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John] 1793-1863 [Russell.

The history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. online

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HlSTOllV OF THE WAR. 187

you to any precise form in which it shouhi be done.
It is not particularly necessary that the several points
should be specially provided for in the convention
stipulating the armistice. A clear and distinct un-
derstanding with Ihe British government on the sub-
ject of impressment, comprising in it the discharge
of men already impressed, and on future blockades,
if the Orders in Council are revoked, is all that is in-
dispensible. The Orders in Council being revoked,
and the proposed understanding on the other points,
Ihat is, on blockades and impressment, being first ob-
tiined, in a manner, though informal, to admit of no
mistake or disagreement hereafter, the instrument
providing for the armistice may assnme a general
form especially if more agreeable to lUe Britisli gov-
ernment. It may for example be said in general
terms * that both powers being sincerely desirous to
terminate the differeiices winch unhappily subsist be-
tween them, and equally so, th it full time should be
given for the adjustment thereof, agree, Isl, that an
armistice shall take place for that purpose to com-
mence on the day of

* 2. That they will forthwith appoint on each side
commissioners with full power to form a treaty, which
shall provide, by reciprocal arrangements, for the se-
curity of their seamen from being taken or employed
in the service of the other power, for the regulation
of their commerce, and all other interesting questions
now depending between them.

* 3. The armistice shall not cease without a previ-
ous notice by one to the other party of days,
and shall not be understood as having other effect than,
merely to suspend military operations by land and sea.'

Bv this you will perceive that the President is de-
sirous of removing every obstacle to an accommoda-
tion which consists merely of form, securing in a safe
and satisfactory manner, the rights and interests of
the United States in these two great and essential cir-
cumstances, as it is presumed may be accomplished
by the proposed understanding ; he is willing that it
should be done in a manner the most satisfactory and



38^ HISTORY OF THE WAR.

honorable to Great-Brilain, as well as to the United
S/ates. I have tlie lionor to be. &c.

JAMES MONROE.

Mr. Graham to Mr. Russell.
Department of State, Ani^. 9, 1812;

SIR — The Secretary left this city about ten tiayi?
as^o, on a short visit to Virginia. Since that period
M'"- Baker has, in constqnence of some tlespatches
from his government addressed to Mr. Foster, made
to me a commnnication respecting the intentions of
his government as regards the Orders in Council,
Xt was of a charactc>r, however, so entirely n)forn)al
and contidential that Mr. Biker did not feel l)imseif
at liberty to make it in the form of a note verbal or
pro memoria, or even to permit me to take a memo-f
random of it at the time he made it. As il authorises
an expectation that something nioie precise and de-
finite, in an official form, may soon be received by this
government, it is the less necessary that I should go
into an explanation of the views of the President in
relation to it, more particularly as the Secretary of
State is daily expected, and will be able to do it in a
manner more satisfactory. I have the honor, &c.

JOHN GRAHAM.
3Ir. Graham to Air. Hussell
Department of State, Aug. 10, 1812.

SIR— Thinking tiiat it may possibly be useful to
you, 1 do m\ self the honor to enclose you a memo-
randum of the conversation between Mr. Baker and
myself, alluded to in my letter of yesterday's datei
From a conversation with Mr. Baker since this me-
nu -rand um was made, I find that 1 was correct in
representing to the President that the intimation from
Mt"- Foster, and the British authorities at Halifax was
to be understood as connected with a suspension of
hostilities on the frontiers of Canada. Yours, Sec.

JOHN GRAHAM
Memorandum re/erred to in the above letter.

Mr. Baker verbally communicated to me for the
information of the President, that he had received



HISTORY OP THE WAK. 189

despatches from his government addressed to Mr.
Foster, (dated I believe about the 17lh of June) from
which he was authorised to say, that an official de-
claration would be sent to this country, that the Or-
ders in Council, so far as they affected the (T. States,
Would be repealed on the 1st of August, to be revived
on the 1st of May, 181;), uidcss the coaduct of the
French government, and the result of the communi-
cations with the American jrovernment, should be
such as, in the opinion of iiis Majesty, to render their
revival uuijecessary. Mr. Baker moreover stated
that the Orders would be revived, provided the Amer-
ican government did not, within fourteen days after
they received the official declaration of their repeal,
admit British armed vessels into their ports, and put
an end to the restrictive measures which had grown
out of the Orders in Council.

The despatches authorising this communication to
the American government expressly directed that it
should be made verbally, and Mr. Baker did not con-
aider himself at liberty to reduce it to writing, even
in the form of a note ver!)al, or pro memoria, or to
f?ufferme to take a memorandum of his communica-
tio!i at the time he made it. I understood from him
that the despatches had been opened by Mi'. Foster
at Halifax, who in coisequence of a conveisaliorj he
had had with Vice Admiral Sawyer, and Sir J. Sher-
broke, had authorised Mr. Raker to say, that these
gentlemen would agree, as a measure leading to a
suspension of hostilities, that all captui-es made after a
day to be tixed, should not be proceeded against im-
mediately, but be detained to await the future decision
of the two governments. Mr. Foster had not seen
Sir George Prevost, but had written to him by ex-
press, and did not doubt but that he would agree to
an arrrangenisnt for the temporary suspension of hos-
tilities. Mr. B iker also stated that he had received
an authority from Mr. Foster to act as charge d 'af-
fairs, provided the American government would re-
■^eive him in that character, for the purpose of ena-



190 HISTORY OF THE WAR,

bling bini officially to communicate the declaralioti
which was to be expected from the British govern-
ment ; his functions to be understood, of course, as
ceasing on the renewal of hostilities. I replied, That
although, to so general and informal a communica-
tion, no answer might be necessary, and certawdy no
particular answer expected, yet, I was authorised to
say, that the communication is received with sincere
satisfaction, as it is hoped that the spirit in
which it was authorised by his government, may lead
to such further communications as will open the way
not only to an early and satisfactory termination of
existing hostilities, but to that entire adjustment of all
the differences which produced them, and that per-
manent peace and solid friendship which ought to be
mutually desired by both countries, and which is sii)-
cevely desired by this. With this desire, an authority
was given to Mr. Russell on the subject of an armis-
tice as introductory to a final pacification, as has been
made known to Mr. Foster, and the same desire will
be felt on the receipt of the further and more particu-
lar communications which are shortly to be expected
with respect to the joint intimation from Mr, Foster
and the British authorities at Halifax, on the subject
of suspending judicial proceedings in the case of mar-
atime captures, to be accompanied by a suspension of
military operations. The authority given to Mr. Rus-
sell just alluded to, and of which Mr. Foster was the
bearer, is full proof of the solicitude of the govern-
ment of the United States to bring about a general
suspension of hostilities on admissible terms, with as
little delay as possible. It was not to be doubted
therefore, that any other practical expedient for at-
taining a similar result would be readily concurred in.
.Upon the most favorable consideration, however,
which could be given to the expedient suggested
through him, it did not appear to be reducible to any
practicable shape to which the executive would be
authorised to give it the necessary sanction, nor in-
deed is it probable that if it was less liable to insuper-



HISTORY OP THE WAR. IDl

able difficulties, that it could have any material
effect previous to ihe result of the pacific advance
made by this government, and which must if favora-
bly received, become operative as soon as any other
arrangment that could now be made. It was stated
to Mr. Baker, that the President did not, under ex-
istincT circumstances, consider Mr. Foster as vested
with the power of appointii»g a charge d'affairs: but
that no difficulty in point of form would be made, as
any authentic communication through him, or any
other channel, would be received with attention and
respect.

Secretary oj State to Mr. llnsscU.
Department of State, Aug, 21,1812.

[Extract.] My last letter to you was of the 27th of
July, and was forwarded by the British packet, the
Aithea, under the special protection of Mr. Baker.
The object of that letter, and of the next preceding
one of the 26th of June, was, to invest you with pow-
er to suspend by an armistice, on such fair conditions
as it was presumed could not be rejected, the opera-
tion of the war, which had been brought on the Unit-
ed States by the injustice and violence of the British
government. At the moment of the declaration of
war, the President, regretting the necessity which
produced it, looked to its termination and provided
for it, and happy will it be for both countries, if the
disposition felt, and the advances made on his part,
are entertained and met by the British government
in a similar spirit.

You have been informed by Mr. Graham of what
passed in my late absence from the city, in an inter-
view between Mr. Baker and him, in consequence of
a despatch from the British government to Mr. Foster,
received at Halifax, just before he sailed for Eng-
land, and transmitted by him to Mr. Baker, relating
to a proposed suspension or repeal of the British Or-
ders in Council. You will have seen by the nutr
forwarded to you by Mr, Graham, of Mr. Baker'f.



192 JWSTORY OF TH^ WAR.

cohimunication tohim, that Mr. Foster haS aiitlioi*.
ised hiffi to state that the commanders of the B;*itish
forces at Hahfax wouhi a|^ree to a suspension, after
a day to be fixed, of" the condemnation of prizes, to
await the decision of both govertiments, withont hovvv
ever preventins: captures on either side. It appears
also, that Mr. Foster had promised to communicate
with Sir George Prevost, and to advise him to pro*
pose to our g-overnment an armistice.

Sir George Prevost has since proposed to Gejieral
Dearborn, at the suggestion of Mr. Foster, a buspen*
sion of offensive opperations by land, in a letter whiclj
■was transmitted by the General to the Secretary at
War. A provisional agreement was entered into be-
tween Gen. Dearborn and Colonel liaynes, the British
adjutant general, bearer of Gen. Prevost's letter, that
neither party should act offensively, before the decr'r
sion of our government shouhl be taken on the subject.

Since my return to Washington, the document al-
luded to in Mr Foster's despatch, as finally decide^
on by the British government, has been handed to m^
by Mr. Baker, with a remark, that its authenticity
might be relied on. Mr. Baker added that it was no|;
improbable, that the Admiral at Halifax might agree
likewise to a suspension of captures, though he did not
profess or appear to be acquainted with hissentimeuls
on that pomt.

On full consideration of all the circumstances which
merit attention, the President regrets that it is not in
his power to accede to the proposed arrangement,
The following are among the principal reasons which
have produced this decision.

1st. the President has no power to suspend judicial
proceedings on prizes. A capture, it lawful, vests
a right, over which he has no control. Nor could he
prevent captnres otherwise than by an indiscriminate
recal of the commissions granted to our privateers,
which he could not justify under existing circumstajv
ees.



HISTORY OF THE M'AH. 1^

2d. The proposition is not made by the British gov*
eraient, nor is there any certainty that it would be ap-
proved by it. The propor^ed arrangement, if acceed-
ed to, might not be observed by the Britisli officers
themselves, if their government, in consequence of the
xvai'»shouhi give them instructions of a different char-
acter, even if ihey were given without a knowledge of
the arrangement.

;>d. No security is given, or proposed, as to ihelndians,
nor could any be relied on. They have engaged in the
war on the side of the Britisli government, and are now
prosecuting it with vigor, in their usual savage mode.
They can only be restrained by force, when once let
loose, and that force has already been ordered out for
Jlhat purpose.

4th Tiie proj>osition is not reciprocal, because it re»
strains the United States from acting wHiere their povv*
«r is greatest, and leaves Great-Britain at liberty, and
gives her time to augment her forces in our neighbour*
hood.

5th. That as a principle object of the war is to obtain
redress against the British practice of impressment, an
agreement to suspend hostilities even before the lir'u
ish government is heard from on that subject, might
be considered a relinquishment ol that claim.
^ 6th. It is the more objectionable, and of the less im->
portance, in consideration of the instructions heretotbre
given you, which, if met by the British government,
may have already produced the same result in a
greater extent and more satisfactory form.

I might add, that the declaration itself is objection^
able in many respects, particularly the following: — •

1st. Because it asserts a right in the British govern-
ment to restore the Orders in Council, or any part
thereof, to their full effect on a principle of retaliation
On France, under circumstances of which she alone
is to judge J a right which this government cannot
admit, especially in the extent heretofore claimed^
and acted on by the British government
25



iW4: HISTORY OF THE WAR.

- 2d. That the repeal is founded exchisively on the
French Decree of the 28th of April, 1811, by whicb
the repeal of the Decrees of Berlin and Milan, an-
nounced on the 5th of August, 1810, to take effect
on the 1st of November, of that year, at which time
their operation actually ceased, is disreg^arded, as are
the clauiis of the United Stales arisinnf Irom the re-
peal on that day, evenaccordinii* to the British pledge,

3d. That even if the United States had no right to
claim the repeal of the British Orders in Oouncil
prior to the French Decree of the 28th of April, 1811,
nor before the not fication of that Decree to the Brit-
ish government, on the 20th of May, of the present
"Vcar, the British repeal ought to have borne date,
from that day, and been subject to none of the limit-
ations attached to it.

Ttiese remarks on the declaration of the Prince
Regent, which are not pursued with rigor, nor in the
full extent which they might be, are applicable to it,
in relation to the stale of things which existed before
the determination of the United States to resist the
aggressions of the British government by war. By
that determination, the relations between the two
countries have been altogether changed, and it is only
by a termination of the war, or by measures leading
to it, by consent of both governnients, that its calam-
ities can be closed or mitigated. It is not now u ques-
tion whether the declaration of the Prince Regent is
.such as ought to have produced a repeal of the non-
importation act, had war not been declared, because,
by the declaration of war, that question is superceded,
and the non-importation act having been continued
in force by Congress, and become a measure of war,
and among the most efficient, it is no longer subject
to the control of the Executive in the sense, and for
the purpose for which it was adopted. The declara-
tion, however, of the Prince Regent, will not be with-
out effect. By repealing the Order's in Council
without reviving the blockade of May, 1806, of
any other illegal blockade, as is understood to be the



HISTORY OP THE WAR. 196

c?ise, it removes a great obstacle to an accommoda-
tion. The President considers it an indication of a
disposition in the British jrovernnient to accommodate
the differences which subsist between the two coun-
tries, and 1 am inslructed to assure you, lh:it, if such
a disposition really exists, and is persevered in, and is
extended to other objects, especially the important
one of impressment, a durable ami happy peace and
reconciliation cannot fail to result from it.

Mr. Russell to Mr. Monroe.

LoNDOX, Sei)t. 1, 1812.

SIR — You will perceive by the en(!losed copies of
notes which have passed between lord C istlreagh an(J
me, that the moderate and equitable terms proposed
for a sus[)ension of hostilities, have been rejected, and
that it is my intention to return immediately to the
United Slates.

My continuance here, after it has been so broadly
intimated to me by his lordship, that I am no long-er
ackiiowledg-ed in my diplomatic capacity, anrl after
a knowledge that instructions are jjiven to the British
Admiral to neofociate an arrangement on the other
side of the Atlantic, would, in my view of the subject,
not only be useless but improper.

It is probable, however, that the vessel in which I
propose to embark will not take her departure before
the loth or 20th of this month.

I have the honor to be, with great consideration,
sir, your most obedient servant,

JONATHAN RCJSSELL.

The hon. James Monroe^ ^c.

3Ir. Russell to lord Castlereaqh.

London, Aug. 24, 1812.
My lord — It is only necessary, I trust, to call the
attention of your lordship to a review of the conduct
of the government of the United States, to prove in-
controvertibly its unceasing anxiety to maintain the
relations of peace and friendship with Great-Britain.
Its patience in suffering the many uTongs which it



196 HIST >RY OF THE WAR.

hfts received, and its perseverance in endeavoring by
amicable means to obtain redress, are known to the
world. Despairing at length of receiving this redress
from the justice of the British government, to which
ithad so often applied in vain, and feeling tliat a
further forbearance would be a virtual surrender of
rights and interests essential to the prosperity and m*
dependence of the nation contided to its protection,
it has been compelled to discharge its high duty by
an appeal to arms. While, however, it regards this
course as the only one which remained fv.r it to pur-
sue with a hope of preserving any portion of that kind
of character which constitutes the vital strength of
every nation, yet it is still willing to give another
proof of the spirit which has uniformly distinguished
its proceedings, by seeking to arrest, on terms con-
sistent with justice and honor, the calamities of war.
It has, therefore, authorised nie to stipulate with his
Britannic Majesty's government an armistice to com-
mence at or before the expiration of sixty d lys after
the signature of the instrument providing for it, on
condition that the Orders in Council be repealed, and
no illegal blockades to be substituted to them, and that
orders be immediately given to discontinue the im-
pressment of persons from American vessels, and to
restore the citizens of the United Stales already im-
pressed ; it being moreover well understood that the
British government will assent to enter into detinite
^arrangements, as soon as may he, on these and
every other difference, by a treaty to be concluded
either at l^ondon or Washington, as on an impartial
consideration of existing circumstances shall be deem-
ed most expedient.

As an inducement to Great-Britain to discontinue
the practice of impressment from American vessels,
1 am authorised to give assurance that a law shall be
passed (to be reciprocal) to prohibit the employment
of British seamen in the public or couimercial service
of the United States.



HISTORV OP THE WAK. 197

It is sincerely believed that such an arrans^ement
wotiUl jDi-ove more efficacious in securing to Great-
Bntaiii her seamen, than the practice of imj)ressmeat,
so derog-alory to the sovereign attributes of the United
Stales, and so incompatible with the personal rights of
their citizens.

Your lordship will not be surprised that I have pre*
sented the revocation of the Orders in Councd as a
prelininary lo the suspension of hostilities, when it is
considered that the act of the Biitish govtrnment of
the 23<1 of June last, ordaining that revocation, is
predicated on conditions, the performance of which
is rendered impracticable by the change which is
since known to have occurred ui the relations betweea
tiie Iwij cou itries. h c uuot now be expected that
the government of the United States will immt-diate-
ly on due notice of that act, revoke or cause to be re*
voked its acts, excluding from the waters and harbors
of the United States ail British armed vessels, and in-p
terdicling commercial intercourse with Great-Bri*
tain. Such a procedure would necessarily involve
consequences too u ireasonable and extravagant to
be for a moment presumed.— The Order in Council
of the 2od of June last will therefore according lo its
own terms be null and of no effect, and a new act of
the British government, adapted to existing circum-
stances, is obviously required for the effectual repeal
of the Orders in Council of which the United States
complain.

Tiie government of the United States considers
indemnity for injuries received under the Orders in
Council and other Edicts, violating the rights of the
American nation, lo be incident to their repeal, and
it believes that satisfactory provision will be made in
the definite treaty, to be hereafter negociated, for
this purpose.

The conditions now offered to the British govern-
ment for the termination of the war by an armistice
as above slated, are so moderate and just in them*
selves, and so eaiurel|^ consistent with its mterest and



198 HISTORY OP THE WAR.

honor, that a confident hope is indulged that it will
not hesitate to accept them. In so doing- it will aban-
don no right ; it will sacrifice no interests ; it will ab-
stain only from violating the rights of the United
States, and in return it will restore peace with the
power from whom in a friendly commercial inter-
course so many advantages are to be derived.

Your lordship is undoubtedly aware of the serious
difficulties with which the prosecution of the war, even
for a short period, must necessarily embarrass all fu-
ture attempts at accommodation. — Passions exas-
perated by injuries — alliances or conquests on terms
which forbid their abandonment-— will inevitably
hereafter embitter and protract a contest which might
HOW be so easily and happily terminated.

Deeply impressed with these truths, I cajinot but
persuade myself that his Royal Highness, the Prince
Regent will take into his early consideration, the pro-
positions herein made on behalf of the United States,
and decide on them in a spirit of conciliation and
justice.

I have the honor to be, with high consideration, my
lord, your lordship's most obedient servant,

JONATHAN RU8SELL.
The Right hon. lord Viscount Castle leaghy &c.

Lord Castlereayh to Mr. Russell.

Foreign Office, Aug. '29, 1812.

SIR — Although the diplomatic relations between
the two governments have been terminated, by a de-
claration of war on the part of the United States, I
have not hesitated, under the peculiar circumstances
of the case, and the authority under which you act,
to submit to the Prince Regent the proposition con-
tained in your letter of the 24th inst. for a suspension
of hostlities.

From the period at which your instructions must
have been issued, it is obvious, that this overture was
determined upon by the government of the United
States, in ignorance of the Order in Council of the 23d ,

i



HISTORY OF THE WAH. 199

June last, and as you inform me that you are not at
liberty to depart from the conditions set forth in your
letter, it only remains for me to acquaint you that the
J'rince Regent feels himself under the necessity of
declining to accede to the proposition therein contain-
ed, as being- on various grounds absolutely inadmis-



Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 15 of 38)