Sat 2nd Dec 1809
The King has repudiated Erskine’s treaty with Secretary Smith for a settlement with America. Bathurst, as President of the Board of Trade, has called the Committee of Merchants trading to North America to the Treasury. He promised that no difficulties would be made to those who had already shipped goods on the faith of the unratified treaty and that American ships loaded with such cargoes would be permitted to proceed to an American port.
The American ships are shipping British-financed goods at Dutch ports and Bathurst agreed to raise the blockade on those ports for two months (9th June – 9th Aug) to permit this trade.
To put British merchants on the same footing as American merchants he indicated a licensing regime would be commenced. Bathurst says he fears that European markets might be glutted with American produce to the prejudice of British merchants unless the volume is controlled by licensing.
This has deeply irritated the Dutch merchants.
Sat 16th Dec 1809
London newspapers, 14th June:
- Some seventy American ships arrived in British ports today, pursuant on Erskine’s treaty. They bring such a prodigious quantity of cargo that the markets for several staples will be affected. Fifty of them are at Liverpool. Flour, cotton, tobacco, rice, staves, pitch and turpentine, etc., are all reduced in price. Bowed Georgia cotton which was 3/- a pound last week is now selling at 1/2d and may go lower.
- The American government says it has an undertaking from the French to rescind the Berlin Decree once the November 1807 Order-in-Council is taken-off.
Sat 16th Dec 1809
London newspapers, 14th June:
The expedition to Spain is fitting-out and the need for transports is so great that the government has invited American shipowners to participate at 25/- per ton. We have just rejected Erskine’s agreement with Secretary Smith and the American merchants will not wish their ships to return to their home ports – this will give them something profitable to do.
Sat 13th Jan 1810
The ministry’s refusal to ratify Erskine’s agreement with USA has caused the trade embargo to be restored by Congress. They are so predictable. This will prevent the New England fleets from returning to their home ports. Those ships should then become available to us and more amenable to our requirements.
Sat 3rd March 1810
Erskine’s promise to Secretary Smith, that the Order-in-Council against American merchant shipping would be withdrawn on 10th June 1809, was repudiated by the British ministry. As a result on 9th Aug 1809 Madison cancelled his offer to end the embargo and resume trade with England.1
Sat 24th March 1810
The French government has told the Americans that as soon as England rescinds the Order-in-Council of 11th Nov 1807 and raises her blockade of French commercial ports, France will permit British trade to Europe to resume and American ships will again be welcomed in French ports. It is mentioned in a letter of Foreign Minister Champigny to General Armstrong, the American minister in Paris.
Sat 26th May 1810
Ambassador Jackson, the replacement for Erskine in America, has offended his hosts and been asked to leave. He asserted that the American government knew that Erskine had exceeded his instructions in the matter of the Order-in-Council. Secretary Smith denied it and Jackson more or less called him a liar.
On 8th December the Senate characterised him as ‘insolent’ and brought forward a Bill to empower the President to expel offensive foreign ambassadors. Jackson has removed to New York where the mercantile environment is more supportive. He has asked for further instructions.
Napoleon’s recent declaration that France will admit neutral ships and neutral trade at its ports has changed the situation. Pinckney, the American minister to London, has asked Washington for new instructions.
Sat 2nd June 1810
Washington, 9th Dec – Gallatin, the US Treasury Secretary, has told Congress that the embargo is ineffective. It does not apply to coasting voyages or to exports sent overland. Coasters are daily sailing from New England ports to British Canadian ports and transferring the former trade of New England to those discharge ports to the benefit of England. He says America should either restrict trade or not. He deplores half-measures.
Sat 2nd June 1810
Paris, 1st January 1810 – Paris says the French embargo against American ships was retaliatory for the American embargo on French ships and the provisions of the Non-Intercourse Act.
Since America has now repealed her embargo etc., French retaliation should also end. France believes that America is not disposed to submit to England and accordingly hopes for some provisional basis to renewed trade.
Sat 7th July 1810
American opinion on the renewed proscription on trade with England is not united. The new Bill prohibiting such trade has just passed its second reading after two days of debate with only a 17 vote majority.
Sat 7th July 1810
News from a French paper: France has told Armstrong, the American minister in Paris, that Napoleon agrees the Berlin and Milan Decrees are unjust but he can conceive of no other way of responding appropriately to the British Orders-in-Council of 1806 and Nov 1807.
France distinguishes ‘ship visits’ from ‘calling a ship to stand-to’. The former is a search of the vessel possibly leading to confiscation of cargo and/or impressment of crew whilst the latter (which all navies routinely do) ascertains the veracity of the national flag.
France did not foresee the American embargo of May against her. French foreign policy is based on reciprocity. Thus American ships have been seized in Holland, Spain, Italy and Naples as ours have been seized in American ports.
France would be disappointed if America submitted to pay British tax on her trade. It makes the American achievement of independence redundant. France hopes that America will assert her independence. The British taxes may be light at present but if that country needs greater revenue they will increase and, in this respect, we note that British trade is already close to a standstill.
Sat 14th July 1810
The American ship Donna Emilia (Dekoven) left New York on 27th Feb and has just arrived at Calcutta. She reports the prohibition on trade with England and France is being maintained in full force.
New England merchants have developed a valuable alternative trade with Russia and Sweden in the Baltic and Spain in the Mediterranean. Dekoven says the profits on recent American voyages to Tonning (the new smuggling route to Schleswig and Hamburg) have been immense.
Sat 11th Aug 1810
Macon’s Bill is working through the American Senate. It excludes British national ships and both British and French merchant ships from American ports. British and French goods may only be imported in American bottoms. It repeals the Non-Intercourse Act.
Sat 8th Sept 1810
The American ship Superior (Roberts) has arrived at Calcutta. She left Philadelphia on 12th May. Roberts says a Presidential Proclamation was published just before he left permitting trade with England and her colonies. It was recognised in Washington that this would cause an instant rupture with France.
Sat 13th Oct 1810
The American newspapers of late April 1810 suggest some Americans are fomenting discontent in Lower Canada apparently with a view to bringing that British colony within their Union of States. They accuse General Craig, the Governor, of planning tax increases to fund an increase in the garrison. He has proclaimed to the people that he has no such intent and called on them to remain peaceful.
Sat 13th Oct 1810
The American newspapers take a robust line concerning the differences between their country and Europe. They hate the continuing British predilection for treating them like colonists instead of as an equal and independent nation.
One Editor mentions the belief of what he says is a majority of Americans – that they should not expect truth or candour from a government as notoriously corrupt at Britain’s. They are particularly irritated by our professions of friendship on the one hand whilst we continue to dictate measures to Washington and decline to accept any responsibility or make reparation for the many grounds of complaint they have against us (USS Chesapeake, pressing American seamen, Orders-in-Council, Rule of 1756).
There is a growing body of American opinion that supposes England merely smiles at America but is in fact an enemy. They trace our conduct back over the forty years of their independence and pick out all the items that tend to support this view. They conclude that England is jealous of growing American prosperity and sees it as a threat to British domination of world trade. Now they see London slipping towards revolution and they fear that British ministers, in wildly responding to domestic discontent, will involve them too.
America’s difficulty is that it is effectively two countries – the great agricultural south and the small but populous mercantile north east – and the interests of the states in each area are often completely different.
Basically the Americans are struggling with the diplomatic concept of ‘perpetual negotiations’ – a means of maintaining superficial amity whilst continuing the resented policy that negotiations are supposed to overcome. America has too practical a government to tolerate such devices. They call ‘a spade a spade’.
Sat 17th Nov 1810
An unidentified American ship captain at Calcutta has said that $9 millions in silver is being brought to the East from America in various ships for trade finance this season.2
Sat 24th Nov 1810
General Armstrong has written Pinckney from Paris on 25th Jan 1810 that the Duke of Cadore, the French Foreign Minister, says Napoleon will annul the Berlin Decree if the British previously annul their blockade of that part of the French coast between the Elbe and Brest.
Pinckney asked Wellesley on 15th Feb if Britain maintains any current blockade of the French coast. Wellesley replied that the French coast between the Elbe and Brest is under British blockade which blockade was subsumed into the Orders-in-Council of 1.1.07. Pinckney then asked is there still a blockade. Wellesley said ‘technically no – it has become an Order-in-Council.’
Sat 5th Jan 1811
House of Commons – Prendergast MP has moved a new subject. The export trade of India is so slow, the Company has contracted with American shipowners to partake of it, something legislatively denied to British shipowners. Prendergast said on the return to peace the Americans would then be in a position to undersell the Company in its tea and silk business. If they do not undersell, they will at least be able to sell into the existing smuggling networks and destroy the market.
Prendergast said this opening of Asia to America was referred to in a Governor General’s letter to the Bengal Council of 23rd Aug 1809 that dealt inter alia with the finances of India and he moved for production of the letter.
Dundas said there were pressing reasons why it could not be produced.
Grant said the Company did not itself encourage American trade.
Turton said the House was kept entirely in the dark on every aspect of the India Company’s business. Prendergast’s motion was defeated 64/24.3
Sat 19th Jan 1811
Capt Boyce of HMS Moselle fired a 32-pound shot into USS Vixen as she was sailing south reportedly for New Orleans. Col Poindexter, a Congressman, was a passenger on USS Vixen at the time. He was unhurt but the son of US Attorney General Rodney was slightly injured.
Boyce said he could not see the US colours and supposed the Vixen to be a French privateer. Criticism of Boyce in the American press is scathing.
Sat 19th Jan 1811
The Prussian Court has barred American ships from its ports.
Sat 19th Jan 1811
Napoleon has issued a Decree from the Trianon on 5th Aug 1810 fixing the duty payable on various types of cotton, sugar, tea, indigo, cocoa, cochineal, pepper, spices, tropical timber and other colonial goods imported into France. This is to regulate the Licensed trade we have been conducting with France. Formerly all colonial goods were deemed to be English goods and confiscated. There is still a threat of confiscation if the declarations accompanying the goods are not made out perfectly.
The following day he told Armstrong, the American minister in Paris, he would revoke the Berlin and Milan Decrees. He said, as America has now legislated to oppose any belligerent that denies the maritime rights of neutrals, he will rescind the Decrees effective 1st Nov 1810. The revocation is conditional on England both revoking its Order-in-Council and renouncing any substitute way of attempting blockade. He says he loves America – its achievement of independence is a principal evidence of the glory of France.4
Sat 4th May 1811
Pinckney has written to Lord Wellesley on 25th Aug 1810 that he has received a letter from General Armstrong, the American minister at Paris, saying France will revoke the Berlin and Milan Decrees in November 1810.
He says he ‘takes it for granted’ that the British Orders-in-Council of Jan and Nov 1807, April 1809 and all other Orders dependent on those three sets will be revoked.
Wellesley replied that the British ambassador to USA had said on 23rd Feb 1808 that we wish global commerce to be freed. Wellesley recites that wish and adds that ‘His Majesty will feel the highest satisfaction in relinquishing a system which the conduct of the enemy compelled him to adopt.’
Mon 22nd July 1811 Extraordinary
Pinckney, the American minister, is leaving London. He has not convinced Perceval’s ministry to withdraw the Orders-in-Council. Napoleon, on the other hand, has become more attentive of the Americans.
A copy of a Decree was received from France in late February (see above) saying all kinds of American produce will be accepted in French ports
Sat 27th July 1811
Pinckney’s negotiations with London for rescission of the Orders-in-Council are ended. He has gone back to Washington and the Charge d’Affaires left in London has no powers to negotiate anything. The American effort to re-open the seas to international commerce has failed.
Sat 3rd Aug 1811
News from America reveals that several businesses in New York failed in January this year. All the failures are attributed to the non-renewal of the Charter of the Bank of the United States.
Sat 17th Aug 1811
The American Committee on Foreign Relations has presented a Bill to Congress in January 1811 commending a national response concerning Britain’s Orders-in-Council. They were expected to be revoked in November, once France abandoned the Berlin and Milan Decrees, as published in Le Moniteur of 9th Sept, but were not.
As the British Orders have not been repealed, the Act to Interdict British Trade will become effective in February 1811. Any goods seized under the American Act will be carefully stored for eventual return to owners in case the Orders are belatedly repealed. The Act puts the burden of proof always on the Defendant to establish his innocence. It provides for the President to charter up to 100 ships and hire the necessary seamen to man them to give effect to its provisions.5
Sat 14th Sept 1811
The Americans have nominated Joel Barlow as their new Ambassador to France. Barlow was elected a member of the French Convention at the same time as Thomas Paine and then wrote his Advice to the Privileged Classes. We frankly wonder what Napoleon will make of the appointment.
Sat 19th Oct 1811
American news – the merchants of New Haven and now Hartford (Chairman John Caldwell, Secretary Charles Sigourney) have resolved that the right to trade is a natural right that cannot be denied or restricted by Act of Congress. They characterise the right of navigation in the same way.
The Hartford merchants say the Berlin and Milan Decrees have not been rescinded but Congress allows our trade with France and not with England. The Presidential Decree of 2nd Nov 1810 and the non-importation law of 2nd March 1811 are irrelevant – our trade with England must be restored. Our national policies should be independent of prejudice and submissiveness.
Sat 18th Jan 1812
London – The ministry seems to think war with America is inevitable but the British people are opposed to it. The popular toast at American dinners has become ‘free trade at the mouth of a cannon.’
Mr Wellesley Pole has been appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in Ireland. The Wellesley family now administers Ireland, manages British affairs in Spain/Portugal and controls our foreign policy.
Sat 18th Jan 1812
Caribbean news – A W Hodge, a member of the Governing Council of Tortola, one of the beautiful Virgin Islands, has been sentenced to death and executed for murdering one of his slaves.
He ordered Prosper to watch a mango tree and protect its fruit from thieves. Unnoticed by Prosper, one mango fell to the ground and was found by Hodge who required 6/- compensation or he would flog the slave. Prosper borrowed 3/- which he gave Hodge but it was insufficient. Hodge flogged Prosper for an hour administering 100 lashes. He told Prosper to bring the 3/- balance next day or he would be flogged again. Prosper was unable to get the money and was tied to a tree and flogged extensively. Eventually he stopped screaming and his head was seen to fall back. He was carried to the sick room and chained between two other patients. He remained there for 5 days and was then found missing and later located dead in the slave hall. Hodge’s Estate Manager Stephen McKeogh said Hodge told him he liked to hear the sound of the whip.
Defence Counsel called other workers from the Estate to establish that Hodge was a good employee. That regrettably backfired. Under cross-examination they revealed he had earlier killed his cook by pouring boiling water down her throat. Hodge admitted he was cruel to many of his slaves but denied murdering Prosper – I was nowhere near him when he died. He was found guilty. Six other similar charges were taken into consideration and a death sentence was handed down. He was hanged publicly. He leaves three children.
Sat 1st Feb 1812
The British sloop HMS Little Belt (Bingham) was cruising off the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on 16th May 1811 performing its part of the British blockade of American ports when she saw and chased the frigate USS President (Rodgers) assuming her to be a merchant ship. This is from Bingham’s report of the encounter:
Having identified her as an American 44-gun warship, Bingham put on more sail and resumed his voyage to the south. Rodgers set a pursuit course. Bingham double-shotted his guns, hoisted his colours and brought-to his ship.
Bingham hailed Rodgers and asked ‘what ship are you’ and Rodgers replied with the same question. Rodgers then fired a broadside and Bingham responded in kind. A general action ensued for 45 minutes until flames were seen coming from the main hatchway of the American warship whilst the smaller British ship was even more heavily damaged.
Rodgers again hailed and asked ‘what ship are you’ and Bingham now identified himself. Rodgers asked Bingham if he had surrendered which Bingham denied. Bingham asked the identity of the American and, so far as he could hear, the answer was ‘United States Frigate’. No further firing occurred. At dawn, the American said he would send a boat and Bingham agreed. An American naval officer came in the boat and said Rodgers ‘lamented the unfortunate affair’ and had he known HMS Little Belt was so lightly armed, he would not have fired. Bingham asked why he had fired and Rodgers’ officer claimed HMS Little Belt had fired first. The officer suggested Bingham put-in to an American port for repairs which offer Bingham declined. Bingham formed the impression that had his ship been a frigate he would have had to fight to the end. To support this he alluded to the American’s guns which were shotted not only with round and grape shot but all sorts of scrap iron. HMS Little Belt was seriously damaged and had to put back to Halifax. Bingham had 32 men killed or wounded, the latter mostly mortally.
This action resulted in the court martial of Rodgers at which all the American witnesses say HMS Little Belt commenced shooting first. Bingham denied it and the Admiralty believed him – he was promoted to Post Captain and given command of HMS Volage, a larger warship.
Rodgers told his Court Martial that British and French cruisers were harassing the trade of New York and the British had impressed an American seamen named Diggin. He took USS President out to recover the man. He thought HMS Little Belt was the involved frigate (it is a sloop) and insisted Diggin be surrendered to him. He considered the British impressment system as a form of slavery. His act was authorised by the 1783 AngloAmerican Treaty.
At the outset, Bingham fled and that made Rodgers suspicious. Bingham did not show his colours, which was more suspicious. He must have seen my pennant and known who I was, said Rodgers. When I came up on him he tried to procrastinate and I recognised he was only awaiting dusk to escape. The Court found that Bingham did not satisfactorily answer Rodger’s hail and he had opened fire first.
The British also held at Enquiry at Halifax. They located a witness William Birkett who had crewed on USS President at the time. He said a large part of the American crew were in fact British seamen. When Rodgers was talking with Bingham a group of 4-5 seamen were leaning over a cannon which suddenly fired. Thereafter the other gun crews fired a full broadside. He thought the first shot happened accidentally. He was reluctant to join-in the cover-up subsequently, deserted at New York and made his way to Halifax.
Sat 1st Feb 1812
An Address to the American People has been published by Robert Smith, the late Secretary of State, to vindicate his resignation from office:
Madison was acting against American interests in secretly promoting the French interest. America has been insulted by both England (in permitting American trade only on payment of British tax – the Order of Nov 1807) and France (the attempt to direct American foreign policy).
He advised Madison that French willingness to restore the captured American shipping in French ports was not enough – it had to be coupled with the repeal of the Berlin and Milan Decrees in respect of American trade before he could commend Congress to ban trade with England. Madison disagreed.
Smith says that before the passage of the Non-Intercourse Bill (which he calls Madison’s Bill as ‘both Acts in restraint of American trade have been misrepresented to the American people as the work of Macon when they were the project of the President’), he already had express advice from the French that they would not restore the seized American property in French ports.
Smith was equally confident that prior to the passage of the Non-Intercourse Bill, America had no information that the Berlin or Milan Decrees had been revoked. Madison’s Proclamation concerning the Non-Intercourse Bill says the Decrees had been revoked. It was untrue.
Smith says he instructed General Armstrong in June 1810 to remonstrate with Paris over continuing harassment of American trade but Madison declined to let him send the instructions. He says this was when Madison first became hostile to his Secretary of State. Instead, Madison sent a private letter to Armstrong about the seizure of American shipping in French ports but did not require the General to address the French government on the subject.
When General Serrurier arrived (the new French ambassador to America), Smith wrote to him in Feb 1811 asking if the Decrees had been revoked on 1st Nov 1810. Madison refused to approve the draft and the letter was never sent.
A second matter related to Erving, the American ambassador to London. US$22,392 had been paid to Erving by the British government as compensation to American citizens under Article 7 of the AngloAmerican treaty. It should have been sent to Washington for distribution to the claimants but Madison wrote Erving permitting him to keep the money in payment of some special services he had provided.6 Smith deplored the President dealing directly with State Department employees behind his back. He says Madison tried to buy-off his (Smith’s) opposition with the offer of the American Embassy at St Petersburg (‘the most important and prestigious post in the gift of government’, according to Madison) but he turned it down as actually Madison only wanted to get Smith out of the Secretary’s job so he could put Monroe in.
Sat 29th Feb 1812
Excerpts and comments on the recently published Hints by Bristed, his Letter on the Genius and Disposition of the French Government and Walsh’s Brief View of the Policy and Resources of the United States:
On 18th Dec 1807 Jefferson told his dinner companions that “Britain would cease to be a nation within two years”. British defence rests entirely on the sea – ‘the wooden walls of England’. If Napoleon had an equally powerful navy, he would have already defeated England. France is a more populous country than England. More people = more production = more revenue = more power.
Once France conquered Britain would she not also, sooner or later, seek to conquer America?
Everyone knows that a nation of unrivalled power is the enemy of us all. Napoleon is building a navy and, when he succeeds, America will be defenceless against him. France has four times our population. We could never prevail against her.
The frightening thing is that when one or other of the defeated states of Europe sought to out-manoeuvre Napoleon, as Austria or Prussia did repeatedly, they ended up with only a fraction of their former territory, population and revenue and may never recover their former glory whilst he continues to dominate Europe.
Some European countries speak of non-resistance and accommodation with France. This is absurd. Can a Corsican commoner wield power better than a King or Aristocrat who has been trained to it?
Appeals to French honour and reasonableness are hardly likely to deter Napoleon. We are humans – we do what we do because we can – we have no history of restraint in our choices of possible action.
If Napoleon has the power to effect change, he has only to suppose it is useful or progressive and he will use it. He can never be a partner, only a leader. To be sure, his arrangements in Switzerland and Poland have been beneficial to those countries. His reorganisation of the Rhineland and northern Italy make those areas more productive and tranquil. But at the end of the day one has to trust him or be destroyed. The example we should keep in mind is Holland – that country taught the English about commerce and was itself a master of European trade until the French occupation. Now the Dutch East India Company is gone and the Dutch are becoming impecunious.7
America has sprung from England. We share her laws and culture. We share in her commercial system. Every commercial country must have connections with England. She alone has the concentration of capital and the global reach to facilitate international banking and insurance services.
America’s neighbours are some of the most valuable British colonies. We are in a strong position both to benefit from our proximity to those markets and, by shared ancestry, to moderate British opinion in our favour. There should be no doubt that our future is with Britain and not France. We may have to take British commercial leavings, to work harder for our profit, but at least we will have the chance. We have tried to abandon international commerce but the New England merchants could not be restrained by law – one might as well forbid birds to fly. At least with the Atlantic under British control we have a familiar system to work under. Under French hegemony there will be no protection of property and little profit.
Whilst the Directory held sway at Paris, a plan for an American invasion was published. That plan did not contemplate a direct invasion of New England. They proposed to use shallow-draft ships to access Savannah in Georgia, Charleston & Georgetown in South Carolina, Wilmington in North Carolina – burning and destroying there before they turned to Chesapeake Bay then from Norfolk to Alexandria and Annapolis and finally to Baltimore. By that plan they could collect provisions and contributions to feed their troops and pay their way. A different plan was published under the Directory for the invasion of the south commencing at Natchez, the port of New Orleans, proclaiming the liberty of the slaves and fomenting anarchy everywhere. Ultimately the French army would arrive and land at Virginia where the democratic planters would welcome them.
The only human power that could frustrate a French invasion of America is the British navy. Our true interest is therefore to uphold British naval power. No British minister will abandon the Orders-in-Council or acknowledge our maritime claims because the Orders are the very things upon which both British and consequently our own survival is based. Our Constitution places the American government under the guidance of the mob. The mob is under the direction of the most active and enterprising of the political factions. This has led the American people to support France.
Every state has a separate government and legislature but they are not equally democratic. Vermont is the most democratic of the northern states as it annually elects people to its House of Representatives and that House is the legislature. Vermont’s executive power is in the hands of a Governor, deputy Governor and a Council of Twelve who are likewise elected annually. Anyone who is 21 years old, resident in Vermont for at least a year, who is quiet and peaceable and swears an Oath to vote in the best interests of the state is qualified to be an elector. Every 7 years the people of Vermont elect a 13-member Council of Censors to protect the Constitution. They may call a Convention if they believe the Constitution needs amendment.
Maine and Massachusetts are the least democratic northern states. An elector there must be resident for a year and have £50 property. Virginia, Kentucky and North Carolina also have property qualifications for voting, etc.
The Federal Union provides for a national House of Representatives elected for 2 years by electors who comply with the national requirements for voting. Election to this national House is virtually by universal suffrage. Each state legislature elects two people to represent it in the national Senate. One third of the Senators go out of office every two years. The President and vice-President hold great executive power. They are elected by the people of each state in a way arranged by the state legislature. It is apparent that every public officer is elected and elections are so numerous there are commonly 2-3 a year. It has been in this way that a motley group of foreigners hold some of the public offices of America and there is no requirement that they disclose their personal politics.
American elections are violent affairs and the violence seems to be proportional to their frequency. In the elections of 1809 the democrats circulated handbills in every state announcing that the British army in Spain had been conquered, French control over that country had been reasserted and Britain herself was about to be invaded – therefore all Americans should vote for Jefferson (the democratic Francophile party). A man in Maryland who had the temerity to hope that England would prevail was ‘tarred and feathered’ and one of his eyes was plucked out. His 8 assailants were arrested, tried and convicted but pardoned by the State Governor who said that enthusiasm for France should not be restrained in Maryland.
In Pennsylvania the democrats elected Simon Snyder for Governor on the grounds that he was stupid and all learning is an impediment to democracy. Snyder was then manipulated by powerful people in his state into opposing a Federal Court Order against Gideon Olmstead. He called out the state militia to confront the lone Federal process-server. This act of treason was justified by Snyder in a published article in which he applauded the militia’s action as ‘worthy of the spirit of 1776’.
The western states beyond the Allegheny Mountains are all democratic. At Nashville, Tennessee in Sept 1809 the town newspaper commended Patrick Bingley for office in the state legislature because ‘he is a lover of plunder’. Bingley wants an equal distribution of property.
Louisiana has received a torrent of immigration from Santo Domingo and Cuba with the result that there are now fourteen French to every one American. These people express an open contempt for the Federal government and the Governor of New Orleans has supported a large number of them for public office. This state may be predictably expected to oppose the Union.
The way America is going politically makes a French-style Revolution conceivable in a few years. The thing that might oppose this tendency is the steady, sober intelligence and daring enterprise of the people of the New England states. The democrats are well aware of this and that is the rationale to their policy of destroying the commerce of the north. A fully agricultural people cannot withstand a Jacobinical tyranny whereas the New Englanders might.
America’s correct policy in the face of the overwhelming commercial power of England is to silently and energetically collect the means to power as a means to confront British jealousy and rivalry. In the interim, she should overlook insults she cannot punish. The policy of Washington must be continued and that of Jefferson and his successor abandoned.
We have to rise to power under the wings of British hegemony. We have constantly to mollify the British minister until our commercial power is sufficiently established as to be irreversible. If we contend with England now, we can get no advantage from our neutrality. First we collect wealth, then we achieve glory. Madison’s policy will kill us – there is a limit to the use of democracy. The American people may be well-meaning but their wishes will not progress their welfare. They suppose their political power will force public officers to disclose all the arguments for and against this or that policy but political administration works in private meetings by compromise or violence which are not good subjects for public discussion.
Washington got an earful of trite British abuse and pride but he obtained that splendid treaty on which our commercial prosperity was built for fifteen years. A short-sighted and erroneous policy forced on the government by an ignorant if well-meaning electorate is the evidence of the evil of democracy. Popular wishes should never be preferred to popular welfare. Either the form of government needs amendment or the people must be better informed. As changing the Constitution is fraught with difficulty it would be better to give the people real knowledge.
The Americans themselves say that the planters in the South maintain emissaries in the North to liaise with the French party and maintain the outcry against British tyranny and oppression. They expect to profit from a war with England. Their policies threaten the Union. The Northern states will never agree. They are more likely to secede from the Union and make a defensive alliance with England. This is the American problem – half the populace favours France and the other half favours England – we cannot fight both sides.
Sun 8th Mar 1812 Extraordinary
The British emissary’s (Augustus John Foster) mission to Washington has failed and war with America appears likely. HMS Melampus has engaged USS President and is said to have captured the American.
Sat 21st Mar 1812
The French government has not repealed the Berlin and Milan Decrees but has allowed a relaxation of their terms to American ships. All the American ships that were arrested at Bordeaux since 2nd Nov 1811 have been released. They agree to export two thirds of their cargo as silk and the balance in wines and brandy, paying the usual duties. Shortly thereafter, in June 1811, several Americans were admitted to Bordeaux.8 They were required to agree to barter and took as much in exports as they brought in imports.
What has excited the American merchants is French agreement for them to bring not only American produce but colonial goods as well.
The difficulty is how to stimulate renewed trade. The Bordeaux merchants have little capital and are very slow to sell off their purchases. The Americans, in order to get things going, have to sell at a loss. They are accepting 330 Francs a bale on cotton. All imports to France are loss-making except sugar which sells at 170 Francs free of duty. Napoleon has forbidden his Court to wear cotton garments and American cotton is heavily taxed (120 Francs a bale) at entry. Only Levant cotton sells, albeit slowly, as it is comparatively lightly taxed. American exporters should note that the French tariff does not distinguish qualities of goods – cheap cottons are taxed the same as best quality.
Sat 28th Mar 1812
On 30th May 1811, the London Admiralty Court passed judgment in the prize case of the American merchant ship Fox:
The ship was captured on 15th Nov 1810 whilst en route from Boston to Cherbourg. The interested naval officers base their claim on the Order-in-Council of 26th April 1809. They merely have to establish that the ship is trading with the enemy. The ship- and cargo-owners say the British government agreed to repeal the Order once France repealed the Berlin and Milan Decrees. As those Decrees had been repealed, they say, the Order was equally extinct and no action is maintainable. Alternatively, the defendants plead that, if the Order was still valid, they have equitable grounds for relief.
The Court was asked to rule on the conflict of the Law of Nations with the domestic law of England (by Orders-in-Council – whereby the King and his Privy Council make law). The American defendants believe they are not obliged to know the laws of every country they trade with; it is sufficient for them to know the law governing international maritime trade (the Law of Nations). This case involves their ship whilst sailing on the High Seas well beyond the national jurisdiction of any particular state. They expect the Court to uphold the principles of international law.
The Admiralty Court adjudicates the King’s legislative power in much the same way as the Common Law Courts adjudicate Acts of Parliament.
The Court categorises the Orders-in-Council relative to prize-taking as retaliatory Orders – they respond to the acts of other states, in this case the French enemy. If they could not be categorised as retaliatory Orders they would cease to be enforceable. The Court agrees that evidence of French repeal of the Decrees would extinguish the rationale for the Orders. This evidence should be by a Declaration of the French government on behalf of France herself.
The nature of the French act that induced the Order-in-Council is also relevant. It must likewise have been in breach of the Law of Nations. If the French act was merely an exercise of domestic policy it could not justify the British government in pursuing an illegal response. The Court must assume that the Legislature maintains the current law. If the Orders have not been repealed, the cause of their enactment must be assumed judicially to still operate.
Defence counsel has alluded to occasions on which this Court has modified the terms of the Orders. In the Lucy this Court ruled that all ships transferred by an enemy to a neutral flag were liable to confiscation during war. What the Court has done is not to modify law but to protect the principle of exact retaliation. The Order of 26th April 1809 was passed expressly to provide reciprocity for the prior French act. If, in certain circumstances, the French do not assert a right, we will likewise withhold that right from Plaintiffs under the Orders. Whenever there is a French exemption there will be a British exemption. There is some precedent for the belief that this Court has presumed a revocation when no revocation was in fact extant. Those decisions are no authority. It is also true that this Court may anticipate a revocation where it has been declared to be government’s policy but is yet to be formally enacted.
The American Government, which is interested in this case, has adopted the position that it does not expect this Admiralty Court to rule on the legality or otherwise of the Order but it does expect the ministry to repeal it.
The Defendants have drawn the Court’s attention to the Baltic Order-in-Council whereby the British ministry gave an immunity to capture to the Swedish mercantile marine whilst trading within the Baltic Sea. This Court held that that Order had been revoked when the Swedish people replaced their King with Bernadotte9 and the character of the Baltic states changed from allies to enemies of this country. It was considered unnecessary to await its specific revocation when Britain had already made a general Declaration of War.
Even if there are decisions that presume revocation, it is still necessary for the Defendants to show that this is such a case.
The Defendants have not established a revocation of the French Decrees. They have produced no Edict, no references to cases decided after revocation – nothing for the Court to take notice of. They have adduced the sole case of the New Orleans Packet but it was presented in such a minimalist way as to preclude all reliance on it.
The French Government has repeatedly characterised its Decrees as fundamental laws of its Empire. They have been thus described since the facts of this case occurred. The Declaration of the Duc de Cadore (the French foreign minister) mentions a conditional revocation, which condition has not been complied with. This Court respects the Acts of foreign governments. It understands that the American government has taken a different view but it cannot willy nilly follow the American lead unless it is equally convinced of the case. The Duc de Cadore’s Declaration is awash with stipulations that cannot conceivably be met. Even if there had been a clear revocation in the Duc’s Declaration, it was moderated by the Duc permitting the British government until 2nd Feb to revoke the Orders. Clearly in matters of reciprocity, the dates of revocation by each side should be more or less contemporaneous. So we have a doubtful ‘revocation’ by the French and no revocation by the British. This Court inevitably concludes that no revocation has yet occurred.
Defence Counsel (Herbert) has noticed that British subjects are licensed to trade with the enemy. Their boats are allowed through the blockade which the British Navy maintains outside all French ports. Thus British subjects are exempt from a restraint of trade that is harshly exercised on the people of other nations. The Court agrees that a blockade established for the purpose of monopolising a nation’s maritime trade is illegal but queries whether the blockade of French ports should be considered under the Law of Blockade at all. It is true that huge numbers of Licences have been granted to British merchants to trade with France but in the absence of a Licence, the trade is illegal. Most of these Licences are issued to foreign-flag ships. The British blockade of France is not governed by the common rules of blockade. It is a retaliatory measure enacted to respond to the enemy’s prior initiative. France declared that the people of Europe should have no trade with Britain and Britain responded with the same restraint on trade with France. Neutrals accordingly cannot trade with France because France forbids them to trade with England.
Turning to the argument in equity, the American government has been misled by a misrepresentation of France. Effectively it has been defrauded. That is sufficient to exclude these Defendants from an equitable defence although they might have rights under another action against either / both the French or American governments.
From the Defence documents it is apparent the ship cleared Boston with its destination publicly declared. They knew at departure that the British blockade was then in place. The documents show they hoped it might have been raised before their arrival at Cherbourg. They were willing to take the risk of capture because they were tempted by the commercial advantage of arriving in France first. The Defence Counsel has said that evidence of a formal French revocation of the Decrees has just been received in Paris by the American minister there. This is fundamental to a judicial decision in this case and I therefore withhold judgment until the papers are made available to this Court.10
Sat 9th May 1812
The Royal Navy’s impressment of American citizens is fraught with difficulties. America is a land of immigrants. You only have to swear to a Notary Public that you are born in America and you become an American. People from continental Europe, who have arrived only a week or two before, are becoming Americans before they can speak English.
The American ministry seems more amenable to a compromise on impressment now. Erskine’s proposal of 1809 concerning the USS Chesapeake affair has just been accepted by Monroe. That proposal required the King announce his displeasure with, and recall of, his officer Bingham.
Sat 16th May 1812
The American Non-Intercourse Act is being heralded by U S politicians as the cause of the growth of the domestic cotton manufacturing industry. They say, if the Act continues in force for one more year, the US will be self-sufficient in cotton manufacture.
It is cotton garments that found British trade with America. We take their cotton, process it and return clothing. If America was genuinely to become self-sufficient the entirety of British trade with her is threatened. Fortunately they are only able to make coarse garments at present.
Sat 16th May 1812
Foster, our man in Washington, has told Monroe that Britain believes the Berlin and Milan Decrees remain in force. Britain therefore sees the enforcement against her of the terms of the Non-Importation Act as an unfriendly act.
He says Britain will accordingly and reluctantly review the terms on which American trade with England and her colonies is permitted.
Sat 16th May 1812
Washington, 5th November – President Madison’s Address to Congress:
The several confirmations of the repeal of the French Decrees has not convinced the British ministry to repeal its Orders-in-Council. The British representative to USA denies any knowledge of the French revocation of the Decrees although the French say it was formally reported to London. The British say they will repeal their Orders when British goods in neutral bottoms are admitted to Europe. They also say they will retaliate against us if we do not repeal our Non-Importation Act. As a result both the indemnity and redress that we have demanded of Britain are withheld.
Their continuing unfriendliness is revealed by their acts on our coasts and even in the mouths of our harbours. USS President (Rodgers) was attacked without cause by HMS Little Belt. Rodgers demanded his role be ascertained by Court Martial and he was honourably acquitted.
Britain denies our just remedies and harasses our coasts. Effectively they have declared war on our trade. They have trampled our rights as an independent nation. They are intransigent. We must arm ourselves.
There are two aspects of individual greed that may disturb the tranquillity of our country.
- A considerable smuggling trade (of British goods into America) has arisen on our coast. Our Republican government represents all and a fraud on the revenue is a fraud on everyone, particularly when it is to the benefit of an unfriendly country.
- Secondly, too many of our shipowners are registering their ships under foreign flags and buying Licences from foreign governments to enter a trade that is forbidden to Americans.
Sat 13th June 1812
The Committee of Foreign Relations of the American Congress has concluded in Dec 1811 that the choices facing their country are war with England or submission. The Chairman is Porter.
The Committee prefers war as members are reasonably confident of taking Canada and that will more than indemnify them for the mercantile losses they have experienced in Europe.
They say Spring is the time to start war and they should recruit soldiers to complete their military establishment before then. The subject of the size of military establishment was divisive with proposals varying from 15,000 – 50,000 men.
Meanwhile, an embargo for 90 days is laid on all shipping still in American ports.
Mon 22nd June 1812 Extraordinary
The message of the American President to Congress seems to say that the French Decrees, at least in respect of America, are ended. The President therefore expected the British Orders to be likewise repealed at least in respect of American ships. Putting his country in a state to fight a war will require loans.
It is estimated in London that America will need about $3 millions more annual revenue than it has. This is a real problem. Getting money to fight England really means going to London for it. Money from English bankers to fight England will be expensive, indeed, the Secretary of State has warned that rates may exceed the legal maximum under the U S Usury law.11
Mon 22nd June 1812 Extraordinary
Whitbread accused Lord Wellesley of contempt for America and asked for all the official correspondence between the parties to be tabled.12 The ministry easily defeated this 136/23. The Chancellor of the Exchequer then successfully moved that Wellesley’s annuity from government be doubled.
Sat 4th July 1812
Sir Francis Burdett has again been criticising the war effort. He has moved another Answer to the Regent’s Address from which the following is extracted:
….. With America we have waged a commercial war over the Orders which we say are imperative to maintain our maritime supremacy. The Americans think those Orders are negotiable. Why have they not been told the truth? After the Berlin and Milan Decrees were announced, we passed an Order on 11th Nov 1807 which, given the elimination of the trade of the other maritime nations, was directed at America and was an attempt by us to solicit American mercantile support in amending their government policy and obtaining French approval for the import of our colonial goods in American bottoms into Europe.
Mon 22nd June 1812 Extraordinary
Our man Foster in Washington has belatedly asked Castlereagh, the new Foreign Minister, for a modification of the Orders-in-Council otherwise he fears the worse.
He requests their total abrogation in certain circumstances. He believes these measures essential to pre-empt the likelihood of war.
Sat 22nd Aug 1812
Randle Jackson has told the India Company’s directors that their capital is insufficient to engross the entire prospective trade of Asia. He thinks a limited access to private British merchants is the way ahead.
The Americans and all other friendly neutrals (of whom presently none) already have access since Dundas brought in a Bill based on Lord Kenyon’s decision in one of the prize cases. It is anomalous that Americans should have better access to Asia than Britons. Dundas slipped that Ordinance passed parliament on his assertion that the Navigation Acts do not extend to India! Fortunately, the Americans bring bullion which increases Asian prosperity. On the other hand they are participating in a trade that was formerly the Company’s and they provide cover for numerous British traders posing as Americans. All the Asian goods sold in West Indies are on American account and we have lost the profits on all that.
Our treaty with America has expired but the Act giving Americans access to Asia remains unrepealed. Jackson says the Directors should petition the ministry to repeal Dundas’ Act and, if there is any real doubt, to expressly extend the jurisdiction of the Navigation Acts to Asia. This will provide a framework in which to transfer American Asian trade to Britons.
We have captured all the European colonies in Asia (except Goa which we garrison and is in any event a colony of Portugal which country is under British administration) and in the West Indies and we must prevent their colonisation by other nations whilst we can. The day we open Asian ports to everyone will be the day we lose Asian trade.
Sat 10th Oct 1812
The French government has proclaimed that the Berlin and Milan Decrees are revoked as towards America. The evidence is in the letter of the Chief Justice of 2nd Nov 1810, the letter of the Finance Minister of the same day and the Decrees of 28th April 1811. Le Moniteur says there should be no doubt about it.
M/s Pinckney and Monroe have remarked the injustice of the British position and the people of America are convinced of it. As a consequence, France has no need to continue the Decrees against that country, says Le Moniteur.
The Decrees remain in full force against those countries that permit their flag to be ‘denationalised’ (flags of convenience). France wishes to obtain formal British recognition of the principle that enemy property in neutral bottoms is neutral property, and that neutral property under an enemy flag is enemy property (the state of international law after the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713).
France considers that American ships carrying British cargo and sailing under British convoy into the Baltic are effectively British ships, regardless of the flag, and that was why their cargoes were confiscated.13
Tues 6th Oct 1812 Extraordinary
Madison has reported to Congress that Britain has employed a secret agent known as Captain Henry to destabilise the Union. He was to separate the mercantile states of the North East from the agricultural slave states in the South. Britain would then send a minister to liaise with the former and establish an alliance.
He says whilst the British ambassador smiled at us with his face, his agent was fomenting the disintegration of our country. He attached copies of correspondence between both the Earl of Liverpool and Sir James Craig, late Governor-General of Canada, and Captain Henry. The correspondence is reproduced in the Frankfurt Journal.
In the next edition of Bombay Courier the correspondence is published. Henry’s instructions from Sir James Craig were to get the North East states wired. Madison told Congress he seemed to have been instructed over a year ago as he completed the job and asked for payment in June 1811.
Henry’s instructions warned him to avoid those federalists who were too ardent. He was to ‘investigate public opinion and assess support for the two main parties; evaluate the chance for war with England; check the extent of support in New England for separation from the Union and, in the event it exists, the likely extent of support by the merchants for an alliance with England.’
“Do not openly disclose you are our man but if you can befriend, and make sympathetic, one of the members of the prominent parties, you may tell him he can contact the British government via me (Craig). I attach a ‘letter of credit’ to establish your official status but use it only if you are really confident.
“Pay particular attention to Vermont (on the Canadian border). Write to me often and put your letters in an envelope addressed to …… or the Chief Justice of that town or Mr Ryland (Craig’s secretary), all of whom will forward them to me.”
Lord Liverpool has denied everything and blamed Craig for acting without instructions. This attempt to overthrow the American Constitution and Union will probably have consequences.
Sat 17th Oct 1812
Madison is convinced there is no prospect of having the British Order-in-Council repealed voluntarily by London. He has sent a secret message to Congress commending the repeal of the Non-Intercourse Act and its replacement with a temporary Embargo Act of 90 days that is to be drafted to permit the President to cancel it early, should it appear appropriate. This will be injurious to British trade. Clay supported the proposal whilst Randolph was passionately opposed. The vote is said to have been about 70/50 in favour.
America had expected, once the Regent assumed full monarchical powers, to see the Orders repealed, but it now appears the Regent is controlled by his minister and no change is likely.14
Madison sees America’s future as better assured by friendship with France – this alliance will produce a temporary monopoly of continental imports and exports. America will have the carrying trade of Europe. It is a big gain for the US which can, in time, increasingly supply the sorts of manufactured goods that Britain has historically been supplying. The problem is that France will not wait and American ships will again be arrested and their cargoes confiscated if there is delay in America choosing between Britain and France. The intended Embargo Act is a final step short of war.
The losses from the late Baltic convoy are a case in point. At least two of the American-flag ships in Baltic were burnt by the authorities – that is supposed to only happen to British goods, which these ships were deemed to be because of the identity of their cargoes.
France had a poor harvest in 1811 and there have been grain shortages in the south from whence Paris provisions her armies in Spain. To relieve this shortage, the usual source is America, and Madison’s recommended Embargo Act will prevent that relief from being sent. However, it will also be a terrible blow to Wellington’s army in the peninsula which is equally reliant on America for grain and flour.
The proposed embargo is predictably unpopular in the North East. During the first week of April, when it was rumoured to be on the verge of promulgation, the shipowners of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore were loading and clearing their ships at great speed. Between 3rd – 5th April over 100 sail cleared New York. The Embargo Act reportedly has a clause permitting ships to sail from American ports under a licence of the President but they will likely be issued restrictively if at all. The merchants are not taking that chance.
The National Intelligencer, which is a semi-official newspaper, has read the runes. It says the predictable policies of the present British ministry since the Regent received his powers, and its language in parliament, reveals England prefers confrontation to negotiation. This opinion is reinforced by the accelerated pressing of seamen in all British ports and the increased numbers of British warships deployed on the American coast (this last is expressly denied by the Bombay Courier Editor). It concludes that a temporary embargo is in the national interest.
Others are saying that diplomatic relations between Washington and London may be improved by a new American envoy who is said to be preparing to sail for England. We recall that in 1794, when London and Washington were in a similar confrontation, the Americans enacted an embargo as a preparatory step for war and sent Jay to London to negotiate. Perhaps they will do the same again. However the National Intelligencer of 2nd May says a Bill has been read that deplores British naval depredations on the American coasts and authorises the President to send US warships to seize any British warships and bring them into port.
Sat 24th Oct 1812
Lord Liverpool in the House of Lords has denied instructing Captain Henry as the Americans allege. He thought someone in Canada might have instructed Henry for the protection of that country. Henry’s job is the protection of Canada from America. It was nothing to do with the British ministry. Governor Craig sent him to America to get information for defensive purposes only. England has not tried to divide the Union or cultivate that part of it that is sympathetic to our aims.
In the Commons Castlereagh adopted the same position. He said the ministry had no intention of destroying the American Union. He had seen the letter signed by Herman W Ryland (Craig’s secretary) but knew nothing about it.
In Captain John Henry’s letter to Monroe of Feb 1812 he said European governments took the view that “in any measure tending to wound their pride or provoke their hostility, the American government could never induce a majority of its people to concur. So long as Europe holds that view, you will never resolve your differences with them. I have an escape to propose.”
America should place no reliance on Castlereagh, Liverpool, Wellesley or their faction. “I hope the measures I commend to you will induce my own people to withdraw their confidence from such officials (Henry is Irish). They have embarrassed America, caused distress in Ireland and England and earned contempt from everyone. I am not asking you for patronage. I just resent the perfidy and dishonour of ministers who have violated the terms on which I was employed.”
Attached to this unique letter was Henry’s correspondence with Lord Liverpool and Liverpool’s secretary Robert Peel revealing the purpose of his mission to America.
Briefly, the letters suggest that after the USS Chesapeake incident, the Governor-General of Canada feared America would war with England. He proposed measures to the ministry for the English party in America to resist the Federal government with a view to separate the northern states from the Confederacy.
Henry was sent to Boston from whence Governor-General Craig’s plot was to be developed. He was to encourage the Federal party to resist central government, assure the Federalists of British support via Canada, open communications between leading Federalists and the Governor-General of Canada and convince them to abandon their own plans and adopt the English plan. Henry worked on this from Jan – June 1809 and helped to procure those legislative Acts of Massachusetts and Connecticut that checked Washington and prevented early American hostility to England.
The Americans are unhappy that England, a country with whom they are at peace, should promote treason by American citizens.
Henry did not ask London for a specific reward but relied on a letter of Craig’s dated 16th Jan 1809 which indicated his (Henry’s) information had been well received by the ministry and he had a claim on both the Governor-General of Canada and the ministry in London. In another letter of 13th Sept 1809 Craig promised Henry a job in Canada worth £1,000 a year. Henry told Liverpool he will accept a job in Lower Canada worth £500 a year or a consulate in USA in discharge of Craig’s obligation to him.
Peel wrote to Henry saying the British government had no request from Canada for compensation for Henry. He would normally forward the correspondence to Craig for action but the Governor-General has returned to England so Peel will ask his successor. Henry heard nothing more. In Sept 1811 he realised there was no likelihood of a new British consulate (which he hoped to operate) being allowed in USA by the then US administration and he elected to return to Quebec, reminding Peel to recommend him to the new Governor-General of Canada. Liverpool then asked Sir George Prevost to find a job for Henry.
The Americans have identified an accomplice of Henry’s in Washington and arrested him (Henry remains at large). He is Edward de Crillon of a noble Irish family but married to an émigré whose name he adopted and who has since died leaving him two daughters. Crillon has been debriefed.
He says he met Henry in London at Wellesley Pole’s house and again at Lord Yarmouth’s house. He was brought to America by Captain Tracy of the Boston ship New Galen. He wanted to come to New York because a relative named Daniel McCormick lived there and ran a prosperous business. As McCormick was unmarried, Crillon thought he might personally benefit from a closer friendship with him. Tracy awaited the New Galen at Ryde on Isle of Wight. Henry was waiting there too. Whilst waiting, Henry was visited by Powell, a Philadelphia merchant, Perkins, the famous Boston merchant, a British army officer named Wilkinson or Dickson, and Bagholt, an emissary of Governor-General Craig. Henry received some 200 letters to carry to America from the American firm of Higginson & Co of Finsbury Square which had just stopped payment. Henry did not choose to be involved in the delivery of so much bad news and gave them to Captain Tracy. Just before departure Henry received letters from Lord Liverpool to be delivered to Sir George Prevost.
During the voyage Crillon had ample opportunity to talk with Henry. He says Henry first obtained a job in America during Adams’ presidency as Captain of Artillery through the influence of the then British ambassador. He commanded the battery at Portland. He accumulated some capital and bought an estate in Vermont near the Canadian border. He stayed there and studied law. He detested Republican government and wrote critically and frequently to the newspapers about it. These dissenting articles caught the attention of the British government and Craig invited Henry to Quebec. After staying there some time, he went to Montreal where the plan was hatched.
He was then sent to Boston where he set-up house in the Exchange Coffee Shop. He reported on mercantile activity and promoted the British cause. Several British agents assisted him by pointing out the prominent people of Boston whom he then befriended and thus was able to mix with the leading people. Whilst there Henry received a letter from Craig offering the services of the fleet and troops at Halifax if required. After this service in Boston, he returned to London. He was clearly still valued as he was given a membership of the Pitt Club without having to ballot for it. He submitted his fee note of £32,000 to the ministry but was told he would be paid by Sir George Prevost once he returned to Canada and resumed his job. The only advantage he was able to obtain in London was the appointment of an Irish friend as AG of Canada.
Henry is a spy for reward, usually the best sort, but the failure of the British government to pay him deeply irritated him. As an Irishman he was already aware of despicable acts of oppression against his people by the British who, he thought, treated the Irish as an inferior species. His opinions did not make him a natural ally of the British. He said it was Craig who approached him rather than vice versa. Henry lived in George Town with an auctioneer named Davis. Crillon often visited him there but was unable to receive any instructions. Henry bought Crillon’s French estate in the Pyrenean foothills near the Spanish border, apparently as a refuge. The British suspected that Crillon might be a French agent and sent men to arrest him. They released his name as a suspect to several Americans intending to destroy his reputation in the expectation he would have to leave the country.
Crillon said he himself lived in Boston since 24th Dec 1811. He had two interviews with State Governor Gerry. He believed Henry had gone to New York.
The British ambassador to Washington read the correspondence in the public newspapers and wrote of his own volition to Secretary of State Madison – ‘I know nothing. The British government would never act in the way described. We are upright people; Henry is not. I am seeking advice. Please do nothing.’
Sat 31st Oct 1812
House of Lords, 5th May – Lord Holland says the Americans have made grievous charges against the honour and good faith of England. They say we have tried to sever the North East from the Union and ally ourselves with it; that we offered to send a minister to arrange the separation. Holland feared the publicity from America would damage Britain’s reputation in Europe. It might also diminish the support those Anglophile Americans offered us. He thought a Select Committee would be a good way to clarify our position in this matter as that would conceal the names of the players.
Lord Liverpool opposed the production of the letters. He had already declared that Henry was unknown to the ministry. He understood Henry was resident in Canada but had gone to America on business and had inter alia advised the Governor-General of Canada on the state of opinion in that country. Henry was solely concerned to protect Canada from the Americans.
The Embargo Act had stimulated discontent between America and England and offensive preparations had been made by the Americans. We needed to assure ourselves that Canada was safe, Liverpool said. The General in charge of the Boston garrison had been ordered to have 10,000 men on stand-by for immediate service. Boston is close to Canada. The Governor-General of Canada was so worried he stopped Sir George Prevost, the naval officer commanding at Halifax, from sending a squadron to Martinique. On 13th Dec Congress voted funds for thousands of volunteers. They had no enemy to attack.
These warlike preparations by the Americans seem to be anti-British. The volunteers must be intended for use against British Canada. It was feared they planned a pre-emptive strike on Canada.
Erskine had enquired of Madison the reason for these preparations and was told that the conduct of both France and England was sufficient casus bellum. Erskine warned Craig of his imminent danger. The matter was then debated in Congress and a decision to declare war was narrowly averted. There had been some skirmishes on the Great Lakes but they had been settled locally. The fact that America is divided in two camps is known internationally. One of Craig’s defensive preparations was to send Henry to America for better information. If war was likely to induce a schism in the Union it was important to know it, but as soon as it appeared that war would not be declared, Henry was recalled. He came to London and submitted a note of his fees. His demands were supported by many respectable men in London and Rylands, who was here on leave, was one of them. Craig then unfortunately died.
The important thing is the acts of the American executive. Why had they not queried London or our minister in Washington. Why should they have instantly published the papers (‘hear hear’ from the whole House). Its the ministry’s position that America was preparing for war and only lacked a pretext which Henry’s supposed activities fortuitously provided.
Grey said it is universally agreed that collecting information in a foreign state is a proper activity for diplomatists, but Craig’s instructions to Henry were to identify and cultivate American contacts who favoured splitting the Union, and he gave credentials to Henry to prove he was an authentic emissary.
Grey thought that sowing disaffection in a foreign country may have become routine in Europe but it was clearly illegal under international law. Information of the military preparations in America permitted Craig to prepare his defences – assemble troops, repair fortifications, establish depots and amass provisions – Henry should not have been instructed to seduce Americans from their national allegiance.
Two months after Henry’s mission commenced, Erskine completed an amicable settlement with the Americans on 20th April 1809. No wonder they are irritated, said Grey. On the one hand we publicly negotiate an agreement with them whilst on the other we appear to have concurrently and covertly endeavoured to destroy their Union. Had we succeeded there would doubtless have been civil war, then how would we have protected our partisans from the patriotic Americans. Obviously, the true policy of Britain was revealed in the Treaty not in Henry’s acts. It may be argued that the ministry recognised the illegality but merely told the Governor-General to be cautious and avoid a quarrel. It appears that the ministry, inured to illegality in Europe, condoned an illegal act in USA, Grey said.
Lord Liverpool has complained that the Americans, by publishing the papers, showed they were not conciliatory – this will not do. The only honourable path for Britain is to make an absolute denial of ministerial involvement and condemn Henry in parliament. Craig was over zealous but he recalled Henry from USA when Erskine’s treaty was signed – his conduct may be reprobated but it was not a serious offence. We should focus the blame on Henry.
Darnley mentioned Henry’s letter of June 1809 to Craig in which he says his conduct had received the approbation of HM ministers. This would have to be explained if we are to fully satisfy the Americans, he thought.
Holland disliked the way ministers’ instant reaction had been to transfer blame to the late Governor-General Craig. We need a clear statement from the Throne. We should also reconsider the remuneration given to Henry. He has since been appointed a Judge for his services. England needs to make a consistent refutation of her complicity in the whole business.
Sat 31st Oct 1812
The news from America is disturbing:
- The Boston merchants have petitioned Washington that they have considerable property in London and British West Indies and need time to repatriate it before relations deteriorate further.
- Governor Hull of Ontario is moving to attack Oswego and Detroit in lower Canada.
- Tennessee has proclaimed to its people – ‘the hour of vengeance is at hand. The eternal enemy is to be taught to respect our rights. Volunteers for military service are required. War is about to start – don’t miss it.’
- Congress has passed a law authorising American warships to seize any foreign ships containing American sailors. It is possible that all Britons in America will be arrested and their property distrained.
The Americans say under the treaty we made with them in 1794 we had agreed to be friendly. Now Britain is seizing American sailors from American ships and detaining them on British warships as crew.
A new law is proposed in Congress. Anyone pressing an American-born seaman to serve in a foreign ship is deemed a pirate and will be liable to execution. American seamen may themselves use lethal force to prevent anyone pressing them into foreign service. Reprisals will be taken against any country that presses American nationals. American seamen will receive $30 during their detention which will be paid out of the property of the detaining country in America.
The President is authorised to seize as many seamen from British warships as are estimated to have been taken from America and offer them for cartel exchange. Every foreign warship that presses American sailors will be denied provisions and pilot services in American ports. If the foreign ship is a merchantman it will not be allowed to land its cargo.
Sat 24th Oct 1812
Lloyds of London has posted a letter from New York in its coffee house indicating British trade to West Indies will be threatened by the proposed American Embargo Act. British consuls in America have been advised that they might have to leave soon.
Sat 31st Oct 1812
New York 6th May – The British have allied themselves with the Indian tribes and are assembling their forces on the north bank of the Niagara River.
Sat 14th Nov 1812
According to London newspapers of 1st May, an American arrived at Isle of Wight from France in HMS Hornet and said Captain Henry had left America in the New Galen for France. After arrival, he was issued a Residency Permit by police in Paris and left that city the same day. We suppose he will retire to the Estate he bought from Crillon in the Pyrenees.
Sat 28th Nov 1812
While Spain is without a King or national government and its homeland occupied by French and British armies, it has become possible to occupy Spanish colonies in the Americas without concern for retaliation.
The invasion of Florida has commenced. The American Patriots descended the St Mary’s River and landed on St Amelia Island, of which they took possession. The flags of the Patriots and the USA were then raised over the fort. The Spanish garrison has fallen back to St Augustine which they are fortifying.
Sat 12th Dec 1812
Napoleon has made a more formal repeal of the Berlin and Milan Decrees in respect of America on 23rd April 1812:
‘Napoleon, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, Mediator of the Swiss Confederation, etc., proclaims that France considers the American Non-Intercourse Act to be an Act of resistance against the British Orders-in-Council and a refusal to comply with a system that is derogatory of the rights of neutral states. Accordingly, the Berlin and Milan Decrees are withdrawn in respect of American ships w.e.f. 1st November 1811.’
Sat 2nd Jan 1813
A new Order-in-Council dated 21st April 1812 has been issued. It revokes the Orders of 7th Jan 1807 and 26th April 1809. It is operative only if the Berlin and Milan Decrees are also revoked by ‘some authentic act of the French government’. The benefit of the revocation will be available to any ship and cargo that was arrested after the date of the formal French repeal.
The Order acknowledges that on 20th May 1812 the American minister to London gave Castlereagh a copy of what he claimed to be a French Act dated 23rd April 1812 notifying the repeal of the French Decrees in respect of American ships. (both these events are dated after the Order.) The Court of St James had not previously received a copy of this Act15 and considers it does not satisfy the conditions necessary for repeal of the Orders but it wishes to re-establish trade between neutral and belligerent powers and will accept it as authoritative.
However American ports and trade are open to French merchant- and war-ships but closed to all British ships. Britain expects the American government to revoke its discriminatory legislation as soon as possible. If not done by 1st Aug, the Orders will be restored.
Sat 2nd Jan 1813
America declared war on England on 18th June 1812. When London learned of it on 1st Aug, the American shipping in British ports was arrested and instructions went off to all naval squadrons to capture any shipping met on the high seas that is flying the American flag or is owned by Americans. The Order exempts American shipping carrying English goods under English Licences.16
H M frigate bearing the news of the revocation of some of the Orders-in-Council is expected to arrive in an American port on about 20th July – until then the U S Government will be unaware of the changed situation. There is no report of American privateers being licensed yet. HMS Belvedere had a narrow escape from an American squadron – three frigates USS President, Congress and Essex, and the sloop United States – and managed to return to Halifax with only limited damage and injuries.
Sat 6th Feb 1813
Boston, 23rd June – the Massachusetts Legislature has passed some inflammatory Acts about war with England. The Federal Government will be displeased.17
Sat 6th Feb 1813
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Delaware are opposed to war with England. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont are split. The big states of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the agricultural states are in favour. This war must damage the trade of New England and it seems the merchants will blame the south.
Sat 13th Feb 1813
President Madison on 1st June 1812 published a statement about the Orders-in-Council as a preamble to the American Declaration of War against England. It asserts the injustice of the Orders; the fact that they are not retaliatory on France but on neutrals, and he mentions some other oppressions he deems illegal.
Sat 20th Feb 1813
The ministry reports that Foster, our man in Washington, left New York on 18th July, Halifax on 22nd July and arrived Portsmouth 20th August on HMS Atalanta.
At the time he left Halifax, HMS Gleaner, which carried news of the repeal of the Orders–in-Council, had not arrived.
Lloyd’s have issued a bulletin saying Foster left Halifax on 30th or 31st July.
Sat 27th Feb 1813
London, 19th Sept – Canada has inadequate funds to raise an army but has nevertheless conscripted the entire male population aged between puberty and 60 years. The Bank of England has printed £80,000 in £1 paper money notes to meet Canadian government expenses (the Bank operates the largest printing business in the world). The notes have been shipped to Quebec.
Sat 6th March 1813
The American General Hull has made a Proclamation to the people of Canada on 12th July 1812:
America has been continually injured, insulted and attacked by the British and can endure it no more. We must either resist or submit to more of the same. My army has entered Canada to attack the British troops. I have no quarrel with you. This continent is far from England.
I offer Canada civil, political and religious liberty. These are the foundations of individual and public prosperity. I promise to protect you. Now is your chance to throw-off slavery and declare your independence. If you become mixed-up with the British soldiers you risk being hurt. Maintain the normal tenor of your lives and stay away from any fighting. If the British act as usual this will necessarily be a war of extermination. You should volunteer to join with us.
Sat 6th March 1813
HMS Bloodhound (16) has arrived at Annapolis with proposals for Foster and Baker to make to the American government. They are supposed to relate to Henry’s abortive attempt to destroy the Union. Foster has gone to Halifax and only Baker is watching the British shop in Washington.
While the ship was in port and Captain Gold was off delivering his letters, local officials occupied the warship and removed its cannon ashore ‘for safety’. They say it should not have entered port against the law and is now prize. In a few days 31 crew deserted HMS Bloodhound and it is feared there will be insufficient people to man the ship should it be allowed to depart. To reduce the incidence of desertion she has been permitted to anchor out in the bay.
The people of Annapolis are wondering whether the voluntary desertion of so many crew might foretell the likely consequences of any other British warship coming into an American port. They propose to reward the Bloodhound deserters to encourage the others.
Sat 6th March 1813
The West Indian merchant fleet has just arrived in the Channel. It was escorted by a single frigate. Underwriters are relieved as the American Commodore Rodgers was thought to be intent on intercepting it. He has 3 frigates and 2 sloops cruising our side of the Atlantic.
The loss of an East or West Indian convoy would be terribly damaging to England now the money is running out. The loss of the Baltic convoy was bad enough – we likely could not survive another one.
The British fleet at Halifax has burned 20+ American merchant ships and captured a war-sloop.
Sat 13th March 1813
The USS Constitution has captured and sunk HMS Guerriere. The British ship was so damaged it had to be blown-up. Her crew were transferred to the American frigate as prisoners-of-war. USS Essex has captured HMS Alert. The circumstances are unclear but HMS Alert appeared in Halifax harbour with an American crew and under a flag of truce bringing a large number of British prisoners for exchange. Our American prisoners will be sent off tomorrow. The American way in naval war is to fill the tops with riflemen who pick off our officers on deck and disrupt our chain of command.
The British have captured Detroit (with General Hull and his entire army inside). They cannonaded the place until the defenders surrendered. There were no British casualties reported.
St John’s Newfoundland reports the trade and fisheries of British Canada have been disrupted by American privateers.
Sat 27th March 1813
The British and American settlers of Vermont and New Hampshire have met in early July and agreed to respect each other’s property during the war.
Sat 1st May 1813
The British Privy Council response to the American declaration of war, has been to issue another Order-in-Council on 31st July requiring the detention of American shipping and cargoes except those with British Licences. It says:
The US has issued letters-of-marque to privateers and not withdrawn them after learning that our Orders-in-Council were ended. We will reciprocate.18
The truce agreed between Prevost and Dearborn on the Canadian frontier was not ratified by the US Congress and Washington has directed that hostilities be recommenced.
The senior British naval officer at Halifax is empowered to annul all hostile British Orders if there is a prospect of US amity.
Sgd Castlereagh, Liverpool, Bathurst, Melville, Sidmouth, N Vansittart and Charles Long.
Tues 11th May 1813 Extraordinary
Parliament reopened on 10th Nov 1812. The Regent addressed both Houses (excerpt):
“I have offered peace to America but she still fights us. Her invasion of Canada was defeated and we are vigorously fighting to induce negotiations.”
Sat 22nd May 1813
Lord Liverpool has responded to Wellesley’s disapproval (above):
As regards America, Congress repeatedly indicated that the Non-Importation Act would be repealed when our Orders-in-Council were repealed. They declared war before they knew of our repeal. It had seemed a reasonable expectation that, once they knew of our repeal, they would make peace and repeal the Non-Importation Act. That has not occurred yet. Who would have thought that they might become hostile?
Grenville also spoke in the debate:
As for America, Liverpool’s professed belief that the repeal of the Orders would have instantly induced peace is absurd and unrealistic. It is always the case in our American policy that we act too late. Timely concessions would have raised the voice of the Anglophile party and avoided all our present difficulties. Now we are asked to approve a war without any documentation that might make it appear just or desirable. It was never a question of sacrificing our maritime rights to appease America. We are at war due solely to ministerial neglect.
Melville reminded the House that the British naval force at Halifax was twice the size of the American navy. Its only our land forces that need reinforcement.
Sat 15th May 1813
Wellesley has addressed the House of Lords in a speech on the Regent’s address to parliament. (Excerpt):
In America we have assumed that the repeal of the Orders-in-Council would be sufficient to end the war. In fact the Americans had several complaints in their Declaration and the Orders was only one of them. Another complaint was that we make America smuggle our manufactures into Europe – it is certainly an injustice if it can be fixed on us. Another complaint was that in 1809 we sent Captain Henry to dissolve the Union. I (Wellesley) was foreign minister at the time and I never heard of it. We never answered those charges as we should have. Nevertheless, our correct policy now towards America is to reveal her danger to her in terms of pristine clarity and educate her to prefer peace.
Wed 19th May 1813 Extraordinary
London, 13th Oct – America has declared war on Britain and offered Letters of Marque to her nationals. The Regent signed an Order-in-Council on 31st July enabling the arrest and detention of American ships and cargoes until further notice.
He now allows General Reprisals against the ships, goods and people of America, excepting only those American ships that trade under a British Licence.
H M’s fleet and any private ships authorised by Letters of Marque from the Lord High Admiral may seize the ships, goods and people of America and bring them to judgment in the Admiralty Courts within my domains in accordance with the Law of Nations.
This authorisation may be overridden by the senior naval officer at Halifax who is authorised in certain conditions to agree peace with the Americans. Any ships etc., taken after the date of any such agreement, will be released.
Sat 22nd May 1813
The American President has written to Congress on 4th Nov 1812:
Our country is fertile, we have great harvests, our people are healthy. There is much to be thankful for.
General Hull was defeated at Detroit. Our attempt to occupy Lower Canada failed. We will now seek for naval control of the Lakes. Both Massachusetts and Connecticut have declined to provide troops and materiel to the national effort. They have relied on a Constitutional provision relating to militias. We are at war and these states are declining to defend themselves. Our militias are the means we chose Constitutionally to avoid having an expensive standing army. That is the alternative, if individual states believe they can act independently.
At sea we have most of our merchant fleet safely returned. We have defeated a British frigate and captured several merchant ships. This will permit Britain to perceive the inconvenience and injustice of her maritime policies.
On declaring war I advised the British government of our terms for its cessation – the Orders must be repealed; no unlawful blockades instituted; our sailors must be released from British naval service; all impressment from American ships must stop (except the repatriation of British seamen) and a comprehensive adjustment of all our differences be negotiated.
Since I last addressed you there has been the promulgation of a French Decree purporting to be a definitive repeal of the Berlin and Milan Decrees which we have made the grounds for a repeal of the British Orders-in-Council. The Decree is, by its timing and manner, liable to many objections.
Our minister at Copenhagen has confirmed the amicable disposition of the Danish government. Russia has assured us of her continuing friendship and assured us it will continue despite our differences with England. Sweden has also expressed sentiments of harmony.
The high wages available in this country for all forms of employment have made recruiting for our national militias difficult. We need to relate the wage we can pay to the terms of service. This difficulty affects both regular and volunteer soldiers. Our main claim on the time of the people has been patriotism.
Our law that bars Americans from taking out British Licences is abused. Congress must consider better means of preventing our ships being used in the service of the enemy. We need new law, short of treason, to create the penal provisions necessary to deter the shipowners. A considerable number of American ships that were in British ports when the Orders were repealed have now arrived home with cargoes of British manufactures under the erroneous belief that the Non-Importation Act would be repealed once the Orders had ended. The amount of American capital involved made it improper to enforce the law on these ships. Congress needs to consider our policy towards this.
The Federal revenue for the year ending 30th Sept is $16.5 millions. $8.85 millions is in respect of loans authorised in the last Congressional session. We now have $11 millions of loans, the outstanding balance of which is payable after Sept. We have paid-off $3 millions from this year’s revenue. The duties received on the flood of British manufactures imported as noted above, will provide us with a greater revenue for the coming year that had been anticipated.
Our enemy is powerful in the means of violence but we have grounds for optimism. We are not fighting for mere glory or greed but for the maintenance of our natural rights. We have been endlessly patient until all hope of compromise was extinguished by the British minister to Washington telling us that his government’s Orders could not be revoked without abrogating agreements Britain has made with her allies. He acknowledged they also promote her own interests. We had no choice but to act. The sea covers the preponderant part of the planet and is a resource belonging to all independent nations in equal and common rights. Our cause is just. We will prevail.
Sat 29th May 1813
The 18-gun sloop USS Wasp (Jones) captured the 20-gun sloop HMS Frolic but then encountered the capital ship HMS Poicteurs (74) which took both sloops to Bermuda.
Sat 29th May 1813
The American ship Alligator (Moriaty) arrived 6th May in Calcutta. She left Salem on 7th Dec under a Licence of Sir John Borlase Warren, our Admiral at Halifax. Moriaty says many American ships sailed to Lisbon and Cadiz at about the same time. They supply grain cargoes to the British army in Iberia under Warren’s Licences. He says Madison remains highly popular and is expected to win the next Presidential election.
The naval office at Halifax reports a large American privateer escaped the blockade and is believed to be sailing for the Cape. She has 20 guns and 200 men.
Sat 5th June 1813
The British are in alliance with the native Indians of Canada. This has caused the Americans to declare war on all the tribes. Colonels Newman and Wilkinson have respectively invaded St Augustine in East Florida and Pensacola in West Florida. They both use this pretext for their attacks on the Seminoles. Nevertheless, both towns still remain Spanish.
An expedition from Tennessee has set off for Mexico to revolutionise the residents.
Sat 5th June 1813
Jonathan Russell, the American minister to London, resigned on 1st Sept. He says he can make no progress with Foreign Minister Castlereagh. He prefers to negotiate through the British Admiral at Halifax.
On 29th Aug Castlereagh declined to negotiate. When he withdrew his ambassador from Washington, he transferred the diplomatic functions to the Admiral at Halifax. He says America must stop fighting and do as he says. He says I (Russell) have no powers and its useless to talk to me. He insists the pressing of British seamen from foreign ships is an ancient British practice.
Russell has sent a bitter letter to Castlereagh. All his zealous attempts to find a peaceful solution have been ignored. Castlereagh knows the American complaints. I offered to procure a law prohibiting the employment of British seamen on American national ships, provided Castlereagh would cease impressing Americans. If Castlereagh would agree to respond to all our concerns, I offered to procure an armistice to negotiate within 60 days of his so doing. The longer the war continues the more difficult it will be to have peace.
On 12th Sept I attended Castlereagh at the Foreign Office. He was not there and I was told to write for an appointment. On 15th Sept Russell sent in a new peace proposal. Castlereagh was busy. His staff told Russell to wait a few days. Russell says he will wait until 20th Sept. On 16th evening he got an audience and proposed peace. Castlereagh said he was not prepared to discuss peace and only wanted to check my powers. I left my proposals and on 18th Sept Castlereagh said the new proposal is the same as the 24th Aug proposal. Castlereagh also said I (Russell) was not empowered to resolve the impressment question, having resigned on 1st Sept.
Castlereagh made some reference to ‘his friends in Congress’ but, seeing my black look, he corrected himself to refer to those representatives who did not support war with England. It is Russell’s suspicion that America has overly relied on Rufus King’s friendship with Lord St Vincent. He says Castlereagh disabused him of this notion by revealing a letter of St Vincent’s in which the Admiral says he cannot see a basis to discontinue the war.
Russell is leaving from Plymouth on USS Lark. He will leave Reuben Gaunt Beasley behind to arrange exchanges of prisoners. He has informed all the foreign ambassadors in London of his departure.
Sat 19th June 1813
USS United States (Decatur) has captured HMS Macedonian (Carden) on 25th October 1812 off the Moroccan coast. Decatur assumed a position ahead of the British warship where he was protected from her broadsides.
Sat 26th June 1813
The Edinburgh Review has commented on the American War:
Madison spoke about the justice of America’s cause; we spoke about the honour of H M’s crown. When push came to shove, we abandoned the King’s honour and repealed the hated Orders. Those Orders have brought suffering to millions and it is to America’s honour that the perpetrators of these despicable British Orders have been hoisted with their own petard.
We have agreed with the American definition of blockaded port – a place so threatened and surrounded as to be dangerous to enter – and anything less than that is not a blockade.
The problem is with our ideas of maritime right. We have ruined everyone’s trade and have caused general distress throughout the world and particularly in Europe. Our own country has not been spared. If our policy is taken to its logical conclusion, universal war will result and misery will be widespread. As St Vincent said, we have ‘put our head in a bucket of water to see who can hold his breath longest’. Some limit must be set on the persecution of trade as a legitimate act of war. It has only been tolerable in England for so long because we have adapted our trade to smuggling. We hold our asserted rights as sacred but eventually we have to equate them with the rights of everyone else.
While we permitted neutral states to carry the foreign and coasting trade of the enemy (under some restrictions) there was no problem. It gave the French importer more work to do and raised the costs of his imports, but generally, it worked. This process of charging the enemy a higher than market price for his imports is as far as maritime rights ought to go. But we have pressed it to the extinction of maritime trade. When people cannot sell, they cannot buy and Napoleon assured that with his Decrees which hurt us more than they hurt Europe. We are after all dependent on maritime trade.19 The distress we cause our enemy almost immediately rebounds on us. If we restore the carrying trade of the neutral states, we restore the fortunes of the British farmer and factory worker.
Impressment of American seamen is a valid complaint. English and American people have the same customs and language. Its difficult to distinguish them. Our naval commanders board American ships and summarily deem ‘this man is English’. American crews all generally hold Certificates of American Citizenship but we know these are issued all over America on application and we do not respect their validity. We have impressed many people, born in America, and sent them all over the planet in our service and we never know what nationality they are unless the relatives and the parish records are produced.
We have a reasonable claim to look for our runaways but we exercise it arrogantly. Better regulation by the Admiralty might have avoided most of the complaints but our ship commanders are perennially short of men and no doubt biased. To rest our system on the discretion of these officers is bound to cause trouble.
This shortage of naval crews is itself aggravated by our system. As a general rule if you create a surplus of anything, you are never short of it. The surplus of our seamen comes from our fisheries and mercantile marine. If we do more trade, we get more seamen. Contrarily, we have made maritime trade a hazardous occupation.
America had become the last remaining neutral in maritime affairs. We wished to force her to carry our colonial goods and manufactures into Europe. It is imperative that they be sold and we cannot do so ourselves. This is hardly a situation in which we should lay down the law and employ violence to obtain co-operation. We have turned this prospectively helpful state into an enemy and are at war with her. Our procedure obliges neutral states to avoid contact with us and seek the more congenial trade of our enemies. No country is allowed by us to be neutral – they must be either for us or against us – this is the result of our policy.
Our trade with America was worth about £10 millions a year. We have lost that and our ability to prosecute the war is diminished by that much. We have stimulated America into manufacturing the things she has hitherto been satisfied to buy from us. Formerly her capital was mainly employed in agriculture, now it is being diverted into manufacturing. To solve a short-term problem we are constructing a long-term competitor more quickly than America herself intended. America is in a position to threaten our rule in Canada and her burgeoning wealth is an allurement to our colonialists there. She supplies most of the grain and flour to our army in Spain. Our West Indian colonies all more or less rely on America for provisions. Even in our own islands, one bad harvest requires us to import grain. Where will that come from in future?
The extent of the French defeat in Russia is just now becoming apparent and that will work in our favour but our national policies should not be based on unexpected and unpredictable occurrences.
Sat 3rd July 1813
The American Congress is debating a Bill to encourage the desertion of British sailors and their naturalisation as American subjects.
Sat 10th July 1813
Thomas Paine had a remarkable escape from the guillotine when he was imprisoned in Paris. His gaoler had the habit, upon receiving the list of names for execution, of marking the cell doors of the condemned men with chalk. On the day that Paine’s name was on the list it happened that his door was open for some reason and the chalk mark was accordingly made on the (exposed) inside. By the time the gaoler came round to collect his batch for la grande bierre voulante, Paine had closed his door and no mark was visible. He was not summoned. By the time the error was discovered the reign of terror had ended.
Sat 17th July 1813
It seems American soldiers are intolerant of discipline. It must be due to the Republican nature of their country. General Hopkin’s bloodless assault on Canada is already well known. Now General E W Tupper is competing with Hopkin. He marched his men around until only 200 of them would parade and all the others refused to play any more. The men say there is not enough food to provision an expedition to Detroit which is where he is supposed to go. Tupper held a council of his field officers and concluded that they should ignore their orders and go home.
Mon 19th July 1813 Extraordinary
USS Constitution (Bainbridge) has captured HMS Java (Lambert) off the Brazilian coast. The British frigate was too extensively damaged to be made prize and was burnt on 1st Jan 1813. The British naval officers were disgruntled by their capture and declined to provide Bainbridge with any information but there appear to have been about 400 crew on the British frigate.
Lt General Hislop, who is travelling out to India to take command of the Company’s army, was a passenger on board HMS Java and was captured along with Major Walker and Captain Wood of his staff. The warship was carrying a cargo of copper sheet for the lining of a new 75-gun capital ship currently under construction at Bombay.
Mon 19th July 1813 Extraordinary
On 20th January the Company held an extraordinary Court to brief shareholders on developments in the renewal of the Charter.
The great Indian Agency Houses complain against the burgeoning trade of American ships using London capital to buy and sell in India. Those Indian Agencies say their own capital has now increased to the point that they can themselves finance all the private trade to England. The Agents all deplore this advantage we allow the Americans over our own maritime traders. They say the choice for monopolising this trade is with either the Indian Agencies or the Americans. They feel the country should have no doubt whom to support.
At present goods are sent from Calcutta to America on Bills from Calcutta drawn on London. We are financing the trade of a competitor to the detriment of our own ships and merchants. The underlying concept of the Navigation Acts was to give British merchants the carrying trade of British colonies. In fact the Americans are not importing Indian goods to any great degree – they are re-exporting them to central and south America and to our own colonies in West Indies.
The parliamentary Select Committee of 1809 proposed to levy a double duty on American ships exporting from India. That would have entirely solved the problem. Gallatin20 has told the American Congress that their government gets $1 million a year from duties levied on their merchants’ trade with India and we are at war with America.
In 1809-10 season the Americans exported 6.8 million Rupees worth of Indian goods while British private merchants exported 7.4 million Rupees. American trade will soon exceed ours if it does not do so already.
Sat 24th July 1813
Renewal of the India Company’s Charter debate at India House, 23rd January:
The Americans derive an immense advantage from our welcome of their trade in Asia. It was partly due to their indefatigable efforts as traders and partly to the immunity that neutrality in war gives them.
The fact is that the Americans could hardly obtain trade advantages if there were not Company’s factories throughout the East that had drawn the production of valuable crops and minerals to them from their hinterlands.21
Sat 24th July 1813
The formal British reply of 9th Jan 1813 to America’s Declaration of War:
The French made three complaints against the Orders-in-Council of 1806:
- the only area of legitimate hostility at sea under international law was against the property of an enemy state. France objected to England seizing private property.
- British blockades were not confined to fortified towns but were extended to commercial towns and the mouths of rivers used for trade.
- British blockades had been applied to coasts where blockades were unlawful.
In other words, the French position was that Britain had unilaterally extended the proper field of warfare to the commerce of humanity.
The British ministry says these claims by France are all groundless. British actions at sea are lawful. France has declared she will confiscate every ship that touches an English port before visiting Europe and every ship that is visited by an English warship and is then permitted to continue its voyage. She characterises all these ships as carriers of British goods. Britain responded with the Order of Nov 1809 requiring all neutral shipping going to Europe to first visit England.
America took the French position and passed successively its Embargo, Non-Intercourse and Non-Importation Acts. We wanted her to remonstrate with France and get the Decrees repealed. America had not objected to our Order of 1806 establishing the commercial blockade. The French Decrees responded to that British measure. Then, under French pressure, America required us to forego the 1806 Orders. That was an entirely new demand and was impossible to meet. Then America says she got the Decrees repealed in so far as her own trade was concerned. That only entitled her to a repeal of our later Orders, not the 1806 order. America seems to be saying that our blockades under the 1806 orders are illegal.
The American minister in Paris on 5th Aug 1810 obtained from the French foreign minister a repeal of the Decrees effective from 1st Nov 1810 on condition that Britain revoked its Orders and renounced its new definition of blockade. Britain could never submit to make these revocations. Madison then procured the enactment and enforcement of the Non-Importation Act against England. We required America to prove that France had repealed her Decrees. It was unprecedented but the Americans tried. It was only on 21st May 1812 that the American minister to London produced a document dated 28th April 1812 that he said proved the French repeal. This document said the repeal of the Decrees was confirmed to America in consideration of her law of 1st March 1811 excluding British ships and goods from American ports. It is clear the repeal did not occur on 1st Nov but four months later – a response to the American legislation of 1st March 1811.
Britain asserts France was the aggressor in the commercial war and England was aggrieved by the Decrees. It thus sees the American legislation as an unfriendly act. It excludes British warships from American ports whilst permitting access to French warships. That is not the act of a neutral nation.
Nevertheless, we revoked the Orders effective 1st Aug provided America would revoke her discriminatory Acts.
Whilst Britain had not declared war on America, it had withdrawn its minister and transferred his functions to the Admiral in charge at Halifax in Canada.
Concerning the Order of 1806, it had been incorporated in the Orders of 1807 and 1809 and was therefore irrelevant. The American government was then informed in the report of the French foreign ministry of 12th March 1812 that the Decrees of Berlin and Milan were renewed under the pretext that they were lawfully authorised by the Treaty of Utrecht 1713.
Apart from American complaints against the Orders, there were a number of trivial complaints none of which afforded grounds for war. Madison has since proposed an armistice and now asserts that the true cause of war is the British practice of stopping and searching neutral shipping for British deserters. No legal foundation for this demand has ever been argued and we objected to it. He then called for another armistice, provided we would expressly but secretly renounce the practice in a peace treaty with America. This offensive secret clause was linked with a demand for indemnity for all the ships and cargoes we had detained and condemned under the Orders (so-called ‘illegal blockades’ in the American documents). Our compliance with this demand would have been an abrogation of the maritime rights we assert and have been endeavouring to entrench under the Law of Nations.
The sincerity of the American government is questioned. They first say they only want the Orders repealed. We repealed in the expectation that the letters–of-marque issued to American privateers would be instantly revoked. Instead America says it also needs assurances we will not press seamen from her ships.
Our Admiral at Halifax has counter-proposed that all restrictive measures on both sides be repealed but this returned a hostile demand that the suspension of our stop & search must be conceded first. We are unwilling to suspend, much less repeal, our stop & search. If the same objects can be achieved in a less offensive way, we are pleased to receive the detailed American proposals but when we discussed this with them in 1806 (when the first Order was enacted) they had no suggestions to make.
In light of the American Declaration, we now wish to state that:
- the Regent believes every blockade that has been duly notified and is supported by adequate force is a lawful blockade.
- He repudiates the idea that a blockade must be particular in its extent or must be accompanied by a concurrent siege by land of the ports involved.
- The Regent believes that neutral trade with England is legal.
- The Regent believes that the interests of neutrals are insufficient to deter a belligerent from retaliating against its enemy.
- The Regent believes that stop & search on the high seas to discover British seamen is not a violation of the neutral flag. A sovereign’s right to the service of His people and His peoples’ duty to obey is indisputable. He particularly objects to any act of naturalisation that purports unilaterally to change the nationality of a person.
- He believes that removing such seamen from a neutral ship is not a sufficient cause for war.
Britain denies the American assertion that we have forced her ships to carry British goods into Europe. We are willing to review the operation of the Licensing System provided we can have perfect impartiality in American policy towards France and Britain.
The real cause of the present War is the unfriendly attitude of the present American ministry towards Britain; the representatives have inflamed their people against our defensive measures; they have attacked the possessions of our ally Spain; they have deserted the cause of other neutral states. These are the causes of her friendship to France and her hostility to Britain.
PS – we know nothing about Henry.
PPS – We did not incite the Indians to make war on you.
Sat 31st July 1813
James Carman of HMS Ulysses is convicted of desertion. He produced a Certificate of American Citizenship but the Court Martial deemed it a forgery.
Sat 31st July 1813
The British have published a letter intercepted from a New York merchant to Joel Barlow, the American minister to Paris, 5th Dec:
‘Dear Barlow, Madison’s election appears secure. We plan to start war next summer. The success of France in Russia will then be complete. We intend to set-up Armstrong for the next President. The north-east supports him and we don’t want a Virginian. You must support me by seconding his nomination and we will help each other. Get all the dirt on (Fulwar) Skipwith you can find – he would be an awful President’.22
Sun 1st Aug 1813 Extraordinary
Joel Barlow, the American minister to France, has died of consumption on his return journey from observing the Russian campaign.
Sun 1st Aug 1813 Extraordinary
New York papers of 14th Jan say Congress has approved the construction of four new capital ships and six frigates. The Legislature of Pennsylvania has offered to donate a frigate to the Federal government. Congress is also debating raising 20 regiments for service in Canada. HMS Macedonian has been captured and taken to New York where it is being repaired for service against the British.
There have been several cabinet changes. General Armstrong replaces Eustace at the War Office, Captain Jones replaces Hamilton at Marine, Rush is expected to replace Gallatin.
Sat 14th Aug 1813
HMS Armide (Temple) has been preserved by a successful deception. She was cruising off Quiberon Bay on the south Brittany coast (the émigrés still have some Royalist supporters in Morbihan) when she grounded on Pointe St Jacques on an ebb tide. She was well within range of two French batteries, one of which hailed her for her identity. Temple replied “I am Commodore Rodgers of USS President”. The American frigate was then known to be cruising in the Channel. The French offered assistance which was declined.
At the next tide HMS Armide floated off and sailed away but Temple could not resist hoisting his British colours to undeceive the enemy.
Sat 18th Sept 1813
A detachment of marines is being sent to Bermuda for training as sharp-shooters. The Americans use marksmen in their rigging to kill our naval officers on deck. They are supernumerary crew and not required for manning the guns or working the ship. They are armed with muskets and the new rifle guns. We propose to do the same. Several marines are to be trained in marksmanship and attached to each ship in the fleet.
Mon 20th Sept 1813 Extraordinary
Madison has been re-elected President and has made an anti-British speech that was well received.
Sat 25th Sept 1813
The American Committee of Foreign Relations has proposed heavy fines on any American warships or merchantmen that employ foreign sailors. On passing this legislation, the Americans sent peace proposals to our Admiral at Halifax.
Sat 25th Sept 1813
Britain has stopped exchanging prisoners with America. Admiral Warren at Halifax has received an American note demanding the exchange of naturalised Americans who were born British. Britain does not permit naturalisation by its citizens – once British, always British.
Sat 9th Oct 1813
Private London merchants say the import of American cotton is continuing in spite of the war. It is conducted in neutral ships so we do not even get the advantage of the freight. Applications for Licences to indulge in this trade are refused but the government tells applicants that licences are unnecessary – it is a legal trade unless an Order-in-Council is issued against it.
This has depressed the price of Bengal cotton in London.
It is a strange situation – we are at war with America but are receiving an import trade from her which we cannot pay for by exports and can only return specie. The ministry seems to have decided to contribute to America’s war effort against us as they were formerly doing for France (via the Licensing mechanism) until Russia intervened. Perhaps they find war more profitable that peace.
Sat 9th Oct 1813
President Madison has sent a secret message to Congress on 20th Jan adverting to ‘an unfavourable development’ in the country’s relations with France.
The Senate has also received a government report totalling the number of foreign seamen who have naturalised as Americans since 1796 at 1,530.
Sat 9th Oct 1813
London Morning Chronicle 23rd March – HMS Dotterell has brought proposals from Madison for an armistice to permit peace negotiations. The proposal is already before Congress. He says America will make it an offence to employ British seamen in American ships; he will prevent British seamen resident in America from naturalising as Americans; he wants to discuss an exchange of British and American seamen.
Sat 16th Oct 1813
Russia has offered her mediation in our quarrel with America but we have declined it. We have another plan.
Captain Hanchett has been given the command of a squadron of 7 warships, equipped with 10,000 Congreves, and sent to America. It is in the London papers of 5th April. He carries a detachment of soldiers and marines. There are also several fire ships that are to be used against shipping in American ports. The ministry says Madison is not conciliatory. He does not submit to British control of the high seas.
The blockade of Chesapeake Bay is now effective and Hanchett’s force is said to be intended for action against other American ports.
The ministry has ceased providing Licences to American ships.
Sat 16th Oct 1813
Madison has called for $40 millions for this year’s expenditure. He plans to raise $24 millions in direct taxes and $16 million by subscription. The subscriptions are expected to come mainly from the rich New England merchants but they do not support the war and theorise ‘no money, no war’. He has received only $4 millions from the subscriptions so far.
Sat 23rd Oct 1813
York (Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada, has been captured by an American army of 5,000 under General Dearborn on 26th April 1812. General Sheafe, the British commandant of York, has retreated with most of his regular force – he lost his militia and the Indians. The British are sending reinforcements to Quebec.
Sat 6th Nov 1813
House of Lords, 15th May 1813 – Darnley has moved an enquiry into the Admiralty in respect of the conduct of the American War:
Darnley said the Orders-in-Council were the cause of war with America and their belated revocation together with the Royal Declaration of 23rd June were done only because ministers were frightened that the commercial lobby of traders with America and our manufacturers were together sufficiently powerful to swing a majority of MPs against the ministry. Threatened with the loss of their power, they became willing to address American concerns.
Ministers were informed in July 1811 that war with America was inevitable unless some change was made in the British position concerning neutral rights at international law. Had they then sent an adequate naval force to America they might have pre-emptively caught American shipping in port and deprived the war party of its maritime power. America would then have necessarily submitted to us.
On the contrary, no prudent action was taken, and we have instead had the unpleasant experience of USS Constitution predating in the English Channel and around the mouth of the Thames. In all the actions between American and British warships, the British ship has been quickly dismasted. Our masts are too weak or American shot is too big. Numerous noblemen (Stanhope et al) had made proposals to the Navy Board to address defects and improve our ships but all had been ignored.23
Melville for the ministry said Britain was forced into the war. We were negotiating fitfully and the Americans became impatient. He agreed that war had become foreseeable long before it was declared. When the Orders were repealed it was expected that war would be avoided. He insisted Britain was fighting for its existence and its continued independence. It could not instantly repeal Orders that were considered fundamental to our chance of success.
Our naval force at Halifax became inadequate because America added some 20 ships to her fleet. We had to reinforce the squadron in order to maintain the blockade. Very often the number of American warships in port was greater than the number of British warships performing the blockade. Blockades are seldom complete and some American ports are incapable of being blockaded.
Darnley says we should have sent a powerful force to America earlier but Dundas noted we were negotiating with them at that time and could hardly have blockaded their ports whilst discussions were continuing.
Another thing was the size of the American frigates – they are bigger and more heavily armed than ours and their hull-shape and rigging modifications make them faster than our ships.
Darnley says America has the funds to prosecute a war. This is incorrect. They have spent their spare cash on war preparations and can only fight on borrowed money.
Finally insurance rates from Lloyd’s for West Indies merchantmen is 1% higher than before the Americans declared war – hardly an indication that American privateering is costing us much.
Bathurst said the main reason America declared war when she did was to make our returning West India fleet amenable to her warships. Their frigates were ready before war was declared and immediately ran down to the Mexican Gulf. They were disappointed to discover we were convoying our fleets and the damage America did was little and inconsequential.
Darnley’s motion for an Inquiry was rejected 125/59 (these are mostly proxies – the actual House of Lords vote was against him 42/40)
Mon 8th Nov 1813 Extraordinary
The Frankfurt Journal of 25th July reports HMS Shannon has captured USS Chesapeake on 1st June. The Americans say she exploded as she came out of Boston harbour. The British say they boarded and took her in combat.
Sat 4th Dec 1813
The Americans are appalled by the violence of American Indian attacks on their forces. An Act has been passed permitting the President to retaliate against any British subject for the barbarity of the Indians who fight for England. It sounds as though the war in north America will soon become as despicable as the war in Europe.
Sat 22nd Jan 1814
The Government of Massachusetts has examined the Federal Government’s figures on British and French impressment of Americans and disputes them. Instead of 6,000 seamen impressed the state officials believe it is actually about 175. They say the bulk of pressing is done by England but France has taken a few men too.
Sat 29th Jan 1814
The American Federal government has opened a loan of $16 millions by subscription to meet the costs of war. Massachusetts declined to subscribe and we have now heard that New York was not much better.
The New York Bank, Union Bank and Manufacturing Bank all paid nothing; The American Bank and City Bank made tiny purchases; the Merchants’ Bank bought $330,000 and only the Manhattan Bank exerted itself with purchases of $750,000.
Thus the two wealthiest states of the Union have provided just over $1 million. In the present unsettled circumstances of the world, the only place Madison will get his loan is London.
Sat 5th Feb 1814
Washington, 25th May 1813 – The Americans are in difficulties. Their minister to France has died and they are out of touch with that power. Their revenue has diminished with the stoppage of trade and they need to borrow to fight the war. They are being dunned 7½% on their London loans which discourages them.
Madison is appealing to patriotism but he would do better to appeal to their self-interest. He needs more victories like the occupation of York (Toronto). If he can convince his people that he can occupy all Canada and get that country into the Union or capture one of our West Indian convoys, he may still prevail.
Sat 19th Feb 1814
Lord Walpole has gone to St Petersburg in August 1813 to meet Gallatin and Bayard and discuss peace with America under Russian mediation.
Sat 26th Feb 1814
Most if not all of the New England states have notified Congress in late July 1813 that they will withdraw from the Union if peace is not made with Britain.
Sat 26th Feb 1814
It has been revealed in London that the $5 million loan Madison raised to finance his war with us was subscribed entirely in London.24
Sat 9th April 1814
The American Treasury has notified the Executive that the cash balance the country has now, together with the estimated Customs receipts and proceeds of sale of land, is only $2 millions and they need to raise a loan of $5.5 million to continue the war through 1814.
Sat 9th July 1814
The Americans want peace and proposed Russian mediation. We told them ‘no mediation’ but we will talk direct either in London or Gothenburg. Monroe accepted Gothenburg. A British army with American Indian support has taken Fort Niagara. They took only 20 prisoners – the rest of the garrison did not survive.
Admiral Cochrane has sailed to America with a small squadron and another full cargo of Congreves. He will take command of British forces, replacing Sir John Borlase Warren. Cochrane has been given no powers to negotiate with the Americans as Warren was – we will not readily forgive US support for France. He is solely to fight and destroy and let the Americans clearly feel our power.
Lloyd’s of London report that on 17th Dec the American executive laid an embargo on all shipping in port for a year. This is reportedly in conformity with instructions the Secretary of State received from Castlereagh. A large number of American merchant ships tried to evade the embargo by sailing out before its formal notification but many were caught by our blockade. A considerable amount of prize money will fall due to HMS Dragon and her blockading squadron.
Madison’s policy in this war has been based on commercial considerations. He supposed Britain was dependant on America for timber to West Indies, for cotton for her Lancashire factories, as a market for her manufactures and, apropos the Non-Intercourse and Non-Importation Acts, for provisions. This was the thinking behind the legislation and Embargo and the prohibition on export of specie (gold and silver coins) – basically Madison sought to emulate Napoleon and bring us to terms by stopping our trade.
American agricultural products feed Wellington’s army in Spain; they are supporting British troops along the American coast (particularly in Chesapeake Bay) and the traitors providing this support to a national enemy are also bringing British manufactures into America for profiteering sale.
The collapse of French arms in Europe was unforeseen. That has allowed Britain to reopen the markets of Europe and she is now less concerned about American supplies. The shortage of cotton at Liverpool has been troublesome for England (the ministry permitted the India Company to bring Indian cotton) but Madison also has difficulty. He stops our trade, we stop his.
It sounds like a formula for ‘lose, lose’ but Madison presides over a democratic country and cannot afford to act unpopularly whereas Britain is an oligarchy and does as the ministry pleases – that is our advantage.
Sat 16th July 1814
Pittsburgh, 6th Jan – the British landed 3,000 men at Black Rock, Lake Erie and captured the village of Buffalo. The American Major-General Hull and his entire force were obliged to surrender. Buffalo was burned. The Indians in the British force are freely permitted to plunder. The British are now moving up the Lake destroying everything they encounter.
Meanwhile in the south, HMS Herald has been distressing everything within reach of her guns or landing parties for 30 miles up the Mississippi.
Sat 23rd July 1814
The British are imprisoning captured American officers in Canada instead of accepting their parole and allowing house-arrest as would normally be the case. The American government has now reciprocated with the detention of 46 British officers it has captured. The British are livid – reciprocity suggests equality, which they have withheld.25
The British belief is that the Americans must be brought to recognise their commercial self-interest lies in peace with England. They want the country to irrevocably eschew French principles. The Americans contrarily have taken exception to many British hostile acts and appear more united than hitherto.
The reports of the battle of Leipzig arrived in New York and caused no consternation at all – it seems the Americans are inured to self-sufficiency.
Sat 6th Aug 1814
USS President fought an inconclusive battle with HMS Orpheus in the English Channel in April.
Sat 6th Aug 1814
Madison, the American President, has addressed both Houses of Legislature on 7th Dec 1813:
He thanked them for the liberal powers they had approved for the Plenipotentiaries to the peace talks at Gothenburg. He regretted that London had not responded to the invitation to talk peace. We are obliged to continue the struggle. We should always recall the justice of our cause and our great potential strength.
Our warships, both public and private, have achieved great successes. Captain Perry in a brilliant encounter met, defeated and captured the entire British squadron on Lake Erie. This opened that route into British Canada to us and the North West army was shipped across. We then forced a general action on the British and defeated them. Our naval superiority on Lake Ontario allowed us to attack the British settlements along the St Lawrence River.
The British have allied with the Indians and the promises they have held-out to those people have caused them to act with barbarous savagery towards us. On our south-western frontier the Creek, who were becoming civilised, were seduced into barbarity and have acted with fanaticism. We were obliged to send an army against them to prevent their example spreading to the other tribes. The people of Georgia and Tennessee, with part of the Mississippi territory, have formed this army and are even now prosecuting war on that new front.
British nationality law permits naturalisation as a British subject in a shorter period than the equivalent law in America. Such naturalised British subjects are treated by the British government as English-born subjects, subject to the same rights and duties. In Canada a regulation was enacted after this war started that compels certain resident Americans to bear arms against their own country. Some of these unfortunate people have been recently captured by us. Notwithstanding the legal situation, the British commander of that Canadian province has sent to England to be tried for High Treason a group of American prisoners-of-war who were born British. Every one of these prisoners had naturalised as Americans long before this war started. We must respond to this facile breach of the Law of Nations by reciprocity. We have imprisoned a like number of British prisoners-of-war. We feel obliged to put these people under the threat of punishment that equates with whatever the British chose to do with our unfortunate countrymen. We had hoped that this act of power would have induced a reversal of the British officer’s action but it has not. On the contrary, the British have responded with the arrest of an even greater number of American naturalised citizens to precisely double the number of British prisoners under threat here. They say if we retaliate against the punishment in England of the naturalised American citizens by similarly punishing our British prisoners, they will extend the punishment to the next prisoners they have captured.
At the same time, the commanders of British naval and land forces were instructed to land raiding parties to attack civilian targets in our coastal towns and ports. Your government felt obliged to follow the British lead and imprison more prisoners-of-war under the same threat. We hope Castlereagh can be induced to return to legality and pursue the normal rules of war.
The long negotiation with Paris has made no progress since the close of the last parliamentary session despite the best efforts of our minister-plenipotentiary.
In the last financial year ended 30th Sept, the Treasury received $37.5 millions of which $24 millions were loans. We have since borrowed $7.5 million more on better terms than before, owing to our good repayment record.
Although this war has damaged our maritime commerce and interrupted activities on the coast, it has also stimulated our domestic manufacturing and we approach independence in our major necessaries. In several industries we expect soon to have a surplus for export. Every British blow against our independence accelerates our progress towards self-sufficiency. This war is demonstrating our capacity to become a flourishing and powerful nation. With our increased strength we will be able to expect justice of other nations. We require no more.
Sat 20th Aug 1814
The ministry is contemplating sending 25,000 troops to the New England states of America to reinforce those merchants who wish to secede from the Union and establish themselves as a separate country. Seven capital ships will accompany them.
Sat 27th Aug 1814
The Spanish are proposing to send 12,000 troops from Cadiz to New Orleans to recover their lands in Louisiana. The Spanish minister says the transfer to France was involuntary.
Sat 3rd Sept 1814
17th Feb 1814 – The State of Massachusetts has passed an Act freeing all prisoners-of-war from its gaols 30 days after its enactment. This reverses a Federal Law of the national Congress that requires prisoners-of-war to be imprisoned as part of Madison’s reciprocity for British punishment of American prisoners. This is civil disobedience on the grand scale.
Tues 11th Oct 1814 Extraordinary
Madison has submitted to us. The unexpected French reversal in Europe has undermined all his plans. Congress has repealed the trade restraints and will overlook the matter of our impressment of her seamen. Gothenburg is inconvenient for talks now the war has ended – we have told the American ministers, who are already there, to go to Ghent.
Whilst America wants peace, England has no intention of letting her make war and peace so casually. Now the Duke of Wellington’s force is not needed in Europe, a large contingent of experienced dragoons and infantry has been sent across the Atlantic. The ministry is persuaded that violence cows dissent.
Our war aims are said to be to split the Union, make peace with the commercial states of New England whose interests parallel ours, attack Louisiana and drive out the American planters and return that colony to Spain. This will isolate the Francophile southern states and make them dependant on the north and on us.
Sat 22nd Oct 1814
Governor Ainslie of Grenada, responding to the escape of some slaves, has arrested their wives and children and proclaimed that these hostages will be executed unless the slaves return to their duty.
His Proclamation has just arrived in London with a plea for help from the ‘Free Negroes of Grenada’. Goulburn says Ainslie will be transferred to Dominica.
Sat 29th Oct 1814
Calcutta Gazette, 29th Sept – From about 1730 to 1760, France operated a free trade system in Louisiana that created wealth in the province and both enabled and motivated the settlers to effectively hold the Indian tribes at bay. After the Seven Years War, France ceded Louisiana to Spain. The settlers were displeased but eventually submitted in late 1760s and became settled and peaceful until the American Revolution when Spain used the opportunity of war to launch an invasion of the Two Floridas from Louisiana and wrest those lands from England. With peace in 1783 we rather mindlessly ratified the Spanish annexation of the Floridas.
The situation remained unchanged until the Treaty of Luneville gave France the leadership of Europe. Spain joined the early coalitions against France but was repeatedly defeated and ultimately submitted to French terms – she became a nominally independent country but her foreign and defence policies were settled in Paris. Napoleon recognised the great strategic value of Louisiana as a source of provisions and wealth and a base from which to threaten Canada, the United States, the West Indies and the Spanish colonies to the south.
By the Treaties of Ildefonso and Madrid, 1800 and 1801, France obtained title to Louisiana and it appeared she would build an American empire there but in April 1803 she transferred ownership to the United States as part of a convoluted deal that priced Louisiana on the documents at 60,000 Livres (60 million Francs). In fact, whilst Louisiana appears to be part of the United States, we have seen a systematic course of US policy that suggests France and America were united in an undisclosed plan. Effectively we believe America has acted as the undisclosed Agent of France. Thus it was that France permitted the US attacks on the Floridas. The US role was to stop-up the sources of British wealth in America to encourage the London merchants to demand peace with France. At that time Napoleon was in Egypt and heading for India to do something similar there.
It was said that, once Britain abandoned her pretensions to rule the world, Louisiana would be returned to France as a bread-basket whilst the northern US states would get a bigger share of international trade at British expense.
With peace in Europe, it is expedient to return Louisiana to Spain. America will not be rewarded for siding with France against us – she backed the losing side and must be condignly punished to discourage any repetition of the error. Reviving Spanish power in America will counter-balance rising US power – that is current British policy towards north America.26
Sat 19th Nov 1814
Crawford, the American emissary to Paris, has been here for months trying to get compensation for seizures of American ships and cargoes under the Rambouillet Decree but Napoleon conceded nothing before his abdication. As those two countries were allied, it seems we need not do anything ourselves.
M/s Clay and Russell at Ghent wish to negotiate peace with Lord Gambier and his team (Goulburn and Dr Adams) but his Lordship is in no hurry. There are three other American negotiators (J Q Adams, Gallatin and Bayard) coming down from Gothenburg and Petersburg to try and make progress.
British demands can be stated in a single word – submission. We should avoid mistaken lenity and chastise the Americans while we have an army in place to do so. Our forces are already threatening Baltimore and Washington. We will teach Madison a lesson he will not soon forget. Opposing us is the path to national ruin.
Meanwhile several British army officers who were gaoled at Worcester in USA (in a tit-for-tat for imprisonment of American officers in Canada) have been released and arrived at Quebec.
London Gazette 31st May – the British naval commander at Bermuda has ordered a strict blockade of the US coast on 25th April from Black Point to the frontier with our Canadian province of New Brunswick.
General Wilkinson’s invasion of Canada has been beaten off. His army is ravaged by disease and desertions. He is retreating down the road to Odell. On 13th April a British fleet of 13 ships sailed into the Potomac for Washington whilst another squadron continued up Chesapeake Bay for Baltimore.
The several hundred shipwrights we sent to build ships on the Great Lakes have been diligent and we now have a naval superiority on Lakes Champlain and Ontario.
Sat 3rd Dec 1814
Madison has asked Congress to repeal the embargo and bring an end to the Continental System. There is no prospect of success now France has failed.
Sat 3rd Dec 1814
London editorial on policy towards America:
Now we are about to defeat America it would be useful to review our relations with that Republic and devise a wish-list of advantages we require in order to agree to make peace:
- We want Nova Scotia and New Brunswick restored to their former size.
- We will exclude the Americans from the St Lawrence and its tributaries.
- We will exclude American fishermen from the Grand Banks
- We require America to negotiate with Spain and settle all differences regarding Louisiana and the Floridas.
- We want the Indian Territory increased and put under British guarantee.
- We want a communication from Canada to the Mississippi.
- We want free navigation of the Mississippi and control of New Orleans.
- We want American trade with West and East Indies ended.
- We want express American acknowledgement of our maritime rights.
We will have to really hurt them to get all this.
Sat 31st Dec 1814
America, May 1814 – Brig General Hull has been charged with Treason, Cowardice and Neglect of Duty. There was no evidence of overtly helping the British and the first charge failed but the other two were considered proved. He was sentenced to the firing squad but Madison, in consideration of his age, remitted the punishment.
Hull issued a statement at Newton afterwards claiming the evidence established his innocence. He attributed the guilty finding to the youth of the officers sitting in judgment on him, most of whom had just been appointed and had no military experience.
Sat 21st Jan 1815
An American suicide bomber:
The American ship Tonquin was trading for fur with local Indians off Vancouver Island. It stopped at Woody Point, the habitation of a powerful tribe of Indians, and invited the people on board to exchange their furs for blankets and knives. Many answered the invitation and seemed friendly but Captain Thorpe was warned by his officer McKay that an attack was planned. He discounted the advice.
The following morning a greatly increased number of Indians came out to the ship and, when they had exchanged sufficient furs for knives, they attacked and killed the crew in minutes. Five crewmen managed to get into the cabin where the guns were and defended themselves. One of them was injured but they beat-off successive attacks and eventually, at dusk, the Indians left. During the night the four uninjured men, being insufficient to man the ship, left in the long boat to seek for help but were later driven ashore by the wind, discovered by the Indians and massacred.
Next morning the Indians returned to the ship in their canoes but, recalling that any remaining crew would have guns, they did not come on board immediately. Only the injured man remained. He showed himself and invited them on board to help themselves. The Indians boarded and were soon preoccupied in opening the hatches and discharging the holds. The survivor then descended to the cabin and fired the magazine containing 9,000 lbs gunpowder. The ship was totally destroyed. Nearly one hundred Indians died and a good many more in the surrounding canoes were injured.
Sat 28th Jan 1815
News of the fall of Paris reached America in early May but does not seem to have influenced government policy. Congress approved a loan for $22 million which the President says is being well subscribed. He is not only paying 14% on the debt paper but has been obliged to give a government guarantee that the subscribers’ capital will be preserved. Madison says he already has £10 millions but our friends, the New England merchants, doubt his statement.
Mon 6th Feb 1815 Extraordinary
Our expedition to America has made a secure beachhead at Rhode Island.
Sat 11th Feb 1815
The Privy Council ordered 23rd July that all British subjects should leave USA.
Sat 11th Feb 1815
The British have declared a blockade of 2,000 miles of the American coast. To be legal, a blockade is supposed to be effective. This must be the longest piece of blockaded coast in history. Madison has proclaimed 25th June 1814 that shipping is coming and going and the British frigates are only an occasional inconvenience. They harass the neutral merchant shipping for the most valuable prizes. He ordered the U S Navy and privateers to protect neutral shipping on the American coast.
Sat 11th Feb 1815
Dublin, 30th July – an American privateer is in the bay. It has taken and destroyed many merchant ships. Two insurance companies have asked the Admiralty for better protection of shipping in the Irish Sea. The Admiralty has declined and freight rates have increased to 5% ad valorem for the 100 mile voyage from England to Ireland.
Sat 11th Feb 1815
The New England states have sent an Address to Congress demanding the removal and impeachment of Madison. They say his relationship with and help for Napoleon make him unacceptable to London.
The peace negotiations at Ghent are suspended and Gallatin’s secretary Dallas has returned to Washington for instructions. It is said the British demand the southern shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario and the town of Sackett’s Harbour along with the Niagara forts. For America to cede territory requires an Act of Congress hence Dallas’ mission.
Mon 13th Feb 1815 Extraordinary
London, 26th Aug – the peace negotiations with America at Ghent have been ended and the American plenipotentiaries have returned to America. An American army has captured Fort Erie. Many privateers have been unleashed on our West Indian trade.
Sat 18th Feb 1815
An American army of 20,000 men under General Brown has crossed the Niagara and entered Canada. Madison has called out the militia, about 90,000 men. Lord Hill is leaving Ireland for America with more troops bringing our army to 30,000.
Sat 18th Feb 1815
Wellington’s army of Spain has been sent over from Bordeaux to Quebec. Our force in America is greater than anyone supposed possible.
Sat 18th Feb 1815
The Royal Navy’s squadron in Lake Ontario has been defeated. Captains Popham and Spilsbury heard a convoy of American store ships was to leave Sackett’s Harbour and sought to make prize of it. The plan failed.
Sun 12th March 1815 Extraordinary
London, 27th Sept – the Admiralty has announced the capture and destruction of the city of Washington on 24th August. The Royal Navy created two diversionary attacks on Baltimore and Fort Washington. Major General Ross engaged an American militia of 8,000 men at Blandensburgh and forced their retreat across the Potomac into Virginia. The Americans were impressed with the defensive nature of their positions and had not thought to destroy an important bridge.
Madison and two of his Secretaries were present at the engagement but not captured – we do not know how they escaped. Armstrong ordered the naval yard and stores to be burned before he withdrew. We then entered Washington and spent the afternoon and evening destroying the public buildings – Congress, White House and the Washington Library with its fine collection of rare books. This work continued through the morning of 25th Aug.
When we had completely destroyed the remaining stores and public property, we returned to the point of embarkation. Many private houses were also destroyed but that was caused by a concurrent hurricane. Congress is expected to meet at Lancaster temporarily.
We expect America to submit and expect to receive their submission via the Commissioners at Ghent. In London, 3% Consols were up on the news at 66.
Tues 14th March 1815 Extraordinary
Fifteen residents of Upper Canada have been convicted of helping the Americans. Eight have been hanged and seven imprisoned.
Lt General Drummond has reported a successful night engagement at Niagara. There was a degree of confusion but ultimately the Americans, who mustered about 5,000 men, were pushed back on Fort Erie. Drummond then advanced on the fort but failed to take it in an expensive assault (900 dead). His scaling ladders were too short.
Tues 14th March 1815 Extraordinary
Letters from America say the Federal government has been unable to raise the required war loan ($25 million) within the United States and has permitted its Agents to raise the money in Europe.27
Sat 18th March 1815
Editorial – There is complaint in London about the system of warfare that we have adopted in America. Its very successful militarily, but the fear is that it will provoke a backlash of anger amongst the American people, make them more united and their dissent more intractable. We might find ourselves fighting the entire population in a war of principle as has occurred in Ireland.
The Morning Chronicle says we have emulated Napoleon when he burned Moscow28 but destroying public property of the enemy is the usual way of war – it puts the enemy to extra expense and diverts that much of his assets away from military uses. We British do not act from malignity or revenge – we have sound financial reasons for all our actions. Provided our army does not interfere with private property the Americans have no valid grounds of complaint.
Sat 18th March 1815
The people of Stonington, Maine, have made torpedoes to attack our ships. We have sent a squadron to retaliate. The water was shallow and we could not get close but some of our bomb ships managed to project shells into the town.
Elsewhere our frigates are landing marines all along the coast to attack the ports and coastal settlements. We are confiscating or destroying such stores as we find.
Meanwhile two Russian mediators arrived at Ghent in mid-September. They are expected to progress talks. So far negotiations have not developed beyond each party giving the other dinner.
Sat 18th March 1815
A military expedition has been dispatched from Plymouth to New Orleans. The conquest of Louisiana is expected to be easy. We will secure these Spanish possessions from the ravages of the Republicans.
Sat 18th March 1815
The absentee Dutch landlords of Surinam farms have been represented during our occupation of their country by a Commission of the British government superintended by Mr Bent MP.
His administration of their property has been expensive and no income remains to the landowners. Bent’s commission has now been revoked.
Sat 15th April 1815
The Americans have destroyed our fleet on Lake Champlain. General Prevost has had to retreat to a secure position.
The American people are generally disgusted with our sacking of Washington. They see the destruction as wantonly unnecessary and barbarous. They discount our pretext that it was in retaliation for the US attack on Upper Canada.
The sacking of York (Toronto), the capital of Upper Canada, was an equally grievous business – the public buildings were destroyed and a scalp was found in the Legislative Chamber near the Speaker’s chair. Madison never distanced his administration from that attack so we did tit-for-tat in Washington which they left exposed to a sudden descent from our ships. We regret the loss of the public buildings in the American capital and, more particularly, the burning of the Federal archives which might have contained a full explanation for this war.29
Bayard, the senior American commissioner at Ghent, is aware of the changed opinions of Europe. The constitutional governments are being replaced and the Kings and aristocrats are back in power – they detest Republicanism, which they characterise as mob-rule, and have no sympathy for the American cause. Bayard has been trying to get this message across to Madison since May 1814 but its an uphill job.
Madison seems unable to put the loss of Washington’s fine buildings behind him. He keeps writing of it. He says the British soldiers were not under strict discipline and much private property was looted as well. He is particularly aggrieved that the attack occurred long after he had sought to make peace.
Sat 22nd April 1815
Talleyrand has introduced the French national budget. He notes the population of France in the last census was 28 millions and the previous year’s revenue from personal taxes was 600 million Francs producing an average payment per head of 22 Francs a year.
In America 7 million people paid $16 million in Federal tax during the years before the present war with England – the equivalent of 12 Francs each. Adding the State Taxes of an average of 11 Francs each totals 23 Francs per American. He concludes that the level of French and American taxes are comparable.
He also examined British taxes but found them anomalous. Excluding Ireland, the product last year was £60 millions from a maximum of 12 million inhabitants i.e. £5 per head, equivalent to 120 Francs.
Talleyrand attributed the ability of the British ministry to maintain its great income to the Sinking Fund whereby part of the revenue was used to buy government loan stocks and maintain their price. This reassured the capitalists to subscribe to new loans at low rates of interest.
As the British have been manipulating their stock market for decades, they should raise no complaint if France emulates them which is Talleyrand’s main proposal for financial recovery in France.30
Sat 22nd April 1815
Our naval and military operations in Canada have failed. Unless we grasp and retain control of the Great Lakes we will be unable to defend our colony. Sir George Prevost is blamed for this. His ability to defend Canada is the yardstick whereby we judge him.
On the other hand, our quick attacks on ports and settlements along the American coast have been successful in destabilising the enemy and creating anxiety in the militias and local governments.
Sat 22nd April 1815
New York papers say Armstrong, Minister for War, has been dismissed for failing to protect Washington. The American papers more or less unanimously hope that Madison and his group will resign soon.
American Federal attempts to raise a loan have failed but it seems at least some money is finding its way to Washington. London bankers were warned-off subscribing by the ministry here. The Federal Government circumvented the British ministry’s wish by setting-up individual states as the applicants, supposedly to provide for their own defence, or possibly to channel funds to the Federal Government. A British ministry should know that trade always finds a way.
All business in New England is stopped and there is little money in circulation. The Banks of New York and Philadelphia are hoarding specie and making payments only in notes. Some American merchants have tried to extend the use of their trade paper money ( by assignment of Bills of Exchange) to the public-at-large but there is widespread resistance.
Sat 22nd April 1815
The Governor-General of Canada (I believe this is Sir Gordon Drummond who succeeded Sir George Prevost) ordered Admiral Cochrane to retaliate against the American people for the acts of the U S Army in Upper Canada.
Cochrane wrote to Secretary Monroe on 18th Aug saying he is reluctant to adopt this program of devastation but will do so unless the Federal Executive guarantees reparations to the Canadians.
On 6th Sept Monroe told Cochrane the British way of war against civilians was reprobated by civilised nations. He mentions the savagery of Indian tribes (British allies) on American prisoners which has never been disavowed by England. He laments the invasions of the villages of Havre de Grace and Georgetown which were burned and their unarmed residents ruined. He mentions similar attacks all around Chesapeake Bay.
He supposes that a thirst for plunder motivated the British officers. He characterised the burning of the village of Newark in this category. He notes that war on civilians is a new low in the abysmal record of recent war and concludes that the American people will meet the foul British policy with determination and with confidence in the justice of their cause.
In England the people are virtually unaware of the American war. Everyone supposes we are fighting to protect Canada; America is fighting to restore ‘free ships make free goods’ to the Law of Nations. It is a lost cause. We have already won European agreement and British hegemony at sea is a fact. International Law is amended by Napoleon’s defeat.
Sat 22nd April 1815
The American negotiators at Ghent are marking time. Their primary purpose was to mobilise Russian opinion in favour of ‘free ships make free goods’ but the Russians, whilst wholly sympathetic, do not wish to provoke London.
A second American objective is to solicit support from France. Sixteen years ago the Americans published chapter and verse on the corruption of Talleyrand and his co-ministers. They reprobated the need to ‘pay, pay’ to get anything done. Now they are trying again with the Bourbons.
The U S negotiators have caused a pamphlet to be published at Augsburg saying Talleyrand will demand ‘free ships make free goods’ at Vienna. This expression has become the European equivalent of the calls in America for ‘free trade’ and ‘sailors’ rights’.
The British ministry deems it adequately apparent that the American negotiators are not here to solicit peace but to create a schism in the delicate alliance of European powers and subvert the terms upon which the British Empire and our control of the high seas rests. British policy is consequently to conclude the arrangements in Vienna for Europe before discussing peace with the Americans.
They must wait and the longer they wait the worse the war will go for them.
Mon 1st May 1815 Extraordinary
Madison has advised Congress that Britain refused mediation by Russia and insisted on direct negotiations but has then frustrated all attempts to bring such negotiations on. He concludes that a spirit of hostility motivates the British minister’s policy towards America.
He notes that the Congress of Vienna is stalled and one of the difficulties is identifying some means of checking the overwhelming naval power of England. He supposes that the destruction of the American economy accords with British commercial aims and adduces the attacks on civilian targets along the New England coast as evidence.
In spite of a supposedly legal British blockade of 2,000 miles of coast, our privateers have continued to bring in British merchantmen unmolested by British warships. It appears the Proclamation of this blockade was mainly intended to permit the Royal Navy to make prizes of the neutral shipping that serve American trade.31
We have $5 millions in the Treasury and great expenses to meet. The enemy is powerful in men and money. British aims are to cripple our trade and end any chance of our competing with her in world markets. Nearly 1,000 American ships have been seized or sunk. She fights an uncivilised war against our citizens and permits plunder and destruction of private property. Her maritime dominion and thirst for monopoly of international trade are the causes of her animosity against our country but, instead of submission, her gross violations have stirred the American people to disgust and implacable opposition. It is Britain that has united our country and induced the willing payment of state and Federal taxes.
Thurs 4th May 1815 Extraordinary
Peace was agreed with America on 24th Dec 1814 at Ghent. The American plenipotentiaries obtained additional powers to facilitate it. The terms will be reported once available but initial reports in Frankfurt Journal say the Americans have conceded a British right to ‘stop & search’ on the high seas and to the restriction on neutral trade contained in ‘the Rule of 1756’. This is of fundamental importance to British maritime policy.
Sat 6th May 1815
Wellington’s remonstrances with the Bourbons has procured the ouster of American ships from French ports. The American minister to France (Crawford) complained of this treatment between friendly powers in respect of the ship Neptune and demanded an Entry Certificate but was refused.
Several other American merchantmen have been sent away too. We hope this will relieve the threat of American privateers to British trade in our home waters. The privateers are watering and provisioning in French ports.
Sat 6th May 1815
The American House of Representatives has debated offering bounties to British deserters who join the American forces (a crime for the British). The vote was only narrowly defeated 83/85 – they must be really angry.32
Sat 10th June 1815
London agents handling India trade have petitioned the ministry concerning the exclusion of American trade from British ports in Asia (as is rumoured to be a term of the Treaty of Ghent concluding the War of 1812). They fear this will benefit the French, Danes and Dutch who have settlements in India. The ministry agrees.
An Order-in-Council has been quickly drafted to accompany the Treaty across the Atlantic. This Order unilaterally accords MFN status to American trade in British Asian ports.
Sat 6th May 1815
House of Lords, 8th Nov 1814 – In a debate on the Regent’s speech opening parliament, Lord Darnley has enquired why, in every confrontation of British and American warships of equal force (except two), the Americans have won. He was also astonished that such a small navy as America’s could predate so extensively on British merchantmen.
Melville for the Admiralty said 199 American privateers and 33 warships had been captured so far. The Royal Navy is doing a fine job. It has mainly focused on commerce. 900 merchant ships have been brought into British ports for condemnation and 1,000 more had been brought into British ports overseas for prize adjudication. We have 20,000 American sailors in prison.
When we annihilated the navy of France in the late war, it naturally produced a flood of privateers from French ports. As a result our commerce was slightly disturbed. The same phenomenon is occurring now in respect of the war with America. Its predictable and nothing to worry about.
Since the Treaty of Paris we have lost 128 merchant ships to American efforts. 38 of these were captured as a result of illegally leaving the convoy. Most of the rest are also what Melville calls ‘running ships’ that avoid convoys and take their chances. There have been only 11 ships captured whilst under convoy.
Grenville thought the Admiralty had a case to answer. British defeats on the Great Lakes were a serious failure. He was concerned to hear the Regent say he would make a just and honourable peace with America. What is ‘just and honourable’ to England will unlikely be seen in the same light in Washington.
It appeared the ministry intends to get all its war aims met. The war would not conclude with a negotiated peace but with American submission to all British demands (one of which is Canadian possession of the Great Lakes). To force the Americans to keep fighting and continue what Napoleon called our ‘theory of eternal war’ was unwise, he thought. We should be looking for a compromise that both countries can adopt as the basis to a durable peace.
Grenville also reprobated war against civilians. It has been the practice in European wars for centuries for government to oppose government. In the twenty years war with France most of the capitals of Europe were occupied at one time or another and there were no instances of attacks on non-military targets such as we are daily making on the American coast. Our destruction of the American Congress, the White House and the Library were acts of savagery – they are not military targets. We have ourselves procured the hatred of the American people by our acts. We have unified them as Madison could never have done.
Grenville was particularly saddened by the absence of any mention in the Regent’s speech of the new British army in Europe. The Regent merely mentioned the American war to justify the continuation of onerous taxes. We have sent this part British and part Hanoverian army to the Low Countries – what is it for? It has never been mentioned in parliament. Our predecessors in this House often deliberated on the extent of interference this country might properly attempt in Europe. Does the perfection of peace in Europe require a British standing army there?
Liverpool said the army will remain in Europe until the terms of peace have been settled i.e. it is backing for Castlereagh in the negotiations. He said the destruction of civilian buildings in Washington was tit-for-tat for the destruction of York (Toronto) in Canada.
Sat 20th May 1815
American loans are usually arranged by Hope and Co., the Scottish bankers of Amsterdam who have been operating from London during the war. The debt paper representing these loans, which was trading on the Exchange at 73 a few months ago, has today reached 88. They have not been that high since before America declared war. It is assumed that peace has been agreed with England.
Sat 20th May 1815
The peace terms agreed with the American Commissioners at Ghent reveal a satisfyingly complete submission to British principles:
In short, it repudiates everything Madison and Monroe have been saying for years. We frankly wonder if the executive can get it ratified.
British commentators deplore the absence of a delineation of the Canadian border – its not mentioned in this treaty. The London Gazette merely says the Treaty awaits ratification.
There was considerable trading on the exchange but the 3% Consols and 3% Reduced actually fell slightly on the day to 67¼ and 66 respectively. It was a Bank holiday.
Sat 3rd June 1815
One of the ships in the Company’s fleet just now arriving at Bombay has reported that the terms of peace with America protects our American Indian allies and restores them to the territories they held in 1812. It is said the boundary between Indian lands and those of USA has not changed since 1795, i.e. this new treaty puts the Indians back into the position they held at the time of Grenville’s treaty of that year. That treaty resulted after a long period of creeping land grabs by the Americans. It imposed onerous conditions on the Indians that have tended to diminish British trade with them.
The American traders were in the habit of paying a farthing (¼d) per acre to the Indians and on-selling the land to settlers at up to $6 per acre. The Americans established so-called trading posts in Indian lands and fortified them. Using these military bases for protection, they arrested British traders in Indian lands and seized their goods which were for sale to the Indians.
There is no good reason why the Indian lands should become the sole preserve of the USA. They have for long been Indian and open to the trade of Britain from Canada. We have no expectation of the Americans treating with the Indians on an equitable basis – we expect annexations and pillage. We must ensure in any future treaty that the Indians are allowed to trade with whom they please.
The frontier fixed in 1783 was fixed wrongly by our negotiators. That treaty extended New Brunswick south to the Penobscot River and we have required Oaths of Allegiance from the residents of the new Canadian lands NE of the River. The ministry sold this land to the Baring family – it is valuable only for its timber. In the same way we obtained Nantucket Island and the islands in Chesapeake Bay. Now we are apparently giving up all these lands without any quid pro quo. We are said to be transferring the Passamaquody Islands to America as well. We have seized large areas of land from America and should ransom their return to recover the costs of war. After all, it was Madison who declared war on us and not vice versa.
Mon 10th July 1815 Extraordinary
Whilst the Treaty of Peace with America was crossing the Atlantic for Madison’s ratification, we belatedly sent an expedition to New Orleans to take a position in the trade of the Mississippi before peace could be ratified.
Wellington’s brother-in-law General Pakenham led this expedition but was killed early in the fight. We had 3,000 casualties. Its a disaster.
Sat 22nd July 1815
Madison ratified the peace treaty with England on 17th Feb (ten days before Napoleon commenced his return to power)
Sat 12th Aug 1815
The British have sustained a defeat by the Americans under General Jackson at New Orleans. This was the expedition sent belatedly to take possession of the Mississippi. Our losses are severe (932 dead & missing, 1,516 wounded. The navy also lost a hundred men).
The battle started badly with General Sir Edward Pakenham riding to the front of the troops to urge them on, in which position he was instantly killed by grapeshot. We also suffered very considerably from American sharp-shooters. The Americans fight the same on land as at sea – they post men in good positions to snipe at us.
An American officer brought a message across the lines under a flag of truce and was invited to stay for dinner. After eating, a British officer gave the toast ‘Madison, dead or alive’ which the American drank unconcernedly. He then himself gave the toast ‘the Regent, drunk or sober’. The British officers bristled and stood up – its an insult. No, said the American laconically, its a reply to an insult.
Sat 26th Aug 1815
The Americans now have a navy but peace with England allows them no war to fight. They have settled on Algeria, the base of a huge piracy fleet that preys on the merchant ships of Western Mediterranean.
According to the Philadelphia Evening Star of 19th April, they will send a large force against Algeria but they expect support from the European countries that also suffer from Algerian piracy.
Sat 26th Aug 1815
Privateering has been a lucrative business to the maritime states of New England. The owners of one Boston privateer have cleared $600,000 during this short war (the War of 1812). The particularly high profitability stems from the dearth of British and colonial goods in the American market – privateers can sell their prize cargoes for top dollar.
Sat 26th Aug 1815
Massachusetts, 8th April – Thomas H Perkins has been re-elected to the Senate of this State.33 The turn-out at the election was reduced. Those who support Federal principles are still returning from the fighting and did not arrive in time to vote. This was balanced by several thousand New Englanders who left America on merchant ships the day peace was ratified.
Sat 9th Sept 1815
All British first-rates are to be fitted with 24 pounders on the upper deck capable of firing Congreve’s rockets fitted with Shrapnel’s exploding shells. They explode as they fall throwing out a vast quantity of metal shards in a beautiful butterfly pattern. We discovered in the Peninsula that these new shells are very effective against large bodies of men. The French infantry could not tolerate them. Neither could the Americans. We have previously used them on land but their adaptation to warships will extend their usefulness.
Sat 11th Nov 1815
The Treaty of Peace with America is peculiar for omitting all mention of those differences that were purportedly causes of the war. It deals with the Canadian frontier, some disputed islands off Nova Scotia, peace with the Indian tribes, mutual best efforts to end slavery, etc., but the term respecting British-claimed maritime rights is absent; perhaps it is in a secret clause.
Sat 25th Nov 1815
An interesting effect of the late war with America was that the West Indies was supplied at reasonable prices with all the American provisions and lumber they required. That service should be incorporated in the peace treaty.
Sat 2nd Dec 1815
House of Commons, 1st June – Horner MP has asked if it is true that some units of the British expedition to America captured plantation slaves as property, offered them freedom if they fought for us but, on their refusal, sold them for prize money. He says the American Commissioners at Ghent asserted it as a fact and the Secretary of State had said it in a message to Congress.
Goulburn said he had heard the rumour and requested the US Commissioners to reveal what they knew so enquiries could be made. One Commissioner had said he knew of the case of a slave who was carried in an English warship to Bahamas and sold there. He told Goulburn he had heard of many similar cases. A report from the Bahamas government has been requested.
All issues for 1816 and 1817 are missing in British Library copy of the newspaper – they contain the news between about June 1815 – June 1817.
Sat 17th Jan 1818
The number of French émigrés who have arrived in America to start a new life is now over 30,000. These émigrés are not the familiar Bourbon supporters but Republican supporters of Napoleon. They have unrestricted freedom and have not sought to establish themselves as a political faction.
Sat 14th Feb 1818
The exodus from war-ravaged Europe to the United States is continuing. At present it is Swiss, Wurtemburg and Palatine emigrants arriving emaciated in Holland with few clothes and little baggage. In New York there is now 16,000 refugees, mostly Irish, Scottish and German. The New Yorkers have opened soup kitchens to ensure they get some nourishment each day.
The idea that Europeans can go to America, take a few acres and support themselves, has been bandied about Europe. Now a great banking house in Vienna has received a report from its Boston correspondent dated 4th July 1817 saying the entire American coast to a depth of a hundred or more miles is populated and farmed and emigrants will find no free land there for themselves. They will have to trek into the interior and contend with the native American Indians. As regards the mechanics and artisans, American manufacturing industry is still small and no work is available to them – the American correspondent says its cheaper to import British manufactures than to make them ourselves. He says the winters recently have been long and cold.
Sat 28th March 1818
The Federal government of USA has published a Red Book listing its employees and their salaries. It is composed of 21 departments employing 1,257 people (including 45 foreigners, mostly Irish and English) earning a total of $351,887 a year in basic salaries.
Sat 4th July 1818
The Americans are protesting about Canadian and West Indian trade again. They say they carry only 20% of their own exports and re-exports to these markets and we carry 80%. They say half of US exports are their domestic productions. They say the cause of this derangement of the historical trade pattern is the unequal duties we charge on their ships in our colonial ports.
They say they get only 20% of this traffic as a result of the temporary suspension of the relevant part of our Navigation Laws whilst we have strictly continued our colonial system and excluded them. Either we arrest them at sea or tax them in port. They think its unfair for us to treat a friendly nation like that.
British ministers rejected the complaints. The Americans had coupled them with a demand to trade with our American Indian allies. That would be intolerable.
Sat 4th July 1818
The Republican French Generals who have emigrated to America are buying land around Mobile, the port at the mouth of the Alabama River. The former plan of the Republican French community in USA was to develop the town of Blakeley in Georgia but these latest investments in Alabama could cause a shift.
Sat 12th Sept 1818
11th May – a negotiation is in hand between America and Spain. Joseph Adams represents the USA. The Americans have proposed Spain cede all her claims east of the Mississippi to USA, i.e. both the Floridas. In return Spain gets American recognition of her sovereignty over all the lands to the west of the course of the Colorado River to its source and thence to the Louisiana boundary. Claims relating to New Orleans and East Florida to be settled by Commissioners. Spanish national debts to America to be forgiven. The initial Spanish response is hostile but give them time….
General Jackson has occupied Pensacola and part of the Floridas – the US seems to be proceeding as though its a done deal but the actual pretext is that the Floridas are being used by Indian tribes to launch attacks on USA. The Spanish treaty of 1795 disallowed that.
Strangely, the American government has invariably said, since it obtained Louisiana, that its title extends to the Rio del Norte. Now they seem to be giving away two thirds (c. 700 million acres) of their acquisition.
Sat 7th Nov 1818
America has resumed the commercial spat with Britain over our monopoly of trade to our West Indian colonies. A solution is now in sight. The Americans have enacted a Navigation Act which excludes their maritime traders from direct trade with our West Indian colonies. In return, we have made an Order-in-Council declaring Halifax, St John’s and Bermuda to be free ports where American produce can be landed and trans-shipped in British bottoms to West Indies. This way we give a little profit from the trade to Americans. The two great staples of this trade are timber and salt fish but livestock and dry groceries are also important.
Sat 12th Dec 1818
Democratic Press, 24th July – A few years ago the Federal government gifted tracts of land in Alabama to surviving officers of Napoleon’s Grande Armee to give them a start in the New World. They have since sold their stakes to speculators and re-invested the proceeds in another tract of land along the Trinity River in Texas, which they call Camp d’Azlie.
The USA claims Texas as far as the Rio del Norte under the Louisiana Purchase and the new French holdings are in our land (if we overlook Adams’ offer to Spain to exchange it for the Floridas).
The French Generals seem not to acknowledge that – they have established themselves as an independent military government and say they will defend themselves.
Sat 20th March 1819
It appears that Spain’s problems are about to be resolved. The Bourbons in Paris have encouraged the ministers of England and Russia to provide a fleet for the transport of a Spanish army to South America. It is said that war between Spain and USA has been avoided by America paying Spain $5 millions for the Floridas.
Sat 3rd April 1819
The Americans are still trying to procure a base in the Mediterranean. Previously they made an offer for Port Mahon on Minorca but were rebuffed. They then offered 14 million Francs for Porto Ferrajo on Elba but the Grand Duke of Tuscany became fearful for his revenue at Leghorn and turned them down. They have now offered 30 million Francs to the King of the Two Sicilies for Syracuse on Sicily but he is not interested either.
Sat 8th May 1819
James Monroe has reported on the State of the Union (excerpt):
This year’s harvest was excellent, trade is increasing. We are at peace. We have paid-off the 6% debt and have reduced the loan for purchase of Louisiana. We expect revenue this year will be about $26 millions. A big part of the income is from sale of public land which has accelerated.
We have settled treaties with the Indians in Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan and they have each given us extensive tracts of land. We are fortifying several posts along the Missouri/Mississippi Rivers. These posts are in the rear of the Indians and should cause them to pause before attacking us again. We hope to encourage them to cease their nomadic lifestyle and settle down within easily definable frontiers. The alternative is their extinction.
Another state (Illinois) has joined the Union and our Constitutional principles are being spread throughout our vast territory.
Sat 7th Aug 1819
Ferdinand VII has given the Floridas to USA in full & final settlement of all outstanding American claims. The Federal Govt has assumed responsibility to pay the claims of its own citizens, assessed at $5 million. The Treaty also fixes the boundaries of Louisiana.
The cession of the Floridas has been greeted in London with concern. The Americans are now positioned to interdict our West Indian trade from bases they can develop along the Florida coast. The opinion in London is that the Spanish King should have consulted us first.
Sat 9th Oct 1819
House of Lords, 11th May – Lansdowne has moved a debate on the acts of US representatives in Florida. General Jackson caught the British adventurers, Arbuthnot and Ambrister, tried them by courts-martial and executed them. Arbuthnot died well but not Ambrister whose award by court-martial was not capital but was amended unilaterally by Jackson. Since then the Spanish King has sold Florida to USA. We dislike all of that.
A century ago (before the birth of the USA) in the Treaty of Utrecht it was agreed amongst all the parties that Spain might not cede any of her colonies to another power. The Treaty of Utrecht was renewed in the Treaty of Seville of 1729 which is part of the Law of Nations but unfortunately at that time Britain owned Florida and we could hardly enforce the no-cessions clause in those circumstances. That explains why the Treaty of Vienna ending the recent war contains no clause preventing the cession of Spanish colonies.
Now the Americans have Florida and are able to threaten our West Indian trade should we ever quarrel with them. Our West Indian trade is one of the great foundations of British commercial supremacy. There is a burgeoning move towards independence throughout South America which is adjacent to our essential colonies and might infect them.
Bathurst said we cannot prevent every cession we disapprove of. Lansdowne erred concerning the Utrecht Treaty – Florida was no longer Spanish when it was done. So what are we to do? Are we willing to war for Florida? Presumably our complaint would be the two executions but they were the act of Jackson and did not implicate the US Government. Really, if British subjects are to go off and fight the wars of other powers, they move beyond this government’s ability to protect them – Arbuthnot and Ambrister ran that risk and paid the price. They were supposedly fighting for the Indians against Spain (the rationale of the independence fighters in Florida). Ambrister admitted he led a party of Indians against American troops. Arbuthnot was known to us – he had previously applied to the Governor of Bahamas for guns and ammunition for the Indians and been refused. He then redirected his application to our minister in Washington. His defence to General Jackson was that he was a merchant but he was acting in the service of the Indians as a mercantile and political agent. There is a paper record of his supplies of lead to the Indians for bullets and supplies of other warlike materials. Other documents in Arbuthnot’s hand showed he introduced himself to suppliers etc., as the Agent of the Indians. He never said he was our creature and it was his certain duty to advise this country’s government of his appointment by the Indians but he did not do so. His letters to the Spanish government are also written on behalf of the Indians.
Arbuthnot was arrested along with two Indian chiefs who were executed summarily but Arbuthnot was given the courtesy of a trial. We have no grounds to complain. Any Briton who goes to war with a country with which we are at peace, takes his life in his own hands.34
Sat 30th Oct 1819
There is a new feature of British life. Amongst the middle class who have been devalued by paper money, loss of employment from the armed services or the end of government support for smuggling, there are groups banding together to share their limited capital for emigration to America.
Its a strange thing that they all choose America. They appear unwilling to emigrate to British colonies although Upper Canada is a delightful country. Each group acts as a co-operative at least until individual members have amassed sufficient capital to fund themselves independently of the others.
One named Birkbeck has written a guide to emigration to America – he says you only need £100 to start a new life.
Sat 4th Dec 1819
Spain has failed to get support from the European powers concerning her difficulties in South America. They will give her money in exchange for her land but nothing else. This suggests her best course is the partial disposal of the Empire to fund the retention of the remainder. This thinking has rather spoiled American expectations over Florida. USA made a straightforward offer but Madrid, sensing deep American interest, is intent on putting some conditions on the deal. Ferdinand VII must suppose that the American President can do whatever he likes, very much as Ferdinand does himself. He has obtained American agreement that Florida will be forever neutral, although how a federal system will digest that is anyone’s guess.
Now the Madrid Morning Chronicle of 10th July says Ferdinand is adamant he will never sacrifice an inch of territory.
Sat 11th Dec 1819
Bengal Hurkaru, 15th Nov – American newspapers for June seem to be full of woe. USA has imported $8 millions of silver in the previous year but it has all disappeared and the banks are in precarious shape. US commercial debts to England have increased. US merchants have provided a heap of government and bank stock as security. They fear they will be paying a perpetual tax to London on financial instruments. US manufacturers are short of money and some few have closed. Cotton is undervalued in Liverpool. An increasing number of skilled and useful men cannot find jobs.
Sat 11th Dec 1819
Ohio has solicited the American Congress to ask the President to apply to the Spanish government to build a canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans at the Lake of Nicaragua or wherever is most suitable (there are a couple of possible routes in New Spain).
This is a revolutionary concept and it is difficult to foresee its full effects but, if acted upon, it appears to give Spain control of the commerce of the World. Spain could also bring her silver home at half the price it costs now. It also opens the fur trade of the Pacific North West to Europe. Even our Indian and China trade would be attracted to the canal at certain seasons of the year. It would instantly make the World a smaller place.
Whilst Ohio holds its breath, the Pasha of Egypt acts. He has 50,000 men digging a canal from the Red Sea to the Nile. It is an enormous project. It will have a distinct influence on Indian trade and may threaten British interests in Asia.
Sat 11th Dec 1819
There is a strange distress affecting American merchants. North Carolina and Maryland are in the worst difficulties but all the states are more or less the same. It appears a general reduction of prices has caught the mercantile classes with too much over-priced stock on their hands. Baltimore City Bank has resumed partial cash payments which has eased tension there but it is a rare gleam of hope in a generally depressing picture. Representatives from all the banks in the country are assembling to discuss what to do.35
Sat 1st Jan 1820
Lord Selkirk has developed a colony on the Red River, which runs north into Lake Manitoba. The new colony (forerunner of Winnipeg) is within the monopoly area of the North West Company. It has enabled Selkirk’s colonists to intercept some of the fur trade that formerly travelled further down the river to the North West Company’s depot.
Selkirk is the principal shareholder in the Hudson’s Bay Company. He recognised the commercial advantage of the new site and was equally aware of a great new source of willing colonists in Ireland and Scotland with whom to effect his purpose. He was thus encouraged to push through a Grant of Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company to himself. From the outset it was apparent that he was infringing on the North West Company’s monopoly but in 1813, when Selkirk’s colony was threatened by Indians assisting the Americans in the War of 1812, he was supplied with arms and ammunition for its defence by our government. The government’s willingness to protect the colony gave it some status and Selkirk has built on that.
The North West Company’s Directors tried to deter the Scots from emigrating but this had no discernible effect on the flood of applications. The Directors threatened to provoke the local Indian tribes into attacking Selkirk’s colony, but the Indians were pleased with the convenience that it represented and often camped in its vicinity. From them, the new settlers learned of the North West Company’s intentions to attack them and were made anxious.
In 1815, the North West Company procured a small force to attack Selkirk’s colony. It burnt some buildings and boats and killed a few people. They destroyed several head of cattle and horses. In 1816 they came again from the North West Company’s base at Fort William and Semple the colony manager and many of the settlers were surrounded and executed. The remaining settlers were spared on their agreement to abandon their houses and go away never to return. There are numerous letters of that time indicating the North West Company’s view that co-existence was impossible and it appeared that the second invasion had achieved their object.
Selkirk is an obstinate Scot and deplored this willingness to kill for profit. He was then in Montreal at the time de Meuron’s Regiment was disbanded and some of those soldiers had declined the land offered to them for farming. He recruited and armed 200 of these experienced troops and marched off to the colony but, learning of the latest attack and annihilation of the settlement, diverted to Fort William and demanded the murderers be brought to trial.
The dispute was heard at York and Selkirk was defeated by, he says, a conspiracy of the Judge, prosecutor and Grand Jury. None of his witnesses were heard and most of the Indictments had not been served. He was not discouraged. He then occupied Fort William, claimed magisterial powers, and sent off all the ‘murderers’ he could find to Montreal for prosecution. He seized the property of those he had evicted.
The Hudson’s Bay Company had applied to the minister in March 1816 for a delineation of its boundaries so disputes might be avoided but the Secretary for the Colonies had not yet acted.
For the North West Company it was argued that Selkirk’s entire course of dealing had been predicated on the realisation that a colony on the Red River would attract business from the North West Company which outposts were lower down the river. The scheme was commercial and its locus was disputed.
Selkirk’s pleadings omit an attack in 1814 by Governor MacDonald of Red River Colony on a North West Company outpost in which 500 sacks of provisions were taken. There were subsequent attacks down-river that were limited to destruction and/or robbery of property.
The Hudson’s Bay Company, which is effectively the proprietor of the Red River Colony, seems to have started the contention by responding to the verbal provocations of the North West Company – a familiar tale – but they limited their attacks to theft and damage whereas the North West Company’s response was against people. If there is a difference in their positions, which are both self-interested, it is in the escalation of violence.
Sat 5th Feb 1820
One of the greatest business houses of Baltimore has failed. The manufacturers of Yorkshire and Lancashire are anxious. They have a large exposure to this House on their American cotton purchases.
Sat 13th May 1820
America – Wm Cobbett has insinuated that speculators in America are inundating Britain with forged bank-notes. He says the Americans are doing it to destroy the power of the borough-mongers and make England democratic – how absurd. A Philadelphia paper describes Cobbett as unprincipled. He has exhumed the remains of Tom Paine and taken them to England which has caused widespread distress in USA. The Americans in turn suspect that if any forged bank-notes arrive in England from America they are most likely sent by the friends of Cobbett.
Sat 27th May 1820
American re-exports of China tea smuggled to Liverpool and thereabouts are said to approximate 1½ million pounds a year.36 In a debate on the state of the country in House of Lords 30th November, Lansdowne suggested the tea duty be reduced on the lower qualities in order to deter smuggling and recover a revenue from the many tea-drinkers of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire and the midlands.
He also suggested the duties on all articles of common consumption be reduced to alleviate hardship.
Sat 3rd June 1820
Imports of American cotton have resumed at Liverpool and the factories are beginning to commence production. It appears that an end to the widespread distress is in sight.
Sat 23rd Sept 1820
The new U S Navigation Act is intended to reciprocate ours. The Americans seem to assert an equality with England. As they say we do not admit American shipping into the ports of British colonies, they will not admit our colonial shipping into American ports either.
Sat 23rd Sept 1820
Now King Ferdinand VII of Spain has returned to reality, the Treaty with USA for the cession of the Floridas is being ratified. Ferdinand nevertheless retains faith in his Divine Right and has many people in powerful positions who continue to support him.
Sat 28th Oct 1820
Ferdinand VII of Spain has incurred the disgust of the American government. Having finally agreed to trade the Floridas and sign a Treaty to that effect, it turns out in his recent ratification that two extensive land grants in the area, which were previously made to the Duke of Alagon and Conde de Puñón Rostro, are excepted from the ceded lands.
As a result the President had to reject the Treaty and decline to accredit General Vives, the putative Spanish ambassador to USA, who was the bearer of the news.
Sat 9th June 1821
The American President has addressed the 2nd session of the 16th Congress on its opening:
Our free, virtuous and enlightened people understand the sources of their happiness. In our huge country we undertake all sorts of endeavour and at the present time a few of our efforts have provided little reward whilst others have continued satisfactorily. We have to consider the whole.
Such difficulties as we experience are derived from external forces. Europe was shaken by a long and destructive war. The sudden transition to peace initially caused commercial euphoria and then disappointment. America was herself ultimately unable to avoid involvement which cost us heavy losses, produced great debts and necessarily inflated the money supply, making everything expensive.
Nevertheless, we have been able to maintain a degree of prosperity. There has been no curtailment of individual rights and the Union continues to rise to greatness under the Federal government. The wise distribution of power between states and nation promotes happiness. Our blessings are manifold and glorious. I see the present troublesome events as warnings of the dangers we should shun forever. We must retain the simplicity, purity and economy of our institutions. It is from these that the strength and vigour of the nation is born.
Europe remains unsettled. Peace is not assured. We must be vigilant and zealous in protecting what we have. We must be prepared for the worst whilst bilaterally settling our relations with our trading partners on a basis of reciprocity.
Our treaty with Spain remained unratified as of May 1820. Some troublemakers have sought to convert parts of eastern Florida into trading depots from whence to smuggle into these United States.
Britain has continued her restrictive commercial policy with us. We have acted defensively, solely to prevent British monopolisation of our international commerce. The 1st article of the Treaty of Ghent (US agreement to indemnify the slave-owners) has been referred to the Tsar for His arbitration.
The attempt to make reciprocity the basis to our commerce with France continues without any development. However reciprocity is the fundamental policy for our international trade and will not be abandoned.
South America appears to be consolidating its independence from Spain. The old colonies of Venezuela and New Grenada are successfully managing both the war with Spain and the internal administration of their countries and the Spanish concession to allow the Constitution of 1812 within Spain itself must improve the prospects of the independents in South America. None of the European powers are formally helping Spain except with friendly advice.
Our national finances are very satisfactory.
On 30th Sept 1815 our national debt was US$120 million. Adding this amount to the 5% stock of the Bank of the United States, the Mississippi stock and the balances due to some states for military services and supplies in the War of 1812, the total Federal debt was $159 millions at that date.
On 30th Sept 1820 it was $92 millions.
As well as paying down the debt, we have rebuilt Washington, commenced the repair of our boundary fortifications, built permanent arsenals and augmented our war supplies. This reveals the strength of national finances, particularly when it is recalled that direct taxation and excise duty were both repealed after the war.
Your government receives and spends about $16 millions a year. Our strong financial state enabled us to borrow $3 millions last session at 5%. The sale of public lands has resulted in debts of $23 millions due from the states to the Federal government. In view of the global slowdown in commerce, I ask Congress to consider extending the repayment period to those land purchasers, particularly those who bought at the height of the market.
Sat 9th June 1821
New York, 18th Dec – $150,000 in silver was sent from here to Philadelphia today for a ship sailing to India.
Lyons & Co., proprietors of the Citizens’ Line of Stage Coaches, fitted out 6 extra post coaches to carry the shipment.
Sat 8th Sept 1821
Richmond Enquirer, 20th March – General Jackson is appointed Governor of Florida and is going to Pensacola. American claims under the treaty are about $40 millions and three Spanish Commissioners are coming to negotiate their settlement but have not yet been appointed. Meade’s claim alone is $500,000 for goods and services to the Spanish army and is well documented. The others will probably have to be content with 50%.
Sat 27th April 1822
Baron Charles Dupin has written an interesting French opinion called Voyages dans la Grande Bretagne which considers various aspects of the late war. Much of it, in connection with the plans for the invasion of Britain, belongs to the ‘what if’ school of history.
Dupin makes interesting reference to the War of 1812 that does not fully accord with the British view. Concerning prize-taking, he notes the English took 1,699 merchant ships whilst the Americans took 1,200 British. Dupin considers the cost of prize-taking to British commerce in bankruptcies and disrupted production was important persuasion for the ministry to ultimately make peace. He also notes the concession that America wanted but could not obtain at the outset of war (the commercial reciprocity clause) was granted in the peace treaty.37 British histories, on the other hand, refer to the great disparity in warships lost or captured (22 to 9) and the burning of Washington to establish the War of 1812 as their decisive victory.
In spite of the overwhelming size of the Royal Navy, Dupin says its ships were engaged in warship-to-warship combat only about once per month globally on average. To man this enormous force, the Admiralty pressed inexperienced recruits and employed many foreigners. The Royal Navy was an ancient institution with fixed traditions and procedures that were difficult to change or adapt whereas the Americans formed their navy for the war from first principles. Their frigates were larger, stronger, better gunned, than British frigates. The larger guns permitted firing from greater distance before the British could close. American naval gunners were well-trained and effective. They often destroyed the rigging of the British warship rendering it unnavigable. The sailors were paid well and great advantages were offered to British deserters. The Americans were in any event skilled sailors and navigators, man for man the equal of the British tar. U S marksmen in the rigging were astonishingly accurate, using carbines to fire downwards. To this was added the enthusiasm of the American sailor who fought for freedom under the mildest and most fully representative government. All these considerations were brought together in the great national effort against the Royal Navy which soon sought to even the odds by building frigates with similar fighting characteristics.
Sat 8th June 1822
An American newspaper reports that a single mercantile house in Philadelphia has sent £1 million in gold to London during the last 9 months, apparently to create a bank to finance the purchase of European manufactures.
Sat 29th June 1822
The expenditure of the U S Federal Government for 1822 is estimated at less than $15 millions or £3+ million. It includes the Civil List, the armed forces and interest on the national debt. It is 5-6% of British government expenditure.
Sat 20th July 1822
The American President Monroe has advised Congress of a difficulty with Clause 8 of the Treaty of 1803 ceding Louisiana to the United States. It was agreed that after 12 years, i.e. from 1815, the ships of Spain and France should have access to the ports of Louisiana on the same terms as are extended to American ships; and that French ships should have MFN status (i.e. any trading concession granted to any country by USA must also be granted to France). The French construction of this term gives her an advantage over other nations in her trade with USA. This construction conflicts with U S revenue laws which are supposed to be applied even-handedly to all nations.
Concerning Florida, the requirements of the Treaty of 22nd Feb has been partly done. East and West Florida have been transferred to American sovereignty. The Spanish plenipotentiaries have yet to transfer the land-ownership records of Florida.
The U S President has pragmatically commended Congress to recognise the independent Republics of South America without waiting for the Europeans to decide. This will give America a distinct trading advantage and will pressure the British to act similarly. Spain was the first European country after France to recognise the independence of the USA; now USA is the first country to recognise the independence of the Spanish colonies. Shakespeare said thus “Even-handed justice Commends the ingredients of the poisoned chalice To our own lips”
Sat 10th August 1822
A Charleston newspaper of 13th Feb reports that representatives of the great European trading powers – Britain, France, Russia, Spain, Sweden – and several Consuls General now reside at Washington with the exception of Denmark whose representative lives at Philadelphia.
Sat 24th Aug 1822
House of Commons, 7th April – Robinson, President of the Board of Trade, has introduced two Bills that will, if enacted, open the trade of British West Indian colonies to all. Our monopolisation of that trade has frustrated the Americans and induced all sorts of scams and smuggling. A substantial part of American trade is done on British capital and it is advantageous to us to encourage it.38
The first Bill opens a free trade between US ports and British West Indian ports. Formerly this trade was restricted to British registered ships, built in Britain and crewed by Britons.
The second Bill opens a free trade between Europe and our colonies globally without requiring the foreign ship to bring the colonial produce to London first.
If these Bills are passed it heralds the beginning of free trade in West Indies.
Sat 7th Sept 1822
The West Indian farmers have petitioned the House of Commons to protest a breach of agreement. They say the deal they made was for them to have a monopoly of the British sugar market and Britain to have a monopoly of their manufactures market. They themselves have enforced the monopoly and permitted access to only British ships and British goods but the ministry has reneged on its commitment. Many thousands of British sailors are employed in the carriage of goods to and fro. British buyers of West Indian sugar pay £3.5 millions into the Exchequer in Customs duty.
They say the export of East Indian sugar from India is a matter of trivial importance to the India Company and should be ended. Their own survival imperatively demands it (NB – East Indian sugar has been subject to extra duty since 1813 in an attempt to support West Indian farmers)
Secondly, they protest that slave-grown sugar undercuts their own price and they pray for vigorous measures to suppress the slave traffic.
Their third complaint concerns West Indian / United States trade. The British regulations are supposed to ensure that all trade between West Indies and America is in British ships. Contrarily, the Americans offload and reload British manufactures in their own ports (or simply switch documents) thus giving the goods the superficial appearance of American exports and circumventing the legislative restriction. This gives employment to American ships and sailors at British expense. A second complaint against the Americans arises from their recent occupation of the Floridas. This gives them several safe ports close to the trade route between West Indies and Europe and threatens West Indian trade should we again quarrel with USA.
Sat 28th Sept 1822
There is a dispute between Russia and USA concerning the Canadian west coast. Russia claims it down to 51º N and the offshore islands to 100 Italian Miles from the coast. With her claims to the Siberian coast, this effectively gives Russia the entire north Pacific. The claim was sent to inter alia the British government and we protested at that time but took no action subsequently.
These limits are adopted in a new Regulation of the Russian-American Company which the Tsar approved in 1821. Only Russian ships are allowed in the ports of that coast. Russia says the location of her settlement of Nov-Archangelsk at 57º N (the southernmost port) is irrelevant to the maintenance of her claim.
She has given notice to Adams for USA and says she will enforce her claim in future. The claim derives from the voyages of discovery undertaken in Peter the Great’s reign when Russian navigators (Behring’s first voyage was in 1728) found a way from the Arctic Ocean into the Pacific. Behring’s discoveries were extended to 49ºN by Tchericoff (whose descendants were later found in Spanish lands at 42ºN – now the northern border of California). By 1763 Russia had a permanent base on Kodiak. That is the basis of claim.
When the Spanish sought to make a base at Vancouver, they were dissuaded by the existence of the Russian presence and restricted their developments to below 42º50’N. The present Russian-American Company was chartered by Tsar Paul in 1789 with jurisdiction over the N W American coast to 55ºN and authority to extend their domains to the south provided they did not encroach on the domains of other powers. The Russians considered the existing US trading post at 46ºN at the mouth of the Columbia River and apportioned the space 50/50 between that post and the southernmost Russian colony, thus setting the frontier at 51ºN. The Tsar says the reasonableness of the proposal had seemed to not require the sanction of a treaty.
America says any claim below the latitude of the southernmost Russian colony is absurd. America has an agreement with Spain (Treaty of Washington, 1819) that limits US presence to north of 42ºN but that treaty naturally does not address the northern extent of US lands. The Americans intend to claim the west coast between the Spanish and Russian claims to avoid being closed-out of the Pacific.
The Americans have been buying sea otter pelts from the Indians of N W America for sale in China where they fetch a high price. The trade has continued for many years and is extremely profitable. It will not be willingly abandoned.
Sat 30th Nov 1822
House of Lords, 17th June – the Lords are debating trade. The Navigation Laws are intended to make England the entrepot of the world. We will not achieve this aim if we overly tax the produce of other countries.
It has been our experience that the more foreign countries increase their wealth, the more our trade benefits from it. The recent distress of our manufacturers was due to our inability to find return cargoes, it was said. The more import duties that we cancel, the more trade we will do.
The West Indian and American Trade Bill opens trade between those two areas with only a protective tariff on goods not imported in British ships.
The Colonial Trade Bill authorises free trade with all foreign colonies, whether independent or not (i.e. South America is included).
Sat 30th Nov 1822
A Bill to unite the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada was read for the first time in the House of Commons on 20th June. The constitutions of these provinces were bestowed upon them by the British legislature and there is no need to consult the Canadian people on the new arrangement. The Bill merely unites the two and creates a joint legislature.
Sat 18th Jan 1823
British commerce is settling into a peacetime style. During the war we held international trade exclusively in our own hands and were able to charge what we liked, even for commodities. The resultant wealth that flooded the country made commercial endeavours appear ‘easy money’.
With the peace, our neighbours have resumed competition with us and profits of trade have been greatly reduced. Our advantages are our lead in industrial technology, our native ingenuity and our unrivalled knowledge of the ways of global trade that derived from our occupation of all our neighbours’ colonies. These advantages and our superiority in available capital and insurance services are the tools to maintain our comparative advantage.
This change to peace has reduced our unit profits but our overall markets have grown immensely and a smaller share of a larger cake is still highly profitable. The opportunities now being presented by South America are of great national importance. In that market we presently compete only with USA but the North Americans cannot supply manufactured goods nor would the South Americans choose to buy agricultural products. They have to buy the former from us which gives us an easy profit; and they have to sell the latter to Europe which allows us to compete with European national production.39
Sat 22nd March 1823
The amendment of the British Navigation Laws and consequent opening of British West Indian ports has permitted the U S administration to reciprocate with the opening of mainland American ports to our ships.
Sat 7th June 1823
The Scotsman has published a statement of the costs of British colonies in the year ended Dec 1820. Mostly they are in America – Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Bermuda, Bahamas, Windward & Leeward Islands and Jamaica. There is also the Cape and Mauritius on the way to Asia, the bases in the Mediterranean – Malta, the Seven Islands and Gibraltar. In Africa we have Sierra Leone and the Gambia. We also have Heligoland in the North Sea.
Altogether local revenue collected and expended was £1.9 million but these colonies cost £1.6 millions more to administer (total cost – £3.5 millions). This was in a time of peace and would be more expensive in war.
There are only two ways to make a colony pay – either we tax them more than they cost or we develop an exclusive commerce with them. The latter appears preferable but if we cannot make our connection profitable we should make them independent. The Scotsman suggests there is not a single advantage we get from the colonies that we would not get if they were sovereign states themselves. We are already the cheapest manufacturer in the World. These colonies would chose to buy British even if they were free.
The example of the United States is instructive. We thought those were the most valuable colonies we had. We all thought their loss would impoverish us. When the colonists first proposed independence we were astounded and implacably refused it. They took it anyway and what has been the result? Since 1784 we have continued to enjoy every advantage and our trade is presently twelve times what it was in 1780s. Not only that, but we no longer pay to administer and defend the place. So long as we can supply them cheaper than they can supply themselves, this benefit will continue. We send them manufactures; they send us agricultural produce – its perfect.
France has lost almost all her colonies but she gets all the exotic products she needs. There is not a country on the planet that will refuse to sell goods. France is not paying any more than she did when she bought from her colonies. There might have been an argument for colonisation of countries with unique products but that ended with the war. All the exotic spices of the Moluccas are now available in Cayenne, Ceylon, India, etc. Even tea is grown in Java and Brazil as well as China.40
Sat 6th Sept 1823
In the American dispute with Russia, concerning exploitation of the American West coast, it has been asserted that America assumed title to all Spanish claims in North America by its treaties with Napoleon during the war. Those treaties are most commonly associated with the American claims to the Floridas and Louisiana but the Americans say they also relate to other Spanish lands in North America – i.e. California.
It is admitted that the Russians had a small colony at Norfolk Sound from 1799 – 1802 until the local Indian tribes destroyed it.41
The American position is that historical claims of contending European powers are irrelevant and the fact is the local Indians have practical sovereignty of the coast and hinterland. It is with these tribes that American merchants have been trading for 35 years.
Vol 1 No 39 – Sat 15th November 1828
Dom Pascual Enrile has arrived at Manila to assume the governorship of the Philippines. The Manila government has been greatly changed by the removal of all the American-born officials.
Vol 7 No 9 – Tues 4th March 1834
It is not widely known that under the Anglo-American treaty any claims may be pursued by nationals of either country in either jurisdiction provided the countries are not at war.
Vol 7 No 14 – Tues 8th April 1834
President Jackson of America has withdrawn government funds from the Second Bank of the United States and made charges against its management. This is not the serious matter it superficially appears to be but just party politics. The President is dependent on State support for his re-election and will deposit Federal funds in individual State Banks.
Vol 8 No 5 – Tues 3rd February 1835
American ships are the fastest in the World. At first they were merely built for speed and could carry little cargo. Now the new ‘kettle bottoms’ combine capacity with speed. We were accordingly happy to hear that speed trials are being commenced in England to improve the performance of our own national ships.
Vol 8 No 8 – Tues 25th February 1835
New York Evening Post – The Brig John Gilpin has sailed from Baltimore round the Horn to Batavia, to Canton, to Manila, thence via Sunda Straits around Australasia to Valparaiso and to Lima in less than 190 days, averaging 183 miles a day.
Vol 8 No 19 – Tues 12th May 1835
Message of the US President to Congress:
Our relations with Europe are generally satisfactory. We have a minor dispute with England over our N E frontier and a trade dispute with Belgium but neither is insoluble. Our problem lies with France. Her aggression against our trade between 1800 – 1817 is well known but each successive French administration denies our claims. I conclude that negotiations are ineffectual but we should have some means of pressing France to honour its treaty obligations to us. We could cut off her American trade or subject it to high duties but either course will act to the detriment of our own trade. Whatever we do to France will tend to obscure the justice of our claims.
There is one claim that we can pursue – France has already agreed to pay us a sum in compensation for this claim but has not done so. Our policy should be to give France no pretence for further delay. It has taken 25 years to obtain French recognition of our claims under treaty. It should not take another 25 years to get payment. International law allows us to seize French property within our jurisdiction without going to war. This remedy is occasionally used and was last used by France against Portugal. The timing of our response is up to Congress. If an appropriation is not made by the Deputies in their next session it will be adequately clear that France does not intend payment. At that time even one day’s delay on our part would be too long. It would be a stain on our national honour and a denial of justice to those Americans who have been injured. I recommend that a law be enacted permitting reprisals on French property should the French chamber make no provision in its next session. This will evidence our determination to have justice. Should she respond with violence she will earn the censure of civilised nations.
Vol 8 No 23 – Tues 9th June 1835
A dispute between the American Federal government and Barings has led to the dismissal of the British merchant bank and its replacement by N M Rothschild & Co as the financial agent of the Department of State from 1st January 1836.42
Vol 8 No 30 – Tues 28th July 1835
New York Enquirer, 6th March – The American Congress has ratified the proposals of President Jackson and insists that the Treaty with France of 4th July 1831 be maintained and its execution insisted upon. America is telling France that it is prepared to make France pay its debts and it is for France to decide whether it wants friendly or hostile relations between the countries.
Almost all the 15,000,000 people of the States support the policy. The U S will insist on its treaty rights and require France to honour its treaty obligations. If war be the consequence, so be it.
Vol 9 No 18 – 3rd May 1836
The United Services Journal for July 1835 compares pay scales in the British and American navies. The Americans get 50 – 200% more than the British in each class of employment.
Vol 9 No 47 – Tuesday 22nd November 1836
On 4th July 1837 the U S Flag will be spangled with 26 stars on the admission of Arkansas and Michigan to the Union. In 1818, when there were 20 states in the Union, it was enacted that on the entry of additional states an extra star for each one will be added to the flag, effective on the following 4th July.
The 13 stripes, denoting the original 13 states, were increased to 15 with the entry of Vermont and Kentucky but as the number of states grew it was perceived that not all could have a stripe and the flag then reverted to the original thirteen.
Vol 9 No 49 – Tuesday 6th December 1836
Sericulture in America – Massachusetts has incorporated a silk company which has bought a farm at Framingham and planted out a mulberry orchard preparatory to manufacturing silk. The orchard will extend to 100 acres this year. They have imported machinery for the manufacture of thread. All the cocoons are raised in New England.
New Jersey also has a silk manufactory and Judge Chambers of Kentucky is proposing a similar venture. In Connecticut, the Lisbon Silk Factory, near Norwich, makes $150 worth of silk goods each week. It employs three men and three boys. Meanwhile the government of Cuba is also introducing sericulture.
Vol 10 No 25 – 20th June 1837
American agricultural origins:
- USA produces 400 million lbs of cotton annually. The entire crop derives from plants of Sea Island cotton reportedly taken originally from Persia.
- Carolina rice, which sells at twice the price of Indian rice in London, originated from a sack of East Indian rice given by Mr C Daboral of India House to an American trader.
- West Indian coffee originated from a single Arabica plant matured in a hot house in Amsterdam.
Vol 10 No 29 – 18th July 1837
American news :
- There has been an amazing increase in the American cotton stock. According to a report from New Orleans dated 3rd December 1836, dealers estimate the production of Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Alabama, Tennessee and the Atlantic states this year at 270,000 bales (1 bale – 400 lbs). Stock remaining from last year is 1,366,550 bales. There is 113,000 bales in the warehouses of which 40,000 bales are unsold. The excess is accumulating through want of shipping. Every open place is being used for storage. Speculators have become involved and a collapse of prices is imminent.
- Reports from Natchitoches via Red River say 150 Mexican cavalry have occupied the Alamo at San Antonio de Bazar and advanced on the Guadeloupe River.
Vol 10 No 37 – 12th September 1837
Various London papers:
- America is in financial crisis. The merchant bankers Hicks Lawrence & Co and S & M Allen have failed in New York. Exchange is at a 10½ – 12% premium but even then few houses could sell Bills on London. The Second Bank of the United States has sold bonds on two thirds credit at 7% premium and they have been resold at par which has fixed the interest rate at 4% per month.
- U S shares quoted in London have dropped about 20% in the last few months. Cotton continues to decline and twenty firms have failed in New Orleans. Two British firms in American trade (Thomas Wilson & Co and Timothy Wiggins & Co) have been assisted by the Bank of England which has increased the money in circulation. George Wilde & Co has been allowed to fail.
Vol 10 No 42 – 17th October 1837
Observer, 21st May 1837:
The U S Ambassador to St James has recommended his government to send no silver to London to relieve the financial embarrassment of England.
He says the political disturbances in England are prompted by her financial difficulties.
If the power of the capitalists is crippled, it will raise the democratic forces of the country and Ireland will be freed. If America sends specie now it will enable the Tories to overawe and dominate the people.
It is regrettable that the minister of a friendly power should have thought it appropriate to promote a financial and political convulsion in England. The promotion of reform in England must follow a considered course. Even the Whigs cannot support Ambassador Andrew Stevenson’s ideas.
Vol 11 No 20 – 15th May 1838
Weekly Chronicle, 29th October 1837 – On 14th August 1837 HMS Harpy arrived at Trinidad with confirmation of the sentences pronounced on Daniel Stewart, Edward Coffin and Maurice Ogston for mutiny. They were to be shot by musketry. Sentence was carried out on 16th August. It is British practice for twelve soldiers selected at random to comprise the firing party. Eight are used in the first volley and four reserved in case any criminal still survives. The firing party is not allowed to load its own muskets. It has become the practice to load eleven muskets with ball and one with a blank so the firing party remain uncertain of their role in the deaths.
The sun was shining splendidly that morning when, a little before 8 am, the condemned men emerged, dressed from head to foot in white bordered with black, to follow their coffins to the execution ground. They marched abreast, shoeless with their arms bound. They displayed no fear but each had a cadaverous look. Stewart was particularly impressive at 6’ 6” with a slight cast in his eye that gave him a forbidding appearance. The graves were dug, the coffins laid nearby and the three men turned to windward. Three sides of a square were formed by a detachment of the 89th regiment and the 1st West India regiment.
The West Indian recruits, many of whom were as guilty as the condemned men, were lined up to face the culprits. In front of the recruits was the firing party. The charges were read and the sentence of the courts-martial together with the approval of sentence given by Sir Stamford Whittingham and the confirmation of that approval by the Lieutenant-Governor
The chaplain read an appropriate passage from the bible – the one that begins ‘man that is born of woman has but a short time to live’ and ending with ‘in the midst of life we are in death’.
All this administrative ceremonial stuff took 22 minutes. The men were then directed to kneel and sat on their heels in the West Indian manner. Their night caps were pulled down over their faces and the firing party advanced. Then Stewart threw back his cap angrily and protested in a deep metallic voice. Ogston did the same. The Provost-Marshall ordered the firing party ‘ready’, ‘present’ but Stewart’s voice was louder. At that moment he suddenly spun round and received the volley in his back. The volley was a bit irregular but well directed. All three men fell. Ogston shuddered slightly before death, Stewart and Coffin never moved. There was little blood except from a wound in Coffin’s neck. Stewart was hit in the back of the head which carried away his forehead.
Vol 12 No 9 – 26th February 1839
Mr Biddle’s Second Bank of the United States appears to be insolvent. He has employed the Bank’s funds to speculate on cotton and the massive over-supply from the Southern states has collapsed the market. But Biddle had thoughtfully spread the risk by involving all sorts of other people in his speculation:
The American Bank’s commercial procedure is to buy a merchant’s Bill on the security of his cotton shipment to London. They send the bill to their London agent who discounts it. At the same time that he remits the customer’s Bill, Biddle draws on the London agent for the same amount at 60 days sight. The London agent carries the risk for 60 days.43
This is the same procedure that destroyed the standing of several great American houses last year. We do not understand why the Bank of England allows it. Mr Biddle uses others’ capital to raise the price of his cotton by withholding it from sale.
Marketing of the entire American cotton crop needs reorganising. The fundamental unit of cotton trade is the bale. Bales are supposed to contain 400 lbs. Recently they have dropped towards 200 lbs.
Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839
The Leeds Intelligencer, 29th December 1838 – The American President van Buren has spoken to his people concerning the Canadian boundary. He expects to establish a Boundary Commission with the British to finally align the frontier. He regrets that Americans have promoted insurrection in Canada:
‘They have made armed incursions into that colony of a friendly power intent on changing the government in disregard of their obligations and of American law. These criminal assaults have destroyed many Americans who engaged in them.
The Canadians have enlisted a militia against those Americans who have invaded them and we have the makings of a war on our own doorstep. It is US policy to be neutral to Britain and we will act against those Americans who disturb the peace and endanger our policies. We must uphold the spirit of our Constitution. This is our law that we made ourselves. Its enforcement underlies our national honour. These incursions will be put down.’
He also expects to make peace with Mexico through the intermediary of a friendly power.
His government is in negotiation with many Indian tribes who obstruct the American advance to the South and West. Historically these talks have resulted in the removal of the Indians, or the purchase of their lands or the terrorising of their peoples. There is considerable detail in van Buren’s original document.
The London Colonial Gazette of 19th January 1839 commented on the speech:
The American President may deprecate war but what of his people? A group of private American citizens has invaded Texas and established themselves. They have introduced slavery to Texas, a curse never seen there before. Although the government did not instigate the attacks, it did next to nothing to stop them. No American neighbour is safe. The pacific spirit that hitherto animated American government officials has become unreliable. We should stimulate the loyalty that the Canadians have shown to our Queen and country. They have shown determination to resist US expansion. We should check what our colonists really want and act accordingly.
Vol 12 No 24 – 11th June 1839
Baynes’ History of Cotton Manufacture – the invention of spinning machines in England created and stimulated cotton farming in America. The cheapness of slave-picked cotton ensured the American supply was competitively priced. There is now more cotton harvested from the Mississippi states than the Atlantic states. Although it is cheap, the organisers must be satisfied with its profitability as the area under cultivation is extended year after year. This increase of production in America stimulated British industry to extend mechanisation of spinning of the thread to the knitting and weaving of fabrics.
This is how distant nations influence each other – they become mutually dependent. It guarantees peace. If America declares war on England it inevitably declares war on its own cotton-producing states. Now 9% of the British population is involved in the cotton trade and nearly 50% of our exports (and two thirds of British public revenue) are from cotton goods. This trade has risen from obscurity to staple in little more than fifty years and it is still growing.
Vol 12 No 27 – 2nd July 1839
London news, 2nd March:
Problems with the Americans continue along the Canadian border. Private letters from Americans all unanimously assert American right to the lands in contention. The Governor of Maine appears to be taking a leading position. He has sent 200 armed men into the disputed area (around the Aroostook River) in New Brunswick and to the north of his state purportedly to prevent illegal logging. The US President suggests each country should administer part of the disputed area until a formal agreement can be reached. The Congress has now offered war if England will not forego its claims.
American securities listed in London have fallen on the news and trade between the two countries is declining. The cotton trade is badly affected. Depression in the London and Liverpool markets has reduced American shipments since 1st October to 302,000 bales, little more than half of last year’s figure at this time.
Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840
The balance of American trade with China over the period 1820 – 1838 is $8,395,000 in favour of China. After adding $3 millions for Indian cotton and $12 million for Indian opium, all shipped on American account, the balance becomes $7 million in favour of America.
$4 millions to India and $2 millions to England was exported as silver.
Wetmore was a leading American merchant in China trade and he personally amassed a little more than $1 million from his trade.
Vol 13 No 28 – 14th July 1840
Petition of the people of Pennsylvania:
The American government is importing many bloodhounds from Cuba to exterminate the Seminole Indians in Florida and annex their lands. The Spanish used bloodhounds before and were widely castigated for barbarity. It is wrong.
The Senate replies it did not authorise the import of dogs and knows nothing. Senator Lumpkin said the Seminoles were barbarous – Col Harney opened a trading shop on their land and the Indians killed everyone in it. It was appropriate to use dogs to kill them. He said some States had laws paying a premium to bloodhound breeders expressly for their use against Indians.44
Vol 14 No 39 – 28th September 1841
An article from the Penny Magazine notes America is Britain’s largest trading partner in both imports and exports. The author hopes that war will not be permitted to break out between the two countries.45
Vol 14 No 49 – 7th December 1841
Charles Elliot, the former Superintendent of British Trade in China, has been made Consul-General to the Republic of Texas. He’ll probably get the orders en route home and go there directly. This appointment may have two purposes – firstly, to rehabilitate him in an out-of-the-way place and secondly, to facilitate the repudiation of his opium debts.46
Vol 14 No 50 – 14th December 1841
The census of 1840 establishes the population of the United States at 17,100,572.
Friend of China, 14th April 1842:
New York papers, just received, report the appointment of John Quincy Adams as Chairman of the Congressional Committee on Foreign Relations in place of Mr Caleb Cushing. Mr Adams is not expected to display the bigoted hostility to England of his predecessor.
Friend of China, 21st April 1842:
The US Government is bankrupt. Her capitalists declined to subscribe to a Federal government loan. The civil service and armed forces are not being paid. The deficiency is about $14 millions.
In South America every government is in debt and the total is estimated at $100 millions.
In Europe the value of government debt is believed to exceed $3,000 million. The only government in the world with fiscal prudence nowadays is China.47
Friend of China, 28th April 1842:
The Republic of Texas had a population of 300,000 at March 1841. Its imports for the 15 prior months were worth $1,670,000 and exports $220,000. Texas tried to raise a loan in London but failed because of the monetary crisis in America and general lack of confidence. It is an independent Republic, not part of the USA. Texas then approached France where Lafitte & Co in Paris have now arranged a loan. It is secured on the next 10 years of Texan Customs revenue. Texas is required to sell 3,000,000 acres of good land to Lafitte’s nominees. It is required to leave 25% of the advance on deposit with Lafitte for 2 years. Whilst Texas gets only $150 for every $200 borrowed (for the first two years) she pays interest at 6% per annum on the total loan of FF35,000,000. If the Republic of Texas was in financial trouble previously it is dead now.
Friend of China 28.4.42 edition
The immense debts of numerous U S states has caused English buyers to reduce purchases of American cotton. US newspapers are accordingly pressing the state governments to settle the outstandings.
The New York Herald says Mississippi, Indiana and Illinois will not pay on their bonds. Michigan, Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania will pass their dividends but should eventually make payment of both principal and interest. Louisiana, South Carolina and Maryland and some city and railroad bonds have advertised payment of interest in London of the amounts due up to 1.1.42.
Friend of China 12.5.42 edition
News from America. The Federal deficit is now reported to have reached $14,000,000. Legislators and judges are not being paid.
Friend of China, 19th May 1842:
Lord Ashburton, Francis Baring and Humphrey Mildmay have been found guilty of bribing Mexican legislators to enact a law preventing foreigners owning land. Their purpose was to deprive Thomas Kinder of the advantage that his Mexican landholdings gave him in a contract with the Defendants.
Canton Register Vol 15 No 28 – 5th July 1842
London Times of 30th March 1842 has published Lord Aberdeen’s reply to the American ambassador Stevenson’s note on the ‘right to search’. The American government is concealing it, but it has circulated amongst members of Congress. Stevenson’s arguments are weak. Aberdeen’s response is lucid and reasonable. Stevenson only presented his note after he had left England. Aberdeen had to await the arrival of Mr Everett, as Stevenson had left no locum tenens. This explains the apparent delay.
Stevenson’s complaint was that the British government asserts a right of search of American ships in peacetime. He bases his position on a construction of some comments of Palmerston. Aberdeen renounced the views of his predecessor. He formally renounces a right to search American ships in peacetime.
He distinguishes the right to search, which involves checking nationality, object of voyage and nature of cargo, from establishing the nationality of a ship.
He says once a vessel is established to be American, then British cruisers should abstain from interfering with her, be she a slaver or whatever. To deny this right is to make the American flag a cover for all sorts of piratical enterprise. Stevenson tried to avoid this exact cause of British interest by limiting his objections to ‘bona fide’ American traders and excluding those ships that fraudulently fly the American flag.
Aberdeen quite reasonably asks how these ‘bona fides’ are to be proved. Stevenson must presume that the flag alone establishes nationality, but he fails to do that. His position actually extends American protection to every lawless enterprise.
Aberdeen claims the right to check every vessel about which there are reasonable grounds for suspicion. Stevenson says no other nation except Britain has asserted such a right. Aberdeen notes the constant practice of American cruisers, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, of examining all suspicious vessels whether flying the British flag or whatever. Who says these ships are suspicious? Of course it is the commander of the American cruiser. The right to search is as important to America as to Britain. These checks ensure that trade across the high seas can be safely accomplished.
Canton Register Vol 15, No 31 – 2nd August 1842
American news: Federal finances are in a mess. The Treasury is empty and the legislature is withholding its consent from the President to give security to any party willing to loan money to the Federal Government. Congress seeks to promote individual state rights over the Union.
Commercial banks cannot meet the claims upon them either. Nevertheless, the American Press writes of ‘national honour’ and ‘unsullied credit’ with the now-familiar threats. These gentlemen oppose the delineation of the Canadian boundary with England and wish to bring-on a war. Their exuberant proposals have drawn a public rebuke from Senator Clay.
Friend of China, 4th Aug 1842:
The Sun (apparently a Massachusetts paper):
A gentleman has proposed a solution to American financial constraints – a tax on female beauty. The ladies will rate their own charms on a scale of one to ten and pay the relevant tax. It is expected to be cheerfully paid and very productive.
Friend of China 18.8.42 edition
The Alabama cotton planters have met to discuss the state of their business.
1/ What is the cheapest we can produce cotton – agreed 8¢ per lb delivered at Mobile.
2/ Should we tax foreign cotton manufactures to encourage local manufacture – a majority say ‘yes.’
3/ How long will England buy US cotton in preference to Indian? – only so long as the Indian supply is too small (1830 85,000 bales; 1835 130,000 bales; 1840 230,000 bales)
Friend of China 18.8.42 edition
- The Government of the Republic of Texas has declared a blockade of the ports of Mexico.
- President Boyer of Haiti has personally led his troops into battle against his House of Representatives and put a summary end to their deliberations.
Canton Register Vol 15 No 34 – 23rd August 1842
London Globe – America is trying to woo back European capital. The London and Amsterdam financial houses (Palmer, Cryder, Rothschild, Hope, Willink and Dennistoun, etc.) lost £75 millions in the collapse of American State stocks.
Now the States are pressing the Federal Government to legislatively increase the value of their debt instruments in the expectation that foreign money will then again be advanced to them.
The State bonds all pay 5 – 6%. Illinois bonds are trading at 15% of face value, Indiana 20%, Maryland and Michigan 30 – 40%. Even Pennsylvania is only 50%. We should take care.
The individual States will have to evidence greater straightforwardness in their financial affairs. The Federal government is powerless against the combined effects of corruption and democracy. If the Union breaks down, there will only be the individual States to answer for their debts and they will not find it easy to pay their way.
Friend of China 15.9.42 edition
London news as at 4th April 42:
There has been a big earthquake in Santa Domingo, thousands are reported to have died.
Friend of China, 20.10.42 edition
The New York Journal of Commerce notes that Wisconsin has commenced mining copper. Specimens have been around for many years but this is the first commercial output from the newly settled North Western territory.
Mining from Illinois has already developed very quickly. America is now self-sufficient in lead and competes with England in the export market for that metal. Soon it will be an exporter of copper. The domestic iron manufacture of USA is already valued at $30,000,000 per annum
Trade in (whale) sperm oil to the interior is at an end. It has been superseded by camphene in the East and lard oil in the West. Lard oil has also largely replaced olive oil in cloth manufacture. The use of purified lard for cloth is a novelty.
Robert Peel has just reduced duties on vegetable oil and oil seeds which should increase consumption in England. Many new products have been introduced recently and an oil almost equal to olive has been expressed from the American peanut. The Chinese get oil from a huge variety of nuts and seeds for various purposes and some of these must be useful in England. Further investigation is required.
Friend of China 20.10.42 edition
American news – The delimitation of the Canada / USA frontier is about to be amicably announced.
Friend of China, 27.10.42 edition
The consular system of the USA is faulted by Dr Mayo in a recent review. He says most American consuls are commission merchants engaged in trade at their place of work. They consider the office they fill as a means of increasing their profits and their influence rather than upholding the national interest. This creates jealousy with their competitors and diminishes the dignity of the nation.48
Friend of China 29.12.42 edition
Editorial – The settlement of the north-west boundary dispute between Canada and America was not addressed by Ashburton in his recent treaty negotiations. We fear John Bull will hand over Oregon, which could feed the entire United Kingdom, to Brother Jonathan who is quietly flocking there in great numbers.
Friend of China, 12.1.43 edition
War between America and Mexico:
The Americans are unhappy because Mexicans are giving aid to Texas. The Mexicans thought the financial problems of the United States meant Washington could not effectively respond. Now America has its hands on California it will not be long before it tries to assimilate Oregon and Columbia as well. England should take care of its possessions on the American west coast.
Friend of China, 12.1.43 edition
Commodore Thomas Jones, Commander in Chief of the US Navy in the Pacific, has made a Proclamation to the Spanish-speaking residents of California:
‘If you are peaceful and continue your businesses I offer you citizenship in the United States, whether you are native or foreigner. If you don’t want to join us you will be given time to sell your property and remove but you must remain neutral throughout the time you are here. All supplies you give to the US army or navy will be paid for.‘
Friend of China, 19.1.43 edition
London news – Lord Ashburton has returned from America with a Treaty of Peace resolving our disputes concerning the Canadian boundary, extradition and slave trading. The Americans are said to be very pleased with the agreement but English commentators are not so happy. Details will be published when available.
Friend of China, 2.3.43 edition
We have received the New York papers up to 31.10.42 and the US is not at war with Mexico. The Texans have repulsed the Mexican attacks but sustained heavy losses.
The amount of outstanding US public debt is now $198 millions of which $103 millions was incurred by the 8 states that have defaulted on interest payments on their Bonds. Of these eight only Mississippi has repudiated, the others say they want to pay but have no money. It is however certain that the governments of Pennsylvania and Maryland are lying.
Friend of China, 2.3.43 extraordinary edition
The American Federal Government has put a stiff import duty on silk – $1.50 per lb on pongee and white goods, $2.50 per lb on all others (they seek to protect their own nascent silk industry). This will stimulate the smuggling trade into USA across the Canadian border.
Friend of China, 2.3.43 edition
The Philadelphia Enquirer cites a drug-store owner who says there are many opium eaters and laudanum drinkers in the city. Many are abandoned women; some were introduced to the drug as treatment for disease. Some of them can tolerate up to 4 ounces of laudanum a day, enough to kill four unhabituated adults. Women sometimes come into his drug store trembling all over, order the drug, snatch the laudanum out of his hands and drink it down right there. They pawn their clothes and sell their furniture to buy supply.
Friend of China, 16.3.43 edition
The war between USA and Mexico ended on 21.10.42 and the US force occupying Monterey is being withdrawn. According to the Seminario Filipino, the newspaper in the Spanish colony of Philippines, the whole war lasted 30 hours and was solely due to the shameful acts of Commodore Thomas A Jones, commander of US naval forces in the Pacific.
Friend of China, 23.3.43 edition
Bombay Times reports the production of American goods has accelerated so quickly that prices are dropping. Cotton is cheaper than it has been for many years. This will kill the Bombay cotton farmers.
With US imports restricted by the high tariff and exports so vibrant, the amount of specie at New Orleans is accumulating rapidly. Hopefully America’s good fortune will enable them to put their banking affairs in order.
Friend of China, 23.3.43 edition
New York papers report the Pittsburgh iron mills have fabricated 100 Paixhan guns and Capt Chauncey has inspected them and found them well made (Paixhan guns fire an exploding shell). They are all 32 pounders weighing about 2 tons each. An iron steam frigate is also nearing completion at Pittsburgh.
Friend of China, 6.4.43 edition
It is deplorable that Lord Ashburton’s treaty with the United States did not address the entire boundary between Canada and USA. The ownership of the Columbia River Territory (Oregon) remains in dispute.
While we were concerned to resolve this problem and settle the Sandwich Islands, the patriotic editor of the Colonial Magazine (Montgomery Martin), says we can get £500,000 from bringing the fur trade of this part of the continent to Oregon for export. The Russians are buying our furs and sending them into China via Kyakhta to barter for tea. We could do this from Hong Kong.
Friend of China, 6.4.43 edition
London papers – The US President’s comments on the Ashburton treaty:
‘Britain claims a portion of Oregon that is now occupied by Americans. The two governments should resolve their differences. But it became manifest in the late negotiations that determining the respective rights would have been protracted and, had it failed, might have involved other matters. Rather than forego other advantages, as this matter is not very pressing, its settlement was postponed’.
Friend of China, 11.4.43 edition
The USS Somers, a 10 gun brig, was returning to its home port from Africa when the details of a mutiny were uncovered. The ringleader was Mr Midshipman Spencer, son of the US Secretary at War. He was 19 years old at the time. He and two associates were instantly hanged from the yardarm.
Friend of China, 22.6.43 edition
President Tyler has enunciated American maritime policy. He says a belligerent’s right to search ships and his right to visit ships is identical. He regards both as abandoned by Great Britain under the Washington Treaty. His view has been noted in London where it was thought it is contrary to Britain’s construction of her claimed rights and will be debated.
Friend of China 22.6.43 edition
Extract from the Times concerning Oregon Territory sometimes called Columbia River Territory (a British possession on the American west coast):
Recent events in China make it apparent that as Chinese commerce and trade increases there will be an effect on the other nations of the Pacific Rim. This may be expected to particularly affect our Australian colonies and the North West of America. It highlights the need for a canal across the isthmus of Panama. The U S Government is alive to these foreseeable changes and President Tyler has asked Congress for a handsome provision for his representative to the Celestial court.
He has at the same time observed the importance that the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) might assume in such a new pattern of World trade and has accordingly published American recognition of Kamehameha III’s native government. The French have indicated the care with which they are observing these developments by their own occupation of the Marquesas. The Spanish assert a claim to these islands but no-one listens to them anymore. The French will develop them better, using them for trade in peace and as a base in war, but actually they lie too far south to be realistic challengers to the Sandwich Islands for the cross-Pacific trade and ship-repairing and provisioning business.
In spite of the blind unsparing haste with which our democratic descendants are rushing West to appropriate the ample Oregon territory, it seems unlikely that these rude backwoodsmen should reach the Pacific in our lifetimes. Nevertheless we should suspect that America intends to claim Oregon by leaping over the normal development of the next fifty years, sending emigrants directly there and increasing her settlements in the disputed area.
British America and the United States occupy the area between Russian and Spanish America. We have to settle these boundaries. Oregon may be an unpeopled region with a savage coast, but when the Treaty of Washington was signed last August the question of the Oregon boundary, whilst absolutely understood, was not addressed. In future the oldest nations of the Far East may be blended with those unborn states in the Far West, united by that ocean that rolls between the utmost limits of the old and new hemispheres.
Friend of China, 17.8.43 edition – Rumour
Capt Elliot has proposed to the government of the Republic of Texas that it abolish slavery in return for British recognition of Texan independence from Mexico.
Friend of China 31.8.43 edition
M/s Chang and Eng, Siamese twins, have married the Misses Sarah and Adelaide Yeates of Wilkes County, North Carolina.
Friend of China, 31.8.43 edition
American news – Mr Webster has resigned as Secretary of State and abandoned his proposed commercial treaty with England
The Anglophobe Caleb Cushing leaves for China 1.7.43 on the Brandywine.
Friend of China 14.9.43 edition
London news from the overland mail up to 6th July:
The French and American press protest British occupation of the Sandwich Islands. They should note that this occupation is professedly provisional and may not be ratified by parliament.
Friend of China, 5.10.43 edition
Manchester Guardian – The American cotton crop this year is enormous. 2,195,328 bales had arrived at U S ports by mid May and is increasing at 40,000 bales per week. A total crop of over 2,350,000 bales is expected. The export to Britain will be c. 1,300,000 bales. Vessels available to this country are numerous and freight rates accordingly low. We could receive 1,500,000 bales by early September. The stock in Liverpool at 900,000+ bales now far exceeds the same time last year which was itself a record.
Friend of China, 12.10.43 edition
The Cincinnati Gazette says there are nine lard oil factories in town, five of which produce 150,000 gallons of lard oil per annum. One of these factories produced 123,966 lbs of stearine (glyceryl stearate) in eleven months. Some of this is suitable for culinary purposes and only a small part is used for candles. Stearine is confused with tallow at New Orleans and the quantities exported of each are accordingly difficult to assess but the records do show an increasing quantity of ‘tallow’ being received at New Orleans from the west. One Cincinnati establishment manufactured 150,000 lbs of stearine candles last year. They are said to be as brilliant as sperm oil but they burn longer and waste less. Stearine candles require 16-19ºF more heat than sperm to melt. Consequently there is less accumulation of melted grease which makes them cleaner to use. They cost 25¢ per lb and are superseding sperm in the west. They are regularly shipped along the Caribbean north coast and to Havana and are well considered everywhere.
Friend of China, 12.10.43 edition
The New York Spectator has been considering great wealth:
Mr Arkwright was the richest man in Europe. He may have been ponderous but he was a leviathan capitalist. Only one man has half his wealth – Mr Salomon Heine of Hamburg – he has £4 millions approx. It should be recalled that Mr Arkwright’s estates included landed property to a value of £1 – £2 millions which was not included in the calculation of his estate duty.
While the Barings, the Rothschilds and the Hopes are immensely wealthy they cannot compare. Only by accumulating all the fortunes distributed in profits by the House of Baring and adding it to the firm’s capital might one approximate Arkwright’s total. All the capital of all the Rothschilds throughout Europe might reach half of Arkwright’s fortune (c. £4 millions).
In America the only man to approach Arkwright is Mr Astor of New York whose vast holdings of real estate and in commerce are said to be worth $16-17 millions or about £4 millions.
Another rich American was Stephen Girard. He made his money in Santo Domingo but was driven out when the liberated slaves assumed the government of that island and became the great banker of Philadelphia.49 It was a matter of contention between New York and Philadelphia as to which city had the richer capitalist. Stephen Girard died a few years ago and his last testament revealed wealth of $11 – 12 millions. When Astor was told of this he appeared satisfied and said ‘that would not do’, meaning, we believe, that it did not exceed his own prodigious accumulation.
Friend of China 19.10.43 edition
Sugar production in America (presumably 1842 but not stated)
1 The apparently unintended effect of Erskine’s initiative was to allow a large number of American ships out of port in anticipation of the embargo’s end on the occasion of British ratification of his agreement. They are the ships of New England merchants with powerful friends and they will not return whilst the embargo continues. They are instead employed on the flourishing trade between England and Europe via the Baltic, Holland, Spain and some Adriatic ports. This presages a phenomenal growth in American banking in London.
2 It is American silver, sourced from South America and the West Indies, particularly the independent former French colony of Santo Domingo (now Haiti), that finances Western trade with China until the 1820s and the rise of opium sales.
3 Debates on Indian affairs routinely attract 70-100 MPs of whom some 60-odd seats represent the Company’s own shareholders and contractors. It appears that the Company legislates for itself
4 This strengthens the Francophile party in Washington. The deal is France will allow American trade in the European ports she controls and America will execute an Act of Congress against England. It is the unexpected reluctance of Congress to pass this Act that scuppers Armstrong’s deal
5 This is the Act Napoleon asked of America in order to qualify for French trade. It appears to be another Constitutional derogation for the Americans. Lord Wellesley has repeatedly told Pinckney that Britain would like to revoke the Orders but the Privy Council does not do so. Perceval’s policy is founded on power. He believes Britain’s best interest is to maintain the monopoly on international trade by providing her naval officers and seamen with the proceeds of prize-taking. The Act is a major cause of the coming war with USA as was the revocation of the licence of the Bank of the United States that was mentioned earlier. That Bank had powerful British shareholders.
6 Erving was then at Cadiz. The payment may relate to America’s then burgeoning trade in provisions to the British forces in Iberia.
7 The Dutch East India Company or VOC had the preponderance of its returning ships taken in prize by the Royal Navy, mostly off the Cape or at St Helena where British squadrons lay in wait for them. The losses were unsupportable for the Dutch but immensely lucrative for the British officers and sailors. Bristed is wrong here, at least in so far as the VOC and Dutch foreign trade is concerned. The effect of naval blockade of Dutch ports and prize-taking caused the country’s fall. The forced adoption of Republicanism was another matter.
8 The importance of Bordeaux should not be under-estimated. It is not simply the port of the wine-growing district in its hinterland – it is the Atlantic end of the Canal du Midi.
9 The French General married the sister of the ex-Queen of Spain making him acceptable to the royal families of Europe.
10 The new evidence was not presented and the Fox, and several other American ships whose condemnation depended on this case, were likewise condemned.
11 The Charter of the Bank of the United States was not renewed partly because of dissatisfaction with bank policy and because the ownership of the bank was partly British. The cash problem is initially solved by making individual states the debtors on British loans.
12 Foster, the British ambassador to America, has commended the Foreign Office to take a strong line.
13 See the Economy chapter for details of this catastrophic loss of 700 ships.
14 It is partly the excesses of the unparliamentary George III and partly the ambition of successive Ministers, particularly Castlereagh, that together procure the demise of the British monarchy as a power centre, leaving the representatives’ attack on the owners of the country sitting in the House of Lords to be dealt with in 1832. Their power was later diminished by the nearly concurrent change in the British economy from one based on land to one based on the bond market.
15 Like the peace proposals from Morlaix, it was lost in the post.
16 What is astonishing about the American Declaration is that it took so long. The genuine democracy of the founding fathers’ constitutional arrangements assured that the country was more or less incapable of fighting offensive war. It took British direction of American maritime trade, the attempt to hive-off the New England states from the Union and less well-known interference in the central bank and note issue of the country to bring about a consensus of opinion to resist. America, like France, was forced into war.
17 Massachusetts declines to fight.
18 It seems to be a common political ruse of those times to set-up some intermediate step in a concatenation as prime cause and respond to that.
19 Unusually for the time, England was a nett importer of goods from about 1770 on, largely due to the effect of the Corn Laws.
20 Then U S Secretary for the Treasury.
21 This is misleading. The Americans do trade in colonial ports but they actually work hard to source their Asian cargoes. American provision of sea cucumbers, bird’s nests, sandalwood and other oriental delicacies are all independent of the Company. The seal skin and sea-otter pelt trade is also under American control. Increasingly, they supply American metals – iron and copper. And they bring Far Kay Sum, the American ginseng, which has a market in China as a tea.
22 The Virginian Skipwith was for long the American minister to Paris.
23 American artillery and American riflemen are more accurate than British. Possibly the shells provided by du Pont were better made.
24 The superficial appearance of this report may be misleading. The great increase in American trade due to war in Europe has enabled the New Englanders to commence banking operations in London, although the 7½% rate does not sound patriotic.
25 The War of Independence was fought to elicit the unconditional surrender of the colonists but the result was failure. On this occasion, with France hors de combat, the British ministry assesses its former policy is again workable.
26 Madison’s mistake was Napoleon’s mistake – they hoped that the self-interest of their merchants could be constrained long enough to deprive England of its income from trade and facilitate peace. This was unrealistic. Merchants trade for profit. They can never forego their reward for an instant.
The commentary on Louisiana seems unlikely. The Louisiana purchase was largely funded in London – Barings took a major part. Ildefonso certainly required France not to sell the land without first offering it back to Spain but Madrid removed that. French grain requirements would more safely and easily be met from Poland or Egypt.
27 New England is not supporting the Federal Government which banker in Europe is Hope & Co, the Scottish bankers of Amsterdam. Hopes must inevitably raise this loan in London
28 The British people have been told it was Napoleon who burned Moscow, see the Europe chapters for better details.
29 It is the British public position that these priceless records were not taken to London.
30 And so it has been since. All governments adopting the debt-based financial system, particularly since demonetisation, manipulate their bond values.
31 Prize-taking was finally abandoned by the United Kingdom in 1948.
32 At about the same time the British General Prevost complained of the loss of some 3,000 men, mainly due to desertion. His force is comprised of Wellington’s peninsula veterans. They are said to not respect Prevost.
33Perkins is the major shareholder in the T & H Perkins firm trading at Canton, which later merges with Russell & Co, see the China chapters.
34 A substantial rationale for continuing the war with France had been British insistence on bringing neutral commerce within her control. Now the shoe was on the other foot – Arbuthnot was trading for the Indians against both Spain and America.
35 A Second Bank of the United States was chartered after the war with Britain.
36 The original source of the delicious Yorkshire Tea.
37 In so far as British domains in Europe were concerned only; the anti-foreign terms of West Indian trade continued.
38 London shareholdings in U S Banks and land-holdings are immense but, more ominously for the City bankers, was a recent transfer of American gold to London apparently to establish their own banking services.
39 Information on South American independence and trade is further developed in the chapter of that name.
40 This article strangely omits the value of colonies as bases for the projection of force globally, a fundamental British concern. The dispersal of spices from the monopoly islands created by the Portuguese and Dutch to a myriad growing areas was a fine British achievement which goes unrecognised in history books. The theft of Asian inventions like, tea, porcelain, silk and a variety of dyes and medicines, was never acknowledged by the west and pre-dated the creation of intellectual property laws with which we prevent a similar theft against us.
41 Norfolk Sound is now within the state of Alaska. There were several Russian bases as far south as Fort Ross and Eureka in present-day California. French, Spanish and British navigators had also sailed the American west coast and made a variety of territorial claims but ‘practical sovereignty’ was as said in the article.
42 There is a possibility this change is related to the withdrawal of the Charter of the Second Bank of the United States but I have been unable to find express authority for it.
43 i.e. Biddle’s money is never at risk and he can venture his entire capital into other trade.
44 John Quincy Adams dealt with this in his usual penetrative way, ridiculing the proposals by appearing to support them.
45 There had been contention between the countries over the delineation of the Canadian boundary that was settled by Ashburton’s treaty but, adopting the rule that the articles in these newspapers reveal of ‘going with the money,’ we should also note that numerous states of the Union were indebted to London bankers in about £50 millions. This encumbrance incited an attempt to resuscitate the Bank of the United States in which European capitalists wished to re-establish their shareholdings. This two-pronged ploy was defeated by transferring state debts to the Federal government for settlement and by President Tyler exercising his veto over the party vote for a Federal bank.
46 See the China chapter for details of Elliot’s opium scrip.
47 These immense debts are a consequence of the triumph of British principles in 1815.
48 I believe it is still the case that American ambassadors are primarily businessmen.
49 He made his profit from arms shipments to Santo Domingo during the Napoleonic War and opened Girard’s Bank in Philadelphia on the proceeds, which he then used inter alia to finance the Federal Government in the War of 1812. He was rewarded for his patriotism with a major shareholding in the 2nd Bank of the United States.