The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 17, July 1913 - April, 1914 Page: 9
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The Louisiana-Texas Frontier
tion of that province and the constitutionality of its acquisition,
he took occasion to express his ideas on its "unquestioned limits."
He believed its "exterior boundary" to be formed by the "high-
lands enclosing the waters of the Mississippi and Missouri," with
such terminal points as the "Mexicana [Sabine] or the highlands
to the east of it," at one extreme, and at the other, a line drawn
"from the Lake of the Woods to, the nearest source of the Missis-
sippi."5 Passing beyond limits "not admitting of question," Jef-
ferson stated that we had "some pretensions" or "some claims" to
the "Rio Norte or Bravo." By the end of August, 1803, he became
satisfied that our right as far westward as the "Bay of St. Bernard"
might be "strongly maintained," but weakened the force of this
statement by suggesting the possibility of compromising "on the
western limit," rather than on the Florida border. In the autumn
he sent to certain of his correspondents his conclusions on this
subject, in the form of a pamphlet, entitled, "The Limits and
Bounds of Louisiana."6
The importance of this pamphlet lies in the fact that it sum-
marizes the views of Jefferson, which in turn were held by most
American officials until 1819. The author mistakenly assumed
that by the end of the seventeenth century France had actual
possession of the Gulf coast from Mobile to Matagorda Bay, and
that this possession entitled them to claim from the Perdido to the
Rio Grande. He was ignorant of the effect exerted by the later
Spanish occupation of Texas, or else wilfully disregarded it, for
he represented New Mexico, and not Texas, as exercising jurisdic-
tion to the Sabine, after 17'62. He states that neither the treaty
of that year, nor any other, abridged the extensive French claim to
the "Bravo." Moreover, this claim was likewise protected by any
legitimate interpretation of the word "retrocede" in the third
article of the Treaty of San Ildefonso, and by the positive state-
5This line was mentioned in the Convention which Rufus King had just
negotiated with the British government. The Senate struck out the clause
containing this article. For the other references to the subject of Louisiana
limits cf. Ford, Paul L., Writings of Jefferson, VIII, 242, 261, and Jeffer-
son Papers (MSS.), Library of Congress, Series I, Vol. 9, No. 121.
OPublished in 1904 by Houghton, Mifflin & Co., in Documents Relating to
the Purchase and Ecxploration of Louisiana. This brief pamphlet was
based on such printed authorities as were then available. As these were
mostly French, with vague or misleading statements regarding the limits
of Louisiana, the work now has' slight value, although its author seemed
perfectly satisfied with it.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 17, July 1913 - April, 1914, periodical, 1914; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101061/m1/13/: accessed December 12, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.