Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 1.djvu/177

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employed by Napoleon in the subsequent negotiations, for recording the private interviews in which Napoleon revealed his thoughts. Ignoring Talleyrand, who had heretofore been in charge of the negotiations, he summoned two of his ministers and opened his mind. With the exception of a previous conversation which he had with Talleyrand, but of which no record exists, the first expression of his purpose was made to Marbois and Decrès April 10, 1803. He thus abruptly addressed them: "I know the full value of Louisiana, and I have been desirous of repairing the fault of the French negotiator who abandoned it in 1763. A few lines of a treaty have restored it to me, and I have scarcely recovered it when I must expect to lose it. But if it escapes from me, it shall one day cost dearer to those who oblige me to strip myself of it than to those to whom I wish to deliver it. The English have successively taken from France, Canada, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, New Foundland, and the richest portions of Asia. They are engaged in exciting trouble in St. Domingo. They shall not have the Mississippi, which they court. Louisiana is nothing in comparison with their conquests in all parts of the globe, and yet the jealousy they feel at the restoration of this colony to the sovereignty of France acquaints me with their wish to take possession of it, and it is thus they begin the war. They have twenty ships of war in the Gulf of Mexico; they sail over those seas as sovereigns, whilst our affairs in St. Domingo have been growing worse every day since the death of Leclerc. The conquest of Louisiana would be easy, if they only took the trouble to make a descent there. I have not a moment to lose in putting it out of their reach. I know not whether they are not already there. It is their usual course, and if I had been in their place I would not have waited. I wish, if there is still time, to take away from them any idea that they may have of ever possessing that colony. I think of ceding it to the United States.