Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/45

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
28
Ch. 2.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

were paid. He told me that this was too low an offer, and that he would be glad if I would reflect upon it and tell him to-morrow. I told him that as Mr. Monroe would be in town in two days, I would delay my further offer until I had the pleasure of introducing him. He added that he did not speak from authority, but that the idea had struck him."

The suddenness of Bonaparte’s change disconcerted Livingston. For months he had wearied the First Consul with written and verbal arguments, remonstrances, threats,—all intended to prove that there was nothing grasping or ambitious in the American character; that France should invite the Americans to protect Louisiana from the Canadians; that the United States cared nothing for Louisiana, but wanted only West Florida and New Orleans,—"barren sands and sunken marshes," he said; "a small town built of wood; . . . about seven thousand souls;" a territory important to the United States because it contained "the mouths of some of their rivers," but a mere drain of resources to France.[1] To this rhapsody, repeated day after day for weeks and months, Talleyrand had listened with his imperturbable silence, the stillness of a skeptical mind into which such professions fell meaningless; until he suddenly looked into Livingston’s face and asked: "What will you give for the whole?" Naturally Livingston for a moment lost countenance.

  1. Livingston to Talleyrand, Jan. 10, 1803; Livingston to Bonaparte, Feb. 27, 1803; State Papers, ii. 531, 539.