History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson/First/I:14


Chapter 14: The RetrocessionEdit

In July, 1797, eight months before Godoy's retirement from power at Madrid, Talleyrand became Minister for Foreign Affairs to the French Directory. If the Prince of Peace was man of no morals, the ex-Bishop of Autun was one of no morality. Colder than Pitt, and hardly less corrupt than Godoy, he held theories in regard to the United States which differed from those of other European statesmen only in being more aggressive. Chateaubriand once said, "When M. Talleyrand is not conspiring, he traffics." The epigram was not an unfair description of Talleyrand's behavior toward the United States. He had wandered through America in the year 1794, and found there but one congenial spirit. "Hamilton avait deviné l'Europe," was his phrase: Hamilton had felt by instinct the problem of European conservatives. After returning from America and obtaining readmission to France, Talleyrand made almost his only appearance as an author by reading to the Institute, in April 1797, a memoir upon America and the Colonial System.[1] This paper was the clew to his ambition, preparing his return to power by laying the foundation for a future policy. The United States, it said, were wholly English, both by tastes and by commercial necessity; from them France could expect nothing; she must build up a new colonial system of her own,—but "to announce too much of what one means to do, is the way not to do it at all." In October Bonaparte announced a part of it in sending to the Directory the Treaty of Campo Formio as a step, he wrote,[2] to the destruction of England, and "the reestablishment of our commerce and our marine."

France still coveted Louisiana, the creation of Louis XIV., whose name it bore, which remained always French at heart, although in 1763 France ceded it to Spain in order to reconcile the Spanish government to sacrifices in the treaty of Paris. By the same treaty Florida was given by Spain to England, and remained twenty years in English hands, until the close of the Revolutionary War, when the treaty of 1783 restored it to Spain. The Spanish government of 1783, in thus gaining possession of Florida and Louisiana together, aimed at excluding the United States, not France, from the Gulf. Indeed, when the Count de Vergennes wished to recover Louisiana for France, Spain was willing to return it, but asked a price which, although the mere reimbursement of expenses, exceeded the means of the French treasury, and only for that reason Louisiana remained a Spanish province. After Godoy's war with France, at the Peace of Bâle the French Republic again tried to obtain the retrocession of Louisiana, but in vain. Nevertheless some progress was made, for by that treaty, July 22, 1795, Spain consented to cede to France the Spanish, or eastern, part of St. Domingo,—the cradle of her Transatlantic power, and the cause of yearly deficits to the Spanish treasury. Owing to the naval superiority of England, the French republic did not ask for immediate possession. Fearing Toussaint Louverture, whose personal authority in the French part of the island already required forbearance, France retained the title, and waited for peace. Again, in 1797, Carnot and Barthelemy caused the Directory to offer the King of Spain a magnificent bribe for Louisiana.[3] They proposed to take the three legations just wrung from the Pope, and joining them with the Duchy of Parma, make a principality for the son of the Duke of Parma, who had married a daughter of Don Carlos IV. Although this offer would have given his daughter a splendid position, Charles refused it, because he was too honest a churchman to share in the spoils of the Church.

These repeated efforts proved that France, and especially the Foreign Office, looked to the recovery of French power in America. A strong party in the Government aimed at restoring peace in Europe and extending French empire abroad. Of this party Talleyrand was, or aspired to be, the head; and his memoir, read to the Institute in April and July, 1797, was a cautious announcement of the principles to be pursued in the administration of foreign affairs which he immediately afterward assumed.

July 24, 1797, commissioners arrived from the United States to treat for a settlement of the difficulties then existing between the two countries; but Talleyrand refused to negotiate without a gift of twelve hundred thousand francs,—amounting to about two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Two of the American commissioners, in the middle of April, 1798, returned home and war seemed inevitable.

Thus the month of April, 1798, was a moment of crisis in American affairs. Talleyrand had succeeded in driving Godoy from office, and in securing greater subservience from his successor, Don Mariano Luis de Urquijo, who had been chief clerk in the Foreign Department, and who acted as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Simultaneously Talleyrand carried his quarrel with the United States to the verge of a rupture; and at the same time Godoy's orders compelled Governor Gayoso of Louisiana to deliver Natchez to the United States. The actual delivery of Natchez was hardly yet known in Europe; and the President of the United States at Philadelphia had but lately heard that the Spaniards were fairly gone, when Talleyrand drafted instructions for the Citizen Guillemardet, whom he was sending as minister to Madrid. These instructions offered a glimpse into the heart of Talleyrand's policy.[4]
"The Court of Madrid," said he, "ever blind to its own interests, and never docile to the lessons of experience, has again quite recently adopted a measure which cannot fail to produce the worst effects upon its political existence and on the preservation of its colonies. The United States have been put in possession of the forts situated along the Mississippi which the Spaniards had occupied as posts essential to arrest the progress of the Americans in those countries."

The Americans, he continued, meant at any cost to rule alone in America, and to exercise a preponderating influence in the political system of Europe, although twelve hundred leagues of ocean rolled between.

"Moreover, their conduct ever since the moment of their independence is enough to prove this truth: the Americans are devoured by pride, ambition, and cupidity; the mercantile spirit of the city of London ferments from Charleston to Boston, and the Cabinet of St. James directs the Cabinet of the Federal Union."

Chateaubriand's epigram came here into pointed application. Down to the moment of writing this dispatch, Talleyrand had for some months been engaged in trafficking with these Americans, who were devoured by cupidity, and whom he had required to pay him two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for peace. He next conspired.

"There are," he continued, "no other means of putting an end to the ambition of the Americans than that of shutting them up within the limits which Nature seems to have traced for them; but Spain is not in a condition to do this great work alone. She cannot, therefore, hasten too quickly to engage the aid of a preponderating Power, yielding to it a small part of her immense domains in order to preserve the rest."

This small gratuity consisted of the Floridas and Louisiana.

"Let the Court of Madrid cede these districts to France, and from that moment the power of America is bounded by the limit which it may suit the interests and the tranquility of France and Spain to assign her. The French Republic, mistress of these two provinces, will be a wall of brass forever impenetrable to the combined efforts of England and America. The Court of Madrid has nothing to fear from France."
This scheme was destined to immediate failure, chiefly through the mistakes of its author; for not only had Talleyrand, a few weeks before, driven the United States to reprisals, and thus sacrificed what was left of the French colonies in the West Indies, but at the same moment he aided and encouraged young Bonaparte to carry a large army to Egypt, with the idea, suggested by the Duc de Choiseul many years before, that France might find there compensation for the loss of her colonies in America. Two years were consumed in retrieving these mistakes. Talleyrand first discovered that he could not afford a war with the United States; and even at the moment of writing these instructions to his minister at Madrid, he was engaged in conciliating the American commissioner who still remained unwillingly at Paris. The unexpected revelation by the United States government of his demands for money roused him, May 30, to consciousness of his danger. He made an effort to recover his lost ground.[5] "I do not see what delay I could have prevented. I am mortified that circumstances have not rendered our progress more rapid." When Gerry coldly refused to hear these entreaties, and insisted upon receiving his passport, Talleyrand was in genuine despair. "You have not even given me an opportunity of proving what liberality the executive Directory would use on the occasion."[6] He pursued Gerry with entreaties to use his influence on the President for peace; he pledged himself that no obstacle should be put in the path of negotiation if the American government would consent to renew it. At first the American government would consent to renew it. At first the Americans were inclined to think his humility some new form of insult; but it was not only real, it was unexampled. Talleyrand foresaw that his blunder would cost France her colonies, and this he could bear; but it would also cost himself his office, and this was more than he could endure. His fears proved true. A year later, July 20, 1799, he was forced to retire, with little hope of soon recovering his character and influence, except through subservience to some coming adventurer.

Thus occurred a delay in French plans. By a sort of common agreement among the discontented factions at Paris, Bonaparte was recalled from Egypt. Landing at Fréjus early in October, 1799, a month afterward, November 9, he effected the coup d'état of the 18th Brumaire. He feared to disgust the public by replacing Talleyrand immediately in the office of foreign minister, and therefore delayed the appointment. "The place was naturally due to Talleyrand," said Napoleon in his memoirs,[7] "but in order not too much to shock public opinion, which was very antagonistic to him, especially on account of American affairs, Reinhard was kept in office for a short time." The delay was of little consequence, for internal reorganization preceded the establishment of a new foreign policy; and Talleyrand was in no haste to recall the blunders of his first experiment.

Although Talleyrand had mismanaged the execution of his plan, the policy itself was a great one. The man who could pacify Europe and turn the energies of France toward the creation of an empire in the New World was the more sure of success because, in the reactionary spirit of the time, he commanded the sympathies of all Europe in checking the power of republicanism in its last refuge. Even England would see with pleasure France perform this duty, and Talleyrand might safely count upon a tacit alliance to support him in curbing American democracy. This scheme of uniting legitimate governments in peaceful combination to crush the spirit of license ran through the rest of Talleyrand's political life, and wherever met, whether in France, Austria, or England, was the mark of the school which found its ablest chief in him.

The first object of the new policy was to restore the peace of Europe; and the energy of Bonaparte completed this great undertaking within two years after the 18th Brumaire. France was at variance with the United States, Great Britain, and Austria. Peace with Austria could be obtained only by conquering it; and after passing a winter in organizing his government, Bonaparte sent Moreau to attack the Austrians on the line of the Danube, while he himself was to take command in Italy. As yet diplomacy could not act with effect; but early in the spring, March 1, 1800, before campaigning began, new American commissioners reached Paris, rather as dictators than as suppliants, and informed Tallyrand that the President of the United States was still ready to take him at his word. They were received with marked respect, and were instantly met by French commissioners, at whose head was Joseph Bonaparte, the First Consul's brother. While their negotiations were beginning, Bonaparte left Paris, May 20, crossed the Alps and wrung from the Austrians, June 14, a victory at Marengo, while Moreau on the Danube pressed from one brilliant success to another. Hurrying back to Paris, July 2, Bonaparte instantly began the negotiations for peace with Austria; and thus two problems were solved.

Yet Talleyrand's precipitation in pledging France to prompt negotiation with the United States became a source of annoyance to the First Consul, whose shrewder calculation favored making peace first with Europe, in order to deal with America alone, and dictate his own terms. His brother Joseph, who was but an instrument in Napoleon's hands, but who felt a natural anxiety that his first diplomatic effort should succeed, became alarmed at the First Consul's coldness toward the American treaty, and at the crisis of negotiation, when failure was imminent, tried to persuade him that peace with the United States was made necessary by the situation in Europe. Napoleon met this argument by one of his characteristic rebuffs. "You understand nothing of the matter," he said;[8] "within two years we shall be masters of the world." Within two years, in fact, the United States were isolated. Nevertheless Joseph was allowed to have his way. The First Consul obstinately refused to admit in the treaty any claim of indemnity for French spoliations on American commerce; and the American commissioners as resolutely refused to abandon the claim. They in their turn insisted that the new treaty should abrogate the guaranties and obligations imposed on the United States government by the old French treaty of alliance in 1778; and although Bonaparte cared nothing for the guaranty of the United States, he retained this advantage in order that he might set it off against the claims. Thus the negotiators were at last obliged to agree, by the second article of the treaty, that these two subjects should be reserved for future negotiation; and Sept. 30, 1800, the Treaty of Morfontaine, as Joseph Bonaparte wished to call it, was signed. It reached America in the confusion of a presidential election which threatened to overthrow the government; but the Senate voted, Feb. 3, 1801, to ratify it, with the omission of the second article. The instrument, with this change, was then sent back to Paris, where Bonaparte in his turn set terms upon his ratification. He agreed to omit the second article, as the Senate wished, "provided that by this retrenchment the two States renounced the respective pretensions which are the object of the said article." The treaty returned to America with this condition imposed upon it, and Jefferson submitted it to the Senate, which gave its final approval Dec. 19, 1801.

Thus Bonaparte gained his object, and won his first diplomatic success. He followed an invariable rule to repudiate debts and claims wherever repudiation was possible. For such demands he had one formula:[9] "Give them a very civil answer,—that I will examine the claim, etc.; but of course one never pays that sort of thing." In this case he meant to extinguish the spoliation claims; and nothing could be more certain than that he would thenceforward peremptorily challenge and resist any claim, direct or indirect, founded on French spoliations before 1800, and would allege the renunciation of Article II. in the treaty of Morfontaine as his justification. Equally certain was it that he had offered, and the Senate had approved his offer, to set off the guaranties of the treaty of alliance against the spoliation claims,—which gave him additional reason for rejecting such claims in future. The United States had received fair consideration from him for whatever losses American citizens had suffered.

Meanwhile the First Consul took action which concerned America more closely than any of the disputes with which Joseph Bonaparte was busied. However little admiration a bystander might feel for Napoleon's judgment or morals, no one could deny the quickness of his execution. Within six weeks after the battle of Marengo, without waiting for peace with the United States, England, or Austria, convinced that he held these countries in the hollow of his hand, he ordered[10] Talleyrand to send a special courier to the Citizen Alquier, French minister at Madrid, with powers for concluding a treaty by which Spain should retrocede Louisiana to France, in return for an equivalent aggrandizement of the Duchy of Parma. The courier was at once dispatched, and returned with a promptitude and success which ought to have satisfied even the restlessness of Bonaparte. The Citizen Alquier no sooner received his orders than we went to Señor Urquijo, the Spanish Secretary for Foreign Relations, and passing abruptly over the well-worn arguments in favor of retrocession, he bluntly told Urquijo to oppose it if he dared.

"'France expects from you,' I said to him,[11] 'what she asked in vain from the Prince of Peace. I have dispersed the prejudice which had been raised against you in the mind of the French government. You are to-day distinguished by its esteem and its consideration. Do not destroy my work; do not deprive yourself of the only counterpoise which you can oppose to the force of your enemies. The Queen, as you know, holds by affection as much as by vanity to the aggrandizement of her house; she will never forgive you if you oppose an exchange which can alone realize the projects of her ambition,—for I declare to you formally that your action will decide the fate of the Duke of Parma, and should you refuse to cede Louisiana you may count on getting nothing for that Prince. You must bear in mind, too, that your refusal will necessarily change my relations with you. Obliged to serve the interests of my country and to obey the orders of the First Consul, who attaches the highest value to this retrocession, I shall be forced to receive for the first time the offers of service that will inevitably be made to me; for you may be sure that your enemies will not hesitate to profit by that occasion to increase their strength—already a very real force— by the weight of the French influence; they will do what you will not do, and you will be abandoned at once by the Queen and by us."

Urquijo's reply measured the degradation of Spain:

"'Eh! who told you that I would not give you Louisiana? But we must first have an understanding, and you must help me to convince the King.'"

At this reply, which sounded like Beaumarchais' comedies, Alquier saw that his game was safe. "Make yourself easy on that score," he replied; "the Queen will take that on herself." So the conference ended.

Alquier was right. The Queen took the task on herself, and Urquijo soon found that both King and Queen were anxious to part with Louisiana for their daughter's sake. They received the offer with enthusiasm, and lavished praises upon Bonaparte. The only conditions suggested by Urquijo were that the new Italian principality should be clearly defined, and that Spain should be guaranteed against the objections that might be made by other Governments.

Meanwhile Bonaparte reiterated his offer on a more definite scale. August 3, immediately after the interview with Urquijo, Alquier put the first demand on record in a note important chiefly because it laid incidental stress on Talleyrand's policy of restraining the United States:[12]
"The progress of the power and population of America, and her relations of interest always maintained with England, may and must some day bring these two powers to concert together the conquest of the Spanish colonies. If national interest is the surest foundation for political calculations, this conjecture must appear incontestable. The Court of Spain will do, then, at once a wise and great act if it calls the French to the defence of its colonies by ceding Louisiana to them, and by replacing in their hands this outpost of its richest possessions in the New World."

Before this note was written, the First Consul had already decided to supersede Alquier by a special agent who should take entire charge of this negotiation. July 28 he notified Talleyrand[13] that General Berthier, Bonaparte's right hand in matters of secrecy and importance, was to go upon the mission. Talleyrand drafted the necessary instructions,[14] which were framed to meet the fears of Spain lest the new arrangement should cause complications with other Powers; and toward the end of August Berthier started for Madrid, carrying a personal letter of introduction from the First Consul to King Charles[15] and the projet of a treaty of retrocession drawn by Talleyrand. This projet differed in one point from the scheme hitherto put forward, and, if possible, was still more alarming to the United States.[16]

"The French Republic," it ran, "pledges itself to procure for the Duke of Parma in Italy an aggrandizement of territory to contain at least one million inhabitants; the Republic charges itself with procuring the consent of Austria and the other States interested, so that the Duke may be put in possession of his new territory at the coming peace between France and Austria. Spain on her side pledges herself to retrocede to the French Republic the colony of Louisiana, with the same extent it actually has in the hands of Spain, and such as it should be according to the treaties subsequently passed between Spain and other States. Spain shall further join to this cession that of the two Floridas, eastern and western, with their actual limits."

Besides Louisiana and the two Floridas, Spain was to give France six ships of war, and was to deliver the provinces to France whenever the promised territory for the Duke of Parma should be delivered by France to Spain. The two Powers were further to make common cause against any person or persons who should attack or threaten them in consequence of executing their engagement.

In the history of the United States hardly any document, domestic or foreign, to be found in their archives has greater interest than this projet; for from it the United States must trace whatever legal title they obtained to the vast region west of the Mississippi. The treaties which followed were made merely in pursuance of this engagement, with such variations as seemed good for the purpose of carrying out the central idea of restoring Louisiana to France.

That the recovery of colonial power was the first of all Bonaparte's objects was proved not only by its being the motive of his earliest and most secret diplomatic step, but by the additional evidence that every other decisive event in the next three years of his career was subordinated to it. Berthier hastened to Madrid, and consumed the month of September, 1800, in negotiations. Eager as both parties were to conclude their bargain, difficulties soon appeared. So far as these concerned America, they rose in part from the indiscretion of the French Foreign Office, which announced the object of Berthier's mission in a Paris newspaper, and thus brought on Urquijo a demand from the American minister at Madrid for a categorical denial. Urquijo and Alquier could silence the attack only by denials not well calculated to carry conviction. This was not all. Alquier had been told to ask for Louisiana; Berthier was instructed to demand the Floridas and six ships of war in addition. The demand for the Floridas should have been made at first, if Bonaparte expected it to be successful. King Charles was willing to give back to France a territory which was French in character, and had come as the gift of France to his father; but he was unwilling to alienate Florida, which was a part of the national domain. Urquijo told Berthier[17] that "for the moment the King had pronounced himself so strongly against the cession of any portion whatever of Florida as to make it both useless and impolitic to talk with him about it;" but he added that, "after the general peace, the King might decide to cede a part of the Floridas between the Mississippi and the Mobile, on the special demand which the First Consul might make for it." Berthier was embarrassed, and yielded.

Thus at last the bargain was put in shape. The French government held out the hope of giving Tuscany as the equivalent for Louisiana and six seventy-fours. If not Tuscany, the three legations, or their equivalent, were stipulated. The suggestion of Tuscany delighted the King and Queen. Thus far the secret was confined to the parties directly interested; but after the principle had been fixed, another person was intrusted with it. The Prince of Peace was suddenly called to the Palace by a message marked "luego, luego, luego!"—the sign of triple haste.[18] He found Don Carlos in a paroxysm of excitement; joy sparkled in his eyes. "Congratulate me," he cried, "on this brilliant beginning of Bonaparte's relations with Spain! The Prince-presumptive of Parma, my son-in-law and nephew, a Bourbon, is invited by France to reign, on the delightful banks of the Arno, over a people who once spread their commerce through the known world, and who were the controlling power of Italy,—a people mild, civilized, full of humanity; the classical land of science and art!" The Prince of Peace could only offer congratulations; his opinion was asked without being followed, and a few days later the treaty was signed.[19]

On the last day of September, 1800, Joseph Bonaparte signed the so-called Treaty of Morfontaine, which restored relations between France and the United States. The next day, October 1, Berthier signed at San Ildefenso the treaty of retrocession, which was equivalent to a rupture of the relations established four-and-twenty hours earlier. Talleyrand was aware that one of these treaties undid the work of the other. The secrecy in which he enveloped the treaty of retrocession, and the pertinacity with which he denied its existence showed his belief that Bonaparte had won a double diplomatic triumph over the United States.

Moreau's great victory at Hohenlinden, December 3, next brought Austria to her knees. Joseph Bonaparte was sent to Lunéville in Lorraine, and in a few weeks negotiated the treaty which advanced another step the cession of Louisiana. The fifth article of this treaty, signed Feb. 9, 1801, deprived the actual Grand Duke of his Grand Duchy, and established the young Duke of Parma in Tuscany. To complete the transaction, Lucien Bonaparte was sent as ambassador to Madrid.

Lucien had the qualities of his race. Intelligent, vivacious, vain, he had been a Jacobin of the deepest dye; and yet his hands were as red with the crime of the 18th Brumaire as those of his brother Napoleon. Too troublesome at Paris to suit the First Consul's arbitrary views, he was sent to Spain, partly to remove him, partly to flatter Don Carlos IV. The choice was not wise; for Lucien neither could nor would execute in good faith the wishes of his dictatorial brother, and had no idea of subordinating his own interests to those of the man whose blunders on the 18th Brumaire, in his opinion, nearly cost the lives of both, and whose conduct since had turned every democrat in France into a conspirator. To make the selection still more dangerous, Lucien had scarcely reached Madrid before Urquijo was sent into retirement and Godoy restored to power in some anomalous position of general superintendence, supporting the burden, but leaving to Don Pedro Cevallos the title of Foreign Secretary. The secret of this restoration was told by Godoy himself with every appearance of truth.[20] The King insisted on his return, because Godoy was the only man who could hold his own against Bonaparte; and at that moment Bonaparte was threatening to garrison Spain with a French army, under pretence of a war with Portugal. The measure showed that Charles IV. was not wanting in shrewdness, for Godoy was well suited to deal with Lucien. He was more subtle, and not less corrupt.

Lucien's first act was to negotiate a new treaty closing the bargain in regard to Parma and Tuscany. Here Godoy offered no resistance. The Prince of Parma was created King of Tuscany, and the sixth article provided that the retrocession of Louisiana should at once be carried out. This treaty was signed at Madrid, March 21, 1801. The young King and Queen of Tuscany—or, according to their title, of Etruria—were dispatched to Paris. Lucien remained to overlook the affair of Portugal. To the extreme irritation of Napoleon, news soon came that the Prince of Peace had signed at Badjos, June 5, 1801, a treaty with Portugal, to which Lucien had put his name as ambassador of France, and which baffled Napoleon's military designs in the Peninsula.

Lucien, with inimitable effrontery, wrote to his brother two days later:[21] "For the treaty of Tuscany I have received twenty good pictures out of the Gallery of the Retiro for my gallery, and diamonds to the value of one hundred thousand crowns have been set for me. I shall receive as much more for the Peace of Portugal." Two hundred thousand crowns and twenty pictures from the Retiro, besides flattery that would have turned the head of Talleyrand himself, were what Lucien acknowledged receiving; but there was reason to believe that this was not all, and that the Prince of Peace gorged him with spoil, until he carried back to France wealth which made him the richest member of his family, and gave him an income of sixty or eighty thousand dollars a year. Godoy paid this price to save Spain for seven years.

The treaty of Badajos into which Godoy thus drew Lucien not only checked Napoleon's schemes, but came on the heels of other reverses which threatened to place the First Consul in an awkward position, unless he should hasten the general pacification to which he was tending. The assassination of his ally, the Czar Paul I. March 23, 1801, cost him the aid of Russia, as Godoy's return to power cost him the control of Spain. A few days after Paul's murder, April 9, 1801, Nelson crushed the Danish fleet at Copenhagen, and tore Denmark from his grasp. More serious than all, the fate of the French army which Bonaparte had left in Egypt could not be long delayed, and its capitulation would give a grave shock to his credit. All these reasons forced the First Consul to accept the check he had received from Godoy and Lucien, and to hasten peace with England; but he yielded with a bad grace. He was furious with Godoy.[22] "If this prince, bought by England, draws the King and Queen into measures contrary to the honor and interests of the republic, the last hour of the Spanish monarchy will have sounded." So he wrote to Talleyrand in anger at finding himself checked, and Talleyrand instructed Lucien accordingly.[23] Within a fortnight Bonaparte sent orders to London which rendered peace with England certain;[24] and without waiting to hear further, acting at length on the conviction that nothing could be gained by delay, he ordered Talleyrand to demand of the Court of Spain the authority to take possession of Louisiana.[25]

Supple and tenacious as any Corsican, Godoy's temper was perfect and his manners charming; he eluded Bonaparte with the skill and coolness of a picador. After causing the First Consul to stumble and fall on the very threshold of Portugal, Godoy kept Louisiana out of his control. As the affair then stood, surrender of Louisiana except at the sword's point would have been inexcusable. The young King of Etruria had been entertained at Paris by the First Consul with a patronizing hospitality that roused more suspicion than gratitude; he had been sent to Italy, and had there been told that he possessed a kingdom and wore a crown,—but French armies occupied the territory; French generals administered the government; no foreign Power recognized the new kingdom, and no vestige of royal authority went with the royal title. Godoy and Cevallos gave it to be understood that they did not consider the First Consul to have carried out his part of the bargain in such a sense as to warrant Charles IV. In delivering Louisiana. They were in the right; but Bonaparte was angrier than ever at their audacity, and drafted with his own hand the note which Talleyrand was to send in reply.[26]

"It is at the moment when the First Consul gives such strong proofs of his consideration for the King of Spain, and places a prince of his house on a throne which is fruit of the victories of French arms, that a tone is taken toward the French Republic such as might be taken with impunity toward the Republic of San Marino. The First Consul, full of confidence in the personal character of his Catholic Majesty, hopes that from the moment he is made aware of the bad conduct of some of his ministers, he will look to it, and will recall them to the sentiments of esteem and consideration which France does not cease to entertain for Spain. The First Consul will never persuade himself that his Catholic Majesty wishes to insult the French people and their Government at the moment when these are doing so much for Spain. This would suit neither his heart nor his loyalty, nor the interest of his crown."

In a note written the same day to Talleyrand,[27] Bonaparte spoke in a still stronger tone of the "miserable" who was thus crossing his path, and he ordered that Lucien should let the King and Queen know "that I am long-suffering, but that already I am warmly affected by this tone of contempt and deconsideration which is taken at Madrid; and that if they continue to put the republic under the necessity either of enduring the shame of the outrages publicly inflicted on it, or of avenging them by arms, they may see things they do not expect."

Nevertheless Godoy held his ground, well aware that the existence of Spain was at stake, but confident that concession would merely tempt encroachment. History might render what judgment it would of Godoy's character or policy,—with this moral or political question the United States had nothing to do; but Bonaparte's hatred of Godoy and determination to crush him were among the reasons why Louisiana fell at a sudden and unexpected moment into the hands of Jefferson, and no picture of American history could be complete which did not show in the background the figures of Bonaparte and Godoy, locked in struggle over Don Carlos IV.


  1. Mémoire, etc., lu à l'Institut National le 15 Germinal, An v. (April 4, 1797).
  2. Correspondence, iii. 390.
  3. Mémoires du Prince de la Paix, iii. 23.
  4. Instruction données au Citoyen Guillemardet, Prarial, An vi. (May 20-June 19, 1798); Archives des Aff. Étr. MSS.
  5. Talleyrand to E. Gerry, June 27, 1798; State Papers, ii. 215.
  6. Talleyrand to E. Gerry, July 12, 1798; Ibid. 219.
  7. Correspondance de Napoléon Premier, xxx. 330.
  8. Mémoires de Miot de Melito, i. 288.
  9. Gallatin's Writings, ii. 490.
  10. Correspondance, vi. 415; Bonaparte to Talleyrand, July 22, 1800.
  11. Alquier to Talleyrand, 19 Thermidor, An viii. (Aug. 7, 1800); Archives des Aff. Étr. MSS.
  12. Note adressée par l'Ambassadeur da la République, etc., 15 Thermidor, An viii. (Aug. 3, 1800); Archives des Aff Étr. MSS.
  13. Correspondance, vi. 426; Bonaparte to Talleyrand, 9 Thermidor, An viii. (July 28, 1800).
  14. Rapport au Premier Consul, 6 Fructidor, An viii. (Aug. 24, 1800); Archives des Aff. Étr. MSS.
  15. Correspondance, vi. 445.
  16. Instructions au Général Berthier, 8 Fructidor, An viii. (Aug. 26, 1800); Projet de Traité préliminaire et secret, 10 Fructidor, An viii. (Aug. 28, 1800); Archives des Aff. Étr. MSS.
  17. Rapport à l'Empereur, 28 Brumaire, An xiii. (Nov. 19, 1804); Archives des Aff. Étr. MSS.
  18. Mémoires, iii. 20, 55.
  19. Traité préliminaire et secret, Oct. 1, 1800; Recueil de Traités de la France, par De Clercq, i. 411.
  20. Mémoires, iii. 76-78.
  21. Lucien Bonaparte et ses Mémoires, Th. Jung, ii. 104.
  22. Correspondance, vii. 190; Bonaparte to Talleyrand, 21 Messidor, An ix. (July 10, 1801).
  23. Lucien Bonaparte, Jung, ii. 466.
  24. Correspondance, vii. 200; Note à remettre à Lord Hawkesbury, 4 Thermidor, An ix. (July 23, 1801).
  25. Ibid.; Bonaparte to Talleyrand, 8 Thermidor, An ix. (July 27, 1801).
  26. Correspondance, vii. 225; Projets de Notes, 27 Thermidor, An ix. (15 Aug. 1801).
  27. Correspondance, vii. 226; Talleyrand to Saint Cyr, 16 Frimaire, An x. (6 Dec. 1801); Lucien Bonaparte, Jung, ii. 468.