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Special Message

February 06, 1835

To the House of Representatives of the United States:

I transmit to the House of Representatives a report of the Secretary of State, accompanied with extracts from certain dispatches received from the minister of the United States at Paris, which are communicated in compliance with a resolution of the House of the 31st ultimo. Being of opinion that the residue of the dispatches of that minister can not at present be laid before the House consistently with the public interest, I decline transmitting them. In doing so, however, I deem proper to state that whenever any communication shall be received exhibiting any change in the condition of the business referred to in the resolution information will be promptly transmitted to Congress.



Washington, February 5, 1835.


The Secretary of State, to whom has been referred the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 31st ultimo, requesting the President "to communicate to that House, if not incompatible with the public interest, any correspondence with the Government of France and any dispatches received from the minister of the United States at Paris, not hitherto communicated to the House, in relation to the failure of the French Government to carry into effect any stipulation of the treaty of the 4th day of July, 1831," has the honor to report to the President that as far as is known to the Department no correspondence has taken place with the Government of France since that communicated to the House on the 27th December last. The Secretary is not aware that the dispatches received from the minister of the United States at Paris present any material fact which does not appear in the correspondence already transmitted. He nevertheless incloses so much of those dispatches written subsequently to the commencement of the present session of the French Chambers as may serve to shew the state of the business to which they relate since that time, and also that portion of an early dispatch which contains the substance of the assurances made to him by His Majesty the King of the French at a formal audience granted to him for the purpose of presenting his credentials, and he submits for the President's consideration whether the residue can consistently with the public interest be now laid before the House.


Mr. Livingston to the Secretary of State of the United States.


PARIS, October 4, 1833.

SIR: On Monday I presented my letter of credence to the King, on which occasion I made the address to him a copy of which is inclosed.

His answer was long and earnest. I can not pretend to give you the words of it, but in substance it was a warm expression of his good feeling toward the United States for the hospitality he had received there, etc. * * * "As to the convention," he said, "assure your Government that unavoidable circumstances alone prevented its immediate execution, but it will be faithfully performed. Assure your Government of this," he repeated, "the necessary laws will be passed at the next meeting of the Chambers. I tell you this not only as King, but as an individual whose promise will be fulfilled."

Mr. Livingston to the Secretary of State.


PARIS, November 22, 1834.

I do not hope for any decision on our affairs before the middle of January. One motive for delay is an expectation that the message of the President may arrive before the discussion, and that it may contain something to show a strong national feeling on the subject. This is not mere conjecture; I know the fact. And I repeat now from a full knowledge of the case what I have more than once stated in my former dispatches as my firm persuasion, that the moderate tone taken by our Government when the rejection was first known was attributed by some to indifference or to a conviction on the part of the President that he would not be supported in any strong measure by the people, and by others to a consciousness that the convention had given us more than we were entitled to ask.

I saw last night an influential member of the Chamber, who told me that, * * * and that the King had spoken of our affairs and appeared extremely anxious to secure the passage of the law. I mention this as one of the many circumstances which, independent of official assurances, convince me that the King is sincere, and now I have no doubt of the sincerity of his cabinet. From all this you may imagine the anxiety I shall feel for the arrival of the President's message. On its tone will depend very much, not only the payment of our claims, but our national reputation for energy. I have no doubt it will be such as to attain both of these important objects.

Mr. Livingston to Mr. Forsyth .


PARIS, December 6, 1834.

The Chambers were convened on the 1st instant under very exciting circumstances, the ministers individually and the papers supposed to speak their language having previously announced a design to enter into a full explanation of their conduct, to answer all interrogations, and place their continuance in office on the question of approval by the Chambers of their measures.

This, as you will see by the papers, they have frankly and explicitly done, and after a warm debate of two days, which has just closed, they have gained a decided victory. This gives them confidence, permanence, and, I hope, influence enough to carry the treaty. I shall now urge the presentation of the law at as early a day as possible, and although I do not yet feel very certain of success, my hopes of it are naturally much increased by the vote of this evening. The conversations I have had with the King and with all the ministers convince me that now they are perfectly in earnest and united on the question, and that it will be urged with zeal and ability.

Many of the deputies, too, with whom I have entered into explanations on the subject, seem now convinced that the interest as well as the honor of the nation requires the fulfillment of their engagements. This gives me hopes that the endeavors I shall continue to make without ceasing until the question is decided may be successful.

The intimation I have conceived myself authorized to make of the serious consequences that may be expected from another rejection of the law, and of the firm determination of our Government to admit of no reduction or change in the treaty, I think has had an effect. On the whole, I repeat that without being at all confident I now entertain better hopes than I have for some time past done.

Mr. Livingston to the Secretary of State.


PARIS, December 22, 1834.


Secretary of State, etc .

SIR: Our diplomatic relations with this Government are on the most extraordinary footing. With the executive branch I have little to discuss, for they agree with me in every material point on the subject of the treaty. With the legislature, where the great difficulty arises, I can have no official communication. Yet, deeply impressed with the importance to my fellow-citizens of securing the indemnity to which they are entitled, and to the country of enforcing the execution of engagements solemnly made to it, as well as of preventing a rupture, which must infallibly follow the final refusal to execute the convention, I have felt it a duty to use every proper endeavor to avoid this evil. This has been and continues to be a subject of much embarrassment.

My last dispatch (6th December) was written immediately after the vote of the Chamber of Deputies had, as it was thought, secured a majority to the administration, and it naturally excited hopes which that supposition was calculated to inspire. I soon found, however, both from the tone of the administration press and from the language of the King and all the ministers with whom I conferred on the subject, that they were not willing to put their popularity to the test on our question. It will not be made one on the determination of which the ministers are willing to risk their portfolios. The very next day after the debate the ministerial gazette (Les Debats) declared that, satisfied with the approbation the Chamber had given to their system, it was at perfect liberty to exercise its discretion as to particular measures which do not form an essential part of that system; and the communications I subsequently had with the King and the ministers confirmed me in the opinion that the law for executing our convention was to be considered as one of those free questions. I combated this opinion, and asked whether the faithful observance of treaties was not an essential part of their system , and, if so, whether it did not come within their rule. Without answering this argument, I was told of the endeavors they were making to secure the passage of the law by preparing the statement* mentioned in my former dispatch. This, it is said, is nearly finished, and from what I know of its tenor it will produce all the effect that truth and justice can be expected to have on prejudice and party spirit.

*A memoir to be laid before the commission which may be appointed to examine the law, intended to contain all the arguments and facts by which it is to be supported.

The decision not to make it a cabinet question will not be without its favorable operation; * * * some of the leaders of the opposition, who may not be willing to take the responsibility of a rupture between the two nations by breaking the treaty, when they are convinced that instead of forcing the ministers to resign they will themselves only incur the odium of having caused the national breach. In this view of the subject I shall be much aided if by the tenor of the President's message it is seen that we shall resent the breach of faith they contemplate.

It is on all hands conceded that it would be imprudent to press the decision before the next month, when the exposition will be printed and laid before the Chambers.

On the whole, I am far from being sanguine of success in the endeavors which I shall not cease to make for the accomplishment of this important object of my mission, and I expect with some solicitude the instructions for my conduct in the probable case of a rejection of the law.

I have the honor to be, etc.,


Andrew Jackson, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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