would have been quite unbecoming, warn his English correspondents not to respect Mr. Johnson
's commission; but he kept himself entirely free from any pledge in advance to accept Mr. Johnson
's work, whatever it might be. Mr. Johnson
did not, while in England
, retain the good opinion of his countrymen with which he entered on his mission.
He cheapened his office by an inordinate love of speech-making, and offended the patriotic masses at home by his convivial and apparently sympathetic association with the bitterest English partisans of the rebellion.
His imprudence did not end here.
Notwithstanding the repudiation of the Administration he represented by the election of General Grant
in November, he proceeded with the negotiation of a treaty for the settlement of the ‘Alabama
’ claims, and signed, Jan. 14. 1869, what became known as the Johnson-Clarendon convention.
It is remarkable that the English
ministry did not itself see the hazards of a negotiation carried on under such circumstances.
It was a dead treaty as soon as it was signed.
At some earlier period Mr. Johnson
's settlement, imperfect as it was, might have been accepted.1
The good nature of the American
people is indisposed to a long controversy.
Individual sufferers had been pressing their claims for indemnity at Washington
, through Mr. Evarts
and other counsel, and such private pressure often gives a turn to a negotiation.
But the time for an incomplete adjustment had now passed.
The subject belonged properly to a new Administration, which was supported by the confidence of the people.
The President elect
expressed himself freely in conversation against the Johnson treaty, and his first annual message, as well as the instructions to Motley
, indicate the general discredit with which it was received in this country.
When it was first taken up in the committee on foreign relations, in February, 1869, all the members were found to be opposed to a ratification.
said, when action was about to be taken: ‘Before putting the question, I wish the committee to understand fully the responsibility of the vote.
We begin to-day an international debate, the greatest of our history, and before it is finished, in all probability the greatest of all history.’