Page images
PDF
EPUB

of the terms that had been offered. When the representations of the American commissioners, accompanied by the documents which had been interchanged in the course of the negociations, came to the hands of the Government of the United States, they unanimously refused the terms stated to have been offered by this country. The American President laid the papers before Congress; and according to the forms of the constitution of that country, they were published to the American people. On the information thus given to the world-and on this alone-am I now enabled to state to the House the course which appears to have been taken.

The President took the advice of Congress on the subject, and it does appear, not only that the American legislature, but that the whole American people, were unanimous in refusing what was proposed by his Majesty's ministers; for it does not appear, that, even in those states which were least inclined to war-even in those states which were most unwilling to support the measures of the American Government—that the smallest disposition was manifested to agree to a Treaty founded on the terms proposed by his Majesty's ministers.

[blocks in formation]

Sir, after various movements in the negociation, on the 8th of October in the last year, his Majesty's commissioners drew up an article which they proposed for the acceptance of the American plenipotentiaries. This article referred merely to the simple pacification with the Indians, in consequence of the cessation of hostilities about to take place between Great Britain and America. Not a syllable about a definition of territory-not a syllable about a boundary line was mentioned. Whoever reads the correspondence, will see that the American commissioners always resisted this demand of a boundary line for the Indians, on these grounds: That, in fact, the Indians had no territory as sovereigns of the country—that the United States were the sovereigns of the soil—and that they gave the Indians leave to reside there, for specific purposes. They had the liberty of hunting—they had the liberty of fishing—they had, in fact, little more than the liberty of existing on those territories. A property in the soil, further than this, was utterly denied; and the commissioners refused, therefore, to agree to any article which went to form a new boundary line between the Indians and the subjects of the United States. They were ready, however, they stated, and so was their government, when peace was concluded with the United States, to extend that peace to the Indian allies of Great Britain; but they should be placed exactly in the same situation as that in which they stood when the war broke out; no new privilege should be extended to them in consequence of the hostilities between Great Britain and America.

The commissioners also stated, when the Treaty was almost concluded with this country, that the American Government had entered into negociations for peace with the Indians themselves, and that they probably were, at that time, brought to a favourable conclusion. The article drawn up on the 8th of August, was, after these statements had been made, agreed to on the 13th. The American commissioners expressed their acceptance of it, provided their government did not disapprove of it. They made no objection to it—the parts which they had before opposed, having been given up by his Majesty's ministers. By this article the Indians were to be placed in a state of pacification, precisely as they were before the war-nothing else was stipulated for, and therefore the American commissioners agreed to it. They did not, however, completely conclude on this point, until the approbation of their government was notified to them. The American government did not hesitate to give their approval; and that article, thus drawn up by our commissioners, and approved by the other side, is the very article relating to the Indians, which now stands in the Treaty itself. There seems to me to be no difference in substance. I know not what the hon. member opposite (Mr. Goulburn) may say as to the authenticity of the papers from which I draw my information. I only know that they were published in America; and there really seems to me to be no difference between the article drawn up on the 8th of August and agreed to on the 13th, and that which we now find in the Treaty.

Mr. Goulburn. * * * The right hon. gentleman (Mr. Ponsonby] had said that the British plenipotentiaries shifted their ground, and altered the tone of their stipulations; in proof of this he alleged two propositions as those which had been departed fromone was, that the Indians should be included in our pacification, and the other a line of boundary. Here Mr. Goulburn entered into an explanation of those propositions, and referred to the

[ocr errors]

*

*

*

Treaty to show that they had not been overlooked. Stipulations for both those conditions were to be found in that document; not, indeed, in the one case of a boundary of that ludicrous character which the right hon. gentleman had described, but one recognised in 1811, and which America had now re-established. Whatever objections might have been urged against the Treaty or its conductors, he never could have anticipated that England would have been taunted with the crime of contending for the friendless and unprotected Indians, with whom she was in alliance; and he would plead guilty to the charge of having stipulated for them in the conditions of the peace. It had been said that they had no right to make alliances with the Indians; but he trusted there would be but one opinion, that, when made, they should not be departed from. The American plenipotentiaries promised, that when our business was disposed of the Indians should receive the conditions which were urged on their behalf; but however high the reliance which was due to those gentlemen, the country would not have been justified in allowing the matter to rest upon this footing.

In the progress of the negociations, it was true, some points were abandoned--interests concerning this country were relinquished for the sake of contending for the Indians in alliance. The Canadian line was laid aside for the purpose of securing an indemnity for the Indians, and a recognition of their territorial boundary as it stood in 1810, a year or two before hostilities were commenced between them and the Americans. Those wretched persons were erroneously described as savages unentitled to our protection; but they were not of this description. Some of their nations were far advanced in civilization, and they were as sensible as any other people of the boon of independence, and as justly entitled to a fulfilment of all engagements contracted with them. The right hon. gentleman had said that the delay in the negociation arose from the pretensions of the British commissioners. If the right hon. gentleman was in possession of the facts he would soon find reason to alter his opinion. He merely drew his arguments from the American statement, sent forth by that Government for a hostile purpose, at a moment when peace was unlikely to be attained, with the sole view of fanning the spirit of war throughout that continent. At this moment it was not the interest of the British Government, for the sake of petty triumph, to publish of the United States. They were ready, however, they stated, and so was their government, when peace was concluded with the United States, to extend that peace to the Indian allies of Great Britain; but they should be placed exactly in the same situation as that in which they stood when the war broke out; no new privilege should be extended to them in consequence of the hostilities between Great Britain and America.

The commissioners also stated, when the Treaty was almost concluded with this country, that the American Government had entered into negociations for peace with the Indians themselves, and that they probably were, at that time, brought to a favourable conclusion. The article drawn up on the 8th of August, was, after these statements had been made, agreed to on the 13th. The American commissioners expressed their acceptance of it, provided their government did not disapprove of it. They made no objection to it—the parts which they had before opposed, having been given up by his Majesty's ministers. By this article the Indians were to be placed in a state of pacification, precisely as they were before the war—nothing else was stipulated for, and therefore the American commissioners agreed to it. They did not, however, completely conclude on this point, until the approbation of their government was notified to them. The American government did not hesitate to give their approval; and that article, thus drawn up by our commissioners, and approved by the other side, is the very article relating to the Indians, which now stands in the Treaty itself. There seems to me to be no difference in substance. I know not what the hon. member opposite (Mr. Goulburn) may say as to the authenticity of the papers from which I draw my information. I only know that they were published in America; and there really seems to me to be no difference between the article drawn up on the 8th of August and agreed to on the 13th, and that which we now find in the Treaty.

[ocr errors]

*

*

Mr. Goulburn. ** * The right hon. gentleman (Mr. Ponsonby] had said that the British plenipotentiaries shifted their ground, and altered the tone of their stipulations; in proof of this he alleged two propositions as those which had been departed fromone was, that the Indians should be included in our pacification, and the other a line of boundary. Here Mr. Goulburn entered into an explanation of those propositions, and referred to the

Treaty to show that they had not been overlooked. Stipulations for both those conditions were to be found in that document; not, indeed, in the one case of a boundary of that ludicrous character which the right hon. gentleman had described, but one recognised in 1811, and which America had now re-established. Whatever objections might have been urged against the Treaty or its conductors, he never could have anticipated that England would have been taunted with the crime of contending for the friendless and unprotected Indians, with whom she was in alliance; and he would plead guilty to the charge of having stipulated for them in the conditions of the peace. It had been said that they had no right to make alliances with the Indians; but he trusted there would be but one opinion, that, when made, they should not be departed from. The American plenipotentiaries promised, that when our business was disposed of the Indians should receive the conditions which were urged on their behalf; but however high the reliance which was due to those gentlemen, the country would not have been justified in allowing the matter to rest upon this footing.

In the progress of the negociations, it was true, some points were abandoned-interests concerning this country were relinquished for the sake of contending for the Indians in alliance. The Canadian line was laid aside for the purpose of securing an indemnity for the Indians, and a recognition of their territorial boundary as it stood in 1810, a year or two before hostilities were commenced between them and the Americans. Those wretched persons were erroneously described as savages unentitled to our protection; but they were not of this description. Some of their nations were far advanced in civilization, and they were as sensible as any other people of the boon of independence, and as justly entitled to a fulfilment of all engagements contracted with them. The right hon. gentleman had said that the delay in the negociation arose from the pretensions of the British commissioners. If the right hon. gentleman was in possession of the facts he would soon find reason to alter his opinion. He merely drew his arguments from the American statement, sent forth by that Government for a hostile purpose, at a moment when peace was unlikely to be attained, with the sole view of fanning the spirit of war throughout that continent. At this moment it was not the interest of the British Government, for the sake of petty triumph, to publish

« PreviousContinue »