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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tier equally exposed to British invasion and to Indian
ag"gression : they are, above all, dishonorable to the
U. States, in demanding from them to abandon ter-
ritory and a portion of their citizens, to admit a for-
eign interference in their domestic concerns, and to
cease to exercise their natural rights on their own
shores and in their own waters. A treaty concluded
on such terms would be but an armistice. It can-
not be supposed that America would long submit to
conditions so injurious anddegrading. It is impossi-
ble, in the natural course of events, that she should not,
at the first favorable opportunity, recur to arms, for
the recovery of her territory, of her rights, of her hon-
or. Instead of settling existing differences, such a
peace would only create new causes of war, sow the
seeds of a permanent hatred, and lay the foundation
of hostilities for an indefinite period.

Essentially pacific from her political institutions,
from the habits of her citizens, from her physical sit-
uation, America reluctantly engaged in the war.
She wishes for peace ; but she wishes for it upon
those terms of reciprocity, honorable to both counties,
which can alone render it permanent. The causes
of the war between the U. States and G.Britain havino-
disappeared by the maritime pacification of Europe,
the government of the U. States does not desire to
continue it, in defence of abstract principles, which
iiave for the present, ceased to fiave any practical ef~
feet. The undersigned have been accordingly in-
structed to agree to its termination, both parties res-
toring whatever territory they may have taken, and

374 A1»PENDIX.

both reserving all their rights, in relation to their re-
spective seamen. To make the peace between the
two nations solid and permanent, the undersi<jned
were also instructed, and have been prepared to enter
into the most amicable discussion of all those points
on which differences or uncertainty had existed, and
which might hereafter tend in any degree whatever to
interrupt the harmony of the two countries, without,
however, making the conclusion of the peace at all
depend upon a successful result oi the discussion.

It is, therefore, with deep regret, that the inder-
signed have seen that other views are entertained by
the British government, and that new and unexpected
pretensions are raised, which, if jjersisted in, must op-
pose an insuperable obstacle to a pacification. It is
not necessary to refer such demands to the American
government for its instruction. They will only be a
fit subject of deliberation, when it becomes necessary
to decide upon the expediency of an absolute surren-
der of national independence.

The undei'signed request the British Plenipoten-
tiaries lo accept the assurance of their high esteem.



The British to the Americati Commissioners.
Ghent, Sept. 4, 1814.

The undersigned have the honor tx) acknowledge
the receipt of the note of the American Plenipoten-
tiaries, dated the 24lh ultimo.

It is with unfeigned regret that the undersigned ob-
serve, both in the tone and substance of the whole
note, solittle proof of any dispo«ition on the part of the
government of the U. States to enter into an amica-
ble discussion of the several points submitted by the
undersigned in their former comniunicalion. The
undersigned are perfectly aware, that in bringing for-
ward those points for consideration, and stating with
so much frankness, as they did, the views with which
tliey were proposed, they departetl from the usual


dourse of negociating, by disclesing- all the objects of
their government, while those which the American
government had in view were withheld : but in so
domg they were principally actuated by a desire of
bringing the negociation as soon as possible to a favor-
able termination, and in some measure by their willing-
ness to comply with the wishes expressed by theAmer-
can plenipotentiaries themselves.

It IS perfectly true that the war between his Majes-
ty and the U. Stales, was declared by the latter pow-
er upon the pretence of maritime rights allcdged to be
asserted by G. Hntain, and disputed by the U. States.

If the war thus declared by the U. States had been
carried on by them for objects purely of a maritime
nature, or if the attack which has been niade on Can-
ada had been for the purpose of diversion, or the way
of defence against the British forces in that quarter,
any qustion as to the boundaries of Canada, might
have been considered as unnecessary ; but it is noto-
rious to the whole world th;jtthe conquest of Cauda, and
its permanent annexation to the U. Stales, was the de-
clared object of the American goverumeuL If in
consequence of a different^course of events on the con-
tinent of Europe, his Majesty's government had been
unable to reinforce the British armies in Canada,
and the United States had obtained a decided supe-
riority in that quarter, is there any person who doubts
tliat they would have availed themselves of their situ-
ation to obtain on the side of Canada important ces-
sions of territory, if not the entire abandonment of that
country by Great Britain? Is the American govern-
ment to be allowed to pursue, so for as its means will
enable it, a system of acquisition and aggrandize-
ment to the extent of annexing eiitire provinces to
their dominions, and is his majesty to be precluded,
from availing himself of his means, so far as they will
enable him, to retain those points which the valor of
B*'itish arms may have placed in his power, because
they happen to be situated within the territories allot-
ted under former treaties to the governmeot of thfi
United States^?


Such a principle of nei^ociation was never avowed
antecedent to that of the revolutionary government of

If the policy of the United States had been essen-
tially pacific, as the American pleinpotentiaries as-
sert it oLiij-ht to be, from their political institutions,
fromthe habits of their citizens, and from their phys-
ical situation, it might not have lieen necessary to
propose the precautionary provisions now undtr dis-
cussion. That, of late years at least, the American
government have been intlueuced by a very different
policy ; by a spirit of aggrandizement not necessary
to their own security, i ut increasing wilh the extent
of their empire, has been too clearly manifested by
their progressive occupation of the Indian territories ;
by the acquisition of Louisana ; by the mure recent
attempt to wrest by force of arms from a nation in
amity, the two Floiidas : and, lastly, by the avowed
intention of permanently annexing the Canadas to
the United States.

If, then, the security of the British North American
dominions requires any sacrifices on the part of the
U. Slates, they must be ascribed to the declared poli-
cy of that government in making the war not one of
self defence, nor for the redress otgrievences, real or
pretented, but a part of a system of conquest and ag-

The British government in its present situation, is
bound in duty toendeavoPto secure its North Amer-
ican dominions against those attempts at conquest,
which the American government have avowed to be
a principle of their pohcy, and winch as such will un-
doubtedly be renewed, whenever any succeeding war
between the two countries shall afford a prospect of
renewing them with success.

The British plenipotentiaries proposed that the
military possession of the lakes, from lake Ontario to
lake Superior, should be secured to Great-Briain, be-
cause the command o\i' those lakes would atford to the
American government the means of commencing a
var in the heart of Canada, and because the command


of them, on the part of Great-Britain, has been shewn
bv experience to be attended with no insecurity to the
United States.

When the relative strength of the two powers in
North America is coiisideied, it should be recollect-
ed that the British dominions in that quarter do not
contain a population of five hundred thousand souls,
Avhereas the territory of the U. States contains a pop-
ulation of more than seven millions ; that the naval
resources of the United States are at hand for attack,
and that ihe naval resources of G. Britain are on the
other side of the Atlantic.

The military possession of those lakes is not, there-
fore, necessary for the protection of the U. States.

The proposal for allowing the territories on the
southern banks of the lakes above mentioned to re-
main in the possession of the government of the U.
States, provided no fortifications should be erected
on the shores, and no armament permitted on the wa-
ters, has been made, for the pur[)ose of manifesting,
that security and not acquisition of the territory is the.
object of the British government, and that they have
no desire to throw obstacles in the way of any com-
merce which the people of the U. States may be de-
sirous of carrying on upon the lakes in time of peace.

The undersigned, with the anxious wish to rectify
all misunderstanding, have thus more fully explained
the grounds upon which tiiey brought forward the
propositions contained in thew former note respecting
the boundaries of the British dominions in North

They do not wish to insist upon them beyond what
the circumstances may fairly require. They are ready,
amicably to discuss the details of them with a view
to the adoption of any modifications which the Amer-
ican plenipotentiaries, or their government, may have
to suggest, if they are not incompatible with the ob-
ject itself.

With respect to the boundary of the district of
Maine, and that of the north western frontiei* of the


JJ. States, the undersigned were not prepared to an-
ticipate the objections contained in the note of the
American plenipotentiaries, ' that they were instruct-
ed to treat for the revision oH their boundary lines,*
with the statement which they have subsequently
made, that they had no authority to cede any part,
however insignificant, of the territories of the United
States, although the proposal left it open to them to
demand an equivalent for such ces&ion either in fron-
tier or otherwise.

The American plenipotentiaries must be aware that
the boui dary of the district of Maine has never been
correctly ascertained ; that the one asserted at pre-
sent by the American government, by which ihe di-
rect communication between Halifax and Q,i»ebec
becomes interrapted, was not in contemplation of the
British plenipotentiaries who concluded the treaty of
1783, and that the greater part of the lerritory in.
question is actually unoccupied.

The undersigned are persuaded that an arrange-
ment on this, point might be easily made, if entered
into with the spirit of conciliation, without any pre-
judice to the interests of the district in question.

As the necessity oftixmg some boundary for the
north western frontier has been mutually acknowl-
edged, a proposal for a discussion on that subject can-
not be considered as a demand for a cession of territo-
ry, unless the U. States are prepared to assert that
there is no limit to their territories in that direction,
and that availing themselves of the geographical er-
ror upon which that part of the treaty of 1783 was
founded, they will acknowledge no boundary what-
ever, then unquestionably any proposition to tix one,
be it what it may, must be considered as demanding
a large cession of territory from the U. States.

Is the American government prepared to assert
such an unlimited right, so contrary to the evident
intention of the treaty itself? Or, is his majesty's
government to understand that the American pleni-
potentiaries are willing to acknowledge the boundary
from the lake of the Woods to the IMississippi (the


.arrangement made by a convention in 1803, but not
ratitied) as that by which their government is ready
to abide ?

The British pIeni[>otentiaries are instructetl to ac-
cept favorably such a proposition, or to discuss any
other Hue of boundary which may be submitted for

It is with equal astonishment and regret the under*
signed find that the American plenipotentiaries have
not only declined signing any provisional article, by
which the Indian nations who have taken part with
Great-Britain in the present contest may be included
in the peace, and may have a boundary assigned to
them, but liave also thought proper to express surprise
at any proposition on tlie subject having been advanced.

The American Plenipotentiaries state, that their
govenimeiit could not have expected such a discus-
sion, and appear resolved, at once, to reject any pro-
position on this head; representing it as a demand
contrary to the acknowledged principles of public
law, tantamount to a cession of one third of the terri-
torial dominions of the U. States, and required to be
admitted without discussion.

The proposition which is thus represented is, that
the Indian nations, which have been during the war
in alliance with G. Britain, should at its termination
be included in the pacification ; and with a view to
their permanent tranquility and security, that the Bri-
tish government is willing to take as a basis of an ar-
ticle on the subject of a boundary for those nations,
the stipulations which the American government con-
tracted in 1795, subject, however, to modifications.

After the declaration, publicly made to those In-
dian nations by the governor Gen. of Canada, that
G. Britain would not desert them, could the Ameri-
can government really persuade itself that no propo-
sition relating to those nations would be advanced,
and did lord Castlereagh's note of the 4th Nov. 181-3,
imply so great a sacrifice of honor, or exclude from dis-
cussion every subject, except what immediately rela-
ted to the martime questions referred to in it .^


When the undersigned assured the American Ple-
nipotentiaries of the anxious wish of the British
government that the negociation might terminate in a
peace honorable to both parties, it could not ha\e
been imagined that the American Plenipotentiaries
would thence conclude, that his Majesty's govern-
ment was prepared to abandon the Indian nations to
their fale, nor could it have been forseen that the
American govenmient would have considered it as
derogator y to its honor to admit a proposition by which
thetrancpulity of these nations might be secured.

The treaty of Greenville established the boundaries
between the U. States and the Indian nations, Ti»e
American Plenipotentiaries nuist be aware, that the
Wdr which has since broken out, has abrogated that
treaty. Is it contrary to the established principles of
public law for the British government to propose, oa
behalf of its allies, that this treaty, shall, on the pacifi-
cation, be considered subject to such moditicatiotis
as the case may render necessary ? Ui' is it unrea-
sonable to propose, that this stipulation should be
amended, and that on that foundation some arrange-
ment should beniade which would provide for iheex-
istance of a neutral power between G. Britain and the
U. States, calculated to secure to both a longer con-
tinuance of the blessings of peace ?

So far was that specific proposition respecting the
Indian boundaries from being insisted upon ni the
note, or in the conference which preceded it, as one
to be admitted without discussion, that it would have
been difficult to use terms of greater latitude, or
which appeared more adapted, uot only not to pre-
clude but to invite discussion.

If the basis proposed could convey away one tjiird
of the territory of the U. States, the American govern-
ment itself must have conveyed it away by the
Greenville treaty of 1796.

It is impossible to read that treaty without remark-
ing how inconsistent the present pretensions of the
American government are, with its preamble and
provisions. The boundary line between the lands of


the U. States nncl those of the Indian nations, is there-
in expressly dtfinetl. The general character of tlie
treaty, is that of a treaty with independent nations ;
and the very stipulation which the American Pleni-
potentiaries refer to, that the Indian nations should sell
their lands only to the U. Stales, tends to prove that,
hat for that stipulation, the Indians had a general
riglit to dispose of thera.

The American government has now for the first
time, in effect, declared that all Indian nations with-
in its line of demarkation are ils subjects, living there
upon sutierance, on lands which it also claims the ex-
clusive rig-htof acquiring, thereby menacing the final
extinction of those nations.

Against such a system the undersigned must for-
mally protest. The undersigned repeat, that thr
terms on which the proposition has been made for as-
sig-ning to the Indian nations some boundary, mani-
fest no unwillingness to discuss any other proposition
directed to the same object, or even a modiHcation of
that which is offered. G. Britain is ready to enter in-
to the same engagements with respect to the Indians
living- within her line of demarkation, as that which
is proposed to the U. States. It can therefore, only
be from a complete misapprehension of the proposi-
tion, that it can be represented as being not reciprocal.
Neither can it, with any truth, be represented as con-
trary to the acJcnowledged principles of public law,
as derogatory to the honor, or inconsistent with the
rig-hts of the American government, nor as a demand
required to be admitted without discussion.

After this full exposition of the sentiments of his
Majesty's government on the points above stated, it
will be forthe American plenipotentiaries to determine
whether they are ready now to continue the ncgocia-
tions ; whether they are disposed to refer to their
government for further instructions ; or, lastly, wheth-
er they will take upon themselves the responsibility of
breaking off the negociation altogether.


The undersigned request the American Plenipo-
tentiaries to accept the assurances of their high con-




The American to the British Commissioners.
Ghent, Sept. 9th, 1814.

The undersigned have had the honor to receive
the note ot' his Britannic Majesty's Plenipotentiaries,
dated the 4th inst. If in the ton©, or substance of the
former iiote of the undersigned, the British commis-
sioners have perceived little proof of any disposition
on the part of the American government, for a dis-
cussion of some of the propositions advanced in the
first note, which t!ie undersigned had the honor of re-
ceiving from them, they will ascribe it to the nature of
the propositions themselves, to their apparent incom-
patibility with the assurances in lord Castlereagh's
letter to the American Secretary of state, proposing
the negociation, and with the solemn assurances of the
British Plenipotentiaries themselves, to the under-
signed, at their first conferences with them.

The Uiidersigned, in reference to an observation of
the British plenipotentiaries, must be allowed to say,
that the objects which the government of the U. States
had in view, have not been withheld.

The subjects considered as suitable for discussion
were fairly brought forward, in the conference of the
9th ult. and the terms on which the U. States were
willing to conclude the peace, were frankly and ex-
pressly declared in the note of the undersigned, dated
the 24th ultimo. It had been conhdently lioped that
the nature of those terms, so evidently framed in a
spirit of conciliation, would have induced G. Britain
to adopt them as the basis of a treaty ; and it is with
deep regret that the undersigned, if they have rightly
understood the meaning of the last note of the British
Plenipotentiaries, perceive that they still insist on the
exclusive military possession of the lakes, and on a


permanent boundary and independent territorory for
the Indians residnig within the dominions ot the U,

The first demand is grounded on the supposition,
that the American government has manifested, by its
proceedings towards Spain, by the acquisition of Lou-
isiana, by the purchases ot Indian lands, and by an
avowed intention of permanently annexing the Cana-
das to the U. States, a spirit of agt^randizement and
conquest, which justifies the demand of extraordinary
sacrifices from them, to provide for the security of the
British possessions in America.

Ill observations which the undersigned felt it their
duty to make on the new demands of the British
government, they confined their animadversions to
the nature of the demands themselves : they did not
seek for illustrations of the policy of G. Britain in her
conduct, in various quarters of the globe, towards
other nations, for she was not accountable to the U.
States. Yet the undersigned will say, that their
government has ever been ready to arrange, in the
most amicable manner, with Spain, the questions re-
specting the boundaries of Louisiana, and Florida, and
that of the indemnities acknowledged by Spain due
to American citizens. How the peaceable acquisition
of Louisiana, or the purchase of lands within the ac-
knowledged territories of the U. States, both made by
fair and voluntary treaties for satisfactory equivalents,
can be ascribed to a spirit of conquest dangerous to
their neighbors, the undersigned are altogether at a
loss to understand.

Nor has the conquest of Canada, and its permanent
annexation to the U. States, been the declared object of
their government. From the commencement of the
war to the present time, the American government
has been always willing to make peace, without ob-
taining any cession of territory, and on the sole con-
dition that the maritime questions might be satis-
factorily arranged. Such was their disposition in the
month of July, 1812, when they instructed Mr,
Russell to make the proposal of an aranstice; in the


month of October of the same year, when Mr. Mon
roe ajiswered Admiral Warren's proposals to the
same effect ; in April, 1813, when iiislructions were
g-iven to three of the nndersig-tied then appointed to
treat of peace, under the mediation ot Russia; and
in January, 1814, when the instructions under which
the undersigned are now acting, were prepared.

The proposition of the British plenipotentiaries is,
that, in order to secure the frontier of Canada against
attack, the U. States should leave their own Without
defence ; and it seenjs to be forgotten, that if their
superior population, and the proximity of their re-
sources give them any advantage in that quarter, it
is balanced by the great difference between the mil-
itary establishments of the two nations. No sudden
invasion of Canada by the U. States could be made,
without leaving on their Atlantic shores, and on the
ocean, exposed to the great superiority of the British
force, a mass of American property far more valuable
than Canadn. In her relative superior force to that
of the U. States in every other quarter, Great-Britain
may find a pledge much more efficacious for the safety
of a single vulnerable point, than in stipulations ru-
inous to the interests and degrading to the honor of
4merica. The best security for the possessions of
both countries will, however, be found in an equal
and solid peace ; in a mutual respect for tbe rights of
each other, and in the cultivation of a friendly under-
standing between them. If there be any source of
jealousy in relation to Canada itself, it will be found
to exist solely in the undue interference of traders
and agents, which may be easily removed by proper

The only American forts on the lakes known to
have been, at the commencement of the negociation,
lield by British force, are IMichilimackinac and Ni-
agara. As the U. States were, at the same time, in
possession of Amherslburg and the adjacent country
it is not perceived that the mere occupation of
two forts could give any claim to his Britannic ma-
jesty to large cessions of territory, founded upon the


right of conquest; and the undersigned may be per-
mitted to add, that even if the chances of war should
yield to the British arms a momentary possession of
other parts of the territories of the U. States such
events would not alter their view with resfard to the

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 30 of 38)