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has the honour to acquaint him that, as soon as the proposition which Mr. Bagot was authorised, in July last, to make to the Government of the United States, for arranging the manner in which American citizens might be permitted to carry on the fisheries within the British limits, had been by them declined, viz: in the month of February, the same was immediately notified by His Majesty's Minister in America to the British admiral commanding at Halifax; the effect of which notification was to revive the orders which Mr. Bagot had taken upon himself to suspend, in the expectation that the discussions in which he was then employed with the American Government would have led to a satisfactory issue.
These discussions having failed of success, and the orders above alluded to being consequently now in full force, the British Government cannot but feel some reluctance again to suspend them, without being in possession of more precise grounds for expecting an adjustment. Persuaded, however, from the official communication received from Mr. Adams, that it is not only the sincere desire of the President of the United States to come to an amicable arrangement, but also that he, being already in possession of the views of Great Britain, is now led to entertain a strong expectation that a settlement which shall reconcile the interests of both parties may, without any material delay, be effectuated, the Prince Regent, under these impressions, is willing to give to the American Government this additional proof of his earnest wish that the negotiation should proceed, under circumstances the most favourable to a speedy and amicable conclusion, by acceding to the application of the Government of the United States, as brought forward by Mr. Adams. Instructions will, accordingly, be expedited to the naval commanders on the American station to suspend the execution of the said orders during the approaching season. Ample opportunity will thus be afforded for coming to an amicable arrangement, more particularly as it appears that the American Secretary, in February last, had it in contemplation to offer, for the consideration of the British Government, some specific proposition on the subject, which Mr. Bagot did not then feel himself authorised to take, ad referendum, but which he has since been instructed to receive, and transmit for the opinion of his court.
No. 28.-1817, August 4: Letter from Mr. Rush (United States Acting Secretary of State) to Mr. Bagot.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, August 4, 1817.
SIR: It becomes my duty to address you upon a subject of deep interest to all those citizens of this country who are concerned in the fisheries.
By representations made to this department, it appears that, at the commencement of the present fishing season, twenty sail of fishing vessels, of from twenty-five to forty-five tons burden, belonging to ports of the United States, were fitted out and sailed for the purpose of fishing on the western bank. That, while on their way, a number of them were compelled, by a storm, to put into a harbour at
Ragged Island, near Shelburne Light-house. That, while here, they were boarded by an officer of the Customs, who demanded and received light-money from them, notwithstanding the circumstances of compulsion and distress under which they had entered the port. That they afterwards proceeded to the bank, where, after remaining many weeks, they completed their fares of fish, and commenced their return to the United States. That, meeting with another severe storm upon their return, they were again forced to seek shelter in a British port, a few leagues to the westward of Halifax. That in this port they were captured by an armed barge, dispatched from the British sloop of war Dee, Captain Chambers, and the next morning ordered for Halifax, where they all arrived on the 9th of June. That the unfortunate crews have been exposed to peculiar inconveniences and hardships; and that those who desired to return to their homes were refused passports towards facilitating that end, from the proper officers, to whom they made application.
For further particulars connected with the above facts, I have the honour to enclose you an extract of a letter to this department from the collector of Boston, dated June the 30th. It will be seen that it is not a case involving unsettled questions between the two countries in relation to the fisheries, but which it is so confidently hoped are in a train of satisfactory and amicable arrangement. It is, on the other hand, distinctly said that the boats, far from taking a fish in any waters claimed as British waters, took them all at the distance of many leagues from the coast; while the other alleged facts would seem to forbid the imputation of their having entered a British harbour from any other than a lawful and necessary motive.
Should the facts as represented prove to be well founded, the President feels persuaded that your Government will not fail to take such measures, as well towards redressing the evil complained of, in the present instance, as towards preventing the recurrence of one of the like nature, as are due to justice and the harmony and good understanding which so happily subsist between the two nations. I pray you, Sir, to accept, &c.
81 No. 29.-1818, May 21: Extract from Letter from Mr. Adams (United States Secretary of State) to Mr. Rush (United States Minister at London).
The other law to which I have called your attention is an act concerning navigation, passed on the 18th and published in the National Intelligencer of the 21st of April. It meets the British prohibitive colonial system by direct and countervailing prohibition, to commence from and after the 30th of September next. The vote upon its passage in the Senate, where it originated, was all but unanimous, and in the House of Representatives the opposition to it amounted only to fifteen or sixteen votes.
Although no formal communication of this law to the British. Government will be necessary, it may naturally be expected that it will be noticed in your occasional conversations with Lord Castle
reagh. He will doubtless remember, and may be reminded of, the repeated efforts made by this Government to render it unnecessary by an amicable arrangement, which should place on an equitable footing of reciprocity the intercourse between the United States and the British colonies; he will remember the repeated warnings given, that to this result it must come, unless some relaxation of the British prohibitions should take place; and his own equally repeated admissions, that the exercise of the prohibitive right on the part of the United States would be altogether just, and would give no dissatisfaction whatever to Great Britain.
You are, nevertheless, authorized to assure him that the President assented to this measure with great reluctance, because, however just in itself it may be, its tendencies cannot but be of an irritating character to the interests which it will immediately affect, and because his earnest desire is to remove causes of irritation, and to multiply those of a conciliatory nature between the two countries. Such has manifestly been, on both sides, the effect of the equalising and reciprocal provisions of the convention of July, 1815; and such, he has no doubt, would be the effect of the extension of its principles to the commercial intercourse between the United States and the British colonies in the West Indies and on this continent; and you are authorised again to repeat the offer of treating for a fair and equitable arrangement of this interest. A further inducement for making this offer may be stated in the expediency of looking forward, without further delay, to the expiration of the convention of 1815, which has now little more than one year to remain in force. It is important that the commercial part of the community, both here and in Great Britain, should have timely notice of the state in which the relations between the two countries are to stand after the termination of that convention. And, as there are other objects of moment to be adjusted, the President desires you to propose an immediate general negotiation of a commercial treaty, to embrace the continuance, for a further term of years, of the convention; and also, the other subjects in discussion between the two Governments, namely-the question concerning the slaves, that relating to the fisheries, the boundary line from the Lake of the Woods, and the Columbia River settlement. The President prefers taking this course to that of submitting to commissioners, at least immediately, questions upon which he thinks it probable the two Governments may thus, by a shorter process, come to a mutual understanding between themselves.
If, upon making this proposal, the British Government agree to this negotiation, the President proposes that Mr. Gallatin and you should be authorised, jointly, as plenipotentiaries, to conclude the treaty, which it is very desirable may be concluded in season to arrive here by the commencement of the next session of Congress, which is to be on the third Monday in November. Instructions will be transmitted immediately to Mr. Gallatin, to hold himself in readiness to repair to London, upon receiving notice from you, should plenipotentiaries be appointed to treat with you; and, besides the instructions which formed the basis of the existing convention, and others already in your possession, further documents will be forwarded to you as soon as possible, which may assist you in the management of the negotiation.
We entertain hopes that this measure may result in a new treaty, which will remove most, if not all, of the causes of dissension between us and Great Britain. The satisfaction with which we have observed the avowal of the most liberal commercial principles by Lord Castlereagh in Parliament has already been noticed in my last letter. The opening, if not of all, at least of a great portion, of the ports of South America to the commerce of the world, which, under every possible course of events, must be now considered as irrevocable; and the Bill which we perceive was before Parliament for establishing free ports in the British American colonies, all tend to convince us that Great Britain must see that a relaxation from her colonial restrictions has becon.e the unequivocal dictate of her own interest.
82 No. 30.-1818, July 25: Extract from Letter from Mr. Rush (at London) to the Secretary of State, stating a conversation between himself and Lord Castlereagh.
I entered next upon the subject of the commercial relations betweens the two countries. Remarking upon the change produced in them by the Prohibitory Act of the last session of Congress, now soon to commence its operation. I observed that I had it in charge to say that the President had yielded his assent to that Act with reluctance; for that, however just, its tendencies might be of an irritating nature to the individual interests that it would affect on both sides, whilst it was his constant desire to give efficacy to measures mutually more beneficial and conciliatory. It was, therefore, that I was once more authorised and instructed to propose to this Government the negotiation of a general treaty of commerce. That the President had, besides, agreed that there should be comprehended in the negotiation other matters heretofore desired to be treated of by this Government, as well as points in which the Government of the United States took a particular interest; being, in the whole, 1. The question respecting the slaves carried off from the United States, in contravention, as alleged, of the treaty of Ghent. 2. The question of title to the settlement at the mouth of Columbia. River. 3. The question of the northwestern boundary line, from the Lake of the Woods; and 4. That of the fisheries. Upon these topics, the President, I added, preferred treating in a direct way in the first instance, in the hope that the two Governments might arrive at a just understanding, without resorting to commissioners; and that, if this Government was prepared to go into all of them, including, especially, a general treaty of commerce, another plenipotentiary had been contingently appointed on the part of the United States, to meet with me any two that might be designated on the part of Great Britain.
His Lordship asked what he was to understand by a general treaty of commerce. I replied, a treaty that should lay open, not a temporary or precarious, but a permanent intercourse with their West India islands and North American colonies to the shipping of the United States, as often before proposed, but which, after the recent refusals, it might seem almost unnecessary again to bring into view,
were it not that other objects of interest to both nations were now associated with it in a way to clothe the proposition with a new aspect.
He answered that the British Government would certainly be willing to enter upon a negotiation on the commercial relations of the two countries, but that he had no authority to say that the colonial system could be essentially altered; broken down it could not be. I said, that if it was not to be departed from, or in no further degree than the four articles had imported, as those articles had already been rejected, it did not appear to me that any advantage would be likely to arise from going into the negotiation. He replied that he was not prepared to answer definitely upon all or any of the points, but would lay them before the Cabinet, and let me know the result. He professed earnestly, in the course of the conversation, the desire which this Government had to see the commerce of the two countries stand upon the best footing of intercourse, the stake to each being so great, and promising, with the growth of the United States, to be so much greater.
In the event of a negotiation, upon the grounds I had explained, not being opened, he asked if I could inform him what the intentions of my Government were relative to the commercial intercourse between the two countries, it being, for obvious reasons, desirable soon to know. Here I did not hesitate to announce that, in such an event, which I still hoped would not be the case, it was willing simply to renew the existing convention of 1815, thus keeping this instrument distinct from all other questions of a commercial nature, if the British Government preferred it. This communication, I thought, he received with evident satisfaction. He remarked that it would rescue the commercial relations from all danger of a chasm, and made known, in immediate reply, the readiness of his Government to acquiesce in such
On the 22d I received a note from him requesting to see me again at the Foreign Office on the 23d. I was there accordingly. Mr. Robinson, who is now a member of the Cabinet, as well as president of the Board of Trade, was present. It was the first occasion upon which any third person had been associated with Lord Castlereagh at any of our official interviews.
His Lordship commenced by saying that he had laid my proposals before the Cabinet, and that it had been agreed to enter upon the general negotiation; that is, one which should embrace all the points I had stated. In relation to the great commercial question, he begged I would understand that the British Government did not pledge itself beforehand to a departure from its colonial system in a degree beyond what it had already offered; but that it sincerely was desirous to make the attempt, and unequivocally wished to bring the whole commercial relations of the two countries into view, willing to hope, though abstaining from promises, that some modification of that system, mutually beneficial, might be the result of frank and full discussions renewed at the present junction. I replied that I knew my Government would hear this determination with great satisfaction; that it would cordially join in the hope that the new effort might be productive of advantage to both countries, and strengthen the ties of good intercourse that should unite them.