Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 3.djvu/52

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
40
Ch. 2.
HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES.

shape the bargain pretty much as you pleased." [1]

Evidently the seizure of Texas, leaving West Florida untouched, was the only step which the President could properly take; for Texas had been bought and paid for, whereas West Florida beyond doubt had never been bought at all. Armstrong saw the weak point of Napoleon's position, and wished to attack it. He had no trouble in bringing Monroe to the same conclusion, although in yielding to his arguments Monroe tacitly abandoned the ground he had been persuaded by Livingston to take two years before, that West Florida belonged to Louisiana.

"There is no shade of difference in our opinions," wrote Armstrong to Madison after Monroe's arrival at Paris, [2] "and so little in the course to be pursued with regard to Spain that it is scarcely worth noticing. The whole may be reduced to this: that instead of assailing the Spanish posts in West Florida, or even indicating an intention to do so, I would from motives growing more particularly out of the character of the Emperor) restrict the operations to such as may have been established in Louisiana. This, with some degree of demonstration that we meditate an embargo on our commercial intercourse with Spain and her colonies, would compel this government to interpose promptly and efficiently, and with dispositions to prevent the quarrel from going further."

  1. Armstrong to Monroe, May 4, 1805; MSS. State Department Archives.
  2. Armstrong to Madison, July 3, 1805; MSS. State Department Archives.