Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/48

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1803.
31
THE LOUISIANA TREATY.

Yet twenty-four or twenty-five million dollars for the whole west bank of the Mississippi, from the Lake of the Woods to the Gulf of Mexico, and indefinitely westward, was not an extortionate price, especially since New Orleans was thrown into the bargain, and indirect political advantages which could not be valued at less than the cost of a war, whatever it might be. Five million dollars were to be paid in America to American citizens, so that less than twenty millions would come to France. Livingston could hardly have been blamed for closing with Marbois on the spot, especially as his instructions warranted him in offering ten millions for New Orleans and the Floridas alone; but Livingston still professed that he did not want the west bank. "I told him that the United States were anxious to preserve peace with France; that for that reason they wished to remove them to the west side of the Mississippi; that we would be perfectly satisfied with New Orleans and the Floridas, and had no disposition to extend across the river; that of course we would not give any great sum for the purchase. . . . He then pressed me to name the sum." After a little more fencing, Marbois dropped at once from one hundred millions to sixty, with estimated claims to the amount of twenty millions more. "I told him that it was vain to ask anything that was so greatly beyond our means; that true policy would dictate to the First Consul not to press such a demand; that he must know it would render the present government unpopular."