PIERCE, Franklin (1804=1869), President. Partly printed document signed ("Franklin Pierce"), as President, Washington D. C., 15 January 1855. 1 page, 4to, accomplished in clerical hand, boldly signed by Pierce at lower right. Matted and framed.
A DIPLOMATIC CRISIS: PIERCE'S EXTRAORDINARY RECALL OF HIS MINISTER TO SPAIN AFTER THE OSTEND MANIFESTO IS REVEALED.
An order to affix the seal of the United States on the President's letter to the Queen of Spain, explaining his recall of Ambassador Pierre Soulé. Eager to expand U.S. dominion southward into the Caribbean, President Pierce in 1854 set his sights on Cuba. He told Secretary of State William Marcy to negotiate the purchase of the island from Spain. Marcy, in turn, urged ambassador Soulé to either purchase the island or see about "detaching" it from Madrid's control. Soulé met with the two principal American diplomats in Europe, James Buchanan, ambassador to Britain, and James M. Mason, ambassador to France. The trio conducted a series of talks on the continent that resulted in the Ostend Manifesto on 18 October 1854. Named after the Belgium town where they put their ideas to paper, the manifesto was never intended for publication. It was more in the nature of a policy memorandum to guide the administration's actions. In it they proposed offering Spain $120 million for Cuba, and if Madrid was unwilling to sell, the U. S. "shall be justified in wresting it from Spain...Cuba is as necessary to the North American republic as any of its present members." Someone leaked it to the New York Herald, however, and the country was thrown into an uproar. Anti-slavery politicians raged against Pierce for even contemplating such blatant aggression. Critics were convinced this was nothing more than a crude bid to bring more slave states into the Union. An embarrassed Pierce had to repudiate the Manifesto, leaving Soulé to twist in the wind. Outraged at being made the fall guy, Soulé resigned his post. This order to affix is the final act of the messy affair.