Front Page Titles (by Subject) CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
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.