Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1823: GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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1823: 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, 5th January, 1823.
I had, after his return from Verona, a conversation with the Duke of Montmorency on our claims. I complained in strong terms of the decision taken by Mr. de Villèle, and said that his insisting to connect that subject with the discussion respecting the construction of the 8th Article of the Louisiana Treaty would be considered in the United States as an attempt to avoid altogether the payment of the indemnities due to our citizens. I then stated that the reluctance evinced by the government of France to make a general arrangement on that subject had induced the President to authorize me to make a separate application for the Antwerp claims; that what had now taken place afforded an additional proof of the difficulties which stood in the way of a general transaction; and that, whilst this seemed to be indefinitely postponed, I hoped that the special application would at least be attended to and receive a favorable decision.
The Duke, after some general observations on the earnest desire of France that all the subjects of difference between the two countries should be definitively arranged, and declaring that this was the only motive for insisting on a negotiation embracing all those points, said that to take up at this time any special claim appeared to him inconsistent with the official communication made to me by Mr. de Villèle, and that we must wait at least till I had received an answer from my government, to whom I must of course have transmitted the correspondence. He promised, however, to lay my request before the King’s council, but without giving me any expectation that it would be favorably received.
It is probable that even this has been prevented by the Duke’s resignation, which took place a few days after our conversation; and I think it quite useless to renew at this time the application to his successor, Mr. de Chateaubriand. I will therefore wait till I receive your instructions in answer to my several despatches on this subject.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 18th January, 1823.
On the return of the Duke of Montmorency from Verona, I had a preparatory conversation with him on the subject of the slave-trade, and promised to send him the copy of our laws prohibiting it. He resigned a few days after, and I have the honor to enclose the copy of a letter written this day to his successor, and accompanying the laws in question.
I found this rather a delicate subject. You are aware that the opinion generally prevails here that Great Britain, having taken care to provide her West India colonies with an ample supply of slaves during the years that preceded her act abolishing the trade, is not altogether disinterested in the earnestness with which she endeavors to enforce the prohibition in other countries; that she is not sorry that the growth and prosperity of the colonies of other nations, where the inequality between the sexes amongst the blacks prevents an immediate natural increase, should be checked by the impossibility of obtaining a sufficient number of cultivators. But it is the national pride which has principally been wounded by the manner in which the abolition of the slave-trade took place in France. It was not an act of their own, unless that passed by Bonaparte during the hundred days be considered as such, but the condition of the treaty of peace with England, and is considered as one of those imposed by a victorious enemy. The right this has given to Great Britain to interfere in a domestic concern, the perpetual though well-founded representations made by her minister of the infractions of the law, have a tendency to irritate, and have rendered the country, if not the Ministry, peculiarly susceptible on that subject. This will account for the manner in which I have deemed proper to treat it, to which must be added our own refusal to agree to the proposal of England to admit the reciprocal right of capture and the trial by a mixed commission.
There can be but little hope that our own representation will at this time produce any effect. Independent of the causes already assigned, the colonial interest, which, from ancient recollections and its connections with the noblesse and the commercial cities, is yet much stronger than might be expected, still entertains chimerical hopes respecting St. Domingo, is at bottom in favor of the slave-trade, and will, I think, prevent the men now in power from doing anything efficient.
I beg leave to take this opportunity of repeating a suggestion which, before I was officially connected with the subject, I had submitted in a private letter to the President.
Would not the objection to the proposal of Great Britain be considerably lessened if, by the proposed agreement, the captors (whether British or American) were bound, 1st, not to take any part of the crew from the captured vessel; 2dly, to send such vessel and crew for trial to the country under whose flag she sailed, and where they would be tried exclusively by the courts and according to the laws and forms of proceeding of their own country?
I have the honor, &c.
P.S.—January 22d. I have this moment received, and have the honor to enclose the copy of, the answer from Mr. de Chateaubriand to my letter to him of the 18th instant.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 27th February, 1823.
I had designedly abstained from answering Mr. de Villèle’s letter of the 15th of November in order to be able to avail myself of any change in the Ministry, or of any other favorable circumstance which might arise. The more I have reflected on the ground assumed by this government on the subject of our claims, and on the attempt to connect their discussion with the question arising under the 8th Article of the Louisiana Treaty, the more I have felt satisfied that it was impossible that the United States should depart from the true construction of that article and acquiesce in that contended for by France, and that a renewed discussion on that subject would be unprofitable and lead to no result whatever. As a last but, I believe, unavailing effort, I have concluded to express that conviction to the French government, and have accordingly addressed this day to Mr. de Chateaubriand the letter of which I have the honor to enclose a copy.1
I have no doubt that there is not at this time any disposition to do us justice, and that if we were even to make some concessions with respect to the article above mentioned, we could not succeed in making an arrangement on the subject of the claims satisfactory to the parties, or such as the government of the United States would feel justified to accept. With that view of the subject, it appears to me evident that it is less disadvantageous to let the question rest for the present as it is than to entangle ourselves by consenting to blend it with the discussion of the Louisiana Treaty; whilst, on the other hand, the communication of this determination coming from me, before any specific instructions can have been received from you, is less peremptory than if founded on those instructions, does not commit government, and leaves the United States at liberty to resume at a more favorable time the negotiation on the ground which may then appear most eligible.
Independent of unforeseen circumstances which may alter the dispositions of this government, I can perceive but one mode calculated to produce some effect. It is that the parties interested should petition Congress, and that there should be some marked expression of the sentiments of that body in their favor. The apathy of the great mass of the claimants, and the silence preserved in that respect during so many years in all our public discussions, have undoubtedly produced here the impression that very little interest was felt on that subject, and in some degree contributed in rendering our efforts to obtain justice unavailing.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 28th February, 1823.
There not being at this time the least prospect of a settlement of our claims, I do not perceive any reason connected with the public service for protracting my stay in this country. I will terminate as far as this government will allow what relates to the fisheries, although I would have wished to hear from you on the subject; and some heavy losses I have experienced at home, as well as certain family circumstances, imperiously requiring my presence there, it is my intention, if nothing new and important of a public nature shall take place, to take my departure in the course of the spring. I had already written a private letter on that subject to the President, to which I had hoped to have received an answer before this time, and in which I had asked only for leave of absence. But, this being an unusual course, it may be better at once to appoint a successor, and I wish it to be done. If the President shall think it more eligible to wait for the meeting of the Senate, you know that Mr. Sheldon is fully competent to carry on the current business, and I believe him equally so to act on any incident that may arise. As to the still uncertain war with Spain, nothing can possibly be necessary here on our part than perhaps some remonstrance in case of infractions of our neutral rights. There is no disposition on the part of France to commit acts of that kind; and that subject is also quite familiar to Mr. Sheldon.
I have, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 18th April, 1823.
I had the honor to receive your despatch No. 55, and intend to avail myself of the leave of absence granted by the President, and to take my departure in about a month, leaving Mr. Sheldon as chargé d’affaires.
I beg you to express my thanks to the President, but to repeat that it is not my wish that another appointment should be delayed on my account, if deemed useful.
I have the honor, &c.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 26th May, 1823.
My dear Sir,—
Your letter of the 27th of September last was received some time in December thereafter, and is the [last] letter I have had from you.
Some time in December I understood you had applied for leave of absence, and shortly after was informed that it had been granted.
In the latter end of April the President showed me a private letter from you, dated in the early part of March, in which you declare your determination to leave France the 10th of this month; and a few days afterwards I was informed that Mr. Adams had requested you to remain. I understand that this request had been made in consequence of the expected rupture between France and Spain. It would therefore appear that the reasons you assigned for believing your presence at Paris would be useless have not been considered good by the Secretary of State. To me they appeared conclusive when I read the letter, and reflection has only confirmed my first impressions. It is not pretended that the war with Spain will favor the efforts which have for twelve years past been made without success to procure indemnity for unjust spoliations committed upon our merchants. Infractions of our neutral rights must then be apprehended before a successor could be sent. The interest of France to strip Great Britain of an excuse to interfere in the war is the best guaranty that can be offered for her scrupulous respect for neutral rights. All that an American minister can do during the present year at Paris will be to give information of what is going on, and speculate upon what may possibly be done in the progress of the war. If the Secretary was at Paris, or if his protégé, Mr. Everett, was there, the curiosity of the government to grasp at future events would have ample gratification. I do not know Mr. Sheldon well enough to form an opinion of his capacity to minister to this propensity of man, but I presume he would supply it with as much, if not as delicate, food as it would receive from you:
Some of the little people who buzz about the government have, I understand, been very busy in the expression of their opinions that the change of relations between France and Spain renders highly important that you should remain. The people have had their cue, and repeat their lesson by rote, for if they were capable of reasoning themselves, they would see the folly of their declarations. It is impossible that reflecting men, whose judgments are not led astray by some strong impression resulting from selfish purposes, can believe that it is of any importance to have a minister at Paris at this moment.
The reason, then, assigned for this request is not the true one. That must be sought not in Paris, but in the United States. You will understand it as well as I do, upon a moment’s reflection. Your presence in the United States during the present year may not suit the views and projects of certain gentlemen; it is therefore necessary to devise some cause for keeping you at Paris. It is possible that if Mr. Rush was disposed to return, some cause connected with the rupture between France and Spain would be discovered to render his stay in London necessary. As that gentleman, however, has written a number of letters to his friends in Pennsylvania, which may have an effect somewhat similar to that which is apprehended from your return, it is possible that it may facilitate his return.
I have written this letter under an impression that the request of Mr. Adams may arrive at Paris before you leave it. Your friends are desirous of your return, and will be disappointed if you do not. I have understood that Mr. Astor has received a letter from you as late as the 17th ult., which is indicative of your intention to return; but Mr. Astor thinks you will not, and that you ought not. He is probably governed in this opinion by his interests and wishes. If you do not return in the Montano, which, it is now said, will not sail before the 20th of this month, he will see you before this letter reaches you, as I shall confide it to the care of Mr. Erving, who, it is understood, will not sail until the arrival of the Montano.
Your friends Lacock and Roberts are very decided on the question which now attracts the attention of the nation. Indeed, there are but few exceptions among your old political associates. Many of them, unfortunately, are no more, and new men have filled their places: the new-comers, however, have a high respect for your character, talents, and opinions, and wish to see and converse with you upon this question.
Mr. Macon, to whom I presented yours and Mrs. Gallatin’s respects, begged me to assure you both, in my next letter, of his undiminished friendship and affection.
Present my respects to her and to the other members of your family, and accept the assurance of the sincere regard with which I remain
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
New York, 24th June, 1823.
I arrived here this morning, after a passage of thirty-four days from Havre. Nothing had taken place at the time of my departure which altered our relations with France. In a conference with Mr. de Chateaubriand on the 13th ult., I complained of the want of disposition evinced by France to arrange the subjects of difference between the two countries, and of the manner in which the question had been treated by her government, and by him in particular. It is unnecessary to repeat to you what was said on the subject of the American claims; but I dwelt on his last letter to me respecting the fisheries, and told him that if he intended to preserve an amicable understanding with the United States, he must answer the arguments used in support of their claims, instead of simply saying that they did not alter his view of the subject, and, above all, suspend every act of aggression pending the discussion. I also adverted to his not having given any explanation on the subject of the second separate article of the commercial convention, and observed generally that that apparent determination on the part of the French government to avoid every discussion had an unfriendly and offensive aspect, which could not fail ultimately to produce an unfavorable effect on our relations. What I said seemed to produce at least some momentary effect, and Mr. de Chateaubriand sent me, two days after our interview, the enclosed letters for Count de Menou, which may perhaps contain some instructions arising from that conversation. You need not, however, expect anything beyond words, or that justice shall be done in any respect. With respect to the fisheries, although France may abstain from positive aggression, and of this I have no assurances, she will again act as formerly unless fully satisfied that the government of the United States will resist.
I did not leave Mr. de Chateaubriand without adverting to the affairs of Spain. That our sympathies were entirely on her side, and that we considered the war made on her by France as unjust, I did not pretend to conceal; but I added that the United States would undoubtedly preserve their neutrality, provided it was respected, and avoid every interference with the politics of Europe. Even in the questions connected with South America they had not interfered, and, although their wishes were not doubtful, they had neither excited nor assisted the Spanish colonies. But I had every reason to believe that, on the other hand, they would not suffer others to interfere against the emancipation of America. If France was successful in her attack on Spain, and afterwards attempted either to take possession of some of her colonies or to assist her in reducing them under their former yoke, I was of opinion that the United States would oppose every undertaking of this kind, and it might force them into an alliance with Great Britain. Mr. de Chateaubriand answered in the most explicit manner that France would not make any attempt whatever of that kind or in any manner interfere in the American questions. If he was sincere, he must have received some hint from the British government similar to mine; for you may recollect the declaration that the armies and fleets of France would be at the disposal of Spain whenever Ferdinand was restored to his former power.
I have spoken in the same manner and as explicitly on that subject to the ambassador of Russia; and I added that the Spanish colonies might remain such as long as it suited them, but that if not Spanish colonies they must be altogether independent, and that we would not consider the establishment of a Bourbon or other European prince in Mexico or Peru as tantamount to independence. Let them choose their own forms of government, provided they were free of any foreign influence whatever. I took the opportunity to speak of Russian America, and to observe how contrary to sound policy it was to attempt to extend settlements in that remote quarter without any real national advantage and without the means of protecting them in case of rupture with any maritime power. General Pozzo di Borgo seemed to coincide with me in opinion on both points. I think that he fears that the part taken by Great Britain in the Spanish affairs may have a tendency to unite us with her. As the avowal of his opinion in favor of the Greeks had nearly cost him his place, he is more cautious even with me than formerly; he has, however, told me that the change in the Emperor’s opinions must be ascribed to the murders of the Duke of Berry and of Kotzebue. This last act particularly, connected with Sand’s character and the almost justification by German professors, had produced a powerful effect on his mind.
The resistance made in Catalonia, and the last movements of Mina, the result of which was not yet known, had produced some sensation. Any check in any part of the extended French line would produce a great effect on both sides and probably compel the invaders to retreat. I think, however, that they will go as far as Madrid and try to negotiate. The British government is undoubtedly using unremitted endeavors in France and in Spain to effect that object.
It is my intention to be at Washington, on my way to the Western country, in about three weeks.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your most obedient and very humble servant.
JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, August 2, 1823.
A recent illness, from which I am just recovering, obliges me to borrow the pen of a granddaughter to acknowledge the receipt of your welcome favor of June 29, from New York. I read it with great satisfaction. Occasional views, to be relied on, of the complicated affairs of Europe are like a good observation at sea, which tells one where they are, after wandering with the newspapers till they are bewildered. I keep my eye on the cortes as my index, and judge of everything by their position and proceedings. I do not readily despair of Spain. Their former example proved them, and the cause is the same,—their constitutional cortes and king. At any rate, I despair not of Europe. The advance of mind which has taken place everywhere cannot retrograde, and the advantages of representative government exhibited in England and America, and recently in other countries, will procure its establishment everywhere in a more or less perfect form; and this will insure the amelioration of the condition of the world. It will cost years of blood, and will be well worth them.
Here you will not immediately see into our political condition, which you once understood so well. It is not exactly what it seems to be. You will be told that parties are now all amalgamated; the wolf now dwells with the lamb, and the leopard lies down with the kid. It is true that Federalism has changed its name and hidden itself among us. Since the Hartford Convention it is deemed even by themselves a name of reproach. In some degree, too, they have varied their object. To monarchize this nation they see is impossible; the next best thing in their view is to consolidate it into one government as a premier pas to monarchy. The party is now as strong as it ever has been since 1800; and, though mixed with us, are to be known by their rallying together on every question of power in the general government. The judges, as before, are at their head, and are their entering wedge. Young men are more easily seduced into this principle than the old one of monarchy. But you will soon see into this disguise. Your visit to this place would indeed be a day of jubilee: but your age and distance forbid the hope. Be this as it will, I shall love you forever, and rejoice in your rejoicing, and sympathize in your evils. God bless you and have you ever in his holy keeping!
MONROE TO GALLATIN.
Oak Hill, Virginia, October 15, 1823.
The state of our affairs with France having become more unfavorable since your return home, makes it very important that we should be represented there by a minister of the first grade employed by the United States, and of most weight, as soon as it may be practicable. In addition to former difficulties, her government has formally rejected our right to the fisheries in the Strait of Belle Isle, in regard to Newfoundland, as contended for by you, and warned a frigate from entering Cadiz with a minister sent to a government with whom she treats, and which is of course recognized by herself. The general doctrine also contended for by her government in entering and making war on Spain cannot be acquiesced in, and may require notice both here and there. It would be very gratifying to me, as I am satisfied it would be to the public, if you could resume your station, if it were only for the winter, so as to meet the present crisis. I have taken no step in regard to a successor, in the hope that you might return, of which be so kind as to inform me as soon as convenient after the receipt of this.
With great respect and regard, I am, dear sir, yours.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
New Geneva, 26th October, 1823.
Our mail is so slow and irregular that your letter of the 15th reached me only this day. I had already stated that the situation of my affairs rendered my return to Europe extremely improbable. I have found them still more complex and deranged than I had expected, and it is, at all events, impossible that I should return this winter. This would have been communicated to you before now, had I not understood, on leaving Washington, that you would appoint a successor the moment you thought the public service required it, without taking the trouble of writing to me on the subject. It was at least my intention and wish that it should be so.
It would be gratifying to the people of America, and refreshing to the friends of liberty in Europe, to hear the President of the United States publicly reproving the principle of the Spanish war; the only objection is that we have been heretofore silent on similar occasions,—on the aggressions of Europe against republican France, on the invasion by France of Switzerland, Spain, &c.
I expect to have the pleasure of seeing you about the middle of November, as I intend to call at Washington for the purpose of settling my accounts. I remain, in the mean while, with great respect and regard, dear sir, yours.
[1 ]This note will be found in American State Papers, vol. v. (Foreign Relations) p. 313; and again, p. 673.