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The Louisiana Treaty.
H. of R.
that no treaty is binding until we pass the laws don, in this particular. He would therefore take for executing it—that the powers conferred by the this opportunity of remarking, that the privilege Constitution on Congress cannot be modified, or granted to French and Spanish bottoms, being a abridged, by any treaty whatever--that the sub- part of the consideration for which we had objects of which they have cognizance cannot be lained the country, and the Court of London, taken, in any way, out of their jurisdiction? In being officially apprized of the transaction, and acthis procedure nothing is to be seen but a respect, quiescing in the arrangement, it would ill become on the part of the Executive, for our rights; a re- any member of that House to bring forward such cognition of a discretion on our part to accord or an objection. refuse our sanction. Where then is the violation Another case may be adduced to illustrate this of our rights? As to the initiative, in a matter like question of constitutionality. During the last this, it necessarily devolved on the Executive. session of Congress, they had received informa
The unconstitutionality of this treaty is attempt- tion of the manifestation of a disposition, on the ed to be shown by the following quotation from part of the possessors of this country, to violate that instrument: “No preference shall be given our rights to the navigation of the Mississippi, as to the ports of one State over those another secured to us by existing treaties. There was State," &c. But by the seventh article of the trea- no difference of opinion but as to the mode of asty, French and Spanish vessels, laden with the serting this right. On all hands, it was agreed produce of their respective countries, are, for that we would never relinquish this great object. twelve years, to be admitted into the ports of the A certain portion of the Legislature were disposed ceded territory on the same terms with our own to resort immediately to violent measures. Anovessels. In our other ports a discrimination is ther portion was of opinion that it was best to made between American and foreign bottoms. waive such measures, until amicable means of setNew Orleans, therefore, will enjoy an exemp- ting this difference had proved ineffectual. Let tion, which will enable her to trade to the French us suppose this to have been the case; that our and Spanish colonies on terms more advanta- negotiation, instead of its present happy issue, had gecus ihan other ports. She is, therefore, a fa- terminated in a refusal of justice. I believe there vored port, in contradiction to the express letter would, in that event, have been but one sentiof the Constitution. To me it appears that this ment in this House and in this nation. We should argument has more of ingenuity than of force in have appealed to arms, and if fortune had only i-more of subtlety than of substance. Let us been as impartial as our cause was just, we should suppose that the treaty, instead of admitting have possessed ourselves, at least, of a part of the French and Spanish vessels on the terms proposed, territory in question. Did any one dream of demerely covenanted to admit American vessels on nying our right to the forcible possession of New equal terms with those of France and Spain. If Orleans, if necessary to secure the navigation of we had acquired this right (divested of the coun- the Mississippi ? Can a nation acquire by force try) it would have been considered, and justly, as that which she cannot acquire by treaty ? Must an important privilege. Annex the territory to not the eventual right to the country, possessed it and you cannot accept it. You may indeed by conquest, be confirmed by treaty ? And is it acquire either the commercial privilege, or the pot idle to contend that so long as we employ territory, without violating the Constitution-but force we may occupy the country, but no longer; take them both, and that instrument is infringed, that we cannot retain it by convention? Is not
But the gentleman will recollect that the dis- this to convert the question, from a question of crimination between foreign bottoms and our own political right, to a question of physical power ? is a creature of law, and not a provision of the Mr. R. said, he was now done with the ConstiConstitution. If his construction be sound it does tutional objections, and he would finish by saying not involve a necessary violation of the Consti- something of the expediency of the measure. tution, it only involves the necessity of repealing The gentleman from New York seems to dread these discriminating duties on French and Span- this treaty as a death-blow to our commerce and is! products, brought in their own bottoms, into carrying trade. What is the state of that trade other ports than those of the ceded territory. It now, in relation to the ceded country? But a short would therefore become gentlemen to adduce this time ago, who would have asked more than to be as a proof of the inexpediency, rather than of the put on an equal footing with the possessors of unconstitutionality of the treaty. For, however that country? We now have the sovereignty of inexpedient it may be to repeal this discrimina- it, and only stipulate that (for 12 years) France tion, no one will contend that it is unconstitu- and Spain should be admitted, not on an equal tional, and if the Constitution or the law were to footing with us, but that their vessels, laden with give way, no one would hesitate between them. their own produce, not otherwise, should pay no But I regard this stipulation as a part of the price higher duties than our own. At the expiration of of the territory. It was a condition which the that period we can give a decided preponderance party ceding had a right to require, and to which to our trade by discriminating duties. Will the we had a right to assent. The right to acquire hardy and enterprising New Englander shrink involved the right to give the equivalent de from a competition with France and Spain on manded. Mr. R. said, that he expected to hear these terms? Cannot the discriminating duties it said in the course of the debate, that the treaty be still enforced by the existing regulations in rein question might clash with the Treaty of Lon- I spect to imports from New Orleans to other parts
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The Louisiana Treaty.
of the United States ?. So far from a clog on our together with the Spanish province of Florida, commerce, does not this treaty unfetier ihe Mis- annexed to the former that part of Florida which sissippi trade and give us a preference over all lies west of the Apalachicola and east of the other nations, except the case of the French and Perdido; thereby forming the province of West Spanish vessels, laden with the produce of their Florida. respective countries, and there we are on a footing It is only in English geography, and during with them?
this period, from 1763 to 1783, that such a counMr. R. said, that he would not dilate upon the try as West Florida is known. For Spain, havimportance of the navigation of the Mississippi, ing acquired both the Floridas in 1783, re-annexed which had been the theme of every tongue, which to Louisiana the country west of the Perdido we now possessed unfertered by the equal claim subject to the government of New Orleans, and of the nation holding the west bank, a fruitful established the ancient boundaries of Florida ; source of quarrel; but he would call the attention the country between the Perdido and Apalachiof the Committee to a report which had been cola being subject to the Governor of St. Augusmade at the last session and to which publicity tine. By the Treaty of St. Ildefonso, Spain cedes had lately been given.
to France “the province of Louisiana with the I am not surprised, Mr. Chairman, that in a same extent that it now has in the hands of performance so replete with information, a single Spain:” viz. to the Perdido, "and that it had error should be discovered, especially as it does when France possessed il” to the Perdido—and not affect the soundness of its conclusion. As such as it should be after treaties subsequently enlong ago as the year 1673, the inhabitants of the tered into between Spain and other Powers:” that French province of Canada explored the coun- is, saving to the United States the country given try on the Mississippi. A few years afterwards up by the Treaty of San Lorenzo. We have suc(1685) La Salle, with emigrants from old France, ceeded to all the right of France. If the navigamade a settlement on the Bay of St Bernard, and lion of the Mississippi alone were of sufficient at the close of the 17th century previous to the exist- importance to justify war, surely the possession of ence of Pensacola, another French settlement was every drop of water which runs into ii—the exclumade by the Governor, D’Ibberville, at Mobile, and sion of European nations from its banks, who would on the Isle Dauphin, or Massacre, at the mouth have with us the same causes of quarrel, did we of that bay. In 1712, a short time previous to possess New Orleans only, which we have had the peace of Utrecht, Louis XIV described the with the former possessors of that key of the river; extent of the colony of Louisiana (by the set- the entire command of the Mobile and its widely tlements) in his grant of its exclusive commerce extended branches, scarcely inferior in consequence to Crozat. Three years subsequent to this, the to the Mississippi itself-watering the finest counSpanish establishment at Pensacola was formed, try and affording the best navigation in the Unias well as the settlement of the Adais on the river ted States-surely these would be acknowledged Mexicana. After various conflicting efforts, on to be inestimably valuable. both sides, the bay and river Perdido was estab- But it is dreaded that so widely extended a lished, (from the peace of 1719) as the boundary country cannot subsist under a Republican Govbetween the French province of Louisiana on the ernment. If this dogma be indisputable, I fear one side and the Spanish province of Florida on we have already far exceeded the limits which the other: this river being nearly equi-distant be- visionary speculatists have supposed capable of tween Mobile and Pensacola. Near the close of free Government. This argument, so far as it the war between England and France, rendered goes, would prove that instead of acquiring we memorable for the unexampled success with which ought to divest ourselves of territory. If the exit was conducted by that unrivalled statesman tent of the Republics of Greece, or Switzerland, the great Lord Chatham, Spain became a party of ancient or modern times, is to be our standard, on the side of France. The loss of the Havana, we shall dwindle indeed. They have formed the and other important dependencies, was the im- basis of most theories on this subject. The acquimediate consequence. In 1762, France, by a se- sition of the country west of the Mississippi does cret treaty of contemporaneous date with the pre- not reduce us to the necessity of settling it now, liminary Treaty of Peace, relinquished Louisiana or for a long time to come.' It will tend to deto Spain, as an indemnity for her losses, sustained stroy the cause of Indian wars, whilst it may conby advocating the cause of France. By_the de-stitute the asylum of that brave and injured race finitive Treaty of 1763, France ceded to England of men. all that part of Louisiana which lies east of the Mr. R. concluded by apologizing for detaining Mississippi except the island of New Orleans, the Committee so long. He was sorry that he the rest of the province to Spain. It is to be ob-had been unable to compress his remarks into a served that although France ostensibly ceded this smaller compass. country to England, virtually the cession was on Mr. J. Lewis said, that, on a question so imthe part of Spain ; because France was no longer portant, it was proper that his vote should be acinterested in the business, but as the friend of companied by his reasons. With the gentleman Spain, (having previously relinquished the whole from New York, (Mr. Griswold,) he entertained to her,) and because in 1783 restitution was made doubts as to the constitutionality of the treaty; by England, not to France, but to Spain, Eng- and if those doubts should be removed, he should land having acquired this portion of Louisiana, | vote for carrying it into effect. The part of the OCTOBER, 1803.
The Louisiana Treaty.
H. OF R.
treaty to which he referred was in the seventh ar- of those countries into New Orleans much cheapticle, in the following words:
er than into any other ports of the United States. “ As it is reciprocally advantageous to the commerce These are my only objections ; if removed I shall of France and the United States to encourage the com- have no difficulties; but until they are removed, munication of both nations, for a limited time, in the I must be opposed to the resolution before the country ceded by the present treaty, until general ar- Committee. rangements relative to the commerce of both nations Mr. Griffin said that upon a subject so importmay be agreed on, it has been agreed between the con- ant, and so deeply interesting to his country, it tracting parties, that the French ships coming directly would be unpardonable in him, and evince a defrom France or any of her colonies, loaded only with reliction of duty, to give a vote without assigning the produce and manufactures of France or her said his reasons. On referring to the Treaty and the colonies; and the ships of Spain coming directly from Constitution, and comparing their provisions, conSpain or any of her colonies, loaded only with the prod- siderable apprehension had arisen in his mind; uce or manufactures of Spain or her colonies, shall be and he seriously feared the consequences of a coladmitted during the space of twelve years in the port lision between them. As he was only in search of New Orleans, and in all other legal ports of entry, of truth, and as it was his sincere wish that all within the ceded territory, in the same manner as the ships of the United States coming directly from France his apprehensions and doubts should be removed, or Spain or any of their colonies, without being subject he would take the liberty of stating his doubts on to any other or greater duty on merchandise, or other the constitutionality of the treaty. or greater tonnage, than that paid by the citizens of the In the 7th article of the treaty were these words, United States.”
[quoting the words recited by ihe last speaker, as In opposition to this part of the treaty, he found above stated.]. This was evidently a commercial in the Constitution of the United States this dec. regulation. If a commercial regulation, and such laration : “No preference shall be given by any he deemed it, the President and Senate have unregulation of commerce or revenue to the ports dertaken to form commercial regulations for the of one State over those of another."
ceded territory: It was on this point that he entertained doubts, In the eighth section of the first article of the which he wished might be removed. His honor- Constitution, power is given to Congress "to regable colleague (Mr. RANDOLPH) had not removed ulate commerce with foreign nations.” Is not, them: so far from removing, he had confirmed then, this treaty stipulation, made by the Presithem.
dent and the Senate, in direct contravention of Mr. L. was free to declare that his only objec- this Constitutional investiture of Congress? The tions were as to the unconstitutionality of the Constitution says, “Congress shall have power to treaty; and should any gentleman remove them, regulate commerce with foreign nations." Who he would not object to voting for carrying the are Congress? The Senate and House of Repretreaty into operation ; but, unless they were re- sentatives. If, then, the President and Senate moved, he must vote against it.
make a treaty for the regulation of commerce, they Mr. RANDOLPH, in explanation, said that he infringe the Constitution, by doing that which thought he had suggested that the preference re- Congress alone can do. Thus, then, have the Preferred to was a legal and not a Constitutional dif-sident and Senate, in their Executive capacity, ficulty.
legislated, and thereby infringed the rights of this Mr.Lewis-Still thegentleman has not removed House, as a branch of the Legislature. my difficulty: Congress possess no power to give In the same seventh article of the treaty, we find a commercial preference to one State over another; that "French ships coming directly from France, and if the ships of France and Spain are permit- ' or any of her colonies, loaded only with the prodted to enter New Orleans on terms more advan-uce and manufactures of France or her said colotageous than they are permitted to enter other nies; and the ships of Spain coming directly ports of the United States, it is a palpable viola- ' from Spain or any of her colonies, loaded only tion of the Constitution.
with the produce or manufactures of Spain or The gentleman from Virginia has also told us her colonies,shall be admitted during the space of that this preference is to be considered as the price twelve years in the port of New Orleans, and in paid for the ceded territory. I am astonished at all other legal ports of entry within the ceded this observation. As I understand the treaty, we territory, in the same manner as the ships of are to take possession of Louisiana within three the United States coming directly from France months from the ratification of the treaty; and tor Spain, or any of their colonies, without being as soon as taken into our possession, a specific sumsuhject to any other or greater duty on merchanis to be paid for it, which being done it becomes dise, or other or greater tonnage than that paid our sole property. If then we give a great advan- by the citizens of the United States." tage to the port of New Orleans, not enjoyed by In the ninth section of the first article of the other ports, I say such preference will be a palpa- Constitution, we find, "No preference shall be ble violation of the Constitution. For it must be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, evident to every mind that such a preference will to the ports of one State over those of another." operate against every State in the Union. For if He was correct, he believed, in stating, that, under the ships of France and Spain are permitted to the present regulations of trade, Spanish vessels enter New Orleans upon better terms than any pay fifty cents per ton, while American vessels other ports, they can afford to bring the productions I paid only six cents. Here, then, the President and
Senate undertake to destroy this provision made ana, and we had better resort 10 it now. I deny by law. For, according to the treaty, Spanish and that they have as yet gained possession: they have French vessels entering the ports of New Orleans not received a delivery of the four redoubls which will hereafter pay only six cents a ton, while sim- garrison and command the country, nor have they ilar vessels coming to all the other ports of the a single armed soldier there, except those which United States will be obliged to pay fifty cents a are particularly attached to the equipage of the ton. The difference between six and fifty consti- Colonial Prefect. If, sir, we were obliged to resort tutes the preference given to New Orleans. to the necessity of purchasing their friendship,
Feeling these doubts most forcibly, he could not after they had procured an establishment, it would consent to give his approbation to the resolution not be confined to one instance of humiliation and until they were completely removed. He did not acknowledgment on our part, or one instance of feel a disposition to discuss the merits of the treaty, insult only on theirs. If we purchase this friendor to go at large into the consequences which it ship once, we should be compelled to make anmight produce. He did, however, fear those con- nual contributions to their avarice, and be annusequences; he feared the effects of the vast extent ally subjected to their insolence. Repeated conof our empire; he feared the effects of the increased cessions would only produce a repetition of injury, value of labor, the decrease in the value of lands, and, at last, when we had completely compromitand the influence of climate upon our citizens ted our national dignity, and offered up our last who should migrate thither. He did fear (though cent as an oblation to Gallic rapacity, we would this land was represented as flowing wiih milk then be further from conciliation than ever. The and honey) that this Eden of the New World spirit of universal domination, instead of being would prove a cemetery for the bodies of our cit- allayed by those measures which had been intended izens.
for its abatement, would rage with redoubled fury. Mr. PURVIANCE.-I am clearly and decidedly in Elated by those sacrifices which had been intendfavor of the resolution on your table, premising ed to appease it, it would still grow more fierce; the appropriations for carrying the treaty between it would soon stride across the Mississippi, and France and this country into effect; and I sincerely every encroachment which conquest or cunning regret, that in doing so, I shall act adversely to the could effect might be expected. The tomahawk general sentiment of the gentlemen with whom it of the savage and the knife of the negro would is my pleasure and my pride to confess I have confederate in the league, and there would be no hitherto politically officiated.
interval of peace, until we should either be able to It is true I am, and always have been, opposed drive them from their location altogether, or else to the general tenor of the present Administration. offer up our sovereignty as an homage of our reIt has not appeared to me to possess that bold com- spect, and permit the name of our country to be manding aspect—that erect and resolute front, blotted out of the list of nations forever. which ought to be assumed by the Executive of a
I confess there are many gentlemen of that nafree people, when claiming satisfaction for a wrong tion for whom I entertain the sincerest esteem ; but sustained.' It has not shown that strong, muscu- although I love some of them as friends, they will lar, athletic shape, which is calculated to intimi- pardon me when I say that I do not like all of them date aggression, or which is enabled to resist it; as neighbors. Blood, havoc. and devastation, havę nor do I think that it has manifested that firm, for some years past encircled their proximity, and dignified, manly tone of virtue and of spirit, which, circumstances equally disastrous and equally imresting on the love of a free people, and conscious probable have already taken place. Do we want of their strength, can ask for the prompt, direct, any evidences of this ? We can find them in Switand unequivocal satisfaction to which it is enti- zerland, in Italy, in Egypt, in Hanover, in France tled, and, being denied, can take it. It has not itself. 'We have seen the ancient throne of the appeared like the veteran chief, ready to gird his Capets tumbled from its base; we have seen the loins in desence of his country's rights; but, if I tide of succession which had flowed on unintermay be allowed to use the magna componere ruptedly for ages dammed up for ever; we have parvis, it has, to my mind, somewhat resembled a militia subaltern, who, in time of war, directed his dry. And by whom? By the pert younglings
seen the sources of the life blood royal drained men not to fire on the enemy, lest the enemy might of the day. fire again.
Under such an Administration, I have thought “An eagle towering in his pride of flight that it would be better to have the ceded territory
Was, by a mousing owl, hawkt at and killed.” on any terms than not to have it at all. If we We have afterwards seen these puny upstarts, have not the spirit or the means of doing ourselves when their hands had been reddened in the slaugthjustice, would it not be better that we bribe those ter-pens of Paris, kicked from their seats and a who might be in a situation to molest us, and Corsican soldier embellished with the majesty of thus put it out of their power to do us any injury, the Bourbons. We have seen one half of ihe old which we cannot or which we will not avenge? World subjected to his dominion, and the other
There are but two ways of maintaining our na- half alarmed at his power. And is it thought, tional independence-men and money. Since we sir, that America alone, with an army scarcely did not use the first, we must have recourse to the sufficient to defend our garrisons, with a navy last. One of these two we should be compelled scarcely sufficient to punish a Bashaw, with a to resort to if France gained possession of Louisi- treasury incommensurate to our engagements, and
The Louisiana Treaty.
H. OF R.
an Executive unwilling to strain our energies-is ed as I am in the gloom of uncertainty, and not it, I say sir, for America alune, under these cir- possessing the intelligence which has been asked cumstances, singly to withstand that gigantic na- for and with held, I am unable to discern. To tion, fighting on her owo ground, fed from her gentlemen who have been pleased 10 prevent our own granaries, and furnished from her own ar- procuring it, these circumstances may be obvious, senals? The time once was, indeed, when we as they are more eminently situated they perhaps could have redressed our own wrongs, and had an command a larger and a clearer prospect. If then opportunity of doing so; but that necessity and the claim which has been transferred should be that opportunity, I take it sir, have now both passed invested with any latent embarrassment; if the away.
Court of Madrid has already signified any hostiliYes, thank God! We have now a treaty, signed ty to this treaty, in consequence of the non-perby themselves, in which they have voluntarily formance of the stipulations contained in that or passed away the only means of annoyance which St. Ildefonso, respecting the recognition of the they possessed. But I do not thank the honorable late King of Etruria; if our possession should be gentleman who is at the head of our Executive. opposed, or our right of property hereafter conAt the time this negotiation was commenced there tested, let the President look to it. He only will could not be the smallest hope of its being carried become responsible for every drop of American into effect. The French Consul had obtained it blood which may be drawn in such a contest, as he perhaps for the express purpose of carrying into ought to have communicated any information to effect his favorite scheme of universal domination; this effect which he possessed, in order that our it might give him the chance of injuring the discretion might be regulated accordingly. British, controlling the Spaniards, and dismem- As no such obstacles have been made known to bering America, Compared with these objects a us by the President, I will suppose that none such handful of bank stock was of no more conse- do exist, and I will, therefore, vote for the treaty; quence to him than a handful of sand. His fleet and even if a larger sum were necessary for its and army were ready to sail, and his colonial pre-execution I would not withhold my assent, for fect had already arrived. But, mark! The King the same reason that a man would give an exorbiof Great Britain, who at this crisis I take to have tant price for a piece of land adjoining his own, been by far the most able negotiator we had, de- in order to prevent the settlement of a disorderly clares war.
The scene is now changed. That neighbor, who he thought would plunder his propwhich France had refused to our intercessions, erty or burn his enclosures; and, if this was the she was now compelled to grant from mere ne- last public act of my life, I would sink into the cessity. A state of warfare took place about the grave under the pleasing impression that it was last of March, and the treaty was signed soon af- perhaps the best. terwards. As long as I retain the small stock of Mr. Elliot.—Mr. Chairman, although in the understanding which it has pleased God to give short time since I have had the ħonor of a seat on me, I shall never be induced io believe, that it was this floor, I have several times risen in debate, that owing in the smallest degree to the efficacy of circumstance scarcely diminishes my diffidence at diplomatic representation. The mind of that great the present moment. Uneducated in the schools, man is not made of such soft materials as to re- and unpractised in the arts, of parliamentary eloceive an impress from the collision of every gentle quence, it is with no inconsiderable degree of hand. Stern, collected, and inflexible, he laughs diffidence that I rise upon the present occasion. to scorn the toying arts of persuasion; his soul is There are occasions, however, where even the a stupendous rock, which the rushing of mighty eye of timidity should sparkle with confidence; waters cannot shake from its place. No, sir; had and there are questions in the discussion of which it not been for this happy coincidence of circum- the finger should be removed from the lip of silence stances, the personal solicitations of our Ministers herself. And such is every occasion and every would have been regarded with as listless an ear question involving the existence, the infraction, or as if they bad been whispered across the ocean. even the correct and just construction of that Con
But, sir, whatever may have been the causes stitution which is the palladium of our privileges, which produced this treaty, whether it was owing and the temple of our glory. If I might be perto diplomatic agency, or to fortuitous incidents, mitted to borrow a metaphorical expression from its effects will certainly prevent an evil, if it does one of the most celebrated commanders of antinot produce a good. I do not think that there quity, who declared that he intended to spread all will be any positive advantage resulting from the his sails on the ocean of war, I would say that it sale of unlocated lands, as has to-day been hinted. is with fear and trembling I presume to launch On this score we need not expect a reimburse- my little feeble bark on the vast ocean of eloquence ment; there is no doubt but that all the valuable and literature (pointing to the federal members) by lands contained within the circumscriptions of the which I am surrounded. If, however, the remark Territory have already been granted by the Courts be just, that it is even sweet and glorious to die of Spain and France to their own subjects; nor for one's country, surely the humbler sacrifice of do I see any restrictive provision in ihe treaty native diffidence may with propriety be expected which would prevent the latter from continuing and exacted from a juvenile American Representto issue patents up to very date of the ratification. ative.
There may, however, be other advantages, or Whatever minuter shades or minor differences there may indeed be disadvantages, which, shroud-of opinion may exist among the American people,