During the five months covered in this volume, James Madison attended Jefferson's second inauguration, continued staffing territorial governments for the Orleans and Louisiana Territories, and observed growing factionalism among Republicans as Federalism waned. Abroad, the shifting of alliances that resulted from the expansion of the Napoleonic wars following the declaration of war between Spain and Great Britain hampered Madison in his goal of achieving agreement over long-standing differences with both countries. James Monroe and Charles Pinckney in Madrid were trying to negotiate settlement of the boundaries between American and Spanish territory, to acquire East Florida for the United States in exchange for absorbing claims of American citizens against Spain, and to obtain Spanish ratification of the Convention of 1802. Despite the efforts of John Armstrong at Paris, the French government withheld the support that Madison, Jefferson, and Monroe had expected for the American position on the Louisiana boundaries.
Madison's correspondence during this time also shows the growth of war's impact on American shipping as citizens of every class wrote the secretary of state to complain of sailors impressed into the Royal Navy, vessels seized, and seamen and captains robbed and abused by British naval officers and French and Spanish privateers. The privateers were so bold as to prowl just outside American waters, pouncing on ships that approached and left New York, Charleston, and New Orleans. Requests for appointments, Monroe's financial affairs, wine purchases, and family land issues also occupied Madison's time throughout the late winter and early spring. Access to people, places, and events discussed in this volume is facilitated by detailed annotation and a comprehensive index.