment), he demanded and
obtained a complete cleanup of the system. Those two officials
were removed, the consul-generalship was suspended, and there-
after all the consuls reported to Onfi."
Furthermore,he served as purveyor of information on the Span-
ish colonies, conducting detailed correspondence with such officials
as the governors of the Floridas, the captain-general of Cuba, and
the viceroy of Mexico. He frequently advised them concerning
necessary steps for the defense of the realm, and reported menacing
French or United States movements of which he learned. These
duties were especially important in view of the Spanish American
revolts which were in progress during the whole period of his resi-
dence as minister.
Onis also performed valuable service in directing the purchase
and expedition of supplies to Spain during the Peninsular War.
His purchase of ships, and flour to send in them, formed an impor-
tant part of his work."
Onis' largest problems, however, lay in his relations with the
United States government. His original instructions were not
written with the expectation that a treaty would be negotiated at
Washington, although he had full powers." He was to sound the
possibilities of progress toward a treaty, and cooperate in further-
ing it. In any event he was to maintain communication with the
government at Washington it possible.
In the first interview with Smith, he was told of the policy of this
country toward the rival governments in the Peninsula, a policy
which would not allow the recognition of any representative of
either. One may well suspect that Madison would have welcomed
an opportunity to recognize Joseph Bonaparte as the de facto
ruler of Spain. But in fact neither Joseph nor the Begency was in
assured control of all the country at any time before the restora-
tion. Therefore commitment to either side would have 6een too
large a gamble for an administration whose Jeffersonian watch-
word was to await the definite turn of events in Europe and reap
what gains might fall its way.

16 University of Caifornia Publicatios in History

Jefferson expressed his view of the situation to Madison at the
time, saying:
There seem to be a perfect aequieseenee in the opinion of the Government
respecting Oni. The public inrest certainly made his rejection expedient,
and aa that is a motive which It is not pleasant alray to avow, I think it
fortunate that the contending elam of Charles and Ferdinand furnished such
plausible ebarrassment to the question of right; for, on our principles I
presume, the right of the Junta to send a Minister could not be denied."

From this statement it is cear that the administration was simply
postponing the issue in the hope that the favored Napoleonic regime
might firmly establish itself in the Peninsula.
Intercourse with the United States was by no means stopped,
however. Onis, on his departure from Spain, had been instructed
to remain in the United States, whether admitted as minister or
not." This order was later made more definite by Busebio de Bar-
daxi y Azara, one of the foreign ministers under the Regency.
Bardaxi in instructions written April 21, 1810, reviewed the
United States' policy of past years as he saw it He noted that the
effort to maintain neutrality had been threatened by the Napo-
leonic Wars, and that now; although in commerce the country had
nothing to fear from France, she had much to fear from England.
Bardaxi showed a tendency to overconfidence and complacence
quite characteristic of him and of his contemporaries in Spain
when he said that the United States government knew its interests
too well to risk a war with anybody, and that "it is ridiculous for
her to imagine she is in a condition to make a war.'" Ridiculous as
it may have seemed to him, the war was soon to come, and to affect
Spanish interests materially. The same complacence is seen in his
remark, in reply to Ons' warning of the presence of French con-
spirators in America, that "they should not give much concern,
because happily we live in times in which adventurers make very
little progress wherever they present themselves."
For the time being, commercial needs were of paramount impor-
tance in the policy toward the United States. This was shown in
these same instructions to Onis when Bardazi said that amicable
relations should be sought, chiefly to encourage the continuation
of United States shipment of foodstuffs to the Peninsula. Al-
though under ordinary circumstances the nonrecognition of Onis
would have been considered an insult, it was now deemed advisable

Brooks: Diplomacy sad the Borderlands

to temporize with the-Madison administration Onfi was told to
"seek adroitly to find a means to treat of public affairs with that
government," to use tle newspapers to influence public opinion,
and that, "as our only purpose is to maintain friendly relations
between the two powers, you must use much prudence and
circumspection, in your writings as well as in the conversations
which you have.'"
Onis distrusted the Republican party of Madison and Monroe,
and throughout his residence in this country never showed any
liking for the two men. He made all the friends he could among the
Federalists, using them as sources of information as well as of
influence. He followed instructions regarding writings by pub-
lishing, among other things, three pamphlets justifying Spain's
interests, which appeared in 1810,1812, and 1817 under the pseudo-
nym "Verus," used earlier by Irujo."
Despite Onis' nonrecognition, communications went on, in part
through the British representatives. On Onis' arrival, he reported
that he would live in the same house in Washington with Francis
James Jackson, minister from England. His failure to be acknowl-
edged caused him to retire to Philadelphia, but only increased his
efforts to win favor with the agents of His Britannic Majesty.
When Onfs reached Washington, Secretary of State Smith was
involved in an argument with Jackson, who had come a month
earlier. That summer, Foreign Minister Canning had rejected the
Anglo-United States trade revival agreement negotiated by Jack-
son's predecessor, David M. Erskine. The new minister thus had
come into the midst of a dispute concerning whether or not Erakine
had exceeded his instructions. This brought from Jackson a barely
disguised accusation of falseness on the part of Smith. Relations be-
tween Jackson and Smith were broken of completely in November.
Onf maintained Jackson's confidence through 1810, while the
discredited Englishman remained in this country, and the two
exchanged information on affairs in Spain and in Spanish Amer-
ica. Jackson was followed by John Philip Morier, charge, who con-
veyed some of Onls' complaints on Florida to Smith. He was told
in reply that England "did not need to interfere in these sub-
jects.'" Onis in relating the incident commented that England
surely had the right to interfere, as guarantor of the Floridas to
Spain under the treaty of 1783.

18 University of Caifornia Pubications in History

Meanwhile Onis was trying to deal with Smith through Juan
Bautista de Bernabeu, Spanish consul at Baltimore, who conveyed
messages on numerous occasions, until his departure for Spain in
The suggestion had been made, indirectly through a private
citizen, that Onis might be admitted if he brought credentials from
Mexico. The Spaniard would consider no such idea, and in com-
menting on it to his own government gave Madison this flourish:
"The character of Madison is entirely indecisive and pusillani-
mous. He is completely given over to France." Although, because
of the recent seizure of three hundred United States ships by the
French, public opinion favored war with France, he stated that
"this government has not the determination to declare war on
France, nor on England.'"
Bernabeu finally obtained an interview with Smith, in Septem-
ber, 1810, in which the latter repeated assurances that Onis would
be admitted in the event of a Spanish reconquest of the Peninsula.
He added that "a better and a more honest man was never sent out
by any nation.... Sefior Onis is truly respectable by all signs, and
we all desire as much as you his recognition, regretting that our
neutral position has served as an obstacle to it.""
Within a few days Onie found a more convenient channel of
communication through Alexander J. Dallas, United States district
attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with whom
numerous conferences were held. Of him Onis said, "Mr. Dallas
is like all those of the Democratic party, but is a fine man, of much
talent and admitted in the society of the Federalists. I was already
on friendly terms with him.""
This lasted for only a few months, because in March of 1811
Smith was removed. He was succeeded by James Monroe, who held
the office continuously from then until his inauguration to the
presidency in 1817. Monroe's appointment brought a change in
the communication system. To supplement Bernabeu, Onis called
on Pablo Chac6n, vice-consul at Alexandria, Virginia. The des-
patches are full of copies of Bernabeu's and Chae6n's detailed ac-
counts of their conferences with Monroe.
A blow was thought to have been dealt to Onis' chances for rec-
ognition early in 1811, when one of his letters to another Spanish
official was intercepted by revolutionary agents. Upon its receipt

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderslads

at Washington it was submitted to Congress by President Madison.
Among its choicer passages is the following:
The administration of this government having put the stamp upon the
servile meanness and adulation in which they stand in relation to their oraele,
Bonaparte, the day before yesterday, by their direction, Mr. Eppes, the son
in law of the former president, Jeterson, made a proposition that a min-
ister should be sent immediately to Joseph Bonaparte..... a vote was taken,
from which it resulted that, for the present no minister should be sent to
In the annexed paper you will see all the debates, which for want of time,
I have not been able to have translated: if your excellent should not be in-
formed by my former despatehes of the mode of thinking of the present ad-
ministation, this alone will show you the little hope there is of obtaining any
thing favorable from it, but by energy, by force, and by chastisement.
Although the knowledge of such writings would naturally have
made the administration antagonistic, it is essential to remember
that the policy of nonrecognition was adopted immediately upon
Onis' arrival, before his attitude could have been known. Later
developments, at the time of his official acceptance, also support
the view that the administration's stand was based upon European
political exigencies, and not upon objections to Onis.
After Monroe's appointment, Onis complained to his govern-
ment that the new secretary of state would not communicate with
him satisfactorily. He was then officially instructed to inform the
administration at Washington, "with firmness and dignity," that
Spain would not long surfer such humiliation." Onis was assured
that the favorable progress of the Peninsular War and the pacifica-
tion of revolting Mexico gave Spain the hope of being able to de-
fend her American frontiers vigorously. In a code message sent
with this instruction, however, Onis received something of a rebuke
in the statement of Bardaxi that "notwithstanding that which I
tell you in my other letter... you must modify somewhat your ex-
pressions, presenting your notes in language somewhat less harsh."
As a measure of his accomplishments up to the time of his recogni-
tion late in 1815, Ons' diplomatic activities may be conveniently
summarized under the following heads: complaints delivered to the
United Statee, discussion of Spanish policy in the War of 1812,
abortive dealings with Monroe on a Florida eesion, and the small

20 University of Caifornia Publications in History

part he played in the attempts of Spain to have her interests con-
sidered at the Ghent peace conference. A dominant note through-
out the period is Onis' increasing anxiety caused by the rapidly
developing sympathy in the United States for the rebellious Span-
ish Americans.
The complaints were voiced continually, and their narration
forms a large part of Onis' despatches. Their subjects were: (1)
his nonrecognition as minister; (2) the fitting out in United States
ports of privateers and of vessels which aided the insurgent Span-
ish American provinces; (3) French and United States unofficial
propaganda encouraging revolutions in the Spanish colonies; (4)
the occupation and assimilation of revolted West Florida by the
United States; (5) the invasion of East Florida; (6) high duties
and port charges imposed on Spanish ships by this country; and
(7) the steps taken by the United States to gain control over the
Creek Indians of Florida. Of these complaints, the second, third,
and sixth lie somewhat outside the necessary limitations of this
study. The remainder will be considered in the succeeding chap-
ter dealing with frontier conditions, supplementing the notes here
on the diplomatic aspects.
Monroe had come into office desirous of maintaining peace, but
within fifteen months war was declared on England. The close re-
lationship of this struggle to the whole question of Spanish rela-
tions is obvious in the fact that Western ambition for the conquest
not only of Canada, but of the Floridas as well, was a contributing
cause of the war. Two problems immediately arosethat of a pos-
sible advance by the United States southward and that of the prob-
able use of the Floridas as bases of operations by the English.
Onis sent word to Spain of the passage of the war bill by the
Senate on June 17, with a comment which shows at once his clear
analysis and the fact that he was in a position to give valuable
advice to his government:
All my effort will be directed toward maintaining our neutrality, so that
we can supply all our possesion with four, under our own lag; if this ii
to be achieved, as there is a shortage of Spanish ships and a long time must
paI before this announcement is known [in Spain], I feel it my duty to
notify you that in view of the need of provisions in the Peninsa, I intend
to authorize the Consuls of His Majesty who have funds to buy ship., in order
that they may send eargoes of four on their own account to the Peninsula and
other possesions of His Majesty."

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderland 21

Rumors of the United States' projects soon prompted him to in-
tensify his frequent warnings of the need of defending the neigh-
boring Spanish colonies. In October he wrote that apparently the
first moves would be to prohibit the sending of aid to the Peninsula
and to take the Floridas." He always urged close cooperation with
England for maritime defense, and on this occasion, as on others,
suggested the possibility of secretly stirring up a slave revolt in
the South to distract attention and impede the advance toward
the Floridas.
Meanwhile a special meeting of the Consejo de Estado (council
of state) was held at Cadiz in August to consider Spain's policy
toward the war. It resulted in a note from the foreign minister,
Ignacio Pezuela, to the British representative, Henry Wellesley,
stating that "in all our possessions British forces will receive the
reception becoming to the intimate friendship and alliance which
exists between the two powers."m Wellesley asked for a more specific
explanation, and a month later Pezuela, in instructions to Ons,
described his statement of Spanish policy as follows:
Spain has for a long time had abundant motives for considering herself in
a state of war with the United states, but in the ritieal situation in which she
see herself, having to sustain destructive wars in both bemispheres [against
Napoleon and against her own colonies] which absorb all her reourees, she
cannot count on the neceary force to oppose the insults of the American
government with probability of success. Considering this, and seeing that by
a declaration of war on the United states the Peninsula would be deprived
of the supplies of four and other neeemary article of subsistence which she
receives from that country, the Begency has determined to adopt a policy of
temporising with the Ameriea government. This is conceived in such term
that our relations with the American should not prejudice the interests of
England, which we must favor by all considerations of gratefulnes and
due friendship, although being careful not to give pretext to the Ameriesan
government to earry the exees of its complacency toward France to the
point of making a war which could suit neither Spain nor England. ... Thee
vi ... I transmit to you advising you at the sme time that the Begency
has made opportune exertions to obtain [an agreement] from the English
government that its ships should protect the boats, possessions, and properties
of Spain, and especially the Florida from the usurpations of the Amerleans.

Spain was of course bound to support England, generally speak-
ing, by her treaty of January, 1809; furthermore, she showed here
the anxiety which she so frequently demonstrated in leaning for
naval, military, and diplomatic support on the island kingdom.

22 University of Caifornia Publicatios in History

The flour and wheat from the United States, most of which are said
to have been consumed by the British armies in the Peninsula, were
shipped in greatest quantities in the years 1812 and 1818. Though
Onis and his consuls were buying some ships, most of the supplies
went in United States bottoms, and their owners profited well until
the breakdown of the Continental system released supplies from
the Baltic." An act of Congress, in 1813, prohibiting United States
vessels to sail under foreign licenses, such as those issued by the
British for this trade even during the war, helped to stop this
During the struggle, although the volume of Onis' correspond-
ence evidences a difficulty of communication and a somewhat neces-
sary lapse in activity, there did develop an interesting efort on
the part of Monroe to revive the Florida dealings. In 1811, al-
though he received Congressional authority for occupation under
certain conditions, Monroe failed in what was evidently an attempt
to obtain East Florida by subornation of a revolt which would
have allowed the province to fall into the hands of the United
States. When war was declared, only a slim Northern and Fed-
eralist majority kept Congress from authorizing the seizure of all
of Florida east of the Perdido, in order to keep England from using
it as a base. A like attempt of the administration met failure in
After the first such failure, Monroe approached Onis through
Vice-Consul Chac6n. In a conference on July 15, 1812, Monroe is
reported by Chac6n to have said that,
According to the geographical situation of that region, the nature of its
habitants, and in order to conserve the peaee between the two nations, the
Floridas should belong to the United States, and for years the Congress has
taken this into consideration, and expects that Spain, in order to avoid a pos-
aible war, before exposing herself to that will concede amiably that which ...
this government kims so justly over a territory which pain does not need,
not being able to derive any advantage from it, and the mainteanmes of which
costs more labor and expense than one would expect it to be worth.

Two weeks later Monroe presented a set of propositions and
questions for Ons' consideration. He stated that the United States
would exchange for East Florida, and for Spain's claims to West
Florida, its right to be indemnified for damages suffered in the
Napoleonic Wars. He asked whether Onis was authorized to make

Brooks: Diplouaoy end the Borderlandu

such a treaty, whether the Florida officials would obey his order to
evacuate, what effect the Constitution of 1812 would have," and,
if Onfs had full powers, when it would be convenient for him to
come to Washington to negotiate."
Ons, in the despatch which related these propositions, stated
that he thought they were "ridiculous" and insincere. He listed
a greater number of Spanish grievances toward the United States
than Monroe had considered, including the old protest of the ille-
gality of the Louisiana Purchase, the damage caused by Miranda's
expedition to Venezuela, that caused by Captain Pike in his jour-
ney through northern Mexico, claims for injuries by French priva-
teers who brought Spanish vessels into United States ports, the
damage caused by the embargo (which he said should not have
applied to Spanish ships), and that done by a presidential proc-
lamation which, Onis stated, urged the provinces of Spanish Amer-
ica to declare their independence."
He then stated his intention, in view of the progress of Spanish
arms in the Peninsula and in Mexico, and of the weakness of the
United States' military forces, to delay until Spain could send
effective reinforcements to protect the Floridas. Accordingly he
answered Monroe on only one point, saying he did not have full
powers to treat.
The Regency in Spain made short shrift of Monroe's proposi-
tions, writing Onis that they had
no great confdence that that government will fulm what it promise, s it
already appear. to be its eonstant maxim to aggravate by deed and make
reparations by word.
As to powers it has already been repeated to you, at different time, that
only those of an ordinary minister to a friendly government will be ment aad
not those of a negotiator of eedions, and that neither does the eonstitution
permit nor the decorum of this most punetillion and valiant nation consent
that you should even talk of eemion."

Spain, growing more and more confident during the war in view
of its successes against Napoleon and the miserable performance
of the United States against England, received with avidity all
news of the war in America, and planned to be on hand when the
spoils were divided. To this end she strove to have her interested
considered in any peace negotiations-but she strove vainly. Onia'
only participation was to recommend such an effort, to discus it

24 University of California Publication in History

with the Russian minister in Washington, Andr6 de Daeckoff, and
to attempt to persuade the United States to instruct its commis-
sioners to consider Spanish affairs. At the same time, no doubt, the
Regency in refusing Onis the authority to negotiate was partly
moved by its belief that the United States was about to suffer a
disastrous defeat.
Daschkoff brought to Monroe in March, 1813, the offer of Czar
Alexander to mediate, an offer accepted so promptly that in May
commissioners were en route to Europe. Immediately Spain's am-
bassador in London, Count Fernan Nifiez, was instructed to ask
England to demand at the conference that the United States
evacuate the occupied sections of the Floridas, and that they rec-
ognize the Regency and admit Onis.
Fernfn Nifiez made his approaches to the new British foreign
minister, Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh. He failed com-
pletely, on account of two stubborn facts: first, Castlereagh had
declined the offer of Russian mediation, and, second, as Fernan
N6iiez reported in his despatch of September 25, 1813, he found
the Russians apparently pledged to support British interests, so
that Spain could expect no aid from that quarter."
In Washington, Onis had no better fortune. Far from instruct-
ing our commissioners to consider a settlement which would suit
Spain, Monroe told them that they might "find it advantageous
to bring to the view of her Ministers, the relation which the United
States bear to the Floridas." That relation, he explained, was ex-
pressed in the claim to West Florida as part of Louisiana, the claim
to East Florida as indemnity for spoliations, and the effort made
by Congress to keep out a foreign threat by passing a bill authoriz-
ing occupation of West Florida."
This renewal of Monroe's efforts to obtain some recognition of
the United States' claim to the Floridas was thwarted by Albert
Gallatin, a member of the commission and an opponent of the ad-
ministration's Florida policy. He insisted on the withdrawal of
United States troops from Florida in order to aid the commission-
ers/ their diplomacy with England an& Russia." Thus the efforts
f both Spain and this country to further settlement of their issues
in this negotiation failed.
When, after Castlereagh's later offer to treat directly for peace,
the commissioners finally undertook their work at Ghent in the

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlads

fall of 1814, Spain again endeavored to intrude upon the negotia-
tions. Fernhn Nfiez once more received instructions to try to in-
fluence the British ministry in that direction. Spain now demanded
the return of all of Louisiana (disregarding her approvalof the
purchase, given in 1806), and asserted that Great Britain had
promised the return to Spain of all her territory occupied by the
United States." But this gesture was also fruitless, and, as the
United States' commissioners again went uninstructed toward any
settlement suitable to Spain, the Floridas were omitted from the
treaty, as was Louisiana.
Spanish confidence was further shattered by the postwar victory
of Jackson at New Orleans; and it was with evident disappoint-
ment that Onis wrote, on hearing of the conclusion reached at
Ghent, as follows:
If in this treaty nothing has been stipulated relative to the conclusion of
the discussions pending between His Majesty and this government, I foreee
great difficulties in settling them in an advantageous manner, and I fear that
we have lost the most favorable occasion which could present itself for ae-
complishing that end. Of course Louisiana and New Orleans have been fortified
for the attack of the English, there has gathered in them a respectable army,
and although it is regular that with the conclusion of peace the militias should
disband and return to their homes, to rest on their laurels, I cannot may that
General Jackson, moved by his vainglory over the defense of New Orleans,
and the taking of Pensaeola, will not try energetically to aid the insurgents
of the Provineias Internas.

This was not Jackson's first threat to the Spanish outposts, nor
was the dangerous situation on the frontier suddenly created at
this time. To understand later diplomacy one must turn to a survey
of conditions and the development of controversies along that ex-
tensive and undetermined line. And one must continually ask how
far the territorial claims of the two countries coincided with move-
ments of population, or with exploits of isolated explorers, traders,
or settlers; and how far such factors may have guided diplomatic


S"Treaty of Amity, Settlement, and Limits, Signed at Washington, Febru-
ary 22, 1819," in Division of State Department Archives, the National Ar-
chives, Washington, Treaties. The most reliable publication of this treaty is
in the current series: D. Hunter Miller, Treaties and Other Iternational Acts
of the United States of America (Washington, 1931-), III:3-20.
Samuel Flagg Bemis, Pindsany's Treaty (Baltimore, 1926), pasuai
SClaims against Spain represented some 125 vesels and cargoes, at a valu-
ation of from five to eight million dollars; those against France nearly the
same. See Charles E. Hill, "James Madison," in Americn Beeortaries of State
(New York, 1927-1929), III:48. The complex problems of maritime spoli-
ations run through the whole period. But they affected the Adams-Onfs nego-
tiations only slightly, and the claims were nounced in the treaty with little
SMiller, op. cit., 11:492-497.
SCircumstantial evidence of a boundary agreement to include Texas in
Louisiana made just preceding that treaty is presented in Riehard Stenberg,
"The Boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase," Hispanic American Historical
Review, XIV (1934):32-64. But no satisfactory proof that it existed is ad-
vanced. Certainly there was no consideration of such a document in the Adams-
Onis negotiations.
*Hill, op. cit., p. 46.
'Henry Adams, History of the United States (New York, 1889-1891), II:
255, 298.
v Of evallos in this period a French writer has said: "The new secretary of
state had [in 1800] for eight years been the nightmare of foreign ambassa-
dors. Obliging attention and passions of anger, ruses and threats were
equally futile against his stammering and confused discourse, his involved
notes, pedantic and vacuous, [and] his indolence and inertia.... But Cevallos
had in the eyes of Godoy, whose cousin he had married, one quality of first
rank: absolute submission to the favourite."-Andr6 Fugier, Napoldos et
I'BRpagne (Paris, 1930), 1:119.
SHill, op. sit., p. 58
Onis to Pizarro (Spanish foreign minister), November 14,1817, in Archivo
Hist6rico Nacional (Madrid), Secei6n de Estado, Legajo 5642.
n Foronda and Viar to Garay (Spanish foreign minister), July 21, 1809, in
A.H.N., Et., 5635, Apartado 3.
Treaty of Fontainebleau, October 29, 1807, discused in Fugier, op. it.,
"Pedro Aguado Bleye, Masal de historia de Espana (5th ed., Bilbao,
1927-1931), 11:413-417; Fugier, op. cit., 1:440-448, and passim.
Aguado Bleye, op. oit., II:501-518 Certain papers of the patriot Junta
in the Archivo Hist6rico Naeional in Madrid are listed in the Indice de los
Papeles de la Junta Central Buprema Guberativa del Reino I del Consejo de
Begescia (Madrid, 1904).
"Weneeslao B. de Villa-Urrutia, Belacioses estre sBpala & Inglaterra
durante la guerra do independents, 1808 6 1814 (Madrid, 1911-1914), 1:304-
310; British and Foreign State Papers (London, 1841-), 1:667-673.
Smith to Erving, November 1, 1809, in D.S., United States Ministers, In-
structions, VI.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands 27

"Jabes Lamar M Curry, "Diplomatle Services of George W. Erving,"
Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceeding, Ser. 2, V (1889):17-33.
Calculation from instreutions to Onis, 1809-1814, in Archivo del Ministerio
de Eatado (Madrid), Estados Unidoe, Legajos 216-221.
MS biography of Onti (Madrid, 1827); Joe6 Garefa de Le6n y Pisarro,
Memories (Madrid, 1894-1897), 1:201, 206. The assertion that Onis was ap-
pointed minister in 1792 is made in the MS biography. We know that the
appointment of a minister at that time was projected, without definite refer-
ence to the individual, from a memorandum by William Carmiehael, United
States commissioner plenipotentiary, of a conversation he had with Florida-
blanea, dated at Ban Lorenso, November 7, 179L See A.H.N., Est., 8890; also
Bemis, op. oft., pp. 183-184.
SVilla-Urrutia, op. et., 1:219; Jer6nimo Bicker, Historia de las relaoiones
esteriorue de Bspab durante el sigo XIX (Madrid, 1924-1927), 1:136-137;
Garay to Foronda, June 29, 1809, in A.M.E, 216.
n Onis to Garay, November 16,1809, in A.H.N., Est., 5635, Apartado 4.
SOnis to Pisarro, November 14,1817, ibid., 5642.
SGaray to Oni., July 29, 1809, in A.M.E., 216; Bardaxi to On*a, January
14 and May 5, 1810, ibid, 217.
SNarelso de Heredia, "UBposiicfd .. al rey" (June 4, 1817), in Pisarro, op.
ci., III:271. A copy of the original powers, not the instructions, dated July
26, 1809, appears in D.S., Notes from Spanish Legation, III.
SOnia to Garay, October 21, 1809, in A.H.N., Eat., 5635, Apartado 4.
SJefferson' reference to Charles IV and Ferdinand resulted apparently
from a confusion of the dispute between those two in 1808 with that between
the Junta and Joseph which raged in 1809. See Jefferson to Madison, Novem-
ber 26, 1809, in Jefferson, Writings (Memorial Ed, Washington, 1903-1904),
XII:328; also Madison papers, MS, Library of Congress.
SOnf! to Garay, October 21, 1809, in AH.N., Est., 5635, Apartado 4.
Bardaxi to Onis, April 21, 1810, in A.M.E., 217. Bardaxi held office from
March, 1810, to February, 1812.
These "Verns" pamphlets are reprinted in Luis de Onis, Memoria sobre
las negooladones (Madrid, 1820), I, Appendix:14-70. That at least one of
them was written by someone other than Onis is indicated in chap. iii, p. 63.
m Onis to Bards January 12, 1811, in A..N., Est., 5637.
Cevallos to OnfI December 10, 1815, in A.M.E., 237.
*Oni to Marquis de las Hormasas (Spanish foreign minister), June 17,
1810, in A.H.N., E, 5636. Bardazi had been appointed foreign minister in
March, but Onis did not learn of it until July 10, and so continued addressing
despatches to Hormnass. Such discrepanci were frequent, and presented a
major obstacle to efficient negotiation. It took anywhere from six weeks to
four months for mail to reach Madrid from Washington, the latter period
sometimes being required when mail was routed through England for safety.
Onai to Bardax September 20, 1810, in A.H.N., E 5636.
Onis to Bardai, October 31, 1810, ibid.
SOnia to the eaptain-general of Caraeas, February 2, 1810; translated in
MS volume on Spaish affairs, 1810-1816, in the secret file of the secretary
of state, now in the Division of Manuscripts, Library of Congress. Inaccurately
published in American State Papers (Washington, 1832-1861), Class I, For-
eign Belation, 111:404.

28 University of California Publications in History

SBardazi to On, June 24, 1811, in A.M.., 218.
nis to Pisarro (then foreign minister for a few months), June 17, 1812,
in A.H.N., Et., 5638.
Oni to Pesuela (Spanish foreign minister), October 26, 1812, ibid.
,Peouela to Wellesley, August 10, 1812, 0ML, 5556, Expediente 1. Similar
instructions went to the viceroy of New Spain regarding the treatment of
British ships on the Pacife. See Vernon D. Tate (ed.), "Spanish Documents
Beating to the Voyage of the 'Baeoon' to Astoria and San Francisco," His-
poa i Americas Hitorial Beeiew, XVII (1988):183-191.
SPesuela to Onis, September 10, 1812, in AJLE., 219.
W. Freeman Galpin, "American Grain Trade to the Spanish Peninsula,
1810-1814," America Historiow Revi, XXVIII (1922):24-44.
a Quoted in Onts to Pesela, July 19, 1812, in A.H.N., Et., 5688.
"The patriot Cortes at C(dis had approved a constitution on March 11,
1812. Although it was discarded with the absolutist restoration of Ferdinand
VII, it became the battle cry of the rebelling American colonists and later
of the Spanish Liberals.
a Onis to Pesuela, August 31, 1812, in A.N., Est., 5638.
"President Madison's annual message of November 5, 1811, contains the
only reference in his currently published statements to which Ons could have
given this interpretation. The Spaniard's accusation in all probability refers
to this paragraph: "... it is impossible to overlook those sceness] developing
themselves among the great communities which occupy the southern portion
of our own hemisphere and extend into our neighborhood. An enlarged philan-
thropy and an enlightened forecast concur in imposing on the national councils
an obligation to take a deep interest in their destinies, to cherish reciprocal
sentiments of good will, to regard the progress of events, and not to be un-
prepared for whatever order of things may ultimately be established."-James
D. RBihardson (ed.),Messags and Papers of the Preidents, 1789-1899 (Wash-
ington, 189-1899), 1:494.
"Labrador (Spanish foreign minister) to Onis December 28, 1812, in
A.M.E., 219.
SFernAn NUfes to the seretario de estado, September 25, 1813, in A.H.N.,
Est., 5557, Expediente 1.
Monroe to commissioners, April 27, 1813, in D.S., United States Ministers,
Instructions, VII
Julius W. Pratt, "James Monroe," in Amerian Secretaries of State, III:
SCevallo to Fernin NOles, December 8, 1814, in Archivo General de
Simaneas (Simaneas), Est., 2675 modern.
SOnis to San Carlos (Spanish foreign minister), February 13, 1815, in
A.H.N., Est, 5640.


A regions of international rivalry for occupation: the Flori-
das, Louisiana and Texas, New Mexico, and Oregon. Al-
though the interest of the nations was at first largely focused at
the eastern end, it gradually became more evenly balanced to in-
clude the whole frontier. Thus in the final weeks of the treaty
negotiations in 1819, with the cession of the Floridas having been
conceded within the councils of the respective protagonists for at
least a quarter-century, the Oregon-California boundary was the
subject of dispute on which Adams risked the whole agreement.
The fact that these regions were areas of rivalry in exploitation,
and were not mere names on the map, is of fundamental signifi-
cance. The purpose of this chapter is to consider the magnitude
of that exploitation, and in doing so to give meaning to the various
geographical terms employed. It is also essential to observe wherein
lay the territorial claims of the two countries to the regions which
were covered by the treaty negotiations.
The United States in 1816, when direct negotiations were re-
sumed with Spain, was a republic of eighteen states and a vast par-
tially undefined public domain. She had gone through a war with
little military glory, but had at least maintained her ground,
territorially speaking. The northern limit east of the Lake of the
Woods had been long established, except for a disputed interpre-
tation of the Maine boundary. The northern boundary of the
Louisiana Purchase was in litigation between the United States
and England, but it was not a matter vitalized by any wave of
Along the southern and western frontier, however, lay the pos-
sessions of Spain, a monarchy now so weakened by civil war at
home and by rebellion flaming through her huge American domain
that she appeared to offer little effective hindrance to this country's
aspirations, which were rapidly developing into the spirit of "Man-
ifest Destiny." The manner in which Spain notably delayed that
expansion, and forced concessions in making a treaty, did her

30 University of California Publications in History

credit for determination and skill, both in administration and in
Spain's governing officials, in 1816, still looked on the colonial
uprising as a problem of "pacification," evidently taking for
granted what outsiders and colonials considered an impossible
reconquest.1 And, still dreaming of the days when all of North
America was Spain's unchallenged possession, they were reluctant
to admit the necessity of yielding any more of it than had already
been lost. In fact, they were soon to maintain that the King had
no right to cede away lands.
The center of Spanish North America was the city of Mexico,
long the capital of the viceroyalty of New Spain. But the United
States adjoined two subdivisions of that administrative unit. It
had long been customary, when a large and important area lay far
from a viceregal capital, to make it a semiautonomous unit of the
system, with direct reference to Spain in many matters. Such was
the captain-generalcy of Havana, governing the West Indies, the
Floridas, and Louisiana. This region, vastly important in trade
and international political rivalries, had in its capital an impor-
tant administrative, military, and financial center.
After Havana became a captain-generalcy, a reorganization took
place on the northern frontier of New Spain itself. Thus was
formed the Provincias Internas (Interior Provinces), also a cap-
tain-generalcy, with its capital at Chihuahua. This unit, later sepa-
rated into two districts, embraced what are now the northern states
of the republic of Mexico, and Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and
California. Both at Chihuahua and Havana the governments were
essentially military, but there were also present civil and com-
mercial authorities. And all officials indulged in the characteristic
Spanish practice of writing the innumerable lengthy and detailed
reports which now crowd the archives.
The Florida peninsula was the first area, geographically speaking,
on the line along which the two Powers met. With the region bor-
dering the Gulf Coast as far west as the Apalachicola River (an
area somewhat less extensive than the present state of Florida), it
constituted the Spanish province of East Florida. The capital and
For notes to chap. ii, ee pp. 54-56.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

principal center was St. Augustine, Spain's northern outpost on
the Atlantic, which harbored most of the white residents of the
province. Besides that town there were Fernandina, on notorious
Amelia Island at the mouth of the St. Mary's; St. Mark's, on the
Gulf shore; and Apalache, at the mouth of the Apalachicola,
hardly more than an Indian trading post.
The province was vital in the control of the Bahama channel on
the route of the fleets from Mexico to Spain. Had there been effec-
tive Spanish marine forces it might well have been the base of
operations for the suppression of illicit trade between North and
South America, and of privateering. In its own commerce, since a
large proportion of its approximately five thousand inhabitants
consisted of settlers from the United States, it had more inter-
course with Savannah, Charleston, and Baltimore than with Ha-
vana. In 1804 immigration from the northern neighbor country
was declared illegal, but a close commercial relationship con-
tinued.' The immigration restriction was hardly a major factor,
since the province had never sustained a large permanent agri-
cultural population. Certainly to the land-hungry "Anglo-Amer-
icans" it offered less attraction than did the West.
As part of the region desired by the United States at Paris in
1803 and at Madrid in 1805, the province drew its share of at-
tention. At all times it was viewed with alarm and covetousness
because of the activities and the trade possibilities of its native in-
habitants, an offshoot of the Lower Creek Indians called the Semi-
noles.' The Indian trade of both provinces had been in large part
controlled by British agents from the Bahamas since the British
occupation of the Floridas, ending in 1783.
In recent years, disputes between the Indians and the frontier
settlers of Georgia had increased enough to offer an occasion for
interference by the United States. This was based on the accusa-
tion that Spain had not lived up to her obligation, incurred in
Pinckney's Treaty, to keep the red men pacified. Intervention was
made even more desirable on the part of the United States when
the threat of war with England arose.
Further cause for contention appeared in the problem of fugi-
tive slaves, who escaped from the southern states into East Florida
in sufficient numbers to comprise a troublesome, lawless group. As
early as 1733 they had received official attention in an order that

32 University of California Publications i History
they need not be returned nor their owners reimbursed by the
Spanish officials. In the second Spanish occupation (1783-1821)
the first governor, Vicente Manuel ZEspedes, frequently asked off-
cial opinion on the matter. One of his successors, Enrique White,
finally reached an agreementwith officials of the United States in
1797, on instructions from Spain, by which the fugitives were to
be returned.' But the agreement was irregularly observed and the
number of fugitives increased. More than half of the population
of East Florida in 1804 was listed as slaves,' but how many of
these were fugitives from the north, or how many of the escaped
Negroes eluded any census, it would be difficult to say.
It has been shown in the first chapter that Monroe was one of
the most active promoters of the United States' designs on the
Floridas. Therefore it was natural that during his secretaryship
of state another attempt should be made on them. He appears to
have been involved in a clandestine plot to revolutionize East
Florida by abetting the expedition led there by General George
Mathews, former governor of Georgia. Congress in a secret act of
January, 1811, had authorized occupation of the Floridas east of
the Perdido River in the event the local authorities agreed, or in
the event another Power threatened them.* The latter condition
was made in view of the possibility of the use of the Gulf Coast
by England in the war which was then threatening. In accordance
with the first condition, Mathews had been sent to take over the
section of West Florida included in the act, inasmuch as it had
been offered to the United States by a harassed Spanish governor.
But, in the meantime, that official, Vicente Folch, had changed his
mind and he refused to deliver. Mathews then turned his interest
to the eastern province. At the same time a detachment of riflemen
and some ships of the navy gathered at the St. Mary's River, to be
on hand if an opportunity came to carry out the Congressional
Mathews hatched a scheme whereby he could conduct a mock
revolution with the aid of the "Anglo-Americans" who were al-
ready resident in the Spanish territory. Its leaders were to request
occupation by the United States. He had already discussed these
plans in Washington, in January, 1811, and had received instruc-
tions in a letter written by Monroe on June 29 to take charge on
the border with the troops already gathered there. Soon after that,

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

Monroe received from Mathews a complete explanation of the lat-
ter's plans. This explanation went unanswered.
Mathews, evidently interpreting silence as consent, proceeded
to have his "revolutionary volunteers" (largely Georgia militia,
and adventurers who conveniently assumed that r8le) take posses-
sion of Fernandina on Amelia Island. They at once invited occupa-
tion, which Mathews effected on March 18, 1812. From Fernandina
they set out for St. Augustine, eventually camping before its gates.
As the volunteers advanced, the troops followed immediately,
occupying the territory at the request of the filibusterers who took
it in hand just ahead of them.
The government shortly became embarrassed by Mathews' over-
enthusiasm. On April 4,1812, Monroe wrote Mathews, dismissing
him. But it was not the time to withdraw troops from such a strate-
gic place as East Florida, and Monroe appointed Governor D. B.
Mitchell of Georgia to succeed Mathews. He was to hold the troops
before St. Augustine, ready to meet contingencies that might arise
in the impending war. Although Mitchell quarreled with the Span-
ish officials, he remained for many months.
The maintenance of United States forces in Spanish territory
was justified on the grounds of protecting the "patriots" against
the wrath of Spain. Onfs reported this condition to his govern-
ment in his despatch of August 3, 1812. He also sent copies of the
correspondence of Mitchell and the new East Florida governor,
Sebastian Kindelan.' Onis was shortly instructed to tell Monroe
that all residents of East Florida "seduced" by General Mathews
would be pardoned, if they conducted themselves thenceforth as
loyal Spanish subjects' This made the pretext for Mitchell's stay
From the first this venture had been vehemently protested. Since
Onis could not communicate directly with Monroe, Augustus John
Foster, the new British minister, presented a protest, in his own
name. The source of the complaint is shown in OnWs' despatch to
his government of September 8, 1811, which included copies of his
report from Juan Jose6 Estrada, then governor of East Florida,
and of his letter to Foster asking that the protest be made. English
representatives continued the complaints at Ghent, partly for bar-
gaining purposes in the negotiation of the peace treaty. Following
the two efforts of Monroe, already related, to obtain East Florida

34 University of California Publications in History

through Onis, in 1812 and 1813, and after the war was well under
way, United States troops were finally withdrawn from before St.
Augustine in May, 1813.
Later, Indian troubles on the Apalachicola River directed at-
tention to the apparent English incitement of the red men in an-
other part of East Florida. Major Edward Nicholls, of the British
marines, built a fort on that river, gathering Seminole and Creek
allies. When he left at the end of the war Negroes, evidently allies
of the Indians, seized the place, which thus acquired the name Ne-
gro Fort. After various threats from General Jackson in an effort
to end its troublemaking, General Gaines, under Jackson's orders,
built Fort Scott on the Flint River near-by. In 1816, when a supply
convoy moving up the river was attacked, with some casualties,
troops from Fort Scott advanced. A redhot cannonball was thrown
into Negro Fort, killing many of its defenders. As a result of this
reprisal the Negroes and Indians were for a time cowed, if not
It is difficult at times to keep the stories of East and West Florida
separate, and it is not in all respects desirable. For in their strate-
gic position, their Indian troubles, and their dangerous possibili-
ties in the war, they were much alike. They were separated in
some degree by the fact that there were few permanent settlements
between St. Augustine and St. Mark's or Apalache, and few be-
tween the latter two towns and Pensacola, the capital of West
Florida. An important element in the population of the western
province was the body of several hundred Indians, mostly of the
Creek federation," who were nearly as troublesome as the Semi-
noles in East Florida.
The chief political dispute over West Florida involved the region
west of the Perdido, which was claimed by the United States as
part of the Louisiana Purchase. There, owing to this claim and to
more rapid occupation, Spain's regime was disturbed sooner than
in the peninsula.
After the passage of the Mobile Act in 1804, numerous settlers
entered West Florida, as well as Louisiana proper, from the west-
ern states. Many of them received land grants from Intendant
Ventura Morales; and all were subject, though in a more or less
rebellious manner, to the administration of Governor Folch.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlads

British influence was strong in West Florida, as in East. It was
exercised generally through the great trading firm of Panton, Les-
lie and Company, known after the death of Panton in 1802 as
John Forbes and Company. With posts at Pensacola, Mobile, and
St. Mark's, this institution was of great importance both in Indian
affairs and in commerce.
Concessions to this firm, as well as foreign immigration for the
purpose of forming a substantial community for self-defense, and
trade with France and her colonies, all had been allowed by Spain
in her effort to make the province strong enough to stand by itself.
The attempt succeeded much too well for Spain, owing largely to
the influx of "Anglo-American" frontiersmen. The scattered popu-
lation was largely foreign, and, despite the adaptation of her co-
lonial system to local conditions, Spain's hold grew increasingly
Commercially, the United States found that its designs were
furthered by the dependence of West Florida on Louisiana for
supplies and markets. Spanish restrictions, which imposed duties
and allowed trade only in Spanish ships, had become largely im-
possible to enforce by 1808." The breakdown of the system was com-
pleted by Folch. Seeing the needs of his people, and not having
the legal righteousness of his archenemy Morales, he let down the
restrictive bars in a series of executive acts. His orders brought
legal worries to Spanish officialdom, and probably only the war
in Spain prevented his punishment. But as an aid to inevitable
economic penetration by the United States, his actions were so
effective that the process was nearly complete by 1812. This pene-
tration included navigation of the important Mobile and Apalachi-
cola rivers from the western United States, as well as navigation
of the Gulf itself.
Folch, despairing of holding the province under existing coidi-
tions, in 1810 offered to deliver it to the United States. But by the
time former Governor Mathews and Colonel John McKee, an In-
dian agent sent with him by the secretary of state, arrived to re-
ceive the gift, Folch had recanted. The offer of Folch caused his
recall later to Spain to answer for it, but not before most of the
province had been permanently lost to effective Spanish control by
economic penetration."
Folch's offer was caused by lack of support from a home govern-

36 University of California Publications in History

ment harassed by civil war, and was occasioned by the uprising of
the West Florida residents about Baton Rouge, nine-tenths of
whom were immigrants from the United States." These people,
in July, 1810, met in convention, declared themselves an inde-
pendent state, and requested admission as one of the states of the
Union. The United States government paid little heed to this re-
quest, but did authorize occupation of the region under the title
alleged to have been acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. All of
West Florida was taken except Mobile. In April, 1812, that section
west of the Pearl River was made a part of the new state of Louisi-
ana, and the region between the Pearl and the Perdido was in-
eluded in Mississippi Territory.
The declaration of war at once brought to the United States the
fear of invasion from the territory still under Spanish control. In
February, 1813, in response to the call for volunteers and through
plans laid by the War Department, three bodies of troops were
ready to advance into the Floridas if occasion arose. Brigadier
General James Wilkinson, in command in the southwest, was at
New Orleans. Andrew Jackson, with two thousand Tennessee vol-
unteers, was at Natchez. On the St. Mary's and St. John's (the
latter in East Florida in Spanish territory) were federal troops
under Major General Thomas Pinckney (continuing the occupa-
tion begun by Mathews and Mitchell) and some Georgia and Ten-
nessee volunteers.
The combined attack was frustrated, however, by the decision
of the Senate, on February 12, to authorize the seizure of only that
region west of the Perdido-meaning simply Mobile, since it alone
remained in Spanish hands there." This necessitated the order for
withdrawal, and disbandment or diversion of the troops. Pinckney
finally withdrew in May, 1813, but not before the Tennessee volun-
teers had burned several deserted Seminole villages, taking corn
and skins, and driving off cattle. Jackson, refusing to disband his
men, kept them under guard on his own responsibility at Nashville.
Meanwhile the peace commissioners who had been sent abroad
were afraid that the actions in the Floridas would jeopardize their
settlement, and Gallatin urged against even the authorized seizure
of Mobile. That occupation was carried out, nevertheless, in April.
Wilkinson effected it and had begun the erection of a fort there
when he was recalled to the northern frontier.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

Now the broader aspects of the war were to be seen in the Brit-
ish encirclement plan and scheme of attacking the United States
on all its Indian frontiers. The same Tecumseh who had stirred the
Northwest incited the Creeks to battle. And prodded further by
the attack of the Tennessee volunteers on their allies, the Seminoles
of East Florida, the Indians of the confederation went on the war-
path in August, 1813-only to bring upon themselves swift and
sure retribution.
Fort Mims, near the junction of the Alabama and Tombigbee
rivers, and inside the certain limits of the United States, was the
focus of the Indian attack. Several hundred persons were killed
by the braves, enough to incite the already militant and land-
avaricious Westerners. Jackson's Tennessee volunteers readily ac-
cepted the gage of battle, and were led by him through a victorious
winter campaign. By the treaty signed at Fort Jackson (an estab-
lishment at the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers) in
August, 1814, the Creeks were forced to surrender two-thirds of
their lands.
Jackson, fortifying himself with the widely circulated charges of
Spanish support of the Indians, continued into the territory of "the
Dons," as he called them. By this time a British fleet under Cap-
tain W. H. Percy had brought Major Nicholls with a force of
marines, who established themselves at Pensacola for the Gulf
campaign. While Jackson awaited more Tennessee troops at Mo-
bile, a United States force successfully defended Fort Bowyer, at
the mouth of Mobile Bay." Jackson, on his own responsibility,
without instructions from Washington, then marched eastward to
Pensacola, which he took by storm on November 7. Thence he re-
turned to Mobile, and soon set out on the campaign which ended
in his brilliant defense of New Orleans against the veterans of
Wellington's army, January 8, 1815.
After the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, the British finally cap-
tured Fort Bowyer. However, under the treaty, no British seizures
were to be maintained and, despite Spanish efforts, no change was
made in the southern boundaries. During the war, nevertheless
West Florida's occupation by the United States was made com-
plete and permanent. Although theoretically there was no settle-
ment of the West Florida controversy, actually there was no
of rare occurrence.

38 Univerity of California Publications in Hitory

The Louisiana Purchase was divided in 1812 into two parts: the
southern part became the state of Louisiana, the eighteenth to be
admitted to the Union, and the remainder became known as Mis-
souri Territory. The new state was drawn into the vortex of inter-
national affairs at once. In the War of 1812 its capital was the
scene of mobilization activities, and of one great enemy thrust.
Commercially, the state assumed a vital r6le, both as producer and
market, and as an avenue for the transport of goods. In the sub-
versive acts of plotters by land and pirates by sea which were
continually disturbing the Spanish colonies, Louisiana played a
notorious part. And with respect to the boundary question it was
an outpost thrust into a disputed frontier.
New Orleans, long an important center as the port of deposit
for goods from the southwest, became even more influential com-
mercially when the advent of the steamboat made inland water
transport for a time the major factor in western trade. Governor
W. C. C. Claiborne in 1809 reported a population of about fifty-
five thousand in the Territory of Orleans, which had the same area
as the later state. Of these, half were Negroes, most of them slaves.
A quarter of the total are described as "natives of Louisiana, for
the most part descendants of the French."" The remainder in-
cluded some thirty-five hundred natives of the United States, and
French, Spanish, English, German, and Irish nationals.
From Spanish vice-consuls stationed at New Orleans, Natchez,
Natchitoches, and St. Louis, Onis received and relayed numerous
complaints of threats to the Spanish Texas-Louisiana frontier.
These officials, especially those at the upriver points where little
Spanish trade could penetrate (the vice-consul at Natchez was
later removed on that account), reported as well to other civil and
military leaders, in Havana and in San Antonio, or Bexar, the
distant capital of Texas.
The new state had as boundaries exactly those it has today, em-
ploying on the west the Sabine River. That delimitation lacked
treaty basis, but found authority in the usage of the vicinity, espe-
cially since the Wilkinson-Herrera neutral-ground agreement of
1806, the development of which should be noted.
After the purchase of Louisiana, Governor Claiborne of Lou-

Brooks: Diplomaacy ad the Borderlands 39
isiana, the Marquis of Casa Calvo, Spanish commissioner, and
Ventura Morales, former Spanish intendant, had indulged in con-
tumacious bickering. Both the Spaniards remained long after Clai-
borne thought they were entitled to and argued long over land
titles and the boundary. In the winter of 1805-1806 Casa Calvo
explored the boundary area himself. He concluded that on the basis
of long acceptance the line should be at the Arroyo Hondo, near
Natchitoches and east of the Sabine."
Antonio Cordero, then governor of Texas, took steps to pstab-
lish that limit, and rumors of his activities, though probably -x-
aggerated, worried the Louisiana officials. In 1805 the Spanish post
of Los Adaes, seven leagues west of Natchitoches, was reoccupied,
and settlements were made at Bayou Pierre and Nana, both east
of the Sabine. The few men at Los Adaes were easily dislodged by
a United States force from Natchitoches in January, 1806. But
soon seven hundred more men were sent to guard the Spanish front.
Various encounters in the disputed area increased the fear of war
between the two countries, until in the spring of 1806 orders came
from Washington for a general dressing up and reinforcement of
the border poets.
Wilkinson was ordered to take charge at New Orleans. He soon
drew up a temporary palliative agreement with the Spanish com-
mander, Herrera, whereby the Spanish troops were to remain west
of the Sabine and the United States forces were to stay east of the
Arroyo Hondo, the intervening few miles being considered neutral
ground. This agreement was a part of Wilkinson's scheme to re-
establish himself as the protector of the West, by staving off the
Spanish threat and by exposing at the same time the Aaron.Burr
conspiracy." A later governor of Texas, Manuel Salcedo, in 1809
sought to discredit this so-called "Neutral ground treaty" by say-
ing that the real Spanish line was the Arroyo Hondo and that the
United States' demand for the neutral area was unwarranted. At
the same time he sent to Spain advice on methods of protecting his
Neither government, however, was possessed with a legal con-
clusion to the argument, and at both Madrid and Washington the
diplomats continued their efforts to establish rival claims. Jeffer-
son's conceptions of the proper boundaries of Louisiana became
more and more comprehensive. He eventually asserted that, in-

40 University of California Publication inTHitory

stead of being merely the area between the Sabine and the Iber-
ville rivers and including just the watershed of the Mississippi,
the province rightfully embraced West Florida, Texas to the Rio
Grande, and an undefined area beyond the Rockies to the Pacific.
Jefferson thus definitely formulated the United States' claims to
Texas. His arguments in defense of his position were substantially
the same as those used repeatedly in succeeding discussions, in-
eluding the negotiations resulting in the Adams-Onis Treaty. The
alleged title was of course based on that of France, but on the whole
little help was obtained from that Power in defining the rights it
had held previous to 1803. Thus Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and
Adams had to study with more or less thoroughness the whole
Franco-Spanish colonial story.
Briefly, the French claim was based upon the following activi-
ties of adventurer-traders which were alleged to have resulted in
permanent title to land west of the Sabine: the futile journey of
La Salle to the Bay of St. Bernard (Bahia de San Bernardo, or
Matagorda Bay), between the mouths of the Guadalupe and Colo-
rado rivers, in 1686; the grant by Louis XIV in 1712 to Antoine
Crozat, for his trading company, of a monopoly over all the terri-
tory from New Mexico to the Carolinas, and from the Gulf to the
Illinois country; the journeys of Louis Juchereau de St. Denis to
Natchitoches in 1713, and to the Rio Grande, where he was cap-
tured by the Spanish, in 1717; and the expeditions of La Harpe
up the Red River and across to the mouth of the Canadian in 1719,
and to the Bahia del Espiritu Santo (Bay of the Holy Spirit-
Galveston Bay) in 1721.
Jefferson in his memoir on the subject asserted that at the time
of La Salle the Spanish frontier was far around on the Gulf Coast,
at the Pnnuco River, and that the Rio Grande was taken as the
boundary because it was halfway between the outposts of the two
nations. No evidence of any such agreement appears, and certainly
the Spanish had established themselves far north of Panuco." Bet-
ter grounds might have been found in the almost complete French
control of the Indian tribes in northern Texas, and in the lack of
effective Spanish occupation either to the north or along the Gulf
Coast. Dr. Herbert E. Bolton has pointed out that Los Adaes was
but the tip of a wedge thrust by the Spaniards into territory in
which the French had control both of the Indians and of trade."

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlakd 41
More immediate French support of Jefferson's view was found
in the instructions given by Napoleon to General Victor, who had
expected to occupy Texas before the Louisiana sale. In 1802 these
orders were prepared with the statement that, although the bound-
aries of Louisiana were not all clearly defined, at least the limit
followed the Gulf Coast west to the Rio Grande, and north along
it to the Thirtieth Parallel. Professor Marshall has shown that this
paper is of questionable value, since Napoleon did not study the
situation closely. As a matter of fact, certain French maps had
traced the line much farther north than the Thirtieth Parallel
Even the United States' faith in the instructions to Victor was
equivocal. For, whereas the definition of Louisiana as extending
to the Rio Grande was prized, the statement that Louisiana did
not include West Florida was ignored."
Against these claims the Spanish could confidently hold up the
record of their colonization of Texas, a record marked by counters
to every French thrust, with most of them leading to permanent
establishments. These counterdrives were notably the Alonso de
Le6n expedition of 1689 (answering the La Salle threat), which
saw the temporary founding of missions on the Neches River and
the organization of Texas as a province; the Domingo Ram6n ven-
ture of 1716 (meeting St. Denis' first intrusion), leading to settle-
ments at Dolores on the Neches, at San Antonio, and at Los Adaes;
and that of the Marquis of Aguayo, who in 1720 (answering at-
tacks of the "war" of 1718-1719) made Los Adaes the capital of
Texas and the site of a presidio, occupied the Bahia del Espiritu
Santo, and reinforced San Antonio. By this time it was clear that
the effective outposts of the two nations were at Los Adaes and
Natchitoches. Thus in 1736, when a minor dispute called for settle-
ment, it was natural for local officials to agree that the Arroyo
Hondo, between those outposts, was the boundary, even though
this delimitation obstructed active trade between the two."
Missionary and commercial activity was not notably successful
in eastern Texas, and the acquisition of Louisiana by Spain in 1763
removed the necessity for military bulwarks against the French.
A reorganization resulted in the withdrawal of the Los Adaes
settlers in 1774 and concentration at San Antonio.
While Governor Cordero was reistablishing Los Adaes, in 1805,
Jefferson learned from Louisiana officials of one Spanish map

42 University of Califoria Publications i History

maker (IAngara) and one United States map maker (Sibley) who
put the limits at the Sabine and the Arroyo Hondo, respectively,
totally disregarding French claims to rights in Texas."
Spain was also studying the problem, and, pursuant to a Royal
Order of May 20, 1805, Father Melchor de Talamantes was in-
structed to prepare a treatise on the Louisiana-Texas boundary.
After Talamantes' arrest for complicity in a revolutionary plot,
the work was entrusted to Father Jos6 Antonio Pichardo." This
industrious friar cleric completed in 1812 an argumentative tract
of 5,127 sheets (fojas). It supported the Spanish claims. A copy
reached Spain four years later and appears to have been used in
the ministry of state during the negotiation of the Adams-Onis
Along the disputed frontier line during the first two decades of
the century flourished various illegal or revolutionary activities
to which such a heterogeneous population was prone. Throughout
the period of maritime uncertainties attendant upon the War of
1812 and the Spanish American revolutions, pirates on Barataria
Lake, just west of the mouth of the Mississippi, had been preying
upon commerce of all kinds. They ran their contraband into New
Orleans, where they sold it, more or less openly, at prices which
were lower than could be asked by importers who bought their
goods and paid customs duty on them." The chief pirates were two
Frenchmen who had begun life in America as immigrant black-
smiths in New Orleans, Jean and Pierre Lafltte. Louisiana authori-
ties made halfhearted efforts to quell them. But, sailing under
letters of marque issued by France or by the republic of Venezuela,
they continued to seize ships of all nations, especially those of
Spain. After serving in the army which defended New Orleans
under Jackson, they went back to privateering, making their head-
quarters on Galveston Island.
Early among the land threats to the border were the horse-
trading ventures of Philip Nolan. He made journeys into Texas
during the years from 1797 to 1801, when he was finally captured
and killed by Spaniards. As a prot6g6 of Wilkinson, it appears
that he probably had other motives than those of a horse trader.
Following the years when the frontier was being fortified on
both sides, and after the disruption of the Burr plot, came the
beginning of Mexico's revolt from Spain, which brought havoc to

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlads 43

the Texas settlements." Among the first acts of the revolutionary
government set up by the priest Hidalgo in the Mexican uprising
of 1810 was the sending to Washington of an agent, one Bernardo
Guti6rrez. This man, who was received by high officials there but
who failed to win their support, organized an expedition on the
border that carried on after the original uprising in Mexico had
been quelled.
Guti6rrez enlisted the aid of a former United States army officer,
Augustus McGee, who acted as the real leader in an invasion of
Texas in 1812.With a large following of "Anglo-American" adven-
turers and some Indians, the group advanced until in the spring
of the following year they captured San Antonio. McGee had died
en route, and Guti6rrez was deposed following the brutal execution
of Governor Manuel Salcedo. The command then fell to Joe6
Alvarez de Toledo, once a deputy in the Cortes at Cadiz, who had
only a few months before offered to betray the expedition by sell-
ing information of it to Onfs." In August, 1813, the enterprise was
broken up by the Royalists, who took cruel vengeance on their
captives. The eastern part of the province suffered seriously from
these encounters.
Toledo continued his propaganda, attempting to organize fur-
ther revolutionary movements for the invasion of Mexico through
Texas. But he quarreled with the two other leaders in the same
sort of activity-Humbert, a Frenchman, and Dr. John Robinson.
The latter, the surgeon of the Pike expedition, had gone to Mexico
as an agent of the United States government in 1812. On his return
he used his observations as the basis for appealing to Westerners
to join him in an effort to free the Spanish colony. Robinson got as
far as holding a meeting at Natchez in 1814, and Toledo gathered
some forces on the Sabine in the following year. But neither made
an actual invasion. That was to be left for a French venture from
the Gulf Coast in 1817, and one more "Anglo-American" episode
two years later.
In 1776 the northern frontier of Mexico was reorganized as the
Provincias Internas. Through a series of changes the region came
to be divided into the Eastern Interior Provinces, including Texas,
Coahuila, Nuevo Santander, and Nuevo Le6n; and the Western,
including New Mexico, Nueva Vizcaya, Sinaloa, Sonora, and the

44 University of California Publications in History

Californias, with the capital at Chihuahua. New Mexico embraced
more than it does today, though the center, then as now, was on the
Rio Grande, and the capital at Santa F6. Long an outpost of New
Spain, New Mexico showed greater activity and was more profitable
than Texas, but its fringes were even less well known or exploited.
The Spanish governors early in the nineteenth century were
concerned chiefly with the regulation of trade with old Mexico,
Indian affairs, and the increasing threat of "Anglo-American" in-
trusions. Along the Rio Bravo (also known as the Rio Grande del
Norte) traders went frequently between El Paso and the leading
settlements of the upper country: Santa F6, Albuquerque, La
Cafiada, and the rather new Indian trading center of Taos. The
province in 1818 has been variously estimated to have had a popu-
lation of from twenty thousand to forty thousand."
Trade relations and efforts to ward off attacks kept the Spanish
continually alert to the Navajos on the west, the Utes on the north,
and the Comanches and Apaches on the east. The last-named tribes
were also met by the French explorers, who traveled over much
of the Southwest during the eighteenth century, and by the eager
advance guard from the United States after the purchase of Loui-
siana in 1803.
The Mississippi-to-Rio Grande route was hardly developed suffi-
ciently to be called the Santa F6 Trail until after Mexican inde-
pendence, but the territory through which it passed was known
long before that time to traders of the three countries. In their
intercourse the traders had found the Indians generally helpful;
and before the first non-Spanish Europeans reached New Mexico
across the plains, the French and Spanish were trading with each
other through the medium of the natives.
Trade and exploration took the French through nearly all the
territory between the Mississippi and the Rockies. Many of them
either stayed voluntarily or were detained in New Mexico, thus
building up a non-Spanish white group there. The cession of Lou-
isiana to Spain in 1763 cut off their base of action, with the result
that the entire West remained under control of the Spaniards.
From Santa F6, explorations, forays against the Indians, and
investigations of foreign intrusions were made, giving the Span-
iards some knowledge of the watershed of the Mississippi. Uriburri,
Villazur, and Bustamante were prominent explorers. In 1779 Gov-

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderklads 45

ernor Juan Bautista de Anza of New Mexico went from Santa F6
up the Rio Grande to the headwaters of the Arkansas, over the
mountains to the plains, where he routed some Comanchea, and
thence back to a safer home. These were the frontiersmen of New
Mexico; their reports help make the literature of the southwestern
Upper Louisiana was little explored by its new masters. Desire
for a commercial lane had led to the establishment of the Santa
F6-to-San Antonio route by Pedro Vial between 1786 and 1789,
and three years later he made a successful trip to St Louis. But
it remained for ambitious "Anglo-Americans" to further the de-
velopment of the Mississippi-to-Rio Grande passage.
They came in little-known groups of scouts or traders at first,
some staying in the Southwest. Such was the venture of Baptiste
Lalande, who was sent from St. Louis by a merchant in 1804. He
failed to return, and was later found in the New Mexico capital
by Captain Zebulon Montgomery Pike. There also was James Pur-
cell, a Yankee trader who had been commissioned by Indian friends
in the Rockies as their agent to Santa F.
Pike's famous expedition in 1806 and 1807 is now believed to
have been motivated by a genuine desire to explore the country,
rather than by the sinister purposes of General Wilkinson." The
story of his trek through the Missouri and Arkansas river coun-
tries, his capture by the Spaniards on the upper Rfo Grande, his
visit to Santa F6 and later to Chihuahua as a prisoner, is a classic
of the West. Because of its semioficial nature, and because he
published an account of it, Pike's expedition was particularly
significant at the time. Spain later claimed indemnity for losses
caused by his intrusion. Meanwhile rumors of the invasion had
given rise to one more important Spanish undertaking: Captain
Facundo Melgares' advance with six hundred men into what is
now Kansas, partly in an effort to head off the "Anglo-Americans."
The attempt proved futile.
Two later groups from east of the Mississippi entered New Mex-
ico, only to run afoul of the Spanish authorities and to become
later the cause of diplomatic discussions. In 1809 Spanish troops
captured Reuben Smith and his party near the head of the Bed
River, and imprisoned them at Santa F6. Before their release in
1812 their absence had caused sufficient concern to prompt the

46 University of California Publication in History

sending of an official protest to Onis. In the latter year another
group under Robert McKnight was captured, and they were not
released until 1821.
Similar difficulties developed during the Adams-Onis negoti-
ations. A boundary argument arose over the activities of Joseph
Philibert, Jules de Mun, and Auguste Pierre Chouteau, who set
out for the Southwest in 1815. After a cordial reception in Santa
F6 and a winter's trapping on the east slope of the Rockies, they
were haled before Governor Pedro Allende, who maintained that
they had been working in Spanish territory. Philibert countered
with the assertion that Louisiana included all the area to the
Rockies. The Spanish governor, invoking the Spanish theory that
the Louisiana Purchase was illegal, declared that Spain still owned
to the Mississippi. The men were ultimately released, but only
after their goods had been confiscated. This affair also caused a
diplomatic controversy, resulting in a claim by the State Depart-
ment against the Spanish government, which was not settled until
years later."
It was apparent that the frontier, though undefined, followed
the general course of the Rockies, from the head of either the Red
or the Arkansas River to some point north of the region occupied
by the Spaniards. This left a huge area, little known or exploited,
between New Mexico, California, and the Oregon country-a high
region of mountain and desert, to which the United States, in its
westward expansion, had not yet sent its scouts, and which lay
vaguely within the realms of King Ferdinand.
Across from New Mexico to California, through Arizona, a way
had been opened by Father Francisco Garces, in 1775-1776. Far-
ther north the only notable enterprise had been the pathfinding
tour of Fathers Francisco Dominguez and Silvestre de Escalante,
through what is now southern Colorado into Utah, and down into
Arizona, instead of across the Sierra as planned.
From the few expeditions and from conjecture, some rather
vague ideas of the geography of the region had developed. One
interesting example was the idea of a river running from the Salt
Lake to the Bay of San Francisco." However, little conception of a
boundary existed, and above the Arkansas the vastness of the un-
explored mountain and plains area made international conflict of
interests of rare occurrence.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlmds

THz PAIomo NoWrHWm~
The westward course of the frontier turns our study, as it even-
tually did the eyes of the pioneers, toward the Northwest. There
the narrative is largely of fur, and of a cauldron of international
rivalry which was already boiling late in the previous century.
Though that region had usually been approached from the sea, to
Adams and Onis it was a part of the overland frontier. Explora-
tion across the continent had indeed been infrequent. After the
French and Indian War, although the Scotch and English fur
companies penetrated western Canada, the exploration of the up-
per Missouri country lagged until the time of the Louisiana Pur-
chase. Even before Jefferson knew of that great acquisition, he had
been instrumental in starting William Clark and Meriwether
Lewis on their famous venture. His purpose appears to have been
the promotion of the fur trade, rather than eventual territorial
aggrandizement. The arrival of that party at the mouth of the
Columbia River in 1805 proved to be the soundest-basis for the
subsequent claim of the United States to the Oregon country. But,
although Jefferson had expressed interest in linking upper Lou-
isiana with the Pacific, it was evidently some time after the pur-
chase that he decided it could be done under a legal claim to the
Northwest area."
In succeeding years other trappers and traders journeyed up
the Missouri, gradually increasing the knowledge, influence, and
interest of the United States in the more remote regions. The base
for these enterprises was St. Louis, the great trading center of the
upper Mississippi This town, which numbered more than fourteen
hundred population in 1810 and was growing steadily," had ad-
ministrative importance as the capital of Missouri Territory. But
it had more significance as the economic metropolis of the great
Among its residents who were early active in pushing westward
the sphere of Indian trade was Manuel Lisa. He traded profitably
on the Big Horn River in the winter of 1807 and 1808, and a year
later helped form the St. Louis Missouri Fur Company, which con-
ducted an unsuccessful trading experiment at the headwaters of
the Missouri. Individuals carried the exploration still farther,
some of their exploits being definitely recorded and some indicated

48 University of California Publication in History

only by fragmentary evidence. One, Alexander Henry, who had
journeyed west with the Lisa group, crossed the mountains into the
Snake River valley, where he traded for a winter.
In 1811 the expeditions of John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Com-
pany got under way. Astor, already the leading fur merchant in
the country, was now looking with shrewd business designs toward
the Northwest. He sent two groups, one by sea and one by land.
The first, aboard the "Tonquin," reached the mouth of the Colum-
bia in April, 1811, and founded a post which was named Astoria.
The second, under Wilson Price Hunt, reached there early in 1812.
Although Astoria was the first permanent United States settle-
ment on the Pacific, it had been preceded by the explorations and
by the establishment of trading posts of other countries.
A review of the earlier history of the North Coast is essential to
an understanding of the diplomatic controversies. For many years
international dispute had centered about that region. A long nar-
rative of exploration and rivalry may be summarized by saying
that the Spaniards, long claiming the entire "South Sea" as their
sphere, had found the Russians encroaching from the north, and
now between them had come the advance guards of the English,
both by sea and by land.
Theoretically, all North America was Spain's until by specific
agreements she signed parts of it away. Effectively, this was not
true, and in increasing measure Their Catholic Majesties had had
to depend upon their explorers, traders, soldiers, and scholars to
maintain as much as possible of the domain they claimed.
Spanish sailors, by the late eighteenth century, had run the
coast line to latitude 610 north. Meanwhile, by land, Spain had
definitely occupied Alta California to the Bay of San Francisco,
where her outpost presidio and mission were established in 1776.
This site was not only the farthest north of the California settle-
ments; it was also a part of the great frontier defense scheme
which, under Charles III, involved a chain of presidios from ocean
to ocean, from San Francisco to St. Augustine.
The establishment of San Francisco was a phase of Spanish de-
fensive colonization, inspired by the fear of Russian aggression.
Masters of Siberia after their great eastward movement, the Rus-
sians under Peter the Great sought further fields for their commer-
cial ventures. Their endeavors were carried forward most ably by

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

the great explorer Vitus Bering. Two voyages, ending in 1741,
brought him to Alaska. In that same year his subordinate, Chiri-
koff, ran the coast north from latitude 550 21'." That accomplish-
ment appears to have been used subsequently for the definition of
the monopoly given to the Russian American Fur Company, or-
ganized to manage the lucrative trade between the North Pacific
with its skins and China with its silks and other luxuries."
Estevan Jos6 Martinez and Gonzalo L6pez de Haro, able Span-
ish explorers, were sent to forestall further Russian advance by
occupying Nootka Sound, on the west side of what was later called
Vancouver Island. On arriving there, the explorers found, not
Russians, but English and "Anglo-Americans."
The English early entered the Pacific, with Drake's round-the-
world voyage of the late sixteenth century, but they did not come
to trade in any great numbers until after the journey of Captain
James Cook. In 1778 Cook ran the coast from near Cape Blanco
(Lat. 420 50' N.) to Nootka. He then went up into the Bering Sea,
and down to the Sandwich Islands, where he was killed.
Numerous English ships soon entered the rich North Pacific-to-
China trade. Three of them happened to be at Nootka in 1789, and
Martinez seized them on the ground that they were encroaching on
Spanish domain. A diplomatic controversy ensued, resulting in
the Convention of October 28, 1790, by which both nations were to
be admitted freely to navigation, fishing, Indian trade, and settle-
ment in the unoccupied districts." No claims or delimitations were
set forth, but the convention was important in that it constituted a
departure of Spain from her traditional position of exclusive sov-
Captain George Vancouver, for England, and Juan Francisco
de la Bodega y Cuadra, an experienced Spanish navigator, then
explored the North Coast as commissioners under the convention.
Some questions arose, which led to the signing of another conven-
tion, in 1794. This bound each country not to claim sovereignty to
the exclusion of the other. Nootka was abandoned."
The Nootka Sound Convention of 1790 has been considered the
first diplomatic controversy over the North Pacific, and the first
breach of Spain's exclusive claim. It was not the former, certainly,
because conversations, at least, had been carried on previously be-
tween Spain and Russia. Whether or not it was the latter is a mat-

50 University of California Publications in History

ter of conjecture, as it is uncertain whether there had been an
understanding of delimitation between those two Powers. Certain
writers present evidence suggesting the existence of such an agree-
ment, employing Prince William Sound, in latitude 61 north, as
the division point.* But none has yet proved it.
The uncertainty of the Spanish attitude is shown in the various
suggestions of Viceroy Juan Vicente Revilla Gigedo (the second
viceroy of the name). He at one time proposed an Anglo-Spanish
boundary running straight north from the westernmost point of
the Strait of Juan de Fuea ; a year later he instructed Bodega to
seek a settlement along the Forty-eighth Parallel;" and still later,
"narrowing his pretensions, [he] urged that Spain cease straining
for the Pole and be content with a boundary at the Columbia River
or Bodega Bay, either of which, assuming Anian [the much sought
mythical strait through the continent] to exist, might be its out-
let."" None of these proposals developed into a treaty of limits, how-
ever. The Russians proceeded with the organization of the Russian
American Fur Company, which was active below Prince William
Sound, the point suggested as a boundary." Russia eventually
issued a provocative assertion to an extensive title in 1821, when a
ukase of the Czar declared land and sea above the Fifty-first Paral-
lel a closed sphere. But after four years' negotiations this claim
was modified by treaties with the United States and England."
Thus it was that, while England and Spain agreed to leave their
titles undefined, at the same time the Russian affronts to Spanish
sovereignty were resented. They were not, however, answered by
any definite published agreements between those two countries.
Into such a kaleidoscope of territorial interests there entered a
fourth Power in the 1780's. The New England traders whom Mar-
tinez found at Nootka in 1789 were the vanguard in a series of
expeditions which were to lead to the provisions of treaties with
England in 1818 and with Spain in 1819 giving the United States
an ocean-to-ocean frontier.
The picturesque and active enterprises of the Massachusetts
seamen early came to include stops on the North Coast on the
route to China. Furs picked up there could be exchanged for luxu-
ries in the Orient more cheaply than merchandise brought from
the Atlantic Coast. One of the captains, Robert Gray, wintered at
Nootka while on the first "round-the-world" voyage to be made by

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands 51

a ship under the registry of the United States. He returned to the
North Pacific, and in the summer of 1793 met Vancouver. Gray
believed that he had just discovered the mouth of the Columbia,
not knowing that the Spaniard Hegeta had done this seventeen
years before. The Columbia was explored a few months later by
one of Vancouver's ships, which sailed a hundred miles up the
Salem and Boston traders continued in the Orient and North
Pacific trade, but no settlement was made on the Coast until John
Jacob Astor developed his plan for the Missouri-Columbia fur
trade. The arrival of the "Tonquin" and of the Hunt group further
strengthened the claim of the United States to the region-based
first upon two expeditions of discovery (that of Gray and that of
Lewis and Clark) and now upon these two of settlement.
Reinforcements came to the new post with the arrival of the
ship "Beaver" and of the land party under Hunt, both early the
following year. They were just in time to forestall a British expe-
dition led by David Thompson, who floated down the river with a
canoe party. This expedition was but the southern offshoot of ex-
tensive explorations which had brought Alexander MacKenzie and
Simon Fraser to the Pacific in the region that was then called "New
Caledonia," now British Columbia. They gave England the most
tangible claims she had to the widely disputed regions. But with-
out bothering to delimit spheres legally, traders of various coun-
tries continued their quest for furs.
During the Adams-Onis negotiations, the status of the North-
west was further complicated by circumstances growing out of the
War of 1812. When word of the hostilities reached Astoria, early
in 1813, the Astorians, knowing that they were outnumbered, ar-
ranged a sale of the post to the Northwest Company, which was
effected the following November. This provided a peaceful means
for the inevitable transfer of the post. But, unfortunately for Eng-
land, the commander of her frigate "Racoon," which arrived two
weeks later, thought it necessary to take possession as an act of
war. Astoria became Fort George. British occupation likewise ex-
tended during the war throughout the entire upper Mississippi-
Missouri system. Above St. Louis the English and their Indian
allies found no opposition from a United States hard pressed to
defend its hither frontiers.

52 University of California Publications in History

But these gains were erased by the peace commissioners at Ghent,
as was an extravagant denial by our secretary of state of any Brit-
ish claim on the North Coast. Monroe had written instructions that
the post at the mouth of the River Columbia which commanded the River...
ought to be comprised in the stipulation, should the possession have been
wrested from us during the war. On no pretext can the British Government
set up a claim to territory, south of the Northern Boundary of the United
States. It is not believed that they have any claim whatever to Territory on the
Paciic Ocean. You will however be careful, should a definition of the boundary
be attempted, not to countenance in any manner or in any quarter a pretension
in the British Government to Territory south of that line."

Disregarding this vehement declaration, the treaty commission-
ers simply provided for a mutual restoration of property seized
S during the war, and left the boundary problem unsettled. Astoria,
having been taken as an act of war after its sale in 1813, now had to
be returned to the United States. Monroe informed Anthony St.
John Baker, the British charge, in 1815, that the mouth of the Co-
lumbia would be reoccupied at once." But that step was not actually
taken until 1818.
Out of this territorial rivalry, left unsettled at Ghent, grew the
first actual treaty delimitation by any claimants to the region west
of the Mississippi; but even it did not extend as such to the Pa-
cific. Four special commissioners who were appointed for the task
agreed, in the Convention of October 20, 1818, that the boundary
should run along the Forty-ninth Parallel to the Rocky Mountains.
But west of that range they left the sovereignty indeterminate, in
the famous joint-occupation agreement which allowed use of the
region by citizens of both Powers."
It is essential to note that, important as this truce was, it did not
provide a delimitation of the area west of the Rockies on either the
north or the south. The first step in such a definition came with the
Adams-Onis Treaty signed a few weeks after news of the British
convention reached Washington.
A review of the rivalries of Spain, Russia, England, and the
United States on the Pacific shows, then, that, although each Power
had established claims by exploration and settlement, no specific
delineation of spheres had taken place before 1819. The interna-
tional conflicts over Louisiana had narrowed down to two princi-
pals-the United States and Spain-but the southern and western

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlnds 53

limits of that territory still remained uncertain. In dealing with
these two sets of problems the diplomats at Washington were to
have appreciable leeway. In contrast, the actual circumstances of
occupation indicated very nearly the line to be agreed upon between
Louisiana and Texas. Over the treatment of the Floridas the nego-
tiators had, between 1815 and 1819, to reach an accord dictated by
the long-aceepted fact that Spain must yield title to the provinces
at the best obtainable bargain.
Another notable contrast between the eastern and western parts
of the frontier is that of geographical knowledge. Centuries of ex-
perience had led to a thorough comprehension of the Florida ter-
rain, but the farther one looked toward the Pacific the less sure
could one be of the location of rivers, mountains, and landmarks.
To the credit of the various explorers of intervening years be it
said that, although in 1803 the western boundary could not have
been drawn effectively, in 1819 enough was known to make possible
a practicable delineation.


So well accepted was thi view of reeonquest that the manuscripts relating
to the colonial revolutions in the Arehivo General de Indias at Sevilla were
led under the general heading of "Padseeation."
SArthur P. Whitaker, Documents Relatng to the Commercial Policy of
Spanls i the Floridas (Deland, Florida, 1931), p. HIi.
These Indians had remained Spanish allies when most of the great confed-
eracy accepted English suserainty early in the eighteenth century. They
merged with the Oeonees, a Georgia offshoot, receiving the Creek appellation
for "runaway" ("seminole"), which became their common designation. See
John B. Swanton, Barly History of the Creek Indias and Their Neighbors
(Washington, 1922), pp. 398-400. They had long occupied the region of the
Savannah and Apalsahieola rivers. Schooled in the crafty ways of competing
Spanish, English, and United States Indian agents, they were naturally a peo-
ple with little responsibility as a nation, and slight respect for international
Mabel M. Manning, "The East Florida Papers in the Library of Congress,"
Hispeaie Amerioes Historil Review, X (1930):393-894.
5 Whitaker, op. oit., p. lii.
*D. Hunter Miller, Secret Btatutes of the United States (Washington,
1918), possim. This episode is well described in Julius W. Pratt, Zxpaeonusists
of 1812 (New York, 1925), pp. 60-119.
Onis to Peuela, August 8, 1812, in A.H.N, Est., 5638.
Labrador to Onis, October 21, 1812, in A.M.E., 219.
Onis to Bardaxi, September 8,1811, in AA.HN., Est, 5637.
SJohn B. Swanton, Indi Tribes of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Ad-
iaent Coasts of the Gl of oMexico (Washington, 1911), pp. 39, 48-4.
n Whitaker, op. cit., p. liv.
Bardazd to Onis, November 21, 1811, in A.M.E., 218.
nIsaae J. Cox, The West Florida Controversy (Baltimore, 1918), pp. 812-
"Pratt, op. cit., pp. 226-229.
Peter J. Hamilton, Colonial Mobile (rev. ed., New York, 1910), p. 431.
SCharles E. Gayarr6, History of Louisiana (New York, 1854-1866), IV:
Thomas M. marshall, History of the Western Boundary of the Louisiana
Purchase (Berkeley, 1914), p. 23.
"Walter P. MeCaleb, The Aaron Burr Conspiracy (New York, 1908), pp.
136-171; Boyal O. Shreve, The Fiished Scoundrel (Indianapolis, 1988), pp.
171-173, 178, 243.
s leedo to Miguel de LardisAbal, November 15, 1809, in Biblioteea Na-
eional (Madrid), Seeeidn de Manuseritos, MS no. 18636:28.
a Thomas Jefferson, "The Limits and Bounds of Louisiana" in American
Philosophical Society, Douements Belating to the Purchase and sploration of
Louisimma (New York, 1904), pp. 5-45; Marshall, op. oit., p. 11. The statement
that the Bio Grande was the boundary did not even have the backing of Span-
ish administrative precedent, since the western limit of the Spanish province
of Texas was at the Nueees, farther east.
*Herbert E. Bolton, Texas is the Middle Bighteesth Cetury (Berkeley,
1915), pp. 33-34.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderimsds

SMarshall, op. oit., pp. 4-6; Henry Adams, History of the United States
(New York, 1889-1891), II:5-7; E. Wilson Lyon, Louisiaan i Freach Di-
plomaoy, 1769-1804 (Norman, 1934), pp. 131-140, 225.
Bolton, op. ot., p. 84.
SMarshall, op. oit., p. 12; Juan de IAngar y Huarte, Carta esfdrioa que
oomprehesde las costas del Beso Mesroaso (Madrid, 1799). Dr. John Sibley
of Natehitoehes, a student of the West, was credited by Jefferson for much of
his knowledge of Louisiana.
The history of this report, without mention of the use which wa finally
made of it, is told in the introduetio to Professor HBakett's translation of the
treatise. See JoaG A. Piehardo, Phardo's Treatise on th Limits of Louislana
and Texs, Charles W. Haekett, ed. (Austi, Txas, 1981-), I:ix-xx.
"Philip 0. Brooks, "Pihardo's Treatise and the Adsms-Ois Treaty,"
Hispania Ameriaes Historiald Beview, XV (1935) :94-09.
Gayarr6, op. et., pp. 289-290, 801-07.
SA brief review of border troubles appear in Lillian E. Fisher, "American
Inhuene upon the Movement for Mexican Independence," Mianiuppi Valey
Historial Revew, XVIII (198) :46-478.
SLabrador to Onis, December 8,1812, and One' notation on the same, March
4, 1818, in A.ME., 219.
M Alfred B. Thoma (ed), "Anonymous Description of New Mexico, 1818,"
Bouthwestern Historical Quarterly, XXXIII (1929) :58.
Zebulon M. Pike, Zebuloa Pike's Arkaua Jourcal, Stephen H. Hart and
Archer B. Hulbert, eds. (Colorado Springs and Denver, 1988), pp. blii-xevi.
SGrant Foreman, Pioneer Days is the Eorly SBothwest (Cleveland, 1926),
pp. 77-79; and Eleanor L. Rihie, "The Disputed International Boundary in
Colorado, 1803-1819," Colorado Mapmaine, XIII (1986):171-180.
SOne of the maps wheh shows sueh confusions is that of John Melish, pub-
lished in 1818. It was used the basis for the Adams-Oni Treaty.
"Balph B. Guinness, "The Purpose b the Lewis and Clark Expedition,"
Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XX (1988) :90-100; Marshall, op. cit.,
pp. 18-14.
William J. Ghent, The Barly Por West (New York, 1981), p. 13.
S3rank A. Older, Eussin Rpasuion on the Paoife, 1641-1860 (Cleveland,
1914), p. 185.
SHubert H. Bancroft, Th Northwest Coast (San Franisco, 1884), II:349.
Convention signed at the Escorial, October 28, 1790, in British and or-
eign State Papers (London, 1841-), 1:663-667.
*William B. Manning, "The Nootka Sound Controversy," American His-
torical Amoelation, A Ial Report, 1904:467.
Ibid., p. 809. The possibility of a limitation of Spanish sovereignty by an
agreement with ussia is considered in a letter from Count Floridablas a,
Spanish foreign minister, to Aleyne Fitsherbert, British ambassador at Ma-
drid, June 18, 1790, reproduced istBobert Greenhow, History of Oregos and
California (Boston, 1844), pp. 421-48'; it is alo taken up in Baneroft, op. oit.,
I:227-28; and in a dissertation by Charles L. Stewart, "Martines and
L6pes de Haro on the Northwest Coast, 1788-1789," to be found in the Uni-
versity of California Library.
SHenry B. Wagner, pnis splorations in the Strait of Juan de Fuca
(Santa Ana, California, 1988), p. 6L

56 University of California Publications in History

0 Irving B. Riebman, Coifornia under Spaid and Mexico, 1568-1847 (Bos-
ton, 1911), p. 164, footnote 18.
bid., p. 167.
SThe base of supplies on the Bumeian River in California established later
by this company had no bearing on territorial claims, since it was admittedly
in Spanish domain.
Convention signed at St. Petersburg, April 17, 1824, in D. Hunter Miller,
Treaties and Other Interwtional Acts of the United States of America (Wash-
ington, D.C., 1931-), M1:151-162; convention between Great Britain and
ussia signed at St. Petersburg, February 28, 1825, in British and Foreigs
8tate Papers, XII:38-43.
"Monroe to commissioners, March 22, 1814, in D.S., United States Minis-
ter, Instructions, VII. "That line" was presumably an extension of the Forty-
ninth Parallel.
Monroe to Baker, July 19, 1815, in D.8., Notes to Foreign Legations, II.
Convention signed at London, October 20, 1818, in Miller, Treaties, II:


DISPUTE, 1815-1816
SSUCH A COMPLEX PFOBLEM of territorial sovereignty and
such vicissitudes of frontier rivalry as have been outlined
many hours of study and conference were to be spent. In-
numerable exchanges of notes resulted. Officials of 'Spain, the
United States, England, and France went through a procedure
which one writer has rather impatiently described as "tiresome
reiteration," and as higglingg and splitting of hairs, partaking too
much of the child's method of quarrelling."1
Even with the prodigious system of reports in vogue in the Span-
ish colonial system, the differences along the North American fron-
tier were a bit remote from the grandiose court of Madrid. The
wonder may well be, not that so little accurate knowledge was
possessed there, but that the negotiations were handled by the
Spanish ministers with as much intelligent understanding of the
situation as they were. The misfortune is that the men competent
in American affairs were frequently not in control.
Certainly the two Spaniards who were most prominent in the
direction of the affair at Madrid in 1815-1816 had no keen under-
standing of the American scene-King Ferdinand VII and his
foreign minister, the same Cevallos who had dealt with Monroe
and Pinckney years before.
Ferdinand, restored to his throne following the expulsion of the
French troops from Spain, was doomed to a troubled and inglo-
rious reign both because of the controversy over his reetablish-
ment, and because of his habit of intrigue behind the backs of his
responsible ministers. Shortly before Napoleon's defeat early in
1814, the Emperor and Ferdinand, the latter still captive, nego-
tiated a treaty at Valengay which would have provided for the
restoration of Ferdinand on condition of the removal from Spain
of both the French and the English troops. The Cortes, which had
been governing in Ferdinand's absence with the support of English
forces, refused to sanction this agreement. But Ferdinand's old-
SFor note to elhp. fii, se pp. 69-70.

58 University of California Publications in History

time tutor, the Duke of San Carlos, directed a royalist movement
in which the leaders of the Cortes were arrested. All of its enact-
ments were declared null and void by a decree of May 4, 1814.'
Meanwhile the allied troops had entered Paris, paving the way
for a wave of absolutism throughout Europe. Naturally imbued
with that spirit, Ferdinand set out to govern not only by innumer-
able secret maneuverings, but also by a vengeful severity toward
the Liberals. He refused to accept the Constitution of 1812, and
in this he evidently had the support of the masses, who welcomed
him with acclaim.
In his effort to restore the grandeur of the courts of Philip II
and Charles III, the King indulged in luxuries which were hardly
in keeping with the needs of the country. In the midst of recon-
struction, after a grueling civil and foreign war, the major prob-
lems of his reign seem to have been, not the rebuilding of Spain,
but his marriage alliances and the aggrandizement of his family
and favorites.'
The position of the country as a diplomatic power is well por-
trayed in a description of the Spanish ambassadors of the time as
in tow of the others, obscured as inferiors in diplomacy, in spite of the magnifi-
cent effort which the nation had just made [in the Peninsular War] which
enabled the other European powers to begin their work of rushing the ty-
rant. The Spanish court, crowned by the repellent figure of Ferdinand VII,
appeared here with its constant characteristics of lack of foresight, lack of
continuity, disagreement among its ministers, blindness and absence of judge-
ment, defects which were reflected in the work of our ministers abroad, dis-
turbed by insecurity and lack of means and full of continual vexations.'
The first foreign minister under the restoration was San Carlos,
archabsolutist of the regime. He was followed in November, 1814,
by Cevallos, now restored to favor. A poignant estimate of Cevallos
comes from Erving, the United States minister, who had had some
years' experience in observing European diplomats. It must be
remembered that he always showed a bitter attitude toward the
Spanish court, which is clearly revealed in the following:
The first minister Cevallos is a running, selfih, pusillanimous, weak man.
He was once thought to be honest. That opinion has gone by. He lives in penury,
and profits of his situation to amass and to hoard money which he sends out of
the country, preparing for an evil day which he has just discernment enough to
see is not far distant (some say that in this precaution he but follows the
example of his King). In the mean time he holds his place by the base servile

Brooks: Diplomay and the Borderleads 59
crawling of a Courtier; experience has taught him how most meanly to conde-
seend; he never presumes to have an opinion in opposition to his master
though in matters of his own routine of thirty years.-withal he has great
difficulty in keeping his post. Hi blunders strike even the King from time to
time, and he has eonstantly to eneounter eabals formed for his ruin; this in-
deed must be the ease with any man in his situation under the present system.
Who else has to do with the government I have not yet learnt and who they will
get to replace Coeallos better than him, bad as he is, I am wholly at a lose to
Cevallos had a sample of his King's vacillation in January, 1816,
when he was suddenly removed-then reinstated the next day.
Nevertheless he managed to hold office for nearly two years. And
if United States affairs received little of his attention, there was
some excuse for that faction the number of problems facing him.
The relations of Spain with other European Powers in the complex
postwar settlements were evidently hopelessly engrossing for those
who were trying to promote the interests of Ferdinand.
At the Congress of Vienna, the Spanish ambassador, Pedro
G6mez Labrador, was almost completely helpless. Cevallos had
instructed him to limit his activities to demands for observance of
the Treaty of San Idefonso of 1800. In other words, Labrador was
to ask for the fulfillment of Ferdinand's great desire that the king-
dom of Etruria be returned to his sister, the queen of that realm;
or that Louisiana, which in 1800Spain had traded for the Etruscan
crown, be returned; or that the fifteen million dollars which France
received for Louisiana in 1803, and the ships and money furnished
by Charles IV to Napoleon, be returned to Ferdinand.
Ignorant of the accord between Spain's natural allies, England,
France, and Austria, Spain turned for assistance to Russia, whose
minister in Madrid, Dmitri Pavlovitch Tatistcheff, was gradually
gaining influence over Ferdinand. "But when the Congress began
to treat of Italian affairs," says the historian of Labrador's mis-
sion, "the bad faith of Tatisteheff, the credulity of the King, and
the stupidity of Labrador made themselves evident. The isolation
of Spain and of her representative was complete....'" Labrador
signed none of the treaties drawn up, because Spain's desires in
Italy were not met, and, incidentally, because the Powers failed to
support his demand for the return of Louisiana. Spain in 1817
finally adhered to the Vienna treaties of 1814 and to the Paris
agreements of the following year, gaining some measure of satis-

60 University of California Publications in History

faction in her Italian interests. It is evident, though, that Spain,
during the negotiations with the United States, was embarrassed
by her weak position in Europe and by inept diplomacy.
During the process of the restoration of the monarchy, the United
States was represented in Spain by Anthony Morris, of Pennsyl-
vania. He had remained as a special agent almost from the time of
Erving's departure from Spain in 1810. Thomas Brent was also an
agent for the United States in Madrid, and the Reverend Thomas
Gough, an unofficial representative. The latter was appointed sec-
retary of the legation in 1815. Morris frequently quarreled with
both, particularly over their allegation that he was conspiring to
have himself appointed minister.
In the summer of 1815 Brent sent to Monroe a copy of a letter
purported to have been written by one Francisco Sarmiento, a
secret agent who had been in the United States and had assisted
Onis. It was addressed to the latter and asked that he influence the
United States government to appoint Morris. Morris wrote to Mon-
roe, frankly explaining the affair, and gave the plausible opinion
that the letter was merely an attempt of Sarmiento to gain Morris'
confidence.' No action was taken in the matter.
Though, of course, no negotiations were carried on, Morris had
informal conversations with Cevallos. Most interesting of these
was the one in which Cevallos categorically denied the rumor that
Spain had ceded the Floridas to England.' Cevallos was right, but
the report of the cession had caused a stir in the United States, and
it was not discredited for some time, in spite of contrary assurances
given not only at Madrid but at Washington.
On receiving word of Ferdinand's restoration, Madison and
Monroe determined to reappoint Erving to Madrid, this time as
minister. His instructions were accordingly sent in October, 1814,
to Paris, where he had just returned from a special and successful
mission to Denmark. He was to take over affairs from Morris and
to reestablish friendly relations, though he did not receive "any
distinct and definite powers" for the purpose. He was to rely on
the instructions to Pinckney and Monroe which had been issued in
Erving at once applied, through Morris, for a passport from the
Spanish government, only to be refused on the grounds that he
could not be recognized as minister until Onis likewise received ad-

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderkeds 61
mittance. Morris called the reply "extraordinary," and declared
that he thought he could detect "the cloven foot of the British
Government" in it. Erving himself thought the answer was given
on grounds of his own "intimacy and negotiations with the king of
Naples [Joseph Bonaparte] when he was Lieutenant of Napoleon
at Madrid.'"
Serving was the son of a British Loyalist who had left America
during the Revolution. The son had later been in the United States,
but much of his life had been spent abroad. He was not in good
health, and had a doctor attending him during much of his resi-
dence in Spain. He was qualified for the position by his broad
experience, but he had a thoroughgoing distrust of Spain. This
was illustrated by such comments as "it is difficult to say when that
country was well governed, but surely the exhibition of ineptitude,
bigotry & tyranny which it now presents has no parallel.""
The new minister had to wait two years, however, before his
acceptance by the court at Madrid. Onis had already waited three
times that long for recognition by the United States, and Spain
held out in insisting that their envoy be recognized first.
Onis, following his rejection, had taken up residence in Philadel-
phia, where he lived until 1817. He had with him his family, which
consisted of his wife (who became ill and died in 1818), his mother,
his two daughters," and his son. His summers were usually spent at
Bristol, some thirty-six miles up the Delaware from Philadelphia.
During the War of 1812, as has been seen, he continued his va-
rious complaints to Monroe. He was also interested in schemes to
offset probable expansionist threats from the United States. One
interesting despatch presented a proposal which he had received
from Luis de Clouet, former Spanish consul at New Orleans, to
regain Louisiana by a threefold attack. This well-studied plan was
to employ from three to ten thousand men: two thousand cavalry
were to cross the Sabine, and the other two groups, of infantry,
were to be landed at the mouth of the Mississippi and at Lake Pont-
chartrain." Clouet later went to Spain to discuss the plan, but
nothing came of it.
Just at the time of the discussion of this plan at Madrid, while
Spain was in the midst of her effort to gain support at the Congres

62 University of California Publications in History

of Vienna and while the negotiations at Ghent were in progress,
came Erving's application for a passport. It is natural to presume
that part of the Spanish disinclination to receive him was based on
a desire to await the outcome of these enterprises.
Onis was still not recognized, and there was no longer reason to
base this nonrecognition on the civil war in Spain. Monroe wrote
Erving in 1814 that Onis had made himself unacceptable to the
Washington government (by such anti-United States expressions
as were contained in his letter of 1810, which had been intercepted
and presented to Congress), but that, if it were particularly de-
sired that he remain, the objections might be waived "as an act of
courtesy to his government.'" In July, 1815, the same offer was
repeated, with the stipulation that Ferdinand "express a desire
that the Chevalier de Onis should be received," when "it will be
complied with in a spirit of accommodation with the wishes of
His Majesty."" The Spanish held out for a time, refusing to ask as
a special favor what they expected as a right, but finally yielded.
Accordingly, Monroe received Onis' credentials on December 19,
Onis then began an active three and a half years of official serv-
ice, in which his zeal was certainly evident. The notes he wrote to
the United States government were multitudinous. And although
all Spanish officials were required to keep their copyists busy,
On!s must have been one of the more avid, for at times he com-
plained that even two copyists'could not meet his demands. The
volume of his despatches for his ten years' residence in this coun-
try is approximately ten thousand pages. Almost a third is of his
own composition; another third consists of various enclosures; and
the remaining bundles of papers are filled with drafts of replies,
decipherations, and notations." These comprise his correspondence
to the Spanish secretary of state alone, exclusive of regular com-
munication with consuls, other ministers and ambassadors, and
officials in Havana, Mexico, and even Peru.
Among the various men who aided him as copyists, secretaries,
messengers, or secret agents, the most interesting are Joes Alvarez
de Toledo, the Mexican revolutionary leader who eventually be-
came a confidant and adviser of the minister, and a publicist named
Miguel Cabral de Norofia. The latter had incurred absolutist wrath
by his publication of a liberal paper in CAdiz, but after many ap-

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlmads 63
peals by Onfs the government allowed the minister to employ him,
without official status, to write propaganda. Norofia had originally
intended to publish a Spanish newspaper, in cooperation with the
then-insurgent Toledo, but Onis dissuaded him from that design."
After his procurement for the royal cause, through financial in-
ducements, Norofia served as translator of French, English, and
Portuguese. He also wrote some important memories, including
the "Verus" pamphlet of 1812 (generally credited to Onfa) and a
lengthy discussion of the colonial problem. He was sent in 1819 to
England, where until his death a year later he published a Spanish
propaganda journal, El Observador.
After his recognition, Onis naturally proceeded to formulate all
Spain's complaints against the United States, and to set forth his
country's territorial claims. Thinking that this was the best time to
settle the difficulties, while the United States was still recovering
from the war, he tried to find a basis for agreement with Monroe,
but to no avail.
Onfs demanded, first of all, that West Florida be returned to
Spain pending the settlement of its title. Secondly, he asked that
the recruiting and arming of expeditions in the United States to
revolutionize Spanish provinces be stopped, particularly the enter-
prise then being organized by Toledo and one Manuel de Herrera
at New Orleans. He demanded, further, that ships of the insur-
gent colonies be excluded from United States ports, and that they
be prevented from obtaining supplies."
It should be emphasized here that well into the 1820's Spanish
officials assumed that the reconquest of the colonies was possible.
Thus the prevention of foreign aid to the insurgents, as well as the
protection of the northern frontier of the colonies, vitally affected
Spain's diplomacy with the United States.
With respect to his last two demands, Onfs eventually received
some satisfaction in the Neutrality Act of March 3, 1817, which
prohibited the ftting out of expeditions in the United States to
fight Powers with which this country was at peace. This prohibi-
tion was given added force in an act of April 20, 1818.
With respect to territories, the West Florida demand reopened
the arguments of 1803-1805, but the contending ministers reached
no accord. Monroe said that, since Spain held Texas, which he con-
sidered part of the Louisiana Purchase, the United States was

64 University of California Publications in History

Sexually justified in continuing to retain West Florida until its
title should be established. Onis replied by presenting a lengthy
account of Spain's colonization of Texas and the historical bases
for her resulting title."
Monroe, furthermore, had presented a list of counterclaims
against Spain, including the nonratification of the Claims Conven-
tion of 1802, the indemnity claimed because of Spanish maritime
spoliations in the Napoleonic Wars and the suspension of the right
of deposit at New Orleans, the alleged violation of neutrality by
Spain in allowing the British to use the Floridas as a base in the
War of 1812, and the rejection of the various peaceful attempts of
the United States to buy the Floridas. He also declared that the
United States, recognizing the superior right of neither metropo-
lis nor colony, would treat each, and its representatives and ships,
alike, as far as the opening of ports was concerned. This became the
prevailing policy of the administration in the Spanish American
Onis then suggested, orally, that Spain would be willing to cede
its claim to all territory east of the Mississippi in exchange for all
territory on the western side, but he said that he wished the nego-
tiation could take place in Madrid. Monroe in reporting this to
Erving expressed doubt that such a proposal would lead to a
prompt agreement."
Shortly thereafter the scene did shift to Madrid. The Spanish
government yielded on the recognition of Erving as soon as it
learned that Onis had been admitted at Washington, with the re-
sult that the United States minister's credentials were received in
August, 1816. He proceeded at once to present his government's
views to the Spanish authorities.

It will be recalled that Erving in 1814 did not receive detailed in-
structions or powers for negotiation. While awaiting recognition
he visited Washington, where he met Onis. Full instructions were
sent him only after he had returned, and after Onis' preliminary
conferences had failed. The directions given him by Monroe, al-
though they led to no successful negotiations, reveal the secretary
of state's policy, somewhat more firmly expressed here than in the
notes to Onis.

Ac 1816 -1819
R s 1938
ty/. QS UNE OF THE TREATY OF 1795 ....**
1 oo s* *o s so .76 TO
(Showing unshaded the area between the extreme demand of the negotiators)
[Scale: approximately 250 miles to the inch]

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands 65

Monroe wrote on May 30, 1816, empowering Erving to make a
settlement with Spain, and stating that he should propose an
arrangement on the same bases as those offered in 1805, with an
important possible concession on the Louisiana-Texas frontier."
He was to ask that Spain cede territory east of the Mississippi, and
accept the claims-settlement procedure as given in the Convention
of 1802. Finally, he was to suggest that the United States should
relinquish its rights to indemnification for the spoliations by
French cruisers, and for damages caused by the suppression of the
right of deposit at New Orleans.
With respect to territorial delineation, Monroe outlined again
the plan for a line up the Colorado River to its source, running
thence to the northern limits of Louisiana and embracing all the
tributaries of the Mississippi. But he said, in addition:
The President... i willing, should it be indispensably neceMary, to establish
the Sabine, from its mouth to its souree, a the boundary, in that extent, be-
tween the United-State. and the Spanish-Provinces; leaving the residue of
their boundaries, to be settled by Commissarie to be hereafter appointed by
both governments.

Monroe went on to explain the plan of the administration where-
by the United States was to depend on the sale of lands in the
Floridas for the financingppf the payments to be made to its own
citizens for claim. He carefully instructed Erving to make cer-
tain that no Spanish grants there should be valid after an agreed
date, thus assuring the government possession of sufficient prop-
erty for sale purposes. That this caution was sound became all too
evident three years later.
Further advice showed that Monroe was not unmindful of the
western land claims, but that he considered them less vital than
they later became:

Beyond the conditions above stated you will not go. They are to be your ulti-
mat. I need not remark, that it will be your duty, to obtain as mueh better a
you may be able, rather seeking however an indemnity for qpoliatioa and
other wrongs, in money from Spain, to be paid directly by her, than in an ex-
tenson of the Western Boundary beyond the Sabine, though that is to be
obtained, if practicable.,
In leaving the Boundary from the souree of the Sabine, West and North, to
be settled by Commiearies, any adjustment there will be avoided, whieh might
affet our claims on [the] Columbia Biver, and on the Pacifie.

66 University of California Publications in History

Erving never presented the extreme concessions authorized by
Monroe. When Monroe's instructions were presented to Congress
and published, the portions quoted above were omitted. But they
appear important when appraising the final settlement achieved in
the Adams-Onis Treaty and the censure Adams received for relin-
quishing Texas. It is fairer to evaluate the arrangement finally
obtained by John Quincy Adams with a knowledge of the conces-
sions Monroe would have made.
At the same time, Monroe presented his somewhat vague views
on the extent of Louisiana in instructions to William Pinkney, who
had been sent to Russia shortly after Erving's departure. It is also
a commentary on his conciliatory policy that he would have made
concessions on the North Pacific sufficient to enrage any "54 40'
or fight" enthusiast of Polk's time. Whereas thirty years later many
would have fought to hold what is now British Columbia, Monroe
then would have yielded it peaceably.
Writing to Pinkney on May 10, 1816, he said:
The Northern boundary between the United-States and the British possessions,
is formed by a line, which runs from the North-weetermost point of the Lake
of the Woods, due West, on the parallel of the 490 of North Latitude. It was
limited by the Treaty of 1783, between the United-States and Great-Britain,
West, by the Mississippi, which was then supposed, to have its source, North,
of that parallel. The territories of the United-States, were afterwards ex-
tended, by the acquisition of Louisiana, whose boundaries have not been de-
fined by Treaties, but which according to the principles and usages applicable
to such a case, may fairly be considered of vast extent equally to the West and
North as well as to the South. In adjusting these claims with the Busmian gov-
ernment it will be satisfactory to the United-States to do it, by adopting the
parallel of 49' as the boundary between them on the Pacifie ocean.*

That offer was withdrawn a few months later when Richard Rush,
ad interim secretary of state, told Pinkney that "the President has
some reasons for believing that the Government of Russia will be
satisfied with the 55th degree of North latitude as the boundary."
No boundary negotiation was carried on between Erving and
Cevallos at the time, because before the Spanish minister answered
the note of August 26, in which Erving recounted the complaints
of the United States against Spain, instructions had been sent to
Onis transferring the negotiations to Washington. The United
States minister had tried to obtain an answer from Cevalloe, but
failed, and the delay gave rise to the following comment, which

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

suggests that Erving's attitude was not such as to promote succem-
ful conversations:
In the midst of all this [fnanital and political turmoil in Spain] the govern-
ment seems to be possessed by the most perfect apathy, sareely any business
is done, of course it aeumulates; Mr. Cevallos gives me as a reason why he
hat not yet read my note that he has had too much to do, and yet I know that
he wastes much time in audiences with priests and friars. The only two affairs
on which they seem to have any sensibility is the projected marriages with the
Portuguese Prineesse: and seondly and least important that of the colonies,
they talk of efforts and I really believe are making them ueh as they are, in
the mean time a few contemptible boats keep their whole coast in alarm;-by
blistering them in that quarter we may make them wince that's all."
Cevallos and Erving had engaged in an acrimonious conversa-
tion on September 14 over the complaints presented by the latter.
When the former maintained that Spain had vehemently protested
the British use of the Floridas in the War of 1812 (a statement to
all appearances contrary to the fact of Anglo-Spanish cordiality
discussed in chapter i), Erving replied that "it would be proper to
shew also that active opposition had been made to the landing &
operations of the english." When Erving referred to the Conven-
tion of 1802, Cevallos replied "that the paper I alluded to was no
convention, not having been ratified." But no mention was made
of bases for a settlement.
Meanwhile Monroe had written Onia, on June 10, 1816, express-
ing his regret that that minister was not empowered to treat. After
hearing of this, Cevallos wrote Erving saying that full powers had
been sent to the minister at Washington. Erving did not know
whether Monroe had really requested that Onis be empowered or
not. Therefore he was not sure how news of the change in place of
negotiation would be received at Washington. He suspected the
Spaniards of taking the step simply to relieve themselves of the
pressure of the negotiation in Madrid, and to delay a settlement.
Erving was obviously offended by the maneuver, and intimated
as much in a conversation with Cevallos on September 17, followed
two days later by a letter giving written form to his views. He
pointed out that he was fully empowered to negotiate without fur-
ther reference to his government, and that, if Cevallos was too busy
(having three ministries in his charge at the time), a special agent
or commission might deal with him. Cevallos replied that even such
an agent would have to refer to him for instructions step by step,

68 University of California Publications in History
thus saving no time. Erving protested almost too loudly his own
fairness in his letter, saying of the conversation of the 17th:
I concluded by excusing the warmth with which I pressed the subject, assuring
you that I was very from seeking any personal gratiiation in this matter
of high public interest, but that I looked only to the desired result."
As a matter of fact, the instructions to Onis probably had not
been sent at that time, but they were dated September 10, 1816,
and apparently were transmitted by the messenger whom Erving
sent to Washington with his despatch of September 22. They gave
Onis full powers to treat, but allowed him no further latitude than
the offers already made by Spain." This restriction brought a pro-
test from Onis to his government, and made any successful dealing
with Monroe in the following winter impossible. So far as boun-
dary demands were concerned, the ministers were still as far apart
as the respective demands: from Spain, that the western limit be
the Mississippi, and from the United States, that it be the Colorado,
or possibly the Sabine.
Long before his letter of instruction reached Onis, however,
Cevallos, who had never dealt in a straightforward or conciliatory
manner with the United States, and who apparently had not had a
new idea on relations with that country in fourteen years, fell
victim to a Cabinet intrigue, and on October 30, 1816, he was re-
moved, for the last time.
The stalemate caused by Onis' lack of wider powers held until
after the election of James Monroe to the presidency. By the time
instructions from Cevallos' successor could be put into effect, the
United States also had a new chieftain in its foreign office. Fortu-
nately the change in each country brought a more active, aggres-
sive, and farsighted procedure on the affairs in dispute.


IHubert B. Fuller, Puwcha of Florida (Cleveland, 1906), pp. 217, 225.
Pedro Aguado Bleye, Mauses de Mrtoria de B paa (5th ed., Bilbao, 1927-
1981), II:552-666.
SIbd, pp. 559-660.
'Benito Sinehes Alono, book review in Bssitd do FPolog(a BapasBoa,
XVIII (1981):75-76.
Erving to Monroe, August 81, 1816, in D.S., Despatches, Spain, XIII.
Aguado Bleye, op. eot., 11:560.
W. de Villa-Urrmtia, Fernad N es, el embajador (Madrid, 1931), pp.
Morris to Monroe, May 80, 1815, in D.S., Despatches, Spain, XIL
Morris to Monroe, November 7, 1815, ibid.
SMonroe to Erring, October 6, 1814, in D.S., United States Ministers, In-
struetiolns, VII.
U Morris to Monroe, November 27, 1814, in D.S, Despatches, Spain, XII;
Erving to Madison, March 16, 1815, in Massachusetts Historical Society,
Manuseript Letters of George W. Erving.
Erving to Madison, October 6, 1814, in Maassehusetts Historical Society,
Manuscript Letters of George W. Erving.
"Mr. Samuel Harrison Smith (Margaret Bayard) speaks of the Misses
Onis as receiving considerable attention at an "intollerable squeeze" (a recep-
tion) in her First Forty Years of WaMIFato SBooiety, Gaillard Hunt, ed.
(New York, 1906), p. 189. But the Onis family appear to have been general
inactive in society. The illness of Ons wife was no doubt one reason. Another
was perhaps the usual delay in the receipt of his salary, of which the minister
continually complained; although Erring, in speaking of the corruption of the
Spanish court,,alleged (without giving any substantiation) that Onis had
"helped himself and was sa ito be a partner of Oevallo in draining the pub-
le treasury. See Erving to Monroe, August 31, 1816, in D.S., Despatches,
Spain, XII.
Onis to Luyando (Spanish foreign minister), June 8,1814, in A.G.L, Indi-
ferente general, 1608. Onie' interest in such an objective was in part based on
his conviction of the illegality of the Louisiana Purhase. That view was up-
ported by Henry Adams, but has been upheld by few sinee his time. See Henry
Adams, history of th United States (New York, 1889-1891), f1:56.
Monroe to Erving, October 6, 1814, in D.8, United States Ministers, In-
structions, VII I doubt that Ons was effectively person no gratm for other
than political causes.
SMonroe to Cevllos, July 7, 1816, in D.S., Notes to Foreign Legations, II
My own rough estimate, difficult to make because of the present distrib-
tion of his correspondence among many different bundles, and in various
"Noroia, who was Portuguese, originally spelled his name "Noronha." A
sizable ile of correspondence relating to his connection with Toledo and his
later services, with several issues of Obserw dor, is in A.H.N, Est., 5555,
ENpediente 60.
Ons to Monroe, December 80, 1815, in A.S.P., F., IV:422. A fairly com-
plete file of the notes which were enhanged by the two governments was sub-
mitted to Congress, and appeared in the State Papers, with the Adams-Oas

70 University of California Publication in History

Treaty (AJ8.., F7., IV:422--626). Onis complained only once, after 1815, of
the suppresseon of material in the publication-when certain documents which
he had sent with a note were withheld. The greatest weakness of the series is
to be found in the exclusion of instructions to the United States ministers
abroad and their despatches, and in the inclusion of only extracts from many
important letters.
Monroe to Oni, January 9, 1816, and Onis to Monroe, February 22, 1816,
in A..P., PL., IV:424-426.
I Monroe to Erring, March 11, 1816, in D.8., United States Ministers, In-
strautions, VI.
Monroe to Erving, May 30, 1810, ibid.
Monroe to Pinkney, May 10, 1816, ibid.
SBush to Pinkney, April 21, 1817, ibid.
Erving to Monroe, August 31, 1816, in D.S., Despatehes, Spain, XIII.
Erring to Monroe, September 22, 1816, ibid.
SErring to Oerallos, September 19, 1816, in AS.P., F.R., IV:436.
SCevalloe to Onis, September 10, 1816, in A.M.E., 222; Jer6nimo Becker,
Histori de Im relaoloses esteiores do spaia duraste el siglo XIX (Madrid,
1924-1927), 1:448.


BATTLE, 1816-1818
C HANGE IN THE DIECTION of foreign affairs in each capital
brought to the fore the men who were to achieve the ulti-
mate solution of the difficulties between Spain and the
United States in the treaty of 1819. Outstanding among these
was John Quincy Adams, a diplomatist highly respected by his
contemporaries. In the most far-reaching territorial question the
nation had faced since its founding he was to prove himself the"
best-qualified negotiator the United States could have had. It is
largely because of the tenacity and skill which he demonstrated in
the negotiation of this treaty that he is widely considered the most
able of our secretaries of state.
With Adams, Onis was able to make the first real progress in the
negotiation, for now issues were more clearly stated, decisions more
firmly made. It must be said that Onis, too, in his ten exciting years
in this country, showed admirable determination and diplomatic
ability. He was frequently discouraged by the inconstancy of his
own government as compared with the firmness of the government
to which he was accredited. While Ferdinand's ministers awaited
favorable occasions or delayed in the hope of receiving foreign
assistance, the United States, in Onis' estimation, was rapidly de-
veloping into a most sinister threat to the continuation of Spanish
dominion in America.
Onis' foreboding was heightened when United States troops
under fiery Andrew Jackson invaded the Floridas without benefit
either of instructions or of a war, thereby grossly insulting the
Spanish crown. But Jackson's enterprise, undertaken in the sprint
of 1818, was only the culmination of a series of events which had
given Onis reason to view the young republic with uncertainty-
events and conditions which included the War of 1812 and pre-
vious invasions of the Floridas; an active sympathy of many per-
sons in the United States toward the insurgent Spanish colonies,
resulting in shipments of arms, in illegal outfitting of privateers,
and in filibustering; the beginnings of an economic expansion
[ 71]

72 University of California Publications in History

marked by such spectacular ventures as the founding of Astoria
on the Pacific Coast; and such firm foundations for growth as the
inauguration of a great system of internal transportation routes
to the west.
In dealing with these problems, Onis fortunately had, from 1816
to 1818, the counsel of one of the few capable ministers of the Span-
ish restoration. On Cevallos' removal in October, 1816, Ferdinand
appointed as secretary of state for foreign affairs Jose Garcia de
SLe6n y Pizarro. Pizarro (as he was commonly known) was a man
with long experience in the foreign office. His appointment was
generally considered to be a distinct step toward able and upright
dealings. From the beginning he took an active interest in rela-
tions with the United States, conducting a highly complex series of
negotiations in that field-so complex, indeed, that it is easy for the
student to become lost in the mass of detailed writings. Through-
out, he and Onis were evidently agreed on major policies, and con-
fidentially bemoaned to each other the many obstructions they met.
Pizarro, "a man of sound intelligence and political experience,
who was expected to give a more humane and liberal turn to the
government,'" had spent twenty-six of his forty-six years in gov-
ernment service, having held minor positions in legations through-
out Europe, then serving as a subsecretary in the foreign office and
secretary of the Council of State from 1802 to 1808.' He fled to
Andalucia in the latter year, and continued his diplomatic career
under the patriot Cortes and the Regency, being foreign minister
for three months in 1812. Before his second appointment to that
office in 1816, he had been named minister to Prussia, but appar-
ently had spent most of the preceding year or two in France.
Pizarro had risen through the service under Floridablanca,
Godoy, and Cevallos, and must have known intimately the intrica-
cies of court intrigue at Madrid. In spite of that unwholesome
atmosphere, he had developed a reputation for integrity and abil-
ity that won the respect of his contemporaries in other countries.
He had known Onis for at least sixteen years;' and because he had
spent ten years as a boy in South America, where his father was
serving as a colonial official, he no doubt had a broader apprecia-
tion of the problems of empire which Onis had to face than did,
for example, Cevallos.
1 For notes to chap. iv, see pp. 101-104.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlads 78

Pizarro's memoirs, written many years after his retirement, are
characterized by his extreme pique at having been deprived of the
honors due him for his important r6le in the negotiation of the
Adams-Onis Treaty. He was removed from office just before its
conclusion, and he naturally felt that others profited from his good
work. The autobiography shows a notable self-esteem, a fact which
must influence one's estimate of its reliability. Yet his story appears
to be substantiated by the mass of contemporary documents. To
authenticate his statements, he included in his Memorias a whole
volume of correspondence and reports, of which more than 170
pages concern the treaty of 1819.'
It has been noted that Erving lacked sympathy for Spanish
ways (although at times he displayed interest in phases of Spanish
culture) and that he was disgusted with Cevallo. In view of this
attitude, it is interesting to read his comments on the ministerial
change, which also describe some of Pizarro's problems at home:
Mr. Pizarro... has much more ability, industry, knowledge of affair, & habit
of business than Mr Cevallos;-he has also a portion of good faith, which the
other was entirely deficient in; & his mind is free from those strong preju-
dices, & those absurd & obstinate errors, which were rooted in that of his prede-
cessor. In the several interviews which I have had with him, I have observed a
moderation, good sense, & conciliatory temper, from which I should augur
most favorably, if the political affairs of this government were really, as they
are ostensibly, under his contrl;-but this is not the eae:-by what degree
of infatuation or apathy it is possessed, or under what secret inflinee it is
directed, I will not undertake to say,-but it is obvious that nothing of impor-
tance is done to advance the interests of the country in its foreign relations,
nor effectually to relieve it from the weight of domestiek evils under which it
groans... In that all important department of "Hacienda" (fnanee) every
thing is in ruins, & no measure meriting the name of effort is attempted to
repair it, & whatever is attempted, finds a fatal opposition in the interest of
the individuals who are employed to effect it....
In my first 6 second interviews with Mr Pisarro ... he professed the best
dispositions to conciliation, took care not to join me in ensure of his prede-
cessor, said that he proposed to inform himself fully as to the existing state
of our relations, and,-since then,-he has not said a word on the subjectW.

Erving went on to discuss the dangers which Pizarro faced from
the treachery of the King, and from the undermining influence of
numerous enemies, especially Cevallos. The latter had been ap-
pointed minister to Naples at a high salary, but had remained in
Madrid, working against Pizarro. The one bright spot in the pie-

74 University of California Publications in History

ture was the appointment in December, 1816, of Martin de Garay
as finance minister. Like Pizarro, he was a man who commanded
respect for integrity and ability. He began work immediately upon
a great financial reform plan, with which he made some headway.
It was eventually pushed aside by court intrigue, however, and
Garay went the way of all discredited ministers, into exile from
the court.
Pizarro's program did not take effect for some time after his ap-
pointment. Long and arduous debate with Erving resulted in only
one or two significant agreements. In Washington, after months of
waiting, Onis at last received instructions from the new secretario
de estado, only to find that negotiations there would have to be
postponed until the reorganization attendant upon the inaugura-
tion of the new administration could be effected. Adams had been
chosen by Monroe as the new secretary of state, but he was minis-
ter to England at the time and did not return from London until
late in 1817. Consequently, conversations with Onis were not
opened until December of that year.
In the interim it was becoming apparent that the change from
Cevallos to Pizarro was a most significant and fortunate event for
Spain. In view of the inactivity which had characterized the regime
of Cevallos, the organization, industry, and policies of the for-
eign office under Pizarro's administration were striking and merit
First it must be noted that, although Pizarro did inform himself
thoroughly on the questions at issue with the United States, he was
greatly assisted by a clerk in the foreign office, Narciso de Heredia
(to whom he gives credit in his Memorias), who handled all the
routine of this negotiation, wrote the instructions to Onis, and
apparently acted as expert adviser. Consequently, it was on He-
redia that the real burden of the transaction fell.' It appears,
however, from the general tone of Pizarro's work, and particularly
from the accounts of dealings with him written by Erving and
Henry Wellesley, that Pizarro was himself well acquainted with
the situation in America, and that he followed it closely.
Certainly much study and labor were given to the problem. The
notes to foreign ministers and instructions to Spanish ministers in
foreign courts, as well as the reports submitted to the Council of

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderkmds

State, contain a mass of information on the subject which could
have been obtained only in the perusal of countless pages of earlier
correspondence and reports. And their very number is impressive,
particularly the high-water mark of fifty-five letters of instruc-
tion sent to Onis in the month of July,.1817, all concerning details
aside from the lengthy statements of general policy governing the
Special reports, and innumerable accounts from colonial officials
of frontier claims and disputes, were sent in to the foreign office.
One of especial interest, which it is reasonably certain was used by
Heredia, is the famous report on the limits of Louisiana and Texas
prepared by Father Jos6 Antonio Pichardo. In the archives at
Sevilla is a letter from the viceroy of Mexico, dated March 15, 1813,
in which he said that the copy of Pichardo's historical memoir
could not yet be sent to Spain, as only 1,969 of its 5,127 pages had
been copied.' Another, dated September 30, 1816, announced that
the copy of the report, which had just been completed, was being
sent in two boxes containing thirty-one volumes. But it was ex-
plained that the plans which were to accompany it had not been
completed, because of the illness of the man who was preparing
them, the same Gonzalo L6pez de Haro who in 1789 had piloted a
vessel to Nootka Sound. On the margin of this letter is a notation
made by the secretario do estado, requesting that the report be
placed at the disposition of three department officials, among them
Little was done to further the negotiation for some time after
Pizarro's appointment. It will be remembered that Erving, in his
despatch quoted above, complained that Pizarro had not men-
tioned the affair at any time between September 30 and Decem-
ber 15.
Meanwhile, the policy to be followed was outlined in a Bosquejo
(sketch) of relations with the United States, submitted to the King
on November 6, 1816." This paper, unsigned but clearly originat-
ing in the foreign office, was prefaced by a castigation of the United
States as being ungrateful in view of Spain's aid in her revolution
against England, and as being "always anxious to promote rebel-
lion and perfidy." There followed a lament'over the sale of Louisi-
ana, allowed by the "perfidy" of France, and the "weakness and
stupidity" of Spain. The North American republic was accused of

76 University of California Publications in History

making war, in effect, on Spain, under the guise of scrupulous neu-
trality, by supporting the insurgent colonies of Spanish America.
Erving, according to the Bosquejo, came with full powers, but
with a menacing tone, and with unjust demands. Onis, at the same
time, had reported that the United States desired a boundary run-
ning up the Rio Grande to the Thirty-first Parallel, and thence
westward to the sea (though such a boundary determination could
not have been based on official communications from the govern-
ment at Washington).
The best policy--so it had been decided when this sketch was
written-would be to prolong the negotiation and to seek the aid
of some respectable Power. Russia was favored. That nation was
chosen because of her "direct interest" in seeing that the Spanish
colonies were not freed, since, if they should be, the La Plata coun-
try about Buenos Aires would undoubtedly take away Russia's
trade in hides and tallow. It was also suggested that a territorial
cession in the Floridas might be made to Russia, to recompense her
for her aid and to provide a buffer against the United States. Rus-
sia, as will be seen later, declined to aid Spain.
Finally, the assertion was made in the Bosquejo that it was
"urgent to keep the negotiation away from a diplomat as astute
and turbulent as Erving," with the recommendation that Onis
should negotiate the treaty.
Onis was still fretting in Washington under the limited author-
ity given him by Cevallos to make concessions to the United States.
He was desperately afraid that if a settlement were not reached
shortly this country would seize the Floridas and Texas, and would
openly aid the revolting colonies. That the Spanish government also
feared the latter eventuality is evident in the sketch quoted above
outlining relations with the United States, on the success of which
"depends in great part the fortune of our ultramarine colonies."
Although Pizarro promised to send Onis further instructions at
various times, none regarding the major issues at stake appears to
have been sent until August, 1817, and no comprehensive set of
instructions was forthcoming until November of that year. In the
interim the minister to the United States was able to accomplish
almost nothing.

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

During the winter of 1816 and 1817 Monroe's final effort in the
affair as secretary of state was made when he tried to persuade
Onis to accept the Colorado River of Texas as the boundary line,
the United States thereby offering to yield the region between that
and the Rio Grande in exchange, so it was stated, for all Spanish
lands east of the Mississippi. Following the failure of this plan in
conference, Monroe wrote Onis, January 14, 1817, declaring the
futility of further negotiation on limits, and asking that the Span-
ish minister take up the question of a convention to provide com-
pensation for spoliations and for the suppression of the right of
deposit at New Orleans."
In his reply, Onis attempted to justify his inability to bargain
on the boundary issue by explaining that the full powers, of which
he had received only the duplicates (the originals having been de-
layed, lost, or stolen), did not give him sufficient latitude to agree to
Monroe's proposals, and that the further instructions which he
needed presumably had been delayed in the mail. Onis said he had
understood previously that the negotiation concerned only the ces-
sion of disputed West Florida; and that he doubted if his King
would accede to the loss of East Florida, with the important har-
bor of Pensacola, "the key to the Gulf."" With respect to Texas, he
said that Monroe's plan would be no "exchange," repeating the
claim that all of Texas belonged to Spain anyway. This statement
of Onis is interesting in contrast to his description of the treaty
after its signature in 1819, in which he praised it as embodying a
fair exchange, the Floridas for Texas."
Early in February Onis wrote Pizarro saying that he feared
serious trouble if a prompt settlement were not reached, and again
asking for more liberal instructions." Until they came, he said that
he would delay, hoping to gain a more favorable opportunity, and
not wishing to take any steps which might lead the President to
authorize a declaration of war or bring about a recognition of the
insurgent Spanish colonies during the current session of Congress.
Although the Neutrality Act of March 3, 1817, gave Spain some
satisfaction with respect to her complaints over the equipment of
ships and enlistment'of forces for Spanish America in this country,
Onis still found grounds for protest. All through the spring of
1817 he was greatly diseouraged-disgusted with the United States
and offended at the treatment given him by his own country. His -

78 University of California Publications in History

dislike for Washington no doubt made him more zealous in his
efforts to arrive at a settlement, or, as an alternative, to have the
negotiations transferred to Madrid. In April he wrote Pizarro a
nonofficial communication, beginning with the affectionate diminu-
tives "Querido Pizarrito," in which he complained of his lack of
instructions and told of the imminent death of his wife. Sefiora de
Onis had been ill much of the time since coming to America, and
her husband frequently blamed her ill health on the climate of the
Atlantic seaboard, saying that she could have been saved if he had
been allowed to return to Spain. In this letter he says to Pizarro:
My wife ... despaired of by the doctors, will be dead long before you receive
this ... My Clementina [one of his daughters] runs the same risk, and if you
do not send me the authorization to leave here next spring, you will be
her murderer. I can do no more; this is no country for healthy people, and
especially in the circumstances in which I have been; send me where you
will provided that you take me away from here, even though it be to plant
... Seflor Don Pedro Cevallos made the greatest blunder he could in trans-
ferring the negotiations here: for with these people it is impossible to do
anything, and one negotiates with them at a disadvantage, [as they] publish
the notes they wish, and hide those which do not suit them; in addition to
which you must understand that nothing but force can make them give up
West Florida which they have occupied, that it will be very difficult to obtain
an agreement to put the boundary at the Mississippi, and that, evesn i this
case, one must wonder if the island of Cba will not be endangered by the
cession of East Florida, unless we always hae there a garriso of tea thou-
sand troops and eight warships. You cannot realize the ambition and pride
of this government, nor can you believe that it might be so foolish that, with-
out provocation, it would declare a war which might be very unfortunate for
it; but you must believe that the people all want war with Spain, and that
only the tact and prudence with which I have conducted myself have been able
to prevent it on three distinct occasions. The Government does not want it
now, but the people will force the Government to declare it if the differences
are not settled before next December."

Sefiora de Onis died in the following month, but the daughter
survived. Onis, in his prediction of war in the following winter,
proved to be unduly pessimistic, for, although little progress had
been made on the affairs at issue by December, no war came.
The intervening period saw the inauguration of Monroe as presi-
dent, the appointment of Adams as secretary of state, and the con-
tinuation of Onis' protests in maritime matters to Richard Rush,
acting secretary. Adams did not even meet the Spanish minister in

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

Washington until the opening of the Congressional session which
the latter so much feared. Concerning Adams' appointment, Onis
had little comment, simply voicing the general opinion of Adams'
high ability, but saying that he knew nothing of him personally.
In Spain, conversations of interest continued between Erving
and Pizarro. Aside from these, an important crystallization of
policy took place-finally making possible the sending of the in-
structions Onis had so long and impatiently awaited.
Pizarro wrote Erving on July 16, noting that Onis' messenger
was in Madrid awaiting the preparation of instructions, and ask-
ing if in the interim the United States minister was still authorized
and willing to save time by undertaking negotiations there." This
was a direct reversal of Cevallos' decision that the work should be
done in Washington, and Erving complained that the transfer in
the preceding fall had put him in the embarrassing position of
having powers and not being able to use them. He said that, since
frankly there was suspicion already that Spain was simply trying
to delay the matter, he could not encourage further procrastina-
tion by entering into a discussion of arguments worn out by fre-
quent restatement since 1805." He offered, however, to receive a
proposal for a settlement, which could be either accepted or re-
jected without long consideration. Pizarro hesitated, but finally
sent the project of a treaty with his note of August 17.
In Pizarro's view the arguments were not soured by long stand-
ing, because of new developments since 1805. These were, specifi-
cally, the addition of claims of Spain (hitherto unvoiced) against
the United States for spoliations, the collection of more proofs of
the Spanish title to Texas, and the seizure of West Florida by the
United States. "So great is the mass of documents and authentic
and indisputable proofs ..." he said, "particularly relative to the
western boundary of Louisiana, that I doubt whether there be a
point which is susceptible of more exact and rigorous demonstra-
In this note Pizarro restated the claim of Spain to West Florida,
but said that the King would now yield on the point of asking its
restoration before any negotiations could be entertained, a condi-
tion imposed on Onis' earlier dealings.
The project included the establishment of a claims commission
much like that of the Convention of 1802, but did not involve a

80 University of California Publications in History

revival of that unratified agreement. The declaration was to be
made that Spain would assist the United States in appealing to
France for payment of the claims for spoliation by French cor-
sairs, but not that Spain herself was liable.
With respect to limits, Pizarro's plan included the cession of
the Floridas to the United States, with the western boundary of
this nation being put at the Mississippi River from its source to its
mouth. Further, the scheme was to be contingent upon the ap-
proval of the Powers signatory to the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713,
which, Pizarro maintained, had guaranteed the integrity of Spain's
dominions as they stood before the death of King Charles II of
Spain (1700)."
Pizarro, realizing that the United States would probably not
accept the Mississippi as a western limit, proposed an alternative
to his project, namely, to submit the whole affair to the mediation
of one or more Powers friendly to both nations.
Erving replied that he could not consider such an agreement,
and offered some explanations, but said nothing of the mediation
plan." He professed ignorance of the new proofs of the Spanish
title to Texas as well as of the new claims of Spain for spoliations
since 1805 and declared the eighth article of the Treaty of Utrecht
no longer effective. Furthermore, he referred to the United States'
Neutrality Act of March 3, 1817, as fulfilling certain demands of
Pizarro on that point.
Erving at that time wrote to his superior in Washington that he
thought Pizarro had offered an intentionally unacceptable pro-
posal in order to throw the affair into the mediation suggested as
an alternative." He told of a visit from Garay, the finance minister,
who asked that Erving propose something to Pizarro. He added
that Garay and the secretario de estado were conciliatory them-
selves, but seemed to be bound by opposition in the Cabinet. With
respect to possibilities for the mediation, Erving thought that Eng-
land and Russia were the Powers which Spain depended on chiefly,
and that the latter was the more influential because of the strength
of its minister Tatistcheff in the camarilla (inner council, or
"kitchen cabinet").

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands

How accurate Erving's suppositions were can be seen by studying
briefly the thorough review of United States relations, written by
Heredia, and presented by Pizarro in the meeting of the Consejo
do Estado of June 10 and 11, 1817, and the decisions taken pur-
suant to that explanation. This paper (which is reproduced in
Pizarro's memoirs, occupying 73 pages) included a long account of
the negotiations, beginning with the independence of the United
States, and outlined eight possible methods of procedure, with
With the Ezposicin were presented certain documents, and a
map." These were evidently the ones about which Pizzaro wrote
Erving. The Ezposicidn mentions that "the documents .. -. just
received from Mexico, in compliance with the order [of Charles
IV] of 1805, came bound in thirty-one volumes,"' a description tal-
lying with that in the letter of Viceroy Calleja previously quoted.
It is thus apparent that a basic document in the preparation of
Heredia's work was the historical memoir on the limits of Louisi-
ana and Texas prepared by Padre Don Antonio Jobe Pichardo. His
name, however, was not mentioned. Presumably L6pez de Haro had
completed the copying of the accompanying map, upon which he
had been working when the documents were forwarded. Pizarro
secured for his own use, a few weeks after the presentation of the
Exposicin, the map prepared in Philadelphia in 1816 by John
Melish, of which a later edition was cited in the Adams-OnIs Treaty.
The Exposicin discussed the five points at issue, namely, spolia-
tions by the Spanish on United States commerce in the European
war which ended in 1801; like spoliations by the French; damages
caused by the suppression of the right of deposit at New Orleans
without the substitution of another port, as stipulated in Pinck-
ney's Treaty; the West Florida question; and the disputed western
boundary of Louisiana. The last point was dealt with at great
length, the Spanish claim to Texas being based generally on the
historical outline as described in chapter ii of this study.
Strong opposition to the transfer of negotiations to Washington
was expressed in Heredia's paper. It was thought that the affair
could be more efficiently and advantageously handled if kept close
to the reins of control in Madrid. But Erving's acrimonious and

82 University of California Publications in History

futile dealings with Cevallos, and later actions of Adams, had
necessitated the removal of operations again to Washington. (It
will be seen that in the ensuing negotiations Washington was the
center of affairs until March, 1818, and again after July of that
Of the eight possible programs discussed, there should be noted
the first and second, both of which Pizarro favored; the third,
which was adopted by the Consejo; and the eighth, which came
nearest to the ultimate settlement achieved.
The first was a plan to offer the Floridas to England in exchange
for her assistance in restoring Louisiana to Spain. The plan visual-
ized a political balance in North America which would confine the
ambitions of the United States and would give Spain and England
the power of disciplining the United States in the west by shutting
off the navigation of the Mississippi and the rivers flowing through
the Floridas.
This plan, which admittedly was of questionable practicability
because of Spain's weakness and England's apathy in the matter,
showed the influence of Don Jos6 Alvarez de Toledo, the former
Texas revolutionary leader. Toledo had made his peace with Onis,
given valuable counsel, and been sent to Spain, where he was par-
doned by the King. His advice was subsequently sought by the for-
eign office, and one of his opinions detailing the possible Spanish
seizure of Louisiana was cited in this discussion."
The second project, which likewise had the favor of Heredia and
Pizarro, included the settlement of all issues through the mediation
of one or more friendly Powers, on the basis of the uti possidetis
of 1763 but recognizing the validity of the Louisiana Purchase.
This arrangement was simultaneously suggested by Onis, the lat-
ter's despatch reaching Madrid after the presentation of the Ex-
The third, which became the basis of the offer made by Pizarro
to Erving, was also much like one of Onis' alternatives. It was an
exchange of the Floridas to the United States for all the territory
west of the Mississippi. This indicates a confusion over whether
or not Spain was to continue in the position that the purchase of
Louisiana was invalid. For, whereas in the second plan the recog-
nition of that transaction was to be given as something of a con-
cession, here it must be considered to have been admitted. Without

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlnds 83

valid title to Louisiana the United States would have no territory
west of the Mississippi to "exchange." But the question is largely
one of words. After the failure of Labrador at Vienna it is elear
that Spain never considered that she could effectively maintain her
allegation that the United States did not own Louisiana.
In discussing this third plan, it was pointed out that the Spanish
Interior Provinces would be safeguarded by placing the border of
the United States far from their centers of population. The United
States, besides gaining the valuable ports of the Floridas, would
avoid the possible danger, if her population spread farther west-
ward, of a dismemberment of the Union. However, it was pointed
out that it would be difficult to obtain approval of such a plan at
Washington because of the ambition of the United States to reach
the Pacific and conduct commerce overland to the Columbia River.
This last point, like the opinion that expansion might so weaken
the Union as to cause its dissolution, was based directly on the writ-
ings of Onis, and particularly upon his despatch of March 3,1817."
An important advantage which the third plan assertedly would
give was the opportunity of sounding the possibilities of aid from
England and France while the United States was studying the
offer. In this respect, Erving's allegation concerning the Spanish
desire for time was correct; but with respect to delay per se, the
Exposici6n said: :
in [this asheme] an admissible proposition is offered by Your Majesty, and
the censure avoided that we have been tergiversating for many years and seek-
ing evasions to prolong the dissension."

Furthermore, it was pointed out that, in the event the United
States did not accept the exchange proposed, Spain would then
have a pretext for moving the center of negotiations back to Ma-
drid, which, it was known, would please Erving as well as Pizarro.
Both would play more important r6les in any settlement reached,
and both sincerely thought more could be accomplished at Madrid
than at Washington.
All the remaining plans comprised further concessions which,
it was feared, might have to be made to the United States if none
of the first three iwas acceptable. Some interest attaches to them
in that they show the vague ideas of the writer on the geography
of the country west of the Mississippi.

84 University of California Publications in History

The fourth project provided for the recognition of the United
States' ownership of West Florida in exchange for the establish-
ment of a western line running from a point on the Gulf between
the Calcasieu and Mermento rivers, between Los Adaes and Natchi-
toches, and then directly north. But the idea of a line drawn
straight north on a map regardless of natural features was dis-
couraged. The fifth plan would have seen the cession of both Flori-
das, and the establishment of a line beginning at the Bayou La
Fourche (for all practical purposes a western mouth of the Missis-
sippi), going up the Mississippi to the Missouri, and up that stream
to its head. In this plan the lack of information on titles, accepted
limits, and settlements on the North Pacific prevented the specifi-
cation of a line beyond the headwaters of the Missouri. The sixth
plan was much the same, but substituted the Arkansas for the
Missouri; and further ignorance or confusion of geography was
frankly expressed with respect to the location of the head of that
river, and its probable proximity to New Mexico. The seventh
scheme was simply one of settling the claims as satisfactorily as
possible, leaving the boundaries undrawn, that being considered
preferable to an unadvantageous treaty from which no appeal
could be had.
The eighth plan, "that proposed by the Americans, who wish us
to cede to them the two Floridas, leaving the limits of Louisiana
at the Colorado river," was the one described by Pizarro in his
Memorias as the one embodied in the treaty. It shows a geographi-
cal confusion that is easier for us today to understand the Span-
iard's falling into than it was for Erving when the question arose
in 1818. It is clear beyond doubt, from the Exposicin and from
marginal notes on Onis' treaty plan of April 8,1817, that in refer-
ring to the "Colorado" River the writer had in mind the Red River
of Natchitoches, which at times was designated by the other Span-
ish term of nearly the same meaning, Coloradoo." It is equally
clear that in the negotiations of 1805, when Monroe and Pinckney
proposed the "Colorado" as a boundary, they meant the Colorado
of western Texas, flowing into Matagorda Bay. Until Onis and
Adams discussed the matter in the winter of 1817 and 1818 the
officials of the two countries apparently were unaware of the
As has been stated, the third plan recommended in the Exposi-

Brooks: Diplomacy and the Borderlands 85

cid6 was adopted, though Pizarro in his Memorias says he pre-
ferred the first and second. Accordingly, in his note of August
17, 1817, already referred to, that minister offered Erving the
project of a treaty. It was not accepted Apparently Pizarro's de-
sign was not to submit an intentionally unacceptable plan, but he
at least welcomed the resulting delay, which allowed him to sound
out England and France.
Immediately upon the failure of Pizarro's approach to Erving, a
session of the Consejo de Estado was held, from which resulted new
instructions for Onis. They became the basis of his first dealings
with Adams when he met the new secretary of state in Washington
in December of that.year.
The Consejo agreed, on August 27, that Onis should be instructed
to advance at Washington essentially the same proposal made to
Erving, that is, he was to offer the cession of the Floridas (contin-
gent upon approval of England in accordance with the Treaty of
Utrecht) in exchange for acceptance of the Mississippi as the west-
ern limit of the United States." Simultaneously he was to suggest
as an alternative an appeal to the good offices or mediation of two
or more friendly Powers.
Furthermore, a complete survey of the situation was made and
a policy agreed upon which was to be followed if the United States
rejected the plan. Onis was to advance as his own ideas the fourth,
fifth, and sixth possible arrangements of the Heredia Ezposicien,
but if any of them was agreed upon he must sign it sub spe rati
only." The all-important aim was to keep the negotiation open,
trying by magnanimous dealings and by propaganda to dispel anti-
Spanish sentiment in the United States. Onis was thus to ward off
a breach of relations, or, what would be worse, open aid by the
United States to the Spanish American insurgents, or perhaps
even a declaration of war.
Special importance attaches to the date of these first instructions
to Onis for the cession of the Floridas. After they were sent, Ferdi-
nand made certain notorious land grants in that area which would
seriously have embarrassed the United States. Their validity be-
came a major issue later between the two countries. However, the
chronology of Spanish diplomacy at this time appears to convict

86 University of California Publications in History

the King and his favorites of trying to dissipate what advantage
the United States would acquire from the session.
The new instructions reached Onei on October 31, 1817, in the
hands of his secretary of legation, Luis Noeli, who had waited in
Spain during the summer's deliberations. They arrived in time to
enable Onis to begin his work in Washington as Congress convened,
forestalling precipitate action by that body. But the efficacy of the
instructions was menaced by new disturbing developments-in-
trigues in the Floridas, a plot to revolutionize Texas, and the threat
of recognition of Buenos Aires by the United States.
In East Florida the famous General Gregor McGregor, veteran
of the struggles of Miranda and Bolivar in Venezuela, had begun
the operations by which he hoped to free both Floridas from Span-
ish dominion. With a commission from the agent in Philadelphia
of the republic of Venezuela," McGregor gathered a force num-
bering about a hundred fifty and from a rendezvous in Georgia
captured Amelia Island in June, 1817, through a ruse which led
the Spanish commander to overestimate the "patriot" forces. Mc-
Gregor issued proclamations to some two hunderd "Anglo-Ameri-
cans" who had set up a practically autonomous regime with the
approval of the Spanish governor of East Florida, Jos6 Coppinger,
in the region between the St. John's and the St. Mary's. Coppinger
refused to welcome McGregor's "liberating" efforts, however, and
when the latter's financial backers and purveyors despaired of his
success he had to withdraw. Following a chaotic few weeks in which
a Spanish force from St. Augustine was turned back, apparently
because of the incompetence of its commander, the island was taken
over by the notorious pirate Louis Aury, fresh from buccaneering
operations at Galveston. Writers generally describe Aury as a
pirate who was interested only in the lucrative business of bring-
ing prizes in for condemnation in an outlaw port such as he con-
trolled at Amelia. But it appears that he was also authorized by
South American revolutionary governments to aid in the dismem-
berment of Spain's colonial empire." He used the flag of the Mexi-
can revolutionists.
Whatever Aury's motives were, surely piracy was among them,
and the United States government, harassed by complaints of the
illegal acts done at Amelia, so near its borders, and involving its
citizens, determined to intervene. President Monroe in his opening

Brooks: Diploma and the Borderlands 87

message to Congress announced a decision to this effect, which was
carried out in the occupation of the island by both land and naval
forces on December 23, 1817."
Onis had protested the original venture of McGregor, and now
asked explanations of the President's intent regarding the invasion
of Spanish territory by United States troops." In the following
month he protested the occupation, and Adams answered that if
Spain could have protected her own territory the United States
would not have had to do it for her, and that no conquest from
Spain was intended. The United States troops stayed until after
the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty, and throughout the nego-
tiation it is evident that the Amelia affair was a source of serious
At the same time Onis relayed home reports of a menacing ven-
ture of certain French Bonapartists, who, after an attempt to form
a colony on the Alabama River as an exile haven, proposed to cap-
ture Texas, eventually enlarging their scheme to include the crown-
ing of Joseph Bonaparte as king of Mexico." While their plot was
brewing, a situation similar to that at Amelia developed at Galves-
ton, where piracies led the United States government to occupy
that island. This time the intervention was based on the claim that
Galveston lay in United States territory."
The third disturbing factor was the danger that the United
States would recognize the insurgent Spanish colonies, having
already given them a distinct status as belligerents by its neu-
trality legislation. That would of course end hopes of an accord
between this country and Spain. Conspicuous as the leader of agi-
tation for this step was Henry Clay, speaker of the House of Rep-
resentatives. His arguments were based on the declaration of
independence of the United Provinces of the La Plata at Tucuman
in 1816, and the victories of San Martin over the Loyalists in Chile
in the spring of 1817, which gave the independence movement
definite momentum.
During 1817 plans were laid to send agents to investigate con-
ditions in the insurgent countries. These plans finally materialized
with the sailing of the frigate "Congress" on December 4, carrying
Caesar A. Rodney, Theodorick Bland, and John Graham as com-
missioners appointed to report on the history and progress of
affairs in South America. Onis had reported that in August, when

88 University of California Publications in History

the mission was in New York ready to leave on the sloop-of-war
"Ontario," the commissioners had met John Quincy Adams, just
returned from England. And Adams, who considered their journey
premature, as a matter of policy, had persuaded Monroe to let the
"Ontario" sail without them."
Onis believed that the commissioners were to carry secret in-
structions authorizing them to recognize any of the new republics
which they considered worthy. When the "Ontario" sailed in Oc-
tober, he supposed that its commander was empowered to carry
on clandestine negotiations with the insurgents." And when the
commissioners finally left, in December, he referred to them as
"ambassadors," although the government had not yet authorized
Clay at the opening of Congress announced his determination
to seek a decision in favor of recognition of the La Plata provinces."
Onis was aroused by this step, and more so by Clay's speech of
March 24, 1818, in which he advocated the sending of an official
minister to Buenos Aires. It will be seen that the prevention of
recognition by the United States was a salient point in Spanish
policy, and that efforts toward this end assumed increasing im-
portance in Onis' maneuvers.
Troubled, then, by these three developments, as well as by his
belief that the United States would never accept the proposals he
was now authorized to make, the Spanish minister went to Wash-
ington, and arranged an appointment with the new secretary of
state for December 1.
John Quincy Adams began at this time to play a conspicuous part
in the negotiation of the treaty which he later declared to be his
greatest diplomatic accomplishment." It is hardly necessary here
to note the wealth of experience which he brought to the task. In
addition to his background, his education, his proved abilities, and
his many years in diplomatic posts, he had an intimate knowledge
of the territorial and maritime problems of the United States,
derived from his services at Ghent and as minister to England.
His interest in the West had been shown at the time of the Louisi-
ana Purchase, when, as Senator, he had favored the acquisition,
though he sought a Constitutional amendment to make it legal."

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