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declaration created in the conferences at Paris, produced much delay in the conclusion of the Treaty. Mr. Grenville was recalled from Paris, and Mr. Fitzherbert, the British envoy at Brussels, was transferred to Paris, with a full commission to treat with France, Spain,
July 20th. and Holland. With him Mr. Oswald was associated, and information transmitted to him, that a commission was about to be issued to him, “to treat, consult, and conclude”, with the Commissioners of the American colonies or plantations, or with any body or bodies, corporate or politic, or any assembly or assemblies or descriptions of men whatsoever, a peace or truce with the said colonies or plantations, or any part or parts of them.” The style of this commission, sufficiently indicates the altered disposition of the British Cabinet, and the lingering hope entertained that some arrangement might be made short of Independence. The inducements to Great Britain for receding from this position, are intimately connected with the relations between the Americans and their European allies.
The basis of the proposed negotiation was admitted by all parties to be the treaty of 1763. The rights of France, Spain, Great Britain, and America, under that treaty, and from the events of the existing war, to the territory west of the Alleghanies, to the navigation of the Mississippi, and to the eastern fisheries, were a keen subject of controversy between the new States and their allies. Connected with the controversy is the history of the diplomatic measures of the American Congress in respect to the terms of peace to be offered to Great Britain, the powers to be granted to their commissioners in Europe, and the extent of the influence to be allowed to the French king, in directing the negotiation. The nature of the designs of the Bourbon powers on the subject of the West, has been already explained. The train of intrigues by which they succeeded in fettering the American commissioners at Paris, so that France claimed the right of being sole arbiter of the terms, and endeavored to model them to suit her individual profit, and that of Spain, requires a more particular notice.
The proffered mediation of the king of Spain, between the three belligerents, in 1779, produced
the first discussion and settlement of the terms of peace, upon which Congress were willing to treat. France then interfered through M. Gerard, to lower their claims to Independence, and place them in
the same relation as Geneva and the Swiss Cantons, and to procure a formal abandonment of the territorial and other contested questions, for the purpose of securing the Spanish alliance. Congress, at that time, were firm, and gave their minister instructions to insist upon the full acknowledgment of the United States as sovereign, free, and independent, as a preliminary article, and upon the Mississippi as the western boundary. The fisheries were not made an ultimatum to the treaty, but Congress passed a separate declaratory resolution, affirming the right of the United States to the fisheries, and defining any attempt of the British to molest them in that right, to be cause of war. The general direction to the minister, in all other matters, was, to govern
himself by the alliance with France, the "advice" of the Allies, and his “ own discretion."
These instructions did not meet the views of France. Spain, though she went to war with England, held back from the American alliance. The new French minister, Luzerne, in January of the next year, brought up the subject again, and obtained a conference with a Committee of Congress, to represent “certain articles” which the Spanish king had represented to the French king as of "great importance to the interests of his crown, and upon which it was highly necessary that the United States should explain themselves with precision, and such moderation as might consist with their essential rights.” It was demanded that the United States should expressly define their boundary, which was to extend no further than the settlements were permitted by the proclamation of the British king, dated in October, 1763, the same which had been considered a grievance by the Colonists in that day; that their right to navigate the Mississippi should be renounced as untenable; and the right of Spain acknowledged to hold the Floridas, if she conquered them, and the lands on the east of the Mississippi, to the limits defined in the British proclamation above mentioned, as territory belonging to Great Britain, and not included within the States. This declaration made it evident, that France and Spain were anxious to annex to the Spanish territories, not only the Floridas on the south, but the whole of the immense country watered by streams running from the north and east into the Mississippi. Congress could not be brought to assent to these pretensions ; but the effect of the communications is to be seen in a further modification of their instructions to
* Mr. Jay, at Madrid, directing him not to insist upon an
express acknowledgment of the right of navigating the * Mississippi: but, at the same time, not to relinquish it
formally. No direct answer was given to the French minister on these points. A committee of Congress drew up an argumentative statement of their right to the western lands, for the direction of their envoys in Europe. The statement was from the pen of Mr. Madison, and bears date October 17th, 1780. The modified instructions to Mr. Jay were adopted in January, 1781.
In the month of May-following, the proffered mediation of the Empress of Russia, and the Emperor of Germany, between the belligerents, was announced to Congress by the French minister. The terms of peace and the powers of the Commissioners again became important points for decision; and Count Luzerne again pressed for the abandonment of the claims of the United States on the contested ques-, tions. A Committee of Conference with him was appointed by Congress, and the result of their interviews shewed that, with the exception of the single question of Independence, the court of France required to have exclusive control of the negotiations. The principal point urged by him was, the propriety of perfect and open confidence in the French ministers, and a thorough reliance on the king. He made strong complaints of the conduct of Mr. Adams, the plenipotentiary, and asked, explicitly, that a strict line of conduct should be drawn for that minister, "of which he might not be allowed to lose sight.” The instructions which he desired Congress to give Mr. Adams were," to take no step without the approbation of his majesty," and "to receive his directions from the Count de Vergennes, or from the person who might be charged with the negotiation in the name of the king.” This demand was so comprehensive, that it was hardly deemed necessary to discuss the contested points. He simply endeavoured, in general terms, to impress upon the Committee the “necessity” Congress were under of securing the “benevolence and good will of the mediating • powers,” by presenting their demands with the "greatest moderation and reserve.”
This communication, essentially so arrogant, was not received by Congress with perfect complaisance. They refused, in the first instance, to appoint any additional commissioners as had been urged, and voted to continue Mr. Adams in the
management of the negotiation. They abandoned, however, all the ultimata of previous instructions, except that of Independence, and inserted in the new instructions a direction to their minister to make “the most candid and confidential communications on all subjects” to the French ministers; and “ to undertake nothing in the negotiations of peace without their knowledge or concurrence.”
In communicating these proceedings to the French minister, it was found that his views were not yet answered. An unlimited discretion in the American envoy, guided by French councils, was not sufficient. The sturdy independence of Mr. Adams was still to be feared. The French court required a full control in all points except that of sovereignty, and more accommodating associates.
The result of the conference of M. Luzerne, with the committee, was the insertion into Mr. Adams' instructions of a peremptory clause, after the direction to do nothing without the knowledge or concurrence of the French ministers, in the following words : " and ultimately to govern yourselves by their advice and opinion.” Every thing was now surrendered into the hands of the French; and, to complete the concessions, a commission, consisting of John Jay, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jefferson, and Henry Laurens, were associated with Mr. Adams, as plenipotentiaries for negociating a treaty of peace. The final adoption of these measures was on the 15th of June, 1781.
The imperial mediation failed, and the high stand assumed by Mr. Adams, on the occasion, confirmed the distrust with which the French ministers had regarded him. They had, however, gained their point, in being constituted exclusive managers of the negotiation. They were, however, as the issue proved, disappointed in their expectations of benefit from the change of agents. The commissioners were not less unbending than Mr. Adams, in their patriotism; and finding themselves embarrassed by the toils in which Congress had been drawn by these intrigues, boldly broke through them.
We are now-prepared for a history of their immediate efforts, when the arms of America and France had, by the victory at Yorktown, revolutionized the English cabinet, and brought Great Britain to the offer of a negotiation, in 1782. In the spring of that year, the fortune of the war between Great Britain and her European allies, preponderated
med her favour. Admiral Rodney, in the famous battle of the 12th of April, in the West Indies, won a great naval victory over the feet of De Grasse, in which the French fleet suffered prodigious loss, and the admiral was made prisoner. The successful defence of Gibraltar was not less glorious and profitable to the English in Europe. This variety of fortune placed the American interests on higher ground, in the proposed treaty. England was placed in such a situation, as to entitle her to refuse any advantages to her European antagonists, and it was made her manifest interest, to sustain American pretensions to territory in preference to those of France and Spain.
These were the dispositions of the parties when, in July 1782, the commissioners assembled at Paris to settle the terms of a general peace. The Count de Vergennes, acted on behalf of France, Count de Aranda, for Spain, Mr. Fitzherbert between Great Britain and her European enemies, and Mr. Oswald between her and the Americans; Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay, the latter of whom had just arrived from Madrid, represented the United States. Mr. Lauren did not arrive until the business was completed, and Mr Adams was engaged until late in October, in settling a treaty with Holland. The long protracted negotiations with Spain were trsnsferred to Paris at the same time.
The American commissioners soon found they had a most difficult task before them, embarrassed, as they were, by the instructions of Congress, placing them totally in the power of the French, and surrounded by intrigues for sacrificing the dignity and interests of their country, to the ambition of their own allies. Mr. Oswald's commission was, for some time, a means of arresting all proceedings. The American States were styled " colonies, or plantations," and the powers of the commission implied them to be still in a state of dependence on Great Britain. Mr. Jay denied the sufficiency of these powers, and insisted peremptorily on an explicit recognition of the Independence of the United States, before he would consent to treat. Dr. Franklin, at first, was willing to treat, waiving the point as a matter of form, but acquiesced, finally, in the
judgment of his colleague. All the negotiations were s! suspended, on this point. The French minister favored the
British view of the question, and urged Mr. Jay to proceed,
without demanding to be held as the envoy of sovereign in - fact, before the conclusion of the treaty. Mr. Jay was