« AnteriorContinuar »
the Supreme Court remained in the control of the Federalists for many years. The necessity for the removals, above noted, is to be deplored, as they furnished a precedent for the wholesale removals of Jackson's time. But, as some writers have pointed out, Jefferson's action was made necessary by the earlier proscription of the Republicans by the Federalists.
The National Debt had increased in nine years (1792-1801) from seventy-seven to eighty-two million dollars, although this increase was not realized by the people, owing to the operation of a sinking fund. Of the income of the government, some ten millions in all, only about one and one-half million was derived from the internal taxes, which were collected at great disproportionate expense, and were very irritating to large sections of the population. The total expenditure of the government was nearly seven and onehalf millions. Of this sum almost three and one-half millions were devoted to the navy. Jefferson and Gallatin were anxious to reduce these charges and taxes in the interests of economy, and also to undo as much as possible of the centralization of the Federalist government. It was plain that the great increase of expenditure had been on the navy. Jefferson disliked a naval establishment in itself. He believed that wars and disputes were often occasioned by the action of naval officers, or perhaps grew out of the presence of naval vessels in foreign ports. He also thought that the possession of naval renown made for war. If Jefferson had had his way he would have tied the war-ships to the most convenient wharves, employing a few watchmen to guard them. This would have freed at least three millions each year for the reduction of the debt, and the loss of the internal revenue taxes was to be made good by reduction in the diplomatic service and in the judiciary. It proved to be impossible to carry out this scheme in its entirety. The internal taxes were abolished and with them a large number of offices. But although the national debt was in part extinguished, the
Gallatin's financial policy.
Fefferson's First Administration, 1801-5. 169
creation of a new debt to pay for the purchase of land in 1803 and for the War of 1812 postponed the extinction of the debt for many years, although Gallatin reduced it from eighty-two million to about forty million dollars. As to the navy, its first renown was gained during Jefferson's administration.
The Barbary Corsairs seem to have had little faith in theories as to the possibilities or virtues of a general peace. They had demanded and received money from the United States, and at last in 1800, as a means of extracting a larger tribute, the Pacha of Tripoli declared war against the United States. Jefferson, instead of tying the vessels to a wharf, was obliged to send them to the Mediterranean. One expedition necessitated another, and in 1803 the Republican Administration began the construction of several sloops-of-war especially designed for service on the coasts of Northern Africa. In 1804, the matter was concluded to the satisfaction of the United States. It was during this war that the American naval officers gained the skill which stood them in good stead in the later contest with Great Britain. The people listened with avidity to the recitals of the deeds of daring associated with the names of Decatur, Preble, Bainbridge, and Barron, and acquired a taste for naval adventure, quite foreign to the desires of the President.
The most important act of this administration was the purchase of that territory lying between the Mississippi, the Rocky Mountains, and the Rio gains LouisiGrande, which then was known under the general name of Louisiana. The colony included under this designation had been settled originally by the French at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century. It had led a struggling and feeble existence, and in 1763 it was ceded to Spain to recompense her for Florida, which that power had been obliged to give to Great Britain in exchange for Havanna - captured by the British in 1761. It is important
The Tripolitan War.
to observe at the outset that this vast region had been valued in 1763 as the equivalent of the Spanish colony of Florida. The French King, at the time that he ceded Louisiana to Spain, had ceded his other territories on the continent of North America to Great Britain. In 1797, France had once more become the most powerful military state in Europe. Talleyrand, at that time foreign minister, conceived the scheme of rebuilding her former colonial empire, in the hope, perhaps, of forcing her people upon the sea, and in this way reestablishing her marine. He designed, as the first part of this plan, to regain Louisiana from Spain. Napoleon, when he became the first power in France, entered heartily into Talleyrand's plans, and forced Spain (1800) to retrocede Louisiana to France. The price paid for this cession was the dangerous goodwill of Napoleon and an elusive Italian throne for the Spanish king's son-in-law.
The announcement of this change of ownership aroused a storm of indignation in the United States. The pacific Jefferson, forgetting the interests of peace, wrote a letter, the gist of which was to be communicated to the French government. A few sentences from this letter will serve to show how serious the matter seemed to the President. Among other things, he said: "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans fixes the sentence which is to restrain her for ever within her low-water mark. It seals the union of two nations, who, in conjunction, can maintain exclusive possession of the ocean. From that moment we must marry the British fleet and nation."
The matter was further complicated by the action of the Spanish authorities at New Orleans. The Mississippi formed the principal outlet for the people
The Administration aroused.
The Louisiana Purchase, 1803.
of the western portions of the United States. The lumber, grain, and other produce of the Ohio basin was carried on flatboats or rafts to New Orleans and there placed on sea-going
The Louisiana Purchase, 1803.
vessels. The United States had secured from Spain the right for her citizens to store their goods at New Orleans pending trans-shipment. There was no topic about which the people of Kentucky and T nessee were so sensitive as the navigation of the Mississippi. Suddenly, the Spanish Intendant at New Orleans withdrew "the right of deposit" from the Americans. The indignation of the westerners blazed out in fury. Jefferson was forced to do something besides write letters. Orders were at once sent to Livingston, the American Minister at Paris, to buy the strip of coast extending eastward from the Mississippi and including New Orleans, and Congress voted money to pay for it. For a time Livingston pressed the matter upon the attention of the French government with great pertinacity but without success. But on April 11th, 1803, Talleyrand startled him by inquiring "whether the United States wished to have the whole of Louisiana?" Two days later Monroe of Virginia, who had been sent abroad with a species of roving commission, reached Paris; but the actual conduct of the negotiation remained in Livingston's hands. Eventually the Americans, exceeding their instructions, bought Louisiana for the sum of fifteen million dollars, of which three and three-quarter millions were to be used to pay claims of Americans for spoliations committed by France since 1800. The precise motive which actuated Napoleon in making this sale seems impossible to discover. The reason usually assigned by writers is that foreseeing war with England he could not hope to retain Louisiana and preferred that it should fall to the United States rather than to England. This however does not seem to be an adequate explanation, as the fate of Louisiana at the close of a war would depend mainly upon Napoleon's success or failure in Europe. It would be interesting to ascertain Jefferson's feelings at the moment the report of the purchase reached him. For years he had been proclaiming that the federal government possessed such powers
only as were expressly delegated to it by the Constitution. But there was nothing in the Constitution authorizing the United States to buy land. In the first moment of surprise, he declared that an amendment to the Constitution would be necessary. But the impolicy of thus delaying the ratification of the treaty was evident. He laid aside his scruples for the moment and nothing was ever done in the matter. Yet the purchase of Louisiana with all its possibilities was an act far exceeding in doubtfulness anything the Federalists had ever done. The limits of the new acquisition were even more dubious. The treaty described the territory ceded as "the colony or province of Louisiana, with the same extent as it now has in the hands of Spain, and that it had when France possessed it, and such as it should be after the treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and other powers." The United States government immediately asserted that it included West Florida, but did not press its claim to Texas, or the country between the settlements in the Mississippi basin and the Rio Grande. Mr Henry Adams has recently discovered the orders issued by the French government, when it expected to take possession of the country for itself. This document shows that France and Spain understood the ession to include Texas and to exclude any part of West Florida. In view of these facts, it is difficult to describe the boundaries of Louisiana or to state its area. It may be said, however, to have included. the whole western half of the Mississippi valley, the Island of New Orleans, and the country between the Mississippi and the Rio Grande. It also may be regarded as having given the people of the United States the opportunity of acquiring Oregon by rendering the colonization of that region more easy.
The general satisfaction felt by the people at the peaceful acquisition of this domain and the settlement of all disputes as to the navigation of the Mississippi increased if possible Jefferson's popularity.
Jefferson reelected President, 1804.