CHAPTER IX. REPUBLICAN SUPREMACY (1801-1806).
A combined French and Spanish squadron had already, October, 1801, carried a great expedition to occupy the whole island of San Domingo, with secret orders to re-establish slavery. Then came an unexpected check: the fleet and the army of ten thousand experienced French troops were unable to break down the resistance of Toussaint Louverture, a native black general who aimed to be the Napoleon of the island. Toussaint was taken; but the army was forced back into a few sea-ports, and almost swept away by disease. The blacks were still masters of the island.
[Alarm of the United States.]
The next step was to have been the occupation of Louisiana. By this time, April, 1802, the news of the cession reached the United States, and drew from Jefferson a remarkable letter. "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans," said he, "fixes the sentence which is to restrain her forever within her low-water mark. From that moment we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." As though to justify this outburst of anti-Gallican zeal on the part of the old friend of France, the Spanish Intendant of Louisiana, Oct. 16, 1802, withdrew the so-called "right of deposit" under which Americans on the upper Mississippi had been able to send goods to the sea and to receive return cargoes without the payment of Spanish duty. If the province were to pass to France with the Mississippi closed, it seemed to Jefferson essential that we should obtain West Florida, with the port of Mobile; and in January, 1803, James Monroe was sent as special envoy to secure this cession. [Louisiana treaty.]
The day after he reached Paris, Livingston, the resident minister, had closed a treaty for the cession, not of West Florida, but of all Louisiana. The inner history of this remarkable negotiation has been brought to light by Henry Adams in his History of the Administration of Jefferson. The check in San Domingo had dampened the colonial ardor of Napoleon; war was about to break out again with England; Napoleon's ambition turned toward an European empire; and he lightly offered the province which had come to him so cheaply. Neither Livingston, Monroe, nor Jefferson had thought it possible to acquire New Orleans; with 880,000 square miles of other territory it was tossed into the lap of the United States as the Sultan throws a purse of gold to a favorite.
The treaty, dated April 30, 1803, gave to the United States Louisiana, "with the same extent that it now has in the hands of Spain, and that it had when France possessed it." The two phrases, instead of explaining each other, were contradictory: Louisiana as it was when France possessed it had included settlements as far east as the Perdido River; Louisiana in the hands of Spain had extended only to the Iberville. The United States had therefore annexed a province without knowing its boundaries. We are now aware that Napoleon had issued orders to occupy the country on the north only as far as the Iberville, but on the south as far as the Rio Grande; at the time France refused to give any information on either point. Hence the United States gave up the claim to Texas, in which there was reason, and insisted on the title to West Florida, which was nowhere to be found in the treaty.
100. FEDERAL SCHEMES OF DISUNION (1803-1809).
[Anger of the Federalists.] [Arguments for annexation.]
The annexation of Louisiana aroused a storm in both hemispheres. The Spanish government vehemently protested, the more because the promised kingdom of Etruria proved to be but a mock principality. In the United States the Federalists attacked both the annexation and the method of annexation with equal violence. The treaty promised that the people should as soon as possible be admitted as a State into the Union; the balance of power in the government was thus disturbed, and the Federalists foresaw that the influence of New England must diminish. Their constitutional arguments were just such as had been heard from the Republican writers and legislatures in 1798: the constitution, they said, nowhere gives express power to annex territory, and therefore there is no such power; the Union is a partnership, and new members cannot be admitted except by unanimous consent. The Republicans furnished themselves with arguments drawn from the Federal arsenal: the right to annex territory, they said could be implied from the power to make treaties, from the power to regulate territory, and from the "necessary and proper" clause. Jefferson was not so ready to give up his cherished principles, and proposed a constitutional amendment to approve and confirm the cession. His party friends scouted the idea. The treaty was duly ratified, fifteen millions were appropriated for the purchase, and on Dec. 20, 1803, possession of the territory was given,
[Intrigues with Burr.]
The cup of the Federalists was now full, and a few violent spirits, of whom Timothy Pickering was the leader, suggested that the time had come to withdraw from the Union. They found no hearing among the party at large. In 1804, therefore, they tried to form a combination with a wing of the New York Republicans controlled by Burr, who had been read out of his party by the Jeffersonian wing. He came forward as an independent candidate for Governor, and asked for the support of the New York Federalists. Hamilton stood out against this movement, and wrote a letter urging his friends not to vote for him. Burr received the Federalist vote, but was defeated, and in his humiliation sent Hamilton a challenge, and killed him in the duel. The affair still further weakened the Federalists; in the national election of 1804 they cast but fourteen votes, - those of Connecticut, Delaware, and Maryland. Even Massachusetts voted for Jefferson.
[The Federalists weakened.]