Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1818: JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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1818: JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, February 15, 1818.
I take the liberty of putting under the protection of your cover a letter to Cardinal Dugnani at Rome, in the hope that through the nuncio resident at Paris it may find a sure conveyance to him. In return for this trouble I wish I could give you any news which would interest you, but, withdrawn entirely from all attention to public affairs, I neither know nor inquire what Congress are doing; you will probably know this better than myself from the newspapers, which I have ceased to read in a great degree. A single measure in my own State has interested me much. Our Legislature some time ago appropriated a fund of a million and a half of dollars to a system of general education. After two or three projects proposed and put by, I have ventured to offer one, which, although not adopted, is printed and published for general consideration, to be taken up at the next session. It provides an elementary school in every neighborhood of fifty or sixty families, a college for the languages, mensuration, navigation, and geography within a day’s ride of every man’s house, and a central university of the sciences for the whole State, of eight, ten, or twelve professors. But it has to encounter ignorance, malice, egotism, fanaticism, religious, political, and local perversities. In one piece of general information, which I am sure will give you pleasure, I can add mine to the testimony of your other correspondents. Federalism is substantially defunct. Opposition to the war, the Hartford Convention, the peace of Ghent, and the battle of Orleans have revolted the body of the people who called themselves Federalists against their leaders, and these have sunk into insignificance or acquiescence under the government. The most signal triumph is in Connecticut, where it was least and last expected. As some tub, however, must always be thrown out to the whale, and a religious one is fittest to recall the priesthood within their proper limits, the questions of Unity and Trinity are now set afloat in the Eastern States, and are occupying there all the vehemence of the genus irritabile vatum. This is food for the fools, amusement to the wise, and quiet to the patriot, while the light of the age will prevent danger from the flame it kindles. The contest, too, must issue in the triumph of common sense over the unintelligible jargon of Gothic fanaticism.
Ever and affectionately yours.
JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, April 9, 1818.
I avail myself, as usual, of the protection of your cover for my letters: that to Cathalan need only be put into the post-office; but for that for Appleton I must ask the favor of you to adopt the safest course which circumstances offer. You will have seen by the newspapers that there is a decided ascendency of the Republican party in nearly all the States—Connecticut decidedly so; it is thought the elections of this month in Massachusetts will at length arrange that recreant State on the Republican side. Maryland is doubtful, and Delaware only decidedly Anglican; for the term Federalist is nearly laid aside, and the distinction begins to be in name what it always was in fact, that is to say, Anglican and American. There are some turbid appearances in Congress. A quondam colleague of yours, who had acquired some distinction and favor in the public eye, is throwing it away by endeavoring to obtain his end by rallying an opposition to the Administration. This error has already ruined some among us, and will ruin others, who do not perceive that it is the steady abuse of power in other governments which renders that of opposition always the popular party. I imagine you receive the newspapers, and these will give you everything which I know; so I will only add the assurances of my constant affection and respect.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 27th April, 1818.
You will see in the Moniteur of yesterday the result of the negotiations respecting the private claims of subjects of the several European powers against France. She is to pay in the whole a gross sum in five per cent. stock of 320,800,000 francs, yielding therefore an annuity of 16,040,000 francs. In my despatch of 16th January last, I had stated 15 millions as the amount which the French government had determined not to exceed. But one million has been added by a special agreement with Spain, which is intended to be applied to the claims of French subjects against that country for property sequestered since the restoration of Ferdinand VII.
Although the French government has obtained as favorable terms in that respect as had been expected, the hope of a simultaneous stipulation for the withdrawing of the army of occupation in the course of this year has been disappointed. The final decision on that subject is referred to the congress of Dusseldorf or its vicinity, which will take place in September, and at which the two Emperors and the King of Prussia are expected to assist. I have, however, no doubt that if no new incident shall in the mean while take place, the evacuation of the French territory will at that time be agreed on, taking the 24 millions of rentes asked from the Chambers for that object in payment, or as a security for the payment, of the two last years of the war contribution, and of some arrears due on account of the army of occupation.
I had, in my letter of the 2d of January last, mentioned that I would wait for an answer from your Department to my despatch of the 23d of April, 1817, before I took any new steps on the subject of our own claims, and I had no expectation that a new application would at this moment prove successful. Yet it appeared that to remain altogether silent at the moment when an arrangement for the claims of the subjects of every other nation was on the eve of being concluded, might in some degree be injurious to the rights of our citizens. It was also apprehended that in their public communications the Ministers of the King, wishing to render the new convention as palatable as possible, might announce to the nation in general terms that all the foreign claims of individuals were now satisfied. These considerations induced me to address to the Duke de Richelieu the note of the 3d instant, of which I have the honor to enclose a copy,1 as well as of that by which he acknowledged the receipt of mine. You will perceive that in his communication to the Chambers (which has been inserted correctly in no other newspaper than the Moniteur) he has expressed himself in the following terms: “France (by this payment) is liberated, both as to principal and interest, from all the debts contracted towards the subjects of the other European powers prior to the 20th November, 1815.” The consideration of our claims is not, therefore, barred by anything which has taken place; but there is not yet any disposition to take up the subject. I have reason to believe that the fraction of 40,000 francs annuity, equivalent to 800,000 francs capital, which has been added to the 16 millions of rentes, is given to Portugal as an indemnity for vessels burnt at sea by Admiral Lallemant,—a species of claims which the French government has always appeared disposed to admit, if standing alone. But, with that single exception, there is no claim embraced by the late conventions of a nature similar to ours. They are all for debts recognized or contracts made by the former government of France. Sweden presented a claim for spoliations made on her commerce when she was a neutral nation, which has been expressly rejected as not coming within the scope of the conventions of 1815; and, as her subjects had no other claims, she receives nothing in the distribution of the gross sum now allowed by the late convention. Yet the Swedish chargé has informed me that most of the vessels for which the claim was made had been actually acquitted by the council of prizes. Having always been aware of the nature of the conventions made by the allied powers, care was taken in my note of the 9th November, 1816, to the Duke de Richelieu, to guard against any inferences which might thence be drawn against our claims.
Notwithstanding these unfavorable appearances, as circumstances may unexpectedly arise which would render some arrangement practicable, I beg leave to request some further instructions on the subject. Referring to my former communications, and more particularly to my note to the Duke de Richelieu of the 9th November, 1816, and to my despatches to your Department of the 20th January and 23d April, 1817, I will only add that the three principal questions on which I do not feel sufficiently instructed are these: 1st. Can the claims for condemned property be abandoned if France shall consent to settle those for vessels burnt at sea, and for property not definitely condemned? 2dly. May payment for these be accepted in stock at par, abandoning also the arrears of interest? 3dly. What gross sum in stock, to be distributed by our own government, might be accepted in lieu of all claims?
I have the honor, &c.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 1st May, 1818.
The papers which have been forwarded to you by the State Department will have kept you informed of the measures of the government during the recent session of Congress. The laws enforcing the neutral relations of the United States have been revised, consolidated, and rendered more equal in their operation, and consequently more just and conformable to the principles of good neighborhood.
The perseverance of the British Ministry in excluding us from the commerce of the West India Islands has at length produced a measure on the part of this government which is to take effect on the 1st of October next. The unanimity with which the measure has been adopted is a guarantee that it will not be lightly abandoned. It is perhaps known to you that last spring four propositions were submitted by the British Ministry to Mr. Adams, tendering under certain restrictions a participation in the West India trade to American shipping. These propositions were transmitted by Mr. Adams to the State Department, with a declaration that they presented no basis upon which to form an arrangement, even for the short time which the commercial convention had yet to run. As Mr. Adams had declined acting upon them, and would have taken his departure from London before instructions could be sent to him, no effort was made to effect anything under these propositions. I, however, stated my opinion to the President that a successful result might be anticipated from an effort to negotiate on the basis presented by the British Ministry. In framing Mr. Rush’s instructions during the absence of the President, Mr. Adams was directed to call upon me in order to receive my views of the subject, for the purpose of framing an instruction upon the basis presented. I declined entering into an explanation of my views, upon two grounds: 1st. That Congress was upon the eve of its session, when it was probable the subject would be acted upon, and no good could result from its being the subject of legislative deliberation and of diplomatic discussion at the same time. Another inducement to this course had been produced by the submission of the propositions themselves by Mr. Rush to several intelligent merchants, who had given their opinions against them as less advantageous than the probable effect of legislative measures which might be with safety adopted. From the reasoning presented in these opinions, it was manifest that several of them had misconceived their effects; yet this circumstance did not offer any inducement to weaken the considerations which have been previously presented.
It is probable that this measure may hasten the negotiations for a definitive arrangement, in anticipation of the expiration of the commercial convention between the two countries. I do not know what are the views of the President upon this subject. My own impression is that we should not move in the business, but that we should be perfectly prepared to meet them with a spirit of conciliation upon this subject. As I have not the most unlimited confidence in the judgment of our minister there, I shall suggest the propriety of provisional instructions being sent to you to join him upon the presentment of any serious proposition to negotiate upon this question. My opinion of Mr. Rush is not as unfavorable as many of my countrymen, especially in Congress. As a man, I have a great regard for him; but as a statesman, I think him deficient in judgment, and of confidence in his judgment. Perhaps the latter defect is more dangerous than the former.
The bill to provide for the support of the Revolutionary soldiers may give us a degree of celebrity in foreign countries, but I am persuaded that it will not add much to our fame at home. It will in fact be a general provision for the poor in the States to the east of Pennsylvania. $300,000 have been appropriated for that object, but it is generally believed that three times that amount will be insufficient for it.
News from Rio Janeiro presents us with a very unfavorable view of the temper of the Portuguese government. Perhaps the reception which our commissioners received there may predispose the Independents at Buenos Ayres to give them a more friendly greeting than they otherwise would have received from them.
We have just received from Mr. Erving a manifesto of the Emperor Alexander, dated at Moscow the 26th November, upon the subject of quarrel between Spain and Portugal, and between the former and her colonies. At that date it seems that the suppression of the insurrection at Pernambuco was not known at Moscow. The plain English of this manifesto, if it admits of explanation, is that the allied sovereigns are not agreed among themselves upon the principles of pacification to be offered to Spain and her colonies; that the Emperor fears that they will not agree upon any terms; that the views of England and Spain particularly are adverse, and that the Emperor is disposed to take part with the Spaniard. His appeal to the pride the consistency, the justice, and the magnanimity of the allied sovereigns to concert together the means of applying the principles of the European confederacy to the first practical case which has presented itself, as the only means of giving the lie to the sinister motives which had been attributed to it, could have been the result only of a strong impression that the occasion was likely to confirm the predictions which had been uttered upon that subject. As I have not seen the propositions of the English Cabinet, nor even the letter of Mr. Erving communicating the paper already described, I may have formed an inaccurate idea of it. With such lights as I possess, I can make nothing of it beyond what I have communicated.
I see that the law regulating the liberty of the press was rejected in the House of Peers (not the law regulating the journals). Was this rejection effected by the Liberal party? and is the effect of the rejection beneficial to that liberty? Why has the King rejected the bill for recruiting the army? Was it radically changed in either House? Upon what ground was it rejected?
Captain O’Connor brings with him bills to the amount of $1200 for the purchase of books for the Treasury. Not having a catalogue of any kind to refer to, it is impossible to make a selection at this place. I have referred him to you, and have to request that you will make a selection of such French authorities as may be useful. If there is any recent work showing the changes, if any, which have taken place in the relative value of silver and gold in Europe, I should be glad to obtain it.
I will also thank you to aid Mr. Jackson in the selection of English authors relative to finance, trade, manufactures, &c., &c., &c. I wish the selection to be appropriate for the object for which it is designed.
You will see that George W. Campbell succeeds Mr. Pinkney. It was offered to Mr. Lowndes, with the option of going there or to Constantinople. Upon his declining both, I advised the President to decline the latter, as I knew of no person whose personal popularity would silence opposition to it. The Speaker, who has laid about him most furiously through the whole session, had declared open hostility to the measure. If, however, Lowndes had accepted, he would have been silent on his account.
The session, which was stormy in the extreme, terminated as amicably as could have been anticipated. I am not certain but that I may be correct in saying that no irrevocable breach has yet taken place in the Republican party. The minority in which the Speaker found himself upon the South American question has convinced him that he will not be able to rally a force upon that question. If he is determined upon opposition, he may, if judicious, find a fitter occasion to rally his forces by waiting patiently and relying upon the chapter of accidents.
His enemies charge him openly with having coalesced with Governor Clinton. It is to be regretted that circumstances have occurred during the session calculated to give some degree of currency to the charge.
The President has not enjoyed good health during the winter. He postpones his Southern tour until the next year. Probably he will make an excursion to the West during the summer.
Present me respectfully to the members of your family, and particularly to Mrs. Gallatin. Mr. Macon requested me to present his respects to you and Mrs. Gallatin when I should write.
I remain, dear sir, your most obedient servant.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 2d May, 1818.
In selecting books for the Treasury library I wish to call your attention to the subject of canals. In France and England information of this kind may be obtained which may be useful to this country whenever a system of internal improvements shall be commenced upon national principles. You will perceive by the vote upon this subject that nothing of this nature is to be expected from the present Congress. Judging, however, from the sectional feelings which have been elicited by the recent discussions, the time is not distant when the public resources will be applied to that object. The Western States were nearly unanimous in favor of such an application. Every new State will add to the number of advocates of the measure. It is highly probable that a different result would have been obtained but for the fear of rendering the imposition of internal taxes again necessary. The appropriations contemplated at the time of the decision of the question were large, and, indeed, those made have so far exceeded the estimates that I believe the Treasury will be nearly empty when Congress meets again.
Notwithstanding the refusal of the House of Representatives to appropriate or pledge any fund for internal improvements, and their decision that they had no right to construct roads or canals, they have directed the Treasury and War Departments to report to the next session the roads and canals which may be deemed necessary in a commercial or military point of view. It will no doubt be expected that some estimate of the expense will be presented in these reports. If the materials for such an estimate cannot be obtained in France and England, I fear that any estimate founded upon the data resulting from works of that nature will be very imperfect. If the length of the different canals cut in France and England, with their breadth, depth, and number of locks, with their dimensions, and the whole cost of each, could be obtained, the means of making an estimate tolerably accurate would be acquired. The difference in the price of labor in the different countries would form no obstacle in forming the estimate. To be of use in making the contemplated report, no time should be lost in transmitting the works showing the cost, &c., of the canals in France. From England perhaps they cannot be obtained in time to be useful in the report, which must be made in the early part of the session.
It is understood that Mr. Crowninshield will resign in the course of the summer. He was treated most cruelly in the House of Representatives during the discussion of the bill to increase the salaries of the Secretaries. The poor opinion entertained of his talents, and his living in a boarding-house during the session, and return and residence at Salem during the greater part of the year, hung heavily upon the bill, and no doubt had considerable influence upon its ultimate fate.
There will be some difficulty in making a selection to fill the vacancy. Judge Van Ness (who, it is said, would have been selected originally had he retired) has been violently assailed during the session, and is hung up by cunning of young Spencer and Talmadge to public odium, at least until the middle or latter end of next session.
The Speaker seems to have leaned strongly to this course, and has formed strong and explicit opinions unfavorable to the character of the judge. Of the correctness of these opinions I am not capable of judging. Under such circumstances it will hardly be possible for Mr. Monroe to call him to the Cabinet.
There is no person in the Western country qualified for the place, nor, in fact, does there seem to be any person anywhere who presents himself under an imposing attitude.
Present me respectfully to Mrs. Gallatin and to every member of your family, and accept for yourself the assurance of my highest regard.
I remain yours, &c.
GALLATIN TO RICHARD RUSH, United States Minister in England.
Paris, June 3, 1818.
Your letter of the 18th ult. has been duly received. Reports similar to that which you communicate had also reached me from other quarters; but I think that I have been able to trace them to their source, and that they must be ascribed to the cupidity of persons formerly concerned in privateers, and who wished to be ready to prey on our commerce in case of hostilities taking place between us and Spain. However unwise the councils of that country may be, we can hardly suppose that folly should go the length of commencing war at this moment against the United States. Such a measure being also in direct opposition to the present policy of the great European powers, would certainly be prevented by them. But, indeed, every step lately taken by Spain evinces a disposition to preserve peace with us. Mr. Meade’s liberation, and the motives assigned for it, the determination to cede Florida to us, though not on admissible terms, an application made to France (since our rejection of the mediation of Great Britain) that she should interpose her good offices, and various other occurrences, might be adduced as evidences of that disposition. If you add to these the critical situation of Spain with respect to all her American colonies and the still doubtful issue of her protracted negotiations with Portugal, it appears almost impossible that there should be any solid foundation for those rumors of an approaching rupture with us, which have been spread both in England and in France.
As to Great Britain, there will be great difficulties in obtaining any reasonable arrangement either for the colonial trade, the fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or maritime rights. Yet, so far as I can judge, it appears to me that there is at this time in the government of that country a more favorable disposition towards the United States than had existed at any former period. At all events, they have not for the present any wish to quarrel with us.
Here everything goes also, for the present, better than had been expected. Having myself little, I might almost say nothing, to do for our country, I have leisure enough to observe what is done by others. Of that little the prosecution of our claims for spoliations constitutes the greater and most irksome part; and, as indirectly connected with that subject, I should wish to know whether we have altogether abandoned our claims against Great Britain for spoliations committed under her orders in council.
This letter will be delivered to you by Mr. Baring, with whom I have been long personally acquainted. You will find him a true and loyal Englishman, but perfectly well informed on the subject of America, and with more friendly and liberal dispositions towards her than any of his countrymen, at least within the circle of my acquaintance.
I have the honor to be, with great and sincere respect, dear sir, your most obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 20th July, 1818.
I had the honor to receive your despatch No. 6, dated 22d of May last, informing me of the intention of the President to commit jointly to Mr. Rush and to me the trust of a negotiation with the government of Great Britain. The full power which was announced, and without which the negotiation cannot be opened, was not, however, transmitted along with your despatch.
Mr. Rush’s letters of 2d and 6th instant, and my answer of the 13th, copies of which are enclosed, will show all that has as yet passed on the subject. I infer that if he finds Lord Castle-reagh not disposed to treat on the other subjects, and willing only to prolong for some time longer the existing convention, my presence will not be deemed necessary. No effort, in the event of a negotiation, will be wanted on my part to promote its success; but with its difficulties no one is better acquainted than the President and yourself.
Permit me, in the mean while, to request you to express to the President my grateful sense of this additional proof of confidence.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 22d July, 1818.
The account of the capture of the Fort St. Mark, and the report of the occupation of Pensacola by General Jackson, have excited some sensation here. Several merchants have waited on me to inquire whether there was any danger in making shipments to the United States; and 3 per cent. additional have been asked to insure against war risks. Although, from the nature of the case, and from the tenor of your despatch No. 5, I was led to presume that if General Jackson had occupied Pensacola it was without orders, yet, having no positive knowledge of the intentions of government, I have avoided speaking in a manner which might commit us. I only said that the government of the United States had no intention whatever to occupy forcibly Spanish Florida, or to begin hostilities; that whatever might have been done by its orders was only in self-defence and for the necessary protection of our citizens against the Indians. The Duke de Richelieu, after the capture of St. Mark’s alone was known, observed that we had adopted the game-laws, and pursued on foreign ground what we started on our own. He added immediately that it was extremely desirable that our differences with Spain might be arranged before the meeting of next Congress; alluding to the danger of our recognition of the independence of the colonies. The fear of this and the other embarrassments of Spain will probably prevent her and her friends from resenting by actual hostilities what may have been done on our part. But it must not be concealed that neither the forcible occupation of places to which we lay no claim, nor the execution of Indians, or even white men, who have been made prisoners in the Indian war, will tend to increase the consideration which the United States now enjoy, or to promote their interest, unless the necessity of the acts shall have been fully established.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, August 10, 1818.
The authentic account of the capture of Pensacola made here a strong and general impression. Such an event would hardly have been noticed some years ago, but at this moment of general peace an act of hostility, which might be considered by the other party as actual war, could not fail to attract general attention. Not knowing whether that act would be disavowed or justified by my government, all I could do was to try to soften the first impression, with the view of preventing, as far as practicable, any immediate commitment of opinion on the part of some of the allied powers, or any sudden inconsiderate act of retaliation on the part of Spain. To the ministers of those powers who have most influence over her I said that, although wholly uninstructed on the subject and knowing the event only through the channel of the newspapers, I could assert that it had not been anticipated by the government of the United States, and that no instructions had been given directing General Jackson to take forcible possession of the place; that such, however, might have been the conduct of Spain with respect to our Indian enemies as to have rendered the occupation of Pensacola necessary; and that she was bound by treaty to restrain by force the Indians within her territory from committing hostilities against our citizens, an engagement which she had failed altogether to fulfil. Besides making these verbal observations, I transmitted to the Duke de Richelieu copies of the President’s message of the 25th of March last, and of the 5th Article of our treaty with Spain. In a conference which I had with him on the 7th instant, we entered at large on the subject both of our affairs generally with Spain and of the questions connected with her colonies. He expressed much grief and astonishment at the capture of Pensacola; but his language was moderate and friendly. He dwelt on the importance of a speedy amicable arrangement of all our differences with that country, and on the interest that France took in the subject; and alluded to the advice which had been given to Spain in that respect. He then added that he thought, however, our pretensions in regard to our western boundary exaggerated, and our demands for spoliations too hard on Spain, considering her dependent situation when they took place. He seemed to consider La Salle’s settlement in Bay St. Bernard as the result of accident, and to be of opinion that any claim derived from it had been virtually abandoned by the long acquiescence of France in the Spanish establishments in the province of the Texas; but he made no observations on the subject of the eastern boundary of Louisiana as claimed by us. I stated briefly in answer the general grounds on which our demands were founded, and referred him for more details to your late correspondence with Mr. Onis, of which he had only seen partial extracts, and which I promised to send him entire. Knowing what had formerly been communicated by Mr. Roth on the subject of the eastern boundary, I said, notwithstanding the Duke’s silence in that respect, that we considered our claim in that quarter as so unquestionable that it would be useless to urge again the opposite pretensions of Spain I then observed that most of the topics of discussion would, in the case of the cession of Florida to us, be merged in the single question of the western boundary; that we would never abandon our right to any part of the territory described in Crozat’s charter,—that is to say, of that situated on any of the waters emptying into the Mississippi or Missouri,—and that as to the territory south of the Red River and bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, there could be no difficulty if Spain was sincerely disposed to make an arrangement with us in fixing a boundary convenient to both parties. Although the Sabine was mentioned in the letter of the Department of State to me of the 1st of June, 1816, I thought it premature to give any expectation that a boundary so near to our settlements would be accepted. My wish was only, by simplifying the question, to fix the attention on a single point, which France, if really anxious to promote an arrangement, might press on Spain. It is necessary to observe that, notwithstanding the contents of that letter, I had never before thought it convenient to discuss with this government the subject of our Spanish relations. With the knowledge of the personal political bias which exists here towards Spain, I thought it best to wait until they should open the subject. And, to prevent any mistake on the object of the conversation, I asked whether Spain had applied to France for her mediation, stating explicitly that, whilst we were disposed to give her as a common friend frank and full communications of our views, the mediation of no foreign power, not even of France, could be accepted. He disclaimed any intention of offering it, but acknowledged that Spain had lately applied for the good offices of France, and particularly wished her to give explanations on some points, which he left me to presume were those to which he had alluded. I told him that the best office that France could render Spain would be not to encourage her in her pretensions, and to urge the importance to her of an early arrangement. He said she did not always listen to advice; complained of her conduct in several respects; and said that he had written the day before to know why they had given him to understand that the negotiations were now carried on at Madrid, which, from my total ignorance, he must presume not to be fact. Although, as far as can be judged from appearances, France is in earnest to promote an arrangement, it is consistent with that plan to induce to lower our pretensions, and, although I have tried to discourage the attempt, she may perhaps think herself under the necessity of making some representations through her minister at Washington. Her great object in what she may do will be to serve Spain, and the knowledge and fear of our influence in the affairs of the Spanish colonies are the principal motives of her interfering in any respect. On the subject of the proposed mediation between Spain and her colonies, the Duke de Richelieu said that nothing positive was done, and that, in his opinion, nothing efficient could be done without us; he wished, therefore, to know what were our views in that respect. I answered that, nothing having been communicated to our government by any of the powers concerned in the mediation, no official communication could be expected from us; that whenever the allied powers, or any of them, should think proper to state their views on that subject, the overture would be met with a corresponding frankness; and that it appeared desirable in every respect that such free and mutual communications should take place. In the mean while, it was due to candor to say that, so far as I was able to judge, no expectation could be entertained that the United States would become parties in the proposed mediation, much less that they would accede to any measures having for object the restoration of the supremacy of Spain over the colonies which had thrown off her yoke. I added that it was understood that the allied powers did not intend to use force in order to compel the parties to accept their mediation, and that it appeared to me alike impracticable to obtain the consent of Spain to such liberal basis as it was intended to propose, and to persuade the inhabitants of the colonies to trust her and place themselves at her mercy. The Duke dwelt on the want of union among the insurgents, on their factions and weakness, on their unfitness for liberty, and on their incapacity of forming any permanent government whatever; he then suggested that if some prince of the Spanish family (the son of the ci-devant Queen of Etruria was mentioned) was sent over to America as an independent monarch, it might reconcile the inhabitants and be consistent with our views. I answered that on that last point my government alone could decide; that with the form of government which suited the colonies, or which any of them might select, we had nothing to do; that it was only to the preservation of their independence that I had alluded; and that it appeared to me doubtful whether a Spanish prince would be considered as securing that. As to the capacity of the colonists to form a government sufficient to carry on their business and to entertain foreign relations, I expressed my astonishment that any doubt could exist on that point, and mentioned San Domingo as a proof that even slaves could establish governments of their own, totally independent, at least of their masters. If there was any chance that Spanish America could be kept much longer under the dominion of Spain, why did she not do at once, where she was still in possession, that which was to be offered by the mediators to the insurgent colonies? No mediation was required for that; and nothing prevented her from opening the commerce of Cuba, Mexico, and Peru, from introducing in these, the three most productive and important of her colonies, all the improved administration, all the liberal laws and institutions, which were held out as the basis of the mediation. To these last observations the Duke of Richelieu seemed to assent, and to blame Spain for not pursuing a wiser course. But, after all, they cannot yet here reconcile themselves to the general and unavoidable emancipation of America. I had, at the request of the Russian minister, an interview with him yesterday, which embraced the same topics and had nearly the same aspect. This is not astonishing, considering the intimacy which exists between Russia and France, and more particularly between this Cabinet and Pozzo. (Of this I cannot give a better proof than by stating that he had read the whole of the correspondence of Mr. Hyde de Neuville with this government. It is, by the by, friendly to us, and has made a favorable impression here.) Still, there were some differences and additions. Pozzo still insists that our negotiation has been renewed at Madrid. He said that there were difficulties in our obtaining Florida, but did not explain whether they came from Spain, England, or his own Court. He considered the plan of sending a Spanish prince to America as chimerical; complained bitterly of the folly of Spain, and appeared to me to have almost abandoned the hope that a mediation would be agreed on. On the subject of Pensacola he expressed himself in the same manner as the Duke of Richelieu, and assured me positively that Russia had earnestly urged Spain to conclude an arrangement with us.
I think, upon the whole, that the dispositions of the European continental powers continue to be favorable to us. But Spain will make a great clamor, and I fear that the capture of Pensacola will at least impair the chance we had of acquiring Florida by treaty, and of settling all our differences with Spain. I earnestly wish that I may be mistaken. The most dangerous consequence would be the use which England may make of that event to regain her influence over Spain. She has tried to play a deep game to detach her from her other connections, and has heretofore made use of the negotiations with Portugal for that purpose. These, owing to that cause and the habitual folly of Spain, are not yet brought to a close, and do not seem more advanced than they were six months ago. Notwithstanding these appearances, and although some of the negotiators think otherwise, I am still of opinion that some kind of convention will finally be made.
I have the honor, &c.
P.S.—In the course of the negotiations between Portugal and Spain, an article had been proposed by the first purporting that she would be authorized to maintain her neutrality between Spain and her insurgent colonies. To this Spain decidedly objected, and was supported by all the mediators but one. When the vote had been taken, the British ambassador solemnly protested against it, and declared that his Court could not agree to any plan in which this provision was omitted. This incident is the most serious of the obstacles to the negotiation.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 5th November, 1818.
On my arrival here from London on the 27th ult., I found your letter of the 20th of August last, No. 9, and have since been engaged in collecting such information as might enable me to give a satisfactory answer to your inquiry.
With the previous views and feelings of this government I was well acquainted, but their conduct, and indeed that of Spain, in the case to which you allude, may be materially affected by the result of the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle on the subject of the Spanish colonies. To that point my inquiries have been principally directed; and, although the absence of the Duke de Richelieu and of the Russian minister at this Court has deprived me of my most direct and best means of information, I have reason to believe that the following statement is nearly correct.
Austria and Prussia dislike any mediation or any direct interference. Russia and France press that or any other measure which, without committing them too far, may be favorable to the views of Spain. England is averse to a joint mediation, but does not wish to appear to be the cause of its not being offered. The consequence of their different views is that nothing has as yet been done; and it is generally believed even by Mr. Hauterive, who has the Department of Foreign Affairs during the absence of the Duke of Richelieu, that no formal offer of mediation will be made. But some vote expressive of the wishes of the allied powers may be entered on the protocol, which will be communicated to Spain, and perhaps be published.
With respect to this government, connected as it is with Spain by political considerations and family ties, alarmed as it feels—and this alarm has not been at all concealed from me—at the appearance of anything that seems connected with revolutionary principles, it cannot be doubted that the recognition of the independence of any of the Spanish colonies will be viewed most unfavorably, and will affect our standing, if not our relations, with this Court. It must be observed that although this government is in many respects a constitutional monarchy, it is not so in the sense in which we generally understand it, so far as relates to the executive branch. The feelings and opinions of the King have a far greater influence, particularly over his ministers, than in England. With the nation at large we are favorites; the ministers are perfectly aware of our political importance and growing power; and these considerations have their weight even with the Court. Notwithstanding those recollections which connect our Revolution with that of France, and although our republican institutions excite apprehension, we are certainly considered, even by those who detest them most, as a regular and, to use their fashionable designation, as a legitimate government. But our public recognition of the independence of an insurgent colony will shock all their feelings and prejudices.
I thought that the best mode to ward off any effect from that cause, unfavorable to our interest, was to prepare them for the event, and to anticipate that which, from the former proceedings of Congress, appeared probable. I had upon every occasion stated that the general opinion of the people of the United States must irresistibly lead to such a recognition; that it was a question not of interest but of feeling; and that this arose much less from the wish of seeing new republics established than that of the emancipation of Spanish America from Europe. That emancipation was ultimately unavoidable, the charm that had kept that country so long in subjection being now broken, and those colonies being with respect to territory and population out of all proportion with Spain. We had not either directly or indirectly excited the insurrection. It had been the spontaneous act of the inhabitants, and the natural effect of causes which neither the United States nor Europe could have controlled. We had lent no assistance to either party; we had preserved and intended to preserve a strict neutrality. But no European government could be surprised or displeased that in such a cause our wishes should be in favor of the success of the colonies, or that we should treat as independent powers those amongst them which had in fact established their independence. These sentiments I had expressed in England and in France to the ministers of those and of the other European powers with whom the opportunity offered to discuss the subject; amongst others I had a long conversation with Lord Castlereagh, and since my return here I have repeated them to Mr. Hauterive, with a request that he would communicate them, as my decided opinion, to the Duke de Richelieu at Aix-la-Chapelle. I need hardly add that these declarations were made without committing my government, without pretending to know its intentions in that respect, but as arising from an intimate conviction that the event (our recognition of the independence of Buenos Ayres) must necessarily take place at no very distant period. In my last conversation with Mr. Hauterive I stated it as probable that it could not be delayed beyond this ensuing session of Congress.
Mr. Hauterive expressed his great sorrow at such intimation, and some surprise that this recognition should be so near at hand. Yet he acknowledged that the Duke de Richelieu was in some degree prepared for it, though not so immediately, not only from my former suggestions, but also from Mr. de Neuville’s correspondence and from a memoir prepared at the Duke’s request by Mr. Serurier, both of which corroborate my opinion on the subject. Without alluding to the feelings of France, he expatiated on our happy situation, on our future destinies, and on the want of sufficient motive for putting by a hasty step our certain prospects to any hazard. For if we intended, as I said, to preserve our neutrality, he could not perceive of what utility our nominal recognition could be to the colonies. He considered it also of great importance that the United States should to a certain extent be connected with the European system of politics. Their point of contact was the sea, and there they had been eminently useful to the general cause of social order and of civilization, by maintaining alone and preserving the maritime rights at the time they were crushed or abandoned everywhere else. He would see us with great regret raising in some degree the standard of America against Europe, and thereby enabling our only rival to excite a general jealousy against us. As to the proposed mediation, he said that he disliked it, since it would be unjust and impracticable to support it, as he termed it, by a crusade, and as the proffer of it as a purely friendly office had to him the appearance of an informal recognition of the colonies as independent powers. Yet, if something was not done in common, the whole subject would fall exclusively in the hands of Great Britain. But what else could, in his opinion, be done, unless it was to give some joint wholesome advice to the King of Spain, I could not understand.
I assured him that although the United States never could have joined in any plan having for its basis the return of the colonies to the supremacy of Spain, yet they would have been desirous of knowing with precision the views of the European powers and of communicating their own, in order that their respective measures might have diverged as little as comported with those views. But although it should have been evident that without the consent of the United States nothing efficient or durable could be done in America, they never had been consulted, nor till very lately, and that by England alone, any communication made to them of what was intended or wished on that subject by any of the European powers. Yet more than one year ago, and without having had time to receive instructions from my government, seeing a growing tendency here and in Russia to interfere between Spain and her colonies, I had conversed freely and with perfect candor both with the minister of Russia and with the Duke de Richelieu, deprecating the intended interference, and earnestly inviting a friendly communication of the views of both governments to my own. Nothing of the kind had been done; the course of events had not in the mean while been arrested; these had been favorable to the cause of the colonies; and Spain had done nothing tending to retard the decision of the United States. She had neither applied to Mexico or Peru, where she still had the power to do it without any mediation, those liberal measures calculated, as it was presumed in Europe, to reconcile the colonies to her government, nor taken any efficient steps to arrange her differences with ourselves to our satisfaction. Since there was no motive for the United States to act contrary to what was known everywhere to be the public national opinion, its decision must have been naturally expected. Still, it was extremely desirable that measures should not be adopted by the European powers which should be diametrically opposed to those which might be pursued by my government; and it was for that purpose that, anticipating, though without positive and official information, what these might be, I made this free, though unofficial, communication to him, in order that the sovereigns at Aix-la-Chapelle should not at least come to a final determination without knowing everything which might have some influence over it.
Mr. Hauterive said that he would certainly communicate immediately to the Duke de Richelieu what I had said; and I have no doubt but that he will also state it to the King. He took occasion, from my allusion to our own affairs with Spain, to say that, the powers of Mr. Erving having been found inefficient, the negotiation had again been transferred to Washington; that Onis had received full instructions to that effect, which instructions had been communicated to the French ambassador at Madrid; that they had been sent by Pizarro, and renewed since his dismission, and that he still hoped that they would lead to an arrangement which would prevent us from taking such decisive steps against Spain as the recognition of the independence of Buenos Ayres. He did not appear to me to be well informed with the nature of the instructions, as he seemed to think that a cession of Florida was not contemplated; but he said that although our claim to a western boundary was too extensive, Spain had been induced to yield considerably in that respect. I told him that I wished extremely, but really had no expectation, that Spain had given such instructions as would lead to an arrangement. He alluded, in decent terms, to the ignorance and stupidity of Ferdinand, but still thought, although it had taken place long before his having the temporary care of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and he had not examined the subject critically, that the efforts of France to induce that monarch to arrange the differences with us had succeeded.
I left, however, Mr. Hauterive under such an impression that the recognition was unavoidable, that he expressed a hope that we would give it a form such that it should not be an act of hostility against Spain. I answered that it would certainly be our wish that it should not be considered as such. I must acknowledge to you that this appears to me rather difficult, and that I think the weakness of Spain and the fear of the consequences of a war are the only motives which can induce her not to consider such declaration in any form whatever as an act of direct hostility.
But I am at the same time clearly of opinion that whatever course Spain may pursue, and however displeased this government may be with our conduct in that respect, France will not join with Spain in a war against us on that account, and that she will use her endeavors to prevent that country from engaging in it. I think that Russia will also be displeased, and will nevertheless unite with France in preventing a war. Whether Spain will be advised is a very different question, and on which I can give no opinion, that government having the habit to act contrary to its interests and to the expectations of its most sincere friends.
With respect to Great Britain, there is not, I believe, any danger of her joining at this time in a war against us. But I suspect that she would see one between us and Spain without regret. She has no objection to the independence of the colonies, particularly if she can enjoy its benefits without breaking with Spain or the other European powers, and if it is done at our expense. The greatest immediate inconvenience arising from a war between the United States and Spain will be to our commerce. This will be instantaneously assailed by privateers under Spanish commissions equipped and manned here, and particularly in England. Preparations to that effect were made twice last year when events created a belief that war was impending. Great Britain will not discourage it, as the difference in the rate of insurance will immediately give her shipping the preference over ours in the trade between the two countries, whilst under our convention, such is our superiority when placed on terms of equality, that of the vessels arrived at Liverpool from the United States during the first nine months of this year, three hundred were American and thirty English. That she has in some degree anticipated the contingency of such a war and its result may be conjectured from a circumstance in our late negotiation. We had inserted in our project an article (marked) which had always been heretofore introduced at her own wish, forbidding the subjects or citizens of either country to serve on board the armed vessels of the enemy of either; and this was altogether omitted in her counter-projet.
What might be the conduct of either of those powers in the event of a protracted war with Spain cannot be conjectured. My observations apply only to the immediate effects which may naturally be expected to follow a rupture. If a war with Spain shall not be the consequence of the intended recognition, the only inconveniences which I would apprehend in this quarter are such as may be expected from the unfriendly disposition created by that act. The desire, very sincere heretofore, that Spain should yield to our demands, and even to our wishes, would cease to exist; and the obstacles to the admission of our claims against this government, and even to commercial arrangements, would be increased. I am, however, very far from suggesting that the prospect, particularly on the subject of the claims, is now favorable.
I have already stated that the determination of the sovereigns at Aix-la-Chapelle will have an influence over the subsequent conduct of the several European powers. This determination will probably be known on the first of next month, and you may be made acquainted with it in the beginning of February. Whether it may be proper to wait till then before any decisive step is taken, it is for government to decide. The negotiations between Spain and Portugal have not yet been brought to a close. I understand that no definite answer has yet been given by Spain to a projet of arrangement approved by the mediators and assented to by Portugal.
I had forgotten to state, as a proof of the bias here in favor of Spain, that, although the Duke de Richelieu had assured me that France had no existing treaty of commerce with any nation, the provisions of the former ones with Spain, and which grant many special reciprocal favors, have, by orders from the Ministry, been again carried in effect, as if those treaties had never ceased to exist.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 6th November, 1818.
Anxious from public considerations to return to Paris as soon as possible, I left London on the 22d ult. The convention had been signed on the 20th, and the time left to write our joint despatches was so short that, although I hope nothing material was omitted, it may be useful to add some further details and observations. On the subject of the fisheries, the abstract question of our right had been so ably discussed in your two notes to the British government that we had nothing to add to that branch of the argument. We could only, and we did it with some effect, demonstrate that, with respect at least to territorial rights, Great Britain herself had not heretofore considered them as abrogated by the mere fact of an intervening war. Thus, Tobago, ceded by her to France by the treaty of 1783, taken during the ensuing war, and restored by the Treaty of Amiens, had again been retaken by Great Britain during the last war. She was in actual possession when the treaty of 1814 took place, and if the treaties of 1783 and of Amiens were abrogated by the last war, the cession of that island by France had become null, and a retrocession was useless. Yet Great Britain did not reason in that manner, and did not consider her right good without a formal cession from France, which she accordingly obtained by the last Treaty of Paris. Thus, neither the treaty of 1763 generally, nor the cession of Canada to Great Britain particularly, having been renewed by the Treaty of Amiens, if the treaty of 1763 was abrogated by subsequent wars she now held Canada by right of possession only, and the original right of France had revived. We applied those principles to fisheries which, independent of the special circumstances of our treaty of peace of 1783, were always considered as partaking in their nature of territorial rights. It is, however, true, although it was not quoted against us, that it had been deemed necessary to renew in every subsequent treaty the right of fishing on part of the coast of Newfoundland originally reserved to the French. Although our arguments were not answered, it appeared to me that two considerations operated strongly against the admission of our right. That right of taking and drying fish in harbors within the exclusive jurisdiction of Great Britain, particularly on coasts now inhabited, was extremely obnoxious to her, and was considered as what the French civilians call a servitude. And personal pride seems also to have been deeply committed, not perhaps the less because the argument had not been very ably conducted on their part. I am satisfied that we could have obtained additional fishing-ground in exchange of the words “forever.” I am perfectly sensible of the motives which induced government to wish that the portion of fisheries preserved should be secured against the contingency of a future war. But it seems to me that no treaty stipulation can effectually provide for this. The fate of the fisheries in that case will depend on the result of the war. If they beat us (which God forbid), they will certainly try to deprive us of our fisheries on their own coasts. If we beat them, we will preserve them and probably acquire the country itself.
Yet I will not conceal that this subject caused me more anxiety than any other branch of the negotiations, and that, after having participated in the Treaty of Ghent, it was a matter of regret to be obliged to sign an agreement which left the United States in any respect in a worse situation than before the war. It is true that we might have defeated the whole object by insisting that the words “not liable to be impaired by any future war” should be inserted in the article. But this course did not appear justifiable. It was impossible, after a counter-project formed on compromise had been once offered, that the United States could by negotiations alone be reinstated in their enjoyment of the fisheries to their full extent; and if a compromise was to take place, the present time and the terms proposed appeared more eligible than the chance of future contingencies. I became perfectly satisfied that no reliance could be placed on legal remedies; that no court in England would give to the treaty of 1783 a construction different from that adopted by their government, and that if an Act of Parliament was wanted, it would be obtained in a week’s time and without opposition. If the subject was not arranged, immediate collision must ensue, and, Great Britain proceeding under legal forms to condemn our vessels, no resource remained for us but to acquiesce or commence hostilities. With much reluctance I yielded to those considerations, rendered more powerful by our critical situation with Spain, and used my best endeavors to make the compromise on the most advantageous terms that could be obtained. After a thorough examination of the communications on the subject which you transmitted to us, I think that substantially we have lost very little, if anything; and I only wish that it had been practicable to give to the agreement the form of an exchange in direct terms; that is to say, that we give fishing rights in certain quarters in consideration of the right of curing fish on a part of Newfoundland and of the abandonment of the British claim to the navigation of the Mississippi. This, however, could not be done in a positive manner, the British plenipotentiaries disclaiming any right to that navigation, and objecting, therefore, to a renunciation of what they did not claim. The article which they proposed on this last subject was only, as they said, an equivalent for what they pretended to concede in agreeing that the boundary west of the Lake of the Woods should be fixed at the 49th degree of north latitude.
The renewal of the commercial convention and the propositions relative to the colonial intercourse will make the subject of a distinct despatch.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, November 9, 1818.
The returns from our American custom-houses must show the comparative amount of American and British tonnage employed in the intercourse between the United States and the dominions of Great Britain in Europe. Every account collected in England agrees in the fact that the proportion is vastly in our favor and is still increasing. Of this the British plenipotentiaries were aware, and alluded to it; indeed, there was at a time a remonstrance prepared to oppose the renewal of the convention. But the present Ministry seems, upon the whole, disposed to adopt a more liberal policy in commercial affairs than would be suggested by the mercantile interest of the country. And they also set a great value on that part of the convention which secures them against any prohibition or prohibitory duties on their manufactures which will not equally apply to those of other countries. In estimating on our side the convention of 1815, we must not only attend to the existing state of things, but take also into consideration the danger to which we would be exposed from the operation of discriminating duties on our produce, and which, on account of the great comparative bulk of our exports, we cannot effectually repel by similar duties on foreign imports. This I mention because I know that the disposition to engross has sometimes on this very subject found its way into the United States, and might, if listened to, lead to very unfavorable results. All we want is to be placed on an equal footing, and then the energy and maritime skill of the Americans will give them a decided superiority everywhere, even over the British. But it would be desirable, in order to enable our government to repel measures of commercial restrictions and to negotiate with equality, that they should have the power to lay a duty not on exports generally, but on such only as were exported in foreign vessels. Until such an amendment is made to the Constitution, our only security must be found in the great inferiority of other nations, as is now the case with France, or in arrangements similar to our convention with Great Britain. It would, however, have been desirable that that of 1815 had not expired so soon, so as [to] have been able to postpone its renewal till we had come to an agreement on the subject of colonial intercourse. It also happened that, as Mr. Rush was not to call me to England before he had ascertained whether the British government was disposed to negotiate upon other subjects, that government, in the course of the conversations he held with Lord Castlereagh, became necessarily acquainted with the fact that he was at all events authorized to renew the convention of 1815, even if no negotiation was opened on any other point. This may have somewhat lessened the inducements of Great Britain to make an agreement on the subject of the intercourse with the West Indies. Yet I think that the disposition does exist, and that the Ministry will go as far as public opinion permits them.
Mr. Robinson was very explicit on that subject, and almost complained of our insisting on an unlimited intercourse, which we must know could not at once be opened, even if the Administration was precisely of the same opinion with ourselves. And he intimated that such an unlimited intercourse (with the exception of salted provisions) would be the ultimate result of its being now partially opened. He added that, considering our proximity, and that the West Indies could have no shipping of their own, the greatest part of the carrying trade in the direct intercourse must necessarily be done by American vessels; and that, in order to restore the equality, it was absolutely necessary that a portion of that intercourse should be carried through the medium of Bermuda and Halifax. I think that our joint despatch is sufficiently full on that subject to enable our government to judge of the modifications of which an arrangement founded on that basis is susceptible, and to give every necessary instruction. I am apt to think that the British government will not consent to add any article of American produce to the list contained in their proposal, and that they may assent to add coffee to that of the articles of West India produce. They hesitated, as I thought, even with respect to sugar, and I understood that the great objection, besides the fear of our becoming its carriers to Europe, came from the non-residing planters, and particularly from the merchants and others who have mortgages on West India plantations, and who fear, as is also the case in Holland with respect to Surinam, that their agents or debtors should ship the sugar elsewhere than to the mother-country.
* * * * * * * * * *
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 21st November, 1818.
It is believed that the last conferences at Aix-la-Chapelle took place on the 18th instant. My advices are to the 16th. The intimation that the independence of some of the Spanish colonies might be recognized by the United States has, as I expected, been received with much displeasure by Russia and by the Duke de Richelieu. By Lord Castlereagh it was considered as a hasty measure.
The depredations committed by the privateers under the flags of Buenos Ayres, &c., particularly by those equipped in the United States, and the admission of those privateers and of their prizes in our ports, have, it seems, occupied the attention of the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle. The fair commerce of the world is considered in great danger if every petty section of country which erects or pretends to erect an independent standard should be permitted to issue commissions, and if the inhabitants of neutral countries should, under color of such commissions, be allowed to prey upon the peaceful vessels of other nations. A general system of piracy would ensue, and no nation was more interested than America in preventing such result. It was therefore suggested—I believe by Lord Castlereagh—that some measures should be taken in concert with her for the suppression of that growing evil. The Duke de Richelieu prepared a paper intended for a joint note of the five great powers to the government of the United States, strongly remonstrating against their supposed acquiescence, and, as I understand, asking for the renewal of the law of the session of Congress—1815-1816—which had undesignedly made a distinction unfavorable to the armed vessels of the colonies. This was at once objected to by Lord Castlereagh and Metternich, as improper in form and substance, and calculated to excite indignation. That mode was abandoned; and it was agreed (whether only verbally or by a formal entry on the protocol I cannot say) that the powers who had ministers at Washington should be instructed to make representations on the subject. These will probably vary according to the several views of the powers. It is not believed that anything will be made public on the subject of Spain and her colonies; although some agreement has probably taken place. It has been proposed very lately by Lord Castlereagh that Wellington should be sent in the name of the five powers to Madrid; but for what special purpose I cannot understand. The question not yet decided on the 16th.
Such is the substance of the information which I have received, and which I have reason to believe tolerably correct. The Duke de Richelieu is expected here next week, and it is said that Lord Castlereagh and Count Nesselrode are also coming. I would have delayed writing a few days longer, but opportunities are not now as frequent as usual, and I did not wish to lose that of a vessel which is on the point of sailing. I hope to be able to write more at large on all these subjects before the end of this month.
I have the honor, &c.
JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, November 24, 1818.
Your letter of July 22 was most acceptable to me, by the distinctness of the view it presented of the state of France. I rejoice in the prospect that that country will so soon recover from the effects of the depression under which it has been laboring; and especially I rejoice in the hope of its enjoying a government as free as perhaps the state of things will yet bear. It appears to me, indeed, that their constitution, as it now is, gives them a legislative branch more equally representative, more independent, and certainly of more integrity, than the corresponding one in England. Time and experience will give what is still wanting, and I hope they will wait patiently for that without hazarding new convulsions.
Here all is well. The President’s message, delivered a few days ago, will have given you a correct view of the state of our affairs. The capture of Pensacola, which furnished so much speculation for European news-writers (who imagine that our political code, like theirs, had no chapter of morality), was nothing here. In the first moment, indeed, there was a general outcry of condemnation of what appeared to be a wrongful aggression. But this was quieted at once by information that it had been taken without orders and would be instantly restored; and although done without orders, yet not without justifiable cause, as we are assured will be satisfactorily shown. This manifestation of the will of our citizens to countenance no injustice towards a foreign nation filled me with comfort as to our future course.
Emigration to the West and South is going on beyond anything imaginable. The President told me lately that the sales of public lands within the last year would amount to ten millions of dollars. There is one only passage in his message which I disapprove, and which I trust will not be approved by our legislators. It is that which proposes to subject the Indians to our laws without their consent. A little patience and a little money are so rapidly producing their voluntary removal across the Mississippi, that I hope this immorality will not be permitted to stain our history. He has certainly been surprised into this proposition, so little in concord with our principles of government.
My strength has been sensibly declining the last few years, and my health greatly broken by an illness of three months, from which I am but now recovering. I have been able to get on horseback within these three or four days, and trust that my convalescence will now be steady. I am to write you a letter on the subject of my friend Cathalan, a very intimate friend of three-and-thirty years’ standing, and a servant of the United States of near forty years. I am aware that his office is coveted by another, and suppose it possible that intrigue may have been employed to get him removed. But I know him too well not to pronounce him incapable of such misconduct as ought to overweigh the long course of his services to the United States. I confess I should feel with great sensibility a disgrace inflicted on him at this period of life. But on this subject I must write to you more fully when I shall have more strength, for as yet I sit at the writing-table with great pain.
I am obliged to usurp the protection of your cover for my letters—a trouble, however, which will be rare hereafter. My package is rendered more bulky on this occasion by a book I transmit for M. Tracy. It is a translation of his Économie politique, which we have made and published here in the hope of advancing our countrymen somewhat in that science; the most profound ignorance of which threatened irreparable disaster during the late war, and by the parasite institutions of banks is now consuming the public industry. The flood with which they are deluging us of nominal money has placed us completely without any certain measure of value, and, by interpolating a false measure, is deceiving and ruining multitudes of our citizens.
I hope your health, as well as Mrs. Gallatin’s, continues good, and that, whether you serve us there or here, you will long continue to us your services. Their value and their need are fully understood and appreciated. I salute you with constant and affectionate friendship and respect.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 10th December, 1818.
It appears certain, besides the declarations which have been made public, some other resolutions were adopted at the congress of Aix-la-Chapelle and entered on the protocol. The affairs of Baden may be quoted in proof. Whatever else may have been concluded, there can be no doubt that the result is favorable to the continuance of the general peace of Europe, and that the union of the five powers is better consolidated than before. But I have not been able to ascertain if any agreement has taken place on the subjects in which we are concerned. Lord Castlereagh told me that he did not at this moment feel at liberty to communicate what might have been determined on the subject of the Spanish colonies. The Duke de Richelieu gave me to understand that nothing decisive had been agreed on in that respect. I believe this to be the fact. The plan of sending the Duke of Wellington to Spain has been abandoned. The subject of depredations by vessels sailing under the flag of some of the colonies or local authorities was not touched in any of the conversations I had with the ministers of the several powers.
These conversations have confirmed me in the opinions which I gave in my despatch of the 5th of November, and to which I beg leave to refer. I mentioned to the Duke de Richelieu the substance of what I had written to you respecting the feelings of France in case the United States should recognize the independence of Buenos Ayres, and he did not hesitate to say that my statement was very correct. He expressed his hope that the contingency would not take place, and that the differences between the United States and Spain would be arranged. From the general tenor of the conversation I was, however, satisfied that in the case of war with her, an event which would be considered here as very unfortunate, there was not any expectation that France would take any active part in it.
Both he and Pozzo speak with confidence of the expedition now preparing at Cadiz sailing in the spring with eight or ten thousand men. The conquest of Buenos Ayres is stated to me as the avowed object, taking first possession of Montevideo, which the Portuguese have agreed to restore provided a sufficient force is sent by Spain. The convention, however, after so many delays, is not yet signed. The project of offering to Buenos Ayres a Spanish prince as sovereign is again spoken of.
In the conversation I had with Lord Castlereagh, and in another with the Duke of Wellington, friendly dispositions were expressed towards the United States. The last said that we were so near on the subject of impressment and on that of the West India intercourse that he hoped both subjects would soon be arranged. From his perfect knowledge of what has passed in the course of our negotiation, it may be inferred that he is already in fact a member of the Cabinet. Whatever may be the real dispositions of Great Britain in other respects, and for my opinion of which I also refer to my despatch of the 5th of November, I think that you may at least rely on her wish to preserve at this time peace, and even a good understanding, with the United States.
I have the honor, &c.
[1 ]This note will be found in American State Papers, vol. v. (Foreign Relations) 290.