Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON. 1 d. of s. mss. instr. - The Writings, vol. 7 (1803-1807)
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TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON. 1 d. of s. mss. instr. - James Madison, The Writings, vol. 7 (1803-1807) 
The Writings of James Madison, comprising his Public Papers and his Private Correspondence, including his numerous letters and documents now for the first time printed, ed. Gaillard Hunt (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1900). Vol. 7.
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TO ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.1d. of s. mss. instr.
Department of State, January 31, 1804.
The two last letters received from you bear date on the NA and 30th of September, so that we have been now four months without hearing from you. The last from me to you was dated on the 16th day of January, giving you information of the transfer of Louisiana on the 20th of December by the French Commissioner Mr. Laussat to Governor Claiborne and General Wilkinson, the Commissioners appointed on the part of the United States to receive it. The letters subsequent to that date from Governor Claiborne who is charged with the present administration of the ceded territory shew that the occupancy by our troops of the military posts on the Island of New Orleans and on the Western side of the Mississippi was in progression, and that the state of things in other respects was such as was to be expected from the predisposition of the bulk of the inhabitants and the manifest advantages to which they have become entitled as citizens of the United States. A bill providing for the Government of the territory has been some time under the deliberation of the Senate, but has not yet passed to the other branch of the Legislature. The enclosed copy shews the form in which it was introduced. Some alterations have already been made and others may be presumed. The precise form in which it will pass cannot therefore be foreknown; and the less so as the peculiarities and difficulties of the case give rise to more than the ordinary differences of opinion. It is pretty certain that the provisions generally contemplated will leave the people of that District for a while without the organization of power dictated by the Republican theory; but it is evident that a sudden transition to a condition so much in contrast with that in which their ideas and habits have been formed, would be as unacceptable and as little beneficial to them as it would be difficult for the Government of the United States. It may fairly be expected that every blessing of liberty will be extended to them as fast as they shall be prepared and disposed to receive it. In the mean time the mild spirit in which the powers derived from the Government of the United States will under its superintendence be administered, the parental interest which it takes in the happiness of those adopted into the general family, and a scrupulous regard to the spirit and tenor of the Treaty of Cession, promise a continuance of that satisfaction among the people of Louisiana which has thus far shewn itself. These observations are made that you may be the better enabled to give to the French Government the explanations and assurances due to its solicitude in behalf of a people whose destiny it has committed to the justice, the honor and the policy of the United States.
It does not appear that in the delivery of the Province by the Spanish authorities to Mr. Laussat any thing passed denoting its limits either to the East, the West or the North; nor was any step taken by Mr. Laussat, either whilst the province was in his hands or at the time of his transferring it to ours, calculated to dispossess Spain of any part of the territory East of the Mississippi. On the contrary in a private conference he stated positively that no part of the Floridas was included in the Eastern boundary; France having strenuously insisted to have it extended to the Mobille, which was peremptorily refused by Spain.
We learn from Mr. Pinckney that the Spanish Government holds the same language to him. To the declaration of Mr. Laussat however we can oppose that of the French Minister made to you, that Louisiana extended to the River Perdido; and to the Spanish Government as well as to that of France we can oppose the Treaties of St. Ildefonso, and of September 30, 1803, interpreted by facts and fair inferences. The question with Spain, will enter into the proceedings of Mr. Monroe, on his arrival at Madrid, whither he will be instructed to repair, as soon as he shall have executed at London, the instructions lately transmitted to him in relation to the impressment of seamen from American vessels, and several other points which call for just and stipulated arrangements between the two countries. As the question relates to the French Government, the President relies on your prudence and attention for availing yourself of the admission by Mr. Marbois, that Louisiana extended to the River Perdido, and for keeping the weight of that Government in our scale, against that of Spain. With respect to the Western extent of Louisiana, Mr. Laussat held a language more satisfactory. He considered the Rio Bravo or Del Norde as far as the 30° of North latitude, as its true boundary on that side. The Northern boundary we have reason to believe was settled between France and Great Britain by Commissioners appointed under the Treaty of Utrecht, who separated the British and French territories west of the Lake of the Woods by the 49° of Latitude. In support of our just claims in all these cases, it is proper that no time should be lost in collecting the best proofs which can be obtained. This important object, has already been recommended generally to your attention. It is particularly desirable that you should procure an authenticated copy of the commercial charter granted by Louis XIV. to Crozat in 1712, which gives an outline to Louisiana favorable to our claims, at the same time that it is an evidence of the highest and most unexceptionable authority. A copy of this charter is annexed to the English translation of Joutel’s Journal of La Salle’s last voyage, the French original not containing it. A record of the charter doubtless exists in the archives of the French Government, and it may be expected that an attested copy will not be refused to you. It is not improbable that the charter or other documents relating to the Mississippi project a few years after, may afford some light and be attainable from the same source. The proceedings of the Commissioners under the treaty of Utrecht, will merit particular research; as they promise not only a favorable Northern boundary, but as they will decide an important question involved in a convention of limits now depending between the United States and Great Britain. To those may be added whatever other documents may occur to your recollection or research, including maps &c. If the secret Treaty of Paris in 1762-3 between France and Spain, and an entire copy of that of St. Ildefonso in 1800 can be obtained, they may also be useful. An authentication of the precise date at least of the former, is very important. You will be sensible of the propriety of putting Mr. Monroe in possession of all the proofs and information which you may obtain. Should he take Paris in his way to Madrid, you will have the best of opportunities for the purpose. . . .1
[1 ]On February 7 Madison wrote to Livingston:
You will find in the public letter the reasons for not heretofore forwarding a letter of leave, and of the intention to forward one only on rect. of your determination to make use of it. It was not wished to take any step which might be misinterpreted as an instruction for your return, and it was conceived that the letter you possess could, if your return was resolved on, without impropriety be made use of. The date alone suggests any difficulty, and that admits so easy an explanation, as scarcely to be regarded as one. You will I am persuaded be sensible that the footing on which the matter has been put was that deemed most consistent with the delicacy & friendship entertained for you, and which seemed best to reconcile a due respect for your personal inclinations with the respect due to the interest the public has in your diplomatic services.—Mad. Mss.
[1 ]The omitted portion of the instruction relates to the payment of claims under the convention of 1800 with France, trade with Santo Domingo, and the convention with Spain.