Page images

with this principle, the commissioners conceived it to be wise and prudent to ask more, in the commencement of the negociation, than in the latter end they conceived it proper to adhere to. Amongst some negociators, of remote times this principle was certainly acted on. And, with reference to their conduct, the negociation of the present Treaty resembled, in a great degree, many of the proceedings he had recently seen. Every precedent was adopted, as if it were the offspring of some sacred doctrineand, it was here supposed, that if persons, at a former period, had ultimately taken less than they at first demanded, that, therefore, in all cases, it was proper to ask for more than, if resisted, you would deem it necessary to take.But here, he would observe, that insincerity must, generally, be the basis of such conduct—that insincerity was unworthy of all public councils—and he desired to abjure a participation in any such feelings or principles. It was true, indeed, that occasions might occur, in which it was requisite, while treating, to make demands which it was not intended to insist upon; but the circumstances inviting this course were of a peculiar nature, and none but cases of an extraordinary description could call for or justify it. In the case of Great Britain, he contended that should have been stated at first which it was intended to have been abided by at last. If ever there was a case in which the system of making a great demand and afterwards receding from it was inapplicable to the circumstances under which it was resorted to, that case was the present. A glorious career of success in war-a long series of advantages—these might induce a nation to look for a peace correspondent with the exertions that had been made, and the successes that had been achieved. But even here, it was neither just nor wise to demand that which, according to the law of nations, it was most improper to seek. It was not right, under any circumstances, to ask for the possession of that which a state must deem essential to its honour, its security, and its independ

On this principle, he arraigned the demand with respect to the military possession of the lakes, both on the ground of policy and of justice. He denied that it was necessary for the security of our possessions to demand such a concession. He thought the effort to obtain this boon was made in a manner that ought to cover with shame those who tolerated it; for the majesty of England was placed, as a suppliant, at the foot of the President of the United States. And he thought that those who permitted the demands, generally, ought to be punished for countenancing a spirit of aggrandisement against which this country had been so long contending. It was, he conceived, in the highest degree imprudent, impolitic, and unwise, to tell America, at the outset of the negociations, that if certain points were not conceded to us, there was no security for our dominions in that quarter of the world. He was astonished that America should have been called upon to submit to the claim that was made; a claim which she could not have recognized without degrading her national honour, and sacrificing her national interests. No country had a right to make such a demand on another.


The next question was that of the India boundary—and here it was necessary to examine on what ground that question rested. By the Treaty of 1783, which established the independence of the United States, the line of demarcation between the territories of the United States and those of Great Britain, in America, was to be drawn through the centre of the lakes of the woods, and was to be terminated by a line continued from the lakes of the woods to the Mississippi. It so happened that a line thus drawn would not

a have proceeded due west, as was stipulated—but that, to define it, it ought to be drawn almost south-east. But the stipulations of that Treaty, thus defining the boundary of the United States, gave to the new Government the same right and control over the various places within the stated boundaries, as had before been enjoyed by Great Britain. Within those boundaries many Indian tribes resided; and it was the policy of the United States to encourage amongst them habits of civilization.

civilization. By the proclamation of his present Majesty, issued in 1763, all private individuals were prevented from purchasing any of the lands appropriated to the use of the Indians. But it was provided, that if, under any peculiar circumstances, the Indians themselves were anxious to dispose of those grounds, that they should be purchased for the Crown. By the Treaty of 1783, the full rights, formerly possessed by the King of Great Britain, over certain parts of the American territory, were fully and completely vested in the Government of the United States. How, then, could this Government, with any degree of justice, call for a new boundary for the Indians, when, in fact, all power and control respecting them had been long before given up? For he would contend that all the land ceded to the United States


by the Treaty of 1783, was within their sovereignty, as completely as it had before been within the sovereignty of the King of England. And here he begged leave to make one observation, with respect to the employment of the Indians in war. To make them instruments of vengeance was one of the most dreadful systems that ever the spirit of man, directed to a mischievous and

cruel object, could possibly devise. He must suppose it to arise - from necessity; but it was a fatal necessity. This necessity had

already awaked the attention of the House; it had, in its earliest state, awaked the eloquent indignation of the wisest and most eloquent statesman that ever charmed that House,--the great earl of Chatham. The noble marquis said he should have rejoiced to have seen the practice at once done away. It would have been with him almost like a second abolition of the Slave Trade. He should have been rejoiced if we had closed at once with that proposal of the commissioners, never to employ the Indians again. But did the noble lord forget that this territory which he claimed for his independent Indians, was actually divided into American states—that it actually sent members to Congressthat it was pledged for a share of the national debt?-And was it to be expected that they would consent to give a boundary thus out of their own bosom, against themselves? But the American Government had made frequent treaties with them, undoubtedly; and so had we done; but we had not, therefore, relinquished the full possession of our sovereignty. The fact was, that however the Americans might have been disgusted by the demands of our negociators, the Treaty restored things to exactly the same state in which they were before. He had also to notice another most curious intimation on our part. Ministers thought proper to propose, as it seemed to them desirable to maintain the excellent state of society which existed among the Indians, that the Americans should assent, never to purchase any lands of their Indians, while we did the same with regard to ours; that the Indians should only dispose of their lands to a third party. Who was this third party? Was it France?

All these propositions were said to be grounded on the necessity of checking a spirit of aggrandisement on the part of America: but what were their effects on the public mind when they reached America? It was well known that there prevailed among a numerous party in that country a strong sentiment that the war with England, if not absolutely unjust in its origin, was at least impolitic and unnecessary. The whole nation had also begun to feel its disastrous effects, and would have hailed with pleasure any really pacific proposals; but when these propositions arrived, their tendency was the very reverse of accelerating a peace.

The noble lord, had, indeed, blamed the President for giving them publicity during pending negociations; but the American negociators declared in their dispatch, that they thought the prospect of peace at an end; and he believed that the noble lord, who was so niggardly in the production of papers, had he been situated as the President was, would immediately have submitted to Parliament such claims of an enemy, with the view of arousing any flagging spirit of hostility in the country. The effect of the proposals was instantaneous in America; the determination to resist them was unanimous and strong to a degree almost incredible under a government so constituted. They excited a general military spirit; means were adopted for raising an efficient army, and attention had been paid to the formation of a navy on a regular systematic plan, which no man in this country could look forward to but with the deepest regret. If the proposals were urged insincerely, there was no degree of criminality too high which did not attach to ministers: if they were sincere in their apprehensions of American ambition, it remained for them to show how the engagements at last entered into were either honourable or safe.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

He [the Marquis Wellesley) should now return to the negociation itself. Upon our proposition in favour of the Indians who had co-operated with us, the American commissioners asked whether those propositions were final or not? Whatever might have been the conversation upon this subject, or whether the American commissioners reported it rightly to their Government or not, still it was evident that if even the papers now moved for were granted, it would not be possible for His Majesty's ministers to produce the communications between the American commissioners and their Government. They could only produce that which was entered in the protocol. The noble marquis seemed not to have thought it extraordinary, that the American commissioners should have thus demanded our ultimatum in the first instance. If he recollected rightly, however, when that noble lord was in office, the negotiations at Lisle had been broken off on the same ground-that the French Government required of us to give in our ultimatum at once. The difference between us and the American commissioners, with respect to the Indians, was, that they objected to their being named in the Treaty, although they said that we might depend upon it that peace with them would be a necessary consequence of the Treaty. They protested against this country interfering, in any manner, with respect to the Indians within their boundary. We had contended for a definite boundary of the Indian territory, and we had succeeded in obtaining it. We had called upon the American commissioners to give in their projet, and it was the consideration of this projet which had occupied so much time.

He should now call to the recollection of their lordships the conduct of the American Government in publishing a part of the correspondence, and should submit it to their judgment whether there was a sufficient reason for our publishing the whole of it. The noble marquis had very fairly stated the reason of their publishing part of the correspondence. It was because the American Government did not expect that the negociation would end in peace, and imagined that it had been broken off by that time, that they published those papers in order to produce an effect on the minds of their people hostile to this country. Was it necessary for us now to follow their example after the negociation had ended in peace, or could we wish to raise a feeling in this country hostile to America? If that could not be the wish of any person in this country, he could not see any motive for departing from the usual line of proceeding, and publishing the whole of that correspondence which had ended in a treaty of peace.





Address to the Prince Regent."

ADDRESS ON THE TREATY OF PEACE WITH AMERICA. The Earl of Liverpool rose to move an Address to the Prince Regent, approving of the Treaty of Peace concluded with the United States of America. As he did not anticipate any opposition, he did not think it at all necessary or proper to detain their lordships for any long time on this subject, or to enter upon any discussion of topics

IT. C. Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, First Series, Vol. XXX (March to May, 1815), p. 649.

« PreviousContinue »