1795 - Treaty with Spain

Napoleon Bonaparte, the French geo-political mastermind of the 19th century

        President Washington's treaty with Spain obtained recognition of the 31st latitude as the southern boundary of the United States.  The U.S. promised to remain north of that line in exchange for being granted a 'right of deposit' to use Spanish wharfs in New Orleans.

Lo C-Early New Orleans _0 

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         At first glance these provisions seem modest enough, but they set in motion a sequence of events that eight years later led to the cession of Louisiana to the United States.  The French foreign minister Talleyrand was alarmed that Spain should make such concessions, believing it essential that Spain (which was holding Louisiana in trust for the French) should maintain forts on the Mississippi in order to prevent the westward march of Americans who, in his words, were "devoured by pride, ambition, and cupidity."  But Talleyrand needn't have worried.  The Spanish governor in New Orleans, in outright violation of the treaty signed with President Washington, turned right around and closed the river to American trade and commerce and suspended the 'right of deposit.'   The port remained closed until 1804 when Napoleon sold the French territory of Louisiana to the United States government. 

Charles -Maurice -de -Talleyrand -Pe ́rigord

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         In the intervening years, Spain ignored President Jefferson's appeals for a new 'right of deposit.'  Unbeknownst to Jefferson, Mr. Talleyrand (right) was the invisible hand in the puppet.  When King Charles IV of Spain returned the land to the French in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso, in 1800, Jefferson was kept in the dark because Napoleon was hatching a scheme to humble her long-time nemesis, England. 

          Spain maintained silence on the issue not because the port was no longer hers.  Because the treaty of retrocession with France had been struck in secret, both sides were duty-bound to keep silent until the French flag flew over governor's square in New Orleans.  By then, Napoleon had sealed a deal with Jefferson to sell the United States all of Louisiana, a move that infuriated the English.