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This webpage reproduces an article in the
American Historical Review
Vol. 10 No. 2 (Jan. 1905), pp249‑279

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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p249 The Policy of France toward the Mississippi Valley in the Period of Washington and Adams1

The interest of France in the Mississippi valley extended over nearly two centuries. It falls into three main periods: (1) the unsuccessful attempt to outrival England as mistress of this region in the struggles of the colonial era; (2) the alliance with the United States in order to disrupt the British empire in our War for Independence; (3) the efforts to render the United States subservient to France and to rebuild French power in the interior of North America, ending with the cession of Louisiana.a There is a striking continuity in the efforts of France to unite the fortunes of the region beyond the Allegheny mountains with those of the province of Louisiana and to control the Mississippi valley. This she desired to do, as a bar to the advance of England; as a means of supplying the West Indies; as a lever by which to compel the United States to serve the interests of France; and as a means of promoting French ascendancy over Spanish America. France recognized that the effective boundary of Louisiana must be the Allegheny mountains, not the Mississippi river.

It is desired here to present some of the evidences of this policy, to exhibit the various forms which it took at different periods, and to explain the causes that affected the desire of France to control this important region. As will appear, the problem was a part of the larger problem of successorship to the power of Spain in the p250New World, but the specific forms that French policy assumed were more immediately dependent upon the Louisiana question.

The suggestion made by France in the peace proposals of 1761, that a barrier country, or Indian reservation, should be formed between Louisiana and the Allegheny mountains, exhibits an early form of her desire to prevent the encroachments of English-speaking people into the valley,2 and the use to be made of the Indians as a means of holding this region open to the purposes of France and Spain, closely allied in the family compact of that year. The refusal of England and the final defeat of the allies led to the readjustment of 1763, by which France yielded her American possessions east of the Mississippi to England. She ceded New Orleans with the province of Louisiana to Spain.3 The cession of Florida to England by Spain left the Gulf of Mexico divided between these last-named powers. Doubtless France yielded the province without keen reluctance, for it had been an unprofitable possession; but the intimate connection between Spain and France seemed to make the transfer something less than an absolute relinquishment.

The English policy with regard to the interior must certainly have been acceptable to her recent enemies, for, by the proclamation of 1763, the king reserved the lands beyond the Alleghenies to the Indians, and declared that until the crown was ready to extinguish the Indian title, lands should not be patented within that area, nor settlers enter it. Although the Indian line was changed by purchases, and the colony of Vandalia was all but organized at the opening of the Revolution,4 yet, when France had to determine her attitude toward the United States at the outbreak of that war, the trans-Allegheny region was still, in the eyes of the English law, almost entirely Indian country.

It is impossible here to review the connection of France with the colonies during the Revolution; but some of the essential features of the policy of Vergennes must be stated in order to understand later events, and to perceive the continuity of French policy.

There was published in Paris, in 1802, a Mémoire historique et politique sur la Louisiane, par M. de Vergennes.5 This document p251was found, according to the statement of its editor, among the minister's papers after his death, with his coat of arms at the head of the memoir. It is not known whether this memoir is to be found in the French archives, and, without further proof of its authenticity, doubts may be raised concerning it. Nevertheless, apparently both French and American bibliographers have accepted its genuineness.6 The memoir was written prior to the alliance of 1778, and it includes not only a survey of the resources and history of Louisiana, but also an examination of the proper policy of France toward the United States, in the event of the independence of the latter power. Apprehending that the new republic would prove harmful to the interests of France and Spain in America, Vergennes (assuming that he was, indeed, its author) advised the king to insist, in the treaty which France expected to dictate to England at the conclusion of hostilities, that the territory beyond the Alleghenies and east of the Mississippi should revert to herself. He contended that this territory was properly a part of Louisiana, and not rightfully to be claimed by the American colonies under their charters. To carry out this idea he proposed the plan of a treaty to be imposed upon England at the termination of the war. This provided for the cession to France by England of the trans-Allegheny territory and for such a partition of Canada as would insure Louisiana from attack by way of the Great Lakes. The proposed boundaries were outlined in the document.7 The territory thus to be acquired was to be joined with p252Louisiana, which, he proposed, should be retroceded to France. Thus a revived French colonial empire would be created on both banks of the Mississippi, reaching to the Great Lakes and dominating the Gulf of Mexico. He warned the king that when the people of the United States once obtained their independence, they would not rest content with having defended their own hearth-fires, but would desire to expand over Louisiana, Florida, and Mexico, in order to master all the approaches to the sea. On the other hand, if France possessed the Mississippi valley, the Great Lakes, and the entrance to the St. Lawrence, and if she allied herself with the Indians of the interior, she could restrain the ambitions of the Americans. Such were the proposals of this interesting memoir.

It is obvious that, if the work was that of Vergennes, M. Doniol has omitted an essential document for understanding the connection p253of France with the American Revolution.8 The subsequent actions of Vergennes are entirely consistent with the view that he was the author of this memoir. It is true that, by the treaty of alliance of 1778, France renounced the possession of territories in North America that had belonged to England, but the student of French diplomatic relations with the United States during the Revolution will remember that the French ministers to the United States supported the Spanish contention that American rights did not extend beyond the Alleghenies, and tried to get from Congress a renunciation of the claim to that region. Vergennes instructed his representatives, also, that France did not intend to raise the United States to a position where she would be independent of French support. The proposal shown by Rayneval, the secretary of Vergennes, to Jay in 1782 presented the ideas of France. Roughly speaking, this provided that the land south of the Ohio, between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi, should be free Indian country divided by the Cumberland river into two spheres of influence, the northern to fall under the protection of the United States, and the southern under that of Spain.9 The argument for this proposal submitted by Rayneval, and approved by Vergennes,10 was based upon the recognition of the independence of the Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. England was held to have admitted this by her proposals in regard to limits in 1755, and by her proclamation of 1763. By the latter document the colonies were held to be debarred from claiming to the Mississippi, and it was argued that neither Spain nor the United States had the least right of sovereignty over the savages in question.

The system of France becomes clearer when it is remembered that, under pressure from that court, in 1781, Congress had rescinded its ultimatum with regard to a Mississippi boundary, and had instructed its representatives to be guided by the advice of France as to the terms of peace. What this advice would be is shown in the Mémoire11 and in the proposition of Rayneval. By this proposal of p254an independent Indian country Vergennes would avoid breaking the terms of the treaty of 1778, in regard to acquisition of English territory, and at the same time he expected effectually to withdraw the region from the Americans. Although Oswald, the English representative in the American negotiations, did not possess full information as to this device of France, nor as to her readiness to make concessions to England north of the Ohio, his construction of her policy in his letter to Shelburne, September 11, 1782, was not unfounded. He writes:

"M. de Vergennes has sent an agent [Rayneval] over to London on some particular negotiation, it is thought in favour of Spain. That Court wishes to have the whole of the country from West Florida of a certain width quite up to Canada, so as to have both banks of the Mississippi clear, and would wish to have such a cession from England, before a cession to the Colonies takes place."12

So far, then, the actions of Vergennes accord with the idea set forth in the memoir. A further striking evidence of the consistency of his policy with this document is the fact that he also tried to acquire Louisiana from Spain. Godoy, the Prince of Peace, declares that Vergennes, counting upon the close union of the two cabinets connected by the family compact, employed every means of persuasion "to induce Spain, already so rich in possessions beyond the sea, to give to France her ancient colony". Charles III and the count of Florida Blanca were not averse to consenting to this demand, but under the condition of reimbursement of the expenses which Spain had made for preserving and improving Louisiana. "The lack of money", says Godoy, "was the only difficulty which suspended the course of the negotiation."13 It is clear, therefore, that the essential elements in the policy outlined by the memoir were followed by Vergennes in his diplomacy. The anxiety of Vergennes to protect the interests of Spain in the country between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi, when interpreted by the memoir and by his efforts to procure Louisiana from Spain, proves to be in reality an anxiety to promote the interests of France. Expecting to be put in possession of Louisiana, France herself was vitally interested in the disposal of the lands between the Mississippi and the Alleghenies. Vergennes believed that in assenting to a Mississippi boundary for the United States England had given a territory which p255she did not possess, and which, in fact, belonged in part to Spain and in part to the Indians.14 The matter is important inasmuch as it reveals the emphasis which France at this period laid upon the connection of the trans-Allegheny country with Louisiana. It puts in a strong light her desire to become an American power, to place boundaries to the expansion of the United States, and to hold that country in a position of subordination to her policy. The system of Vergennes in the American Revolution cannot be rightly understood so long as the historians of the negotiations fail to comprehend his expectation that France would replace Spain in Louisiana.15

The close of this war which France had waged against England left her without the financial resources to achieve the possession of Louisiana, and her interest turned to domestic affairs. Anticipating the possibility of the dissolution of the Union, England and Spain p256took measures to keep in touch with the western communities. Spain, after having acquired Florida from England as a result of the war, gained the control of the navigation of the Mississippi and opened and closed the door to Western prosperity at her pleasure. She established her ascendancy over the Southwestern Indians by treaties of alliance and protection, and used them to check the American advance. Hoping to add the Kentucky, Franklin, and Cumberland settlements to the Spanish empire, she intrigued with their leaders to bring about secession.16 England, also retaining her posts on the Great Lakes, held the Northwestern Indians under her influence and was able to infuse some degree of unanimity into their councils and into their dealings with the Americans. Her influence and the material aid furnished to the Indians enabled them to resist the American advance across the Ohio. While Spain intrigued with the West, England also sounded the leaders of that region, and in the fall of 1789 instructed Lord Dorchester, the governor of Canada, that it was desirable that the western settlements should be kept distinct from the United States and in connection with Great Britain.17 The Lords of Trade, in a report of 1790, declared that it would be for England's interest "to prevent Vermont and Kentuck and all the other Settlements now forming in the Interior parts of the great Continent of North America, from becoming dependent on the Government of the United States, or on that of any other Foreign Country, and to preserve them on the contrary in a State of Independence, and to induce them to form treaties of Commerce and Friendship with Great Britain".18

France, at the same period, was not free from interest in Western affairs. Her archives have not been sufficiently explored to make p257clear how far she adhered to the desire to regain Louisiana. De Moustier, the French minister to the United States, was instructed in 1787 by Montmorin, minister of foreign affairs, that principles were in favor of Spain in the matter of the navigation of the Mississippi, and that it would pain the king if the United States should embroil themselves with that power over the question: but he was not to offer the good offices of the king, lest all parties should be compromised. This minister was further instructed that it was for the interest of France that the United States should remain in their actual condition rather than form a new constitution, because, if they secured the unity of which they were capable, they would soon acquire a force and power which they would probably be very ready to abuse.19

Various memoirs were transmitted to the government at the close of the Confederation, describing the advantages which France would gain by recovering Louisiana,20 and De Moustier sent a despatch to his court reciting the advantages which would come to France by the retrocession of Louisiana. By this France would obtain, he argued, a continental colony which would guarantee the West Indies, the most beautiful entrepôt of North America, for her commerce, and an almost complete monopoly of the products of the states situated on the Mississippi, and, in fine, the solution of the problem of French influence upon the United States, by furnishing a means of holding the government by the party which was the most sensible of its interest and its prejudices.21

It was in these closing years of the Confederation, also, that various French travelers visited the United States and reported the conditions of the lands beyond the Alleghenies. Of these the most important were Brissot and Clavière, the former afterward the real master of the foreign policy of France during the ascendancy of the Brissotins or Girondists, the latter the minister of finance in the p258period of the dominance of that party.22 Brissot's opinion was that the Westerners would resent the attempt of Spain to shut them off from the sea, and that "if ever the Americans shall march toward New Orleans, it will infallibly fall into their hands".

When, in the spring of 1790, war seemed imminent between England and Spain over the Nootka Sound affair,23 there was every prospect that a descent would be made by the former power upon New Orleans. Indeed, Pitt listened to the plan of Miranda, the Venezuelan revolutionist, for an attack upon Spain's American possessions with a view of giving freedom to those colonies, and thereby opening their commerce to England and insuring to her a predominance in their political relations. Jefferson, seeing the danger to the United States, menaced by the possibility of England's acquiring Louisiana and Florida and thus completely surrounding us in the rear and flanks while her fleet threatened our seaboard, turned to France for assistance and instructed our representative there to attempt to secure the good offices of that nation to induce Spain to yield to us the island of New Orleans; or, since that idea might seem extreme, to urge her, at first, to recommend to Spain the cession of "a port near the mouth of the river with a circumadjacent territory sufficient for its support, well defined and extra-territorial to Spain, leaving the idea to future growth." He instructed our minister to Spain to ask for New Orleans and Florida and to argue that thus we could protect for Spain what lay beyond the Mississippi.24 His policy was, in brief, to make advances to France and Spain, but at the same time to offer neutrality to England, if she would carry out the treaty of 1783 and attempt no conquests adjoining us.

But France had other plans. After considerable discussion she finally proposed to Spain a new national pact in place of the family compact, and sent Bourgoing in 1790 to negotiate. He suggested to Spain as a consecration of their proposed alliance the restitution of Louisiana to France.25 But Spain was not ready to agree to such terms; she distrusted the revolutionary advances and came to terms with England. France, perceiving the family compact no longer applicable to the new conditions, adjusted her policy to the prospect of a complete rupture with Spain. This had a most important bearing upon the New World; for France, with the fires of p259the Revolution destroying the old order of things, saw the opportunity to rebuild her colonial empire at the expense of Spain.

In 1792 Talleyrand and other French agents negotiated with England informally to withdraw her from the formidable list of enemies that were uniting against France. If England joined them, the French islands would be exposed to her attack. The instructions to these agents, drawn by Dumouriez, argued that the New World was large enough for partition. Has not the time come, it was asked, to form a great combination between France and Great Britain, including, if necessary, the United States, by which the commerce of the Spanish possessions should be opened to these three powers?26 But England was in no mood to accept the alliance of antimonarchical France, and turned a cold shoulder to these advances. France, in isolation, took up the revolutionary prospects which Miranda had in 1790 unfolded to Pitt, and turned to the United States for assistance.

The need was great, for the French islands were likely to fall a prey to England in case of war, and French commerce would be exposed to the fleets of the same power. The time was also favorable, for, before the close of 1792, Washington, realizing the dangers to which the United States was exposed, with England and Spain both holding unfriendly relations with the Indians on the flanks of the United States, broached to Jefferson the question of a closer connection with France. Jefferson caught eagerly at the proposal, for, as he said, a French alliance was his "polar star".27 Fortunately, however, Washington's policy turned eventually to a strict neutrality and complete freedom from foreign entanglements.

The result was Genet's mission to the United States, which has been discussed in a previous paper in the Review.28 Here only the essential elements of French policy in respect to the mission can be given. In the inception of the plan, Brissot proposed to send Miranda29 to San Domingo, where the French garrisons, together with p260local troops, would serve as the nucleus for inaugurating a revolution among the Spanish colonies. Other forces were to be raised in the United States.30 Lebrun, minister of foreign relations, sent word to Washington, in November of 1792, that France would revolutionize Spanish America, and that forty-five ships of the line would leave in the spring for that purpose, under command of Miranda. According to the further statement of Colonel Smith (the son-in‑law of Vice-President Adams), who was the bearer of this news, they intended to begin the attack at the mouth of the Mississippi, and to sweep along the bay of Mexico southwardly, and would have no objection to our incorporating the two Floridas.31 Under the influence of this information, Jefferson drafted new instructions for our commissioners to Spain, wherein he countermanded the proposal to guarantee Louisiana to Spain on condition of the cession of the Floridas. The former proposal, made in 1790, would have interfered with the freedom of the United States to act according to the new circumstances.

France, however, hesitated to plunge into this vast enterprise of Spanish-American revolution until she had overcome Holland and made herself the mistress of the Dutch marine. Then, in the opinion of Dumouriez, it would be possible to crush England and execute Miranda's project. This general, therefore, left to participate in the operations in the Netherlands and to suffer the loss of prestige which his disastrous defeat brought about. It is doubtful whether the Gironde leaders had reached an exact conclusion regarding the disposal of Louisiana and the Floridas when Genet32 was sent to the United States.33 The memoirs found in the archives show p261that the alternatives were considered of giving them to the United States, of establishing them as independent republics, and of making them a French possession; but there can be little doubt as to what the action of France would have been in case of successful occupation of New Orleans.

Genet's instructions of December, 1792, and January, 1793,34 written when the prospect of a war on the part of France against both Spain and England was imminent,35 required him to endeavor to secure a treaty with the United States, which should guarantee the sovereignty of the people and punish the powers which had an exclusive commercial and colonial system, by declaring that the vessels of these powers should not be received in the ports of the contracting nations. This compact, in the opinion of the ministers, "would conduce rapidly to the freeing of Spanish America, to opening the navigation of the Mississippi to the inhabitants of Kentucky, to delivering our ancient brothers of Louisiana from the tyrannical yoke of Spain, and perhaps to reuniting the fair star of Canada to the American constellation." It will be observed that Canada alone was indicated as a possible acquisition by the United States. Genet was further authorized, in case of timidity on the part of American government, to take all measures which comported with his position to arouse in Louisiana and in the other provinces of America adjacent to the United States the principles of liberty and independence. It was pointed out that Kentucky would probably second his efforts without compromising Congress, and he was authorized to send agents there and to Louisiana.

From these instructions it is clear that the conquest of Louisiana was a fundamental purpose in Genet's mission, and that he was even to proceed by an intrigue with the frontiersmen in case the American government should not connive at his designs. Under the guise of neutrality, the United States was expected to furnish in fact an effective basis for French operations. Moreover, he was instructed to make use of the Indians, "the ancient friends of the French nation", against the enemies of France. By combining the large French population of Canada and of Louisiana, where the seeds of revolution were already sown, with the frontiersmen and the Indians in the interior, there was reason to hope for a successful outcome of the enterprise.

On his arrival in Charleston, early in April, 1793, Genet found p262an efficient lieutenant in Mangourit, the French consul at that city.36 The frontiersmen of Georgia and the Carolinas had suffered from the hostility of the Cherokees and the Creeks on their frontiers, and were eager to destroy the influence by which Spain supported them in their resistance to American advance. Mangourit was therefore able to enlist the services of important leaders. One of them, Samuel Hammond37 of Georgia, was assigned the task of making treaties with the Creek Indians38 and of rallying the Georgia frontiersmen for an attack upon East Florida. William Tate,39 another frontier leader, was to negotiate with the Cherokees and the Choctaws, and to collect the frontiersmen of the Carolinas for a descent upon New Orleans by way of the Tennessee and the Mississippi. The draft of the Indian treaties40 provided for an alliance between France and these nations, and guaranteed to the Indians the free and peaceable possession of their lands. Genet afterward, while denying that he had authorized the collection of forces against Spain on territory of the United States, admitted that he had granted commissions to men who desired to go among "the independent Indian tribes, p263ancient. . . allies of France," to retaliate on the Spaniards and English.41 The connivance of Governor Moultrie, of South Carolina, seems to have been secured. Thus Genet and his lieutenants had initiated plans for the filibustering enterprise before he had broken definitely with Washington. The Southern part of the plot was seriously interfered with later by an investigation by the legislature of South Carolina, and by the discovery that the Girondists, and Genet in particular, were "friends of the blacks".

On his arrival at Philadelphia, Genet found much popular discontent with Washington's proclamation of neutrality issued on April 27, and he came to the conclusion that he would be able to reverse the executive policy by procuring a majority in Congress favorable to his plans. The "appeal to the people" which he proposed was rather an attempt to secure a majority friendly to France in Congress, for he believed that in that body rested the sovereignty. Determining to accept the propositions of George Rogers Clark, of Kentucky, for a frontier attack upon New Orleans by way of the Mississippi, he appointed him "Major General of the Independent and Revolutionary Legion of the Mississippi". In July, 1793, Genet made known his plans to Jefferson.42 Expecting war with Spain and understanding Genet's proposition to be that of giving freedom to Louisiana and the Floridas, Jefferson made only a formal protest against the implied violation of our neutrality; and he intimated that a little spontaneous uprising in New Orleans might prove to the advantage of the American plans.

Genet's project involved not only the organization of the frontiersmen and the "independent" Indians of the southwest against the Floridas, while George Rogers Clark rallied the Kentuckians against New Orleans, but he proposed to block the mouth of the Mississippi by a French naval force at the same time. It was for this reason that, on July 12, 1793, he so recklessly sent the Little Democrat to sea, against the protest of the administration.43 At the same time he made preparations for the use of a fleet against Canada.44 It is unnecessary here to relate the misfortunes that befell Genet's projects. His plan of securing an advance on the indebtedness p264due to France by the United States failed. Lacking financial resources, the operations in the interior were delayed, and the use of parts of the fleet was prevented by mutinous crews. Washington prepared to use the military forces of the United States to prevent a violation of our neutrality, and Genet himself lost his following, even among the more radical of the democratic leaders. France, under the Reign of Terror, fully occupied on her own borders and torn by internal party dissension, was unable to carry out her American plans, and Genet was superseded and disavowed.

The new embassy to the United States consisted of Fauchet,45 as minister plenipotentiary, La Forest,46 consul-general, Petry, consul for Pennsylvania, and Le Blanc, secretary of legation. By the terms of the instructions47 given November 25, 1793, no measure which interested the republic could be undertaken without the agreement of a majority of the commissioners. By this it was desired to avoid the indiscretions into which Genet had fallen. The commission, in accordance with these instructions, disavowed the conduct of Genet. By the proclamation of March 6, 1794, Fauchet, not without regret, revoked the commissions of the filibusters and forbade the violation of the neutrality of the United States. But, in spite of the fact that under the Jacobin administration France was ready to disavow the proceedings of the Girondists in respect to the violation of American neutrality, she by no means abandoned her interests in the Mississippi valley. By their instructions the new commissioners were required to inform the officers of the American government p265that negotiations with Spain regarding the navigation of the Mississippi would be incompatible with the ties which bound the United States to France. In the earlier part of his mission, Fauchet devoted himself to a policy of "wise delay and useful temporizing", conceiving that the interest of the republic was to obtain from the United States a prolonged inertia. He therefore contented himself with observing the development of our domestic policy, and particularly the events on our frontiers during the period of Indian wars and the Whiskey Rebellion. Of all of this, as well as of the English policy in the northwest, he gave detailed accounts to his government. He was active in sending provision fleets to France, and in protests against English violations of our neutral commerce. At this period other interests were entirely subordinated to the important consideration of the provisioning of France by the United States. The insurrection in the French West Indies gave him concern; but, on the other hand, he pointed out that the revolution of the blacks had established an eternal seed of repulsion between the West Indies and slaveholding America, so that there was less danger of American acquisition of these islands. It was not until the news of Jay's treaty reached him that he turned to the subject of Louisiana. As soon as he was fairly well informed of the purport of this treaty (in February, 1795), he proposed a radical programme for meeting the situation.48 He reminded his government that he had energetically protested against our failure to enforce the rights of neutral commerce against England; but now Jay's treaty threatened even more unfavorable conditions by its concessions to Great Britain in the matter of neutral rights, and the alliance of 1778 had become worse than useless. Yet, as Fauchet pointed out, France had no means of intimidating the United States. The ocean separated the two powers, and the French West Indies, far from threatening the United States, were actually in danger of starvation in time of war if American trade was cut off. He quoted Jefferson's remark, "France enjoys their sovereignty and we their profit." A war to compel the Union to follow French policy would deprive the republic of the indispensable trade of America. Some other means must be found, and the solution of the problem, in Fauchet's opinion, was the acquisition of a continental colony in America: "Louisiana opens her arms to us." This province would furnish France the best entrepôt in North America, raw material, and a market for her manufactures, a monopoly of the products of the American states p266on the Mississippi, and a means of pressure upon the United States. He predicted that, unless a revolution occurred in Spanish policy, the force of events would unite Louisiana to the United States, and in the course of time would bring about a new confederation between this province and the western states, which would not remain within the United States fifty years. In this new union the superior institutions and power of the American element would give to it the sovereignty. But if France or any power less feeble than Spain possessed Louisiana, it would establish there the sovereignty over all the countries on the Mississippi. If a nation with adequate resources, said he, understood how to manage the control of the river, it could hold in dependence the western states of America, and might at pleasure advance or retard the rate of their growth. What, then, he asks, might not France do with so many warm friends among the Western settlers? The leaven of insurrection had been recently manifested in the Whiskey Rebellion; it would depend upon France to decide the question of dismemberment. In this way, by pressure on our borders, she could bend the United States to her will, or in the possession of the Mississippi valley find a means of freeing herself and her islands from their economic dependence upon the United States. Such was the line of thought presented by Fauchet to the French authorities; he preferred diplomatic negotiation to war or the filibustering system of Genet.

How far this despatch of Fauchet may have affected the policy of France in the negotiations at Basel is not known, but these negotiations, by which Spain came to terms with France, were exceedingly important for the Mississippi valley. Barthélemy was instructed49 May 10, 1795, to demand from Spain certain cessions as the price of peace. The Spanish portion of San Domingo, the Basque province of Guipuscoa, and Louisiana were desired, but upon Louisiana he was ordered to insist: "the rest would be easy." "C'est sur la Louisiane qu'il faut insister et le citoyen Barthélemy aura soin de diriger tous ces efforts vers ce but." In support of her demand, France argued that it would be a great gain to Spain to place a strong power between her American possessions and those of the United States, particularly since England had by Jay's treaty guaranteed to the United States the freedom of navigation of the Mississippi, and it was to be feared that these new allies would seize Louisiana.

At this juncture Godoy, the duke of Alcudia, was in control of the foreign policy of Spain. Alarmed by conditions in Europe, and p267chagrined at England's arrangements with the United States at a moment when Spain trembled for the fate of Louisiana,50 he made peace with France at Basel (July, 1795); but he refused to yield Louisiana, preferring to abandon the Spanish portion of San Domingo. This only rendered France the more determined to secure the continental colony needed to support her West Indian possessions; and in the negotiations later over the terms of alliance she pressed hard for the additional cession.

It is this situation which explains the treaty that Godoy made with the United States not long after. He was most reluctant to give up Louisiana, but France demanded it as a condition of her alliance. Threatened thus with isolation, and confronted by the prospect of a war with England, he was disposed to conciliate the United States, lest she join England and take Louisiana by force. When, therefore, Pinckney's threat to leave for London was made, Godoy interpreted it as an indication that Jay's treaty had made contingent provision for a joint attack by England and the United States against Louisiana. He had previously tried in vain to persuade Pinckney to engage the United States in an alliance with France and Spain. In alarm he hastily came to the American terms, and in the treaty of San Lorenzo (October 27, 1795)51 he conceded the navigation of the Mississippi and our boundary on that river, and agreed to give up the Spanish posts north of New Orleans within the disputed territory. Thus relieved of the danger of an American invasion, Godoy was in a better position to resist the efforts of France to force him to cede Louisiana.

By the close of the year 1795, therefore, Washington's administration had by Jay's treaty secured possession of the northwest, and by Pinckney's treaty had received the promise of the evacuation of the disputed posts on the east of the Mississippi by Spain. The flanks of the Mississippi valley were apparently insured to the United States. But the former diplomatic conditions were reversed after Jay's treaty and the treaty of Basel. France and Spain were no longer enemies. Spain had broken with England; and the United States, swinging away from the French alliance, was embracing the friendship of England. To Spain and France there seemed to be a menace, in these new relationships, against the Spanish-American p268colonies. It became a cardinal point in French policy, therefore, to press to a conclusion the negotiations for Louisiana, to suspend diplomatic relations with the United States, and to attempt to alarm her into a reversal of her friendly attitude toward England. But it was not the policy of France to force the United States into war. Adet,52 who arrived as the successor of Fauchet in June, 1795, later informed his government that a rupture with the United States would be a disadvantage for France:

"You know that our colonies would be without provisionment and perhaps actually conquered, that all hope of commerce with America would be cut off thereafter, while England and the Floridas would shortly fall under the power of our new enemies and of Great Britain; that New Mexico would soon see their banners waving, and who knows where the habit of pillage and the ambition of conquest may conduct them in a country so badly defended as the Spanish possessions and where already germs of discord exist and the ferment of discontent?"53

The treaty of Basel had provided for peace between France and Spain, but it did not include the terms of an alliance. France now tried to reap the fruits of her success by dictating the conditions of the treaty. In the spring of 1796, the Directors sent General Perignon to Madrid to arrange terms of a formal alliance.54 He was instructed to warn Spain that French influence in America was nearing its end. War with the United States promised France no satisfactory results, and to punish the Americans by restrictions on their commerce would deprive France of a resource which the European wars rendered necessary to her. These, however, were merely temporary difficulties. "Who", asked the Directors, "can answer that England and the United States together will not divide up the northern part of the New World? What prevents them?" The instructions went on to give a forceful presentation of the rapidity with which settlers were pouring into Kentucky and Tennessee, and of the danger to Louisiana from filibustering expeditions. The concession of the navigation of the Mississippi, in the opinion of France, prepared p269the ruin and invasion of Louisiana whenever the United States, in concert with Great Britain, should "give the reins to those fierce inhabitants of the West". The English-speaking people would then overrun Mexico and all North America, and the commerce of the islands of the Gulf would be dependent upon this Anglo-American power. Only France, in alliance with Spain, argued the Directors, can oppose a counterpoise, by the use of her old influence among the Indians: "We alone can trace with strong and respected hand the bounds of the power of the United States and the limits of their territory." All that France demanded was Louisiana, a province that, so far from serving the purpose of its original cession as a barrier against England, was now a dangerous possession to Spain, ever ready to join with her neighbors. It had remained in a condition of infancy while the United States had acquired irresistible strength on its borders. This country was now daily preparing the subjects of Spain for insurrection by intrigues and by the spectacle of its prosperity. "On the other hand," continued the Directors, "if this possession were once in our hands, it would be beyond insult by Great Britain, to whom we can oppose not only the western settlements of the United States, who are as friendly to us as they could possibly be, but also the inhabitants of Louisiana, who have given clear evidence of their indestructible attachment to their former mother-country. It gives us the means to balance the marked predilection of the federal government for our enemy, and to retain it in the line of duty by the fear of dismemberment which we can bring about." "We shall affright England by the sudden development of an actual power in the New World, and shall be in a position to oppose a perfect harmony to her attacks and her intrigues." They therefore urged Spain to act at once, in order that the political and military campaigns might begin in America that very year.

But Godoy resolutely refused to give up Louisiana, and Perignon was obliged to content himself with a treaty of alliance without this important concession. France thereupon recalled him, and sent a successor with the particular purpose of persuading Spain to yield Louisiana by the offer to join her in the conquest of Portugal; but the Prince of Peace remained immovable; nor did he consent even when, in 1797, after Napoleon's victories in Italy had given the papal legations to France, she offered them to the royal house of Spain as an equivalent for Louisiana. Had religious scruples not prevented, however, Spain would probably have accepted this proposition.55

p270 While France negotiated with Spain, she prepared the ground in America. In the winter of 1795, Colonel Fulton, one of George Rogers Clark's officers in the Genet expedition, was sent to intrigue with the southwestern Indians56 and to consult with Clark.

By the close of 1796 Fulton, having returned, furnished the Directors information as to the best season for occupying Louisiana, and assured them that Clark's old soldiers were loyal to France, p271and asked only arms, ammunition, and uniforms, and "their country will find itself in the vast regions which the Republic will possess".57 Toward the end of 1796, France sent a new commission to George Rogers Clark, as brigadier-general, on the theory, as Delacroix, the minister of foreign relations, declared, that it was to the interest of France to foster a favorable disposition among the Westerners. "In case we shall be put in possession of Louisiana," he wrote, "the affection of those regions will serve us in our political plans toward the United States."58

Information regarding the southwestern tribes was also procured from Milfort, a French adventurer who, after passing twenty years among the Creeks as an agent of Spain, went to offer his services to France.59 He had married a sister of McGillivray,b and claimed to be the principal war-chief of the Creeks. In 1795 Milfort had left the Indians and had presented his plans for organizing the Indians of the southwest under the French, and, according to his statement, Fauchet approved them. He was put off in Paris by the fact that France was negotiating with Spain, but the Directory took him up, and on March 26, 1796, gave him the title of general of brigade. In 1798 he presented a memoir to the Directory offering them a large portion of Creek territory by which they might destroy the Americans and facilitate the acquisition of Louisiana. The matter was favorably received by Talleyrand.

Not only did France again draw together the threads of intrigue with the "independent" Indians and the frontiersmen, but also in the summer of 1796 she determined to send Mangourit to America to replace Adet.60 Monroe reported rumors that France was to make an attempt upon Canada, "which is to be united with Louisiana and the Floridas to the south, taking in such parts of our western people as are willing to unite." Monroe's protest against Mangourit's appointment was effective; but the significance of the selection p272of this energetic companion of Genet in the early attempt upon Louisiana and Florida is obvious.

In the meantime Adet, the French minister to the United States, exerted every effort to prevent Congress from voting the appropriations to carry out Jay's treaty. In fact, as it turned out, the vote was a close one, but Adet, foreseeing defeat, and acting in accordance with the desire of his government, in March, 1796, commissioned General Victor Collot,61 formerly governor of Guadeloupe, to travel in the west, and to make a military survey of the defenses and lines of communication west of the Alleghenies, along the Ohio and the Mississippi. Collot was gone about ten months, and as he passed down the rivers he pointed out to men whom he trusted the advantages of accepting French jurisdiction. He made detailed and accurate plans of the river-courses the Spanish posts, which may still be seen in the atlas that accompanies his Journey in North America, published long afterward. As the military expert on whose judgment the French government had to rely, his conclusions have a peculiar interest, and may be given in his own words: "All the positions on the left bank of the river [Mississippi], in whatever point of view they may be considered, or in whatever mode they may be occupied, without the alliance of the Western states are far from covering Louisiana: they are, on the contrary, highly injurious to this colony; and the money and men which might be employed for this purpose would be ineffectual." In other words, a Louisiana bounded by the Mississippi could not be protected against the neighboring settlements of the United States. He emphasizes the same idea, in another connection, as follows: "When two nations possess, one the coasts and the other the plains, the former must inevitably embark or submit. From thence I conclude that the Western states of the North American republic must unite themselves with Louisiana and form in the future one single compact nation; else that colony to whatever power it shall belong will be conquered or devoured."

As the logical accompaniment of this conclusion that Louisiana must embrace the western states, Collot drew up a plan for the defense p273of the passes of the Alleghenies, which were to constitute the frontier of this interior dependency of France to protect it against the United States. The Louisiana that Collot contemplated, therefore, stretched from the Alleghenies to the Rockies.62 The importance of his report is made clearer by the facts that the minister Adet, and the consul-general who remained after he left, continually refer to Collot's work as the basis for their views on Louisiana, and that Livingston reported in 1802 that it had been expected that Napoleon would make Collot second in command in the province of Louisiana, and that Adet was to be prefect.63

As he descended the Mississippi, Collot learned of a plot for an attack under the England flag upon the Spanish dependencies, and on his return, early in 1797, he notified the Spanish minister to the United States, who promptly informed the secretary of state. In the investigation that followed, it was ascertained that the British minister had been privy to the plans, and United States Senator Blount, of Tennessee, lost his seat as a result of the revelations which involved him. The incident revealed how wide-spread were the forces of intrigue for the Mississippi valley, and it gave grounds for the refusal of the Spanish authorities to carry out the agreement to yield their posts on the right bank of the river while New Orleans was threatened by an attack down the Mississippi.

The documentary material for the Blount episode will be published in a later number of the Review. Here its lines can be hardly more than indicated.64 On October 24, 1795, the English government had charged Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe, of Canada, to cultivate such intercourse with the leading men of the western settlements of the United States as would enable England to utilize the services of the frontiersmen against the Spanish settlements, if war broke out between England and Spain, and to report what assistance might be p274afforded by the Southern and Western Indians in such an event. Information was also desired with regard to the communications between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, with the evident idea of using Canadian forces in the operations. These "most private and secret" instructions65 cast light upon England's policy at this time, and the explicit injunctions of caution, lest the government should be compromised with Spain and the United States while matters were preparing, help us to understand that whatever was to be done must be managed secretly. War was declared by Spain against England in the fall of 1796, and rumors of the approaching acquisition of Louisiana by France alarmed the land-speculators like Blount, as well as the former Tory settlers about Natchez. The gist of the plan with which Blount's name is connected was that a combined body of frontiersmen and Indians, working in concert with the English fleet and an expedition from Canada, should seize Louisiana and the Floridas for England. Liston, the minister, was acquainted with the essential features of the plan, canvassed the practicability of Canadian assistance with the authorities of that province, and finally communicated the matter to his government. In the meantime it had become known, and England disavowed responsibility.66

p275 From the point of view of the larger diplomatic problem, the most tangible result of the affair was the retention by Spain of Natchez and the other posts east of the Mississippi, under the sincere apprehension that if they were evacuated, in accordance with the treaty of 1795, a clear road would be opened for the British into Louisiana. Not until the spring of 1798 did Spain, under the anti-French policy of Godoy, actually evacuate these forts.67

After the rupture of diplomatic relations with France the Federalists proceeded in the early summer of 1797 to enact laws for raising an army and providing a fleet, and for the necessary loans and taxes in preparation for war with the republic. But, less radical than some of his advisers, and ready to make another effort to adjust our affairs with France, President Adams sent a commission to reopen negotiations, in spite of his chagrin that the previous minister, C. C. Pinckney, had been summarily refused and ordered out of France.

When this commission failed, Talleyrand had just become the master of the foreign policy of his country. He had returned from his sojourn in the United States, convinced that Americans were hopelessly attached to England,68 and that France must have Louisiana. In a memoir to the Institute, April 4, 1797, he had pointed out that Louisiana would serve the commercial needs of France, would prove a granary for a great West Indian power, and would be a useful outlet for the discontented revolutionists, who could find room for their energies in building up the New World.69 It was his policy to play with the American representatives, refusing to deal with them except informally through agents, and, while detaining them, to negotiate with Spain for Louisiana. These so‑called X. Y. Z. negotiations p276extended till the spring of 1798, when Marshall and Pinckney, outraged by demands for bribes and hopeless of results, left Paris. Gerry, deluded by Talleyrand, remained to keep the peace, and while the adroit diplomat received Gerry, he instructed Guillemardet, his minister at Madrid, to make Spain realize that that government had been blind to its interests in putting the United States into possession of the Mississippi forts; they meant, he declared, to rule alone in America, and to influence Europe. No other means existed for putting an end to their ambition than that of "shutting them up within the limits which Nature seems to have traced for them". There can be little doubt that Talleyrand intended the Alleghenies by this expression. France, he argued, if placed in possession of Louisiana and Florida, would be a "wall of brass forever impenetrable to the combined efforts of England and America".70 In a memoir of July 10, 1798, Talleyrand reported to the Directory the yielding spirit of Spain and her increasing favor toward the plan of having French troops, rather than Spanish, meet the expected invasion of Louisiana by England and the United States. In the course of a discussion of the policy to be adopted toward Portugal, the minister proposed an exchange of some of the provinces of that country for Louisiana.71 Thus Talleyrand increased his aggressive policy toward the Spanish peninsula and Spain's North American dependencies immediately after the retirement of Godoy and contemporaneously with the policy of deceiving the United States into inactivity. Spain and her provinces bid fair to become appendages of France.

The situation led Pitt to consider again the proposition72 to revolutionize South America, with the coöperation of the United States. Again Miranda raised the veil of the future and summoned England and the United States to give freedom to the colonies of Spain, complete the passage of the Isthmus of Panama by a waterway, and p277enter into the commerce of the New World. But John Adams proved stubborn in his refusal. Pitt finally determined to await events and see whether Spain could resist incorporation in the French power.

So it was that Napoleon found Louisiana ripe for the picking in 1800. His plan of taking possession was on the same lines as were the plans of those who guided the Louisiana policy of France before him. In his instructions to the captain-general73 in 1802, he referred to the fact that as the mistress of both banks of the Mississippi at its mouth, France held the key to its navigation — a matter of the highest importance to the western states. "Whatever may be the events which this new part of the continent has to expect, the arrival of the French forces should be marked there by the expression of sentiments of great benevolence for these new neighbors." These were not reassuring words! But the rest was more alarming: "A little local experience will soon enable you to discern the sentiments of the western provinces of the Federal Government. It will be well to maintain sources of intelligence in that country, whose numerous, warlike, and sober population may present you a redoubtable enemy. The inhabitants of Kentucky especially should fix the attention of the captain-general. . . . He must also fortify himself against them by alliance with the Indian nations scattered to the east of the river."

It is reasonably clear that Napoleon's policy resembled that of Vergennes. He would intrigue with the Westerners, use the control of the navigation to influence them, make of the Indians a barrier, and gradually widen the borders of his province until the Gulf of Mexico should be a French lake, and perhaps the Alleghenies the boundary of the United States. Lord Hawkesbury, the English minister of foreign affairs, saw the danger and warned Rufus King in 1801 that "the acquisition might enable France to extend her influence and perhaps her dominion up the Mississippi and through the Great Lakes, even to Canada. This would be realizing the plan, to prevent the accomplishment of which the Seven Years' War took place."

But Lord Hawkesbury saw it no more clearly than did Thomas Jefferson, who had turned his attention to the west ever since he encouraged George Rogers Clark to go forth from Virginia and conquer the Illinois country in the Revolution. He had learned the truth that the possession of New Orleans by any European power meant that the United States would essentially be a part of Europe. "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans," he p278wrote,74 "fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low-water mark. It seals the union of two nations, who, in conjunction, can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean. From that moment, we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation. We must turn all our attention to a maritime force, for which our resources place us on very high ground; and having formed and connected together a power which may render reinforcement of her settlements here impossible to France, make the first cannon which shall be fired in Europe the signal for the tearing up of any settlement she may have made, and for holding the two continents of America in sequestration for the common purposes of the United British and American nations."75

It is evident that the policy of Vergennes found supporters in the subsequent French governments. Even under the Bourbons, De Moustier, the minister to the United States, urged the reacquisition of Louisiana. In the beginning of the French Revolution, the French government first proposed to unite with England in dividing Spanish America, and then the Girondists sent Genet to conquer Louisiana and the Floridas by the aid of the trans-Allegheny settlers. His successor urged the recovery of the province by diplomacy, and France made strenuous efforts at Basel in 1795 and in the negotiations over alliance with Spain under the Directory in 1796 to procure its restitution. Her military expert advised an Allegheny frontier for Louisiana, and, as the prospect of war between France and the United States grew imminent, in 1796 the republic renewed the commission of George Rogers Clark and other Americans and expected aid from the frontiersmen. From that time until Napoleon's power reduced Spain to essential vassalage and forced the cession of Louisiana, hardly a year elapsed in which France did not make an effort to secure that province and the Floridas. She proposed to use the ascendancy which she would possess over the river and the Gulf to force the United States to p279become her servile ally, or to lose the west by reason of French pressure upon the frontiersmen. The language of Talleyrand indicates his belief that the Alleghenies were the natural boundary for the United States. Napoleon's Louisiana policy was, therefore, simply the continuation of a long series of consistent attempts by the French government.

Through the whole period France relied upon the friendship of the frontiersmen and upon negotiations with the "independent Indian tribes" of the southwest to further her plans for dominating the trans-Allegheny region.

The real question at issue was whether the control of the entire Mississippi valley and the Gulf of Mexico should fall to France, England, or the United States. In view of Spain's decline, the fate of Spanish America hinged upon the decision. The contest abundantly illustrates the fact that a river is not a barrier, and consequently not a permanent boundary. No one who has studied the evidence of long-continued menace to the connection of the west with the rest of the United States made by the Alleghenies76 prior to the railroads, can doubt that the danger was a real one, and that a European power might have arisen along the Mississippi valley and the Gulf of Mexico, dominating the interior by its naval force, and checking, if not preventing, the destiny of the United States as the arbiter of North America and the protector of an American system for the New World.

Frederick Jackson Turner.


The Author's Notes:

1 This paper makes free use of two articles by the present writer, published in the Atlantic Monthly for May and June, 1904, under the title, "The Diplomatic Contest for the Mississippi Valley." The principal purpose of this paper is to furnish the necessary citations for some of the assertions made in these articles and to consider more fully the French side of these diplomatic intrigues.

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2 Winsor, The Mississippi Basin, 416.

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3 See the important paper, based on Spanish documents, by Dr. William R. Shepherd, in Political Science Quarterly, September, 1904 (XIX.439‑458), "The Cession of Louisiana to Spain."

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4 G. H. Alden, New Governments West of the Alleghenies, Bulletin of the University of Wisconsin, Economics, Political Science and History Series, II.19 ff., 38 ff.; V. Coffin, The Province of Quebec and the Early American Revolution, ibid., I.398‑431.

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5 There are copies in the library of Harvard University, in the Library of Congress, and in the Wisconsin State Historical Library. John Quincy Adams notes in his diary (IV.126) in 1818 that de Neuville, the French minister to the United States, "returned the Memoir of Count de Vergennes upon Louisiana, which he had some time since borrowed of me".

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6 In his Voyage à la Louisiane (Paris, 1802), 4‑5 Baudry des Lozières, influenced, possibly, by the apprehension of a competing account of Louisiana, expresses doubts of the authenticity of this memoir in the following passage:

"Mais instruit que la Louisiane allait nous être rendue, je me ressouvins de mes notes, et je travaillais à en tirer quelque parti pour la chose publique, quand parut un ouvrage intitulé : Mémoires de M. de Vergennes, ministre des affaires étrangères. Je le lus d'abord rapidement ; je le parcourus de nouveau, et je m'en voulais à moi-même de ne pas le trouver digne de son auteur. Enfin, après l'avoir bien examiné, je me décidai à croire que le nom de l'auteur était supposé. Si M. de Vergennes a quelque part à ces mémoires, ce n'est que pour très-peu, et le reste est d'une obscurité telle qu'il est impossible d'avoir, d'après cette lecture, une idée nette de la Louisiane.

Cependant je dois dire que celui qui a été sur les lieux, supplée aisément ce qui manque à ces mémoires, et que ce qu'on y voit n'est obscur que faute d'avoir été rédigé par une personne qui connaisse l'objet qu'on traite. Néanmoins cet ouvrage n'est pas sans mérite pour l'homme d'état ; et quel que soit celui qui se cache sous le nom imposant de M. de Vergennes, il ne rend pas moins des services par plusieurs de ses vues qui sont très-sages. Persuadé que ces mémoires ne pouvaient faire de tort à mon projet, je continuai mon travail, et ce que je vais dire n'est que le développement des notes que j'avais déjà prises dans mes voyages."

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7 The substance of this project is as follows (Mémoire, 108‑114):

Article I. England shall restore to France all the conquests which she made in North America during the last war.

Article II. France shall reserve Louisbourg and other specified areas about the mouth of the St. Lawrence and to the north.

Article III. The English are forbidden to fortify within ten leagues near the eastern coast of Nova Scotia, etc.

"Art. IV. Que la France rentrera aussi en possession de toute la partie occidentale du Canada, à la réserve du pays concédé à l'ouest des montagnes Apalaches ; c'est-à‑dire, le pays des Iroquois, les terres et rivières au sud de l'Ohio et de son cours, depuis ses sources jusqu'à la rivière-Neuve inclusivement ; dans lequel pays les Anglais ne pourront non plus conserver, ni avoir d'autres fortifications, que le fort d'Osvego, sur la rivière Chouagen, ni sur l'Ohio, que celui qu'ils ont bâti à la place du fort du Quesne.

Art. V. La France conservera pour bornes au nord du pays des Iroquois et de la Nouvelle-Yorck, la rivière à la Plance et le lac du Saint-Sacrement, et à l'ouest le lac Ontario et le lac Crié [Erie], avec la propriété de toutes les terres et rivières au nord de l'Ohio, ainsi que la propriété du pays au sud de cette rivière ; c'est-à‑dire, des terres et rivières au-dessous, et depuis la Rivière-Neuve exclusivement jusqu'à l'embouchure de l'Ohio dans le Mississipi.

Art. VI. Que pour prévenir les discussions que pouraientº occasionner entre les sujets de sa majesté Très-Chrétienne et ceux de sa majesté Britannique, la trop grande proximité de leurs établissemens, dans cette patrie, les Français ne pourront en aucun temps et sous aucuns prétextes, construire ni bâtir aucuns forts sur la Belle-Rivière, entre ses sources et l'embouchure de la Rivière-Neuve, qui se dégorge à cent quatre-vingts lieues au-dessous du fort du Quesne, n'y établir les terres qui se trouvent entre le lac Crié [Erie] et la rive septentrionale de l'Ohio, depuis la rivière Casconchiagou jusqu'à l'embouchure de la rivière Souhiato; c'est-à‑dire, que toute cette étendue de pays restera inculte, inhabitée et en désert.

Art. VII. Qu'afin néanmoins que la France puisse mettre ses sujets et ses possessions à l'abri et à couvert des incursions des sauvages, cette couronne conservera, de son côté, le fort de Catarakoui, ou Frontenac sur le lac Ontario et le fort de Niagara, au nord du lac Crié, comme aussi le droit de se fortifier dans les autres limites, lors et ainsi qu'elle le trouvera à propos.

Art. VIII. Il sera libre à toutes les nations et peuples sauvages, sous quelques dominations qu'ils soient, de changer à leur volonté de domicile, et de se retirer et de s'établir suivant leurs goûts et leurs caprices sur les domaines de l'Angleterre ou de la France, sans qu'aucune de ces deux puissances puisse jamais y porter obstacles ou s'en formaliser. Nota. Cet article est fondé sur l'amour de la liberté, inné chez tous les sauvages, et l'on ne peut, sans injustice, leur ôter le droit primitif de propriété sur les terres où la providence les a fait naître et placés."

Article IX. Freedom of the Indians to trade with either power, but prohibition of the passage of traders of either country into the territory assigned to the other.

Articles X, XI, and XII provide arrangements regarding fugitives from justice among the Indians.

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8 Doniol, Histoire de la Participation de la France à l'Établissement des États‑Unis d'Amérique.

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9 Wharton (ed.), Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, VI.25 ff.; Secret Journals of Congress, IV.74‑78; Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, VIII.118, 148.

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10 Circourt, Histoire de l'Action Commune de la France et de l'Amérique pour Indépendance des États‑Unis, III.290.

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11 Besides the projects of the Mémoire itself, note this significant passage (p103:

"Quelque soit l'issue de la guerre des Anglais et des Américains, la fin de cette révolution ne peut finirº sans que les puissances belligérantes de l'Europe ne se mêlent de la querelle, ou ne servent de médiateurs. Dans ces deux cas, un congrès général peut changer les dispositions du traité de Versailles ; et, en supposant que les Provinces-Unies de l'Amérique soient séparées de leur métropole, la France est en mesure pour réclamer ses anciennes possessions."

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12 Fitzmaurice, Life of Shelburne, III.258. For Rayneval's interview with Shelburne, and his suggestion that England would find in the negotiations of 1754 relating to the Ohio the boundaries that England then saw fit to assign the colonies, see Circourt, III.46, and Doniol, V.133.

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13 J. B. D'Esménard, Mémoires du Prince de la Paix, Don Manuel Godoy (Brussels, 1836), III.113.

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14 Doniol, V.362‑365. Compare treaty of alliance, 1778, articles VI and XI.

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15 There are some grounds for suspecting France of desiring to evade the pledges regarding conquest in the Revolution. The question of the Canada invasion and the occupation of Detroit is one. See D'Estaing's proclamation to the French, and Lafayette's to the Indians, Kingsford's Canada, VI.342, VII.13; Washington's fears are in Sparks's Washington, VI.106; cf. Secret Journals of Congress, II.125; Lafayette to Vergennes, July 18, 1779, Stevens's Facsimiles, vol. XVII, no. 1609, from Archives des Affaires Étrangères, États‑Unis, IX, no. 42, fo. 154: "Shall we free our oppressed brethren, recover the fur trade, our intercourse with the Indians, and all the profits of our former establishments without their expenses and losses? Shall we throw into the balance of the new world a fourteenth state, which would be always attached to us, and which by its situation would give us a superiority in the troubles that may at some future day set America at variance? Opinions are very much divided on this point; I know yours, Monsieur le Comte, and my own inclination is not unknown to you. I do not therefore dwell on it in any sense, and regard this idea only as a means of deceiving and embarrassing the enemy." But Vergennes's policy seems to have been to leave Canada to England (Doniol, III.566).

Colonel La Balme's attempt to take Detroit in the fall of 1780 with a force of Illinois and Indiana Frenchmen who proclaimed that they would not recognize any authority but that of the king of France, and who were aroused against the American rule by La Balme, is certainly suspicious. La Balme was in 1777 inspector of horse in Armand's legion. He was relieved from service under Congress in 1778. On June 27, 1780, from Fort Pitt, he gave a report to Luzerne, the French minister, of his proposed western visit, figuring in his talks to the Indians as a French chief, who had come to learn the real inclinations of the children of the king of France (Report on Canadian Archives, 1888, 865). On his arrival in Vincennes and the Illinois settlements he encouraged the Frenchmen to resist American authority; they were "buoyed up with the flattering hopes of being again subject to the King of France", according to reports by Americans resident in the French villages. Indeed, he was reported to have told the Indians that in the spring there would be French troops in the Illinois country. His expedition against Detroit miscarried, and he was killed and his papers sent to Canada. Had Detroit been taken by Frenchmen of the Illinois country, who professed independence of the United States, complications to the advantage of France might have been raised in the discussion of the terms of peace. See Michigan Pioneer Colls., IX.641; Canadian Archives, Series B, vol. 122, p569; vol. 123, p3; vol. 182, p489; Report on Canadian Archives, 1887, 228; 1888, 865, 882; George Rogers Clark MSS., vol. 50, pp51, 66, 71; Calendar Virginia State Papers, I.380.

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16 For material on this subject the reader should consult Gayarré, History of LouisianaIII; Winsor, Westward Movement; Roosevelt, Winning of the West, III; T. M. Green, Spanish Conspiracy. McGillivray, the half-breed chief of the Creeks, informed White, the Indian agent of the United States in 1787, that if Congress would form a new state south of the Altamaha (presumably composed of the Indians), he would agree to take the oath of allegiance to it and to cede the Oconee lands to Georgia: American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I.20‑22. Compare American Historical Review, VIII.283, for evidence that the state of Franklin considered the proposition of admitting the Cherokees to representation in her legislature. For the Spanish attitude regarding the independence of the Indians, see American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I.278‑280;º Indian Affairs, I.17‑19. Instructions were given to the governor of Louisiana by Spain, May 24, 1793, that the Americans should be kept from the Mississippi and the mouth of the Ohio, and that the Cumberland settlers should be restrained to the north of the Cumberland river: George Rogers Clark MSS., XL.63. By her Indian treaties of 1792, Spain professed to have extended her limits on the east bank of the Mississippi forty leagues in one direction and sixty leagues in the other: George Rogers Clark MSS., A.

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17 Canadian Archives, Series Q, vol. 42, p153.

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18 American Historical Review, VIII.84.

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19 American Historical Review, VIII.713. Cf. page 252, ante.

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20 See the intercepted memorial written about 1787, Chatham MSS., 345, and in Report on Canadian Archives, 1890, 108‑119. It is possible that this was the work of Pierre Lyonnet; see Report of American Historical Association, 1896, I.946.

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21 See the letter of Fauchet, February 4, 1795, in Report of American Historical Association, 1903II. Jefferson had evidently received hints of De Moustier's project, for he wrote to our representative, Mr. Short, August 10, 1790, warning him to be on his guard even in communications to France. "It is believed here, that the Count de Moustier, during his residence with us, conceived the project of again engaging France in a colony upon our continent, and that he directed his views to some of the country on the Mississippi, and obtained and communicated a good deal of matter on the subject to his court." The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), V.220.

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22 Brissot de Warville, Nouveau Voyage dans les États‑Unis (Paris, 1791); Brissot et Clavière, De la France et des États‑Unis (London, 1787); Brissot and Clavière, Commerce of America with Europe (New York, 1795).

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23 American Historical Review, VII.706 ff.; Atlantic Monthly, XCIII.680.

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24 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), V.220, 229.

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25 Sorel, L'Europe et la Révolution Française, II.94.

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26 Ibid., 384 ff., 418 ff., III.17‑21. Compare Robinet, Danton Émigré, 243; G. Pallain, Le Ministère de Talleyrand sous le Directoire, pp. xii, xlii.

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27 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), I.212.

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28 American Historical Review, III.650: "The Origin of Genet's Projected Attack on Louisiana and the Floridas." The documentary material, edited by the present writer, is in the Report of the American Historical Association, 1896, I.930‑1107; 1897, 569‑679; and 1903, II.201‑286; and in the American Historical Review, II.474, and III.490. See also the additional material cited in the introduction to the documents in the Reports above mentioned.

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29 See Antepara, South American Emancipation Documents (London, 1810); Marquis de Rojas, El General Miranda; A. Rojas, Miranda dans la Révolution Française; Tejera, Life of Miranda; American Historical Review, III.655, 674, 711, VI.508; Edinburgh Review, XIII.288; Athenaeum, April 19, 1902; Sorel, L'Europe et la Révolution Française, III.175, et passim.

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30 See A. Rojas and Antepara for the early ideas of a general movement against Spanish America on the lines of Miranda's proposals in 1790 to Pitt.

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31 The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), I.216‑217. Compare American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I.144; A. Rojas, 9; Antepara, 172.

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32 Genet was born in 1763. He was the son of the head of the bureau of translation in the foreign office. He studied international law at Giessen, was attached to embassies at Berlin and Vienna, and was made chief of the bureau of translation at the death of his father, in 1781. He went to London in 1783 as secretary of a special embassy. In 1787 he became secretary of legation, and afterward chargé d'affaires at St. Petersburg. His revolutionary enthusiasm was so violent, however, that the Empress Catherine dubbed him "un démagogue enragé", and in the summer of 1792 he was obliged to leave the country. On his arrival at Paris, he was selected for the ministry to Holland, but it was finally determined to send him to the United States, possibly because of his relations to the king through his sister, Madame Campan, who was lady in waiting to the queen. The Girondists had seriously considered the banishment of the king to the United States, and it was thought that Genet might accompany the family. See Washington, Jefferson, and "Citizen" Genet, 1793, a pamphlet privately printed in 1899 by the late George C. Genet, son of the minister; see also American Historical Review, III.656.

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33 Report of the American Historical Association, 1896, I.946, note, 949, 952, 953.

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34 Report of American Historical Association, 1896, I.957‑967; 1903, II.201‑211.

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35 War was declared against England February 1, 1793, and against Spain, March 9, 1793.

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36 See F. Masson, Le Département des Affaires Étrangères pendant la Révolution, 323‑325. Mangourit's career illustrates the fact that the representatives of France in America were influential persons. In 1789 he edited for a few months Le Héraut de la Nation, and was the orator of his section in the National Assembly. He came to Charleston March 2, 1792, as consul. Returning after the downfall of Genet, he was sent on a mission to consider the situation of France in regard to the Two Sicilies and Spain. He was nominated as one of the members of the new commission of foreign relations in 1794, but refused the position, and was subsequently appointed first secretary of legation in Spain. Instructions were made out for him to succeed Adet in the United States in 1796, but, probably owing to the representations of Monroe against this appointment, it was not made. He afterward held various positions in the foreign service of France, among other missions being one to incite the Greeks to insurrection. Mangourit's correspondence during Genet's mission is published in the Report of American Historical Association, 1897, 569‑679.

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37 He had been a colonel of cavalry in the Revolution and surveyor-general at Savannah, and was afterward a member of Congress.

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38 Report of American Historical Association, 1897, 591 ff.

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39 If we may believe Mangourit, Tate had "all the virtues of the adventurers who conquered the two Indies, without their vices and ignorance; extremely severe to himself, drinking nothing but water; . . . a firm disciplinarian and having in his brain the coolness and the heat necessary to execute a great enterprise with small means. He conceives in the minute, decides on the instant; he carves in the right joint." Ibid., 646. Tate afterward led a band of free-lances in the service of France, whither he went after the failure of Genet's plans. One of his expeditions was the descent upon Ireland (the Fishguard Bay incident) in 1797. See E. Desbrière, Projets et Tentatives de Débarquement aux Iles Britanniques (Paris, 1900), 238; and M. E. James, The Fishguard Invasion by the French in 1797. See the index to Report of American Historical Association, 1897, under "Tate". In the Archives Nationales, A. F., III.186b, are interesting letters from Tate to [Elijah] Clarke, proposing a descent upon the Bermudas in 1796.

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40 Report of American Historical Association, 1897, 591 ff.

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41 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I.311.

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42 Report of American Historical Association, 1896, I.948; The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (ed. Ford), I.235.

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43 Report of American Historical Association, 1896, I.990.

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44 For Genet's activity in respect to Canada, see the Report on Canadian Archives, 1891, Note D, pp57‑84. There is considerable material throughout the reports of 1891 and 1894. The connection of Vermonters with this intrigue called out a mass of material; but it is not the purpose of the present paper to discuss the Canadian side of the French activity.

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45 Jean-Antoine-Joseph Fauchet was born in 1761 and died in 1834. He was chief of the bureau of administration of war (1791), secretary of the mayor of Paris (1792), and, in the same year, secretary of the executive power. After his mission to the United States (1794‑1795), he became a partizan of Napoleon, and was prefect of the Var and of the Gironde successively. In 1810 he was made a baron. Report of American Historical Association, 1903, II.288.

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46 Antoine-René-Charles-Mathurin de la Forest, son of the Marquis de Paulmy, was born in 1756. He became an attaché in the French legation to the United States in 1778, and was made vice-consul at Savannah in 1783. In 1785 he was charged with the management of the affairs of the consulat général in the United States. He replaced Barbé-Marbois in this place March 2, 1792. Recalled November 17, 1792, with the other agents who had served the crown, he desired to remain in America, but finally returned in order to avoid complications between France and the United States. Returning as consul-general with Fauchet, he fell under the suspicion of that minister, and was recalled. On his return to France, he received from Talleyrand the appointment of chief of the Direction des Fondes, where he served until 1799. He was connected with the negotiations of the treaty of 1800 with the United States, and also served in the negotiations of the treaty of Lunéville. In 1801 he was minister plenipotentiary at Munich, and was a councilor of state for foreign relations under the Empire. See Masson, Le Département des Affaires Étrangères pendant la Révolution, 320, 321, 407‑408, 455‑464.

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47 Report of American Historical Association, 1903, II.288‑294.

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48 Ibid., Fauchet's despatch of February 4, 1795.

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49 Sorel, in Revue Historique, XIII.46. See also XII.295, XIII.274, and D'Esménard, Mémoires du Prince de la Paix.

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50 In a letter of December 29, 1794, Short informed the Secretary of State of Godoy's mortification at Jay's treaty and of his bitterness against England. Godoy intimated that the points for a treaty between the United States and Spain might easily be arranged. Nevertheless he continued to procrastinate. See Morrissy, "William Short's Career" (Cornell, Thesis, MS., 1900, p530).

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51 D'Esménard, Mémoires du Prince de la Paix, II, ch. xxx (part i).

Thayer's Note: The Treaty of San Lorenzo is covered in detail by Arthur Preston Whitaker in Chapter 14 of The Spanish-American Frontier, 1783‑1795.

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52 Pierre-Auguste Adet was born in Paris in 1763. He was the author of some important chemical works, was the secretary of the first commission sent to San Domingo; then chef de l'administration des colonies, and afterward connected with the ministry of marine. He served for a time in Geneva, whence he was transferred to the United States. Adet's instructions and correspondence are in the Report of American Historical Association, 1903, II.

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53 Adet's despatch of February 3, 1797, ibid.

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54 See the instructions in Report of American Historical Association, 1897, 667‑671; Atlantic Monthly, XCIII.810.

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55 See Sorel's study of the relations of France and Spain, 1792‑1797, in Revue Historique, XIII.46, 274; and Mémoires du Prince de la Paix, III.116; Barras, Memoirs (New York, 1895), II.359.

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56 See American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I.463; Report of American Historical Association, 1896, I.1063, and index under "Fulton". Samuel Fulton was one of the interesting American adventurers of the type of Tate. He was a North Carolinian who removed to the Creek country about 1791. Refusing to swear allegiance to the king of Spain, he was forced to leave in 1793. The spring of 1794 found him acting as an assistant to George Rogers Clark in the service of France, with the position of major of cavalry. After the failure of the expedition he went to Paris to collect the claims of Clark and himself against the French government. Here he was commissioned as colonel in the cavalry, but he writes, "I begin to be D–––––d tired of Paris." In the summer of 1795 he was back in the United States and was sent by the minister, Adet, to report on the situation of the followers of Elijah Clarke, who had fled to Amelia Island after the failure of the Genet project in which they had a part. Adet regretted that the peace of Basel compelled him to withdraw French support from this promising movement against the Spanish possessions (Report of American Historical Association, 1897, 663). Fulton then went to Kentucky some time prior to November 2, 1795, to inform George Rogers Clark that the French government ratified the proceedings of Genet and himself (ibid., 1896, I.1095). Colonel Charles M. Thruston wrote to his son Charles at Louisville under date of Frederick Co., Va., February 17, 1796: "We have a report here that Col. Fulton has returned from France with a commission for Gen Clark of Major General in the French service, with an appointment of three hundred dollars a month for him and commissions for all his officers. If this be true it must have reached you before this; and if it be so, I beg you, present my congratulations to the General, and my best respects. For his country has been ungrateful enough to let his valuable services pass by unregarded and neglected" (Draper MSS., Trip, 1868, IV.223). Chisholm, who was connected with Blount's conspiracy, informs us (in Declaration of November 29, 1797, State Dept. MSS., Bureau of Indexes and Archives, Despatches, England, vol. 5, no. 57) that in the winter of 1795, he met, between the towns of the Creeks and the Cherokee Nations, a person named Fulton, who said he was a colonel of horse in the French service. "He told me," says Chisholm, "that he had come from France in order to get the Indians consent for the establishment of a Republic in the Floridas, as they the French were to take it, or to get it (I don't recollect which) from the Spaniards; as I was friendly to the United States I advised him to leave the country as soon as possible which I believe he did as I have not heard of him since; the said Fulton is a tall handsome man upwards of six feet high, well mounted and handsomely equipped in every particular, appeared to be about twenty-five years of age." Fulton arrived in Philadelphia in the middle of March, after his long and disagreeable journey (Report of American Historical Association, 1896, I.1098), and returned again to France bearing Adet's despatches about April 19, 1796 (Affaires Étrangères, É.‑U. Corresp. vol. 45, fo. 378). In a letter of George Rogers Clark to Fulton, dated March 2, 1797, he refers to a letter from Fulton of "last December" enclosing copies of patents of general of brigade accorded to Clark by the Directory (Baron Marc de Villiers du Terrage, Les Dernières Années de la Louisiane Française, 362). On May 26, 1797, Delacroix, minister of foreign relations, refers to the granting of a commission to George Rogers Clark as general of brigade without activity, and says: "It is not indifferent to our interests to preserve among these people and the men who have their confidence, all the dispositions which are favorable to us." Affaires Étrangères, États‑Unis, vol. 47, fo. 305.

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57 Fulton to Delacroix, October 24, 1796. Affaires Étrangères, La. et Fla., vol. 7, fo. 44.

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58 Ibid., États‑Unis, vol. 47, fo. 305.

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59 His Mémoire ou Coup d'oeil Rapide sur mes Différens Voyages et mon Séjour dans la Nation Crëckº is one of the sources for our knowledge of these Indians; but he was a hopeless liar, one of his most interesting concoctions being a statement to the French government that he had defeated ten thousand regulars under George Rogers Clark near Detroit by a force of six thousand Northern Indians under his command (De Villiers du Terrage, Les Dernières Années de la Louisiane Française, 364). For his career, see in addition to his Mémoire, the State Papers and Correspondence bearing upon the Purchase of the Territory of Louisiana, 20; American State Papers, Indian Affairs, I.395; Pickett, Alabama (1851 ed.), I.115 ff.; Report of American Historical Association, 1896, I.1053.

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60 Ibid., 1903II, gives the draft of his instructions. See also American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I.742.

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61 For Adet's policy in this period and his relations with Collot, see Report of American Historical Association, 1903II. Collot's report is in print in part: Collot, Voyage dans l'Amérique Septentrionale . . . avec un Atlas de 36 Cartes (2 vols., Paris, 1826), and in English: Journey in North America (Paris, 1826), also with the atlas. The Portfolio, Jan. 28, 1804, p30, published a prospectus of the work. See also Gibbs, Memoirs (1846), 350, et passim; Smith, St. Clair Papers, II.395; Jefferson, Works (1854), IX.200; Gayarré, Louisiana, III.383; Cruzat, in New Orleans Picayune, March 18, 1901; Michigan Pioneer Collections, XXV.171; Report on Canadian Archives, 1891; Pickering Papers indexed in Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, Sixth Series, VIII.44, et passim.

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62 In view of these designs, there is significance in the Farewell Address, which Washington issued while Collot was making his investigations. Washington informed the West that "it must, of necessity, owe the secure enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions, to the weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble community of interest as one nation. Any other tenure by which the West can hold this essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, or from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign Power, must be intrinsically precarious." He added that the treaties with Spain and England had given the Western people all they could desire in respect to foreign relations, and asked: "Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the preservation of these advantages on the union by which they were procured? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them with aliens?" American State Papers, Foreign Relations, I.34‑38.

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63 State Papers and Correspondence bearing upon the Purchase of the Territory of Louisiana (Washington, 1903), 29.

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64 See Atlantic Monthly, XCIII.813.

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65 British War Office (Colonial) Secret Entry Book and Report on Canadian Archives, 1891, "Upper Canada", 59.

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66 On the whole matter see the following: Collot, Journey in North America, II.11, 64, 65, 229; Aff. Ét., États‑Unis, vol. 47, folios 124, 126, 130, 137; American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II.66 ff.; Annals of Fifth Congress, 1797‑1799, 498, 2245 ff., 3131 ff.; King's Correspondence of King, II.195‑199, 208, 209, 216‑218, 236, 253‑256, 258. The disclosures to King made by Chisholm are in the Department of State, Bureau of Indexes and Archives, Despatches, England, vols. 4 and 5, and also in the King MSS. in the New York Historical Society, folio A, 378, 385, 386, 391. See also the British Public Record Office, America, XVIII (containing Liston's correspondence on the subject); Report on Canadian Archives, 1891, "Upper Canada", 71, 77, and "Lower Canada", 149, et passim; Michigan Pioneer Collections, XXIV.666, XXV.27; Massachusetts Historical Collections, Sixth Series, VIII.44, et passim (Pickering Papers); Upham's Pickering; Gibbs, Memoirs of the Administrations of Washington and Adams, I.474, et passim; Roosevelt, Winning of the West, I, p. xi (citing the Blount MSS., sent him by the Honorable W. D. Stephens, of Los Angeles, California), IV.212 and index, s.v. Blount; M. J. Wright, Life and Services of William Blount; Riley, "Spanish Policy in Mississippi after the Treaty of San Lorenzo", in Report of American Historical Association, 1897, 177; Hinsdale, "Southern Boundary of the United States", ibid., 1893, 331; Gayarré, History of Louisiana, III [Chs. 6 and 8]; Marbois, History of Louisiana (1830), 163‑165; Winsor, Westward Movement, 561‑573.

General George Rogers Clark, of Kentucky, wrote on March 2, 1797, to his old companion in the Genet expedition, Colonel Fulton, then in the service of the Directory of France: "We have here English agents from Canada to enrol volunteers destined to march against Louisiana. Some days ago I received propositions from the governor of Canada to march at the head of two thousand men against the Spanish establishments of New Mexico." The plan, he explains, was to occupy St. Louis, then to divide the army; one party would descend the Mississippi and the other march upon Santa Fé. Terrage, Les Dernières Années de la Louisiane Française, 362‑363.

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67 See Henry Adams's account of Godoy's relation to this action and of his loss of power under French influence (History of the United States, I.350‑351).

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68 See his letter to Lord Lansdowne, 1795, in Revue d'Histoire Diplomatique, III.64‑77, and his Memoir concerning the Commercial Relations of the United States with England, etc., London, 1806. The French original I have not seen (Recueil des Mémoires de l'Institut, 1st series, II, 1799). Cf. Talleyrand's Memoirs (New York, 1891), I.188.

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69 There were many French travelers who visited the United States and described the Mississippi valley between 1790 and 1803. See Report of American Historical Association, 1903, II (introduction). In 1798 Dupont de Nemours and some other French philosophers, a delegation from the National Institute, had applied through Sir Joseph Banks for passports from the English government, the Directory having given them passports to go to the United States with a view to improve and extend the sciences. Mr. King, the American minister, wrote that he understood that the object of the mission was to form an establishment high up the Mississippi, out of the limits of the United States, and within the boundaries of Spain. President Adams agreed with Mr. King that no encouragement should be given to this mission. Adams, Works, VIII.596. The possible connection with the political designs of France is obvious. Compare Michaux's Journal (Thwaites, Early Western Travels, III.53, 89, 90).

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70 H. Adams, History of the United States, I.355 ff.

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71 Pallain, Le Ministère de Talleyrand sous le Directoire, 312.

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72 Atlantic Monthly, XCIII.815. The despatches of the American minister to England, Rufus King, during the early months of 1798 show that Grenville and Pitt seriously contemplated freeing the Spanish-American colonies by joint operations on the part of England and the United States, in case Spain fell completely under French control. King embraced the project eagerly. Hamilton's connection with the matter, as effective head of the American army, is an interesting feature. The episode has its importance for the present discussion, in showing how closely Spanish-American matters were involved in the Louisiana question; how certain it was that the United States would be involved in the European alliances so long as the fate of the Mississippi valley was uncertain; and how Jefferson's project of combining with England in case France occupied New Orleans was prefigured in this Federalist negotiation. See King, Correspondence, II.278, 283, 305, 367, 392, 453, 454, 511, 519, 650, 654, 657. The works of Adams and Hamilton should also be consulted.

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73 H. Adams, History of the United States, II.8, 9.

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74 Jefferson's Works (ed. H. A. Washington, 1853‑1854), IV.432.

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75 When the French minister Adet was striving to secure the election of Jefferson to the presidency in 1786, he reported to his government this estimate of Jefferson's character: "I do not know whether, as I am told, we will always find in him a man entirely devoted to our interests. Mr. Jefferson likes us because he detests England; he seeks to unite with us because he suspects us less than Great Britain, but he would change his sentiments toward us to‑morrow, perhaps, if to‑morrow Great Britain ceased to inspire him with fear. Jefferson, although a friend of liberty and the sciences, although an admirer of the efforts which we have made to break our chains and dissipate the cloud of ignorance which weighs upon mankind, Jefferson, I say, is an American, and, by that title, it is impossible for him to be sincerely our friend. An American is the born enemy of European peoples" (Adet's despatch of 1796, Report of American Historical Association, 1903II).

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76 This danger was increased, owing to the indifference, and, at times, the antagonism of the northeastern commercial section to the trans-Allegheny lands.


Thayer's Notes:

a A simpler account of the Genet affair, leaning on this paper and on another by Turner but putting it in its wider context and filling in some details that here are assumed to be known by the reader, is given by Henry Jones Ford in Chapter 6 of Washington and His Colleagues.

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b The improbable antecedents and colorful career of this Franco-Scottish Creek Indian are neatly summarized by Ford in Washington and His Colleagues, pp83‑84; Alexander McGillivray figures prominently in several other parts of this site as well: links to them, including the portrait of him by Trumbull, are collected in my note to Gayarré's History of Louisiana.


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