The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 17, July 1913 - April, 1914 Page: 15
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The Louisiana-Texas Frontier
boundary of Louisiana. The Act of March 26, 1804, divided the
acquisition into two portions, the southern of which, called Orleans
Territory, was to be bounded on the north by the thirty-third paral-
lel, and to "extend west to the western boundary of said cession."1"
Thus Congress made no attempt to define the western extent of
By this time the President and Cabinet seem to have reached the
sentiment that Jefferson expressed in a letter to William Dunbar:
"However much we may compromise on our western limits, we
never shall on our eastern."20 On the 15th of the following
month Madison, in his instructions to Monroe concerning the
.anticipated Spanish negotiation, expressed, among other subjects,
the "united opinion" of the Cabinet regarding the western limit of
Louisiana. Between the possessions of the United States and
Spain a neutral zone was to be established, doubtless in deference
to the antipathy that Spain had always manifested against near
neighbors of vigorous type. This zone was to be bounded on the
east by the Sabine from its mouth to its source, a limit that may
have been due to the suggestions of Claiborne, Clark, and Dunbar.
From the source of the Sabine the line should be drawn directly
to the junction of the Osage with the Missouri, and there should
-continue parallel with the Mississippi to its source. Such a line
would very closely approximate the western extent of French settle-
ment in this region, and should be compared with a later suggestion
by Talleyrand.21 The western limit of this zone was the Colorado
(or some other river emptying into St. Bernard's Bay), with a line
from its source to the most southwesterly source of the Red River,
making such deflections as were necessary to include all of its
branches. Thence the limit should follow along the highlands,
forming the watershed between the Mississippi and Missouri on one
side and the Rio Grande on the other, to the latitude of the most
northern source of the last named river, and thence by a meridian
to the northern boundary of Louisiana.22
It will be noted that this neutral zone was to include a large
part of the "undoubted limits" of Louisiana. This need cause no
surprise in view of the attitude of many public men at this time in
"Annals 8th Cong., 1st Sess., 1293.
2"Washington, II. A., Works of Jefferson, IV, 539.
2"See H. Adams, Hist. of the U. S., II, 299, 300.
2"Am. State Papers, For. Rel., II, 628 et seq.
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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/m1/19/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.