Mr. Secretary Canning
said, he had some papers to lay upon the table of the House. The first of these was a Treaty entered into between his Majesty and the Emperor of Brazil, for the final and total abolition of the African Slave-trade. This treaty had lately been signed, and its object was to be effected in three years after the exchange of treaties; and, during the interval, the Brazilian slave system was to be subject to the same impositions and duties as the Portuguese slave system was at present. The second of these papers was a Treaty between the United States and this country, regarding a dispute which had existed ever since the war, and which had been the subject of much discussion. That dispute related to the claims made by American citizens, in respect of slaves taken from their owners and proprietors during the war. The House were aware that this subject had been referred to the arbitration of a third power—he meant of the emperor of Russia, who had decided it unfavourably for his majesty. Since then the discussion had been renewed, principally with regard to the amount of compensation claimed; and two years ago he (Mr. Canning) had come down to the House, and had obtained a vote of 200,000l. on account. When the second discussion was terminated, the amount claimed was settled, and the compensation, which the Americans had first stated at 2,000,000 dollars, was finally bated down to 1,200,000 dollars. As the money which the House had already voted on account was insufficient to satisfy that 40 sum, he should be obliged to ask for a further vote, to make up the deficiency. The third portion of the papers which he had to lay before the House, formed the completion of the correspondence which had taken place between this government and the United States, regarding certain commercial regulations between the United States and the British West-India colonies. This correspondence had already been laid before the Houses of Congress of the United States, and three of the letters had already been published. As the world was at present in possession of a part of the correspondence, he saw no reason to withhold the rest, and the whole, therefore, would be printed. There was no cause for keeping any part of it secret. All the papers to which he had referred were authenticated, according to custom. The right hon. gentleman spoke in a very low tone of voice, and seemed to be still suffering from the effects of his late indisposition.
§ Mr. Canning
said, he considered it finally closed, for he had had the last word.
The following are copies of the said Papers.
BRAZIL.—Convention between his Majesty and the Emperor of Brazil, for the Abolition of the African Slave Trade, Signed at Rio de Janeiro, November 23, 1826. Presented to both Houses of Parliament, by Command of his, Majesty, 1827.
Whereas, upon the separation of the Empire of Brazil from the Kingdom of Portugal, his Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and his Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, respectively acknowledge the obligation, which devolves upon them to renew, confirm, and give full effect to, the stipulations of the treaties subsisting between the Crowns of Great Britain and Portugal, for the regulation and final abolition of the African Slave-trade, in so far as these stipulations are binding upon Brazil:
And whereas, in furtherance of that important object, his Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and his Majesty the Emperor of 41 Brazil, are animated with a sincere desire to fix and define the period at which the total abolition of the said trade, so far as relates to the dominions and subjects of the Brazilian empire, shall take place, their said Majesties have accordingly named as their plenipotentiaries to conclude a convention for this purpose, that is to say:—
His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the right hon. Robert Gordon, a Member of his Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, and his Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of Brazil:—And his Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Marquis of lnhambupe, Senator of the Empire, of the Council of State, Dignitary of the Imperial Order of the Cross, Commander of the Order of Christ, and Minister and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; and the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Marquis of Santo Amaro, Senator of the Empire, of the Council of State, Gentleman of the Imperial Chamber, Dignitary of the Imperial Order of the Cross, and Commander of the Orders of Christ, and of the Tower and Sword:—
Who, after having communicated to each other their respective full powers found to be in due and proper form, have agreed upon and concluded the following articles:—
Art. 1. At the expiration of three years, to be reckoned from the exchange of the ratifications of the present treaty, it shall not be lawful for the subjects of the Emperor of Brazil to be concerned in the carrying on of the African Slave-trade, under any pretext or in any manner whatever, and the carrying on of such trade after that period, by any person subject of his Imperial Majesty, shall be deemed and treated as piracy.
Art. 2. His majesty the king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and his majesty the emperor of Brazil, deeming it necessary to declare the engagements by which they hold themselves bound to provide for the regulation of the said trade, till the time of its final abolition, they hereby mutually agree to adopt and renew, as effectually as if the same were inserted, word for word, in this convention, the several articles and provisions of the treaties concluded between his Britannic majesty and the king of Portugal on this subject, on the 22nd of Ja- 42 nuary, 1815, and on the 28th of July, 1817, and the several explanatory articles which have been added thereto.
Art. 3. The high contracting parties further agree, that all the matters and things contained in those treaties, together with the instructions and regulations, and forms of instruments annexed to the treaty of the 28th of July, 1817, shall be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the said high contracting parties and their subjects, as effectually as if they were recited word for word herein; confirming and approving hereby, all matters and things done by their respective subjects under the said treaties, and in execution thereof.
Art. 4. For the execution of the purposes of this convention the high contracting parties further agree to appoint forthwith mixed commissions, after the form of those already established on the part of his Britannic majesty and the king of Portugal, under the convention of the 28th of July, 1817.
Art. 5. The present convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at London within four months from the date hereof, or sooner if possible.
In witness whereof, the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the same, and have affixed thereto the seals of their arms. Done at Rio de Janeiro, the 23rd day of November, in the year of our Lord 1826.
§ (L.S.) ROBT. GORDON.
§ (L.S.) MARQUEZ DE S. AMARO.
§ (L.S.) MARQUEZ DE INHAMBUPE.
AMERICA.—Convention between his Majesty and the United States of America, for the final settlement of certain claims of the United States, arising out of the convention concluded at St. Petersburgh, July 12th, 1822. Signed at London, November 13th, 1826. Presented to both Houses of parliament, by command of his Majesty, 1827.
Difficulties having arisen in the execution of the convention concluded at St. Petersburgh on the 12th day of July, 1822, under the mediation of his majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, between Great Britain and the United States of America, for the purpose of carrying into effect the decision of his Imperial Majesty upon the differences which had arisen between Great Britain and the said United States, on the true construction and meaning of the first article of the treaty of 43 peace and amity, concluded at Ghent on the 24th day of December, 1814; his Britannic Majesty and the said United States, being equally desirous to obviate such difficulties, have respectively named plenipotentiaries to treat and agree respecting the same, that is to say:—
His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, has appointed the right honourable William Huskisson, a member of his said Majesty's most honourable Privy Council, a member of Parliament, President of the committee of Privy Council for Affairs of Trade and Foreign Plantations, and Treasurer of his said Majesty's Navy; and Henry Unwin Addington, esq., late his Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires to the United States of America:— And the President of the United States, Albert Gallatin, their Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to his Britannic Majesty:—who, after having communicated to each other their respective full powers, found to be in due and proper form, have agreed upon and concluded the following articles:—
Art. 1. His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland agrees to pay, and the United States of America agree to receive, for the use of the persons entitled to indemnification and compensation by virtue of the said decision and convention, the sum of 1,204,960 dollars current money of the United States, in lieu of, and in full and complete satisfaction for, all sums claimed or claimable from Great Britain, by any person or persons whatsoever, under the said decision and convention.
Art. 2. The object of the said convention being thus fulfilled, that convention is hereby declared to be cancelled and annulled, save and except the second article of the same, which has already been carried into execution by the commissioners appointed under the said convention, and save and except so much of the third article of the same, as relates to the definitive list of claims, and has already likewise been carried into execution by the said commissioners.
Art. 3. The said sum of 1,204,960 dollars shall be paid at Washington to such person or persons as shall be duly authorized, on the part of the United States, to receive the same, in two equal payments as follows:—
The payment of the first half to be made twenty days after official notification shall 44 have been made, by the government of the United States, to his Britannic Majesty's Minister in the said United States, of the ratification of the present convention by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the senate thereof.
And the payment of the second half to be made on the first day of August, 1827.
Art. 4. The above sums being taken as a full and final liquidation of all claims whatsoever arising under the said decision and convention, both the final adjustment of those claims and the distribution of the sums so paid by Great Britain to the United States, shall be made in such manner as the United States alone shall determine: and the government of Great Britain shall have no further concern or liability therein.
Art. 5. It is agreed that, from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the present convention, the joint commission appointed under the said convention of St. Petersburgh, of the 12th of July, 1822, shall be dissolved, and upon the dissolution thereof, all the documents and papers in possession of the said commission, relating to claims under that convention, shall be delivered over to such person or persons as shall be duly authorized, on the part of the United States, to receive the same. And the British commissioner shall make over to such person or persons so authorized, all the documents and papers (or authenticated copies of the same, where the originals cannot conveniently be made over) relating to claims under the said convention, which he may have received from his government for the use of the said commission, conformably to the stipulations contained in the third article of the said convention.
Art. 6. The present convention shall be ratified, and the ratification shall be exchanged in London in six months from this date, or sooner if possible.
In witness whereof the Plenipotentiaries aforesaid, by virtue of their respective full powers, have signed the same, and have affixed thereunto the seals of their arms.
Done at London, this 13th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1826.
§ (L.S.) WILLIAM HUSKISSON.
§ (L.S.) HENRY UNWIN ADDINGTON.
§ (L.S.) ALBERT GALLATIN.
AMERICA.—Correspondence relative to commercial intercourse between the 45 United States of America and the British West-India Colonies, August, 1826, to January, 1827, presented to both Houses of Parliament, by command of his Majesty, 1827.
No. 4.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Albert Gallatin, Esq. Foreign-office, Nov. 13, 1826.
The Undersigned, &c. would willingly have abstained from offering any observations on the note addressed to him by Mr. Gallatin, &c. on the 22nd of September, in reply to the answer which had been returned by the Undersigned to Mr. Gallatin's note of the 26th of August; the facts of the question agitated between Mr. Gallatin and the Undersigned admitting of no dispute, and their previous correspondence having exhausted all the arguments, on each side, of which the matter in discussion is susceptible.
But, upon reperusal of Mr. Gallatin's note, after an interval of a few weeks, there appear to the undersigned to be two or three points much relied upon by Mr. Gallatin, which it would be improper to leave unnoticed.
The first of these points, and that which affects, more or less, the whole of Mr. Gallatin's reasoning, is the question of right—the right of a mother country to monopolize the trade of its colonies. Mr. Gallatin discusses this question much at length, and attaches himself in that discussion, rather, perhaps, to the terms, than to the substance, of the proposition intended to be put forward by the undersigned.
The proposition of the undersigned is simply, that there is a right in a mother country, universally admitted among nations, to interdict to foreign nations a trade with her colonies.
It may be true (as stated by Mr. Gallatin) that every country has the same "right" to interdict with foreign nations a trade with itself. But be the abstract "right" what it may, this, at least, cannot be denied, that the exercise of that "right" has been so usual in one case, and so unusual in the other, that the difference of usage (if it be no more) amounts almost to a difference of principle.
Foreign nations might justly complain of the one interdiction, that of trade with the mother country, as an innovation, but they have no just ground of complaint (and no other nation than the United States has ever complained) of the interdiction 46 of trade to the colonies; because, in all ages, all nations having colonies have maintained such an interdiction.
after having objected, in the beginning of his note, to the use of the word "right" as applied by the undersigned to the colonial trade of Great Britain, applies the same word himself (inadvertently, perhaps,) in a subsequent part of his note, to the interdiction by the United States of a trade in British ships between the United States and the British West-India colonies.
That trade Mr. Gallatin describes as a trade which had been carried on merely by "permission" "a permission which (says Mr. Gallatin) the United States had a right to grant or to withhold."
Now, as according to Mr. Gallatin's doctrine, the United States have, in strictness, a "right" to exclude British trade altogether from their ports, the undersigned cannot presume to contend that they have not the same "right" to prohibit a trade between those ports and the Bristish colonies.
But the undersigned ventures to affirm, that the right which they have exercised in the latter prohibition has no peculiar and separate character growing out of long and general usage, to distinguish it in principle from a prohibition of all trade whatever with the United States.
Up to the year 1818, Mr. Gallatin admits that the trade, since prohibited by the United States, was enjoyed by British vessels, in common with those of all other countries. The interdiction, therefore, is not of ancient usage, and so far is it from being generally applied by the United States to foreign vessels, that it operates against Great Britain alone.
Is it not at least singular that Mr. Gallatin should reserve for a practice thus novel and thus partial, the character of "right" which he denies to an usage as old as the establishment of colonies, and universal among all nations to which colonies have belonged?
Is it not singular, also, that while Mr. Gallatin denies any claim on the part of Great Britain to the continued enjoyment of a trade in the United States, which she is admitted by Mr. Gallatin to have enjoyed uninterruptedly up to the year 1818, Mr. Gallatin puts forward a claim on the part of the United States to trade with the West-India colonies of Great Britain, on the ground of usage and practice? 47 The United States, says Mr. Gallatin, found "their reclamation to participate in that commerce" (the trade with the British West-India colonies) on this ground:—
"That trade has been allowed by Great Britain, it may be said, from the beginning, and at all times, and has become thereby so far assimilated to that with the European dominions of Great Britain, that the United Sates did think that they had the same claim to a participation in both." "As early as the year 1783, the government of Great Britain, deviating from that principle of colonial system, according to which her colonies were prohibited from trading directly with any other country, allowed her West-India colonies to trade directly with the United States of America in British vessels."
It may be observed as to these facts, as stated by Mr. Gallatin himself, that no two things can be much more different than a permission (on the one hand) given by Great Britain to British vessels to trade directly between a British colony and another country (the vessels of that other country remaining by law, and, in fact, excluded from the ports of the colony) and that "participation," on the other hand, which implies a trade between the United States and the West-India colonies in vessels of the United States.
The relaxation to which Mr. Gallatin refers, in fact, did nothing more than permit British vessels to bring certain articles into the colonial ports directly from the place of their production, instead of bringing the like articles circuitously through the United Kingdom. The question, whether these articles should be imported circuitously through the United Kingdom, or directly from the place of their growth, was a mere municipal concern, which did not vary the exclusive character of the colonial system, so long as that importation was confined to British ships.
Undoubtedly the United States might then, if they thought proper, have interdicted the trade to British vessels between their ports and the British West-India colonies, unless American vessels were allowed to participate in it, but they did not.
The history of the usage, therefore, is, that up to a certain period, a trade between the ports of the United States, and the British West-India colonies in British ships, went on unquestioned, while, as Mr. Gallatin, is aware, no American ves- 48 sel could enter the ports of the British West-India colonies, except under occasional and temporary suspensions of the colonial law. And yet it is upon this usage that Mr. Gallatin founds,
First.—A right in the United States to prohibit British vessels from clearing out from the ports of the United States to the British West India colonies;
Secondly.—A claim on the part of the United States to participate in the colonial trade of Great Britain.
The things may be right or wrong in themselves; but usage surely points exactly the contrary way to that in which Mr. Gallatin applies it.
has yet another ground on which to rest this claim of the United States to a participation in the colonial trade of Great Britain:—
"During the European war, Great Britain found it convenient occasionally, but repeatedly, to open her West-India ports to American vessels; at the same time that she was asserting the principle uniformly denied by the United States, that a neutral was not authorized by the law of nations to carry on in time of war a trade with a colony, in which he was not permitted to participate in time of peace."
First.—If the ports were occasionally opened, the very terms of the proposition show that they were generally shut. It would be difficult to imagine either a more complete proof of the acknowledged right to admit or exclude foreign trade from the colonies, as the governing authority might think fit, or a more perfect refutation of the plea of usage in favour of a permanently open trade.
Secondly.—The rule of 1756 appears to have little application to the point in dispute. It might to be sure be, in all such cases, a question with the neutral, whether he would be tempted by the open ports of one belligerent, to run the risk of capture by the other. But the point in dispute is, whether by occasionally opening her colonial ports, Great Britain virtually abandoned the right of closing them again when she thought proper: and on this point, the merits of the rule of 1756 have not, so far as the undersigned can make out, the most distant bearing.
Thirdly.—As it is intended to prove that the United States have a claim to participate in the colonial trade for ever, because the ports of the colonies were occasionally opened during the war, Mr. Gal- 49 latin describes the ports as having been opened to American vessels. True, but not to American vessels only, or specifically. The ports were open to the vessels of all friendly powers. The argument therefore, as to the special claim of the United States, falls to the ground.
The truth, however, is, that under the words "right" and "claim," so frequently recurring in this discussion, lies the real and fundamental difference of opinion between Great Britain and the United States, which has frustrated all attempts to settle the disputed question of colonial intercourse upon common principles, by conventional arrangement.
When it is contended that the "right" by which Great Britain prohibits foreign countries from trading with her colonies, is the same "right" with that by which she might (if she thought fit) prohibit them from trading with herself, this argument (which is employed by the United States alone) implies, that the special prohibition is a grievance to the United States, if not of the same amount, of the same kind, as the general prohibition would be.
This is a doctrine which Great Britain explicitly denies.
It seems to be admitted, indeed, that there was a time when the distinction between colonial trade and the trade of the mother country was tenable. But it has been assumed, in no obscure terms on the part of the United States, that the colonial system is now virtually at an end.
Great Britain denies this assumption.
Whatever relaxation Great Britain may think fit to introduce for her own sake, and for that of her colonies themselves, into her colonial system, she holds her "right" to maintain that system, as with respect to foreign nations, to be unaltered and entire. Great Britain, therefore, cannot consent to any diplomatic arrangement by which such "right" may appear to be relinquished, or by which her assertion of it can be understood to be in any degree qualified or controlled.
Hence the impracticability (already so repeatedly proved) of any treaty upon this subject between Great Britain and the United States.
Hence the necessity for Great Britain of doing whatever she means to do in the way of relaxation of her colonial monopoly, by acts of her own legislation.
This deduction brings the undersigned to the last point in Mr. Gallatin's note, 50 and that on which he is most anxious that there should be no misconception between them.
speaks of a "permanent exclusion of the United States by Great Britain, from a trade open to the rest of the world," as a measure different in character from a general exclusion of all foreign nations.
But is this a just description of the effect of the act of 1825?
Considerations (of which Great Britain alone is the judge) have induced her to open her colonial trade to other nations. She opened it to them not as a matter of special favour, or of special "claim" to any one, but on specified conditions, common to all nations who might think fit to subscribe to them, and to the United States among the rest.
If some of the nations of the world have taken advantage of the opening thus offered to them, by accepting the conditions annexed to it, and others have omitted to do so, and if the United States are, by their own choice, in the latter class, surely it is not a correct description of the consequence of this, their own voluntary omission, to say that the United States are "excluded" by Great Britain from a trade, which, on the contrary, Great Britain invited them to share.
Exclusion of foreigners from the colonial trade is the general principle of colonial policy; admission to that trade is the exception—an exception, which, in this instance, Great Britain was willing to grant to all those who were ready to purchase it on terms tendered equally to all.
The United States cannot mean to put forward the pretension, that what is granted to others on terms, should be granted to them unconditionally. If not, it seems difficult to imagine how they can feel it to be unjust or unkind (it certainly is not so felt, or intended, on the part of this country), that the United States having, upon a free, and (as is known from the public proceedings of their legislature) deliberate consideration, declined to subscribe to the terms on which exception from colonial prohibition was tendered impartially to all nations, they should find themselves, in common with such of those nations as have decided like themselves, liable to that exclusion, which is and always has been, the general principle of colonial trade. The undersigned avails himself, &c. GEORGE CANNING. 51 No. 5.—Albert Gallatin, Esq. to Mr. Secretary Canning. Upper Seymour Street, Dec. 28, 1826.
The undersigned, &c. did not fail to transmit to his government the note which Mr. Canning, &c. did him the honour to address to him, on the 13th of November, in reply to the answer which had been returned by the undersigned to Mr. Canning's note of the 11th of September. But, unwilling to continue a discussion which did not seem likely to lead to any practical result, he abstained from making any further observations on the subject, until he should have received special instructions from his government, in reference to a state of things which was altogether unexpected at Washington at the time of his departure.
Having now received a despatch from the Secretary of State of the United States, the substance of which he is instructed to communicate to Mr. Canning, the undersigned, in performing that duty, will, on those points to which he had already alluded in his former note, have but some explanatory remarks to add.
The right of Great Britain, which is that of every nation, to prohibit or allow foreign commerce with any part of her dominions, is unquestionable. That right, in reference to her colonies, has never been denied by the United States, any more than with respect to any other part of her possessions, and it is also admitted, that she may, within her own jurisdiction, prescribe the conditions on which such commerce shall be tolerated, and, at her will, again interdict altogether the intercourse thus permitted.
On the other hand, the United States, unless restricted by treaty, which in this case they are not, have precisely the same right to prohibit, to allow, and, within their own jurisdiction, to regulate foreign commerce with their dominions, whether that commerce be with the foreign country itself, or with its colonies or possessions abroad. It was not inadvertently that the undersigned used the word "right," as applied to the United States: he did not object to the use of the word, as applied to Great Britain. What he attempted to show was, that this right, which was admitted, and although it might at any time be exercised, had no bearing on the questions which had been the subject of discussion between the two countries. 52 What has been contended for is, that since to any commerce there must always be two parties, the mutual consent of both is always necessary, in order that such commerce may at all exist; that whatever its nature may be, whether of ancient or modern date, whether with colonies or with possessions of a different description, from the moment it does exist, it becomes a fit subject for negotiation: and that there is no reason why an agreement should not on that, as on any other species of trade, be founded on terms of just reciprocity, though relating to colonies, from an intercourse with which foreigners had formerly been, and might again be, excluded.
The various relaxations of the colonial system of Great Britain, as they never were, nor could have been intended for the benefit of the United States, and as they were always accompanied with restrictions exclusively favourable to her, could not be viewed as a boon to them, and never were accepted as such. The extent to which the commerce, when not laid under too severe restrictions, was carried on between the United States and the British colonies, is an irrefragable proof that it was equally advantageous to both parties. If equally advantageous, there had been no favour conferred on either side, there was no ground for a pretension by either party that the intercourse should be regulated by unequal conditions.
No such pretension had in fact been advanced. The proposals made by both parties, during the negotiations of the year 1824, were avowedly founded in a fair reciprocity, and brought the parties very near together. Unable still to agree on some points, it was concluded to suspend the negotiation, with a distinct understanding that it should be again renewed at some convenient day.
was, in 1825, empowered to treat on all the subjects of the previous negotiation. He was instructed, in the first instance, as being a subject of more pressing urgency, to call on the British government to remove the impediments which prevented the execution of the St. Petersburgh convention. If his instructions on other subjects were not forwarded to him, it was because he was engaged in discussions respecting that convention, and it was believed that the state of his health did not admit of his entering at that time upon the more arduous 53 duty of resuming the suspended negotiation.
Of this his majesty's government appears to have been fully aware. On the 22nd of March, 1826, Mr. Vaughan addressed an official note to the Secretary of State of the United States, in which he says—
"I have received instructions from his Majesty's Government to acquaint you, that it is preparing to proceed in the important negotiations between that country and the United States, now placed in the hands of the American minister in London. Mr. Huskisson has been already introduced to Mr. R. King, as his Majesty's Plenipotentiary, and the Minister of State, having the department of Foreign Affairs, has received his Majesty's commands to associate Mr. Addington, late his Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires in America, with Mr. Huskisson, as joint Plenipotentiary, on the part of Great Britain. The negotiations will, therefore, be forthwith resumed; and it will be for the government of the United States to judge whether, considering the state of health of Mr. R. King, which Mr Canning laments to say has been, since his arrival in England, far from satisfactory, they will join any other negotiator in the commission with him."
The President did deliberate on that friendly suggestion; and the nomination of a person to be associated with Mr. King was contemplated, when a letter from him, dated the 21st day of March, desiring permission to return, was received; upon which, the duty of renewing those important negotiations, devolved, to his great regret, on the undersigned alone.
His instructions were of a character authorizing the hope that their result would be satifactory: his departure was hastened: on his arrival in England, the Order in Council of July last had already been enacted. Indeed, it appears that the determination not to renew the negotiations on the Colonial intercourse, and to regulate it exclusively by acts of parliament, had been taken before July, 1825, when the acts to that effect were passed. Had Mr. King been provided with the same instructions, which the undersigned received they would have been equally unavailing.
Of that determination, the government of the United States had not the least notice. On the contrary, although Mr. Vaughan's communication offered the op- 54 portunity of making known the intentions of his majesty's government, positive assurance was given of its being prepared to proceed in the important negotiations, and that the negotiations would be forthwith resumed, without any suggestion that the colonial intercourse would form an exception.
The acts of parliament of the year 1825, in which that intention was to be discovered, never were officially communicated. That of the 27th of June, passed only a few days before that of the 5th of July, and not specially repealed by it, was not calculated to elucidate the object in view; and several causes concurred to induce a belief, that this last act was not intended to affect the trade between the British colonies and the United States, as carried on under the act of June, 1822.
This belief, and the reasons for it, were distinctly expressed in a letter from the Department of State to a member of congress of the 25th of December, 1825, a copy of which is enclosed. That letter was published in the American newspapers; a copy was furnished to Mr. Vaughan; and he is understood to have transmitted it to his government.
That opinion was corroborated by the construction ultimately put on the act by the British authorities. It was thereby provided that certain privileges granted to foreign ships should be limitted to the ships of those countries which should comply with the conditions therein stated, unless his majesty, by his order in council, should in any case grant such privileges, although the conditions had not been performed. And the act was declared to come in full force and operation from the 5th of January, 1826. It had at first been determined at Halifax, that the port should accordingly be shut against American vessels after that day. This decision was afterwards revoked, although the condition had not been performed, and although no order in council had granted the privileges in question.
It now appears that the act of the 5th of July, 1825, (6th Geo. 4th, cap. 114), which contains no repealing clause of former acts, refers, under the name of the law of navigation, to another act of the same date (6th Geo. 4th, cap. 109); that this, although it contains also no repealing clause, is understood and construed as having superseded all former acts on the same subject; and that the actual repeal 55 of the act of 1822 (3rd Geo. 4th, cap. 44, sec. 3, 4), is to be found in another act, also of the 5th of July, 1825 (6th Geo. 4th, cap. 105), entitled, "An act to repeal the several laws relating to the customs."
The intricacy of those several acts, and the difficulty of understanding their precise meaning, of ascertaining what parts of former acts were actually repealed, and what still in force, a difficulty which, in the case of the Jubilee, seems to have led into error one of the highest tribunals of Great Britain, may well account for the construction put upon those acts in the United States; affording, at the same time, a sufficient reason for having preferred a renewal of the negotiations to a pure acceptance of the conditions contemplated by the act of the 5th of July, 1825, (6th Geo. 4th cap. 114), had it been only for the purpose of ascertaining the true intent and meaning of the act.
Even so late as October last, Mr. Vaughan, as appears by his correspondence with Mr. Clay, was not provided with instructions that enabled him to give a satisfactory answer to the inquiries, whether, according to the British interpretation, American vessels might trade between the British colonies and foreign countries, and whether discriminating duties of every species had been abolished.
The proposition made during the last session of congress, and to which Mr. Canning has alluded, affords an additional proof of the imperfect understanding, owing to the complexness of the several acts of parliament which at that time prevailed, respecting their true object and intention. That proposition was only for a repeal of the discriminating duties, and if adopted, would have been unavailing, since, not embracing a repeal of the restrictions on the circuitous intercourse, it is now understood that it would not have been accepted by the British government, as a compliance with the condition required by the act of the 5th of July, 1825.
It is not intended, by these facts and observations, to convey any reproaches against his majesty's government on account of the unexpected resolution which it has taken. But they satisfactorily show, that the United States could have entertained no doubt of the continued disposition of Great Britain to settle the colonial intercourse by an amicable arrangement, and that there were per- 56 emptory reasons for preferring that mode rather than to legislate on the subject.
Supposing even that the determination of the British government not to renew the negotiation on that point had been communicated or known, the specific condition on which American vessels might be allowed to participate in the intercourse between the United States and the British colonies was so expressed in the act of parliament as to have required explanations before it could be complied with.
The condition required from countries having colonies was both distinct and reciprocal. Nothing more was asked than that they should grant to British ships the like privileges of trading with their colonial possessions, which were granted to their ships of trading with the British possessions abroad. No regard was paid to the importance of such colonial possessions. Sweden, by permitting British vessels to trade with the island of St. Bartholomew, was allowed privileges which were offered to the United States on very different terms. And, with the exception of some of the German states, those terms applied to no other maritime power than the United States. All this Great Britain had a right to do; no complaint is preferred on that account; it was the condition which was required from them which they had to consider.
That condition was, that the United States should place the commerce and navigation of this country (Great Britain), and of its possessions abroad, upon the footing of the most favoured nation.
Had the condition been limited to the commerce and navigation of the British colonies; had it been so intended and expressed, as that the United States might have satisfied it, by placing the intercourse between their dominions and the British colonies on the same footing in every respect, as the intercourse between the United States, and the colonies of the most favoured nation; the condition, though not altogether free of objection, would at least have been apparently reciprocal. To require besides, that it should be extended to the commerce and navigation of Great Britain generally, that it should embrace that intercourse between her and the United States which is regulated by a special convention, that they should grant any privilege in that intercourse to British vessels, not stipulated by that convention, 57 as the price for the permission of trading with the British colonies, was a total departure from the principles of a just reciprocity.
But it appeared also extremely difficult, if at all possible, to understand what was meant—by placing that commerce and navigation on the footing of the most favoured nation.
If Great Britain only asked to be placed on that footing, on giving the same equivalent which any other foreign nation may have given to the United States, in order to have privileges which she does not enjoy, the navigation law of the United States has already made provision in that respect. There is no privilege enjoyed in the United States, by the commerce and navigation of any foreign nation, which great Britain may not obtain, by allowing to them the same reciprocal advantages which they enjoy in the ports of such foreign nation, and on which such privilege depends. To comply with the condition thus understood, the United States would have had no new act to perform. This could hardly be presumed to have been the intention of the act of parliament.
But if, by that act, it was intended to require, as the condition for allowing to American vessels the privilege of trading with the British colonies, that the commerce and navigation of Great Britain and of her possessions abroad, should, without any other equivalent, be generally placed on the same footing with the commerce and navigation of any other foreign nation, which, by reason of recipròcal advantages allowed to American vessels, may, now or hereafter, be entitled to greater privileges than Great Britain now enjoys, the condition was inadmissible.
British vessels, and those of several other nations, may now, by virtue of treaty, stipulations, or of other reciprocal regulations, import into the United States, articles of the produce or manufacture of the countries to which such vessels respectively belong, on the same terms, and on the payment of the same duties of tonnage, and on the cargo, as if imported in American vessels. In every instance the privilege is reciprocal, and will cease with respect to any of those countries, whenever vessels of the United States laden with produce of the United States may cease to be admitted into the ports of such country on the same terms as its own vessels. 58 In conformity with the navigation law of the United States, the prohibition to import, in foreign vessels, merchandise not the produce of the country to which such vessels respectively belong, extends only to the vessels of such nations as have adopted a similar regulation. Great Britain is accordingly one of the few nations to which the prohibition applies.
In pursuance of the treaty concluded in December, 1825, between the United States and central America, whatever may be imported into or exported from either country in its own vessels, to or from any foreign place whatever, may, in like manner, and on payment of the same duties, be imported or exported in the vessels of the other country.
If, therefore, it was meant by the condition required, that the commerce and navigation of Great Britain, and of her possessions abroad, should be gratuitously and generally placed on the footing of the most favoured nations, the United States, in order to comply with it, and, as the price for the permission to trade with the British colonies, would have been obliged—1. to admit the importation of British merchandise in British vessels, on the same terms, and on payment of the duties, as if imported in American vessels, although the convention of 1815 should have expired, and the corresponding privilege was no longer allowed to American vessels in British ports; 2. to admit the importation, in British vessels, of the produce of every foreign country, although the importation into British ports, of the like produce in American vessels, should still be prohibited; 3. if the condition was intended to apply to privileges granted subsequent to the date of the act of parliament, to admit the importation of such foreign produce in British vessels, even without being charged with any discriminating duties, and generally to allow to British vessels, without reciprocity, all the reciprocal advantages to which the vessels of Central America are entitled.
If this was not the intention of the act of parliament, if the words "commerce and navigation of this country," were meant only to include the circuitous intercourse, the expressions used to convey that meaning must be admitted to have been much too general. This last interpretation has been suggested only by the observations that have occurred in the course of Mr. Canning's correspondence 59 with the undersigned. If such, or any other admissible construction was intended, the most obvious way of preventing both an erroneous interpretation of the condition, and any unfounded expectations, in reference to a renewal of the negotiations, would have been an official communication of the act of parliament, accompanied with a full and free explanation of the condition required, and of the intentions of his Majesty's government on the whole subject.
The government of the United States is animated by the most sincere desire to maintain with that of Great Britain not merely the forms of courtesy and amity, but to cultivate a cordial and lasting friendship, to settle every controverted question between them upon principles of justice and reciprocity, and by an enlarged liberality in their mutual intercourse, to advance the real prosperity of both.
Entertaining this desire, it has learnt with regret the resolution of his majesty's government to close the door against those friendly explanations, and that free and mutual exposition of the wishes and views of the parties, so essential between two nations whose interests and happiness are so interwoven as those of Great Britain and the United States, and which can be but partially and imperfectly interchanged, if mutual legislation is substituted to negotiation and to the ordinary mode of treating.
As the only alternative which this course has left, it was the President's intention to lay the whole correspondence which has passed between the two governments on that subject, including the instructions given to the several American ministers near his Britannic Majesty, before Congress at their present session. It will remain with that body to decide, whether the Colonial intercourse shall be altogether closed, whether that portion of it left open by the Order in Council shall continue so, or on what conditions compatible with the interests of the United States that trade may be placed.
The Undersigned has been further instructed to give at the same time to his Majesty's government, the assurance, that, notwithstanding its late decision, that of the United States will be ready, at Washington or at London, to treat of the Colonial intercourse, whenever it may be the desire or inclination of Great Britain to negociate on that subject.—The Undersigned, &c.
§ (Signed) ALBERT GALLATIN.60
(Enclosure in No. 5.)—The hon. H. Clay to the hon. C. C. Cambreling, H. R. Department of State, December 25, 1825.
Sir.—I have perused the letter which you left with me, and which is herewith returned, respecting the construction put, at Halifax, upon the late British act of Parliament, opening the trade and intercourse between the British American colonies, and foreign countries. And I have also examined the acts of Parliament of the 4th and 5th George 4th, referred to in the 5th section of the above-mentioned act. The result is a belief, that the Halifax construction is not that which was intended by the British government, or, if it be, that it was designed by an Order in Council to except the trade and intercourse with the United States from the operation of the act, when so interpreted. I should strongly incline to think, but for the opposite view entertained at Halifax, that the act to regulate the trade of the British possessions abroad, passed in July last, did not intend to disturb or affect the trade between the British American colonies and the United States, but meant to leave that trade on the footing which it was put by the aforesaid act of the 4th George 4th, and the subsequent act of indemnity of the 5th George 4th.
That the British government did not look forward to such an operation of the act of Parliament as is about to be enforced at Halifax, I think clear from the following considerations:—
First. It would be inconsistent with professions made by that government to this, and with negotiations between the two governments, contemplated, if not yet resumed.
Second. No notification has been given at Washington or at London of such a purpose as that which, for the first time, is indicated at Halifax.
Third. The British minister here is unadvised by his government of any intention to close the colonial ports against our vessels; and,
Fourth. No information has been received here from any British colonial port, except Halifax, of such intention.
If the Halifax construction be correct, I am persuaded that the British government must have intended to have created an exception to our trade, by an Order in 61 Council, which had not arrived at the date of the last advices from Halifax.
If I am right in that conjecture, the order may yet reach that place before, or a few days after, the day fixed (the 5th of January next) for the commencement of the act. I am, &c.
§ (Signed) H. CLAY.
§ The Hon. C. C. Cambreling, &c.
No. 6.—Mr. Secretary Canning to Albert Gallatin, Esq. Foreign-office, Jan. 27, 1827.
The Undersigned, &c., has the honour to acknowledge the note addressed to him on the 28th ultimo, by Mr. Gallatin, &c. in replying to which, the Undersigned will, as far as possible, conform himself to the example of Mr. Gallatin, in putting aside those points of the question in agitation between them which have been already exhausted in argument, and the further discussion of which would not tend to any practical advantage.
The parts of Mr. Gallatin's note which appear to the Undersigned to require any observation, relate to matters rather of fact than of reasoning.
complains that the act of Parliament of 1825 was not officially communicated to the government of the United States.
It is perfectly true that it was not: nor has it been the habit of the two governments to communicate reciprocally to each other acts of their respective legislatures.
The act of Congress of 1823, an act, the provisions of which specially affected Great Britain, was not officially communicated either to the King's minister at Washington, or to his Majesty's government by the American minister resident at this Court. So far from any such communication being made, or any voluntary explanation of the bearing of that act being offered, it was not till after repeated and pressing inquiries that his Majesty's minister at Washington succeeded in obtaining from the American Secretary of State the true construction of the most important clause of that act—the clause in which the United States claimed that their trade to the British West-India colonies should be put on the same footing with the trade to the same colonies from "elsewhere;" and learnt, to his great astonishment, that under that word "elsewhere" was intended to be signified, not 62 only the other dependencies of Great Britain, but the "mother country itself."
The Undersigned, at the same time, begs that it may not be supposed that the British government withheld from the government of the United States a communication of the act of Parliament of 1825 from any notion of retaliation for the omission of the government of the United States to communicate to that of his Majesty the act of Congress of 1823.
He refers to that instance of omission on the part of the American government only in proof,
First. That the ordinary and natural course between States is not to make diplomatic communications of the acts of their respective legislatures; and, secondly, that no inference could be drawn from such an omission on the one side any more than on the other, of (what the Undersigned disclaims for his government) an intentional want of courtesy or respect.
But the act of 1825 did not relate specially to the United States. It held out to all nations of the world certain benefits, (or what were believed by the British government to be so) on certain conditions.
If a communication of the act had been made to one nation, it must have been made alike to all. Such communication would have been liable to different misrepresentations; some governments might have considered it as a solicitation to which they were bound in courtesy to give some answer, explaining their reasons for declining, if they did decline, to avail themselves of the provisions of the act: others might, perhaps, have taken umbrage at it, as an authoritative pretension to impose the legislation of this country upon other nations.
The simplest course was to allow the provisions of the act to find their way to general knowledge through the usual channels of commercial information.
The Undersigned has no reason to apprehend that this course has proved less effectual on the present than on former occasions.
The conditions of the act of 1825 have been accepted and carried into effect by some governments: that of the United States has not thought it expedient to take advantage of them. But the Undersigned cannot but be still of opinion, that the resolution proposed in the House of representatives, at Washington, at the beginning of the last session of Congress, for 63 the express purpose of urging the executive government of the United States to come into the terms of the act of 1825, the debates which took place upon that proposition, and the final rejection of it by a majority of only two votes, show that it was not for want of a sufficient understanding of the intent of the act of parliament, that the conditions of it were not accepted by the United States.
To one piece of evidence, which proves the perfect understanding in America, not only of the purport and provisions of the act of parliament of 1825, but of the conditions which it would be requisite for the American legislature to perform, in order to entitle the United States to the benefit of that act, the Undersigned might have scrupled to refer (as not being of the nature of a diplomatic document), if Mr. Gallatin had not encouraged him to bring forward any document tending to throw light on the matter in dispute, by citing, in support of his own view of that matter, a private letter from Mr. Clay to a member of Congress.
Early in the session of Congress of 1825–26, a petition from Baltimore was presented to both houses of the American legislature, in which petition it was distinctly pointed out, that the British act of parliament of July, 1825, had not only manifested the readiness of this country to remove all discriminating duties, but also to permit American ships to clear out from British colonies, not, as theretofore, to the ports of the United States only, but to all parts of the world (the United Kingdom and its dependencies alone excepted.)
The petition, with equal distinctness, invited the attention of the American legislature to the conditions on which these advantages might be secured to the United States, and prayed for the removal of the several restrictions imposed by the American act of 1823, not of the "discriminating duties" only, but of the prohibition of what is called by Mr. Gallatin, "circuitous intercourse in British ships;" the petitioners expressly submitting to Congress the propriety of admitting British vessels, from whatever ports, on the same terms as the vessels of the most favoured nations.
It appears from the reports of the proceedings of Congress, that it was against the prayer of this petition (but without impeachment of any of its allegations) that 64 the decision of the American legislature, at the close of the session, was taken: it cannot be doubted, therefore, that the American legislature, had the whole purport and bearing of the act of 1825 full before their eyes.
The fact, that some of the British authorities abroad took upon themselves to suspend the execution of the act of 1825, towards the United States, is undenied.
But the only effect of this suspension was—the continuance of the benefits of the then existing state of things to the United States, for nearly a twelvemonth longer than they would otherwise have enjoyed it.
That continuance was permitted by the British government mainly in consideration of the then pendency in the legislature of the United States, of the resolution herein before mentioned, for conforming to the conditions of the act of 1825.
Immediately upon the receipt of authentic intelligence of these proceedings at Washington, an instruction was sent out to Mr. Vaughan, grounded on the belief of the British government, that Congress would not separate without adopting the resolution then under their consideration. In that case, and upon receiving an assurance from the American government that the restrictions and charges on British shipping, and British colonial produce, would be withdrawn by the United States, Mr. Vaughan was authorised to deliver a note to the American Secretary of State, declaring—that the discriminating duties imposed upon American ships and their cargoes in the West Indies should immediately cease. Mr. Vaughan was actually in possession of this instruction, when the resolution, on the assumed adoption of which the instruction to Mr. Vaughan had been founded, was rejected. It was no part of Mr. Vaughan's duty to make any communication upon the subject to the American government before the result of the discussion was ascertained. After that result (wholly unexpected in this country), any such communication would have been not only useless, but might, perhaps, have been considered as an improper appeal against the formal decision of the American legislature.
That Mr. Vaughan should not afterwards have been authorized to enter into any discussion of the provisions of the act of 1825 "so late as October last," is not surprising, when it is considered that Mr. 65 Vaughan, immediately after the close of the session of Congress, was instructed to announce the intention of his Majesty's government to pass the order in council of July (consequent upon the decision of the American legislature), by which the terms of the act of 1825 were virtually declined.
accounts for the rejection of the resolution, proposed to the American legislature, by the persuasion which, he says, the government of the United States entertained, that the negotiation on the subject of the commercial intercourse between the United States and the British West-India colonies would be renewed.
The undersigned is at a loss to understand on what ground it was assumed at Washington, that there would be, at all times, an unabated disposition on the part of the British government to make the trade of its West-India colonies the subject of diplomatic arrangement.
The circumstances of the case were entirely changed.
Repeated negotiation had failed to produce any material approximation of opinions upon that subject.
The last attempt at an adjustment had been made, with an evident conviction on both sides that there existed between them an unconquerable difference of principle, and that it was by that difference, rather than by any decided irreconcileableness of interest, that a satisfactory arrangement was rendered hopeless.
The nature of that difference has been sufficiently discussed; it lies in the determination of the United States to dispute, and in that of Great Britain to maintain, the established distinction between general and colonial trade.
Great Britain had, therefore, an obvious motive for doing thenceforward whatever she might think it right to do, in relaxation of her colonial system, rather by the instrumentality of her own legislature than by compact with a State, with which she disagreed in opinion, as to the principles of colonial trade, so widely, that it would have been impossible to construct a preamble to a treaty on that subject, in the enunciations of which the two contracting parties should have concurred.
But there was yet another reason for avoiding further negotiations upon the subject.
Hitherto, when the trade with the British West-India colonies had been opened at 66 all, it had been opened chiefly though not exclusively, to the United States; to no other country had it been opened by specific and positive convention.
But a time had now arrived when, from motives of general policy, Great Britain thought it advisable to allow access to her colonies to all foreign powers, without exception, on conditions tendered alike to all.
Such indiscriminate opening could only be effected by some process common to all those who were permitted or invited to take advantage of it; impartiality was thus maintained towards all parties, and the power of control over her own colonies was at the same time retained in the hands of the mother country.
The undersigned believes that he has now touched on every topic in the last note addressed to him by Mr. Gallatin, to which he had not had occasion to advert in former stages of their correspondence. He will not allow himself to be drawn again into a discussion of topics already more than sufficiently debated.
The undersigned trusts that it is unnecessary for him, in concluding this note, to return to Mr. Gallatin's assurances of the friendly disposition of the United States of America, assurances equally sincere, that there is the most cordial desire, on the part of Great Britain, to cultivate the friendship of the United States.
The ties of common origin, laws, and language, must always form strong bonds of national alliance between them. Their respective interests, well understood, harmonize together as much as their feelings.
But it has never yet been held a duty of international amity (any more than of friendship in private life) to submit to unequal compacts. Nor has it ever been held an offence against such duty that a nation (any more than an individual) should decline to make uncompensated sacrifices.
Between two nations, as between two individuals, most friendly to each other, there may sometimes happen, unfortunately, to exist some known subject of incurable difference of opinion. In any such case, it is perhaps most advisable to keep that subject as much as possible out of sight, and to take care that it shall not interfere with the tenour of their general intercourse and of their habitual relations.
The refusal to regulate the trade of our colonies by a commercial treaty which 67 the British Government may think (even if erroneously) disadvantageous to its interests cannot give just cause of offence to any power whatever.
In the present instance the undersigned is most happy to be able to qualify such refusal with the declaration, that it is not in any degree dictated by sentiments either unfriendly or disrespectful to the United States, or by any indifference to the amicable settlement of all other questions, at present pending between them and Great Britain.
Of these questions, one has been already happily arranged since Mr. Gallatin's arrival in this country.
The undersigned looks forward with confidence, no less than with anxiety, to such an arrangement of the remainder, as, effacing all traces of past discussions, and satisfying all fair and reasonable pretensions on both sides, may secure, for a long period of years to come, reciprocal good understanding and good will between two kindred nations. The Undersigned has the honour, &c. (Signed)
§ GEORGE CANNING.