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"Should the proposals already made, be insufficient to produce the proposed declaration of war, and the commissioners are convinced that it cannot be otherwise accomplished, they assure his Most Christian Majesty, that such of the British West India islands, as, in the course of the war, shall be reduced by the united force of France and the United States, shall be yielded in absolute property to his Most Christian Majesty; and the United States engage, on timely notice, to furnish at their expense, and deliver at some convenient port or ports, in the said United States, provisions for carrying on expeditions against the said islands, to the amount of two millions of dollars, and six frigates mounting not less than twenty-four guns each, manned and fitted for sea; and to render any other assistance, which may be in their power, as becomes good allies." Vol. ii. pp. 38, 39, 40.
These new and advantageous offers, however, could not induce France to depart from her neutral position. The capture of general Burgoyne and his army in October 1777, produced a change of affairs in England and France.
Convinced that the British ministry were about to offer
f terms of reconciliation, which might be accepted by the Ame
ricans, the French court, in December, agreed to form treaties of commerce and alliance with them. These treaties were completed on the 6th of February 1778; and were soon followed by a minister plenipotentiary to the United States. The ceremonial of the reception of this minister, is found in the journals, and will afford some amusement at least, to our readers. It was deemed important that no point of etiquette should be omitted, in the first audience given to a minister from one of the most powerful, as well as most polite courts in Europe.
"At the time he is to receive his audience, two members shall wait upon him in a coach belonging to the States; and the person first named of the two, shall return with the minister plenipotentiary or envoy, in the coach, giving the minister the right hand, and placing himself on his left, with the other member on the front seat.
When the minister plenipotentiary or envoy, is arrived at the door of the congress hall, he shall be introduced to his chair by the two members, who shall stand at his left hand. Then the member first named, shall present and announce him to the president and the house; whereupon he shall bow to the president and the congress, and they to him. He and the president shall then again bow unto each other, and be seated; after which the house shall sit down.
Having spoken and been answered, the minister and president shall bow to each other, at which time the house shall bow, and then he shall be conducted home, in the manner he was brought to the house."
To the treaty of alliance was annexed a separate and secret article, granting to the king of Spain the right of acceding to both treaties, at such time as he should think proper. To obtain the assent of his Catholic Majesty to these treaties, Mr. Jay was sent minister plenipotentiary to Spain, in 1779. He was instructed to assure his Catholic Majesty, that if he should "accede to the said treaties, and in concurrence with France and the United States of America, continue the present war with Great Britain for the purpose expressed in the treaties, he shall not be precluded from securing to himself the Floridas: on the contrary, if he shall obtain the Floridas from Great Britain, these United States will guaranty the same to his Catholic Majesty. Provided always, that the United States shall enjoy the free navigation of the Mississippi, into and from the sea."
Mr. Jay was also particularly instructed, not only to obtain money by way of loan or subsidy, but to secure some convenient port below the thirty-first degree of north latitude, on the river Mississippi, for the use of the inhabitants of the United States.
Spain refused to accede to these treaties; to furnish money or to form any connexion with the United States; but on the condition of their relinquishing all right or claim to the navigation of the Mississippi, and to all the country west of the Apalachian mountains.
The views and claims of his Catholic Majesty on this subject, were confidentially communicated to congress, by the French minister, de la Luzerne, in January 1780, a short time after Mr. Jay had sailed for Spain. Our readers will pardon us, for extracting this extraordinary communication, from these journals.
Monsieur de la Luzerne stated to congress,
"That his Most Christian Majesty being uninformed of the appointment of a minister plenipotentiary to treat of an alliance between the United States and his Catholic Majesty, has signified to his minister plenipotentiary to the United States, that he wishes most earnestly for such an alliance; and in order to make the vay more easy, has commanded him to communicate to the congress, certain articles which his Catholic Majesty deems of great importance to the interest of his crown, and on which it is highly necessary, that the United States explain themselves with precision, and with such moderation, as may consist with their essential rights.
That the articles are:
First. A precise and invariable boundary to the United States
To*. 1. V9. 1. 1.9
Second. The exclusive navigation of the Mississippi. Third. The possession of the Floridas, and Fourth. The lands on the left, or western side of the Mississippi.
That on the first article, it is the idea of the cabinet of Madrid, that the United States extend to the westward, no farther than settlements were permitted by the royal proclamation, bearing date the day of 1763.
On the second, that the United States do not consider themselves as having any right to navigate the river Mississippi, no territory belonging to them being situated thereon.
On the third, that it is probable the king of Spain will conquer the Floridas, during the course of the present war; and in such event, every cause of dispute relative thereto, between Spain and these United States, ought to be removed.
On the fourth, that the lands lying on the east side of the Mississippi, whereon the settlements were prohibited by the aforesaid proclamation, are possessions of the crown of Great Britain, and proper objects against which the arms of Spain may be employed, for the purpose of making a. Jiermanent conquest, for the Spanish crown.
That such conquest may, probably, be made during the present war. That, therefore, it would be advisable to restrain the Southern states from making any settlements or conquests, in these territories. That the council of Madrid considered the United States as having no claims to those territories, either as not having had possession of them before the present war, or not having any foundation for a claim in the right of the sovereignty of Great Britain, whose dominion they have abjured.
That his Most Christian Majesty, united to the Catholic King by blood and by the strictest alliance, and united with those states in treaties of alliance, and feeling towards them dispositions of the most perfect friendship, is exceedingly desirous of conciliating between his Catholic Majesty and these United States, the most happy and lasting friendship.
That the United States may repose the utmost confidence in his good will to their interests, and in the justice and liberality of his Catholic Majesty; and that he cannot deem the revolution, which has set up the independence of these United States, as past all danger of unfavourable events, until his Catholic Majesty and the United States, shall be established on those terms of confidence and amity, which are the objects of his Most Christian Majesty's very earnest wishes." 2 vol. pages 309, 310, 311.
This communication excited no little surprise in Congress. It was evident, that the king of Spain, as the price of his alliance, required a relinquishment on the part of the United States, of their right or claim to the navigation of the Mississippi, and to all the country west of the mountains; alleging, that this valuable and extensive country belonged to Great Britain, and therefore, was an object of permanent conquest by his arms. How can it be doubted, that this claim on the part of Spain, was indirectly encouraged and supported by the French court? The house of Bourbon were determined, if possible, to regain in America, during the present war, what they had lost in the preceding. The subject was interesting to these states, who claimed the western country by virtue of their original charter; and particularly to Virginia, under whose authority settlements had commenced west of the mountains.
The states, although extremely desirous of the alliance of Spain, were unwilling to obtain it at the sacrifice required.
The language addressed to Mr. Jay, in Spain, was the same as that held to congress, through the French minister; and in October 1780, congress unanimously enjoined it upon their minister at the Spanish court, to adhere to his former instructions, respecting the right of the United States to the navigation of the Mississippi, with and from the sea; a right, they say, "which, if an express acknowledgment of it cannot be obtained, is not by any stipulation on the part of America, to be relinquished;" and he was directed to insist on the Mississippi as their western boundary.
These instructions were enforced by congress, in a letter to their ministers at Paris and Madrid, explaining the reasons and principles on which their rights and claims were founded; "to enable them" as they say "to satisfy the French and Spanish courts of the justice and equity of the intentions of congress."
This able state paper is in the 2d vol., from page 326 to 339. It was drawn by a committee, consisting of Mr. Madison, Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Duane, and will be read with peculiar interest. The following extract from it, shows the origin and nature of this claim of the states.
"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 Britain; and that the United States are, in consequence of the revolution in their government, entitled to the benefits of that cession. To prove the last, it must be observed, that it is a fundamental principle in all lawful governments, and