take Louisiana. 3. Commercial privileges." The Cabinet unanimously rejected the second and third concessions, but Dearborn and Lincoln were alone in opposing the first; and a majority agreed to instruct Monroe and Livingston, "as soon as they find that no arrangements can be made with France, to use all possible procrastination with them, and in the mean time enter into conferences with the British government, through their ambassador at Paris, to fix principles of alliance, and leave us in peace till Congress meets; and prevent war till next spring."
Madison wrote the instructions. If the French government, he said, should meditate hostilities against the United States, or force a war by closing the Mississippi, the two envoys were to invite England to an alliance, and were to negotiate a treaty stipulating that neither party should make peace or truce without consent of the other. Should France deny the right of deposit without disputing the navigation, the envoys were to make no positive engagement, but should let Congress decide between immediate war or further procrastination.
At no time in Talleyrand's negotiations had the idea of war against the United States been suggested. Of his intentions in this respect alone he had given positive assurances. Above all things both he and the First Consul feared a war with the United States.
- Madison to Livingston and Monroe, April 18 and 20, 1803; State Papers, ii. 555.
- Livingston to Madison, Nov. 11, 1802; State Papers, ii. 526.