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tile collisions ; and these states, with pretensions far more extensive, adop. ted the Sabine river as the most obvious, most convenient, most natural, and best exceptionable, temporary boundaries.
I am therefore, sir, commanded by the President of the United States, to inform you, “that the actual quiet possession of the country by the United States, east of the river Sabine ought and will be considered as fully within the limits of the country surrendered to the United States, on taking possession of this place, and therefore any attempt on the part of his catholic majes. ty's officers to disturb the existing state of things, by endeavouring to occupy any new post east of the Sabine, or westward or northward of the former boundaries, of what has been called West Florida, must be considered by the government of the United States, as an actual invasion of their territorial rights, and will be resisted accordingly.” And while I submit these commands to your grave consideration, in the hope they may bave due weight, it becomes my duty to demand from you the withdrawal of the troops of Spain to the west of the Sabine.
My sense of the high respect which is due from one old soldier to another, probibits the idea of menace, but as our honour forbids stratagem or deception, before our swords have been drawn, I owe it to my own fame, and to the national character, to warn you, that the ultimate decision of the competent authority has been taken, that my orders are absolute and my determination fixed to assert, and (under God) to sustain, the jurisdiction of the United States to the Sabine river, against any force which may be oppo. sed to me.
Retire then sir, I conjure you, the troops of your command from the ground in controversy, and spare the effusion of human blood, without prejudicing your own honour, or the substantial interest of his majesty, your royal master.
Colonel Thomas H. Cushing, chief des etats major of the army of theUnited States, has my orders to deliver this letter to you, and to wait a reasonable time for your answer.
I pray God to keep your excellency in his holy protection for many years, and have the honour to be,
Your most obedient
JAMES WILKINSON. His Excellency Governour Cordero,
chief in command of the troops of Spain, on the western frontier of the province of Texas.
Nacogdoches camp, Sept. 29, 1806. EXCELLENT SIR,
BY the hands of colonel Thomas Cushing,chief of the general staff of the United States army, I have had the honour yesterday to receive you excel. lency's letter, written from your head quarters, at Natchitoches.
Being authorised to enter into a discussion of the serious and interesting matters on which you treat, I hope your excellency will excuse me for transmitting your letter with the utmost celerity to the hands of the captain gen. eral brigadier Nimesio Saleedo, under whose orders I act ; and I shall transmit to your excellency his answer, in the same manner, by the hands of an officer of my staff.
Vol. IV. Appendix. I
While thus acting, I have the honour to offer to your excellency my re. spects and consideration, praying God to keep you alive many years. I am, sir, your excellency's most humble and obedient servant, (Signed)
ANTONIO CORDERO. His excellency Don James Wil
KINSON, governour of Louisiana, and general of the army of the United States of America.
Extract of a letter from General Wilkinson to the secretary of
“ Natchitoches, October
21st, 1806. “ Accidental causes having detained the bearer, I am enabled to transmit you under cover the answer of governourCordero,to my note of the 4th inst. of which a copy has been forwarded, and a duplicate will accompany this.
“ I send you a literal copy of the governour's letter, in place of a very imperfect translation, which however serves to remove all doubts of the continued pretensions of the Spaniards to extend their jurisdiction to the Avoya Fonda, within seven miles of this post, and confirms my determination to ad. vance to the Sabine, for which point my arrangements being completed, I shall march to morrow morning; but agreeably to the idea expressed in a former letter, I intend to propose to the Spanish commander the withdrawal of our troops, respectively,to the points of occupancy at the period of the surrender of the province to the United States, and in case of his refusal I shall be governed by circumstances.
" I am informed the captain general Saleedo, was to be at Nacogdoches on the 22nd proximo."
Head quarters, Natchitoches,
October 4th, 1806. SIR,
I HAVE had the honour to receive your excellency's letter of the 29th ul. timo, by colonel Cushing, and shall expect the answer of his excellency the captain general Saleedo, with solicitude.
In the mean time I shall move forward towards the Sabine, and to prevent the misinterpretation of my motives, I consider it proper to apprize you, that this movement is made solely to demonstrate the pretensions of the United States to the territory east of that river, and with no hostile intentions against the troops or realms of Spain.
This step has been rendered essential to the honour of the United States, by the late movements and occupancies of his excellency governour Herrara and it is also justified by the position which the troops of your excellency's command have recently taken immediately on the western bank of the Sabine, sixty miles advanced of Nacogdoches.
I avail myself of a casual, but certain conveyance to transmit this letter to your excellency, and I pray God to keep you in his holy protection for many years. (Signed)
JAMES WILKINSON His excellency Antonio Cordero,
commander in chief of the troops of Spain on the eastern frontier of the province of Texas.
of the President of the United States, containing the Communi
cation to both Houses of Congress, at the commencement of the first session of Tenth Congress, October 27, 1807.
To the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States. CIRCUMSTANCES, fellow citizens, which seriously threatened the peace of our country, have made it a duty to convene you at an earlier period than usual. The love of peace so much cherished in the bosom of our citizens, which has so long guided the proceedings of their councils, and induced forbearance under so many wrongs, may not ensure our continuance in the quiet pursuits of industry. The many injuries and depredations committed on our commerce & navigation upon the high seas,for years past, the successive innovations on those principles of publick law, which have been established by the reason and usage of nations, as the rule of their intercourse, and the umpire and security of their rights and peace, and all the circumstances which induced the extraordinary mission to London, are already known to you. The instructions given to our ministers were framed in the sincerest spirit of amity and moderation.They accordingly proceeded, in conformity there with, to propose arrangements which might embrace and settle all the points in difference between us; which might bring us to a mutual understanding on our neutral and national rights, and provide for a commercial intercourse on conditions of some equality. After long and fruitless endeavours to effect the purposes of their mission, and to obtain arrangements within the limits of their instructions, they concluded to sign such as could be obtained and to send them for consideration, candidly declaring to the other negociators at the same time, that they were acting against their instructions, and that their government therefore could not be pledged for ratification. Some of the articles proposed might have been admitted on a principle of compromise, but others were too highly disadvantageous,and no sufficient provision was made against the principal source of the irritations and collisions which were constantly endangering the peace of the two nations. The ques. tion therefore, whether a treaty should be accepted in that form, could have admitted but of one decision,even had no declarations of the other party impaired our confidence in it. Still anxious not to close the door against friend. ly adjustments, new modifications were framed, and further concessions authorised, than could before have been supposed necessary, and our ministers were instructed to resume their negociations on these grounds.
On this new reference to amicable discussion, we were reposing in confi. dence, when on the 22d day of June last, by a formal order from a British admiral, the frigate Chesapeake, leaving her port for a distant service, was attacked by one of those vessels wbich bad been lying in our harbours under the indulgences of hospitality, was disabled from proceeding, had several of her crew killed,and four taken away. On this outrage no commentaries are necessary. Its character has been pronounced by the indignant voice of our citizens with an emphasis and unanimity never exceeded. I immediately by proclamation interdicted our harbours and waters to all British armed vessels,forbade intercourse with them, and, uncertain how far hostilities were intended, and the town of Norfolk being indeed threatened with immediate at
tack, a sufficient force was ordered for the protection of that place, and such other preparations commenced and pursued as the prospect rendered proper. An armed vessel of the United States was dispatched with instructions to our ministers at London to call on that government for the satisfaction and security required by the outrage. A very short interval ought now to bring the answer, which shall be communicated to you as soon as received: then also, or as soon after as the publick interests shall be found to admit; the unratified treaty and proceedings relative to it, shall be made known to you.
The aggression thus begun,has been continued on the part of the British com. manders by remaining within our waters in defiance of the authority of the country, by habitual violations of its jurisdiction, and at length by putting to death one of the persons whom they had forcibly taken from on board the Chesapeake. These aggravations necessarily lead to the policy either of never admitting an armed vessel into our harbours, or of maintaining in every harbour such an armed force as may costrain obedience to the laws, and protect the lives and property of our citizens against their armed guests ; but the expense of such a standing force, and its inconsistency with our principles, dispense with those courtesies which would necessarily call for it, and leave us equally free to exclude the navy as we are the army of a foreign power,from epter. ing our limits.
To former violations of maritime rights another is now added of very exten. sive effect. The government of that nation has issued an order interdicting all traile by neutrals between ports not in amity with them, and being now at war with nearly every nation on the Atlantic and Mediterranean seas, our vessels are required to sacrifice their cargoes at the first port they touch, or to return home without the benefit of going to any other market. Under this new law of the ocean, our trade on the Mediterranean has been swept away by seizures and condemnations, and that in other seas is threatned with the same fate.
Our differences with Spain remain still unsettled, no measure having been te jen on her part, since my last communications to Congress, to bring them to a close. But under a state of things, which may favour reconsideration, they have been recently pressed, and an expectation is entertained that they may now soon be brought to an issue of some sort. With their subjects on our borders, no new collisions have taken place, nor seem immediately to be apprehended. To our former grounds of complaint has been added a very serious one, as you will see by the decree, a copy of which is now communi. cated. Whether this decree, which professes to be conformable to that of the French government of Nov. 21, 1806, heretofore communicated to Con. gress, will also be conformed to that in its construction and application in relation to the United States, had not been ascertained at the date of our last cominunications. These, however, gave reason to expect such a conformity.
With the other nations of Europe, our harmony has been uninterrupted, and commerce and friendly intercourse have been maintained on their usual footing
Our peace with the several states on the coast of Barbary appears as firm as at any former period, and as likely to continue as that of any other nation
Among our Indian neighbours, in the north-western quarter, some fermen. tation was observed soon after the late occurrences threatning the continuance of our peace. Messages were said to be interchanged, and tokens to be passing, which usually denote a state of restlessness among them, and the char. acter of the agitators pointed to the sources of excitement ; measures were immediately taken for providing against that danger; instructions were given to require explanations, and, with assurances of our continued friendship, to admonish the tribes to remain quiet at home, taking no part in quarrels not belonging to them. As far as we are yet informed, the tribes in our vicin
ity, who are most advanced in the pursuits of industry,are sincerely disposed to adhere to their friendship with us, and to their peace with all others; while those, more remote, do not present appearances sufficiently quiet to justify the intermission of military precaution on our part,
The great tribes on our south-western quarter,much advanced beyond the others in agriculture and houshold arts, appear tranquil and identifying their views with ours in proportion to their advancement. With the whole of these people in every quarter,I shall continue to inculcate peace and friendship with all their neighbours, and perseverance in those occupations and pursuits which will best promote their own well being.
The appropriation of the last session for the defence of our seaport towns and harbours, were made under expectation that a continuance of our peace would permit us to proceed in that work according to our convenience. It has been thought better to apply the sum then given towards the defence of New-York, Charleston, and New Orleans chiefly, as most open and most likely first to need protection, and to leave places less immediately in danger to the provisions of the present session.
The gun-boats already provided have, on a like principle,been chiefly assigned to New York, New Orleans and the Chesapeake. Whether our movcable force on the water, so material in aid of the defensive works on the land, should be augmented in this or any other form, is left to the wisdom of the legis. lature. For the purpose of manning these vessels in sudden attacks on our harbours, it is a matter for consideration whether the seamen of the United States may not justly be formed into a special militia, to be called on for tours of duty, in defence of the harbours where they shall happen to be, the ordina. ry militia of the place furnishing that portion which may consist of landsmen.
The moment our peace was threatened I deemed it indispensible to secure a greater provision of those articles of military stores, with which our magazines were not sufficiently furnished. To have awaited a previous and special sanc. tion by law, would have lost occasions which might not be retrieved. I did not hesitate, therefore, to authorise engagements for such supplements to our existing stock, as would render it adequate to the emergencies threatening us; and I trust that the legislature, feeling the same anxiety for the safety of our country so materially advanced by this precaution, will approve, when done, what they would have seen so important to be done, if then assembled.-Expenses,also unprovided for,arose out of the necessity of calling all our gun-boats into actual service for the defence of our harbours, of all which accounts will be laid before you.
Whether a regular army is to be raised, and to what extent, must depend on the information so shortly expected. In the mean time, I have called on the states for quotas of militia to be in readiness for present defence; and have moreover, encouraged the acceptance of volunteers ; and I am happy to inform you, that these bave offered themselves with great alacrity in every part of the union; they are ordered to be organized, and ready at ment's warning, to proceed on any service to which they may be called, and every preparation within the executive powers, has been made to ensure us , the benefit of early exertions.
I informed Congress at their last session of the enterprizes against the publick peace, which were believed to be in preparation by Aaron Burr
and his associates, of the measures taken to defeat them, and to bring the offen. ders to justice : their enterprizes were happily defeated by the patriotic exertions of the militia, wherever called into action, by the fidelity of the army and energy of the commander in chief, in promptly arranging the diffi. culties presenting themselves on the Sabine, repairing to meet those arising