Alarmed at the prospect of a union of England and the United States, Spain not only made peace with France at Bâsle in 1795, but also, by Pinckney’s treaty in that year, conceded to the United States the Mississippi boundary and the navigation of the river. The latter concession was vital to the prosperity of the Mississippi Valley, for only by way of this river could the settlers get their surplus crops to a market.

It had become clear by 1795 that, with rival European nations threatening the flanks of the American advance, interfering in domestic politics, and tampering with the western frontiersmen, the United States was in danger of becoming a mere dependency of the European state system.〖Compare “Washington’s Farewell Address,” in H. C., xliii, 237, 238, 239; 243–246.〗 Partly to ensure such a dependence of the United States upon herself, and partly to procure a granary for her West Indian Islands, France now urged Spain to give her Louisiana and Florida, promising protection against the American advance.

The Alleghenies seemed to the leaders of French policy the proper boundaries for the Union. At last, in 1800, Napoleon so far mastered Spain as to force her to yield Louisiana to him; and the Spanish Intendant at New Orleans, pending the arrival of French troops, closed the Mississippi to American commerce. The West was in a flame. It had now acquired a population of over three hundred and eighty thousand, and it threatened the forcible seizure of New Orleans. Even the peaceful and French-loving President Jefferson hinted that he would seek an English alliance, and demanded the possession of the mouth of the Mississippi from France, arguing that whoever held that spot was our natural enemy. Convinced that it was inexpedient to attempt to occupy New Orleans in view of the prospect of facing the sea power of England and an attack by the American settlers, Napoleon capriciously tossed the whole of the Province of Louisiana to Jefferson by the Louisiana Purchase Treaty〖H. C., xliii, 250.〗 of 1803, and thereby replenished his exchequer with fifteen million dollars, made friends with the United States, and gave it the possibility of a noble national career by doubling its territory and by yielding it the control of the great central artery of the continent.

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