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cans with entire complacency. A writer of that period has prophecied, with remarkable exactness, the time and manner of the emancipation of Spanish America ;* and though the Spanish government might have had little faith in such predictions, it could not have been ignorant that the example of the North American colonies would have been attended with pernicious consequences to the metropoles of the old world. France exceedingly desired the assistance of Spain in this business, particularly as the navies of the two countries were, united, greatly superior to that of England. The French king even wrote, in the beginning of '78, letters in his own. hand to his catholic majesty, urging him to enter into the coalition :
"England, our common and inveterate enemy, has been engaged for three years in a war with her colonies. We have agreed not to take a part in it, and, considering both parties as English, we have made the commerce of our state free to whoever should find his advantage in it. In this way America has provided herself with those arms and munitions, of which she was in want. I do not speak of the aid we have given that country in money and other articles, the whole having been done in the ordinary course of commerce. England has shown some vexation at this circumstance, and we are not ignorant that she will sooner or later revenge herself. This was the situation of the business the last November. The destruction of Burgoyne and the embarrassments of Howe have changed the face of things. America is triumphant; England is cast down. But her vast marine is still entire, and having abandoned the idea of conquering the colonies, she has resolved to form an alliance with them. All parties in England are agreed in this particular. Lord North has himself announced a plan of pacification. It does not much signify to us, whether he or any other mi
The combined fleets, commanded by Count d'Orvilliers, consisting of 66 sail of the line, besides frigates, appeared the next year in the English channel. This was the most numerous and formidable armament ever seen on those coasts.
nister is in place, actuated by different motives, they will still unite against us. It is very important to prevent the re-union of the colonies with the mother country."
The answer of the king of Spain, Charles III. was extremely cold and circumspect; he was naturally of a pacific turn, then much advanced in life, and not disposed to disturb the remainder of his days by a destructive war. He appears, also, to have been offended in not having been consulted respecting the treaties made by France with the United States; as the family treaty of '61 entitled him to this attention and privilege. Determined to avoid hostilities, Spain despatched instructions to her minister at London, to offer the mediation of his court. But England, having required that France should retire altogether from the contest, preparatory to negotiation, and France, on her side, demanding that England should recognise the independence of the thirteen colonies, the Spanish minister, the Count d'Almadovar, found it impossible to reconcile terms so entirely at variance. But the efforts of Spain, to obtain an accommodation, did not end on the occasion of this first disappointment. Three other plans for an arrangement, proposed by her, successively failed. England could not forgive France for her interference in the affairs of North America, and, while that country remained the ally of the United States, she resolutely rejected all attempts at negotiation. In June '79, M. d'Almadovar withdrew from the court of St. James; and England having already committed acts of violence on the Spanish dominions, his catholic majesty could no longer avoid the obligation of the treaty, establishing the family compact. War was accordingly declared in June of the same year. * This declaration was made in consequence of a convention concluded with France in the preceding April. The independence of the thirteen.
* Spain was probably induced to join the league, from the expectation she had of recovering her lost possessions. Immediately after the rupture, a Spanish force took possession of Baton Rouge, and finally conquered the whole of West Florida.
states was, however, not acknowledged in this instrument, though, by the treaty between France and America, Spain was entitled to accede to the alliance whenever she thought fit, and to have the benefit of all the stipulations.
In September '79, John Jay of New-York was elected by Congress, minister plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty with Spain. Besides the general terms of his commission, Mr. Jay was furnished with particular instructions to guarantee the two Floridas to Spain on condition that the free navigation of the Mississippi should be secured to this country. The importance of this navigation attracted the earliest attention of Congress, and they insisted upon the right with great emphasis in all their directions to their agents abroad. Mr. Jay went to Spain in '80, and remained there till the spring of '82. He appears to have urged his application with the utmost zeal and fidelity, but he was utterly unable to overcome the system of delay and procrastination which even then distinguished the Spanish court, and which has since given this country so much just ground of complaint. Although Mr. Jay did not succeed in making a treaty, or obtaining subsidies, or assistance of any kind, he was accredited in the usual official forms; and the United States derived from that circumstance the uncommon advantage of having their independence virtually acknowledged by another of the most powerful nations of Europe. Spain was not willing to accede to the alliance between France and the United States; for she felt apprehensive, undoubtedly, for her possessions in Florida and Louisiana. She obviously anticipated, at that early hour, many of the difficulties that have since arisen, and refused to grant to the United States the free navigation of the Mississippi, or to establish that river as the western boundary. This business will be better understood by extracting part of the letter of instruction written by Congress to Mr. Jay in October '80. The reader will perceive, how very early, in the history of this country, those intricate questions arose with Spain, that subsequently were attended with such vast and increasing trouble.
"It is a fundamental principle, in all lawful governments, and particularly in the constitution of the British empire, that all the rights of sovereignty are intended for the benefit of those, from whom they are derived, and over whom they are exercised. It is known, also, to have been held for an inviolable principle by the United States, while they remained a part of the British empire, that the sovereignty of the king of England, with all the rights and powers included in it, did not extend to them in virtue of his being acknowledged and obeyed as king by the people of England, or of any other part of the empire, but in virtue of his being acknowledged and obeyed as king of the people of America themselves, and that this principle was the basis, first of their opposition to, and finally of their abolition of, his authority over them. From these principles it results, that all the territory, lying within the limits of the states as fixed by the sovereign himself, was held by him for their particular benefit, and must equally, with his other rights and claims in quality of their sovereign, be considered as having devolved on them in consequence of their resumption of the sovereignty themselves. In support of this position, it may be further observed, that all the territorial rights of the king of Great Britain within the limits of the United States, accrued to him from the enterprizes, the risks, the sacrifices, the expense in blood and treasure of the present inhabitants and their progenitors. To Spain, claiming the territory about the Mississippi by the right of conquest, it is answered, that a right founded on conquest being only co-extensive with the objects of conquest, cannot comprehend the circumjacent territory. That if a right to the said territory depended on the conquests of the British posts within it, the United States have already a more extensive claim to it than Spain can acquire, having, by the success of their arms, obtained possession of all the important posts and settlements on the Illinois and Wabash, rescued the inhabitants from British domination, and established civil government in its proper form over them. They have, moreover, established posts on the strong and commanding situation near the mouth of the Ohio, whereas, Spain has a claim by conquest to no post above the northern bounds of West Florida, except that of the Natchez, nor are there any other British posts below the mouth of the Ohio for their arms to be employed against. That, whatever
extent ought to be ascribed to the right of conquest, it must be admitted to have limitations, which in the present case, exclude the pretensions of his catholic majesty. If the occupation by the king of Great Britain of posts within the limits of the United States, as defined by charters derived from the said king, when constitutionally authorized to grant them, makes them lawful objects of conquest to any other power than the United States, it follows, that every other part of the United States, that now is, or may hereafter fall into the hands of the enemy, is equally an object of conquest. Not only New-York, Long Island, and the other islands, in its vicinity, but almost the entire states of South Carolina, and Georgia might, by the interposition of a foreign power at war with their enemy, be forever severed from the American confederacy, and subjected to a foreign yoke. But is such a doctrine consonant to the rights of nations, or the sentiments of humanity? Does it breathe that spirit of concord and amity, which is the aim of the proposed alliance with Spain? Would it be admitted by Spain, herself, if it affected her own dominions? Were, for example, a British armament by a sudden enterprise, to get possession of a sea port, a trading town, or maritime province in Spain, and another power at war with Britain should, before it could be re-conquered by Spain, wrest it from the hands of Britain, would Spain herself, consider it as an extinguishment of her just pretensions ? Or would any impartial nation consider it in that light? As to the proclamation of the king of Great Britain of 1763, forbidding his governors in North America to grant lands westward of the sources of the rivers falling into the Atlantic Ocean, it can by no rule of construction militate against the present claims of the United States. That proclamation, as is clear both from the title and tenor of it, was intended, merely to prevent disputes with the Indians and an irregular appropriation of vacant land to individuals, and by no means either to renounce any parts of the cessions made in the treaty of Paris, or to affect the boundaries established by ancient charters. On the contrary, it is expressly declared, that the lands and territory prohibited to be granted, were within the sovereignty and dominion of that crown, notwithstanding the reservation of them to the use of the Indians.". "The river Mis
sissippi will be a more natural, more distinguishable, and more pre