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The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by Rose

Our charge d'affaires at Washington

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[_The two following State Papers have never before been published_]

No. I. is a despatch from Mr. Thornton, our _charge d'affaires_ at Washington, relative to the expected transfer of the vast region of Louisiana from Spain to France (see ch. xv. of this vol.).

[In "F O.," America, No. 35.] "WASHINGTON, "26 _Jany._, 1802.


"... About four years ago, when the rumour of the transfer of Louisiana to France was first circulated, I put into Mr. Pickering's hands for his perusal a despatch written by Mr. Fauchet about the year 1794, which with many others was intercepted by one of H.M. ships. In that paper the French Minister urged to his Government the absolute necessity of acquiring Louisiana or some territory in the vicinity of the United States in order to obtain a permanent influence in the country, and he alluded to a memorial written some years before by the Count du Moutier to the same effect, when he was employed as His Most Christian Majesty's Minister to the United States. The project seems therefore to have been long in the contemplation of the French Government, and perhaps no period is more favourable than the present for carrying it into


"When I paid my respects to the Vice-President, Mr. Burr, on his arrival at this place, he, of his own accord, directed conversation to this topic. He owned that he had made some exertion indirectly to discover the truth of the report, and thought he had reason to believe it. He appeared to think that the great armament destined by France to St. Domingo, had this ulterior object in view, and expressed much apprehension that the transfer and colonization of Louisiana were meditated by her with the concurrence or acquiescence of His Maj'^{s} Gov^{t}. It was impossible for me to give any opinion on this part of the measure, which, whatever may be its ultimate tendency, presents at first view nothing but danger to His Maj'^{s} Trans-Atlantic possessions.

"Regarding alone the aim of France to acquire a preponderating influence in the councils of the United States, it may be very well doubted whether the possession of Louisiana, and the means which she would chose to employ are calculated to secure that end. Experience seems now to have sanctioned the opinion that if the provinces of Canada had been restored to France at the Peace of Paris, and if from that quarter she had been left to press upon the American frontier, to harass the exterior settlements and to mingle in the feuds of the Indian Tribes, the colonies might still have preserved their allegiance to the parent country and have retained their just jealousy of that system of encroachment adopted by France from the beginning of the last century. The present project is but a continuance of the same system; and neither her power nor her present temper leave room for expectation that she will pursue it with less eagerness or greater moderation than before. Whether, therefore, she attempt to restrain the navigation of the Mississippi or limit the freedom of the port of New Orleans; whether she press upon the Western States with any view to conquest, or seduce them by her principles of fraternity (for which indeed they are well prepared) she must infallibly alienate the Atlantic States and force them into a straiter connection with Great Britain.

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