The five months covered by this volume encompass the end of Jefferson's first administration and point toward his second. At home, the government was still digesting the Louisiana Purchase, establishing territorial governments for the Orleans and Louisiana Territories, and trying to ascertain the boundaries of the acquisition. Abroad, the shifting alliances resulting from the ongoing war in Europe affected American relations with European nations and obstructed Madison's and Jefferson's goals in international affairs. Changes in the diplomatic corps led to confusion, as Robert R. Livingston was replaced as minister to France by his brother-in-law, John Armstrong Jr., and as Charles Pinckney, America's minister to Spain, given permission to return, opted instead to remain in Madrid and assist James Monroe in negotiations there. Monroe, who had been unable to accomplish his mission of negotiating a convention with Great Britain that would prevent impressment, went to Madrid hoping to persuade Spain to ratify the Convention of 1802, accept the American interpretation of the Louisiana boundaries, and sell East Florida to the United States.
Monroe's task was made more difficult by the refusal of France to support the U.S. position, something he learned at Paris while en route to Madrid. James Bowdoin, named to succeed Pinckney, was prevented by ill health from departing until spring. In the United States, British minister Anthony Merry's health kept him at Philadelphia for months and Spanish minister Carlos Yrujo's outrageous behavior and arrogant letters finally forced Madison to seek his recall. In North Africa, the crewmen of the U.S. frigate Philadelphia continued to languish in Tripolitan prisons. Morocco and Algiers, though restive at being prevented by U.S. blockades from trading with Tripoli, exercised caution in view of the increased American naval force in the region. A forceful Edward Preble was replaced as naval commander in the Mediterranean by Samuel Barron, whose long-term illness, reported in consular dispatches, hampered his effectiveness in the war against Tripoli.
Madison's correspondence also shows the growing impact of the European war on American commerce and shipping as ship captains, merchants, and family members wrote to complain of vessels seized under the increasing restrictions placed by Britain and France on neutral trade, and of sailors impressed by both major belligerents. British and French privateers also played havoc with American shipping and seamen, and their victims wrote Madison to complain. Requests for appointments, problems with Monroe's financial affairs, wine purchases, and family land issues also occupied Madison's time over this winter. Included in the supplement are documents that have been acquired since the publication of the last series supplement in volume 17 of the Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series, in 1991. Access to people, places, and events discussed in this volume is facilitated by detailed annotation and a comprehensive index.show more