Chapter 2: The Louisiana Treaty
Monroe arrived in sight of the French coast April 7, 1803; but while he was still on the ocean, Bonaparte without reference to him or his mission, opened his mind to Talleyrand in regard to ceding Louisiana to the United States. The First Consul a few days afterward repeated to his Finance Minister, Barbé Marbois, a part of the conversation with Talleyrand; and his words implied that Talleyrand opposed Bonaparte’s scheme, less because it sacrificed Louisiana than because its true object was not a war with England, but conquest of Germany. “He alone knows my intentions,” said Bonaparte to Marbois. “If I attended to his advice, France would confine her ambition to the left bank of the Rhine, and would make war only to protect the weak States and to prevent any dismemberment of her possessions; but he also admits that the cession of Louisiana is not a dismemberment of France.” In reality, the cession of Louisiana meant the overthrow of Talleyrand’s influence and the failure of those hopes which had led to the coalition of the 18th Brumaire.