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[41] vast project. If successful, it would have established the French power on the mouth and on the right bank of the Mississippi, and would have opposed the most formidable barrier to the expansion of the United States. The peace of Amiens, at this juncture, relieved Napoleon from the pressure of the war with England, and every thing seemed propitious to the success of the great enterprise. The fate of America trembled for a moment in a doubtful balance, and five hundred thousand citizens in that region felt the danger, and sounded the alarm.1

But in another moment the aspect of affairs was changed, by a stroke of policy, grand, unexpected, and fruitful of consequences, perhaps without a parallel in history. The short-lived truce of Amiens was about to end, the renewal of war was inevitable. Napoleon saw that before he could take possession of Louisiana it would be wrested from him by England, who commanded the seas, and he determined at once, not merely to deprive her of this magnificent conquest, but to contribute as far as in him lay, to build up a great rival maritime power in the West. The Government of the United States, not less sagacious, seized the golden moment — a moment such as does not happen twice in a thousand years. Mr. Jefferson perceived that, unless acquired by the United States, Louisiana would in a short time belong to France or to England, and with equal wisdom and courage he determined that it should belong to neither. True he held the acquisition to be unconstitutional, but he threw to the winds the resolutions of 1798, which had just brought him into power; he broke the Constitution and he gained an Empire. Mr. Monroe was sent to France to conduct the negotiation, in conjunction with Chancellor Livingston, the resident Minister, contemplating, however, at that time only the acquisition of New Orleans and the adjacent territory.

But they were dealing with a man that did nothing by halves. Napoleon knew, and we know--that to give up the mouth of the river was to give up its course. On Easter-Sunday of 1803, he amazed his Council with the announcement, that he had determined to cede the whole of Louisiana to the United States. Not less to the astonishment of the American envoys, they were told by the French negotiators, at the first interview, that their master was prepared to treat with them not merely for the Isle of New Orleans, but for the whole vast province which bore the name of Louisiana; whose boundaries, then unsettled, have since been carried on the North to the British line, on the West to the Pacific Ocean; a territory half as big as Europe, transferred by a stroke of the pen. Fifty-eight years have elapsed since the acquisition was made. The States of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Kansas, the territories of Nebraska, Dacotah, Jefferson, and part of Colorado, have been established within its limits, on this side of the Rocky Mountains; the State of Oregon and the territory of Washington on their western slope; while a tide of population is steadily pouring into the region, destined in addition to the natural increase, before the close of the century, to double the number of the States and Territories. For the entire region west of the Alleghanies and east of the Rocky Mountains, the Missouri and the Mississippi form the natural outlet to the sea. Without counting the population of the seceding States, there are ten millions of the free citizens of the country, between Pittsburg and Fort Union, who claim the course and the mouth of the Mississippi, as belonging to the United States. It is theirs by a transfer of truly imperial origin and

1 Speech of Mr. Ross, in the Senate of the United States, 14th February, 1803.

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