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to the
and on the

the translation of a memorial, on the war of st. domingo,
and cession of the missisippi to france
drawn up

entered according to act of congress.


by john conrad, & co. no. 30, chesnut street, philadel-
phia; m. and j. conrad, & co. no. 140, market-street,
baltimore; and rapin, conrad, & co. washington

h. maxwell, printer.

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IT may be deemed presumptuous, in an ob-
scure citizen, to address the rulers of his country, on
a theme of such importance as War or Peace; nor
would the compiler of this address, have ventured
to assume the office of a counsellor, were he not im-
pelled by peculiar circumstances. He is not insti-
gated by his own interest, for he and his affairs are
far remote from the scene of action; and his pros-
perity is wholly disentangled from any effect, which
the acquisition of the Missisippi, will produce on
private conditions. He is not impelled by a vain
conceit of his own abilities, for he proposes to draw
his arguments from the mouth of an enemy, and,
instead of relying on his own abilities, desires to
exact attention and regard to nothing but these
arguments themselves….In fine, he would not have

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thought of addressing his country thus, had he not
just procured an extraordinary performance, in which
the views of the French, relative to Louisiana, are
unfolded, too plainly for the interest and safety of the
United States.

This performance came into his hands by the
friendship of a traveller at Paris. A few copies were
published, without a name, while the negociations
were pending at Amiens, and circulated through a few
hands. By a few persons it was well known to be the
production of a counsellor of state, who thought, per-
haps, that the goodness of his counsel would atone for
his plain dealing; or that the suppression of his name,
would screen him from any personal inconvenience.
In this paper are enumerated, all the disadvantages of
the war of St. Domingo, and the benefits of the ces-
sion of Louisiana; and the conduct incumbent on a
true friend to the interests and glory of France, is
very forcibly displayed.

What the dictates of this interest and this glory
are, it shall now be my business to explain; and for
this purpose, I shall, without any further preliminary,
but that of intreating the patience of the reader, pro-
ceed to detail the substance of this memorial.

The author addresses his reflections to the First
Consul, and by skilful flattery, confounds the personal
glory of that fortunate adventurer, with the enlarge-
ment of the empire. It is evident that the author is
a military enthusiast, but that passion does not blind
him to the peaceable means of distinction; and his
schemes of enlarging power, by the multiplication

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of people, and by territories won from the waste, are
not unworthy of praise.

He begins by enlarging on the exploits of the
Consul, by which France was rescued from intestine
misery and foreign humiliation. He descants, in very
glowing terms, on the grandeur and utility of those
projects, which carried the French arms into Egypt
and Syria; by which the most fertile portion of the
globe was to be made a province of France, and a
post of strength and safety from which the French
might put in their claim for conquest and glory in
the east. He artfully extenuates the failure of these
projects, and considers them as merely postponed to
a more convenient season. He insinuates that a small
delay will open a safer and shorter road to the same
object; that the ignorant and tottering councils of
Turkey may be easily persuaded to give up that which
they are unable singly to defend, and which, when
the powerful succour of the English is withdrawn,
they cannot wrest from the hands of their own slaves.
After a short enumeration to this effect, and after
conducting his readers to the prospect of a general
peace, which was then in view, he proceeds in this

“His warlike labours at an end and the world
pacified, what will remain to occupy the genius of
the First Consul. The object of these labours, hither-
to, has been the welfare of France. Her internal
tranquillity and harmony, the acquisition of rich pro-
vinces on the Rhine and Meuse, the reduction of the
happy and hitherto impregnable Flanders, which the

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whole power of the greatest of the French princes was
exerted in vain to acquire in a former age: the sub-
jugation of Holland, that opulent republic, which
possesses the trade of the world; of Switzerland, the
land of good laws and heroic manners, hitherto invin-
cible; of Italy, the nursery of arts and the paradise of
Europe, are the great things which are now accom-
plished. The energies which effected them will not
be weakened by the peace. They will only be
strengthened. A few years of industry and trade
will renew those sources of wealth, which a long
inaction has nearly drained. A few years of legal
security will efface the ravages which foreign and
intestine war have made in the number of the people.
The abolition of the ancient tyranny will give a
new spring to the multiplying principle, and all the
chasms, occasioned by the revolutionary cruelty, will
disappear. The nation will speedily become the most
numerous, enlightened and enterprising of the wes-
tern world. The power of the head of the nation
will experience a proportionable increase, and the
mere impetus of numbers and wealth, cautiously di-
rected, will carry us forward, in ten years, much
further than the last ten years of military exploits.

“But what direction shall be given to this force,
in order to produce the most beneficial effects? In
the general tranquillity of nations, what avenues will
open by which to exert this force beyond the circle
of our own immediate territories, and different from
the mere extension of trade and commerce. There
is no necessity of letting entirely drop the sword,

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and though our neighbours are no longer our foes,
there may be distant enemies to tame and territories
to acquire.

“To questions like these the answer will be ob-
vious, and the eye will immediately be turned to St.
Domingo. Alas! what have been the miseries of
that devoted colony! Beneath what an ignoble yoke
does it now groan! and how lost are its inestimable
treasures to the parent nation. And shall not our
first efforts be directed to regain these treasures? to
break the iron sceptre of the negroes; that has al-
ready nearly crushed all the fair fruits of European
culture, and which in a few years, by a series of cruel
wars and revolutions, will convert those beautiful
plantations into an African wilderness?

“The riches of this island are familiar to every
Frenchman. He is sensible that his daily and most
delicious food, is procured from it; that millions are
supplied by it with wholesome luxuries, and thou-
sands, by the indirect influence of its trade and com-
merce, with employment and subsistence. Shall
all these be relinquished without a struggle? And to
whom relinquished? To quondam slaves and furious
banditti? Shall the arms of the First Consul, which
have achieved such arduous and signal victories,
against equals in numbers, arms and courage, be
baffled or intimidated by the dastardly and raggamuf-
fin host of cave-keeping robbers, and barbarian

“And how better can the legions be employed,
whom the general peace will reduce to idleness?

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Some of them justice will demand to be dismissed
to their homes and families. Some will return to the
loom, the plough and the anvil, which have not
wanted them till now, when the re-establishment of
trade will set them going; but the larger number
must remain at their post, and some of these, unne-
cessary for any purpose at home, will crave employ-
ment abroad. The honour and interests of France
point out the road which they ought to take, and the
labours to which they ought to be devoted. Not all
the glories we have lately acquired would save us from
contempt, should we suffer that noble island to re-
main in the hands of a servile and barbarous race.

“Against the dictates of such laudable pride will
any one dare to whisper an objection? But, whatever
be our courage, why should we be blind to unques-
tionable consequences? Of what advantage are ob-
servation and experience, if they do not apprise us
of the obstacles which will oppose our designs; and
what merit is there in that courage, which is sure to
fail of success?

“Courage and enterprize, unaccompanied by
caution and deliberation, are qualities of brutes, and
not the virtues of men. What shall he deserve of his
country, who throws away the lives of his brave sol-
diers on an impracticable scheme? Or on a scheme
in which justice and humanity forbid him to en-
gage? Or on one in which success may be gained
without a military effort; by means less hazardous
and less destructive to the conquerors and the con-
quered than war and blood-shed? Or, lastly, who ex-

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pends the blood and treasure of the nation, in a project
in every respect less beneficial, even though crowned
with success, than a different project?

“The great mind, though formed “for dignity
and high exploit:” though jealous of its country's
honour and rights, and prompt to vengeance for in-
sults, will pause in its most indignant career at the
voice of caution and experience. Methinks this is
the momentous pause; and let me therefore take ad-
vantage of it to place in a true light, the war of St.
Domingo, and to point out a different path, in which
the energies of France may be directed to her infi-
nite glory and advantage.

“Courage, the French courage, can do all things!
and if courage be inadequate, can it fail when rein-
forced by numbers? And are not the numbers of our
troops, when compared with the nature of this war-
fare, inexhaustible?

“Alas! there is something in the nature of this
warfare, which makes courage and numbers avail
nothing. It is not men with whom alone our troops
must contend. These though numerous, ferocious
and zealous, are insignificant, in this comparison.
Our troops are destined to fight against nature; to
contend with the elements. The atmosphere of this
island, salutary to a native of the soil, and to men
imported from congenial climates, breathes pestilence
and death, upon the stranger from Europe. Inac-
tivity, and the repose of the sword will afford to our
unfortunate troops no security from pain and death.
Destructive as the field, contended with such enemies

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will certainly be, the carnage will be infinitely greater
and more deplorable in camps and garrisons. Cou-
rage will avail nothing in contention with the malig-
nant operation of the air and with the pangs of disease.
That is an undiscriminating evil; falls equally on the
head and members, the officers and soldiers, the
cowardly and brave, the ignorant and skilful.

“When I think upon the graves, the ignominious
graves, that are now gaping, in the plains of St. Do-
mingo, for the conquerors of Egypt and Italy; the
inevitable fate, from the sword of banditti and slaves,
or from the hovering pestilence, which awaits those
veterans who have vied, in the usefulness and gran-
deur of their past exploits, with all that history or
poetry has embalmed, I tremble with compassion:….
and with fear….(why should I not rather say with
hope?) that when apprized of these impending evils,
they will refuse to go.

“Advantage may, indeed, be taken of their pre-
sent ignorance; glittering and permanent rewards
may be promised to their valour; they may be in-
spired with contemptuous notions of the blacks
whom they are going to subdue; and it may not be
till successive armies, the flower of the French chi-
valry, are swallowed up and lost without advantage,
in this insatiable gulf, that the government may be
mortified by murmurs and mutiny. “Heaven shield
us from this mortification” is my hopeless prayer,
at one time, and at another, it is the wish of my
heart, that, if the government be deaf to the claims
of these brave men, they may take upon themselves

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the assertion of them….But how many evils would
be prevented by declining this fruitless struggle with
the elements? how many lives, glorious to them-
selves and useful to their country, might be saved
by a wiser policy?

“Perhaps I may be charged with exaggerating
the dangers to be dreaded from the climate. Why,
it will be asked, has not this dreadful havock been
experienced on former occasions? The island has
always been garrisoned, and why did not some saga-
cious counsellor commend the desertion of it, on
account of this hostility between the air and the
soldier? Why dread these evils now which were
never before felt?

“These evils have always been felt. It is well
known, that in all the calculations of the servants of
the monarchy, on colonial supplies, the destruction
of two-thirds of the soldiery, by the climate, in a few
months, was regularly taken into account. The
whole number was small, because no enemy was at
hand, and therefore the enormous waste was less per-
ceptible. But now how different are our circum-
stances? Not only there will be no end to our de-
tachments thither, but the life of ceaseless toil, in
mountain marches and midnight skirmishes, with a
lurking and marauding enemy, will give tenfold
force to the unwholesome elements. Formerly a
few hundreds were sufficient to guard the public
peace, but now how many thousands, think you, will
be requisite to dispossess an armed nation, fighting

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under a provident and valiant leader, for their soil,
their liberty, their very being?

“Do we not all know what the revolution has done
on both sides of the ocean? It has changed an half a
million of helpless and timorous slaves, the mere tools
of the farmer and the artizan, the sordid cattle of the
field, into men, and citizens, and soldiers.

“What a fond mistake to imagine that these will
be less formidable enemies, than the bands of Rus-
sia and Austria. There is not a circumstance in
which they differ, that is not in favour of the blacks.
The two scenes of war, are unlike, and in every dis-
similar particular the superiority of danger is on the
side of St. Domingo.

“The robust body and strenuous mind was ne-
ver denied to the African; and, Frenchmen! will
you be so unjust to your own cause, to that principle
which has inspired your raw peasants, and ennobled
your town-rabble; to the influence of your arts and
discipline; and above all of your liberty, on this ro-
bust body and strenuous spirit? Can you forget their
hardy training, their perfect knowledge of the rocks
and valleys of their country, their simple diet?….
They draw health and vigour from the air, which
will be poison to you. They have your arms and
your discipline, and whatever generous conscious-
ness raised you above the Austrian and Russian
mercenary, will raise the blacks of St. Domingo
above their invaders.

“It is the fashion to revile them by the name of
robbers and banditti*. What more silly, than to call

  * Brigands.

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a nation, that has trampled down all opposition, in a
territory three times as large as Switzerland; that
have numerous garrisons, and a regular army; trea-
sures and arsenals; laws and trade; a wise and able
prince at their head, by the same name with the
wretched fugitives from servitude, trembling in their
caves by day, and at night prowling for scanty fare
round the cultivated fields. Soon will you detect
your mistake, when landed on that shore. You will
there find enemies, as well disciplined, as numerous,
and far more implacable and obstinate in their de-
fence, than any you have encountered at your own
doors. The most arduous of your wars is still to

“The heart of humanity must bleed at the pro-
spect of this war. The hovock among the most va-
luable children of France, in the soldiers to be sent
thither, is the chief, but not the only evil, to be de-
precated. With their death, will be completed the
destruction of the colony. Fire will devour all the
vestiges of cultivation. The sword will sweep away
the remaining proprietors of town and country, and
the list of exiles will be swelled by those, whom
timely foresight of the danger, shall enable to escape
to a land of strangers and poverty. It will soon be
found, that to conquer, it will be necessary to exter-
minate. Having done this, if it can be done, which
I think impossible, let us look around us and medi-
tate the spectacle. The best blood of the nation has
flowed. The flower of its military force has perished.
We have completed the doom of death and of exile,

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on the last of our countrymen on that shore. The
fields, which we have acquired, are reduced to a de-
sert, and therefore of no more use to the end, for
which we coveted possession, than the wilds of New
Holland, which we may have without fighting for.

“What can equal our folly! we fight for fields
which we value only as we till them. We cannot
till them without cattle, and yet, in our rage to get
them, we kill the cattle. We covet not the hills and
valleys, but the coffee and sugar which they are able
to afford us. Any other hills and valleys in the same
climate, have the same natural capacities; but the
house, the mill, the labouring hands, and the various
utensils constitute the difference in the value: but
these, half destroyed already, a tedious and extermi-
nating war will annihilate. The golden prize, for
which we face such perils, and inflict such miseries,
will vanish in our grasp.

“In forbearing to molest this island, we gain
every thing. The praise of clemency will be ours.
We shall escape the infamy of resuming the gift of
liberty, which we bestowed; of endeavouring to de-
grade men and citizens, to the servitude from which
we have just raised them. We shall gain their grati-
tude, their friendship, and every benefit which one
nation can confer upon another. The products of
the island, the fruits of commerce, the luxury of mil-
lions, and the industry and subsistence of thousands
of our countrymen, we shall gain. In the folly of
conquest, and the cruelty of war, all these will be de-
voted. Those who will be most useful to us as allies,

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as friendly consumers of the products of our inge-
nuity and labour, will be no more; and their isle, when
conquered, will be just as beneficial to France, as any
other desert and unpeopled land.

“Cannot experience make us wise? Have we
heard, without benefit, the lesson which the English
in their treatment of their colonies, have taught us?
Is it worthy of us to afford a new, and even a more
flagrant example of the desperate and execrable folly
of that nation; who drained the vitals of the people to
support ridiculous claims of supremacy over a distant
empire; who laboured to establish their own ruin;
and who were finally compelled to accept as a volun-
tary gift from friends, those benefits, which they had
in vain endeavoured to exact, as tribute from slaves!

“O! that a vain chimera, a sanguinary dream had
less power over nations than the plainest dictates of
wisdom and policy; that the man whom I now
address would rise as far above the rest of his race,
in this, as he has already done, in other respects. I
am jealous for him, and would fain see the glory of
my hero as bright as heaven, and as lasting as the
universe. I would fain see him imitate the divine
beneficence, and do good without hoping or expect-
ing a requital. Yet I counsel nothing which involves
the sacrifice of personal glory, or national advantage.
I do not persuade him to injure himself for the salva-
tion of others. Pacific measures are equally condu-
cive to his own, and the nation's glory and prosperity.
Hostilities will be equally destructive to both, and if
all considerations must yield to the honour of van-

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quishing rebellion, let us yet lay down our arms,
since arms will never vanquish it. What triumph
can we hope for but in exterminating, and he that
dies in opposition is not subdued.

“Forbearance, however, is a hard task. No elo-
quence that I can use, may shield from odious im-
putations the counsels I have now given. It remains
for me, however, to shew that while I recommend
peace and concession to revolted subjects, I am not
the advocate of ignoble ease. To give up what has
once belonged to us, the rabble will denominate
mean, but I abhor the meanness as much as the rab-
ble who condemns it. To contract our empire is not
the end of my councils. On the contrary, my heart
beats high with the hope of adding to it, not an island,
indeed, but a world.

“The general who should aim at the acquisition
of a wealthy province, whose boundaries are undefend-
ed; into the heart of which he can march without im-
pediment or opposition; whose numerous people are
prepared to meet him with joy and gratitude, and
which will hasten to coalesce with its conquerors, is
surely no timorous or sordid counseller, even though,
in order to effect this conquest, he should dissuade us
from consuming innumerable lives and treasures in
the siege of a fortified rock, whose defenders may
justly upbraid our injustice in attacking them, and
whose last mound will be their dead bodies.

“As little as such an one, do I merit the blame of
a public enemy. The conquests I shall recommend,
will reconcile objects so rarely allied as the power and

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glory of the nation, (even as the rabble of statesmen
estimate these,) and the felicity of the whole race.

“I come now to a theme on which I hardly know
in what terms to begin. Its beauties and advantages
fill my mind, in a bright confusion, and how to sepa-
rate, and dispose my thoughts so as to convey light
and conviction to others, with a force answerable to
their truth, and worthy their importance, I scarcely
know. I must begin, however, though conscious that
my feeble powers will degrade, not enoble the sub-

“In little more than an hundred years ago, North
America was a wilderness. It was so thinly peopled
as to merit this name. Such, particularly was the
forlorn condition of that district which occupies the
eastern coast, and which extends through the finest
climates. This space corresponds in its favourable
situation, and almost in extent, with Europe. Then
it only exhibited a dreary variety of forest and morass.
All its capacities of giving food, shelter and raiment
to the human species, of pouring forth the boundless
happiness of intellectual beings, were inert. It was
the wild range of beasts and savages.

“Let us now cast our eye thither, and meditate
the change that has taken place in so short a period.
Morass and forest, and a savage and naked race, have
mostly disappeared. A christian and European na-
tion has sprung up in their place. That side of the
sea has become a counterpart to this. Towns and
villages, language, institutions, arts and manners
seem as if transferred by magic from one coast to

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the other. Distance and a stormy ocean, which had
been for so many ages insuperable obstacles between
them, and screened one region even from the know-
ledge of the other, are dwindled into nothing. Ex-
tremities have approached each other, have coalesced,
have become one, and the effects which in former
times contiguity alone produced, are now found by
no means incompatible with the utmost distance. A
numerous, civilized and powerful people are spread
over this district, which in all respects will bear an
honourable comparison with any nation of Europe.

And whence this wonderful change? From what
beginnings has arisen an empire which casts contempt
upon the miracles of fancy, and the metamorphoses
of poetry? In tracing their original we see only poor
fugitives from these shores, whom tyranny has cast
out naked and helpless: who have roamed abroad,
nearly unprovided, in search of new homes; whose
quiet settlement was obstructed by the thousand evils
of a pestilential climate, churlish soil, and faithless
neighbours; whom distance and poverty could not
remove beyond the reach of their former masters,
whose tyranny as it originally drove them into exile,
continued to vex and harass them; to counteract all
the benefits, to aggravate all the evils of their new
condition; to check their increase; to lessen their
subsistence; to deprave their morals; to disturb their
peace. We behold them, at one time, bending all
their strength to maintain their post against the
ancient possessors of the soil; at another engaged
in a feeble and ruinous struggle with their European

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ancestors, who having strove in vain to strangle the
infant in his cradle, now poured their whole strength
on his still undisciplined and immature manhood.

“In spite of all these evils, in spite of that fatal
policy, which has cut up a people of the same blood,
manners and laws, into a score of independent and
unequal states, and thus laid the eternal foundation
of wars and feuds….has a nation sprung up in an
age, opulent and powerful as those whose beginnings
are beyond the reach of history.

“These miracles were not wrought by the sword.
It was not wars and victories that have added five
millions of civilized men to the human race, and to
the English name. These may rob millions of their
happiness and independence; millions they may easily
destroy; but they cannot call into existence; they can-
not compel to change their language, manners or re-

“All the solid glory, all the genuine benefits of
extending their empire and augmenting their num-
bers, have been gained, (though without design and
without merit) by the English. If there be any ad-
vantage in unity of power, that advantage they might
still and forever have enjoyed: Their own unpardon-
able folly cast it away.

“When an observer of mankind surveys the
world from his closet….when he notices the worth-
less ends and the inadequate means which engage the
ambition and industry of nations, he seems, in his
own opinion, to have fallen among a race of maniacs.
The ends they propose are silly or wicked; the means

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they adopt counteract their designed purpose. Such,
above all, is the lesson which the history of the Eng-
lish colonies affords; a series of purposes iniquitous
and abortive: of means puerile and nugatory. The
greatest good springing up without the wishes and
against the efforts of the actors, and the cause of
human happiness and of national prosperity insensi-
bly advancing in defiance of human guilt and folly.

“And how happened it that the English rather than
the French had the glory of peopling a new world?
While the greatest of the French kings had near
half a million of soldiers in his service; of men fed,
clothed, housed and equipped, for the purpose of
extending his empire, a few English fugitives were
building up a mighty nation in America. Without
provision or furniture, in hardships and poverty, they
were busied in securing the rapid population of one
fourth of the globe.

“All the schemes of the French king were defeated.
His own people were impoverished and famished; his
neighbours overwhelmed with the same evils; his
territories narrowed and his pride subdued. Had
some good genius inspired him with foresight,
and could he have been persuaded to have begun the
race of colonization, as early as the English, what a
glorious privilege would the French nation have

“The folly of the English, for a long time after
their discoveries, left the field open to this competi-
tion; but the spirit of adventure began to prevail
among us when too late, and being actuated by the

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same motives, and conducted by the same principles,
and blindly directed to the same portion of the world,
they met the fate they merited.

“The gradual advancement of the English settle-
ments, began at length to draw towards them the
attention of Europe. The stupid rage of ambition,
could see nothing-desirable, but what our neighbours
already possessed. The illimitable wilds of America
were open to our enterprises; but no! lives without
number and treasures without end must be lavished,
fruitlessly lavished to wrest provinces, already occu-
pied, from their possessors.

“Had the minister Richlieu applied one years sub-
sidy of Gustavus, or the treasures expended in one
siege or one campaign in Flanders, in founding a set-
tlement on the Delaware or Chesapeake; had a cheap
asylum been provided in the new world for the mil-
lion of protestants which his bigotry condemned to
exile, not only all that part of the world which is
now English, would have been French, but its popu-
lation and power would have as much exceeded its
present state, as the beginnings thus made, would
have been more ample and effectual than the early
efforts of the English.

“The feeble and ill provided emigrations of the
sixteenth century, have produced the spectacle we
now see. Let us imagine then, that the thousands
sent to perish under the walls of a German fortress,
the arms, the amunition, the tools, the various appa-
ratus provided for such an expedition, had been sent
to America. In fine, had the wisdom and power of

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our government been employed to people deserts
with a hundreth part of the zeal and vigour with
which they have been devoted to the annoyance of
our neighbours, the whole of North America would,
at this day, have been French, and its people three
times as numerous as at present.

“What a theme of humiliation and despair is this
to the friend of mankind; to the lover of his country!
Such an opportunity lost! Improved by others with-
out design or merit; lost by us through stupid inatten-
tion and misguided ambition. The seed most care-
lessly thrown, would have taken root, thrived, and
produced innumerable fruits. An obscure adven-
turer, embarking from a French port, in the time of
our Francis the first, would have given us the empire
of America. Slothful and proud Spain would have
been excluded from a scene, which she overspread
with devastation and horror, at her first entrance
upon it, and which she has since maintained in
poverty and weakness, and the great and enlightened
genius of the French would have wrought such won-
ders on the Plata and Maragnon, as the English have
exhibited on the Chesapeake and Hudson.

“ Amidst the painful regrets which these reflec-
tions produce, the mind naturally inquires—Is it
yet too late?

“God forbid that it should ever be too late to
advance the cause of national happiness. Why
should we dream that it is too late? Are the last
years of the world at hand? Is the nation sunk into
decrepitude? Its towns dwindled, its villages depopu-

 image pending 21

lated, its rulers become barbarous? Are all the va-
cancies upon the globe, supplied with occupants
and owners? And can no footing be gained on fo-
reign shores, without encroaching upon formidable

“It ought to be our pride to say, that none of
these things have happened. The series of ages to
come is infinite. Since the discovery of America,
the nation has hourly become more compact, nume-
rous, opulent and enlightened. It has just emerged
from anarchy and danger. A fortunate and glorious
leader has raised it in a few years, to a dazzling ele-
vation above its neighbours. It is about to receive
all the blessings of peace, from the same hand that
adorned its brows with the palms of victory. All the
impediments, which hampered and repressed its na-
val and commercial enterprises, are soon to have an
end. The art of navigation has been continually im-
proving, and the ocean may be ferried over now
with incredibly more safety, facility and expedition
than in former times. Instead therefore of an æra,
too late for colonization, we touch the very period
when it can be most effectually carried on. The
view of the past, instead of sinking us into despon-
dent inactivity, should fire us with emulation; we
should desdain to incur the same charges from pos-
terity, which our ancestors incur from us: charges
heavier on us, and more justly merited, since our
inducements and abilities are so much greater than

 image pending 22

“But, it has been asked, is not the world already
appropriated? Let us look abroad for an answer.
Our eyes are immediately directed to a continent*,
which probably abounds with mineral and vegetable
riches, but which is remarkably destitute of men.
Either it was the last portion of this globe from which
the ocean receded, or the race of man has been ex-
tremely averse to set foot upon it; for there are fewer
of this race, and these few are in a more helpless state
of ignorance and poverty, than are any where else to
be found. This vacuity has not arisen from the in-
clemency of climate or sterility of soil; for, in the
first respect, it stretches through all these latitudes,
which are most favourable to the prolific power, and
most spontaneously supply us with the means of life;
and, in the second respect, there is no ground ac-
tually more abundant; no shore whose recesses are
more numerous; no forests whose vigour and luxu-
riance are more admirable.

“That it has hitherto been unpeopled, is that cir-
cumstance on which humanity must reflect with most
delight, since all the miseries and all the vengeance
of an oppressed or defrauded race will thus be avoided.
The necessity of gin to disable, of fraud to betray,
arms to destroy, and fortifications to repel ferocious
savages, will be saved. Expense, and calamities in-
flicted and endured, the stain of injustice and of
cruelty;….the evils of which the Spaniards and the
English have had their full share;….will be escaped
by the nation that shall colonize New Holland.

  * New Holland.

 image pending 23

“And this is no petty island, no dreary rock, no
barren shore. It is a world, little inferior in extent
to the regions of the western hemisphere, and no
whit inferior in fertility and value. Ambition can
aspire to nothing more magnificent than this scene.
There is space for the posterity of Frenchmen to grow
up into numbers, ten times those of their European

“The true friend of mankind will hardly stop to
mention, that, in the narrow and mercenary views of
mere traders, the acquisition of provinces in this con-
tinent may produce great and immediate benefits.
These are parcel of that region from which have
come, in every age, the spices and aromatics, the gold
and gems, the drugs and perfumes, which have given
opulence successively to Egypt, Venice, Portugal,
Holland, and England, and which have supplied the
western world with the chief of its antidotes, its
rarities, and its luxuries.

“And since the forms of nature are indefinite,
since every new region is found to contain peculiar
treasures, there is nothing visionary in the hope that
our researches may light on vegetable and mineral
products, hitherto unknown, the properties of which
may give a new form to human existence. Ame-
rica has given us our quinquina, our cochineal, our
cantharides, our mahogany, our mercury, our silver,
our gold, our chocolate. Are not new additions to
our stock equally or more precious, unavoidable con-
sequences of the acquisition of this new world in the
east? He that blames these hopes as romantic, has

 image pending 24

meditated history and surveyed nature to no pur-

“But here let me pause. I said the country had no
pre-occupant. Let us consider whether the recent
settlement of the English may be termed an occupa-
tion. By some fatality these hated rivals must always
anticipate us. A few years ago the country was
equally unknown to both nations, and France, instead
of sending out discoverers of her own, must content
herself with giving passports to the navigators of
England. Thus was the right that accrues from
first setting foot upon the shore, secured to them.
But this right extends to little distance. No posses-
sion that merits the name has yet been taken. All
the interior of the country, the northern, western,
and southern coasts are unexplored. The maxims
of the maritime nations, stretched to their full extent,
and enforced by jealousy, can create no obstacle to
our approach to that part of this new world, which pro-
bably possesses a better soil and enjoys a benigner
climate than the English settlements.

“No animosities or jarrings can at present be
feared. They will, indeed, inevitably come. As
they came in North America, they will come in New
Holland, but if they terminate not in a very different
manner, at whose door will lie the fault? The Eng-
lish have not gone far in the race. They may be
easily outstripped….Their settlement, in its present
feeble and infantine condition, may easily be swal-
lowed up, or bought, or forceably outrooted. What
has been a source of unexpected expense; what has

 image pending 25

been adopted chiefly with a view to the reformation of
criminals, and has failed of answering the end; what,
by reason of the plan adopted, can only prove the
hot-bed of anarchy, the nursery of rebellion, will not
surely be defended with much solicitude, or valued
at an exorbitant price.

“The English have repeated all their mistakes in
this new colony. They wanted a prison for their
vagabonds and pick-pockets, and their wisdom pitch-
ed upon a spacious continent, ten thousand miles dis-
tant, whither the wretched victims of their laws were
to be carried with an expensive apparatus of ships,
chains, and guards, where they were to be deterred
from escaping to the neighbouring regions, from
robbing the cup-boards, and cutting the throats of
each other, by military violence; where stripes and
the halter are held up as the incitements to labour.
What could be the fruits of such a scheme, but ex-
pense and disappointments, and how inevitably would
settlements like this be swallowed up by colonies,
founded on reason and equity; where emigrants, vir-
tuous, frugal, and laborious, are invited by the pros-
pect of bettering their condition, of escaping from the
pressure of taxes, the tyranny of landlords, and the
hardships of poverty, and of obtaining landed pro-
perty; where the difficulties incident to new settle-
ments, are removed by the wisdom and power of the
government; where a safe conveyance, provisions
by the way, tools and materials are gratuitously sup-
plied; and where no controul is exercised, but that
arising from general convenience.

 image pending 26

“It would be some ages before the rival nations
could approach each other, even if the envy of the
English should induce them, after our example, to in-
vigorate their efforts, and new-model their plans.
Should their envy prove restless, at present, I hope,
we have not fallen so low, as to fear it. But this
envy may be easily eluded by the stipulations of a
general treaty, nor would it be difficult, if it were eligi-
ble, to purchase the resignation of all their claims in
this quarter, by what their commercial avarice would
deem a full equivalent in other quarters.

“Methinks the great mind of the master of this na-
tion should glow with immeasurable ardour at a pros-
pect like this. Is he ambitious to perpetuate the
name, to enlarge the empire of France? To add to
it regions, more extensive, and blessed with a more
grateful soil and genial climate, than the whole of
Europe: peopled not by reluctant slaves: by aliens in
religion, laws, and habits, who submit to no yoke but
that of fear; whose riches, numbers, and happi-
ness continually dwindle under a hateful autho-
rity, and whose submission is maintainable, against
natives or rivals, only by the troops and treasures of
the conquering nation? These are the ridiculous and
wicked ends of vulgar ambition. The glorious end
that I propose is, to change a dreary waste into a po-
pulous empire. To people it with our own children,
language, religion and laws: to make victory for once
bloodless and laudable, to unite the interest and glory
of a single nation and of one man, with those of human

 image pending 27

“I task my imagination in vain to find objections
to this scheme. Does justice or benevolence forbid
it? No. The plan raises the man that executes it
to a likeness with Divinity. Instead of destroying
thousands, he brings, directly or remotely, millions
into being. He robs none of their liberty or pro-
perty. He propagates a new race of intellectual
beings. He doubles the number of the rational
species, and this addition is not of savages or slaves,
but of men in the highest state of knowledge and

“Does national frugality forbid it? No. What
treasures would not be well expended in a scheme like
this? But no treasures are demanded, or treasures,
which, compared with our opulence, are nothing.
Expenses, devoted to fruitless or pernicious projects,
are culpable and foolish, and the least of these, divert-
ed into this channel, would be amply sufficient. The
more seed there is sown, the greater is the immediate
harvest; but a single seed will, in time, cover the
globe. The existence of this new empire is as much
secured, and the dominant colour is as certainly be-
stowed, by the settlement of twenty persons, as of
twenty thousand. If the field is to be covered by
the product of a single grain, it will be covered, but
the full harvest will only be more distant, as the first
planter is more parsimonious of his seed.

“Sordid as the motive, and lame as the means have
been which have brought the English into New-Hol-
land, no blighting seasons, no pestilence, will exter-
minate them. Under every disadvantage they will

 image pending 28

grow, and nothing but the efforts of a rival nation
will hinder them from slowly multiplying into an in-
numerable multitude. These efforts are now easy,
which will hereafter be impossible, and now is the
moment which decides, whether the French or Eng-
lish shall possess a new world in the eastern hemis-

“Does the glory of the First Consul forbid it?
No: On the contrary, never was there so glittering
a prize held forth to ambition. The hardest of all
tasks is to gain an empire over the minds and
opinions of men. Fear may exact tribute and flat-
tery, but it will not change the form and the heart.
It will not make friends and countrymen; but this
is a scheme, not to conquer an empire, and to govern
it imperfectly and in fear, but to found a nation, and
to perpetuate our power in its being and prosperity,
its laws and institutions.

“What a rare privilege has destiny put into the
hands of one man! The seat of empire, the birth-
place, the form of government, the very name of a
new race of Frenchmen, are submitted to his arbi-
trary pleasure. By an easy and single act, he will
make himself the parent of a nation, the adoration of
a world.

“But is so vast a scheme trammelled with no diffi-
culties? None. Of all national enterprises, on the
ocean it is the easiest. We need not invoke the fortune
that carried a French army and its floating batteries,
its immense apparatus for habitation, motion and war-
fare, through so many perils to Egypt, and which

 image pending 29

gained possession of a civilized and military king-
dom. In this new road there are no impediments.
The way, though long, is safe and familiar. There
will be no enemies to intercept: the new country and
its coasts may be peaceably explored. The perse-
verance that destroyed armies, at a blow, will find it
infinitely easier to lay open the recesses of harbours,
and prepare the wilderness for cultivation. Colonists
may be selected, provided, and conveyed without
danger, toil or inconvenient expense. An hun-
dredth part of the thought, labour and expense, of the
Egyptian expedition, will plant a colony, and raise it
to a flourishing condition. For this end, all incom-
patible schemes should be relinquised, but no scheme
is incompatible with this. No darling project need
to be abandoned for the sake of this. So little ardu-
ous, expensive or intricate is it, that all the domestic
schemes of greatness, may proceed at the same time
without delay or confusion.

“He that limits his counsels and efforts to the fu-
ture population and sovereignty of so large a portion
of the globe as New Holland, will surely be no petty
or sordid counseller. And yet such an one would be
a traitor to his country; unjust to the brilliant des-
tinies which are now opening upon France; for let us
turn our eyes once more to America, and consider
a little more distinctly, whether we are totally ex-
cluded from this field. By what can we be exclu-
ded? It would be the most flagrant folly to consider
America as already occupied. Can that be occupied
which has never been visited; which has never been
seen: as to which there is no certainty whether it

 image pending 30

be land or sea, mountain or plain? There are vast
regions in the North and the South; regions vaster
than Europe or New Holland, of which no European
nation knows any thing; to which therefore it can
urge no claim; or no claim, at least, that ought to
be admitted; or which it would be difficult to set
aside by either of the great national engines, nego-
ciation, money or arms.

“After all the reasonings of the sage and the
patriot, we must fear that the nearer scene will oc-
cupy our chief attention. America has now grown
familiar to our thoughts. The value of provinces
beyond the main, the progress of population and
power in a land newly settled, have been realized
only in the western hemisphere. With that only,
will the imaginations of men most easily connect
ideas of future progress.

“It was this foible of human nature which led the
French to make their settlements in the isles of the
West Indies, and on the eastern coast of America.
The English, however, had pre-occupied the best
part of the field. The French were forced to content
themselves with a barren region, in the north, and
with some feeble attempts at settlement, on the Mis-
sissippi. We cherished the vain hope, that we
should be able to wrest from our hereditary rivals,
all their western colonies.

“What a deplorable instance of infatuation was
this. Instead of turning our efforts towards the west,
where delightful and immense plains stretched to
the southern ocean; where our advances were ob-

 image pending 31

structed by no enemy, and no jarring claims; from
which the egress was safe and easy, into the Atlantic,
by the Mississippi and St. Laurance, and into the
South sea by a thousand probable streams, we bent
the whole force of our arms to reduce the English
settlers to subjection, to establish over freemen the
hated authority of conquerors, and to create a channel
for our blood and treasure to flow uselessly away.

“Happily for us, we had to contend with prejudices
equally strong, and failed in the contest. Superiority
of numbers, and the chance of war, gave to the Eng-
lish the unprofitable victory. No reasonable French-
man will regret this consequence, in respect to
Canada; but all our wonder and sorrow must be alive,
when we reflect upon the loss of the Mississippi.
What consideration could induce such a sacrifice?
What equivalent could the worthless Spaniards af-
ford, for relinquishing a footing in the very spot
where the continent was most accessible, where that
footing had already been made firm by numerous
plantations, a populous town and a thriving trade?

Forty years has the genius of the French nation
slept. Under the influence of the old government,
all our faculties were benumbed. St. Domingo in-
deed was permitted to advance. Our islands prospered
under that wretched policy, which converted men
into cattle, and grasped at present benefits at the ha-
zard of all the evils, by which they have since been
overwhelmed. But to a few islands, and to a morass
in the torrid zone, was our genius limited, while the
English name spread itself abroad, with incredible

 image pending 32

rapidity, over all the eastern part of the continent;
and the middle and western regions, were resigned
to the torpor and desolation which are the natural
effects of the Spanish policy.

“It is time to awaken. Should this fatal sleep
continue under the auspices of Bonaparte, fortune
will have smiled in vain on that hero. Should the
present opportunity of repossessing ourselves of the
banks of the Mississippi, by a peaceable bargain with
Spain, be suffered to escape, he will have gained his
present pre-eminence in vain. Should he seize this
opportunity, and improve it with diligence, we will
pardon the destruction that impends over St. Do-
mingo. The torrents of blood that are going to flow
in that devoted colony, and the completion of its ruin
will be petty consequences, when compared with the
eternal benefits of beginning a fresh career in the
continent of North America.

“Let us consider the scene of this career; the
situation of the country; the advantages of which we
are already in possession; those which we shall
speedily acquire; the obstacles to be dreaded from
the jealousy of England, and the clashing interests of
the United States; and our future progress, in defi-
ance of the opposition of these States, of England,
and of Spain.

“Our nation had the vain honour of conferring a
name on a portion of the globe, not exceeded by any
other portion of it, in all the advantages of climate
and soil. Before the war of 1757, it was an im-
mense valley, watered by a deep and beneficent river.

 image pending 33

This river first acquires importance in the latitude
of forty-five, north. It flows in a devious course
about two thousand miles, and enters the bay of
Mexico, by many mouths, in latitude 29. In these
latitudes, is comprised the temperate zone; which
has been always deemed most favourable to the per-
fection of the animal and vegetable nature. This
advantage is not marred by the chilling and sterilify-
influence of lofty mountains, the pestilential
fumes of intractable bogs, or the dreary uniformity
of sandy plains. Through the whole extent, there
is not, probably, a snow-capt hill, a moving sand, or
a volcanic eminence.

“This valley is of different breadths. The ridge
which bounds it on the east, is in some places
near a thousand miles from the great middle stream.
From this ridge, secondary rivers of great extent and
magnificence flow towards the centre, and the in-
termediate regions are an uncultivated paradise.
On the west, the valley is of similar dimensions,
the streams are equally large and useful, and the
condition of the surface equally delightful.

“Beyond the eastern ridge, and as far as the
Atlantic, are the dwellings of the English, and the
war which ensued the mutual approaches of the two
nations, terminated in the expulsion of the French
from the eastern portion of this valley.

“On the west, the country is but little known.
The south sea which is its natural boundary on that
side, is some thousands of miles distant. The coast

 image pending 34

of that sea has been claimed by the Spaniards, since
their permanent settlement in Mexico, but the wes-
tern limits of Louisiana were, nevertheless, sufficiently
ample. The peace of 1763, left these limits undis-
turbed, and the validity of the transfer to Spain, of
the western portion of this valley, and of either bank
of the river, near its mouth, has never since been dis-
puted. The English colonists have since become a
sovereign people; but their emigrations, have hitherto
scarcely reached the river, and the Spanish dominion
of the opposite bank has been recognized by solemn
treaties. The settlements along the river, have chiefly
been previous to the transfer to Spain; a town of no
mean extent was then founded, and all the regular
means of subsistence, to a numerous people, in cul-
tivation and trade, had been regularly established.

“We must first observe, that in gaining posses-
sion of this territory, we shall not enter on a desert,
where the forest must be first removed, before a shel-
ter can be built; whither we must carry the corn and
the clothes necessary to present subsistence, and the
seed, the tools and the cattle which are requisite to
raise a future provision. We have no wars to wage
nor treaties to form with the aboriginal possessors.
The empire thus restored to us will not be over Eng-
lish or Spaniards, whose national antipathies would
make them ever restless and refractory, but country-
men and friends; the children of France who are im-
patient of a foreign yoke, and who are anxious to return
to the bosom of their long estranged ancestors. The
ministers of the nation need not be an army, with their

 image pending 35

brandished bayonets, since there are neither foreign
foes to intercept our passage, nor intestine rebels to
refuse us admission; peaceable agents and commis-
sioners will be hailed with filial joy, and these will
be sufficient to establish a wise code of commercial
and internal policy on the ruins of Spanish tyranny
and folly. Under a wise government, the imagina-
tion can scarcely set limits to the progress of a colo-
ny; but the utmost caution may surely proceed as
far in conjecture, as the experience of the neighbour-
ing English will justify.

“Population has prodigiously advanced in the
United States, since their settlement; but there is no
reason to expect a smaller progress in the French.
Our neighbours, indeed, are, at present, in that state,
in which the doubling of their numbers is the adding
of millions to millions, and a state in which the du-
plicate ratio will be equally productive, in Louisiana,
is far distant. The circumstances, however, which
will bring this state nearer, are not few or inconside-

“There cannot, in the first place, be imagined
a district more favourable to settlement. In addition
to a genial climate and soil, there are the utmost faci-
lities of communication and commerce. The whole
district is the sloping side of a valley, through which
there run deep and navigable rivers, which begin
their course in the remotest borders, and which all
terminate in the central stream. This stream, one
of the longest and widest in the world, is remarkably
distinguished by its depth and freedom from natural

 image pending 36

impediments. It flows into a gulf, which contains a
great number of populous islands. Among these
islands are numerous passages into the ocean, which
washes the shores of Europe. Thus, not only every
part of the district is easily accessible by means of
rivers, but the same channels, are ready to convey the
products of every quarter to the markets most conti-
guous and most remote.

“The progress of a nation may be obstructed by
bad laws, and by natural impediments. Men will
not plant and reap for nothing. They will not leave
their present homes without the prospect of bettering
their condition. In the spot that chance may throw
them, they will expend no labour in raising more than
they can consume, unless they can exchange the
surplus for something necessary or agreeable, the
fruits of the labour of others. Subsistence must always
be scanty and mean, and the great spring of popula-
tion, must, of consequence, be languid and powerless,
when supplied by our single ingenuity and labour.
Many men must combine their various skill and di-
ligence to make life a blessing to each, and inspire
him with inclination to give life to others.

“A barren soil may deny to our utmost efforts
more than a scanty and precarious subsistence. If
the soil be fertile, yet there may be no method of dis-
posing of its surplus products. There may be no
streams, which are the easiest conveyances to distant
markets. The surface may be broken up into hills
and rocks, whose summits and defiles are impassable,
or passable only at such labour and expense, as are

 image pending 37

disproportioned to the gain. The rivers, if there be
any, may be impeded by cataracts, or their mouths
be barred against us by some hostile nation that pos-
sesses it. The interests of rival neighbours may deny
us access to the most eligible marts, or all these
obstacles may be absurdly supplied by an evil
government, which may prohibit the cultivation or
export of these products, which the condition of the
soil or the prudence of the planter would naturally

“Which of these obstacles will have place in this
new colony? Will only one or a few of the means
of opulence be enjoyed by it? The most opulent
nations cannot boast the possession of every bles-
sing. Either the rigours of the climate and soil
are redressed by the wisdom of the government, as
in Switzerland and Holland; or the mischiefs of mis-
government are somewhat compensated by the boun-
ties of nature, as in Egypt and Sicily. But fancy in
her happiest mood can not combine all the felicities
of nature and society in a more absolute degree, than
will be actually combined, when the valley of the
Missisippi shall be placed under the auspices of
France. Not one of the impediments to opulence
will be found here. Not one of the advantages, the
least of which have made other regions the envy
and admiration of mankind, will here be wanting.

“The Nile flows in a torrid climate through a
long and narrow valley. The fertility which its an-
nual inundations produce, extends only six or eight
leagues on either side of it. The benefits of this fer-

 image pending 38

tility are marred by the neighbourhood of scorching
sands, over which the gales carry intolerable heat
and incurable pestilence, and which harbour a race
of savages, whose trade is war and pillage. Does
this river bestow riches worthy of the greatest efforts
of the nation to gain them, and shall the greater Nile
of the Western hemisphere be neglected? A Nile
whose inundations diffuse the fertility of Egypt
twenty leagues from its shores, which occupies a
valley wider than from the Duna to the Rhine, which
flows among the most beautiful dales, and under the
benignest seasons, and which is skirted by a civi-
lized and kindred nation on one side, and on the other
by extensive regions, over which the tide of grow-
ing population may spread itself without hindrance
or danger?

“But of what avail will be all these advantages,
unless a market be provided for the produce of the
soil? Now this market is already provided. For all
that it can produce France alone will supply thirty
of consumers. The choicest luxuries of
Europe are coffee, sugar, and tobacco. The most
useful materials of clothing are cotton and silk. All
these are either natives of the Missisippi valley, or
remarkably congenial to it. The cultivation of these,
and the carriage to market, are as obvious and easy as
the most ardent politician can desire. The whole
extent of the river will be our own, and in the lower
and most fertile portion of its course, the banks on
both sides will be our indisputable property.

 image pending 39

“Let us consider these advantages with a little
more minuteness. Let us reflect on their complexity
and extent. The more deeply we consider them,
the more fervently shall we desire the possession of
them, and the more distinctly shall we perceive how
much the happiness and glory of France are con-
cerned in the resolutions of the present moment.

“Habit has familiarized to us, and reason has en-
deared to us the use of sugar. Our islands in the
West Indies have hitherto chiefly supplied us with
this article. That source it is greatly to be dreaded,
is now about to be dried up. Anarchy and misrule
have already nearly ruined them. The final seal will be
put to their doom, by any hostile attempts to wrest them
from the blacks. Their independence, whether it
be the prize of their valour or the gift of our benevo-
lence or policy, will make them strangers or enemies,
and to trade with them as equals, or with the Eng-
lish, will be an injury to us, inasmuch as it will be a
benefit to those who may do us mischief, and as it
will exclude us from the greater benefit of trading
with our brothers and children. It must likewise
be remembered that the utmost produce of these
islands was always a meagre supply; that what we
cannot ourselves consume, may, with great and ma-
nifest advantage to the nation, be distributed to the
rest of Europe and of the world.

“The friend of the health, longevity and useful
pleasure of the human species, and of the opulence
of France, could not devise a better scheme than one
which should enable every inhabitant of Europe to

 image pending 40

consume half a pound of sugar a day, and assign to
Frenchmen the growth, the carriage and the distri-
bution of thus much.* Now this scheme is no other
than the possession of the American Nile. But the
end may be too magnificent to be deemed credible.
Let us then confine ourselves to the consumption of
France; for this alone will be adequate to the employ-
ment and conducive to the wealth of a vast number
of cultivators.

“A much less beneficial luxury is coffee, but
this our habits have equally endeared to us. We have
hitherto drawn it from the same fountain which has
supplied us with sugar: the trade in it must follow
the same destiny, the same benefits will flow from
encreasing the supply, and from drawing this supply
from the valley of the Missisippi.

“I shall pass over, without mention, many other
articles, such as tobacco, indigo, and the like, for
which France and the rest of Europe will supply an
unlimited consumption, and hasten to articles which
are of more importance, and these are cotton and pro-

“The most beautiful production of nature is cot-
ton. It was more than the caprice of fashion that
went to the extremities of the east in search of this
material, for there is none capable of a greater num-
ber of uses, of so many forms and such various
colours. Its texture may constitute the lightest and

  * 225,000,000 Cwt. the product of an area, not exceeding that of
Guienne, Normandy and Brittany, and not a twentieth part of the valley
of the Missisippi.

 image pending 41

most beautiful of ornaments, or the best defence
against the intemperature of the air.

“The nations of the east have used it immemo-
rially, and from them has it gradually been brought
to Europe. The use of it seems to have been limited
by nothing but the power of procuring it. Like
sugar, the use of it has increased since it has been
naturalized to the soil of America. The consump-
tion has, in like manner, been eager to outrun the

“The American states have of late become sensi-
ble of the value of the commerce in cotton, and their
success supplies us with a new example, and a pow-
erful inducement to appropriate the territory of the
Missisippi to the same culture.

“In this, as in other articles, we have to strug-
gle with competition, only in relation to foreign mar-
kets. The home market is inexhaustibly abundant,
and may be all our own. All competition may be
excluded hence, if not by salutary regulations, yet
by the superior excellence and cheapness of the arti-
cle, and the cotton that shall clothe thirty millions,
will require numerous hands to grow and to manu-
facture it. Who shall count the number of these
hands, or of those which shall be employed in sup-
plying the growers of cotton with all the convenien-
cies and luxuries of Europe. What limit shall we
fix to the increase of wealth and numbers, which will
thus be accumulated and multiplied on both sides of
the ocean?

 image pending 42

“Sugar, coffee and tobacco are luxuries. Cot-
ton will admit of an imperfect substitute in the homely
productions, the flax and hemp, of our own soil, but
the inestimable good which recommends this acqui-
sition, is, that it affords a granary whence all deficien-
cies of the parent country can be supplied.

“One of the benefits of extensive empire, con-
sists in its lessening the danger of famine. This,
however, is, in truth, one of the effects of extensive
commerce, by which any occasional scarcity in one
province, is immediately supplied by the superabun-
dance of another. As the rigours of season are une-
qual in extent, this benefit is unequal on different
occasions; but the commercial chain that binds to-
gether Europe and America, has supplied the surest
antidote to this evil, which is compatible with the
dimensions of this globe. The causes that modify
the seasons and produce scarcity, may possibly ex-
tend from Sweden to Sicily, from Courland to Nor-
mandy, but they are not likely to operate, at the
same time, in both hemispheres. The causes that
are thus extensive, will equally affect the whole
globe. This is one of the hitherto unmentioned
benefits of the colonization of America. This bene-
fit will be more extensively secured by the planta-
tion of the Missisippi. The advantage of receiving
this supply, and of imparting it will be secured to
France, and the calamities of one part of the empire,
will redound to the profit of another part; instead of
enriching, as at present, strangers or enemies.

 image pending 43

“I will not pretend to explain, what are so gene-
rally understood, as the causes of population. The
country gives food to the town. The town repays
the country in works of art. The number of towns-
men increases with the surplus product of the coun-
try. The series being once begun, each acts, by
turns, as a cause and effect. The town grows because
the country grows. The country increases because
the town increases. It matters not whether the town
and country, connected by this mutual influence, be
near or remote from each other, provided they can
easily communicate. Thus the advancement of cul-
tivation in America, adds numbers, by finding them
employment, to Birmingham and Liverpool. Thus
the Loire and Garonne will flow among more flourish-
ing farms, numerous villages and crouded cities, in
consequence of new men springing up, and new har-
vests waving on the Missisippi and Missouri. As
the American colonies advance, France itself grows
more rich and more populous. The products of her
art and labour will purchase food from her colonists.
The products of colonial tillage, will purchase her
art and her labour. The perfection of navigation
will create a bridge over the sea, and the chain of
mutual dependance will bind them together, faster
than a chain of fortresses.

“In every civilized nation, there must be a cer-
tain proportion of wretchedness and poverty; of men
whom the pressure of distress compels to great and
anxious efforts to improve their condition. To
favour these efforts is the end of all good govern-

 image pending 44

ment; to promote equality without detriment to
order is the great political secret. The obvious
and most eligible means for effecting this is not by
agrarian schemes subversive of established property,
but by appropriating new ground, and distributing
it among the needy. Nor ought this distribution to
be by the direct and entire agency of government.
To ascertain the limits of the new province; to divide
it into convenient portions, to set, on each portion,
a moderate price; to subject the tenure to easy con-
ditions; thoroughly to apprize the world of this price
and these conditions; to instruct those, whose induce-
ments to emigrate are strongest, in the benefits of
emigration, to facilitate their voyage and settlement;
to defend them in their new possessions by wise laws
and prudent treaties, are the only duties incumbent
on the government, and such as are easily per-

“Let us reflect a moment on the consequence of
these arrangements. The chasm, which emigration
produces in a thriving country, is momentary. The
emigration of the poor by affording large room for
the remnant, conduces to the benefit equally of those
who go and those who stay. The chasm indeed im-
mediately closes, as the chasm has already closed,
which the loss of two or three millions in the late
revolution produced; which famine, earthquakes and
pestilence produce; but the chasm produced by colo-
nization is not by the loss of people, but by the trans-
fer of them to a space, in which they will become
happier in themselves, and more beneficial to the

 image pending 45

whole. The reservoir is not lessened by what thus
flows from it. On the contrary, the reservoir be-
comes ultimately fuller as the streams that flow from
it become more numerous and copious.

“The noblest and most extensive of such reser-
voirs is France. What a mighty emigration must
that be which creates here even a momentary chasm?
If wars and violence have swept away upwards of
two millions of Frenchmen in the last ten years, and
no vacuity is now visible, neither would their place
have missed them, had they emigrated to America;
and France, could thus, without detriment have crea-
ted a nation beyond the Atlantic, as numerous as that
of the American states at the close of their late war.
If a single grain be sown, and twenty years growth
be required to make the product double the seed, one
grain will only produce, in twenty years, two grains;
but this increase is equally certain, whether the seeds
be few or many. The American states have been
nearly two centuries growing to their present num-
bers. The careless spectator wonders at the great-
ness of the harvest, forgetful that, had not the seed
been originally cast among sands and rocks, had the
planter been less sparing of his store, had he fostered
and protected its growth with half the zeal with which
he has blighted and trampled it, the present harvest
would have been greater in a tenfold proportion than
it now is.

“But now comes the fearful and scrupulous head
to dash these charming prospects. Obstacles to these
great achievements multiply in his timorous fancy.

 image pending 46

He expatiates on the length of the way, the insalubri-
ty of uncultivated lands; of a climate to which the
constitution and habits of the colonists are unconge-
nial: of a soil, part of which, and that most accessi-
ble and most valuable, lies under a torrid sun, and is
annually inundated.

“Now all these difficulties are imaginary. They
are real in relation to a first settlement. They ought
to be taken into strict account, when our projects ex-
tend to New Holland and to California. In all real
cases, these difficulties have been great by reason of
the avarice, injustice and folly of the colonizing na-
tion; and the wisest plans could not totally exclude,
though they would greatly lessen and easily surmount
them. But Louisiana is not a new settlement. It is
one of the oldest in North America. All the labours
of discovering and of setting the first foot on a desert
shore, were suffered and accomplished long ago.
The task allotted to us now, is not to kindle the first
spark, but to add fuel to a flame already kindled.
The progress that cultivation has already made, will
disarm the climate of the Delta of half its rigours to
future emigrants, and the climate itself in the upper
regions of the valley, is prolific of life and of health.
It vies with the finest districts of France in this respect;
and the emigrant instead of finding strange or un-
friendly seasons, will meet with nothing but the
excellencies of his native air, free from its defects.
To the truth of this picture the inhabitants of the
eastern part of the valley, bear witness. The emi-
grations hither from the sea coast, are great and in-

 image pending 47

cessant. New towns and new states are continually
forming, and the human species multiples beyond all
former example.

“As to the length or difficulties of the passage,
the art of navigation has nearly reduced these to
nothing. How many thousand persons are continu-
ally crossing the ocean? How many thousands with
the cumbrous furniture of war, have been sent to
America, and maintained for years while there, by
France and England, during the last century, not
indeed to cultivate the ground and rear children, but
to destroy and be destroyed? Nobody will dare affirm
that the end, either proposed or accomplished by
these armed emigrations, will as fully justify the
trouble and expense laid out upon them, as the emi-
gration of artizans and husbandmen:…. Which yet
requires not the tenth part of the expense, nor incurs
the hundredth part of the hazard, which a military ex-
pedition of equal numbers requires and incurs.

“But, exclaims the objector, what does all this
display of argument effect, but the destruction of the
very end for which it was produced? If such are the
benefits to flow from the possession of the Missisippi
to France; if its wealth and its power are to gain such
magnificent accessions from this scheme, will the
neighbouring nations passively look on the while?
Will Spain resign to us a colony, which though of
little value to her, while in her possession, will be of
infinite detriment to her when possessed by an active
and enterprising people? Will she thus open the
door to her most formidable enemy, and expose her

 image pending 48

valuable mines and provinces to easy and unavoidable
invasion? The Spanish possessions lie on the west
and south. The road to them is easy and direct.
They are wholly defenceless. The frontier has neither
forts, allies nor subjects. To march over them is to
conquer. A detachment of a few thousands would
find faithful guides, practicable roads, and no oppo-
sition between the banks of the Missisippi and the
gates of Mexico. The unhappy race whom Spain
has enslaved, are without arms and without spirit; or
their spirit would prompt them to befriend the inva-
der. They would hail the French as deliverers, and
persecute the ministers of Spain as tyrants.

“The Spaniards must be thoroughly aware that
their power in Mexico and Peru, exists by the weak-
ness and divisions of their vassals, and by the remote-
ness and competition of their European enemies. Un-
wise and imbecile as that nation has generally appeared
in latter times, the admission of the French to a
post from whence their dominions may be so easily
annoyed at present, and from which their future ex-
pulsion is inevitable, is a folly too egregious even for
them to commit, and of which the most infatuated
of their counsels has not hitherto given an example.

“If Spain should refuse the cession, there is an
end to our golden views. Our empire in the new
world is strangled in its cradle; or, at least, the pro-
secution of our scheme must wait for a more propi-
tious season. But should the fortune of our great
leader continue her smiles; should our neighbour be
trepanned or intimidated into this concession, there is

 image pending 49

removed, indeed, one obstacle, of itself insuperable;
but only to give way to another, at least, equally hard
to subdue; and that is, the opposition of England.

“That nation justly regards us as the most for-
midable enemy to her greatness. Of late, if her pride
would confess the truth, she would acknowledge that
not her greatness only, but her very being was endan-
gered, either by the influence of our arms or the con-
tagion of our example. She was assailed in her
vitals, as the confusions of Ireland will testify. She
was attacked in her extremities, as the expedition to
Egypt, a mere prelude to the conquest of Hindoostan,
will prove. Her efforts to repel both these attacks,
were suitable to their importance, and evince the
magnitude of her fears. The possession of the van-
tage-ground enabled her to crush the Irish. Her
naval superiority and the caprice of the winds enabled
her to check our victorious career in the east. But
has she, indeed, defeated our attempts? No. The
seeds of rebellion are far from being extirpated in
Ireland, since they were planted by the injustice and
oppression of the English, and the issue of the late
commotions has rather tightened than slackened the
reins of a tyrannical government, and since our means
of fanning the flame, will rather be augmented than
diminished by the expected peace. The road to
India is far from being shut against us. Our next
attempts will be more successful as we shall have
gathered wisdom from experience, and shall lay our
plans with more caution. The English will, per-
haps, have rescued themselves from present destruc-

 image pending 50

tion, by their naval successes, and have put their evil
day further off by cutting off our succours to Ireland;
but they have not been able to hinder the exaltation
of France. Their enemy is far more powerful, and
themselves more feeble than at the beginning of the
contest. We have given them new reasons for sus-
picion and jealousy; and what more likely to exaspe-
rate these passions and raise their resistance, than the
project of this colony?

“Will they suffer France to possess herself of the
most effectual means of prosecuting future wars to a
different issue? Their navy and their commerce, are,
at present, all their trust. France may add Italy and
Germany to her dominions with less detriment to
England, than would follow from her acquisition of
a navy, and the extension of her trade. Whatever
gives colonies to France, supplies her with ships and
sailors; manufacturers and husbandmen. Victories
by land can only give her mutinous subjects; who,
instead of augmenting the national force, by their
riches or numbers, contribute only to disperse and
enfeeble that force; but the growth of colonies sup-
plies her with zealous citizens, and the increase of
real wealth and effective numbers is the certain con-

“What could Germany, Italy, Spain and France,
combining their strength, perform against England?
They might assemble in millions on the shores of the
channel, but there would be the limit of their enmity.
Without ships to carry them over; without experi-
enced mariners to navigate these ships, England

 image pending 51

would only deride the pompous preparation. The
moment we leave the shore her fleets are ready to
pounce upon us; to disperse and destroy our ineffec-
tual armaments. There lies their security: in their
insular situation, and their navy consists their im-
pregnable defence. Their navy is in every respect
the offspring of their trade. To rob them of that,
therefore, is to beat down their last wall and fill up
their last moat. To gain it to ourselves, is to ena-
ble us to take advantage of their deserted and defence-
less borders, and to complete the humiliation of our
only remaining competitor.

“The trade which enriches England, lies chiefly
in the products of foreign climates. But her Indian
territories produce nothing which the Missisippi could
not as easily produce. The Ganges fertilizes a valley
less extensive. Its Deltas as well as those of the Nile
are in the same latitudes, and these rivers generate the
same exuberant soil, only in smaller space and in less
quantities than the great western Nile: but the Missi-
sippi comprehends, in its bosom, the regions of the
temperate zone as well as the tropical climates and
products. The Arctic circle in America, will be
equally accessible to us as to them. Our ancient
possessions in Canada, will in due season return to
us of their own accord; and, meanwhile, a double
portion of anxiety, and double provision of forts and
garrisons, will fall to the lot of the usurping English.
The progress of the French will expose their islands,
first to be excluded from the markets of Europe, and
next to be swallowed up by military power. At pre-

 image pending 52

sent, the protector and the enemy are at equal dis-
tance, but then there will only be a narrow frith
between the Missisippi and the isles, between the
invaders and the objects they covet, while the defen-
ders will be, as now, afar off; neither apprized of our
designs nor able to defeat them.

“This nation could not bury itself in a more in-
accessible fortress, than this valley. The mouths of
this river, as to all attacks by sea, are better than the
bastions of Malta. All around the entrance is im-
passable to men and horses, and the great channel is
already barred by forts, easily extended and improved.
Far better would it be for the English to divert our
attention from this quarter, by the sacrifice of Vallet-
ta or Gibralter!

“Can we imagine the English, so vigilant, so
prudent in all affairs connected with their maritime
empire; so quick in their suspicions; so prompt in
their precautions, can be blind to the dangers with
which this cession will menace them? No defeats
or humiliations, short of the conquest of their island
will make them acquiesce in such arrangements.

“It is contrary to all probability that either Spain
or England will be tractable, on this occasion; but if
the danger by being distant is invisible to them; or
if the present evils, arising to England from continu-
ance of the war, or to Spain from the resentment of
the French government, should outweigh, in their
apprehensions, all future evils, and prevail on one to
grant and on the other to connive at the grant, by
what arguments, by what promises, by what threats,

 image pending 53

by what hostile efforts, shall we extort the consent
of the American states? How shall we prevail on
them to alienate the most valuable portion of their
territory; to admit into their vitals a formidable and
active people, whose interests are incompatible in
every point with their own; whose enterprises will
inevitably interfere and jar with theirs; whose
neighbourhood will cramp all their movements; cir-
cumscribe their future progress to narrow and igno-
minious bounds; and make incessant inroads on their
harmony and independence?

“Of Spain they have no reason to entertain any
fears or suspicions. She is a harmless and an use-
ful neighbour. The colony that owns her sway must
forever stand still. All is imbecility and torpor,
where her influence is felt. The western regions
are at present an empty house, of which the states,
whenever it is perfectly convenient, may take a quiet
possession. Meanwhile the rights of the present
crazy old lord are very serviceable to the future clai-
ments, since they exclude those nations of Europe
who are ardent with youth and ambition; who would
be inclined to take effectual possession, and would
prove restless and dangerous neighbours.

“The states acquiesce in the title of Spain, only
on those politic principles. They tolerate her claims
only as far as their convenience has dictated. All
the eastern part of this great valley they have already
taken to themselves, and are proceeding, with incre-
dible rapidity, to cover it with farms and villages.
Such is the extent of this region, however, that some

 image pending 54

years must elapse before it can be fully appropriated.
Meanwhile it is no ones interest to cross the river.
The opposite dales may be resigned for a time to
the reign of nature, to the helpless savages, who will
sell it when wanted, for blankets and rum, or, what
is better, to the nominal authority of Spain; for this
authority will never stand in their way when they
chuse to pass or descend the river, and will, mean-
while, divert to other channels, the ambition and the
enterprise of France, England and Holland.

“The tenants of this valley find already the pas-
sage of the river indispensable to their existence.
Their surplus produce cannot be consumed at home,
and this is the only outlet to the ocean, by which it
can be sent abroad, and exchanged for something
which they can consume. The Spaniards are sta-
tioned at the mouth, and govern the passage of the
river, but they must not dare to intercept this pas-
sage. They must grant free ingress and egress to
the ships of the states; and as the vessels that bring
down the produce of the country, are unfit for the
broad sea, they must allow their town of New Or-
leans, to be a ware-house, to which the river-boats
may bring and deposite their cargo, and whence the
sea-boats, from the Atlantic states, may carry it away
at their leisure. And this communication must be
free from all restraints; all impediments; all customs;
unless a scanty rent for the quays, at which the ves-
sels unload, may deserve that name.

“On these conditions will they allow Spain to
domineer on this river. Their present wants require

 image pending 55

no more than a thorough-fare, to their eastern har-
bours; to the islands and to Europe; but this they
must have. When more is wanted than the privi-
lege of passing up and down the stream, Spain must
grant more or lose all. For Spain, in this quarter of
the world, is powerless. She exists here by the
sanctity of treaties, and the contempt and conveni-
ence of her neighbours. Should she dare to obstruct
the river, or to levy tribute on the passengers, her
empire would vanish like smoke. The hardy war-
riors of the upper country would fall down upon her
like lightning, and her feeble garrisons, unsupported
by her subjects, (for these are aliens to Spain) would
be swept away by the first torrent

“The American states are fully apprised of all
this. They know the advantage of the neighbour
they have, and can they be unacquainted with the spirit
of Frenchmen? Can they have already forgotten the
panic and dangers which encompassed them, when
the enterprising genius of France pressed upon them
in former times, from this very quarter and from
Canada? Their own force was unable to defend
them. Numerous succours from England were re-
quisite to drive the invaders beyond the mountains
which separate the Missisippi valley, and the Atlan-
tic colonies. They are no strangers to the progress
of the French, since that period in numbers and arts;
to the energy, with which the power of the nation is
now wielded by a single hand; to the force with which
it will overflow, when only one outlet is afforded….
And this will be the only outlet!

 image pending 56

“If the benefits to France be such, from colo-
nizing these regions; if the access be so easy to the
Mexican provinces, will the states be insensible to
these benefits, which we cannot appropriate to our-
selves without bereaving them? Benefits, somewhat
problematical, perhaps, in our case, but most certain
and most obvious in theirs. The foundations of
future empire, which we are to lay, by slow and pain-
ful emigrations they have already laid. Their colo-
nies have already made considerable progress in this
great valley. Emigration from the coast to the
western waters is constant and vast. Twenty years
ago, there were known to have passed the mountains
twenty thousand emigrants in one year. One of the
new formed states of this valley, could now supply
thirty thousand hardy warriors for any great enter-
prise. Even should they permit our entrance, can
we hold our footing against such powerful neigh-
bours? We shall have no option but to destroy or
be destroyed. Either our colonies must be absorbed
in theirs, or we must be engaged in incessant war.
With such inequality of forces and advantages the
issue cannot be adverse to them. Success will be
hopeless to us.”….

“These are plausible arguments, and have, I
know, been industriously whispered in the ear of
him, whose word will on this occasion be the law of
France, England and Spain; but these arguments
are nugatory. Plausible they are when first heard,
but, when closely examined, they disclose their own
confutation: for to what purpose do they tend? What

 image pending 57

do they mean who urge them? To discourage the
attempt? Spain will not listen, it seems, to such
demands. What then? Their conduct, when the
demand is made, will best decide the question. If
they will not listen, they will not. It is surely worth
the trouble of making the demand, even if their
concurrence be extremely improbable.

“But, in truth, all these difficulties exist only in
the dreams of the timorous. Who, that is not utter-
ly a stranger to the present state of Spain, does not
see that she dare not say nay to much more impor-
tant requisitions. If such be the consular will, Spain
will hasten to say…. “Let it be done” ….Woe be to
her, should she hesitate!

“But there is no fear of hesitation on her part.
Have we not the reins of peace and war in our own
hands? In adjusting the terms of the impending
treaty, may we not pay what regard we please to the
interests of Spain? And cannot we proportion this
regard to the kindness which she shews us? And
will she not readily give, what will be a blessing to
her to bestow? Will she not, to oblige her great ally,
yield that which has been only a burden and incum-
brance to her? Great as will be the advantage of this
province to us, it is only a devouring plague to her.
It has only hitherto defrauded the Spanish treasury
of a yearly million of dollars. All they have hitherto
enjoyed is the trouble and expense of governing.
We know the nation. Their absurd and flagitious
policy, which has trampled on every privilege and
happiness of their colonies, which aims, not at mul-

 image pending 58

tiplying men and ships, but at the accumulation of
gold and silver, has ruled only to weaken and des-
troy. To import cargoes of the precious metals into
Spain is the end of all her labours in the new world.
Whatever lessens this export is an evil she is anxious
to shake off. By the destruction of commerce, in
this colony; of that commerce by which the pecu-
niary income of the ruling state is increased; by fore-
going all tribute from the trade which the American
States prosecute before her eyes; by a profuse esta-
blishment, civil and ecclesiastical, this province has
only been a source of enormous expense. It is plain
that she cannot lessen this expense by impositions
and restrictions on the American trade. The States
would not bear this, though a natural consequence
of territorial property, and Spain is too feeble to
resist them.

“As to the possible evils to be dreaded for their
Peruvian and Mexican empires, they must place
their trust as others do in the sanctity of treaties.
And since the exclusion of the French, will only be
the admission of the Anglo-Americans, their safety
will not be enhanced by this exclusion. On the con-
trary, the cession will most probably prolong the
date of their power. The French will have a dif-
ferent interest from each of their neighbours. The
interests and hostilities of the American and Euro-
pean English, will engage part of their attention. If
Spanish America must, ultimately, be a prey to its
encroaching neighbours, it will longer escape vio-
lence when there are several assailants, who are jea-

 image pending 59

lous of each other's success, than when there is but

“Long ago would the lesser princes of Italy and
Germany have disappeared, if Sweden, France, Prus-
sia and Austria had not stood ready to snatch the
spoil from each other. Long ago would the Turkish
robbers have been driven back to their native deserts,
if any single nation of Europe had been suffered by
the rest to execute that easy task….But the Spaniards
know that Spain and America must one day fall asun-
der. Why then should they decline a present bene-
fit, in order to preclude one means of an event, which
yet by other means, if not by these, will inevitably

“As to England, all the disadvantages with which
this event is said to menace them, are real. All the
consequences just predicted, to her colonies, to her
trade, to her navy, to her ultimate existence, will in-
disputably follow. The scheme is eligible to us
chiefly on this account
, and these consequences, if
they rouse the English to a sturdier opposition,
ought likewise to stimulate the French to more stre-
nuous perseverance.

“But, in truth, every Frenchman must laugh
with scorn at the thought of British opposition.
What would the Spaniards say were they told by
the English….You must not give away this colony.
Though a great incumbrance to you, and a great
benefit to those whom it is your interest and duty to
oblige, you must by no means part with it…. What
patience, either in France or Spain, would tolerate an

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interference thus haughty, from an enemy to both?
But when is this opposition to be made? This is not
a subject of debate between the agents of England
and France. It falls not under their discussion. It
cannot therefore be the occasion of their interviews.
There is no room for opposition to what comes not
under our notice. The cession must be made with-
out their knowledge. It is only to be published by
its execution, and when the French are safely lodged
in the Missisippi, the gainsayings of the English will
be too late.

“Will they go to war in order to wrest it from
us? Against that event be it our future business to
provide. The First Consul will not be wanting to
such an exigence. A fleet and army will find a safe
lodgement in the Missisippi, and though it might be
possible for England to hinder the passage of the
ocean or the entrance of the river, they may be se-
curely defied when the ocean is passed, and the har-
bour is gained. The vantage-ground will then be
ours. We shall have reached a fortress, which an
hostile fleet cannot starve; which need not rely for
its subsistence on an open sea, between America and
France; which will enjoy, within itself, and in the
neighbouring states the means of recruiting all its
forces and magazines.

“But great as the evils are which England may
dread from this cession, the vigour of that nation can
no longer supply its resentment with arms. The
continuance of the war, or the speedy renewal of it,
are equally beyond their power. The terms we shall

 image pending 61

afford them, will be convenient to us, but indispensa-
ble to then. They may touch the sceptre we hold
out if they will, provided they allow Flanders and
Holland, Italy and Switzerland, Portugal and Spain,
to bow to our supremacy; provided we may purchase
South America from its present owners; provided
they molest us not in prescribing the future destiny
of Greece, Asia and Egypt….if they will not accept
the proffered olive upon these conditions, they may
take the consequence, and incur new wounds in the
vain endeavour to avoid death.

“But there is a nearer, and, it must be owned, a
more formidable nation to gain. If there be any truth
in the picture heretofore drawn of the value of this
province to France, it must be, in a still greater pro-
portion, of value to the American States. If the powers
of this rising nation were intrusted to the hands of
one wise man;….if the founder of the nation was still
its supreme magistrate and he had no wills to consult
but his own, the French most probably would never
be allowed to set their foot on that shore; but the
truth; the desirable truth, is, that opposition is the
least to be dreaded from those who have most reason
to oppose us. They whose interests are most mani-
fest may be most easily deceived; whose danger is
most imminent may most easily be lulled into secu-
rity. They whose vicinity to the scene of action
puts it most in their power to enact their own safety;
whose military force might be most easily assembled
and directed to this end, we shall have the least trou-
ble, in dividing, intimidating and disarming.

 image pending 62

“I come now to the last difficulty which the most
scrupulous objector has discovered: and this diffi-
culty will be dissipated with more ease than the rest.
On what foundation does it repose but the visionary
notion, that the conduct of nations is governed by
enlightened views to their own interest? The rulers
of nations have views of their own, and they are
gained by the gratification of these private views.
The more individuals there are that govern and the
more various their conditions and their character,
the more dissimilar are their interests, and the more
repugnant these interests to those of each other and
the interests of the whole.

“Was there ever a people who exhibited so motley
a character, who have vested a more limited and pre-
carious authority, in their rulers; who have multi-
plied so much the numbers of those that govern; who
have dispersed themselves over so wide a space; and
have been led by this local dispersion, to create so
many clashing jurisdictions and jarring interests, as
the States of America?

“They call themselves free, yet a fifth of their
number are slaves. That proportion of the whole peo-
ple are ground by a yoke more dreadful and debas-
ing than the predial servitude of Poland and Russia.
They call themselves one, yet all langnages are native
to their citizens: All countries have contributed
their outcasts and refuse to make them a people.
Even the race of Africa, a race not above, or only
just above the beasts, are scattered every where
among them, and in some of the districts of their

 image pending 63

empire are nearly a moiety of the whole. Already
there are near twenty states, each of which is govern-
ed by a law of its own; which have formed a common
union, on voluntary and mutable principles; and a
general constitution, whose end is to secure their
utmost efficacy to popular passions, and to prevent
the scattered members from coalescing into one sym-
metrical and useful body.* They are a people of
yesterday. Their institutions have just received
birth. Hence their characters and views are void
of all stability. Their prejudices are all discordant.
Their government is destitute of that veneration
which an ancient date, and of that distinctness and
certainty in its operations and departments which
long experience, confers. Their people are the slaves
of hostile interests; blown in all directions by fro-
ward passions; divided by inveterate factions, and the
dupes and partizans of all the elder nations by turns.

“Such is the people whom we it seems are to
fear, because their true interest would make them
our enemies; with whom we are to contend in nego-
ciation, or, if need be, in arms! We, who are as
much a proverb for our skill in diplomatics as in war:
who have all the unity in counsels; the celerity in
execution; the harmony of interests; the wisdom of
experience; and the force of compactness, of which
this patch-work republic is notoriously destitute.
Their numbers! That, when the parts are discordant,
is only fuel more easily kindled, and producing a

  * A different picture could not be expected from the court of the
First Consul. T.

 image pending 64

more extensive and unquenchable flame. Five mil-
lions of jarring and factious citizens are far less for-
midable than a disciplined and veteran legion of as
many thousands.

“But their opposition, like that of England, what-
ever efficacy it might have, when seasonably exerted,
will come too late
. This cession will be known to
America, as it will be to Europe, only by its execu-
tion. They, whom it would be easy perhaps to ex-
clude by shutting the door against them, it will be
impossible, when they are once in the house, to turn
out. To gain possession, we must get leave of door-
keeper Spain, and that being obtained, the English
on this side of the ocean, and their spurious progeny
beyond it, may rail and bustle as much as they

“Will the states go to war? And have we any
reason to dread their hostilities? Can they not be
easily diverted or intimidated from open violence?
Or should pacifying measures fail of success, are they
not susceptible of deeper wounds than they are able
to inflict?

“Let us consider the matter a little more dis-
tinctly, and all apprehensions on their account will
completely subside. Let us be just to ourselves, and
let us form our judgment of them, by the unerring
test of experience. Let us predict their future con-
duct from their past.

“This is a nation of pedlars and shopkeepers.
Money engrosses all their passions and pursuits.
For this they will brave all the dangers of land and

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water; they will scour the remotest seas, and pene-
trate the rudest nations. Their ruling passion being
money, no sense of personal or national dignity must
stand in the way of its gratification. These are an
easy sacrifice to the lust of gain, and the insults and
oppressions of foreigners are cheerfully borne, pro-
vided there is a recompense of a pecuniary nature.
Insults and injuries that affect not the purse, affect no
sense that they possess; and such is the seemingly
inconsistent influence of the mercenary passion, that
the pillage of their property, while it produces infi-
nite discontent and clamour, urges them to no re-
venge. The dictates of a generous nature, which
prefers honour to riches, and will hazard property
and life itself, in the assertion of its own or its coun-
try's wrongs, are strangers to their breasts. When
the counsel is war, they prudently reckon the ex-
pense, and determine rather to keep what is left them,
than to risk it in endeavouring to regain that of
which they have been robbed.

“Such is their history since they have grown to
sufficient size to attract historical attention. In a
former age, when attacked at their own doors, by
assailants who were obliged to cross the ocean to
reach them, they were panic struck and helpless,
and would have fallen an easy prey to their invaders,
had not succour been offered them by the fleets and
armies of England.

“Afterwards, when England sought a revenue
from them, by way of compensation for past and
future expenses, and ventured, for this purpose, to

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tax a ridiculous luxury called tea, the nation instantly complaints. England proceeded to coer-
cion, and the colonies to summon their citizens to
arms; but what an ignominious series of ineffectual
calls, of unskilful arrangements in the fiscal and mili-
tary departments! of successive defeats, which did
not prove fatal to their liberty, merely because their
country was too wide to be garrisoned; because the
adverse generals forbore to push them to their ruin;
and finally, because their ancient enemy deigned to
clothe their beggarly troops, to fill their empty maga-
zines, and to send his veterans to fight their battles.
By his aid they extorted from their British masters,
the acknowledgment of independence. Since this
period they have grown in wealth and numbers, and
have been busily employed in bringing their dis-
jointed members into some sort of combination; in
building up and pulling down their separate consti-
tutions; in quelling tumults excited by attempts to
levy taxes on a liquid poison called Whiskey, in sup-
plicating France and England, that they would be good
enough to repay the value of the plunder committed
by these nations on their commerce, and Spain, that
she would be pleased to let them pass up and down
the Missisippi; and in the most furious and disgrace-
ful animosities of party, fomented by the two great
rivals in Europe, and convertible at will into more
successful engines of conquest than armies and fleets.
Instead of providing for their own defence, against
foreign and domestic foes, by armed ships and disci-
plined troops, they have relied, on the power of in-

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treaty, and on a rabble of militia. Instead of assert-
ing their natural claim to the continent of North
America, they have left all their southern districts, and
the mouth of their most useful river in the hands of a
nation, despicable and defenceless; whose claims are
groundless and ridiculously asserted by themselves,
but formidable and fatal when transferred to others.

“What topics, likely to produce conviction, can
be urged by the advocates of hostile measures? The
future occupation of the western world, by a race
congenial to themselves; the extension of their name
and language over so large a part of the earth; the
future acquisition of the riches of Mexico; are splen-
did images which might seduce the sage in his
closet, or the despotic prince, whose private will is
the law of his people, and whose private ease would
not be impaired by the incidents of war, but are idle
and ineffectual dreams in the view of the farmer, tra-
der and artizan. These classes must provide imme-
diate bread for their children, and comfort and respect
for their old age. Chimerical and distant goods
would hardly extort from them a petty contribution
to the public; or tempt them to march a hundred
miles from home with a musket on their shoulder;
or to risque the rotting of the corn in their granaries
for want of a market; the loss of customers to their
shop; and the inaction of their ships for want of
freights. The rulers of America are either farmers
or merchants themselves, or they hold their powers
at the caprice of plowmen and helmsmen. Among
such there is rarely an understanding to conceive,

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much less any disposition to deny themselves their
customary pleasures, for the sake of national glory
or the benefit of distant generations.

“As for the prospect of future settlements on
new lands, they must have keen optics indeed, who
can look beyond the Missisippi. Ages must pass
away before the Miamie and Ohio will acquire equal
wealth and population with the Rhine and Danube.
The emigrant tide must flow westward for many
propitious years, before their great North-western
territory will be occupied even by such slender num-
bers as are at present found on their sea coast.

“We may, as long as we please, avoid encroach-
ing on their borders, or even disturbing them in the
pursuit of their own advantage. They have solemnly
acknowledged the rights of Spain to the western slope
of the great valley, and to the mouths of the river.
These rights will be transferred entire to us. We
shall not create unnecessary difficulties by exerting
too soon our rights over the passage of the river.
This is all that they have hitherto demanded. This
is all that their convenience will, for some time, de-
mand, and this we shall readily concede to them.

The prosperity of our colony will indeed de-
mand the exclusive possession of the river
. This
possession our station at the mouth of it, will give us
the right and the power to assume, but a short time
may be allowed to elapse before we claim it. We
must first make sure our footing: and yet it would
be strange if ten thousand veterans in a colony that

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is still French, did not make sure this footing, after
one day's military occupation of the province.

“Should we bar up this passage immediately, or
levy custom on the passengers, what will be the
consequence? They will send embassadors to France
to explain their rights, to solicit redress for the wrong.
Etiquette will make a thousand delays. The com-
mon forms of diplomatic discussion, will create a
thousand more. New terms may be given to
the controversy; new embassadors and new powers
will follow the old, and the distance of the parties
will put to as great a distance the appeal to arms;….
and the worst that can ensue, will be the necessity
of warring with an undisciplined and faithless rabble.

“A careless observer may imagine that in a con-
test between the American States and France, the
disadvantage must be wholly on our side; but this is
a strange opinion; for in the first place the States are
vulnerable in every way and at every point. They
have extensive commerce, which is undefended by a
navy. They have a long line of sea coast, on which
all their great towns are situated, and which hostile
armaments will find every where accessible. The
greater part of their national revenue flows from their
foreign commerce. To molest or despoil that,
therefore, is to aim at the sources of their whole
strength. To pillage or destroy their great towns,
is to inflict wounds equally mortal. Their inland
frontier is a waste, destitute of all defence against
invasion, and unfitted for the maintenance, or march
of armies into an hostile territory.

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But the great weakness of these States arises
from their form of government, and the condition and
habits of the people. Their form of government,
and the state of the country, is an hot-bed for faction
and sedition. The utmost force of all the wisdom
they possess, is exerted in keeping the hostile parts
together. These parts are unlike each other, and
each one has the individualizing prejudices of a sepa-
rate state; all the puerile jealousies of the greatness
of others; all the petty animosities which make neigh-
bours quarrel with each other without cause. How
slight an additional infusion is requisite to set this
heterogeneous mass into commotion? to make the
different parts incline different ways, on the great
question of war?

The master of the Missisippi will be placed so
as to controul, in the most effectual manner, these in-
ternal waves. It is acknowledged that he holds in his
hands the bread of all the settlements, westward of
the hills. He may dispense, or withhold at his plea-
sure. See we not the mighty influence that this
power will give us over the counsels of the States?

“Nature has divided this nation, by the hills that
turn the great waters opposite ways. The interests
of those who shall occupy the two slopes of the great
valley are the same. Mountains separate mankind;
rivers draw them together. The maritime and the
fluvial States are combined by accident. The con-
stant tendency is to part, while the tendency is no less
strong in the States divided by the river, to coalesce.
These different tendencies, is the easy province of

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France, in her new colony, to manage so as to make
their enmity or rivalship harmless to us.

“The peculiar colour of their factions is, also,
extremely favourable to the designs of a powerful
and artful neighbour. They quarrel about forms of
government. These forms are not subtile threads,
and scarcely visible, drawn from the bowels of their
own invention, but are the gross and clumsy models
taken from European examples. The rivalship be-
tween France and England has extended to the spe-
culations of this people, and by natural consequence,
a prejudice is thus created, which makes one faction
friendly to France and the other to England.

“One party is extremely sensible to all the en-
croachments of the English. Here their vigilance is
all alive. They have great facility at discovering
harm, when it comes from this quarter. They are
prone to every thing which may give offence to the
nation they bitterly hate. They rejoice in its dis-
tresses. They mourn at its triumphs. On the con-
trary, they are governed by a bias equally strong in
favour of France. Their hearts are ours, even when
their heads would disapprove. They conceal or pal-
liate our crimes; they pity our calamities; they con-
nive at injuries and insults from us. Suspicious,
vengeful and irrascible to England, their “charity
thinks no wrong, endures much, and is easy of en-
treaty” to Frenchmen.

“What obvious and convenient tools will these
prove in any critical affairs! How easy to enforce
this natural bias, by arguments addressed to their

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selfish passions, and personal interests. We have
learned to set its true price on republican virtue and
national spirit. The same glaring illusions that
brought Holland, Switzerland, and Genoe into our
snares, will, with as much facility, entrap republics
that will lie more at our mercy, and of which the
members are more dissonant and motley.

“This party, always formidable in its spirit and
numbers, has lately gotten the mastery. The majo-
rity of the people, and their present rulers, are pliant
clay fittest for our use. From these we may exact
neutrality to all our schemes. They will take pains
to shut their eyes against future evils. They will be
remarkably quick sighted to the dangers of a rupture
with us. Their scruples against the violations of
treaties and against offensive war, will be wonderfully
strong. They will eagerly swallow the opiates that
we shall provide for them, and thank us for any po-
tion that annihilates their own fears or enables them
to lull those of the people.

“And not without strong reason may they de-
precate a quarrel with France, whom its new position
on their borders, will render a useful friend, but a
fatal enemy. When war becomes the topic of dis-
course, this people will turn their eyes to the
calamities of St. Domingo, and then to their own
provinces, where the same intestine plague exists in
a degree equally formidable, and where their utmost
care is requisite to prevent the struggling mischief
from bursting its bonds.

 image pending 73

“Devoted to the worst miseries, is the nation
which harbours in its bosom a foreign race, brought,
by fraud and rapine, from their native land; who are
bereaved of all the blessings of humanity; whom a
cruel servitude inspires with all the vices of brutes
and all the passions of demons; whose injuries have
been so great that the law of self-preservation obliges
the State to deny to the citizen the power of making
his slave free; whose indelible distinctions of form,
colour, and perhaps of organization, will forever pre-
vent them from blending with their tyrants, into one
people; who foster an eternal resentment at oppres-
sion, and whose sweetest hour would be that which
buried them and their lords in a common and im-
measurable ruin.

“With what prudence can this nation attack a
neighbour, who can fan at pleasure, the discontents of
this intestine enemy; who can give union, design,
and arms to its destructive efforts at revenge? Who
can raise, at any moment, a Spartacus or L'Ouver-
ture to distract the counsels, and employ the force
which might otherwise annoy himself; whose own
sad experience has informed him of the power of
this weapon against the public peace; whom the
maxims of war will justify in turning this weapon
against his enemy; and whose local situation enables
him to raise this weapon with most facility, and direct
it with most force?

“This nation is not insensible to all these dan-
gers. An example is before their eyes of the con-
sequences of a servile war. Their country is full

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of exiles from the scene of such a warfare. Their
travellers, their daily papers supply them with the
picture, in all its circumstantial horrors. They are
shaken by panics on this very account already, and
no consideration would have a stronger influence on
their conduct than this.

“There is still another rein, however, by which
the fury of the States may be held in at pleasure….
by an enemy placed on their western frontiers. The
only aliens and enemies within their borders, are not
the blacks. They indeed are the most inveterate in
their enmity; but the Indians are, in many respects,
more dangerous inmates. Their savage ignorance,
their undisciplined passions, their restless and war-
like habits, their notions of ancient right, make them
the fittest tools imaginable for disturbing the states.
In the territory adjacent to the Ohio, Missisippi and
Missouri, there are more than thirty thousand men,
whose trade is hunting and whose delight is war.
These men lie at the mercy of any civilized nation
who live near them. Such a neighbour can gain
their friendship or provoke their enmity with equal
ease. He can make them inactive, or he can rouse
them to fury: He can direct their movement in any
way he pleases, and make it mischievous or harmless
by supplying their fury with arms and with leaders,
or by withholding that supply.

“The English colonies have been miserably
harassed, in all the stages of their progress, by these
savage tribes. At an early period, they suffered
terrible disasters from that quarter, and were some-

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times nearly driven from the country. As the colo-
nies advanced the Indians declined, but while the
enlargement of the circle of settlements gave safety
to the centre, the borders of the circle were infested
as before.

“There was some egregious defect in the colo-
nial policy, which exposed them, at all times, to
these evils: but in the two American wars, it was
no wonder that the sword and fire of the Indians
committed such multiplied mischiefs, as they were
guided by the French at one time, and by the British
at another. Since their revolution, when these pow-
erful agents have been withdrawn, the hostility of
these tribes has cost them much treasure and a great
many lives, and their neutrality is purchased by large
and constant subsidies.

“The pliant and addressful spirit of the French
has always given them an absolute controul over these
savages. The office, which the laziness or the inso-
lence of the British found impracticable, was easily
performed by us;….and will be still easier hereafter,
since we shall enter on the scene with more advan-
tages than formerly.

“We shall detach thither a sufficient force to
maintain possession against all the efforts of the
States, should they, contrary to all their interests,
proceed to war with or without provocation. We
shall find, in the Indian tribes, an army permanently
cantoned in the most convenient stations; endowed
with skill and temper best adapted to the nature and
the scene of war, and armed and impelled with far

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less trouble and expense than an equal number of
our own troops. We shall find a terrible militia,
infinitely more destructive, while scattered through
the hostile settlements, and along an open frontier,
than an equal force of our own. We shall find, in
the bowels of the States, a mischief that only wants
the touch of a well-directed spark to involve in its ex-
plosion, the utter ruin of half their nation. Such will
be the powers we shall derive from a military station
and a growing colony on the Missisippi. These

will be certain and immediate effects, whatever dis-
tance or doubt there may be in the remoter benefits
to France, on which I have so warmly expatiated.
As a curb on a nation whose future conduct, in peace
and war, will be of great importance to us, this pro-
vince will be cheaply purchased at ten times the cost
to which it will subject us.”….

I have now gone through the reveries of this
Frenchman. I was unwilling to stop, or to omit any
of his topics, though some of them may be thought
fanciful, and his style, notwithstanding my pruning
knife, may be charged with redundancy. It cannot
but be useful for us to know the notions of the French,
on a subject which late transactions have rendered
of so much moment to us. To be fully aware of the
hopes and views of this restless government could
not fail to profit us at any time, but now that an un-
expected incident, has put into our hands the means
of preventing every real, as well as possible evil, to
be dreaded from the entrance of the French into Ame-
rica; it seems in the highest degree desirable to

 image pending 77

know the full extent of these real and possible

This writer has given such a portrait of us as
was most suitable to his views. Our national pride
will induce us to deny, perhaps, the truth of the pic-
ture; and surely we are not quite so fluctuating and
distracted in our counsels, so irreconcileable in our
interests; so inveterate in our factions as he thinks
proper to paint us. With all our faults, are we, in-
deed, incapable of vengeance for unmerited wrong?
Is our country, its rights, its honour, its prosperity,
no dearer to us than any foreign land? Do the peo-
ple of the coast regard as aliens and enemies, those
beyond the mountains? Those of the northern
states, however distant in place and dissimilar in
manners, do they regard with no paternal emotions,
the happiness or misery of their southern country-
men? Is our government a tottering fabric which the
breath of foreign emissaries can blow down at their
pleasure? Has corruption made such strides among
us, that the purse-holders of France can purchase our
forbearance, when our nearest interests, our most
manifest honour are assailed?

No. The American war supplies us with an
eternal confutation of the slander. It was then evi-
dent that the ploughman and mechanic at either end
of the continent, could recognize a common interest
with each other; could sacrifice their case, their for-
tunes, their lives, to secure a remote and general
benefit; that the passion for gain could not deter us
from repelling encroachments on our liberty, at the

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cost of every personal advantage; that all the byasses
in favour of the nation we sprung from; the sense of
internal weakness; the want of forts, armies, and
arms, of unity of government and counsels, slackened
not the zeal of our resistance, against a nation that
abounded in all that we wanted. Mutinous slaves in
the heart of our country; hostile garrisons and for-
tresses on one side; numerous and tumultuous sava-
ges around us; the ocean scoured by the fleets of
our enemy; our sea ports open to their inroads; a reve-
nue to create out of paper; the force of an established
government….all these affrighted not the men of that
day from the pursuit of an end most abstracted from
personal ends; from the vulgar objects of gain; an
end which only a generous spirit, a mind that makes
the good of posterity and distant neighbours its own,
that prefers liberty and all its hardships to servitude,
that hugs her chain in pomp;….could have loved with
ardour, and pursued with perseverance.

And what change has twenty years made, that
should make us doubt the display of equal spirit on
the same occasion? Has this period added nothing to
our numbers and wealth? Has the enjoyment of inde-
pendence only weakened our affection for it? Is it
easier to fetter the full grown man, than to keep the
child from bursting his bonds? Has a national govern-
ment, and twelve years of its benign influence, done
nothing towards the union and coherence of the
states? Surely the force of the nation; the power of
directing it to common ends; the wisdom and fore-
sight of its rulers; the jealousy of foreigners are not

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lessened by the progress of time; the increase of
wealth, numbers and harmony, and the contempla-
tion of European scenes. The French, in posses-
sion of the Missisippi, and incroaching on our rights
or our territory, would surely find no irresolute or
despicable enemies. Their garrisons could hardly
be so strong, or their settlements so rapid, as to repel
the whole force of the states. The French cannot
occupy the river but to our exclusion. They will
not fail to use their own ground, and to exclude others
from the use of it. This will drive the parties to a
war. This consequence is unavoidable. And what
force from Europe can stand in competition with our
force, exerted on our own ground? The ultimate
event of such contentions is too plain to be missed
by the blindest archer. Provocation could not fail
to be given by one party; resentment to be manifested
by the other; and the contest to terminate in the de-
liverance of America from every foreign intruder.

But let us not indulge a prejudice as far beyond
the truth as that of the Frenchman falls short of it.
Let us not overrate our own force or underrate that
of France. It cannot be denied that our intestine
disputes, though no more than are incident to human
, under popular forms of government, and
though less unruly and ferocious than the popular
commotions of other states, have led to national pre-
ferences, too favourable to the arts of intriguers. It
is plain that our division into numerous states, tends
to the production of hostile sentiments, and promotes
the success of those who wish to conquer by disarm-

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ing, to resist by dividing us; the blacks are a bane
in our vitals, the most deadly that ever nation was
infested with. They are indeed a train of powder,
so situated as to make it not impossible for the French
in Louisiana, to set fire to it. The Indians have ever
been destructive neighbours whom it has been ex-
tremely difficult for us to manage, but by some pecu-
liarity in the formation of Frenchmen, always easily
controuled by them. A war in these half peopled
wilds, even against savages, has always been vexa-
tious and expensive. Our new neighbours will make
a considerable preparation for war, at all times neces-
sary, and an actual war against them, will only be
less doubtful in its issue, less tedious in its progress,
and less destructive of life and revenue, than the war
of the revolution. It would be vain to deny these

No man can look upon these evils with indiffe-
rence. Yet no wise man will think a renewal of all
the devastations of our last war, too great a price to
give for the expulsion of foreigners from this land;
for securing to our own posterity, the possession of
this continent.

We have a right to the possession. The inte-
rests of the human race demand from us the exer-
tion of this right. These interests demand that the
reign of peace and concord should be diffused as
widely, and prolonged as much as possible. By unity
of manners, laws and government, is concord pre-
served, and this unity will be maintained, with as
little danger of interruption, as the nature of human

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affairs will permit, by the gradual extension of our
own settlements, by erecting new communities as fast
as the increase of these settlements requires it, and by
sheltering them all under the pacific wing of a fede-
ral government.

To introduce a foreign nation, all on fire to ex-
tend their own power; fresh from pernicious con-
quests; equipped with all the engines of war and
violence; measuring their own success by the ruin
of their neighbours; eager to divert into channels of
their own, the trade and revenue which have hitherto
been ours; raising an insuperable mound to our
future progress; spreading among us, with fatal dili-
gence, the seeds of faction and rebellion….What
more terrible evil can befal us? What more fatal
wound to the future population, happiness and con-
cord of this new world? The friend of his country
and of mankind, must regard it with the deepest hor-

It will cost some anxiety, some treasure, some
lives, to drive this formidable neighbour from his
post; but such are the fatal consequences of allowing
his possession, that the whole force of the States ought
to be instantly directed to this quarter. Our whole
zeal; all our passions ought to be engaged in its
success….For the dullest apprehension cannot fail to
perceive, that every new moment adds strength to
the enemy; and multiplies the evils we have to fear.

But why all these efforts to inspire courage? The
enemy is not at hand. The French have not yet en-
tered the river. We need not put ourselves in war-

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like array against ten or fifteen thousand veterans;
and bring up ships and cannon to dislodge them from
their strong hold. The course of events is as if
modelled by some tutelary angel of America. In-
stead of gaining the first knowledge of the design, by
the execution of it, the execution is delayed long
after the design is formed and known. Abundant
leisure is afforded to deliberate and resolve, and the
means suddenly and unexpectedly thrown into our
hands of preventing all these evils, without hazard or
expense; without incurring or inflicting any of the
miseries of war.

The cession of this province to France has never
been formally avowed. This official publication was
unnecessary. For the reasons stated by this memo-
rialist, which are evidently just reasons, it would have
been injurious. It would only have created cavils
and obstacles on both sides of the ocean. Such an
important event, however could not fail to be sus-
pected, and all difficulties were to be precluded by
its rapid execution. Measures for this end were
taken with that dispatch which distinguishes all the
conduct of the present ruler of France.

Our good genius, however, seems to have been
active in befriending us on this occasion, and made
of no avail the wisdom of his counsellers. The pride
of a conqueror would not brook a partnership with
the negro chief of St. Domingo. His vanity could
not question, for a moment, the success of his arms
against a nation of quondam slaves. As to the
havock of such a war, of all conquerors Bonaparte

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has been the most prodigal of human life, and the
general peace has made the murder of half his sol-
diers, not at all to be regretted: Nay, it has been no
undesirable consequence. As to the danger of
delays, he has said—“ My designs on the Missisippi
will never be officially announced, till they are exe-
cuted. Meanwhile the world if it pleases, may fear
and suspect, but nobody will be wise enough to go
to war to prevent them. I shall trust to the folly of
England and America, to let me go my own way in
my own time.”*

Events have happened which pride would not
foresee. All the preparations of the French were
immediately engrossed by their island war. Instead
of a prompt submission from the blacks, a delay of
a few days to settle the government, and a speedy
prosecution of the voyage to Louisiana, an arduous
conflict commenced, and, agreeably to the prediction
of the memorialist, the flower of the Italian and
Egyptian armies has fallen before the sword and the
pestilence. The island is further from conquest than
ever, but such are the illusions of vulgar glory, that
their resolution to conquer it is only strengthened by
past misfortunes. Extermination is now the word,
and the point of honour will not allow them to recede.

Meanwhile the fate of the Missisippi is suspend-
ed. The colonists look forward with despair to the
threatened invasion. They are weary of the intole-
rable yoke of Spain. Their birth on the soil and the

  * Words said to have been repeated by Talleyrand, as those of Bonaparte.

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separation of their government from France, have
annihilated all the ties which once connected them
with their parent country. They remember when
that parent country made them over as a worthless
chattel to their present rulers. They recall the
bloody acts with which the new tyranny commenced.
They feel that their birth and situation have made
them interests of their own, separate from those of
European powers; and uniting them with the neigh-
bouring states, whose mild and equitable policy
seeks to make, not slaves but citizens; not to impose
a foreign and military yoke, and the burden of main-
taining a numerous army, but to raise them to the dig-
nity of ruling themselves and to secure to them the
benefits of union and peace. This picture their for-
boding fancy contrasts with the new restrictions, the
arbitrary levies on their property and persons, and the
insolence of foreign troops which will inevitably
ensue the arrival of the French agents. Many of
them, though Spaniards by name, are emigrants from
these States, or from the British islands. To such,
an alliance with us is the subject of their passionate
longings: the approach of the myrmidons of Bona-
parte, the object of their deepest dread.

But their only portion, till lately, has been despair.
They have looked in vain towards the states for any
movement in their favour. These states have im-
plicitly acknowledged the rights of Spain. They have
exacted nothing but the freedom of the river; and as
long as Spain faithfully performs this condition, the

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States are bound by their solemn stipulations to re-
frain from new encroachments.

The transfer to France, indeed, is a virtual infrac-
tion of the treaty. It is now wholly at an end. The
new possessors will hold themselves free from all
former obligations. The States will be placed in a
new relation. There is no compact between Ame-
rica and France relative to this river. To transfer the
country, without our leave or knowledge, to another,
when our dearest interests forbid this transfer, is a
manifest breach of his engagements in the present
lord. To drive him out, therefore, without delay,
is a just proceeding. At least, to forbid the trans-
fer, and to prevent its execution, by forcible means,
if need be, is indisputably just.

But this, alas! (exclaims the colonist), though
unspeakably desirable to us, whose interests, surely,
are of greatest moment in the question, if reason and
not prejudice were umpire in the fray;….though
essential to the interests of the States, who will there-
by escape a thousand calamities, and secure to them-
selves and their posterity, a million of benefits, will
never occur to their governors. Timerous and paci-
fic is their policy, and they will never be aroused to
arms, till the new possessors reject all their overtures
to friendship; till they cut off the subsistence of the
western people, by shutting up the river. Then the
magnitude of the evil may drive them reluctantly
to arms, and they will fight under the infinite disad-
vantages from which seasonable and precautionary
measures would be free.

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Such is the melancholy strain which the conduct
of the States has hitherto but too well justified. We
have looked on with stupid apathy, while European
powers toss about among themselves the property
which God and Nature have made ours.

Far be it from me to sanctify the claim of conquest.
America is ours, not only as the interest of the
greater number, and of future generations, is the pa-
ramount and present interest; and therefore Louisi-
ana is ours, even if to make it so, we should be obliged
to treat its present inhabitants as vassals: but it is
ours, because the interests of that people and of our-
selves are common: not only because the peace and
happiness of these States assign it to us, but because
their welfare claims our alliance and protection.

To these pleas, however, our rulers have been
hitherto deaf; and fortune, as if to put our discretion
to the hardest test, as if to take away from our con-
duct, every possible excuse, has, at last, thrown the
golden apple at our feet. It now lies before us, and
we need only to stoop to take it up.

I need not dwell minutely on recent events. We
all know the terms of our treaty with Spain. We
know that they were plain and unequivocal; that not
only the river was to be free to us, but that a ware-
house was to be provided on the river, where the in-
land and foreign trade might conveniently meet and
exchange their cargoes….Each of these conditions
have been broken. New-Orleans is shut against us.
No other depository is provided for us. A disgrace-
ful and exorbitant tribute is levied on the commerce
of the river.

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Shall we try to explain this conduct in the inten-
dant of the province? Is he not a native of the soil?
Has he not large possessions in the country? Has he
not the Creole jealousy of Spain; the national antipa-
thy to France? Does he not call the province his
country; and does he not desire the promotion of his
own importance, and his country's true interests, by
the only measure likely to rouse the states into ac-
tion? Were the heads of our government endowed
with the French subtlety, we should incline to sus-
pect a concert on this great occasion between them
and the Spanish officers….Or is this breach of treaty
committed in pursuance of the mandate of Bonaparte
who disdains to take the gift, clogged with any trou-
blesome or disagreeable conditions? Or is it the blun-
der of a well-meaning man, dressed in a little brief
, who interprets the treaty in this manner?

None of these suppositions are improbable, ex-
cept the last. But the true clue to the riddle is un-
doubtedly this. Spain, however loth, could not refuse
this province when imperiously demanded by France;
but her cunning suggested an expedient, by which
the French might be prevented from obtaining pos-
session, without exposing herself to any blame. Se-
cret orders, orders not to be avowed,
were dispatched,
that, on the arrival of official information of a general
peace, the treaty between Spain and the States,
should be broken by the shutting up of the port.
They hoped that this flagrant provocation would in-
stantly rouse the States to arms; that their troops
would, without delay, fall down the river, and the

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province be thus transferred to a nation, whose paci-
fic policy and fidelity to their engagements make
them far more eligible neighbours to new and old
Mexico, than the restless, ambitious and warlike
French. No one that reflects upon this event, can
fail to explain it in this manner; for all resistance to
an army from the States is chimerical. No one in
Lousiana dreams that resistance will be made, or is
intended. The conquest will not cost a single drop
of blood.

No matter, however, for the cause. We are only
concerned for the event, and its effects. By whom-
soever it was peformed, it was undoubtedly dictated
by the good genius of America, since by this means
only could our true interests be made manifest to
every eye. By this means only could every heart
be engaged in the cause. By this means only could
an effectual impulse be given to the people of the
Western country. This impulse is now given. The
nature of this injury is perfectly intelligible to men
of every profession and rank. The merchant, the
artizan, the planter, comprehend with equal clearness,
in what manner, and to what extent the obstruction
of the river will affect their private interests. They
are eager to act in this cause, for the same reasons
which would prompt them to act against the midnight
robber. They lay their hands already on their mus-
quets, and look with one accord, to the general go-
vernment for orders to march.

They hesitate, they wait for orders, only because
they are sure that the desired leave will be given.

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The flimsy cobweb of law will not restrain them.
They profess the most obsequious readiness to do
what the government will please to enjoin; but this
obsequiousness is built on nothing but the firm be-
lief that they will be enjoined to do what they are
already resolved to do.

They cannot conceive any motive in the govern-
ment for hesitation. There is no formidable prepa-
ration to make; no mercenary army to levy; no float-
ing batteries to build and to equip. The boats
that carry down the trader and his goods, are ready
and willing to carry soldiers. In this cause, the
crews are eager to add muskets to their oars. There
are less than two thousand wretched soldiers dis-
persed throughout the province, in posts fit only to
surrender to the first shot or the first summons. The
inclinations of the people are our allies; and if hin-
dered for a moment, from affording us active succour,
would aid us by all the means that unarmed citizens

The government will not hesitate for fear of
France; for the fear of France must stimulate to ex-
pedition. France is to be dreaded only or chiefly on
the Missisippi. The deadliest blows from that nation
must come from that quarter. To prevent their
entrance, therefore, is the most urgent measure of
defence. Assailable we may be, and exposed to
annoyance from other quarters, but here their as-
saults will inflict inexpressibly greater mischiefs than
elsewhere. If they have made no such bargain as
we dread with Spain, or will never carry the sale into

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effect, our conduct can neither injure nor provoke
them. If the bargain is made, we are not officially
informed of it. We resent the conduct of Spain.
We attack a Spanish province. If the French resent
the attack as made upon themselves, or demand the
restitution, let them resent and demand. We shall
not, surely, buy their friendship by putting a poniard
in their hand, and opening our bosom to the stroke.
We shall not value their resentment, since it is in-
curred by an act of self-defence, and since the admis-
sion of their troops, or the restitution of the province,
will be a deeper injury to us, than their most impla-
cable resentment can inflict.

The government will not hesitate, because pacific
means ought first to be employed. They will not
dare to send their messengers across the ocean, with
memorials and remonstrances under one arm, and
books of the law of nations under the other. They
will not make the rights of their country, in this re-
spect, the subject of tedious and impertinent discus-
sions. With the means of reparation in their own
hands, will they have the execrable folly to forbear
effectuating their claims, and doing justice to them-
selves? Will they argue by means of envoys, with a
despot, three thousand miles off, when assertions and
replies must travel to and fro for months at a time,
while the honest citizen stands ready, at a moment's
notice to open the door to liberty and commerce, but
is not suffered to move a step? It is for us to redress
the wrong by our own power, and then to give a
candid hearing to those whom our conduct has of-

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fended. It is for us to be besieged with petitions and
remonstrances, and give an audience to those who
may properly demand it at our own doors.

The government must not hesitate. The western
people will not be trifled with. They will not bear
that injuries to their dearest rights should excite no
emotion in that government whose claim to their re-
gard is founded on the equality and efficacy of its
protection. There never was a time when this go-
vernment might gain the hearts of that important por-
tion of its citizens more effectually than now. To
let the opportunity pass unimproved, will be a deadly
wound to its popularity. It will probably be fol-
lowed by some immediate act of rebellion. The
loss of the affections of the western states will be the
certain consequence. And what inexpiable evils
will ensue, should the French be enabled, by this
delay, to take possession?

Their warlike bands, far different from the
wretched militia of Spain, in spirit as in numbers,
will instantly disperse themselves over the province.
Every station favourable to defence, will be marked
by their skilful eyes, fortified with diligence, supplied
with artillery, and magazines, and manned with their
veteran soldiers. Their chief town, besides a little
army in its walls, will be compassed by forts and
bulwarks. The banks of the river will be lined with
trenches and cannon, and the empire of the Missi-
sippi, unless regained by some great, sudden, and
strenuous effort, will be lost to us forever.

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It is impossible to say but at this crisis, a single
hour may decide our destiny. Yet not hours only,
but weeks and months have been suffered to pass idly
away. Perhaps the government may not be without
excuse for deliberating hitherto, and a legislative
co-operation may have been thought requisite on so
important an occasion. This concurrence may now
be had, since all the branches of the government are
now assembled. On them, therefore, are the eyes of
every citizen now turned, with impatience and anxi-

FROM YOU, assembled Representatives, do we
demand that you would seize the happy moment for
securing the possession of America to our posterity:
for ensuring the harmony and union of these States:
for removing all obstacles to the future progress of
our settlements: for excluding from our vitals the
most active and dangerous enemy that ever before
threatened us: for gaining the affections of your wes-
tern citizens by enforcing their rights: by rescuing
their property from ruin. Give us not room to ques-
tion your courage in a case where courage is truly a
virtue; to doubt your wisdom, when the motives to
decide your conduct are so obvious and forcible.
The iron is now hot; command us to rise as one man,
and strike!


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