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and the United States. The message from this council to Congress was a high-spirited manifesto backed by great power. Nevertheless, it made possible for a time the substitution of diplomacy for war, and it was during the breathing space thus gained that the question of terminating the enlistments came up in Congress. It was true that small bands of frontiersmen and Indians continued their mutual depredations, and the Kentuckians still panted for war. Nevertheless, General Butler could truthfully write on March 28: “Our prospects of peace with the Indian nations are much brighter than they have been, and I hope ... they will daily increase.” This letter was laid before Congress on the very day on which the disbandment was voted. It thus came about that both of the reasons for increasing the federal army had lost most of their original fotce. Congress therefore needed little persuasion to reverse its policy. To General Knox, however, it was a great sorrow to lose the troops which he had so laboriously obtained. He felt sure, as he had a year before, that not less than fifteen hundred men were constantly needed on the frontier. Still, he admitted that the government had no resources with which to maintain so large a force. 4
JOSEPH PARKER WARREN.
1“ Extracts from the indian speeches at the Western council” (Papers of the Old Congress, No. 150, II. 267–277); Butler to Knox, March 28, 1787 (ibid., 287– 298); letter from the Indian council at the mouth of the Detroit river to Congress (ibid., 381-387).
? Harmar to Knox, May 14; Knox to Congress, July 10; John Cleves Symmes to the President of Congress, Louisville, Kentucky, May 3, 1787 (ibid., 359–365 ; No. 151, 259-270 ; No. 56, 197–200, 205–207).
3 Ibid., No. 150, II. 287–299.
THE NEGOTIATIONS AT GHENT IN 1814
The government of the United States had been honestly loath to declare war in 1812, and had signalized its reluctance by immediate advances looking to a restoration of peace. These were made through Jonathan Russell, the chargé d'affaires in London when hostilities began. To use the expression of Monroe, then Secretary of State, “ At the moment of the declaration of war, the President, regretting the necessity which produced it, looked to its termination, and provided for it."1 The two concessions required as indispensable, in the overture thus referred to, dated June 26, 1812, were the revocation of the Orders in Council, and the abandonment of the practice of impressing from American merchant ships. Should these preliminary conditions be obtained, Russell was authorized to stipulate an armistice, during which the two countries should enter upon negotiations, to be conducted either at Washington or in London, for the settlement of all points of difference.
Russell made this communication to Castlereagh August 24, 1812. Before this date Admiral Warren had sailed from England for the American command, carrying with him the propositions of the British government for a suspension of hostilities, consequent upon the repeal of the Orders in Council. In view of Warren's mission, and of the fact that Russell had no powers to negotiate, but merely to conclude an arrangement upon terms which he could not alter, and which his government had laid down in ignorance of the revocation of the Orders, Castlereagh declined to discuss with him the American requirements. “I cannot, however," he wrote, “refrain on one single point from expressing my surprise, namely, that as a condition preliminary even to a suspension of hostilities, the Government of the United States should have thought fit to demand that the British Government should desist from its ancient and accustomed practice of impressing British seamen from the merchant ships of a foreign state, simply on the assurance that a law shall hereafter be passed to prohibit the employment of British seamen in the public or commercial service of that state."? “ The Government could not consent to suspend the exercise of a right upon which the naval strength of the empire mainly depends," until fully convinced that the object would be assured by other means. To a subsequent modification of the American propositions, in form, though not in tenor, the British minister replied in the same spirit, throwing the weight of his objections upon the question of impressment, which indeed remained alone of the two causes of rupture.'
1 Monroe to Russell, August 21, 1812. American State Papers, Foreign Relations, III. 587. 2 Ibid., 590.
Commendable as was its desire for peace, the American government had made the mistake of being unwilling to insure it by due and timely preparation for war. In these advances, therefore, its adversary naturally saw not magnanimity, but apprehension. Russell, in reporting his final interview, wrote, “Lord Castlereagh once observed somewhat loftily, that if the American Government was so anxious to get rid of the war, it would have an opportunity of doing so on learning the revocation of the Orders in Council." The American representative rejoined with proper spirit; but the remark betrayed the impression produced by this speedy offer, joined to the notorious military unreadiness of the United States. Such things do not make for peace. The British ministry, like a large part of the American people, saw in the declaration of war a mere variation upon the intermittent policy of commercial restrictions of the past five years; an attempt to frighten by bluster. In such spirit Monroe, in this very letter of June 26 to Russell, had dwelt upon the many advantages to be derived from peace with the United States, adding, “not to mention the injuries which cannot fail to result from a prosecution of the war.” In transcribing his instructions, Russell discreetly omitted the latter phase; but the omission, like the words themselves, betrays consciousness that the administration was faithful to the tradition of its party, dealing in threats rather than in deeds. Through great part of the final negotiations the impression thus made remained with the British ministers.
On September 20, 1812, the chancellor of the Russian Empire requested a visit from the American minister resident at St. Petersburg, Mr. John Quincy Adams. In the consequent interview, the next evening, the chancellor said that the Czar, having recently made peace and re-established commercial intercourse with Great Britain, was much concerned that war should have arisen almost immediately between her and the United States. Hostilities between the two nations, which together nearly monopolized the carrying trade of the world, would prevent the economical benefits to Russia expected
i Correspondence between Russell and Castlereagh, September 12-18, 1812; and Russell to Monroe, September 17. Ibid., 591-595.
2 Russell's italics.
from the recent change in her political relations. The question was then asked, whether a proffer of Russian mediation would be regarded favorably by the United States. Adams had not yet received official intelligence even of the declaration of war, and was without information as to the views of his government on the point suggested; but he expressed certainty that such an advance would be
cordially met, and he could foresee no obstacle to its entertainment. The proposal was accordingly made to the President, through the customary channels, and on March 11, 1813, was formally accepted by him. James A. Bayard and Albert Gallatin were nominated commissioners, conjointly with Mr. Adams, to act for the United States in forming a treaty of peace under the mediation of the Czar. They sailed soon afterwards.
The American acceptance reached St. Petersburg about June 15; but on that day Adams was informed by the chancellor that his despatches from London signified the rejection of the Russian proposition by the British government, on the ground that the differences with the United States involved principles of the internal government of Great Britain, which could not be submitted to the discussion of any mediation. As the Russian court was then in campaign at the headquarters of the allied armies, in the tremendous operations of the summer of 1813 against Napoleon, much delay necessarily ensued. On September 1, however, the British ambassador, who was accompanying the court in the field, presented a formal letter reaffirming the unwillingness of his government to treat under mediation, but offering through the Czar, whose mediatorial advance was so far recognized, to nominate plenipotentiaries to meet those of the United States in direct consultation. In the backward and forward going of despatches in that preoccupied and unsettled moment, it was not till near November i that the British Foreign Office heard from the ambassador that the American commissioners were willing so to treat, and desirous to keep their business separate from that of the Continent of Europe; but that their powers were limited to action through the mediation of Russia. Castlereagh then, on November 4, addressed a note to the United States government, offering a direct negotiation. This was accepted formally January 5, 1814;" and Henry Clay with Jonathan Russell were added to the commission already constituted, raising the number of members to five. The representatives of Great Britain were three: Admiral Lord Gambier, Henry Goulburn, and William Adams.
* The correspondence relating to the Russian proffer of mediation is to be found in American State Papers, Foreign Relations, III. 623–627.
? Ibid., 621-622.
The instructions issued to the American commissioners were voluminous. They contained not only the requirements of the government, but arguments from every point of view, and alternatives of several descriptions, to meet anticipated objections. Such elaboration was perhaps necessary when negotiation was to take place so remote from communication with home. On one point, however, as originally issued in contemplation of Russian mediation, demand was peremptory. Impressment must cease, by stipulation. At that moment, April 15, 1813, the flush of expectation was still strong. “ Should improper impressions have been taken of the probable consequences of the war, you will have ample means to remove them. It is certain that from its prosecution Great Britain can promise to herself no advantage, while she exposes herself to great expenses and to the danger of still greater losses." Nine months later, looking to direct negotiation, the same confident tone is maintained. “On impressment, the sentiments of the President have undergone no change. This degrading practice must cease. No concession is contemplated on any point in controversy ; three weeks afterwards, February 14, 1814,“ Should peace be made in Europe, it is presumed that the British Government would have less objection to forbear impressment for a specified term, than it would have should the war continue. In concluding a peace, even in case of a previous general peace in Europe, it is important to obtain such a stipulation.'3 On June 27, this tone was lowered. “ If found indispensably necessary to terminate the war, you may omit any stipulation on the subject of impressment.” This was in pursuance of a Cabinet determination of June 27. It abandoned the only ground for war that had existed since August, 1812, when the Orders in Council were known to have been repealed. The commissioners were indeed to do their best to obtain from the British government the demanded concessions, not in the matter of impressment only, but on the whole subject of irregular blockades,
* Ibid., 695-700. 3 Ibid., 701. 3 Ibid., 703.
+ " June 27, 1814. In consequence of letters from Bayard and Gallatin of May 6–7, and other accounts from Europe of the ascendancy and views of Great Britain, and the dispositions of the great Continental Powers, the question was put to the Cabinet: ‘Shall a treaty of peace, silent on the subject of impressment, be authorized?' Agreed to by Monroe, Campbell, Armstrong, and Jones. Rush absent. Our minister to be instructed, besides trying other conditions, to make a previous trial to insert or annex some declaration, or protest, against any inference, from the silence of the Treaty on the subject of impressment, that the British claim was admitted or that of the United States abandoned." Letters and Papers of Madison, III. 408.