« PreviousContinue »
vision is found in a declaratory article between Great Britain and Russia, bearing date on the 8th October, 1801, explanatory of the 2d section, 3d article, of a convention concluded between them on the 5th of June of the same year. I have the honour to be, &c.
Extract of a Letter from the Secretary of State, to the
Commissioners of the United States for treating with Great Britain. Department of State, February 14, 1814.
“ I RECEIVED last night your letter of the 15th October, with extracts of letters from Mr. Adams and Mr. Harris, of the 22d and 23d of November.
“It appears that you had no knowledge at the date, even of the last letter, of the answer of the British government, to the offer which had been made to it, a second time, of the Russian mediation. Hence it is to be inferred that the proposition made to this government by the Bramble was made not only without your knowledge, but without the sanction, if not without the knowledge, of the emperor. Intelligence from other sources, strengthens this inference. If this view of the conduct of the British government is well founded, the motive for it cannot be mistaken. It may fairly be presumed that it was to prevent a good understanding and concert between the United States and Russia and Sweden, on the subject of neutral rights, in the hope that by drawing the negotiation to England, and depriving you of an opportunity of a free communication with those powers, a treaty less favourable to the United States might be obtained, which might after wards be used with advantage by Great Britain in her negotiations with those powers.
By an article in the former instructions, you were authorized in making a treaty to prevent impressment from our vessels, to stipulate, provided a certain specified term could not be agreed on, that it might continue in force for ihe present war in Europe only. At that time it seemed
probable that the war might last many years. Recent appearances, however, indicate the contrary. Should peace be made in Europe, as the practical evil of which we complain in regard to impressment would cease, it is presumed that the British government would have less objection to a stipulation to forbear that practice for a specified term, than it would have, should the war continue. In concluding a peace with Great Britain, even in case of a previous general peace in Europe, it is important to the United States to obiain such a stipulation."
Mr. Monroe, Secretary of State, to the Plenipotentiaries of
the United States, at Gottenburg. Department of State, March 21, 1814.
GENTLEMEN,-By the cartel Chauncey you will receive this, with duplicates of the commission to treat with Great Britain; and of the instructions and other documents that were forwarded by the John Adams. This vessel is sent to guard against any accident that might attend the other.
If a satisfactory arrangement can be concluded with Great Britain, the sooner it is accomplished the happier for both countries. If such an arrangement cannot be obtained, it is important for the United States to be acquainted with it without delay. I hope, therefore, to receive from you an account of the state of the negotiation and its prospects, as soon as you may be able to communicate any thing of an interesting nature respecting them. I have the honour to be, &c.
Mr. Monroe to the Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers
Plenipotentiary of the United States. Department of State, June 25, 1814.
GENTLEMEN,-No communication has been received from the joint mission which was appointed to meet the commissioners of the British government, at Gottenburg. A letter from Mr. Bayard, at Amsterdam, of the 18th of
March, was the last from either of our commissioners. It was inferred, from that letter, and other communications, that Mr. Bayard, Mr. Gallatin, and Mr. Adams, would be in Gotteuburg, -and it has been understood, from other sources, that Mr. Clay and Mr. Russell had arrived there about the 15th of April. It is therefore expected, that a meeting will have taken place in May, and that we shall soon be made acquainted with your sentiments of the probable result of the negotiation.
It is impossible, with the lights which have reached us, to ascertain the present disposition of the British government towards an accommodation with the United States. We think it probable that the late events in France may have had a tendency to increase its pretensions.
At war with Great Britain, and injured by France, the United States have sustained the attitude founded on those relations. No reliance was placed on the good offices of France, in bringing the war with Great Britain to a satisfactory conclusion. Looking steadily to an honourable peace, and the ultimate attainment of justice from both powers, the President has endeavoured, by a consistent and honourable policy, to take advantage of every circumstance that might promote that result. He, nevertheless, knew that France held a place in the political system of Europe and of the world, which, as a check on England, could not fail to be useful to us. What effect the late events may have had, in these respects, is the important circumstance of which you are doubtless better informed than we can be.
The President accepted the mediation of Russia, from a respect for the character of the emperor, and a belief that our cause, in all the points in controversy, would gain strength by being made known to him. On the same principle, he preferred (in accepting the British overture, to treat independently of the Russian mediation) to open the negotiation on the continent, rather than at London.
It was inferred from the general policy of Russia, and the friendly sentiments and interposition of the emperor, that a respect for both would have much influence, with the British cabinet, in promoting a pacifick policy towards us. The manner, however, in which it is understood that
a general pacification is taking place; the influence Great Britain may have in modifying the arrangements involved in it; the resources she may be able to employ exclusively against the United States; and the uncertainty of the pre. cise course which Russia' may pursue in relation to the war between the United States and Great Britain, naturally claim attention, and raise the important question, in reference to the subject of impressment, on which it is presumed your negotiations will essentially turn, whether your powers ought not to be enlarged, so as to enable you to give to those circumstances all the weight to which they may be entitled. On full consideration, it has been decided, that in case no stipulation can be obtained from the British government at this moment, when its pretensions may have been much heightened by recent events, and the state of Europe be most favourable to them, either relinquishing the claim to impress from American vessels, or discontinuing the practice, even in consideration of the proposed exclusion from them of British seamen, you may concur in an article, stipulating, that the subject of impressment, together with that of commerce between the two countries, be referred to a separate negotiation, to be undertaken without delay, at such place as you may be able to agree on, preferring this city, if to be obtained. I annex, at the close of this letter, a project of an article, expressing, more distinctly, the idea which it is intended to communicate, not meaning thereby to restrain you in any respect as to the form. Commerce and seamen, the objects of impressment, may, with great propriety, be arranged in the same instrument. By stipulating that commissioners shall forthwith be appointed for the purpose, and that all rights on this subject shall, in the mean time, be reserved, the faith of the British government will be pledg. ed to a fair experiment, in an amicable mode, and the honour and rights of the United States secured. The United States having resisted, by war, the practice of impressment, and continued the war until that practice had ceased, by a peace in Europe, their object has been essentially obtained for the present. It may reasonably be expected, that the arrangement contemplated and provided for, will take effect before a new war in Europe shal!
furnish an occasion for reviving the practice. Should this arrangement, however, fail, and the practice be again revived, the United States will be again at liberty to repel it by war; and that they will do so cannot be doubted: for after the proof which they have already given of a firm resistance, in that mode, persevered in until the practice had ceased, under circumstances the most unfavourable, it cannot be presumed, that the practice will ever be tolerated again. Certain it is, that every day will render it more ineligible in Great Britain to make the attempt.
In contemplating the appointment of commissioners, lo be made after the ratification of the present treaty, to negotiate and conclude a treaty to regulate commerce and provide against impressment, it is meant only to show the extent to which you may go, in a spirit of accommodation, if necessary. Should the British government be willing to take the subject up immediately with you, it would be much preferred, in which case the proposed article would, of course, be adapted to the purpose.
Information has been received from a quarter deserving attention, that the late events in France have produced such an effect on the British government, as to make it probable that a demand will be made at Gottenburg, to surrender our right to the fisheries, to abandon all trade beyond the Cape of Good Hope, and to cede Louisiana to Spain. We cannot believe that such a demand will be made; should it be, you will of course treat it as it deserves. These rights must not be brought into discussion. If insisted on, your negotiations will cease. I have the honour to be, &c.
“WHEREAS by the peace in Europe, the essential causes of the war between the United States and Great Britain. and particularly the practice of impressment, have ceased, and a sincere desire exists to arrange, in a manner satisfactory to both parties, all questions concerning seamen; and it is also their desire and intention to arrange, in a like satisfactory manner, the commerce between the two countries, it is therefore agrecil, that commissioners shall