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authority from their government, it was not possible for them, previous to discussion, to decide whether any article on the subject could be formed which would be mutually satisfactory, and to which they should think themselves, under their discretionary powers, justified in acceding. The meeting was adjourned.
C. HUGHES, Jun. Secretary of Legation.
Messrs. Adams, Bayard, Clay, Russell, and Gallatin, to
Mr. Monroe, Secretary of State. Ghent, Aug. 19, 1814.
Sir,—Mr. Baker, secretary to the British mission, called upon us to-day at one o'clock, and invited us to a conference to be held at three. This was agreed to, and the British commissioners opened it by saying, that they had received their further instructions this morning, and had not lost a moment in requesting a meeting for the purpose of communicating the decision of their government. It is proper to notice that lord Castlereagh had arrived last night in this city, whence, it is said, he will depart tomorrow on his way to Brussels and Vienna.
The British commissioners stated that their government had felt some surprise that we were not instructed respecting the Indians, as it could not have been expected that they would leave their allies, in their comparatively weak situation, exposed to our resentment. Great Britain might justly have supposed that the American government would have furnished us with instructions authorizing us to agree to a positive article on the subject; but the least she could demand was, that we should sign a provisional article admitting the principle, subject to the ratification of our government; so that, if it should be ratified, the treaty should take effect; and if not, that it should be null and void: on our assent or refusal to admit such an article would depend the continuance or suspension of the negotiation.
As we had represented that the proposition made by them, on that subject, was not sufficiently explicit, their government had directed them to give us every necessary
explanation, and to state distinctly the basis which must be considered as an indispensable preliminary:
It was a sine qua non that the Indians should be included in the pacification, and, as incident thereto, that the boundaries of their territories should be permanently established. Peace with the Indians was a subject so simple as to require no comment. With respect to the boundary which was to divide their territory from that of the United States, the object of the British government was, that the Indians should remain as a permanent barrier between our western settlements and the adjacent British provinces, to prevent them from being conterminous to each other: and that neither the United States nor Great Britain should ever hereafter have the right to purchase or acquire any part of the territory thus recognised as belonging to the Indians. With regard to the extent of the Indian territory, and the boundary line, the British government would propose the lines of the Greenville treaty, as a proper basis, subject however to discussion and modifications.
We stated, that the Indian territory, according to these lines, would comprehend a great number of American citizens; not less, perhaps, than a hundred thousand : and asked, what was the intention of the British government respecting them, and under whose government they would fall? It was answered that those settlements would be taken into consideration when the line became a subject of discussion ; but that such of the inhabitants as would ultimately be included within the Indian territory, must make their own arrangements, and provide for themselves.
The British commissioners here said, that considering the importance of the question we had to decide, (that of agreeing to a provisional article) their government had thought it right, that we should also be fully informed of its views with respect to the proposed revision of the boundary line between the dominions of Great Britain and the United States.
1. Experience had proved that the joint possession of the lakes, and a right, common to both nations, to keep up a naval force on them, necessarily produced collisions, and
rendered peace insecure. As Great Britain could not be supposed to expect to make conquests in that quarter, and as that province was essentially weaker than the United States, and exposed to invasion, it was necessary for its security that Great Britain should require that the United States should hereafter keep no armed naval force on the western lakes, from lake Ontario to lake Superior, both inclusive ; that they should not erect any fortified or military post or establishment on the shores of those lakes; and that they should not maintain those which were already existing. This must, they said, be considered as a moderate demand, since Great Britain, if she had not disclaimed the intention of any increase of territory, might, with propriety, have asked a cession of the adjacent American shores. The commercial navigation and intercourse would be left on the same footing as heretofore. It was expressly stated in answer to a question we asked) that Great Britain was to retain the right of having an armed naval force on those lakes, and of holding military posts and establishments on their shores.
2. The boundary line west of lake Superior, and thence to the Mississippi, to be revised, and the treaty-right of Great Britain to the navigation of the Mississippi to be continued. When asked whether they did not mean the line from the Lake of the Woods to the Mississippi? the British commissioners repeated, that they meant the line from lake Superior to that river.
3. A direct communication from Halifax and the province of New Brunswick to Quebec, to be secured to Great Britain. In answer to our question, in what manner this was to be effected ? we were told that it must be done by a cession to Great Britain of that portion of the district of Maine (in the state of Massachusetts) which intervenes between New Brunswick and Quebec, and prevents that direct communication.
Reverting to the proposed provisional article, respecting the Indian pacification and boundary, the British commissioners concluded by stating to us, that if the conferences should be suspended by our refusal to agree to such an article, without having obtained further instructions
from our government, Great Britain would not consider herself bound to abide by the terms which she now offered, but would be at liberty to vary and regulate her demands, according to subsequent events, and in such manner as the state of the war, at the time of renewing the negotiations, might warrant.
We asked whether the statement made, respecting the proposed revision of the boundary line between the United States and the dominions of Great Britain, embraced all the objects she meant to bring forward for discussion, and what were, particularly, her views with respect to Moose Island, and such other islands in the bay of Passamaquoddy as had been in our possession till the present war, but had been lately captured? We were answered, that those islands belonging of right to Great Britain (as much so, one of the commissioners said, as Northamptonshire) they would certainly be kept by her, and were not even supposed to be an object of discussion.
From the forcible manner in which the demand, that the United States should keep no naval armed force on the lakes, nor any military post on their shores, had been brought forward, we were induced to inquire whether this condition was also meant as a sine qua non ? To this the British commissioners declined giving a positive answer. They said that they had been sufficiently explicit, that they had given us one sine qua non, and when we had disposed of that, it would be time enough to give us an answer as to another.
We then stated, that, considering the nature and importance of the communication made this day, we wished the British commissioners to reduce their proposals to writing, before we gave them an answer. This they agreed to, and promised to send us an official note without delay.
We need hardly say, that the demands of Great Britain will receive from us an unanimous and decided negative. We do not deem it necessary to detain the John Adams for the purpose of transmitting to you the official notes which may pass on the subject, and close the negotiation. And we have felt it our duty immediately to a pprize you,
by this hasty, but correct sketch of our last conference,
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS,
P. S. August 20th, 1814. We have this moment received the note of the British commissioners, which had been promised to us, bearing date yesterday, a copy of which we have the honour to enclose.
Note of the British Commissioners. The undersigned, plenipotentiaries of his Britannick majesty, do themselves the honour of acquainting the plenipotentiaries of the United States, that they have communicated to their court the result of the conference which they had the honour of holding with them upon the 9th instant, in which they stated that they were unprovided with any specifick instructions as to comprehending the Indian nations in a treaty of peace to be made with Great Britain, and as to defining a boundary to the Indian territory.
The undersigned are instructed to acquaint the plenipotentiaries of the United States, that his majesty's government having, at the outset of the negotiation, with a view to a speedy restoration of peace, reduced as far as possible the number of points to be discussed, and having professed themselves willing to forego on some important topicks any stipulation to the advantage of Great Britain, cannot but feel some surprise that the government of the United States should not have furnished their plenipotentiaries with instructions upon those points which could hardly fail to come under discussion.
Under the inability of the American plenipotentiaries to conclude any article upon the subject of Indian pacifica