Page:Dramatic Moments in American Diplomacy (1918).djvu/114

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94
DRAMATIC MOMENTS

that Barbé-Marbois had Napoleon's order to sell without delay. But Livingston and Monroe didn't know that. And they proceeded to the point and "stated the consequence of any delay on this subject, as it would enable Britain to take possession, who would readily relinquish it to us."

Barbé-Marbois countered with his version of Napoleon's conversation. He reported the First Consul to have said: "Well, you have charge of the treasury, let them give you one hundred million, and pay their own claims and take the whole country."

Right then and there, to all intents and purposes, this tremendous matter determining the destiny of our country was as good as settled. The commissioners knew that they had won. The negotiations now descended from the plane of battle and wars and dynasties into a first-rate bargain-counter dispute as to price. Monroe determined to go as far as 50,000,000 francs on his own responsibility. He offered forty.