The Earl of Liverpool
rose to move an Address to the Prince Regent, approving of the Treaty of Peace concluded with the United States of America. As he did not anticipate any opposition, he did not think it at all necessary or proper to detain their lordships for any long time on this subject, or to enter upon any discussion of topics with respect to which he was aware that much difference of opinion prevailed. Their lordships were aware that the war arose from disputes originating in certain orders commonly called the Orders in Council. Before the American declaration of war arrived in this country, those orders had been repealed; and as it was presumed, that, upon notice of this circumstance, the Americans would be desirous of returning to a state of peace, such directions were given as might facilitate that object, and render the evils necessarily connected with a state of warfare as light as possible till an arrangement could be concluded The Americans, however, did not, it appeared, wish to return to a state of peace and when the cause of complaint was removed they changed their ground, and insisted that we should give up that right which, by the well-known and admitted law of nations, we had to seize our own subjects, and claim their services in time of war, wherever we found them. This was a clear principle of the law of nations which we only claimed in common with every other nation. We claimed nothing from the Americans, we did not insist that they should acknowledge any new doctrines and principles of the law of nations set up by us. But they, on the contrary, set up new doctrines and new principle of their own, and insisted that we should adopt them, and sacrifice rights which we considered as essential to our own security. The consequence was, that the 650 necessity of the war on our part was universally felt, and a unanimity was manifested on the subject which was very rarely found on such occasions. It was not till the 7th of August that the American commissioners received instructions not to insist upon this point, and then the negociation proceeded. As to the mediation of the Emperor of Russia, there were certain points on which one would not choose to accept even of mediation, because it often happened that in mediations there was something like arbitration. With respect to our maritime rights, we never could accept of arbitration. He would not go the length of saying that we ought under no circumstances to accept of mediation with respect to our maritime rights; but this did not appear to be an instance in which it was desirable to accept of any such mediation. It had been said, that while we rejected mediation on one point, we had agreed to arbitration on another. But the points were totally different, and the mode of arbitration appeared to be the best way of settling the disputes about the boundaries. America then having given up the point for which she had carried on the war, the negociation, as he had said, proceeded; and he contended that there might be circumstances under which we might, in justice to our own subjects, insist upon terms for which it would not be proper originally to go to war. That, however, was a consideration of expediency. But a principle of good faith required that the Indians should be included in the Treaty, and they were included. As to the Slave Trade, the objects of the two governments were the same; as to commerce, it appeared most proper to leave these matters to subsequent arrangement, and that the most liberal principles of commercial intercourse would be the most advantageous for both countries. As to territorial arrangements, the best mode of proceeding had been adopted on that head that could be devised. It appeared more advantageous to call in the arbitration of one who might be supposed to be impartial, than to leave the matter to the decision of the lot; and upon that, the arrangements for setting the tine had been adopted. On the whole, the noble earl considered the Treaty as equally honourable and advantageous to this country; and concluded by moving an Address to the Prince Regent, assuring his Royal Highness of the great satisfaction felt by the House at the 651 terms and conditions of the Treaty of Peace concluded between Great Britain and the United States of America.
§ Earl Stanhope
said, that he could not allow this opportunity to pass, without adverting shortly to the high and even impudent language which he had so often heard upon what were called our maritime rights. The noble secretary had, however, stated, that we claimed no rights which did not belong to all independent nations. But the fact was obviously otherwise, for this right of search, so much contended for, belonged only to belligerent nations, and not to those at peace. Thus, if Denmark should unjustly declare against Sweden, she might, according to this pretended right of search, claim to search our ships and those of other nations for Danish subjects. Would this be endured? But the pretension was quite preposterous. Yet America, when at peace with the world, was condemned to have her shipping subjected to the most vexatious search by British cruizers, because this Country was at war with France. Bat now that this country was at peace (would to God he could hope that it would long so continue!) and America was at war with Algiers, the tables being thus turned, would British ships submit, according to the right alleged by the noble secretary, to be searched by American cruizers? If commodore Rodgers, for instance, were to meet one of our convoys at sea Hear! hear, from lord Liverpool]. Yes, he would ask, if commodore Rodgers undertook to search for American seamen, and under the prevalent practice, according to this alleged right, the commodore himself was to be the judge in the exercise of authority, he might take out-five or six seamen, whom he supposed American, from a merchant vessel—what then was likely to be the consequence? Why, the vessel might go to the bottom for want of being manned, and how would the merchants like that? and the merchants had been among the most clamorous upon this point when the assertion of it operated against others; but the fact was, that this right, if even well founded, was liable to so much abuse in the application of it, that it was evidently necessary to come to some explanation, and arrangement upon the subject, that by some negotiation it should be endeavoured to do away with the exercise of it altogether.
The Marquis of Lansdowne
expressed 652 his concurrence with the terms of the Address, but strongly condemned the unnecessary delay that had taken place in the conclusion of the Treaty, which Treaty, by-the-by, had left unsettled all the points for which the war had been commenced, as would appear upon reference to the published Declaration of ministers at the outset. Yet while these points were waved, new claims were started at the commencement of the negociation, which were abandoned also. But still he rejoiced in the conclusion of peace. The noble marquis concluded with observing, that he understood the American ministers at Ghent proposed an article pledging both powers to treat all vessels as pirates which should be found engaged in the Slave Trade, but that this article was resisted by our commissioners; and this resistance he conceived the more extraordinary from the instructions to our minister at Vienna to promote the universal abolition of that odious traffic.
The Earl of Liverpool
spoke in explanation, and assured the noble marquis and the House, that what had been stated of the proposition as made by the American ministers respecting the Slave Trade, was totally unfounded. Until that moment, through any channel whatever, either public or private, he had never heard a word of such a proposition. The article, as it stood, was originally proposed by the British commissioners, and to which the American ministers never proposed any addition.
The Marquis of Lansdowne
said, that he had received the statement which he had communicated to the House, from what he conceived the very highest authority, which he had no objection to name.
§ The motion for the Address was then agreed to, nem. diss.