Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1820: GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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1820: GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - 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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GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 13th January, 1820.
The President’s message at the opening of Congress was received here, by the way of England, on the 10th instant.
I observed to Mr. Pasquier that the President, on being informed of the intention of Spain to send a minister to the United States with new explanations, had determined to wait for his arrival, provided it took place during the present session of Congress, before he should proceed to occupy Florida; that this delay, after all that had passed, was a most undeniable proof of the earnest desire of the United States to arrange in an amicable way their differences with Spain; but that it was the last act of condescension which could be expected, and that this government might be assured that if the Spanish minister did not arrive in time, and with satisfactory instructions, Florida would be forthwith occupied, for the reasons which I had already been instructed to communicate, and which were explained more at large in the President’s message.
Mr. Pasquier assured me that he had repeatedly written, and had again since the receipt of the President’s message renewed his instructions to the French legation at Madrid, to impress on the Spanish government the necessity of sending the new minister without delay. He added that he regretted that he had not departed before the receipt of the President’s message, some parts of which would, he feared, have an unfavorable effect in Spain. I understood him to allude to the paragraphs respecting the Spanish colonies; and the Spanish ambassador, who has always been friendly to the ratification of the treaty, was explicit on the subject. I reminded Mr. Pasquier of the well-known efforts of our government to prevent a premature recognition of the independence of the colonies, and said that the conduct of Spain towards us had been every way calculated to hasten that event. She must, however, well consider the unavoidable result of the ultimate steps she was going to take. If the treaty was not ratified, Florida would most certainly be occupied; and then Spain must either submit to it, however painful to her pride, or by a rupture with the United States lose the last hope of recovering the insurgent colonies and of retaining even those on the continent which she still possessed.
With the exception of those observations and of some offensive and unfair comments in an ultra newspaper, the President’s message has met here with very general approbation. The Russian minister expressed himself quite satisfied with it, and was of opinion that it would be well received by his government. Indeed, since Russia has lost her influence at Madrid, I would not be surprised to see her much more explicit on our side.
General Vives, the new Spanish minister to the United States, if I do not mistake his name, is expected at Paris, and has orders to confer freely with this government. This would be favorable to a pacific result if there was time; but, considering the season of the year and the usual slowness of Spanish movements, I think it hardly possible that that gentleman will reach Washington before the adjournment of Congress.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, January 15, 1820.
I have spoken several times to Mr. Pasquier since my letter of the 9th ultimo on the subject of discriminating duties. He always professed sentiments friendly to whatever might increase the commercial relations between the two countries, and appeared disposed to meet in some manner the overture made on our part. But he always added that the French merchants were extremely averse to a total abolition. I addressed to him on the 6th instant the letter of which a copy is enclosed,1 and he had positively promised to send me yesterday an answer, which is not yet received. The departure of the Stephania compels me to write to you without waiting for it. I understood that at all events that answer would not be decisive, and a projet of law, making sundry alterations in the custom-house duties, was yesterday presented to the Chamber of Deputies, which contains no alteration in the discriminating duties of which we complain. The effect of these becomes every day more manifest. At Nantes, where not a single American vessel has arrived within the last eighteen months, eight French vessels have arrived with cargoes of American produce within the last six months of 1819. I am confident that this government will make no sufficient alteration until they are compelled to do it by our own acts. They have received full notice on that subject, and cannot complain of any measure founded on the principle of equality. But it is evident they wish to gain time till Congress is adjourned, in order to enjoy the monopoly of the trade for one year longer; and it is probable that Mr. Hyde de Neuville will receive instructions for the purpose of persuading you that an arrangement will be made here. A clause in your Act, leaving a contingent power to suspend its operation in case such an arrangement should take place, is all that appears necessary to obviate every objection.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, January 20, 1820.
I have now the honor to enclose the copy of Mr. Pasquier’s long-promised answer on the subject of our commercial relations, which was not received till after I had closed my last despatch to you. I am confirmed in the opinion that nothing will be done here until we shall have done justice to ourselves by our own measures. The Ministry is, I think, well disposed; but they will not act in opposition to the remonstrances of the shipping interest and of the chambers of commerce, which have been consulted. That of Paris is averse to our proposals. Indeed, Mr. Pasquier informed me that that of Bordeaux alone had given an opinion favorable to them.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, February 15, 1820.
General Vives, the new minister of Spain to the United States, arrived at Paris on the 11th instant, and left it on the 14th for London, with the intention to embark at Liverpool in the New York packet, which will sail on the 1st day of March.
Mr. Pasquier, after having seen him, invited me to an interview on the 12th, and said that he was in hopes that the differences might still be adjusted. General Vives had told him that the principal points with Spain were that the honor of the Crown should be saved (mis à couvert) in the business of the grants, and to receive satisfactory evidence of our intention to preserve a fair neutrality in the colonial war. Mr. Pasquier had observed to him that it would be a matter of deep regret that private interest should prevent the conclusion of such an important arrangement, and that when it was clear that there had been at least a misunderstanding on the subject, the King’s dignity could not be injured by a resumption of the grants or by an exchange for other lands. He seemed to think that this would be arranged, and asked me what I thought we could do respecting the other point. I answered that the fullest reliance might be placed on the fairness of our neutrality, and that I was really at a loss to know what could be added to the measures the United States had already adopted to enforce it. Mr. Pasquier gave me to understand that if there was any defect, however trifling, in our laws, and that was amended, it would probably be sufficient to satisfy the pride of Spain, as there now appeared a real desire to ratify, provided it could be done without betraying a glaring inconsistency. He had expressed to General Vives his opinion of the impropriety of asking from the United States any promise not to recognize the independence of the insurgent colonies, and had told him that, on that subject, Spain could only rely on the moral effect which a solemn treaty, accommodating all her differences with the United States, would have on their future proceedings.
I expressed my hope that the explanations which General Vives was instructed to give on the subject of the grants and to ask on that of our neutrality might be such as to remove all the existing difficulties. But it was most important that he should arrive in the United States before the adjournment of Congress, and that he should be the bearer of the King’s ratification of the treaty; so that, if everything was arranged, those ratifications might be at once exchanged at Washington. If that was not done, the President would have no more security that the King would ratify General Vives’s than Mr. Onis’s acts, and it was impossible to suppose that he would run the risk of a second disappointment. This observation forcibly struck Mr. Pasquier, who said that he would make further inquiries on that point.
I saw the same evening the Spanish ambassador at this Court, and in the course of a short conversation he suggested that the grants in dispute might be set aside, the grantees not having fulfilled certain conditions or formalities; and, after acknowledging that General Vives was not the bearer of the King’s ratification, he hinted that he was authorized to give to the United States satisfactory security that Spain would fulfil her engagements.
On the 13th I dined at the Minister of Foreign Affairs with General Vives, who repeated to me in substance what he had said to Mr. Pasquier. I told him that the President would judge of the explanations he had to give on the subject of the grants; that he might rely on the determination of the United States to preserve their neutrality, and not less on the manner in which the laws for enforcing it were executed than on the tenor of those laws, which, I observed, were and had always been more full and efficient than those of either England or France on the same subject; that I could not say whether the question of recognizing the independence of the insurgent colonies would be agitated during the present session of Congress; but that, if it was, the decision would probably have taken place before his arrival. On his observing that such recognition would altogether prevent any arrangement, I only reminded him that the government of the United States had for several years endeavored to prevent the adoption of the propositions made in Congress with that view.
I then repeated what I had said to Mr. Pasquier respecting the importance of his being authorized to exchange the ratifications of the treaty. He answered that, although he was not, he could, in case of an arrangement, give satisfactory security to the United States, and that it would consist in consenting that they should take immediate possession of Florida, without waiting for the ratification of the treaty.
General Vives repeated in the course of the evening the same thing to Mr. Pasquier, with whom I had afterwards a short conversation on the subject. He seemed extremely astonished that the Spanish government should have adopted that course rather than to authorize their minister to exchange at once the ratifications, and ascribed it to the singular policy of that Cabinet, and to their habits of procrastination, which had been evinced at Vienna, and in every subsequent negotiation to which Spain had been a party. Since, however, the measure they proposed coincided with the views of the President as stated in his message, and would at all events prevent a rupture, we both agreed that no time should be lost in communicating to you General Vives’s declarations.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, March 16, 1820.
I had on the 9th of June, 1818, addressed a letter to the Duke de Richelieu in relation to the American vessels Dolly and Telegraph, burnt at sea by two French frigates in the latter end of the year 1811. Mr. Lagrange, the lawyer of the owners, communicated to me a short time ago the decision of the council of state in that case, copy of which, as well as of my letter to the Duke of Richelieu, is herewith enclosed. You will thereby perceive that the application for indemnity has been rejected, principally on the ground that the French captains must have been ignorant of the revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees, since the decree of the 18th April, 1811, was not published till the 8th of May, 1812.
It appeared to me essential not only to remonstrate against this flagrant injustice, but also to refute at large the doctrine thus attempted to be established in violation of the solemn engagements of the French government. The effect the decision might have on our claims in general, and the ground which had been uniformly assumed by the government of the United States in its discussions with that of Great Britain, and in all the public reports made on that subject, are considerations too obvious to require any comment on my part. I have the honor to enclose a copy of the letter1 which I have addressed to Mr. Pasquier on the occasion, and am, with great respect, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 17th March, 1820.
I had mentioned in my despatch No. 136 that although the insurrection of the Spanish army was considered as decisive with respect to the fate of the intended expedition against the colonies, yet it was the general opinion here that it would have no political result in Spain itself. That belief continued to prevail during nearly two months, and was corroborated by the resistance of Cadiz, and by the total apathy of the people of the adjacent provinces of Andalusia and Granada. It was indeed allowed that the temporizing conduct of the Spanish government arose from the fear that the troops under Freyre and O’Donnell, although they had not joined the insurrection, could not be trusted if brought in contact with the insurgents. But it was presumed that these, confined in the island of Leon, would not remain long united, and that seeing that, although they had proclaimed the constitution of the cortes, they were not supported in any part of the monarchy, they would ultimately submit. The charm was suddenly broken by the unexpected insurrection of the important province of Galicia. As soon as this was known here, Mr. Pasquier acknowledged to me that the question was decided; that if there was any resource left, it was to give instantaneously a charter to the Spanish nation,—a course which, I think, had been at different times strongly recommended by this government,—but that he feared it was too late, and that the constitution of the cortes would be forcibly imposed on the King.
The event, as you must already know, has justified this opinion. The constitution of the cortes was almost at the same time proclaimed in Aragon and Old Castile, and by the troops collected at Ocana, near Madrid. An insurrection would undoubtedly have broken out in the capital during the night of the 7th-8th March had it not been prevented by the King’s decree declaring his acceptance of the constitution. So far the revolution appears complete, and has been effected almost without shedding any blood. But the event is much too sudden and too recent to be able to appreciate all its results. The only thing which is certain is that the whole of Spain was determined to throw off the intolerable yoke under which she groaned, and that she will be free. She has still many difficulties to encounter.
The constitution of the cortes is very imperfect, and appears to be an imitation of that which had been adopted in France in the year 1791. Like this, it has the double defect of having concentred all the important powers in an assembly composed of a single chamber, and of having preserved a nominal King, who, though not personally disliked, is not trusted, and who has not sufficient authority to defend his few remaining prerogatives. Perhaps it has been now resorted to as the only existing rallying-point, and may receive important modifications. There are certainly in Spain strong habits, and even exalted feelings, in favor of royalty, which render that course probable. But if no changes are made by common consent, it is almost impossible that some new convulsion should not take place, unless Ferdinand shall passively submit to be a mere instrument in the hands of the cortes. To this fundamental difficulty must be added those arising from the yet unascertained pretensions of the army, from the hatred between the Josephinos and the Liberales, from the privileges of the provinces, from the deplorable state of the finances, and from the situation of the colonies.
It is not improbable that, taught by experience, the cortes may adopt measures calculated to preserve those colonies which are not in a state of open insurrection; and there seems to be some expectation that some arrangement may be made with Buenos Ayres. The war has been carried on in a too sanguinary way in Venezuela to render it probable that reconciliation with that province will take place.
Spain will probably be indebted to her geographical situation for an exemption from a foreign interference. Symptoms have already appeared here of the wishes of the ultra-royalists that it might take place, and there will be a strong disposition for interfering on the part of some of the continental powers. But it seems improbable that Great Britain should unite in that plan; and the government of France, even if it was so disposed, which I doubt, cannot or dares not send her own troops to Spain, or grant a passage through her territories to a foreign army.
The moral effect of this revolution on other parts of Europe is not yet felt, but will be great. Although no symptom has yet appeared of a disposition on the part of this government to alter the retrograde course which it is now pursuing, the opposition is already emboldened, and it is impossible that such an event should not render the measures proposed still more odious to the people at large. In the mean while, everybody agrees that such an example of a revolution effected by the army is most dangerous, particularly as relates to Prussia. For there also there has been a breach of promise, and there also the army is deeply impregnated with those sentiments of liberty which animate all the enlightened part of the nation. There is an eminent danger of revolutions if the sovereigns are not taught by this example that reliance on a mere physical force is insecure; that their armies may become their most formidable enemies; and that they cannot any longer rely on the stability of their government unless they make in time all the concessions required by the state of society and imperiously demanded by public opinion.
With respect to our differences with Spain, I think that the new administration of that country would make no difficulty on the subject of the grants of land. How far the national pride will be reconciled to the cession itself of Florida may be a more doubtful question. You will undoubtedly recollect that according to the constitution the King cannot grant any portion of Spanish territory without the consent of the cortes. Our treaty will therefore require their ratification.
I have the honor, &c.
[To the duplicate of this letter was added the following:]
P.S.—March 23. I have received, since the above was written, several letters from Mr. Forsyth at Madrid, of which, according to a wish expressed in one of them, I now forward copies herewith enclosed. The proclamations, &c., are the same as are published in the Paris newspapers.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 27th April, 1820.
I have the honor to enclose the copy of a letter I addressed on the 22d instant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the subject of a proposed increase of the duties on tobacco imported in American vessels. In a transient conversation I had with him two days after, he informed me that my observations were then before the council of ministers; and although he gave no positive opinion, it appeared to me that they felt some reluctance in opposing the proposition of the committee. I still fear that if nothing shall have been done by Congress, our attempt to obtain redress by a negotiation will fail altogether; and I wait with impatience both the decision of that body and your instructions in that respect.
Mr. Pasquier has also informed me that he had referred to the Minister of Justice my remonstrance of the 15th of March last against the decision of the council of state in the case of the Dolly and Telegraph. This is a very unusual course in an affair where our rights are founded on a positive agreement between the two countries, an agreement entirely political, and in which the Minister of Foreign Affairs was the organ of the French government.
I have the honor to enclose a letter from the King of Würtemberg announcing his marriage, and which was delivered to me by his minister at this Court.
I have the honor, &c.
MONROE TO GALLATIN.
Washington, May 26, 1820.
I have to apologize for not having written to you before, but I have presumed that you would have seen that the official pressure on me was so great as to leave me no time for other duties, however interesting; especially as, until the last winter, my health had not been fully restored since the fatigues of the last war. At present I am much blessed in that respect, and as I shall dispose of the interval between this and the next session in Loudoun and Albemarle, Virginia, where I have farms, I hope that Mrs. Monroe, as well as I, shall return here in as good health as we ever enjoyed.
Mr. de Neuville has acquitted himself here entirely to the satisfaction of the government and of the members of Congress. His deportment, and that of his lady, has been conciliatory, and in our concerns with his country, and also with Spain, in which he has taken a part, we have had much reason to be satisfied. He takes with him, therefore, the good wishes for his welfare and hers, of all, which you will, we presume, find a suitable occasion to intimate in proper terms to his government.
Our affairs with Spain have, as you will see by the public documents, taken a strange direction. The refusal to ratify a second treaty within the time stipulated, and then to send a minister to demand new conditions, the sanction of which was to depend on the government of Madrid, without his becoming responsible for it, was an occurrence with which I have known no parallel. Considering, however, the condition of Spain at this time, and of almost all Europe, and the jealousy which prevails generally of the ambitious views of the United States, it was thought most advisable to leave the affair where it was, and thereby give a new proof of moderation, which could not fail to refute such unfounded calumnies. We hope that the business will be settled in the course of the summer, since otherwise it seems probable that it will be taken up at the next session in a very different spirit. Indeed, so strong is the inclination in some to seize on Texas particularly, that I should not be surprised if we should be compelled to act on that principle, and without a treaty, if that province at least, as well as Florida, should be taken possession of. Internal considerations, of which the discussion of the late Missouri question will have given you a just view, are favorable to moderate pretensions on our part. With me they have much weight, as I am persuaded they have with many others; but still, so seducing is the passion for extending our territory, that if compelled to take our own redress it is quite uncertain within what limit it will be confined. Your attention to this object has been useful, the continuance of which has been among the interesting motives which induce a desire that you should remain at your present post the present year.
With respect to the colonies, the object has been to throw into their scale, in a moral sense, the weight of the United States, without so deep a compromitment as to make us a party to the contest. All Europe must expect that the citizens of the United States wish success to the colonies, and all that they can claim, even Spain herself, is that we will maintain an impartial neutrality between the parties. By taking this ground openly and frankly, we acquit ourselves to our own consciences; we accommodate with the feelings of our constituents; we render to the colonies all the aid that we can render them, for I am satisfied that had we even joined them in the war, we should have done them more harm than good, as we might have drawn all Europe on them, not to speak of the injury we should have done to ourselves. By our present attitude we have given to other powers an example of forbearance, and retained the right to communicate with them as friends on that interesting subject,—a right which we should have lost by a change of attitude. A mere recognition, as our ports are open to them as freely as to Spain and other powers, would be a dead letter, while it would have been, especially in the earlier stages, exposed to all the objections stated. In the mean time, the subject not being fully understood, a disposition has been manifested, imputable in a great measure to the conduct of Spain in our concerns, that we should go further in favor of the colonies, with which it may be proper to comply at no distant day. You will perceive that as the recognition, whenever it may be made, will be nothing more than what I have above stated, as we still shall maintain an impartial neutrality, no power will have a right to complain of it. Indeed, it may be fairly presumed that they will all be prepared for it. I am satisfied that you have fully and distinctly understood the views of the Administration in all these circumstances; I mention them, however, that you may prepare all with whom you communicate for such a result, at any time whenever it may take place.
Our claims on France will also receive your attention, in which I am satisfied that you will accomplish all that may be practicable.
To these interesting objects is added the very important duty of making another attempt to form a commercial treaty with France, to which it is hoped that the late Act of Congress will afford you much aid. Your experience and knowledge of the subject inspire us with great confidence that your exertions will not be fruitless in securing what it will be proper to obtain for your own country, or in prevailing on the French government to enter willingly into such arrangements as the interest of France may justify.
Mrs. Monroe and my daughter desire their best regards to Mrs. Gallatin, and I beg you to be assured of my great respect and sincere regard.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 27th May, 1820.
My dear Sir,—
At the close of a session of Congress, of unusual length and interest, the attention of the heads of Department is not less taxed than during the continuance of the session. I regret that the departure of Mr. de Neuville occurs before that press has ceased.
It is probable he will be consulted, if not employed, in the discussions which the late law increasing the tonnage duty upon French vessels will probably excite. He is an honest man, devoted to the interests of France, and disposed at the same time to unite the two countries by acts of reciprocal kindness. He has, however, some ideas which are scarcely intelligible on the Louisiana treaty, and, what is unfortunate in this particular instance, he is not apt at seizing upon distinctions or feeling the force of discriminations presented by others. He is, like all Frenchmen, impetuous and impatient of contradiction. You will have, therefore, a most delicate part to perform to lead him to correct conclusions.
Indeed, from conversations I have had with him, I hardly expect that anything can be done if you consider the Act of the 3d of March, 1815, as forming the basis of the convention which is to be made. England, perhaps, finds some indemnity for the injury which she sustains in her navigating interest, under the commercial convention, from the balance of trade which constantly is in her favor. The exclusion which she has enjoyed in the intercourse between the United States and her West India colonies has no doubt had a tendency to reconcile her to the exclusion which is gradually but certainly operating to the exclusion of her shipping in the direct trade between the two countries. Motives of this kind will not operate upon the councils of France, to reconcile them to the monopoly which American vessels will obtain in the direct trade between the two countries, if placed upon a footing with French vessels in the ports of France. The balance of trade is in favor of the United States. With equal advantages, the direct commerce between the two countries will be as exclusively carried on by American vessels as if the entrance of French vessels into the ports of the United States were prohibited by law. Other considerations must, therefore, be sought to induce France to assent to an equalization of duties on French and American navigation. Where are they to be found?
The question is not easily answered. De Neuville, and perhaps his government, think that rights under the Louisiana convention still exist in favor of French commerce. There is plausibility at least in the claim. The claim of Beaumarchais has been espoused by the government with more than usual interest. The complaint of the desertion of French sailors in our ports has been a source of much uneasiness on the part of Mr. de Neuville. All these claims and grounds of complaint will, without doubt, be embodied and arranged in the most formidable order by Mr. de Neuville, and insisted upon with earnestness. From them, however, no danger is to be apprehended, provided you do not consider yourself bound down by the Act of the 3d of March, 1815. I have suggested to the President the propriety, even the necessity, of giving particular instructions on this subject, and authorizing the most unlimited discretion, unless a special decision should be made by the Cabinet. He is extremely anxious, on account of the situation of Mrs. Monroe, to get away. No deliberation, therefore, will take place. He requested me to call upon Mr. Adams and urge my views upon the subject; but I declined it, on the ground that the question was one of extreme delicacy, and ought not to be touched but in the most general way, unless in consequence of a full investigation by the Administration.
De Neuville has much at heart an arrangement by which sailors will be given up to French vessels in the United States when they desert from them.
I regret that I have not time to give you all the information which I have collected of his views. I shall confer with Mr. Adams hereafter, and urge him to be explicit in his communications with you on this subject. I am confident that the chance of success depends upon the exercise of a discretion which will rest wholly upon your shoulders. Whether it is proper for you to incur this responsibility you will be able to determine when the extent of it will be ascertained.
You have been requested to remain another year wholly on this account. I shall urge the President again to examine the subject and prescribe the limits within which your discretion is to be exercised. I am fearful that nothing will be done, from the extreme difficulty there is in fixing any boundary other than that which is prescribed by the Act of the 3d of March, 1815, and exemplified by the British convention.
For the political incidents of the session which you will not be able to gather from the papers I must refer to Mr. Erving, to whom I have written at length upon such topics. I believe I have not requested him to communicate the contents to you, but he will, I presume, do so, especially upon an intimation from you to that effect.
Mr. Macon is in good health, but greatly distressed by the effects of the discussion of the Missouri question. He is a little querulous, and disposed, at some moments, to view things through a sombre medium.
Indeed, I am fearful that we have some cause for apprehending that the sentiments of good will which have hitherto predominated are in some degree sapped by the dissensions of the last session. Time, however, with its usual effects, will, I hope, heal the disorders which have been diffused into the body politic by the baneful discussion which has agitated the Union.
Present my respects [to] the Marquis Barbé-Marbois, his daughter and son-in-law, and to the Duke of Plaisance the elder.
To Mrs. Gallatin and to the other members of your family remember me most affectionately.
I remain, my dear sir, your most sincere and respectful friend and humble servant.
P.S.—Mr. de Neuville is waiting. I have not time to read over this hasty sketch; pardon, therefore, any errors which may be found in it.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, June 9, 1820.
I had the honor to receive your letter of the 7th of March, signifying to me the wish of the President that I might remain in Europe for the present. I will use my best endeavors to fulfil his views, and wait with anxiety for the instructions respecting our commercial relations with France. The hope of succeeding in making a satisfactory arrangement will, however, be but slender if nothing shall have been done by Congress on that subject. Nothing has taken place here in that respect since the date of my last despatch.
Mr. Pasquier told me, and I felt it was true, that during the present crisis of affairs in this country it was impossible for the Ministers to attend to any subject of secondary importance. There is now a prospect that this crisis will terminate in a manner less dangerous to the tranquillity of France than had been apprehended.
The renewal of the laws of exception, and the attempt to change the law of elections, created a general disaffection. After a long and most animated discussion, the leading principle of the plan proposed by government, and by which the right of electing was in reality placed exclusively in the hands of the 18,000 individuals who pay the highest taxes, was adopted in the Chamber of Deputies by a majority of five votes. The feeling of the people on the occasion burst out with much warmth. For three successive days one of the members of the minority had been carried home in triumph, and accompanied by cries of Vive la Charte! On the succeeding day (the 3d instant) a number of young royalists, principally body-guards, attacked those who uttered those cries and who refused to join in that of Vive le Roi; and they also insulted several of the deputies belonging to the minority as they were leaving the house. The ensuing day, being Sunday and that of the Fête-Dieu, was quiet; the body-guards were put under arrest; troops were stationed in several places on the Monday, and a police order was issued forbidding all collections of people. This did not prevent a vast number assembling and parading through the streets with cries of Vive la Charte! It is probable that many of them were actuated only by resentment against the body-guards. Meeting with no opponents, they committed no acts of violence, but refused to disperse until compelled by the cavalry, and several were wounded in the affray. It is not impossible that malcontents mixed with the groups and attempted to create more serious disturbances. It is certain that some half-pay officers were amongst them, and a number even of general officers have been arrested. The collections of people were not dispersed till late in the night, and some, though less numerous, took place the ensuing day.
These tumults, and the well-known state of the public mind here and in many other places, created great alarm, and led to serious reflections. The most moderate men on both sides, fearing the consequences and supported by the Ministers, have made a compromise. The projet of law seems to be abandoned, and, instead of this, a plan has been proposed which, preserving the old mode of election with respect to the present members of the chamber (amounting to 258), adds 172 new ones to be elected by the 23,000 electors who pay the highest taxes. It is believed that this amendment, which has the approbation of the King, though opposed by some violent Ultras and by all the warmest Liberals, will be adopted by a large majority. It is impossible to conjecture what effect this change in the law of elections may hereafter produce, and how far it will conciliate or destroy public confidence; but peace and order will at least be preserved for the present.
In Spain, the elections go on regularly, and the constituted authorities seem to prevail against both those who would oppose the revolution and the leaders of the dangerous club known by the name of the Café Lorenzini. Mr. Forsyth seems still to think that the appearances are in favor of the ratification of our treaty by the cortes.
Being yet without instructions on the subject of our claim for indemnity, I acquiesced in Mr. Parish’s wish to lay the Antwerp cases before the Department of Foreign Affairs, and have the honor to enclose the copy of a letter which I wrote to Mr. Pasquier on that subject.1
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 5th July, 1820.
I have not yet received any communication from you since your letter of the 7th of March; but the last arrivals brought accounts from New York to the 1st of June, and amongst them the Act of Congress imposing a duty of 18 dollars per ton on French vessels. It is much to be regretted that the law, instead of only equalizing the discriminating duties, should have made a difference as great against French vessels as it was before in their favor. Had that course been pursued, there would have been some complaints, but no pretence for retaliation, and their own interest would, after a short time, have induced the French merchants themselves to unite in the wish of seeing all discriminating duties repealed on both sides. But their clamors against the measure which has been adopted have been successful because they might with truth say that it stops entirely their maritime expeditions to the United States, and also that the notice was so short that voyages already undertaken would be ruinous to the parties. Mr. Pasquier gave me to understand that our act had the appearance of a wish to force the French government to accept the proposals we had made, and he believed it would be necessary for France to lay a retaliating duty before she could treat with us. Whether he meant one that would only re-establish the equilibrium or go beyond that I could not ascertain, and perhaps he has not determined. I must add that I believe him and government in general to be in favor of the mutual repeal of all the discriminating duties, and that the obstacles to an arrangement are entirely on the part of the merchants and of the chambers of commerce.
You may easily conceive that, even if the plan should only be to lay duties which in the whole should be equivalent to ours, there will be a vast difference of opinion respecting the amount. The greatest difficulty consists in valuing our old discriminating duty of 10 per cent. on the ordinary duties on importations; and I was particularly anxious that it should have been repealed at the same time a new tonnage duty was laid, because the French always insist that it is nearly equal to their own discriminating duties, and it is difficult to prove the contrary in an unanswerable manner, there being no common standard by which to compare their respective values.
I have, however, undertaken the task, and prepared a long note for Mr. Pasquier, which, not being yet quite finished, cannot be communicated by this opportunity. I will only state that my final conclusion is that the difference between the discriminating duties of the two countries was about 46 francs per ton against us before the last Act of Congress, and it is now about 45 francs against France. As I have not yet any instructions, nor any official account of the Act, it is my intention to send this paper as an informal note, which will commit neither my government nor myself.
It is possible that some proposals may be made by the French government, such as a mutual surrender of deserters, on which it will be necessary that I should apply for instructions, and that the negotiation may for that reason, and on account of the obstacles thrown in by the merchants, be protracted longer than had been contemplated. This contingency induces me to request that I may be supplied with documents the want of which I have felt whilst preparing my note for Mr. Pasquier. Those I principally wish are,—
1st. The principal annual statements of the importations of goods, wares, and merchandise in American and foreign vessels for the years ending on the 30th September, 1817 and 1818.
2dly. A similar account for the year ending on the 30th September, 1819. This is not printed, but may be prepared by the Register.
3dly. Statements of the exports, both foreign and domestic, to France and to its dependencies for the years ending on the 30th September, 1817, 1818, and 1819, designating the quantity and value of each species, and those to France in Europe from those to her colonies. These are never printed, but may be transcribed from books kept in the Register’s office.
4thly. A statement of the American and French tonnage, respectively, employed for one year in the commerce with France (not with her colonies), including the repeated voyages. Whether this last document can be made out from the returns to his office the Register will be able to say.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 11th July, 1820.
I have the honor to enclose copies of my letters and inofficial notes to Mr. Pasquier of the 7th and 8th instants, and of his answer. Late in the evening of the 8th I received your despatch No. 20, of May 26, brought by Mr. Hyde de Neuville, and was glad that I had discussed the subject in those inofficial notes, as your letter is silent on the two most difficult points to explain,—the shortness of the time given, and the amount of the duty, which is certainly tantamount to an exclusion of the French vessels.
I have reason to believe that it is intended, immediately after the adjournment of the Chambers, to lay a retaliating extra duty on the tonnage of our vessels. This will be done by an ordinance of the King, as he has a right during the recess to modify custom-house duties. Whether government will be disposed to enter immediately in a negotiation with me I cannot say. They were already irritated, and will be more so with those sentences in my correspondence in which I suggest that they will do nothing unless compelled by our acts. Although from the general tenor of my letters to you it is clear that I thought the Ministry here well disposed, and that it was upon the commercial interest that our acts must produce such an effect as to induce them to withdraw their opposition to an arrangement, yet I fear that the expressions in question will wound the pride of government, and I wish they had been omitted in the publication.
I will wait with anxiety for your instructions on the subject of a consular convention, of the restoration of deserters, and of the other subjects to which you allude as coming within the scope of a commercial treaty. Those I have at present do not go beyond the proposals already made to the French government by my letter of 25th October last to Marquis Dessolle.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 27th July, 1820.
I had a long conference with Mr. Pasquier on the 24th instant, and saw him again to-day. The French government has determined to retaliate and to lay a countervailing duty on American tonnage before they will attempt to settle the differences by an amicable arrangement. All the arguments I could use against that course were unavailing. I have not time to write at large by this opportunity (the Nimrod) all that passed on the occasion. But it is necessary to state the principal reason assigned by this government for that measure.
The duty laid by Congress was so high that it was tantamount to a total exclusion of the French vessels from our ports. There were but two modes by which this could be avoided,—a total abrogation on the part of France of her discriminating duties so far as they applied to American vessels, or a diplomatic arrangement. The first mode was considered by this government as derogatory, as it did not leave them even the option of equalizing the duties without repealing them altogether, besides which they were not disposed to consent to a perfect reciprocity which they thought would give us the whole navigation between the two countries. At all events, they had other conditions to offer connected with the subject of difference; an arrangement could only be the result of discussion and be effected by a convention. Such convention or treaty could be carried into effect only after it had been ratified, and therefore only after the meeting of Congress. In the mean while the French vessels would be altogether excluded from any participation in the trade, and ours be the sole carriers. It was impossible that France could submit to that state of things, and she was under the necessity of retaliating and of adopting measures which should have the effect of excluding our vessels in the same manner as theirs were.
An ordinance will be issued on that principle to-morrow or the next day. It substitutes to the existing tonnage duty on American vessels one of ninety-nine francs per ton, which is to take effect from the respective days on which it will reach the several ports. It is not to affect vessels hereafter coming in ballast, or which may have sailed with cargoes from the United States prior to the 15th of June.
The first exception, which will allow our vessels, after having landed their cargoes in England or Holland, to come in French ports, is, as you will perceive, intended to facilitate the exportation of French produce and manufactures.
American produce cannot now, with the new tonnage duties, be imported directly from the United States either in French or in American vessels. It may be imported as heretofore, either directly in vessels belonging to other nations, or [in]directly from foreign ports in French or foreign vessels other than American. Upland cotton imported directly from the United States in British, Dutch, or other foreign vessels would be liable to the same duty of 38½ francs per 100 kilogrammes which has been heretofore levied on that article when imported in American vessels. If imported from England or the Netherlands in French vessels, the duty would be 33 francs.
Neither of these modes suits France, and another ordinance will be issued, giving during the ten ensuing months a premium of ten francs per 100 kilogrammes of cotton, the produce of either North or South America, imported in French vessels from any American port not belonging to the United States, which will reduce to 12 francs the duty on upland cotton of the United States imported in that manner. They expect that on account of that difference our Georgia cotton will be sent to St. Augustine, and that of Louisiana to Cuba, and that French vessels will carry the whole from those Spanish ports to France. The object is to make some port in America the entrepôt. Our cotton will in that case be imported altogether in French vessels, whilst either of the other modes excludes them from any share in the carrying trade.
This government continues in the mean while to profess a disposition of arranging amicably these difficulties, and Mr. Pasquier has promised to make in a few days, in answer to my letter of the 25th of October last, specific propositions on the subject of the commercial relations between the two countries. This will enable us to judge whether there is any prospect of making a satisfactory arrangement.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 31st July, 1820.
I had the honor to write you a few lines on the 27th instant, and hope that a copy of the King’s ordonnance which I sent the ensuing day will reach you at the same time.
I now proceed to state the substance of the conference I had on the 24th instant with Mr. Pasquier, and at which the Duke de Richelieu was present part of the time.
Mr. Pasquier stated that it had been found absolutely necessary to lay a countervailing duty on American vessels, and communicated the outlines of an ordinance to that effect, which it was intended to issue immediately. The plan proposed was to substitute, from the date of the ordinance, to the existing tonnage duty one of 99 francs per ton; to exempt from it vessels arriving in ballast, and to require only a bond for the payment of the new duty from vessels coming with cargoes which should have sailed from the United States before the ordinance was known there; that bond to be enforced only in case the new tonnage duty of the United States should not be refunded to those French vessels which had sailed from the United States without knowledge of the Act of Congress laying that duty. It was also intended to give a premium of ten francs per 100 kilogrammes of cotton imported in French vessels from any port in America not within the bounds of the United States.
The discussion turned on three points: (1) the alleged necessity to lay an extraordinary duty before an attempt was made to arrange the existing difficulties; (2) the amount of the intended duty, and the time when it should begin to take place; (3) and the practicability of making an arrangement.
On the first point, Mr. Pasquier said that notwithstanding the explanations given here and at Washington respecting the motives which had actuated the government of the United States, still the Act of Congress had in itself an hostile character. The amount of the duty was so exorbitant as to be tantamount to a total exclusion of French vessels, owners of vessels which had sailed without knowledge or any expectation of that measure, and often with previous contracts at a specific price for the freight of cotton, would incur a loss nearly equal to the value of the vessel; the measure was adopted without waiting the result of pending negotiations, and appeared to be intended to compel France to make an arrangement on the terms proposed by the United States and on no other. Under these circumstances, the French government, in justice to its subjects and in order to support its own dignity, was bound to retaliate, and to replace the duties in the same relative situation in which they stood when the negotiations were opened: it was only after this was done that the attempt to accommodate the differences by an amicable arrangement could be renewed.
I observed, in reply, that the inequality in the discriminating duties which now existed against French vessels in consequence of the late Act of Congress was less than that which had for the four preceding years existed against American vessels in consequence of the law of France of April, 1816; that our Act was therefore no more hostile than that law; and that, since the United States had not thought it derogatory to open negotiations on that subject whilst the difference in the relative duties was so unfavorable to them, it was not perceived on what grounds France could refuse to treat until not only an equality of duties had been established, but the inequality in her favor had been restored. There was not, I added, any just reason to complain of the Act of Congress having passed at the time it did. It had been fairly stated in October last to the French government that, if no modification of their duties took place, the United States would be compelled to protect their navigation by countervailing duties on the tonnage of French vessels or on merchandise imported therein. Specific proposals were at the same time made, which, in the view taken of the subject by the United States, might be the basis of an arrangement. To this no other answer had been received but one expressing in general terms the disposition of the French government to settle amicably all the questions connected with the commercial relations of the two countries. To this day, after nine months had elapsed since the date of our propositions, no specific proposals of any kind had been made by France, and we were perfectly ignorant of the terms on which she was disposed to make an arrangement. In the mean while, the navigation of the United States was daily sinking under the weight of the French discriminating duties. If their vessels had continued in the trade with France; if, as was urged in order to show that the inequality could not be such as we represented it to be, one-half of the vessels employed between the two countries were still American, this was an extraordinary exertion, which could not be persevered in any longer. Vessels had been continued so long in an unprofitable trade because they were already thus employed, and in the daily hope of a speedy change. But they had been barely employed, and without profit to the owners. These had been compelled to take freight at the rate of one cent and a half per pound of cotton, while the French vessels obtained two cents and three-quarters. The trade had been ruinous to the American and extremely profitable to the French ship-owners. During the last eight months, from the time when our proposals were made, to the 1st of July of this year, the extra duty paid by us in France on our own produce brought in our vessels, beyond what would have been paid on the same articles if imported in French vessels, had amounted to more than one million of francs, and, including our importations of foreign produce, was equivalent to a duty of 70 francs per ton. We were as yet in every respect the injured party. The extra duty paid by us on American produce since the French law of 1816 exceeded six millions of francs. Whilst this money filled the French treasury, it served at the same time as a premium to the French navigation; it was a tribute levied on us for that double purpose, and to which it was impossible that we could have submitted any longer.
With respect to the day when the Act of Congress took effect, I said that I regretted that a longer time had not been allowed, and repeated the explanations already given on the presumed cause of that circumstance. But I insisted that France had no right to complain of it, since it was an established principle with her that her custom-house duties should be enforced from the day on which the law was promulgated. Thus, the discriminating duty on sugar imported from foreign countries in foreign vessels had, by a law passed on the 7th of June last, been increased from 11 to 16½ francs per 100 kilogrammes; and the importation of nankeens in foreign vessels had been altogether prohibited by the same law. Both provisions took effect from the moment the law was promulgated, and had an injurious retrospective effect on the American commerce. Sugar had been one of the principal articles of importation from the United States to France. An unexpected additional duty of about half a cent per pound was imposed, without any previous notice, on all the sugar brought in American vessels that had arrived subsequent to the 7th of June; and with respect to nankeens, exclusively of other shipments, an American vessel had, to my knowledge, been ordered last autumn to Canton for the express purpose of bringing 220,000 pieces of that article to France, in conformity to the then existing laws; she was daily expected; her voyage was totally ruined in consequence of that prohibition without notice; and the loss in that case alone would probably be nearly as great as the whole amount which, by virtue of the Act of Congress, might be demanded from French vessels which had sailed from France without knowledge of that Act.
How far these observations may have satisfied this government that our Act was perfectly justifiable, I cannot say. But they certainly made no impression with respect to the presumed necessity of adopting here measures of retaliation. Mr. Pasquier insisted that there was an intrinsic difference between a tonnage duty and a discriminating duty on merchandise; he said that, at least in the case where there was no previous notice, the tonnage duty fell exclusively on the ship-owner, and in the present instance was altogether exorbitant when compared with the value of the freight or even of the vessel; whilst the duty on the merchandise, if it did not fall on the consumer, was paid by the owner of the article, and bore some proportion to its value,—a distinction which, if solid with respect to individuals, makes, as you will at once perceive, no difference whatever in a national point of view. But Mr. Pasquier seemed to rely chiefly on the fact that, notwithstanding the discriminating duties of France, we still participated largely in the carrying trade, whilst it was notorious that French vessels would now be totally excluded in consequence of the Act of Congress. Supposing an arrangement to be practicable, a convention could not take effect till after it had been ratified; that is to say, till after the meeting of Congress. It was impossible that France should in the mean while acquiesce in the exclusion of her vessels, and permit ours to engross the whole carrying trade between the two countries. It was therefore absolutely necessary that she should impose a countervailing duty, which should lay American under the same disadvantage as French vessels.
Permit me here to observe that it was with a view to this difficulty that I had, in my despatch to you of the 15th of January last, taken the liberty to suggest the propriety of inserting in the Act of Congress a clause which should give a contingent power to suspend the operation of the Act in case an arrangement should take place. The omission of this provision is, however, much less to be regretted than that the goodness of our cause should have been in any degree impaired by the high rate of duty adopted in the Act of Congress, and by the short time allowed before it took effect. As reciprocity alone was asked, and indeed was offered on the face of the law, I cannot understand, and your despatch does not explain, the reason why it was deemed proper to establish such an inequality. It is difficult to find a common measure by which to compare the value of our old discriminating duty with those of France; and on that account it would have been desirable to have repealed or suspended it when the new tonnage duty was imposed. But there is no calculation by which the discriminating duty of France can be estimated at more than 12 or 13 dollars per ton. A tonnage duty to that amount would have countervailed the French duties and restored the equality, provided our old discriminating duty had been at the same time repealed. Instead of which, this had been preserved and a new duty laid of 17 dollars per ton. Had the Act gone no farther than to establish a fair equality, there would have been no pretence here for retaliation. Had a more distant day been fixed for the Act going into effect, the 1st of October, for instance, instead of the 1st of July, not only the duty would have fallen on no vessel which had not due notice, but it would have allowed sufficient time here to negotiate, and, if at all practicable, to conclude an arrangement.
Finding that the determination of this government to lay immediately a retaliating duty which should exclude our vessels was irrevocably taken, I observed that the rate of duty beyond what was necessary for that purpose was a question not otherwise important than as it might evince the disposition of France with respect to an arrangement. If it was thought that to lay a duty which would only restore the equality had the appearance of acquiescing in the principle of our proposals, there could be no inconvenience in lessening at least the inequality. To make the new tonnage duty equal to ours, to replace the duties precisely on the same footing on which they stood before the late Act of Congress, showed a tenacity on the part of this government which indicated no intention to settle difficulties by an amicable arrangement. But the rate of duty contemplated by the ordinance went still further: our duty of 18 dollars per ton of our measure was less than 16 dollars and half on the ton, French measure; and a duty of 99 francs, which was to be levied according to the French measurement, was in reality at the rate of about 107 francs, or more than 20 dollars, per ton, measure of the United States.
With respect to the question of time, I asked that six weeks should be given from the date of the ordinance before it went into operation. That time was equal to that which had intervened between the date of the Act of Congress and the day on which it was in force. I observed that the ostensible object on the part of France was to prevent our vessels from bringing American produce so long as our duty had the same effect on French vessels, and that as all those which had arrived in the United States prior to the 1st of July were not affected by the new Act, it followed, allowing a month for obtaining and taking in a cargo and a month for the return voyage, that all French vessels arriving in France from the United States before the 1st of September would have paid no extra duty in America. American vessels arriving within the same time ought, therefore, to be admitted without paying the new French duty. I also objected strongly to the clause by which the bond taken from certain American vessels was to be enforced in case the government of the United States did not refund the duties incurred by French vessels which had sailed from France without knowledge of the new Act. It was an indirect charge of injustice against the United States; and if France thought she had any just cause of complaint in that respect, the proper course was to make reclamations, and not to recur to a species of reprisals.
The ordinance has been altered in this last respect; but my other observations have produced no effect. On the question of time, it was insisted that from the moment our law was generally known in the United States our own ship-owners must have, and in fact had, expected reprisals; for every American vessel that had since arrived had, before entering a French port, held a previous communication with persons on shore, in order to ascertain whether a countervailing duty had not been laid.
The duty, it was said, could be laid on tonnage only according to the French mode of measurement; but I understand that an instruction might be given to take, in valuing the duty, the difference between the American and French measures into consideration. Allowing that this government had sufficient motives for imposing a countervailing duty, there was certainly no necessity for making it so exorbitant as to create a difference of more than 70 francs per ton in favor of French vessels. The fact is that the ship-owners of Havre called for a tonnage duty of 100 francs per ton the very day on which the news of the Act of Congress reached that port; that the council of commerce of Paris recommended that measure as well as the premium of ten francs on American cotton imported in French vessels from America, and that this government has acted in conformity with that recommendation. Several of the members of that council own vessels employed in the trade with the United States. Our proposals of October last had been referred to that body; it was their advice which prevented government from acceding to our proposition, and, indeed, from making any to us; their pride and personal interest are both arrayed against us; and if the Ministry continues to listen to them, there is no prospect at this time of making an arrangement on reasonable terms. The merchants will not yield of their own accord until they shall have found by experience that the object they have in view is unattainable. They think that the premium granted by the late ordinance will make the West India and Florida ports places of deposit for our cotton, and thereby secure to them the carrying trade of that article. I told Mr. Pasquier that if we did not make an arrangement before the meeting of Congress the United States could, without the least inconvenience to themselves, prohibit altogether the exportation of our cotton to the West Indies, to Florida, or to any other place where it was not an object of consumption; that they could with the same facility prohibit its exportation to France in any vessels other than those of France and of America; and that these measures would make England, the Netherlands, or some other European country, the only places of deposit, and give us the whole carrying trade.
I took this opportunity of stating the provisions of the Act of Congress prohibiting the intercourse with the British West Indies and American colonies. I explained the circumstances which had led to that measure, and observed that the object was precisely the same for which we now contended with France. In both cases we insisted that commerce, as far as it was allowed between the United States and a foreign country, should be carried on in vessels of the two countries on principles of perfect reciprocity. Great Britain would not allow the commerce between her West India colonies and the United States to be carried on in American vessels. We had prohibited it in British vessels. She had attempted, in order to engross the greater part of the carrying trade, to make Bermuda and Halifax places of deposit; we had then prohibited the intercourse in any vessels whatever with those colonies. There has been no hesitation on the part of the United States in adopting those measures, although the British West Indies consumed our own products to an amount nearly equal in value to those we exported to France,—about 7 millions of dollars annually,—and although a great portion of the products consumed in those islands consisted of lumber, provisions, and other articles for which we could with difficulty find another market, which was not at all the case with cotton and tobacco, the principal articles of our exports to France.
I was induced to make these observations not only in order to show that we had acted with at least as much vigor towards England as towards France, but also to impress the government with a sense of the importance we attached to the object, and of the improbability that we would yield the point. From some expressions used during the conference, and others that had fallen from Mr. de Neuville, I understood that there was some expectation that divisions among ourselves would compel us to abandon the measures necessary to enforce our right to a fair reciprocity. The interest of the Southern planters was alluded to as opposed to any impediment thrown in the way of the exportation of their produce. It is, perhaps, natural enough that private interests should be supposed here to have a very powerful influence everywhere; but it is extraordinary that they should not perceive that the discriminating duties of France, by enhancing the price of freight, are as injurious to the grower of American produce as to the American ship-owner. Under the existing system, the planter or exporter pays for the freight on cotton exported in French vessels two cents and three-quarters per pound, and on that which is exported in American vessels one and a half cent freight and one cent and three-fifths duty. If the discriminating duties were abrogated, freight would be two cents per pound; the planter would pay less, and the American ship-owner would be better paid. The interest of our agriculture requires that there should be the freest competition of vessels of all nations for the exportation of our produce; a competition which cannot be better encouraged than by the mutual repeal of all the duties which fall on vessels either foreign or domestic. The temporary sacrifices which may be necessary to obtain that result will equally fall on the ship-owners and on the growers of produce. It will belong to the wisdom of Congress to decide to what extent it is proper, considering the value of the object in view, to carry the temporary restrictive measures intended ultimately to secure it.
The terms on which a practicable arrangement could be effected were not immediately connected with the subject-matter of the conference. I thought it, however, proper to make some observations on the subject. I stated that the principle of perfect reciprocity for which we contended was founded in justice; that it was impossible that it should not ultimately prevail, since, the power to lay duties being the same on both sides, no nation could prevent her regulations for the protection of her navigation from being met by countervailing measures of a similar nature; that it could not be expected that the United States would subscribe to a treaty by which their navigation should be subject to higher duties in France than those to which French vessels would be liable in America; and that supposing even that peculiar circumstances might render it eligible to make such an arrangement with that country, an insuperable objection would be found in the danger to which we would thereby expose ourselves of being liable to similar demands from all the other great maritime nations with which we had succeeded in making arrangements founded on a mutual abrogation of every species of discriminating duties. I added that the articles of the produce or fabrics of the United States and France annually exchanged by the commerce between the two countries amounted to about seventy millions of francs, whilst the freight was not worth more than four millions; and that, taking in consideration the nature of the articles, not only the commerce was of infinitely more importance to France than the freight, but that it was much more her interest that the expenses of transportation should be reduced to the lowest rate, than that her vessels should participate in it if they could not compete with ours on equal terms. Finally, I observed that we had the same superiority in that respect over England as over France; that the only means we had employed to obtain it had been to create the most unlimited competition amongst our own ship-owners by not intermeddling with their concerns and not embarrassing them with any vexatious regulations; that every other nation might obtain an equality with us by adopting the same means; that France had over us the advantage of greater capital, cheaper vessels, and lower wages; and that it was in their power at any time to navigate as cheap as ourselves, so far at least as respected the navigation between the United States and France, since all that was requisite for that purpose was more economy, attention, and activity on the part of the ship-owners (armateurs), and a repeal of all those regulations which restrained them in the choice of their captains and seamen and in the manner of equipping their vessels.
It was uniformly answered that in point of fact we did navigate cheaper than the French; that it was the general opinion of those concerned in the trade that a compliance with our proposal would be tantamount to a total exclusion of the French vessels from the carrying trade between the two countries; and that they considered it a matter of right that both nations should equally participate in the freight of any commerce which might exist between them.
An allusion was made in the course of the conference to the claim of the French to be treated without any equivalent at New Orleans, in the same manner as the British now are. I did not know of this difficulty till it was occasionally mentioned in conversation by Mr. Pasquier. The pretension appears to me altogether untenable; but I would have wished to know what answer has been given at Washington to the reclamations of the French minister, and what are the President’s intentions on that subject.
I must not omit to state that it had been first intended to extend the premium of ten francs per 100 kilogrammes to cotton imported directly from the United States. This was altered not from any hostile spirit, but on my observing that that premium, so long as it should continue, would make the inequality in the respective discriminating duties still greater, and thereby increase the difficulties of an amicable arrangement.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 2d August, 1820.
I have the honor to enclose a letter I received yesterday from Mr. Pasquier.
You will perceive that to our proposal of a mutual repeal of all the discriminating duties, he offers to substitute a reduction of duties so modified as to give an equal chance to both nations to participate in the carrying trade. He means by this that those circumstances which enable us to navigate on cheaper terms than the French should be taken in consideration, and that we should consent to leave such difference in the discriminating duties in favor of France as would compensate those advantages and enable the French vessels to preserve one-half of the carrying trade.
I will take time to consider the subject before I answer Mr. Pasquier. There is much intrinsic difficulty both in fixing a proper rate of duties and in making an agreement founded on that basis which should preserve the appearance of reciprocity. There is great inconvenience in departing from the basis adopted in our treaties and arrangements with other nations. I am without instructions on that particular point. On the other hand, I feel the importance of arranging amicably this affair with France, and the difficulties her government has to encounter from their shipping interest. I think that, at all events, if an arrangement is made on the basis proposed, it must be for a very short period, or made revocable at the will of either party on giving due notice to the other. Perhaps it will be better to refer the whole subject to you, with a view to a negotiation at Washington. Mr. Pasquier has avoided making any specific proposal, and I will not decide until I have at least tried to ascertain whether he intends to offer such reduction as it may be worth while to consider.
I wait your instructions on the subject of the surrender of deserters. I have never received any information from your Department on the difficulties connected with the 8th Article of the Louisiana convention.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, August 7, 1820.
I had the honor to receive your despatch No. 19, enclosing a copy of General Vives’s letter of 11th May last to you, in which he denies having told me or Baron Pasquier that he could, in case of an arrangement, consent that the United States should take immediate possession of Florida without waiting for the ratification of the treaty.
The same information having reached me through the medium of the American newspapers several days prior to the receipt of your despatch, I had an immediate communication with Mr. Pasquier, and gave him a copy of my letter to you of the 15th of February. After having read it, he told me that I had been mistaken on one point, as his information on the subject in question was derived not from General Vives, but from the Duke of Fernan-Nunez, then Spanish ambassador at this Court; a circumstance which, had I at the time been aware of it, would have corroborated instead of lessening my impression of the intentions of the Spanish government.
Whatever fell from Mr. Vives was in answer to the doubts I expressed respecting the success of his mission if he was not the bearer of the King’s ratification of the treaty. The conversation took place after dinner, in a room crowded with company, and was held in the French language, which General Vives speaks intelligibly, but not as correctly as a native of France. I may have misunderstood him; it is impossible that I should have misrepresented what I understood him to say; I repeated it before I left the room to Mr. Pasquier, and my letter to you was written two days after, and forwarded by my direction in the same vessel which carried General Vives to America.
There is no other fact within my knowledge bearing on the subject, unless it be a letter of the 11th of May last from Mr. Forsyth to me. I had previously communicated to him, as coming from General Vives, that he was authorized to consent that the United States should take immediate possession of Florida. Mr. Forsyth in his letter says that the government of Spain expected and would not complain of the occupation of the territory.
It having been thought proper to publish my letter of the 15th of February last, I leave it entirely with the President what course it will be proper to pursue with respect to this. I only request that, in case it should be either communicated to General Vives or published, the name of the Duke of Fernan-Nuñez may not be used unless absolutely necessary. I am not afraid of being suspected to have made a voluntary misrepresentation in any respect; and I would be very sorry that if that gentleman, whom the revolution of Spain has placed in a delicate situation, has committed any mistake or indiscretion, he should be injured by anything coming from me.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 30th August, 1820.
I have the honor to enclose the copy of my answer to Mr. Pasquier’s letter of the 31st of July. I have since seen him occasionally: he said that he had read my letter, and expressed a wish that we might arrange the difficulties; but he has not yet invited me to confer on the subject. It is true that the military plot lately discovered has engrossed almost exclusively the attention of this government. I understand that if we cannot agree here, it is intended to send back Mr. Hyde de Neuville to the United States, with powers to treat at Washington. This gentleman does not, I believe, wish to return unless that object should render it necessary.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 22d September, 1820.
I had the honor in my despatch of the 19th instant to state the reasons which would have induced me to agree to a reduction instead of a total abrogation of discriminating duties. It was not without much hesitation that, knowing precisely the President’s intentions in that respect, I had come to that determination. It is perhaps better that the question whether it is proper to depart in favor of France from the principle we have tried to establish in our commercial relations with all other nations, should be decided at Washington. But if decided in the affirmative, what is the maximum of duties to which the United States may agree without danger? The first principle on which I would have insisted was that of a perfect nominal reciprocity; that is to say, that the discriminating duty, whether laid on the bulk or on the value of the articles, should be the same in the United States and in France. Although the great difference in the bulk of our exports and imports makes that reciprocity but nominal, it seems important not to depart from the principle, for the sake at least of preserving appearances both with France and with other countries. As freight is the object, the quantity of each article which a vessel can carry per ton is the true basis to which we ought to resort. But as the rates of duty, if laid on the weight or capacity, must vary according to the bulk of each article, and there might be great difficulties in agreeing to so many distinct rates, I had thought that an uniform duty on the value of the article would be more easily attainable, and would in practice be sufficiently correct.
Upland cotton being the chief article of our exports to France, I had taken it as the basis of the calculation. From the best information I could collect, I thought that our ship-owners might at this time stand the competition of the French, even if these had a premium not exceeding one-third of a cent per pound. But on this, which is a question of fact, you may apply to the persons concerned in that trade, and who can alone say to what extent they are willing to allow that premium to French vessels rather than that the present state of things should continue.
Taking, then, 22 cents as the maximum of the price of upland cotton, I had concluded to accede to an uniform duty of one and a half per cent. on the value of all articles at the place where laden as the maximum of the discriminating duty to be laid by France on American produce imported in American vessels, and by the United States on French products imported in French vessels.
You may easily make the calculations necessary to show what this duty would amount to on the principal articles of our exports to France, taking it as a basis, which I believe to be tolerably correct, that our vessels carry on an average per ton 380 kilogrammes of cotton, 800 kilogrammes of tobacco, and 1000 kilogrammes of rice or potash. I think also, from the best data in my possession, and which may be rectified at home, that our annual exports to France in those four articles, reduced to American weight, amount to about,
24,000,000 pounds of cotton, of which not more than 6 or 700,000 pounds consist of sea island (long staple).
8,000,000 pounds tobacco, chiefly first quality, part of which is, on account of the system adopted by the régie in their purchases, imported from England.
8,000,000 pounds of rice.
4,000,000 pounds potash and pearlash.
Compared with the heavy discriminating duties heretofore laid by France, the reduction would indeed be very great, since, rating the upland cotton at 20 cents per pound, the duty would be only 3 francs 5 centimes per 100 kilogrammes, instead of 16 francs 50 centimes, the present duty.
But the premium would still be, by my calculation, on an average of all our exports, about 2 dollars and 30 cents, or 12 francs 35 centimes, per ton, which is about 16½ per cent. on the ordinary price of freight, estimated at 14 dollars, or 75 francs, per ton. I am perfectly satisfied that this is amply sufficient to compensate any superiority which our navigation may still have over that of the French, and that with economy and the removal of some restraints laid by their own government, they may within a twelvemonth navigate between the two countries on as cheap terms as ourselves. I would have thought it, therefore, indispensable to introduce a clause leaving it optional with either government to annul the agreement on giving due notice to the other party.
The substitution of an uniform duty of 1½ per cent. on the value to our present discriminating duties would have made no important difference on goods which now pay duties ad valorem, but, rating wines imported from France in casks at 2 francs and brandy at 2 francs per gallon, it would reduce our discriminating duty on wines to one-half and that on brandy to one-sixth part of what it is now. France could not, therefore, object that the proposal was not reciprocal, and that result would, I am confident, have been acceptable to the commercial interest of Bordeaux and other southern ports.
Whether considerations of a different nature should induce still greater concessions to France, it is for the President to decide; but I beg leave to submit an observation to your consideration. I believe that I know enough of this government to assure you that it would be extremely difficult to make them agree to a proposition which had been once explicitly rejected by their minister. If, therefore, you perceive that Mr. de Neuville’s proposals or views are such as to forbid an expectation that you can at the moment conclude a satisfactory arrangement with him, I would think it important that your proposals to him, and which he would of course reject, should fall short of your real ultimatum, reserving this for a more favorable opportunity, which will very probably occur as soon as this government is satisfied that you will not accede to their first demands. But even then their pride or vanity must be saved, and something different from what they shall have rejected be offered to them.
From what has been hinted to me, I suspect that it is intended, in case you should not agree to the demands of this government, to propose to you a provisional, or rather a preparatory, arrangement; that is to say, to reinstate things, with perhaps an insufficient modification of duties, to the situation in which they were prior to the Act of Congress of the 15th of May last, under an expectation that a more satisfactory arrangement will afterwards be made. There may be reasons to assent to this, rather than the commercial relations of the two countries should continue in their present state; but I think that you may with certainty calculate that, in that case, you will obtain nothing more than will have been thus agreed on, and that the expectation held out of something more satisfactory being afterwards assented to by France will not be fulfilled.
If you cannot make any satisfactory arrangement, it will be necessary to inquire through what channels the commerce between the two countries will be carried on. There can be but three,—foreign vessels, foreign places of deposit, and direct intercourse in spite of the heavy duties on both sides.
In the present state of things, there is no doubt that the importation of our produce into France will almost exclusively be made by British or other foreign vessels. They pay 38½ francs per 100 kilogrammes of cotton. The same article, if imported into France from Great Britain or other foreign European ports in French vessels, will pay 33 francs. That difference is not sufficient to compensate for the expenses of a double freight (from America to England, and from England to France) and those incurred at the European port where the cargoes must be unladen and reladen. It must be added that I am well assured that the French ship-owners are taking measures for obtaining foreign papers for their vessels. I should not be at all astonished that this government should wink at this, and permit such vessels still to enter their ports as French; in which case our laws would be evaded and the trade be carried on exclusively by the French. I think it therefore indispensable, if we mean to persevere in the present plan, to prohibit altogether the exportation of our produce to France in any other than American or French vessels. There is nothing in any of our treaties to prevent this being done. With proper explanations, no nation could take offence at it; and, although it would disappoint some ship-owners here, I may venture to say that the measure would be popular even in France.
We might also with great facility prohibit the exportation of our cotton to Florida and to any of the West India islands; and this would be very advantageous if it should not provoke France to prohibit its importation from any European port. Whether, considering on one hand the expenses to be incurred in a double freight from the United States to the West Indies, and thence to Europe, as well as the expenses in a colonial port, and on the other hand the difference of 22 francs per 100 kilogrammes (resulting from the French duty and premium) in favor of this mode of importation, our ship-owners can stand the competition and send their produce here by way of England or other European places of deposit, I cannot positively say; and I think the most intelligent of our merchants should be consulted on this point. In favor of the prohibition it may be said that, if Congress does not adopt that measure during the next session, this government may nevertheless prohibit the importation from European ports if they find that the competition through that channel is fatal to the plan of American places of deposit. But I still think this a doubtful question.
Should the importation be prohibited, as well through foreign ports both in Europe and America as by foreign vessels, the commerce may still be carried on by a direct intercourse. But in that case it would, under the existing rates of tonnage and other duties, exclusively fall in the hands of the French; since their vessels (exclusively of our discriminating duty on their inward cargoes) would pay in our ports only 18 dollars per ton, and ours would pay in French ports the new tonnage duty of 99 francs, and about 65 francs per ton on account of the old discriminating duty on their cargo, making about 30½ dollars per ton. It would in that case again be necessary to lay a new duty of 12 dollars per ton in order to restore equality; and this government would probably by an ordinance again re-establish an inequality in their favor. I therefore think that if no arrangement is made, it will be necessary that the President should be vested with some discretionary power in that respect.
But we never will be placed in an eligible situation towards other nations, and in one that may enable us to treat upon an equal footing, until an amendment shall have been obtained to the Constitution which will permit Congress to lay an export duty on articles exported in foreign vessels. Then, a general law laying on such exports a duty always precisely equal to that which is laid in the foreign country on similar articles when imported in American vessels beyond what is levied on the same articles when imported in vessels of that country, will relieve us from every difficulty of the nature we now experience.
I have fairly stated those which we have to encounter in case you should fail in making an arrangement, and they have certainly much weight. It must, however, be recollected that the inconvenience is at least as great on the part of France, that the shipping heretofore employed in our trade lies now idle, and that, whatever they may say, they do want at least our cotton and tobacco far more than we do any of their manufactures or products. On tobacco there can be no doubt; and you may rely upon it that there is no substitute for our cotton without their manufactures being materially injured. That of Brazil is too dear, and that of the East Indies too inferior; besides which, they do not understand how to clean this without great loss, and it cannot be imported with any benefit except when ours exceeds that of 20 cents per pound.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 19th October, 1820.
* * * * * * * * *
Mr. Hyde de Neuville has been appointed ambassador to Brazil, but, in conformity with the official communication made to me, goes in the first place to the United States, for the purpose of concluding, if practicable, an arrangement with you on all the commercial difficulties existing between the two countries. Although that gentleman’s opinions with respect to the construction of the Louisiana Treaty and to the subject of discriminating duties essentially differ from ours, I believe that he continues to have the same friendly dispositions towards the United States which he has always evinced.
From conversations with him and with the Duke of Richelieu, I am induced to believe that this government refused to separate in the negotiation the question relative to the Louisiana Treaty from that of discriminating duties, less with a view to insist on their construction of the treaty than from the hope that the United States would make concessions in some other respect, in order to obtain from France a relinquishment of her pretensions under the article in question.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 23d October, 1820.
I had the honor on the 20th instant to receive your despatch No. 24, and addressed on the 22d to Mr. Pasquier the letter of which a copy is enclosed. Its object, Mr. Hyde de Neuville not having then yet left Paris, was to induce this government to give him rational instructions. I had the same evening a short conversation with Mr. Pasquier, in which he used conciliatory language, but said that it appeared absolutely necessary to have some explanation on the 8th Article of the Louisiana Treaty, and drew a distinction between our old discriminating and our new tonnage duty with reference to the privileges granted to France by that article. I have thought, upon reflection, that there might have been some foundation for that distinction, so far at least as our new tonnage duty exceeded that which it was intended to countervail. But the objection was not at all made on the receipt of the Act of Congress: it was thought more eligible to retaliate than to discuss; and France, after having laid her one hundred francs duty, has at least no right to complain.
Mr. de Neuville called on me since the receipt of your despatch. Nothing very interesting occurred in the course of the conversation. I discovered, however, that when he had spoken of the privileges granted to France by the Louisiana Treaty as being inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States, he alluded to an argument which you had used. I cannot help thinking that there has been in that respect some misconception on his part. It is very clear that the United States could not make, now that Louisiana is a State, a treaty containing conditions similar to those in question; but I do not perceive that the Constitution prevented them from acquiring on those terms Louisiana when a foreign colony, still less that they could, without a compensation, be relieved from any obligation on the ground that the Constitution did not permit its performance. In your despatch to me, you consider as contrary to our Constitution those privileges only, claimed by France, which are founded on an inadmissible construction of the treaty. And the only argument which it seems to me can be drawn from the Constitution is that the article must remain as it is, and that the government of the United States cannot, even if so disposed, give to it a more extensive construction in favor of France than its literal and natural sense will admit.
I now beg leave to submit to your consideration an observation on the ground which you seem disposed to take, that France cannot claim the benefit of the article in her favor in the Louisiana Treaty because her present government has declared that it could not be responsible for the outrages of its immediate predecessors. There would be some danger, if we acquiesced in that doctrine, that France might then say that the whole treaty was at an end, and the cession of Louisiana a nullity. I would rather argue from their claiming the benefit of the 8th Article of the treaty, that they did consider themselves responsible for the acts of Bonaparte. But, in point of fact, this government has never declared that they were not thus responsible. It was indeed once, and but once, verbally suggested by the Duke of Richelieu in a conversation, which he has most probably forgotten. But they have not by any written act or in any official manner assumed a ground which they dare not maintain in the face of France. Even Baron Louis, in his extraordinary letter to Mr. Parish, founded his refusal not on a presumed irresponsibility, but on the ground that the order of Bonaparte to transfer the money from the caisse d’amortissement to the treasury was tantamount to a condemnation. I will add that, after raising a thousand difficulties, and very unjustly curtailing the amount, the Minister of the Marine has lately paid to the owner a large sum for the value of the American ship Ocean and cargo. This vessel, captured on her way from Canton to Philadelphia by a French frigate, was carried to the Isle of France and there condemned on some frivolous pretence. The ship and cargo were sold, and the proceeds put in the public chest of the island. The case was so gross that upon an appeal the council of prizes pronounced an acquittal in 1813. From this decision the Minister of the Marine, subsequent to the restoration, appealed to the council of state, which, in 1818, confirmed the sentence of the council of prizes. And the money has been accordingly paid, although it had been either expended by the public authorities in the island, or, [as] is asserted, had fallen in the hands of the British at the time of its capture. I think this to be a case in point, and which may be usefully quoted hereafter, to prove that this government does think itself responsible for illegal acts committed under the reign of Bonaparte.
Mr. Hyde de Neuville was to leave Paris yesterday. It is intended that he should embark at Rochefort for the United States within the ten first days of November.
I have the honor, &c.
JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, December 26, 1820.
“It is said to be an ill wind which blows favorably to no one.” My health has long suspended the too frequent troubles I, have heretofore given you with my European correspondence. To this is added a stiffening wrist,—the effect of age on an ancient dislocation,—which renders writing slow and painful, and disables me nearly from all correspondence, and may very possibly make this the last trouble I shall give you in that way.
Looking from our quarter of the world over the horizon of yours, we imagine we see storms gathering which may again desolate the face of that country. So many revolutions going on in different countries at the same time, such combinations of tyranny and military preparations and movements to suppress them, England and France unsafe from internal conflict, Germany on the first favorable occasion ripe for insurrection,—such a state of things, we suppose, must end in war, which needs a kindling spark in one spot only to spread over the whole. Your information can correct these views, which are stated only to inform you of impressions here.
At home things are not well. The flood of paper money, as you well know, had produced an exaggeration of nominal prices, and at the same time a facility of obtaining money, which not only encouraged speculations on fictitious capital, but seduced those of real capital, even in private life, to contract debts too freely. Had things continued in the same course, these might have been manageable; but the operations of the United States Bank for the demolition of the State banks obliged these suddenly to call in more than half their paper, crushed all fictitious and doubtful capital, and reduced the prices of property and produce suddenly to one-third of what they had been. Wheat, for example, at the distance of two or three days from market, fell to, and continues at, from one-third to half a dollar. Should it be stationary at this for a while, a very general revolution of property must take place. Something of the same character has taken place in our fiscal system. A little while back, Congress seemed at a loss for objects whereon to squander the supposed fathomless funds of our Treasury. This short frenzy has been arrested by a deficit of 5 millions the last year and of 7 millions this year. A loan was adopted for the former and is proposed for the latter, which threatens to saddle us with a perpetual debt. I hope a tax will be preferred, because it will awaken the attention of the people and make reformation and economy the principles of the next election. The frequent recurrence of this chastening operation can alone restrain the propensity of governments to enlarge expense beyond income. The steady tenor of the courts of the United States to break down the constitutional barriers between the co-ordinate powers of the States and of the Union, and a formal opinion lately given by five lawyers of too much eminence to be neglected, give uneasiness. But nothing has ever presented so threatening an aspect as what is called the Missouri question. The Federalists, completely put down and despairing of ever rising again under the old division of Whig and Tory, devised a new one of slave-holding and non-slave-holding States, which, while it had a semblance of being moral, was at the same time geographical, and calculated to give them ascendency by debauching their old opponents to a coalition with them. Moral the question certainly is not, because the removal of slaves from one State to another, no more than their removal from one county to another, would never make a slave of one human being who would not be so without it. Indeed, if there were any morality in the question it is on the other side; because by spreading them over a larger surface their happiness would be increased, and the burden of their future liberation lightened by bringing a greater number of shoulders under it. However, it served to throw dust into the eyes of the people and to fanaticize them, while to the knowing ones it gave a geographical and preponderant line of the Potomac and Ohio, throwing fourteen States to the North and East, and ten to the South and West. With these, therefore, it is merely a question of power; but with this geographical minority it is a question of existence. For if Congress once goes out of the Constitution to arrogate a right of regulating the condition of the inhabitants of the States, its majority may, and probably will, next declare that the condition of all men within the United States shall be that of freedom; in which case all the whites south of the Potomac and Ohio must evacuate their States, and most fortunate those who can do it first. And so far this crisis seems to be advancing. The Missouri constitution is recently rejected by the House of Representatives; what will be their next step is yet to be seen. If accepted on the condition that Missouri shall expunge from it the prohibition of free people of color from emigration to their State, it will be expunged, and all will be quieted until the advance of some new State shall present the question again. If rejected unconditionally, Missouri assumes independent self-government, and Congress, after pouting awhile, must receive them on the footing of the original States. Should the Representatives propose force, 1, the Senate will not concur; 2, were they to concur, there would be a secession of the members south of the line, and probably of the three Northwestern States, who, however inclined to the other side, would scarcely separate from those who would hold the Mississippi from its mouth to its source. What next? Conjecture itself is at a loss. But whatever it shall be you will hear from others and from the newspapers; and finally the whole will depend on Pennsylvania. While she and Virginia hold together, the Atlantic States can never separate. Unfortunately, in the present case she has become more fanaticized than any other State. However useful where you are, I wish you were with them. You might turn the scale there, which would turn it for the whole. Should this scission take place, one of its most deplorable consequences would be its discouragement of the efforts of the European nations in the regeneration of their oppressive and cannibal governments. Amidst this prospect of evil I am glad to see one good effect. It has brought the necessity of some plan of general emancipation and deportation more home to the minds of our people than it has ever been before, insomuch that our governor has ventured to propose one to the Legislature. This will probably not be acted on at this time, nor would it be effectual; for, while it proposes to devote to that object one-third of the revenue of the State, it would not reach one-tenth of the annual increase. My proposition would be that the holders should give up all born after a certain day, past, present, or to come; that these should be placed under the guardianship of the State, and sent at a proper age to St. Domingo. There they are willing to receive them, and the shortness of the passage brings the deportation within the possible means of taxation, aided by charitable contributions. In these I think Europe, which has forced this evil on us, and the Eastern States, who have been its chief instruments of importation, would be bound to give largely. But the proceeds of the land office, if appropriated to this, would be quite sufficient. God bless you, and preserve you multos años.
[1 ]See American State Papers, vol. v. p. 35.
[1 ]This letter will be found in American State Papers, vol. v. (Foreign Relations) pp. 294-298.
[1 ]This letter will be found in American State Papers, vol. v. (Foreign Relations) p. 299.