JQA Diary, volume 31 22 February 1819
JQA Neal Millikan Adams-Onis Treaty Bank of the United States Florida Annexation Foreign Relations Religion Supreme Court Treaty of Ghent West, The Westward Exploration and Expansion/Westward Migration/Manifest Destiny

22. V:45. I made a Certificate for Captain Barron; but had not time to get a copy of it written, before I was obliged to go to the Office. Mr Onis came at eleven, with Mr Stoughton, one of the persons attached to his Legation— The two copies of the Treaty made out at his house were ready; none of ours were entirely finished— We exchanged the original full powers on both sides, which I believe to be the correct course on the conclusion of Treaties; though at Ghent, and on the conclusion of the Convention of 3. July 1815. the originals were only exhibited, and copies exchanged. I had one of the copies of the Treaty, and Mr Onis the other— I read the English side which he collated, and he the Spanish side which I collated. We then signed and sealed both copies, on both sides; I first, on the English, and he first on the Spanish side: some few errors of copying, and even of translation were discovered, and rectified. It was agreed that the four other copies should be executed in two or three days, as soon as they are all prepared. Mr Onis took with him his executed copy of the Treaty, and I went over with ours to the President’s. The Message and Documents to be sent with it to the Senate, were all prepared; but the President’s brother, and private Secretary Joseph Jones Monroe was gone to the Capitol, with another message to Congress, and Mr Gouverneur Mrs Monroe’s nephew who also resides at the President’s and acts occasionally as his Secretary was likewise abroad. The President requested me to ask Mr D. Brent, to take the Message with the Treaty to the Senate, which he did— Dr Ingalls of Boston called at the Office, and had some conversation with me— He brought me Letters from Degrand— I sent him an invitation to dine with us next Thursday; but he leaves the city to return to Philadelphia to-morrow. As I was going home from my Office I met Mr Fromentin, a Senator from Louisiana, and asked him if the Treaty had been received by the Senate— He said it had—was read; and as far as he could judge had been received with universal satisfaction. I dined with Eldred Simkins, a member of the House of Representatives, from South-Carolina, at Dowson’s Hotel—many of the members of both houses of Congress lodge there, and among them General S. Smith of Baltimore, with his wife, and her 45sister, Miss Spear, who were at table. There was much conversation upon the subject of the Treaty this day signed, as well as upon the arguments now delivering before the Supreme Court of the United States, and the debates in the House of Representatives on the subject of the Bank— I attended this Evening by invitation, a Ball at Georgetown in celebration of Washington’s Birth-day— Otis went with Mrs Adams and Mary Buchanan, and sent his Chair for me to Dowson’s— I went in it alone. The President was at the Ball— I introduced Dr Ingalls to him— We remained till after supper, and Mrs Schuyler was assigned by the managers to me, to lead down to the supper room— She is the wife of a member of Congress from the State of New York, and a daughter of my old acquaintance Dr Sawyer of Newbury-Port— We came home immediately after the Ladies had supped, but it was near one in the Morning when I closed the day; with ejaculations of fervent gratitude to the giver of all good— It was perhaps the most important day of my life— What the consequences may be of the compact this day signed with Spain, is known only to the all wise, and all beneficent disposer of Events; who has brought it about in a manner utterly unexpected, and by means the most extraordinary and unforeseen. Its prospects are propitious and flattering in an eminent degree— May they be realized by the same superintending bounty that produced them! May no disappointment embitter the hope, which this event warrants us in cherishing; and may its future influence on the destinies of my Country be as extensive and as favourable as our warmest anticipations can paint it! Let no idle, and unfounded exultation take possession of my mind as if I could ascribe to my own foresight or exertions any portion of the Event— It is the work of an intelligent, and all embracing cause. May it speed as it has begun; for without a continuation of the blessings already showered down upon it, all that has been done will be worse than useless and vain— The acquisition of the Florida’s has long been an object of earnest desire to this Country— The acknowledgment of a definite line of boundary to the South Sea, forms a great Epocha in our History. The first proposal of it in this Negotiation was my own; and I trust it is now secured beyond the reach of revocation— It was not even among our claims by the Treaty of Independence with Great Britain— It was not among our pretensions under the purchase of Louisiana—for that gave us only the range of the Mississippi and its waters— I first introduced it in the written proposal of 31. October last, after having discussed it verbally both with Onis and De Neuville. It is the only peculiar and appropriate right acquired by this Treaty, in the Event of its Ratification. I record the first assertion of this claim for the United States as my own; because it is known to be mine, perhaps only to the members of the present Administration; and may perhaps never be known to the public; and if ever known will be soon and easily forgotten. The provision by the acquisition of the Florida’s of a fund for the satisfaction of claims held by Citizens of the United States upon the Spanish Government has been steadily pursued through a Negotiation, now of fifteen years standing. It is of the whole Treaty, that which in the case of the ratification, will have the most immediate and sensible effects. The change in the relations with Spain, from the highest mutual exasperation and imminent War, to a fair prospect of tranquility and of secure peace completes the auspicious characters of this transaction in its present aspect; which fills my heart with gratitude unutterable to the first Cause of all. Yet let me not forget that in the midst of this hope there are seeds of fear— The ratification of Spain is yet uncertain, and may by many possible events be defeated— If ratified, many difficulties will certainly arise to clog the execution of the Treaty. There is some discontent at the acceptance of the Sabine as our boundary from the gulph of Mexico to the red river— The amount of claims upon Spain which we have renounced and cancelled will prove five times greater than the sum which we have assumed to pay; and that, when finally ascertained will leave all the claimants dissatisfied— For although our scale of comparison is between what they will obtain under the Treaty, and what they would have obtained from Spain, without it; that is, absolutely nothing; yet theirs will be between their entire right which we cancel, and the very imperfect indemnity which we secure for them. The Florida’s will be found in all probability less valuable in possession than when merely coveted— Most of the lands will be found to have been granted, and it may be doubted whether enough will be 46left to raise from their proceeds even the five Millions to be paid for the claims. A watchful eye; a resolute purpose, a calm and patient temper, and a favouring Providence will all be as indispensable for the future, as they have been for the past in the management of this Negotiation— May they not be found wanting.

Earlier Documents

21 February 1819

21. VIII: Mr Trimble, one of the Members of the House of Representatives from Kentucky came this morning and had a conversation of more than two hours ...
Later Documents

23 February 1819

23. VII: A continual succession of visitors, at my house and at the Office, absorbed the whole of this day. Coll. Trumbull came to enquire about the ...