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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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8053. SPAIN, Spoliations and boundaries.—[continued].
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8053. SPAIN, Spoliations and boundaries.—[continued].

The depredations which
had been committed on the commerce of the
United States during a preceding war, by persons
under the authority of Spain * * * made it a duty to require from that government
indemnifications for our injured citizens. A
convention was accordingly entered into * * * by which it was agreed that spoliations committed
by Spanish subjects and carried into
ports of Spain should be paid for by that nation;
and that those committed by French subjects,
and carried into Spanish ports should remain
for further discussion. Before this convention
was returned to Spain with our ratification,
the transfer of Louisiana by France to
the United States took place, an event as unexpected
as disagreeable to Spain. From that
moment she seemed to change her conduct and
dispositions towards us. It was first manifested
by her protest against the right of France
to alienate Louisiana to us, which however
was soon retracted, and the right confirmed.
Then, high offence was manifested at the act of
Congress establishing a collection district on
the Mobile, although by an authentic declaration
immediately made, it was expressly confined
to our acknowledged limits. And she
now refused to ratify the convention signed by
her own minister under the eye of his sovereign,
unless we would relinquish all consent
to alterations of its terms which would have
affected our claims against her for the spoliations
by French subjects carried into Spanish
ports. To obtain justice, as well as to restore
friendship, I thought a special mission advisable,
and accordingly appointed James Monroe,
Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary,
to repair to Madrid, and in conjunction with
our Minister Resident there, to endeavor to
procure a ratification of the former convention,
and to come to an understanding with Spain
as to the boundaries of Louisiana. It appeared
at once that her policy was to reserve herself
for events, and in the meantime to keep our
differences in an undetermined state. This
will be evident from the papers now communicated
to you. After nearly five months of fruitless
endeavor to bring them to some definite
and satisfactory result our ministers ended the
conferences without having been able to obtain
indemnity for spoliations of any description,
or any satisfaction as to the boundaries of
Louisiana, other than a declaration that we
had no rights eastward of the Iberville, and
that our line to the west was one which would
have left us but a string of land on that bank
of the river Mississippi. Our injured citizens
were thus left without any prospect of retribution
from the wrongdoer; and as to the boundary
each party was to take its own course.
That which they have chosen to pursue will
appear from the documents now communicated.
They authorize the inference that it is their
intention to advance on our possessions until
they shall be repressed by an opposing force.
Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally
invested with the power of changing
our condition from peace to war, I have thought
it my duty to await their authority for using
force in any degree which could be avoided.
I have barely instructed the officers stationed
in the neighborhood of the aggressions to protect
our citizens from violence, to patrol within


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the borders actually delivered to us, and not
to go out of them but when necessary to repel
an inroad, or to rescue a citizen or his property.—
Confidential Message. Ford ed., viii, 397.
(Dec. 6, 1805)