The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 17, July 1913 - April, 1914 Page: 10
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The Southwestern Historical Quarterly
ment of Laussat to Claiborne and Wilkinson at New Orleans, in
In view of the obscurity in regard to the limits of Louisiana it
would seem only the natural thing for Jefferson to ask the French
or the Spanish government to define them. But the latter was
then protesting against the validity of our title to any part of
Louisiana. On the other hand the autocrat of France, who had
dictated the terms of the Treaty of San Ildefonso, seems purposely
to have made these limits obscure. Otherwise it is difficult to
account for the language of its third article: "His Catholic
Majesty promises and engages on his part, to retrocede to the
French Republic . . . the colony or province of Louisiana,
with the same extent that it now has 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
When one possesses the power to dictate the terms of a treaty
and permits such an indefinite statement to represent the limits of
a territory ceded to himself, it must be for some sinister purpose
later to be revealed. Spanish authorities believed that Napoleon
designed the enigmatical character of this article to afford a later
pretext for reviving the pretensions of La Salle and Crozat and
overrunning Mexico.8 St. Cyr, the French minister at Madrid,
confirmed their belief by stating that Spain had conveyed to
'France the whole of the Gulf coast to the mouth of the Rio
Napoleon first definitely showed his hand in the instructions
issued by Decrds to Victor, November 26, 1802. The latter never
had the opportunity to carry them out as captain-general of
Louisiana, but Laussat, the prefect, as we have already seen, in-
formed the American commissioners of their contents and thus
aroused the protests of Salcedo and Casa Calvo. One should not
assign too much emphasis to this French declaration, and cer-
'Claiborne and Wilkinson to Madison, December 27, 1803, in Documents
Relating to the Louisiana Cession, MSS., Bureau of Rolls and Library,
Dept. of State. See also Wilkinson Papers, II, Wilkinson to Jared Inger-
soll, undated. Cf. Parker, D. W., Calendar of Papers, etc., No. 6907.
'Cf. Memoir dated December 23, 1814, in Papers Relating to Burr's Con-
spiracy, Bureau of Rolls and Library, State Department, and also Ogg,
F. A., The Opening of the Mississippi, 484.
'Cf. Sloane, W. M., in Am. Hist. Rev., IV, 447.
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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/m1/14/: accessed June 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.