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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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8694. UNITED STATES, Disputed territory.—
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8694. UNITED STATES, Disputed territory.—

Spain sets up a claim to possessions
within the State of Georgia founded on her
having rescued them by force from the British,
during the late war. The following view
of the subject seems to admit no reply: The
several States, now comprising the United
States of America, were, from their first establishment,
separate and distinct societies,
dependent on no other society of men whatever.
They continued at the head of their respective
governments the executive magistrate
who presided over the one they had left,
and thereby secured, in effect, a constant
amity with that nation. In this stage of their
government, their several boundaries were
fixed; and particularly the southern boundary
of Georgia, the only one now in question, was
established at the 31st degree of latitude from
the Apalachicola westwardly; and the western


Page 896
boundary, originally the Pacific Ocean, was, by the Treaty of Paris, reduced to the
middle of the Mississippi. The part which
our chief magistrate took in a war waged
against us by the nation among whom he resided,
obliged us to discontinue him, and to
name one within every State. In the course
of this war, we were joined by France as an
ally, and by Spain and Holland as associates
having a common enemy. Each sought that
common enemy wherever they could find him.
France, on our invitation, landed a large army
within our territories, continued it with us
two years, and aided us in recovering sundry
places from the possession of the enemy. But
she did not pretend to keep possession of
the places rescued. Spain entered into the remote
western part of our territory, dislodged
the common enemy from several of the posts
they held therein, to the annoyance of Spain;
and perhaps thought it necessary to remain in
some of them, as the only means of preventing
their return. We, in like manner, dislodged
them from several posts in the same western
territory, to wit: Vincennes, Cahokia, Kaskaskia,
&c., rescued the inhabitants, and retained
constantly afterwards both them and
the territory under our possession and government.
At the conclusion of the war, Great
Britain, on the 30th of November, 1782, by
treaty acknowledged our Independence, and
our boundary, to wit, the Mississippi to the
West, and the completion of the 31st degree,
&c., to the South. In her treaty with Spain,
concluded seven weeks afterwards, to wit,
January 20th, 1783, she ceded to her the two
Floridas (which had been defined in the proclamation
of 1763), and Minorca; and by the
eighth article of the treaty, Spain agreed to
restore without compensation, all the territories
conquered by her, and not included in
the treaty either under the head of cessions
or restitutions, that is to say, all except Minorca
and the Floridas. According to this stipulation,
Spain was expressly bound to have
delivered up the possessions she had taken
within the limits of Georgia, to Great Britain,
if they were conquests on Great Britain, who
was to deliver them over to the United States;
or rather she should have delivered them
over to the United States themselves, as standing,
quoad hoc, in the place of Great Britain.
And she was bound by natural right to
deliver them to the same United States on a
much stronger ground, as the real and only
proprietors of those places which she had
taken possession of, in a moment of danger,
without having had any cause of war with the
United States, to whom they belonged, and
without having declared any; but on the contrary,
conducting herself in other respects as
a friend and associate.—(Vattel, L. 3, 122.)—
Mississippi River Instructions. Washington ed. vii, 570. Ford ed., v, 461.