HL Deb 13 April 1815 vol 30 cc587-607
Marquis Wellesley

rose, pursuant to notice, to lay before their lordships the grounds of his motion relative to the manner in which the late negociation with America had been conducted. The war with America he had considered as almost one of the most calamitous events that could befall this country; and when that event did unhappily take place, we had at least one consolation, that the aggression which led to it was theirs and not ours; but we had only that one consolation. It was a war in which little glory could be acquired by success, in which success itself must be mixed with feelings which would embitter any glory that could be derived from it, and in which the smallest defeat would be attended with a disgrace infinitely disproportionate to the highest advantages that could be expected from such a contest. Engaged in such a war, what was the plain and clear course and policy to be pursued by the Government of this country? To be ready to seize every opportunity to put an end to it,—not to omit even the smallest occasion of bringing about an amicable discussion to allay that feeling of irritation in which the war had originated. Even supposing the war had been attended with the greatest success on our part, he could not conceive one object which Great Britain could have, except that of putting an end to it. Fatally deluded as ministers had been by the appearance of affairs in Europe, which induced them to change the ground which they had originally taken, and to rest upon a point which had never before been brought into the discussion—for that such was the delusion under which they acted, he was convinced—the question now came to be, what was the course which our ministers ought to have taken? They ought not to have been deluded by the fatal error that their success against one power ought to be turned against another—by the fatal error, that instead of immediately and magnanimously making use of that success as the means of bringing about an amicable adjustment of differences with America, they ought to consider it as a ground of rising in their demands and urging undue pretensions. The only use of the greatest success in the case of America would be to enforce such demands as were fair and moderate. Nothing could be more erroneous than that policy which would turn America from views of internal improvement, of commerce, of civilization, and from that line of pursuits which enabled us, with respect to that country, to give full scope to those great principles of political economy by which the intercourse of the world would be most beneficially regulated. It was the clear and manifest interest of both parties to cultivate that amicable connection resting on these solid principles which rendered the mutual advantage so important. The effect of war was to turn them from these views of peace and internal improvement, to views of a far different and less beneficial nature. A state of war would naturally lead that rising community to look to the formation of a great military and even a naval power, to be turned against the parent from which, that community issued. After a long continued war, peace would leave us in a condition, with respect to that country, very different from that in which we before stood; for if America did become a great military power, she would mix herself with the disputes and arrangements of all the civilized world, and this country would find a rival springing up in that people which bad issued from its bosom. The pursuits of commerce and peace, and internal improvement, might be then but secondary concerns; and the great object would be to cultivate and establish a great military and naval power to act even on our frontiers, as they had in fact done by their naval exertions on the lakes, about which we had heard so much. This was the view in which our ministers ought to have considered the subject. The great fundamental principle on which they should have acted, was to turn America from this fatal policy, as adverse to the real interests of America as to those of this country; and to neglect no opportunity of bringing the fatal contest into which we had been unfortunately driven to an amicable conclusion. He assured the noble earl (Liverpool) it would give him great satisfaction if he could approve of the manner in which the ministers had carried on the war, or the principles upon which they appeared to have conducted the negociation. It was not on this day that he need argue, that peace, merely as such, could not be considered as a subject or ground of solid satisfaction. It was the situation in which peace ought to place us, that formed the only solid ground of satisfaction. This principle had been amply recognized and acted upon by this country with respect to other quarters. Peace—mere peace—had been offered, but rejected by their lordships and the nation. It was not, therefore, the mere circumstance that peace had been concluded—it was not the mere words or aspect of the Treaty that ought to decide their lordships to approve of it, if it could be shown from information and documents indisputable that the peace had been concluded under circumstances in which neither honour nor security had been provided for.

In discussing this question, their lordships had to consider what had been done to bring the war to a termination. It would be recollected, that soon after the war broke out, two propositions were made for an armistice, and a discussion of the points in dispute in the mean time. He did not blame ministers for their conduct on that occasion, being perhaps of opinion, that the carrying on negociations for peace during an armistice was generally an imprudent course of proceeding; but he only wished to call their lordships attention to this fact,—that at that time there was no expression of the slightest desire to alter the grounds of dispute; and that with respect to the impressment of seamen, a wish was expressed to come to a full and fair discussion, in order, if possible, to form some amicable arrangement on that difficult and arduous subject. The next point to be considered in the view of the question which he had stated, was the proposed mediation of Russia, and he had never yet been able to discover why that mediation had not been accepted. Their lordships were aware that the business of a mediator was merely to bring the parties together for the purpose of amicable discussion. The business of an arbitrator was no doubt different, and perhaps with respect to our maritime rights, the Emperor of Russia might not have been the most proper arbitrator, supposing we had been disposed to admit of any arbitration on that head; for, essential as these rights were to this country, yet they were not perhaps more popular with some nations in Europe than they were on the other side of the Atlantic. But the Emperor of Russia's mediation was not accepted. Yet at last, in a question about territory, in which the dignity and honour of a country might be as much involved as in any question whatever, the Emperor of Russia though not accepted as a mediator, was to be the arbitrator. With respect to the Emperor of Russia, however, there was no character existing at the present day, no character recorded in history, which more commanded his respect, his admiration, and, as far as the expression might be used as to the sovereign of another country, his affection, than that great monarch: but he rather imagined that the mediation was refused, because at that moment a notion had arisen somewhere, that as America had been the aggressor, the contest ought not to be brought to a close without some measure of revenge, without some punishment for her indiscretion—than which a more unwise and destructive sentiment could not be conceived. After the refusal of the mediation of the Emperor of Russia, a proposal was made for a direct negociation. To that proposal, he had no objection; it was in every respect proper, if it was right to have rejected the offer in the first instance. But after this proposal was accepted, what was done? The American commissioners arrived at Gotten-burgh, from whence they proceeded to Ghent two months before our commissioners were sent to meet them. He would allow that, in ordinary cases, this would be a matter of little importance; but in the teeth of a war, and of a war so conducted, who could undertake to calculate the consequences that might ensue? It had been said that the transaction at Washington could not have been prevented even if peace had been made on the first day the commissioners met; but might it not have been prevented if they had met before?

He would now call the attention of the House to the state of Europe at that time. A series of glorious successes had attended the arms of his Majesty and of the Allies. We had concluded peace at Paris; and long before that event it appeared not to be doubted, that the result must be favourable to the objects for which we were contending. This country might then have met America with a great artillery of character, and then was the time to have come forward with powerful strength and moderate demands. But instead of taking any advantage of the situation in which we stood, we sent a paltry force of nine thousand men from Bourdeaux, and by an expedient the most preposterous, endeavoured to supply the want of military strength, by the force and magnitude of our diplomatic demands. He would contend that the instructions sent by the American government to its commissioners, were such as to admit of peace. On one branch, it was true, they had no instructions. They were not authorized to cede territory or to negociate Indian pacification. They thought it could never have entered the heads of the negociators at Ghent to have made the first demand, or to have introduced the second, in the way in which it was introduced, under an idea of altering the relations of the Indians towards the American States. This was the undoubted reason why they had no instructions upon these points. There was an extraordinary fact connected with this subject, that was amusing, if one could be amused in contemplating those transactions—that while our negociations for the peace and independence of the Indian nations were going on, a peace was actually concluded by Mr. Madison with many of them, one of the terms of which was, that they should enter again under the protection of the United States. The noble earl opposite (Liverpool) appeared by his gestures to contradict what he had said, but he spoke on the authority of the existing documents. In this manner the negotiation commenced. Our first proposition was one that never was before suggested, with a view to peace or war, or even as a matter of speculation and argument. We demanded a cession of territory, on the ground that it formed the natural limit of Canada. This territory included the whole of the Lakes, and a large strip of ground on the other side. It was accompanied with a further condition, that they should build no fortresses on the banks of the lakes, nor adopt those measures which were necessary to protect their commerce against the Indians. On the subject of natural limits, he could not help amusing himself with inquiring from whence the doctrine had issued. He remembered it was once introduced by the famous Mr. Anacharsis Clootz, the orator of the human race, who in a book called 'Revolutionary Diplomatics,' had described the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Ocean, and the Rhine, as the natural limits of France. He was surprised to find, that after we had conquered the French Revolution, and carried our arms into Paris, this doctrine should be revived by a Secretary of State, and applied to America. But was this done in the time of our strength? Was the demand insisted on in a commanding attitude? No such thing; we approached in formâ pauperis; we laid the British crown at the foot of the American President, and besought that to us, the weaker party, he would afford that security which we knew to be necessary to defend us against his pretensions. And what was the security we asked? that he should abandon all means of defence. Again, when we were asked by the Americans, why did we bring forward this demand at a moment when we professed to be negociating in the spirit of peace? our answer was, because your ambition is so unbounded. What could be expected after this? We set up monstrous, egregious, and unreasonable demands, and justified them by the ambition of that party upon whom we made them. When the question was asked, "Is this a sine quâ nan?" the answer that followed was perhaps the most extraordinary that was ever given by a set of diplomatists—"We will not tell you whether it is or not—we have already given you one sine quâ non—and, until that is decided, we will not give you any information as to another." But this point, in whatever way considered, whether as a sine quâ non or not, was completely rejected—no attempt was ultimately made to insist on it—it formed, no part of the present Treaty. Now, he would ask, was it necessary to insist on this point? If it was, what security could be found in a Treaty which did not contain a word on the subject. The ground on which you called for it was, not your strength but your weakness. You stated that a mutual possession of the lakes produced additional danger in war, and formed a perpetual source of disagreement in peace, and you insisted on additional security—whether as a sine quâ non or not, the noble marquis did not pretend to say, since it was a matter very difficult to be unravelled. He had, however, been informed, that it never was intended to insist on this proposition, as a sine quâ non—but that it was thought to be a grand display of diplomatic address, to demand more at first than would ultimately be insisted on. In conformity with this principle, the commissioners conceived it to be wise and prudent to ask more, in the commencement of the negociation, than in the latter end they conceived it proper to adhere to. Amongst some negociators, of remote times, this principle was certainly acted on. And, with reference to their conduct, the negotiation of the present Treaty resembled, in a great degree, many of the proceedings he had recently seen. Every precedent was adopted, as if it were the offspring of some sacred doctrine—and, it was here supposed, that if persons, at a former period, had ultimately taken less than they at first demanded, that, therefore, in all cases, it was proper to ask for more than, if resisted, you would deem it necessary to take. But here he would observe, that insincerity must, generally, be the basis of such conduct—that insincerity was unworthy of all public councils—and he desired to abjure a participation in any such feelings or principles. It was true, indeed, that occasions might occur, in which it was requisite, while treating, to make demands which it was not intended to insist upon; but the circumstances inviting this course were of a peculiar nature, and none but cases of an extraordinary description could call for or justify it. In the case of Great Britain, he contended, that should have been stated at first, which it was intended to have been abided by at last. If ever there was a case, in which the system of making a great demand and afterwards receding from it was inapplicable to the circumstances under which it was resorted to, that case was the present. A glorious career of success in war—a long series of advantages—these might induce a nation to look for a peace correspondent with the exertions that had been made, and the successes that had been achieved. But even here, it was neither just nor wise, to demand that which, according to the law of nations, it was most improper to seek. It was not right, under any circumstances, to ask for the possession of that, which a state must deem essential to its honour, its security, and its independence. On this principle, he arraigned the demand with respect to the military possession of the lakes, both on the ground of policy and of justice. He denied that it was necessary for the security of our possessions to demand such a concession. He thought the effort to obtain this boon was made in a manner that ought to cover with shame those who tolerated it; for the majesty of England was placed, as a suppliant, at the foot of the President of the United States. And, he thought, that those who permitted the demands, generally, ought to be punished, for countenancing a spirit of aggrandize- ment, against which this country had been so long contending. It was, he conceived, in the highest degree imprudent, impolitic, and unwise, to tell America, at the outset of the negociations, that if certain points were not conceded to us, there was no security for our dominions, in that quarter of the world. He was astonished, that America should have been called upon to submit to the claim that was made; a claim which she could not have recognised, without degrading her national honour, and sacrificing her national interests. No country had a right to make such a demand on another.

The next question was that of the India boundary—and here it was necessary to examine on what ground that question rested. By the Treaty of 1783, which established the independence of the United States, the line of demarcation, between the territories of the United States, and those of Great Britain, in America, was to be drawn through the centre of the lakes of the woods, and was to be terminated by a line continued from the lakes of the woods to the Mississippi. It so happened that a line thus drawn would not have proceeded due west, as was stipulated—but that, to define it, it ought to be drawn almost south-east. But the stipulations of that Treaty, thus defining the boundary of the United States, gave to the new Government the same right and control over the various places within the stated boundaries, as had before been enjoyed by Great Britain. Within those boundaries many Indian tribes resided; and it was the policy of the United States to encourage amongst them habits of civilization. By the proclamation of his present Majesty, issued in 1763, all private individuals were prevented front purchasing any of the lands appropriated to the use of the Indians. But it was provided, that if, under any peculiar circumstances, the Indians themselves were anxious to dispose of those grounds, that they should be purchased for the Crown. By the Treaty of 1783, the full rights, formerly possessed by the King of Great Britain, over certain parts of the American territory, were fully and completely vested in the Government of the United States. How, then, could this Government, with any degree of justice, call for a new boundary for the Indians, when, in fact, all power and control respecting them had been long before given up? For he would contend, that all the land ceded to the United States by the Treaty of 1783, was within their sovereignty, as completely as it had before been within the sovereignty of the King of England. And here he begged leave to make one observation, with respect to the employment of the Indians in war. To make them instruments of vengeance, was one of the most dreadful systems that ever the spirit of man, directed to a mischievous and cruel object, could possibly devise. He must suppose it to arise from necessity; but it was a fatal necessity. This necessity had already awaked the attention of the House; it had, in its earliest state, awaked the eloquent indignation of the wisest and most eloquent statesman that ever charmed that House,—the great earl of Chatham. The noble marquis said, he should have rejoiced to have seen the practice at once done away. It would have been with him almost like a second abolition of the Slave Trade. He should have been rejoiced if we had closed at once with that proposal of the commissioners, never to employ the Indians again. But did the noble lord forget that this territory which he claimed for his independent Indians, was actually divided into American states—that it actually sent members to Congress—that it was pledged for a share of the national debt?—And was it to be expected, that they would consent to give a boundary thus out of their own bosom, against themselves? But the American Government had made frequent treaties with them, undoubtedly; and so had we done; but we had not, therefore, relinquished the fail possession of our sovereignty. The fact was, that however the Americans might have been disgusted by the demands of our negociators, the Treaty restored things to exactly the same state in which they were before. He had also to notice another most curious intimation on our part. Ministers thought proper to propose, as it seemed to them desirable to maintain the excellent state of society which existed among the Indians, that the Americans should assent, never to purchase any lands of their Indians, while we did the same with regard to ours: that the Indians should only dispose of their lands to a third party. Who was this third party? Was it France?

All these propositions were said to be grounded on the necessity of checking a spirit of aggrandisement on the part of America: but what were their effects on the public mind when they reached Ame- rica? It was well known that there prevailed among a numerous party in that country, a strong sentiment that the war with England, if not absolutely unjust in its origin, was at least impolitic and unnecessary. The whole nation had also begun to feel its disastrous effects, and would have hailed with pleasure any really pacific proposals; but when these propositions arrived, their tendency was the very reverse, of accelerating a peace. The noble lord had, indeed, blamed the President for giving them publicity during pending negociations; but the American, negociators declared in their dispatch, that they thought the prospect of peace at an end; and he believed that the noble lord, who was so niggardly in the production of papers, had he been situated as the President was, would immediately have submitted to Parliament such claims of an enemy, with the view of arousing any flagging spirit of hostility in the country. The effect of the proposals was instantaneous in America; the determination to resist them was unanimous and strong to a degree almost incredible under a government so constituted. They excited a general military spirit; means were adopted for raising an efficient army, and attention had been paid to the formation of a navy on a regular systematic plan, which no man in this country could look forward to but with the deepest regret. If the proposals were urged insincerely, there was no degree of criminality too high which did not attach to ministers: if they were sincere in their apprehensions of American ambition, it remained for them to show how the engagements at last entered into, were either honourable or safe.

The noble marquis next adverted to the mode in which the war had been prosecuted. He deeply lamented that it had ever been thought right to conduct the war on a system of predatory incursion. The true way would have been to apply the massy strength of this great naval and military country on some central point, where it might have commanded success, instead of producing more irritation. There was one point which required illustration, and that was the allegation that some of our officers had excited the negro slaves of Virginia to rise upon their masters. Another point was the fatal transaction at Washington. As an attack on a naval arsenal and depot of the enemy, the plan was wise and conducted with singular ability and vigour; but he never could contemplate without pain the destruction of buildings entirely devoted to pacific purposes, and some of them to those of the arts. The defence set up was, that it was an act of retaliation; but he must condemn the principle. Retaliation was of two kinds—defensive or vindictive. The former might be employed when necessary for self-protection; but the latter went to consider vengeance as a duty: it was to reverse the Christian principle, and substitute instead of it, that you should do unto others as they have done unto you.

But the charge of unbounded ambition was brought against America. This was discoverable, if was said, in her attacking Canada, at the commencement of the war; as if, because she gave it out to be a war for her maritime rights, she was bound to confine it to the ocean, where you were strong, and she was weak. America might think that the best way of conducting a war even for maritime rights, was by attacking Canada, where ministers had confessed that we were weak. But the American Government never made Canada a point in the negociation, and nothing could be drawn from the proclamation of an invading general, which he believed was afterwards disowned by his government. Another charge was, that she manifested an encroaching spirit, against which it was necessary to guard, by her acquisition of Louisiana, an event that took place not less than 11 years ago. That transaction simply originated in this,—that in consequence of the transfer of Louisiana to France by the Spanish Government, the Americans were dreadfully alarmed lest they should have Buonaparté and the French as a perpetual blister on their backs. Their alarm was not without reason; for no sooner had Buonaparté obtained the transfer, than he refused to the Americans their depot at New Orleans, which was absolutely essential to the whole of their north-western trade. Thus actuated, they eagerly purchased Louisiana; but so little was their purchase considered a ground of jealousy at the time, that our minister, in a letter to Mr. Rufus King, the then American ambassador in this country, congratulated him on the acquisition, as favourable to the interests of both countries. It was therefore most extraordinary, that the acquisition of Louisiana should now be set forward as an outrageous act of aggrandisement. But it was said, that the protest of Spain against its occupation had been studiously concealed. That protest, however, certainly was withdrawn; at least it was so stated in a speech of the American President to Congress in 1804. But supposing the whole allegation true, was it wise or prudent to bring it forward now, when the measure had been acquiesced in for the last eleven years? The next ground of charge was the question of West Florida. Daring the progress of the Spanish revolution, Florida was divided into various factions struggling for the supremacy. The American Government interfered, improperly, he thought, and occupied the province, on the ground that it was necessary to prevent it from falling into hands that might be dangerous as neighbours. They declared at the same time that they had no intention of permanent occupancy. We ourselves had recently done the very same thing, by occupying a part of West Florida, for the purpose of making war on the United States. Was this temporary occupation to be held as a proof of our desire of aggrandisement? Could any imprudence be so monstrous, as during a negociation to produce such articles of charge as these were? The last ground on which the charge of ambition was founded, was the spirit of encroachment the Americans had displayed in purchasing Indian lands. But this was the system of extending their cultivation which the Americans had always pursued, and this was the system which we ourselves pursued in Canada.

The noble marquis next proceeded to make a variety of remarks on the negociations respecting the boundaries on the Canada line. He observed, that in his opinion, the American commissioners had shown the most astonishing superiority over the British, during the whole of the correspondence. The noble earl opposite probably felt sore at this observation; as he (lord W.) had little doubt that the British papers were communicated from the common fund of ministers in this country. The results of the prolonged negociation had been dreadful; and when the Treaty itself appeared, it contained really nothing but the cessation of hostilities. No one point had been settled. Having considered what the Treaty did include, he should now advert to what it did not include. It described no boundary line from Lake Superior to the Mississippi; it stipulated for no direct communication between Halifax and Quebec; the islands of Passa- maquoddy were to be the subject of no discretion at all, and they were referred to the arbitration of the emperor of Russia Above all, it contained not one word re specting the original causes of the war, or the maritime rights in contention between the two countries. He knew that by some this omission had been called an effort of extraordinary wisdom; and it was though much wiser to leave those rights upon the general principles of public law. The American commissioners had offered us s peace which should include the pacification of the Indies, and proposed to open an amicable negociation for the purpose of forming such an arrangement as should protect us from the miseries of an American war, in the event of a renewal of our war with other Powers. The time that should have been spent in discussing these important rights, had been squandered in bandying about imputations of a desire of personal aggrandisement. The question, because it was intricate, was not insoluble, or incapable of adjustment, or to be fled from. It seemed to be the principle of the ministers of this day, that because questions required great application, and zeal, and vigour, and diligence, they were to be shrunk from. To leave such a question as this to the decision of public law, was to leave it to the appeal of the sword. If there were no other reason for the present motion, he trusted their lordships would support it, in order to have this question set at rest. He had never heard that America disputed his Majesty's maritime rights ["Yes," from the Ministry.] He understood that she only asserted the extreme difficulty of applying them to the relative situation of their ships and rights. If they did dispute the right in question, did ministers hope by leaving it untouched to prevent war? There was no question but in that case we should very soon be at war about it. It was, therefore, that he thought the treaty defective: whatever of substance it contained might have been arranged in less time, and there had been time enough to put these important subjects into some shape.

The noble marquis only required the House to say whether he had not laid before their lordships sufficient grounds to warrant them in desiring to have the papers produced, to enable them to exercise their own judgment on the case, and give such counsel to the Prince Regent as should seem to them best founded in justice and policy. He had argued this case as if it were above the rule of precedent, and he wished to keep it so: it had so peculiar a character, that no established rule could be applied to it; for where, he would ask, was the treaty ever before seen which contained no article whatever upon the point which had been first insisted on, and which was so well put in the Prince Regent's first declaration of the grounds of war?—a state paper which he felt happy to compliment for ability and justice—The Treaty contained nothing of the points then insisted upon, nor did it even refer to the original causes of war. If the question of precedent were argued on the other side, he was prepared with very excellent precedents for his motion for granting papers after the conclusion of a treaty of peace, of which the circumstances were as nearly similar to the present as possible. There was one more ground on which the present motion would be irresistible. Although there might be many cases, in which, after the conclusion of peace, the particulars of the negociation had better be concealed under the mysterious veil of diplomacy, yet much of the correspondence on this Treaty had already been before America, and had there the effect of healing divisions among the provinces, of actually changing the character of the Government from commercial to military, and of disposing the nation to make the greatest exertions for the purpose of raising a tremendous navy. It was, therefore, important for us to show to the American Government the mode ration of our views and the justice of our intentions towards her, and that our object was to rest our connexion upon the foundation of reciprocal confidence. The noble marquis concluded by moving, "That an humble Address be presented to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, praying that he will be graciously pleased to give directions, that there be laid before the House, Copies or Extracts of the Correspondence which took place between his Majesty's Plenipotentiaries and the Plenipotentiaries of the United States of America, relative to the late Negociations for Peace."

Earl Bathurst

said, that the noble marquis had stated that there was a precedent for the motion which he had just submitted to the House; but until he had informed the House what that precedent was, it would be impossible for their lordships to decide whether it bore upon the present case or not. From the present view which he entertained of the noble marquis's motion, he considered it one of a most extraordinary nature indeed. If he understood any thing of the practice that had hitherto been adopted by nations at the conclusion of a negociation for peace, he believed it had been invariably understood, that the correspondence which had taken place during that negociation, should not subsequently be made a matter of public discussion. It was well known that the practice of publishing public correspondence with foreign; powers, which did exist, created great and grievous difficulties. In negociations for peace it would be productive of this injury, that ministers would not be as open and frank as they could wish to be, from an apprehension that what they said would be afterwards published. All negociations, indeed, with foreign powers should be conducted with the greatest delicacy. But in what condition would be the foreign minister who should be liable to have his correspondence published? From the moment of his making a demand he could not recede from it; for it would afterwards become matter of publicity that he bad so made it. It was well known that pride was the great obstacle to all peace-making; and if ever a minister were to wave a point of pride, it would become matter of publicity that he had done so, whatever good reasons he might have for so doing. This was not the only objection to the publication of such correspondence; it would tend to revive that animosity which it was the very object of peace to bury in oblivion.

The noble earl said, he was almost afraid to enter into the discussion of the many points of the noble marquis's speech; for such discussion would require him to solve many questions which, he should heartily wish not to touch. He had not that command of language which would be desirable in such a case; and if any expression he might make use of should tend to irritate, he entreated that it might not be considered as coming from any thing like a disposition to look back to past animosities. He knew that there had been a good deal of rancour in the feelings both of America and England; and that even after the negociation of peace, such feelings might be alive to every irritation. He should not enter into the question which had been raised by the noble marquis, whether war with the United States was not one of the greatest calamities which could befall us? He agreed it was a great calamity, and for that reason he lamented the necessity of entering into the present discussion, as he should be sorry that future misunderstanding should take place. The noble marquis had slated, that it was the bounden duty of ministers to embrace the earliest opportunity of putting an honourable termination to the American war; and had adverted to the armistice at the commencement of it. He could not collect whether he objected to that armistice. It would be remembered, that the American declaration of war arrived here soon after the repeal of our Orders in Council; and this arrival happening before the news of such repeal could reach America, our Government expressed their readiness to consent to an armistice, thinking that the repeal, when known, would alter the disposition of America. With this view, our Government gave directions to the admirals on the American station, that if the American Government should show; any disposition to consent to the armistice, they should declare that such was our disposition. They declared their willingness to such consent, and conveyed it to the Admiral on the coast, but only gave it on condition that we should suspend our practice of searching their ships for English seamen, and leave that to be settled by after-negociation. They would come to no agreement with us, unless we either made a declaration of our abandoning this right, or consented to a suspension of the practice for a specific time. To either of these we objected, and war was the consequence. It was next proposed to us to negociate this right through the medium of the Emperor of Russia; but we objected to the interference of any foreign power on this subject; not from any distrust of the Emperor of Russia, but from an impression, that where our maritime rights were in question, it was not proper to consent to the interference of any foreign power whatever. But at the very time when we communicated to the American Government that this proposed mediation was not accepted by us, we accompanied that communication with a declaration that we were ready to treat directly with them.

The noble marquis had no objection to the mediation of the Emperor of Russia, since he could have no desire upon the subject one way or the other, and thought the American instructions couched in such moderate language that they might have been followed by a successful negotiation. He would state what those instructions were: this was the more necessary, because the instructions to the commissioners at Ghent referred to them, and could not be understood without them. They first demanded that the flag should protect the crew—in other words, that we should not have the right of searching for British seamen; and required us either to declare we had abandoned this right, or to suspend the practice for a given period: unless one of these two measures were adopted, they would come to no conclusion. They next demanded a definition of the right of blockade. Thirdly, some complete arrangement as to their right of carrying on trade with the colonies of a parent belligerent state during war, although in time of peace they had been excluded from such trade; in other words, what they called the rule of trade in 1756. They next demanded their right, as neutrals, to trade with the ports of belligerents—in other words, to the coasting trade; and lastly, they asked for indemnity for losses—among others, that we should pay them for all vessels condemned under our Orders in Council, calling upon us thereby to acknowledge our injustice in the most disgraceful shape of a fine. This was in April, and in June following another instruction was added. Having before instructed their commisisoners to make all these demands, they concluded, that if the first should be conceded, they needed not to insist upon the other—a most unheard-of measure, to make any demand which was not intended to be abided by as an ultimatum! This further instruction said, that notwithstanding the repeal of our Orders in Council, it was essentially necessary that the definition of blockade should still be required; and proposed, that the controversy should be settled in the same manner as the question respecting the searching for seamen. It also added, that should the restoration of territory be agreed upon, it was important that the boundaries of that territory should be more accurately defined. The construction of this passage plainly contemplated that the Treaty might be settled without any restoration of territory. It could not mean that any territory was to be ceded to us; it was stated that they had never any instruction to do so; and they were then preparing a great army to invade our territory: the Americans looked to the conquest of Canada, and their Government imbibed, the same notion. This instruction was only an extract, and had reference to another part of the dispatch which it was not quite convenient, perhaps, to the American Government to publish. [He had fallen into the common habit of speaking of the maritime rights of Great Britain, as if they possessed any exclusively; they possessed none which they were not ready to grant to. others.] The sentiments of the American Government still continued the same; they still required a definition of blockade, insisted upon their other neutral rights, upon indemnity, and added, "against spoliation." In February they issued another instruction; in which they stated, that if the commissioners were not able to make a satisfactory arrangement of their neutral rights, they might enter into a provision, that whatever should be afterwards advanced to neutrals should be extended to them. In January, news of the battle of Leipsic and that the French had been driven across the Rhine, reached America; and she therefore contemplated the probability of peace between this country and France.

His Majesty's ministers had been charged with not being very anxious about commencing the negociation after the Peace of Paris. The reason that influenced his Majesty's ministers in not being over-anxious at that time to enter on the negociation, was, that they were apprehensive that the American commissioners would be then obliged to act under, instructions given when affairs were in a very different aspect. They therefore thought it advisable to wait until the altered situation of affairs was known in America, and until instructions could arrive which would promise a more favourable result to the negociation. He was convinced, that if the negociation had commenced two months sooner, we should have met the American ministers instructed to insist upon points, which from the commencement we had declared that we never could accede to. In fact, a fresh instruction was given from the American Government to their commissioners; and this instruction, which was sent in the month of June, did not arrive till two days after the negociation had begun. He thought that the delay could not, therefore, be considered an improvident one; and that ministers must stand completely justified on the different charges that had been brought against them. He felt persuaded, that the House would consider them fully justified; first, in not agreeing to an armistice, that was to be coupled with the condition of practically suspending our maritime rights during its continuance: secondly, that they were right in not accepting the mediation of Russia, especially when this refusal was coupled with an offer of negociating directly with the American Government for the restoration of peace; and, lastly, that they were right in not commencing the negociation, until there was time for the American commissioners to receive fresh instructions.

He should now return to the negociation itself. Upon our proposition in favour of the Indians who had co-operated with us, the American commissioners asked, whether those propositions were final or not? Whatever might have been the conversation upon this subject, or whether the American commissioners reported it rightly to their Government or not, still it was evident that if even the papers now moved for were granted, it would not be possible for his Majesty's ministers to produce the communications between the American commissioners and their Government. They could only produce that which was entered in the protocol. The noble marquis seemed not to have thought it extraordinary, that the American commissioners should have thus demanded our ultimatum in the first instance. If he recollected rightly, however, when that noble lord was in office, the negotiations at Lisle had been broken off on the same ground—that the French Government required of us to give in our ultimatum at once. The difference between us and the American commissioners, with respect to the Indians, was, that they objected to their being named in the Treaty, although they said that we might depend upon it that peace with them would be a necessary consequence of the Treaty. They protested against this country interfering, in any manner, with respect to the Indians within their boundary. We had contended for a definite boundary of the Indian territory, and we had succeeded in obtaining it. We had called upon the American commissioners to give in their projet, and it was the consideration of this projet which had occupied so much time.

He should now call to the recollection of their lordships, the conduct of the American Government in publishing a part of the correspondence, and should submit it to their judgment whether there was a sufficient reason for our publishing the whole of it. The noble marquis had very fairly stated the reason of their publishing part of the correspondence. It was because the American Government did not expect that the negociation would end in peace, and imagined that it had been broken off by that time, that they published those papers, in order to produce an effect on the minds of their people hostile to this country. Was it necessary for us now to follow their example after the negociation had ended in peace, or could we wish to raise a feeling in this country hostile to America? If that could not be the wish of any person in this country, he could not see any motive for departing from the usual line of proceeding, and publishing the whole of that correspondence which had ended in a treaty of peace.

There was another part of the noble lord's speech which he found it necessary to touch upon, in order to vindicate the honour of the British arms, which he thought had been injured by some of his lordship's observations. He would contend that the capture of Washington had been attended with important advantage in the course of the war. It was that event, and the continued operations on the Chesapeake, that broke all their national and private banks, and which was the commencement of those financial difficulties under which the American Government found itself so much embarrassed. He must now state what the conduct of the British army was upon that occasion. After a successful battle, they marched upon Washington. All the public authorities had left it, and he believed there never was an example of any capital having been given up in that manner, without any sort of capitulation. At the very moment when general Ross was using his utmost endeavours to enforce the most exact discipline, and to preserve the lives and properties of the inhabitants, an attempt was made to assassinate him. A shot was fired at him from a house, which killed his horse. By the laws of war, after such an act as this, the lives and properties of all the people of Washington were forfeited. The troops immediately proceeded to destroy the house from which the shot was fired, but the voice of their general was soon heard, calling on them to spare the lives and properties of the inhabitants. He believed that whatever destruction of private property, or whatever pillage might have afterwards taken place, was done, not by the British troops, but by the Americans. Very shortly after, the principal inhabitants of Washington publicly acknowledged the good discipline which general Ross had preserved among his troops at Washington. He thought this statement due to the memory of that gallant officer. The noble earl concluded by saying, that he should give the motion of the noble marquis his direct negative.

Earl Stanhope

supported the motion. He begged leave to remind their lord ships, that before the breaking out of the late unfortunate war, he had submitted to them a motion for the purpose of declaring a reciprocity of rights among all maritime nations. His motion then met with no support. He was, however, happy now to find, that the noble earl had expressly declared, that this country had no other maritime rights than what belonged equally to all other nations. He then read a part of the statute of queen Anne, which declared all foreign sailors that had served for two years, either in our ships of war or our merchantmen, to be entitled to all the benefits of British subjects. This was stronger than any thing that had ever been done by America in this way. As the arrangements for preserving the peace with America must be principally made in future by Acts of Parliament, he thought the fullest information necessary.

The House then divided: Ayes 30; Noes 83.—Majority against the motion 53.

List of the Minority.
Sussex Charlemont
Gloucester Cork
Somerset Darnley
EARLS. Lauderdale
Derby LORDS.
Essex Say and Sele
Stanhope St. John
Ilchester King
Cowper Grenville
Fitzwilliam Bulkeley
Fortescue Auckland.

The Marquisses of Wellesley and Lansdowne were shut out from the division.