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interposition for that purpose. At the same time, you are to make such proposals to his catholic majesty, as in your judgment, from circumstances, will be proper for obtaining for the United States of America equal advantages with those which are secured to them by the treaties with his most christian majesty ; observing always the resolution aforesaid as the ultimatum of the United States.
You are particularly to endeavor to ohtain some convenient port or ports below the thirty-first degree of north latitude, on the river Mississippi, for all merchant vessels, goods, wares, and merchandises belonging to the inhabitants of these states.
The distressed state of our finances and the great depreciation of our paper money inclined congress to hope that his catholic majesty, if he shall conclude a treaty with these states, will be induced to lend them money: you are therefore, to represent to him the great distress of these states on that account, and to solicit a loan of five millions of dollars upon the best terms in your power, not exceeding six per centum per annum, effectually to enable them to co-operate with the allies against the common enemy. But before you make any propositions to his catholic majesty for a loan, you are to endeavor to obtain a subsidy in consideration of the guarantee aforesaid.
the river Mississippi, as well as their right to the navigation of that
SIR-Congress having in their instructions of the 4th instant, directed you to adhere strictly to their former instructions relating to the boundaries of the United States, to insist on the navigation of the Mississippi for the citizens of the United States in common with the subjects of his catholic majesty, as also on a free port or ports below the northern limit of West Florida, and accessible to merchant ships for the use of the former; and being sensible of the influence which these claims on the part of the United States may have on your negociations with the court of Madrid, have thought it expedient to explain the reasons and principles on which the same are founded, that you may be enabled to satisfy that court of the equity and justice of their intentions. With respect to the first of these articles, by which the river Mississippi is fixed as the boundary between the Spanish settlements and the United States, it is unnecessary to take notice of any pretensions founded on a priority of discovery, of occupancy, or on conquest. It is sufficient that by the definitive treaty of Paris, of 1763, article seventh, all the territory now claimed by the United States, was expressly and irrevocably ceded to the king of Great Brit
ain, and that the United States are, in consequence of the revolution in their government, entitled to the benefits of that cession.
The first of these positions is proved by the treaty itself. To prove the last, it must be observed, that it is a fundamental principle in all lawful governments, and particularly in the constitution of the British empire, that all the rights of sovereignty are intended for the benetit of those from whom they are derived, and over whom they are exercised. It is known, also, to have been held for an inviolable principle by the United States, while they remained a part of the British empire, that the sovereignty of the king of England, with all the rights and powers included in it, did not extend to them in virtue of his being acknowledged and obeyed as king by the people of England, or of any other part of the empire, but in virtue of his being acknowledged and obeyed as king of the people of America themselves; and that this principle was the basis, first of their opposition to, and finally of their abolition of his authority over them. From these principles it results, that all the territory lying within the limits of the states, as fixed by the sovereign himself, was held by him for their particular benefits, and must equally with his other rights and claims in quality of their sovereign, be considered as having devolved on them, in consequence of their resumption of the sovereignty to themselves.
in support of this position it may be further observed, that all the territorial rights of the king of Great Britain, within the limits of the United States, accrued to him from the enterprises, the risks, the sacrifices, the expense in blood and treasure of the present inhabitants and their progenitors. If in latter times, expenses and exertions have been borne by any other part of the empire, in their immediate defense, it need only be recollected, that the ultimate object of them was the general security and advantage of the empire; that a proportional share was bome by the states themselves; and that if this had not been the case, the benefits resulting from an exclusive enjoyment of their trade have been an abundant compensation. Equity and justice, therefore, perfectly coincide in the present instance, with political and constitutional principles. No objection can be pretended against what is here said, except that the king of Great Britain was, at the time of the rupture with his catholic majesty, possessed of certain parts of the territory in question, and consequently that his catholic majesty had and still has a right to regard them as lawful objects of conquest. In answer to this objection, it is to be considered, 1. That these possessions are few in number and confined to small spots. 2. That a right founded on conquest being only coextensive with the objects of conquest, cannot comprehend the circumjacent territory. 3. That if a right to the said territory depended on the conquests of the British posts within it, the United States have already a more extensive claim to it than Spain can acquire, having by the success of their arms obtained possession of all the important posts and settlements on the Illinois and Wabash, rescued the inhabitants fro British domina Vol. II.
ation, and established civil government in its proper form over them. They have, moreover, established a post on a strong and commanding situation near the mouth of the Ohio : whereas Spain has a claim by conquest to po post above the northern bounds of West Florida, except that of the Natchez, nor are there any other British posts below the mouth of the Ohio for their arms to be employed against. 4. That whatever extent ought to be ascribed to the right of conquest, it must be admitted to have limitations which in the present case exclude the pretensions of his catholic majesty. If the occupation by the king of Great Britain of posts within the limits of the United States, as defined by charters derived from the said king when constitutionally authorized to grant them, makes them lawsul objects of conquest to any other power than the United States, it follows that every other part of the United States that now is, or may hereafter fall into the hands of the enemy, is equally an object of conquest. Not only New York, Long Island, and the other islands in its vicinity, but almost the entire states of South Carolina and Georgia, might, by the interposition of a foreign power at war with their enemy, be forever severed from the American confederacy, and subjected to a foreign yoke. But is such a doctrine consonant to the rights of nations, or the sentiments of humanity ? Does it breathe that spirit of concord and amity which is the aim of the proposed alliance with Spain? Would it be admitted by Spain berself, if it affected her own dominions? Were, for example, a British armament by a sudden enterprise to get possession of a seaport, a trading town, or maritime province in Spain, and another power at war with Britain, should, before it could be re-conquered by Spain, wrest it from the hands of Britain, would Spain herself consider it as an extinguishment of her just pretensions? Or would any impartial nation consider it in that light? As to the proclamation of the king of Great Britain of 1763, forbidding his governors in North America to grant lands westward of the sources of the rivers falling into the Atlantic ocean, it can by no rule of construction militate against the present claims of the United States. That proclamation, as is clear both from the title and tenor of it, was intended merely to prevent disputes with the Indians, and an irregular appropriation of vacant land to individuals; and by no means either to renounce any parts of the cessions made in the treaty of Paris, or to affect the boundaries established by ancient charters. On the contrary, it is expressly declared that the lands and territory prohibited to be granted, were within the sovereignty and dominion of that crown, notwithstanding the reservation of them to the use of the Indians.
The right of the United States to western territory as far as the Mississippi, having been shown, there are sufficient reasons for them to insist on that right, as well as for Spain not to wish a relinquishment of it. In the first place, the river Mississippi will be a more natural, more distinguishable, and more precise boundary than any other that can be drawn eastward of it, and consequently will be less liable to become a source of those disputes which too often proceed from uncertain boundaries between nations.
Secondly, It ought not to be concealed, that although the vacant tertitory adjacent to the Mississippi should be relinquished by the United States to Spain, yet the fertility of its soil, and its convenient situation for trade, might be productive of intrusions by the citizens of the former, which their great distance would render it difficult to restrain; and which might lead to an interruption of that harmony which it is so much the interest and wish of both should be perpetual.
Thirdly, As this territory lies within the charter limits of particular states, and is considered by them as no less their property than any other territory within their limits, congress could not relinquish it without exciting discussions between themselves and those states, concerning their respective rights and powers, which might greatly embarrass the public councils of the United States, and give advantage to the common enemy.
Fourthly, The territory in question contains a number of inhabitants, who are at present under the protection of the United States, and have sworn allegiance to them. These could not by voluntary transfer be subjected to a foreign jurisdiction, without manifest violation of the common rights of mankind, and of the genius and principles of the American governments.
Fifthly, In case the obstinacy and pride of Great Britain should for any length of time continue an obstacle to peace, a cession of this territory, rendered of so much value to the United States by its particular situation, would deprive them of one of the material funds on which they rely for pursuing the war against her. On the part of Spain, this territorial fund is not needed for, and perhaps could not be applied to, the purposes of the war; and from its situation, is otherwise of much less value to her than to the United States. Congress have the greater hopes that the pretensions of his catholic majesty on this subject will not be so far urged as to prove an insuperable obstacle to an alliance with the United States, because they conceive such pretensions to be incompatible with the treaties subsisting between France and them, which are to be the basis and substance of it. By article eleventh of the treaty of alliance, eventual and defensive, the possessions of the United States are guarantied to them by his most christian majesty. By article twelfth of the same treaty, intended to fix more precisely the sense and application of the preceding article, it is declared, that this guaranty shall bave its full force and effect the moment a rupture shall take place between France and England. All the possessions, therefore, belonging to the United States at the time of that rupture, which being prior to the rupture between Spain and England, must be prior to all claims of conquest by the former, are guarantied to them by his most christian majesty.
Now, that in the possessions thus guarantied, was meant, by the contracting parties, to be included all the territory within the limits assigned to the United States by the treaty of Paris, may be inferred from the fifth article of the treaty abovementioned, which declares, that if the United States should think fit to attempt the reduction of
the British power remaining in the northern parts of America, or the islands of Bermudas, &c., those countries shall, in case of success, be confederated with, or dependent upon, the United States. For, if it had been understood by the parties that the western territory in question, known to be of so great importance to the United States, and a reduction of it so likely to be attempted by them, was not included in the general guaranty, can it be supposed that no notice would have been taken of it, when the parties extended their views, not only to Canada, but to the remote and unimportant island of Bermudas. It is true that these acts between France and the United States, are in no respects obligatory on his catholic majesty, unless he shall think it to accede to them. Yet as they show the sense of his most christian majesty on this subject, with whom his catholic majesty is intimately allied ; as it is in pursuance of an express reservation to his catholic majesty in a secret act subjoined to the treaties aforesaid of a power to accede to those treaties, that the present overtures are made on the part of the United States ; and as it is particularly stated in that act, that any conditions which his catholic majesty shall think fit to add, are to be analogous to the principal aim of the alliance, and conformable to the rules of equality, reciprocity, and friendship, congress entertain too high an opinion of the equity, moderation, and wisdom of his catholic majesty not to suppose, that, when joined to these considerations, they will prevail against any mistaken views of interest that may be suggested to him.
The next object of the instructions is the free navigation of the Mississippi for the citizens of the United States, in common with the subjects of his catholic majesty.
On this subject, the same inference may be made from article seventh of the treaty of Paris, which stipulates this right in the amplest manner to the king of Great Britain ; and the devolution of it to the United States, as was applied to the territorial claims of the latter. Nor can congress hesitate to believe, that even if no such right could be inferred from that treaty, that the generosity of his catholic majesty would not suffer the inhabitants of these states to be put into a worse condition, in this respect, by the alliance with him in the character of a sovereign people, than they were in when subjects of a power wbich was always ready to turn its force against his majesty; especially as one of the great objects of the proposed alliance is to give greater effect to the common exertions for disarming that power of the faculty of disturbing others. Besides, as the United States have an indisputable right to the possession of the east bank of the Mississippi for a very great distance, and the navigation of that river will essentially tend to the prosperity and advantage of the citizens of the United States that may reside on the Mississippi, or the waters running into it, it is conceived that the circumstances of Spain's being in possession of the banks on both sides near its mouth, cannot be deemed a natural or equitable bar to the free use of the river. Such a principle would authorize a nation disposed to take advantage of circumstances, to