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Lyme, August 13th, 1812. His honour governor Smith has put into my hands your letter of the 14th July, and it is with surprize I notice the construction you have put on my letter of the 17th of June. The unusual and exceptionable terms also, in which your letter is expressed, have not escaped notice. But a regard to the propriety of my own conduct, will not allow me to descend to any comments upon its particular expressions, but leaves me to perform my duty to the general government, by giving the explanation which appears proper.
When you communicated the request of the president, that any future requisition from general Dearborn, for a part of the drafted militia, might be complied with, it remained uncertain whether such a requirement would be made, or, if made, under what circumstances it might take place.
Confident, however, that the president would authorise no requisition which was not strictly constitutional, and particularly that the order would not exceed the conditions of the act of the 10th of April, to which you had referred, I had no hesitation in giving a general assurance, that the requisitions which the president might make through general Dearborn would be complied with. I then thought, as I do still, that decency, and a due respect to the first magistrate of the union, required that my assurance should be general, and no expression should be used, which might imply a suspicion that the president would violate the constitution in his orders. I also expected that this early and general declaration would be considered as evidence of a disposition, which has been uniformly felt in this state, to execute every constitutional requisition from the general government.
In what light, however, my expressions have been viewed, I trust there will be no future misconstruction, when I assure you, that I neither intended nor expected to be understood by the general language of my letter, or any expression it contained, to give the smallest assurance, that I would execute any order, which I judged repugnant to the constitution, from whatever source it might emanate.
The light in which I have viewed the order from general Dearborn, has been already communicated by governor Smith; and it is only proper to add, that my opinion has not changed, but is confirmed by the unanimous opinions of the council of the state.
The new light in which you have presented the subject in your letter to governor Smith, has received every attention, but
still my opinion remains the same. The war which has commenced, and the cruising of a hostile fleet on our coast, is not invasion: and the declaration of the president, that there is imminent danger of invasion, is evidently a consequence drawn from the facts now disclosed, and is not in my opinion warranted by those facts. If such consequences were admitted to result from a declaration of war with a European power, it would follow, that every war of that character would throw the militia into the hands of the national government, and strip the states, of the important right reserved to them. In addition to the foregoing facts, it is proper for me further to observe, that I have found it difficult to fix in my mind the meaning of the words, “ imminent danger of invasion," used by congress in the act of the 28th of Feb. 1795, and now repeated in your letter, as no such expression is contained in that part of the constitution which authorises the president to call the militia into service. Presuming, however, that some definite meaning thought consistent with the constitution, was at the time andexed to the expression, I have rather inferred that the legislature must have intended only to include an extreme case, where an enemy had not passed the line of the United States, but were evidently advancing in force to invade our country. Such a case would undoubtedly come within the spirit of the constitution, although it might not be included in its literal expression.
But whether the congress, in 1795, were justified in the expression or not, is unimportant, there being no difficulty, in the present case, as none of the facts disclosed furnish any thing more than a slight danger of invasion, which the constitution could not contemplate, and which might exist even in times of peace.
While I regret this difference of opinion on a question of such importance, I do not doubt that the president will do me the justice to believe that a sense of duty leaves me no other course to pursue, and that every means for the defence of the state will be speedily provided.
I have the honour to be, &c.
ROGER GRISWOLD. Hon. Wm. Eustis, &c.
Message from the President of the United States, communicating further information relative to the pacific advances made on the part of this Government to that of Great Britain.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States. For the further information of
relative to the pacific advances made on the part of this government, to that of Great Britain, and the manner in which they have been met by the latter, I transmit the sequel of the communications on that subject, received from the late charge d'affaires at London.
JAMES MADISON. November 12th, 1812.
Mr. Russell to Mr. Monroe. Sir,
London, 19th Sept. 1812. On the 12th instant I received your letter of July last, and the copies of my note to lord Castlereagh and of his lordship’s reply, enclosed herein, will inform you that the propositions made in consequence of it have been rejected.
As I have but this moment heard of the immediate departure of the Friends, I have time only to add that I have received the communications of Mr. Graham of the 9th and 10th of August by the Gleaner, and that I leave London this evening to embark on board the Lark, at Plymouth, for New York.
I am, with great respect and consideration, sir, your faithful and obedient servant, (Signed
JONA. RUSSELL. An interesting interview took place between Lord Castlereagh and myself on the 16th instant; the account of which I must, for want of time, reserve until I have the honour to see you.
Mr. Russell to Lord Castlereagh. [Private.] My Lord,
18 Bentinck street, 12th Sept. 1812. In consequence of additional instructions which I received from my government this morning, I called about noon at the Foreign Office, and found with regret that your lordship was out of town. My object was to communicate to your lordship the powers under which I act, that you might perceive their validity and extent. I have, however, sought to state them substantially, in the official letter which I have herewith the honour to transmit to your lordship; but should you find any thing that stands in need of explanation, previous to being submitted to his royal highness, I shall remain at 18 Bentinck street, to receive the commands of your lordship. If your lordship could, in courtesy, find any motive in my personal convenience to hasten a decision upon the propositions which I have submitted, the season of the year, my anxiety to depart (all my arrangements being made, all my luggage having left town), and the detention of the Lark at much expense, will plead powerfully in my favour.
I have the honour, &c. (Signed)
Mr. Russell to Lord Castlereagh. My Lord,
18 Bentinck Street, 12th Sept. 1812. I hasten, authorised by instruction, recently received from the government of the United States, and urged by an unfeigned anxiety to arrest the calamities of war, to propose to your lordship a convention for the suspension of hostilities, to take effect at such time as may be mutually agreed upon; and stipulating that each party shall forthwith appoint commissioners with full power to form a treaty, which shall provide, by reciprocal arrangements, for the security of their seamen from being taken or employed in the service of the other power, for the regulation of their commerce, and all other interesting questions now.depending between them, and that the armistice shall not cease without such previous notice by one to the other party, as may be agreed upon, and shall not be understood as having any other effect than merely to suspend military operations by land and by
In proposing to your lordship these terms for a suspension of hostilities, I am instructed to come to a clear and distinct understanding with his Britanic majesty's government, without requiring it to be formal, concerning impressment, comprising in it the discharge of the citizens of the United States already impressed ; and concerning future blockades, the revocation of the orders in council being confirmed.
Your lordship is aware that the power of the government of the United States to prohibit the employment of British seamen must be exercised in the sense and spirit of the constitution ; but there is no reason to doubt but that it will be so exercised effectually, and with good faith.
Such a measure as it, might, by suitable regulations and penalties, be made completely effectual and satisfactory, would operate almost exclusively in favour of Great Britain, for as few American seamen ever enter voluntarily into the British service, the reciprocity would be nominal, and it is sincerely believed that it would be more than an equivalent for any advantage she may derive from impressment.
By the proposition which I have now the honour to make in behalf of my government, your lordship will perceive the earnest desire of the president to remove every obstacle to an accommodation, which consists merely of form; and to secure the rights and interests of the United States in a manner the most satisfactory and honourable to Great Britain as well as to America.
The importance of the overture now made, will, I trust, obtain for it the early consideration of his royal highness the prince regent, and I shall detain the vessel in which I have taken my passage to the United States until I have the honour to learn his decision. I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed)
Mr. Hamilton to Mr. Russell. Dear Sir,
Foreign Office, Sept. 16, 1812. I have not seen lord Castlereagh, since his receipt of your two letters of the
but have received his directions to say to you, that he is concerned that he cannot have it in his power to reply to them for a few days; or would have had much pleasure in attending immediately to your request in that respect. You may be assured that no delay will take place, which can be avoided. I am, dear sir, faithfully yours, (Signed)
WM. HAMILTON. . Fona. Russell, Esq. &c.
Mr. Russell to Mr. Hamilton. Dear Sir,
No. 18 Bentinck Street, Sept. 16, 1812. I have learnt with much regret and disappointment, that lord Castlereagh has directed you to inform me, that it is not in his power to give an immediate answer to the last letters, which I have had the honour to address to him. The object of those letters was of a nature to require an early decision. Reluctant, however, by any precipitancy on my part, to protract the present unhappy relations between the two countries, I beg you to acquaint his lordship, that I shall remain in town until Sunday, (the 20th instant,) when, unless some special and satisfactory reason be assigned for a longer delay, I shall consider it to be my duty to proceed to Plymouth to embark for the United States.
I am, dear sir, &c. (Signed)
JONA, RUSSELL. William Hamilton, Esq. &c.
N. B. Sent at 3 o'clock.
Lord Castlereagh presents his compliments to Mr. Russell,