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Relations with Spain.

time on such an occasion would not prolong the into his negotiations. It is equally probable that negotiations to the extent which the unavoidable he may be instructed to answer at Washington to delays here would carry them to. whatever representations I may find it my duty These reasons, urged by your excellency for to make here; for it is now perfectly evident that transferring the seat of negotiation to Washing-a principal motive with Mr. Cevallos in removton, induced me to propose that His Majesty ing the negotiation to Washington has been to would appoint a special minister or a commission get rid altogether of the weight and trouble of it to treat with me. I understood your excellency here, and of whatever belongs to, or may any to reply that, as such minister or commission how be comprised in it. I hope that this was his would be entirely uninformed, and would have only motive. everything to learn on the matters to be discussed, and hence the continual necessity of referring to you, this mode could in nowise expedite the result.

On my asking your excellency if full powers and instructions had been already sent to Mr. Onis, I understood you to say that they had not. I then informed you that, after replying to your communication of the 15th instant, I should prepare to send a gentleman of my legation to the United States with my despatches; and I offered his services to be at the same time bearer of your despatches to Don Luis de Onis; which offer you were pleased to accept.

If I may have made any mistake in this statement of the substance of what passed in the interview which I had the honor of having with your excellency on Tuesday, the 17th instant, I beg that your excellency will be so obliging as to correct it.

I see with satisfaction that your note of June 10 to Mr. Onis does not admit of any other construction than that which I conjecturally gave to it in my conversation with Mr. Cevallos. It is very evident, too, by Mr. Onis's reply of July 3d, that he has not misunderstood you. After this, is it to be imagined that Mr. Cevallos has fallen into a misconception? Certainly not. I presume, then, sir, that you will approve of my determination not to make any attempt to alter his plan, and that you will agree with me in opinion that the only chance of accommodation with this Government is by negotiation at Washington.

Extract of a letter from Mr. Erving to the Secretary of State, dated

OCTOBER 8, 1816.

In my despatch No. 18 I mentioned that Mr. Cevallos, in conversation on the 21st of SeptemI have further to request that you will be pleas- ber, had promised to answer my note to him ed to inform me whether it is your intention to of September 19th. He was afterwards for sevreply to my notes of the 26th August and 13th eral days so wholly occupied with the marriage September, or whether I am to consider your ceremonies, that not the least attention to any communication of the 15th instant as superseding other kind of business conld be expected; but the necessity of any special reply to those notes. these terminated on the 3d instant. I wrote to I have to request also that your excellency him unofficially a note, of which the enclosed would enable me to inform my Government whe-paper (No. 1) is a copy; and on the 5th I again ther it is His Majesty's intention to send "full powers" to Don Luis de Onis to treat upon all the matters in question between the two countries, and whether the instructions to be sent to him will embrace all the points adverted to in my above-mentioned note of August 26.

As soon as possible after I shall be honored with your reply to this note, I shall send a messenger to my Government; he shall wait, however, to be at the same time the bearer of your despatches to Mr. Onis.

I renew to your excellency assurances of my very distinguished consideration.

His Excellency Don PEDRO CEVALLOS,
First Minister of State, &c.

Extract of a letter from Mr. Erving to the Secretary of State, dated

waited on him to press him for the answer which he had promised. On this occasion I observed to him that since, by his note of the 15th September, he had not assigned any sufficient motives for the determination of His Majesty to transfer the negotiations to Washington, it had been incumbent on me to ascertain what they might be, and to submit them to my Government.


It was with this intent that I had sought the interview of September 17th, and had stated the substance of our conversation in my note to him of the 19th, which, with his reply, would be suffi cient for my purpose; that, without explanation, the mere notification of His Majesty's determina tion, contained in his Excellency's note, would have a very extraordinary appearance, to say least: my Government had sent me with powers matters to be treated on, and waited several weeks and instructions to negotiate; I had opened the for an answer, when I was told His Majesty had MADRID, September 27, 1816. determined to empower Mr. Onis. Under such You will perceive, sir, by my last communica- circumstances, must it not be concluded either tions, that there is now very little probability that the Spanish Government by this measure that I shall have occasion to use the ample docu- sought to avoid or to delay an arrangement, or ments with which I have been furnished. What-that it had some personal objection to myself? ever complaints this Government may have to make, those originating in Mr. Onis's reports will of course be sent back to him, to bring weight 15th CoN. 2d SESS.-53

Hence the necessity of an explanation. Mr. Cevallos answered that the motives to the measure were what he had before assigned, and that I

Relations with Spain.

must not allow myself to imagine that either the by which Spain should cede her claims to terriKing or himself had the least personal objection to me; on the contrary, it would give him (Mr. Cevallos) peculiar pleasure to settle the business with me, if it were possible for him to attend to it; finally, that since I considered it important that my note should be answered, I should have the answer forthwith.

Yesterday, the 7th, I received the note of the same date, of which the enclosed paper (No. 2) is a copy. In this you will observe, sir, that Mr. Cevallos speaks of" full powers" to Mr. Onis, and the object in sending them to be the more expeditious termination of existing questions. In conversation, Mr. Cevallos told me that the instructions to Mr. Onis would comprise all the matters mentioned in my note of August 26th, but he has not thought proper, in this last communication, to reply specially to the question put on that subject in my note of the 19th ultimo; indeed, it was impossible for him to answer that note, and say less than he has done; he seems to have written merely to get rid of importunity, by tranquilizing what he supposes to be my personal apprehensions.

My despatches Nos. 18, 19, and 20, will accom pany this, as well as those of the Spanish Government for Mr. Onis, which are to be ready within a few days. Considering the peculiar im portance of these communications, I have concluded to send them by Mr. Brent to the port of Bordeaux, from whence it seems to be more probable that a speedy conveyance for the United States will be found than either from Cadiz or Lisbon. Mr. Brent will proceed to the United States, if he should find a suitable vessel bound home. On account of the lateness of the season, I have thought it right to leave this point to his own discretion, instructing him however to make the voyage, (in whatever vessel,) unless he should find at Bordeaux some American going to the United States, under whose care he shall consider the despatches to be as perfectly secure as under his own.

I beg leave, on this occasion, to express to you my particular satisfaction with the services of Mr. Brent, who unites in his character all the qualities which make a man of business and a valuable public officer.

No. 2.

Copy of a letter from Mr. Cevallos to Mr. Erving. SIR: In answer to your note of the 19th of the last month, I have to say to you, that the deter: mination of the King that a full power should be sent to Don Luis de Onis proceeds from the desire of sooner terminating the pending disputes, and that it is unconnected with any personal considerations. I renew to you, &c.


Copy of a letter from the Secretary of State to the

Chevalier de Onis, dated DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Jan. 14, 1817. SIR: Having understood in our late conference that you would not agree to an arrangement

tory eastward of the Mississippi, unless the United States ceded their claims to all the territory westward of that river, and that even then your agreement would be restricted to a recommendation to your Government to adopt an arrangement to that effect, it is deemed unnecessary to make you any further proposition, or to prolong the negotiation on the subject of limits.

I have now to request that you will have the goodness to inform me whether you are willing to enter into a convention to provide compensation for spoliations, and for the injury resulting to the United States from the suppression of the deposite at New Orleans. I have, &c. JAMES MONROE.

Mr. Onis to the Secretary of State.

JANUARY 16, 1817.

SIR: I have received your official letter of the 14th instant, in which you are pleased to make known to me that, having understood in our last conference that I would not accede to an arrangement by which Spain should cede her pretensions to the territory east of the Mississippi if the United States did not relinquish theirs to the west of that river, and that even in this case my accession would be limited to recommending to my Government the adoption of this project, it appeared to you useless to make me more propositions to prolong the negotiation on the subject of limits between the two Governments; and you only desire to know if I am disposed to sign a convention to provide compensation for the injuries occasioned to the United States by the cruisers of His Majesty in the late war, and for those which resulted to the United States from the suppression of the deposite at New Orleans.

In answer to this letter, you will permit me to observe, that in the conference referred to I had the honor to exhibit to you the full powers of my Sovereign, in which he authorizes me to negotiate, adjust, and sign a treaty or convention with the United States, in which should be arranged not only the indemnities due to the subjects and citizens of both nations for the injuries they had suffered from the last war between His Majesty and Great Britain to the present, in contravention of the law of nations and the existing treaty between the two Powers, but also to fix the respective limits to the satisfaction of both. The intention of His Majesty (and in this I believe the two Governments agree) is not confined to a partial arrangement, which might leave in existence the disa them from the effect of circumstances. His Magreements which have unhappily arisen between jesty, fully convinced that no treaty or convention can be durable unless it is founded in equality and mutual convenience, has particularly directed me that, keeping in mind the reciprocal, political, and commercial interests which unite the two nations, I should so adjust the definitive arrangement with the person whom the President should authorize to that effect, that no controversy could lever again arise between them.

Relations with Spain.

I cannot conceal from you that to arrive at this United States of the port of Pensacola, which end it is indispensable to begin by amicably dis- was the key of the Gulf of Mexico-the best port cussing and agreeing upon the rights of each of of that gulf-and which was the more necessary the two Powers, and that the result of this discus- to His Majesty for the security of his possessions; sion is what ought to guide us in arranging the but that, in the meantime, if you should propose indemnities and fixing the limits which may be to me, on the part of this Government, to make just and mutually convenient to the two nations. the Mississippi the frontier, I should see in that You had the goodness to say to me that this proposition a disposition on the part of the Unimethod had been adopted by you and Mr. Ceval-ted States to offer some equivalent, and I would los, and that, if we renewed it, precious time would be lost without our being able to agree. In such a dilemma, and anxious to contribute on my part to accelerate the negotiation, I took the liberty to propose to you the only other method which appeared to me to exist, besides the one which I have just mentioned, to arrange these differences, which is this: that the two Powers, throwing off all idea of aggrandizement, and sac rificing resentments and complaints of little importance, should proceed with good faith to fix limits between them which should be mutually convenient, which should not be liable to controversy, or be unknown to or violated by the respective subjects of each.

recommend it to the consideration of His Ma-
jesty as a fixed and stable limit to assure the
peace and tranquillity of the two nations.
I hope that you will recognise in this exposi-
tion the sincerity and ingenuousness with which
I proceed, and that you will on a view of it adopt,
of the two modes proposed for setting on foot the
negotiation, that which will be most agreeable
to the United States. The first-that is to say,
that of discussing and agreeing upon the recip
rocal rights and pretensions of the two nations-
is the safest, and that which ought to conduct us
with the greatest precision to the indemnities
and to the establishment of limits between them;
since nothing is more easy than that, each point
of justice being agreed upon, the equivalent to it
should be arranged upon principles of equality
and reciprocal convenience. The second is short-
er, but it requires a relinquishment of all views
of aggrandizement on both sides; and that each
Government, adopting as a basis the uti possi-
detis, either of the year 1792, which is the one
fixed on by the allied Courts in the general paci-
fication for the recognition of the right of prop-
erty in their possessions, or that of the year 1763,
after the conclusion of the treaty of peace be-
tween Spain, France, and England, (in which

You did me the honor to applaud a proposition so frank and liberal, as dictated by equity and good faith, and made known to me with the same frankness that the United States desired to unite to its dominions all the territories which belong to Spain to the east of the Mississippi; and that for them they would offer to Spain those which were between the Rio del Norte and the Colorado. But as not only these lands, but all those which lie between the Colorado and Cape North, drawing a line by the river Mermento or Mermentao towards the Presidio of Adais, and from thence by the Arroyo Onda towards Natch-treaty the limits of their provinces were fixed, itoches, are a part of the province of Texas, belonging to, and in the uninterrupted possession of, His Majesty, without there having been in relation thereto any dispute between France and Spain, (that dispute being solely as to Natchitoches, which fort the French raised unjustly in the territory of His Catholic Majesty,) it results that this proposition not only does not offer compensation to His Majesty for West and East Florida, whose cession the United States intimate would be very agreeable to them, but it involves the relinquishment of the property and possession which His Majesty has of the territory in the province of Texas, which lies between the Colorado and the vicinity of Natchitoches.

and the two Floridas were separated-the East
from Spain and the West from France-by trans-
ferring them in full sovereignty to England,)
may come to a just and friendly understanding,
so as to do away these disagreements, I am ready
to discuss with you in the first mode just referred
to. I am also ready to treat with you by adopt-
ing the second; and I flatter myself that I shall
in either case give you proofs that I will not
depart from what is due to justice, equity, and
the mutual convenience of the two nations.
I renew to you, &c.


Chevalier de Onis.

DEPARTMENT of State, Jan. 25, 1817. SIR: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 16th, in reply to mine of the 14th of this month.

To propositions so distant from the equality Copy of a letter from the Secretary of State to the and reciprocal convenience in which we have agreed to treat these affairs, I answered, that as the powers of His Majesty had been hastily sent to me by Mr. Cevallos, to take advantage of the departure of Mr. Brent, I have not received express instructions touching the entire cession of the two Floridas which the United States wished; and although they prove to me the desire of His Majesty to accommodate them in all arrangements which may be compatible with his interests, I saw myself obliged to wait for instructions on this point, of so much the greater importance, as it relates to the cession by His Majesty to the

It having been the invariable desire of the United States to settle all differences with Spain on just and fair conditions, it is seen with much regret that a similar disposition is not manifested on the part of your Government.

Finding by your letter that I had distinctly understood the views of your Government as explained by you in our late conference, and

Relations with Spain.

stated in my last letter, and perceiving also that you still adhere to those views, which, being altogether inconsistent with the rights of the United States, are inadmissible, I have to repeat that this Government has no motive to continue the negotiation on the subject of boundaries.

In making this frank declaration, I cannot avoid expressing my surprise that you should now find it necessary to refer again to your Government for instructions on any part of this subject. These differences have long existed, and as far back as 1805 were fully discussed, as you readily admitted, in every circumstance appertaining to or connected with them, in a special mission to Madrid for the purpose. It was hoped and expected, on the restoration of the diplomatic intercourse between the two nations, that you would have been invested with full power to settle them; and it was in accord with your views, when this was found not to be the case, that the requisite authority was given to the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at Madrid. It could not have been doubted, as your Government had not authorized its Minister here to bring these controversies to a conclusion, that the Minister of the United States would have been promptly met in his offers to effect it at Madrid. I need not repeat to you the great disappointment which the President felt, when, after the lapse of so much time, he was informed that an expression of regret in my letter to you of the 10th of June, at the delay resulting from your want of powers, and from the necessity of transferring the negotiation to Madrid, had been misconstrued into a desire that it should be transferred again to the United States. On examining, however, the tenor of your commission, and the communications between Mr. Cevallos, both of which seemed to contemplate a prompt conclusion of the business here, the idea now brought forward in your letter, of a further resort to your Government for other instructions, was surely the last to enter into the anticipations of this Government.

It is proper to add, that I understood you to concur in our late conference, fully with me in the sentiments that any further discussion of subjects, which had been already so often discussed and completely exhausted, would be useless, since it could not be presumed that any change of opinion on any point would take place on either side. Each pariy understands its rights, and has, doubtless, made up its mind as to the conditions it is willing to adopt. To those suggested by you, as being worthy the consideration of your Government, this Government cannot agree. Under these circumstances, I have again to request that you will do me the honor to inform me whether you are willing to conclude a convention to provide indemnity for spoliations, and the suppression of the deposite at New Orleans, as mentioned in my last letter.

I have the honor to be, &c.



Mr. Onis to the Secretary of State.

FEBRUARY 10, 1817.

SIR: I have received the official letter which you did me the honor to address to me, under the date of the 25th of last month, stating that, notwithstanding the desire the President had to adjust all differences between Spain and the United States on just conditions, and to their mutual convenience, it was seen, with great regret, that a like disposition was not manifested on the part of Spain.

You support this opinion on the ground that I adhere to the same sentiments which my Government manifested in former times; and also that the President, seeing the powers with which His Majesty had been pleased to honor me, could not comprehend why I should think it necessary to recur to my Sovereign to obtain new instructions. You will permit me to observe, that the number of privateers armed in the ports of this country, to cruise under an unknown flag against Spanish commerce, have obstructed, in such a manner, the communications between the Peninsula and these States, that the accidental circumstance of Mr. Brent's having taken charge of the duplicates of His Majesty's powers has alone obtained for me the receipt of them, and that I am even yet without the originals; with which, doubtless, His Majesty sent me instructions, and communicated to me his reasons for transferring the negotiation here. I can assure you that I am entirely ignorant of what has passed in Madrid between Mr. Erving and Mr. Cevallos, and that I am not less so of the motives which have induced His Majesty to transfer the discussion here, notwithstanding I had informed him that I had myself proposed to you that authority and instructions should be given to Mr. Erving in relation to it, it being clear to me that His Majesty desired nothing with more anxiety than to see an affair terminated which must be the precursor of the reciprocal intimacy which should be established between the two Governments for the mutual benefit of their respective subjects and citizens.

If I might be permitted to conjecture the motives which have induced His Majesty to transfer the negotiation here, I believe I should not mistake in designating, as the principal one of them, the knowledge His Majesty has of your talents, of your justice, (justificacion,) and of the conciliatory disposition which you manifested in your conferences with Mr. Cevallos to concur in the settlement of these discussions; and, as the second, this: that in the moment of the arrival of the Queen, his august spouse, and of the festivities incident to this happy event, His Majesty could not give the attention which was requisite to these affairs, which he considered of the first importance. You are too just not to appreciate these motives, and not to see in them nothing but a new proof of the anxiety of His Majesty to avoid all delay or inactivity. The President, informed by you of these motives, will, I flatter myself, form the same opinion, and see the neces

Relations with Spain.


You are pleased also to inform me, in your esteemed note, that to the propositions which I have suggested as worthy of the consideration of my Government, that of the United States cannot agree; and that, abandoning the arrangement of limits, you desire only to know if I am disposed to sign a convention for settling the injury sustained by the American commerce, and for the suppression of the deposite at New Orleans.

sity of my waiting for the necessary instructions of His Majesty for more than two hundred from my Sovereign, before I subscribe to the points which ought to form the basis of this I am nevertheless, very far from judging it treaty. The short delay which may result from thus. A firm and permanent arrangement of all this will be amply compensated for, and with points of difference is equally useful and necesmutual advantage, if you would place me in a sary to both nations. It ought to fix the basis of situation to inform my Government of the prin- the happiness of their respective subjects and cipal points on which the Government of the citizens; and, to obtain this, it ought necessarily United States wish to see this negotiation turn. to be founded in justice, equity, and mutual conYou know that as yet you have only made known venience. His Majesty is disposed to conclude to me, in our first conference, that if we were to it on these terms; and he has too much configo into a discussion of the rights of the two Pow-dence in the well-known rectitude of this Adminers, as was done by you and Mr. Cevallos, much istration to think that it could solicit it on other time would be lost, and each of us would retain terms. his opinion. You know that I agreed to this, but at the same time intimated that I saw no other more certain mode of accomplishing the object which the two Powers had in view, since it must be with a knowledge of the respective rights of each party that we ought to begin in fixing the indemnities and compensations which belonged to each on the principles of equity, justice, and convenience; and that the only way of avoiding this, and of shortening the negotiation, would be that the two Powers, giving up all pretensions and all idea of rivalship or aggrandizement, should agree between themselves, in good faith, to fix their limits according to equity, justice, and mutual convenience, so that they should not be liable to be violated by the subjects of the one or the other, and in a way to avoid the renewal of the complaints which had given rise to misunderstandings. You approved an idea so liberal, so generous, and so demonstrative of the disposition of the King, my master, to accommodate the United States in whatever might be agreeable to them, if not incompatible with his interests; and, in consequence, you made known to me that the United States wished to unite to their dominions the two Floridas. As, in the former negotiations, the cession of West Florida to the Rio Perdido was alone spoken of, and as His Majesty was ignorant of the new desires of this Government, I said to you that, although I did not positively know whether His Majesty would deprive himself of East Florida, and of the important port of Pensacola, which was the key of the Gulf of Mexico, yet the desire of His Majesty to gratify this Government was great, and that it was very probable he might agree to do it, provided that, on the part of the United States, there should be offered to him a just equivalent, and one of reciprocal convenience.

As the propositions which I have made to you were confined solely to the leaving to your election whether we should treat by discussing and fixing in a friendly manner the respective rights of each Power, to the end that, having agreed to them, and the obligations of each upon the other being known, the compensation to which each may be entitled might be settled; or that, leaving things to remain in the state they were, we might agree in a friendly manner as to what would suit each, I cannot conceive that the United States should be of opinion that they cannot agree to any of these points.

I would offend my own delicacy if, after being assured by you that the United States were disposed to terminate all the differences which exist between the two nations by a treaty founded on justice, equity, and mutual convenience, I could believe that the United States would repel the only means which, in my opinion, exist to arrive at this end. I judge, then, that I have not explained myself with sufficient clearness, or that I have not well comprehended you; and I again renew my propositions in a plain, clear, and demonstrative manner, giving you an example which you cannot but find just.

Let us suppose (and it is a very proper supposition) that you and I are intimate friends; you have purchased an estate adjoining one of mine; (I do not now inquire whether you purchased it I leave it to your impartiality and justice, and from a person who had a right to sell it or not— to that of the whole world, to say if, on the part but you purchased it;) and, be it because some of His Majesty, a more positive proof is wanting officious person said so, or because you thought of the interest which he takes in arranging these so, you were of opinion that there was included affairs in a friendly manner; and if I should not in this purchase a part of my estate, which I find myself more authorized to doubt of equal worked, took care of, and possessed. As soon as dispositions on the part of the United States, in you had made this purchase, and observed that consequence of the proposition which you made possession was not given you of the land I worked, me, not only of not giving anything in exchange and which you believed to belong to you, you for the two provinces, and the cessions of which asked me to give it up to you. I observed to you the United States desire, but requiring that His that it was mine; that the land which you had Majesty should cede to them a part of another, purchased had also belonged to me formerly; that which has been in the uninterrupted possession | I had ceded it to him who had sold it such as he

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