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the province of West Florida has remained in a situation alto* gether incompatible with the welfare of these states. The government of Spain has scarcely been felt there; in consequence of which the affairs of that province had fallen into disorder. Ol that circumstance, however, the United States took no advantage. It was not until the last year, when the inhabitants, perceiving that all authority over them had ceased, rose in a body with intention to take the country into their own hands, that the American government interposed. It was impossible for the United States to behold with indifference, a movement in which they were so deeply interested. The president would have incurred the censure of the nation, if he had suffered that province to be wrested from the United Slates, under a pretext of wresting it from Spain. In taking possession of it, in their name, and under their authority, except in the part which was occupied by the Spanish troops, who have not been disturbed, he defended the rights and secured the peace of the nation, and even consulted the honour of Spain herself. By this event the United States have acquired no new title to West Florida. They wanted none. In adjusting hereafter all the other points which remained to be adjusted with Spain, and which it is proposed to make the subject of amicable negotiation as soon as the government of Spain shall be settled, her claim to this territory may also be brought into view, and receive all the attention which is due to it.
Aware that this transaction might be misconceived and misrepresented, the President deemed it a proper subject of instruction to the ministers of the United States at foreign courts, to place it in a true light before them. Such an instruction was forwarded to Mr. Pinkney, their late minister plenipotentiary at London, who would have executed it, had not the termination of his mission prevented it. The president cannot doubt that the frank and candid explanation which I have now given, by his order, of the considerations which induced the United States to take possession of this country, will be perfectly satisfactory to his royal highness the prince regent. With great respect and consideration, I have the honour to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
(Signed) JAS-. MONROE.
Augustus J. Foster, Esq. &c. &c.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.
The Chevalier d'Onis, who has been appointed minister from, his Catholic majesty to the United States, has written to inform me, that he understands by letters from the governor of East Florida, under date of the 14th ultimo, that governor Matthews, of the state of Georgia, was at that time at Newton, St. Mary, on the frontiers of Florida, for the purpose of treating with the inhabitants of that province for its being delivered up to the United States' government; that he was with this view using cverv method of sedirc
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tiori to effect his purpose, offering to each white inhabitant who would side with him 50 acres of land and the guarantee of his religion and property i stipulating also that the American government would pay the debts of the Spanish government, whether due in pensions or otherwise; and that he would cause the officers and soldiers of the garrisons to be conveyed to such place as should be indicated, provided they did not rather choose to enter into the service of the United States.
M. D'Onis has done me the honour to communicate to me a note which he purposes transmitting to you, sir, in consequence of this detailed and most extraordinary intelligence; and considering the intimate alliance subsisting between Spain and Great Britain, as well as the circumstances under which he is placed in this country, he has urgently requested that I would accompany his representation with a letter on my part in support of it.
After the solemn asseverations which you gave me in the month of July, that no intentions hostile to the Spanish interests in Florida existed on the part of your government, I am wholly unable to suppose that General Matthews can have had orders from the President for the conduct which he is stated to be pursuing; but the measures he is said to be taking in corresponding with traitors, and in endeavouring by bribery and every art of seduction to infuse a spirit of rebellion into the subjects of the king of Spain in those quarters, are such as to create the liveliest inquietude, and to call for the most early interference on the part of the government of the United States.
The government of the United States are well aware of the deep interest which his royal highness, the prince regent, takes in the security of Florida, for any attempt to occupy the eastern part of which by the United States, not even the slightest pretexts could be alleged, such as were brought forward in the endeavour to justify the aggression on West Florida.
I conceive it therefore to be my duty, sir, in consideration of the alliance subsisting between Spain and Great Britain, and the interests of his majesty's subjects in the West India islands, so deeply involved in the security of East Florida, as well as in pursuance of the orders of my government in case of any attempt against that country, to lose no time in calling upon you for an explanation of the alarming steps which governor Matthews is stated to be taking for subverting the Spanish authority in that country, requesting to be informed by you upon what authority he can be acting, and what measures have been taken to put a stop to his proceedings. I have the honour to be, &c.
(Signed) AUG. J. FOSTER.
The honorable James Monroe, &c. &c.
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.
I have had the honour to receive your letter of September 5th, and to submit it to the view of the President.
The principles which have governed the United States in their measures relative to West Florida, have already been explained to you. With equal frankness I shall now communicate the part they have acted with respect to East Florida.
In the letter which I had the honour to address to you on the 8th of July, I staled the injuries which the United States had received from Spain since their revolutionary war, and particularly by spoliations on their commerce, in the last war, to a great amount, and of the suppression of their right of deposit at New-Orleans just before the commencement of the present war, for neither of which had reparation been made. A claim to indemnity for those injuries, is altogether unconnected with the question relating to West Florida, which was acquired by cession from France, in 1803.
The government of Spain has never denied the right of the United States to a just indemnity for spoliations on their commerce. In 1802, it explicitly admitted this right by entering into a convention, the subject of which was to adjust the amount of the claim, with a view to indemnity. The subsequent injury, by the suppression of the deposit at New Orleans, produced an important change in the relations between the parties, which has never been accommodated. The United States saw in that measure eminent cause of war; and, that war did not immediately follow it, cannot be considered in any other light than as a proof of their moderation and pacific policy. The Executive could not believe that the government of Spain would refuse to the United States the justice due for these accumulated injuries, when the subject should be brought solemnly before it by a special mission. It is known that an envoy extraordinary was sent to Madrid in 1805, on this subject, and that the mission'did not accomplish the object intended by it.
It is proper to observe that in the negotiation with Spain, in 1805, the injuries complained of by the United States, of the first class, were again substantially admitted, to a certain extent, as was that also occasioned by the suppression of the deposit at New-Orleans, although the Spanish government, by disclaiming the act, and imputing it to the intendant, sought to avoid the responsibility due from it; that to make indemnity to the United States for injuries of every kind, a cession of the whole territory claimed by Spain eastward of the Mississippi, was made the subject of negotiation, and that the amount of the sum demanded for it, was the 9ole cause that a treaty was not then formed, and the territory added.
The United States have considered the government of Spain indebted to them a greater sum for the injuries above stated, than the province of East Florida can, by any fair standard between the parties, be estimated at. They have looked to this province for their indemnity, and with the greater reason, because the government of Spain itself has countenanced it. That they have suffered their just claims to remain so long unsatisfied, is a new and strong proof of their moderation, as it is of their respect for the disordered condition of that power. There is, however, a period beyond which those claims ought not to be neglected. It would be highly improper for the United States, in their respect for Spain, to forget what they owe to their own character and to the rights of their injured citizens.
Under these circumstances it would be equally unjust and dishonourable in the United States to suffer East Florida to pass into the possession of any other power. Unjust, because they would thereby lose the only indemnity within their reach, for injuries which ought long since to have been redressed. Dishonourable, because in permitting another power to wrest from them that indemnity, their inactivity and acquiescence could only be imputed to unworthy motives. Situated as East Florida is, cut off from the other possessions of Spain, and surrounded in a great measure by the territory of the United States; and having also an important bearing on their commerce, no other power could think of taking possession of it, with other than hostile views to them. Nor could any other power take possession of it without endangering their prosperity and best interests.
The United States have not been ignorant or inattentive \o what has been agitated in Europe at different periods since the commencement of the present war, in regard to the Spanish provinces in this hemisphere; nor have they been unmindful of the consequences into which the disorder of Spain might lead in regard to the province in question, without due care to prevent it. They have been persuaded, that remissness on their part might invite the danger, if it had not already done it, which it is so much their interest and desire to prevent. Deeply impressed with these considerations, and anxious, while they acquitted themselves to the just claims of their constituents, to preserve friendship with other powers, the subject was brought before the congress at its last session, when an act was passed, authorizing the executive to accept possession of East Florida from the local authorities, or to take it against the attempt of a foreign power to occupy it, holding it in either case subject to future and friendly negotiation. This act therefore evinces the just and amicable views by which the United States have been governed towards Spain, in the measure authorized by it. Our ministers at London and Paris were immediately apprized of the act, and instructed to communicate the purport of it to both governments, and to explain at the same time, in the most friendly manner, the motives which led to it. The President could not doubt that such an explanation would give all the satisfaction that was intended by it. By a late letter from the American
charge des affaires at London, I observe that this explanation was
made to your government in the month of last. That it was
not sooner made was owing to the departure of the minister plenipotentiary of the United States before the instruction was received.
I am persuaded, sir, that you will see, in this view of the subject, very strong proof of the just and amicable disposition of the United States towards Spain, of which I treated in the conference to which you have alluded. The same disposition still exists; but it must be understood that it cannot be indulged longer than may comport with the safety, as well as with the rights and honour of the nation. I have the honour to be, &c.
(Signed) JAS. MONROE.
Aug. J. Foster, Esq. &c.
Between Mr. Pinkney and Lord Wellesley.
Mr. Pinkney to Mr. Smith.
I had the honour to receive on the 5th instant, while I was confined by a severe illness, your letter of the 15th of November, and as soon as I was able, prepared a note to lord Wellesley in conformity with it.
On the 3d instant I had received a letter from lord Wellesley, bearing date the 29th ultimo, on the subjects of the orders in council and the British blockades, to which I was anxious to reply at the same time that I obeyed the orders of the president signified in your letter above mentioned. I prepared an answer accordingly, and sent it in with the other note and a note of the 15th, respecting two American schooners lately captured on their way to Bourdeaux, for a breach of the orders in council. Copies of all these papers are enclosed.
My answer to lord Wellesley's letter was written under the pressure of indisposition, and the influence of more indignation than could well be suppressed. His letter proves, what scarcely required proof, that if the present government continues, we cannot be friends with England. I need not analyse it to you.
I am still so weak as to find it convenient to make this letter a short one, and will therefore only add that I have derived great satisfaction from your instructions of the 15th of November, and have determined to return to the United States in the Essex. She will go to L'Orient for Mr. Grayson, and then come to Cowes for me and my family. I calculate on sailing about the last of February.