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following extract will show the sense they entertained, after a lapse of eighteen months of the proceedings of the imperial government, and of the representations of the American diplomatic agent concerning the French decrees :-" That if at any time hereafter the Berlin and Milan decrees shall by some authentic act of the French governinent, publicly promulgated, be expressly and unconditionally repealed, then and from thencefortb the order in council of the 7th day of January 1807, and the order in council of the 26th day of April 1809, shall without any further order be, and the same, hereby, are declared from thenceforth to be wholly and absolutely revoked.” The decisions of the High Court of Admiralty and the declaration of April 1812, could leave no doubt of the construction put by the British government on the note of M. de Champagny. England did not consider the French decrees repealed. The nonimportation act had now been in operation more than a year, and there was no probability that the form of revocation pointed out in the state paper of April 1812, would take place. In this situation, the United States had two alternatives presented to its consideration, either of continuing that act in force, or of proceeding to a war with Great Britain. The government adopted the latter measure. War, having been preceded by an embargo of 90 days, was declared on the 18th of June of the same year. The American government, doubtless, supposed it offered all the evidence it ever could possess, that the French decrees were repealed ;-it never could have anticipated the extraordinary document of April 28th, 1811; communicated to its minister in Paris more than a year after it purported to have been passed ; a decree not known in this country at the time the war was declared. Having already made some remarks on this instrument in a previous chapter, it is only necessary, in this place, to observe that the decree was communicated to the British ministry on the 20th of May 1812, and on the 23d of June the same year an order was issued, repealing the orders in council.
The history of the war does not belong to the subject of this work. We shall, however, be permitted to remark, that many unfortunate circumstances accompanied the time and manner of its declaration, as well as the opening of the contest, which the spirit and gallantry of the people, in its progress and towards its close, well redeemed. Neutrality was so obviously the policy of the country, and the form of government seemed so ill adapted to a state of hostilities, that we cannot be surprised if every other expedient was first tried and exhausted. But the doctrine of neutrality, the ark of safety and prosperity to this people, a doctrine, that, in most cases, cannot be too highly commended, or too exactly maintained, was carried to an extreme degree of toleration; the restrictive system was not a successful one—it produced no effect on the belligerents. The country was wasting and perishing under it, and the passions of the political parties were inflamed to a dangerous degree. It would, perhaps, have been better that a war should have been declared in 1808, at the time of the report of a committee of the House of Representatives, already mentioned, on the foreign relations of the Republic. It would, we admit, have been an unusual thing to have declared war against two nations, at war with each other, but both were then actually engaged in hostilities with America; and, owing to the particular condition of one of them, a war with England appeared to be virtually a war with both. It should be recollected, too, that about that period, began the severest operation of the French decrees, the British orders, and of our own restrictive system. After 1808, to the restoration of peace in 1815, the commerce of the country was of comparatively trifling value; and in the language of the report of November, America had been compelled by the belligerents to abandon her right of freely navigating the ocean. A determined opposition was made to the war with England, but we believe that much, if not the greater part of it, arose from an apprehension it would lead to an alliance with France. It was extremely natural that this apprehension should be felt by one of the political parties, because an alleged preference for the measures of one of the belligerents, was the principal cause of opposition to the neasures of our own government. The war was declared at a VOL. II.
time when the French emperor was in the height, not only of his power, but of his prosperity ; bis armies had all passed the Vistula, in a rapid and victorious march for the capital of Russia, and he, himself, was in Poland employed in organizing that kingdom into a new confederation, of which he was to be the protector. But the correspondence of America with France at this period, and the unsatisfactory condition of the claims of the one government upon the other, clearly show, that no event was less likely to take place than an alliance between the two countries. We have, already, in the chapter on the continental system, presented an outline of the proceedings of the United States with France, just before and during the war of 1812, though it seems hardly necessary to remark, that the whole course of policy of this government from its foundation in 1789, nay, from the first year after the peace of '83,* has been most sedulously to avoid every possible approach to alliances or connexions with the European nations. America, fortunately exonerated from the obligations of the treaty of 78, reaped, at an early hour, the full measure of all the experience that the pernicious consequences, with which she was threatened on that 'occasion, could give her.
Early in eighteen hundred and thirteen, the emperor of Russia offered his mediation to procure a cessation of hostilities between England and the United States. Russia, haying made a treaty of peace and alliance with England, in the suminer of eighteen hundred and twelve, the commerce of the northern nations of Europe appeared to be restored to its former extent and vigour; that event freed it from the restraints to which it was subject, in consequence of the hostile acts of England ; but the American war having renewed this state of embarrassment, the northern nations were again deprived of the whole of the valuable commerce of the United States. America accepted the mediation, and commissioners were named to proceed to Russia. England, however, did not consent to treat, either at St. Petersburg, or under the mediation of a third power ; but proposed to meet the American envoys directly, in London, or at Gottenburg It is immaterial, whether this negotiation was proposed at the suggestion of England, or was the voluntary act of Rússia,—those two powers being at that time closely united. Some prejudice had been excited against the United States, at the court of St. Petersburg, by reports that the government was disposed to enter into a more intimate connexion with France. Not only the relations of the Unit ed States with Russia, were remarkably amicable, during the whole war with England, but they were in an unpromising and unsatisfactory state with the French emperor.
* Sce chapter on Russia.
We have before us a letter, written by the Secretary of State (Mr. Monroe), dated July 1, 1812, to the American minister in Russia (Mr. Adams), from which we make the following extract :-“ With France, our affairs, in many important circumstances, are still unsettled ; nor is there any certainty, that a satisfactory settlement of them will be obtained. Should it, however, be the case, it is not probable that it will produce any closer connexion between the United States and that power.
It is not anticipated, that any event whatever will have that effect.”
The negotiation for peace with England was finally opened at Ghent, where the British commissioners, lord Gambier, Messrs. Henry Gouldburn and William Adams, arrived in August 1814; the American commissioners, Messrs. John Quincy Adams, Albert Gallatin and James A. Bayard, appointed April 17, 1813, and Henry Clay and Jonathan Russell, added to the commission January 18,1814, being already assembled in that city. This negotiation terminated in a peace, concluded the 24th of December 1814.* The treaty made no altera
* This treaty of peace and amity principally relates to boundaries. We shall extract a portion of it, omitting the details that relate to the expenses of commissioners, &c.:
“Art. 1. There shall be a firm and universal peace between his Britannic majesty and the United States, and between their respective countries, territories, cities, towns and people, ofevery degree, without exception of places or persons. All hostilities, both by sea and land, . shall cease as soon as this treaty shall have been ratified by both par
tion in the situation of the countries, for the terms, proposed by the commissioners of the respective nations, were mutu
ties, as hereinafter mentioned. All territory, places and possessions whatsoever, taken by either party from the other, during the war, or which may be taken after the signing of this treaty, excepting only the islands hereinafter mentioned, shall be restored without delay, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any of the artillery or other public property originally captured in the said forts or places, and which shall remain therein upon the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, or any slaves or other private property. And all archives, records, deeds and papers, either of a public nature, or belonging to private persons, which, in the course of the war, may have fallen into the hands of the officers of either party, shall be, as far as may be practicable, forth with restored and delivered to the proper authorities and persons to whom they respectively belong. Such of the islands in the Bay of Passamaquoddy as are claimed by both parties, shall remain in the possession of the party in whose occupation they may be at the time of the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, until the decision respecting the title to the said islands shall have been made in conformity with the fourth article of this treaty. No disposition made by this treaty, as to such possession of the islands and territories claimed by both parties, shall, in any manner whatever, be construcd to affect the right of either.
"Art. 2. Immediately after the ratifications of this treaty by both parties, as hereinafter mentioned, orders shall be sent to the armies, squadrons, officers, subjects and citizens of the two powers, to cease from all hostilities: and, to prevent all causes of complaint which might arise on account of the prizes which may be taken at sea after the said ratifications of this treaty, it is reciprocally agreed, that all vessels and effects wbich may be taken after the space of twelve days from the said ratifications, upon all parts of the coast of North America, from the latitude of twenty-three degrees north, to the latitude of fifty degrees north, and as far eastward in the Atlantic ocean as the thirtysixth degree of west longitude from the meridian of Greenwich, shall be restored on each side : that the time shall be thirty days in all other parts of the Atlantic ocean, north of the equinoctial line or equator, and the same time for the British and Irish channels, for the gulf of Mexico, and all parts of the West Indies: forty days for the North Seas, for the Baltic and for all parts of the Mediterranean: sixty days for the Atlantic ocean south of the equator, as far as the latitude of the Cape of Good Hope: ninety days for every other part of the world south of the equator: and one hundred and twenty days for all other parts of the world, without exception.