To James Monroe July, 1803

To James Monroe July, 1803


All the business, with respects to the settlement of Louisiana, has been arranged at the Bureau of the Minister of Marine and the colonies, and the greater part, if not the whole, so far as it respects the settlement of it as a French colony, has passed through the hands of Madget, whom you knew. He was directed by the Minister of Marine to collect all the information he could from those who had local knowledge of the place, and present it to him to be laid before the first consul.

I am enough persuaded that Madget had not any idea that what he was undertaking was disagreeable to us, for he appeared to me to suppose that we should like the French for neighbors better than the Spaniards. Some of our friends had made the same mistake once before. They reasoned on our preference of them as people; without considering that in this case, we wished for neither as a power, and prefered Spain as the weakest of the two.

Long Fulton has been very profuse in his information. He wanted to get from France, and also wanted an employment. He sailed with the expedition to St. Domingo, in order to pass from thence to New Orleans, where I believe he is with the appointment of colonel. When Madget had finished his budget he applied to me to draw up a constitution for Louisiana. I easily got rid of this, by saying, that it was impossible to draw up a constitution for a people and a country that one knew nothing of. He was very desirous of getting my name to something, which I always found an easy way of avoiding.

I mention these things as a clue by which you may come at a knowle[d]ge of the grounds on which they have been acting in forming this establishment, and which I am persuaded you will find very fallacious, and a knowle[d]ge of this will be useful to you.

Madget and I are on very friendly terms and I shall write him a friendly letter without any politics in it. I shall mention your arrival, in consequence of which he will come to pay his compliments to you.

Madget considers me a sort of anchor hold in case any new storms should arise in France. I told him one day and I repeated it to him at coming away, that as he was growing old, and his own country, Ireland, was no place of refuge for him, that if any new convulsion should take place in France that should render his situation unfortunate, I would pay the expence of his passage to the Captain that brought him, in case he could not do it himself, and make his old age easy to him. It is probable he may mention this to you, or you may say, if you see it proper, that you have heard me say it in America. It will serve to make him more confidential with you.

Madget is not a man of whom it is necessary to ask questions; only give him the opportunity of telling, and he will make a merit of it, and the more so, if he joins to it the idea that you come on the good mischief of preventing mischief.

In viewing this subject to a distance of time beyond the present state of things, it will, I think, be a measure of precaution to get Spain to sign or attest the cession, even if cost something as a compliment.

I feel it difficult to believe that the present state of things in France is very durable, and should a change take place there is no foreseeing what that change may be. In all the changes that have succeeded every other since the overthrow of the monarchy, the treaties made under the monarchy, being considered as national, were respected. But if a total going back to the ancient regime should take place, the power that then succeed[s] will consider every [thing] done since the overthrow of the Monarchy as done under a usurpation, and that nothing then done is binding. It is for this reason that I think the signature of Spain to the treaty of cession will be a good precaution. T.P.