The Jay Papers I: Mission To Spain


In retrospect, it is doubtful whether anyone could have squeezed more juice out of the Spanish lemon than Mr. Jay. He had managed, with constant nagging, to get Spain to advance the pledged $150,000 over a three-year period. That sum was paid in ten installments to Gardoqui and other Spanish merchant bankers to make good the drafts drawn on Jay I Congress. An additional $24,000 was charged to Jay account for clothing taken by Spanish ships as prizi from intercepted British vessels and turned over fc the use of the American army. By 1792, according t Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton’s calculation an additional amount of $99,007.89 was due Spain in interest at five per cent from the date of the loans.

In order to establish American credit Hamilton without Spain’s asking and much to her surprise, bo rowed money from the Dutch and paid off the Spanis debt in the fall of 1793. The Spanish government gat receipts, and so the matter ended.

The issue of the free navigation of the Mississippi was not so easily settled. It plagued Spanish-America relations well down into the Washington administration. The problem seemed solved when in 1795 Thomas Pinckney, dispatched on a mission to Span obtained from Manuel de Godoy, Spain’s principal minister, a treaty by which Spain acknowledged America’s western boundary as the Mississippi and concede both the free navigation of the river and the Privileg of deposit of American cargo at New Orleans for three-year period.

The execution of the treaty was another mattet Several years of disagreeable disputes followed. Span, found one pretext after another to delay evacuatin the remaining posts she held on the east side of th Mississippi. Scarcely had a joint survey of the Spanish American boundary been completed when, in 1800 Louisiana was secretly ceded by Spain to France. Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana from Napoleon in 1803 followed by the Florida purchase in 1819, settled once and for all the issue of the free navigation of tht Mississippi and made the United States the master of a great continental domain. The end justified, perhaps, all the forebodings and suspicions of Florida blanca; it also abundantly vindicated the tenacious stand of John Jay back in 1780.

The excerpt from Lieutenant Kennedy’s letter on page 112 reads as follows:

“Thanks for your good wishes on our rescue. We were extremely lucky throughout. After today it won’t happen again. Working out of another base—& went in to see the doc about some coral infections I got. He asked me how I got them—I said swimming—he then burst loose with—’Kennedy—you know swimming is forbidden in this area—stay out of the god-damned water.’ So now it’s an official order—. so no more strain. Best regards to Sted—Red and all the boys—Remember me to Mac if you see him.

Over & out Jack”