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Extract of a Letter from Mr. Madison to Mr. Monroe.
May 22, 1807. “ In my letter of March 18 to the joint commission, it was signified that, in a conventional arrangement on the subject of boundaries, it would be inconsistent with the views of the President, to open any part of Louisiana to a British trade with the Indians. From the evident solicitude of the British government on this point, it is highly probable that the determination of the President will be a bar to any adjustment of that part of the differences be. tween the two countries ; nor is it very probable, considering the jealousy and want of information on the British side, that, independently of that obstacle, the adjustment would at this time be concluded. That you may not, how: ever, be without any information which might contribute to its accuracy, or put you on your guard against propositions militating against any of our just pretensions, I transmit herewith copies of a communication from the governour of New York, and of another from the governour of Vermont. With respect to the last it may be sufficient merely to save the right of correcting the alleged errour at a future day. With respect to the subject of the former, it may be proper either to leave that also open to future discussion, or rather to provide for a joint exami. nation and report relative to the islands and channels in the St. Lawrence, &c. The most obvious and convenienti demarcation would seem to be the channel best fitted for navigation. But as a more equal division of the islands might possibly be made without losing sight of a sufficient channel for common use, and as military positions may be involved in the case, it may be most safe and satisfactory to both parties, to proceed on more thorough and impartial information than is now possessed by either. I address these communications to our ordinary minister at London, merely because the subject has not been formally transferred to the joint commissioners. They will of course be for the use of the latter, if this branch of the negotiation should remain in their hands."
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Monroe to Mr. Madison.
London, March 18, 1804.. “ I shall pay all the attention to the instructions contained in your letter of the 5th of January, which is due to their great importance. As soon as I am sufficiently possessed of the subject, I shall ask a conference with lord Hawkesbury, to propose to his government a convention between the two nations for the adjustment of the points, and on the principles of the project you have sent me. I hope to be able to commence the business in a week or ten days, and flatter myself that the negotiation will be productive of real advantage to the United States. Should it even not succeed in all its objects, the attempt must nevertheless be considered as a very satisfactory proof of a strong desire in our government to preserve, on just ground, the friendship of this country, and is likely, by the explanations to which it may lead alone, to have that tendency. I am, however, far from thinking it improbable, that a suitable convention may be formed, especially on some of the points that are deemed interesting.”
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Monroe to Mr. Madison.
London, April 15, 1804. “ Soox after my last, I requested an interview with lord Hawkesbury, which took place on the 2d instant, in which I informed him that I had received your instructions to propose to his government the regulation by convention of certain points, which I was persuaded both countries would find their advantage in placing on explicit and equitable ground. I stated to his lordship the concerns it was desired thus to regulate, in which I complied strictly with your views, and assured him that the object of the President was, to fix the friendship of the two nations on the most solid basis by removing cvery cause, which had. a tendency in their intercourse or other relations, especially in time of war, to disturb it. In the conversation I entered into detail on every point, in which I was met by his lordship with an apparent candour, the sincerity of
which I had no reason to doubt, which manifested a dis position equally strong in favour of the professed, and indeed real object of the proposed negotiation. He requested me in the conclusion to furnish him a project, which he promised to submit to his cabinet, and to communicate to me the result of its deliberations on it as soon as he could. I have since sent him a project, but too recently to admit my obtaining an answer to it. I am inclined to think, from what passed in the conference, that some advantage may be fairly expected froin the negotiation. His lordship did not bind himself to any thing it is true; he even went so far as to express a wish that the principles of our treaty of 1794 might be adopted in the present convention, where they applied; and an expectation, that if the accommodation which had been given in certain cases to the northern powers should be stipulated in our favour, that we should accord fully what they had yielded in return. Although I was very desirous to do justice to the moderate and friendly views of our government on the occasion, yet I did not fail to give him to understand that I could not accede to his idea in either case. I shall endeavour to bring the business to a conclusion and apprize you of the result as soon as possible, when I shall also communicate fully and in detail an account of what passes between us in the course of the transaction." . I am, with great respect, &c.
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Monroe to Mr. Madison.
London, August 7, 1804. “ I RECEIVED a note from lord Harrowby on the 3d instant, requesting me to call on him at his office the next day, which I did. His lordship asked me, in what light was our treaty viewed by our government. I replied that it had been ratified with the exception of the fifth article, as I had informed him on a former occasion. He observed * that he meant the treaty of 1794, which by one of its stipulations was to expire two years after the signature of preliminary articles for concluding the then existing war between Great Britain and France. He wished to know, whether we considered the treaty as actually expired. I. said, that I did presume there could be but one opinion on that point in respect to the commercial part of the treaty, which was, that it had expired: that the first ten articles were made permanent; that other articles had been executed, but that then, being limited to a definite period which had passed, must be considered as expiring with it. He said it seemed to him doubtful, whether the stipulation of the treaty had been satisfied by what had occurred since the peace : that a fair construction of it might possibly require an interval of two years peace after the war, which had not taken place in point of form, much less so in fact, for the state of things which existed between the countries through that period was far from being a peaceable one. I informed his lordship, that the distinction had never occurred to us, though certainly it would receive from our government all the consideration which it merited, especially if it was relied on, on his part. After some further conversation, he seemed to admit that the construction he had suggested of the stipulation referred to was rather a forced one; that by the more obvious import of the article the commercial part of the treaty must be considered as having expired. What then, says he, is the subsisting relation between the two countries ? Are we in the state we were at the close of the American war? By what rule is our intercourse to be governed respecting tonnage, imposts and the like ? I said, that the law in each country, as I presumed, regulated these points. He replied, that the subject was nevertheless under some embarrassment here. He asked, how far it would be agreeable to our government to stipulate; that the treaty of 1794 should remain in force until two years should expire after the conclusion of the present war? I told his lordship, that I had no power to agree to such a proposal; that the President, animated by a sincere desire to cherish and perpetuate the friendly relations subsisting between the two countries, bad been disposed to postpone the regulation of their general commercial system, till the period should arrive, when each, party, enjoying the blessings of peace, might find itself at liberty to pay the subject the attention it merited; that he wished those regulations to be founded in the permanent interests, justly and liberally viewed, of both countries; that he sought for the present only to remove certain topicks which produced irritation in the intercourse, such as the impressment of seamen, and in our commerce with other powers, parties to the present war, according to a project which I had had the honour to present his predecessor some months since, with which I presumed his lordship was acquainted. He seemed desirous to decline any conversation on this latter subject, though it was clearly to be inferred, from what he said, to be his opinion, that the policy, wlrich our government seemed disposed to pursue in respect to the general system, could not otherwise than be agreeable to his. He then added, that his government might probably, for the present, adopt the treaty of 1794, as the rule in its own concerns, or in respect to duties on importations from our country, and, as I understood bim, all other subjects to which it extended ; in which case, he said, if the treaty had expired, the ministry would take the responsibility on itself, as there would be no law to sanction the measure: that in so doing, he presumed that the measure would be well received by our government, and a similar practice, in what concerned Great Britain, reciprocated. I observed, that on that particular topick I had no authority to say any thing specially, the proposal being altogether new and unexpected; that I should com. municate it to you; and that I doubted not that it would be considered by the President with the attention it merited. Not wishing, however, to authorize an inference, that that treaty should ever form a basis of a future one be. tween the two countries, I repeated some remarks which I had made to lord Hawkesbury in the interview which we had just before he left the department of foreign affairs, by observing that in forming a new treaty we must begin de novo; that America was a young and thriving country; that at the time that treaty was formed, she had had little experience of her relations with foreign powers; that ten years had since elapsed, a great portion of the term within which she had held the rank of a separate and independent nation, and exercised the powers belonging to it; that our interests were better understood on both sides at this time than they then were ; that the treaty was known to contain things that neither liked ; that I spoke with confidence on that point on our part; that in making a new treaty we might ingraft from that into it what suited us, omit what we disliked, and add what the experience of our respective interests might suggest to be proper; and