« PreviousContinue »
istate of New-York. The claims of the two nations to some other islands in the lakes and rivers west of that state, have not yet been adjusted. But the principal undecided question arising from that treaty relates to that part of the bound uy therein described as a line drawn due west, from the most north western point of the Lake of the Woods, to the river Mississippi. It is ascertained that a line drawn in that manner cannot intersect that river, which does not extend as far northward as the latitude of the north western extremity of the Lake of the Woods. And nothing more was agreed on in that respect by the treaty of 1794, than a mutual engagement to make a survey of the country, and to regulate by negociation the boundary line, according to justice, mutual convenience, and the intent of the treaty of 1783.
The southern boundary of the United States was, by the same treaty,fixed at the 31st deg. of north latitude. But Great Britain having, by her treaty of the same date with Spain, ceded to that power West Florida, which under the British government extended as far north as the Yasous river, Spain, then in possession of the country between that river and the 31st deg. of north latitude, refused at first to deliver it. Yet the title of the United States was indisputable : for their provisional treaty with Great Britain, a public instrument signed on the 30th November, 1802, and which was to take effect as soon as peace should be made between Great Britain and France, had already established the 31st deg. of latitude as the southern boundary of the said states. Spain, therefore, when receiving Florida from Great Britain, a cession which cannot bear an earlier date than the 20th January 1783, the day on which the preliminary articles of her treaty of peace were signed, accepted that province with the boundary thus previously established; the territory lying north of the 31st deg. which might, prior to the 30th Nov. 1802, have made part of West Florida, having on that day, with the knowledge of Spain, been ceded by Great Britain to the U. States. Spain did accordingly acquiesce.
after a delay of some years. She made no cession of territory by the treaty of 1795, which simply, and without reserve or exception, recognizes the same boundaries which had been fixed by the treaty of 1783 between the U. States and Great Britain.
The United States, by the treaty of 1803 with France, acquired Louisiana without any direct definition of its boundaries, but as fully and in the same manner as it had been acquired by France from Spain, in virtue of the treaty of St. Ildefonso of the 1st Oct. 1800. By this treaty Spain had retroceded Louisiana to France, “ with the same extent that it then had 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."
By the grant of Louis XIV. to Crozat, dated 14th Sept. 1712,* all the country drained by the waters emptying directly or indirectly into the Mississippi, is included within the boundaries of Louisiana. The discovery of that river by the French, the general principles adopted by the European nations in relation to the rights of discovery, the publicity of the grant, and the long acquiescence of Spain, establish the claim of the U. States to that extent. But the western boundary on the sea shore, and south of the waters emptying into the Red River is still a subject of controversy between the two nations; the territory called by Spain “ Province of Texas” being claimed by both. The claim of France, now transferred to the United States, extended at least as far west as the Bay of St. Bernard, in virtue of the settlement made there by La Salle, in 1685, in the vicinity of the river Guadeloupe, at a time when Spain occupied no part of the territory east of the Rio Norte. That settlement was destroyed, and, notwithstanding the repeated orders of the French government, was not resumed by the local autho, rities. In the mean while (in 1717) the Spaniards sent some priests among the Indians, and shortly after established a small military post at Adayes, afterwards transferred to Nogodoches, on which rests their claim to the country east of La Salle's settlement. By an arrangement made in 1806 by the commanding officers in that quarter, it was agreed that for the present the Spaniards should not cross the Sabine, and that the Americans should not extend their settlements as far as that river. And in order to prevent any collisions, until the difference should be finally adjusted, instructions have been given that the public lands should not be surveyed west of a meridian passing by Natchitoches.
* See that document in the Appendix.
East of the Mississippi, the U. States claim, by virtue of the treaty of 1803, all the territory south of the 31st deg. of north lat. and extending eastwardly to the small river Perdido, which lies between Mobile and Pensacola, and was, when Louisiana formerly belonged to France, the boundary between that colony and the Spanish province of Florida. That territory, together with the residue of Louisiana east of the Mississippi, was, by the treaty of 1763, ceded by France to Great Britain, who by the same treaty acquired also Spanish Florida. The preliminary articles of that treaty were signed on the 3d day of November, 1762; and, on the same day France by a separate act* ceded to Spain all the residue of Louisiana west of the Mississippi, and including the city and island (so called) of New Orleans. By the treaties of 1783, Great Britain ceded to the United States, all that part of the former colony of Louisiana east of the Mississippi, which lay north of the 31st deg. of north latitude; and to Spain, under the name of west and east Florida, both that part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi, which lay south of that parallel of latitude, and the old Spanish province of Florida. The 31st deg: of lat. was, by the subsequent treaty of 1795 between the United States and
This act or treaty of cession has never been made public; but its date is ascertained by the letter of the king of France to Labbadie, inserted in the Appendix.
Spain, eonfirmed as the boundary between the possessions of the two nations. The title of the United States to the territory in question, under the treaties of St. Ildefonso, and of 1803, is fully established by those facts.
Louisiana was retroceded to France “ with the same extent that it then had in the hands of Spain;" and the territory in question, by whatever name Spain chose to call it, was then substantially in her hands.
Louisiana was retroceded “ with the same extent that it had when Franee possessed it :" and not only was that territory part of Louisiana when France possessed it, but, she never owned that province a single day without that territory as part of it. For, as has been stated, she ceded on the same day the eastern part of Louisiana to England, and the western part to Spain.
Louisiana was retroceded “ such as it should be after the treaties subsequently entered into between Spain and other states :" and Spain never had, since she acquired Louisiana in 1762, made any treaties relative to Louisi ana but that of 1783 with Great Britain, and that of 1795 with the United States: she had entered into no treaty whatever which affected Louisiana west of the Mississippi. This member of the description can therefore only apply to the territory in question east of the Mississippi, and there it has full effect; the territory having been acquired by Spain, by her treaty of 1783 with Great Britain, and its boundaries having been finally established by her treaty of 1795 with the United States. “ Louisiana such as it should be,” &c. can only mean, including east Louisiana as restored by the treaty of 1783, but extending no further north than the southern boundary of the United States as recognized by the treaty of 1795.
The spirit of the treaty equally supports the construction necessarily derived from its letter. Spain retrocedes to France the colony which France had ceded in 1762, and she must therefore yield all in her possession which France had formerly given up. The cession by France of West Louisiana to Spain was to compensate for the loss of Florida. The cession of East Louisiana to England was to make, together with Florida, an equivalent for Cuba, which on that condition was restored to Spain. Francc ceded the whole for the benefit of Spain. And Spain having recovered Florida by the treaty of 1783, having herself ultimately lost nothing; it is a natural consequence that France in obtaining a retrocession should take back all she had lost for the sake of Spain. It is hardly necessary to add, that no private explanation between those two nations, made subsequent to the treaty of San Ildefonso, can affect the right of the United States derived from a public treaty; such supposed explanation not having been communicated to them by France when the treaty of 1803 was concluded, nor even afterwards by Spain, when she acquiesced in the acquisition of Louisiana by America.*
All the acts of Congress which relate to Louisiana, and amongst others, those respecting the public lands, have been so expressed as to become immediately applicable to that territory, whenever possession should be obtained by the President according to the powers vested in him by law to that effect.
All the vacant lands in Louisiana have by the acquisition of that country become the property of the U. States. But those cast of the Mississippi, and contained within the boundaries designated by the beaty of peace with Great Britain, werc claimed by individual states; and the title of the United States is, in that respect, principally, if not altogether derived from cessions made by those states. The documents relative to that branch of the subject have been arranged under two sections; the first consisting of extracts from the charters and other acts establishing or affecting the boundaries of the states which made cessions; the other including the acts of cession to the United States, and the acts of Congress relative thereto. These cessions embrace three distinct tracts of country.
* For that act of acquiescence, see in the Appendix Cevallos' letter to Mr. Pinkney, of 10th Feh. 1804. These remarks have been introduced for the pur. pose of repelling certain large claims to lands in that territory, said to be detired from grauis made by the Spanish officers subscquent to the cession of Louisiana to the t'nited States.