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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terms of peace to which they would give their consent.
Without recurring to examples drawn from the re-
volutionary governments of France, or to a more re-
cent and illustrious triumph of fortitude in adversity,
they have been taught by their own history that the
occupation of their principal cities would produce no
despondency, nor induce their submission to the dis-
memberment of their empire, or to the abandoimient
of any one of the rights which constitute a part of
their national independence.

The general position, that it was consistent with
the principle of public law, and with the practice of
civilized nations, to include allies in a treaty of peace,
and to provide for their security, never was called in
qnestion by the undersigned. But they have denied
the right of Great-Britain, according to those princi-
ples and her own [)ractice, to interfere in any man-
ner with Indian tribes residing within the territories
of the U. States, as acknowledged by herself, to con-
sider such tribes as her allies, or to treat for them with
the U. States. Tiiey will not repeat the facts and
arguments already brotight forward by them in sup-
poi't of this position, and which remain unanswered.
Ttie observations made by the British plenipotentia-
ries on the treaty of Greenville, and their assertion
that the U. States now, for the first time, deny the
absolute independence of the Indian tribes, and claim
the exclusive right of purchasing their lands, require,
however, some notice.

If the U. States had now asserted, that the Indians
within their boundaries, who have acknowledged the
IJ. Stales as their only protectors were their subjects,
living only at sufferance on their lands, far from being
the first in making that assertion, they would onlv
have followed the example on the principles, nni


formly and invariably aa^serted in subslance, and fre-
quently avowed in ex^)ress terms by the British gov-
ernment itself. What was the meaning- of all the
colonial charters granted by the British monarchy,
from that of Virginia, by Elizabeth, to that otGeorgia,
by the immediate predecessor of the present king, if
the Indians were the sovereigns and proprietors of
the lands bestowed by those charters ? What was
the meaung of that article in the treaty of LJtrecht,
by which the live nations were described, in terms, as
subject to the dominion of Great Britain ? or that of
the treaty w ith the Cherokees, by which it was de-
clared that the king oi Great Britain granted them
the privilege to live where they pleased, if those sub-
jects were independent sovereigns, and if these ten-
ants, at the licence of ihe British king, were the right-
ful lords of the lands where he granted them permis-
sion to live :' What was the meaning of that procla-
mation of his present Britannic majesty issued in
3 7G3, declaring all purchases of lands from the In-
dians null and void, unless made by tieaties held un-
der the sanction of his majesty's government, if the
Indians had the rigitt to sell their lands to whom they
pleased? W^hat was the meaning of boundary lines
ol American territories, in all the treaties of G. Bri-
tain with other European powers having American
possessions, particularly in the treaty of 1763^ by
w hich she acquired from France the sovereignty and
possession of the Ganadas ; in her treaty of |>eace v. ith
the U States in 1783; nay, wbat is the meaning of
the north western boundary line now proposed by the
British connnissioners themselvCvS, it" it is the riglitful
possession and sovereignty of independent Indians,
ol uliich these boundaries dispose? Is it indeed, ne-
cessary to ask, whether Great Britain ever has per-
nntted, or would permit, any foreign nation, or with-
out her consent, any of her subjects, to acquire lands
from the Indians, in the territories of the Hudson bay
company, or in Canada? In formally protesting
against this system, it is not against a novel preten-
sion of the American government, it is against the


most solemn acts of their own sovereig-ns, aorainst the
rova! proclamations, charters, and treaties of G. Bri-
tain, for more than two centuries, from the lirst settle-
ment of North America to the present day, that the
British plenipotentiaries j)rotest.

From the riij^or of this system, however, as practis-
ed by Great-Britain, and all other European powers
in America, the humane and liberal policy of the U.
States has volunt<inly relaxed. A celebrated writer
on the laws of nations, to whose aulhm'ity British ju-
rists have taken particular satisfaction in appealino",
after staling-, in the most explicit niaimer, tlie lei;'it-
imacy of colonial settlements in America, the excHu-
sion of all rights of uncivili/.ed liidian, has tak-
en occasion to praise the tirst settlers of IVew-Eiig -
land, and the founder of Pennsylvania, in, h;»vino- pur-
chased of the Indians the lands thev resolved to cul-
tivate, notwithstanding' their bein:;' furnished with a
charter from their sovereig-n. It is this example,
which the U. Stales, since they became by their in-
dependence, the sovereigns of the territory, have
adopted and organized into a political system. Cin-
der that system, the Indians residing within the U.
States are so far independent that they live under
their own customs, and not under the laws of the U.
States, that their rights upon the lands where they
inhabit, or hunt, are secured to them bv boundaries de-
fined in amicable treaties between the U. States and
themselves; and that whenever those boundaries were
varied, it is also by amicable and voluntary treaties, by
which they receive from the U. Slates ample compen-
sation for every right they have to the lands ceded to
them. Tliey are so far dependent as not to have the
right to dispose of their lands to i)rivate persons, nor
to any power other than the United Slates, and to be
under their protection alone, and not under that of
any otiier power. Whether called subjects, or by
whatever name designated, such is the relation be-
tween them and the United States. — That relation is
neither asserted now for the first time, noi* did it ori-
ginate with the treaty of Greenville. These priuci-

ii88 4PPENDIX.

ple<i have been unifonnly recognized by the Indians
themselves, not only by that treaty, but in all the olh-
er previous as well as suijsequent treaties betvveert
them and the U. States.

The treaty of Greenville neither took from the In-
dians the right, \Ahich they had not, of sellin"' lands
within the jurisdiction of the U. States to foreig^n
governments or subjects, nor ceded to them tjje ri2:ht
of exercising" exclusive jurisdiction within the boun-
dary line assigned. It was merely declaratory of
the public law in relation to the parties, founded on
principles previously and universally recognized. It
left to I he U. States the rights of exercising sove-
reignty and of acquiring soil, and bears no analogy
to the proposition of Great Britain which requires the
abandonment of both.

The British plenipotentiaries state in their last note,
that Great Britain is ready to enter into the same en-
gagement with respect to the Indians living within
her lineof demarkation, as that which is proposed to
the U. States. ^ — The undersigned will not dwell on
the immense inequality of value between the two ter-
ritories, which under such an arrangen»ent, would be
assigned, by each nation respectively to the Indians,
and which alone would make th.e reciprocity merely
nominal. The condition which would be thus iniposed
on Great Britain not to acquire lands in Canada from
the Indians, would be productive of no advantage to
lite U. States, and is, therefore, no equivalent tor the
sacrifice required oflliem. They do not consider
that it belongs to the U. Slates in any res})ecl to in-
terfere with the concerns of Great Britain in her
American possessions, or with her policy towards
the Indians residino' there: and thev cannot consent
to any interference, on the part of Great Britain, with
their own concerns, and particularly with the Indians
Jiving within their territories. It may be the inter-
est of G. Britain to limit her setllemenls in Canada
to their present extent, and to leave the country to
the West a [)erpetual wilderness, to be for ever in-
habited by scattered tribes of hunters : but it would

AVPES-Dix. 389

intlict a vital injury on the U. States to liave a line
run throui(h her territoiy, be\ond which her settle-
ments shoiiltl forever be preclnded from extending-,
thereby urresting- the natural growth of her popula-
tion and strength ; placing the Indians substantially,
by virtue of the proposed guarantee, under the pro-
tection of G, Britain; dooming them to perpetual
barbarism, and leavinof an extensive frontier for ever
exposed to their savage incursions.

With respect to the mere question of peace with
the Indians, the undersigned have already explicitly
assured the British plenipotentiaries that so far as it
depended on the U. States, it would immediately
and necessarily follow a peace with G. Britain. If
this be her sole object, no provision in the treaty to
that effect is necessary. Provided the Indians will
now consent to it, peace will unmediately be made
with them, and they will be reinstated in the same
situation in which thev stood before the commence-
ment ot hostilities. Should a contimiance of the war
compel the U. States to alter their policy towaj-ds the
Indians, who may still take the part of ii. Britain,
they alone must be responsible for the consequences
of her own act in having induced them to withdraw
themselves from the protection of the U. States.
The employment of savages, whose known rule of
warfare is the indiscriminate torture and butchery of
women, children, and prisoners, is itself a departure
from the principles of humanity observed between all
civilized and christian nations, even in war.

The U. States have constantly protested, and still
protest against it as an unjustitiable aggravation of
the calamities and horrors of war. — Of the [jecnliar
atrocities of Indian warfare, the allies of G. Britain
in whose behalf she now demands sacrifices of the U.
States, have during the present war, shewn many de-
plorable examples. Among them, the massacre in
cold blood, of wounded prisoners, and the refusal of
the rights of burial to the dead, under the eyes of
British officers v.ho could only plead their inability
to controul these savage auxiliaries, have been re^


peated, and are notorious to the world. The United
States might at all times have employed the same
kind of force against G. Britain, to a greater extent
than it was in her power to employ it against them ;
but from their reluctance to resort to means so abhor-
rent to the natural feelings of humanity, they abstain-
ed from the use of them until compelled to the alter-
native of employing themselves Indians, who other-
%vise would have been drawn into the ranks of their
enemies. The undersigned suggesting to the British
plenipotentiaries the propriety of an article by which
G. Britain and the U. States should reciprocally
stipulate never hereafter, if they should be again at
war, to employ savages in it, believe that it would be
infinitely more honorable to the humanity and chris-
tian temper of both parties, more advantageous to the
Indians themselves, and better adapted to secure their
permanent peace, tranquility, and progressive civil-
ization, than the boundary proposed by the British

With regard to the cession of apart of the district
of Maine, as to which the British plenipotentiaries
are unable to reconcile the objections made by the
undersigned with their previous declaration, they
have the honor to observe, that at the conference of
the 8th ult. the British plenipotentiaries stated as one
of the subjects suitable for discussion, a revision of the
boundary line between the British and American ter-
ritories, with a view to prevent uncertainty and dis-
pute: and that it was on the point thus stated, that
the undersigned declared that they were provided
with instructions from their government j a declara-
tion which did not imply that they were instructed
to make any cession of territory in any quarter, or
agree to a revision of the line, or to any exchange of
territory, where no uncertainty or dispule existed.

The undersigned perceive no uncertainty or mat-
ter of doubt in the treaty of 1783, with respect to that
part of the boundary of the district of Maine which
would be affected by the proposal of G. Britain on
that subject. They never have understood that the


British plenipotentiaries who signed that treaty, had
coiitemplated a boundary different from that fixed by
the treaty; and which requires nothing more, in or-
der to be definitely ascertamed, than to be surveyed
in conformity with its provisions. This subject not
having been a matter of uncertainty or dispute, the
undersigned are not instructed upon it ; and they can
have no authority to cede any part of the state of IVlas-
sachusetts, even for what the Britisii government
might consider a fair equivalent.

In regard to ihe boundary of the northwestern
frontier, so soon as the proposition of Indian bound-
ary is disposed of, the undersigned have no objec-
tion, with the explanation given by the British Ple-
uipotenttaries in their last note, to discuss the subject.

The undersigned, in their former note, stated with
frankness, and will now repeat, that tlie two propo-
sitions, 1st, of assigtniig in the proposed treaty of
peace a definite boundary to the Indians livmg with-
in the hmits of the United States, beyond which
boundary they should stipulate not to acquire, by pur-
chase or otherwise, any territory ; 2dly, of securing
the exchisive military possession of the lakes to Great-
Britain, are both inudniissible ; and that they cannot
subscribe to, and woukldeem it useless to refer to their
government, any arrangement, even provisional, con-
taining either of these propositions. Witli this un-
derstanding, the undersigned are now ready to con-
tinue the negociation ; and as tliey have already ex-
pressed, to discuss all the points of difference, or
\vhif:ii might hereafter tend in any degree to interrupt
the harmony of the two countries.

The undersigned request the British plenipoten-
tiaries to accept the assurance of their high conside-

.1. a. ADAMS,



The British to the American Commimoners.

Ghent, Sept. 19th, 1814.
The niidersigned have the honor to acknowledsje
the receipt of the note addressed to them by the
American plenipotentiaries on the 9th inst.

On the g-reater part of tliat note, the undersigned
have no intention to make comments, having- pro-
posed to themselves throughout tlie negociation to
avoid all unnecessary discussions, more especially
uhen tending* to create irritation.

On the question of the northwestern frontiers, they
are happy to find that no material difficulty is likely
to arise.

With respect to the boundary of the District of
Maine, the undersigned observe with regret, that
although the American plenipotentiaries have ac-
knowledged themselves to be instructed to discuss a:
revision of the boundary line, with a view to prevent
micertainty and dispute, yet, by assuming an exclu-
sive right at once to decide what is or is not a subject
of uncertainty and dispute, they have rendered their
powers imgatory or inadmissibly partial in their cpe-

After the declaration made by the American ple-
nipotentiaries, that the U. States will admit of no liiie
of boundary between iheir territory and that of the
Indian nations, because the natural growth and popu-
lation of the U. States would be thereby arrested, it
becomes unnecessary further to insist on the proof of
a spirit of aggrandizement afforded by the purchase
of Louisiana froni France, against the known con-
ditions on which it had been ceded by Spain to tliat
country, or the hostile seizure of a great part of the
Floridas, under a pretence of a dispute respecting ih'^

Tlie reason given by the American [)lenipotenlia-
ries for this declanition, equally applies to the assign-
ment of a boundary to the U. Stales on any side, with
whatever view proposed ; and the unlimited natntp
of the pretension would alone hav€ justified G. Bri-
tain in seeking more effectual securities against il««


iappiication to Canada, than any which the under-
signed have had the honor to propose.

Had the American plenipotentiaries been instruct-
ed on the subject of Canada, they would not have
asserted that its permanent annexation had not been
the declared object of their government. It has been
distinctly avowed to be such at different times, par-
ticularly by two American generals on their respect-
ive invasions of Canada. If the declaration first
made had been disapproved, it would not have been
repeated. The declarations here referred to are to
be found in the proclamation of general Hull, in Ju-
ly, 1812, and of general Smyth, in November, 1812,
copies of which are hereunto annexed.

It must be also from the want of instructions that
the American plenipotentiaries have been led to as-
sert that G. Britain has induced the Indians to with-
draw from the protection of the U. States. The
government of the U. Slates cannot have forgotten
that Great-Britain, so far from inducing the Indian*
to withdraw themselves from the protection of the
U. States, gave the earliest information of the inten-
tion of those nations to invade the U. States, and ex-
erted herself, though without success, to prevent and
appease their hostility. The Indian nations, how-
ever, having experienced, as they thought, oppression,
instead of protection from the U. Stales, declared
War against them previously to the declaration of war
by that country against G. Britain. The treaty by
which the Indians placed themselves under the pro-
tection of the U. States, is now abrogated, and the
American government cannot be entitled to claim,
as a right, the renewal of an article in a treaty, which
has no longer any existence. The Indian nations
are therefore no longer to be considered as under the
protection of the United States, (whatever may be
the import of that term) and it can only be on ihfc
ground that tliey are regarded as subjects, that the
American plenipotentiaries can be authorized to deii\
the right of Great-Britain to interfere on their liehrdi'


in the neg'ociations for peace. To any such claift/,
it is repeated, that the treaties concluded with them,
and particularly that of Greenville, are in direct op-

It is not necessary to recur to the manner in which
the territory of the United Stales was at first settled,
in order to decide, whether the Indian nations, the
oris^mal inhabitants of America, shall have some spot
assigned to them, where they may be permitted to
live in tranquility ; nor whether their tranquility can
be secured without preventing' an uniiiVernipted sys-
tem of encroachment upon them under the pretence
of purchase.

If the American plenipotentiaries are authorized
peremptorily to deny the right of the British govern-
ment to interfere with the pacification of the Indian
nations, and for that reason refuse all negociations
on the subject, the undersigned are at a loss to under-
stand, upon what principle it was, that at the confer-
ence of the 9th ultimo, the American plenipotentia-
ries invited discussion on the subject, and added, tiiat
it was not posi<ible for them to decide without discus-
sion, whether -an article could be framed which should
be mutually satisfactory, and to which they should
think themselves, under their discretionary powers,
warranted in acceding.

The undersigned must further observe, that if the
American government has not furnished their pleni-
potentiaries with any instructions since Jaiiuary last,
when the general pacification oi Europe could not
have been immediately in contemr>lation, this subse-
quent silence, after an event so calculated (even in
the view which the American plenipotentiaries have
taken of it, in their note of the 24th ult.) to influ-
ence the negociation, is, to say the least, no proof of
a sincere desire to bring it to a favorable conclusion.
The British government has entered into the negoci-
ation with an anxious wish to eflect an amicable ar-
rangement. After convu'sions unexampled in their
nature, extent, and duration, the civilized world has
Deed •i' repose. To obtam this in Europe, G. Bri-


tain lias made considerable sacrifices. To complete
the work of general pacification, it is her earnest wish
to establish a peace w;lh the U. States, and in her en-
deavors to accomplish this object, to manifest the
same principles of moderation and forbearance ; but
it IS utterly inconsistent with her practice and her
principles ever to al)andon ni her neg^ociations for
peace, those who have co-operated with her in war.

The undersigned, therefore, repeat, that the British
g-overnment is willing to sign a treaty of peace with
the U. States on terms honorable to both parlies. It
lias not offered any terms which the U. States can
justly represent as derogatory to their honor, nor can
it be induced to accede to any which are injurious to
its own. It IS on this ground that the uudersigned arc
authorized distinctly to declare, that they are instruct-
ed not to sign a treaty of peace with the plenipoten-
tiaries of the U. Stales, unless the Indian nations arc
included in it, and restored to all the rights, privile-
ges, and territories, \Ahich they enjoyed in the year
1811, previous to the commencement of the war,
by virtue of the treaty of Greenville, and the treaties
subsequently concluded between them and the United
States. From this point the British plenipotentiaries
cannot depart.

They are further instructed to offer for discussion
an article by which the contracting parties shall re-
ciprocally bind themselves, according to boundaries
to be agreed upon, not to purchase the lands occu-
pied by the Indians within their respective lines of
demarcation. By making this engagement subject
to revision at the expiration of a given period, it is
hoped that the objection to the establishment of a
boundary beyond which the settlement of the United
States should be forever excluded, may be efFectual-
ly obviated.

The undersigned have never stated that the exclu-
sive military possessions on the lakes, however con-
ducive they are satisfied it would be to a good under-
standing between the two countries, without endan-
gering the security of the U. States, was to be coa-


sidered as a sine qua non in the neg'ocialion, When^
ever the question relative to the pacification of the
Indian nations (which, subject to the explanations
already given, is a sine qua non,) shall be adjusted,
the undersigned will be authorized to make a final
proposition on the subject of Canadian boundaries,
so entirely founded on principles of moderation and
justice, that they feel confident it cannot be rejected.
This proposition will be distinctly stated by the un-
dersigned, upon receiving" an assurance from the
American plenipotentiaries that they consider them-
selves authorized to conclude a provisional article on
the subject, and upon their previously consenting to
include the Indian nations in the treaty, in the man-
ner above described.

The undersigned avail themselves of this oppor-
tunity ofrenewuig tothe American plenipotentiaries,
the assurance of their high consideration,



The American to the British Commissioners.

Ghent, Sept. 26, 1814.
In replying to the note which the undersigned
iiave had the honor of receiving from his Britannic
majesty's plenipotentiaries, dated on the 19lh inst.
they are happy to concur with them in the sentiment
of avoiding unnecessary discussions, especially such
as may have a tendency to create irritation. They
had hoped that, in the same spirit, the British pleni-
potentiaries would not have thought allusions again
uecessarv to transactions foreign to this negociation,
relating to the United States, and other independent
nations, and not suitable for discussion between the
United States and Great-Britain. The observation
made with respect to Louisiana is the more extraor-

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 31 of 38)