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horrors of war by the addition of savage butchery and unexampled outrages; there was no possible connection between this right and that of the fisheries, and a proposition to grant to Great Britain the half of any state in the Union, in exchange for this right to fish, would have seemed quite as reasonable and defensible as this. He urged the matter with great zeal and earnestness, and proved finally successful. The Commissioners decided to answer the British declaration by citing their instructions, which forbade a discussion of the subject, and by saying that, “from their nature and from the peculiar character of the treaty of 1783, by which they were recognized, no farther stipulation had been deemed necessary by the government of the United States, to entitle them to the full enjoyment of all their previous rights or liberties in relation to the fisheries." The British Commissioners finally proposed an article, granting the unconditional right of navigating the Mississippi, but this was declined and thus the Father of Rivers was for ever closed to British ships.
From the difference of opinion among our negotiators, up on this point, arose some years afterwards an unpleasant controversy, in which Mr. Clay was involved. On the day after the signature of the treaty of Ghent, our Commissioners wrote a letter, containing a sketch of their debates on the subjects of disagreement. In that letter it was stated, that the offer of the navigation of the Mississippi to the British, was made by a majority of the American mission. In a letter of the same date, Mr. Russell informed the Secretary of State that he was in the minority on that question ; and he afterwards guzve a statement of the reasons which induced him to assune the position he held with regard to it. These papers were preserved in the archives of the government intil 1822,
when, in answer to a call from the House of Representatives, the President transmitted, with the whole correspondence, a private letter from Mr. RUSSELL, purporting to be a duplicate of one also transmitted from the State department. Between these two letters there was a variation, in the statement of a matter of fact, which subjected Mr. Russell to the severest censure of Mr. Adams, in a newspaper correspondence which immediately ensued. Mr. Clay, in a letter to Mr. RUSSELL, intended to be private, acquiesced in the censuring bestowed for the alteration of his letter, charged and proved by Mr. Adams; and took occasion to give, briefly, a sketch of their proceedings in relation to the subject of their difference. Mr. Adams had inferred, from the fact that the note, alledging the " peculiar character of the treaty of 1783,” as' preserving unimpaired the right of the United States to the fisheries, was signed by all the Commissioners: that Mr. CLAY concurred in believing that the provisions, respecting the grants, were imperishable, and did not, therefore, expire on the breaking out of the war. The correctness of this inference Mr. CLAY denied: he said that he suggested the insertion of the words "a majority,” in the despatch to the Secretary of State, for the express purpose of informing his own government that there was a division among themselves upon the point; and, for the very purpose of concealing that division from the enemy, he affixed his signature to the note sent to the British Commissioners, saying, that “his signature no more proved his assent, than the signature of an arbitrator to an award, proves his assent to it, when it was carried by a majority against his opinion, or an assent by a member of an aggregate body to all the transactions of that body which happened during his presence.” The controversy between Mr. ADAMS and Mr. RUSSELL, on this occasion, was quite bitter : but
neither of them, in the least, assailed the course, or impeached, in any degree, the character of Mr. Clay.
During the residence of our Ministers at Ghent, they were treated with the highest respect by the public authorities, and the attentions of private individuals manifested the regard in which their political skill and personal worth were held. They were all elected members of the Academy of Sciences and Fine Arts of that city, and received the most enthusiastic compliments of a large company, at a magnificent banquet given at the anniversary of that institution. They were upon terms of familiar and courteous intercourse with the members of the British Mission, and with Lord GAMBIER, especially, a nobleman distinguished not less by his private virtues than by his public worth, Mr. Clay formed an intimate and mutually pleasing acquaintance. We find recorded in the journals of that day, the following instance of a happy retort of Mr. CLAY for a gratuitous civility on the part of Mr. GouldBURN. That gentleman, while both were stopping for a time at Brussels, one morning sent to Mr. Clay, by his servant, late papers, containing an account of the capture and destruction of Washington by the British. It happened that Mr. CLAY had that morning received from Paris late papers, containing an account of the total defeat of the British forces, by land and water, on Lake Champlain. He accordingly sent these, by his servant, to Mr. GOULDBURN, in return for his courtesy.
The negotiation of the treaty of Ghent, may, without the slighest exaggeration, be classed among the most successful in the history of the country. On the part of the American Commissioners, the whole was conducted with the very
highest ability, the most consummate skill, and the most unbending devotion to the honor and welfare of their country. In the treaty finally established, every point for which the United States had contended was secured with the single exception of a stipulation on the subject of impressment: but, when it is remembered that silence on this topic was granted, at the express desire of the British Cabinet, (for they were, in reality, the negotiators in this matter,) who had first asserted, and always, up to that time, exercised the right; and, moreover, that the instructions of our own government expressly authorized them, previous to opening the negotia. tion, “to omit any stipulations upon this subject," with the express understanding that it was not the intention of the United States to admit the British claim thereon, or to relinquish that of the United States”-it will be deemed no slight triumph that the request for silence came from the nation which had, ever before, solemnly proclaimed her pretensions, and uniformly carried them into practical effect. The treaty was received in the United States with the greatest favor. All through the country it was regarded as a noble vindication of the honor and interests of the nation, and as a signal triumph over British insolence and cupidity. It spread universal joy throughout the land, while it was received in England with the most open and violent complaints. It was declared, in some of the leading London journals, that the British Commissioners had conducted the negotiation under fear of some of the great European powers, who had, at the Congress of Vienna, manifested an intention to uphold the principles in defence of which the United States had been contending. The Times acknowledged that England had “attempted to force their principles on America and had failed: we have retired from the combat with the stripes yet
bleeding on our back : scarcely is there an American ship on war which has not to boast of a victory over the British flagscarcely one British ship in thirty or forty that has beaten an American.” The same paper of a subsequent date contradicts the report, industriously circulated by interested persons, of rejoicings of the people on learning the terms of the treaty. Another leading London journal says, that the treaty “ forms a deplorable contrast with the high-sounding threats of a part of the public press. The waiving of some rights and the mere retention of others, is a miserable finale to a war that, we were told, must not cease until the Americans had been confoundedly, well flogged;' which, it was boasted, must dismember the Union, overthrow the government, and sweep the American navy from the ocean.". A third calls loudly upon the Prince Regent not to ratify so disgraceful” a treaty : “ it is inconsistent with common sense,” they say, “ to deny that our naval reputation has been blasted in this short but disastrous war; it is inconsistent with the spirit and feelings of Englishmen not to regret that the means of retrieving that reputation are cut off by a premature and inglorious peace.” And, in the upper House, Lord WELLESLY, known as one of the most bitter enemies of America on the floor of Parliament, denounced the British Cabinet for having “ advanced claims in the negotiation which they could not support, and were obliged to withdraw : for refusing to accept the mediation of Russia; and for the wanton destruction of the public buildings at Washington;" and confessed that the American Commissioners had shown the most
aştonishing superiority over the British in the negotiation” at Ghent. The effect of the treaty was to revive business of all kinds in America, and to instantly advance American credit abroad: while at London funds kept on a dead and heavy