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A great and growing race may acquire vast stretches of scantily peopled territory in any one of several ways. Often the statesman, no less than the soldier, plays an all-important part in winning the new land; nevertheless, it is usually true that the diplomatists who by treaty ratify the acquisition usurp a prominence in history to which they are in no way entitled by the real worth of their labors.


Ways in which Territorial Expansion may Take Place.

The territory may be gained by the armed forces of the nation, and retained by treaty. It was in this way that England won the Cape of Good Hope from Holland; it was in this way that the United States won New Mexico. Such a conquest is due, not to the individual action of members of the winning race, but to the nation as a whole, acting through her soldiers and statesmen. It was the English Navy which conquered the Cape of Good Hope for England; it was the English diplomats that secured its retention. So it was the American Army which added New Mexico to the United States; and its retention was due to the will of the politicians who had set that army in motion. In neither case was there any previous settlement of moment by the conquerors in the conquered territory. In neither case was there much direct pressure by the people of the conquering races upon the soil which was won for them by their soldiers and statesmen. The acquisition of the territory must be set down to the credit of these soldiers and statesmen, representing the nation in its collective capacity; though in the case of New Mexico there would of course ultimately have been a direct pressure of rifle-bearing settlers upon the people of the ranches and the mud-walled towns.

Diplomatic Victories.

In such cases it is the government itself, rather than any individual or aggregate of individuals, which wins the new land for the race. When it is won without appeal to arms, the credit, which would otherwise be divided between soldiers and statesmen, of course accrues solely to the latter. Alaska, for instance, was acquired by mere diplomacy. No American settlers were thronging into Alaska. The desire to acquire it among the people at large was vague, and was fanned into sluggish activity only by the genius of the far-seeing statesmen who purchased it. The credit of such an acquisition really does belong to the men who secured the adoption of the treaty by which it was acquired. The honor of adding Alaska to the national domain belongs to the statesmen who at the time controlled the Washington Government. They were not figure-heads in the transaction. They were the vital, moving forces.

Victories with Which Diplomats Have no Concern.

Just the contrary is true of cases like that of the conquest of Texas. The Government of the United States had nothing to do with winning Texas for the English-speaking people of North America. The American frontiersmen won Texas for themselves, unaided either by the statesmen who controlled the politics of the Republic, or by the soldiers who took their orders from Washington.

 Victories of Mixed Nature.

In yet other cases the action is more mixed. Statesmen and diplomats have some share in shaping the conditions under which a country is finally taken; in the eye of history they often usurp much more than their proper share; but in reality they are able to bring matters to a conclusion only because adventurous settlers, in defiance or disregard of governmental action, have pressed forward into the longed-for land. In such cases the function of the diplomats is one of some importance, because they lay down the conditions under which the land is taken; but the vital question as to whether the land shall be taken at all, upon no matter what terms, is answered not by the diplomats, but by the people themselves.

It was in this way that the Northwest was won from the British, and the boundaries of the Southwest established by treaty with the Spaniards. Adams, Jay, and Pinckney deserve much credit for the way they conducted their several negotiations; but there would have been nothing for them to negotiate about had not the settlers already thronged into the disputed territories or strenuously pressed forward against their boundaries.

Louisiana Really Acquired by the Western Settlers.

So it was with the acquisition of Louisiana. Jefferson, Livingston, and their fellow-statesmen and diplomats concluded the treaty which determined the manner in which it came into our possession; but they did not really have much to do with fixing the terms even of this treaty; and the part which they played in the acquisition of Louisiana in no way resembles, even remotely, the part which was played by Seward, for instance, in acquiring Alaska. If it had not been for Seward, and the political leaders who thought as he did, Alaska might never have been acquired at all; but the Americans would have won Louisiana in any event, even if the treaty of Livingston and Monroe had not been signed. The real history of the acquisition must tell of the great westward movement begun in 1769, and not merely of the feeble diplomacy of Jefferson's administration. In 1802 American settlers were already clustered here and there on the eastern fringe of the vast region which then went by the name of Louisiana. All the stalwart freemen who had made their rude clearings, and built their rude towns, on the hither side of the mighty Mississippi, were straining with eager desire against the forces which withheld them from seizing with strong hand the coveted province. They did not themselves know, and far less did the public men of the day realize, the full import and meaning of the conquest upon which they were about to enter. For the moment the navigation of the mouth of the Mississippi seemed to them of the first importance. Even the frontiersmen themselves put second to this the right to people the vast continent which lay between the Pacific and the Mississippi. The statesmen at Washington viewed this last proposition with positive alarm, and cared only to acquire New Orleans. The winning of Louisiana was due to no one man, and least of all to any statesman or set of statesmen. It followed inevitably upon the great westward thrust of the settler-folk; a thrust which was delivered blindly, but which no rival race could parry, until it was stopped by the ocean itself.

Pressure of the Backwoodsmen on the Spanish Dominions.

Louisiana was added to the United States because the hardy backwoods settlers had swarmed into the valleys of the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Ohio by hundreds of thousands; and had already begun to build their raw hamlets on the banks of the Mississippi, and to cover its waters with their flat-bottomed craft. Restless, adventurous, hardy, they looked eagerly across the Mississippi to the fertile solitudes where the Spaniard was the nominal, and the Indian the real, master; and with a more immediate longing they fiercely coveted the creole province at the mouth of the river.

The Mississippi formed no barrier whatsoever to the march of the backwoodsmen. It could be crossed at any point; and the same rapid current which made it a matter of extreme difficulty for any power at the mouth of the stream to send reinforcements up against the current would have greatly facilitated the movements of the Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee levies down-stream to attack the Spanish provinces. In the days of sails and oars a great river with rapid current might vitally affect military operations if these depended upon sending flotillas up or down stream. But such a river has never proved a serious barrier against a vigorous and aggressive race, where it lies between two peoples, so that the aggressors have merely to cross it. It offers no such shield as is afforded by a high mountain range. The Mississippi served as a convenient line of demarkation between the Americans and the Spaniards; but it offered no protection whatever to the Spaniards against the Americans.

Importance of New Orleans.

Therefore the frontiersmen found nothing serious to bar their farther march westward; the diminutive Spanish garrisons in the little creole towns near the Missouri were far less capable of effective resistance than were most of the Indian tribes whom the Americans were brushing out of their path. Towards the South the situation was different. The Floridas were shielded by the great Indian confederacies of the Creeks and Choctaws, whose strength was as yet unbroken. What was much more important, the mouth of the Mississippi was commanded by the important seaport of New Orleans, which was accessible to fleets, which could readily be garrisoned by water, and which was the capital of a region that by backwoods standards passed for well settled. New Orleans by its position was absolute master of the foreign, trade of the Mississippi valley; and any power in command of the seas could easily keep it strongly garrisoned. The vast region that was then known as Upper Louisiana--the territory stretching from the Mississippi to the Pacific--was owned by the Spaniards, but only in shadowy fashion, and could not have been held by any European power against the sturdy westward pressure of the rifle-bearing settlers. But New Orleans and its neighborhood were held even by the Spaniards in good earnest; while a stronger power, once in possession, could with difficulty have been dislodged.

Desire of the Settlers for it.

It naturally followed that for the moment the attention of the backwoodsmen was directed much more to New Orleans than to the trans-Mississippi territory. A few wilderness lovers like Boone, a few reckless adventurers of the type of Philip Nolan, were settling around and beyond the creole towns of the North, or were endeavoring to found small buccaneering colonies in dangerous proximity to the Spanish commanderies in the Southwest. But the bulk of the Western settlers as yet found all the vacant territory they wished east of the Mississippi. What they needed at the moment was, not more wild land, but an outlet for the products yielded by the land they already possessed. The vital importance to the Westerners of the free navigation of the Mississippi has already been shown. Suffice it to say that the control of the mouth of the great Father of Waters was of direct personal consequence to almost every tree feller, every backwoods farmer, every land owner, every townsman, who dwelt beyond the Alleghanies. These men did not worry much over the fact that the country on the farther bank of the Mississippi was still under the Spanish Flag. For the moment they did not need it, and when they did, they knew they could take it without the smallest difficulty. But the ownership of the mouth of the Mississippi was a matter of immediate importance; and though none of the settlers doubted that it would ultimately be theirs, it was yet a matter of much consequence to them to get possession of it as quickly as possible, and with as little trouble as possible, rather than to see it held, perhaps for years, by a powerful hostile nation, and then to see it acquired only at the cost of bloody, and perchance checkered, warfare.

Terror of the Spaniards.

This was the attitude of the backwoods people as with sinewy, strenuous shoulder they pressed against the Spanish boundaries. The Spanish attitude on the other hand was one of apprehension so intense that it overcame even anger against the American nation. For mere diplomacy, the Spaniards cared little or nothing; but they feared the Westerners. Their surrender of Louisiana was due primarily to the steady pushing and crowding of the frontiersmen, and the continuous growth of the Western commonwealths. In spite of Pinckney's treaty the Spaniards did not leave Natchez until fairly drowned out by the American settlers and soldiers. They now felt the same pressure upon them in New Orleans; it was growing steadily and was fast becoming intolerable. Year by year, almost month by month, they saw the numbers of their foes increase, and saw them settle more and more thickly in places from which it would be easy to strike New Orleans. Year by year the offensive power of the Americans increased in more than arithmetical ratio as against Louisiana.

Incursions of American Adventurers.

The more reckless and lawless adventurers from time to time pushed southwest, even toward the borders of Texas and New Mexico, and strove to form little settlements, keeping the Spanish Governors and Intendants in a constant fume of anxiety. One of these settlements was founded by Philip Nolan, a man whom rumor had connected with Wilkinson's intrigues, and who, like many another lawless trader of the day, was always dreaming of empires to be carved from, or wealth to be won in, the golden Spanish realms. In the fall of 1800, he pushed beyond the Mississippi with a score or so of companions, and settled on the Brazos. The party built pens or corrals, and began to catch wild horses, for the neighborhood swarmed not only with game but with immense droves of mustangs. The handsomest animals they kept and trained, letting the others loose again. The following March these tamers of wild horses were suddenly set upon by a body of Spaniards, three hundred strong, with one field-piece. The assailants made their attack at daybreak, slew Nolan, and captured his comrades, who for many years afterwards lived as prisoners in the Mexican towns. [Footnote: Pike's letter, July 22, 1807, in Natchez _Herald_; in Col. Durrett's collection; see Coue's edition of Pike's "Expedition," LII.; also Gayarré, III., 447.] The menace of such buccaneering movements kept the Spaniards alive to the imminent danger of the general American attack which they heralded.


Spain's Colonial system.

Spain watched her boundaries with the most jealous care. Her colonial system was evil in its suspicious exclusiveness towards strangers; and her religious system was marked by an intolerance still almost as fierce as in the days of Torquemada. The Holy Inquisition was a recognized feature of Spanish political life; and the rulers of the Spanish-American colonies put the stranger and the heretic under a common ban. The reports of the Spanish ecclesiastics of Louisiana dwelt continually upon the dangers with which the oncoming of the backwoodsmen threatened the Church no less than the State. [Footnote: Report of Bishop Peñalvert, Nov. I, 1795, Gayarré.] All the men in power, civil, military, and religious alike, showed towards strangers, and especially towards American strangers, a spirit which was doubly unwise; for by their jealousy they created the impression that the lands they so carefully guarded must hold treasures of great price; and by their severity they created an anger which when fully aroused they could not well quell. The frontiersmen, as they tried to peer into the Spanish dominions, were lured on by the attraction they felt for what was hidden and forbidden; and there was enough danger in the path to madden them, while there was no exhibition of a strength sufficient to cow them.

Spain Wishes a Barrier against American Advance.

The Spanish rulers realized fully that they were too weak effectively to cope with the Americans, and as the pressure upon them grew ever heavier and more menacing they began to fear not only for Louisiana but also for Mexico. They clung tenaciously to all their possessions; but they were willing to sacrifice a part, if by so doing they could erect a barrier for the defence of the remainder. Such a chance was now seemingly offered them by France.

Napoleon's Dreams of Empire.

At the beginning of the century Napoleon was First Consul; and the France over which he ruled was already the mightiest nation in Europe, and yet had not reached the zenith of her power. It was at this time that the French influence over Spain was most complete. Both the Spanish King and the Spanish people were dazzled and awed by the splendor of Napoleon's victories. Napoleon's magnificent and wayward genius was always striving after more than merely European empire. As throne after throne went down before him he planned conquests which should include the interminable wastes of snowy Russia, and the sea-girt fields of England; and he always dreamed of yet vaster, more shadowy triumphs, won in the realms lying eastward of the Mediterranean, or among the islands and along the coasts of the Spanish Main. In 1800 his dream of Eastern conquest was over, but his lofty ambition was planning for France the re-establishment in America of that colonial empire which a generation before had been wrested from her by England.

The Treaty of San Ildefonso.

The need of the Spaniards seemed to Napoleon his opportunity. By the bribe of a petty Italian principality he persuaded the Bourbon King of Spain to cede Louisiana to the French, at the treaty of San Ildefonso, concluded in October, 1800. The cession was agreed to by the Spaniards on the express pledge that the territory should not be transferred to any other power; and chiefly for the purpose of erecting a barrier which might stay the American advance, and protect the rest of the Spanish possessions.

The Right of Deposit Annulled.

Every effort was made to keep the cession from being made public, and owing to various political complications it was not consummated for a couple of years; but meanwhile it was impossible to prevent rumors from going abroad, and the mere hint of such a project was enough to throw the West into a fever of excitement. Moreover, at this moment, before the treaty between France and Spain had been consummated, Morales, the Intendant of New Orleans, deliberately threw down the gage of battle to the Westerners. [Footnote: Gayarré, III., 456.] On October 16, 1802, he proclaimed that the Americans had forfeited their right of deposit in New Orleans. By Pinckney's treaty this right had been granted for three years, with the stipulation that it should then be extended for a longer period, and that if the Spaniards chose to revoke the permit so far as New Orleans was concerned, they should make some other spot on the river a port of free entry. The Americans had taken for granted that the privilege when once conferred would never be withdrawn; but Morales, under pretence that the Americans had slept on their rights by failing to discover some other spot as a treaty port, declared that the right of deposit had lapsed, and would not be renewed. The Governor, Salcedo--who had succeeded Gayoso, when the latter died of yellow fever, complicated by a drinking-bout with Wilkinson--was not in sympathy with the movement; but this mattered little. Under the cumbrous Spanish colonial system, the Governor, though he disapproved of the actions of the Intendant, could not reverse them, and Morales paid no heed to the angry protests of the Spanish Minister at Washington, who saw that the Americans were certain in the end to fight rather than to lose the only outlet for the commerce of the West. [Footnote: Gayarré, III., 576. The King of Spain, at the instigation of Godoy, disapproved the order of Morales, but so late that the news of the disapproval reached Louisiana only as the French were about to take possession. However, the reversal of the order rendered the course of the further negotiations easier.] It seems probable that the Intendant's action was due to the fact that he deemed the days of Spanish dominion numbered, and, in his jealousy of the Americans, wished to place the new French authorities in the strongest possible position; but the act was not done with the knowledge of France.

Anger of the Westerners.

Of this, however, the Westerners were ignorant. They felt sure that any alteration in policy so fatal to their interests must be merely a foreshadowing of the course the French intended thereafter to follow. They believed that their worst fears were justified. Kentucky and Tennessee clamored for instant action, and Claiborne offered to raise in the Mississippi territory alone a force of volunteer riflemen sufficient to seize New Orleans before its transfer into French hands could be effected.

Jefferson Forced into Action.

Jefferson was President, and Madison Secretary of State. Both were men of high and fine qualities who rendered, at one time or another, real and great service to the country. Jefferson in particular played in our political life a part of immense importance. But the country has never had two statesmen less capable of upholding the honor and dignity of the nation, or even of preserving its material well-being, when menaced by foreign foes. They were peaceful men, quite unfitted to grapple with an enemy who expressed himself through deeds rather than words. When stunned by the din of arms they showed themselves utterly inefficient rulers.

It was these two timid, well-meaning statesmen who now found themselves pitted against Napoleon, and Napoleon's Minister, Talleyrand; against the greatest warrior and lawgiver, and against one of the greatest diplomats, of modern times; against two men, moreover, whose sodden lack of conscience was but heightened by the contrast with their brilliant genius and lofty force of character; two men who were unable to so much as appreciate that there was shame in the practice of venality, dishonesty, mendacity, cruelty, and treachery.

Jefferson was the least warlike of presidents, and he loved the French with a servile devotion. But his party was strongest in precisely those parts of the country where the mouth of the Mississippi was held to be of right the property of the United States; and the pressure of public opinion was too strong for Jefferson to think of resisting it. The South and the West were a unit in demanding that France should not be allowed to establish herself on the lower Mississippi. Jefferson was forced to tell his French friends that if their nation persisted in its purpose America would be obliged to marry itself to the navy and army of England. Even he could see that for the French to take Louisiana meant war with the United States sooner or later; and as above all things else he wished peace, he made every effort to secure the coveted territory by purchase.

Beginning of Negotiations with France.

Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York represented American interests in Paris; but at the very close of the negotiation he was succeeded by Monroe, whom Jefferson sent over as a special envoy. The course of the negotiations was at first most baffling to the Americans. [Footnote: In Henry Adams' "History of the United States," the account of the diplomatic negotiations at this period, between France, Spain, and the United States, is the most brilliant piece of diplomatic history, so far as the doings of the diplomats themselves are concerned, that can be put to the credit of any American writer.] Talleyrand lied with such unmoved calm that it was impossible to put the least weight upon anything he said; moreover, the Americans soon found that Napoleon was the sole and absolute master, so that it was of no use attempting to influence any of his subordinates, save in so far as these subordinates might in their turn influence him. For some time it appeared that Napoleon was bent upon occupying Louisiana in force and using it as a basis for the rebuilding of the French colonial power. The time seemed ripe for such a project. After a decade of war with all the rest of Europe, France in 1802 concluded the Peace of Amiens, which left her absolutely free to do as she liked in the New World. Napoleon thoroughly despised a republic, and especially a republic without an army or navy. After the Peace of Amiens he began to treat the Americans with contemptuous disregard; and he planned to throw into Louisiana one of his generals with a force of veteran troops sufficient to hold the country against any attack.

Illusory Nature of Napoleon's Hopes.

His hopes were in reality chimerical. At the moment France was at peace with her European foes, and could send her ships of war and her transports across the ocean without fear of the British navy. It would therefore have been possible for Napoleon without molestation to throw a large body of French soldiers into New Orleans. Had there been no European war such an army might have held New Orleans for some years against American attack, and might even have captured one or two of the American posts on the Mississippi, such as Natchez; but the instant it had landed in New Orleans the entire American people would have accepted France as their deadliest enemy, and all American foreign policy would have been determined by the one consideration of ousting the French from the mouth of the Mississippi. To the United States, France was by no means as formidable as Great Britain, because of her inferiority as a naval power. Even if unsupported by any outside alliance the Americans would doubtless in the end have driven a French army from New Orleans, though very probably at the cost of one or two preliminary rebuffs. The West was stanch in support of Jefferson and Madison; but in time of stress it was sure to develop leaders of more congenial temper, exactly as it actually did develop Andrew Jackson a few years later. At this very time the French failed to conquer the negro republic which Toussaint Louverture had founded in Hayti. What they thus failed to accomplish in one island, against insurgent negroes, it was folly to think they could accomplish on the American continent, against the power of the American people. This struggle with the revolutionary slaves in Hayti hindered Napoleon from immediately throwing an army into Louisiana; but it did more, for it helped to teach him the folly of trying to carry out such a plan at all.

Report of Pontaiba.

A very able and faithful French agent in the meanwhile sent a report to Napoleon plainly pointing out the impossibility of permanently holding Louisiana against the Americans. He showed that on the Western waters alone it would be possible to gather armies amounting in the aggregate to twenty or thirty thousand men, all of them inflamed with the eager desire to take New Orleans. [Footnote: Pontalba's Memoir. He hoped that Louisiana might, in certain contingencies, be preserved for the French, but he insisted that it could only be by keeping peace with the American settlers, and by bringing about an immense increase of population in the province.] The Mississippi ran so as to facilitate the movement of any expedition against New Orleans, while it offered formidable obstacles to counter-expeditions from New Orleans against the American commonwealths lying farther up stream. An expeditionary force sent from the mouth of the Mississippi, whether to assail the towns and settlements along the Ohio, or to defend the Creole villages near the Missouri, could at the utmost hope for only transient success, while its ultimate failure was certain. On the other hand, a backwoods army could move down stream with comparative ease; and even though such an expedition were defeated, it was certain that the attempt would be repeated again and again, until by degrees the mob of hardy riflemen changed into a veteran army, and brought forth some general like "Old Hickory," able to lead to victory.

Views of Barbé Marbois.

The most intelligent French agents on the ground saw this. Some of Napoleon's Ministers were equally far-sighted. One of them, Barbé Marbois, represented to him in the strongest terms the hopelessness of the undertaking on which he proposed to embark. He pointed out that the United States was sure to go to war with France if France took New Orleans, and that in the end such a war could only result in victory for the Americans.

We can now readily see that this victory was certain to come, even had the Americans been left without allies. France could never have defended the vast region known as Upper Louisiana, and sooner or later New Orleans itself would have fallen, though it may well be only after humiliating defeats for the Americans and much expenditure of life and treasure. But as things actually were the Americans would have had plenty of powerful allies. The Peace of Amiens lasted but a couple of years before England again went to war. Napoleon knew, and the American statesmen knew, that the British intended to attack New Orleans upon the outbreak of hostilities, if it were in French hands. In such event Louisiana would have soon fallen; for any French force stationed there would have found its reinforcements cut off by the English navy, and would have dwindled away until unable to offer resistance.

Louisiana's Destiny Really by the Backwoodsmen.

Nevertheless, European wars, and the schemes and fancies of European statesmen, could determine merely the conditions under which the catastrophe was to take place, but not the catastrophe itself. The fate of Louisiana was already fixed. It was not the diplomats who decided its destiny, but the settlers of the Western states. The growth of the teeming folk who had crossed the Alleghanies and were building their rude, vigorous commonwealths in the northeastern portion of the Mississippi basin, decided the destiny of all the lands that were drained by that mighty river. The steady westward movement of the Americans was the all-important factor in determining the ultimate ownership of New Orleans. Livingston, the American minister, saw plainly the inevitable outcome of the struggle. He expressed his wonder that other Americans should be uneasy in the matter, saying that for his part it seemed as clear as day that no matter what trouble might temporarily be caused, in the end Louisiana was certain to fall into the grasp of the United States. [Footnote: Livingston to Madison, Sept. 1, 1802. Later Livingston himself became uneasy, fearing lest Napoleon's wilfulness might plunge him into an undertaking which, though certain to end disastrously to the French, might meanwhile cause great trouble to the Americans.]

Tedious Course of the Negotiations.

There were many Americans and many Frenchmen of note who were less clear-sighted. Livingston encountered rebuff after rebuff, and delay after delay. Talleyrand met him with his usual front of impenetrable duplicity. He calmly denied everything connected with the cession of Louisiana until even the details became public property, and then admitted them with unblushing equanimity. His delays were so tantalizing that they might well have revived unpleasant memories of the famous X. Y. Z. negotiations, in which he tried in vain to extort bribe-money from the American negotiators [Footnote: Jefferson was guilty of much weak and undignified conduct during these negotiations, but of nothing weaker and more petty than his attempt to flatter Talleyrand by pretending that the Americans disbelieved his admitted venality, and were indignant with those who had exposed it. See Adams.]; but Livingston, and those he represented, soon realized that it was Napoleon himself who alone deserved serious consideration. Through Napoleon's character, and helping to make it great, there ran an imaginative vein which at times bordered on the fantastic; and this joined with his imperious self-will, brutality, and energy to make him eager to embark on a scheme which, when he had thought it over in cold blood, he was equally eager to abandon. For some time he seemed obstinately bent on taking possession of Louisiana, heedless of the attitude which this might cause the Americans to assume. He designated as commander of his army of occupation, Victor, a general as capable and brave as he was insolent, who took no pains to conceal from the American representatives his intention to treat their people with a high hand.

Jefferson took various means, official and unofficial, of impressing upon Napoleon the strength of the feeling in the United States over the matter; and his utterances came as near menace as his pacific nature would permit. To the great French Conqueror however, accustomed to violence and to the strife of giants, Jefferson's somewhat vacillating attitude did not seem impressive; and the one course which would have impressed Napoleon was not followed by the American President. Jefferson refused to countenance any proposal to take prompt possession of Louisiana by force or to assemble an army which could act with immediate vigor in time of need; and as he was the idol of the Southwesterners, who were bitterly anti-federalist in sympathy, he was able to prevent any violent action on their part until events rendered this violence unnecessary. At the same time, Jefferson himself never for a moment ceased to feel the strong pressure of Southern and Western public sentiment; and so he continued resolute in his purpose to obtain Louisiana.

Napoleon Forced to Change his Purpose. Louisiana Ceded to the United States.

It was no argument of Jefferson's or of the American diplomats, but the inevitable trend of events that finally brought about a change in Napoleon's mind. The army he sent to Hayti wasted away by disease and in combat with the blacks, and thereby not only diminished the forces he intended to throw into Louisiana, but also gave him a terrible object lesson as to what the fate of these forces was certain ultimately to be. The attitude of England and Austria grew steadily more hostile, and his most trustworthy advisers impressed on Napoleon's mind the steady growth of the Western-American communities, and the implacable hostility with which they were certain to regard any power that seized or attempted to hold New Orleans. Napoleon could not afford to hamper himself with the difficult defence of a distant province, and to incur the hostility of a new foe, at the very moment when he was entering on another struggle with his old European enemies. Moreover, he needed money in order to carry on the struggle. To be sure he had promised Spain not to turn over Louisiana to another power; but he was quite as incapable as any Spanish statesman, or as Talleyrand himself, of so much as considering the question of breach of faith or loss of honor, if he could gain any advantage by sacrificing either. Livingston was astonished to find that Napoleon had suddenly changed front, and that there was every prospect of gaining what for months had seemed impossible. For some time there was haggling over the terms. Napoleon at first demanded an exorbitant sum; but having once made up his mind to part with Louisiana his impatient disposition made him anxious to conclude the bargain. He rapidly abated his demands, and the cession was finally made for fifteen millions of dollars.

The Boundaries Undecided.

The treaty was signed in May, 1805. The definition of the exact boundaries of the ceded territory was purposely left very loose by Napoleon. On the east, the Spanish Government of the Floridas still kept possession of what are now several parishes in the State of Louisiana. In the far west the boundary lines which divided upper Louisiana from the possessions of Britain on the north and of Spain on the south led through a wilderness where no white man had ever trod, and they were of course unmapped, and only vaguely guessed at.

Blindness of the American Statesmen.

There was one singular feature of this bargain, which showed, as nothing else could have shown, how little American diplomacy had to do with obtaining Louisiana, and how impossible it was for any European power, even the greatest, to hold the territory in the face of the steady westward growth of the American people. Napoleon forced Livingston and Monroe to become the reluctant purchasers not merely of New Orleans, but of all the immense territory which stretched vaguely northwestward to the Pacific. Jefferson at moments felt a desire to get all this western territory; but he was too timid and too vacillating to insist strenuously upon anything which he feared Napoleon would not grant. Madison felt a strong disinclination to see the national domain extend west of the Mississippi; and he so instructed Monroe and Livingston. In their turn the American envoys, with solemn fatuity, believed it might impress Napoleon favorably if they made much show of moderation, and they spent no small part of their time in explaining that they only wished a little bit of Louisiana, including New Orleans and the east bank of the lower Mississippi. Livingston indeed went so far as to express a very positive disinclination to take the territory west of the Mississippi at any price, stating that he should much prefer to see it remain in the hands of France or Spain, and suggesting, by way of apology for its acquisition, that it might be re-sold to some European power! But Napoleon saw clearly that if the French ceded New Orleans it was a simple physical impossibility for them to hold the rest of the Louisiana territory. If his fierce and irritable vanity had been touched he might, through mere wayward anger, have dared the Americans to a contest which, however disastrous to them, would ultimately have been more so to him; but he was a great statesman, and a still greater soldier, and he did not need to be told that it would be worse than folly to try to keep a country when he had given up the key-position.

The Great West Gained against the Wishes of the American Diplomats.

The region west of the Mississippi could become the heritage of no other people save that which had planted its populous communities along the eastern bank of the river, it was quite possible for a powerful European nation to hold New Orleans for some time, even though all upper Louisiana fell into the hands of the Americans; but it was entirely impossible for any European nation to hold upper Louisiana if New Orleans became a city of the United States. The Westerners, wiser than their rulers, but no wiser than Napoleon at the last, felt this, and were not in the least disturbed over the fate of Louisiana, provided they were given the control of the mouth of the Mississippi. As a matter of fact, it is improbable that the fate of the great territory lying west of the upper Mississippi would even have been seriously delayed had it been nominally under the control of France or Spain. With the mouth of the Mississippi once in American hands it was a physical impossibility in any way to retard the westward movement of the men who were settling Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Debates in Congress. Folly of the Federalists.

The ratification of the treaty brought on some sharp debates in Congress. Jefferson had led his party into power as the special champion of States' Rights and the special opponent of national sovereignty. He and they rendered a very great service to the nation by acquiring Louisiana; but it was at the cost of violating every precept which they had professed to hold dear, and of showing that their warfare on the Federalists had been waged on behalf of principles which they were obliged to confess were shams the moment they were put to the test. But the Federalists of the Northeast, both in the Middle States and in New England, at this juncture behaved far worse than the Jeffersonian Republicans. These Jeffersonian Republicans did indeed by their performance give the lie to their past promise, and thereby emphasize the unworthiness of their conduct in years gone by; nevertheless, at this juncture they were right, which was far more important than being logical or consistent. But the Northeastern Federalists, though with many exceptions, did as a whole stand as the opponents of national growth. They had very properly, though vainly, urged Jefferson to take prompt and effective steps to sustain the national honor, when it seemed probable that the country could be won from France only at the cost of war; but when the time actually came to incorporate Louisiana into the national domain, they showed that jealous fear of Western growth which was the most marked defect in Northeastern public sentiment until past the middle of the present century. It proved that the Federalists were rightly distrusted by the West; and it proved that at this crisis, the Jeffersonian Republicans, in spite of their follies, weaknesses, and crimes, were the safest guardians of the country, because they believed in its future, and strove to make it greater.

The Jeremiads of the Federalist leaders in Congress were the same in kind as those in which many cultivated men of the East always indulged whenever we enlarged our territory, and in which many persons like them would now indulge were we at the present day to make a similar extension. The people of the United States were warned that they were incorporating into their number men who were wholly alien in every respect, and who could never be assimilated. They were warned that when they thus added to their empire, they merely rendered it unwieldy and assured its being split into two or more confederacies at no distant day. Some of the extremists, under the lead of Quincy, went so far as to threaten dissolution of the Union because of what was done, insisting that the Northeast ought by rights to secede because of the injury done it by adding strength to the South and West. Fortunately, however, talk of this kind did not affect the majority; the treaty was ratified and Louisiana became part of the United States.

The French Prefect Laussat.

Meanwhile the Creoles themselves accepted their very rapidly changing fates with something much like apathy. In March, 1803, the French Prefect Laussat arrived to make preparations to take possession of the country. He had no idea that Napoleon intended to cede it to the United States. On the contrary, he showed that he regarded the French as the heirs, not only to the Spanish territory, but of the Spanish hostility to the Americans. He openly regretted that the Spanish Government had reversed Morales' act taking away from the Americans the right of deposit; and he made all his preparations as if on the theory that New Orleans was to become the centre of an aggressive military government.

Corruption of the Spanish Government.

His dislikes, however, were broad, and included the Spaniards as well as the Americans. There was much friction between him and the Spanish officials; he complained bitterly to the home government of the insolence and intrigues of the Spanish party. He also portrayed in scathing terms the gross corruption of the Spanish authorities. As to this corruption he was borne out by the American observers. Almost every high Spanish official was guilty of peculation at the expense of the government, and of bribe-taking at the expense of the citizens.

The Creoles not Ill-Satisfied with it.

Nevertheless the Creoles were far from ill-satisfied with Spanish rule. They were not accustomed to self-government, and did not demand it; and they cared very little for the fact that their superiors made money improperly. If they paid due deference to their lay and clerical rulers they were little interfered with; and they were in full accord with the governing classes concerning most questions, both of principle or lack of principle, and of prejudice. The Creoles felt that they were protected, rather than oppressed, by people who shared their tastes, and who did not interfere with the things they held dear. On the whole they showed only a tepid joy at the prospect of again becoming French citizens.

Preparations to Turn the Country Over to the United States.

Laussat soon discovered that they were to remain French citizens for a very short time indeed; and he prepared faithfully to carry out his instructions, and to turn the country over to the Americans. The change in the French attitude greatly increased the friction with the Spaniards. The Spanish home government was furious with indignation at Napoleon for having violated his word, and only the weakness of Spain prevented war between it and France. The Spanish party in New Orleans muttered its discontent so loud that Laussat grew alarmed. He feared some outbreak on the part of the Spanish sympathizers, and, to prevent such a mischance, he not only embodied the comparatively small portion of the Creole militia whom he could trust, but also a number of American volunteers, concerning whose fidelity in such a crisis as that he anticipated there could be no question. It was not until December first, 1803, that he took final possession of the provinces. Twenty days afterwards he turned it over to the American authorities.

Claiborne Made Governor.

Wilkinson, now commander of the American army,--the most disgraceful head it has ever had--was entrusted with the governorship of all of Upper Louisiana. Claiborne was made governor of Lower Louisiana, officially styled the Territory of Orleans. He was an honest man, loyal to the Union, but had no special qualifications for getting on well with the Creoles. He could not speak French, and he regarded the people whom he governed with a kindly contempt which they bitterly resented. The Americans, pushing and masterful, were inclined to look down on their neighbours, and to treat them overbearingly; while the Creoles in their turn disliked the Americans as rude and uncultivated barbarians. For some time they felt much discontent with the United States; nor was this discontent allayed when in 1804 the territory of Orleans was reorganized with a government much less liberal than that enjoyed by Indiana or Mississippi; nor even when in 1805 an ordinary territorial government was provided. A number of years were to pass before Louisiana felt itself, in fact no less than in name, part of the Union.

New Orleans Offers a Field For Sedition.

Naturally there was a fertile field for seditious agitation in New Orleans, a city of mixed population, where the numerically predominant race felt a puzzled distrust for the nation of which it suddenly found itself an integral part, and from past experience firmly believed in the evanescent nature of any political connection it might have, whether with Spain, France, or the United States. The Creoles murmured because they were not given the same privileges as American citizens in the old States, and yet showed themselves indifferent to such privileges as they were given. They were indignant because the National Government prohibited the importation of slaves into Louisiana, and for the moment even the transfer thither of slaves from the old States--a circumstance, by the way, which curiously illustrated the general dislike and disapproval of slavery then felt, even by an administration under Southern control. The Creoles further complained of Claiborne's indifference to their wishes; and as he possessed little tact he also became embroiled with the American inhabitants, who were men of adventurous and often lawless temper, impatient of restraint. Representatives of the French and Spanish governments still remained in Louisiana, and by their presence and their words tended to keep alive a disaffection for the United States Government. It followed from these various causes that among all classes there was a willingness to talk freely of their wrongs and to hint at righting them by methods outlined with such looseness as to make it uncertain whether they did or did not comport with entire loyalty to the United States Government.

The Filibusters.

Furthermore, there already existed in New Orleans a very peculiar class, representatives of which are still to be found in almost every Gulf city of importance. There were in the city a number of men ready at any time to enter into any plot for armed conquest of one of the Spanish American countries. [Footnote: Wilkinson's "Memoirs," II., 284.] Spanish America was feeling the stir of unrest that preceded the revolutionary outbreak against Spain. Already insurrectionary leaders like Miranda were seeking assistance from the Americans. There were in New Orleans a number of exiled Mexicans who were very anxious to raise some force with which to invade Mexico, and there erect the banner of an independent sovereignty. The bolder spirits among the Creoles found much that was attractive in such a prospect; and reckless American adventurers by the score and the hundred were anxious to join in any filibustering expedition of the kind. They did not care in the least what form the expedition took. They were willing to join the Mexican exiles in an effort to rouse Mexico to throw off the yoke of Spain, or to aid any province of Mexico to revolt from the rest, or to help the leaders of any defeated faction who wished to try an appeal to arms, in which they should receive aid from the sword of the stranger. Incidentally they were even more willing to attempt the conquest on their own account; but they did not find it necessary to dwell on this aspect of the case when nominally supporting some faction which chose to make use of such watchwords as liberty and independence.