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East Florida to the Louisiana boundary should be held as security for the payment of these claims, and that no alleged grant of land by Spain in this territory subsequent to the date of the treaty of 1802 should be held as valid; fifth, and that in consideration of this transfer Spain should be released from the claims urged by the United States.
(Many troublesome incidents occurred during the course of this long discussion, which tended still further to increase the irritation existing between the two countries. In 1806, a Venezuelan patriot by the name of Miranda,* who had served with Lafayette in the Army of Washington, made a revolutionary invasion of Spanish America, and claiming that the administration of Jefferson was friendly to the movement, enlisted a number of prominent men in the scheme. As a consequence the Spanish government forbade all trade between the United States and her American possessions, and though her fleet was insignificant, she declared a great extent of coast to be in blockade, and harassed the commerce of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea so that heavy losses were sustained by the American shipping.
While the negotiations for the purchase of Florida were gradually reaching a conclusion, the Spanish king made several grants of immense tracts of land in that territory, which he was proposing to cede to the United States, and had it not been for the firm position maintained by the American government there would have been only a very small part of the land to transfer. Indeed the draft submitted by the Spanish minister a few months preceding the treaty was to cede the provinces of East and West Florida, and provided that "the donations or sales of lands made by the government of his majesty or by legal authorities until this time, are nevertheless to be recognized as valid."
* For an account of this expedition, see page 37.
The treaty was concluded on the 22d of February, 1819, which purported to settle all the difficulties and pretensions of the two countries, and to designate with precision the limits of their bordering territories. John Forsyth of Georgia was appointed minister plenipotentiary in February, 1819, and he was made the bearer of the treaty to the court of Spain. The United States ship Hornet was placed at his disposal, and he received instructions to procure the ratification by the king at the earliest practicable moment. The Hornet was ordered to wait for the treaty and bring it back. But the king sent word that in view of the great importance of the treaty it was indispensable that he should examine it with the greatest caution and deliberation.
While Forsyth was protesting at Madrid against the delay in formally ratifying the treaty, the Spanish king sent General Vives to Washington to inform the American government that if measures would be taken to prevent alleged piratical excursions from ports in the United States; if further aid to the invasion of his Catholic majesty's possessions in North America would be stopped; and if assurance would be given that no relations would be formed with the revolted provinces of Spain, then the treaty would be ratified. This proposition was received with surprise and indignation, and a carefully drawn reply was made by the secretary of state, in which he firmly refused to consider the terms of the treaty as open to question. After a delay of precisely two years, upon the adoption of a constitution to which the king was compelled to take an oath of allegiance, the treaty by the advice of the Cortes was finally ratified. Incorporated with the ratification of the king was a specific declaration that the three grants to the Duke of Alagor, the Count of Puñonrostro, and Don Pedro de Vargas, which had been made secretly during the progress of these negotiations, were invalid and null.
The treaty ceded all of the Floridas to the United States, and marked the western boundary of the United States by the Sabine River, the Red River to 100° of west longitude, the Arkansas River to latitude 42° north, and thence to the Pacific Ocean. Surveys were provided for; religious freedom was secured; previous Spanish grants were recognized and confirmed; mutual claims upon the two continents were renounced, and the United States undertook to satisfy the demands of their citizens against Spain, to the extent of five millions of dollars. Provision was made for a commission of three to examine and decide upon the amount and validity of these claims. As a proof of the friendly sentiments toward Spain, the United States agreed to permit vessels laden with Spanish products from her ports or colonies, to enter St. Augustine and Pensacola without paying other duties than those imposed upon American vessels. This exemption was to be exclusively enjoyed by Spanish vessels, and was to last for twelve years.
The general revolt against the Spanish crown in the countries of South America led to many depredations upon the commerce of the United States by privateers sailing under commissions from the Spanish authorities. Upon the capture of some of these vessels by the armed ships of the United States, the Spanish minister, Señor de Anduaga, sharply assailed the authorities for this necessary retaliation. Mr. Adams replied asserting the entire friendship of the United States, but insisting on the right to protect trade from the incursions of the so-called privateers. Matters grew so bad that the President asked the authority of Congress to construct additional vessels and recommended the pursuit of the offenders even after they had landed, and if that were not successful, he urged the making of reprisals on the property of the inhabitants and the blockade of the ports
from which the pirates came or in which they found shelter. The losses suffered by the owners of American vessels and cargoes were the subject of protracted discussion between the two governments, resulting in the "claims convention" of 1834, by the terms of which Spain acknowledged her liability and agreed to pay to the United States twelve millions of reals vellon bearing interest at five per cent per annum payable in Paris; the government of the United States was to make the distribution to the claimants.
The kingdom of Spain was at this time so disturbed with insurrections and civil wars that it became practically impossible for her to meet the payment of this interest and finally, Mr. Buchanan, when secretary of state, accepted the payment of $30,000 annually at Havana as the interest on the debt.
The location of Cuba and its remaining a colony of Spain, instead of joining in the column of the republics which had thrown off the Spanish rule, led to many delicate questions between the United States and the home government. 1840 it was gravely suspected that agents of Great Britain who were determined to put an end to the traffic in negro slaves were intriguing with malcontents in Cuba to arouse a rebellion against the government. So deep was the conviction that the President sent a special message to the consul general at Havana informing him that this government having learned, from what appeared to be a reliable source, of a probable uprising, it was important that exact and detailed information should be communicated at once. At the same time the minister at Madrid was directed to inform the Spanish government that the United States, having so great an interest in the condition of the island, would never permit it to be occupied by British agents or forces under any pretext whatever, and in the event of any attempt by any European power to disturb Spain's sovereignty the United States would lend
its whole naval and military resources to aid in preserving or restoring it.
Such assurances were repeatedly conveyed to the Spanish ministry, and at various times propositions have been broached to purchase the island. These however have been declined as the pride of the country would not permit the disposal of the territory in that manner. Nevertheless the American ministers at Madrid have been constantly instructed to advise the Department of State, should there appear to be a disposition at any time to consider the question.
In 1851 when England undertook to assist Spain in preserving the island of Cuba from suspected invasion by parties organized in the United States, it was plainly intimated that such a course would not be permitted by this government, as it would involve the act of searching American merchant vessels to ascertain whether they contained alleged invaders.
The relations between the United States and Cuba suffer from the same inconvenience that has been experienced with Canada. Both being dependencies of European powers there are no diplomatic officers in either colony with whom the authorities at Washington can communicate. Every question which arises is subjected to a roundabout and triangular course of correspondence. The home government must be approached, and before a reply can be made, a report is generally required from the governing power of the dependency. When it was proposed that the United States should unite with England and France, in guaranteeing the Spanish dominion of Cuba and mutually disclaim forever all intention to obtain possession of the island, President Fillmore promptly declined to become a party to such an agreement, yet at the same time the powers were informed that the United States had no designs of acquisition.
In 1869, the disaffection against the Spanish rule which had