France and Latin-American Independence

By William Spence Robertson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
FRENCH DESIGNS UPON SPAIN AND PORTUGAL

The struggle for supremacy between England and France that began in 1793 led Napoleon to extend his political system to the Iberian Peninsula. Because Portugal refused to accede to his demands, which included the cession of her colony in Guiana, at his instance Spanish soldiers invaded that country. Consequently the Portuguese soon agreed to a treaty which provided that their harbors were to be closed to the English and that French trade with Portugal was to be placed upon a most-favored-nation basis. A supplementary treaty, signed on September 29, 1801, stipulated that no assistance was to be given by Portugal to Napoleon's enemies, that the Portuguese were to pay France a large indemnity, and that the southern boundary of French Guiana was to be extended to the Amazon River. On February 16, 1805, Prince Talleyrand prepared instructions for General Junot, who was sent on a diplomatic mission to Lisbon. Junot was informed that the time had arrived for Portugal to break with the Mistress of the Seas and to adopt a new political system more suitable to the interests of herself and France.1

As the nineteenth century opened, the attention of French statesmen was directed more and more to the Spanish Indies. An observer in Mexico informed the French Government that the vicious administration of that country and a weak

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1
Sorel, op. cit., VI, 105; Clercq, Recueil des traités, I, 435-37, 455-57; Mouy, "L'ambassade de General Junot à Lisbonne d'après des documents inédits", Revue des deux mondes, CXXI, 144-45.

-16-

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