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BY THE SAME AUTHOR
OF EUROPEAN DIPLOMACY
1815-1914 Demy 8vo. 168. net
LONDON: EDWARD ARNOLD & Co.
R. B. MOWAT
FELLOW OF CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE, OXFORD
SITY OF WISCONSIN, 1925-26
It is a commonplace to say that a war between Great Britain and the United States would be unnatural, and that it should be abhorrent to the people of both countries. The noteworthy thing is that the same thing was being said over a hundred and forty years ago, from the very moment that the United States became independent. David Hartley, one of the British Commissioners, for making the peace at the end of the War of Independence, wrote from Paris to the Foreign Office : “Upon this argument I always make my stand—that we may proceed to open an intercourse between our two countries, as nearly as possible, to the point of as we were.” 1
Hartley recognized that there were many grounds for the continuance of friction, many unsettled questions, between Great Britain and the newly freed United States. But he held that these things could be left to be treated with the anodyne of time—“until the national sentiments and dispositions of the two countries towards each other shall have had sufficient scope of time, in a pacific season, to develop and to explain themselves.”
It is with this process that the present book deals, the process through which time and mutual forbearance have combined to clear away all obstacles to peaceful intercourse. One by one difficulties have been approached, handled, laid down, taken up again, eventually solved. Hartley was right when he said: “The Americans are an enlightened people. Every actual interest that prevails in America depends upon peace and the arts of peace and above all things a system of war with a British power in America must be abhorrent to them.” The last hundred years and more have proved this.
Whether the two peoples will ever go farther than the establishment of cordial, good relations, no historian should be rash enough to predict. George Louis Beer, the first historian to place the relations of Great Britain and America, before the War of
1 Foreign Office Archives, America (F.O. 4), June 2, 1783.