North America 1793 – 1809 – part 1

 

This new chapter collects most of the reports in the newspapers about North and Central America over the fifty years 1793 – 1843.

It accordingly covers what British colonial newspapers had to say about the War of 1812.

For matters of North American foreign trade, see the Iberia, South America, Asia and China chapters. There are also articles in the Asia chapter about American trade to Mauritius, Java and India and in the Prize-taking chapter about the snakes and ladders of privateering by New England ship-owners.

Sat 9th Mar 1793

The Sandwich Islanders (Hawaiians) have resolved to have nothing further to do with white men in consequence to some outrages committed recently by the crews of two American ships.

The Phoenix (Moore) touched at the Sandwich Islands on return from the N W Coast of America where two war-sloops from England, HMS Discovery (Vancouver) and another, are protecting British trade with the natives on that coast from interlopers (fur-traders from New England).

Sat 20th April 1793

A ship arrived at Mauritius on 1st March which had left France in November 1792. It brought news of the political situation:

Some ships have arrived at Brest from America with specie for the Revolutionary government. America also offers men and provisions in support.

Sat 11th May 1793

This edition includes a long description of the planned layout of the new American capital city on the banks of the Potomac. The main streets have 10 foot pedestrian pavements at either side; 30 foot gravel walks at either side and an 80 foot carriageway in the middle, totally they are 160 feet wide. Other lesser streets are 130, 110 and 90 feet broad.

Sat 18th May 1793

Thomas Paine was tried in London for authorising the publication of the 2nd part of the Rights of Man and an immediate guilty verdict was obtained.[1]

Sat 9th Nov 1793

Boston, 30th March 1793 – The execution of Louis XVI has upset the Americans. The ox procession, in which the head of the bull is placed on the flagstaff in Liberty Square, is amended this year. The flag will fly at half-mast until dusk when the flagstaff will be cut down and buried with the ox head to evidence Paine’s assertion that “free Americans consider themselves indebted to Louis for their liberty – and that the news of his execution has given them great pain.” Paine’s sentiments are shared by a majority of the American people.

Sat 9th Nov 1793

Letter of the Minister of the French Republic to the American Secretary of State, dated 6th February 1793:

This is to inform you that the Provisional Executive Council of France has constituted this country as a Republic. We have abolished Royalty. We believe you will see this development as a new pledge of the close friendship that exists between our two nations. We wish to rivet the ties of friendship and multiply our mutual commercial connections. Sgd Ternaut

Sat 7th Dec 1793

The French West Indian islands of Tobago, St Pierre and Miquelon fell to us in May 1793. This will please the émigré Marquis de Bouille, whose property is largely in Tobago and of which he had been documentarily deprived by the National Convention. English planters on these islands are delighted. They formerly remitted their profits in sugar to France but now they can send directly home to London. The London commercial agencies involved in Tobago trade have addressed the King:

‘After 12 years of misery the people of Tobago are restored to the blessings of your mild administration. General Cuyler’s victory was brilliant. We hope you will order such measures as may assure we never again have to submit to French slavery.’

It is expected that France will soon be entirely removed from West Indian trade. This gives England a huge advantage since the most lucrative trade of the Americans is with West Indies and that will now all come to us under our Navigation Acts.[2]

Sat 25th Jan 1794

American national account 1791-2 (two years) in millions of dollars:

Expenditure:* General $7.1
Extra protection of frontiers $0.7
Requirement for 1793 $0.2
Debt servicing $2.8
Income: Duty on imports and tonnage 1791 $3.4
Duty on imports and tonnage 1792 $3.9 est
Duty on imports and tonnage 1793 $4.0 est
Duty on alcohol 1791 $0.2
Duty on alcohol 1792 $0.4
Duty on alcohol 1793 $0.4

* Salaries – President $25,000; Vice Pres $5,000, Judges $43,200, Senators $144,000, Treasury $55,000, State Dept $7,000, War Dept $11,000, Settlement Commission (accounts between Fed Govt and States) $13,000, Loan officers for each state $13,000, Western Territory salaries $11,000, Pensions $5,000, Incidentals $20,000. Total civil list 1793 = $352,000.

Extra civil expenses in 1793 – $93,000; War Dept 1793 – $1,170,000.

Sat 22nd Feb 1794

McCarthy, the Honorary American Consul at Mauritius, made 1 million Livres profit on a single shipment of salt meat recently.

Sat 26th April 1794

Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 31st August – The Committee of Merchants yesterday resolved to publish in the local newspaper a letter they have received from Thomas Jefferson (as Secretary of State) and their answer to it:

“The Govt has received your complaint of spoliation committed on your merchant ships by privateers of the warring European powers. The President has asked me to assure all merchants involved in foreign trade and navigation that we will seek redress for all injuries they sustain on the high seas or in foreign countries contrary to the Law of Nations or to our existing treaties.

“Forward your authenticated evidence to us and we will institute the proper proceedings for your relief. The just and friendly disposition of the belligerents persuade us that they will take effectual measures to restrain their armed vessels from committing aggression on our citizens or their property. Please publish this to whoever is a victim of such spoliation. You may send your complaints as individuals or associations.”

The merchants replied:

“We have been strictly neutral and friendly to everyone and we ought to be exempt from these depredations.” Sgd John Nixton.

Sat 10th May 1794

Letter from Philadelphia, 15th Sept:

  • Washington, Adams and Jay have protected us from the machinations of Genet, the emissary of the National Convention. Instead of acting like a diplomat, he attempted to inflame Americans with anarchy.
  • The French refugees from Santo Domingo, whom we permitted to land here, have brought a plague of yellow fever with them. A few months ago Philadelphia was populous, now everyone has left for the countryside. In town, we only see poor negroes carrying out the dead. 3-4 doctors have succumbed and the other medics have left. Only Dr Rush remains. Every neighbouring state has severed communications with us. We are quarantined.[3]
  • London 8th Nov – the yellow fever is not only at Philadelphia. Other refugees from Santo Domingo fled to Jamaica and brought the disease to that island. 50 white settlers had died by the end of August. The Boyd packet, just arrived at Falmouth from Santo Domingo, lost its captain, 12 men and a French passenger en route to the same disease. On 12th Nov the British government proclaimed a 15-day quarantine on all traffic from Pennsylvania.

Sat 7th June 1794

The American ship Hunter (Hacker) has arrived at Bombay with the following American news:

  • England and America are in dispute. The bilateral treaty is in abeyance. America wants England to surrender some posts on the U S southern frontier; England wants America to stop selling grain to the French. It is supposed the dispute is capable of quick resolution.
  • Algeria declared war on America and attacked some American ships off Portugal. Congress responded with an order to build 4 frigates of 44 guns and 2 sloops of 20 guns. The Americans were caught flat-footed by the sudden peace conceded to Algeria by the European powers to permit them to concentrate on the fight against France. With no one opposing them, the piratical Algerians quickly captured 11 American merchantmen. Fortunately the Portuguese convoyed the remaining American ships beyond the reach of the pirates.
  • M. Genet, the French Commissioner to America, has been caught in intrigues and the Americans want him recalled. They have heard he will be replaced by M. Le Tombe.

Sat 7th June 1794

Letter of Jefferson, American Foreign Minister, to Pinckney, his ambassador to London, dated 7th Sept 1793:

We have an unauthenticated copy of an Order-in-Council headed ‘Additional Instructions to HM Warships and Privateers,’ dated 8th June 1793. Please confirm its authenticity. Assuming it is genuine, you will obtain explanations from the British government on the following points:

The 1st article requires all ships carrying grain or flour to be sent into British ports and the cargo sold to England or, if the Captain gives security, to an English ally. This is illegal. England can war with whom she pleases but peaceful countries always retain their right to trade as usual, whether the trade is with England or her allies or enemies. A neutral country merely abstains from trade in whatever is reasonably considered as contraband and avoids all blockaded ports. No-one can prevent a trade in foodstuffs.

I conclude that the war between France and England cannot interrupt the agriculture of America or prevent our exchanging our production with whoever we like. Article 1 of the English Additional Instructions is unreasonable. If it is not opposed it will damage our agriculture – the source of our food and clothing. Can England close all the ports of the World to us, except her own and her friends’? Suppose she then closes her own ports – what then? We cannot have our economy restricted and our peoples’ employment reduced at the whim of foreign ministries. This is like a tax on our country. We claim the right to sell our products to whomsoever we like.

We do not send our ships to France to return empty – we exchange our surplus for their surplus, wherever we get best prices. We wish to remain neutral and treat all belligerents equally. If we permit grain shipments to England we must equally permit them to France. If we are partial, we risk alienating one side or the other and involving ourselves in war. The 1st Article of these Instructions has the effect of forcing all neutrals into supporting the English side. We do not want to war.

When our treaty with France obliged us to prevent French enemies from arming in our ports, we prevented France doing so as well – that was just. If we are now required to withhold food from France, we must likewise withhold it from England. We either forego the demand for provisions in Europe or we involve ourselves in their war. This is the dilemma that England seeks to force upon us. If England thinks it appropriate to starve her enemies, that is her business, but she has no legal right to require our assistance in it.

The President requires you to make our case in a friendly and temperate way. Detail the extent of distress that the Instructions cause us and request both a revocation of the Order and indemnity for those Americans who have been injured by it already.

I have to remark that we have never yet received a response from the English government to any matter we have raised with them, except for the exchange of ministers, and you may tell them we necessarily interpret silence as an answer – but do not give them a time-limit to avoid offending them. Write me a report on the situation on 1st Dec so it arrives here when Congress is sitting.

The 2nd Article of the Instructions permits British warships to seize any ship, except Danish or Swedish, attempting to enter a blockaded port. The only neutrals carrying maritime trade in the Atlantic are Denmark, Sweden and America. This Article targets American merchant ships for seizure whilst it merely turns back Swedish and Danish ships from entering a blockaded port. It is discriminatory. You will demand an explanation of this Article. You will know that America treats England as a Most Favoured Nation except when our bilateral treaties prevent it. Conceivably, England has made agreements with Sweden and Denmark that explain this discrimination. If so, we expect you to procure a similar agreement.

I prefer the British explanations to be obtained in writing. Sgd Jefferson.

A copy of the Order-in-Council is appended in the newspaper. It confirms Jefferson’s construction. The 2nd Article turns back Swedish and Danish ships only on their first attempt to enter a blockaded port but orders their seizure on any subsequent attempt. A 3rd Article addresses the subject of Notice to ships that may have sailed before the Order was published – the Captains of these ships are to be admonished to deliver to another port.

Sat 7th June 1794

Early in the present war, when American opinion was manipulated by European influence, many individuals were induced to serve on the warships of the contending powers. This diminished the strict neutrality that the Federal government sought to maintain. The following Presidential Proclamation, made in the Congressional recess, is intended to address the problem:

Austria, Prussia, Sardinia, Britain and the United Provinces (Netherlands) are at war with France. The US will act impartially towards all belligerents. I warn all US citizens to avoid those acts that do not accord with our neutrality. If any of you involve yourselves with one side or the other, by aiding hostilities or by carrying contraband, you commit an offence under the Law of Nations and, if you are caught, you will be punished. This government will not protect offenders.

Sgd George Washington, 22nd April 1793

Sat 7th June 1794

More news from America:

  • New York 12th Feb – M. Genet, the French minister to America, has called on the Federal administration to perform its treaty duties. America guaranteed French possessions in the West Indies. Guadeloupe is now threatened by an English fleet. This is the latest French attempt to bring America into the war on her side.

The Americans have learned to regret getting involved with European nations because we involve her in their quarrels – “We abhor the system of offensive / defensive treaties that they funnel us into. It may be necessary in Europe but it is irrelevant to America.”

  • Boston 8th Feb – The rumour of Genet’s recall continues to circulate and Le Tombe, currently Consul to the northern states, is being informally named to replace him.
  • George III’s son Prince Edward had arrived in the United States from Quebec. He has been promoted to Brigadier General and will have a command in the army being sent to the West Indies.

Sat 21st June 1794

National Convention 26th Dec 1793:

A delegation of Americans was admitted to the bar of the Convention and demanded a pardon for Thomas Paine. His arrest was a triumph of despotism over democracy. The English want to arrest him too – they have convicted him of sedition. His papers had been examined and had only revealed a burning zeal for liberty. The Americans offer themselves as sureties for his conduct during the brief period that he would remain in France.

The President applauded the generous devotion of the American people in making this application. He ruled that Thomas Paine was born in England. That was enough in the first instance to make him subject to the Decree (arresting all Englishmen in France, tit-for-tat for Elphinstone’s execution of the Toulon legislator – see the Toulon / Corsica chapter) but we will consider your demand.

Sat 21st June 1794

President Washington has send Colonel Humphries to Algeria to conclude a peace treaty with the Sultan’s government.

Sat 28th June 1794

Commodore Ford is trying to occupy Santo Domingo. The French Commissioner Santhonax says he has 16,000 troops and will resist. The other Commissioner has 14,000 men. The French defenders are all freed slaves. They have very few guns.[4]All the white farmers and many of the mulattoes are helping the British. The French hold Port au Prince whilst Britain has a foothold in another part of the island.

Santo Domingo is the jewel of the French colonies – it produces £8 millions of sugar and cotton to France every year.

Sat 28th June 1794

American neutrality has prejudiced American trade just as much as had they declared for one side or the other. The English port of New Providence in Canada has over 100 American ships arrested and brought in by our frigates on suspicion of carrying goods for France.

Sat 19th July 1794

On 4th Feb the National Convention received a report from Santo Domingo, the premier French colony in West Indies:

Galbaud, the friend of Dumouriez, united with the big merchants and émigrés of Santo Domingo to deliver the island to England or Spain. The black population has united with the Commissioners sent from Paris and is resisting Galbaud. As reward for their support, the Commissioners have declared the freedom of the negroes from slavery. The ex-slaves then declared their allegiance to France.

The National Convention has now decreed that all inhabitants of French colonies, of whatever colour, are French citizens and enjoy equal rights under the Declaration of Rights and the Constitution. Slavery is abolished. Vive la France.

Danton mused that the initiative would kill Pitt.

Sat 26th July 1794

European newspapers:

  • The Royal Navy has completed the capture of Martinique in the Caribbean and occupied the port and harbour of St Fiorenzi on Corsica.
  • John Hamilton, British consul at Norfolk Virginia, reports 19th Feb that 2 French ships-of-the-line, 6 frigates and 4 sloops arrived in Hampton Roads. They have captured the packet Scorpion from Madras in January. Some English prisoners are on board – Col Braithwaite’s son, Capt Braithwaite, and three other officers. Hamilton is negotiating for their release.

Sat 9th Aug 1794

London 17th March – General Fitzpatrick MP addressed the Commons concerning British policy towards La Fayette:

La Fayette and three National Convention members have been imprisoned since their arrival amongst our allies. Justice and humanity required their release. Pitt has acknowledged the fact but washed his hands of responsibility. We have applied to the King of Prussia for their release and receive his minister’s opinion it required the mutual consent of all the allies. Thus we exonerate ourselves from the odium. This House must do more in their support. England must disclaim responsibility and disavow the detention. La Fayette promotes the Constitution of 1789 and the monarchy. He is an honourable supporter of law and order. He is part of that group of French Constitutionalists who should be our natural allies in France.

The events of 5th and 6th Oct last have been cited against La Fayette. They nevertheless prove his courage and devotion to his King. He rescued 15 of the Gardes de Corps from execution. Marie Antoinette said at the time that she owed her life and the lives of her family to La Fayette. The misfortunes of that journey might reasonably be attributed to La Fayette’s having been on his horse for 50 hours without rest. In one hour the palace was broken into and the outrages committed. In April when the mob prevented the King from going to St Cloud, La Fayette after trying every means to free the King, resigned his command of the National Guard. He only resumed it at the express wish of the King.

He knew all about the King’s flight. When the King was brought back from Varennes he worked hard for him and opposed the war. When it was apparent that things could only get worse, he proposed escape to the King who refused. Then 10th August came. He went to Paris but could effect nothing. He declined to join the émigrés or us because he would not fight against his country. He would not desert to the allies.

He sought escape and was on neutral ground when he received the Austrian offer of free passage. He was perfidiously arrested by those Austrian officers and sent to Namur where he was offered release if he would join the émigrés. He refused. Then the Prussians took Namur and he was made a state prisoner, contrary to the Law of Nations that required he be treated as a prisoner of war.

La Fayette declared for monarchy and the Constitution. He deserves the protection of England. He was offered protection by America but thought England would have more weight in Europe, particularly with Vienna at whose instance we have recently banished a foreigner from our own country.

I move we address HM that the detention of La Fayette is damaging his cause and request his intercession with the King of Prussia.

Col Tarleton seconded the motion.

Pitt replied that the conduct of the Marquis de la Fayette could not be approved. He was arrested in a neutral country which distinguished his case from those covered by H M’s declaration to the people of Toulon.

Fox vindicated La Fayette and argued the impolicy of the King of Prussia.

Burke said La Fayette was not an object of compassion. He was an accessory to the Revolution. He had earlier offended George III by sowing dissension and rebellion in America. He ascribed the sufferings of Foulon and Berthier to the perfidy of La Fayette.

Grey disapproved Burke’s speech and said the general ground for interference is to extricate England from imputations of neglect.

The House divided – 46 for Fitzpatrick’s address to the King, 154 against.

Bombay Courier Sat 9th Aug 1794

In March 1790, Jackson made a speech to the US Congress in support of slavery (The new American capital city to be called Washington, is being built with slave labour). It is reminiscent of the Dey of Algiers’ reply to the Islamic purists (the Erika), who petitioned him in 1687 to ban piracy and slavery. Here is an edited copy of the Dey’s memorable old speech:

“If we cease pirating Christian ships we will lose the use of their commodities which are so necessary for us. If we do not enslave the crews, who will farm the fields or care for our households in this hot country? The purists should show more compassion to Muslims than Christians. We have only 50,000 slaves in Algiers. If we do not replenish the supply, we will run out. Then our lands will become worthless for want of cultivation, rents will fall, government revenue from prizes will drop, all to gratify a whimsical sect.

“Suppose we were persuaded to manumit the slaves, who will indemnify their owners? The government cannot afford it. Will the purists pay?

“Suppose we overcame this obstacle, what will become of these slaves? They do not adopt our customs or embrace the true religion. We cannot intermarry with them. A few may return to their countries but what of the rest? They will become beggars and thieves because men accustomed to slavery cannot work for their own livelihood. Are not Portugal, Spain, France and Italy all governed by despots who hold their populations in slavery? England treats her sailors as slaves. Whenever the English government pleases, it impresses people, confines them in warships and forces them to fight for a subsistence no greater than we allow our slaves. The condition of these seamen is not worsened by our enslavement of them, they merely exchange one slavery for another, and here in Algeria they at least have the chance of entering the true religion and saving their immortal souls. To send them home is to send them from the light into the darkness.

“It is suggested that we grant them lands in the wilderness where they may subsist under their own government. Will they labour without compulsion? Can they manage to govern themselves? Would not the nomadic Arabs to the south soon destroy them or again enslave them? At least, while they serve us, they are treated with humanity.

“I am told these slaves are worse fed and clothed and housed in their own countries than they are here. Their condition is already improved. With us, they live their lives in safety. They are not required to fight as soldiers. Those purists who have freed their slaves have not acted humanely. The Koran says ‘masters, treat your slaves with kindness’ and ‘slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity’.

“The plundering of Christians is not forbidden by the Koran. Allah has given the World to the Muslims who are to enjoy it as fast as they can conquer it. The manumission of Christian slaves is a detestable idea. It will reduce prosperity, create discontent, impoverish the government and promote insurrection. I have no doubt our wise Council will prefer the comfort and happiness of true believers to the dangerous whims of the purists.”

The Dey’s Council then ruled – “the doctrine that ‘plundering and enslaving Christians is unjust’ is problematical, but the clear interest of the state is to continue the practice. The petition is rejected.”

Sat 13th Sept 1794

Advertisement – M/s Bird Savage and Bird of Jeffries Square, London agents for the debt paper of the Bank of the United States, offer American funded, 6%, 3% and deferred stocks and shares to the gentlemen of India. Interest has always been paid punctually. The present prices make these investments very attractive. They are selling well in England.

The Federal revenue that secures interest payments on these debts has exceeded estimates by a large surplus. The growing wealth and population of America, the punctual payment of taxes by her people, the pacific policies of her government, their economical administration and the large sums accruing to government from land sales (which are pledged as a sinking fund for the security of public debt) render it certain that American prosperity will continue to increase. Remittance will be faithfully invested at the price of the day it is received. Further information from John Morris, Secretary to the Bombay Presidency or M/s Rivett Wilkinson & Co, Bombay.

Sat 27th Sept 1794

Editorial – British progress in liberating the French West Indian colonies is proceeding but must move more quickly. We must occupy them all and assert our form of government before it becomes popularly known that the National Convention has emancipated the slaves. That measure will deprive our colonies of their main source of soldiers and destabilise all the islands.

Sat 18th Oct 1794

Pitt on 21st May published letters from General Sir Charles Grey and Admiral Sir John Jervis reporting the capture of the island of Guadeloupe on 22nd April together with its small dependent islands. This removes the French from the Windward Islands and restricts their presence in West Indies solely to the island of Santo Domingo.

Sat 25th Oct 1794

American news (reported in Leiden Gazette, 24th June):

New York papers to 19th April reveal the American Congress is split politically into two factions. Both sympathise with France; both protest the British attitude to neutral shipping.

The violent party, which prevails in the Southern states, wants war with England, armed forts along the western frontier and indemnity for the slaves carried from New York as prize.

The moderate party, led by General Washington and John Adams, favours negotiating with England for the restitution of illegal captures.

The result, after a Congressional debate, has been a decision to send a Minister to London to argue the equity of the American cause. He is John Jay, Chief Justice of the American Supreme Court and formerly President of the Congress. He holds the same views as Washington and Adams.

London papers 27th June – negotiations with John Jay have commenced. He wants a peaceful solution and so do English ministers.

A notice has been published at the Royal Exchange indicating agreement will be forthcoming.

Sat 22nd Nov 1794

The West India convoy has arrived in London with £3 millions of goods, mostly sugar and coffee. British naval primacy on the high seas is the reason we have monopolised all this trade and why the convoy arrived safely.

Sat 22nd Nov 1794

The French have abolished all distinctions and titles in their country but the Americans are in step with them. On 26th March 1794 the Corporation of Charlestown passed a resolution – ‘the expressions ‘Honorable’ and ‘Esquire’, referring to the officers of this town, will no longer be used in our proceedings or Journal.’

Sat 24th Jan 1795

An American Indian read a European newspaper. He opined that white men are the same as his own people – only interested in hunting and eating.

Sat 31st Jan 1795

A packet of mails has been received at Bombay from Basra via Muscat containing European news up to 15th Aug (NB – this comes via the British consul at Aleppo, see below). The major items are (excerpted from the main text):

  • Santo Domingo has fallen to us with the reduction of Port au Prince and an immense amount of treasure (reportedly £3 millions) has been found there together with 40 ships in harbour loaded with West Indian productions. France is removed from the West Indies. Our naval strength has given us a monopoly of colonial produce, east and west, with the attendant commercial advantages.

Sat 31st Jan 1795

The new British acquisition of Martinique is valuable. It produced 28,000 hogsheads of sugar in 1792 of which 22,000 came to Europe. The French employed an enormous fleet in its carriage. The balance of production was smuggled to America, Brazil and Cayenne. There are an estimated 900 small ships involved in the smuggling trade.

In 1790 there were 14,000 whites and 90,000 slaves on the island. That year 230 ships were loaded with sugar for Europe. The cargoes were worth £1 million. The import trade of the island is worth £600,000.

Of the settlements on the island, St Pierre has 3,000 houses, Fort Royal 2,000, La Trinite 1,800, Lamantine 800, Robert 400. There are 300 sugar estates and 200 water mills. Coffee, cotton, cocoa and ginger are also grown. An excellent road encircles the island.

Sat 14th Feb 1795

Monroe, the American ambassador to France, has presented his credentials to the National Convention:

My President has appointed me Minister Plenipotentiary to France but I don’t know the diplomatic forms in your new Republic so I have come before you for you to prescribe the mode and appoint the day to receive the representative of your sister Republic and ally. I offer my personal respect to you and the cause of liberty.’ Sgd Monroe.

Eschasseriaux of the Committee of Public Welfare said his committee was charged with the conduct of all diplomatic functions but he requested that the US envoy first present his credentials to the assembled National Convention members and then the President of the Assembly will express the sentiments of France in order that the pact between the two nations might be sealed with a fraternal embrace. He proposed that the President of the National Convention should send a note to the President of USA. He concluded that, in the new dispensation, there would be no ceremony.

Sat 28th Feb 1795

American news:

  • The US mint has been issuing copper coins since it opened two years ago. It recently started making gold and silver coins. The gold coins are called eagles, half-eagles and quarter-eagles. The eagle is worth $10 (c. £2.5s.0d). The dollar coins are also minted in halves and quarters. There is a silver coin called a dime, which is a tenth of a dollar. The copper coin is a cent and is a tenth of a dime. Everything is in tenths.
  • Every American who served against the British in the last war (and the descendants of those who fell) is eligible for 500 acres of new land. People who served for less than the entire period get pro-rata shares of land. To protect land values the beneficiaries may take money in lieu or part money/part land.
  • The New England states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont have abolished slavery. So have the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Kentucky. Congress has now extended the abolition to five southern states – Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Maryland. The final emancipation of the slaves is set to occur on 1st Nov 1795.
  • Massachusetts has given state land to its emancipated blacks in proportion to the size of their families. The ex-slaves are building villages, cultivating the land and forming communities.
  • A Masonic lodge has been established by the blacks. They have paraded through town on their way to church and one of them gave the sermon. They have built schools, employed teachers and built churches.

Sat 7th March 1795

London news, 3rd Oct (extract):

The American emissaries Jay and Pinckney in London have contacted American ambassador Monroe in Paris and Jay has visited him.

Sat 7th March 1795

Sheridan has moved a debate in the Commons (extract) in the course of which he referred to relations with America, which the inept policies of the Minister have jeopardised. He wished for a report on the negotiations which have purportedly been going on and on for 11 years.

Pitt replied that the negotiation was not a proper subject for discussion in the legislature.

The American situation was fluid until a treaty had been agreed when terms might be discussed in the Commons. He thought the unpopularity of British ministers in America was due to the widespread publicity of Jacobin principles there and the natural sympathy of one Republic for another.

Grey resented the ‘tired old plea’ of ‘pending negotiations’ to withhold information from parliament.

Sat 21st March 1795

Paris, 15th August – The American ambassador Monroe was welcomed in the National Convention with cries of ‘Vive la Republique’. He was seated opposite the President. His speech was read by one of his secretaries:

“I recognise the honour you do me. Our Republics maintain the same principles and rest on the base of the equal and inalienable Rights of Man. The remembrance of our common dangers will cement our union. Our oppression has been lifted and we enjoy independence and peace. France is our friend and our ally. You aided us in our own struggles. The heroism and valour of your troops has now again astonished the whole world. The wisdom of your government promises an early peace.

“America is not a spectator of your efforts in this crisis. Every department of our government, on behalf of all our people, assures you of our sincere attachment. Both Houses of Congress have requested our President to give you their regards and the President does too. It is our wish that the liberty of France be preserved.”

The ambassador’s credentials were then read:

“The French nation owes to America the first lesson of liberty. It was the insurrection of Americans against Britain, that humbled nation, which allowed France to bravely participate and to now itself break the sceptre of tyranny. We have both become free. We must unite in commerce and navigation to produce mutual prosperity. Our union will be the scourge of despots and will last perpetually.”

The President of National Convention replied:

“Five years ago the Usurper (Louis XVI) would have greeted you with austerity and would think it magnificent if he granted a few tokens of his protection. Now the people are sovereign and their faithful representatives welcome you with fraternal embraces. Receive this embrace and kiss as a token of the destruction of the last hopes of the coalition of tyrants.”

The ambassador received his kiss to tumultuous applause.

Moyse Bayle proposed that the two national flags be flown together in the debating hall of the National Convention. Agreed.

The National Convention then unanimously recognised James Monroe as the American representative to France. It was decreed that the proceedings be translated into all European languages and widely circulated.

Sat 4th April 1795

A serious epidemic is raging throughout the West Indies. Strangely, the blacks and coloureds seem unaffected:

The medical officers commend that all patients should be bled early, in quantities apportioned to the virulence of the fever. Repeated purges should be given to completely evacuate the stomach and bowels. Bathe the feet and legs in warm water. Blister the head, back and extremities to the extent that appears prudent. After the head has been shaved it may be bathed in cold vinegar prior to blistering.

For the protection of health professionals treating the disease, they should inhale vinegar vapour and wash their mouths with vinegar. Sprinkle any excess around the sick room.

Dr Lind advises that fire and smoke are effective agents for sterilising crew quarters on a ship.

Editor – this may be the bilious disease that is common in India.

Sat 18th April 1795

The commerce of America is restrained by the Royal Navy and a good many American merchant ships have been seized as prizes. The Americans are so irritated they are preparing for hostilities. The frontier disputes with Canada are a contributing source of friction. General Washington has so far been able to restrain the more intemperate Congressmen but a new cause of anger has arisen. Details are in the following letter from Quebec:

“The Canadian militia of Detroit, with assistance of the local Indian tribes, has confronted the American General Wayne. He brought 3,000 men close to Detroit and dug himself in. The Canadians attacked and on the third attempt were successful in forcing his withdrawal. The Canadians lost 60 Indians and 17 militiamen in the battles.”

Sat 25th April 1795

On 25th Sept 1794 George Washington made a charge of disloyalty against the merchants of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia wants more trade). It is similar to the charges made against the prisoners in the treason trial at Clerkenwell.

He activated the militias of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia to provide an adequate force to obtain the submission of Pennsylvanians to the Constitution.

Sat 2nd May 1795

Letter from Philadelphia, 20th Sept:

Some people in western Philadelphia make moonshine. They object to the government Excise tax on alcohol. They have attacked the revenue officers. Commissioners were sent to remonstrate and adjust the differences but could make no progress.

The Federal Government has the support of the wine merchants and now a militia of about 12,000 has been raised to march against the moonshine boys in the Allegheny Mountains. Its mostly comprised of merchants and traders and the Philadelphia city quota for the confrontation, whilst set initially at 500, is actually 1,500 volunteers.

The whole state has mobilised behind government.

Sat 16th May 1795

Letter from Montreal, Lower Canada, 15th Sept:

We citizens fear both the enemy and our government. Several men have been tried by the Court of King’s Bench in York (Toronto) for sedition. Seven were found guilty and fined £5 – £20, gaoled for 3 – 12 months and bound-over for 1 – 7 years thereafter.

A large part of the general population is enraged at the British colonial government. There was initially a popular intention to march on Toronto and release the prisoners but the dissenters had dispersed by today.

It is alarming because only 5% of the population of Lower Canada is British.

Sat 9th May 1795

Although America publicly asserts a strict neutrality, a secret treaty of offence and defence has reportedly been concluded by her man in Paris (Monroe) with France. She now has a consul at Mauritius as well – McCarthy – to superintend the burgeoning American trade with that island. The provisions delivered to Mauritius, mainly by the Americans, will suffice for 18 months. This is excessive storage for the island’s need but it is also said that a French fleet will depart Europe in about November this year for Mauritius and the provisions may also be intended for its use. That seems more reasonable. The food supplied is simply too much for the existing population.

Sat 23rd May 1795

News from America:

Dr Priestley has arrived. The College of Philadelphia has offered him the Chair of Chemistry but he just wants to enjoy the small estate he has bought in Northumberland county. [5]

Sat 6th June 1795

The Federal government of America has faced its first test. A gang of distillers in west Pennsylvania (Allegheny and Washington) and their customers refused to pay Excise duty on their moonshine. A militia was formed and thousands of men marched into the rebellious area and order was restored. Washington reported to Congress on the matter on 19th Nov 1794:

“In 1790 the legislature empowered government to collect Excise duties. The states in general submitted to the expediency of this measure except for a few counties in western Pennsylvania where some people declined to submit to federal law. Congress examined their complaint and alleviated it so far as was appropriate. No one was prosecuted. This forbearance was interpreted in the rebellious area as a government fear of the rebels. They continued to withhold payment of Excise duty.

“The marshal was ordered to commence proceedings against the delinquents. He was fired at, arrested and detained by the mob. On the threat of his execution, he agreed not to serve the Writs. Nevertheless, his house and office and all his papers were destroyed by fire. Both revenue men fled the location and sought sanctuary in the state capital. They reported that the distillers of west Pennsylvania declined to pay Excise and proposed to repeal the revenue law by violence.

“This was reported to me by the Supreme Court. I ascertained that a small number of citizens were involved. On 7th Aug I proclaimed the appointment of commissioners to investigate and settle the matter. The former offences were pardoned and the people were asked to respect the law.

“Regrettably, they continued as before and on 25th Sept I ordered a militia be formed and marched in. I did not know how many men were needed. I guessed 15,000 was adequate to deter resistance and prevent bloodshed. I raised this force from four states. It was apparent from the Commissioners’ enquiries that the rebels were opposed to all law. I am Constitutionally limited to forming militias for 30 days and must then ask Congress for extra time. I think it will be necessary to maintain a force in the area for longer, until the people again settle down.

“I am also concerned to indemnify those officials who have been injured or damaged by the rebellion.”

Sat 4th July 1795

Dr Bolman, a Hanoverian subject, wished to release la Fayette. At Vienna he received permission to attend la Fayette as a medical specialist to see what effects his long confinement had caused. Bolman prescribed air and exercise. He arranged for la Fayette to take carriage trips accompanied by his friend de la Tour Malberge and a guard. Later he got the guard to agree that la Fayette might walk a short distance. They sent the carriage away.

Then Dr Bolman and his servant set upon and restrained the guard. They had la Fayette and de la Tour Malberge mount the carriage horses and provided them with money. They indicated where the prisoners would find another carriage to take them further away. The Doctor left by another route. Eventually the guard released himself and raised the alarm. The mountain passes were closed.

Bolman was caught at the Silesian frontier but la Fayette and de la Tour Malberge escaped.

Sat 15th Aug 1795

Petition of the West India planters and merchants, 7th Oct 94, to Henry Dundas:

The British West Indian islands contain about 500,000 blacks and 50,000 whites. We obtain provisions from America – there is no other source. If we are to grow these foods ourselves, we must reduce the acreage given over to sugar and coffee, etc., and replant with grain.

It is not just food – we also get building materials (timber) and horses and cattle from America. British Canada does not offer these productions – it consumes all it produces itself. Not only is America the only place that supplies all these necessaries in fresh and good quality but it also buys our rum and molasses (those cheap goods that are superfluous to Europe’s needs and can hardly bear the freight to Europe).

Since the War of Independence all American trade to West Indies is supposed to be carried in British ships under the terms of our Navigation Acts. Since the English took over the maritime trade at that time, prices have increased 50 – 100%. There is no change of price in the goods in America themselves; its just the involvement of English intermediaries that has caused the increase.

A fleet of specialist ships was built in America to bring timber, animals and food and take back rum and molasses. The ships from England are not suitable to bring timber, animals and food. The outbreak of war with France has led to the seizure of many of these specialist American ships and they are now either kept in port or used on other trades.

It has been our imperative necessity to open our ports to American ships direct. We are already struggling with the increased freight and insurance rates that war brings. The fact is, if we are hobbled in this way, the Spanish and Dutch West Indian colonies (who have unrestrained trade with America) will progress faster than we.

By interdicting American trade in agricultural products we inevitably force them into manufacturing the items that we are no longer able to re-export to them. This will put them into direct competition with British goods.

British monopoly of the benefits of our West Indian colonies cannot be maintained in wartime. We have just taken a good part of the French islands and our trade needs will necessarily increase. You have allowed the French colonies you have occupied to temporarily trade with America. We want the same allowance.

Sat 17th Oct 1795

The Morning Star (North) of Salem for Bengal has been shipwrecked. It visited Madeira, the Cape and Madras and then sank on 16th August.

Three survivors – John Stevenson, Richard Lowe and William Mavers – have been picked-up on a raft. They report there was unhappiness on the ship and most of the European crew deserted at Madras. Four Europeans were left before the mast. The rest of the crew are Africans. The ship owner is Keating of New York.

Sat 7th Nov 1795

Letter from St Vincent, West Indies, 30th March:

The natives (Caribs) are in rebellion under a chap called Chatoye and have burnt the estates of the English landowners and the crop of sugar in the ground.[6]The English planters have withdrawn within Kingstown to await military support.

The Caribs raised the tricolor on Dorsetshire Hill. They are joined by 150 Europeans (likely all French) and themselves have about 300 men. They have got the cannon from Stubb’s Battery and are trying to move them to use against us. So far they have mounted a 6-pounder and a 4-pounder.

A Company of the 46th regiment has now arrived from Martinique and joined the remnants of the 60th regiment. They have a couple of field pieces and are keeping the Caribs away with the occasional shot. After some extra reinforcements arrived, we attacked them at Dorsetshire Hill. Chatoye and many of his men were killed.

We believe the Caribs intended to exterminate us. They were not trying to conquer territory like a regular enemy. On this assumption, we have suspended the rules of war and executed all of them together with all the Frenchmen who were with them. They had all made Oaths of loyalty to George III when we evicted the French and assumed the government of this island. They were clearly guilty of rebellion.

Sat 28th Nov 1795

Letter from Dundas to Lord Penrhin the representative of the West Indian planters, who request for a fleet and garrisons:

“In almost every respect the present warfare in West Indies is different from any that ever occurred. The object of our enemy (the slaves) is savage devastation rather than conquest beneficial to themselves.”

Sat 12th Dec 1795

Commons, 11th June – Commercial difficulties:

The British merchants of Grenada and St Vincents have petitioned for relief. Pitt said the petition deserved serious attention. The French have freed the slaves in their West Indian colonies and British slaves now expect the same freedom. They are rioting all over our West Indian colonies.

Fox said the relief requested by the planters was for the purchase of replacement slaves from Africa. He opposed the petition.

Pitt said a similar commercial difficulty had arisen in 1793 and been solved by the Mercantile Loan Bill (called the Commercial Credit Bill in the newspapers – see the Economy chapter). It had rescued British commerce from stagnation pursuant on excessive speculation. The capital then required had been small – £2.5 millions had resurrected trade – and that was all that was required now. It was not a problem of inadequate military security in the colonies. The force sent out had been adequate except for the reverses experienced last year.

Pitt’s colleague Dundas agreed. He mentioned the precedent of relief to St Kitts, Jamaica and Barbados in a former war (in Queen Anne’s reign). He said 20,000 troops had been sent to West Indies in the course of this year and the number sent with Sir Charles Grey had been sufficient for the conquest of the Windward Islands.

Fox said he disputed both statistics and accused Dundas of lying to the House. He had no doubt it was our inadequate force that had caused our loss of Guadaloupe.

Sir Wm Pulteney feared the unrest would curtail West Indian commerce and the colonial requirement for credit from London bankers would stagnate. Whatever the cause, some relief was essential.

M A Taylor, MP for Poole, said all the many West Indian merchants he knew said the problem derived from inadequate protection of British West Indian colonies for which Pitt was responsible.

Maurice or Morris Robinson (MP for Boroughbridge) said he thought the resolution of the matter at cabinet level came down to arithmetic. The West Indian trade was worth £6 millions to England; Pitt had offered Austria £6 millions of which the Emperor had accepted £4.5 millions; that left £1.5 millions for the merchants of Grenada and St Vincents.[7]

Sat 12th Dec 1795

The Select Committee (members unidentified) considering the relief of Grenada and St Vincents has reported that the owners and managers of British plantations in those islands were necessarily absent at harvest time in 1794 and their crops, their buildings, etc., had all been destroyed by the slaves.

Most of this year’s production was lost and next year’s would be reduced. The reporters calculated that the loss of remittances plus the costs of restoring the plantations was £600,000 – 700,000 for each island = £1.2 to £1.4 millions.

The West Indian planters had as usual pledged their income from the crop to pay-off their City bank creditors. Without this year’s income, their problem has become our problem. They needed £1.2 – £1.4 millions to pay-off the banks and maintain their credit.

The banks at present have plenty of money but they are only lending for 2-3 months and then to selected creditors with the best security. The banks would not provide the relief which the petitioners consequently sought from the people. The Select Committee recommended relief for the banks.

Sat 26th Dec 1795

Calcutta news from the Asiatic Mirror, 25th Nov – The American ships America (Hubbard) and Ganges (Tingey) have arrived. The latter has brought a large supply of Madeira wine. The Danish ship Kobenhaben has also brought a shipment of Madeira wine for Madras.

From the Ganges we learn that America is getting fat on war in Europe. A valuable trade with France has developed and American ships are welcomed in French ports. American agricultural produce is in demand and the Americans get a good price. They are paid in specie.

Its not only cargo to Europe. The Americans take home 50 – 100 emigrants each trip. These are useful artisans fleeing the war with their entire capital.

The Philadelphia Gazette of 4th May expresses it well:

“Dutch exiles in Britain are coming to America. Their wealth and skills will enhance our own. Our neutrality honours the political skill of our Federal government. People are coming from every European country. We will soon be the emporium of the world, unaffected by the continual wars of Europe. We are peaceful, industrious and independent. We receive tribute from every country. Soon the ‘states of Columbia’ will combine the commerce of Carthage with the arts and sciences of Athens.”

We also hear the descendants of the French settlers at New Orleans and along the Mississippi are expected to soon throw off the Spanish yoke.

Sat 26th Dec 1795

The Times of London 4th July:

Admiral Parker has landed 1,800 English troops at Santo Domingo in West Indies. It is insufficient to conquer the island but enough to thwart the slave army and revive the hopes of the planters.

Sat 2nd Jan 1796

Courier du Bas Rhin – Thomas Paine addressed the National Convention on 7th July 1795 concerning the new Constitution:

“I have been persecuted in England for defending the French Revolution and I have been persecuted in France for defending liberty. In neither case was I persecuted by the people of England or France. In both cases I was persecuted by despots. Neither experience has persuaded me to change my principles or conduct.

“If there is a fault in the Republican Constitution it is better to expose it now. A Constitution has two leading points – its principles and its organisation – and they should complement each other.

“This draft Constitution describes what a citizen is but excludes all who pay no tax. It therefore violates the first three articles of the Declaration of the Rights of Man.”

Sat 16th Jan 1796

The military war in Europe has gone badly but the commercial war in the colonies is progressing satisfactorily. A fleet of 300 merchantmen has arrived at London in July 1795 from West Indies bringing sugar, coffee, etc. The India and China fleets have also safely arrived in the Channel. England now engrosses the preponderance of colonial productions and brings it to London for resale.

Sat 6th Feb 1796

The Anglo-American treaty has been agreed between the British plenipotentiary Wm Wyndham, Baron Grenville of Wootton, Privy Councillor and Foreign Secretary, and John Jay, Chief Justice of the United States of America:

  • Peace is declared. The British will withdraw their Canadian army to within their own boundary by 1st June 1796. America may extend her jurisdiction to the frontier except in the immediate vicinity of the garrisoned forts until they have been handed-over. All settlers and traders in the forts are to be protected. They may stay or go as they please. They may sell or retain their land and houses as they wish. Those whose property puts them within the USA are not obliged to assume American citizenship immediately. They have one year to decide.
  • Native Indians, Americans and British may all pass freely across the frontier (but the territory of the Hudson’s Bay Company must be respected). This allowance does not extend to American ships entering British ports or rivers, except the small boats presently trading between Quebec and Montreal. The headwaters of the Mississippi and the ports along its eastern bank will be open to both countries (the river is to be jointly surveyed to ensure it is in fact the Mississippi). Permitted American goods may be exported to British Canada as before at the same duty (applicable to European goods) that is paid by British settlers. British goods will be accepted in American ports at the same duty as those imported on American ships. Neither party will levy duty on furs traded by the Indians. The native Indians will pay no tolls to bring their goods to market. Both governments commit to promoting amicable trade and to providing impartial justice in disputes.
  • Numerous British merchants allege debts due from American merchants. Some claims are very old and the documentary evidence of their payment is lost. If full compensation is unavailable from the delinquent merchant, the US government will make the payments. All claims are to be settled in 18 months.
  • Numerous American merchants have sustained losses due to prize-taking which cannot be adjusted judicially. The British Govt undertakes to compensate them provided the claimants have preserved their rights and in no way been negligent or delayed action.
  • British merchants also claim losses due to prize-taking in American ports. They will be settled in the same way.
  • It is agreed that British citizens owning lands in America and American citizens owning lands in Canada continue to have good title.
  • A reciprocally perfect right of navigation and commerce is proclaimed between the British and American peoples subject to the following restrictions. Americans may trade lawful American goods to British colonies in West Indies in American ships of up to 70 tons burden. They pay the same charges as levied in American ports on British ships. Americans may buy and export lawful colonial products from West Indies on the same terms as British traders but the Americans may ship only to America. It is expressly agreed that American merchants will not carry molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa or cotton from British colonies or from the USA to any part of the world except America. British ships are permitted to trade American goods to West Indies and West Indian goods to America on the same terms as American ships.
  • These trade agreements remain in force of the duration of the war with France and for two years after peace negotiations commence.
  • American ships may trade American goods to all the India Company’s ports in Asia and may load Eastern goods for American ports only. This allowance does not extend to the coasting trade of Asia. No licence to settle in British domains is created by this article. All Americans visiting British ports will comply with local laws.
  • A reciprocal commerce is allowed between the domains of George III in Europe (Britain, Gibraltar, Corsica, Hanover and the King’s other German fiefs) and America. Americans may reside there and rent houses and warehouses. The ships and goods of each country will pay the same duties, but the British reserve the right to levy a tonnage duty on American ships entering British European ports equal to that payable by British ships in American ports.
  • Each country may appoint consuls to regulate their nationals who, being acceptable to their hosts, will supervise trade.
  • Ships suspected of carrying enemy property or suspected of carrying goods to the enemy shall be brought to a convenient port and that part of the cargo that is contraband will be confiscated while the remainder may be carried on. To prevent delay whilst adjudicating, the master or owner can opt to undertake to give security to meet the adjudged award and continue his voyage.
  • Contraband is defined as all those articles used to carry on war by land or sea plus timber, tar, sheet copper, sails and hemp in excess of the ships own requirements. Ships carrying provisions (not contraband in the Law of Nations but essential to an enemy to continue to war) shall be indemnified their full value plus reasonable profit together with the freight and incidental demurrage.
  • If a ship arrives at a port that has been blockaded or besieged, the blockade commander will turn that ship away unless she has previously attempted to run the blockade in which case she will be confiscated.
  • Commanders of warships and privateers are required not to damage the property of ships. To effect this every commander will give two securities before receiving his letters of marque. All three (commander and two sureties) will be liable up to £1,500 for any damage done (£3,000 for ships with crews of 150+).
  • A copy of the Admiralty Judge’s decision in all cases that are judicially settled will be available to the involved commander on payment of the usual fees.
  • Both parties refuse to receive pirates into their ports and any goods found on pirate ships will be seized and restored to the owners as well as may be.
  • The enemies of either party may not recruit the nationals of either country as seamen. If a citizen of either country accepts foreign letters-of-marque the aggrieved party may prosecute him as a pirate.
  • The ships-of-war of each party will be received in the ports of the other. George III allows distressed American warships into those British ports where they would not ordinarily be received on condition the vessel is not allowed to break bulk or sell cargo. Privateers that are enemies of either country shall not be allowed in the ports of the other to arm or to sell seized goods. Privateers of both parties may take their prizes where they like and, if into the ports of one of the parties, they will not be detained. No refuge will be granted by either party to those taking prizes from the other.
  • If war occurs between the parties (or either ambassador is recalled) the nationals of either, residing in the lands of the other, have 12 months to sell up and go.

The first ten articles are permanent. The others are valid for 12 years. Article 12 expires 2 years after the present war ends. Sgd Jay & Grenville, 19th Nov 1794. Ratified by Congress 24th June 1795.

Sat 20th Feb 1796

London, 16th Sept 1795 – news from the West Indies:

25,000 troops are under orders to serve in West Indies. Sir Ralph Abercromby will reside at Martinique and govern that island as well as the Windward Islands, Guadaloupe and St Lucia.

A separate and much larger force will be required to attack Santo Domingo to frustrate the peace treaty between Spain and France which stipulates that Spain will retain its part of that island until the French are able to resume their sovereignty of it.

It is intended that General O’Hara should command the San Domingo invasion but he remains a French prisoner and has to be exchanged first.

Sat 27th Feb 1796

The late treaty of peace between Spain and France appears to breach one of the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht, 1713. By that agreement the then Spanish King Charles II undertook not to sell or transfer any Spanish possessions in America to any other nation. The British Queen undertook at that time to assist Spain in restoring her American possessions to the extent they had been pre-war.

Sat 28th May 1796

British army HQ, Jamaica 13th Aug Proclamation:

The maroon negroes are in rebellion. They are based at Trelawney Town. Every maroon negro delivered dead or alive to British forces will earn the captor £20. Women and children are worth £10 each.

James Palmer and Leonard Parkinson are the leaders of the maroon negroes., Palmer is worth £100 dead or alive, Parkinson is worth £50.

Signed ….. on behalf of Major General Balcarras.

Sat 4th June 1796

On 21st July 1795 the New York Chamber of Commerce Journal opined on Jay’s recent treaty with England:

Some people are lobbying Congress to not ratify the agreement. We resolve that the treaty contains as many solutions to our mutual disagreements as might be expected. Our formerly precarious privileges are converted into permanent rights. The surrender of the western forts and the adjustment of British debts are fair compensation for our past and future commercial losses.

If this treaty is not ratified we expect our shipping all round the world will be intercepted and impounded. Our insurers will be injured, our trade diminished, our productions made less valuable, our farmers and artisans will be under-employed, our national revenue will decrease, our national debt increase and our hopes for prosperity frustrated. This treaty is not perfect but it is progressive. C Sands, President.

The merchants of Boston at a meeting on 13th July contrarily found the Treaty ‘highly injurious’ to trade:

It does not address all American complaints but it does resolve all British complaints. The surrender of the western forts should include compensation for our consequent commercial losses. We have been kept out of this area for 12 years in violation of the peace treaty guaranteeing our independence. No restitution has yet been made for American property taken at the close of the last war although required under the treaty.

The legality of capture of American ships and cargoes is to be determined by British Admiralty Courts without American congressional oversight. Legal solutions are slow and cause additional loss. We want the summary method of settling claims that is allowed for British ships.

The new treaty gives British traders equal rights with us in the trade with American Indians. The Alien Duty on British goods brought to America in British ships should be cancelled or at least never increased. Our growing commerce with India is to be restricted and will not develop as expected. The British reserve a right to charge duty on American ships entering British ports to equate the cost of exports with the cost of European and Asian goods imported to America by British ships and merchants – thus our merchants must compete in our home market on the same terms as British merchants.

It concedes a right of British warships to search and detain our ships in war. It makes timber, hemp, sails and copper sheet (ship-building materials) contraband, whilst we have expressly made these free goods in other treaties. This treaty surrenders the benefits of trade from our neutrality. It allows Britain to buy all our goods (at a reasonable profit) while limiting our ability to sell in other markets. It thus limits the Power of Congress to regulate American commerce. It comprises a precedent for all other nations to treat us similarly. The opinion of Bostonians is that American produce is in wide demand and can readily be sold for all we want to import thus establishing reciprocity in our international trade.

Signed by the Select Men of Boston – William Boardman, Thomas Crofts, Thomas Edwards, William Little, Azekiel Price, Jesse Putnam, Thomas Walley, William Scollay and Ebenezer Seaver

President Washington replied 28th July:

The Constitution allows me to make treaties. The terms of this treaty have been carefully considered by Congress and myself. I have to consider the interests of the entire United States and not just one place in them. It will be OK.

Sat 23rd July 1796

The Spanish have released their prisoners in West Indies pursuant on making peace with France. Spanish expatriates have flocked to Santo Domingo to reinforce the slave army which is supporting the French in exchange for their freedom.

Sat 20th Aug 1796

The American House of Representatives has heard an Address from CPS (the Committee of Public Safety, an institution of the French National Convention) and the President’s reply to it. They contain expressions of mutual friendship.

Sat 10th Sept 1796

European news to 27th May:

  • The Indefatigable (Sir Edward Pellow) has captured the French frigate La Virginie (44). She was built about 2 years ago in America and rigged in the new way which made her the fastest ship in the French fleet. The Virginie has been cruising off the Canadian coast and captured at least four Newfoundland ships.[8]

Sat 24th Sept 1796

American newspapers:

Some members of the House of Representatives say they are appalled at Jay’s treaty with the English and demand to see the instructions given to the representative and all correspondence relative to the treaty. Washington refused on Constitutional grounds in the following terms:

“The nature of foreign negotiations requires caution; and success often depends on secrecy. Even when brought to a conclusion, a full disclosure of all the measures, demands or concessions which may have been proposed or contemplated, would be extremely impolitic, for this might have a pernicious influence on future negotiations, or produce immediate inconveniences, perhaps danger and mischief, in relation to other Powers.

“The necessity for such caution and secrecy was one cogent reason for vesting the power of making treaties in the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate; the principle on which that body was formed confined it to a small number of members……

“All the papers … were laid before the Senate, when the Treaty itself was communicated for their consideration and advice….. provided two thirds of the Senators present concur …. Every treaty so made and promulgated … becomes the law of the land.

“When the State Conventions were deliberating on the Constitution there was no requirement in commercial treaties to obtain the consent of two thirds of the whole Senate but only two thirds of the Senate present; in Treaties concerning territorial claims the concurrence of three fourths of the Members of both Houses was not required but three fourths of those present. If these facts and the wording of the Constitution itself do not make the point clear, I ask Representatives to recall the Journals of the General Convention which are archived in the State Department in which a proposition was made that no Treaty should be binding on the United States unless ratified by a law. That proposition was explicitly rejected.

“It follows that the assent of the House of Representatives is unnecessary to validate a treaty.”

Sat 1st Oct 1796

The Spanish are evacuating Santo Domingo. The freed slaves are in command of the island. Property is selling at 10% of its value last year.

Sat 17th Dec 1796

A London newspaper has reported that 100 bloodhounds have been imported to Jamaica from Cuba to be used in the war with the Maroons. The Spanish farmers of Cuba trained these dogs to hunt the native Indians on Cuba and it seems Lord Balcarras, the military governor of Jamaica, has the same plan. General McLeod raised the matter in the House of Commons. Pitt said England did not fight with dogs. Yorke said the purpose of the bloodhounds was to track the Maroons not to savage them.

Balcarras, when he heard of the debate, wrote on 2nd May:

“The dogs were in the rear of my column. Their presence may have caused many Maroons to surrender but they were never used in battle. The dogs were imported at the order of the General Assembly of Jamaica which sent one of its members to procure them in their own ships – it was an act of the planters and nothing to do with British military activities.

“British merchants’ investments in Jamaica are worth £40 millions and we cannot have these Maroons causing trouble. They have control of the centre of the island and Montego Bay. They are wild fighters of the guerrilla type. They are skilful in ambushing our columns. They have all taken an Oath to murder white men. These former servants are killing their masters! They take no prisoners. We have often heard the screams of our captured soldiers.

“Our Rules of War differ for defence and attack – a fort can use red hot shot in its defence but a ship-of-war (a means of aggression) cannot. I employ dogs to sniff-out these guerrillas.”

Sat 31st Dec 1796

The American community in Paris has celebrated the anniversary of their independence. Ambassador Monroe and the resident American merchants entertained numerous ministers and legislators and all the foreign ambassadors together with several French Generals. An empty place was set for La Fayette who had commanded the American light infantry in the War of Independence. He and his family continue to be imprisoned by the Austrians.

Sat 10th Feb 1798

John Adams, the American President, has addressed Congress, 6th July 1797:

This war in Europe is beginning to involve us as well. All the documents that implicate this country in the hostilities have been provided to both Houses for consideration before publication.

Senator William Blount of Tennessee has seduced Carey, the official Cherokee interpreter at the Indian factory in Tellico, to have Cherokees and Creeks, etc., make war on Spain. Blount is supposed to represent Tennessee but acts on behalf of the British. This is a high misdemeanour and inconsistent with his duty as a Senator. He is to be impeached. He had nothing to say in his own defence. He was interdicted from the Senate and $50,000 sureties required of him. After a lengthy defence embracing every historical precedent that could be found, the Senate voted to expel Blount.

Blount’s letter to Carey says “a ‘man of consequence’ has gone to London to make arrangements and expects to obtain support. I will command the expedition. Don’t mention it to any other American or Spaniard. I believe Chisholm is in South Carolina or Georgia talking with the Creeks….”

Robert Liston, the British Ambassador, denied any knowledge of the plan to attack Spanish Louisiana. The Governor General of Canada says he had no such plan either – ‘we would never invade neutral lands’, he averred.

Pickering, the US Secretary of State, asked the British Ambassador if Britain planned any offensive action against Spanish possessions on American borders and whether any co-operation from any US party was expected.

Liston said he had received a proposal from Captain Chisholm for an attack on the Floridas and other Spanish lands last year. Chisholm requested a British force be sent by sea, reinforced by volunteers from the United States and the Indian tribes. Liston had rejected it as compromising US neutrality. He says he informed London where Ministers supported his decision and declined to give any countenance to the plan.

Sun 11th March 1798 Extraordinary

France is outraged by the information in the Address of American President Adams to Congress. The US ambassador to Paris has been called-in to demand the countries restore their relative positions of 1778. If he does not offer to do so, he also will likely be required to leave France.[9]

Sat 14th April 1798

Redacteur – Some negotiators have arrived from America. Their cause was defended in the French legislature by Emmanuel Pastoret in the 3rd year of the Republic but his oratory inflamed the legislators. We will consider facts:

The dispute concerns Jay’s Treaty of Commerce concluded in London on 1st Nov 1794. It was ratified by the US Senate, except one article, on 24th June 1795.

Briefly, there are two parties in America – the English party, comprised of the merchants and the bulk of the civil service and legislature; and the French party which comprises the farming population. The farmers love our revolutionary principles and Liberty; the others recall they owe their existence to England. France contributed to American independence and the Treaty of Paris of 1783 contains British acknowledgement of that independence within the territorial limits mentioned in the Treaty.

Before the current war there were disputes. English troops crossed the frontiers indicated in the Treaty and carried off some negroes belonging to America. Some American ships were seized and pillaged by the British on the pretence they traded with French islands in West Indies. The protests of American shipowners increased as this fleet of lost ships increased. American Legislators spoke of war unless their grievances were redressed but the Federal Government preferred talk and sent Jay to London.

La Chronique asserts that on Jay’s arrival he was surrounded by ministers, courtiers and nobles and assailed with British grievances and, wishing to show himself as reasonable, he sought for a Treaty of Peace with England to resolve all differences.

It is in this treaty that we see the first re-appearance of American anti-European and pro-English terms since the War of Independence, some of which terms violate the Treaty of Alliance and Commerce that France made with Franklin, Deane and Lee on 6th February 1778. At commencement of the present war we sought to renew the alliance with America but she eluded our proposal. Contrarily, America solicited closer commercial connections with England.

We therefore see France in 1778 lavishing blood and treasure on America’s behalf and obtaining victory in the Treaty of Paris; and America in 1794 making a most favourable treaty with England in London at the time that country was prosecuting one of its most violent and unjust wars against France and French access to London (to monitor the terms of the agreement) was constrained. The treaties appear intended to disaffect America from France. Here are the terms Jay accepted:

  • The first eight articles fix limits. The English posts within America have boundaries around them. The precise size is not addressed but each represents a focus of British influence and government within the United States. The English receive free navigation of all the rivers and lakes of America. The Americans do not have reciprocity here – English rivers can only be entered conditionally. England is given a share of the lands east of the Mississippi.
  • The 9th article says Americans and Britons owning lands straddling the frontier shall enjoy the privileges of the natives of either country. It follows that America will have Englishmen owning lands in American territory.
  • In 1778 France granted America everything they requested including exemption from escheat, to which all other foreigners dying in France are liable, and only reserved a right to control excessive emigration. In this new Treaty nothing is reserved. The children and grandchildren of these bi-national landowners may increase to infinity. 20 years ago the English were not much respected in America. They were distrusted. At that time they could not be kept far enough away from American ports and frontiers. Times have changed.
  • The 10th article addresses war between the parties. In that case, funds placed by individuals in the banks of the other cannot be sequestrated (there are extensive British shareholdings in American banks). The articles says confidence between individuals should not be weakened by either government. This is a philosophical statement. We should recall how the British recently ‘respected’ the funds that Dutch merchants had placed in British banks. The Dutch are good friends of America. How did America, which has neither armies nor navies, surrender this last means of control on the conduct of England. Do they deserve independence when they hazard it so easily?
  • The 12th article binds Americans to not export sugar, coffee, cocoa or cotton from any American port to any part of the World during the present war and for 2 years after, whether these items are the produce of the French, Spanish or English islands. Cocoa is only produced in Spanish islands, American itself produces cotton. Americans are limited to exporting to British lands in ships of less than 70 tons. This 12th article shows a predilection for England. How can America export any of her cumbrous produce – timber and the like – in 70 ton ships? Against whom are these trade restraints directed in general?
  • In the 9th article of the Franco-American Treaty of Alliance of 1778, America guaranteed French possessions. It is well known that hitherto America has not been able to perform this undertaking and France has excused her but the Jay Treaty is directly opposed to France. The new arrangements facilitate supplies to the British West Indian islands and frustrate those of the French West Indian islands – will American ships not supply and provision the British occupiers of Martinique? The 12th article also postpones decision whether ‘free ships make free goods’ for the duration of the war and two years after (i.e. does the neutrality of the ship’s flag protect the cargo as well). In three recent treaties (France/America, France/Holland and Prussia/Sweden) the ‘free ships’ doctrine is affirmed. Clearly this 9th article is prejudicial to France. The English may steal French goods in American ships, particularly the grain supply that prevents scarcity here, whilst the French, Dutch, Prussians and Swedes may not take English goods in American ships. It would have been an honourable act for the American Senate to disavow the treaty on this article alone.
  • The 13th article allows American ships to trade with British colonies in the East but all the cargo must be landed in American ports. No carrying trade is allowed. This is a surrender of that freedom of navigation that the Americans have formerly so vociferously claimed. Thus America rejects all the engagements previously made to her old friends.
  • The 14th – 17th articles regulate trade with their new friend.
  • The 18th article enumerates all types of contraband. This list includes several of the articles that were routinely considered free goods in earlier treaties – wood for ship-building, tar, pitch, copper plates, flax, cordage, and anything else that is used in the construction of ships. This means that America can only supply these articles to Britain and not to France, Holland, Prussia or Sweden.
  • The 21st article says Americans cannot serve in armies or navies hostile to England. Mr Jay might here have reasonably inserted a restraint on England pressing Americans to serve in her fleet but he did not do so.
  • The 24th and 25th articles are complete violations of the 17th article of the Treaty of 1778. The earlier treaty allowed the warships and privateers of both countries to convey, wherever they like, the ships and cargoes of an enemy without paying fees to the Admiralty or Judiciary i.e. the prizes could not be seized or detained or inspected. This was a privilege shared between France and America and was the main evidence of the goodwill of America for France. This was a time when Americans wanted to keep the English as far from their coasts as possible.
  • In 1794 Grenville asked Jay for MFN status and the same article was inserted word for word in the new treaty. However Jay recognised that France would inevitably protest this infraction of the 1778 treaty and he introduced an ameliorating restriction – ‘nothing herein will operate contrary to existing treaties’. This is an inadequate mechanism to paper-over the chasm – if the English bring a French prize into an American port and it is received, it is a breach of 1778; if it is not received, it is a breach of 1794. The particular French objection to this article is that it appears to be a free and voluntary concession by America – it looks like bad faith.

On this review Emmanuel Pastoret’s defence of the 1794 treaty in the Legislature is suspicious and the conduct of French negotiators towards the Americans should be made predictable.[10]

Sat 9th June 1798

The 43 survivors of the 48th regiment have returned from Santo Domingo. That was formerly a regiment of 650 men.

Sat 21st July 1798

London report of American news – Senator Blount has been impeached for High Crimes and Misdemeanours. He is accused of five offences. The first is conspiring to invade and occupy Spanish Louisiana and the Two Floridas on behalf of England. The other charges detail the means he employed to do so.

Sat 1st Sept 1798

US President Adams has embargoed the sailing of American merchant ships from home ports. Since April 1797 they have been sailing unarmed and many have been captured by the British or French Navy as prizes of war. The American negotiators at Paris have not been able to procure a change in French attitudes to US international commerce. Indeed they could not even obtain an audience with the Legislature. The French pre-conditions were for an end to Anglo-American trade, an immediate payment of £50,000 and a loan of £2 millions. America cannot afford that. One of the US negotiators was recalled and the other was ejected. It appears the former allies are on the brink of war.

Adams’ embargo exempts the coastal trade and fishing boats. ‘We will fortify and garrison our ports, we will arm our trading ships and prepare to defend ourselves. When that is complete the embargo will cease.’ Congress passed the President’s proposals by only 4 votes, citing a horror of war with France. The mercantile maritime states are opposed although the proposals derive from their complaint and were intended to defend their capital and trade. They contrarily suppose that England will defend them.

Gifford (one of the Anglophile Senators) addressed the Congress:

I got this information direct from France. I believe it is genuine and not British deception. Brissot first sought to procure the removal of George III prior to making a federated Republic of Britain and Ireland. The CPS, responding to petitions from the Irish, learned that country would prefer independence. The Directory then concluded that England, Scotland and Ireland should become three separate Republics. This was the state of French thinking before the planned invasion, for which the prospects of French victory had appeared fair.

The English Directory is to comprise Paine, Tooke, Sharpe, Thelwell and Lord Lansdowne. The preferred membership of the cabinet is Easte (Foreign), Waithman (Finance), Cooper (Interior), Tierney (Justice), General Tarleton (War), Hardy (Police), Lord John Russell and James (Marine), Coombe (First Mayor) and Stanhope (Ambassador to France)

The Irish Directory is Napper Tandy, Roger O’Connor, Edward FitzGerald, Hamilton Rowan and A N Other (un-named for diplomatic reasons). A selection of 22 approved names are given for Irish cabinet posts but none is preferred above the others.

The Scottish Directory is Muir, Sinclair, Cameron, Lord Lauderdale and Semple. The Cabinet will include MacLeod (War), Ferguson (Foreign) and Campbell (Marine). I don’t know the other names but they have been listed.

The Directory did not want this information published to protect their favoured politicians from Pitt who will imprison them on suspicion of sedition or treason if he knows. The Directory asserts its selection is based on already published information on the selectees’ views, not on direct contact. Some of these people are unknown to the public, others will be shocked to find themselves named. The nominations may be an example of the egalitarian principles that guide French policy. Hamilton Rowan, Napper Tandy, Thomas Paine and Thomas Muir are in Paris and probably know of their nominations as three of them preside over the English, Scottish and Irish Committees now sitting in Paris, each of which communicates daily with the Directory.

One of the French plans involves the distribution of the naval force of Britain. Part will be allotted to France, Spain and Netherlands in restitution of all those ships that have been seized. The remainder will be distributed amongst the three British Republics.

The colonies in East and West Indies will likewise be distributed amongst the three countries.

Another plan deals with the British aristocracy, which is largely to be extinguished. Two nobles who have near relatives on the continent are spared. As a generalisation, opposers of war – the Dukes of Bedford, Norfolk, Marlborough and Bridgewater – are merely dunned for 400,000 guineas whilst supporters – the remainder of the nobility – have their assets confiscated and will be banished. All industrialists and merchants are preserved. In the capitalist list is Fox and Lord Moira. Fox is accused of insulting France in the debates of 1786 on the commercial treaty while Moira is extolled for protecting the two nations and the French émigrés.

I believe the Directory has relied on published information and the correspondence of the British and Irish rebels in Paris. This latter is handled via Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg and/or Altona to avoid British censorship.

The Directory anticipates that the crews of British warships will mutiny when they are called upon to prevent the invasion. After landing, the French expect the militias to act likewise. This will surprise some people but French experience has been that dissenters are important in procuring French victories – they must be considered as a factor in success.

Gifford concludes that if Britain is to be preserved, she will require American help.

Sat 15th Sept 1798

The American newspapers of 9th April contain unexpurgated copies of the correspondence between the American envoys at Paris and (mainly) Talleyrand on behalf of the Directory. They also reveal letters between the Americans and an unidentified Frenchman who sometimes acted as intermediary. It is a sad story of the honourable American newcomers being tutored in the realities of European diplomacy. They went to Paris mainly to request compensation for their shipping that had been taken in prize by French privateers.

The Directory wants an American loan to pull the United States off the fence and better involve that country in the struggle. The people involved want commissions or douceurs for the intermediaries. Talleyrand’s secretary commenced the squeeze with a pre-condition to discussions – the US President’s speech on the opening of the last session of Congress had been insulting and France required reassurance. On 18th October an intermediary was introduced to General Pinckney who proposed a present of 120,000 livres would induce a forgiving attitude amongst those Directors and legislators who had been insulted by the US President. He suggested a large loan would then complete the rapprochement.

Such a loan would be considered a hostile act in England.

On 27th October, when the Americans had still not responded, the intermediary became more insistent – ‘it is expected that you will offer money,’ he said. The Americans, who had already made an investment in the long trip to Paris, felt trapped and dug in their heels – ‘no money’.

The intermediary was non-plussed and sought to instruct the emissaries in European custom. He explained that the operators of French privateers paid Director Merlin to obtain letters-of-marque and their activities procured peace with the Dey of Algiers; he reminded the Americans that it was money that kept the American Indians peaceful, and he revealed it was in fact the usual basis to all international agreements. The envoys said they had not suspected such a thing and the intermediary said they should have consulted any American resident of Paris who would have made them well aware of it. The Americans said if they loaned money to France it might jeopardise their national policy of neutrality and they would need further instructions. This introduced the possibility of substantial delay.

Accordingly, next day ambassador Gerry was given an interview with Talleyrand who confirmed, if their was any doubt in their minds, that the intermediary was correct. Gerry then put things the other way around – ‘we are not empowered to give presents or make a loan, but one of us can go home and ask for it while negotiations on substantive points takes place in Paris’. He was dismissed.

Next day the intermediary was back at the hotel – ‘the destruction of England is inevitable. When it happens their wealth and technology would naturally pass to America and the British place in maritime trade will be yours.’ A compromise was then introduced – pay the douceur as a ‘fee’, then send a man back to America for ‘full powers’ (Plenipotentiaries can authorise payment of douceurs) and we will complete the discussions on his return. To reinforce his proposal, he advised the Americans that the late Portuguese envoy had followed their proposed procedure which had been the cause of delay in those negotiations. The Americans asked ‘if we comply, will you retain all American property that has not yet been condemned to the privateers and restore it to the original (American) owners’. The intermediary could not offer that. They then asked ‘will you suspend privateering against American ships’. He could not do that either but he noted that winter was approaching, the privateering season was ending, and further American losses would unlikely occur until next Spring.

The Americans sought to summarise the position – France has taken millions of dollars worth of American property in prizes and treated America like an enemy whilst the US has all along been friendly and hospitable – now we have come to restore amicable relations and get compensation for our people and you set a ‘fee’ of 120,000 livres on our residence here and require our country to commit its resources to a loan and, until it is paid, your depredations will continue. ‘Correct’.

To establish the French position finally, the intermediary noted that America had an alternative policy in submission to England. Addressing this, he thought the British financial position was such that Pitt would soon sue for peace on French terms – ‘France possesses the means to infallibly destroy the Bank of England and its paper-money system’, he said.[11] Even if the intended invasion is not entirely successful, its effects on England will be catastrophic. He said Pitt himself was aware of the imperative need for peace, so much so that, after Duncan’s victory over the Dutch fleet, Pitt still offered France the same terms for peace that he had offered before the battle. He concluded that it would be unwise for America to rely on British help and added that Talleyrand now felt unable to introduce the subject to the members of the Directory unless he had £50,000.

On 3rd Nov the intermediary told the Americans that he feared Talleyrand was preparing an indictment of their conduct which he would send to the American President. The envoys said they were neutrals; to involve their country in war was a surrender of their national independence.

General Pinckney added a note. On 20th Dec a female friend of Talleyrand’s advised him to ‘make a loan then all matters will be adjusted’. She reminded him that when America was contending for independence, France had loaned her money although hardly able to afford it. She said Talleyrand had mentioned his hope that America would offer a loan and she thought the envoys would make no progress until they did so. Pinckney had answered ‘in that case we might as well leave now’. She replied that would invite a rupture which would create all sorts of difficulties for America at home – ‘there is a considerable party in America who are strongly in our interest’.

Sat 13th Oct 1798

Talleyrand has responded to the American publications asserting his corruption as reported by the negotiators in Paris. He says the intermediaries who lurk about the French Foreign Office are all swindlers but none of them is employed by the Foreign Ministry.

The French complaint against America is that the country has not performed its agreement in the Convention of 1788. They agreed to permit French prizes in American ports and facilitate their disposal. American courts intervened and sought to seize jurisdiction. The English were permitted to blockade French ports in America. French shipping in and out of these ports was harassed. All along the Americans kept saying the magic word ‘neutral’.

Then they negotiated a secret treaty with England (the Jay Treaty) that revealed the fraud of their neutrality. This treaty did not evidence American neutrality. On the contrary, it permits English warships in American ports; it gives England privileges over France; it provides England with a means of blockading and starving French colonies in the Americas, and it sacrifices the freedom of the seas that was so carefully maintained in former treaties.

Assuredly, it is not the act of a neutral.

France protested and received prevarications and digressions. The Americans talk only of their own problems and think nothing of France. The treaty of 1788 is the basis of our relationship and now French prizes may not be sold in American ports. It was only when we demanded to avail ourselves of the clauses in the English treaty that the Americans showed a disposition to be reasonable. Three representatives came to France. General Pinckney and Marshall were known to be anti-French. Only Gerry was impartial. These representatives were poorly selected. They were reluctant to pacify French feelings and eager to cause exasperation.

As a pre-condition we asked them to disavow the insulting words of the President at the opening of Congress. They refused and even scolded us for mentioning it. We recognised the shift from neutrality that Jay’s Treaty represented and we required some indication that they were really neutral and fair-minded. At that time it would have been convenient for French finances if America accepted some Dutch paper for silver. Talleyrand told them it would be seen as a friendly act. They refused.

Talleyrand found they were difficult to interview although the nature of their job required their frequent attendance in the Foreign Office. Only Gerry could be induced to interview. He merely received our opinions and advices but said nothing in return.[12]

Sat 10th Nov 1798

Paris, 17th Jan – The American ambassador to France has written a polite letter to Talleyrand. He says he has ordered the three Plenipotentiaries to review existing treaties and remove whatever inequalities have developed under them resulting from the refusal of England to adopt the principles they contain (i.e. the Americans suppose that England drives the prize system under Orders-in-Council; if she stopped capturing ships, France would reciprocate).

The representatives will also provide France with complete information on the losses American merchants have sustained from French prize-taking and the compensation we ask for.

Sat 27th Oct 1798

A Frenchman who bakes bread for the British garrison at Port au Prince on Santo Domingo has been detected as a traitor by a dog. The day that the French were to evacuate, he produced his usual loaves and a dog was seen to eat a scrap and die.

Enquiries revealed the whole lot contained arsenic. The baker says he hates the English and wished to do away with them. He was summarily convicted, tied over the cannon’s mouth and blown apart.

Sat 27th Oct 1798

Philadelphia, May – a Bill has been presented in Congress authorising the President to buy and fit-out 12 frigates of up to 22 guns for the protection of American trade. M Gallatin, one of the minority French supporters in the Legislature, proposed an amendment – that the frigates not be used on convoy duty in peacetime. It sounds superficially reasonable but that is precisely the purpose that the President has in mind.

Another Bill authorises the President to create an army of 20,000 men for the defence of the country, particularly the coast. This was violently opposed on cost grounds – a militia can do the job at half the price – and on Constitutional grounds – it is Congress which raises troops not the President. It is feared to be the first step in creating a standing army.

A third Bill empowers the President to raise a Corps of Engineers. The need to train candidates for this employment caused the President to ask for 5 years validity to the Act. That attracted opposition ire too but all three were passed.

The fourth measure was the only one that passed unanimously – an Act to repair old and build new coastal forts.

Two other matters are in contemplation – raising a volunteer force for civil defence and an Aliens Bill with a provision for the naturalisation of foreigners. The leadership is mulling the subjects and may introduce legislation soon.

Finally there is the matter of cost. The President estimates he needs £2 millions a year of new money. A tax on slaves and landed property would produce it.

The northern states are generally supportive; the south may not be.

Sat 1st Dec 1798

London report on the attitude of the Americans:

War appears to have commenced between America and France. A French privateer of 12 guns, which had taken several prizes off American ports, was itself taken by Captain Decatur of the USS Delaware (said to be a former British sloop). He captured her off Egg Harbour.

The American merchants of the North East States are irritated by France and unwilling to make more sacrifices. Subscriptions have been commenced in all the major New England towns to fit-out warships.

The majority support for French principles that has characterised the American people this few years has evaporated in New England.

Mon 31st Dec 1798 Extraordinary

On 7th July the American Congress annulled all existing treaties with France. All French consuls are ejected and the countries are at war.

Mon 31st Dec 1798 Extraordinary

President John Adams has concluded that French policy in Europe is ‘divide and rule’. He says so in a letter to the Governor of New Hampshire (devoutly Anglophile) dated 2nd July 1798. He’s angry with France because he sees its policy over privateering and compensation to his people as unjust. He knows France is well able to seriously trouble America and that will force him into British arms, which government system he abhors.

He hates the absence of choice but sees no third way. He has asked Washington to command the American army. George accepted and is giving his services free. He says he’s fitter than you’d expect for his years (he’s 66 years old).

Sat 19th Jan 1799

France has responded to American abhorrence of privateering. On 31st July the Directory issued a Decree:

There are many privateers in the West Indies and off the North American coast that used French colours but are actually operated by foreigners or pirates.

French letters of marque will in future be issued only by the Directory. All existing letters of marque, whoever issued them, are null, effective thirty days after the date of this Decree.

The Agents at the French colonies of Cayenne, Santo Domingo and Guadaloupe will check the authorities of any privateers they find and punish anyone opposing this Decree.

Sgd Merlin & Lagrande

Bombay Courier Editor – Merlin is the man who sells letters of marque. The old ones are signed by him. This Decree may not receive the respect that is usually accorded.

Sat 26th Jan 1799

President Adams has got Congress to vote £2 millions to fortify American ports and buy arms and ammunition. 13,000 men have been raised and another 10,000 will be added if hostilities actually commence. A militia of 80,000 is available for call-out if required. A defensive navy (frigates down to cutters) is being formed. Congress expects each maritime state to provide two frigates. A total of 48 warships is spoken of. It sounds adequate against France.

Sat 26th Jan 1799

The new American policy towards France:

The complaint of America is that France has issued several Decrees directing that British property on American ships may be seized. This contravenes an earlier French agreement with us (in our treaty of amity and commerce) which endorses the “free ships make free goods” position:

  • France undertook to enforce a strict and impartial neutrality towards us; Contrarily, they sent armed ships to cruise against our merchant ships.
  • Merchandise in our ships, that is not amongst the list of contraband goods in our treaty, is made liable to capture by unilateral Decrees of the French legislature. This is a treaty breach.
  • French agents in our ports, holding military commissions of the Republican government of France, have been raising a force within America to war with England. This is a flagrant breach of their professed neutrality within our own domains.
  • French consuls in America assume powers of Admiralty Jurisdiction to try and condemn enemy vessels brought into American ports. They thereby violate our sovereign law and threaten our fixed policy of neutrality.
  • Similar French consular courts elsewhere have seized jurisdiction over American ships carried into those ports and condemned them, thereby depriving their owners of the protection of properly constituted Admiralty Courts.
  • France has justified its conduct as “responses to the illegal Orders-in-Council of England.” These English initiatives form the pretext for France to adopt similar measures.
  • New documentation was required, unnecessary for the safe carriage and sale of goods, and their absence made a pretext for seizing ships.

As a result American trade has suffered depredations.

A French decree determines that the identity of an American ship will be ascertained inter alia by the cargo it carries. The presence of British goods on an American ship renders it liable to capture.

American citizens serving on the ships of France’s enemies (sometimes as a result of Royal Navy press-gangs) are treated as pirates.

America requires security against the continuation of French privateering and compensation for the injuries sustained. We want the re-establishment of amity. We sent a deputation to Paris which worked unrelentingly for an agreement. Instead of compensation we were asked to pay tribute, by way of loans and otherwise, and instead of redress we received complaints that our legislature had the temerity to complain.

As France has unilaterally abrogated the treaties between our countries, specifically the treaties of 6th Feb 1778 and 14th Nov 1788, this enactment confirms that we likewise consider them to be of no effect.

 

The Bombay Courier newspapers for the second half of 1799 and all of 1800 are missing from the British Library’s collection.


Sat 21st Feb 1801

The French and Americans have made a new treaty at Paris on 30th Sept 1800 whereby all their former agreements are postponed until they have discussed their relationship in detail. America wants money from France, France does not have any to spare.

The new temporary agreement allows for the restitution of any ships taken by one side to the other. Cargo not being contraband (defined as ‘all warlike articles’) and not yet condemned, is to be restored. Proof of identity of each country’s ships and crews will be required in future by a passport. All ships will fly their own national flag. The passport is to be used repeatedly, voyage after voyage. Proof of ownership of the cargo is by certificates. Debts between merchants of each country shall be settled but not yet the indemnities. Commercial agents of each country will reside in the other. All taxes payable and civil rights / liabilities are equalised on MFN basis. Each country may trade with the enemies of the other. This treaty upholds the ‘free ships make free goods’ principle. It also promotes ‘free ships have free crews’ even if some crew are the enemies of one or other of the contracting parties. Foreign privateers shall not sell their prizes and cargoes in the ports of either party – they shall be given the minimum provisions necessary for them to return home. All pirates are excluded from the ports of each power – if they come in they will be seized.

Signed for France Joseph Bonaparte, C P Fleurieu, Roederer; for America Oliver Ellsworth, W R Davie, W V Murray.

A Party was held in Paris on 8th Oct after the signing of this treaty. The First Consul announced ‘the differences between the two nations being adjusted, there should no longer remain any trace of them; that the liberal principles, with regard to navigation, …. ought to be the basis of a growing intimacy’.

Sat 9th May 1801

John Adams, the U S President, made a speech to Congress on 22nd November 1800 in Washington (the new capital). America has concluded a treaty of amity and commerce with Prussia. We have suspended operation of the 6th article of our treaty with Britain. Our negotiation with the First Consul continues. We try to settle our trading relationships by treaty.

The world has become a dangerous place and we must take care of ourselves. We produce mainly agricultural goods. Our long coastline has many ports where our maritime trade is conducted. We trust a great part of our capital to the high seas. We must defend it. Our great distance from Europe will help. We have raised a navy and we should consider concluding the fortification of some of our major ports. We have started an arms manufactory.

Sat 30th May 1801

The Massachusetts Register for 1801 has a list of ships in the American Navy at Dec 1800 – 6 x 44 gunners, 3 x 36 guns, 6 x 32 guns, 1 x 26 guns, 3 x 24 guns, 3 x 20 guns, 3 x 18 guns. There are also seven armed brigs of 14 – 18 guns, two armed schooners with 12 guns each and 7 galleys at Savannah, Charlestown and Wilmington. The 44-gun heavy frigate is larger than British frigates.

Sat 13th June 1801

Jefferson is expected to succeed Adams as American President and Burr will be his VP. A report from Washington says a Senate Committee investigating the Convention with France has disapproved the 2nd and 3rd articles of the treaty and suggested two other articles be added. The Senate voted against a partial ratification 10/14 (it seems they are constitutionally supposed to have two thirds majority on matters relating to the ratification of foreign treaties.) This appears to put Napoleon’s plans for America on hold.

Sat 20th June 1801

A neutral’s lot is not a happy one. American shipowners’ difficulties are more apparent in the Mediterranean. They have been upset by Algerian pirates attacking their merchant ships, stealing the cargo and enslaving the crews. They may not yet wish to confront the Royal Navy but they are confident they can confront the Dey of Algiers.

The USS George Washington (Bainbridge) was sent to Algiers to intercede with the Dey. His frigate ran aground on the Algerian coast and a myriad number of small boats encircled it and kept up a hail of fire until Bainbridge was obliged to strike his flag. That was in October 1800. Bainbridge and his Chief Mate O’Brien had to make a deal with the Dey to get their frigate back. On 14th Oct they sailed from Algiers to Constantinople to carry the tributary presents of the Dey to the Porte. These comprised 100 Negro slaves, two lions, two tigers(?), four horses, 200 sheep, jewels and money.

The Dey required Bainbridge to fly the red flag (Algerian colours) from his top-gallant masthead. O’Brien gave security in $800,000 to the Dey for safe-delivery of the tribute. The alternative was the enslavement of the frigate crew.

This should induce a response from the American legislature.

Sat 25th July 1801

The Presidential election in America has so excited the people it seems capable of causing a riot. A note of 20th Feb says Thomas Jefferson is elected.

Sat 29th Aug 1801

London has a report from Admiral Duckworth notifying the reduction of the Danish and Swedish colonies in West Indies – St Martin, St Croix, St Thomas and St Bartholomew. It will not be gazetted as we are friends again.

Sat 3rd October 1801

The capture of the four West Indian islands of Denmark and Sweden has revealed a strong American commercial interest in every one of them. All the capitulations provide for protection to American nationals and in one (St Thomas) our commander has permitted American trade to America to continue.

British terms require the confiscation of all French, Spanish and Dutch property. The Americans may trade only in conformity with British Navigation laws. All people who have taken farming mortgages from the King of Denmark are to make their repayments to George III. The island of St Croix is permitted to continue trade with Cuba or Puerto Rico as it is well-known it is dependent on those countries for necessaries.

Sat 24th Oct 1801

The people of South Carolina are livid. They voted for Jefferson in the Presidential election but the state’s electoral college gave their votes to Burr. Can they do that? It sounds like corruption.

Sat 6th March 1802

A Danish fleet with troops and goods is about to sail from Copenhagen to West Indies to repossess the colonies we took from Denmark in the war. The British ministry has agreed to their restoration but details are unavailable.

Sat 24th April 1802

On 22nd Nov 1801 Bonaparte published his State of the Republic address, from which the following is extracted:

“…. We are almost out of contact with our old colonies.

“Guadaloupe retains some prosperity but it has been outraged by factionalism amongst the governing councils. We have sent a Captain-General to restore order and good government and he has selected and sent 13 individuals to France whose activities were inimical with good government. We consider these men dangerous and want them out of France as well. We may send them to some other colony.

“Santo Domingo is irregularly governed and an army and navy are being sent to restore that valuable colony to France. (this is the first public notice of a French fleet and army being sent to West Indies as a result of peace – included amongst the people sailing to Santo Domingo are the two sons of Toussaint who had gone to France for their education about 11 years earlier.)

“In both these colonies of Guadaloupe and Santo Domingo slavery is abolished and will never be restored.

“Martinique is governed on different principles. Our colonists have preserved slavery there and it will continue. France recognises the social costs of changing basic institutions and this is not the time to do so in Martinique.

“Guyana has prospered and will prosper further with the grant of part of Brazil from Portugal.”

Sat 8th May 1802

News from Jamaica in the London papers:

An insurrection is said to have occurred on Guadaloupe in Nov. The mulattoes attacked the blacks and whites, reportedly successfully. They have placed their own men in charge of government departments and the army. They have arrested the Captain-General Lacrosse who was sent out from France on the peace, and have detained him on a ship. The British cruisers found him and tried to return him to his island under a flag of truce but the return was refused and the British officer insulted.

One of the planters here (in Jamaica), who went to Guadaloupe a fortnight ago, has just escaped minus his wife and children. He says the mulattoes decline to ally themselves with either blacks or whites and intend to create their own homeland. The report was received at Lloyd’s on 29th Dec and circulated in confidence.

Five British capital ships and a frigate arrived at Jamaica in early Dec presumably as a counterpoise to the French fleet sent to Santo Domingo from France on 14th Dec. The French are sending 23 warships and 25,000 men (There is a Spanish element in the force and General Gravina is accompanying it as Governor of Havana). British military officers are alarmed and anxious. They are sending a further 7 capital ships and a frigate and sloop.

General Touissant has already restored Santo Domingo to order and tranquillity. His troops wear only a loincloth but are well-disciplined. It will be interesting to see how he gets along with the French Admiral.[13]

Sat 7th Aug 1802

When Christopher Columbus discovered Santo Domingo it had a huge indigenous population but within fifteen years the Spanish had whittled it down to 60,000.

At the start of the Revolution the French part of the island contained 42,000 whites, 44,000 free blacks and 600,000 slaves. It is calculated that the population of the French part has diminished by about 100,000 during the war.

In the 1789 French census, deaths on Santo Domingo exceeded births 7122/4232. It appears the population is only maintained by immigration.

Sat 21st Aug 1802

The death penalty for crimes has largely been abolished in America. They prefer imprisonment. This flows from the benevolence of their government.

Sat 18th Sept 1802

Counsellor of State Dupaty has addressed the French Legislature on slavery:

Martinique, St Lucia and Tobago are restored to France along with our factories in India. We must instil confidence in the planters. The distinctions in capacity of the different races of the World have shown that abolishing slavery cannot be done by fiat. Our humanity has led us into error.

Our attempt to impose equality on the slaves has simply caused anarchy from which no-one benefits. We must first restore social order and the rule of law.

Sat 25th Sept 1802

A cynical London report on matters in the French news, amongst which:

  • The Chief Consul is raising a loan in America. He asks for half in silver and the rest in stores for his forces in West Indies.

Sat 25th Sept 1802

In the course of a long speech to the Commons deploring the peace treaty, Windham said:

  • The Treaty of Madrid, signed two days before the Preliminary peace articles, extends French Guyana to the Amazon. The Portuguese surrendered this vast tract of land to preserve their homeland under the Treaty of Badajoz (a small area south of Badajoz was in danger of being ceded to Spain). French access to the Amazon gives them influence in that river’s hinterland.
  • The Treaty of Madrid gives Louisiana and Florida to France in return for Bonaparte placing the son of the Spanish King on the throne of Etruria. Louisiana is an immense area stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and its owner can threaten the entire western land frontier of USA. It contains the Mississippi River which provides access to all the terra incognita in the centre of continental north America. Florida provides a base to get at the Bahamas chain and Cuba and link-up with the French colony at Santo Domingo.
  • We made a present of Santo Domingo to France in the interval between the preliminary and definitive treaties. Ministers say the ex-slave government there alarmed all our expatriate planters on the other islands but without a slave navy to reach our islands the threat was containable. If Santo Domingo remained in black hands its productiveness would diminish; but in French hands its trade will increase (before the war its sugar exports were valued at £8 millions annually) and not only be lost entirely to this country but the trade proceeds will finance the construction of a safe port for France to use as a naval base. In this event, as America trades extensively in West Indies, French influence over the USA will increase.

Sat 2nd October 1802

The opening of the Scheldt, which was agreed in the late treaty, has encouraged several American families to emigrate to Antwerp and reside there. One of the big City merchants is sending his son there to handle the firm’s Bills business between England and the north of Germany. The river is busier than before and Antwerp likewise. Later this year it is proposed to dredge the river and clear a channel through the bar at the river mouth.

Sat 23rd Oct 1802

West Indian news:

  • The French expedition that recently left Europe for West Indies has arrived at Santo Domingo. They found American government agents with Toussaint influencing his policy. There were many American ships in port. They bring cargoes of flour, building timber (deal) and considerable quantities of arms and ammunition.
    The Americans have been arming Santo Domingo since they learned of the Preliminary Treaty of Peace. General Leclerc ejected them. The French have sought to sever American connections with the rebels.
    The new rules at Santo Domingo, as declared by Leclerc, are that French ships pay no duty on imports to the colony and 10% on exports which may be reduced to 5% if government receipts are subsequently found to be adequate. It is supposed the Customs tariff of 1784 will be suitable for Santo Domingo.
    General Leclerc has established a provisional government on the basis of liberty and equality. All inhabitants are equal without regard to colour. He has to do that because the last French Governor gave equality to the blacks and Toussaint has subsequently had several years to entrench it during French absence.
    Leclerc is discussing the business of agriculture and commerce with the principal investors and will issue rules soon. The other colonial masters in West Indies are pleased. The effect of a black-ruled island on their own colonies might have been disastrous. The English, Dutch and Spanish welcome the French back.
  • A mutiny of the 8th West India regiment at Dominica, south of Guadaloupe, has been quelled. The soldiers planned to execute the whites and declare another black government. Their leaders have been caught and will be tried and executed at Martinique.

Sat 27th Nov 1802

Paris, 23rd July – The value of Santo Domingo exports during the several years that Toussaint was running the place totalled about £12 millions. Under French administration it was £8 millions a year. Toussaint and a hundred followers got an amnesty from Leclerc but they continued to foment insurrection and Toussaint was eventually arrested. France suspects that he has secreted a huge sum of money and £12 millions might indicate its maximum extent. Toussaint with his family and fellow black officials has just arrived in France. They will have to be skilled in talking.[14]

Sat 4th Dec 1802

The Americans have assessed the effect of French ownership of Louisiana. They have called on Britain to fortify her Canadian posts and conciliate the American Indians. The Indians are not friendly to the Americans in view of continual land-grabs but Americans think that Britain might have a better reputation. They hope their proposals will enable Britain to confront France in America and maintain a balance.

Meanwhile General Bernadotte is appointed Governor of Louisiana and is expected to leave France for New Orleans soon with an army escort.

Sat 1st Jan 1803

The sugar planters on Jamaica are in dispute with the Governor. They have for years paid the costs of a garrison of 3,000 troops which the Governor now wishes to increase to 5,000. They have no objection to an increased military presence, only to paying for it.

Sat 18th June 1803

American merchants are distressed by the Dutch return to their former colonies. The Americans have been monopolising the trade of Demerara and Essequibo (in Dutch Guyana) during the European wars but the Dutch have now reinstated the pre-1793 situation. All colonial production may be exported to American ports only in Dutch ships. Numerous American ships, that were caught in both ports on the resumption of Dutch sovereignty, had to offload their cargoes and leave in ballast. The merchants of Charlestown are indignant.

The Americans are also angry with the Spanish. They have got into the habit of bringing the productions of their Mississippi settlements down to New Orleans for warehousing prior to export. Now the Spanish have returned and deny them that privilege. The Americans say unless Spain relents, they will easily eject them from all Louisiana. Spain is actually only the caretaker. She is in negotiations with France concerning ownership of Florida but has already transferred title of Louisiana to France.

Sat 25th June 1803

The American Convention of 8th Jan 1802 between Hawkesbury and Rufus King is reproduced.

Sat 23rd July 1803

A description of Louisiana has been published in France which shows the ‘natural limits’ of the territory as the catchment areas of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. It accordingly appears to extend east to the Appalachian mountains (including the states of Kentucky and Tennessee not to mention the Western Territory)

The Spanish post of Natchez has been ceded by Spain to America. The French object. Natchez falls within the ‘natural limits’ of Louisiana. As Spain has ceded Louisiana to France, Natchez is part and parcel of the deal and cannot be given away twice. France wants America to retrocede Natchez to France and get compensation from Spain.

This all seems to be wishful thinking. France is powerful in Europe and in any other place to which she can march her armies. She is not powerful in America because it is beyond her military reach. Even in the War of Independence France did not get a large force into America. To dominate America she would have to be as powerful at sea as she is on land.

Sat 30th July 1803

The acquisition of Louisiana by the French gives them a louder voice in American policies. Louisiana includes the Mississippi, navigation on which is under the control of whoever holds New Orleans. The upper reaches of this river are very fast and humanity does not yet have the technology for sailing up-stream. The Americans resident in those parts usually lash logs together as rafts to send their produce down river. They sell both the rafts and the cargo at New Orleans. Whilst it is presently a one-way road, the river can be ascended using draft animals to pull the shipping, if a sufficient number can be made available.

Effectively French possession of Louisiana splits North America into two with the Americans on the east side and the Spanish on the west. They are both notionally threatened by the French presence in the middle. France is poor and Spanish gold in Mexico and Peru is a tempting target, both for France and America. This Spanish permission to France to set-up a base close to the sources of Spanish wealth seems to suggest a very close relationship between the two governments, with the Spanish taking the inferior position. This may presage a French share in the mineral wealth of the Spanish colonies and may also oblige the Americans to adopt Francophile policies.

Sat 20th August 1803

General Bernadotte has led an Embassy to America and Monroe, the American Plenipotentiary, has arrived in Paris.

Sat 20th August 1803

The case of Collatt v Lord Keith has again been heard, this time at the Guildhall before a Special Jury. It has been heard several times before. Collatt owns the Argonaut, an American-registered ship, and Lord Keith was in command of the British fleet at the Cape when the Argonaut was there. He prevented the neutral ship’s departure on suspicion its Captain would communicate with the enemy. Whilst she remained there, the ship and cargo were accidentally destroyed.

The Jury again found for Collatt, subject to a reference to Inglis, the City businessman, on some details of the Law Merchant in the India Company’s ports.

Editor – Every Counsel who acts in the King’s Bench has been involved in this case at one time or another.

Wed 5th Oct 1803 Extraordinary

Several French Generals have been courting Mde Leclerc, the widow of Bonaparte’s relative the French General killed in Santo Domingo, but she is inconsolable at her bereavement. She is determined to found a Carmelite convent and reside there.

Sat 22nd Oct 1803

The American minister Monroe, who has been negotiating in Paris, has reportedly got French agreement on 30th April 1803 to cede Louisiana to his country. Bonaparte has consistently resisted this cession until he read George III’s Address and saw we would fight again. He then offered Louisiana to America to secure the goodwill of that country.

He will need American merchant shipping if he is to get any colonial produce through our blockades. Rufus King, the American Agent in London, has reported the Louisiana agreement to the British cabinet in mid-April. He says New Orleans and all of former Spanish Louisiana is now part of America. He says the preliminary treaty recognises and preserves British rights of navigation on the Mississippi.

Sat 29th Oct 1803

American papers:

  • The American Federal Government has given La Fayette 12,000 acres of land.
  • Bonaparte is selling Louisiana to the Americans. A transfer of ownership of Louisiana will extinguish French debts to America and may restore amicable relations between the countries.

Sat 4th Feb 1804

The American Commissioners Gore, Pinckney and Turnbull, who have been in England for the last seven years endeavouring to agree claims of American merchants for unlawful prize-taking by our cruisers, have finally been permitted to end their task.

Now we are at war with France again we do not want to upset the Americans or force them to help the French. We have agreed the total amount due to Americans at about £1.2 millions and £400,000 is to be paid straight away with the balance in instalments.

Sat 12th May 1804

London, 19th Dec – President Jefferson’s son (perhaps Congressman Thomas Mann Randolph the son of a close friend who married Jefferson’s daughter Martha) has arrived from Paris. He has been in Paris finalising terms for the transfer of Louisiana to USA. The formal representatives are Livingston and Monroe. They concluded a treaty of cession of Louisiana in Paris on April 30th.

Jefferson’s son-in-law is said to have brought peace proposals from Bonaparte for Addington’s ministry. When the rumour went around the City the 3% consols rose from 54½ to 56. Commercial Houses trading with America were said to have made large purchases of American produce.

The onset of cold weather in Europe presages the freezing of the northern Dutch ports and that should delay a French invasion of Britain until the Spring.

Sat 2nd June 1804

The French were driven out of Santo Domingo by the negroes in December. General Rochambeau and his staff went to Jamaica. He has lost his military chest and all the shipping in the harbour has been seized by the blacks. The ex-slaves were exhilarated by the abolition of slavery under the National Convention and have fought ever since to preserve their freedom. Rochambeau and all his officers are sent to England. They will be detained in various places in Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

Sat 28th July 1804

The USS Philadelphia (38) has been taken by pirates from Tripoli in mid-November. Capt Brembridge and his 320 men were imprisoned. He was chasing a Tripoli pirate when he ran aground. That brought out all the piratical boats in the area which kept firing at the American warship for four hours until Brembridge hauled down his flag. There are some Englishmen in his crew.

Sat 29th Dec 1804

The Bill for the abolition of the slave trade was effectively lost in the House of Lords. Hawkesbury proposed its adjournment for three months. As the House will sit for one more month only, its the same as rejecting it.

Sat 29th Dec 1804

Thomas Paine has published an account of the proposed 1798 French invasion of Britain in which he had intended to take part. Bonaparte’s conclusion was the attempt had little hope of success. He preferred the Egyptian option that Talleyrand packaged so attractively.

Sat 29th Dec 1804

Robert R Livingston, the American ambassador to France, has offended both the American and French governments by his public approval of Drake’s activities. He is recalled and General Armstrong is to replace him.[15]

Sat 19th Jan 1805

General J Jacques Dessalines, the black leader of Santo Domingo, seems to have prevailed over the French expedition sent to recover the island. He is 42 years old and about 5’ 2” tall. He has proclaimed himself Governor General of Haiti for life and declared the Haitian Republic. There are about 300,000 negroes living on the island. Dessalines has adopted many European institutions which makes us laugh but he enjoys the adoration of his people.

The French have been ejected and Governor Nugent at Jamaica has sent a representative to make a commercial treaty with the new ruler and hopefully engross the island’s huge sugar production for England. His proposal is in the same terms as the agreement made by General Maitland with Toussaint a few years back.

Dessalines wants to make the entire country a free port. He welcomes the trade of the world (except French). He asked Nugent’s representative for an immense quantity of arms and ammunition and fresh slaves. He does not seem to trust us. After consultations, Governor Nugent relinquished his hopes for a treaty.

Sat 9th Feb 1805

A practical example of Pitt’s ‘what is to be gained from the war’ has been provided in Surinam. We have just reconquered this Dutch colony and discovered a great part of the missing treasure of Santo Domingo. It had been deposited there for safe-keeping when the French withdrew and has now been captured by our army (it is a prize of the captors).

Sat 9th Feb 1805

Spain is upset with France for retroceding Louisiana to the Americans. The Americans are trying to occupy West Florida too. Pinckney is going from London to Madrid to appease Spanish feelings.

Sat 9th Feb 1805

In 1776, Surinam had about 400 plantations of which 20 were free of debt. Since then farming has become less profitable and debts have increased. The Dutch have been unable, since the declaration of their Republic, to fund the colony appropriately.

It is a foreseeable result of our conquest that British capital will now be invested in Surinam. This investment is not to get the interest on the money (the rate available is about 3-4% and Surinam is hardly the most secure place to put your savings). If we were after interest-payments we would get a better and safer return in British government stock.

The capitalist interest in Surinam is overwhelmingly in the consignments. Every West Indian merchant knows that his creditor becomes his consignee. This is how we run our colonies. In the last war (the Revolutionary War) we simply assumed the colonial government of Surinam and our merchants funded the planters who were contractually bound by their loan agreements to sell us their goods. Once the consignments had been redirected from Amsterdam to London and their profitability became apparent, a speculative bubble formed and the Dutch planters were offered loans by every Tom, Dick and Harry in London, intent on securing a supply of colonial goods. Trading in commodities (necessaries) is a lovely cash-cow to which every merchant aspires.

Our speculative loans to the Surinam farmers funded the clearance of new lands for planting. These produced more colonial goods. During our short government of Surinam and the other Dutch colonies in the Revolutionary War, London invested £18 millions in their increased production. After Amiens, the colonies were restored and the capitalists were left with the interest income of 3-4%. The source of big profits reverted to the Dutch bankers of Amsterdam who became creditors (and consignees) in our place.

Many planters resent this transfer of a majority share of their profits to bankers. Some claimed ‘poverty’ and failed to repay the interest. They then moved to Step 2 – ‘not only can we not repay the interest but we will imperatively require new loans if we are to survive’. If we had called-in our loans then, we would have got perhaps 25% of our money back.

Our own planters in our own colonies are similarly placed. They can rarely raise loans, even small ones, in the City. Planters are seldom wealthy enough to get the benefit of their production. The speculators, who insert themselves between producer and consumer, make the big bucks in the early stages until production exceeds demand and late-coming financiers get burned. Timing is everything. Late-comers have been obliged to pay further loans that they would ordinarily have declined. Even then, if peace breaks out, they may not get the consignments any more.

Now we are again occupying French and Dutch colonies worldwide, we should devise our investment strategy more carefully.[16]

Sat 30th March 1805

Dessalines is rallying the Haitians at St Domingo. Here is his Declaration of 8th May 1804:

We have cast off slavery. We will never adopt the cruel and merciless policies of the whites. But we will meet war with war, crime with crime, outrage with outrage. We have avenged America. We do not care what the historian may think – we have done what had to be done. Our two classes of men, negro and mulatto, have united to throw off the yoke. We must never again allow the whites to divide us.

Maintain harmony amongst yourselves. It is the guarantee of our success. Never forget that the French government of this island meditated our complete annihilation and replacement with new slaves. Never forget the destruction of the men, women and children of Guadaloupe; the barbarism practised at Martinique. Never forget Delgresse[17] who died with all his men rather than submit to their chains. Recognise the nobility of your cause.’

An American ship captain walking the streets of Santo Domingo was appalled by the role reversal. A negro drummer coming the other way shouted at him ‘you damned white rascal; get out of my way’.

Sat 13th April 1805

Aaron Burr has been tried at New York for the murder of General Hamilton and convicted. He is barred from public office for 20 years.

Sat 20th April 1805

Toussaint’s widow has arrived in America from France. She was tortured in Paris to extract information on the activities of the French Governor of Santo Domingo and to reveal where Toussaint’s papers and money are hidden.

She has 44 wounds on her body and six of her toenails have been extracted. She has lost the use of her left arm. As she knew nothing of her husband’s political and financial activities, she bore the torture and was released on her son’s promise to form a pro-French party at Santo Domingo to oppose Dessalines.

Sat 20th April 1805

HMS Leander, which is part of the blockade off New York, has intercepted a letter from Dacres, the foreign minister in Paris, to the French ambassador to America directing him to stop paying the allowance to Jerome Bonaparte and order him home (but not his wife, Elizabeth Patterson of Baltimore)

A second letter is to Jerome himself confirming the above and advising him that Napoleon will never countenance the marital alliance he has made.

Sat 19th Oct 1805

Jerome Bonaparte has returned from America in answer to his brother’s summons and is currently at Genoa. His wife is staying in Dover.

Tues 5th Nov 1805 Extraordinary

Jerome Bonaparte’s wife has given birth to a son at Camberwell in South London.

Tues 5th Nov 1805 Extraordinary

This year’s Jamaica fleet (201 ships) has reached the Channel without incident.

Sat 14th Dec 1805

The American minister Monroe has concluded his discussions with the Spanish government at Madrid and arrived in London.

Mon 23rd Dec 1805 Extraordinary

The Americans load cargo in Mauritius and West Indies and take it to France and Holland. They stop en voyage at an American port and switch shipping papers to superficially comply with the rules for neutral shipping (which require the import cargo to be landed and the export cargo to be loaded in a home port, each with its own set of papers).

In order to deter this documentary fraud the Royal Navy has been detaining numerous American ships and sending them into British ports for examination. The American minister has protested.

Sat 25th Jan 1806

There are a large number of Irish dissidents in preventive detention in Ireland and some of the prisoners in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin have offered to emigrate to America if government will pay their fare. The first ship carrying these emigrants has already left and a general gaol-delivery is expected to ensue.

Sat 1st Feb 1806

There is a contract existing between American and Dutch merchants whereby American ships are allowed to participate in the loading of colonial goods at Batavia in Java for delivery at French and Dutch ports.

It was discovered by the English government in August 1805.

About 12-14 American ships are contracted. They all sail from Batavia to Europe via America where they appear to break voyage but in fact merely substitute the shipping papers. In this way one voyage appears documentarily to be two voyages and thus comes within the exception in our recent Anglo-American treaty. The names of the vessels and their owners are known – it’s a group of merchants from Boston and Amsterdam behind the scam.

Saturday 26th April 1806

In the last trading season at Canton (1805 / 06) there were 50 American ships at Whampoa that loaded about 8,000 – 10,000 tons of export cargo, much of which finds its way to the European market. This season the Eugenie was freighted to America with nearly 800 tons of tea at a rate of $100 per ton.

Canton is said to be full of American adventurers, many of whom retire after a few year’s trade with handsome fortunes. At present there are over a dozen Americans who have been in residence for a couple of years and made great capital. The Americans represent a challenge to our global monopoly of colonial goods.

Its not just in China – they are everywhere. Even the coffee trade of Mocha receives their attention. In the quarter November 1805 – January 1806 twenty ships visited Mocha for trade of which ten were American, eight Arab, and one each, Portuguese and English. The Company’s purchases of coffee are done at Bombay to which port the Arabs bring supply for trans-shipment to our Indiamen.

Sat 10th May 1806

Reproduction of correspondence between Hawkesbury and Rufus King on the application of the Rule of 1756 to American West Indian trade.

Briefly, International Law prior to the Seven Years War supports the FrancoAmerican position that ‘free ships make free goods.’ However British success in that war might arguably be said to have procured a revision of the Law of Nations. The Rule is that if you could not participate in the trade of a colony in peacetime, you cannot do so during war.

Sat 14th June 1806

Jefferson’s State of the Union Address, Dec 1805:

Our harbours are watched by privately-owned armed vessels, some with invalid letters of marque and reprisal, others with legal papers but engaging in piratical acts. They capture ships belonging to our trading partners and ourselves in the mouths of our harbours and on the adjacent high seas. They carry them off but, unable to get a judicial order for their condemnation, they take them to obscure places, plunder the cargo, sink the ship and abandon the crew on boats. These activities are beyond the ability of their governments to control. It has been necessary for your government to equip a small coast guard to deter these pirates and bring them to justice.

An identical system is pursued by the national ships of England and France. They operate under a new and unjust principle that is unrecognised in the Law of Nations. This principle secures all the trade of an enemy to a belligerent and denies it to a neutral on the basis that the neutral is aiding the enemy. We oppose this doctrine. It is contrary to law and justice and restricts the commercial opportunities of peaceful people.

We will erect land batteries of cannon at the entrances to our ports. We will support these batteries with a considerable number of gun-boats. If we start now we will be prepared for next season.

From our last census we know we have some 300,000 young men from whom a militia may be formed. We prefer not to limit the unrestrained enjoyment of our youth but we must protect ourselves from violent countries.

We also propose to build some capital ships and prohibit the export of arms. The size of our navy will be primarily limited by the numbers of seamen we can interest in operating it.

In the Financial Year ending 30th Sept 1805 our revenue was $13+ millions. We have used part to pay-off $2 millions of the debt due to England under the treaty, $4 millions of national debt, and $4 millions of interest. These payments together with the payments made in the prior 3½ years have extinguished $18 millions of national debt. Congress has empowered itself to borrow $1.75 millions for the settlement of part of the debt due to France but we will not need this as, after all payments this year, there is still $4½ millions in the Bank of the United States and the French debts are $3.75 millions in total.

Sat 2nd Aug 1806

The French are upset with American merchants for supplying arms and ammunition and all sorts of provisions to the ex-slave government on Santo Domingo. This strengthens the government of Dessalines (the leader of the ex-slaves) and makes it difficult for France to reassert control. Talleyrand has written to complain:

“They clear from an American port merely saying they are off to West Indies but they all go to Santo Domingo. Americans merchants are charging high prices and require gold or silver in payment. When they come back they celebrate the exponential increase in their capital and government officials are involved in the business.

“Here is an article from the US press adverting to just such a party in New York harbour on the return from Santo Domingo of the New York mercantile fleet (not published in the newspaper). The ninth toast celebrates the longevity of the ex-slave government.

“Those merchants are now preparing a second fleet and will put it under armed convoy. You must be aware of the accumulation of arms and ammunition in your ports for export.

“Please stop your merchants trading to Santo Domingo until the French colonial government has been restored. If we cannot agree this, we will capture every American ship we can in Santo Domingo ports.”

Sat 2nd Aug 1806

The American President has again addressed Congress on prize-taking:

The right of a neutral to trade in non-contraband goods to a belligerent’s ports (except blockaded ports) was established by us with Britain when we recently negotiated the settlement of claims arising from the War of Independence.

Britain has acknowledged that compensation is due to America and has since actually paid damages to us for her admitted infraction of the rule.

When England recently reverted to her objectionable practice of interfering in this trade, we told our ambassador at London to protest. This obtained a partial and temporary suspension but without British admission of fault.

We have told him to try harder.

Sat 6th Sept 1806

The USA has sent $2 millions to Madrid for the purchase of the Floridas and Spain has sent it on to Napoleon in Paris who, they say, is the man to deal with.

Sat 6th Sept 1806

The India Company’s Chairman has stoutly defended the Company’s administration of India:

Extract – The Americans are particularly diligent in Eastern trade often acting in ways far beyond the intentions of our 1791 Treaty of Commerce and Amity with them. That allowed them a direct trade between Eastern ports and American ports. It was not intended that they should assume the carrying trade of Europe as they have in fact done, but this is not a problem for the Company to redress, it is a matter for the home government.

Sat 11th Oct 1806

The American plenipotentiaries in London (Monroe and Pinckney) have won a change in the Navigation Laws of England. The King has proclaimed on 21st May that trade in the Baltic will not be interrupted by British privateers (England needs someone to get its goods into Europe and the Americans are the only people left for the job).

This Proclamation was published shortly after the Order to seize and detain all ships of Prussia and Papenburg.[18]

Sat 25th Oct 1806

HMS Leander (Whitby) chased the American sloop Richard (Pierce) into New York harbour. To prevent her getting away he fired-off a couple of shots and the second hit the coxswain (Capt Pierce’s brother) and killed him. The event occurred at the Hook which is within American domestic jurisdiction.

A huge procession of thousands of New Yorkers attended at the funeral and the American President has issued an arrest warrant against one Henry Whitby for murder. He requests the blockading squadron (HMS Leander, Cambrian and Driver) to go away. He forbids their three captains from entering New York in perpetuity and will punish any American found providing water or provisions to their ships (a subsequent attempt by HMS Leander to buy provisions initially succeeded but the boats were stopped in the harbour and brought back to unload).

The President is really angry and so are most New Englanders. Many of them make their money from maritime trade and are irritated by our efforts to control them.

Sat 25th Oct 1806

Major James Murray, an American soldier long in the service of the Mahratta chief Holkar, has died at Calcutta. He resigned his employment on the conclusion of the late wars in conformity with the India Company’s requirement and was preparing to return home with a considerable fortune when he died. He was a delightful chap and an intrepid soldier. American ships in the Hoogly have their flags at half-mast.

Note – It has become apparent that American ship captains are more circumspect than hitherto. They used to arrive at Indian ports with news from Europe, the Cape and Mauritius but these days they all say they have come direct from Philadelphia or New York and have no news to impart. The Mount Vernon (Cheevers) is the latest American arrival to adopt this new procedure.[19]

Sat 16th May 1807

Capt Lewis was authorised by the American Congress in 1805 to explore the Mississippi/ Missouri/ Columbia river systems and ascertain if they comprise a route to the Pacific. He has returned with the advice that they do. Lewis’ party comprised 33 men and he has preserved all but two of them.

They canoed up the Missouri from its confluence with the Mississippi to the falls and then travelled overland for 340 miles to the Kooskooske River which they followed downstream to the Lewis River on which they reached Columbia on 7th Oct. They continued down stream to eventually reach the Pacific on 17th Nov. The difficult part of the route is the overland section which embraces some high peaks with perpetual snow cover. The river sections were all reportedly easy. The expedition met several Indian tribes en route all of whom were friendly and helpful. Lewis says the Columbia is navigable for boats up to 300 tons for 200 miles from its mouth. These discoveries will assist in opening the sea-otter fur trade from Pacific coast ports.

The disturbed state of Europe has fortuitously allowed America to assume the carrying trade of the continental Europeans and employment in the merchant marine has become the dream of every young American seeking his fortune.

The sailors of the maritime states of New England have a toast:

“to the enemies of our country – leaky clumps, choked pumps, sails rent, grog spent, wormy bread, wind ahead, cloudy noon, at night no moon, compass lost, tempest tossed, a winter’s coast.”

Sat 8th Aug 1807

J Randolph of Virginia has addressed Congress on British commercial hegemony:

The American legislature has recognised the cause of Britain’s sudden pre-eminence in commerce. The British have driven the French, Spanish and Dutch fleets from the high seas or captured their ships under Orders-in-Council and used them as their own. British imports and exports have become enormous because of her consequent monopoly of the high seas and international trade.

Crowninshield, the member for Massachusetts, has proposed America launch privateers to disrupt and capture British trade. Randolph says Crowninshield imagines the situation today is the same as in the Seven Years War or our War of Independence. If we follow his advice Charleston and Boston, the Chesapeake and the Hudson, will all be closed by British squadrons. These New Englanders believe they can conquer Canada and Nova Scotia. They welcome Canadian senators sitting amongst us.

They are not arguing for our carrying trade; nor for the carriage of American production to foreign markets and their exchange for useful foreign goods in return – they want to carry the coffee and sugar of the West Indies. Is this great agricultural nation to be governed by Salem and Boston, New York and Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk and Charleston?

We discussed this issue exhaustively seven years ago and decided not to go that route. That decision has kept us out of the war. We should focus on our own regular carrying trade not this fluctuating big/small, win/lose trade that will vanish the moment Europe makes peace. We should not allow New England’s greed to plunge us all into war.

Mon 16th Nov 1807 Extraordinary

President Jefferson has repudiated the treaty made by his minister to London and asked to renegotiate. London has told him to ‘go away’.

Sat 6th Feb 1808

The Jamaican planters have unitedly petitioned George Rose of the Admiralty for their sugar to be convoyed to America where there is a strong demand rather than shipped to London where there is a surplus and prices are rock-bottom.

Rose introduced their petition to the Commons.

Howick (formerly Charles Grey) said everyone has the greatest respect for the ship-owners of England who are so fundamental to British prosperity. He also wished for the best relations with America but the fundamental interests of England required the American Non-Intercourse Bill remain in force.

Sun 28th Feb 1808 Extraordinary

The dispute with America over impressment continues. This activity seems to have lost us some goodwill. Most recently a few English sailors deserted in America, assumed American nationality and signed-on in American ships. Admiral Berkeley is not permitting that, otherwise all his men will desert (they are mainly unwilling sailors, separated from their families and forced into service by press-gangs).

HMS Bellona in Berkeley’s fleet suspected the USS Chesapeake had British sailors on board. She stopped the warship and demanded to muster the crew. The American captain said foreigners may not muster his crew. He sent a letter instead saying there were no British seamen on board. On this refusal, the English fired across her bows then put three broadsides into her hull. 25 shot were effective, seven above the waterline. The American commander was cool. He was wounded but remained at the open gangway throughout.

Fortunately for the Bellona, a British deserter from HMS Halifax, who had abused Lord James Townshend at Norfolk, was found on board the Chesapeake along with three more from HMS Melampus. They had all naturalised as Americans.

When he learned of it, Jefferson was furious. On 1st July 1807 he proclaimed:

“A national ship left harbour on foreign service and was instantly set upon by one of the blockading British warships outside. Men have been killed and wounded. The cause of the British attack was the suspicion that English sailors were on board the American ship. The entire crew were American nationals. The protestations of friendly disposition by the British are worthless. Under such circumstances, hospitality ceases to be a duty.

“All British armed ships are excluded from our harbours. They will not be watered or provisioned. Any American found assisting the English navy commits an offence.”

Sat 2nd April 1808

A fleet of 170 merchant ships from Jamaica arrived London in August.

Sat 2nd April 1808

USS Wasp has arrived Falmouth in August with dispatches from the American government to British ministers. This doubtless relates to our firing on the USS Chesapeake. It was reported that some of the Wasp’s crew had been unwell en route and the cause may be a contagious disease. The warship was put in quarantine. Interviews with the officers and receipt of the dispatches will occur later.

Sat 9th April 1808

Report of the House of Commons on West Indian trade, 8th August 1807:

Until 1799 the profits from sugar plantations in West Indies were satisfactory although they had been in slight decline since 1796. Since 1799 the costs of production and Customs duty on import to England have increased. At the same time stocks in London have increased and the value of sugar has accordingly reduced. The cost of production is about £1 per cwt. The cost of freight to London, insurance, warehousing, etc., is 16/- per cwt. In the Gazette over the last 8 months the sale prices of West Indian sugar have averaged 33/6d per cwt which is half what they were ten years ago and less than their CIF London price.

We have investigated everything carefully and the cause of the problem is American undercutting of our prices. Formerly we monopolised European markets, now they do. The enemy colonies we have seized are all trading to Europe under the American flag. The French have sold many merchant ships to ‘neutrals’ with a condition that the ship should return to French registry within a year of peace being declared. All those ships get the equivalent of a 4/- per cwt discount on the Customs duty for imported sugar as if they were still French ships (which we think they are).

At Amsterdam during 1806, 211 American ships imported 45,097 hogsheads of sugar. Freight and insurance from enemy colonies in West Indies to Europe via American ships is 9/- per cwt less to Holland and 12/6d per cwt less to the Mediterranean than our own colonial supply. Our shipowners, bankers and insurers value their services too highly. The advantages of cheaper money, freight, insurance and Customs duty have permitted the Americans to displace us in European markets and this is why stocks of British sugar are piling up in the West India Docks.

The Committee recommends that the trade of all enemy colonies be disrupted by naval action and all exports from those colonies brought to London as prize. Our own West Indian colonies rely on America for grain, flour and timber but we can ourselves supply these items from elsewhere should it become necessary. Once we have monopolised the supply of colonial goods we can evict the Americans from the European market and our plantations will prosper. If we fail to do so, all that part of our economy based on West Indies – the loans on property, annuities, etc., as well as the annual production – will be jeopardised.[20]

Sat 30th April 1808

London news – Right now our only friend is America and there is a strong party there that hates us too.

Napoleon has patched up his quarrel with Moreau and has suggested that General encourage America, where he is well liked, to annex Canada and Nova Scotia.

He will ensure Spain relinquishes all claims to Louisiana and the Floridas which Moreau can then offer in the negotiation. In return America is to cut all ties with England and declare against us.[21]

Sat 7th May 1808

A mutiny occurred on HMS Halifax in Hampton Roads and five men deserted. They immediately naturalised as Americans and paraded under the U S Flag prior to signing articles for service on USS Chesapeake which was concurrently recruiting in that port.

Lord James Townshend, Master and Commander of HMS Halifax, saw the ceremony and accosted Henry Saunders, one of the deserters, and asked what he thought he was doing. Saunders said he had been influenced by the others. Then another deserter named Jenkin Ratford took Saunders away by the arm saying to anyone who could hear that they would not return to the ship now ‘they were in the land of liberty’.

Townshend approached the recruiting officer of USS Chesapeake (Lt Sinclair) and reported that English deserters were being recruited but Sinclair could not find their names on his list. He commended Townshend, if he suspected an offence, to report to the magistrate. Townshend offered to identify the men if Sinclair would parade them but the American officer was busy. The British officer then rushed to Magistrate Hamilton’s office and applied for recovery of the men but this could not be instantly arranged.

At about the same time, 45 crewmen on HMS Jason (Cochrane) were court martialled for mutiny. They attempted to desert while off New York performing blockade duty. The captain had dispatches for the British consul (Col Hamilton) at New York and sent them in a boat. On landing, the boat crew was surrounded by Americans who allured them to desert by saying they had landed in the land of liberty. As a result the boat crew allowed themselves to be led away and the Lieutenant in charge, who was armed, could not prevail on them to stay. Back on the ship the rest of the crew learned of the event and sought to join their ‘liberated’ colleagues ashore. They locked the officers in their cabins below and ran out the boats. The officers then broke-out and managed to prevent a mass desertion.

Six of the convicted men begged for mercy saying they had been seduced by Americans to desert and had no complaint against Cochrane. Eleven ring-leaders were hanged from the yards and the rest were acquitted.

Townshend reported his experience to the other naval officers on the U S blockade. The British blockading fleet is based at Halifax. Ratford was subsequently found during HMS Bellona’s search of USS Chesapeake. He was court-martialled for desertion, mutiny and contempt towards an officer and executed.[22]

Sat 21st May 1808

Europe news, 26th Oct 1807 – Lagau, the French consul at Bremen, has asked the Senate of this Free City to close the Weser to British trade (both manufactures and colonial goods). He permits trade in (non-British) Baltic goods such as pitch, tar, hemp, iron, copper, etc.

The Hamburg authorities have already closed the Elbe to trade. Several American ships have been caught. The Hamburg government acts in fear of France.

J M Forbes, the honorary American consul in that city, has advised his visiting ship commanders on 4th Nov to take care. He says the French Customs officers at Hamburg are applying French law to Hamburg trade. They are doing the same at Bremen. They require Certificates of Origin signed by the French Consul at the port of loading for all cargo that is to be discharged here. All the usual exports of America are permitted but our carrying trade is entirely prohibited. The Julius Henry had its cargo confiscated and is detained here without freight for an unknown period. American merchants must form their own plans.

Forbes has sent an Agent to Heligoland (the new British warehousing base out in the North Sea) to warn American ship masters against loading cargo there.

Sun 29th May 1808 Extraordinary

America has declined to ratify our treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation. Between signature of the preliminaries and ratification, the matter of the USS Chesapeake occurred. We apologised but they tried to use the incident to amend our Navigation Laws so the deal is off.

On 22nd Dec 1807 America chose isolation and will in future forego all foreign commerce. Its good news for England – Europe will be even more willing to accept our goods, one way or another, and as monopolists, we will be able to set prices. The French are currently offering rewards to their people for the identification of substitutes for coffee and sugar and their manufacture.[23]

Sat 16th July 1808

Boston newspaper, 10th Feb:

When the New England merchants learned of the Federal Government’s intention of isolating America, they mostly took to their ships and left the country. Instead of Massachusetts ports overflowing with idle shipping, there are few to be seen. The people of the maritime states would rather gamble on the risks of capture than revert to farming.

Sat 27th Aug 1808

The American embargo is beginning to bite in London. Turpentine and tar have both more than doubled in price. Rice, cotton and tobacco are up about 60%. Our annual exports to America were formerly worth £10 millions. Most of this trade went through Liverpool.

In 1807 there were 489 American ships trading to Liverpool. The port has lost all those tonnage duties, port duties and dock charges, pilotage, board & lodging of seamen and employment of carpenters, rope and sail makers, chandlers etc. All this is additional to the loss of mercantile profit.

Sat 3rd Sept 1808

50 merchants of Boston have stopped payments apparently due to the Federal policy of isolation. The maritime commerce of New England is deranged. The traders are inciting the people to remonstrate with the federal government and bring an end to isolation.

Sat 17th Sept 1808

George Rose of the Admiralty has returned from America. He has adjusted the quarrel over USS Chesapeake but the Americans are maintaining their embargo on trade. Madison told him the embargo was not dictated by hostility to England in particular but by prudence, given the barbaric nature of war now being fought in Europe.

Sat 22nd Oct 1808

The House of Commons has been debating the effect of the American embargo on our cotton industry. Lord Bathurst thinks it will have no effect. We use about 60 million pounds a year. 18 million comes for our West Indian islands, 8 million now from Brazil, 24 from USA and 10 from India. He says firstly, there is a considerable stock on hand; secondly, Brazilian exports must now (since Britain assumed the government of Portugal) inevitably all come to us and her total production is 22+ million lbs, and thirdly, we can always get more from India should we need it, so there is nothing to worry about.

If we have a production surplus, we can export it under the licensing system. As a general rule trading with the enemy is illegal but the King-in-Council has licensed it throughout this war. Bathurst noted that a licensing system has precedents – Grenville introduced one in 1794 for Bills of Exchange to permit money to come from France to England. He said Germany has ordered cotton from Turkey and, in view of our maritime control, will have to import it overland with all the frightful cost implications that entails.

Right now the only places we can straightforwardly export to in Europe are Sweden and Sicily, and neither of those places has a cotton industry – a licensing regime makes sense to open the continent more fully to our trade. We can allow this to the Neutrals to give them a share of maritime trade whilst at the same time taxing-off a reasonable part of the value under the Order-in-Council of Nov 1807 as the costs of the Licence. We thus control the supply of goods. But as Napoleon controls the consumer markets, Neutrals who are willing to pay our taxes will have to assume the risks of smuggling into Europe – this will be ‘win, win’ for England.

Lord St John said British trade was founded on competition. If we commence a licensing system every merchant in England will become dependent on the Minister for licences. Such an accumulation of commercial power on the ministry would have predictably deleterious effects on its morality.

Grenville said it was the merchants, manufacturers and shipowners who had come to the bar of the House and asked for the licensing system – obviously they wanted it.

Hawkesbury said successive ministries have granted licences to trade with the enemy for 14-15 years and no abuse was rumoured.

The sale of licences to trade with the enemy was then approved by a majority of the House.

Lauderdale moved that there be some mechanism of chance in selecting the merchants favoured with licences to avoid government becoming enmeshed in allegations of favouritism, etc. This was negatived.

Sat 5th Nov 1808

Ministers have informally advised an ultimatum to Pinckney, the American ambassador, on 18th May 1808. They are willing to pass an Act giving MFN status to the USA as a mark of friendship. The United States would then enjoy all the rights and privileges of our other allies Sweden and the island of Sicily. They will also allow some arrangement to permit American carriage of West Indian goods direct from our governments of those islands to Europe without touching at a British port. However our asserted right to search merchant ships will not be surrendered – take it or leave it.

Napoleon, on the other hand, has asked America to join the other states of Europe and endure the inconvenience of denying British trade until London can be brought to a willingness to negotiate peace. He will keep the arrested American ships inviolate in French ports while the American government considers his proposal.

Sat 14th Jan 1809

Heidelberg Review leader on the latest British Order-in-Council:

In the 3 years before 1804 America imported £8 millions of goods annually from Britain and exported £5 millions of American productions back to that country.

In the 3 years since 1804 Britain exported £12 millions to America annually and received back £4½ millions a year.

M/s Baring and Brougham have explained in the Commons how this is possible – the exact reverse applies to American trade with continental Europe and the great balance of American European trade (of £7+ millions) is remitted to London in Bills of Exchange. Its triangular business.

The effect of the Order-in-Council is to prevent or at least limit American trade with Europe. This prevents her transferring the balance derived from her European trade surplus to London for purchasing the excess of goods she imports from England over and above what she exports directly to us. The tendency of the Order is thus to disable America from continuing to buy British goods in excess of her exports to England.

Baring has shown that £2 – £3 millions of British manufactures exported to America annually are actually immediately re-exported from that country to Europe.

On the other hand an important part of British imports from America, which are primarily cotton and tobacco, are also re-exported from London to Europe in neutral bottoms. That London traffic, which approximates £2 millions, is now suspended by the restraint of the Order on neutral shipping.

It is imperative to the British war effort that the country receives silver for the payment of her allies in Europe, her own troops in Spain (where discounting of British Bills by local merchants has become an expensive problem) and from her trade with India and China.

Any reduction of specie coming to the Bank of England will undercut British ability to maintain confidence in the value of her paper money. Foreign stockholders take away £700,000 each year in dividends on British funds and they are not like Britons – they cannot be satisfied with paper money, they demand specie.

Brougham has said that it has always been supposed that when labour is cheap and money plentiful, trade and commerce thrive. The American population has been increasing rapidly and her merchants have enjoyed a long period of peace. This has facilitated a regular increase in her trade.

There are now 73 banks and 13 insurance companies in America. Interest on money has fallen from 10-12% a few years ago to 6-7% today. Capital has accumulated to the extent that it is common to find 30 merchants on one exchange, each with over £50,000. Land prices in America have greatly increased. Within 4 miles of a major town, land commonly costs $500 per acre. As a result there has been an internal emigration inland from the North East towards the West where land is cheap.

A great number of manufactories have been established and some of them already produce a surplus for export. These factories are taking a part of the market formerly monopolised by English goods which can no longer be bought by the American traders because of the restraint on trade with Europe. Effectively, the British capitalist has underwritten this new American production to maintain employment for his capital. The amount of that investment is now about £8 millions. If British capital continues to be invested like this, her trade will be completely excluded from the American domestic market. Effectively, the City of London is financing a rival in trade.

Left to herself it is possible that America will continue her agricultural pursuits but she has evidenced a capacity for other employments and has commenced manufacturing for herself. If British wartime commercial policy drives America to maintain investment in manufacturing, we British will expedite the loss of our market to their own manufactures.

The danger is that in endeavouring to subdue France by monopolising the commerce of Europe, Britain may briefly achieve commercial hegemony over that continent, but when she comes to dictate the peace terms she will have diminished Europe’s ability to trade and will have raised up a colossus on the other side of the Atlantic. Britain might then recover the £8 millions that America presently owes her for it is a truism that ‘successful trade produces honest dealings,’ but she will have allowed American capital to accumulate by compound interest and by its employment in the other channels that compete with her and thus hazarded the basis to her wealth and power.

The ministers who framed the Order-in-Council recognise that it cannot be maintained for any extended period of time. British captains of commerce and industry have been induced to submit to the Order on the understanding it will quickly produce beneficial effects; that the distress caused to the people of Europe will force France to relax her embargo on British goods; that she will conceivably sue for peace resulting from allied fomentation of internal chaos and rebellion in the lands France controls or influences. This is ridiculous.[24]

Europe suffers less from a restraint in trade than Britain does. Europe has inland waterways to distribute goods. Hardly a penny in European revenue derives from trade. The temporary expense of sugar and tobacco causes discontent but the power of the state can control that.

The baneful effects of our reduced trade are spreading all over England. The ministry says the Order will force open new channels of trade (by smuggling and bribery) – can it indicate any evidence tending to support that assertion?

The fact is the French Revolution has withstood repeated attacks and there is no indication of discontent against Napoleon. Eighteen years of revolution have not produced a whimper and Royalist incitements to rebellion have repeatedly failed. Now the British ministry says the price of tobacco and the scarcity of sugar or cotton will set France alight and bring about the revocation of the Berlin Decree.

Historically belligerents have always relied on neutrals for assistance. It is particularly so for countries that depend on commerce like the British. Of all the neutrals, America is the most sympathetic to the British cause, sharing a common ancestry, language and culture. They are as dependent on commerce as Britain.

Sat 21st Jan 1809

28th July – The latest Order-in-Council decrees that no more Licences will be sold to neutrals for the import of French wines and brandy to England. The ministry supposes that trading with the enemy in these commodities is unnecessary now we control the supply of similar products from Portugal and Spain.

The Order may also facilitate better sales of our own West Indian rum.

Sat 18th Feb 1809

13th May 1808 – The Bank of the United States has declined to pay dividends to its European shareholders (Barings et al) on the grounds that Bills of Exchange have become expensive due to the embargo on foreign trade and their inflated cost would subject domestic shareholders to the loss of a part of the dividend.

The outstanding dividends will be held as a credit on the books and will be paid as soon as the cashier can buy Bills at a commercially workable rate.

Sgd D Lennox, President[25]

Sat 10th June 1809

America 10th November 1808 – the House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to repeal the trade embargo.

Sat 26th Aug 1809

The American government has modified its embargo. The remedial Act passed Congress on 25th Feb 1809 and was signed into law by Jefferson on 1st March, days before his resignation. It is the manifestation of the failure of his policy.

America has resumed trade with friendly nations but not belligerents. The ships of England and France are barred from American ports and American ships are disallowed entry into English or French ports. The import of British or French goods into USA is forbidden.

In March alone over one hundred American ships took advantage of the relaxation to leave American ports, the majority reportedly sailed for China and the Pacific islands (Hawaii and the Mauritius).

On another aspect of the same matter, a secret correspondence long continued between Jefferson and Tsar Alexander apropos the Tsar’s agreement with Napoleon at Tilsit. The letters were leaked to the merchants of New England and they responded with a threat to secede from the Union in the event of the Federal government declaring war on England.

Madison replaced Jefferson as President on 4th March. It remains to be seen if he can keep the New England traders in the Union.

Sat 16th Sept 1809

Britain will offer reparations to USA for the attack on USS Chesapeake in the event that the Non-Importation Bill closing American trade with belligerents passes Congress. Erskine, our man in Washington, is handling the matter.

Erskine has told the Americans that the officer responsible for the attack has been transferred. He offers to return the four men taken from USS Chesapeake[26]and pay compensation for the injured and dead American sailors too.

Secretary of State Smith replied that the President is pleased with British acts but wishes to distinguish the USS Chesapeake incident from the trade embargo as two separate things. Erskine wishes to clear the air in preparation for Britain’s real concern – the trade embargo. He offered to rescind the Order-in-Council so far as American trade is concerned.

The deleterious effect of the American Act has being comprehended in London by its effects, since the City bankers advised the politicians of the triangular nature of European/ British/ American trade (see above) and their support for liberal complaints against ministerial corruption.

Erskine promised Smith to withdraw the offensive Order-in-Council on 10th June 1809 and the President will concurrently withdraw his embargo on British trade.

Sat 16th Sept 1809

The British parliament has passed an Act on 30th March 1809 permitting the importation of tobacco from anywhere. Britain is no longer receiving the Virginian supply (owing to the commercial dispute). The Act is valid for two years.

Bombay Presidency can supply tobacco and merchants are invited to ship it to London on the Company’s ships. Note that the only pre-import processing permitted by UK Customs is stripping the leaves from the stalks.

Council suggests you make up your shipments in bales of 450 lbs.

Sat 30th Sept 1809

The definition of prize under the Prize Act generally exempts private property of colonists but in our recent occupations of St Eustatius and Martinique some of the residents bore arms against the British invasion force and that was considered sufficient to put their property within the grasp of the captors.

On both islands the residents were required to prove they had not borne arms in order to preserve their property. Most could not do so. Castlereagh has sought a legal opinion on the point and the Law Officers endorsed the legality of the military commanders’ act.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Paine was charged in London with sedition on 8th June 1792 and trial set-down for 18th December. Before he could be arrested, he left for France and judgment was obtained in abstentia.
  2. The Acts apply the ‘rule of 1756’ disbarring neutrals from trade with belligerents’ colonies in wartime if that trade was proscribed in peace. It makes American trade in West Indies at least susceptible to British colonial taxation if not the seizure and confiscation of their ships. With the removal of French sovereignty in West Indies, the French planters, who are often emigres, remove mainly to United States where, very soon, some 20,000 – 30,000 are resident in Philadelphia, the American capital city, promoting French opinions and policy.
  3. The epidemic continued until the humid weather ended. Some 4,000 lives were lost
  4. French colonial officials freed the slaves in several French West Indian colonies in return for their military service against the British. The emancipation of slaves was endorsed by the government in Paris. The ex-slaves insisted on performance of the promise. Only in Martinique and French Asian colonies did slavery continue.
  5. See the Europe chapter for details of Dr J B Priestley’s offence – the cause of his emigration to USA. His mental clarity and logic was not solely used in the elucidation of chemistry, he also took an interest in the political management of the British people.
  6. The French revolutionary government decreed the emancipation of the slaves in French colonies, which destabilised other European colonies in West Indies, all of which operate slave economies, and threatened production.
  7. This is about helping one’s friends. J J Angerstein the great City financier has extensive interests in Grenada. Many nobles, including the King, and other politically important people also have West Indian interests.
  8. It is the speed of French sailing that tends to mitigate English numerical advantage in sea battles – French frigates are difficult to engage, due to the arrangement of their rigging, something they learned from the Americans.
  9. USA ceased payments on its debt to France on the basis that the money was due to the previous monarchical government. The legal position at that time, the Law of Nations,  was that the property in a country belongs to its absolute King. Adams is also negotiating to increase trade with Britain. These self-interested policies serve America well on its rise to power.
  10. In the French view, Jay’s Treaty leaves America with the costs and work of administering the Federal and State governments while giving England the profits of their productions. Its an improved form of colonisation such as later became popular amongst Europeans and Americans in China in the 19th century and has since extended to most formerly colonial countries.
  11. An enigmatic assertion for which I have found no plausible basis. It appears to suggest France supposed the British domestic economy could not be insulated from the international one, in which the Pound’s devaluation was readily apparent. Thus increasing domestic inflation would bring-on rising prices and civil unrest and induce the Minister to make peace. In fact British popular toleration of maladministration was deep and extensive.
  12. George Washington’s cabinet, which included the Francophile Jefferson, concluded that the inexperienced Republican politicians in France were the aggressors in the war with England but saw their best interests served in support of France as a means of usurping British control of the high seas and thus international trade.
  13. The revolt in Guadaloupe continued and the French garrison for that island transferred to Santo Domingo, which the English still held pending for hand-over. Uniquely, the two governments have co-operated and the French have issued an ultimatum to the people of Guadaloupe. All ships and passengers leaving Guadaloupe without Lacrosse’s passport will be arrested and their goods seized. Vessels going to Guadaloupe are required to discharge at the Saints. Lacrosse expects the declining availability of provisions will persuade the rebels to talk. This suggests that trade is more fundamental than ideology in European thinking.
  14. The British discovered this missing treasure on invading and occupying Surinam (Dutch Guyana) in 1804. It became a prize of the army – see an article dated 9th Feb 1805 in the Prizetaking chapter.
  15. General Hamilton was supposed to be the replacement but Vice President Burr shot him on 11th July. Hamilton is a devout exponent of debt-based finance and British principles whilst Burr is a democrat, ideologically in the French camp. Hamilton died the next day and New York denied itself business for the whole day. Merchants control the State of New York and their self-interest favours England. Burr has fled. For details of the British diplomat referred to in “Drake’s activities” see the Assassination chapter.
  16. Adopting the thrust of these newspaper reports, which is to interpret ministerial policy always in terms of the money, the considerations in this article suggest a reason for the timing of renewed war. The French mercantile fleet to West Indies on ratification of Amiens has been financed by British capital. Renewed war caught those ships returning to Europe fully laden.
  17. Louis Delgresse led the rebellion on Guadaloupe. He and his 300 men killed themselves on 20th November 1802 rather than return to slavery.
  18. Papenburg is a town between East Friesland and Munster about 5 miles from Emden. It is partly in Prussia and partly in Munster and is the private property of Baron Landesberg-Veelen. Its overt trade is in production of turf which it distributes to Bremen, Hamburg, Jever and East Friesland using 160 of its own river boats.
  19. This relates to the terms of the treaty which many American ships trading East are supposed to be in breach of.
  20. A new commercial treaty has concurrently been concluded with America but the West Indies is not mentioned. This Report indicates the direction of British financial and economic policy
  21. This information was likely in the minds of British planners when the attempt to sever New England from the Union was initiated by Captain Henry – see Part 2 of this chapter. The new Spanish King Ferdinand has gifted Spain to France, a transfer recognised by all the courts of Europe except the Pope and George III. This has brought the status of Spanish colonies into question.
  22. This is the usual result in mutiny cases – ringleaders are publicly executed; followers are reprieved – the navy demands unquestioning loyalty of its crews.
  23. On 22nd December Jefferson declared an embargo on trade with belligerents and disallowed his own ships to leave port. British control of the seas meant only they were inconvenienced by this law. The consequent shortages of grain and cotton in Britain and the collapse of triangular USA / Europe / Britain trade caused crises. British trade was redirected to Iberia, the Levant and most spectacularly to the start of independence in South America.
    The development of substitutes for colonial goods progressed well in France. In due course, beet sugar replaced cane; chicory replaced coffee, sulphur dyeing replaced indigo and domestic tobacco farming commenced. Our species is an inventive one. Blockade and sanctions can never be effective for long.
  24. A perennial British foreign policy predilection – attributing her own motivations to the rest of the world.
  25. The Bank was chartered in 1791 for 20 years with 20% public money and 80% private shareholders subscribing to a capital of £10 million. It transpired that the private shareholders were reluctant to invest their £8 millions and the Bank actually operated on the government’s shareholding and its regular deposits of revenue. After the Charter had run its course, it was not renewed. This was a contributing cause of the War of 1812. See ‘The Money Changers’ Patrick Carmack.
  26. Difficult – at least one was executed.

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