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Relations with Spain.

friendship, limits, and navigation, between Spain and the United States, especially the sixteenth article.

I expect, sir, your answer to these important points, and I have the honor to be, &c.

The Secretary of State to the Chevalier De Onis, Enroy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of His Catholic Majesty.

Department of State, Jan. 19, 1816. SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letters of the 30th of December and 2d of January last, and to submit them to the President.

You demand that your Sovereign shall be put in possession of West Florida; that certain persons, whom you have mentioned, shall be arrested and tried on the charge of promoting insurrection in the Spanish provinces, and exciting citizens of the United States to join in it; and, thirdly, that the flags of Carthagena, the Mexican Congress, Buenos Ayres, and other revolting provinces, shall be excluded from the ports of the United States.

effect were made to the Spanish Government, and rejected. Being renewed, the Minister of the United States was informed that Spain had ceded Louisiana to France, to whom he was referred for the acquisition of such territory in that quarter as he might be instructed to make. On the last very important event, the suppression of the deposite at New Orleans, a special mission was instituted to France and Spain, the object of which was to avert, by amicable negotiation and arrangement, the calamities of war. Affairs had, more especially by this act of violence and hostility, reached a crisis which precluded the idea of temporary palliatives. A comprehensive and permanent arrangement had become indispensable, of which, it was presumed, the Governments of France and Spain would be equally sensible. The cession of Louisiana by France to the United States was the immediate consequence of this mission, with such a description of its boundaries by the treaty as, it was presumed, would leave no cause of controversy with Spain.

The mission had thus succeeded in a very imOn the re-establishment of the diplomatic rela-portant object; but there were others of a simitions between the United States and Spain, it lar character which remained to be adjusted. The was hoped that your Government would not differences with Spain still existed, and to them was have confined its attention to the objects in which added a circumstance of much interest, proceeding Spain is alone interested, but have extended it to from the acquisition of Louisiana-the unsettled the injuries of which the United States have so boundaries of the province, which were now to be long and so justly complained, with a view to established with Spain. Under the influence of such reparation as it might now be able to make. the same policy, the special mission was ordered The subjects are in their nature intimately con- soon afterwards to Madrid, to invite a negotianected. In some important circumstances, in- tion for the arrangement of all these important deed, it is impossible to separate them, since the concerns. Spain still held territory to the eastexposition of the wrongs of the United States ward of Perdido, which, by her cession of Louiaffords the proper answer, in those instances, to siana, and its transfer to the United States, was the complaints of Spain. It is my duty to bring separated from her other dominions, and lay, exthese wrongs into view, that they may be duly cept on the side of the ocean, exclusively withconsidered and provided for, in case your Gov- in our limits. The importance of this terriernment has, as I am bound to presume, invested tory to Spain, in consequence of these events, you with adequate powers for the purpose. in any view which might be taken of it, seemed to be much diminished, if not entirely lost; while, in certain views of which it was susceptible, it might prove highly injurious. There was danger that the continuance of a Spanish colony there might produce jealousy and variance between the two nations. On the other hand, the United States had acquired territory westward of the Mississippi, adjoining the provinces of Spain, which it was supposed she might be desirous of obtaining. By mutual cessions of territory in quarters most convenient to each other, and by forming an interval between their possessions to remain vacant, the danger of collision might be avoided, and their good understanding more effectually preserved. By rendering justice likewise to the claims of the United States, their citizens would be contented, and their Government be better enabled to control their conduct beyond their limits. Here, then, seemed to be a fair ground for amicable compromise between the parties. An opportunity was presented for terminating every difference, and securing their future harmony without loss or sacrifice by either. On the result of this mission I need not enlarge.

At a period anterior to either of the circumstances mentioned in your letters, the United States had suffered great injury by the unlawful seizure and condemnation of their vessels in the ports of Spain. A treaty providing an indemnity for those spoliations was agreed to and signed by a Minister duly authorized by each Government; but its ratification, though negotiated and concluded in the presence of the Spanish Government, was afterwards declined by it. At an anterior period, too, the deposite at New Orleans, stipulated by the treaty of 1795, was suppressed. As the United States had done no injury to Spain, these acts, so hostile in their nature, and injurious in their effect, excited much surprise. It had been the uniform object of this Government to make such arrangements with Spain repecting the free navigation of the Mississippi and the boundaries, as, securing to our citizens the full enjoyment of their rights, would place the peace and friendship of the two countries on a solid and durable basis. With this view, it was sought to obtain of Spain, at a fair equivalent, the territory eastward of the Mississippi. Overtures to this

Relations with Spain.

I shall remark only that the friendly policy which eration of this Government in acquiescing in it. produced it was not reciprocated by your Gov-But why restore this province to Spain, if it is ernment; it was, perhaps, not felt; it was certainly disregarded. Every proposition of the American Ministers, having these objects in view, was rejected, and none made in return by your Government.

the intention of your Government to make the title to it, in connexion with other differences, a subject of amicable negotiation and arrangement? May not such a negotiation be entered into as well while it is in the occupancy of the United States as if it were in that of Spain?

You demand, next, that Mr. Toledo, and others whom you mention, charged with promoting revolt in the Spanish provinces, and exciting citizens of the United States to join in it, shall be arrested and tried, their troops disarmed and

You intimate that troops are levying in Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Georgia, for the invasion of the Spanish provinces, of whom one thousand are from Kentucky, and three hundred from Tennessee, to be commanded by American citizens; but you do not state at what

This conduct of your Government would have justified, if it did not invite, the most decisive measures on the part of the United States. The refusal to make reparation for preceding injuries, or to surrender any portion of the territory in the possession of Spain, to which they considered their title indisputable, or to accept fair and lib-dispersed. eral propositions for the accommodation of these differences, or to make a proposition of any kind for the purpose, left the United States perfectly free to pursue such course as, in their judgment, a just regard to the honor, rights, and interests of the nation might dictate. In the condition of Spain there was nothing to excite appre-points these men are collected, or by whom comhension of the consequences, whatever might be the course decided on. Of this, the well-known state of the Peninsula at the time, and since, and of the Spanish provinces in America, affords ample proof. The friendly policy which the United States have since pursued is the more conspicuous from the consideration that your Government has inflexibly maintained the unjust and hostile attitude which it then as sumed, and has even added new injuries and insults to those of which I have already complained. I refer, in this latter remark, to the breaches of the neutrality of Spain, which her Government permitted, if it did not authorize, by British troops and British agents in Florida, and, through that province, with the Creeks and other Indian tribes, in the late war with Great Britain, to the great injury of the United States. It is under these circumstances that you have made the demands above recited, to which I will now proceed to give a more particular reply.

manded; and as to the forces said to be raised in Louisiana and Georgia, your communication is still more indefinite. The information recently obtained by this Department from persons of high consideration is of a very different character. It is stated that no men are collected, nor is there evidence of an attempt or design to collect any in Kentucky, Tennessee, or Georgia, for the purpose stated; and that the force said to be assembled under Mr. Toledo is very inconsiderable, and composed principally of Spaniards and Frenchmen. If any portion of it consists of citizens of the United States, their conduct is unauthorized and illegal. This force is not within the settled parts of Louisiana, but in the wilderness, between the settlements of the United States and Spain, beyond the actual operation of our laws. I have to request that you will have the goodness to state at what points in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Louisiana, any force is collected, the number in each instance, and by whom comYou require that Spain shall be put into pos-manded. If such force is collected, or collecting, session of West Florida, as an act of justice, before a discussion of the right of the parties to it is entered on.

It is known to your Government that the United States claim by cession, as a fair equivalent, the province of Louisiana, as it was held by France prior to the treaty of 1763, extending from the river Perdido, on the eastern side of the Mississippi, to the Bravo or Grande, on the west


To the whole territory within those limits, the United States consider their right established by well-known facts and the fair interpretation of treaties. In a like spirit may the United States demand the surrender of all the territory above described, now in the occupancy of Spain, as a condition to the commencement of any negotiation for the adjustment of differences. When we consider how long your Government has maintained what is deemed an unjust possession; more especially when we recollect that the injuries before received are still unredressed, and that others have been since rendered, there can be, it is presumed, but one opinion as to the great mod

within the United States, for the purpose suggested, or other illegal purpose, it will be dispersed, and the parties prosecuted according to law.

This Government is under no obligation, nor has it the power, by any law or treaty, to surrender any inhabitant of Spain or the Spanish provinces on the demand of the Government of Spain; nor is any such inhabitant punishable by the laws of the United States for acts committed beyond their jurisdiction, the case of pirates alone excepted. This is a fundamental law of our system. It is not, however, confined to us; it is believed to be the law of all civilized nations, where not particularly varied by treaties.

In reply to your third demand-the exclusion of the flag of the revolting provinces-I have to observe that, in consequence of the unsettled state of many countries, and repeated changes of the ruling authority in each, there being at the same time several competitors, and each party bearing its appropriate flag, the President thought it proper, some time past, to give orders to the

Relations with Spain.

collectors not to make the flag of any vessel a criterion or condition of its admission into the ports of the United States. Having taken no part in the differences and convulsions which have disturbed those countries, it is consistent with the just principles, as it is with the interests, of the United States to receive the vessels of all countries into their ports, to whatever party belonging, and under whatever flag sailing, pirates excepted, requiring of them only the pay-times been willing to settle their differences on ment of the duties, and obedience to the laws while under their jurisdiction, without adverting to the question whether they had committed any violation of the allegiance or laws obligatory on them in the countries to which they belonged, either in assuming such flag, or in any other respect.

So much have I thought proper to state respecting the relations existing between the United States and Spain. The restoration of the diplomatic intercourse between our Governments forms an epoch which cannot fail to be important to both nations. If it does not produce a result favorable to their future friendship and good understanding, to your Government will the failure be imputable. The United States have at all just principles and conditions, and they still are. Of this I informed you in my letter of the 5th of May, as I likewise did Mr. Cevallos, in a letter of the 17th of July. It will be very satisfactory to the President to find that your Government entertains now the same disposition, and has given you full power to conclude a treaty for these purposes. I have the honor to be, &c. JAMES MONROE.

tary of State.

PHILADELPHIA, February 22, 1816.

SIR: The letter with which you honored me on the 19th of last month, in answer to mine of the 30th of December and 2d of January, had two objects: the first to make known to me the complaints which this Government considers itself as having against Spain for a long time past; the second, to communicate the resolution of the President on the three points embraced in my notes mentioned above.

In the differences which have subsisted between Spain and her colonies, the United States have observed all proper respect to their friendly relations with Spain. They took no measure to in- Translation of a letter from Mr. Otis to the Secre⚫demnify themselves for losses and injuries; none to guard against the occupancy of the Spanish territory by the British forces in the late war, or to occupy the territory to which the United States considered their title good, except in the instance of West Florida; and in that instance under circumstances which made their interposition as much an act of accommodation to the Spanish authority there as of security to themselves. They have also prohibited their citizens from taking any part in the war, and the inhabitants of the colonies, and other foreigners connected with them, from recruiting men in the United States for that purpose. The proclamations which have been issued by the Governors of some of the States and Territories, at the instance of the President, and the proclamation lately issued by the President himself, are not unknown to your Government. This conduct, under such circumstances, and at such a time, is of a character too marked to be mistaken by the impartial world.

What will be the first result of the civil war which prevails between Spain and the Spanish provinces in America, is beyond the reach of human foresight. It has already existed many years, and with various success; sometimes one party prevailing, and then the other. In some of the provinces the success of the revolutionists appear to have given to their cause more stability than in others. All that your Government had a right to claim of the United States was, that they should not interfere in the contest, or promote, by any active service, the success of the revolution, admitting that they continued to overlook the injuries received from Spain, and remained at peace. This right was common to the colonists. With equal justice might they claim that we would not interfere to their disadvantage; that our ports should remain open to both parties, as they were before the commencement of the struggle; that our laws regulating commerce with foreign nations should not be changed to their injury. On these principles the United States have acted.

You state that the President would have wished that I should not have confined myself to bringing forward the complaints of His Majesty, but should have likewise proposed a reparation for those of the United States against Spain.

The claim for damages and injuries of which you speak would have been definitively arranged and settled if the diplomatic relations between the two Powers had not been interrupted since the memorable epoch of 1808; and this Government cannot but know that this interruption ought not to be imputed to Spain; His Majesty having made, from that time, the greatest efforts to maintain them pure and unaltered.

I have assured you verbally and in writing that His Majesty desired nothing so anxiously as to satisfy the United States for every injury they may have received from Spain, and to proceed to give this satisfaction with that generosity and high sense of honor which have at all times distinguished the Spanish character, and which have always shone conspicuously in the conduct of the Government of the King, my master; but all these points, as being anterior to the epoch I have mentioned in my notes, and since then pending between the two Cabinets, ought to be the object of a particular negotiation; and nothing is more natural or more conformable to justice and good faith than that, for facilitating this very negotiation, the state of things between the two nations should be reduced to the same footing on which it was at the epoch referred to, since, from that time, there has neither been any official corre

Relations with Spain.

spondence between the two Governments, nor have the United States received the least injury from Spain; and if they have received any, it has been contrary to the will of His Majesty, and without his knowledge. Of this class, without doubt, is that which you mention in your note above cited; that is, that British troops and agents had been introduced into Florida, and had communication with the Indian enemies of this Republic in its last war with Great Britain. The rigorous neutrality which His Majesty has observed in the island of Cuba, East Florida, and his other possessions, ought to convince the President that the Governor of West Florida (who is, I suppose, the person to whom you allude) had like orders with the other chiefs to observe the most strict neutrality; and if he has failed in obeying them, he would have been severely chastised, had you have given to me the least intimation as to his conduct.

I will now pass to the second object of which your letter treats; that is to say, to the resolution which this Government has taken on the three points stated in my letters of the 30th December and 2d January.

The first was confined to a request that, in conformity to the principles I have stated, that is, that the affairs between the two nations should be placed on the same footing they were before the interruption of the diplomatic relations between them, His Majesty should be put in possession of that part of Florida which the troops of this Union had occupied. You were pleased to state, in reply, that this Government, believing that it had a well founded right not only to the part of West Florida which their troops had occupied, but to a greater extent of territory, comprehended in the limits of the viceroyalty of Mexico, had judged that, with the same propriety that the King, my master, occupied those possessions, the United States might retain that part of West Florida they held, until it was decided by a friendly convention to whom it belonged.

year 1783, France could not cede them to Spain
by the treaty of 1764-nor Spain retrocede them
to France, not having received them from her,
unless there should have been an article on this
point, in which express and direct mention was
made of the cession; and, secondly, because the
two contracting parties (Spain and France) have
declared in the most solemn manner, the first,
that she did not cede to France any part of the
Floridas-the second, that she had not acquired
them by the Treaty of St. Ildefonso, or of retro-
cession of 1800; nor had had the least intention to
set up a claim to them. You know very well
that, according to all the acknowledged principles
of justice, no one can be put out of the posses-
sion of what he holds until the right of the per-
son who claims it shall be proved and recognised;
and that, by a natural consequence of this prin-
ciple, Spain having been in possession of West
Florida when the United States laid claim to it,
it is proper she should keep it until this Republic
shows a better right, which ought to be done in
a friendly negotiation between the two Powers;
and that it would be anticipating the negotiating
to begin by taking possession of the territory, the
right to which, so far as it respects the United
States, ought to be the object of the negotiation
itself. These are the grounds which support the
first demand I made on you, in the name of His
Majesty, in my letter of the 30th December; and
I flatter myself that, reflecting on facts so well
known, you cannot do less than consider them

I pass now to the second point. This is confined to asking the punishment, according to law, of those turbulent and seditious individuals who have taken up arms within the territory of this confederation, and from thence carrying desolation, destruction, and horror into the frontier provinces of the Crown of Spain; and not content with the atrocities they have heretofore committed, they are now actually engaged in recruiting troops, and preparing armaments in the Permit me to observe that there is no parity bosom of this country, again to invade these proin the cases. The country to which you allude, vinces. I have named the ringleaders of these extending to the Rio Bravo, or del Norte, has been rebels, who have violated the neutrality and the under the dominion of Spain, not only before and most sacred laws of the United States, by the since France ceded Louisiana to His Majesty by well-known fact of their having armed in their the treaty of 1764, but from the time of the dis- territory, and marched from thence, in military covery and conquest of Mexico, without ever and hostile array, to subvert the peace and good having passed by treaty to any other nation; order of the dominions of the King, my master. whereas the Floridas ceased to be a French or I have named Toledo, Bernardo Gutierrez, DocSpanish possession, and passed into the hands of tor Robinson, and others, who perpetrated the England, under the name of East and West Flor- horrible deeds at St. Antonio de Bexar; who in the year 1763. They remained under the power recruited their troops in Louisiana, and even in of His Britannic Majesty, as such, until the year the limits of New Orleans, and proceeded from 1783, when, by conquest, the Spanish arms, and thence, as an army, to assault the province of by solemn treaty, they passed under the dominion New Mexico; who committed there outrages of His Catholic Majesty. From this you will never heard of even among savage tribes; and infer that, be the interpretation which may be who, after being defeated, again took refuge in the wished to be given to the treaty of retrocession territory of this Union, where they are now enof Louisiana, made between France and Spain deavoring to raise new forces to repeat the same in 1800, what it may, the two Floridas can never excesses. Toledo, Bernardo Gutierrez, Dr. Robbe directly or indirectly included in it; first, be-inson, and their followers, to this time, move about cause these provinces being in the legitimate possession of England from the year 1763 to the

with impunity in Louisiana, and even in the city of New Orleans itself. The infraction of the

Relations with Spain.

laws of the United States, and the violation of the dignity and honor of the American people, of which they are guilty, is public and notorious, not only in this country, but in the whole world. I stated to you, in addition, on this point, that the ringleaders I had named to you were expect ing considerable reinforcements from Kentucky and Tennessee, to undertake a hostile expedition against the neighboring possessions of my sovereign; and that I had advised that these reinforcements, composed of American citizens, were raised for the purpose of uniting with them.

robbers have not ceased from that time to concert and to realize new projects against the tranquillity of the inhabitants of the dominions of the King, my master.

The annexed copies, marked Nos. 1, 2, and 3, of intercepted letters from Toledo, which have been officially sent to me, prove beyond doubt that Toledo had armed in New Orleans three vessels, in which he carried arms and munitions of war to give support to the insurrection in Mexico; and that he returned to that city, bringing back with him Herrera, who calls himself Minister You were pleased to state to me, in reply, on Plenipotentiary from the revolted provinces to this point, that the President had determined not this Government, by asserting, in one of his said to take any part in the disputes which had arisen letters, that the United States only waited the between His Catholic Majesty and the revolted arrival of the Minister of the revolutionists of provinces on this continent; and that, in con- Mexico to acknowledge its independence. The formity to this system, the Governors of different other ringleaders have done the same thing to deStates, as well as the President himself, had issued ceive adventurers, both in and out of Mexico, repeated proclamations, directing that all those and even citizens of the United States, seducing who set on foot, or promoted the recruiting of them by false assurances that their Government adventurers, with the design of invading the was decided to support them, and that it would possessions of His Catholic Majesty, should be proceed immediately to recognise as an indepenprosecuted according to law; that the informa-dent Power that band of highway robbers and tion received at your Department, from very respectable persons, is, that the force collected by Toledo is very inconsiderable, and composed principally of Frenchmen and Spaniards, without the territory of the United States, where their laws do not reach; that my statements on this point are not circumstantial; and that as soon as I pointed out American citizens who promoted the expeditions, collected the troops, or facilitated the supplies to which I referred, and if these collections of troops, &c., were in the territory of this Union, they should be immediately dispersed, and the persons implicated should be prosecuted according to law.

insurgents. From the extract of a letter from a person of the greatest veracity and the best character, now forwarded to you, marked No. 4, you will observe that Toledo had deferred his expedition against the provinces of the King, my master, as I stated to you in my note of the 2d January, as the thousand men he expected from Kentucky, and the three hundred from Tennessee, could not form a junction with him in less than twenty-four days; and in Nos. 5 and 6, you will see this information confirmed under a posterior date, advising me that a number of Americans came down from the States adjacent to Louisiana to join the expedition which Toledo had concerted; and that he (Toledo) would carry with him the engineer Laford, Savary, and one Soubenet.

To satisfy you on this point, with that simplicity and candor which belongs to me, I will divide into two classes these seditious persons of whom I have spoken to you in my notes. I will You will also learn that provisions and a Carinclude in the first class Toledo, Bernardo Gutier- thagenian flag were sent to the American brig, rez, and Dr. Robinson, as violators of the neutrality the Tom Bowline, from New York, at the molaws of the United States-an infraction so noto- ment of her arrival at the Balize, by a gunboat rious and so evident that I should do wrong to of the United States, with the object, it would detain you in referring to the innumerable acts seem of convoying with her the vessels which which demonstrate it in an incontestable man- should sail from New Orleans with munitions of ner. It is known to you, to your Government, war for the establishment at the new port of Tamand to the whole country, that, with the troops pico; that they had purchased in New Orleans they individually raised three years ago in Lou- itself five other schooners, which they are actuisiana, they marched in military array to invade ally arming to cruise against the Spanish comthe internal provinces of the viceroyalty of Mex- merce; and that it appears that Mr. John K. ico; the horrible assassinations they committed, West, merchant of that place, is the agent for particularly those by Bernardo Gutierrez at St. these vessels; and, finally, that in that city there Antonio de Bexar, are known. And, finally, it has been a revolutionary junta, at the head of is known that, being defeated by the troops of which is Toledo and Herrera, from which has the King, my master, they took refuge again in issued the wicked decree mentioned in these letcountry, and that the Government of Louis-ters-that four honorable Spaniards should be put iana permitted them to remain undisturbed in the to death for every revolutionist punished by the very territory whose neutrality they had violated. established laws of the monarchy of the King, This single fact is, in my opinion, a sufficient my master. reason why the law should take hold on them before they leave the jurisdiction of the United States to renew melancholy scenes. But I will give to you even new proofs that these highway


As respects Doctor Robinson, it is notorious that he has been one of the most infuriated enemies of Spain, and the one who has, with the greatest eagerness, promoted the rebellion of the

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