Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 3.djvu/51

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
1805.
39
MONROE'S DIPLOMACY.

the Americans must sooner or later extinguish.

Such was the result of the President's diplomacy in respect to Spain. War was its only natural outcome,—war with Spain; war with Napoleon, who must make common cause with King Charles; coalition with England; general recurrence to the ideas and precedents of the last Administration. Jefferson had exasperated Spain and irritated France. He must next decide whether this policy should be pursued to its natural result.

Meanwhile Monroe returned to Paris, where he passed six weeks with Armstrong and with his French acquaintances in conference on the proper course to be pursued. Talleyrand was absent in Italy with the Emperor, who May 26 received at Milan the iron crown of the Lombard kings. That Napoleon was the real element of danger was clear to both envoys. A policy which should force France to interfere on behalf of the United States was their object; and on this, as on many points, Armstrong's ideas were more definite than those of Monroe, Madison, or Jefferson. Even before Monroe left Madrid, he received a letter from Armstrong in which the outline of a decisive plan was sketched:—

"It is simply to take a strong and prompt possession of the northern bank of the Rio Bravo, leaving the eastern limit in statu quo. A stroke of this kind would at once bring Spain to reason, and France to her rescue, and without giving either room to quarrel. You might then negotiate, and