Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/60

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1803.
43
THE LOUISIANA TREATY.

The first object of remark in this treaty was the absence of any attempt to define the property thus bought and sold. "Louisiana with the same extent that is now in the hands of Spain, and that it had when France possessed it, and such as it should be after the treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and other States,"—these words, taken from Berthier's original treaty of retrocession, were convenient for France and Spain, whose governments might be supposed to know their own boundaries; but all that the United States government knew upon the subject was that Louisiana, as France possessed it, had included a part of Florida and the whole Ohio Valley as far as the Alleghany Mountains and Lake Erie. The American commissioners at first insisted upon defining the boundaries, and Marbois went to the First Consul with their request. He refused.[1] "If an obscurity did not already exist, it would perhaps be good policy to put one there." He intentionally concealed the boundary he had himself defined, a knowledge of which would have prevented a long and mortifying dispute. Livingston went to Talleyrand for the orders given by Spain to the Marquis of Somoruelo, by France to Victor and Laussat. "What are the eastern bounds of Louisiana?" asked Livingston. "I do not know," replied Talleyrand; "you must take it as we received it." "But what did you mean to take?" urged Livingston. "I do not know," repeated Talleyrand. "Then you mean

  1. Marbois, Louisiana, pp. 283, 286.