« PreviousContinue »
Foster's letter of credence, July 2, 1811, and continuing during Mr. Foster's mission, are in 3 Am. St. Pap. (For. Rel.), 435 ff.
(d) TREATY OF GHENT (1814).
In a letter marked "private," from Mr. Clay to Mr. Monroe, Secretary of State, dated December 25, 1814, are the following passages:
"According to opinions which I have before communicated to you, our negotiation has terminated in a treaty of peace, which was signed yesterday. The terms of this instrument are undoubtedly not such as our country expected at the commencement of the war. Judged of, however, by the actual condition of things, so far as it is known to us, they cannot be pronounced very unfavorable. We lose no territory, I think no honor. If we lose a particular liberty in fisheries, on the one hand (which may be doubted), we gain, on the other, the exemption of the navigation of the Mississippi from British claims. We gain, also, the right of exemption from the British practice of treating with the Indians."
An exposition by Mr. Gallatin of his views prior to assenting to the treaty of Ghent will be found in a letter to Mr. Monroe, dated at Ghent, October 26, 1814, to be found in the Monroe papers, with pencil notes by Mr. Monroe.
Mr. J. Q. Adams's diary of the period of the Ghent negotiations gives a narrative of those negotiations, which, though of deep interest, is affected by his then strong antagonism to Mr. Clay and to Mr. Russell, two of his colleagues.
"You ask me what I think of the correspondence of our ministers at Ghent. I think very well of it. The language, though sometimes heavy, on the whole is at least as good as that of their opponents. Their arguments are better than their language. In argument their superiority is manifest. The British commissioners must be very dull men. Their introduction of Pitt's letter to Stanley, and their reliance on it, constituted a terrible faux pas, of which our ministers have properly availed themselves. In the whole correspondence our ministers seem to have been entirely collected and on their guard, and what is equally satisfactory and important, they have firmly maintained the honor and dignity of the country."
Mr. G. W. Hay to Mr. Monroe, Jan. 6, 1815. Monroe MSS., Dept. of State.
"I have no doubt that the British commissioners signed the treaty (if it be signed) under an expectation that Pakenham was in possession of New Orleans, and I am equally confident, from the tenor of the diplomatic correspondence, that New Orleans never would have been restored under the treaty."
Mr. G. W. Hay to Mr. Monroe, Feb. 15, 1815. Monroe MSS., Dept. of State.
For correspondence between Mr. Clay and his colleagues in respect to the nego.
tiations at Ghent, see Colton's Correspondence of Clay, 28 ff.
English adverse criticisms on the treaty of Ghent are quoted in 2 Ingersoll's Hist. of Late War (1st series), 312, chap. xiii.
A review by Mr. J. Q. Adams of the action of the commissioners at Ghent is given in a report to President Monroe of May 3, 1822. MSS. Report Book.
The convention with Great Britain, under the mediation of Russia, explanatory of the first article of the treaty of Ghent, concerning indemnity for slaves carried from the United States by the British forces in 1812, as submitted to the Senate on Jan. 25, 1823, is in Senate Doc. 354, 2d sess., 17th Cong.; 5 Am. St. Pap. (For. Rel.), 214.
The message of President J. Q. Adams, Mar. 8, 1826, reciting the award of the Emperor of Russia on the questions submitted to him, is contained in House Doc. 421, 19th Cong., 1st sess.; 5 Am. St. Pap. (For. Rel.), 800.
The report of the House Committee on the Judiciary on claims for indemnification under the first article of the treaty of Ghent, is given in House Doc. 478, 20th Cong., 1st sess.; 6 Am. St. Pap. (For. Rel.), 860.
The convention under mediation of Russia, explanatory of the first article of the treaty of Ghent, communicated by President Monroe on January 25, 1823, having been duly ratified, so that the legislation consequent on it could take place, is in House Doc. 354, 17th Cong., 2d sess.; 5 Am. St. Pap. (For. Rel.), 214.
In the London Quarterly Review, vol. 3, p. 286, as noticed in a letter of Mr. Gallatin to Mr. E. Everett, of August 6, 1828 (2 Gallatin's Writings, 400), the treaty of Ghent is spoken of as "That precious treaty, which gave to them (the United States) all that they asked, and much more than they had any right to expect."
The arbitration of the King of the Netherlands, under the fifth article of the treaty of Ghent, is discussed infra, § 316.
Under the decision of the commissioners, under the fourth article of the treaty of Ghent, the small island called Pope's Folly, in the bay of Passamaquoddy, is within the jurisdiction of the United States.
An open boat and cargo, Ware, 26.
"On the 1st of June, 1812, President Madison transmitted a confidential message to Congress respecting the relations with Great Britain. It ended without recommending any particular action. It was received in each body with closed doors. In the House it was considered on the 2d and 3d of June with closed doors. On the 3d, Calhoun, from the Committee on Foreign Relations, to whom it had been referred, reported (the House being in secret session) that after the experience which the United States have had of the great injustice of the British Government towards them, exemplified by so many acts of violence and oppression, it will be more difficult to justify to the impartial world their patient forbearance, than the measures to which it has become necessary to resort to avenge the wrongs and vindicate the rights and honor of the nation. The period has now arrived when the United States must support their character and station among the nations of the earth. * More than seven years have elapsed since the commencement of this system of hostile aggressions by the British Government on the rights and interests of the United States. As early as 1804 the minister of the United States at London was instructed to invite the British Government to enter into a negotiation on all the points on which a collision might arise between the two countries in the course
of the war, and to propose to it an arrangement of their claims on fair and reasonable conditions. The invitation was accepted. * It was at this time, and under these circumstances, that an attack was made, by surprise, upon an important branch of the American commerce. The commerce on which this attack was so unexpectedly made was that between the United States and the colonies of France, Spain, and other enemies of Great Britain. * In May, 1806, the whole coast of the continent, from the Elbe to Brest, inclusive, was declared to be in a state of blockade. By this act the well-established principles of the law of nations-principles which have served for ages as guides, and fixed the boundary between the rights of belligerents and neutrals-were violated. * * The next act of the British Government which claims our attention is the order of council of January 7, 1807, by which neutral powers are prohibited from trading from one port to another of France or her allies, or any other country with which Great Britain might not freely trade. We proceed to bring into view the British order in council of November 11, 1807. By this order all France and her allies, and every other country at war with Great Britain, or with which she was not at war, from which the British flag was excluded, and all the colonies of her enemies, were subjected to the same restrictions as if they were actually blockaded in the most strict and rigorous manner; and all trade in articles, the produce and manufacture of the said countries and colonies, and the vessels engaged in it, were subject to capture and condemnation as lawful prize. * The attempt to dismember our Union, and overthrow our excellent Constitution, by a secret mission, the object of which was to foment discontent and excite insurrection against the constituted authorities and laws of the nation, as lately disclosed by the agent em ployed in it, affords full proof that there is no bound to the hostility of the British Government against the United States. The dates of British and French aggressions are well known to the world. Their origin and progress have been marked by too wide and destructive a waste of the property of our fellow-citizens to have been forgotten. The decree of Berlin of November 21, 1806, was the first aggression of France in the present war. Eighteen months had then elapsed after the attack made by Great Britain on our neutral trade with the colonies of France and her allies, and six months from the date of the proclamation of May, 1806. # From this review of the multiplied wrongs of the British Government, since the commencement of the present war, it must be evident to the impartial world that the contest which is now forced on the United States is radically a contest for their sovereignty and independence. * Your committee recommend an immediate appeal to arms.'
"The House passed a bill entitled 'An act declaring war between Great Britain and her dependencies, and the United States and their Territories,' and on the 5th of June transmitted it to the Senate with a request that it might be considered confidentially. The Senate amended it and passed it as amended on the 17th of June. On the 18th of June the House informed the Senate that the amendments were concurred in, and on the same day the bill was signed by the President and became a law.
"By the 11th of July the American commissioners had notified the Secretary of State that they were at Ghent. The first conference was held on the 8th of August. The course which the negotiations took may be found detailed in Foreign Relations, folio, vol. 3, pages 695-748,
and vol. 4, pages 808-811. The British commissioners brought forward (1) Impressment; (2) Pacification of the Indians and assignment of a territory to them to be taken from the Territories of the United States, with defined boundaries; (3) Revision of the boundary-line between the United States and Great Britain, including the control of the lakes by Great Britain; The fisheries, which the Americans were not to be permitted to enjoy without an equivalent. The American commissioners brought forward-(5) Definition of a blockade; (6) Claims for indemnity for capture and seizure; (7) Other points, the right to present which were reserved.
"On the 4th of October, the Secretary of State sent his last instructions to the commissioners: 'You are authorized, should you find it impracticable to make an arrangement more comformable to the instructions originally given, to agree to the status quo ante bellum as the basis of negotiation. The great and unforeseen change of circumstances particularly the prospect of a more durable state of peace between Great Britain and the continental powers of Europe, and of security to our maritime rights, justify this change of our ultimatum. Our right to the fisheries to the full extent of our territory, as defined by the treaty of 1783 with Great Britain, and those of subsequent date with other powers, and to trade with all other independent nations, are, of course, not to be relinquished; nor is anything to be done which would give a sanction to the British claim of impressment on board our vessels, or to that of blockading without the actual application of an adequate force. With these explanations you are at liberty to make such a treaty as your own judgments shall approve, under existing circumstances, subject only to the usual requisite of ratification here. It is important to the United States to make peace, but it is more important to them to preserve their rights as an independent nation, which will in no event be surrendered.' "Under these instructions the treaty was concluded on the 24th day of December, 1814.
"John Quincy Adams was appointed minister at London on the 28th of February, 1815. Clay and Gallatin also went there, and negotiatious were opened for a commercial convention. The official conferences began on the 18th of May, 1815. Napoleon having meanwhile returned from Elba, the American commissioners endeavored to take advantage of the situation to secure stipulations respecting impressment and a definition of blockades. The discussions were prolonged until after the battle of Waterloo. No such provisions were obtained. Discriminating duties collected on British vessels, after it went into operation, and in violation of its provisions, were refunded under an act of Congress.
"Among the subjects discussed by the commissioners at Ghent was the naval force to be maintained on the lakes. No determination was come to, but soon after the peace a correspondence began which ended by an agreement respecting it made in Washington, which was submitted to the Senate for approval, and, when approved, was proclaimed by the President.
"Some steps were taken in the treaty of Ghent toward adjusting the disputed boundary between the United States and the British possessious.
"The fourth article provided for a commission to determine the sov ereignty over the islands in and near Passamaquoddy Bay. The execution of this provision and the correspondence relating to it will be found in volume 4, Foreign Relations, folio, pages 171-173,
"The fifth article provided for a commission to determine and to mark the boundary from the source of the Saint Croix to the river Saint Lawrence [called the Iroquois or Cataraquy] on the 45th parallel. This was the disputed line which Mr. King's treaty aimed to settle in 1803. The treaty of 1783 required it to be run on the highlands which divide the rivers that empty themselves into the river Saint Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean. Great Britain contended that it should be run upon the highlands to the south of the Saint John's; but that line of highlands turned no water into the Saint Lawrence. The United States contended that it should be run on the highlands to the north of that river-that being the only watershed that turned its northern waters into the Saint Lawrence, and its southern waters into the Atlantic, although through the Bay of Fundy. The commission under the treaty of Ghent disagreed in opinion and made separate reports to their Governments. The subject, which afterwards became known, diplomatically, as the northeastern boundary question, was, in 1827, referred to the decision of the King of the Netherlands; but his award was satisfactory to neither party, and was rejected by both. Negotiations were from time to time resumed, but they proved fruitless until the treaty of 1842, when by mutual consent the present line was established. For a complete review of the negotiations, see Mr. Webster's speech in the Senate, April 6 and 7, 1846, and the messages and correspondence there referred to.
"The sixth and seventh articles of the treaty of Ghent provided for a commission to determine and mark the boundary from the 45th parallel on the Saint Lawrence to the northwesternmost point of the Lake of the Woods. This commission was duly appointed, and in 1822 reported its work respecting so much of the boundary as was referred to in the 6th article, viz, from the 45th parallel on the Saint Lawrence to the water communication between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. The line indicated by the seventh article was affected by the provisions of the second article of the convention of 1818. This was also marked; but the line as marked was changed in part by the provisions of the second article of the treaty of 1842."
Mr. J. C. B. Davis, Notes, &c.
(e) CONVENTIONS OF 1815, 1818.
The commercial convention signed on July 3, 1815, with "the declaration with which it is the intention of the British Government to accompany the exchange of the ratifications," is given, as submitted by President Madison to the Senate on December 6, 1815, in 4 Am. St. Pap. (For. Rel.), 7. This is accompanied by notes from the American negotiators to the Secretary of State, dated London, May 18, July 3, 1815, giving the details of the negotiation.
President J. Q. Adams's message of December 12, 1827, transmitting conventions with Great Britain for continuing in force the commercial convention of July 3, 1815, the third article cf the convention of October 20, 1818, and for the reference to a friendly sovereign of the points of difference as to the northeastern boundary of the United States, is in Senate Ex. Doc. 458, 20th Cong., 1st sess.; 6 Am. St. Pap. (For. Rel.), 639.
As to meaning of "just indemnity" in the 5th article of the convention of 1818, see opinion of Mr. Wirt, 1826, cited, infra, § 221,