Page images

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 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 apprize you, by this hasty but correct sketch of our last conference, that there is not, at present, any hope of peace. P. S. August 20, 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 honor to enclose.




The British to the American Plenipotentiaries,

GHENT, August 19th, 1814.

The undersigned plenipotentiaries of His Britannic Majesty do themselves the honor of acquainting the plenipotentiaries of the United States, that they have communicated to their court the result of the conference which they had the honor of holding with them upon the gth instant, in which they stated that they were unprovided with any specific instructions as to comprehending the Indian nations in a treaty of peace to be made with Great Britian, and as to defining a boundary to the Indian territory.

1 American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. III, p. 710.

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 the 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 topics, 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 pacification and Indian boundary, which shall bind the Government of the United States, His Majesty's Government concede that they cannot give a better proof of their sincere desire for the restoration of peace than by professing their willingness to accept a provisional article upon those heads, in the event of the American plenipotentiaries considering themselves authorized to accede to the general principles upon which such an article ought to be founded. With a view to enable the American plenipotentiaries to decide how far the conclusion of such an article is within the limit of their general discretion, the undersigned are directed to state fully and distinctly the basis upon which alone Great Britain sees any prospect of advantage in the continuance of the negotiation at the present time.

The undersigned have already had the honor of stating to the American plenipotentiaries that, in considering the points above referred to as a sine qua non of any treaty of peace, the view of the British Government is the permanent tranquillity and security of the Indian nations, and the prevention of those jealousies and irritations to which the frequent alteration of the Indian limits has heretofore given rise.

For this purpose it is indispensably necessary that the Indian nations who have been, during the war, in alliance with Great Britain, should, at the termination of the war, be included in the pacification.

It is equally necessary that a definite boundary should be assigned to the Indians, and that the contracting parties should guarantee the integrity of their territory by a mutual stipulation not to acquire, by purchase or otherwise, any territory within the specified limits. The British Government are willing to take as the basis of an article on this subject those stipulations of the treaty of Greenville, subject to modifications, which relate to a boundary line.

As the undersigned are desirous of stating every point in connexion with the subject which may reasonably influence the decision of the American plenipotentiaries in the exercise of their discretion, they avail themselves of this opportunity to repeat what they have already stated, that Great Britain desires the revision of the frontier between her North American dominions and those of the United States, not with any view to an acquisition of territory, as such, but for the purpose of securing her possessions and preventing future disputes.

The undersigned trust, that the full statement which they have made of the views and objects of the British Government, in requiring the pacification of the Indian nations, and a permanent limit to their territories, will enable the American plenipotentiaries to conclude a provisional article upon the basis above stated. Should they feel it necessary to refer to the Government of the United States for further instructions, the undersigned feel it incumbent upon them to acquaint the American plenipotentiaries that their Government cannot be precluded by anything that has passed, from varying the terms at present proposed, in such a manner as the state of the war, at the time of resuming the conferences, may, in their judgment, render advisable.




Albert Gallatin to the Secretary of State,

GHENT, August 20th, 1814.

The British will naturally attempt the conquest of what they wish to acquire by the peace. They will make great efforts in Canada to obtain the command and possession of lakes Ontario

and Erie, for the recapture of Detroit, and for the support of the Indians, so as to derive from the status quo some claim of what they already demand. And your attention will be naturally drawn to that question, and, amongst other objects, to a vigorous prosecution of the Indian war, which, by the total expulsion of the adjacent tribes, or, by compelling them to make peace, will remove every pretext for what is now made a sine qua non, and indeed afford an opportunity for Great Britain to desist (without retracting) from that preliminary.


The Plenipotentiaries of the United States to the Secretary of State.'

GHENT, October 25th, 1814. We have the honor of transmitting herewith copies of all our correspondence with the British plenipotentiaries, since the departure of Mr. Dallas. Although the negotiation has not terminated so abruptly as we expected at that period that it would, we have no reason to retract the opinion which we then expressed, that no hopes of peace, as likely to result from it, could be entertained. It is true, that the terms which the British Government had so peremptorily prescribed at that time have been apparently abandoned, and that the sine qua non then required as a preliminary to all discussion upon other topics has been reduced to an article securing merely an Indian pacification, which we have agreed to accept, subject to the ratification or rejection of our government.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

GHENT, August 24, 1814. The undersigned ministers plenipotentiary and extraordinary from the United States of America have given to the official note which they have had the honor of receiving from His Britannic Majesty's plenipotentiaries, the deliberate attention which the importance of its contents required, and have now that of transmitting to them their answer on the several points to which it refers.

1American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. III, p. 710. 2American State Papers, Foreign Relations, Vol. III, p. 711.

They would present to the consideration of the British plenipotentiaries that Lord Castlereagh, in his letter of the 4th November, 1813, to the American Secretary of State, pledges the faith of the British Government, that "they were willing to enter into discussion with the Government of America for the conciliatory adjustment of the differences subsisting between the two States, with an earnest desire on their part to bring them to a favorable issue, upon principles of perfect reciprocity, not inconsistent with the established maxims of public law, and with the maritime rights of the British empire.” This fact alone might suffice to show, that it ought not to have been expected that the American Government, in acceding to this proposition, should have exceeded its terms, and furnished the undersigned with instructions authorizing them to treat with the British plenipotentiaries respecting the Indians situated within the boundaries of the United States.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]



It is well known that the differences which unhappily subsisted between Great Britain and the United States, and which ultimately led to the present war, were wholly of a maritime nature, arising principally from the British orders in council in relation to blockades, and from the impressment of mariners on board of American vessels. The boundary of the Indian territory had never been a subject of difference between the two countries.

Nor could the American Government have foreseen that Great Britain, in order to obtain peace for the Indians residing within the dominions of the United States, whom she had induced to take part with her in the war, would demand that they should be made parties to the treaty between the two nations; or that the boundaries of their lands should be permanently and irrevocably fixed by that treaty. Such a proposition is contrary to the acknowledged principles of public law, and to the practice of all civilized nations, particularly of Great Britain and of the United States. It is not founded on reciprocity: it is not necessary for the attainment of the object which it professes to have in view,

« PreviousContinue »