New York, August 29, 1790


That New Orleans and the Spanish posts on the Mississippi will be among the first attempts of the English, in case of a war with Spain, appears very probable; and that a combined operation from Detroit would be convenient to that end, cannot be doubted. The consequences on the western settlements, on the commerce with the West Indies, and on the general security and tranquillity of the American Confederation, of having them in our rear and on both our flanks, with their navy in front, are very obvious.

The interest of the United States duly weighed, and their duty conscientiously considered, point out to them, in the case of such a war, a neutrality, as long as it may be practicable. The people of these States would not willingly support a war, and the present government has not strength to command, nor enough of the general confidence of the nation to draw, the men or money necessary, until the grounds, causes, and necessity of it should become generally known and universally approved. A pacific character, in opposition to a warlike temper, a spirit of conquest, or a disposition to military enterprise, is of great importance to us to preserve in Europe; and, therefore, we should not engage, even in defensive war, until the necessity of it should become apparent, or, at least, until we have it in our power to make it manifest in Europe as well as at home.

In order to preserve an honest neutrality, or even the reputation of a disposition to it, the United States must avoid, as much as possible, every real wrong, and even every appearance of injury to either party. To grant to Lord Dorchester, in case he should request it, permission to march troops through the territory of the United States, from Detroit to the Mississippi, would not only have an appearance, offensive to the Spaniards, of partiality to the English, but would be a real injury to Spain. The answer, therefore, to his Lordship, should be a refusal, in terms clear and decided, but guarded and dignified; in a manner which no power has more at command than the President of the United States.

If a measure so daring, offensive, and hostile, as the march of troops through our territory to attack a friend, should be hazarded by the English without leave, or especially after a refusal, it is not so easy to answer the question what notice ought to be taken of it.

The situation of our country is not like that of most of the nations in Europe. They have, generally, large numbers of inhabitants in narrow territories. We have small numbers scattered over vast regions. The country through which the Britons must pass from Detroit to the Mississippi is, I suppose, so thinly inhabited, and at such a distance from all the populous settlements, that it would be impossible for the President of the United States to collect militia or march troops sufficient to resist the enterprise. After the step shall have been taken, there are but two ways for us to proceed; one is war, and the other negotiation. Spain would probably remonstrate to the President of the United States; but whether she should or not, the President of the United States should remonstrate to the King of Great Britain. It would not be expected, I suppose, by our friends or enemies, that the United States should declare war at once. Nations are not obliged to declare war for every injury, or even hostility. A tacit acquiescence, under such an outrage, would be misinterpreted on all hands; by Spain as inimical to her, and by Britain as the effect of weakness, disunion, and pusillanimity. Negotiation, then, is the only other alternative.

Negotiation, in the present state of things, is attended with peculiar difficulties. As the King of Great Britain twice proposed to the United States an exchange of ministers, once through Mr. Hartley, and once through the Duke of Dorset, and when the United States agreed to the proposition, flew from it; to send a minister again to St. James’s, till that court explicitly promises to send one to America, is a humiliation to which the United States ought never to submit. A remonstrance from sovereign to sovereign cannot be sent but by an ambassador of some order or other; from minister of state to minister of state it might be transmitted in many other ways. A remonstrance, in the form of a letter from the American Minister of State to the Duke of Leeds, or whoever may be secretary of state for foreign affairs, might be transmitted through an envoy, minister plenipotentiary, or ambassador of the President of the United States at Paris, Madrid, or the Hague, and through the British ambassador at either of those courts. The utmost length that can be now gone, with dignity, would be to send a minister to the court of London, with instructions to present his credentials, demand an audience, make his remonstrance; but to make no establishment, and demand his audience of leave, and quit the kingdom in one, two, or three months, if a minister of equal degree were not appointed, and actually sent, to the President of the United States from the King of Great Britain.

It is a misfortune that, in these critical moments and circumstances, the United States have not a minister of large views, mature age, information, and judgment, and strict integrity, at the courts of France, Spain, London, and the Hague. Early and authentic intelligence from those courts may be of more importance than the expense; but, as the representatives of the people, as well as of the legislatures, are of a different opinion, they have made a very scanty provision for but a part of such a system. As it is, God knows where the men are to be found who are qualified for such missions, and would undertake them. By an experience of ten years, which made me too unhappy at the time to be ever forgotten, I know that every artifice which can deceive, every temptation which can operate on hope or fear, ambition or avarice, pride or vanity, the love of society, pleasure, or amusement, will be employed to divert and warp them from the true line of their duty, and the impartial honor and interest of their country.

To the superior lights and information derived from office, the more serene temper and profound judgment of the President of the United States, these crude and hasty thoughts concerning the points proposed are humbly submitted, with every sentiment of respect and sincere attachment, by his
Most obedient and most humble servant,

John Adams.


United States, August 27, 1790

Provided the dispute between Great Britain and Spain should come to the decision of arms, from a variety of circumstances (individually unimportant and inconclusive, but very much the reverse when compared and combined) there is no doubt in my mind that New Orleans and the Spanish posts above it on the Mississippi will be among the first attempts of the former, and that the reduction of them will be undertaken by a combined operation from Detroit.

The consequences of having so formidable and enterprising a people as the British on both our flanks and rear, with their navy in front, as they respect our western settlements which may be seduced thereby, as they regard the security of the Union and its commerce with the West Indies, are too obvious to need enumeration.

What, then, should be the answer of the executive of the United States to Lord Dorchester, in case he should apply for permission to march troops through the territory of the said States from Detroit to the Mississippi?

What notice ought to be taken of the measure, if it should be undertaken without leave, which is the most probable proceeding of the two?

Mr. Adams will oblige the President of the United States by giving his opinion in writing on the above statement.

George Washington.


August 26, 1790

Opinion respecting our foreign debt.

On consideration of the letter of our banker, of January 25th, 1790, the Secretary of the Treasury’s answer to it, and the draught of powers and instructions to him, I am of opinion, as I always have been, that the purchase of our debt to France by private speculators, would have been an operation extremely injurious to our credit; and that the consequence foreseen by our banker, that the purchasers would have been obliged, in order to make good their payments, to deluge the markets of Amsterdam with American paper of all sorts, and to sell it at any price, was a probable one. And the more so, as we know that the particular individuals who were engaged in that speculation, possess no means of their own adequate to the payments they would have had to make. While we must not doubt that these motives, together with a proper regard for the credit of the United States, had real and full weight with our bankers, towards inducing them to counterwork these private speculations; yet, to ascribe their industry in this business wholly to these motives, might lead to a too great and dangerous confidence in them. It was obviously their interest to defeat all such speculations, because they tended to take out of their hands, or at least to divide with them, the profits of the great operation of transferring the French debt to Amsterdam, an object of first-rate magnitude to them, and on the undivided enjoyments of which they might count, if private speculators could be baffled. It has been a contest of dexterity and cunning, in which our champions have obtained the victory. The manœuvre of opening a loan of three millions of florins, has, on the whole, been useful to the United States, and though unauthorized, I think should be confirmed. The measure proposed by the Secretary of the Treasury, of sending a superintendent of their future operations, will effectually prevent their doing the like again, and the funding laws leave no danger that such an expedient might at any future time be useful to us.

The report of the Secretary of the Treasury and the draught of instructions, present this plan to view: First, to borrow on the best terms we can, not exceeding those limited by the law, such a sum as may answer all demands of principal or interest of the foreign debts, due, or to become due before the end of 1791. (This I think he supposes will be about three and a half millions of dollars.) Second, to consider two of the three millions of florins already borrowed by our bankers as, so far, an execution of this operation; consequently, there will remain but about two and a half millions of dollars to be borrowed on the old terms. Third, to borrow no more as yet, towards completing the transfer of the French debt to Amsterdam, unless we can do it on more advantageous terms. Fourth, to consider the third million of florins already borrowed by our bankers, as, so far, an execution of the powers given the President to borrow two millions of dollars, by the act of the 12th of August. The whole of this appears to me to be wise. If the third million be employed in buying up our foreign paper, on the exchange of Amsterdam, by creating a demand for that species of paper, it will excite a cupidity in the monied men to obtain more of it by new loans, and consequently enable us to borrow more and on lower terms. The saving of interest, too, on the sum so to be bought, may be applied in buying up more principal, and thereby keep this salutary operation going.

I would only take the liberty of suggesting the insertion of some such clause as the following, into the instructions: “The agents to be employed shall never open a loan for more than one million of dollars at a time, nor open a new loan till the preceding one has been filled, and expressly approved by the President of the United States.” A new man, alighting on the exchange of Amsterdam, with powers to borrow twelve millions of dollars, will be immediately beset with bankers and brokers, who will pour into his ear, from the most unsuspected quarters, such informations and suspicions as may lead him exactly into their snares. So wonderfully dexterous are they in wrapping up and complicating their propositions, they will make it evident, even to a clear-headed man, (not in the habit of this business,) that two and two make five. The agent, therefore, should be guarded, even against himself, by putting it out of his power to extend the effect of any erroneous calculation beyond one million of dollars. Were he able, under a delusive calculation, to commit such a sum as twelve millions of dollars, what would be said of the government? Our bankers told me themselves that they would not choose, in the conduct of this great loan, to open for more than two or three millions of florins at a time, and certainly never for more than five. By contracting for only one million of dollars at a time, the agent will have frequent occasions of trying to better the terms. I dare say that this caution, though not expressed in the instructions, is intended by the Secretary of the Treasury to be carried into their execution. But, perhaps, it will be desirable for the President, that his sense of it also should be expressed in writing.


August 22, 1790

We have a right to the navigation of the Mississippi—1, by Nature; 2, by Treaty.

It is necessary to us. More than half the territory of the United States is on the waters of that river. Two hundred thousand of our citizens are settled on them, of whom forty thousand bear arms. These have no other outlet for their tobacco, rice, corn, hemp, lumber, house timber, ship timber.

We have hitherto respected the indecision of Spain, because we wish peace;—because our western citizens have had vent at home for their productions.

A surplus of production begins now to demand foreign markets. Whenever they shall say, “We cannot, we will not, be longer shut up,” the United States will be reduced to the following dilemma: 1. To force them to acquiescence. 2. To separate from them, rather than take part in a war against Spain. 3. Or to preserve them in our Union, by joining them in the war.

The 1st is neither in our principles, nor in our power. 2d. A multitude of reasons decide against the second. It may suffice to speak out one: were we to give up half our territory rather than engage in a just war to preserve it, we should not keep the other half long. 3d. The third is the alternative we must adopt.

How are we to obtain that navigation?

(A.) By Force.

I. Acting separately. That we can effect this with certainty and promptitude, circumstances decide.

Objection. We cannot retain New Orleans, for instance, were we to take it.

Answer. A moderate force may be so secured, as to hold out till succored. Our succors can be prompt and effectual. Suppose, after taking it, we withdraw our force. If Spain retakes it by an expedition, we can recover it by a counter-expedition, and so as often as the case shall happen. Their expedition will be slow, expensive, and lead to catastrophes. Ours sudden, economical, and a check can have no consequences. We should associate the country to our Union. The inhabitants wish this. They are not disposed to be of the Spanish government. It is idle in Spain to suppose our Western inhabitants will unite with them. They could be quiet but a short time under a goverment so repugnant to their feelings. Were they to come under it for present purposes, it would be with a view to throw it off soon. Should they remain, they would communicate a spirit of independence to those with whom they should be mixed.

II. Acting in conjunction with Great Britain, and with a view to partition. The Floridas (including New Orleans) would be assigned to us. Louisiana (or all the Western waters of the Mississippi) to them. We confess that such an alliance is not what we would wish. Because it may eventually lead us into embarrassing situations with our best friend, and put the power of two neighbors into the hands of one. L. Lansdowne has declared he gave the Floridas to Spain rather than the United States as a bone of discord with the House of Bourbon, and of re-union with Great Britain. Connolly’s attempt (as well as other facts) proves they keep it in view.

(B.) By Negotiation.

I. What must Spain do of necessity. The conduct of Spain has proved that the occlusion of the Mississippi is system with her. If she opens it now, it will be because forced by imperious circumstances. She will consequently shut it again when these circumstances cease. Treaty will be no obstacle. Irregularities, real or pretended, in our navigators, will furnish color enough. Perpetual broils, and finally war will ensue. Prudence and even necessity, imposes on us the law of settling the matter now, finally, and not by halves. With experience of the past and prospect of the future, it would be imbecility in us to accept the naked navigation. With that, we must have what is necessary to its use, and without which it would be useless to secure its continuance; that is, a port near the mouth to receive our vessels and protect the navigation. But even this will not secure the Floridas and Louisiana against Great Britain. If we are neutral, she will wrest those possessions from Spain. The inhabitants (French, English, Scotch, American) would prefer England to Spain.

II. What then had Spain better do of choice? Cede to us all the territory on our side of the Mississippi: on condition that we guarantee all her possessions on the Western waters of that river, she agreeing further, to subsidize us if the guarantee brings us into the war.

Should Great Britain possess herself of the Floridas and Louisiana, her governing principles are conquest, colonization, commerce, monopoly. She will establish powerful colonies in them. These can be poured into the Gulf of Mexico for any sudden enterprise there, or invade Mexico, their next neighbor, by land. Whilst a fleet co-operates along shore, and cuts off relief. And proceed successively from colony to colony.

With respect to us, if Great Britain establishes herself on our whole land-board our lot will be bloody and eternal war, or indissoluble confederacy. Which ought we to choose? What will be the lot of the Spanish colonies in the jaws of such a confederacy? What will secure the ocean against the monopoly?

Safer for Spain that we should be her neighbor, than England. Conquest not in our principles: inconsistent with our government. Not our interest to cross the Mississippi for ages. And will never be our interest to remain united with those who do. Intermediate chances save the trouble of calculating so far forward.

Consequences of this cession, and guarantee: 1. Every subject of difference will be removed from between Spain and the United States. 2. Our interest will be strongly engaged in her retaining her American possessions. 3. Spain will be quieted as to Louisiana, and her territories west of that. 4. She may employ her whole force in defence of her islands and Southern possessions. 5. If we preserve our neutrality, it will be a very partial one to her. 6. If we are forced into the war, it will be, as we wish, on the side of the House of Bourbon. 7. Her privateers will commit formidable depredation on the British trade, and occupy much of their force. 8. By withholding supplies of provision, as well as by concurring in expeditions, the British islands will be in imminent danger. 9. Their expenses of precaution, both for their continental and insular possessions, will be so augmented as to give a hope of running their credit down. In fine, for a narrow slip of barren, detached and expensive country, Spain secures the rest of her territory, and makes an ally where she might have a dangerous enemy.


New York, August 14, 1790

Hond Sir

Cong. not having closed their Session till the day before yesterday, and the weather being extremely hot, I have thought it necessary in order to avoid the danger of a bilious attack to which I am become very subject, to wait here a few weeks which will render the journey more safe, and afford me moreover the pleasure of Mr. Jeffersons company quite to Orange. This resolution puts it out of my power to be within the district by the time of the election, and makes it proper that I should intimate the cause of it to a friend in each County. The inclosed are part of the letters written for that purpose.1 I fear the time may be short for conveying them, but hope opportunities may be found. The letter which is not directed is meant for each one of the gentlemen in Louisa, as you and my brother A may think most proper Should the High Sheriff be not improper, perhaps it would be as well for you to address it to him. Perhaps also my brother Ambrose may find it convenient to be at the Election in Louisa. The Letter for Col: Pendleton will be best in the hands of my brother William who I presume will attend in Culpeper. Two of the letters being unsealed I refer to their contents, remaining your afft son.

N. B. I have recd. the letter for Mr Jos Chew &c.

United States, August 11, 1790

Gentlemen of the Senate:

Although the treaty with the Creeks may be regarded as the main foundation of the future peace and prosperity of the Southwestern frontier of the United States, yet in order fully to effect so desirable an object the treaties which have been entered into with the other tribes in that quartet must be faithfully performed on our parts.

During the last year I laid before the Senate a particular statement of the case of the Cherokees. By a reference to that paper it will appear that the United States formed a treaty with the Cherokees in November, 1785; that the said Cherokees thereby placed themselves under the protection of the United States and had a boundary assigned them; that the white people settled on the frontiers had openly violated the said boundary by intruding on the Indian lands; that the United States in Congress assembled did, on the 1st day of September, 1788, issue their proclamation forbidding all such unwarrantable intrusions, and enjoined all those who had settled upon the hunting grounds of the Cherokees to depart with their families and effects without loss of time, as they would answer their disobedience to the injunctions and prohibitions expressed at their peril.

But information has been received that notwithstanding the said treaty and proclamation upward of 500 families have settled on the Cherokee lands exclusively of those settled between the fork of French Broad and Holstein rivers, mentioned in the said treaty.

As the obstructions to a proper conduct on this matter have been removed since it was mentioned to the Senate on the 22d of August, 1789, by the accession of North Carolina to the present Union and the cessions of the land in question, I shall conceive myself bound to exert the powers intrusted to me by the Constitution in order to carry into faithful execution the treaty of Hopewell, unless it shall be thought proper to attempt to arrange a new boundary with the Cherokees, embracing the settlements, and compensating the Cherokees for the cessions they shall make on the occasion. On this point, therefore, I state the following questions and request the advice of the Senate thereon:

First. Is it the judgment of the Senate that overtures shall be made to the Cherokees to arrange a new boundary so as to embrace the settlements made by the white people since the treaty of Hopewell, in November, 1785 ?

Second. If so, shall compensation to the amount of _____ dollars annually, or of _____ dollars in gross, be made to the Cherokees for the land they shall relinquish, holding the occupiers of the land accountable to the United States for its value?

Third. Shall the United States stipulate solemnly to guarantee the new boundary which may be arranged?



New York, August 10, 1790

Dear Sir,

—This letter, with the very confidential papers it encloses, will be delivered to you by Mr. Barrett with his own hands. If there be no war between Spain and England, they need to be known to yourself alone. But if that war be begun, or whenever it shall begin, we wish you to communicate them to the Marquis de La Fayette, on whose assistance we know we can count in matters which interest both our countries. He and you will consider how far the contents of these papers may be communicated to the Count de Montmorin, and his influence be asked with the court of Madrid. France will be called into the war, as an ally, and not on any pretence of the quarrel being in any degree her own. She may reasonably require then, that Spain should do everything which depends on her, to lessen the number of her enemies. She cannot doubt that we shall be of that number, if she does not yield our right to the common use of the Mississippi, and the means of using and securing it. You will observe, we state in general the necessity, not only of our having a port near the mouth of the river (without which we could make no use of the navigation at all) but of its being so well separated from the territories of Spain and her jurisdiction, as not to engender daily disputes and broils between us. It is certain, that if Spain were to retain any jurisdiction over our entrepôt, her officers would abuse that jurisdiction, and our people would abuse their privileges in it. Both parties must foresee this, and that it will end in war. Hence the necessity of a well-defined separation. Nature has decided what shall be the geography of that in the end, whatever it might be in the beginning, by cutting off from the adjacent countries of Florida and Louisiana, and enclosing between two of its channels, a long and narrow slip of land, called the Island of New Orleans. The idea of ceding this, could not be hazarded to Spain, in the first step; it would be too disagreeable at first view; because this island, with its town, constitutes, at present, their principal settlement in that part of their dominions, containing about ten thousand white inhabitants of every age and sex. Reason and events, however, may, by little and little, familiarize them to it. That we have a right to some spot as an entrepôt for our commerce, may be at once affirmed. The expediency, too, may be expressed, of so locating it as to cut off the source of future quarrels and wars. A disinterested eye, looking on a map, will remark how conveniently this tongue of land is formed for the purpose; the Iberville and Amit channel offering a good boundary and convenient outlet, on the one side, for Florida, and the main channel an equally good boundary and outlet, on the other side, for Louisiana; while the slip of land between, is almost entirely morass or sandbank; the whole of it lower than the water of the river, in its highest floods, and only its western margin (which is the highest ground) secured by banks and inhabited. I suppose this idea too much even for the Count de Montmorin at first, and that, therefore, you will find it prudent to urge, and get him to recommend to the Spanish court, only in general terms, “a port near the mouth of the river, with a circumjacent territory sufficient for its support, well defined, and extraterritorial to Spain,” leaving the idea to future growth.

I enclose you the copy of a paper distributed by the Spanish commandant on the west side of the Mississippi, which may justify us to M. de Montmorin, for pushing this matter to an immediate conclusion. It cannot be expected we shall give Spain time, to be used by her for dismembering us.

It is proper to apprize you of a circumstance, which may show the expediency of being in some degree on your guard, even in your communications to the court of France. It is believed here, that the Count de Moustier, during his residence with us, conceived the project of again engaging France in a colony upon our continent, and that he directed his views to some of the country on the Mississippi, and obtained and communicated a good deal of matter on the subject to his court. He saw the immediate advantage of selling some yards of French cloths and silks to the inhabitants of New Orleans. But he did not take into account what it would cost France to nurse and protect a colony there, till it should be able to join its neighbors, or to stand by itself; and then what it would cost her to get rid of it. I hardly suspect that the court of France could be seduced by so partial a view of the subject as was presented to them, and I suspect it the less, since the National Assembly has constitutionally excluded conquest from the object of their government. It may be added, too, that the place being ours, their yards of cloth and silk would be as freely sold as if it were theirs.

You will perceive by this letter and the papers it encloses, what part of the ideas of Count d’Estaing correspond with our views. The answer to him must be a compound of civility and reserve, expressing our thankfulness for his attentions, that we consider them as proofs of the continuance of his friendly dispositions, and that though it might be out of our system to implicate ourselves in trans-Atlantic guarantees, yet other parts of his plans are capable of being improved to the common benefit of the parties. Be so good as to say to him something of this kind verbally, and so as that the matter may be ended as between him and us.

On the whole, in the event of war, it is left to the judgment of the Marquis de La Fayette and yourself, how far you will develop the ideas now communicated to the Count de Montmorin, and how far you will suffer them to be developed to the Spanish court.

I enclose you a pamphlet by Hutchins for your further information on the subject of the Mississippi; and am, with sentiments of perfect esteem and attachment, dear Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.


United States, August 7, 1790

Gentlemen of the Senate

I lay before you a treaty between the United States and the chiefs of the Creek Nation, now in this city, in behalf of themselves and the whole Creek Nation, subject to the ratification of the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate.

While I flatter myself that this treaty will be productive of present peace and prosperity to our Southern frontier, it is to be expected that it will also in its consequences be the means of firmly attaching the Creeks and the neighboring tribes to the interests of the United States.

At the same time it is to be hoped that it will afford solid grounds of satisfaction to the State of Georgia, as it contains a regular, full, and definitive relinquishment on the part of the Creek Nation of the Oconee land in the utmost extent in which it has been claimed by that State, and thus extinguishes the principal cause of those hostilities from which it has more shall once experienced such severe calamities.

But although the most valuable of the disputed land is included, yet there is a certain claim of Georgia, arising out of the treaty made by that State at Galphinston in November, 1785, of land to the eastward of a new temporary line from the forks of the Oconee and Oakmulgee in a southwest direction to the St. Marys River, which tract of land the Creeks in this city absolutely refuse to yield.

This land is reported to be generally barren, sunken, and unfit for cultivation, except in some instances on the margin of the rivers, on which by improvement rice might be cultivated, its chief value depending on the timber fit for the building of ships, with which it is represented as abounding.

While it is thus circumstanced on the one hand, it is stated by the Creeks on the other to be of the highest importance to them as constituting some of their most valuable winter hunting ground.

I have directed the commissioner to whom the charge of adjusting this treaty has been committed to lay before you such papers and documents and to communicate to you such information relatively to it as you may require.



New York, August 2, 1790

Dear Sir,

—This letter will be delivered to you by Colonel Humphreys, whose character is so well known to you as to need no recommendations from me. The present appearances of war between our two neighbors Spain and England, cannot but excite all our attention. The part we are to act is uncertain, and will be difficult. The unsettled state of our dispute with Spain, may give a turn to it very different from what we would wish. As it is important that you should be fully apprized of our way of thinking on this subject, I have sketched, in the enclosed paper, general heads of consideration arising from present circumstances. These will be readily developed by your own reflections, and in conversations with Colonel Humphreys; who, possessing the sentiments of the executive on this subject, being well acquainted with the circumstances of the Western country in particular, and of the state of our affairs in general, comes to Madrid expressly for the purpose of giving you a thorough communication of them. He will, therefore, remain there as many days or weeks as may be necessary for this purpose. With this information, written and oral, you will be enabled to meet the minister in conversations on the subject of the navigation of the Mississippi, to which we wish you to lead his attention immediately. Impress him thoroughly with the necessity of an early, and even an immediate settlement of this matter, and of a return to the field of negotiation for this purpose; and though it must be done delicately, yet he must be made to understand unequivocally, that a resumption of the negotiation is not desired on our part, unless he can determine, in the first opening of it, to yield the immediate and full enjoyment of that navigation. (I say nothing of the claims of Spain to our territory north of the thirty-first degree, and east of the Mississippi. They never merited the respect of an answer; and you know it has been admitted at Madrid, that they were not to be maintained.) It may be asked, what need of negotiation, if the navigation is to be ceded at all events? You know that the navigation cannot be practised without a port, where the sea and river vessels may meet and exchange loads, and where those employed about them may be safe and unmolested. The right to use a thing, comprehends a right to the means necessary to its use, and without which it would be useless. The fixing on a proper port, and the degree of freedom it is to enjoy in its operations, will require negotiation, and be governed by events. There is danger, indeed, that even the unavoidable delay of sending a negotiator here, may render the mission too late for the preservation of peace. It is impossible to answer for the forbearance of our western citizens. We endeavor to quiet them with the expectation of an attainment of their rights by peaceable means. But should they, in a moment of impatience, hazard others, there is no saying how far we may be led; for neither themselves nor their rights will ever be abandoned by us.

You will be pleased to observe, that we press these matters warmly and firmly, under this idea, that the war between Spain and Great Britain will be begun before you receive this; and such a moment must not be lost. But should an accommodation take place, we retain, indeed, the same object and the same resolutions unalterably; but your discretion will suggest, that in that event, they must be pressed more softly, and that patience and persuasion must temper your conferences, till either these may prevail, or some other circumstance turn up, which may enable us to use other means for the attainment of an object which we are determined, in the end, to obtain at every risk.


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