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Onis, Luis de

Memoria Sobre las Negociaciones Entre Espana y Los Estados Unidos De America, que Dieron Motivo al Tratado de 1819. Con Una Noticia Sobre la Estadistica de Aquel Pais Acompana un Apendice, que Contiene Documentos Importantes Para Mayor Ilustracion del Asunto. Madrid: Imprenta de D. M. de Burgos. 1820. 70 pp. This volume bears a late nineteenth century half Spanish sheep binding and marbled boards, with a leather label.

This is the rare first edition of a document of central importance to both Florida and Texas history. This report details the negotiations between Onis, the Spanish Minister in Washington, President James Monroe, and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, concerning mutual claims to Florida and the boundary of Louisiana. The discussions culminated in the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819 in which the United States relinquished its claim to Texas in exchange for control of Florida, and the agreement that the Louisiana Purchase included the Pacific Northwest. The Treaty was a diplomatic triumph for American Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, and little more than a concession of reality from a weak Spain on the verge of losing all of its American empire. The treaty concluded a quarter century of diplomatic and frontier rivalries. William Goetzmann aptly states that this treaty "made America a transcontinental nation." The negotiations recorded herein were later translated by Tobias Watkins and simultaneously published the following year in Washington and Baltimore. An exceedingly rare second volume of documents was issued, containing a map. Only five sets of that include both volumes are known to exist.

Luis de Onis was a native of the town of Cantalapiedra in the province of Salamanca. He studied law at the University of Salamanca and in 1780 became the personal secretary to his uncle, Don Jose de Onis, ambassador to Saxony. In 1792, Luis de Onis was chosen to be Minister to the United States, but his appointment was prevented due to the fall of the Cabinet of Floridablanca. Onis remained in Germany until 1798, when he was made official of the ministry of state in Madrid. In 1809, he was chosen to represent the Junta Central and the king in Washington. Due to the uncertainty of the Spanish Civil War, however, he was not immediately recognized in the United States. Onis remained in America and began publishing pamphlets justifying Spain's interests on the continent. Three of these treatises were published under the pseudonym "Verus" and are included in the appendix of this volume. Also in the appendix are Spanish translations of the Adams-Onis treaty and another treaty with France regarding territory in the Louisiana area.

Onis was officially recognized by the United States in 1815 and began an active three and one-half years of service. During this time Onis formulated Spain's complaints against the United States and set forth his country's territorial claims. His first demands for the return of West Florida to Spain eventually shifted to his suggestion that Spain would be willing to cede its claims to territories east of the Mississippi in exchange for territory to the west. These deliberations between Onis and the United States eventually became the 1819 treaty. Although Spain's colonial control was weakened, Onis prevented the United States from acquiring Texas at this time and established definite boundaries for the Spanish colonies. The treaty also resolved a long standing debt Spain owed, which reduced an extreme financial obligation the country was unable to pay.