Page images

situation in which peace ought to place us, that formed the only solid ground of satisfaction. This principle had been amply recognized and acted upon by this country with respect to other quarters. Peace mere peace-had been offered, but rejected by their lordships and the nation. It was not, therefore, the mere circumstance that peace had been concluded-it was not the mere words or aspect of the Treaty that ought to decide their lordships to approve of it, if it could be shown from information and documents indisputable that the peace had been concluded under circumstances in which neither honour nor security had been provided for.

In discussing this question, their lordships had to consider what had been done to bring the war to a termination. It would be recollected, that soon after the war broke out, two propositions were made for an armistice, and a discussion of the points in dispute in the mean time. He did not blame ministers for their conduct on that occasion, being perhaps of opinion, that the carrying on negociations for peace during an armistice was generally an imprudent course of proceeding; but he only wished to call their lordships attention to this fact, that at that time there was no expression of the slightest desire to alter the grounds of dispute; and that with respect to the impressment of seamen, a wish was expressed to come to a full and fair discussion, in order, if possible, to form some amicable arrangement on that difficult and arduous subject. The next point to be considered in the view of the question which he had stated, was the proposed mediation of Russia, and he had never yet been able to discover why that mediation had not been accepted. Their lordships were aware that the business of a mediator was merely to bring the parties together for the purpose of amicable discussion. The business of an arbitrator was no doubt different, and perhaps with respect to our maritime rights, the Emperor of Russia might not have been the most proper arbitrator, supposing we had been disposed to admit of any arbitration on that head; for, essential as these rights were to this country, yet they were not perhaps more popular with some nations in Europe than they were on the other side of the Atlantic. But the Emperor of Russia's mediation was not accepted. Yet at last, in a question about territory, in which the dignity and honour of a country might be as much involved

as in any question whatever, the Emperor' of Russia though not accepted as a mediator, was to be the arbitrator. With respect to the Emperor of Russia, however, there was no character existing at the present day, no character recorded in history, which more commanded his respect, his admiration, and, as far as the expression might be used as to the sovereign of another country, his affection, than that great monarch: but he rather imagined that the mediation was refused, because at that moment a notion had arisen somewhere, that as America had been the aggressor, the contest ought not to be brought to a close without some measure of revenge, without some punishment for her indiscretion-than which a more unwise and destructive sentiment could not be conceived. After the refusal of the mediation of the Emperor of Russia, a proposal was made for a direct negociation. To that proposal, he had no objection; it was in every respect proper, if it was right to have rejected the offer in the first instance. But after this proposal was accepted, what was done? The American commissioners arrived at Gottenburgh, from whence they proceeded to Ghent two months before our commissioners were sent to meet them. would allow that, in ordinary cases, this would be a matter of little importance; but in the teeth of a war, and of a war so conducted, who could undertake to calculate the consequences that might ensue? It had been said that the transaction at Washington could not have been prevented even if peace had been made on the first day the commissioners met; but might it not have been prevented if they had met before?


He would now call the attention of the House to the state of Europe at that time. A series of glorious successes had attended the arms of his Majesty and of the Allies. We had concluded peace at Paris; and long before that event it appeared not to be doubted, that the result must be favourable to the objects for which we were contending. This country might then have met America with a great artillery of character, and then was the time to have come forward with powerful strength and moderate demands. instead of taking any advantage of the situation in which we stood, we sent a paltry force of nine thousand men from Bourdeaux, and by an expedient the most preposterous, endeavoured to supply the


[ocr errors]

want of military strength, by the force and magnitude of our diplomatic demands. He would contend that the instructions sent by the American government to its commissioners, were such as to admit of peace. On one branch, it was true, they had no instructions. They were not authorized to cede territory or to negociate Indian pacification. They thought it could never have entered the heads of the negociators at Ghent to have made the first demand, or to have introduced the second, in the way in which it was introduced, under an idea of altering the relations of the Indians towards the American States. This was the undoubted reason why they had no instructions upon these points. There was an extraordinary fact connected with this subject, that was amusing, if one could be amused in contemplating those transactions-that while our negociations for the peace and independence of the Indian nations were going on, a peace was actually concluded by Mr. Madison with many of them, one of the terms of which was, that they should enter again under the protection of the United States. The noble earl opposite (Liverpool) appeared by his gestures to contradict what he had said, but he spoke on the authority of the existing documents. In this manner the negociation commenced. Our first proposition was one that never was before suggested, with a view to peace or war, or even as a matter of speculation and argument. We demanded a cession of territory, on the ground that it formed the natural limit of Canada. This territory included the whole of the Lakes, and a large strip of ground on the other side. It was accompanied with a further condition, that they should build no fortresses on the banks of the lakes, nor adopt those measures which were necessary to protect their commerce against the Indians. On the subject of natural limits, he could not help amusing himself with inquiring from whence the doctrine had issued. He remembered it was once introduced by the famous Mr. Anacharsis Clootz, the orator of the human race, who in a book called Revolutionary Diplomatics,' had described the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Ocean, and the Rhine, as the natural limits of France. He was surprised to find, that after we had conquered the French Revolution, and carried our arms into Paris, this doctrine should be revived by a Secretary of State, and applied to America. But was this

done in the time of our strength? Was the demand insisted on in a commanding attitude? No such thing; we approached in formâ pauperis; we laid the British crown at the foot of the American President, and besought that to us, the weaker party, he would afford that security which we knew to be necessary to defend us against his pretensions. And what was the security we asked? that he should abandon all means of defence. Again, when we were asked by the Americans, why did we bring forward this demand at a moment when we professed to be negociating in the spirit of peace? our answer was, because your ambition is so unbounded. What could be expected after this? We set up monstrous, egregious, and unreasonable demands, and justified them by the ambition of that party upon whom we made them. When the question was asked, "Is this a sine quâ non?" the answer that followed was perhaps the most extraordinary that was ever given by a set of diplomatists-" We will not tell you whether it is or not-we have already given you one sine quâ non—and, until that is decided, we will not give you any information as to another." But this point, in whatever way considered, whether as a sine quâ non or not, was completely rejected-no attempt was ultimately made to insist on it-it formed no part of the present Treaty. Now, he would ask, was it necessary to insist on this point? If it was, what security could be found in a Treaty which did not contain a word on the subject. The ground on which you called for it was, not your strength but your weakness. You stated that a mutual possession of the lakes produced additional danger in war, and formed a perpetual source of disagreement in peace, and you insisted on additional security-whether as a sine quâ non or not, the noble marquis did not pretend to say, since it was a matter very difficult. to be unravelled. He had, however, been informed, that it never was intended to insist on this proposition, as a sine quâ non

but that it was thought to be a grand display of diplomatic address, to demand more at first than would ultimately be insisted on. In conformity with this principle, the commissioners conceived it to be wise and prudent to ask more, in the commencement of the negociation, than in the latter end they conceived it proper to adhere to. Amongst some negociators, of remote times, this principle was certainly

acted on. And, with reference to their conduct, the negociation of the present Treaty resembled, in a great degree, many of the proceedings he had recently seen. Every precedent was adopted, as if it were the offspring of some sacred doctrine-and, it was here supposed, that if persons, at a former period, had ultimately taken less than they at first demanded, that, therefore, in all cases, it was proper to ask for more than, if resisted, you would deem it necessary to take. But here he would observe, that insincerity must, generally, be the basis of such conduct-that insincerity was unworthy of all public councils-and he desired to abjure a participation in any such feelings or principles. It was true, indeed, that occasions might occur, in which it was requisite, while treating, to make demands which it was not intended to insist upon; but the circumstances inviting this course were of a peculiar nature, and none but cases of an extraordinary description could call for or justify it. In the case of Great Britain, he contended, that should have been stated at first, which it was intended to have been abided by at last. If ever there was a case, in which the system of making a great demand and afterwards receding from it was inapplicable to the circumstances under which it was resorted to, that case was the present. A glorious career of success in war-a long series of advantages-these might in duce a nation to look for a peace correspondent with the exertions that had been made, and the successes that had been achieved. But even here, it was neither just nor wise, to demand that which, according to the law of nations, it was most improper to seek. It was not right, under any circumstances, to ask for the possession of that, which a state must deem essential to its honour, its security, and its independence. On this principle, he arraigned the demand with respect to the military possession of the lakes, both on the ground of policy and of justice. He denied that it was necessary for the secu rity of our possessions to demand such a concession. He thought the effort to obtain this boon was made in a manner that ought to cover with shame those who tolerated it; for the majesty of England was placed, as a suppliant, at the foot of the President of the United States. And, he thought, that those who permitted the demands, generally, ought to be punished, for countenancing a spirit of aggrandise (VOL. XXX.)

ment, against which this country had been so long contending. It was, he conceived, in the highest degree imprudent, impolitic, and unwise, to tell America, at the outset of the negociations, that if certain points were not conceded to us, there was no security for our dominions, in that quarter of the world. He was astonished that America should have been called upon to submit to the claim that was made; a claim which she could not have recognised, without degrading her national honour, and sacrificing her national interests. No country had a right to make such a demand on another.

The next question was that of the India boundary-and here it was necessary to examine on what ground that question rested. By the Treaty of 1783, which established the independence of the United States, the line of demarcation, between the territories of the United States, and those of Great Britain, in America, was to be drawn through the centre of the lakes of the woods, and was to be terminated by a line continued from the lakes of the woods to the Mississippi. It so happened that a line thus drawn would not have proceeded due west, as was stipulatedbut that, to define it, it ought to be drawn almost south-east. But the stipulations of that Treaty, thus defining the boundary of the United States, gave to the new Government the same right and control over the various places within the stated boundaries, as had before been enjoyed by Great Britain. Within those boundaries many Indian tribes resided; and it was the policy of the United States to encourage amongst them habits of civilization. By the proclamation of his present Majesty, issued in 1763, all private individuals were prevented from purchasing any of the lands appropriated to the use of the Indians. But it was provided, that if, under any peculiar circumstances, the Indians themselves were anxious to dispose of those grounds, that they should be purchased for the Crown. By the Treaty of 1783, the full rights, formerly possessed by the King of Great Britain, over certain parts of the American territory, were fully and completely vested in the Government of the United States. How, then, could this Government, with any degree of justice, call for a new boundary for the Indians, when, in fact, all power and control respecting them had been long before given up? For he would contend, that all the land ceded to the United (2 Q)

[ocr errors]

States by the Treaty of 1783, was within their sovereignty, as completely as it had before been within the sovereignty of the King of England. And here he begged leave to make one observation, with respect to the employment of the Indians in war. To make them instruments of vengeance, was one of the most dreadful systems that ever the spirit of man, directed to a mischievous and cruel object, could possibly devise. He must suppose it to arise from necessity; but it was a fatal necessity. This necessity had already awaked the attention of the House; it had, in its earliest state, awaked the eloquent indignation of the wisest and most eloquent statesman that ever charmed that House, the great earl of Chatham. The noble marquis said, he should have rejoiced to have seen the practice at once done away. It would have been with him almost like a second abolition of the Slave Trade. He should have been rejoiced if we had closed at once with that proposal of the commissioners, never to employ the Indians again. But did the noble lord forget that this territory which he claimed for his independent Indians, was actually divided into American states-that it actually sent members to Congress-that it was pledged for a share of the national debt? And was it to be expected, that they would consent to give a boundary thus out of their own bosom, against themselves? But the American Government had made frequent treaties with them, undoubtedly; and so had we done; but we had not, therefore, relinquished the full possession of our sovereignty. The fact was, that however the Americans might have been disgusted by the demands of our negociators, the Treaty restored things to exactly the same state in which they were before. He had also to notice another most curious intimation on our part. Ministers thought proper to propose, as it seemed to them desirable to maintain the excellent state of society which existed among the Indians, that the Americans should assent, never to purchase any lands of their Indians, while we did the same with regard to ours: that the Indians should only dispose of their lands to a third party. Who was this third party? Was it France ?

All these propositions were said to be grounded on the necessity of checking a spirit of aggrandisement on the part of America: but what were their effects on the public mind when they reached Ame

rica? It was well known that there prevailed among a numerous party in that country, a strong sentiment that the war with England, if not absolutely unjust in its origin, was at least impolitic and unnecessary. The whole nation had also begun to feel its disastrous effects, and would have hailed with pleasure any really pacific proposals; but when these propositions arrived, their tendency was the very reverse of accelerating a peace. The noble lord had, indeed, blamed the President for giving them publicity during pending negociations; but the American negociators declared in their dispatch, that they thought the prospect of peace at an end; and he believed that the noble lord, who was so niggardly in the production of papers, had he been situated as the President was, would immediately have submitted to Parliament such claims of an enemy, with the view of arousing any flagging spirit of hostility in the country. The effect of the proposals was instantaneous in America; the determination to resist them was unanimous and strong to a degree almost incredible under a government so constituted. They excited a general military spirit; means were adopted for raising an efficient army, and attention had been paid to the formation of a navy on a regular systematic plan, which no man in this country could look forward to but with the deepest regret. If the proposals were urged insincerely, there was no degree of criminality too high which did not attach to ministers: if they were sincere in their apprehensions of American ambition, it remained for them to show how the engagements at last entered into, were either honourable or safe.

The noble marquis next adverted to the mode in which the war had been prosecuted. He deeply lamented that it had ever been thought right to conduct `the war on a system of predatory incursion. The true way would have been to apply the massy strength of this great naval and military country on some central point, where it might have commanded success, instead of producing more irritation. There was one point which required illustration, and that was the allegation that some of our officers had excited the negro slaves of Virginia to rise upon their masters. Another point was the fatal transaction at Washington. As an attack on a naval arsenal and depot of the enemy, the plan was wise and conducted with singular ability and vigour; but he never could

contemplate without pain the destruction | Spain against its occupation had been stuof buildings entirely devoted to pacific purposes, and some of them to those of the arts. The defence set up was, that it was an act of retaliation; but he must condemn the principle. Retaliation was of two kinds-defensive or vindictive. The former might be employed when necessary for self-protection; but the latter went to consider vengeance as a duty it was to reverse the Christian principle, and substitute instead of it, that you should do unto others as they have done

unto you.

But the charge of unbounded ambition was brought against America. This was discoverable, it was said, in her attacking Canada, at the commencement of the war; as if, because she gave it out to be a war for her maritime rights, she was bound to confine it to the ocean, where you were strong, and she was weak. America might think that the best way of conducting a war even for maritime rights, was by attacking Canada, where ministers had confessed that we were weak. But the American Government never made Canada a point in the negociation, and nothing could be drawn from the proclamation of an invading general, which he believed was afterwards disowned by his governAnother charge was, that she manifested an encroaching spirit, against which it was necessary to guard, by her acquisition of Louisiana, an event that took place not less than 11 years ago. That transaction simply originated in this,-that in consequence of the transfer of Louisiana to France by the Spanish Government, the Americans were dreadfully alarmed lest they should have Buonaparté and the French as a perpetual blister on their backs. Their alarm was not without reason; for no sooner had Buonaparté obtained the transfer, than he refused to the Americans their depot at New Orleans, which was absolutely essential to the whole of their north-western trade. Thus actuated, they eagerly purchased Louisiana; but so little was their purchase considered a ground of jealousy at the time, that our minister, in a letter to Mr. Rufus King, the then American ambassador in this country, congratulated him on the acquisition, as favourable to the interests of both countries. It was therefore most extraordinary, that the acquisition of Louisiana should now be set forward as an outrageous act of aggrandise ment. But it was said, that the protest of

diously concealed. That protest, however, certainly was withdrawn; at least it was so stated in a speech of the American President to Congress in 1804. But supposing the whole allegation true, was it wise or prudent to bring it forward now, when the measure had been acquiesced in for the last eleven years? The next ground of charge was the question of West Florida. During the progress of the Spanish revolution, Florida was divided into various factions struggling for the supremacy. The American Government interfered, improperly, he thought, and occupied the province, on the ground that it was necessary to prevent it from falling into hands that might be dangerous as neighbours. They declared at the same time that they had no intention of, permanent occupancy. We ourselves had recently done the very same thing, by occupying a part of West Florida, for the purpose of making war on the United States. Was this temporary occupation to be held as a proof of our desire of aggrandisement? Could any imprudence be so monstrous, as during a negociation to produce such articles of charge as these were? The last ground on which the charge of ambition was founded, was the spirit of encroachment the Americans had displayed in purchasing Indian lands. But this was the system of extending their cultivation which the Americans had always pursued, and this was the system which we ourselves pursued in Canada.

The noble marquis next proceeded to make a variety of remarks on the negociations respecting the boundaries on the Canada line. He observed, that in his opinion, the American commissioners had shown the most astonishing superiority over the British, during the whole of the correspondence. The noble earl opposite probably felt sore at this observation; as he (lord W.) had little doubt that the British papers were communicated from the common fund of ministers in this country. The results of the prolonged negociation had been dreadful; and when the Treaty itself appeared, it contained really nothing but the cessation of hostilities. No one point had been settled. Having considered what the Treaty did include, he should now advert to what it did not include. It described no boundary line from Lake Superior to the Mississippi; it stipulated for no direct communication between Halifax and Quebec; the islands of Passa

« PreviousContinue »