Front Page Titles (by Subject) GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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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.
New York, 5th December, 1827.
I have been so much indisposed since we landed that, with the exception of a short letter to Mr. Clay announcing my arrival, I have not written a single line.
It would have gratified me to have complied with your wishes by remaining one year longer in England; and I would have done it had not the situation of my family rendered an early return a matter of urgency, or had there been any prospect that, within that time, any of the subjects of negotiation which I had not succeeded in arranging might be again taken up with advantage. There were four of that description: 1. The colonial intercourse, of which there is no hope, and for which we must wait till a change of men or of opinion takes place in England. Indeed, had it not been for other considerations, it would have been better not to have agitated again the subject this year. 2. Some more permanent arrangement respecting the territory west of the Rocky Mountains until the boundary can be agreed to. There is in regard to that question, on which I wrote an official despatch, an intrinsic difficulty, that of military posts, without which our citizens would not be protected, and which, if Great Britain should follow the example, would give her a hold of the country difficult to get rid of. But, could that be arranged, I am satisfied that the Western feelings, and the fear, unfounded in my opinion, of the ultimate views of England in that respect, would prevent anything being done at this time. As the British government seemed anxious on that subject, I have impressed on them the necessity of transferring the negotiation respecting it to Washington, where alone what is practicable can be ascertained. 3. The navigation of the St. Lawrence. This might, in my opinion, be obtained at any time by renouncing the right. It is certain that it could not be secured at this time by any agreement which would not be tantamount to a renunciation. But I believe that, by letting the matter rest for a while, a temporary convention may ultimately be made in such terms as will give us the navigation on the grounds of mutual convenience, and, if not with a reservation, yet without any abandonment of the right. I must, however, observe that, as the great inducement for Great Britain to agree to this is the wish to turn our commerce through the channel of Quebec, she may ask as a condition that the exportation of our produce to Canada shall not be prohibited, unless the prohibition be general,—a provision which may be deemed inadmissible so long as her West India possessions are shut to our vessels. In the mean while, the British Cabinet now understands so well what it is the interest of Great Britain to do in that respect, that it is extremely improbable that the trade of our citizens there shall be again interrupted. 4. Impressment. This is the only subject on which, in my opinion, an arrangement may perhaps be made in the course of next year on the basis of the article which Mr. Rush had been authorized to propose. The British Administration is generally, if not unanimously, in favor of it. If any of its members is against it, which I cannot assert, it must be some one of no consequence. But the navy and, as they think, public opinion is against it; and they dare not approach the question until it shall have been ascertained during the next session of Parliament that they are firmly established in their places. It is very true that the contemplated arrangement is founded on a concession on our part. In order to obtain the relinquishment of an intolerable practice for which England has not the shadow of a right, we would agree to abstain from employing their seamen, which we have an undoubted right to do. There is no motive for it but that of avoiding being involved in a war with Great Britain against our inclination and interest whenever she may happen to be at war with any other country. I do not know precisely what importance you attach to that subject, but, if you think the arrangement desirable, I would beg leave to suggest that it would be facilitated by removing the restriction laid on me to make no proposal. The British Cabinet is, however, fully apprised that the propositions must come from them. I must add that at my last conference with Mr. Huskisson, after he had expressed himself in the most explicit manner as very desirous that an arrangement should be made, I told him that, although anxious to return home, I would remain at least till next spring, if he would assure me that he would bring that subject before his colleagues within a reasonable time and recommend it to their consideration, and that he declared his total inability of doing it, or of assigning any time when it might be done.
I have certainly left the British government in better temper than I found them. The unsettled state of the Administration and the successive removal or death of two Prime Ministers were vexatious circumstances, and which increased the difficulties of my mission. Whilst I regret that nothing more could be done, I am consoled by the consciousness that all has been done that was practicable. I have left literally nothing to do in Mr. Lawrence’s hands except attending to a private claim of 300 pounds. The current business of the mission is nothing at all; at least I found it so during my residence. Nothing will be done in England that can affect us before the meeting of Parliament, and it is extremely rare that anything is matured before the Easter recess. From March to September is the period when the presence of a minister of the United States is most necessary. But the sooner a successor is appointed and repairs to England the better it will be, as a new man may not understand the ground at once.
I have written so much at large on every subject that I do not anticipate that my presence can be necessary at Washington for the sake of giving any verbal explanations; and a journey would be rather inconvenient, it being my intention to spend this winter here. But if I am wanted for anything connected with my late mission, I will of course attend as soon as my health will permit me to travel.
There is but one subject on which, as far as I can judge, I may be of some use, and that is the North-East boundary. But, as this would be in relation not to the convention but to the proceedings under it if it is ratified, it is not a matter of immediate urgency. I will, in the mean while, prepare another official despatch on that subject, giving all the explanations that can be given in a letter.
I have the honor to be, with sincere respect and attachment, dear sir, your most obedient servant.