American Historical Association.

Annual report of the American Historical Association (Volume 1913, v.2) online

. (page 36 of 64)
Online LibraryAmerican Historical AssociationAnnual report of the American Historical Association (Volume 1913, v.2) → online text (page 36 of 64)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

never to surrender." This speech was printed following the proceedings of Nov. 8, 1813,
and was read again Apr. 22, 1814.

2 British reinforcements numbering 16,000 arrived in Canada during July and August.

* Library of Congress, Crawford volume (a volume of photostat copies of a collec-
tion of Crawford's papers in private possession). Bayard's draft is among the papers
possessed by Mr. Thomas F. Bayard.


Ghent wishing to make a personal acquaintance with him he an-
swered, " Why it is some time since we have been riding at single
anchor, ready to cut and make sail upon receiving orders."

Conferences between us have commenced and were opened on the
part of the British Commissioners by the statement of four proposi-
tions which they presumed would be the subject of discussions and
which might require arrangements to be made between the two Gov-

1st. Impressment.

2d. Indian pacification, and houndary line.

3d. Boundary line hetween the United States and Canada.

4th. Fisheries.

The second only seems to me at present to offer serious difficulty
to a pacification. The pretension however in my opinion is totally
inadmissible and possibly has been selected as a designed insuperable
obstacle to peace. When first disclosed it was declared to be sine
qua non. One such pretension is as complete a barrier against peace
as an hundred.

It may account for no other point being pressed and in fact an*
apparent indifference being manifested as to the other subjects.

The British Commissioners told us their instructions were per-
emptory, and unless we could say that our powers enabled us to enter
at least into a provisional arrangement on the subject a discussion of
any of the points would be fruitless. We were willing to enter into
the discussion of all the points for the purpose of mutual informa-
tion and understanding and in the hope that we might present views
particularly on the subject of immediate difficulty which might
induce their Government to withdraw the pretension as one which
could admit of no modification and necessarily must lead to a rupture
of the negociation. But they declined any discussion without an
assurance that some arrangement might arise out of it upon the basis
of their proposition. The conferences are in consequence suspended
and they have written to their Government for further instructions.
The state of things does not augur well. A sine qua non so early
and in a manner so peremptory upon a point relatively to us of so
great importance, and to them of so small, looks very much like an
intended stumbling block placed in the threshhold of negociation.

The Commissioners themselves are extremely affable and courteous
in their personal demeanour. On both sides we have been able to
avoid as well in words as in manner everything of an inflammable

The despatches you transmitted to us were of the highest impor-
tance and they have given us the ground, which you and I agreed at

1 The italicized lines which follow are in cipher in the manuscript.


Paris was the proper one, on which a certain point ought to be left
for the present. It is not safe to prophesy about events which are
likely to unfold themselves before the prophecy is forgotten. I shall
therefore prudently wait for the return of the British messenger,
without undertaking to predict what is to happen.

Have the goodness to present my respects to Genl. La Fayette
when you see him and say I did not call on him upon leaving Paris
understanding he was out of Town.

Bayard to Harper.*

Ghent, 19 August, 1811^.

My dear Harper : I know you would wish me to answer the ques-
tion " Are you likely to make peace or is the war to continue." Let
me tell you, that this question is as doubtful at Ghent at present as
it can be at Baltimore. It depended solely upon Us to make the war,
but there is another Party to consult in making peace.

In forming your calculations on the subject, you will confine your
considerations to the motives solely which Great Britain may be sup-
posed to have to continue the war. Knowing the terms upon which
we are authorized to make peace and are disposed to make it, you
would say in one moment if these are not acceded to, " let the fate of
battles decide the conditions to which we must submit."

If the war continues it is no longer the war of our administration.
It will be in its character as well as in its operations a defensive war.
The views of the British Cabinet are undoubtedly altered by the
great changes which have taken place on this Continent. While the
power of Bonaparte existed Great Britain had employment for all
her resources on this side of the Atlantic.

The war with America was embarrassing and caused a serious
diversion of her forces. She then wanted peace and would have
made it upon terms not wholly satisfactory to Herself. At present
there is no Power in this Hemisphere from which she has anything to
dread. She has been vexed for many years by the disputes we have
had with Her with respect to her maritime rights. She is jealous of
the encreasing resources of our countr}^, of the aptitude of our people
for commerce and navigation and their prowess in naval enterprize.

^ Hist. Soc. of Pa., Dreer Collection, American Lawyers, vol. I. This letter is en-
dorsed, "reed. Oct. 12th 1814". Printed in the American Historical Review, XX, 115-
116 (1914). On the same day Bayard wrote to Archibald Lee (son of Thomas Sims Lee
of Maryland), who quotes from the letter in one of his written Dec. 20, " He predicts a
long war and assures me ' it will neither be the fault of the Administration nor the Com-
missioner's should the negotiation fail. ... In Russia we had generally to wait two
months for an answer to a note — here we were all here more than a month before the B.
Coramrs. made their appearance,' and this was nearly four months after Ghent was ap-
pointed or fixed, by the B. Govt. . . . Mr. Bayard closes his letter by observing that
' after being amused as long as their purposes may require, we shall be civilly dis-
missed ' — no doubt this will be the issue." Steiner, " Life and Correspondence of Mc-
Henry ", 612-613.


She sees at the present moment a state of things which may never
occur again in which she is left without an apprehension of the inter-
ference of Any European Power to exert her whole strength against
us. The eifort will be made to crush Us altogether and if that be im-
practicable to inflict such wounds as will put a stop to our growth or
at least retard it.

August Wth. — While writing to you yesterday I was interrupted by
a message from the British Commissioners who desired to have an
interview with Us.

Our conferences had been suspended for several days in conse-
quence of their having requested time to send a Courier to London
before they proceeded further. The Courier had returned in the
morning, and brought the Ultimatum.^

At this meeting the veil Avith which they had attempted before to
cover their designs was thrown aside. Their terms were those of a
Conqueror to a conquered People. The former points of dispute
have not been the Subjects of a moments consideration. Maritime
pretensions have been thrown far in the back ground and concessions
of the most ruinous and disgraceful description have been required.

I trust in God that when the character of the war is so totally
changed and when we are not simply contending for the honor .of
the nation but driven to fight for its existence — the Federalists will
prove themselves, what I have always believed them to be the true
and faithful friends of their Country. As to the origin of the war
we are all agreed. But when peace is refused upon just and mod-
erate terms and the most extrava[ga]nt pretensions are advanced,
what is left for Us but to fight manfully or submit to disgrace and

The negociation is not absolutely ended, but little more remains
than the form of closing it.

I thought I owed to you this communication from the confidence
which has always subsisted between Us on political subjects.

The Commissioners to Monroe.

Ghent, Aug. 19, I814.
[See "Am. St. P., For. Eel.", Ill, 708-709.]

Erick Bollman 2 TO Bayard^

Falmouth, August 'Hit-, ISllf..^
Sir: I left Philadelphia on the 16th of July, and the Capes of the
Deleware on the 22d, on Board of the Portugese Brig Isabella, Capt.
Cordoza, bound for Dover, Calais, and Copenhagen. The Desire to

1 See the note of the British commissioners, Aug. 19. "Am. St. P., For. Rel.", Ill, 710.

2 See p. 172, note 1.

" Received by Bayard Aug. 31.


land some Passengers, going to Spain, induced the Captain to make
this Port, and finally to come in. I avail myself of this Opportunity
of forwarding to You the inclosed Letter from your Daughter, whom
I. left well at Mrs. Mortimer's. I had also the Pleasure of seeing
Mrs. Bayard, at Wilmington, on the 16th of July. She was then in
perfect Health. I think she mentioned that she had lately written to
You by an Opportunity from New York.

Excuse me for expressing a wish that Yourself, and Your Col-
leagues, may soon [have] been able to effect a Pacification between
the United States, and this Country, and to state a Fact, perhaps not
known to Our Administration, or to which they may not attach a
sufficient Importance. From the unwarrantable Incorporation of
forty new Banks by the State of Pennsylvania alone, and from the
steady, though imperceptible Drain of Specie, occasioned by the Sit-
uation of the Country, the metallic means of the Banks at Baltimore,
Philadelphia, New York etc. have become so low, that they do not
amount to One Fifth of what they were even 15 months ago. I know
this Fact from the most unquestionable authorities, whom I could
name. It is agreed that none of the Banks could sustain half, an
Hour's Eun, and that any Occurrence, which should cause Alarm,
would oblige all the Banks to suspend their Payments.^ Indeed
the Event had been nearly brought about, a few Days before my
Departure, by the mere Eeport that 3000 British Troops had landed
near the Head of Elk, which however proved false. The Banks at
New Orleans have actually stopped Payment. In a Country like
Louisiana, peopled by Gentlemen-Planters, Merchants, and Slaves,
this Occurrence has not been productive of any immediate, dis-
astrous Consequences; but you will readily imagine what must be
the Result of it, with a Population such as that of the middle, and
northern States, and with such a multiplicity of Banks, none of
which has any Control, or ascendency, over the Rest. The Confi-
dence in Banlqoaper would inevitably be destroyed, Distress, and
Confusion, would become general, and the financial Means of the
Government, already very circumscribed, would be reduced to a
State of absolute Inefficiency. Nothing but the Success of Your
Negotiations can save us from this, and thousand other Calamities,
to which it would lead.

I shall immediately proceed to Paris, and remain there for some
Time, not intending to return to the United States till next Spring.
If at Paris I can render You any Services, have the Goodness to
command me freely. My address will be — to the Care of Messrs-
Mallet Freres and Co., Bankers, Paris.

1 The panic caused by the capture of Washington on the day this letter was written
caused the banks of Philadelphia and Baltimore to suspend specie payment. Those of
New York took the same step Sept. 1. Adams, " History ", VIII, 213-214.

320 american historical association.

The American to the British Commissioners.^

[Aug. ^i, 1814.]
The undersigned Ministers Plenepotentiary and Extraordinary of
the U. S. of America have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of
the note of the Plenepotentiaries of his Britannic Majesty addressed
to them on the 19th instant, which states the basis upon which alone
G. B. sees any prospect of advantage in the continuance of the
negociations at the present time.

This basis appears to the undersigned to comprehend —

1. Peace between the U. S. and the Indian allies of G. B. and the
establishment of a permanent Boundary to the Indian territory.

2. A cession of the military sovereignty of the lakes to G. B. and
an engagement of the U. S. not to maintain or construct fortifica-
tions upon or within a limited distance of the shores of the lakes or
to construct any armed vessel upon the lakes or in the rivers which
empty themselves into them.

These points being adjusted, it is stated that there will then re-
main for discussion the arrangement of the N. W. Boundary be-
tween lake Superior and the Mississippi, the free navigation of that
river and such a variation of a line of frontier between the U. S. and
the British Provinces as will secure a direct communication between
Quebec and Halifax.

The Plenepotentiaries of his Brit. Majesty have expressed the
surprise of their Govt, that they having 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 G. B. that the Plenepotentiaries of the U. S. should
not have been furnished with instructions upon the points which his
Brit. Majesty's Govt, have proposed as the basis of negociation.

The undersigned have not been able from the face of the note ad-
dressed to them to discover nor from the conferences which they
have had the honor to hold with the Brit. Plens. to collect the ground
upon v.'hich his Brit. Majesty's Govt, have thought themselves justi-
fied- in the expression of surprize that the Plens. of the U. S. are not
furnished with instructions upon points never heretofore in dispute
between the two Govts, and brought into view for the first time since
the opening of the present negociation.

(It is well known that the collisions between G. B. and the U. S.
which unhappily generated the controversies which so long subsisted

1 From the papers of Mr. Thomas P. Bayard. This is evidently written as an
answer to the note of the British commissioners of Aug. 19. The draft which was actu-
ally sent will be found in "Am. St. P., For. Rel.", Ill, 711-713. For an account of the
way in which this despatch received its final form see Adams, " Memoirs ", III, 21-23,
For the British note to Castlereajrh following the receipt of this communication see Mass.
Hist. Soc. " Proc", 1914, 146-147.


between them and ultimately led to the present war, were wholly of
a maritime nature. The British orders in Council in relation to
blockades and the claim and practice of impressing mariners from
on board Am. merchant ships were the chief grounds of contention
and difference between the two Govts. The Govt, of the U. S.
could as little have foreseen the novel pretensions now advanced, as
the Brit. Secy, of State Lord Castlereagh at the time when he framed
his note of the 4 Nov. 1813 addressed to the Am. Secy, of State in-
viting the present negociation. In that note his Lordship declares
"In making this communication I can assure you that the British
Govt, is willing to enter into discussion with the Govt, of America
for the conciliatory adjustment of the diiferences 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 incon-
sistent loith the established maxims of public law and with the mari-
time rights of the British empire." ^

No difference between the two States had ever subsisted in rela-
tion to the Boundary of the Indian terry, and it was not easy to
suppose that the established maxims of public law or the maritime
rights of the British Empire required the permanently fixing such a

In 1813 and at the time when the instiiictions of the undersigned
were prepared the Govt, of the U. S. and the Brit. Secy, of State had
evidently the same opinion as to the subjects of discussion designed
to be brought into the negociation then proposed.

If before that time the Am. Govt, had seen the propriety of en-
deavouring' in their instructions to their Minister to anticipate all
possible points which the Brit. Govt, might propose as matters of ne-
gociation surely after the Brit. Secy, of State had officially indicated
the subjects of negociation it was sufficient for the Am. Govt, to
furnish instructions extensive enough to embrace all those subjects.)

Of such extent are the instructions jf the American Ministers and
they are now prepared to discuss and to adjust upon principles of
perfect reciprocity in no ways inconsistent with the established
maxims of public law or with the maritime rights of the British Em-
pire the differences which have heretofore subsisted between the two

Altho the undersigned are not insti*ueted on the unexpected propo-
sitions relating to Indian pacification and Boundary and can there-
fore enter into no arrangement on the subject of them yet they cannot
abstain from some remarks on the nature of the novel pretensions so
suddenly and unexpectedly brought forward and declared in the
threshhold of the negociation to constitute a sine qua non.

»"Am. St. p., For. Eel.", Ill, 621.
62513°— VOL 2—15 21


The proposition supposes that the Indians residing within the ac-
knowledged limits of the U. S. are an independent and sovereign
People and that the U. S. are to regard them as such in treating of
them as the allies of G. B. In this light Indians inhabiting within
the dominions of G. B. on the Am. continent are not viewed by the
British Govt, nor have those within the dominions of any European
Power ever been so regarded. The admission of the principle would
confer upon the Indians the indubitable right of ceding the Country
to a foreign power. Pacification with the Indians in itself presents no
difficulty in the negociation. The U. S. and the Indians had long
been at peace before the war broke out with G. B, and the end of all
the policy of the U. S. has been to cultivate and preserve peace with
them. The Indians are not at war with the U. S. on their own but
on acct. of G. B. They have no cause of war agt. the U. S. nor the
U. S. agt. them. Peace with G. B. terminates hostilities with the

The undersigned are not misled by the language or the form of
the combined propositions of Indian pacification and Boundary. The
principle of the pacification admits the sovereignty of the Indians,
and the Boundary embodies their territory severing it from the
dominion of the U. S. and establishing an independent Country. It
may perhaps not be known to the Plens. of his Brit. Maj. that the
Country thus proposed in effect to be ceded to the Indians contains
a population consisting of a greater number of American citizens
than of Indians. The Indians do not require the proposed boundary
as a security for their persons or their lands. The United States de-
rive no claim to their lands but thro their free consent nor have they
ever had reason to complain of personal molestation within the limits
of their possessions. The chief effect of the proposed Boundary
would be to arrest the course of civilization and the extension of

The undersigned must be allowed to observe that the Indians arq
no Parties to the present negociation. They must remain at liberty
to accept or reject any stipulation G. B. may make in their behalf.

G. B. is now requiring for them what it is not known that they
ever asked for themselves. They have heretofore lived in safety and
been satisfied'under the protection of the U. States and it is therefore
the more singular that G. B. should not only have insisted upon an
independence in their behalf which they have not desired, but should
make that independence a sine qua non to a peace with the U. S.

The British Govt, desiring that the U. S. and their Provinces
should no longer be conterminous propose therefore establishing
an Indian Country and thereby to separate by a barrier their re-

1 This sentence is written on the margin of the manuscript.


spective frontiers. The design of this Barrier is to prevent collisions
between the U. S. and the Provinces. The undersigned are not in-
formed of any collisions which have arisen from the circumstance
of the Am. and Brit, dominions being conterminous. The most
friendly intercourse has prevailed between the Inhabitants on the
Frontiers grounded on a common interest and cemented by the strong
ties of family connexions. There were no causes of complaint be-
tween the Provinces and the States. They became exposed to the
war in consequence of the war with G. B. The U States however
might have no repugnance to the separation of frontiers proposed if
the object were not to be accomplished entirely at their own expense.
They are called upon to cede a Country more extensive than the
Island of G. B. among other purposes to afford a barrier to the Eng-
lish Provinces, without any equivalent being offered. And this
too in a negociation to which they have been invited with the assur-
ance that it should be conducted on principles of perfect reciprocity.

Had G. B. proposed an equal sacrifice upon her part to constitute
this Barrier the undersigned might have been persuaded of her con-
viction that the barrier was necessary to the peace of the two Coun-
tries which they are well assured the U. States would at any time
make great sacrifices to secure.

The undersigned freely say and they feel themselves bound ex-
plicitly to declare to the Brit. Plens. that on the subject of dismem-
bering the U. States, the}^ have not only no instructions but that the
Govt, of the U. States itself is not competent to give such instruc-
tions. That to take it upon themselves to stipulate a provisional ar-
rangement to that effect would be to assent to an article whicli they
know their Governmt. neither would nor could approve.

The undersigned will not conceal the impatience they felt when
'they heard it prescribed as a condition of peace that the U. States
should surrender the sovereignty of the Lakes and leave the shores
and their Northern frontier unarmed and defenceless, while G. B.
fortifies her frontier and maintains a military force on the lakes.
Is this perfect reciprocity? It is proposed to us to cede rights of the
greatest importance without an equivalent, and which in fact no
equivalent G. B. could offer would compensate.

The naked frontiers of the U. S. are to be exposed to any sudden
irruption from the Provinces, whilst they are securely protected
from any impression from the U. S.

Certainly the U. S. are more powerful than the Provinces alone
but G. B.. will hardly admit that they are more powerful than the
Provinces aided by the British P^mpire.

The undersigned can have no hesitation in making it known to
the Brit. Plens. that not only they can never agree to an article in a


treaty such as the one prescribed in relation to the lakes, but they
deem it totally useless to refer such a proposition to their Govt.

The U. S. are anxious and the undersigned are prepared to make
peace upon Pples. of reciprocity such as were held out to them when
invited to this negociation.

They have no disposition to trench upon the established maxims
of public law nor upon the Maritime rights of Great Britain.^

It is impossible for the undersigned to regard the proposition
relative to the Indians in any other light than as intended virtually
to extinguish the right of the U. S. as well to the sovereignty as to
the domain in the territory comprehended within the Indian Boun-
dary. It is asserted by the British Plenipotentiaries that the Indians
residing on lands within limits acknowledged by G. Britain herself
to be the Northern Boundaries of the U. States compose Independent
nations, enjoying the rights of Sovereignty, and the IT. States are
supposed by the Treaty of Greenville to have admitted this inde-
pendence and by the establishmt. of an Indian Boundary to have
acknowledged the right of the Indians both to Sovereignty and soil
within the Boundary. The undersigned must necessarily oppose
any pretensions founded upon such inferences. They do not consider
the Indian tribes inhabiting within the limits of the U. States as
independent nations. They were not so considered by G. B. herself
when the U. States existed as her Colonies. The English Govt, from
the first settlement of N. America always obtained and exercised not

Online LibraryAmerican Historical AssociationAnnual report of the American Historical Association (Volume 1913, v.2) → online text (page 36 of 64)