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unyielding, and a discovery which he made, that the French court had interfered directly with the British commissioners, with advice unfavorable to the extent of the American demands, strengthened his suspicions of the selfish purposes of the allies, and his determination not to descend from the ground of perfect independence. The Count de Vergennes gave such information of the wishes of his court to Mr. Fitzherbert, on this point, as to produce a pledge from the British cabinet, in a new instruction to Mr. Oswald, of the intention to grant to America, “full, complete, and unconditional Independence by article of treaty.” These dispatches were shown to the American ministers, as containing all that they could desire, on the subject of Independence. But they thought otherwise; and the agency of the French, in retarding the immediate acknowledgment of Independence, confirmed the fears produced by their movements made contemporaneously in another quarter. It was clearly the policy of France, in order to avail herself of the control vested in her over the terms of peace, that Independence should be a subject of negotiation, and the recognition of it by treaty one of the considerations, for which the coveted western lands should be made the price. If Great Britain abandoned, formally, in the act of treating, all right over her former colonies, the essential object of the war would be gained, and French and Spanish interests would lose their strongest claims for concession. While the pride and prejudices of the British cabinet were enlisted on one side, to postpone the admission of American Independence, the interval was sedulously employed in pushing the Spanish pretensions to the western lands; first in conferences between Mr. Jay and the Count de Aranda, and subsequently by informal communications from M. de Rayneval, the Secretary of the French minister, to the American minister. In these interviews it became evident to Mr. Jay, that the French and Spanish courts united in opinion, that the western limits of the United States ought to be agreed upon as preliminary to a negotiation for peace; that these limits should not reach beyond the head of the streams that empty into the Mississippi from the east; that the fate of the lands, without these limits, was to be determined between them and Great Britain to the exclusion of the United States; and that in regard to the fisheries, the United States should be limited to coast fisheries. Several boundaries were pro
posed, but that most liberal to the States, called by M. de Rayneval, the conciliatory line, would have left one half of the present state of Tennessee, nearly all Mississippi and Alabama, and all the land north of the Ohio, including the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, without the limits of the United States.
With Count de Aranda, as with Oswald, Mr. Jay refused to negotiate without an exchange of commissions, with sufficient powers, and in consequence, these conferences were informal. The rights of the United States were resolutely maintained by the American minister, and he refused to treat, on all occasions, except on terms of perfect equality, and for the undiminished claims of his country. His firmness having foiled every expectation of concession from the Americans on these points preliminary to negotiation, M. de Rayneval was dispatched on a secret mission to England, to confer with the British cabinet. The object of this journey was believed to be, to inform Lord Shelburne, that France was satisfied with the offer of Britain to make American Independence contingent on the completion of the treaty,--to make overtures concerning a division of the fisheries between the two kingdoms, to the exclusion of the Americans, and to secure for Spain the western lands, and the exclusive western navigation, in return for leaving Great Britain the whole of the territory north of the Ohio.
To counteract these machinations, now became, in the judgment of Mr. Jay, indispensable to the interests of the United States. The essential point was to deprive the French of their influence over the question of Independence, by obtaining a spontaneous recognition from Great Britain. He declined acting with Mr. Oswald under his new instructions, and represented to him the policy of making the United States perfectly independent of France. He drew up his objections in writing, which were acquiesced in by Dr. Franklin, and communicated informally to the British commissioner. When M. de Rayneval's mission to England was made known, Mr. Jay took upon himself the responsibility of sending a secret agent directly to the English minister. The purport of his mission was to explain the position assumed by the Americans on the subject of Independence, and their resolution never to abandon it; and to represent the selfish policy which the two Bourbon courts were pursuing, and which it was the interest of Great
Britain, as well as the United States, to defeat. This promp measure effected the object. A few days brought a dispatch to Mr. Oswald, announcing that the cabinet had “at once agreed to make the alteration in the commission proposed by Dr. Franklin and Mr. Jay.” On the 27th of September, a
new commission was received, authorizing the Sept. 27.
British negotiator to treat with commissioners on the part of the Thirteen “ UNITED STATES OF NORTH AMERICA.”
The American negotiators were thus placed in an advantageous position with respect to all parties, as the plenipotentiaries of sovereigns in fact, and released from all dependence on the French court in this most essential point. They resolved to prosecute their negotiations in the same temper, and being satisfied that the views of the French court were adverse to American interests, they agreed to disregard the instructions of Congress, and proceed to settle the terms of peace without communication with the French ministers. Mr. Adams completed a treaty with Holland, and joined the other commissioners on the 23d of October. Approving of all they had done, in respect to the terms of peace, and in relation to the French court, he joined in the negotiation, which was brought to a close on the 30th of November. On
that day, a provisional treaty was signed by both
the parties, to take effect whenever peace should be concluded between France and Great Britain. When all was agreed upon, the treaty was communicated to the Count de Vergennes. His dissatisfaction was distinctly expressed to Dr. Franklin, and the tone of his comments manifested very distinctly the disappointment of his court at being thus excluded from the benefit of controlling the terms of the treaty. The American commissioners, fortunately possessed sagacity and firmness enough to consult the interests of their own country, fearlessly, and encounter every responsibility to secure her just rights, as well against intrigues as against intimidation.
By this treaty, the king of England acknowledged, in terms, what had been admitted in the act of treating, the liberty, sovereignty, and independence of the thirteen United States, who were named successively. On the subject of boundaries the amplest concessions were made, including within the limits of the United States, the vast territory north of the Ohio to the middle of the great lakes, and
reaching to the Mississippi.
The Americans were also secured in the right of fishing on the banks of Newfoundland, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and all other places where the two nations had been accustomed to carry on fishing before the rupture; and they were to have liberty to fish on the coast of Newfoundland. The British commissioners labored anxiously for the introduction of a clause for the indemnification of the American loyalists, and the restoration of forfeited estates; but the most that could be obtained was an agreement that Congress should recommend to the States the adoption of such measures ; Dr. Franklin, at the same time, frankly told Mr. Oswald that there was no ground for expecting that the States would comply. He sarcastically suggested a counter article of agreement, that the British king should recommend to parliament to make compensation to the American Whigs, for the property, houses, stores, ships and cargoes, towns, villages, and farms, destroyed and plundered by his soldiers in America.
These provisional articles being agreed upon, the disputes between Great Britain and the United States were at an end, but the war, nevertheless, was nominally continued. The terms of peace between the other belligerent powers, were not yet adjusted, and the Americans were bound to wait the event of the French negotiations.
These negotiations were retarded by the violent opposition made in the British parliament to the course of the ministry in directing them. A coalition between the leading members of the late Rockingham cabinet, headed by Mr. Fox, and Lord North's party, assailed the Earl of Shelburne with such success as finally to drive him from power, and establish themselves in office. During the excited debates, which ended in this triumph, it was determined, as the sense of the house, that the votes against the ministry, for concluding peace on terms so disadvantageous, were not designed to express any intention to renew the war, or to recede from the provisional articles. The abandonment of the American tories was especially reprobated, and parliament voted to redeem the national faith, by making suitable provision for them out of the British treasury. While parliament censured the minister for the extent of his concessions, they considered themselves bound to adhere to the treaty, including preliminary articles which were in progress, and had been agreed upon with France.
These preliminaries were finally signed on the
20th January 1783, at Paris, by Mr. Fitzherbert, on the part of Great Britain, and Count de Vergennes, as the French minister plenipotentiary.
The definitive treaties were not officially signed and ratified, until the completion of the Spanish treaty with England. The plenipotentiaries, however, agreed upon a suspension of arms. This was communicated to Congress on the 24th March, by a letter from General Lafayette, and orders were instantly issued for recalling American privateers, and arresting all hostile operations. A proclamation was issued on the 11th of April, in the name of the United States of America in Congress assembled,”, declaring this
cessation of arms; and on the 19th of April, the April 19.
eighth anniversary of the battle of Lexington, in which the first blood of the revolution had been shed, peace was proclaimed in the American army.
The independence of the United States was acknowledged by Sweden, on the 5th of February; by Denmark on the
25th of February; by Spain on the 24th of March ; and by Russia in July. Treaties of amity and commerce were severally concluded with these powers. The definitive treaty of peace, was finally signed at Paris
on the 3d day of September, by David Hartley, who Sept.30.
had been appointed to succeed Mr. Oswald on the change of ministry, for Great Britain, and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay, on the part of the United States. At the same time definitive treaties were signed by the plenipotentiaries of Great Britain, with those of France, Spain, and Holland, respectively, and a general peace was re-established among all the belligerents.
While these negotiations were carried on abroad to such a triumphant result, the military operations of the hostile troops in the States were few, and finally by common consent, the war settled down into entire inaction, even before the proclamation for a cessation of arms, on the conclusion of the preliminary treaty.
In the southern department of the United States, General Greene, at the close of the year 1781, occupied the hills beyond the Santee, from which he descended to keep in check the British, who occupied Charleston city. In January 1782, he was joined by the brigades, under St. Clair, sent from the army at Yorktown, and took post on the Edisto