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no treaty at all. In consequence, he would expect to enjoy all the prerogatives of that character, and the moment they should be denied him, he must quit the congress, let the consequences be what they might. And, I rely upon it, this is the intention of the two imperial courts, because otherwise they would have proposed the congress, upon the two preliminaries, a rupture of the treaty (with France) and the return of the Americans to their submission to Great Britain, insisted upon by her; and because I cannot suppose it possible that the imperial courts could believe the Americans capable of such infinite baseness, as to appear in such a posture; nor can I suppose that they mean to fix a mark of disgrace upon the Americans, or to pronounce judgment against them; and because, otherwise, all their propositions would be to no effect, for no congress at Vienna can make either one or the other of the two proposed peaces, without the United States.
"Upon looking over again the words of the first article, there seems to be room for dispute, which a British minister, in the present state of his country, would be capable of taking advantage of. The terms which are used are exceptionable. There are no American colonies at war with Great Britain. The power at war is the United States of America. No American colonies have any representative in Europe, unless Nova Scotia or Quebec may have an agent in London. The word colony implies a metropolis, a mother country, a superior political governor, ideas which the United States of America have long since renounced, forever.
“I am, therefore, clear, in my own opinion, that a more explicit declaration ought to be insisted on, and that no American representative ought to appear, without an express assurance, that while the congress lasts, and in going to it, and from it, he shall be considered as a minister plenipotentiary from the United States of America, and entitled to all the preprogatives of a minister plenipotentiary of a sovereign power. The congress might be to him and his country but a snare, unless the substance of this is intended, and if it is intended, there can be no sufficient reason for declining to express it in words. If there is a power VOL. II.
upon earth which imagines that America will ever appear at a congress, before a minister of Great Britain or any other power, in the character of repenting subjects, supplicating an amnesty or a warranty of an amnesty, that power is infinitely deceived. There are very few Americans who would hold their lives upon such terms. And all such ideas ought forever to be laid aside by the British ministry before they propose mediations. The very mention of such a thing to the United States by Great Britain would be considered only as another repetition of injury and insult. It would be little less to France."
The answer of his most christian majesty to the mediators, on this question, was in accordance with the views of Mr. Adams. "The two imperial courts cannot flatter themselves, that they can conduct the mediation to an happy conclusion, if they do not provide against the subterfuges, the subtleties, and the false interpretations, which any of the belligerent powers may employ, for understanding according to its views, the preliminary propositions. There is the difficulty which would infallibly occur, if we do not determine, beforehand, the sense of the expressions which relate to the Americans. The court of London, who will elude as much and as long as she can, any direct and indirect avowal of the independence of the United States, will take advantage of the general terms we employ in speaking of them, to maintain that she is not obliged to treat with her ancient colonies, as with a free and independent nation: That she is not, consequently, in a situation to admit a plenipotentiary on their part: That she is the mistress to see nothing in their representative but the deputy of a portion of her subjects, who appear to sue for pardon: From which it would result, when the mediation should be in activity, and the question should be to open and commence the negociations, that they would begin to contest concerning the character which the American plenipotentiary may display: That the king of England will not regard him, but as his subject, while the congress shall demand that he be admitted as the representative of a free people; by which means the mediation will find itself arrested in its first step.
"To prevent this inconvenience, it seems, that before all things, the character of the American agent ought to be determined in a manner the most precise and positive, and that the congress ought to be invited to confide its interests to the mediation. This invitation is so much the more indispensable, as the negociations relative to America, must march with an equal step with that which the court of Versailles and Madrid will pursue; and by consequence, these two negociations, although separate, must be commenced at the same time."
The answer of the French court being communicated by one of the mediating powers, to the cabinet of London, his Britannic majesty, on the 15th of June, 1781, declared in reply, that he could not in any manner or form whatever, admit the interference of any foreign power, between him and his rebel subjects; and therefore would not agree to the admission of any person as their minister at the proposed congress, as this would be totally incompatible with their situation as subjects. He would not, he said, consent to any measure, which might limit or suspend the exercise of the right every sovereign had, to employ the means in his power, to put an end to a rebellion in his own dominions; and that the mediation of the two imperial courts must be limited to a peace between the European belligerents, and not to a peace with his revolted subjects.* He declared at the same time, "that in all points to be agitated in a future congress, England will behave with great equity and condesension; but the dependence of her rebel subjects in America must be pre-established, and that this matter must be left entirely to the care of Great Britain."t
The views of the imperial courts on this point were in accordance with those of the British cabinet. They were unwilling indirectly to acknowledge the independence of the United States, without the consent of Great Britain. These views were made known to Mr. Dana, by a letter from the marquis de Verac, the French minister at St. Petersburgh, in September, 1781. Referring to the first preliminary article, he said, "the mediating powers * Histoire &c. de la Diplomatie Francaise, vol. 7. † Secret Journals of Congress, vol. 3, pp. 28, 29.
understand by this, that your deputies shall treat simply with the English ministers, as they have already treated in America, with the commissioners of Great Britain, in 1778. That the conclusion of their negociations shall teach the other powers upon what footing they are to be regarded, and that their public character shall be acknowledged without difficulty, from the moment when the English themselves shall no longer oppose it."* The reply of the court of London, put an end to all farther proceedings under the mediation of the imperial courts.
* Mr. Adams' Correspendence, p. 136.
France assists America with troops-6000 arrive at Newport in July, 1780--In the spring of 1781, join the American army near New York-Assist in the capture of lord Cornwallis in October of the same year--British ministry again attempt to make separate treaties with United States and France-Make advantageous offers to the latter-Both nations refuse to treat separately-Change of ministry in England -Pacific overtures made by the new administration-Mr. Oswald sent to Paris on the subject—His reception by Dr. Franklin and the French minister-Agree to treat of peace at Paris--Mr. Grenville sent as minister by the British-Commissioners of peace about the same time sent to America-Congress refuse to treat with them ---Grenville declares to Dr. Franklin that the independence of the United States was to be acknowledged as a preliminary--New administration in England in consequence of the death of the marquis of Rockingham-Lord Shelburne placed at the head of it-Opposed to an express and open acknowledgment of American independence-Supposed to have sent Mr. Jones to Paris secretly to sound the American ministers on the subject-Mr. Jones arrives at Paris-Makes an extraordinary communication to Dr. Franklin-Great difficulties respecting the powers of the British negociators-Mr. Jay refuses to treat except as the representative of an independent nation-Views of the French minister on this subject-Grenville recalled---Oswald appointed to treat with America--- His powers finally satisfactory---Negociations commence--American commissioners and Mr. Oswald agree on articles concerning boundaries and the fisheries to be inserted in a treaty if approved by the British cabinet---Sent to London---Mr. Jay resumes negociations with Spain at ParisViews of the Spanish and French courts concerning the western bounds of the United States-Western line designated by the Spanish minister-Not approved by the American ministers---Extraordinary communication made to Mr. Jay on this subject by the secretary of Vergennes-Views of France on the subject of the fisheries---Articles sent to London not agreed to by the British court---Mr. Strachey sent to Paris to assist Mr. Oswald in further negociations---The subjects of boundaries, the fisheries, and compensation to the loyalists create great difficulties---Finally settled by a provisional treaty---This treaty concluded by the American minister without consulting the French court-Reasons of this---Correspondence between Dr. Franklin and Vergennes on this point---Delay in the negociations between Great Britain and France and Spain occasioned by the demand made by Spain, for the surrender of Gibraltar---Majority of the British cabinet agree to give up this fortress on certain conditions---The British monarch refuses to give it on any terms---Spanish minister obliged to relinquish the demand and treaties between those powers finally concluded---The treaties not approved by the house of commons---Change of administration---Provisional treaty ratified by the United States -The article about debts not satisfactory to some of the states---David Hartley sent by the new ministry to complete the definite treaty---Negociators not able to agree on any new terms, or to make any commercial arrangements.
FRANCE generously assisted the United States with men as well as money. In July, 1780, a French fleet with six thousand troops,