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Extract of a Letter from the Secretary of State to John
Quincy Adams, Esq. Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at St. Petersburg. Department of State, July 1, 1812.
SIR,“On the 18th ultimo a declaration of war against Great Britain passed Congress; of which, of the President's message, and report of the committee of foreign relations of the House of Representatives leading to it, I have the honour to transmit to you copies.
“You are too well acquainted with the causes which produced this result to require any explanation of them. As it appeared that Great Britain would not revoke her orders in council, on the just grounds on which it was claimed, but enlarged the conditions on which she professed her willingness to revoke them, there remained no honourable course for the United States to pursue short of war. On full consideration of all circumstances, this measure was adopted, and the government is resolved to pursue it till its objects are accomplished, with the utmost decision and activity in its power.
“In resorting to war against Great Britain, as the United States have done, by inevitable necessity, it is their desire and hope that it may be confined to her only.
“ It is seen with much regret that the emperor of Russia is likely to be reduced to the necessity of becoming a party to the war in Europe, if he has not already become
Should that event take place, there is no reason why the war between the United States and Great Britain should affect, in the slightest degree, the very friendly relations which now exist between the United States and Russia. It is the sincere desire of this government to preserve, in their utmost extent, those relations with that power.
“ With France, our affairs in many important circumstances are still unsettled; nor is there any certainty that a satisfactory settlement of them will be obtained. Should it however be the case, it is not probable that it will produce any closer connection between the United States and that power. It is not anticipated, that any event whatever will have that effect."
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Adams to the Secretary of
State. St. Petersburg, Sept. 30, 1812. “On the 20th instant I received a note from the chancellor requesting me to call upon him the next evening, which 1 accordingly did; he told me that he had asked to see me by the emperor's command : that having made peace and established the relations of amity and commerce with Great Britain, the emperor was much concerned and disappointed to find the whole benefit which he expected his subjects would derive commercially from that event, defeated and lost by the new war which had arisen between the United States and England: that he had thought he perceived various indications that there was on both sides a reluctance at engaging in and prosecuting this war, and it had occurred to the emperor that perhaps an amicable arrangement of the differences between the parties might be accommodated more easily and speedily by indirect than by a direct negotiation : that his majesty bad directed him to see me, and to inquire if I was aware of any difficulty or obstacle on the part of the government of the United States, if he should offer his mediation for the purpose of effecting a pacification. I answered that it was obviously impossible for me to speak on this subject any otherwise than from the general knowledge which I had of the sentiments of my government; that I was so far from knowing what their ideas were with regard to the continuance of the war, that I had not to that day received any official communication of its declaration; but that I well knew it was with reluctance they had engaged in the war; that I was very sure, whatever determination they might form upon the proposal of the emperor's mediation, they would receive and consider it as a new evidence of his majesty's regard and friendship for the United States, and that I was not aware of any obstacle or difficulty which could occasion them to decline accepting it.
"I knew the war would affcct unfavourably the interest of Russia. I knew it must be highly injurious both to the United States and England. I could see no good result as likely to arise from it to any one. The count replied, that he had considered it altogether in the same light, and
so had the emperor, who was sincerely concerned at it, and who had himself conceived this idea of authorizing his mediation. He thought an indirect negotiation conducted here, aided by the conciliatory wishes of a friend to both parties, might smooth down difficulties which in direct discussion between the principals might be found insuperable. To a mutual friend, each party might exhibit all its claims, and all its complaints, without danger of exciting irritations or raising impediments. The part of Russia would only be to hear both sides, and to use her best endeavours to conciliate them. I observed that there was a third party to be consulted as to the proposal—the British government. The count answered, that it had already been suggested by him to the British ambassador, lord Cathcart, who had the day before despatched it by a messenger to his court. Some question occurred concerning the mode of enabling me to transmit this communication to the United States, upon which the count promised to see me again in the course of a few days. He said that he should write to Mr. Daschkoff, and instruct him a make the proposition to the government of the United States."
Mr. Adams to the Secretary of State. St. Petersburg
October 17, 1812. SIR, I received a few days since a letter from Mr. Russell, dated at London, the 9th of September, and informing me that his mission there had closed, that he had received his passports, and that in three days from that time he should leave the city to embark at Plymouth for the United States. He adds that the British
government had rejected a proposition which he had been authorized to make for a suspension of hostilities.
The evening before last I had another interview with the chancellor count Romanzoff, at his request. There had been rumours in circulation here of an armistice in Canada, and of the appointment of commissioners by the President for a new negotiation with Great Britain. The count asked me if I had any authentick information of these circumstances. I said I had not,
I said I had not, that my informa
tion was altogether of a different aspect; and I told him the substance of Mr. Russell's communication. He then observed that this incident would not discourage this government from making an offer of its mediation, which he had suggested to me in a former conference. On the contrary, the failure of every new attempt at direct
nego tiation confirmed him in the belief and hope that a mediation might be more successful ; a mediation of a common friend, not only desirous from the sentiment of friendship to see the parties reconciled to each other, but having also a strong interest of his own in their reconciliation.
The count said he had his despatches for Mr. Daschkoff ready, instructing him to make the proposition in form to the American government : and he asked me whether I could indicate to him a mode of transmitting them directly to the United States. . In our former conversation (reported in my letter of the 30th ult.) I had offered to despatch one of the Ainerican vessels now at Cronstadt, if the British ambassador would furnish her a passport, or any document that would protect her from capture by British armed vessels. The count said he had made the proposal to the ambassador, who had expressed his readiness to give the document, provided the vessel and messenger should go by the way of England, a condition which the count said he had told the ambassador he could not ask me to agree to, and with which I did not think it in fact suitable to comply. There are, however, two American gentlemen here on the point of departure for the United States, and by them I shall transmit this despatch and its duplicate, together with those of the chancellor to Mr. Daschkoff.
I am, &c.
JOHN Q. ADAMS.
Mr. Adams to the Secretary of State. St. Petersburg,
Dec. 11, 1812. SiR-On the 4th inst. I received the duplicate of your favour of 1st July last, announcing the declaration by the Congress of the United States of war against Great Britain, and enclosing printed copies of the President's proclamation founded upon it, of his previous message recommend. ing it, of the report of the committee of foreign relations proposing it, and of the National Intelligencer of the 20th June. The original of your letter with these documents not having yet come to hand, these gave me the first official communication of the war.
I had on the 7th inst. an interview with the chancellor count Romanzoff, in which I communicated to him the substance of that part of your despatch which related to Russia, and those which concern the state of our relations with France. In the present state of the war between this country and France, I was convinced that the view of the American government's intentions with regard to that power, so explicitly and so strongly manifested in your letter, would not only be gratifying to the chancellor, but that it would be satisfactory to the emperor, and would powerfully counteract any impressions unfavourable to the United States, which the English interest here is endeavouring to excite. I therefore told the count that although I had not been instructed to make to him any
official communication of the declaration of war, the dispositions of the American government towards other powers, and particularly towards Russia, on this occasion, had been distinctly suggested to me, in a manner which I felt it my duty to make known to him. That the United States, compelled by unavoidable necessity to vindicate their violated rights against Great Britain by war, were desirous that it might be confined exclusively to them and their enemy, and that no other power might be involved in it. That it was particularly and earnestly their wish to preserve and maintain in their fullest extent their commercial and friendly relations with Russia. That the war in which the emperor is now engaged against France, although it could not be known by the President to have been actually commenced at the time when your despatch was written, was huwever contemplated as more than probable, and the necessity which obliged the emperor to take a part in it was mentioned to me as a cause of regret to the American government. But it was hoped it would not in the slightest degree affect the friendly dispositions between Russia and the United States. That I was informed by you that the principal subjects of discussion which had long been