Brigadier-General Gayoso de Lemos had been installed into office on the 1st of August, 1797, but it was only in the month of January, 1798, that, in conformity to established usage, he published his Bando de Buen Gobierno — a sort of charter, or programme, making known the principles and regulations on which the Governor thought that a good government ought to be established, and by which he was to be guided in his future administration. It contained nothing worthy of any special notice.
Shortly after, he addressed to the Commandants at the different posts throughout the colony the following set of instructions, in relation to grants of lands:
"1o— Commandants are forbidden1 to grant land to a new settler, coming from another spot where he has already obtained a grant. Such a one must either buy land, or obtain a grant from the Governor himself.
"2o— If a settler be a foreigner, unmarried, and without either slaves, money, or other property, no grant is p387 to be made to him, until he shall have remained four years in the post, demeaning himself well in some honest and useful occupation.
"3o— Mechanics are to be protected, but no land is to be granted to them, until they shall have acquired some property, and a residence of three years, in the exercise of their trade.
"4o— No grant of land is to be made to any unmarried emigrant, who has neither trader nor property, until after a residence of four years, during which time he must have been employed in the culture of the ground.
"5o— But if, after a residence of two years, such a person should marry the daughter of an honest farmer, with his consent, and be by him recommended, a grant of land may be made to him.
"6o— Liberty of conscience is not to be extended beyond the first generation; the children of the emigrant must become Catholics; and emigrants, not agreeing to this, must not be admitted, but expelled, even when they bring property with them. This is to be explained to settlers who do not profess the Catholic faith.
"7o— In Upper Louisiana, no settler is to be admitted, who is not a farmer or a mechanic.
"8o— It is expressly recommended to Commandants, to watch that no preacher of any religion but the Catholic comes into the province.
"10o— If he brings negroes, twenty additional arpens are to be granted him for each: but, in no case, are more than •eight hundred arpens to be granted to an emigrant.
"11o— No land is to be granted to a trader.
"12o— Immediately on the arrival of a settler, the p388 oath of allegiance is to be administered to him. If he has a wife, proof is to be demanded of their marriage; and, if they bring any property, they are to be required to declare what part belongs to either of them; and they are to be informed that the discovery of any wilful falsehood in this declaration will produce the forfeiture of the land granted them, and of the improvements made thereon.
"13o— Without proof of a lawful marriage, or of the absolute ownership of negroes, no grant is to be made for any wife, or negro.
"14o— The grant is to be forfeited, if a settlement be not made within the year, or one tenth part of the land put in cultivation within two.
"15o— No grantee is to be allowed to sell his land, until he has produced three crops on a tenth part of it; but, in case of death, it may pass to an heir in the province, but not to one without, unless he come and settle on it.
"16o— If the grantee owes debts in the province, the proceeds of the first four crops are to be applied to their discharge, in preference to that of debts due abroad. If, before the third crop be made, it becomes necessary to evict the grantee, on account of his bad conduct, the land shall be given to the young man and young woman, residing within •one mile of it, whose good conduct may show them to be the best deserving of it; and the decision is to be made by an assembly of notable planters, presided over by the Commandant.
"17o— Emigrants are to settle contiguous to old establishments, without leaving any vacant lands between — in order that the people may more easily protect each other, in case of any invasion by the Indians, and that the administration of justice, and a compliance with police regulations, may be facilitated."
p389 In the beginning of this year, 1798, New Orleans was visited by three illustrious strangers, the Duke of Orleans, with his two brothers, the Duke of Montpensier and the Count of Beaujolais, who were striking examples of those remarkable vicissitudes of fortune with which the annals of history are so replete. The royal fugitives who had thus come to claim the hospitality of the humble town which, under the patronage of their ancestors, had been founded in the wilderness, on the distant bank of the Mississippi, were the descendants of the celebrated regent, Duke of Orleans, and, through him, of Louis XIII, king of France. They were of a race which, without interruption, had given monarchs to that kingdom for centuries; and if there ever was a house that could boast of pretensions to durability, it was theirs, so profoundly and ineradicably laid had seemed to be its foundations in the very depths, not only the broad kingdom of France, but also of the whole continent of Europe. There was a day, however, when "the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it!" Men, who had suddenly been precipitated so low from the heights of a prosperity which seemed destined to be the everlasting and lawful possession of their family by the prescriptive right derived from so many centuries, were certainly fit objects of sympathy in their misfortune, and they met with a generous and warm-hearted reception, both from the Spanish authorities and from the inhabitants of Louisiana.a Costly entertainments were given to them, and they spent several weeks in New Orleans and its neighborhood. They appeared to take much interest in the destinies of a colony which was the creation of France, and they examined minutely the sugar plantation which had been lately established by Etienne Boré, near the city. When a "mousquetaire," p390 or guardsman in the household troops of Louis XV, and watching over the safety of the majesty of France, little did he dream that the day would come when three princes of the blood would be his guests in the wilderness of America! What strange events will not time bring on, and how shifting are the scenes in which it delights! The Count of Beaujolais and the Duke of Montpensier soon slept in the tomb; but the other fugitive exile — the Duke of Orleans — whose father's head had fallen on the scaffold, ascended the throne of France, and the planter's grandson became, in his turn, in the gorgeous halls of royalty, the guest of him who had been the planter's guest. But again "the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it," for it was not strong, and not "built upon a rock." Now are the king's children exiles and wanderers on the face of the earth. Will it be the decree of capricious fortune that one of them shall taste the hospitality which his royal father enjoyed in Louisiana in 1798?
But, to return to events having a more direct bearing on the destinies of the colony, it must here be recorded that Colonel Charles Grandpré had been appointed by the Spanish authority to take the command at Natchez, in the place of Brigadier-General Gayoso de Lemos, who had now become Governor of Louisiana. But Grandpré's energy, and the little favor with which he looked upon the Americans, being well known, the "Permanent Committee of Public Safety" declared unanimously that his presence would not be acceptable, and might be the cause of a dangerous outbreak. Under such circumstances, it was thought prudent to leave the command of that post to Captain Minor, who was then acting as civil and military commandant ad interim. Captain Minor, as Gayoso had done before, recognized the powers of the p391 "Permanent Committee," and this concession restored so much harmony between the two parties, that Lieutenant Pope, with the men under his orders, retired a few miles from Fort Panmure into the interior.
In the meantime, General Wilkinson, who was the commander-in‑chief of the American army, thought that it was opportune to make some demonstration that would satisfy the Federal Government of the sincerity of his zeal, gratify the impatience of the Western people, and so far operate upon the Spanish authorities as to induce them to evacuate the forts of which they were still in possession. In consequence of this determination, he sent Captain Guion at the head of a detachment, with orders to assume the command of Natchez. He also intrusted Captain Guion with a despatch for Gayoso, in which he said of the bearer: "This officer's experience and good sense, and the powers with which he is clothed by the President of the United States, conspire to promise a happy result to his command, in which I flatter myself I shall not be disappointed." In obedience, no doubt, to the instructions which had been given to him by Mr. Wilkinson, and perhaps from his own sense of propriety, Guion, on his arrival at Natchez, behaved towards the Spaniards in the most conciliatory manner. He checked any public manifestation of disrespect to them, and exerted himself to the utmost to allay the excitement which prevailed in the district. He almost annihilated the authority of the "Permanent Committee of Public Safety," which had adopted, he thought, imprudent and improper measures, and he went even so far as to threaten2 to break it up by force. But Guion's liberality and the amiableness of his deportment towards the Spaniards did not seem to accelerate their movements, and to procure their desired removal from the p392 forts Panmure and Nogales (or Walnut Hills), which were the only remaining ones to be evacuated — so that Guion himself, becoming impatient, declared that he would not wait further than the 1st of April, 1799, and would then attack the forts.
But, at last, the Spaniards having lost, as it has been seen by Power's report to Carondelet, all hopes of operating a dismemberment of the Union, an order was sent by the court of Madrid to comply with the stipulations of the treaty, to have the line of demarcation surveyed, and to surrender the ceded territory. Thus, on the 23rd of March, Fort Nogales, at Walnut Hills, was evacuated, and its garrison came down to Natchez, where they remained until the 29th, when, during the night, the Spaniards, without having given any previous notice to the Americans, abandoned the fort, after having sent all their artillery, ammunition, baggage, &c., on board of the boats and galleys they had on the river. By daybreak, the Americans entered the fort, which they discovered to be vacant, and the gates of which had been left open.
In virtue of an act of Congress approved on the 10th of May, 1798, the territory thus surrendered by the Spaniards was organized into a territorial government, and designated as the "Mississippi territory." On the 26th of the same month, General Wilkinson arrived with the federal forces at Natchez, where he established his head-quarters, and, shortly after, removed to the well known spot on the river, called "La Roche à Davion" by the French, "Loftus's Heights" by the English, and, subsequently, Fort Adams by the Americans, from the fortifications which were then begun by Wilkinson.
Thus were defeated all the schemes and efforts of Spain to protect her American colonies against the encroachments which she foresaw; and from the day p393 her feeble hand thus relinquished the grasp of so important a portion of her dominions in Louisiana, may be said to date the rapid decay of her power on the continent which she claims to have discovered, and where she had accomplished so much. The danger that threatened Spain in America had long been foreseen by one of her ablest statesmen, the Count of Aranda, who, in the cabinet council which was convened in Madrid by the King to determine whether Spain, after the revolution of 1768 which had resulted in the expulsion of Governor Ulloa from Louisiana, should persist in accepting the donation of that province by the French King and make the necessary efforts to recover its possession, had so strenuously spoken in the affirmative, on the ground of the urgent necessity of establishing a permanent barrier between the growing power and ambition of the northern British colonies and the wealthy but weak provinces of Mexico. After signing the treaty of Paris, in 1783, the same minister had submitted to his Catholic Majesty a secret memoir,3 in which he declared that the independence of the British colonies filled his mind with grief and fear, and expressed his belief that both France and Spain acted in opposition to their interests when they espoused the cause of those colonies, because he regarded the existence of the United States of America as highly dangerous to the Spanish American possessions, and, on this subject, used the following very remarkable language:
"This federal republic is born a pigmy, if I may be allowed so to express myself. It has required the support of two such powerful States as France and Spain to obtain its independence. The day will come when she will be a giant, a colossus formidable even to these p394 countries. She will forget the services she has received from the two powers, and will think only of her own aggrandizement. The liberty of conscience, the facility of establishing a new population upon immense territories, together with the advantages of a new government (meaning free, no doubt), will attract the agriculturists and mechanics of all nations, for men ever run after fortune; and, in a few years, we shall see the tyrannical existence of this very colossus of which I speak.
"The first step of this nation, after it has become powerful, will be to take possession of the Floridas in order to have the command of the Gulf of Mexico, and, after having rendered difficult our commerce with New Spain, she will aspire to the conquest of that vast empire, which it will be impossible for us to defend against a formidable power established on the same continent, and in its immediate neighborhood. These fears are well founded; they must be realized in a few years, if some greater revolution, even more fatal, does not sooner take place in our Americas."
In conclusion, he proposed, as the best means of averting this imminent danger, that Spain should relinquish the Americas and establish therein three of the Infantes, one to be the king of Mexico, one of Peru, and the other of Costa Firme, retaining under the dominion of the mother country only Porto Rico and Cuba; and he recommended that a treaty of commerce be entered into between France and Spain in relation to these countries, from the advantages of which Great Britain should be excluded.
These views explain the tenaciousness with which, to the last moment, Spain held fast to every inch of the ground which she considered as constituting a rampart against the anticipated aggressions of her great north-western neighbor. In relation to her late intrigues with p395 Wilkinson, in which she had engaged in the vain hope of crippling, when still in the cradle, the new-born giant pointed out to her by Count Aranda, Monette says, in his History of the Valley of the Mississippi: "The temerity of this last intrigue, put in operation by the Governor of Louisiana, astonishes every reflecting mind. But General Wilkinson was a talented and ambitious man; he had received many favors from the Spanish governors nearly ten years before; he had received exclusive privileges in the commerce with Louisiana; a long and confidential intercourse had existed between him and Governor Mirò; he was known to have indulged a predilection for Spanish authority, and was ambitious of power and distinction; he was now at the head of the western armies, and, with the power and influence of his station, he might effectually bring about a separation of the West, the formation of a new republic, of which he himself might be the supreme ruler, and conduct the alliance with Spain. Such may have been the reasonings of Baron de Carondelet, at this late period.
"But General Wilkinson had already proceeded too far in his treasonable intrigues and correspondence with the Spanish Governor, and the suspicions of his own government rested upon him. The brilliant prospects and the bright hopes of becoming the head of a new confederation, had vanished from his imagination, and he was anxious to retain his command, and with it his standing as a patriotic citizen of the United States. Hence, in the summer of 1797, he had given to Power a cold reception; he had informed him that the time for a separation had passed by; that now the project of the Baron de Carondelet would be chimerical in the extreme; that the Western people, by the late treaty, had obtained all they desired, and that now they entertained no wish for p396 an alliance with either Spain or France; that the political ferment which existed four years previously had entirely subsided; and that, far from desiring an alliance with Louisiana under the Spanish Crown, the people of Kentucky, prior to the treaty of Madrid, had proposed to invade Louisiana with an army of ten thousand men, to be put in motion upon the first open rupture between the two governments; and that now they were highly exasperated at the spoliations committed upon the American commerce by French privateers, who brought their prizes into the port of New Orleans for condemnation and confiscation. He gave it as his opinion that the Governor-general would therefore consult his own interest, and the interest of his Catholic Majesty, by an immediate compliance with the terms of the treaty.
"General Wilkinson also complained that his connection and his correspondence with the Spanish Governor had been divulged; that all his plans had been defeated, and the labor of ten years had been lost; that he had now burned all his correspondence and destroyed his cyphers, and that duty and honor forbade a continuance of the intercourse. Yet he still indulged the hope of being able to manifest his confidence in the Baron; for it was probable that he would receive from the Federal Government the appointment of Governor over the Natchez district, after its surrender agreeably to treaty, when he should not want an opportunity of promoting his political projects."
Although Spain had been drawn into the wars which desolated the European continent, still Louisiana had felt none of their direful consequences, and had continued to enjoy an uninterrupted tranquillity, which was only marred by the fears resulting from the rapid extension of the American settlements. She could already see the p397 shadows of the coming giant shooting across her bosom and darkening the sky.
The commerce of New Orleans, however, had been steadily increasing, particularly with the United States, and this circumstance was deemed sufficient to require the appointment of an official agent by the Federal Government, to protect their commercial interests. "Besides," says Colonel Ellicott, in his journal, "the French privateers had now become very troublesome to the trade of the United States in the West Indies, and about the Gulf of Mexico. A number of our captured vessels were taken into the port of New Orleans, condemned, and confiscated with their cargoes at a trifling price, our seamen treated in the most shameful manner, and our trade otherwise brought into great jeopardy." This induced the American commissioner, Colonel Ellicott, to prevail upon the Governor of Louisiana to recognize Daniel Clark, Jr., as consul for the United States until the President should make a regular appointment, which was shortly after conferred on Evan Jones, with Huling as vice-consul.4
In consequence of the close proximity of the American and Spanish posts, a convention was entered into between Governor Gayoso and General Wilkinson for the mutual surrender of deserters, and also an agreement, somewhat of the like nature, was made between the Governor of the Mississippi territory, at Natchez, and Don Jose Vidal, Commandant of the Spanish post, on the opposite side of the river, for the reciprocal surrender of fugitive slaves. The animosity which had existed between the American and Spanish authorities seemed to have disappeared entirely, and to have given way to an amicable intercourse and to good feelings. p398 In commemoration of this happy change, the Spanish Commandant, Don Jose Vidal, gave the name of "Concord" to the fort which was erected on the west side of the river, in front of Fort Panmure on the east side, and the present parish of Concordia derives its appellation from this circumstance. The village of Vidalia now existing opposite Natchez, is so called from the old Spanish Commandant, Don Jose Maria Vidal.
Under the royal decree, of the 24th of August, 1770, the civil and military governors of Louisiana had alone been empowered to make concessions of the lands belonging to the Crown; but, on the 21st of October, in the year 1798, the King of Spain thought proper to vest that power exclusively in the Intendant of the provinces of Louisiana and West Florida.
In consequence of this royal schedule, the Intendant Morales issued, on the 17th of July, 1799, a set of regulations, to which the concessions of land should hereafter be subjected.5 These regulations were considered at the time inimical to the Americans, and calculated to prevent their emigration into Louisiana. Another measure adopted by Morales was looked upon as still more hostile and as the harbinger of future oppressive acts, aimed at crippling the commerce of the United States.
It will be recollected that, by the treaty of Madrid concluded in October, 1795, between Spain and the United States, the citizens of the latter power had secured to themselves the right of deposit in New Orleans for their western produce, for the space of three years, to be counted from the date of the ratification of the treaty, and that his Catholic Majesty had bound himself, at the expiration of the three years, to extend the time, or to designate some other suitable point within p399 the island of New Orleans, to serve as a place of deposit.6 The Intendant Morales, considering that three years had elapsed since the ratification of the treaty between his Sovereign and the United States, issued an order,7 prohibiting the use of New Orleans as a place of deposit by the western people, but without designating any other suitable point. When this measure became known in the West, it excited the most intense indignation, and an expedition against New Orleans was openly contemplated. President Adams himself had been obliged to make some demonstrations in the way pointed out by the current of popular opinion, and had ordered three regiments of the regular army to concentrate on the Ohio, and to wait for further orders. Twelve additional regiments were ordered to be raised by Congress, and other preparations were made, which seemed to indicate that an immediate campaign was projected against Louisiana.
When, to meet such dangers, all the resources of the colony should have been carefully husbanded, and when the greatest harmony should have prevailed among the Spanish officers, a misunderstanding of a serious nature had sprung up between the Intendant Morales and Governor Gayoso — between the purse and the sword. On the 31st of January, 1799, Morales, in a despatch to his government, complained bitterly of the temper of the Governor, of his mode of thinking, of his disposition to indulge in useless expenses, and said that, in such circumstances, he, Morales, could not have it in his power to serve the King as effectually as he wished.8 On the 31st of March, he again complained that the p400 Governor illegally assumed powers which belonged to the Intendant; that he, Morales, was obliged to yield to many of the Governor's unjust exigencies, in order to avoid scandalous disputes, and that he had in vain made to that officer confidential observations on the subject; he further went on animadverting with severity on several acts of Gayoso's administration. "The9 Governor's natural disposition," said Morales, "to waste what he owns as well as what he borrows, and to cause those about him to do the same, and his desire to increase his prerogatives and power, and to show himself generous at the expense of the King, are much more the causes of all the defensive preparations which he requires, than his fear of the invasion from the Americans, which serves as a pretext for his demands." He then recites in detail the reasons why he thinks that the Americans have given up all ideas of attacking Louisiana, ever since they have been put in possession of the ceded territory, and he comments on the smallness of Wilkinson's forces, which do not exceed four hundred men. He complains also of the orders issued and of the measures taken by Gayoso, in relation to the galleys and boats which constituted the naval resources of the colony. "Without knowing more than I do10 in this matter," writes Morales, p401 "the Governor thinks himself superior in nautical knowledge to the best marine officers. These things have produced between us sufficiently bitter and disagreeable discussions, and the Governor goes so far as to pretend, that the Intendant must submit to all his caprices, without having one word to say, when he, the Governor, treats with contempt all the reasons which are laid before him to avoid drawing his Majesty into fruitless expenses. For these reasons, I think it indispensably necessary that the King should do one of these two things: either confine the powers of this Governor within the limits which his Majesty may deem proper to prescribe, or, taking into consideration the information I have given as to the condition of the royal treasury in this colony, supply me with the means of satisfying the exigencies of this officer."
Morales, among the sources of unnecessary expenses which he enumerates, mentions the establishment11 of couriers between Pensacola and Savannah, the cost of which he has not as yet been able to ascertain. "But, so far," says he, "they have been of no further use than procuring gazettes from that section of the country; and we all know what faith is to be put in the news to be found in the northern gazettes, in which any one may insert what he pleases for four reals."
On the 30th of April, 1799, Morales wrote to his government to acknowledge having received from the Viceroy of New Spain $434,238, to pay the expenses of the preceding year, 1798, and also $50,000, which were due for the budget of 1797.
The misunderstanding between Gayoso and Morales p402 went on daily increasing, and, in a despatch of the 31st of May, the Intendant observed,12 that, considering it was no longer possible for him to continue to be in a state of open warfare against the Governor, he found himself under the necessity of supplicating his Majesty to relieve him from discharging the functions of Intendant, and to transfer him to some other point of his Majesty's dominions in America. He then goes on giving "minute and positive proofs," as he says, "of the violence and tyranny exercised towards him by the Governor, who transgresses that moderation and urbanity13 with which those in authority ought to be treated, who insults and threatens the intendancy, and commits all the excesses which are recited."
The Federal Government had ordered Wilkinson to Washington, to confer with him upon all the important matters relating to the West and to Louisiana, on which he was supposed to possess the most extensive information. He accordingly descended the Mississippi from Natchez, and departed from New Orleans for New York. In a despatch of the 10th of July, Morales speaks of Wilkinson's late visit to that town, and communicates to his government all the intelligence he has been able to obtain in relation to the political views of the United States concerning Louisiana, by pumping the American general. "Concealing," says Morales, "what we know14 of his reprehensible deportment towards us, we have given him as kind and as favorable a welcome as his p403 rank required and our means permitted in this country. On the eve of his departure, I prevailed upon him to furnish me with a copy of the instructions which he had left with Major Cushing, his successor, as to the manner in which this officer was to demean himself towards the Spaniards. They simply amount to this, — that the American officers are, by all possible means, to cultivate our friendship and to preserve the good understanding which so fortunately exists between the two powers.
"It would not be justifiable to draw favorable or unfavorable conclusions from the mere outward show of such demonstrations.15 But, as there are certain moments when the individuals of that nation are in the habit of opening their hearts, I will not conceal from your Excellency, that, in those moments of effusion, when the General was with persons who possessed all his confidence, he manifested the same sentiments which I communicated in my confidential despatch of the 31st of May last, No. 23. In a few word, the policy of thereupon may be said to be reduced to these two points: 1o— to prevent France and England taking possession of this province by cession, or by the force of arms; 2o— to repress any scheme of separation which may be entertained by the States of Kentucky and Tennessee. The General gave it even to be understood, that he thought it proper, and therefore would propose to the President — that he should return with full authority to help us with all the forces under his command in case the English should invade the colony, provided we do not, in the mean time, declare war against them, the p404 Americans, because it is more to the interest of the United States that this province remain under the domination of Spain. But, to accomplish the two objects they have in view, the forces which they possess at the posts they have occupied are very limited."
According to the provisions of the Spanish Jurisprudence, and to time-honored custom, Gayoso had received the commission of Judge of Residence to inquire into the acts of his predecessor. It seems that, on this occasion, it did not turn out to be an idle and unmeaning formality, and Judge Martin, in his History of Louisiana, records as follows the result of the investigation: "One act of the Baron's administration was deemed reprehensible. He had been deluded by an excess of zeal for what he conceived to be the public good, into taking upon himself the responsibility of condemning to death a slave, who had killed his owner. The fact was proved, but Vidal, the assessor of government, conceived that the circumstances which attended it, did not bring the case under any law authorizing a sentence of death, and had recommended a milder one. At the solicitation of a number of responsible planters, and of the owner of the slave, Marigny de Mandeville, a knight of St. Louis and a Colonel of the Militia, who represented to the Baron that an example was absolutely necessary, he disregarded the opinion of his legal adviser, and ordered the execution of the slave. It was thought the life of a human being, although a slave, ought not to depend on the opinion of man, in any case where its sacrifice was not expressly ordered by law. A fine of five hundred dollars was imposed on and paid by the Baron."
In a despatch of the 25th of July, Morales informed his government of the death of Gayoso, in the following p405 terms: "On the 18th inst., it pleased God16 to put an end to the life and government of Brigadier-General Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos. He died of a malignant fever, of the nature of those which prevail in this country during the summer, and the dangerous character of which was known only a few hours before it terminated fatally. He had no time to lose in fulfilling the last duties of the Christian, and in making his testamentary dispositions. A short time before expiring, he reconciled himself with me, and we exchanged a reciprocal pardon for the causes of complaint we had given to each other in the accomplishment of what we had thought our respective duties."
Governor Gayoso died extremely poor, leaving nothing to his heirs but a large amount of debts. He was a spendthrift, in the full sense of the word. Having been educated in England, he had adopted some of the habits peculiar to that country, particularly that of indulging too much in the pleasures of the table. It is said that Wilkinson's last visit to New Orleans proved fatal to Gayoso. They had long been on a footing of intimacy strengthened by a similarity of tastes; and, on their recently coming together, they had carried to an excess their convivialities, which had predisposed Gayoso to the disease that carried him off in his forty-eighth year. On his sudden death, Don Francisco Bouligny, who was the Colonel of the regiment of Louisiana, assumed the military administration of the colony, and the auditor, Don Jose Maria Vidal, the civil and political government.17
p406 The post of New Madrid was, this year, annexed to Upper Louisiana, of which a census was made by order of its commandant-general, Charles Dehault De Lassus, which presented the following results:
|Marais des Liards,||376|
The white population18 numbered 4,948 souls; the free colored 197; the slaves 883.
The commerce of that part of the country had also increased in proportion to the augmentation of the population. Its crops amounted to 265,047 bushels of wheat, about the same of Indian corn, and 28,627 pounds of tobacco. Thirteen hundred and forty quintals of lead were produced from the mines, and about one thousand barrels of salt from the salt wells. The fur trade, which was carried on entirely through New Orleans, gave annually about $75,000.
On being informed of Gayoso's death, the Marquis de Someruelos, Captain-General of the island of Cuba and of Louisiana, sent over the Marquis de Casa Calvo to be to governor ad interim of the colony. This gentleman entered on his functions in the fall of the year.
On the 15th of October, Morales wrote to his government that, having heard of the appointment of Don p407 Ramon de Lopez y Angullo to the office of Intendant in Louisiana, which he, Morales, had filled ad interim for three years and a half, and considering himself no longer capable of discharging the duties of his own office of contador, he begged his Majesty to allow him to retire with such a grade and pension as his Majesty might think proper to favor him with.
Casa Calvo, a short time after his arrival, transmitted to the Captain-General of Cuba, who, in his turn, forwarded it to Madrid, a petition from several proprietors of landed estates, soliciting that the unlimited introduction of negroes be again permitted, which Casa Calvo recommended as being required by the agricultural interest. On the 23d of November, the cabinet of Madrid answered: "that, permission having lately been given to the French citizens Cassagne, Huguet, Raimond & Co., to introduce into the colony five thousand negroes free of duty, it had been resolved in council not to go farther."
I shall close what relates to this year (1799) with a despatch of the Bishop of Louisiana, Don Luis de Peñalvert y Cardenas, on the state of religion and morals in the colony.
"The emigration from the western part of the United States and the toleration of our government," sad he, "have introduced into this colony a gang of adventurers who have no religion and acknowledge no God, and they have made much worse the morals of our people by their coming in contact with them in their trading pursuits. A lodge of freemasons has been formed in one of the suburbs of the city, and counts among its members officers of the garrison and of the civil administration, merchants, natives and foreigners. Their secret meetings on fixed days, on which they perform their functions, as well as other circumstances, give to this association a suspicious and criminal appearance.
p408 "The adventurers I speak of have scattered themselves over the districts of Attakapas, Opeloussas, Ouachita and Natchitochesº in the vicinity of the province of Texas in New Spain; they employ the Indians19 on their farms, have frequent intercourse and conversations with them, and impress their minds with pernicious maxims in harmony with their own restless and ambitious temper, and with the customs of their own western countrymen, who are in the habit of saying to such of their boys as are distinguished for a robust frame, whilst patting them on the shoulder: you will be the man to go to Mexico.
"Such is the case with the upper part of the Mississippi, with the district of Illinois and the adjacent territories, in which there has been a remarkable introduction of those adventurers, who penetrate even into New Mexico. This evil, in my opinion, can only be remedied by not permitting the slightest American settlement to be made at the points already designated, nor on any part of the Rio Colorado.
"The parishes which were religiously disposed are losing their faith and their old customs; the number of those Christians who receive the sacrament at Easter decreases; and the people turn a deaf ear to the admonitions of their clergy.
"It is true that the same resistance to religion has always manifested itself here, but never with such scandal as now prevails. The military officers and a good many of the inhabitants live almost publicly with colored concubines, and they do not blush at carrying the illegitimate issue they have by them to be recorded in the parochial registries as their natural children."
p409 The Bishop goes on saying that the magistrates, whose duty it ought to be to give a good example to the people, are the first to violate all the precepts of religion and morality.
On the 1st of January, 1800, the new Intendant, Don Ramon Lopez y Angullo, entered on the duties of his office. He was a knight pensioner of the royal and distinguished order of Charles III.
This year had, it seems, been intended by Providence to be the beginning of a new era for Louisiana, since it gave rise to a series of events and negotiations which ultimately terminated her existence as an European colony, and raised her to the dignity of a Sovereign State by her incorporation with the great American confederacy. This new power had determined on the acquisition, by force if necessary, of New Orleans at least, if not of the whole of Louisiana. But it was felt that, to conduct this enterprise successfully, it was indispensable to refrain from awakening the suspicions of Spain; and therefore, under cover of preparing for the difficulties which might arise from its differences with France at the time, the American government had added twelve regiments to the army, and had ordered three of them, as I have already stated, to the mouth of the Ohio, with instructions to have in constant readiness a sufficient number of boats, to carry down the contemplated expedition to New Orleans. But this plan was abandoned, or postponed, on account of the evident determination of the people not to reelect as president the individual who had been at the head of the government for nearly four years. It was thought more prudent to leave to his successor, who would come fresh from the people, and to the unimpaired vigor of a new administration, the management of so important an undertaking.
p410 In the meantime, the extraordinary man who ruled the destinies of France had fixed his eyes on Louisiana, which he resolved to acquire, as one of the elements of the great system he had devised to carry to the highest degree of splendor the commerce, navigation and manufactures of the country he had made so illustrious by war. In furtherance of the views which he had conceived, he had ordered his ministers to collect from all valuable sources the most minute information on the resources of Louisiana. There is extant on this subject a very remarkable memoir submitted to the First Consul of the French republic by M. de Pontalba, who had long resided in the colony and occupied in it a distinguished official position. He gives a very accurate topographic description of the Western country, and then says of its inhabitants:
"All this proves that the only commercial outlet for their produce is the Mississippi; that Louisiana can never cease to be the object of their ambition, as they depend upon her in the most absolute manner; that their position, the number of their population, and their other means, will enable them to invade this province whenever they may choose to do so, and that, to preserve her, it is necessary to conciliate and control them by keeping up intelligences with the most influential men among them, and to grant them privileges, until this province be sufficiently strong to defend herself with her own resources, against the torrent which threatens her. Should its waters be let loose, there is no doubt but that they would sweep every thing on their passage; for the Kentuckians, single handed, or allied with the inhabitants of the neighboring districts, may, when they choose, reach New Orleans with twenty or thirty thousand men, transported on large flatboats which they are in the daily habit of constructing to carry their produce to market, p411 and protected by a few gun‑boats loaded with more provisions than they would need. The rapidity of the current of the Ohio and of the other rivers which discharge themselves into it, makes it an easy undertaking, and the paucity of their wants would accelerate its execution. A powder horn, a bag of balls, a rifle, and a sufficient provision of flour — this would be the extent of their military equipment; a great deal of skill in shooting, the habit of being in the woods and of enduring fatigue — this is what makes up for every deficiency.
"More or less extraordinary means, in accordance with the degree of importance attached to Louisiana, must be resorted to, in order to save her from the irruption by which she is threatened. Should she be appreciated in proportion only to the revenue she now yields to the metropolis, it will be found out that the 6 per cent duty on exports and imports, which is the sole one existing in the colony, does not produce one hundred thousand dollars a year, and that the annual expenses of the King of Spain for that province rise up to five hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars.
"What entitles Louisiana to peculiar attention is the fact of her being a port in the Gulf of Mexico, where no other power than Spain has any; but what gives her still more value, is her position in relation to the kingdom of Mexico, whose natural barrier is the Mississippi.
"It is necessary to make this barrier an impenetrable one. It is the surest means of destroying for ever the bold schemes with which several individuals in the United States never cease filling the newspapers, by designating Louisiana as the high road to the conquest of Mexico, particularly ever since the occurring of differences with regard to its limits.
"The long discussion relating to those limits between p412 the United States and Louisiana, which was terminated in 1797, proceeded from an equivocation in the treaty of peace of 1783, which equivocation was, no doubt, purposely introduced by England, in order to breed a subject of discord between Spain and the United States. Otherwise it would have been necessary to express, that his Catholic Majesty should order the surrender to the United States of the district and fort of Natchez, which he then occupied by right of conquest.
"When England possessed her thirteen colonies and part of the province of Louisiana, the limits of Georgia being marked in the maps as running east and west from the sea to the Mississippi, the district of Natchez was included within them; but the inhabitants of that post having represented that, on the appeal ofº cases from their courts, they were obliged to resort to Georgia, his Britannic Majesty declared that the district of Natchez would henceforth be placed under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Pensacola, and be incorporated with Western Florida, which was under the government of that officer. In this way, that province became extended to the Chaterpé line, which had been drawn by the English, the Chickasaws and Choctaws, from the territory of Mobile, at •135 miles from the fort of that name on the western bank of the Tombecbee, to the Yazoo River, at •fifteen miles from its junction with the Mississippi. So that, Western Florida, having been ceded to his Catholic Majesty by Great Britain in the peace treaty of 1783, was thus transferred away in all its integrity, and with all its dependencies at the time of the cession, of which Spain, however, was already in possession by the right of conquest, and which she had never agreed to surrender.
"The English, in the same peace treaty which they concluded at the same time with the United States, p413 abandoned to them all that was marked in the old maps as a part of the United Provinces, as far as the Mississippi, without excepting that part of it which his Britannic Majesty had already detached and annexed to Western Florida; and the line which was determined in that treaty, by running in the micl of the Mississippi to the 31st degree of latitude, surrendered to the United States all the east side of that river as far as the spot lying opposite the mouth of the Red River, •36 miles below Natchez, and by running west and east from that point to the river St. Mary, left to them all the district of Natchez, which was the most populous portion of Louisiana, thus restricting the possession of Spain towards Mobile to a sandy territory which did not extend beyond •six miles, and reducing the country back of Pensacola to •thirty miles of barren soil.
"Ever since the year 1785, the United States had aimed at taking possession of Natchez and all the territory which was assigned to them by the said treaty. Spain had constantly opposed such pretensions, and had succeeded, through her intelligences with the western provinces of the United States and through her negotiations, in suspending the hostilities with which she had often been threatened, and in eluding the unfounded claims of the United States down to the year 1797, when she was obliged to accede to them in order not to expose herself to the loss of the whole province.
"As the Americans therefore are in possession of these new frontiers, it becomes more urgent than ever to secure a barrier for the protection of Mexico. There are two ways to accomplish this object. The first is, to establish in Louisiana a population sufficiently large to defend her against all attacks; the second is, to form a union with Kentucky and the other districts of the Western Country, with the obligation on their part to p414 serve as a rampart against the United States; and, until it be possible to execute one or the other of these propositions, my opinion is, that, by all possible means, peace must be preserved with the United States.
"This is what the Spanish Government has never ceased doing from 1787 to the present time. It was assisted in this policy by a powerful inhabitant of Kentucky, who possesses much influence with his countrymen, and enjoys great consideration for the services he has rendered to the cause of liberty, when occupying high grades in the army of the United States; who, from that time, has never ceased to serve Spain in all her views; and who will put the same zeal at the command of France, because he thinks with reason that an intimate union between her and Louisiana is more advantageous to his country (Kentucky), than its present relations with the United States.
This individual,20 whose name I shall not mention in order not to expose him, but which I shall make known when his services shall be wanted, came to New Orleans in 1787. He informed the Spanish Government of the state of things then existing in Kentucky and the adjoining districts, and of the efforts which the inhabitants of those provinces were making to obtain their independence and the free navigation of the Mississippi. He also declared that there was a general disposition among those people to place themselves under the protection of Spain, should Congress refuse to do justice to their claims.
"It is on that refusal that this inhabitant of Kentucky had founded all his hopes, and, in that case, he had offered to declare himself the vassal of his Catholic Majesty. He promised, as such, to give information of all that the inhabitants of that region would undertake for p415 or against Louisiana, and he proposed, as another means, to promote emigration from the Western Districts adjoining Louisiana, in order to increase our strength. It is with these dispositions that he went back.
"He returned to New Orleans, in 1789, to renew to the government his propositions to employ all the means in his power to procure for his district of Kentucky its independence from the United States, by forming with Spain an alliance exclusive of all other nations, and actively to foment, at the same time, emigration to Louisiana.21
"He notified the Spanish Government, in 1791, that his hopes of success for his schemes had vanished. He attributed the cause of it to the granting by Spain to the inhabitants of Kentucky of permission to take down their produce to New Orleans, and to sell it there on paying a duty of 15 per cent. He pretended that the fertility of their soil amply indemnified them for the payment that duty, and, the next year, he wrote that all ideas of emigration from his district had been entirely given up, ever since the inhabitants of Kentucky knew that his Catholic Majesty had declared that, for the future, instead of purchasing annually two millions of pounds of tobacco from the emigrants, he would take only forty thousand pounds.
"It results from all this, that Spain could not succeed in gaining over to her side the people of Kentucky. The same motives have stopped the emigration which might with reason have been expected, considering that Louisiana, which contained twenty thousand souls in p416 1782, and forty-five thousand in 1792, numbers now more than seventy thousand, including, however, the district of Natchez, which was surrendered to the Americans in 1797.
"The individual above mentioned gave the unwise advice to place the people of those districts under the absolute dependence of Spain, by preventing them from having any trade whatever with Louisiana, and by depriving them of the navigation of the Mississippi. He hoped that the majority of the Thirteen States would accede to it. He thought that, by this means, it would be possible to check the excessive and alarming emigration from the Atlantic States towards their western territory, and presumed that the inhabitants of that territory not being supported by the Federal Government in their pretensions, it would then become easy to induce them to seek their welfare by throwing themselves into the arms of Spain.
"All these designs have miscarried (and indeed it could hardly have been otherwise) because, instead of opposing the pretensions of said districts, the United States, on the contrary, energetically favored them, and addressed, in 1792, to the Court of Madrid a memorial in which they represented that, unless they chose to expose themselves to losing one half of their territory, they could not turn a deaf ear to the continual clamors of the inhabitants of the West, who solicited, over and above the free navigation of the Mississippi, the possession of a spot on the lower part of the river, where their boats might discharge their produce and take in the goods which they wanted — adding that should this place of depot be fixed at New Orleans, it might give rise to difficulties and discussions.
"The Congress, by such means, secured the affection of those people to such an extent, that it became no p417 longer possible to think of forming the union above mentioned, although, for a certainty, that western population would have been the happier in consequence of it. Spain also lost all hope of peopling Louisiana, before coming to arrangements with the United States.
"In order to prolong that negotiation (and this infinitely suited the Court of Spain) several propositions were made to Congress. First, it was represented that, on account of the delicate situation of the Western country, his Majesty, through humanity, had granted to the inhabitants thereof the privilege of selling their produce at New Orleans, and that, although it was on their paying in kind a duty of 15 per cent, yet this was more advantageous than if they resorted to direct exportation by sea, since they sold for eight dollars at New Orleans a barrel of flour which cost no more than three dollars at Monongahela, and since the ships that might come through the Atlantic to the Mississippi, in order to take that produce, would pay for it a much less price; but that, in order to do away with all pretexts for any contraband trade and with the discussions to which it might give rise, his Majesty permitted the free navigation of the Mississippi to the inhabitants of the Western country, who might easily cause to be constructed on their rivers schooners or any other craft, in which they might transport their produce to the ports of the United States or to such harbors of the foreign colonies as may admit it. This proposition was rejected, and the United States persisted in demanding the opening of the Mississippi to the American ships, and the possession of a post at a convenient spot on the bank of that river.
"This negotiation was again prolonged by new propositions — such as the one opening the river up to the Plaquemine Turn, which is •thirty miles from the Balize, provided the ships should not load from the banks of p418 the river, but from those flatboats in which the Western people carry their produce, and which might conveniently come up to the sides of the ships.
"As Congress refused to abate one jot of their pretensions, Spain, in order not to lose more, found herself compelled to grant them the free navigation of the river; and, instead of conceding to them the post which they demanded, consented to their being put in possession of the above mentioned territory, which they claimed under their treaty with Great Britain. This was done in 1797, after the prolonged negotiation I have described.
"Now that the Americans, in consequence of these transactions, possess more than •eighteen hundred miles of the eastern bank of the Mississippi, from the 31st degree, in front of the mouth of Red River, to the 42d degree, it becomes more important than ever to people the Western side, which is better susceptible of numerous and flourishing establishments such as New Madrid, the banks of the St. Francis, the Arkansas, the Ouachita, and Red River, together with the posts of Natchitoches, Attakapas, Opeloussas, &c.
"All these districts, on becoming populous, might defend the province, by easily concentrating their forces at the point where it might be required according to circumstances. The lands watered by these rivers are the most fertile in America, and afford us room for the finest establishment, which would be of an immense extent, and which would be contiguous to the kingdom of Mexico.
"These were the points which the court of Spain was afraid of stocking with population on account of the neighborhood I have mentioned, and there are extant in the archives of Louisiana the most precise orders not to permit the establishment of any family on the Ouachita p419 river, through which there is the most direct communication with Mexico.
"The Spanish possessions in Louisiana, being thus reduced by these new limits, do not extend on the east bank of the Mississippi, beyond the 31st degree, at a point which is •thirty-six miles below Natchez, as I have already said above. But, notwithstanding this, the United States cannot look upon the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Alibamon, and Creek nations as belonging to them, because these nations, who are entirely devoted to us, besides that they have always received presents from Great Britain, as the proprietor of Florida, have renewed the sort of dependence to which they have subjected themselves in exchange for the protection of Spain. At a Congress which the government of Louisiana held in May, 1784, at Pensacola, with the Creeks, and in June, at Mobile, with the other nations, there was a treaty made to that effect in thirteen articles — which treaty was afterwards approved by the court.
"The United States will answer to this — that they also have made treaties with the Chickasaws and Choctaws at Hopewell and Seneca, in 1786. But those pretended treaties are imaginary and null.
"On the side of the Chickasaws, a chief, with a small number of warriors, came to Hopewell; and only some Choctaw chiefs — the only ones who had not delivered up their English medals to the Spanish government, came to Seneca — all of them without any powers from their respective nations. This is what these same chiefs declared when they since came to give up the aforesaid medals to the government, and to take those of the king of Spain. The king of the Chickasaws and his principal chiefs disapproved also the act of the above mentioned chief.
p420 "It is very important that the aforesaid nations remain under the protection of France, in the same way they were under that of Spain, because they serve as a barrier against the United States, on a space of •nine hundred miles which it would be necessary to go over through those nations, in order to come in that direction from the provinces of Georgia and South Carolina.
"I do not doubt but that the Americans would oppose with all their power the extending of the protection of France over those nations, as they have always opposed Spain, by sending commissioners, every year, to endeavor to detach those Indians from her. They never could succeed in these attempts. They could only gain over to their side the Indian chief of whom I have spoken, with the men of his village. None others allowed themselves to be persuaded by the letters which were written to them by the minister of war, Knox, by Dr. Franklin, and even by General Washington. They delivered those letters to the Governor of Louisiana in proof of their fidelity; but, as it may be possible that the United States shall think proper to use force against them, and as it is against the law of nations to prevent these people from choosing their protector, justice and the interest of France require that she should offer them her assistance according to the exigencies of the case.
"Should even the United States undertake to form establishments on the territory of the aforesaid nations, as they have already attempted it, it is not doubtful but that those nations would oppose it with all their might, and that they would call in the aid of the government of Louisiana, which ought then to assist them with all its forces, in order not to risk the loss of so essential a barrier.
"Those nations have always been disposed to repel by force all attempts to invade their territory. This is p421 what has occurred between the Cherokees, the Creeks, the Talapouches and the United States: the Indians claimed for their limit the Cumberland river, the Americans, the Okony. It is for this cause that they have been constantly at war until 1791, at which time the half-breed Alexander McGillivrayb was called to New York by President Washington, with divers Creek chiefs. They then framed a treaty of peace, which the nation refused to ratify, because McGillivray had ceded more territory than his instructions authorized him to do. It was even contrary to the thirteen articles of the treaty we22 had concluded at the congress held at Pensacola in 1784, with the Creek nation.
"The cession made by McGillivray gave up to the Americans a considerable portion of the best lands of the Creeks, who opposed it, and have, ever since, constantly opposed the taking possession of those lands by the Americans. France ought to assist them in their resistance, and, to do so successfully, it would be proper that, on taking possession of Louisiana, the French government should call together a congress of that nation at Pensacola. Although such an operation would be expensive, on account of the presents which it is the custom to give the Indians on such occasions, and because they are to be supplied with provisions whilst they stay at the place where they have been convened, and on their way back, still such a measure is indispensable. In this congress, the French Governor will know what influence has been retained by McGillivray23 over those people since the treaty which they disapproved. He will make them feel how much more advantageous to them is the protection of France, which they have not p422 forgotten, than that of the United States, who aim at nothing else than invading their lands.
"The Choctaws and Alibamons, seeing the Creeks convened in congress, will ask for one in their turn. It will be indispensable to grant it, in order to check the constant efforts made by the United States to detach them from the government of Louisiana, towards which they feel considerable affection, and under the protection of which they have always been placed.
"During the French domination, the Governor of Louisiana used to convene a Congress of those nations, every year at Mobile. The consequence is, that their old men speak of that time with grateful remembrance, and those people will see the return of their former protectors with a satisfaction equal to the umbrage which the United States will take at it.
"Notwithstanding the advantages which the Americans have obtained by the establishment of the limits above designated, there is a circumstance which will always keep the inhabitants the West in the dependence of Louisiana, and which will render their emigration to it advantageous to them, although the lands they now possess are of extreme fertility — and that is, the difficulty which they experience, on account of the distance at which they are, in exchanging their produce for the commodities they want, although they have the free use of the navigation of the river, because the most valuable produce they have for sale is their tobacco and flour, which do not fetch a high price on the Atlantic coast, so that the inhabitants of the West would be obliged to give them away almost for nothing to those ships which would come to the Mississippi and buy them; otherwise, the profits would fall short of the expenses of fitting up those ships. Besides, the sellers would not be able to take any merchandise in exchange for their produce, on p423 account of the considerable cost to which they would be put in order to take them up the Mississippi and the Ohio; for there are •eighteen hundred and ninety-nine miles from the post of Plaquemine, which is situated •thirty miles from the mouth of the Mississippi, to Louisville, which is the first establishment in Kentucky. Communication by land is still less practicable, although shorter by half. So that the only course to be pursued by the inhabitant of Kentucky, is to sell his produce to the American ships, payable in specie; next, to go himself to Philadelphia, there to buy the commodities he may want; then transport them •three hundred miles by land to fort Pitt; and thence convey them home by a navigation of •seven hundred and fifty miles on the Ohio.
"Evidently it is not to be presumed that any farmer could undertake such an operation, and that any merchant of the Atlantic coast could speculate on the produce of the West, when the trade is subject to such difficulties. Therefore, how much more advantageous is it to the inhabitants of the West, to settle lower down on the Mississippi, or at least, to form a union with Louisiana, in order to have the privilege of selling their produce to the best advantage in New Orleans?
"These circumstances are very powerful motives to induce the inhabitants of Kentucky, whose example would shortly be followed by those of the other Western districts, to separate themselves from the United States in order to form an alliance with France, under the obligation of their defending Louisiana in case of an attack from the United States.
"As Spain has granted them all that they have asked for, and as it is to be presumed that they will engage in no hostility, France will have time to mature this scheme, and the inhabitants of Kentucky will also have time to convince themselves that they cannot be happy and prosperous p424 either without this alliance, or without the conquest of Louisiana. Either one or the other of these events is commanded by the nature of the country. It is for France to provide for the one, in order to avoid the other. To succeed in this, it is necessary to employ a man who should appreciate the importance of success, as well as the situation of those Western provinces in relation to Louisiana and the United States, and who should renew the intelligences which the Government of Louisiana had with the individual of whom I have spoken.
"Whilst attending to the execution of this project, it would be of the greatest importance to employ, at the same time, extraordinary means to people Louisiana, so that she might ultimately defend herself with her own resources. Should this be accomplished, the desired alliance would become less necessary, perhaps even useless for France, and, on the contrary, would be solicited by the above mentioned districts.
"At first sight, it seems dangerous to people Louisiana with aliens, but its singular position in relation to the inhabitants of the banks of the Ohio is such, that it may be considered as their home; for it may be set down as an axiom, that it would be easier for these inhabitants to invade Louisiana from those districts, than to rebel, if they were settled within its limits — with this difference in the first case, that invasion would be to them a source of glory, and that, when embarking on the Ohio, being favored by the rapidity of the current, they would operate a junction of their forces in Louisiana before it be known there that they had formed any such design; whilst having once emigrated and being received among us, with a promise of fidelity on their part to the republic, those who should meditate a rising could not carry their scheme into execution without its being known beforehand, p425 and, instead of acquiring the laurels which may be won in legitimate warfare, would expose themselves to the ignominious death of traitors. Besides, it is not to be presumed that those people, who have lived under a precarious government which did not protect them, who have been incessantly apprehensive of dangers from Indian hostilities and deprived of every sort of commerce, may become unfaithful, when they shall be, by the operation of their own free will, established under another government that will protect them, secure an outlet for their produce, abstain from exacting any tax from them, and settle their differences without intermeddling with their domestic affairs, or with their religion.
"As soon as by such means the affection of the first generation shall have been secured, the succeeding ones will of course know no other country than the one in which they shall have been born, and it will then be left to the wisdom of government to imprint on the tender and impressive hearts of youth the true sentiments of patriotism and justice.
"Such motives determined the king of Spain, in 1790, to cause to be sent to the Governor of Louisiana a sufficient quantity of provisions to enable him to receive all the emigrants that should come from the aforesaid districts. He authorized that officer to make concessions of land to them, and divide those settlements into eighteen mile districts, in the centre of which there should be a church, a house for the commandant and an Irish curate, but with instructions not to disturb them in the exercise of their religion.
"My chief aim is to indicate the means of peopling Louisiana, the principal of which are the purchase of all the tobacco to be raised by the emigrants and the most unlimited extension of commerce. If my propositions seem to be exaggerated, let that exaggeration be attributed p426 to the conviction in which I am — that Louisiana is the key of America, and therefore of the highest importance. In this respect, she has, for a long time past, been the object of the ambition of the United States; so that they would be deeply disgusted if they saw her pass into the hands of so preponderating a power as France; and they would have invaded her a long time ago if they had foreseen such an event.
"The purchase of the tobacco raised by the emigrants could not be burdensome to France. Spain used, before the war, to buy annually two millions of pounds of tobacco at New Orleans, although she consumed but little of it.
"I know in the most positive manner, from information given to me by the officer who is personally intrusted with this administration in Spain, that, after reserving sixty thousand pounds which are sufficient for the consumption of Spain, because she uses none but the rappee, she exported the rest, every year, to Holland and France, and that, according to the returns of the bills of sales, the royal treasury was greatly benefited by that operation. This circumstance induces me to propose this means as the one which promises to be the most successful, without being onerous to the republic.
"The crops of tobacco made by said inhabitants were bought, in 1790 and 1791, at the rate of 8c per pound, by the Spanish government, which derived considerable profit from it; and those inhabitants were themselves so well satisfied with that price, that I know they would deem themselves exceedingly happy if the government would now buy the same quantity of tobacco at six cents instead of eight. Should it be extended to four millions of pounds a year, it would be sufficient to attract a good many emigrants to Louisiana; for, from Red River to New Madrid, the raising of tobacco is the only culture p427 which can reward the labor of the farmer — which circumstance convinces me that the purchase of this article by the government would powerfully contribute to increase the population of that part of Louisiana.
"France will easily find an outlet for those four millions of pounds of tobacco, considering24 that, if Spain made money by the operation when she paid eight cents per pound, France, paying only six cents for the same article, would sell it cheaper, and would therefore easily find, not only a home market, but also one in Holland and Spain.
"It would not be necessary for France to make any advances to accomplish this object, because she might enter into an arrangement with Spain, by which that power would, annually, send $240,000 from Vera Cruz to Louisiana, to be reimbursed to her in Europe after the sale of the tobacco by France. This arrangement would be equally advantageous to Spain, because she would receive that sum without risk, with a little delay, to be sure — but that delay would be compensated by the saving of the costs of transportation.
"Should this measure be adopted, it would become necessary to establish regulations determining the quantity of tobacco to be bought from every new settler, in the way in which it was done by the Spanish government. Such was the plan which it followed, and which was interrupted by the war.
"The commercial intercourse granted by the King to the inhabitants of Louisiana, although limited to the ports of France and of her colonies in time of peace, and extended to the ports of the United States in time of war, is fully sufficient to provide that province with the p428 merchandise of which she may stand in need, and to procure an outlet for her commodities, with the exception of her tobacco, which the royal treasury used to purchase, but it is not sufficient to promote a rapid increase of population."
M. de Pontalba then goes on with an enumeration of all the means best calculated to attract, in a short time, a large number of emigrants — among which means is the grant of free trade, if possible, with all the nations of the world — and says, that the duty of six per cent, which is the only one hitherto levied by the government, would, in that case, on account of the development which the resources of Louisiana would require, be soon amply sufficient to cover, and more than cover, the five hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars which are the expenses of the present colonial administration.
"The means," says he, "which have, so far, been used to people Louisiana, instead of being onerous to the public treasury, have turned to its advantage; but what would be a still more powerful lever, would be the appropriation of three millions of francs to be loaned in the Western country in this way: to every emigrant one hundred francs to facilitate his voyage, and to provide for the first expenses of his establishment, on condition that this sum shall be reimbursed in three years, the head of every family and the last surviving member of it being responsible in solido; and should this sum be advanced to unmarried men (provided they be laborers and not vagabonds), four of them would be required of the become parties to this obligation under the same conditions. This would provoke emigration, and I doubt not that, in less than two years, that sum of three millions of francs would thus have been employed, and would have procured thirty thousand individuals. The government may rest assured, that there would be no loss, or p429 hardly any, in this operation. I do not mention the immense profit which would subsequently accrue from the increase of duty on imports and exports.
"The emigrants from Kentucky and the adjacent districts, being active and industrious farmers, would, when leaving their country, where they have no outlet for their produce, sell their lands to come and clear better ones which they would get for nothing, in a province where the government secures to them a lucrative sale of the fruits of their industry. Not only would they be promptly in a situation to liberate themselves, but they would cause the government, by which they would have been enticed away and protected, to feel the effects of the easy circumstances which it would have secured to them.
"This is not all. After having granted to Louisiana all that might be in her power, France would still have done nothing for her, if she did not give her, as governor, an honest, frank, just and good man, who, by his conciliating temper, would gain the affection of the inhabitants. They are of a mild, sensitive and remarkably grateful temper. The statement of one fact alone will be sufficient to show how much I ought to insist upon this point.
"After having done, in order to remain French, more than it was then permitted to subjects to do, after having seen the solicitations of their delegates rejected by the court of France, the inhabitants of Louisiana, after having deliberated among themselves, came to the resolution of relying on nothing else than their courage — which was the sole resource remaining to them. The result was the expulsion of the Spanish Governor, Ulloa.
"O'Reilly arrived with an army. He had caused himself to be preceded by words of peace, of indulgence, p430 and forgetfulness of the past. The colonists, abandoned by the mother country, thought that they were no longer bound to nurse and preserve for her the love which she rejected. They gave themselves up to the hope of an endurable condition under a new master, and received him without resistance. O'Reilly's conduct is but too well known. It exasperated every heart, and caused the new domination to be abhorred.
"The Count of Galvez made his appearance, and inspired the public with confidence; for he was distinguished for the affability of his manners, the sweetness of his temper, the frankness of his character, the kindness of his heart and his love of justice. Receiving, in 1779, the news of the declaration of war against the English, he convened the colonists around him. "Let them who love me follow where I lead," said he; and the next day, fifteen hundred creoles, among whom were many heads of families, gathered round him, and were ready to march to the enemy.
"The English were attacked before they knew that an expedition had been formed against them, and all their establishments on the Mississippi were carried sword in hand,25 before the artillery which was following us was half way on the road to its destination. These are the men of Louisiana, who are, undoubtedly, well worthy of returning to the bosom of France. What is it that cannot be expected from them, when they shall be under the influence of the great man who is going to acquire and govern Louisiana!" &c., &c.
[. . .]
After going into the exposition of the defensive measures which are to be adopted for the protection of Louisiana, M. de Pontalba thus resumes his observations:
p431 "Louisiana in the hands of France, may be called to the most brilliant destinies. What a series of prosperities does not promise to her the preponderance of the republic! And what a source of wealth would she not be for the metropolis! To secure this, all that is necessary is, to adopt a proper combination of all the means which ought to make her prosperous.
"No situation in the universe offers so many advantages as hers, and what remains to do is to know how to use them. The fertility of her immense territory, the abundance of her rich agricultural products which now secure to the planter an interest of 25 per cent on the capital invested — these are her least advantages.
"New Orleans, the capital of Louisiana, is the only outlet for the most fertile of all countries, the extent of which in length exceeds •six thousand miles, and the population of which marches onward with gigantic strides. That town must, of course, serve as a place of dépôt for the products of that immense country.
"France holds in her hands the key of Mexico when she possesses Louisiana, since her frontiers on the west side of the Mississippi extend beyond Natchitoches to the gates of St. Antonio, which is a dependency of Mexico.
"The effeminate people that occupy the •more than fifteen hundred miles of territory which lie between that point and Mexico would easily become the prey of the first invader who should present himself even with moderate forces. But Spain, when ceding Louisiana to France, rightly sees in her naught but a protector, who is more capable than she is of guarding Mexico against the invasion with which that obscure is threatened; and a suitable return and equivalent for this protection must necessarily be, one day, the granting by Spain to Louisiana of permission to trade freely with all her ports in the Gulf of Mexico.
p432 "Spain, by this means, would remove any temptation that France might have of invading Mexico; for it becomes more advantageous for France to trade with that country through Louisiana than to acquire its possession. Now, should Louisiana enjoy the privilege of free trade both with France and the Mexican provinces, what portion of the earth would be more highly favored? Where is the province that would offer so many advantages? From every part of the world there would be thereto a rush of men led by ambition and the desire of bettering their condition; and less than ten years would be sufficient to people that province, so as to make her formidable to her neighbors.
"The western districts of the United States, which are now tenanted by individuals of all nations, would soon be deserted, and would retain only such of their inhabitants as should not be able to find lands in Louisiana. It is then that these people will hasten to detach themselves from the United States, from which Nature has separated them by a chain of mountains, and will solicit, if not their annexation to the Republic, at least their independence under the protection of France. All that is necessary for this is, so to favor the inhabitant of Louisiana as to make him love the government that protects him, and to render precious to him the domination that makes him happy; then, both his interest and inclination will urge him to defend that government and domination.
"Almost all the Louisianians are born French, or are of French origin. It is with rage in their hearts that they lost their nationality, and although the truly paternal domination of the King of Spain has, ever since an honorable catastrophe on the taking possession of the province by O'Reilly, secured their happiness, although p433 it has preserved them from similar disasters to those which have devastated St. Domingo, still it is with enthusiasm that they would again become French, if they had no apprehensions as to the organization to be established among them in relation to the blacks, whose emancipation would destroy the fortune of all, annihilate all the means of existence, and be the presage of the greatest misfortune.
"Louisiana cannot dispense with the slave trade. The excessive heat prevailing during the five months in which the hardest works are to be executed on the plantations, does not allow the use of free and white labor and renders the blacks indispensable.
"The enterprise of the inhabitants has been checked for several years; otherwise, the number of the blacks would have considerably increased. On hearing the news of the St. Domingo insurrection, the negroes made an attempt to follow that example. They were repressed, and their ringleaders punished. The authorities then thought it prudent to prohibit the introduction of that kind of population into the province, in order to augment the number of slaves until the restoration of peace. This measure has saved the colony, because the activity of the colonists, the great advantages they have derived from the cultivation of the sugar-cane for the last five years, would have induced them to increase the number of the blacks to such an extent, that they would not have been able to keep them in subjection and would have become their victims.
"Since that time, the number of whites who have been attracted by the prosperity of the province has increased so much, that the government has, for a year past, revoked the preceding measure, but only in relation to the negroes coming directly from Africa.
p434 "It is apparent that any innovation operating against the slave trade system would undermine the very foundations of the prosperity of the colony.
"The inhabitant of Louisiana, if made easy on this point and in relation to the imports and the duties to be paid thereon, would give half of his blood to be replaced under French domination, and would shed the last drop of the remaining half to defend that domination.
"The facility with which man can supply his wants in that colony is such, that two hours of daily labor are sufficient to procure him all the means of existence. The necessities of life are satisfied with hardly any trouble or expense. Several districts, such as those of Attakapas, Opeloussas and Natchitoches, furnish the colonists with thousands heads of cattle — so that an ox, weighing •from seven hundred to eight hundred pounds, costs no more than four dollars. Flour comes from the western provinces of the United States in such abundance, that bread is not higher than in France.
"The crops of rice and corn are so abundant, that the average price of a barrel of rice of •one hundred and eighty pounds is from four to five dollars, and that of corn from forty to fifty cents, and this is what constitutes the main food of the planter and of his negroes. Every sort of game and fish is so plentiful, that they scarcely fetch any price at all. An exception must be made as to wages, which are very high. It is the case with every newly settled country in which population has not yet become dense.
"The products of this province consist of sugar, indigo, tobacco, cotton, rice, corn, millet, essences, common furs, timber, boards, planks, shingles, and boxes for the Havana sugar.
"The want of success in the cultivation of indigo, p435 which, for the last few years, has been almost everywhere the prey of insects, the small results obtained from any other agricultural labor, have determined the planters to try again the experiment which had previously failed — that of establishing sugar cane plantations. Formerly, there was considerable difficulty to be surmounted. It had always been thought that winter was a great obstacle to that culture. Experience has proved the contrary.
"The sugar cane, which requires in the West India islands eighteen months to reach its perfect maturity, is fit for use in Louisiana in seven months. It begins to spring up in March, towards the end of the winter, and is cut at the end of October.
"The impression was, that the planters would have, for the manufacture of sugar, no more time than the month of November and part of December, when the winter should happen to be mild, because the canes would be spoiled, if frosted when standing in the field. To obviate this danger, it would have been necessary for the inhabitant who occupies fifty negroes in ploughing his land, in planting and weeding his canes, to have four mills and more than two hundred negroes, to cut and grind them before the setting in of winter.
"Notwithstanding this, the planters did not give way to discouragement, and experience has demonstrated that the sugar cane which, at St. Domingo, becomes sour two days after its being cut, continues sound in Louisiana, when cut down and covered with its stubble on the ground, until it be manufactured into sugar. It is an invaluable advantage, which secures the success of sugar estates in Louisiana, and is the cause that its cultivation in this province has become as rich a branch of industry and gives us as much hope as in any of the most important colonies.
p436 "It is in 1795, that, with a small gang of thirty negroes, the first sugar plantation was established, and with such success, that the individual26 who had made the undertaking, sold his crop of brown sugar to the Americans, in 1796, for twelve thousand dollars. This was enough to excite the emulation of all the planters who had some means, so much so, that, notwithstanding the difficulty of procuring, in time of war, sets of kettles — notwithstanding the prohibition of the introduction of negroes, which checked the increase of cultivation, there are, to‑duty, more than sixty sugar estates in Louisiana, which produce, annually, four millions of pounds of sugar, which yield from twenty to twenty-five per cent on the capital invested.
"This sketch is sufficient to give an idea of the progress which this branch of industry is destined to make, as soon as the colony shall enjoy the blessings of peace.
"The districts of Attakapas and Opeloussas, situated at •one hundred and seventy-four miles from New Orleans, on the banks of the Teche and Vermillion, which lie on the right side of the Mississippi, are of an immense extent, and the sugar cane succeeds there as well as on the river, and also in the Lafourche district and others.
"The indigo would be one of the most advantageous products of Louisiana, if it could be cultivated successfully; but it is exposed to so many casualties, that it has been abandoned by most of the inhabitants. Thus, this crop which rose, some years ago, to •three hundred thousand pounds, has been reduced to one-third, and the cultivation of that plant diminishes every day, since the establishment of sugar plantations. But the impression is, that the sugar cane destroys the insects which are noxious to the indigo, and a piece of land, which has for p437 a long time been used for the cultivation of the sugar cane, may with success, it is thought, be turned over to the cultivation of the indigo. This article goes directly, in time of peace, to the ports of France, and can go nowhere else. It is there that it is always sold to the best advantage. It is worth from seven to nine francs the pound.
"The district of Natchitoches is the only one which is addicted to the cultivation of tobacco ever since the district of Natchez belongs to the Americans, when the new demarcation of limits took place in 1797. The quantity of tobacco thus produced rises to •two hundred thousand pounds. In time of peace, the greater portion of it is exported to France, and the rest to Vera Cruz and Campeachy.
"The exportation of cotton from Louisiana does not exceed two hundred thousand pounds. This branch of agricultural industry is profitable enough (since the invention of certain mills to separate the seed from the silk) to justify small planters in consoling themselves for not having sufficient forces to go into the planting of the sugar cane.
"That cotton is very fine, but the silk is short. In time of peace, the whole of it is sent to France, where it is no doubt used to better advantage than anywhere else, since it sells there better than in any other country.
"There goes out of Louisiana, annually, more than one hundred thousand dollars' worth of furs, consisting principally of deerskin. Bear and beaver skins, together with the hides of wild beeves,º and particularly furs of a fine quality, are comparatively scarce. They meet with a ready sale in the ports of France.
"Louisiana supplies St. Domingo with a great deal of timber, planks, shingles, boards, essences, &c. She cannot sell them at so low a price as the Americans, because p438 wages are twice as high there as in the United States, because also the quality of the wood being harder requires more labor, and because the voyages from Louisiana are longer.
"Nevertheless, it is evident that it is more advantageous for St. Domingo to be supplied with timber from Louisiana than from the United States. In the first place, the quality is infinitely better; in the next, the Americans, when introducing cargoes of timber into the French colonies, carry also thither a great quantity of dry goods, manufactured either by themselves, or by the English, and take molasses in return to the amount of only one-half of their exports, as the other half of the return cargo is always in specie, whilst the vessels coming from Louisiana, far from draining St. Domingo of specie, bring a good deal of it, in order to purchase their return cargoes, which consist of goods of French manufacture, and also of wines and eatables. The shipowners are satisfied with a slight profit on the timber, which covers the expenses of freight. The cargoes of timber are a mere pretext, because every vessel sailing with a cargo of this nature, valued for instance at fifteen thousand livres, comes back from St. Domingo with a cargo of merchandise worth three or four times as much, and everybody knows that, with every cargo of timber, there goes in27 contraband a sufficient quantity of dollars of the pay for a return cargo, and, if those ships had not this object in view, their timber cargo would be an insufficient consideration to induce them to undertake such voyages. This trade, which has been interrupted since the war, will take more extension under the domination of France, when the exportation of specie shall no longer be prohibited.
p439 "The trade which occupies most ships in Louisiana is that of boxes, with which this province supplies the island of Cuba. Havana alone consumes two hundred thousand sugar boxes, which constitute about fifty cargoes. Those boxes, at fifty cents a‑piece, give to the planters a revenue of one hundred thousand dollars; to the carriers, as much for the freight; and to the merchants engaged in that trade, a profit of twenty-five thousand dollars. This is not all. It must also be taken into consideration, that there is not one of the vessels employed in carrying those boxes which does not smuggle into Havana a certain quantity of articles of French manufacture, and which does not return to New Orleans with twice the value of its cargo in specie, doubled as it is by the profits of the sale and freight.
"These sugar boxes were formerly made at Havana, with the cedar-wood, which is very common there. But Spain, since she possesses Louisiana, has, in order to favor her, permitted her to supply the island of Cuba and the other harbors in the Gulf of Mexico with the boxes required for the sugar crops; and since that permission, such boxes are no longer made in the Spanish establishments, where the quality of the wood being much harder, they cannot be furnished so cheap as by Louisiana.
"If moment has not yet come to insist upon obtaining for Louisiana from Spain the grant of a free trade with the harbors in the Gulf of Mexico, France ought not at least to give up the sugar box trade with Havana, which Louisiana now enjoys. Since her cession to Spain, more than thirty saw mills have been constructed near New Orleans, on the banks of the Mississippi, to supply that trade, and these saw mills, should they be deprived of that outlet, would become valueless. Besides, these boxes, as I have said, constitute the freight p440 of all the vessels which trade with Havana, and it would therefore deprive this colony of a precious commercial resource.
"It was to reward the inhabitants of Louisiana for the zeal which they displayed in 1779 and 1780, when they conquered under General Galvez the English settlements on the Mississippi, and the towns of Mobile and Pensacola, that his Catholic Majesty granted them the privilege of free trade with France. His Majesty, should he be reminded of this fact, would not come to the harsh conclusion of depriving them of so interesting a branch of commerce as the supply of those sugar boxes, of which they have been in possession for the last thirty-four years — that is — ever since they have been under Spain domination. The benefit which accrues from it to the island of Cuba deserves also some consideration.
"About ten thousand barrels of rice are annually exported from Louisiana to St. Domingo and Havana.
"The chief resource of the province of Louisiana is the money which is spent there by the government for the pay of its agents and officers. Five hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars are annually sent to New Orleans from Mexico in three ships, which arrive at a regular interval of four months. This sum is divided among so many persons employed by the government, that each one consumes what he receives, so that it soon goes into the pockets of the farmer who feeds him, and of the merchant who supplies his other wants. The whole ends in finding its way into the coffers of the merchant, who supplies the farmer, whose crop, besides, is generally insufficient to pay his debts to said merchant.
"This sketch demonstrates pretty clearly that the Louisiana still remains a burden to the metropolis, since the annual disbursements of Spain to keep up that colony p441 amount to four hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars, over and above the revenue derived through its custom-house. From that sum there may be deducted one hundred thousand dollars, which are uselessly spent at Pensacola. There remains a deficit of three hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars, which the success alone of sugar-making in the colony justifies the government in the hope of being able to cover in a few years, as soon as a general peace shall permit the slave trade to be resumed, and as soon as the government shall take it in hand to people Louisiana.
"These are about all the articles of exportation which are supplied by Louisiana, in return for the objects of importation which she receives from France in time of peace. There may be added to the above statement about one hundred thousand dollars, in return for the commodities which are smuggled from Louisiana into the harbors of the Gulf of Mexico; and, in time of peace, it is the commerce of France and St. Domingo which gets hold of all this specie, in exchange for wines, oils, soaps, eatables and other articles of French manufacture.
"The planter does not hoard up, however considerable may be the result of his agricultural labors. After having consumed so much of it as is necessary to supply his wants, he employs the rest in improving his estate. Ambition and activity are his characteristics; all that he requires is encouragement.
"The only taxes known in Louisiana are a duty of six per cent on the exports, valued according to a very moderate estimation. The same duty is paid on all foreign imports.
"Spain has, so far, retained possession of this colony for political reasons. It is onerous to her, as it was onerous to France during all the time that the latter power possessed it, since the custom-house duty, which p442 is here the only source of revenue, does not produce annually one hundred thousand dollars, and since the ordinary expenditure required by the colony rises up every year to five hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars, without including the extraordinary expenses.
"The inhabitants of Louisiana, as subjects of the King of Spain, have the right to carry to all the ports of the Gulf of Mexico the products of their soil, and when they resort to Havana, Cuba, Vera Cruz and Campeachy, only for the apparent purpose of selling their boxes, timber and tobacco, they smuggle in a considerable quite of merchandise of French manufacture, such as silk stuffs, ribbons, muslins, lawns, lace and jewels, and the vessels engaged in that trade always bring back to Louisiana four times more dollars than the apparent value of their outward cargoes. Those harbors in the Gulf of Mexico furnish nothing for return cargoes beyond dollars and Campeachy wood. This last article will only serve as ballast for the ships returning to France.
"If, in consequence of the cession of Louisiana to France, Spain closed to that province all her harbors in the Gulf of Mexico, this measure would deprive the colony of the principal resources which constitute its present prosperity, and the exports not being commensurate with the imports which it requires, its commerce would decay, and the colony itself would receive a blow which would keep it palsied, until it should become sufficiently peopled to enable it to produce more than she imports.
"Louisiana wants working hands. Give her population, and she will become an inexhaustible source of wealth for France. Give her population, whatever be the means employed, but give her population.
"Here is an estimate of what that province gives p443 annually in return for the commodities she receives from France and St. Domingo in time of peace, but which, in time of war, she has permission to procure, wherever she can, in the ports of neutral or allied powers.
"In time of peace, it is the commerce of Bordeaux, Marseilles and Nantes which absorbs all this capital, and the whole trade is even engrossed by vessels from these ports. As soon as they have deposited their cargoes at New Orleans, they avail themselves of the time required for the sale of those cargoes and the collecting of the debts due to them, to make a voyage to Havana, or Vera Cruz. They carry thither a cargo of sugar-boxes, and never fail to dispose at the same time of the objects of luxury which they bring from France for that purpose, and, on their return to New Orleans, they find their cargoes for Europe ready prepared.
"It is only since the war with Great Britain does not prevent any intercourse with France, that the King of Spain has allowed the province of Louisiana to trade with neutral nations, because the Court of Madrid could p444 not but be aware that the colony could not do without that foreign trade. Whereupon, it has so turned out that the United States now monopolize the commerce of Louisiana, which, by this means, has hardly suffered at all during the long period of the European wars.
"It would be much to the interest of France and Louisiana to prohibit the introduction of timber from the United States into the French colonies. Then the price of the Louisiana timber, which is better, would be kept up, and the merchants of the province, instead of exporting thither twenty cargoes of timber annually, would send two hundred, and, instead of taking for their return cargoes melons and dollars, as do the Americans, would bring back French dry goods and French liquids, which they would pay for in specie, because the sale of their timber cargoes would not be of sufficient amount to supply them with return cargoes. Besides, wages will diminish in Louisiana in proportion to the increase of operation, and consequently its timber will become cheaper.
"By this sketch it appears, that the objects of exportation from Louisiana amount at present to $1,958,000; but, from the moment that France shall be in possession of it, if that province is not permitted to continued its commerce of sugar-boxes in the Gulf of Mexico, the importation will be limited to the agricultural products of its soil, the value of which amounts now to about $696,000; but then the deficit will be $1,260,000, which it now receives from its trade in boxes and its appendages, and also from the disbursements of Spain to meet the necessary expenses of the colonial administration.
"I must not omit to say, that every sort of paper money, by causing the ruin of this province, would in the end become onerous to the government, and profitable p445 only to some stockholders, who are always interested in proposing its issue. The government will easily procure funds in Louisiana, by resorting to bills of exchange on the national treasury at home. It is useless to say, that this resource would fail from the very moment they should not meet with ready payment on their becoming due.
"The good intelligence which exists between France and Spain would also afford to the former the resource of drawing to advantage, for the expenses of the colony, dollars from Vera Cruz, on making reimbursements for them in Europe. Spain would find it to her interest to receive her capital without other costs and risks than those of transportation from Vera Cruz to New Orleans.
"This is all the information which I have been able to gather during a residence of eighteen years in Louisiana, where I was employed by government in a superior office," &c., &c.
This able document gives so very faithful a delineation of Louisiana, at the time, by one whose authority is inferior to none, that I felt justified in transcribing it at length. It holds up to France golden visions of maritime power which would have given her a wonderful preponderance in America, but which she was not destined to realize.
Pontalba's memoir was presented on the 15th of September, 1800, and, on the 1st of October, a treaty was concluded at St. Ildephonso, the third article of which is in these terms: "His Catholic Majesty promises and engages to retrocede to the French Republic, six months after the full and entire execution of the above conditions and stipulations relative to his Royal Highness, the Duke of Parma, the colony or province of Louisiana, with the same extent that it now has in the hands of Spain, and that it had when France possessed it, and such as it p446 ought to be after the treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and other states." The stipulation relative to the Duke of Parma was, that as a compensation for that Duchy and its dependencies, which were ceded to France by that prince, who belonged to the Spanish branch of the house of Bourbon, and as a compensation also for the cession which the King of Spain made of Louisiana to the same power, the Duke of Parma should be put in possession of Tuscany, which was to be erected into a kingdom, under the name of Etruria, by the great king maker and king destroyer, Napoleon Bonaparte. As France was then at war with England, the treaty was carefully concealed from the knowledge of the public, because Louisiana might have been easily attacked and conquered by the English, who were masters of the sea.
1 Martin's History of Louisiana, vol. II, p153.
2 Monette's History of the Valley of the Mississippi, vol. I, p530.
3 De Bow's Review, May number, 1847, p411.
4 Monette's Valley of the Mississippi, vol. I, p540.
6 Monette's Valley of the Miss., vol. I, p543.
7 Martin's History of Louisiana, vol. II, p158.
8 Dice que es tal el caracter del gobernador, tal su modo de pensar, y tan propenso á hacer gastos inutiles que no podrá servir á su Majestad, como el deseará.
9 Su propension natural á gastar lo suyo, y lo que pide prestado, y a hacer gastar á quantos le circundan, y el deseo de tener objetos en que extender sus facultades, y manifestarle generoso á costa del Rey, eran mas bien los agentes de los preparativos de defensa que exigía, que los recelos de invasion de parte de los Americanos a cuya sombra se solicitaban.
10 Sin entender mas que yo, se cree este gobernador sobresaliente á los mejores generales de marina. Aquellas cosas han producido entre nosotros contestaciones bastante agrias y desagradables, hasta el punto de pretender que la Intendencia, sin hablar palabra, se someta á todos sus caprichos, depreciando cuantas razones se alegan para evitar á S. M. gastos inútiles. Creo de absoluta y indispensable necesitad que el Rey se digne tomar una de dos determinaciones que son: ó cohartar la facultades de este gobernador en los terminos que sean de su real agrado: ó con el conocimiento que doy de la situacion de estas Reales Cajas proporcionar á la Intendencia medios para que pueda llenar los deseos de este gefe.
11 Los correos que van y vienen de Pansacola á Savannah, que aun no sé á quanto asciende el gasto. Solo produjó hasta ahora gacetas de aquel parage, y es sabido al credito que puede darse á las noticias de la gacetas del norte, donde por quatro reales cada uno puede poner lo que mas acomoda á sus ideas.
12 Dice que no siendole posible por mas tiempo el continuar en pugna abierta con aquel gobernador, se ve en la precision de suplicar á S. M. se sirva relevarle del cargo de intendente y trasladarle á otro punto de los dominios de America.
13 Contraviniendo á lo que prescriben la moderacion y urbanidad con que deben ser tratadas las personas constituidas en mando, insultando y amenazando á la intendencia, y cometiendo los demas excesos que refiere.
14 — Disimulando que sabemos su reprensible manejo con respeto á nosotros, lo hemos obsequiado en los mejores terminos que permite el pais, y exigia su caracter, &c., &c.
15 Nó puede formarse juicio, ni deducir consequencias adversas ni favorables de semejantes exterioredades; pero con todo, como los individuos de esta nacion suelen tener momentos en que su corazon se difunde, no ocultaré á V. E., que en los que ha tenido dicho general con personas que juzgaba de su confianza, ha manifestado lo mismo que expuse á V. E., en mi representacion reservada del 31 Mayo ultimo, No. 23.
16 El 18 del corriente fué Dios servido poner fin al gobierno del Brigadier Don Manuel Gayoso de Lemos. Una calentura maligna de las que ofrece este pais en la estacion de verano, no conocida por los facultativos hasta algunas horas antes de su fallicimiento le quitó la vida, habiendo sido forzoso andar de priesa para que cumpliese con la obligaciones de christiano y que hiciera testamento. Poco antes de expirar se reconciliò conmigo, y quedaron reciprocamente remitidas la quejas personales á que dió lugar el cumplimiento de la que cada uno entendia ser su obligacion.
17 Morales' despatch of the 25th of July, 1799.
18 Martin's History of Louisiana, vol. II, p172.
19 Arman sus caserias con los Indios, tienen confabulaciones, les imprimen maximas prejudiciales conforme á su caracter inquieto, ambicioso, y á los vinculos que observan con sus paisanos del Oeste, quienes tienen la costumbre de palmear el hombro de sus niños quando son muy robustos, diciendoles you will go to Mexico.
20 General Wilkinson.
21 This note is to be found at the bottom of the page in the original manuscript: "Four times, from 1786 to 1792, preparations were made in Kentucky and Cumberland to attack Louisiana, and, every time, this same individual caused them to fall through his influence over his countrymen. I make these facts known to show that France must not neglect to enlist this individual in her service."
22 Pontalba had been in the employ of Spain.
23 It seems that McGillivray's death, which occurred in 1793, had not reached Pontalba, who had retired to France before the happening of that event.
24 Probably, the agents employed by Spain made money, but it is to be doubted whether any considerable part of it found its way to the coffers of the government.
26 Jean Etienne Boré.
27 The exportation of specie from Louisiana was prohibited.
b For the Scottish-Creek chieftain's career, see Part III, Chapter 4. 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 there.
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