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Am. Dom., Ch. 1

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of Louisiana

Charles Gayarré

in the edition published by
William J. Widdleton,
New York, 1867

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Am. Dom., Ch. 3
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p58  Chapter II
Governor Claiborne's Administration

On the 4th of January, 1805, the petition of "the merchants, planters, and other inhabitants of Louisiana," signed by Destréhan, Sauvé and Derbigny, their delegates, had been read and referred in the Senate of the United States. It was an able review of the grounds upon which rested the organization of the territorial government, which was declared to be oppressive and degrading.

"Misrepresented and insulted," said the Delegates, "it cannot be deemed improper to show how groundless​1 are the calumnies which represent us in a state of degradation, unfit to receive the boon of freedom. How far any supposed incapacity to direct the affairs of our own country would release the United States from their obligation to confer upon us the rights of citizen­ship, or upon what principle they are to become the judges of that capacity, might, we believe, fairly be questioned; for we have surely become not less fit for the task since the signature of the treaty than we were before that period; and that no such incapacity was then supposed to exist, is evident from the terms of that instrument, which declares that we are to be admitted as soon as possible according to the principles of the Constitution.  p59 If the United States, then, may postpone the performance of this engagement until, in their opinion, it may be proper to perform it, of what validity is the compact; or can that be called one, of which the performance depends only on the will of the contracting party? [. . .]

"To deprive us of our right of election, we have been represented as too ignorant to exercise it with wisdom, and too turbulent to enjoy it with safety. Sunk in ignorance, effeminated by luxury, debased by oppression, we were, it was said, incapable of appreciating a free constitution, if it were given, or feeling the deprivation if it were denied. The sentiments which were excited by this humiliating picture may be imagined, but cannot be expressed consistent with the respect we owe to your Honorable Body. [. . .]

"We could not imagine what had produced the idea of our effeminacy and profusion; and the laborious planter, at his frugal meal, heard with a smile of bitterness and complaint the descriptions published at Washington of his opulence and luxury.

"As to the degree of information diffused through the country, we humbly request that some more correct evidence may be produced than the superficial remarks that have been made by travelers, or residents, who neither associate with us, nor speak our language. Many of us are native citizens of the United States, who have participated in that kind of knowledge which is there spread among the people; the others generally are men who will not suffer by comparison with the population of any other colony. Some disadvantages as to education in the higher branches of literature have lately attended us, owing to the difficulty of procuring it, but the original settlement of the province was marked by circumstances peculiarly favorable in this respect. It was  p60 made at no distant date, at a period when science had obtained a great degree of perfection, and from a country in which it flourished; many individuals possessing property and rank which suppose a liberal education, were among the first settlers; and, perhaps, there would be no vanity in asserting that the first establishment of Louisiana might vie with that of any other in America for the respectability and information of those who composed it. Their descendants now respectfully call for the evidence which proves that they have so far degenerated, as to become totally incompetent to the task of legislation.

"For our love of order and submission to the laws, we can confidently appeal to the whole history of our settlement, and particularly to what has lately passed in those dangerous moments, when it was uncertain at what point our political vibrations would stop; when national prejudice, personal interest, factious views, and ambitious designs, might be supposed to combine for the interruption of our repose; when, in the frequent changes to which we have been subject, the authority of one nation was weakened before the other had established its power. In those moments of crisis and danger, no insurrection disturbed, no riot disgraced us; the voice of sedition was silent; and before a magistrate was appointed, good morals served instead of laws, and a love of order instead of civil power. It is then as unjust to task us with turbulence, as it is degrading to reproach us with ignorance and vice."

The delegates, in this memorial, energetically insisted on the rights of the inhabitants of Louisiana to be promptly admitted into the Confederacy as the citizens of a Sovereign State, and ably discussed the 3d section of the treaty of cession on which they relied in support of their pretensions.

 p61  "The inhabitants of the ceded Territory," they observed, "are to be incorporated into the Union of the United States. These words can in no sense be satisfied by the act in question. A territory governed in the manner it directs may be a province of the United States, but can by no construction be said to be incorporated into the Union. To be incorporated into the Union must mean to form a part of it. But to every component part of the United States the Constitution has guaranteed a republican form of government, and this, as we have already shown, has no one principle of republicanism in its composition. It is, therefore, not in compliance with the letter of the treaty, and is totally inconsistent with its spirit, which certainly intends some stipulations in our favor. For if Congress may govern us as they please, what necessity was there for this clause, or how are we to be benefited by its introduction? If any doubt, however, could possibly exist on the first member of the sentence, it must vanish by a consideration of the second, which provides for our admission to the rights, privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States. But this territorial government, as we have shown, is totally incompatible with those rights. Without any vote in the election of our Legislature, without any check upon our Executive, without any one incident of self-government, what valuable privilege of citizen­ship is allowed us? What right do we enjoy, of what immunity can we boast, except, indeed, et degrading exemption from the cares of legislation and the burden of public affairs?"

They further agreed that the words "as soon as possible" of the treaty, which stipulated their admission into the Union, could never be so construed as to allow Congress the right of deferring that admission indefinitely. If it might be procrastinated for two years, no  p62 reason could be seen why it might not be postponed for twenty, or a hundred, or totally omitted. It could not be supposed that the United States had only bound themselves to admit Louisiana into the Union as soon as they should think proper, and no more; for a treaty implies a compact; and what compact can arise from a reservation to perform, or not to perform, as one of the parties should deem expedient? Hence they had no doubt that the words "as soon as possible" meant, as soon as the laws necessary for the purpose could be passed.

In connection with that part of the act which restricted the importation of slaves into the Territory, the delegates said:

"To the necessity of employing African laborers, which arises from the climate and the species of cultivation pursued in warm latitudes, is added a reason in this country peculiar to itself. The banks raised to restrain the waters of the Mississippi can only be kept in repair by those whose natural constitution and habits of labor enable them to resist the combined effects of a deleterious moisture and a degree of heat intolerable to whites. This labor is great; it requires many hands, and it is all-important to the very existence of our country. If, therefore, this traffic is justifiable anywhere, it is surely in this province, where, unless it is permitted, cultivation must cease, the improvements of a century be destroyed, and the great river resume its empire over our ruined fields and demolished habitations.

"Another evil," they said, "not indeed growing out of this act, but of great moment to us, is the sudden change of language in all the public offices and administration of justice. The great mass of the inhabitants speak nothing but the French. The late government was always careful, in the selection of officers, to find  p63 men who possessed our own language, and with whom we could personally communicate. Their correspondence with the interior parts of the province was also carried on chiefly in our own language. The judicial proceedings were indeed in Spanish, but being carried on altogether in writing, translations were easily made. At present, for the slightest communication an interpreter must be procured. In more important concerns, our interest suffers from not being fully explained. A phrase, a circumstance, seemingly of little moment, and which a person not interested in the affair will not take the trouble to translate, is frequently decisive, and produces the most important effects. That free communication so necessary to give the magistrate a knowledge of the people, and to inspire them with confidence in his administration, is by this means totally cut off, and the introduction of vivâ voce pleadings in the courts of justice subjects the party who can neither understand his counsel, his judge, nor the advocate of his opponent, to embarrassments the most perplexing, and often to injuries the most serious."

The delegates concluded their address in this earnest and pathetic strain:

"Duly impressed, therefore, with a persuasion that our rights need only to be stated to be recognized and allowed; that the highest glory of a nation is a communication of the blessings of freedom; and that its best reputation is derived from a sacred regard to treaties; we pray you, Representatives of the people, to consult your own fame and our happiness by a prompt attention to our prayer; we invoke the principles of your revolution, the sacred, self-evident and eternal truths on which your governments are founded; we invoke the solemn stipulations of treaty; we invoke your own professions and the glorious example of your fathers, and we adjure  p64 you to listen to the one and to follow the other, by abandoning a plan so contradictory to everything you have said, and they have taught — so fatal to our happiness and the reputation of your country. To a generous and free people we ought not to urge any motive of interest, when those of honor and duty are so apparent; but be assured that it is the interest of the United States to cultivate a spirit of conciliation with the inhabitants of the Territory they have acquired. Annexed to your country by the course of political events, it depends upon you to determine whether we shall pay the cold homage of reluctant subjects, or render the free allegiance of citizens attached to your fortunes by choice, bound to you by gratitude for the best of blessings, contributing cheerfully to your advancement to those high destinies to which honor, liberty and justice will conduct you, and defending, as we solemnly pledge ourselves to do, at the risk of fortune and life, our common constitution, country, and laws."

The President, in his annual message, delivered on the 8th of November, 1804, to Congress, had called the attention of that body to the practicability of ameliorating the form of the territorial government of Louisiana. On the 25th of January, 1805,​2 John Randolph, chairman of the committee appointed to take into consideration this part of the message, and to whom had also been referred the memorial here partly recited, the original of which was in the French language, but with an English translation annexed to it, made a report on the subject in the House of Representatives. He said that it was only "under the torture" that the 3d article of the treaty of cession could be made to speak the language ascribed to it by the memorialists, or could countenance, for a moment,  p65 the breach of good faith which they had conceived themselves justified in exhibiting against the Government. "But because," said he, "the memorialists may have appreciated too highly the rights which have been secured to them by the treaty of cession, the claim of the people of Louisiana on the wisdom and justice of Congress ought not to be thereby prejudiced. Relying on the good sense of that people to point out to them that the United States cannot have incurred a heavy debt in order to obtain the Territory of Louisiana, merely with a view to the exclusive or special benefit of its inhabitants, your committee, at the same time, earnestly recommend that every indulgence, not incompatible with the interests of the Union, may be extended to them." Whereupon the committee submitted the following resolution: "Resolved, That provisions ought to be made by law, for extending to the inhabitants of Louisiana the right of self-government." The committee, before coming to this conclusion, had given permission to the delegates of the inhabitants of Louisiana to address to them such remarks as they might conceive to be favorable to the elucidation of the question which was so interesting to their constituents. Availing themselves of the privilege conceded to them, the Louisiana delegates submitted to the committee an elaborate and able argument in support of the views which they had taken of the rights of those whom they represented, and particularly insisted on the injustice of "procrastinating the incorporation of the present inhabitants of Louisiana into the Union," begging the committee, at the same time, "to make some allowance for the disadvantage under which they labored to express themselves in a language which was not altogether familiar to them."

Notwithstanding their zeal and the ability which they displayed, Derbigny, Sauvé, and Destréhan were not as  p66 successful in their efforts as was desired. On the 2d of March, however, an act was approved, "providing for the government of the Territory of Orleans," by which the President was authorized to establish therein a government, in all respects similar to that of the Mississippi Territory, in conformity with the ordinances of the old Congress in 1787, except so far as related to the descent and distribution of estates, and the prohibition of slavery. As to the inhabitants of the Territory, they were authorized, as soon as the number of its free population should reach sixty thousand souls, to form for themselves a constitution and State government, in order to be admitted into the Union upon the footing of the original States, "in all respects whatever," provided that Congress "should be at liberty, at any time prior to the admission of the inhabitants of the said Territory to the right of a separate State, to alter the boundaries thereof as they might think proper."

Twenty-five representatives were to be elected by the people — which was something gained — instead of the thirteen members chosen by the President, and who heretofore had constituted the legislative body. These representatives, who were to be elected for two years, were to be convened by the Governor in the city of New Orleans, on the 1st Monday of November, 1805. Certain qualifications as to residence and citizen­ship were required, with a fee simple estate of two hundred acres of land. The upper House, to which was given the name of "Legislative Council," was composed of five members,​3 to be chosen by the President of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate, out of ten individuals selected by the House of Representatives of the Territory. Their period of service was five  p67 years, but as they could, at any time, be removed by the President, it is evident that they were under his control to a considerable extent. The only qualification required from them was a freehold estate of five hundred acres of land. This was about the amount of modification made to the first act of territorial organization which had excited so much discontent, and it is evident that this modification was not sufficiently liberal to afford much gratification, for the little of self-government which was granted to the Louisianians carried with it so many checks and curbs, that it was a mocking shadow rather than a pleasing and substantial reality.

In relation to this subject, Claiborne, on the 21st of April, thus wrote to Madison: "The law of Congress for the government of this Territory will not give general satisfaction. The people had been taught to expect greater privileges, and many are disappointed. I believe, however, as much is given them as they can manage with discretion, or as they ought to be trusted with until the limits of the ceded territory are acknowledged, the national attachments of our new brothers less wavering, and the views and characters of some influential men here better ascertained. I particularly attend to those persons who were formerly in the Spanish service, and are permitted by their Government to remain in Louisiana as pensioners, or in the enjoyment of their full pay." And on the 4th of May, he said: "The agents,​4 Messrs. Sauvé, Destréhan and Derbigny, are preparing for publication a pamphlet in which I fear much will be said which will tend to agitate the public mind. I have seen Messrs. Sauvé and Derbigny, and find the latter much disappointed and dissatisfied. . . . . . . For my own part, I am still convinced that an early introduction of the  p68 entire representative system in Louisiana would be a hazardous experiment." So anxious was he, however, to do away with that general feeling of discontent, that, in a circular addressed to the sheriffs of the Territory on the 9th of May, he says: "I am fully aware that many parts of your duty will be unpleasant, and may subject you to the ill-will of those who may, through your public agency, be made to feel the energy of the law. But there is a manner of discharging an unpleasant duty which never fails to soften resentment, and most generally begets the friendship of those with whom we act. I will only recommend the observance at all times of the utmost equanimity of temper and politeness of conduct."

Claiborne had been reappointed Governor; Graham had been appointed Secretary, and Sprigg and Mathews Judges of the Superior Court, with Prevost, who was already on the bench.

On the 4th of November, the House of Representatives met in New Orleans, and selected the ten individuals out of whom the President of the United States was to form a Legislative Council for the Territory. Their choice fell on Bellechasse, Bouligny, D'Ennemours, Derbigny, Destréhan, Gurley, Jones, Macarty, Sauvé and Villeré. The President selected Bellechasse, Destréhan, Macarty, Sauvé and Jones, thereby giving ample satisfaction to the Louisianians, as he had thus allowed the creole element to preponderate in that important body.

On the same day, when the act "further providing for the government of the Territory of Orleans" became a law, the President approved another act, "for ascertaining and adjusting the titles and claims to lands within the Territory of Orleans, and the District of Louisiana." This act was a Godsend to the lawyers, who, to the dismay of the litigation-hating population of Louisiana, were flocking from all quarters to settle in its bosom, and  p69 who eagerly tendered their services to those who were in need of their assistance.

The act above alluded to applied only to the confirmation of such grants or sales of land as had been made by the Spanish and French Governments in territories of which they were in actual possession. In the mean time, Morales, whose presence in New Orleans was so obnoxious to the Government of the United States, on account of his continuing to exercise his functions of Spanish Intendant on American territory, and particularly on account of his numerous grants and sales of land in that part of West Florida claimed as included in the acquisition of Louisiana, and against which the act of the 2d of March was aimed, had been in vain endeavoring to retire to Pensacola, wherein he conceived himself entitled to carry on his functions of Intendant. But Folch, the Governor of Florida, hated Morales, and denied his pretensions. Morales appealed to the Captain-General of Cuba, who decided in his favor, and cited orders of the king in support of his opinion. But Folch, who seems to have been countenanced by the Marquis of Casa Irujo, the Spanish Minister to the United States, disregarded the alleged orders from the King, and set at defiance the Captain-General. He sent Don José de Clouet with a detachment of troops, with which he was to watch Morales at Dauphine Island and Mobile Point, and arrest him on his way to Florida. The Governor further instructed​5 the officer in command of fort Barrancas, at Pensacola, to imprison Morales in that fortress, should he succeed in eluding the grasp of De Clouet, and arrive at the spot where his presence was not desired. He also threatened Carlos Grandpré, Governor of the Baton Rouge district, to deprive him of his command, if  p70 he recognized Morales as Intendant. All that he contented himself to do for the relief of that officer, was to offer him, as an asylum for himself and his employees, the fort of Mobile, where he would be permitted to deposit his archives.

Yielding to the complaints of the Government of the United States, the Marquis of Casa Irujo, the minister sent to them by Spain, had remonstrated with Intendant Morales on the concessions and sales of land which he was daily making in the Territory in dispute between the two governments, and had advised him to suspend his proceedings. On the 20th of December, Morales, who still styled himself "Intendant of Louisiana," wrote from New Orleans a dispatch to Casa Irujo, in which he said that, by virtue of the royal ordinance of the 22nd of October, 1798, concerning the Spanish Colonial intendencies, he possessed the exclusive power, freely and without any interference from any authority in America, however exalted, to make concessions, grants, distributions, and sales of land as he might think best conducive to the interest of his Majesty, which both of them had so much at heart; therefore, that he could, without giving any just cause of offence, refuse to have any communication with the minister on the subject, but that, as he was convinced that the minister did not intend to assume an authority to which he could have no pretensions, but was merely volunteering advice with the best of motives, he,​6 Morales, would not hesitate to make known to him the reasons why he pursued the course which he had adopted.

"In a ministerial dispatch of the 20th of last February, 1805,"​7 says Morales, "I was informed that the  p71 King expected that I should draw from this branch of revenue (the sale of lands), with my well-known zeal, all the profits of which it was susceptible for the royal treasury." He then alludes to several other communications, from which it clearly results, that the King wished him to make for the royal exchequer as much money as he could out of the public lands in the ceded provinces, whilst they were yet in a state of transit from one government to another. Such instructions were, certainly, unworthy of the royal majesty, as it could hardly be denied that they were of a fraudulent character. In another passage of the same dispatch, he says to Casa Irujo,​8 that it would be good policy to encourage the idea that all that part of West Florida, including the District of Baton Rouge, as far as the western bank of the Rio Perdido, in which he had been making large sales of land, would be finally abandoned to the United States, because without the prevalence of such an idea, and if it was believed that Spain would retain possession of that territory, the lands would become valueless. "Not only," says the shrewd and money-making Intendant, "it would be expedient to allow this belief (creencia) to circulate, but it would be still more profitable to persuade the people that, when the cession shall be allowed to take place, Spain, before making it, will take care to stipulate for the confirmation of all the sales or grants of land previously made by her officers in all the ceded territories, and will thereby secure her former colonists against the hard conditions imposed on them by Congress in the above recited Act of the 2nd  p72 of March, with regard to the verification and settlement of land claims in the Territory of Orleans and District of Louisiana.9

In this very interesting dispatch,​10 he begs leave to call the attention of the Marquis of Casa Irujo to the fact, that all the sales and concessions of land made by the Governors, or other Spanish authorities in Louisiana, during thirty years, did not bring a maravedi into the royal exchequer, and he boastingly remarks that, whilst his jurisdiction as Intendant was questioned, and whilst he was awaiting to be re-clothed with the powers appertaining to his office, he had skillfully availed himself of the circumstances offered by the cession of Louisiana, which, of course gave immediate value to what had hitherto possessed none whatever, and had succeeded in putting into the King's coffers fifty thousand dollars — a sum which would have been much greater, he affirmed, if he had not been counteracted and checked by Claiborne, the American Governor, and by the Spanish Governor Folch, who ruled at Pensacola.

The Intendant concludes his dispatch in these words:

"The royal treasury has not had to disburse anything in relation to those lands, because the purchasers assumed the expenses of survey and all other costs, which have not been inconsiderable, and which, therefore, may be looked upon as a part of the product of those sales. This sum ought to be considered (to use a common saying)  p73 as a windfall. Had it not been believed that the Territory of Baton Rouge would become a possession of the United States, its inhabitants being accustomed to get lands without paying a cent for them, it would have been impossible to obtain from that source any funds for the royal treasury; and nevertheless, the way in which I managed it is criticised — which management consisted in secretly circulating the report that Spain would soon part with that Territory; obstacles and embarrassments are thrown in my way by those who should protect me, with a view to prevent me from obtaining all the results which I should get without such opposition; and, finally, indefatigable efforts are used to diminish my merits in these transactions, and weaken the credit which I should be entitled to claim, thus rendering painful to me what should have been a cause of gratulation. This is, however, the fate of the man who thinks of nothing but the strict accomplishment of his duties; but, fortunately, if I do not succeed in putting down the false charges brought against me, one consolation shall never be wanting, and it is that which I shall draw from my conscience."​11

It must not be forgotten, whilst reading this curious dispatch, that when the Intendant was thus secretly circulating the report that Spain would soon abandon the  p74 district of Baton Rouge, the Spanish Government was loudly and bitterly complaining of the grasping and unjust arrogance of the United States in claiming it as comprehended within the ceded Territory.

Thus Morales was still lingering in New Orleans, much to the annoyance of Claiborne. As to the Marquis of Casa Calvo, he was preparing to make an excursion through the colonial provinces of Spain in the neighborhood of the United States as far as Chihuahua; and the remainder of the Spanish troops had at last been removed to Pensacola. The intended departure of the Marquis was a great relief to Claiborne and to others, to whom his presence had been very unacceptable. The Spanish guard which Casaº Calvo retained about his person had been an object of complaint. Claiborne had requested him to dispense with that unnecessary display, and that officer having acceded to it, Claiborne had written to him a note, on the 4th of January, to thank him for having complied with his wishes. "The existence of your guard," said he, "was not considered an object of serious concern, since I was well assured that your Excellency would disapprove and repress any interference on their part with the citizens. But, as complaints were made, I thought that it would conduce to harmony to have your guard withdrawn from the streets. The protection due to your Excellency is prescribed by our laws, and every officer of this government will be happy to render it."​12 The importance attached by the complainants to the Marquis's guard can hardly be conceived, and the bombastic Resolutions which were introduced in the City Council on this subject by a member of that body, become almost ludicrous, when contrasted with the naked fact, that those Spanish troops which were represented  p75 in those Resolutions as "dangerous to the peace of the city and to the sovereignty of the United States," consisted only of a corporal and four men posted at the dwelling of the Marquis.13

Another cause of annoyance to Claiborne was the rivalry and hatred existing between the ex-Intendant Morales and the ex-Governor Casa Calvo, whilst they remained in Louisiana to wind up the affairs the King of Spain. In their conflicts, they constantly appealed to the American governor, who, of course, declined all interference, and had even to check them whenever they pretended to exercise any authority over matters which, by the change of sovereignty, had been withdrawn from their jurisdiction. Claiborne​14 also complained more than once, that Edward Livingston and Daniel Clark, moved by their hostility to him and by dangerous political views, "had injured the interest and character of the Government in the Territory." These two gentlemen seem to have sided with the Spanish authorities in their quarrels, and their interference was a source of infinite mortification and irritation to the American Governor. As to the Marquis of Casa Calvo, Claiborne seems, nevertheless, to have entertained a favorable opinion of him, for he says: "I find no difficulty in transacting business with the Marquis. He possesses a great share of Spanish pride, and a warm, irritable temper, which sometimes betrays him into imprudencies, but his disposition is generous and accommodating, and his general deportment that of a gentleman." His relations, however, with Governor Folch of Florida do not appear to have been of the same pleasant character. "Of Governor Folch,"​15 he remarked, "I cannot speak as favorably. He has more temper than  p76 discretion, more genius than judgment, and his general conduct is far from being conciliatory."

On the 10th of February, the Spanish officers, although notified that their presence in the Territory was unpalatable, clung, under various pretences, and with a sort of mysterious and inexplicable fondness, to the province which their government had ceded to France, and France to the United States. "It seems the evacuation is not yet completed," wrote Governor Claiborne,​16 "and that several Spanish officers continue in this city; some have been permitted to retire on half pay." As to the Marquis of Casa Calvo, his plea for remaining was,​17 that "he expected shortly to be employed in defining the boundary line between the United States and the Mexican possessions."​a In the mean time, war had broken out between Spain and England, and the news of that war, together with the opening of the port of Havana to neutral vessels,​18 had greatly benefited the commerce of New Orleans. The levee became crowded with flour and salted provisions, red wines and dry goods destined for exportation. Nevertheless, the Spaniards gave great uneasiness to Governor Claiborne. Their forces in Pensacola and West Florida amounted to nine hundred effective men; besides, two hundred were stationed at Baton Rouge, about eighty at Mobile, and according to common report, the number of the troops in Texas had been considerably augmented. At the Bay of St. Bernard they had been erecting a fort, and the coast was studded with their garrisons. It was even believed that, at a point distant only two hundred and forty miles from the mouth of the Sabine, they had concentrated two thousand troops.19  p77 What made it worse, was the impression generally spread among the population, "that they were shortly to fall again under the dominion of Spain;" and the Spanish officers in Louisiana and in Pensacola took frequent occasions to remark, "that West and East Florida would be given in exchange for the territory west of the Mississippi; and that on no other condition would the cession be made."20

These reports of the increase of the Spanish armaments induced Claiborne to demand explanations of the Marquis of Casa Calvo. At the interview which took place, Claiborne said, "that the President had been desirous that, pending the negotiations between the two governments, the present state of things should not be innovated on by either party, and particularly that no new positions, or augmentations of military force, should take place on either side, within the territory claimed by both eastward of the Mississippi; that the President was anxious that the existing differences should be amicably adjusted, and entertained strong hopes that such would be the result." The Marquis replied, "that the forces of his Catholic Majesty had not been augmented at Baton Rouge, Mobile, or Pensacola, in any other manner than by concentrating at these places the troops which had been withdrawn from the various parts of Louisiana now in possession of the United States." They finally parted​21 from each other with reciprocal assurances of personal consideration, and of their great solicitude for the preservation of a good understanding between their two nations." This interview had taken place on the 19th of April. On the 21st, Casa Calvo called on Claiborne, and in the course of the conversation, expressed his surprise  p78 at the desire of the American Government to extend their limits. "He introduced," said Claiborne,​22 "the old hackneyed argument that a republican form of government could not long exist over extensive territories. He, however, seemed to think that the issue of the mission​23 would be favorable to the wishes of the President. There is no doubt but the great object of the Spanish Government will be to limit the possessions of the United States westwardly by the Mississippi, and to attain which, East and West Florida and other considerations would cheerfully be offered. I form this opinion from my various conversations with the Marquis, with Governor Folch, and other Spanish officers. Indeed, many persons here yet believe that the country west of the Mississippi will be ceded to Spain. The Marquis, in his private conversations, encourages such opinions, and until the issue of Mr. Monroe's mission is known, the Louisianians will not consider their political destiny as fixed. I have always told you that the foreign agents here saw with pleasure, and secretly countenanced, the discontents of the people, and I am persuaded that they have been mentioned to the Court of Spain as evidences of the favorable impressions which the former masters of Louisiana had left behind them. Fearing that these discontents would tend to encourage Spain in her pretensions to West Florida, and to lessen the interest which France might otherwise take in effecting an accommodation and thus embarrass our administration, I saw with regret and surprise the unnatural part which three or four apostate Americans of talents were acting here. But there are men whose hearts are so organized, that no consideration, not even the interest of their country, would induce them to forego the pleasure of gratifying  p79 their personal resentment, and there are others in whose breast a spirit of avarice and self-aggrandizement has acquired such an ascendancy as to have stifled every honest emotion. But it is unnecessary to enlarge further on this head. In every community there are degenerate characters, and it affords me consolation to assure you that the great body of the Americans here are useful, worthy members of society, and faithful to the interest of their country. I can add with like sincerity that the Louisianians, generally speaking, are a virtuous, amiable people, and will, in a short time, become zealous supporters of the American Union."

In the mean time, whilst Claiborne was thus looking round to guard against danger from foreign and intestine foes, the news which he frequently received from two individuals in the Western District of Louisiana, who had his entire confidence, Dr. Sibley and Captain Turner, were far from being of an encouraging character. Captain Turner was persuaded that Spanish agents had endeavored to alienate the affections of certain Indian tribes from the United States, and had soured the minds of the people of Natchitochesº against the American Government, impressing them, at the same time, with the belief that Louisiana, or at least that part of it which lay west of the Mississippi, would shortly return under the dominion of Spain. Turner's statements to Claiborne were confirmed by Dr. Sibley. Both united in informing him "that the intrigues of the priests at Natchitoches had had an injurious tendency, inasmuch as they had weakened the allegiance of the citizens by giving currency to an opinion that they would soon become Spanish subjects, and excited hatred against the American Government by representing that it afforded no protection to religion, and that an association with infidels (meaning the Americans) would dishonor the memory of their ancestors,  p80 who had lived and died in the true faith. "A character calling himself the bishop of one of the interior provinces of Mexico," says Claiborne,​24 "lately made a visit to Natchitoches.​b He traveled with great dispatch and in much pomp. He appeared to be a man of great literature and of considerable address. He kept a journal, and took the latitude of many places through which he passed. His inquiries as to the geographical situation of Louisiana were minute, and from his general conduct it would seem that his visit was rather with political than religious views. The bishop was received by the Commandant at Natchitoches with respectful attention, and after resting a few days in the vicinity of that post, took his departure for the city of Mexico, to which place there is said to be from Natchitoches a plain direct road, that can be traveled with facility at any season of the year." When such was the state of things on the frontiers of Texas, large sums of silver were coming to New Orleans from Vera Cruz, consigned to the Marquis of Casa Calvo, ostensibly for the payment of pensions to Spanish officers allowed to reside in Louisiana, and to meet the expenses which the Marquis might have to incur as Commissioner of Limits.25

At this conjuncture of affairs, Aaron Burr, on whose brow the result of his duel with Hamilton seems to have put the seal of Cain's curse and fate, arrived in Louisiana with letters of introduction from Wilkinson, the pensioner and the tool of Spain, who, "to expedite his voyage, had fitted out for him an elegant barge, sails, colors, and ten oars, with a sergeant and ten able, faithful hands,"​26 and who wrote to Daniel Clarke that "that great and honorable man would communicate to him  p81 many things improper to letter, and which he would not say to any other."​27 Claiborne alludes to this event with remarkable laconism in a letter addressed to Madison on the 26th of June, 1805: "Col. Burr," says he, "arrived in this city on this evening" — and he only returns to the subject to say, in a letter of the 14th of July to Jefferson: "Col. Burr continued in this city ten or twelve days, and was received with polite attention. He has departed for St. Louis, and proposes to return to New Orleans in October next." Parton,º his late biographer, writes that Burr was received everywhere in that city as the great man, and was "invited by Governor Claiborne to a grand dinner, given to him, and which was attended by as distinguished a company as New Orleans could assemble."​28 Whether Burr swelled the number of those "dangerous Americans who sympathized with the Spaniards," and of whom Governor Claiborne complains, does not appear, but it is to be presumed that the "great man," the friend and protégé of Wilkinson at the time, could not but have given to the Spaniards some satisfactory intimation of what had brought him to New Orleans, or Wilkinson, their pensioner and spy, would not have countenanced him so openly in these critical circumstances, when so many dark intrigues were evidently on foot. Whatever they were, it seems that Claiborne's apprehensions had recently been much allayed, for, on the 27th of July, he wrote to Madison that the police of the city having become vigilant, and the civil authorities throughout the province being thoroughly organized, he could no longer see any necessity for the stationing of regular troops in the interior of the colony. "In this city," said he, "one company might be usefully employed as a guard for the public property, but a  p82 greater number appears to be unnecessary. The strengthening of the forts at Plaquemines, or the erecting of a new fort at some strong position on the Mississippi below New Orleans, I consider an object worthy the attention of the administration, and in this way a part of the troops now here might be well employed, I think, and others might with propriety be sent to some frontier post. To guard, however, against difficulties with Spain, it might be advisable to have a regular force so posted as to enable them to act with promptitude and effect, as well in attacking the Floridas as in defending this city, and I know of no position more eligible than Fort Adams."

But it is worthy of notice, that during the sojourn of Burr in New Orleans, from the 26th of June to the 14th of July, it was determined at Washington that there was a sufficient cause for a secret correspondence between Claiborne and the Department of State, and to accomplish that purpose, a cipher was sent to the Governor, who acknowledged the receipt thereof on the 12th of August. What had happened, and what was it which it was deemed proper to conceal from the public eye, from that time to the present day? Nothing is left here for us to explore but the unsafe field of conjecture; and the circumstantial evidence of probabilities is to be accepted, instead of the positive information derived from well-ascertained facts. It is but too often that the historian, when consulting official documents, discovers that there are secret ones which will never meet his eye, and without which the events which he investigates cannot be thoroughly sifted and fully appreciated.

However secure Claiborne seemed to be at this time, and however gratified he might have been by the disposition shown by Casa Calvo to oblige the American Government on several occasions — such, for instance, as the  p83 granting of passports to an American exploring expedition, which, under the command of Dunbar, was to go up Red River into the Spanish Provinces — and such as the surrender of slaves who had run away from the Natchitoches District into Texas — still he had not ceased to be exceedingly anxious that the Spanish officers should remove out of the Territory. But not only did those officers seem to forget the invitation to depart, which they had received on the 9th of October, 1804, but they even objected to being taxed, with the rest of the citizens, for slaves and other property which they had in the Territory. To their remonstrances on the subject Claiborne replied: "For myself," he said in a letter to Casa Calvo, "I cannot see with what propriety the individuals generally claiming to be officers of Spain, and who reside in this Territory, can claim any exemption from the municipal laws. How far your Excellency, and the gentlemen attached to your family, to whom I am disposed to pay every attention in my power, may be entitled to any peculiar exemption from the operation of the municipal laws of this Territory, is a question on which I shall solicit the opinion of the Secretary of State of the United States." He also availed himself of this occasion to remind the Marquis that, by the treaty of the 30th of April, 1803, a period was prescribed within which the forces of his Catholic Majesty should be withdrawn from the ceded Territory. "Subsequently to the expiration of that period," said he, "your Excellency was urged to direct the departure of certain officers who had continued in the Territory so long beyond the right and the occasion for it. But they, nevertheless, remain stationary, and the circumstance furnishes ground to believe that some of them contemplate a permanent residence." Commenting on the subject in a dispatch to Madison​29 dated  p84 August 7th, 1805, Claiborne observed: "You, no doubt, will be surprised to see so many foreign officers in the city. The fact is, that they are wedded to Louisiana, and necessity alone will induce them to depart." But Casa Calvo had winning ways, and there was a charm in his deportment which mollified Claiborne, and almost compelled him, notwithstanding his complaints, to show great forbearance to the Spanish officers. This is demonstrated by the letter​30 which, on the 14th of August, he wrote to Casa Calvo: "Permit me to assure your Excellency of the satisfaction I have had in the various communications which have occasionally passed between us. There is a frankness and sincerity in your letters which entitle them to high consideration on my part. Therefore, although I have complained, and not without cause, of the great delay of the Spanish authorities in this Territory beyond the time prescribed for their departure, I have, nevertheless, and disposed to make great allowance for the difficulties which you have suggested, and am fully persuaded of the disposition of your Excellency to execute, as far as may depend upon your agency, with promptitude and in good faith, the stipulations of the treaty."

Notwithstanding these pleasant relations, and the favorable dispositions existing between these two officers, the report of the retrocession to Spain of the country west of the Mississippi was gaining so much ground, that Claiborne, becoming alarmed at the consequences which might follow, called on the Marquis, and asked him if he knew on what authority this report was circulated. The Marquis answered in the negative, and added that he understood that the negociations had been suspended in Spain, and that Mr. Monroe had left Madrid. He further said, that the Minister of State, Cevallos, had informed  p85 him (Casa Calvo) that the desire of the Court of Spain was to make the Mississippi the boundary, and that their expectation was to obtain this object in due time. "The Marquis," said Claiborne to Madison,​31 "delivered himself in the French language. From my imperfect knowledge of French, it is possible that I may have misunderstood some of his expressions, but I am sure I gave you the substance of what he said. The prospects of a retrocession of the west bank of the Mississippi is now, and has always been, the theme of the Spanish officers who remain in the Territory, and many citizens seem to view it as an event likely to happen; an impression which I greatly regret, since it tends to lessen their confidence in the American Government, and to cherish a Spanish party among us. Next, therefore, to a final adjustment of limits with the Spanish Government, I most desire to see every Spanish officer removed from the ceded Territory. There must certainly be a power existing somewhere vested, to cause to be executed the clause in the treaty which directs the Spanish forces to be withdrawn within three months from the ceded Territory, and I should be pleased to have it hinted to me that, in my character as commissioner or Governor, I could, on this occasion, take, if necessary, compulsory measures."

The Government of the United States, however, had not, so far, shown itself disposed to pursue such a course, and Claiborne, on the 20th of August, departed from New Orleans,​32 on a journey to several of the counties of the Territory. In undertaking this excursion, he had two objects in view: the one was to benefit his much-impaired health; and the other, to assist personally in  p86 organizing the militia — an object of the utmost importance, considering the hostile attitude which the Governments of Spain and of the United States had taken toward each other. On the 26th, Claiborne arrived at Baton Rouge, and partook of the hospitality of the Spanish Governor, Don Carlos de Grandpré. "I was introduced," wrote Claiborne to Madison,​33 "into a fort where the Governor has resided for several months, from an apprehension that Kemper and his associates still meditated an attack against his government. The fort of Baton Rouge has lately been repaired, but the works are ill-constructed, and could not be defended from assault by a less number than one thousand men; the seat has also been injudiciously selected, for it is commanded by ground not more than a quarter of a mile distant." On his return to New Orleans, Claiborne informed Madison​34 "that he had found everything tranquil, and did not apprehend any event in which the people of the Territory would take an agency which would subject the government to embarrassments." But he added, "that a rupture between the United States and Spain was esteemed here as highly possible, and excited much anxiety."

At last, on the 15th of October, the Marquis of Casa Calvo departed from New Orleans, in accordance with a previous notice which he had given to Claiborne, explanatory of his intentions, which were — to pass through Bayou Lafourche and the Bayou Tèche to the sea,​35 and thence to the mouth of the Sabine, which he proposed to ascend as far as the old Post of Adais. In making this excursion, the Marquis stated that he had two objects in view: the one to enjoy the  p87 amusement of hunting; the other, to acquire some geographical knowledge of the country, and in particular, to ascertain the latitude of the Post of Adais, and to make an examination for some stone posts, which were said to have been deposited somewhere in its vicinity, and immediately on the line which was formerly established between the French and Spanish possessions west of the Mississippi. "I expressed to the Marquis a wish," wrote Claiborne, "that, on his arrival at the Post of Adais, he should be joined by an American officer from the garrison of Natchitoches, who should witness his proceedings, and make report to me thereof. To which proposition the Marquis having assented, Captain Turner, who speaks the French language, has been selected to accompany him." One of the instructions to Turner was to ascertain the longitude and latitude of several points in the country to be visited, and also the line of demarcation which had formerly existed between the Spanish and French Territories. He was further requested to collect whatever other information might be useful for the Government, "although it did not come within his instructions."36

On the 24th of October, Claiborne's apprehensions of an attack on Louisiana from the Spaniards had become much keener, and were founded on information which he had lately received, and which he thought correct. Thus he believed that four hundred Spanish troops had recently arrived at Pensacola, and that a larger number was daily expected; that three hundred men had been ordered to Baton Rouge, and that eight hundred had been posted in Texas, near the frontiers of Louisiana. He was well assured that a Spanish agent had contracted for the delivery at Mobile of four thousand barrels of  p88 flour, and that the same agent, not being enabled to procure by contract the delivery of four thousand pairs of shoes at the same point, had purchased a quantity of leather. So convinced was Claiborne of impending danger, that he wrote to Robert Williams, Governor of the Mississippi Territory, to give him timely notice of the coming storm.​37 "I am persuaded," says he, "that the Spanish agents in our vicinity calculate on an immediate rupture, and that they are making all the preparations which their means permit, to commence the war in this quarter with advantage. Until, therefore, we have information of an amicable settlement of differences, or some strong assurances that hostilities will not be resorted to, permit me to advise that you remain at your post. I well know that, if you were to depart for North Carolina, and any difficulties should arise in your absence, you would be extremely mortified, and, therefore, although I strongly hope that peace may with honor be preserved, yet, as war may speedily commence, I should regret your absence from a position where you might be among the first to partake of the danger and the glory of defending our country." These were noble sentiments, and Claiborne proceeded to act in accordance with them, by providing himself and his friend, the Governor of Mississippi, with that weapon which every brave hand longs to grasp, when laurels are to be won; for he concludes the communication, from which I have made the preceding extract, with these words:— "I have purchased for you an elegant sword; it is similar to one I have purchased for myself, and is said to be the kind of small-arms at present worn by the generals in France."

On the 30th of October, Claiborne was confirmed in  p89 his apprehensions of a rupture between Spain and the United States. A governor-general of the province of Texas had arrived in San Antonio, and as he was a brigadier-general and was said to possess military talent, the fact was looked upon as not without signification. Besides, a fort had been erected on the Trinity River, and occupied by a garrison of two hundred men, the greater part cavalry. "The conduct of the Spaniards in this quarter," wrote Claiborne to Dearborn, Secretary of War, "is highly exceptionable, and manifests a hostile disposition." At the same time, heavy duties were levied by the Spanish authorities in Mobile on all American vessels navigating up the Tombigbee River from the ocean. Claiborne strongly remonstrated in a​38 communication to Governor Folch against the vexations thus inflicted, and which were calculated to weaken the good understanding which should have existed between the two nations. He further complained of the considerable armaments of the Spaniards, and demanded explanations on the subject, considering, said he, "that negotiations between our respective governments are still in train."

Claiborne kept his eyes always vigilantly open on Florida and Texas, and was somewhat solicitous about the movements of Casa Calvo in the latter territory. New Orleans was fruitful in reports on the subject. It was generally believed that the Marquis had taken with him a considerable sum of money. Some said that he was to meet on the frontiers of Texas three thousand troops, of which he was to take the command; others that he was engaged in sowing discontent among the people of the western part of Louisiana; many were under the impression that the money carried away by the Marquis was destined to conciliate the Indians to the  p90 Spanish interest in case of a rupture with the United States. There were some who suspected that all these objects together were within the compass of his journey. Various, indeed, were the conjectures,​39 and the news which Claiborne received from time to time was not such as to quiet the excitement of the public mind. "Some troops," wrote Dr. Sibley to him, "have arrived at Nacogdoches — it is said two hundred; and it is likewise said they are going to fortify, in a short time, within five or six leagues of Natchitoches. Considering the attachment to them of their militia, and the contrary toward us of our militia, they are stronger than we are, counting numbers." In such an emergency, Claiborne hastened to write to Madison:​40 "The regular troops here are few in number, nor can I rely with certainty on the body of the militia. I believe that many of the creoles of the country would be faithful to the American Government, but perhaps a majority of them would remain neutral, and I am inclined to think that most of the Frenchmen, and all the Spaniards who reside here, in the event of war, would favor the Spanish interest. These are my impressions, and I deem it a duty to impart them to you."

After having given this information, Claiborne urged the sending of reinforcements to him as soon as possible. He advised that Forts St. John and Plaquemines be repaired and placed in a state of defence; that the troops at Fort Adams be removed to Pointe Coupée; and that the troops in New Orleans, leaving only a necessary guard for the public stores and barracks, be posted at Fort St. John, and above and below the city of New Orleans at suitable positions, not more than six miles distant from the city. He thought that, by these measures,  p91 the passage of a hostile army by way of the lakes, or from Baton Rouge, or from the mouth of the river, might be opposed, and that, in this manner, "various rallying-points would be presented for the patriotic citizens of the militia." The vigilance of Claiborne continued to rise in proportion with the increase of danger, and, on the 7th of November,​41 he wrote to the Secretary of War: "I have no doubt but that we have a few Spanish soldiers in this city, who have disguised their outward garb. The inclosed deposition will give some information concerning them; their movements will be watched, and such measures adopted as their conduct may justify."

When hostilities were thus within the range of probabilities, Claiborne felt himself compelled to give much attention to the organization of the militia. Conspicuous among the different corps was the battalion of Orleans, which was composed of Americans, and of creoles of Louisiana, who, wrote Claiborne​42 to Madison, "possess a great share of military ardor." But Graham, the Secretary of the Treasury, seems to have had but an indifferent opinion of the efficacy of the militia. In a communication to the Secretary of War at Washington he said:​43 "My own opinion is that it is not, nor ever will be, equal to the defence of the Territory. The climate, the nature of the country, which does not admit of a thick population, and above all, the number of negroes, will ever make this a feeble part of the Union, even if the Creoles should be tempted to shoulder their muskets and feel as Americans. In this city there are some volunteer corps which might, I believe, be depended upon, and no doubt, in case of an emergency, others might be raised, but these  p92 would consist of men who could not leave the city for any length of time."

After having taken a view of what was occurring between the Spaniards and Americans in Louisiana, and in the neighboring provinces, it is proper now to examine the course pursued by the two governments at Madrid and Washington. On the 4th September, 1803, Casa Irujo, the Spanish Minister at Washington, had protested in the name of his Government against the cession of Louisiana to the United States;​44 but, on the 10th of February, 1804, he had informed the Government of the United States that he had received orders to declare that his Catholic Majesty "had thought fit to renounce his opposition to the alienation of Louisiana made by France, notwithstanding the solid reasons on which it was founded, thereby giving a new proof of his benevolence and friendship toward the United States;" and, on the 15th of May, the minister had repeated the same declaration, coupled with the hope "that the United States would correspond, with a true reciprocity, with the sincere friendship of the king, of which he, the king, had given so many proofs."

There were pending, however, between the two Governments, questions which were soon destined to test their mutual forbearance and friendship. The principal ones were those originating in the claims of the United States concerning the limits of Louisiana and the injuries done to American commerce by France, with the assent or acquiescence of Spain, and for which therefore she was held responsible. These questions were discussed with great ability on both sides, and the arguments would fill up a large volume, but did not lead to any satisfactory conclusion. At last, on the 5th of July, 1804, the  p93 American Minister at Madrid wrote to Cevallos, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, a note which was couched in the terms of an ultimatum, and in which he said: "I wish to have your Excellency's answer as quickly as possible, as on Tuesday I send a courier with circular letters to all our consuls in the ports of Spain, stating to them the critical situation of things between Spain and the United States, the probability of a speedy and serious misunderstanding, and directing them to give notice thereof to all our citizens, advising them so to arrange and prepare their affairs as to be able to move off within the time limited by the treaty, should things end as I now expect. I am also preparing the same information for the commander of our squadron in the Mediterranean for his own notice and government, and that of all the American merchant vessels he may meet.​45 On the 8th Cevallos replied by a note, in which he remonstrated against the menace implied in the American Minister's communication, and said, "The King, my master, cannot persuade himself that such language is conformable to the moderation which he appreciates in the American Government." On the 14th, Mr. Pinckney disclaimed all idea of having intended to take a menacing tone toward Spain, but, at the same time, maintained that the position he had assumed was justified by the extraordinary language used, and the extraordinary course pursued by the Spanish Government. He said, "I have repeatedly told your Excellency that, as to the two questions of abandoning the French claims,​46 or consenting to anything to affect the limits of Louisiana, my instructions are as positive as possible never to abandon the one, or enter into any contract, or even negotiation, respecting the other." And he further held this emphatic  p94 language: "In all the differences between Great Britain and France, the United States have uniformly maintained their rights with a firmness that has done them honor in the opinion of every nation; and as I have often told your Excellency, it is not to Spain, or any other nation, they will yield them." This lofty tone was met with a corresponding spirit by Cevallos, and both Ministers, with equal tenacity, seemed determined not to yield an inch to each other.

Such a turn of affairs rendered it expedient, in the opinion of the President, to send a special envoy to Madrid, with a view of making a last effort to arrange matters amicably with Spain, and he selected Mr. Monroe, who was instructed to proceed from London to Madrid, and, on his route, to avail himself in Paris of every opportunity which might present itself for ascertaining and turning to just account the dispositions of the French Government with regard to the questions depending between the United States and Spain. In his instructions of the 26th of October, 1804, given to Monroe, the Secretary of State said, "Notwithstanding the rumor which appears to have spread in Europe of an impending rupture between Spain and the United States, there is nothing in the avowed sentiments of the Spanish Government, and certainly nothing in the sound policy of Spain, to justify an inference that she wishes to be no longer at peace with us. It may reasonably be expected, therefore, that you will meet with a friendly reception. In return, you are authorized by the President to give every proper assurance of the desire of the United States to maintain the harmony and to improve the confidence between the two nations; and with this view to hasten, by frank elucidations and equitable accommodations, a removal of every source from which discord might arise." Mr. Monroe, in passing through Paris, had no difficulty in  p95 ascertaining that the French Government took of the questions depending between Spain and the United States a very different view from that which was expected or desired by the President; for, on the 21st of December, 1804, Talleyrand had made to General Armstrong, the American Minister at Paris, a communication which left no doubt on the subject, and in which he used this very significant language: "His Imperial Majesty has seen with pain the United States commence their differences with Spain in an unusual manner, and conduct themselves toward the Floridas by acts of violence, which, not being founded on right, could have no other effect but to injure its lawful owners. Such an aggression gave the more surprise to his Majesty, because the United States seemed in this measure to avail themselves of their treaty with France as an authority for their proceedings, and because he could scarcely reconcile with the just opinion which he entertains of the wisdom and fidelity of the General Government, a course of proceedings which nothing can authorize toward a Power which has occupied, and still occupies, one of the first ranks in Europe."

This communication shows that time had made no alteration in the determination of the French Government; for General Armstrong, in a dispatch of the 12th of March, 1804, had written to Mr. Monroe long before he, Monroe, had been requested to proceed to Madrid to settle these Spanish difficulties:​47 "The moment I received your letters of the 15th and 26th of February, I took measures to sound this Government on the present posture of things at Madrid, which, on the authority of your communication, I represented as strongly indicating a rupture between the United States and Spain. . . . To the question, what would be the course of this Government  p96 in the event of a rupture between us and Spain, they answered: 'We can neither doubt nor hesitate; we must take part with Spain.' In another dispatch of the 18th, he said: 'Another experiment has been made, but without producing any result propitious to our objects. Nay, the more this subject is discussed, the more determined are they in maintaining the doctrines, and pursuing the conduct indicated in my letter of the 12th.' " On the 23d of May, 1805, Mr. Madison,​48 alluding to these two communications from General Armstrong, wrote to Mr. Monroe: "From these communications it appears that France has arrayed herself on the side of Spain in such a manner that Spain will neither be disposed nor be permitted to bend to our claims, either with respect to West Florida, or the French spoliations."

In the mean time, Monroe and Pinckney had jointly resumed the suspended negotiations at Madrid, but they had no favorable results. On the contrary, they seemed to have exacerbated the feelings of irritation already existing, as appears by a joint note addressed​49 by Monroe and Pinckney to Cevallos on the 9th of April, 1805, in which they said, "The undersigned have the honor to inform his Excellency that they expect an early answer to this communication, and that by it will their future conduct be governed. They consider the negotiation as essentially terminated by what has already occurred; and if they pursue it, it will be only on the proof of such a disposition on the part of his Majesty's Government as shall convince them that there is just cause to conclude that it will terminate to the satisfaction of the United States. Having acquitted themselves, in every particular, of what was due to the just, the pacific and friendly policy of their Government, it remains that they  p97 should not be unmindful of what they owe to its honor, its character and its rights. If his Majesty is disposed to adjust these important concerns by an amicable arrangement between the two nations, on fair and equal terms, it may be easily and speedily done. Each party knows its rights, its interests, and how much it ought to concede, in a spirit of conciliation, to accomplish the objects of the negotiation. The undersigned feel the force of that sentiment, and will not fail to respect it. Should his Majesty's Government, however, think proper to invite another issue, on it will the responsibility rest for the consequences. The United States of America are not unprepared for, or unequal to, any crisis which may occur. The energy which they have shown on former occasions, and the firmness of their past career, must prove that, in submitting with unexampled patience to the injuries of which they complain, and cherishing with sincerity the relations of friendship with his Catholic Majesty, no unmanly or unworthy motive has influenced their conduct."

This note failed to produce its desired effect, and after repeated efforts on both sides to come to an understanding, Pinckney and Monroe, on the 12th of May, submitted to Cevallos the following ultimatum:

"On condition that Spain will cede, on her part, the Territory to the east of the Mississippi, and arbitrate her own spoliations conformably to the convention of August 11, 1802, the United States will cede, on their part, their claim to territory west of a line to be drawn from the mouth of the Colorado to its source, and from thence to the northern limits of Louisiana, in such a manner as to avoid the different rivers and their branches which empty into the Mississippi.

"They will establish a Territory of thirty leagues on both sides of this line, which shall remain unsettled forever,  p98 or of thirty leagues on their own side, if Spain desires to extend her settlement to the Colorado.

"They will also relinquish their claim for French spoliations, which amounts to one hundred and sixty-four vessels, by undertaking to satisfy the parties themselves in a sum specified.

"They will relinquish, likewise, their claim to compensation for the suppression of the deposit at New Orleans."

On the 15th, Cevallos sent his reply, which he concluded in these words:50

"In this view of the subject, it cannot be concealed from the penetration of your excellencies, that, as a consequence of the propositions you have made by your note of the 12th, Spain would cede to the United States, not only the Territories which indisputably belong to her to the east of the Mississippi, that is, the two Floridas, but also others equally her own, in the interior province of New Spain, without receiving anything in return but the renunciation of a right which she does not acknowledge in the United States — which is, to reclaim for the damages arising from the suspension of the deposit, and for those occasioned by the French privateers on the coast and in the ports of Spain during the last war, when, on the contrary, Spain thinks she has shown that she is in no manner liable for the same.

"The justice of the American Government will not permit it to insist on propositions so totally to the disadvantage of Spain; and, however anxious his Majesty may be to please the United States, he cannot, on his part, assent to them, nor can he do less than consider them as little conformable to the rights of his crown."

Three days after, on the 18th of May, the negotiation  p99 being considered as at an end by the foregoing answer of the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Monroe, whose duty it became to repair immediately to London, where he was Resident Minister of the United States, asked for his passport, which was granted, and, on the 21st, he had his final audience of the King, to take leave in the usual form. On the 23d, Monroe and Pinckney, jointly, wrote from Aranjuez to Madison: "We are sorry to inform you that the negotiation with which we were charged by the President with the Government of Spain is concluded, after failing in all its objects, notwithstanding our unwearied and laborious exertions, for so great a length of time, to procure for it a different result." On the 3d of December, the President informed Congress, in his annual message, of the complete failure of negotiations with Spain, and of the injuries perpetrated by her and others of the belligerent powers in Europe against American commerce. "In reviewing," said he, "those injuries from some of the belligerent powers, the moderation, the firmness and the wisdom of the Legislature will all be called into action. We ought still to hope that time and a correct estimate of interest, as well as of character, will produce the justice we are bound to expect. But should any nation deceive itself by false calculations, and disappoint that expectation, we must join in the unprofitable contest of trying which party can do the other most harm. Some of these injuries may, perhaps, admit a peaceable remedy. Where that is competent, it is always the most desirable. But some of them are of a nature to be met by force only, and all of them may lead to it." Thus the year 1805 closed for the United States with a lowering horizon, portending of war and its concomitant calamities.

As to those events appertaining merely to the internal condition of the Territory, a succinct recapitulation of  p100 them will complete the history of this year. Early in January, Claiborne had informed Madison of the revulsion which had taken place in the temper of the people concerning the establishment of a Bank, which had been so violently opposed in the beginning. But, at last, its incipient capital had been subscribed, and an election of Directors had been proceeded to. "I had hoped," he wrote​51 to Albert Gallatin, "that this measure would not have been carried into effect, since it had been disapproved of at the Seat of Government. But the spirit of adventure, which, for a length of time, was dormant, has been revived by the exertions of a few individuals, and it seems that the people are determined to put the Bank in motion."

Claiborne had not found the Executive Chair one of ease and repose in Louisiana. Severe strictures were constantly published on his administration, his public character, and even his private life. On the 19th of January, he thought himself bound, in duty to himself and to the Government he represented, to forward to Madison the papers which contained those strictures, with observations on the principal accusations brought against him.

"My accusers," he​52 said, "take great care to impress the public with an opinion that my government commenced here under the most favorable auspices — an assertion contradicted by every circumstance of the times," &c. . . When possession of Louisiana was received, the aspect of affairs was not such as promised either a pleasing administration, or a happy result. The people were split into parties, divided in their affections, and the sport of foreign and domestic intriguers. The functions of government were nearly at a stand, and much was wanting to produce system in, and restore order to, the different  p101 departments. Great changes were expected under the new order of things, and more was required, to conciliate and attach the general sentiment to the American Government, than my resources permitted, or the energies of any man could accomplish. The honest distrust which I entertained of my talents, the sincere diffidence with which I entered upon the duties of my office, my constant reluctance to exert any of the large discretionary powers intrusted to me, except when urged by imperious necessity, or the strong pressure of political expediency, and my anxious solicitude for a speedy termination of the Provisional Government, are all known to you.

[. . .]

"That I committed errors I readily admit, but I am not sensible of having been betrayed into any material measure that I can reflect on with self-accusation. It is true that I did not do so much as some seem to have expected, nor was my administration marked with any of those strong traits which some would call energy, but others, more properly, oppression. A charge of tyranny on the one part, or imbecility on the other, was equally an object of dread," &c. [. . .]

As to the reproach laid at his door for having permitted the Spanish troops to remain so long in the Territory, he observed that the taking of any other than conciliatory measures of persuasion to hasten their departure would not have been authorized by anything which had occurred, and he added:

"I doubt, even had we had the authority, whether we had the force necessary to carry any compulsory measures into effect. As to the Marquis of Casa Calvo having retained a sentinel at his house, it never gave me any uneasiness, and indeed I knew not until lately that it was even considered as an object of jealousy by any of our citizens. I, however, communicated the circumstance to you, and conceiving from your  p102 silence that you viewed it, as I did, in a very unimportant light, I did not interfere on the subject till lately, on a complaint made against the guard for an outrage on a citizen, and the sentinel was discontinued at my request." [. . .]

The Intendant Morales and the Marquis of Casa Calvo hated each other thoroughly, and as both officers, within their respective departments, still pretended to exercise authority over those Spaniards who remained in the Territory, and over the property they held therein, there had arisen between them bitter conflicts, which had involved Claiborne, to whom both appealed, in repeated difficulties. On this subject, in the same communication to Madison to which I have already referred, he said:

"Viewing the contest from the beginning as one arising altogether out of the private animosities of two foreign officers, in which neither I, nor my country, was anywise interested, I was unwilling that my name or authority should be used on the occasion, and was also desirous that the affair might terminate without troubling our Government, or involving its officers in the question. As soon as I discovered that the Marquis proceeded to unauthorized lengths, and called upon me to carry into execution his decrees between persons answerable only to the Territorial tribunals, my conduct was immediately such as a knowledge of the rights of my country dictated. [. . .]

"The injurious and ill-founded allusions made to the influence of the Marquis over my conduct deserve no notice. The truth is, that nothing but a formal intercourse of civilities ever existed between us, and even this has been discontinued since the affair of Don Manuel Garcia, in which, though exclusively a judicial proceeding, the Spaniards, through ignorance of our Government, have supposed me to have been concerned.

 p103  "It may, perhaps, be to you a matter of curiosity to know the nature and extent of the party to which I am indebted for those unfriendly attacks. I have therefore no hesitation to tell you that they proceeded originally from the resentment of Mr. Daniel Clark, who, conceiving himself entitled to some distinguished place in the administration here, is mortified to find himself so entirely over­looked. To his party Mr. Edward Livingston, who, as prudence ought to have suggested, probably at first intended no interference with the politics of the country, was too easily persuaded to attach himself, and his opposition to me, and to the acts of the Government I represent, speedily ensued. I early discovered the political views of these gentlemen; they went, in my opinion, to injure the interest and character of our Government in this country, and I therefore pursued such a line of conduct toward them and their measures as my duty required. I might, I believe, name another gentleman, late of New York, as attached to this party, from whom I did not expect opposition. But the party are few in number, and, but for the standing their talents gave them, could not be considered as formidable. For my part, the plain and economical habits in which I have been educated and hitherto lived, united to an unsuspicious disposition, qualify me but badly for a personal competition with those whose manners have been formed on a model better calculated for the etiquette of this city, and who, from long practice, are more conversant with the arts of intrigue. To what lengths the opposition to me may be carried I know not, but I am inclined to think that nothing will be left unsaid which can wound my feelings, and that my public and private character will be cruelly misrepresented."

Claiborne was right in his apprehensions; for the  p104 animosity of his enemies went so far as to accuse him of having used his authority to favor the elopement and the subsequent marriage of Lieutenant Doyle, of the United States Army, with a young Creole girl. This accusation seems to have assumed so much importance, that he thought proper to vindicate himself in a formal communication to Mr. Madison, dated January 26, 1805. "Mr. Doyle's marriage," said he, "was not with me an object of any concern. I knew the young man only by name. His folly I regretted, but the elopement being effected, I thought it best, to prevent the girl from being dishonored, to permit the marriage. A license, however, was not granted, until the father solicited it, and the part I acted was alone dictated by benevolence." Claiborne was truly what he represented himself — a benevolent man, but benevolence seldom disarms malignity; and the Governor had to learn it from bitter personal experience. He thus expressed himself on the 6th of February: "The press in this city is, indeed, becoming licentious; it even menaces the tranquillity of private life. But, hitherto, the Executive of the Territory has been the principal object of abuse. I am happy, however, to add, that the Louisianians have no concern in the abusive publications, and very generally disapprove of them. The discontented party are composed principally of natives of the United States, and I am inclined to think their number very inconsiderable."

Unfortunately, this state of things led to quarrels, and quarrels to duels. One of them was fatal, and Claiborne had to deplore the death of his brother-in‑law and private secretary, Micajah G. Lewis. Claiborne felt the blow so keenly, that he made it the subject of special communication to the President of the United States,​53 and it is impossible, on reading it, not to  p105 sympathize with his wounded spirit. "You have, no doubt," he said, "discovered that, like most men who fill exalted stations, it has been my misfortune to have attracted the envy, and excited the malevolence and ill-will of a portion of society, and I presume you are apprised of the persecution I am suffering here, through the vehicle of the licentious press. Every circumstance, as well of a private nature as of my official conduct, that calumny could torture into an accusation against me, has been brought into public view, and exhibited in every shape that malignant wit could devise. I early discovered that these ungenerous attacks excited generally the susceptibility of Mr. Lewis, and with the most anxious solicitude for his welfare, I used every argument to induce him to view with calmness the tempestuous sea to which my political elevation had exposed him. On one occasion, I had accommodated a dispute in which his sympathies had involved him, and I had persuaded myself that my advice, united to his mild and pacific disposition, would have insured his future safety. But unfortunately for me, and unfortunately for my poor brother, even my misfortunes became the sport of party spirit, and the ashes of his beloved sister were not suffered to repose in the grave. She was raised from the tomb to give poignancy and distress to my feelings. He sought and discovered the author of the cruel production. A duel was the consequence, and my amiable young friend received a bullet through the heart at the second fire. I hope the assurance to you is unnecessary, that this melancholy affair was kept a secret from me; and that the news of the fatal result was the first intimation I received of it. Gladly would I have made bare my own bosom to the shock, before any friend of mine, and particularly one so dear to me as Mr. Lewis, had fallen a victim in this cause."

 p106  On the 28th of February, Claiborne transmitted to Madison a copy of the act to incorporate the city of New Orleans. "The provision," he said, "which allows the citizens to elect aldermen is very popular. It will be the first time the Louisianians ever enjoyed the right of suffrage, and I persuade myself that they will, on this occasion, use it with discretion." On the 8th of March he resumed the subject, and wrote: "The late election for city aldermen was conducted with great order, but the apathy of the people on the occasion astonished me. But few voted, and none appeared interested as to the issue. I have appointed James Pitot Mayor, and Doctor John Watkins Recorder of the city. The former is a French gentleman of talents and respectability, who has resided here for many years. The character of the latter is known to you."

Causes to irritate or excite the public mind seemed at that time to grow up with wonderful exuberance. Even religious quarrels were not wanting, as is shown by a communication​54 from Claiborne to Madison, on the 18th of March: "A dispute," he wrote, "has arisen among the members of the Catholic Church in this city. Mr. Walsh, who claims to be the Vicar-General of Louisiana, took upon himself to dismiss a priest who had care of this parish. The priest appealed to his parishioners, who have disavowed the authority of Mr. Walsh, and elected (amidst many hurras) the dismissed priest their pastor. The subject excites much interest among the Catholics, but it is probable will not eventuate in any unpleasant consequences." This appeal of the priest from the decree of his superior, to what he must have considered the higher tribunal of his parishioners, and his subsequent election by them, are certainly  p107 very curious facts in the history of the Catholic Church in Louisiana. Claiborne, in a later communication, returned to the subject in these words: "The schism among the Catholics of the Territory increases. The Vicar-General, who claims precedence in the Church, is about publishing a pastoral letter, and proposes to give it a general circulation. I very much regret this religious controversy, &c. Mr. Walsh is an Irishman, and his principal opponent, Mr. Antonio, a Spanish priest.​55 The Marquis of Casa Calvo is said to take great interest in favor of the latter, but I have no evidence of this fact." Later, however, he discovered that the Marquis took an active part in these religious disputes, and he made up his mind to address​56 a letter to that gentleman on the subject, suggesting the indelicacy and impropriety of any interference on his part.

As it has been already mentioned in the preceding pages, the law remodeling the Territorial Government of Louisiana was not such as to give any degree of satisfaction to those who had so bitterly complained of the original act of organization. "The people," said Claiborne​57 to Madison, "had been taught to expect greater privileges, and many are disappointed. I believe, however, as much is given them as they can manage with discretion, or as much as they ought to be trusted with, until the limits of the ceded territory are acknowledged, the national attachments of our new brothers less wavering, and the views and character of some influential men here better ascertained. I particularly attend to those persons who were formerly in the Spanish service, and are permitted by their Government to remain in Louisiana  p108 as pensioners, or in the enjoyment of their full pay." In this communication he again pours out the anguish of his soul under the incessant attacks of his enemies. "I confess, sir," he says, "that the opposition, the cruel opposition I have experienced, has harrowed up my feelings excessively. But I have found powerful consolation in an approving conscience, and in a well-founded hope that my superiors, to whom the difficulties I have combated are known, would approbate a conduct which has, throughout, been directed by the purest motives of honest patriotism."

Such was the excited state of the Territory with its motley population, when an event which took place at the mouth of the river warmed up the native pride of the Americans, and raised their Government in the estimation of those whose dispositions toward it were not friendly, and who delighted in depreciating its power and its character. For some time two British privateers had been, with impunity, cruising off the mouth of the Mississippi, and were in the habit of boarding every vessel coming in or going out. At length they had the audacity to capture an American schooner, bound in, within view of the Block-House, and not more than three miles distant from land. The captain of the revenue cutter which was stationed there thought it his duty to rescue the vessel, which he did after an engagement of one hour, and conveyed her safely into the river. During the engagement the cutter sustained little or no damage.58

If Claiborne felt deeply the blows which his enemies aimed at him, he was much soothed and relieved by the assurances of continued confidence and esteem which it pleased the President to give him. In answer to such assurances he wrote​59 to the Chief Magistrate, on the 4th  p109 of May: "I have received your favors of the 10th and 14th of March, and am indeed happy to find that the ungenerous attacks to which I had been subjected have not made on your mind impressions unfavorable to me. I am aware that abuse, much abuse, is the constant attendant on office under our Government. I had endeavored to meet it with composure, but when I perceived a political conduct represented as vicious which I know to have been guided by the purest motives of honest patriotism, and acts which in truth were benevolent and praiseworthy, represented as dishonorable — and all this done by a faction, who had recourse even to subornation and perjury in order to sully my reputation, I must confess that my feelings received a wound which alone could be healed by conscious rectitude and a belief that the confidence of the Executive in me was not diminished."

On the 4th of May, the Legislative Council was prorogued by Claiborne to the 20th of June. In giving information of this fact to Madison, Claiborne​60 said, "The agents, Messrs. Sauvé, Destréhan and Derbigny, are preparing for publication a pamphlet, in which, I fear, much will be said which will tend to agitate and divide the public mind. I have seen Messrs. Sauvé and Derbigny, and find the latter greatly disappointed and dissatisfied. He considers the treaty as violated, and supposes that the Government was uncandid to the agents, and unjust to the Louisianians. He, however, expressed a hope that his fellow-citizens would be contented, and reconciled to the government which Congress had prescribed. I nevertheless fear that, in the pamphlet preparing by the agents, some imprudent observations may be introduced. For my own part, I am still convinced that  p110 an early introduction of the entire representative system into Louisiana would be a hazardous experiment, and I seriously doubt whether the second grade of government will be conducted with discretion."

After having prorogued the Legislative Council, Claiborne had departed from New Orleans on a visit to some of the distant parishes of the State. In the course of his journey he found, as he reports, the inhabitants contented and apparently well disposed to the American Government. "A few designing, ambitious men," he wrote on the 18th of May, "would wish to create disturbances, but it is probable they will not succeed. I was pleased to learn that the late Congress had made provision for ascertaining the legal titles of land in the Territory, inasmuch as an early division thereon will promote the interests of the United States, as well as of individuals. We abound here in land speculators, and the present state of things is not unfavorable to their views."

On the 31st of May Claiborne had returned to New Orleans, after having proceeded as far up as Pointe Coupée, and made many appointments under the new judiciary system. His excursion was a pleasant one, and the friendly welcome which he met everywhere was particularly agreeable to him.61

Claiborne, on the 6th of June, sent to Madison the expected pamphlet from the pen of Derbigny, Destréhan and Sauvé, with these observations on his part: "You will find in this production evidences of discontent — a want of information and of prudence on the part of the agents — but I believe the publication will excite but little interest in the Territory, and be productive of no mischief. It may, therefore, be best to permit it unmolested  p111 to sink into oblivion. We have among us men who would sacrifice the interest of any country, or the happiness of any people, to the gratification of their ambition. That such men should be discontented with the present state of things, need not be a matter of surprise, but I am persuaded the great body of the citizens of Louisiana cannot be shaken in their allegiance, or be made to think that they are not greatly benefited by their annexation to the United States. There has been a rumor that certain discontented persons have contemplated a mission to France, with a view of soliciting the attention of the Emperor to the affairs of this Territory, and praying that he may interfere in their favor."

In June, Governor Claiborne learned from Dr. Sibley and Captain Turner, that they had seen a manuscript purporting to be the official journal of a French officer,​62 who, in the year 1719, was instructed to erect a fort on the Bay of St. Bernard. Claiborne communicated this fact to Madison, saying: "In this journal there are letters from official characters which show that, at that period, the extent of Louisiana was a source of jealousy to Spain, that a dispute as to limits had arisen between the subordinate agents of France and Spain, but that the claims of the former extended from the Perdido to the Rio Bravo, and were bottomed upon a treaty referred to in the correspondence, called the treaty of Cambrai. Viewing this manuscript as an important document, I shall solicit Dr. Sibley, in whose possession it now is, to cause a copy thereof to be taken, and to transmit the original to me for the purpose of being deposited among the records of Louisiana. The copy I will request the Doctor to forward to the Department of State." This  p112 important document was effectually secured, preserved, and subsequently published.

If the attention of Claiborne had been called only to such objects, or merely to objects of general importance, his task would have been, comparatively, less annoying: but he was constantly wearied by applications for redress, or protection, in matters which belonged exclusively to the police department, or to the judiciary. For instance, on the 8th of June, he felt himself constrained to write this letter​63 to James Pitot, the Mayor of New Orleans: "I have received a letter from the Lady Abbess of the Ursuline Nuns in this city, in which it is stated, that in a late performance at the theatre, their community had been held up to the public as an object of derision, and that the last act was marked with peculiar indecency and disrespect, and that it is proposed to be renewed on Tuesday next, and she solicits the protection of the civil authority. For myself, I consider the police of the theatre as falling more immediately under the police of the City Magistrate, and that on yourself, as Mayor of New Orleans, particularly devolves the duty of checking the irregularities of the stage. The Society of Nuns in this city is under the protection of the law, and their peculiar situation must interest in their favor the feelings of every heart." As to the religious dispute between the Vicar-General Walsh and Father Antonio de Sedella, it seemed to grow, and to luxuriate in its growth, in proportion to its prolongation. On the 15th of June, Claiborne informed Madison that the parties had resorted to a suit at law, to determine the right of possession to the church, and that it was expect that "a great show of zeal and acrimony would be made."

 p113  On the 3d of July, Claiborne prorogued again the Legislature, which had reassembled in June, after its first prorogation on the 4th of May. In his address to its members on that occasion, he said:

"In a Territory whose citizens are, for the most part, either natives, or descendants of the natives of France and Spain, who had long cherished a fond remembrance of the country of their forefathers — in a Territory that had been controlled by the will of arbitrary chiefs for near a century, and harassed by frequent changes of allegiance, where the ties of birth, affinity and language, the influence of habit and past favors had made those impressions which like causes everywhere produce — that man, indeed, must be little acquainted with human nature who had supposed that, in a Territory thus situated, the principles of the American Government could have been introduced without difficulty, or that the public functionaries could have discharged their duties in such a way as to have conciliated the good opinion of all." He then went on reviewing and defending all the acts of his administration, and passing from that subject to the legislative labors of those he was addressing, he remarked: "With a period so limited as that of your sessions, and with such a diversity of duties before you, more could not have been expected, and it is a subject of congratulation that so much has been done, and done so well. Another important change in the nature of our Government now awaits us. The Congress of the United States, ever just to their engagements, and faithful to the interests of all within their protection, have assigned the period at which Louisiana is to become one of the sovereign and independent States of the American Union. In the mean time, the right of self-government is extended to this district under the like restrictions which have been laid on our fellow-citizens in the other Territories of the  p114 United States. This species of temporary government has been found commensurate to the protection of society, and the advancement of the general weal, and is certainly well calculated for the gradual introduction of those representative principles on which the future Constitution of the State (when erected) must necessarily be predicated. But possibly there may be many whom this new form of government will fail to satisfy. It would, indeed, be a presumption unwarranted by experience, to calculate on universal approbation of any measure. The best of men may occasionally differ in political sentiments, and the investigation of their opinions leads to truth, and may be considered one of the salutary incidents of political freedom. But, unfortunately, society is sometimes infested with members who argue not to enlighten, but to mislead their fellow-citizens, and who, from motives of disingenuous ambition, or from malice, labor incessantly to raise themselves on the ruin of others. That there have been, and still are, a few individuals among us of that disposition, is, I fear, too true. Under their patronage, calumny may recommence its efforts. It may distort the most innocent actions, and pervert error into crime. It may enter the household of domestic life, harrow up private feelings, and produce private distress. But the distrust of the discerning, and the contempt of the good, will, sooner or later, drive the authors into obscurity.

[. . .]

"We have heard idle reports of various kinds, respecting territorial divisions, and partial, and sometimes total, retrocessions to foreign Powers, but these seem to be the fanciful chimeras of unreflecting minds. My firm belief is, that the Mississippi will cease to flow, ere she ceases to behold Louisiana attached to the empire of American freedom. A disposition to encroach on the  p115 territories of others is foreign to the nature of our Government; but the perfect preservation of its own is one of its vital principles. Just to the rights of others, the American nation will preserve their own inviolate, or perish with them.

Referring to this address, of which he sent a copy to the Department of State at Washington, Claiborne said​64 to Madison, "Perhaps you will perceive on my part a greater share of feeling than ought to have been manifested, but the late state of party here was such that I could not well have omitted to notice it, and I am persuaded that the allusions made to the efforts of calumniators may have a good effect, not on them, for they are callous to every virtuous impulse, but with the people, who, I trust, will not for the future be as easily imposed upon by pretended patriots."

On the 11th of July, Vicar-General Walsh wrote to Claiborne a letter, in which he complained "of the interruption of public tranquillity which had resulted from the ambition of a refractory monk, supported in his apostasy by the fanaticism of a misguided populace, and by the countenance of an individual,​65 whose interference was fairly to be attributed less to zeal for the religion he would be thought to serve, than to the indulgence of private passions and the promotion of views equally dangerous to religion and to civil order." He further informed Claiborne that two individuals had gone to Havana, with the express intent of procuring a reinforcement of monks to support Father Antonio de Sedella in "his schismatic and rebellious conduct," and prayed for such relief and assistance as the Executive could give him. Claiborne replied, "that under the American Government, where the rights of conscience  p116 are respected, and no particular sect is the favorite of the law, the civil magistrates were bound carefully to avoid interference in religious disputes, unless, indeed, the public peace should be broken, or menaced, and then it became their duty to act." He then recommended harmony and tolerance to the priest; "for," observed he, "if those who profess to be the followers of the meek and humble Jesus, instead of preaching brotherly love and good will to man, and enforcing their precepts by example, should labor to excite dissension and distrust in a community, there is indeed ground to fear that the Church itself may cease to be an object of veneration."

At this time, Claiborne received a very flattering proof of the President's unshaken confidence, by the renewal of his commission as Governor of Louisiana, which circumstance, he said in a letter of the 22d of July, "had excited in his breast the liveliest emotions of gratitude and pleasure."

The late act of Congress in relation to the land claims and titles in the Territory had produced, as mentioned before, great anxiety in the public mind, so much so that it was deemed expedient to send John W. Gurley, the Registerº of the Land Office, on a tour through the several counties of the Territory, to give explanations as to its bearings and effects, "and to defeat," said Claiborne, "the machinations of those few wicked men among us, who labor incessantly to embarrass and injure the administration." He strenuously recommended​66 to Gurley "to spare no pains to acquire for the Government the general confidence of the citizens, and in particular to convince them that their rights to land would be liberally confirmed according to the equity of their situation, and not to rigorous law."

 p117  James Pitot had resigned his commission as Mayor, and Watkins had been appointed in his place. The new City Council went actively to work and to plan improvements. It passed Resolutions requiring the evacuation of the forts around the city, which were occupied by the troops of the United States, their speedy destruction, and the filling up of the ditches which surrounded the forts and New Orleans. Claiborne partially complied with their request. In a communication of the 2d of August, he said to them, "I am so strongly impressed with the opinion that the stagnant water which accumulates in the old fortifications must prove injurious to the health of the city, that I cheerfully consent to the leveling of them all, except those of Forts St. Charles and St. Louis. These two forts are garrisoned by troops of the United States, and cannot be evacuated, but in pursuance of orders emanating from the President. Desirous, however, of co-operating with the City Council in all measures which may conduct to the health of the city, I have no objection to the draining of the ditches in the vicinity of St. Charles and St. Louis, under an impression that it can be done without injury to the works."

In relation to the public buildings, a controversy arose as to their possession. Colonel Freeman, the Commander of the United States troops, was in possession of some of them, which were claimed by the city. Claiborne sided with the civil authorities, but Freeman refused to obey Claiborne. This gave rise to a sharp correspondence between them, and the whole matter had to be referred to the President of the United States.

In August, Claiborne undertook a journey through the several counties of the Territory, and, on the 23d of that month, he wrote to Madison, from the County of Acadia, sixty miles above New Orleans, in relation to the late  p118 land act of Congress: "To meet the convenience of the citizens," said he,​67 "and to render them justice, I am inclined to think that some amendment to the late act of Congress relative to the titles of land in this Territory will be found advisable, and upon this subject I shall hereafter do myself the honor to write you fully. I will at this time only observe, that some indulgence ought to be given to the owners of lands on the Mississippi; and particularly, that they should be secured in a right of pre-emption to a certain quantity of acres on the rear of their present possessions. Under the Government of Spain, it was customary to grant from six to twenty acres in front and forty in depth. The cypress swamps which approach near the lands now in cultivation were seldom included in the grant, but from time immemorial the timber has been at the disposition of the inhabitant who owned the lands in front, and he was considered by the Spanish Government as possessing an equitable right in the swamp. If Congress should not make some special provision on this point, much discontent will arise. Large cypress swamps, which at present limit the valuable farms on the Mississippi, will be monopolized by speculators, and the present settlers greatly injured."

In the beginning of autumn, and when Claiborne was in Concordia,​68 a Frenchman, who had, no doubt, brought from France his mad notions about liberty, made an attempt to excite the negroes to insurrection, and considerable alarm ensued in consequence of it; but the Frenchman was arrested, and the uneasiness soon subsided.

On the 13th of September, Claiborne sent to Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury, an estimate of the expenses of the Government of the Territory of Orleans  p119 for the coming year, 1806, and that estimate shows the economy with which that Government was carried on, for it amounted​69 to only $18,650.

From a communication​70 made by Claiborne to the President of the United States on the 23d of October, it appears that the buildings which were considered as property devolving upon the United States, were:— First — The Government House, very ancient and out of repair. Second — The Military Barracks, a row of brick buildings, sufficiently large to accommodate twelve or fifteen hundred men, and needing only some inconsiderable repairs. Third — The Military Hospital, a large brick building adjoining the Barracks, and in good repair. Fourth — The Public Stores, two large brick buildings, and very valuable. Fifth — the Cavalry Barracks, consisting of two brick buildings, much out of repair. Sixth — The old Custom-House, a large wooden building, unfit for any public purpose. Seventh — The Lower Custom-House, a small wooden building. Eighth — The Priests' House, a small wooden edifice, heretofore appropriated for the residence of the Head of the Church in Louisiana. Ninth — The Powder Magazine, a brick building, near the bank of the Mississippi, and opposite the City of New Orleans. Tenth — The Public School-House, a brick building, and well calculated for its purposes. "The Principal, or City Hall," said Claiborne, "a very beautiful and commodious building, is claimed by the City Council as the property of the city, and being under the impression that their claim is a good one, I have committed it solely to their disposition."

If the continued presence of the Spanish troops had been unpalatable to the Government of the United States, to Governor Claiborne, and to some of the inhabitants  p120 of the Territory, the United States troops in New Orleans became as great a subject of annoyance to its citizens. It is but very seldom that civil and military authorities can harmonize, and that conflicts of jurisdiction do not arise wherever they are brought in close proximity. It proved to be the case in New Orleans, as everywhere else. The Mayor of the city got into a sharp quarrel with Colonel Freeman, the Commander of the United States troops, and, on the 6th of November,​71 Claiborne advised the President of the United States to remove the troops from New Orleans. "The troops situated here," he said, "have, I believe, conducted themselves as well as an army ever did, similarly situated, but it is impossible for any commander to maintain discipline among men posted in a city, where the temptations to dissipation are so various, and the means of evading the attention of officers so easy."

On the 20th of November, Claiborne had the satisfaction to forward to the Secretary of State at Washington the copy of an address from the House of Representatives of the Territory to the President, which had been unanimously adopted, "and which," he said, "evidenced a degree of patriotism which, he hoped, would have a good effect." He further remarked, that he had of late observed a favorable change in the public sentiment. "No man," he continues,72 "entertains a greater regard for the ancient inhabitants of Louisiana than myself, or more appreciates their many private virtues, and I entertain strong hopes that, in a few years, they will become very zealous members of the American Republic."

Claiborne had commissioned Colonel Hopkins to organize the militia throughout the Territory; and among other very judicious instructions, he had specially recommended  p121 to him, in selecting captains and subalterns, "to endeavor to make an equal distribution, where the population would permit it, among the ancient and modern Louisianians; but, in all appointments, to consider a fair reputation as an essential qualification, and an attachment to the Government of the United States as a great recommendation."

The Judiciary being the great conservative element in our institutions, the importance of securing for the Bench the services of men distinguished for their moral and intellectual worth has always been deeply felt, but, at the same time, no adequate salary for such services has ever been provided for to this very day. The evil is coeval even with our Territorial organization; for, on the 27th of November, 1805, Claiborne wrote as follows to the Secretary of State, Mr. Madison: "The economy observed in the salaries of the judicial officers of this Territory will, I fear, affect the respectability of our Judiciary. The compensation of a Supreme Judge is really inadequate to a comfortable support. Judge Hall, although by no means extravagant in his mode of living, cannot, I am sure, make his salary meet his expenses; and as for Judge Prevost, who has a large family to maintain, he cannot possibly avoid making inroads on his private fortune."

Whether or not it was owing to these inadequate salaries that Claiborne had not been able to secure proper men to sit in the inferior courts which had been created by the Legislative Council, it is no less certain that, according to his declaration, "they neither commanded, in the discharge of their functions, for the law, or for themselves, the public respect." Forgetting even the impartiality of judges, it seems that they took an active part in quarrels, disputes, and other contests, frequent they ought to have kept themselves aloof. Thus closed the year 1805.

The Author's Notes:

1 Annals of Congress, 8th C., 2d S. Gales & Seaton, page 1601.

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2 Eighth Congress, 2d Section, p2014, Gales & Seaton.

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3 Judge Martin's History of Louisiana, 2d vol., p260.

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4 Executive Journal, 2d vol., p145.

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5 Dispatch of Morales, New Orleans, 9th November, 1805, to Don Miguel Cayetano Soler, Ministro de Hacienda, Madrid.

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6 Archives of State, Baton Rouge. Extracts from the Archives of Indies in Seville.

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7 Antes y en el interim que se efectua la cesion ó traspaso de su soberania. — Ministerial Dispatch.

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8 Si, Señor Marques, como hombre puedo equivocarme en mi juicio, pero vivo en la creencia de que el momento que se pretenda persuader es errada la de que la Florida Occidental pertenecerà a los Estados-unidos, y que el Rey la conservará como parte integrante de sus dominios, en el mismo momento debe renunciarse á sacar utilidad alguna de sus tierras. Certainly, a very poor compliment paid by the Intendant to his master.

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9 Para que las ventas y concesiones hechas por el Gobierno Español no queden sujetas á las duras condiciones que pusó el Congreso en su acto, ó decreto de 2 de Marso de este año para arreglar y verificar los titulos y pretenciones de los poseedores de tierras en el territorio de Orleans y distrito de la Luisiana.

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10 Yo causante de que la intendencia fuese reintegrada en lo que le correspondia, aprovechando de la circonstancia que ofreció la cesion de la Luisiana; he conseguido hayan entrado en cajas Reales mas de cincuenta mil pesos. Habrá sido mucho mas sin los embarazos del Gobierno Americano y del commandante Folch.

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11 . . . . La Real Hacienda no ha tenido desembolso alguno, pues los compradores han satisfecho los gastos de apeo, medida, &c., que han sido de bastante consecuencia, y que pueden considerarse parte del producto de las tierras. Dicha suma, como se dice vulgarmente, debe mirarse caida del cielo. Sin la creencia que el Territorio de Baton Rouge iba á ser possecionº de los Estados-Unidos, estando como estaban acostumbrados estos habitantes á conseguir tierras sin desembolso, nada habria producido este ramo de Real Hacienda, y á pesar de ello, se critica mi manejo, se me ponen obstaculos y embarazos por los que deben protegerme, para que no consega todo lo que sin tales inconvenientes habria logrado, y por ultimo se practican diligencias y establecen recursos para diminuir el merito, y aun para que me produzca pena y desagrado lo que habrá de proporcionarme satisfactiones. Disgracia grande del hombre que trabaja y se esmera en llenar sus deberes! Pero me quedo el recurso de que si mis descargos no fueron suficientes, &c.

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12 Executive Journal, p63, vol. 1.

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13 Claiborne to Madison, 5th June, 1805, Executive Journal, p64, vol. 1.

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14 Claiborne to Madison, 19th January, 1805, Executive Journal, p70, vol. 1.

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15 Claiborne to Madison, Executive Journal, p114, vol. 1.

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16 Claiborne to Madison, Executive Journal, p88, vol. 1.

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17 Claiborne to Madison, Executive Journal, p102, vol. 1.

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18 Claiborne to Madison, Executive Journal, p95, vol. 1.

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19 Claiborne to Madison, Executive Journal, vol. 1, page 118.

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20 Claiborne to Madison, 5th April, 1805, Executive Journal, vol. 1, page 120.

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21 Claiborne to Madison, 19th April, 1805. Ex. Jour., p124, vol. 1.

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22 Claiborne to Madison, p128. Ex. Jour., vol. 1.

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23 Mr. Monroe's Special Mission to Spain.

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24 Claiborne to Madison, 6th June, 1805. Ex. Journal, vol. 1, p176.

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25 Claiborne to Madison, 15th June, 1805. Ex. Journal, vol. 1, p187.

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26 Parton'sº Life of Burr, p391. New York, eleventh edition, 1858.

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27 Parton'sº Life of Burr, p393.

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28 Do. do., page 393.

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28a Claiborne to Madison, Ex. Journal, vol. 1, page 217.º

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29 Executive Journal, vol. 1, p230.

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30 Executive Journal, vol. 1, p241.

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31 Executive Journal, vol. 1, p253.

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32 Executive Journal, vol. 1, p253.

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33 Executive Journal, vol. 1, p254.

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34 Do. Vol. 1, p261. Dispatch of the 5th October, 1805.

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35 Do. Vol. 1, p255. Dispatch of the 14th October, 1805.

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36 Executive Journal. Claiborne to Turner, 14th October. Vol. 1, p264.

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37 Claiborne to Williams, 24th October, Executive Journal, vol. 1, p276.

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38 Executive Journal, page 282, vol. 1. — Dispatch of the 31st Oct., 1805.

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39 Executive Journal, Claiborne to Madison, 5th November, vol. 1, p285.

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40 Executive Journal, vol. 1, page 285.

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41 Executive Journal, vol. 1, p289.

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42 Executive Journal, vol. 1, p291.

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43 Executive Journal, vol. 2, p19, 26th December, 1805.

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44 Gayarre's Spanish Domination in Louisiana, p534.

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45 Appendix to Gales & Seaton's 8th Congress, 2d Session, p1316.

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46 For which French claims Spain was held responsible.

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47 Gales & Seaton, p1362.

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48 Gales & Seaton, p1353.

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49 Gales & Seaton, p1429.

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50 Gales & Seaton, p1453.

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51 Claiborne to Albert Gallatin, Jan. 6, p65, vol. 2, Executive Journal.

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52 Executive Journal, p67, vol. 1.

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53 Dispatch of the 17th of February, 1805, Executive Journal, p91, 2nd vol.

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54 Executive Journal, p102, vol. 1.

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55 Antonio de Sedella, the same who had attempted to introduce the Inquisition into Louisiana in 1789.

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56 Executive Journal, p122, vol. 1.

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57 Claiborne to Madison, 21st April, 1805, p132, vol. 1.

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58 Claiborne to Madison, 22d April, 1805. Ex. Jour., p135, vol. 1.

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59 Claiborne to Jefferson. Ex. Jour., p144, vol. 1.

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60 Ex. Jour., p145, vol. 1.

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60a Ex. Jour., p158, vol. 1.º

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61 Claiborne to Madison, 31st of May, 1805. Executive Journal, p160, vol. 1.

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62 Bernard de la Harpe.

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63 Executive Journal, p179, vol. 1.

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64 Claiborne to Madison, 6th July, 1805. Ex. Journal, p201, vol. 1.

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65 Probably the Marquis of Casa Calvo.

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66 Executive Journal, p209, vol. 1.

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67 Executive Journal, p252, vol. 1.

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68 Claiborne to Madison, p257, vol. 1.

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69 Claiborne to Gallatin, p259, vol. 1.

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70 Claiborne to Jefferson, p272, vol. 1.

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71 Executive Journal, p287, vol. 1.

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72 Executive Journal, p294, vol. 1.

Thayer's Notes:

a According to the official Mexican Boundary Report of 1828, a compilation of previous reports and surveys of the Texas-Louisiana boundary, Casa Calvo seems to have visited the border twice: once in 1804, a second time in January 1805; but both visits were behind him at the time of this entry in the Executive Journal, and the Mexican Report mentions no later visit.

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b This seems to be the bishop of Monterey, whose visit is put in April 1805 by the 1828 Mexican Boundary Report, p38.

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