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

. (page 29 of 38)
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 29 of 38)
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own arrangements and provide for themselves.

The British commissioners here said that, consid-
ering the importance of the question we had to de-
cide, (that of agreeing to a provisional article) theii-
government had thought it right, that we should also
be fully informed of lis views, with r^'spect lo the pro-
posed revision of the bou idary line, between the do-
minions ot G Britain and the U. States.

1st. Experience had proved that the joint posses-
sion of the lakes, and a right common to both nations,
to keep up a naval force on thein, necessarily pro-
duced collisions, and rendered peace insecure. As
G. Britain could nut be supposed to expect to make
CO iqnest in that quarter, and as that province was es-
se. itially weaker than the LT. States, and exposed to
invasion, it was necessary, for its security, that G.
Britain should require that the U. States should here-
after keep no armed naval force on the Western Lakes,
from Lake Ontario to LaJce Superior, both inclusive;
that they should not erect any fortified or military
post or establishment on the shores of those lakes ;
and that Ihev should not maintain thoso which were


already existing^. This must, they said, be consider-
ed as a moderate demand, since G. Britain, it" she had
not disclaimed the intention oi any mcrease of terri-
tory, might with propriety Iiave asked a cession ot the
adjacent American shores. The commercial naviga-
tion and intercourse would be lett on the same foot-
ing as heretofore. It was expressly stated, (in an-
swer to a question we asked,) that G. Bniain was to
retain the right of having- an armed naval force on
those lakes, and of holding military posts and establish-
ments on their shores.

2 The boundary line west of Lnke Superior, and
thence totie Mississippi, to be revised and the treaty
right of G. Britain to the navigation of the Mississip-
pi, to be continued. When asked, whether they did
not mean the line from the lake of the Woods to the
Mississippi, the British commissioners repeated that
they meant the line from lake Superior, to that river.

3. A direct communication trom Halifax and the
province ol New-Brunswick to Quebec, to be secur-
ed to G. Britain. In answer to our question, in what
manner this was to be efiected, we were told that it
must be done by a cession to G. Britain of that por-
tion of the district of Manie (in the state of Massa-
chusetts) which inter\enes between New-Brunswick
and Quebec, and prevents that direct communica-

Reverting to the proposed provisional article, re-
specting the Indian paciticalion and boundary, the
British commissioners concluded by stating to us,
that if the conterences should be suspended by our re-
fusal to agree to such an article, without having ob-
taiiied further instructions from our government, G.
Britain would not consider herself bound to abide by
the terms which she now offered, but would beat lib-
erty to vary and regulate her demands according to
subsequent events, and in sucli manner as the state of
the war, at the time of renewing the negociation,
might warrant.

We asked whether the statement made, respect-
ing proposed revision of the boundary line between


the U. Stales and the dominions of G. Britain, eni°
braced all the objects she meant to bring- forward for
di.sciission, and what were, particularly, her views
with respect to Moose Island, and such other islands
in the bay of Passamaquaddy, as had been in our
possession till the present war, but had been lately
captured ? We were answered, that those Islands,
belonging' of right to G. Britain, (as much so, one of
the commissioners said, as Northamptonshire,) they
wouid certainly be kept by her, and were not even
supposed to be an object of discussion.

From the forcible manner in which the demand,
that the U. States should keep no naval armed force
on the lakes, nor any military post on their shores,
has been brought forward, we were induced to in-
quire whether this condition was also meant as a sine
qua non ? To this the British commissioners declined
giving a positive answer. They said that they had
been sufficiently explicit j that they had given us one
sine qua non, and when we had disposed of that, it
would be time enough to give us an answer as to

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 >yriting, 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 G. Britain
will receive from us an unanimous and decided neg-
ative. 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 snbject and
close the negociation. And we have felt it our duty
immediately to apprize you, by this hasty, but cor-
rect sketch of our last conference, that there is not at
present, any hope of peace.

We have the honor to be, &c.





Note of the British Commissioners. JReceived after
the above letter wasnritteri.

The undersigned, Pleiiipotentianes ot his Britannic
Majesty, do themselves the honor ot acquaintintj^ the
Plenipotentiaries of the U. Slates, that they have
coninunucated to their court the result of tlie confer-
ence which they had the honor of holding with them
upon the 9th inst. in which they stated, that tliey
■were unprovided with any specific instructions, as to
coinprehei»d ng the In lian nations in a treaty of
peace to be made with G. Britain, and as to defining*
a boundary to the Indian territory.

The undersigned are instructed to acquaint the
PKnipotentiaries of the U. States, that his\'s
government having al the outset of the negociation,
With a view to the speedy restoration of peace re-
duced as far as possible the number of points to be
discussed, and having professed themselves willing to
forego on some important topics any stipu>aliOii to
the advantage of G. Britain, cannot but feel some
surprize that the government of the U. States should
not have furnished their Plenipotentiaries with in-
structions ujjon those points which could hardly tail to
come under discussion.

Under the inability of the American Plenipotentia-
ries, to conclude any article upon the subject of In-
dian pacification and Indian boundary, which shall
bind the government of the U. States, his jVlajesty's
government conceive 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 these heads, in the event of
the American Plenipotentiaries considering them-
selves authorized to accede to the general principles,
upon which such an article ought to be founded.
With a view to enable the American Plenipotentia-
ries to decide, how far the conclusion of such an arti-
cle is within the limit of their general discretion, the
undersigned are directed to state, fully and distinctly,
the basis upon which alone G. Britain sees any proS'«

APl»ENDIX, 365

pect of advantage in the continuance of the negocia-
tions at the present time.

Tiie Uiiclersigiied have already had the honor of stat-
ing' to the American Pleni|iOtentiaries, that in con-
sider. ns^ the points above referred to, as a sine qua non
of any treaty of peace, the view of the British govern-
ment IS the permanent tranquility and security of the
Indian iiatio is, a id the prevention of those jealousies
a-id irritations, to which the frequent alteration of the
I.idian limits has heretofore given rise.

For this purpose it is indisj)cnsably necessary, thit
the Indian nations who have been during the war in
alliance with G. Britain should, at the tennniation of
the war, be included in the pacilication.

It IS equally necessary, that a definite boundary
should be assigned to the Indians, and that the con-
tracting parties should guarantee the integrity of
their territory, by a mutual stipulation, not to acquire
by purchase, or otherwise, any territory withm the
specified limits. T:ie British government are willing
to take, as the basis of an a- tide on this subject, those
shpulatious ofthe treaty ol" Greenville, subject to mo-
difications, which relate to a boundary line.

As the undersigned are desirous of stating every
poiiit in connection with the subject, which may rea-
sonably influence the decision of the American PiCni-
potentiaries in the exercise of their discretion, they
avail themselves of this opportunity to repeat what
they already stated, that G. Britain desires the revi-
sion of the frontier between her North American do-
minions and those of the CF. States, not vvitii any view
to an acquisition of territory, as such, but for the pur-
pose of securing her possessions, and preventing fu-
ture disputes.

The British government, consider the lakes from
lake Ontario to lake Superior, both inclusive, to be
the natural military frontier of the British possessions
in North America. As the weaker power on the
NortJi American continent, the least capable of acting
otfensiveiy, and the most exposed to sudden invasions,
G. Britain considers the military occupation of these


Lakes as necessary to the security of her dominions,
A boundary line equally dividing these waters, with
a right to each nation to arm, both upon the lakes
and upon their shores, is calculated to create a con-
test for naval ascendancy in peace as well as in war.
The power which occupies these lakes should, as a
necessary result, have the military occupation of both

In furtherance of this object the Britsh government
is prepared to propose a boundary. But as this
might be misconstructed as an intention to extend their
possessions to the southward of the lakes, which is by
no means the object they have in view, they are dis-
posed to leave the territorial limits undisturbed, and
as incident to them, the free commercial navigation
of the lakes, provided that the American government
will stipulate not to maintain or construct, any fortifi-
cations upon, or within a limited distance of the shores,
or maintainor construct any armed vessel upon the
lakes in question, or in the rivers which empty them-
selves mto the same.

If this can be adjusted, there will then remain for
discussion the arrangement ofthe north western boun-
dary between lake Superior and the Mississippi, the
free navigation of that river, and such a vacation of
the line of frontier as may secure a direct communi-
cation between Quebec and Halfax.

The undersigned trust, that the full statement which
they have made of the views and objects ofthe British
government i.^ requiring the pacification ofthe 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 govern-
ment ofthe U. States for further instructions, the un-
dersigned feel it incumbent upon them to acquaint
the American Plenipotentiaries, that the government
cannot be precluded by any thing that has passed
from varying the terms at present proposed, in such a
manner, as the state of war, at the time of resuming the
conferences, may in theirjudgment render advisable.


The undersig'ned avail themselves of this occasion
to renew to the Plenipotentiaries of the U. States, the
assurance of their high consideration.

Ghent i August 19, 1814.

The ministers plenipotentiary/ and extraordinary of
the U. Slates to the plenipotentiaries oj his Bri-
tannic Majesty,

Ghent, August 24, 1814.
The undei*signed ministers plenipotentiary and
extraordniary from the United States of America,
have given to the official note which they have had
the honor of receiving from his Britaiw)ic majesty's
plenipotentiaries the deliberate attention which the
importance of its contents required, and have now
tliat of transmitting to them their answer on the sev-
eral points to w hich it refers.

They would present to the consideration of the Bri-
tish plenipotentiaries, that lord Castlereagh, in his let-
ter of the 4lh of November 1813, to the American
secretary of state, pledges the faith of the British gov-
ernment that * they were willing to enter into discus-
sion with the government of America for the concili-
atory adjustment of the difterences 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 estab-
lished maxims of public law, and tiie maritime rights
of the British empire.' This fact alone might suffice
to shew, that it ought not to have been expected that
the American government, in acceding to this pro-
position, should have exceeded its terras, and furnish-
ed the undersigned with instructions authorising
them to treat with the British plenipotentiaries re-
specting Indians situated withni the boundaries of the
U. States. That such expectation was not enter-
tained by tiie British government might also have
beeu inferred from the explicit assurances v\hich the


British plenipotentiaries gave, on the part of their
government, at the first conference which the under-
signed had the honor of holding with them, that no
events, subsequent to the hrst proposal for this nego-
ciation, had, many manner, varied either the dispo-
sition ofthe British government, that it might termi-
na e in a peace honorable to both parties, or the terms
upon which the> would be willing to conclude it.

It is well known that the differences which unhap-
ily subsist between Great-Britain and the U. States,
and which ultimately led to the present war, M'ere
wholly of a maritime nature, arising principally from
the British Orders in Council, in relation to blockades,
and from the impressment of mariners from on board
of American vessels. — Ttie boundary ot the Indian
territory had never been a subject of difference be-
tween the two countries. Neither ihe principles of
reciprocity, the maxims of public law, nor the mari-
time rigiits of the British empire could require the
permanent establishment of such a boundary. The
novel pretensions now advanced coud no more have
been anticipated by the governmeiit ofthe U. States,
ill forming instructions for this negociation, than they
seem to have been contemplated by that of G. Britain
in November last in proposing it. Lord Castlereagh's
note makes the terminition ofthe war to depend on
a conciliatory adjustment of the differences then sub-
sistino' between the two states and in no other condi-
tion whatever.

Nor could the American government have foreseen
that G. Britain in orderto obtain peace for the Indians,
residing within the dominions of the U. States, whom
she had induced to take part with her in the war,
would demand that they should be made parties to
the treaty betvieen the two nations, or that the boun-
daries of their lands should be permanently and irre-
vocably fixed by that treaty. Such a proposition is
contrary to the acknowledged principles of public
law, and the practice of all civilized nations, partic-
ularly of Great-Britain and of the U. Slates. It is
not ibunded on reciprocity. It is unnecessary for the


altuininent of the object which it professes to have in

No maxim of public law has hitherto been more
universally established among- the powers of Europe
jjossessing- territories in America, and there is none
to which Great- Britain has more uniformly and in-
Hexibly adhered, than that of suffering- no interposi-
tion of a foreign power in the relations between the
acknowledged sovereign of the territory, and the In-
d.ans situated upon it. Without the adnussion of this
principle, there would be no intelligible meanina;
attached to stipulations establishing boundaries l;e-
tween the dominions in America, of civilized nations
possessing territories iiihabite<l l)y Indian tribes. —
Whatever may be the relations of Indians to the na-
tion in whose territory they are thus acknowledg-ed
to reside, they cannot be considered as an independent
power by the nation which has made such acknowl-

The territory of which Great-Britain wishes now to
dispose, is within the dominions of the [J. States,
was solemnly acknowledg-ed by herself in the treaty
of peace of 178-3, which established their boundaries,
and by which she relinquished all claim to the gov-
ernment, propriety, and territorial rights withm these
boundaries. JNo condition respecting the Indians re-
siding- therein, was inserted in that treaty. No stip-
ulation similar to tiiatnow proposed is to be found in
any treaty made by Great-Britam, or withm the
knowledg-e of the undersigned, by any other nation.

The Indian tribes for which Great-Britain propo*
ses now to stipulate have, themselves, acknowedg-ed
this principle. By the Greenville treaty of 1795, to
which the British plenipotentiaries have here alluded,
it is expressly sti[)ulated, and the condition has been
contirnied by every subsequent treaty, so late as the
year 1810, ' Tiiat the Indian tribes shall quietly en-
joy their lands, hunting-, planting-, and dwelling- there-
on, so long as they please, without any molestation
from the U. States: but that \ihen those tribes, or


any of them, shall be disposed to sell their lands, thiry
shall be sold only to the U. States: that until such
sale, the V. States will protect all the said Indian
tribes in the quiet enjoyment of their lands against
all citizens of the U. States, and against all other
white persons who intrude on the same, and that the
said [ndian tribes again acknowledge themselves to
be under the protection of the said U. States, and of
no other power whatever/

I'hat there is no reciprocity in the proposed stipu-
lation is evident. In prohibiting G. Britain and the
U. States from ])urchasing lands within a part of the
donnnion of the latter power, while it professes to
take from G. Britain a privilege which she had not, it
actually deprives the U. States of a right exclusively
belonging to them.

The proposition is utterly unnecessary for the pur-
pose of obtaining a pacification for the Indians resid-
ing within the territories of the U. Stales. The un-
dersigned have already had the honor of informing
tl>e British Plenopotentiaries, that, under the system
of liberal policy adopted by the U. Stales in their re-
lations with the Indians within their teiritories, an un-
interrupted peace had subsisted from the year 1775,
not only between theU. States and all those tribes,
but also amongst those tribes themselves for a longer
period of time than ever had been known since the
liist settlement of North America. Against those
Indians the U. States have neither interest nor incli-
nation to continue the war. They have nothing to
ask of them but peace. Commissioners on their part
have been appointed to conclude it, and an armistice
was actually made last autumn with most of those
tribes. The British government may again have in-
duced some of them to take their side in the war, but
peace with them will necessarily follow immediately
a peace with G. Britain. To a provisional article
similar to what has been stipulated in some former
treaties, engaging that each party will treat for the
Indians within its territories, include them in the
peace, and use its best endeavors to prevent them


irom coinmittiug hostillities agaiiisl the citizens or
subjects of the other party, the uudersig'iiod iiiiglit as-
sent, and rely on the ap[>«-obation and ratification of
their government They would also for the purpose
of securing- the duration of peace, and to prevent col-
lisions which might niterrupt it, propose a stipulation
M^hich should preclude the subjects or citizens of
each nation, respectively from trading- with the
I.idians residing in the territory of the other. But to
surrender both the rights of sovereig-nly and ot soil
over nearly one third of the territorial dominions of
the U. States to a number of Indians not probably
exceeding" twenty thousand, the undersigned are so
far from being instructed or authorized, that any ar-
rangement for that pur|)<)se would be iiistantaaeously
rejected by their government.

Not Only has this extraordinary demand been made
SLsme (jita notij to be admitted without a discussion,
and as a preliminary basis ; but it is acconiivauied
by others equally inadmissible, which the British Ple-
nipotentiaries state to be so connected with it, that
they may reasonably influence the decision of the un-
dersigned upon it, yet leaving them uniformed how
far these other demands may also be insisted on as in-
dispensable conditions of a peace.

As little^are the undersigned insU'Ucted or empow-
ered to accede to the propositions of the British govrn-
ment, in relation to the military occupation of the
western lakes. If they have found the propv)sed inter-
ference ofG. Britain in the concerns of India. is reside
ing within die U. States utterly incompatible witli any
established maxim of public law, they are no less at
a loss to discover by what rule of perfect reciprocity
theU. States can be required to renounce their equal
right of maintaining a naval force upon those lakes,
and of fortifying their own shores, while G. Britain
reserves exclusively the corresponding rights to her-
self. That in point of military [)reparation, G. Bri-
tain in her possessions in Norih America, ever has
been in a condition to be termed, with propriety, the
'^'eaker power in comparison with the TT. States, the


undersigned believe to be incorrect in point of iact.
In regard to the fortification of the shores, and to the
forces actually kept on foot upon those frontiers, they
believe the superiority to have always been on the side
of G. Britain. If the proposal to dismantle the forls
upon her shores, strike forever her mi'itary flag' upon
her lakes, and lay her whole frontier defenceless in the
presence of her armed and fortified neighbor, had
proceeded not from G Britain to the U. States, but
from the U. States to G. Britain, the undersigned
may safely appeal to the bosoms of his Britannic
Majesty's Plenipotentiaries for the feelings with
M'hich, not only in regard to the interests, but the hon-
or of their nation, they would have received such a
proposal. What would G. Britain herself say, if iu
relation to another frontier, where she has the ac-
knowledged superiority of strength, it were proposed
that she should be reduced to a condition even of
equality with the U. States ?

The undersigned further perceive that under the
alledged purpose of opening a direct communication
between two of the British provinces in America, the
British government require a cession of territory
forming a part of one of the states of the American
union, and that they propose, without purpose speci-
fically alledged, to draw the boundary line westward,
not from the lake of the Woods, as it now is, but from
lake Superior. It must be perfectly inmialerial to
the IT. States whether the object of the British
;govenment, in demanding the dismemberment of the
U. States is to acqinre territory, as such, or for pur-
poses less liable, in the eyes of the world, to be ascri-r
bed to the desire of agirrandi/ement, Whatever the
motive may be, and w ilh whatever consistency views
of conquest may be disclaimed, while demanding for
jierself, or for the Indians, a cession of territory more
extensive than the whole Island of G. Britain, tlie
duty marked out for the nndersingned is the same.
They have no authority to cede any part of the terri-
tory of the U. States, and to no stipulation to that ef-
fect will they subscribe,


The conditions proposed by G. Britain have no re-
lation to llie subsisting* differences between the two
countries: they are inconsistent with acknowledged
principles of public law : they are founded neither on
reciprocity nor on any ot" the usual bases of neg^ocia-
tion, neither on that of uti possidetis, or of status ante
belluni : they would intlict the most vital injury on
the U States, by disniemberini>- their territory, by ar-
resting their natural orj-owth and increase of pojiula-
tion, and by leaving their northern and western fron-

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 29 of 38)