Front Page Titles (by Subject) CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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CRAWFORD 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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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.