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Title-page of Jefferson's account sent to Congress
to justify the purchase of Louisiana. Original in the
Howard Memorial Library, New Orleans.

Letter from Amos Stoddard to De Lassus, stating that he will take possession. Original in possession of the Missouri Historical Society.

under the Treaty of 1795. The right had been conferred by that agreement for three years with the understanding that another place should be granted at the end of that time, if for any reason New Orleans should be given up. At the end of the period of three years nothing had been said or done to change it, and now, four years later, this right was withdrawn and no other place of deposit granted. If this withdrawal of the right of deposit were carried out, it meant the commercial stagnation of the West. The river flat boats could not make an ocean voyage, neither could the ocean-going vessels go up the river, so a place where each could deposit and exchange its cargo was absolutely essential. The West and South were indignant and demanded that a Federal force be sent to New Orleans to restore to them their rights. They saw in this act of Morales what would happen when the river was again under French control, if this was not indeed an act of the French government. But Jefferson did not want war and he was much disturbed lest these hot-headed westerners should take matters in their own hands and march on New Orleans. He believed that the matter could be settled by diplomacy and in this he was strongly supported by his party. The Federalists, now greatly decreased in power, opposed him but were voted down in their efforts to thwart his plans. As a result of many secret sessions of Congress the whole matter was referred to the President, with power to act in the premises, and he was provided with $2,000,000 to be used in the settlement of the problem. Jefferson's plan was to use this $2,000,000 in buying New Orleans and Florida, thus settling for all time the question of the control of the navigation of the river by coming into possession of its mouth. The man chosen to go to France to negotiate the treaty was James Monroe, who had served successfully in the Revolution and who was considered especially fitted for this position, as envoy to France, because of his former position as minister to that country. Monroe was a personal friend of Jefferson's and well acquainted with his


There were several reasons why a special envoy It gave an added importance to the negotiation. and showed the French the seriousness with which Jefferson regarded the proposed transaction. Monroe was also a man in whom the western people had great confidence, and secret instructions could be better given by word of mouth than written to the minister of the United States at Paris.

These instructions were substantially that the American representatives were to buy New Orleans, if they could reasonably do so, and rather than lose the opportunity they were authorized to spend $2,000,000. If they could not get any land from France, they were to obtain, if possible, the right of deposit, such as had been guaranteed to the Union by the treaty of 1795. If neither of these privileges were to be obtained, they were to be guided by later instructions. They were to guarantee to France the west bank of the river, if they should find this necessary. These were certainly very mild conditions and showed how little value Jefferson placed upon the western bank of the river. He did not see, as his far-sighted contemporary, Hamilton, did, that the acquisition of Louisiana was a necessity for the future welfare of the Union.

The minister to France at that time was Robert R. Livingston and he had been using every effort to come to some understanding on the Louisiana question. He placed before the First Consul, by means of Talleyrand, the reasons why Louisiana, or at least that part of it south of latitude thirtyone from the Mississippi to the Perdido, and that part of it west of the Mississippi and north of Arkansas River should be sold, so that the United States would secure the mouths of the rivers flowing from her territory to the Gulf of Mexico. He showed how easily Louisiana might be invaded by Great Britain in the war which seemed on the point of breaking out between the two nations. He believed that it would be for the interests of France to cede what the United States desired, so as to place a barrier between Great Britain and the French possessions. He appealed to the

old friendship between the United States and France, still strong, but sure to be weakened by the course which France was following. But he made little headway in his negotiations. Everything was in the hands of one man and the officials were merely his clerks. Thus Livingston wearied himself and the French officials for months with no apparent results. He knew that the First Consul was giving attention to the matter. Suddenly, when the prospect seemed darkest and when every effort had apparently been exhausted, the whole aspect of the matter changed. Napoleon was convinced that Louisiana would be a detriment to him in the war with Great Britain and he resolved that Great Britain should not have the Mississippi, which she so much desired. He moved quickly when once his mind was made up. He believed that Great Britain intended to seize Louisiana, and that this would be her first act in the war between the two countries. French affairs were in a bad way in San Domingo since the death of Victor Leclerc, the brother-inlaw of Napoleon, who had been in charge of the French forces in that island, and because of French weakness in America, the conquest of Louisiana would be very easy for the British, if they cared to descend upon it. He wished to make it impossible for them to get it, by turning it over to the United States. He was ready to do this because it would be more useful to France, if placed in the hands of this rising power than if he should attempt to keep it. He discussed the matter at length with Barbé-Marbois, minister of the treasury, and Decrès, minister of the marine, on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1803, and impressed upon them the importance of quickly acting because of the alarming news from Great Britain, showing that preparations for war were being rapidly pushed forward. The two ministers had differing views of the subject; Marbois, because of his American sympathies, being in favor of the transfer, while Decrès opposed it. Napoleon dismissed them, but early in the morning of April 11th called Marbois, and in his impetuous way gave his decision.

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