Peace between the United States
and Great Britain
, as he passed through London
parole, brought from Shelburne
suggestions, which left Spain
as the only obstacle in the way of peace.
To conciliate that power, Jay
was invited to Versailles
, where, on the fourth of Sep
sought to persuade him to resign for his country all pretensions to the eastern valley of the Mississippi, and with it the right to the navigation of that stream.
On the sixth, Rayneval
sent him a paper containing a long
argument against the pretensions of America
to touch the Mississippi
, or the great lakes; and on the next morning, after an interview with the Spanish
sador, he set off for England
, to establish a good understanding with Shelburne
On the ninth, the departure of Rayneval
the knowledge of Jay
. On the tenth, a translation
of an intercepted despatch from Marbois
, the French
secretary of legation at Philadelphia
, against con-
ceding a share in the great fishery to the Americans
, was communicated to Jay
was thrown from his equipoise.
Having excited the distrust of Shelburne
by peremptorily breaking off the negotiation, he now, through an English agent, sent to the British
minister, with whom he was wholly unacquainted, a personal request that he would for the present take no measures with Rayneval
; giving as the reason, that it was the obvious interest of Britain immediately to cut the cords which tied the Americans
, who had vainly labored with his colleague to finish at once the treaty with England
, strove as ever before to defeat all intrigues by hastening its consummation; and to this end he urged on the British
government a compliance with the demand of a new commission for Oswald
Lord Grantham had assured him by letter that ‘the establishment of an honorable and lasting peace was the system of the ministers.’
‘I know it to be the sincere desire of the United States
replied, on the day after reading the paper of Marbois
; ‘and with such dispositions on both sides there is reason to hope that the good work in its progress will meet with little difficulty.
A small one has occurred, with which Mr. Oswald
will acquaint you. I flatter myself that means will be found on your part for removing it, and my best endeavors in removing subsequent ones (if any should arise) may be relied on;’ but Franklin
neither criminated France
, nor compromised himself, nor his country, nor his colleague.
passed through London
directly to Bow
, the country seat of Shelburne
in the west of England
‘I trust what you say as much as if Mr. de Vergennes
himself were speaking to me,’ were the words with which he was welcomed.
,’ observed Rayneval
, ‘is as dear to the king of Spain
as his life.’
answered: ‘Its cession is impossible: I dare not propose it to the British
wishes to become complete mistress of the Gulf of Mexico
,’ continued Rayneval
On this point, Shelburne
opened the way for concession, saying: ‘It is not by way of Florida
that we carry on our contraband trade, but by way of Jamaica
owned reluctantly the necessity of conceding independence to the United States
, but was resolved to concede it without any reservation.
‘As to the question of boundaries and fisheries,’ observed Rayneval
, ‘I do not doubt of the earnest purpose of the king to do everything in his power to restrain the Americans
within the limits of justice and reason.
Be their pretensions to the fisheries what they may, it seems to me that there is one sure principle to follow on that subject; namely, that the fishery on the high seas is res nullius
, the property of no one, and that the fishery on the coast belongs of right to the proprietaries of the coasts, unless there have been derogations founded upon treaties.
As to boundaries, the British
minister will find in the negotiations of 1754, relative to the Ohio
, the boundaries which England
, then the sovereign of the thirteen United States
, thought proper to assign them.’
To these insinuations, Shelburne
, true to his words to Franklin
, made no response.
With regard to the mediation offered by the
northern powers, he said: ‘We have no need of
them: they can know nothing about our affairs, since it is so hard for us to understand them ourselves; there is need of but three persons to make peace, myself, the Count de Vergennes
, and you.’
‘I shall be as pacific in negotiating as I shall be active for war, if war must be continued,’ he added, on
replied: ‘Count de Vergennes
will, without ceasing, preach justice and moderation.
It is his own code, and it is that of the king.’
On the fifteenth, they both came up to Lon-
don, where, on the sixteenth, Rayneval
met Lord Grantham
. Nothing could be more decided than his refusal to treat about Gibraltar
On the seventeenth,
in bidding farewell to Rayneval
said, in the most serious tone and the most courteous manner: ‘have been deeply touched by everything you have said to me about the character of the king of France
, his principles of justice and moderation, his love of peace.
I wish, not only to re-establish peace between the two nations and the two sovereigns, but to bring them to a cordiality which will constitute their reciprocal happiness.
Not only are they not natural enemies, as men have thought till now; but they have interests which ought to bring them nearer together.
We have each lost consideration in our furious desire to do each other harm.
Let us change principles that are so erroneous.
Let us reunite, and we shall stop all revolutions in Europe
By revolutions he meant the division of Poland
, the encroachments on Turkey
, and the attempt of the court of Vienna to bring Italy
under its control by seizing the fine harbors of Dalmatia
‘There is another object,’ continued Shelburne
Chap. XXIX.} 1782. Sept. 17.
‘which makes a part of my political views; and that is the destruction of monopoly in commerce.
I regard that monopoly as odious, though the English
nation, more than any other, is tainted with it. I flatter myself I shall be able to come to an understanding with your court upon this subject, as well as upon our political amalgamation.
I have spoken to the king on all these points.
I have reason to believe that when we shall have made peace the most frank cordiality will be established between the two princes.’
reciprocated these views, and added: ‘Your principles on trade accord exactly with those of France
; Count de Vergennes
thinks that freedom is the soul of commerce.’
The British ministry were so much in earnest in their desire for peace with the United States
, that a new commission was drafted for Oswald
to conclude a peace or truce with commissioners of the thirteen United States of America
, which were enumerated one by one.
This concession was made after consultation with Lord Ashburton, who held that it was a matter of indifference, whether the title chosen by the American
commissioners should be accepted by Oswald
under the king's authority, or directly by the king.
The acknowledgment of independence was still reserved to form the first article of the treaty of peace.
The change of form was grateful and honorable to the United States
; but the king said: ‘I am so much agitated with a fear of sacrificing the interests of my country, by hurrying peace on too fast, that I am unable to add anything on that subject but the most frequent prayers to Heaven to guide me so
to act that posterity may not lay the downfall of
this once respectable empire to my door; and that if ruin should attend the measures that may be adopted, I may not long survive them.’
The delay had given time to British creditors and to the refugees to muster all their strength and embarrass the negotiation by their importunities.
On purely Spanish questions, Jay
appears to the best advantage.
On the twenty-sixth of September, Aranda
, in company with Lafayette
, encountered him at Versailles
asked: ‘When shall we proceed to do business?’
replied, ‘When you communicate your powers to treat.’
‘An exchange of commissions,’ said Aranda
, ‘cannot be expected, for Spain
has not acknowledged your independence.’
‘We have declared our independence,’ said Jay
; ‘and France
, and Britain
have acknowledged it.’
came to his aid, and told the ambassador that it was not consistent with the dignity of France
that an ally of hers like the United States
should treat otherwise than as independent.
pressed upon Jay
a settlement of claims with Spain
answered: ‘We shall be content with no boundaries short of the Mississippi
So soon as Oswald
received his new commission, the negotiation, after the loss of a month, moved forward easily and rapidly.
At the request of Franklin
drew up the articles of peace.
They included the clauses relating to boundaries and fisheries, which Franklin
had settled with Oswald
in July; to these Jay
added a clause for reciprocal freedom of commerce, which was equally grateful to Franklin
, and a concession to the British
of the free
navigation of the Mississippi
For himself, he re-
peatedly insisted with Oswald
, that West Florida
should not be left in the hands of the Spaniards, but should be restored to England
; and he pleaded ‘in favor of the future commerce of England
as if he had been of her council, and wished to make some reparation for her loss,’ not duly considering the dangers threatening the United States
, if England
should hold both East
and West Florida
and the Bahama Islands
had hoped to make a distinction between the jurisdiction over the western country and property in its ungranted domain, so that the sales of wild lands might yield some compensation to the loyal refugees; but Jay
insisted that no such right of property remained to the king.
urged upon him the restoration of the loyalists to their civil rights; but Jay
answered that the subject of pardon was one with which ‘congress could not meddle.
The states being sovereigns, the parties in fault were answerable to them, and to them only.’
yielded on both points.
On sending over the draft of the treaty to the secretary of state
, the British
plenipotentiary wrote: ‘I look upon the treaty as now closed.’
had agreed that, if it should be approved, they would sign it immediately.
Towards the French
minister, they continued their reserve, not even communicating to him the new commission of Oswald
After the capture of Minorca by the Duke de Crillon
fleets united under his command to reduce Gibraltar
; and Count
d'artois, the brother of the king, passed through Madrid
to be present at its surrender.
But danger inspired the British
garrison with an unconquerable intrepidity.
By showers of red-hot shot, and by a most heroic sortie under General Elliot
, the batteries which were thought to be fire-proof were blown up or consumed, and a fleet under Lord Howe was close at hand to replenish the stores of the fortress.
The news of the catastrophe made Paris
clamorous for peace.
, it was said, is engaged in a useless war for thankless allies.
She has suffered disgrace in the West Indies
while undertaking to conquer Jamaica
; and it now shares in the defeat before Gibraltar
saw that France
needed and demanded repose.
To obtain a release from his engagement to Spain
, he was ready to make great sacrifices on the part of his own country, and to require them of America
Congress was meanwhile instructing Franklin
‘to use his utmost endeavors to effect the loan of four millions of dollars through the kind and generous exertions of the king of France
;’ and on the third
of October it renewed its resolution to hearken to no propositions for peace except in confidence and in concert with him. On the fourteenth of the same
thus explained to the French
envoy at Philadelphia
the policy of France
we are so happy as to make peace, the king must
then cease to subsidize the American
army, which will be as useless as it has been habitually inactive.
We are astonished at the demands which continue to be made upon us while the Americans
obstinately refuse the payment of taxes.
It seems to us much more natural for them to raise upon themselves, rather than upon the subjects of the king, the funds which the defence of their cause exacts.’
‘You know,’ continued Vergennes
, ‘our system with regard to Canada
Everything which shall prevent the conquest of that country will agree essentially with our views.
But this way of thinking ought to be an impenetrable secret for the Americans
Moreover, I do not see by what title the Americans
can form pretensions to lands on Lake Ontario
Those lands belong to the savages or are a dependency of Canada
In either case, the United States
have no right to them whatever.
It has been pretty nearly demonstrated, that to the south of the Ohio
their limits are the mountains following the shed of the waters, and that everything to the north of the mountain range, especially the lakes, formerly made a part of Canada
These notions are for you alone; you will take care not to appear to be informed about them, because we so much the less wish to intervene in the discussions between the Count de Aranda
and Mr. Jay
, as both parties claim countries to which neither of them has a right, and as it will be almost impossible to reconcile them.’
When the draft of the treaty with the United States
, as agreed to by Oswald
, came back to England
, the offer of Jay
of the free navigation of the
was gladly accepted; but that for a reci-
Chap. XXIX.} 1782. Oct. 14.
procity of navigation and commerce was reserved.
The great features of the treaty were left unchanged; but the cabinet complained of Oswald
for yielding everything, and gave him for an assistant Henry Strachey
's under-secretary of state.
On the twentieth of October, both of the secretaries of
state being present, Shelburne
three points specially in charge: No concession of a right to dry fish on Newfoundland
; a recognition of the validity of debts to British subjects contracted by citizens of the United States
before the war; but, above all, adequate indemnity for the confiscated property of the loyal refugees.
This last demand touched alike the sympathy and the sense of honor of England
The previous answer that the commissioners had no power to treat on the business of the loyalists was regarded as an allegation that, though they claimed to have full powers, they were not plenipotentiaries; that they were acting under thirteen separate sovereignties, which had no common head.
To meet the exigence, Shelburne
proposed either an extension of Nova Scotia
to the Penobscot
or the Kennebec
or the Saco
, so that a province might be formed for the reception of the loyalists; or that a part of the money to be received from sales of the Ohio
lands might be applied to their subsistence.
To the ministry, it was clear that peace, if to be made at all, must be made before the coming together of parliament, which had been summoned for the twenty-fifth of November.
While the under-secretary of state was sent to re-enforce Oswald
, the American
recruited by the arrival of John Adams
Chap. XXIX.} 1782. Oct. 20.
prevailed on the United Provinces to acknowledge the independence of the United States
, and to form with them a treaty of commerce.
He was greatly elated at his extraordinary success, and he loved to have it acknowledged; but flattery never turned him aside from public duty, for he looked upon the highest praise as no more than his due, and as investing him with new rights to stand up fearlessly for his country.
He left Vergennes
to find out his arrival through the police.
had hitherto warded off the demand that the treaty of peace should guarantee to English merchants the right to collect debts that had been due to them in the United States
, because the British
armies had themselves in many cases robbed the merchants of the very goods for which the debts were incurred; and had wantonly and contrary to the laws of war destroyed the property which could have furnished the means of payment.
The day after Strachey
's arrival in Paris
, encountering him and Oswald
at the house of Jay
, to their surprise and delight blurted out his assent to the proposed stipulation for the payment of debts.
In the evening of the same day, Adams
called for the first time on Franklin
, who at once put him on his guard as to the British
demands relating to debts and compensation of tories; but he could not recall his word.
On the thirtieth, the American
commissioners met Oswald
, and for four several days they discussed the unsettled points of the treaty.
had left the north-eastern boundary to be settled by commissioners after the war. It is
due to John Adams
, who had taken the precaution
Chap. XXIX.} 1782. Oct. 29.
to obtain from the council of Massachusetts
authenticated copies of every document relating to the question, that it was definitively established in the treaty itself.
On the north-west it was agreed that the line should be drawn through the centre of the water communications of the great lakes to the Lake
of the Woods.
The British commissioners denied to the Americans
the right of drying fish on Newfoundland
This was, after a great deal of conversation, agreed to by John Adams
as well as his colleagues, upon condition that the American
fishermen should be allowed to dry their fish on any unsettled parts of the coast of Nova Scotia
said further: ‘I observe as to catching fish you mention only the banks of Newfoundland
Why not all other places, and among others the gulf of St. Lawrence
Are you afraid there is not fish enough, or that we should catch too many, at the same time that you know that we shall bring the greatest part of the money we get for that fish to Great Britain
to pay for your manufactures?’2
And this advice was embodied in the new article on the fisheries.
On the fourth of November, Adams
itively overruled the objections of Franklin
to the recognition by treaty of the validity of debts contracted before the war. Pluming himself exceedingly on having gained this concession, Strachey
wrote to the secretary of state
would likewise assent to the indemnification of the refugees rather than break off the treaty upon such a point.3
On the other hand, Franklin
, in reply to
a letter which he had received from the secretary, Townshend
, gave an earnest warning: ‘I am sensible you have ever been averse to the measures that brought on this unhappy war; I have, therefore, no doubt of the sincerity of your wishes for a return of peace.
Mine are equally earnest.
Nothing, therefore, except the beginning of the war, has given me more concern than to learn at the conclusion of our conferences that it is not likely to be soon ended.
Be assured no endeavors on my part would be wanting to remove any difficulties that may have arisen, or even if a peace were made to procure afterwards any changes in the treaty that might tend to render it more perfect and the peace more durable;’ and then, having in his mind the case of the refugees, he deprecated any instructions to the British
negotiators that would involve an irreconcilable conflict with those of America
At the same time, he persuaded Adams
to join with him in letters to Oswald
and to Strachey
, expressing in conciliatory language their unanimous sentiments that an amnesty more extensive than what had already been agreed to could not be granted to the refugees.
with the second set of articles for peace, the friends of Fox
had forgotten their zeal for American independence.
All parties unanimously demanded amnesty and indemnity for the loyalists.
Within the cabinet itself, Camden
were ill at ease; Keppell and Richmond
inclining to cut loose.
The king could not avoid mentioning ‘how sensibly he felt the dismemberment of America
from the empire:’ ‘I should be miserable indeed,’ said he, ‘if I did not
feel that no blame on that account can be laid at my
Moreover, he thought so ill of its inhabitants, that ‘it may not,’ he said, ‘in the end be an evil that they will become aliens to this kingdom.’
In the general tremulousness among the ministers, Townshend
and William Pitt
remained true to Shelburne
; and a third set of articles was prepared, to which these three alone gave their approval.
There was no cavilling about boundaries.
All the British
posts on the Penobscot
, at New York and in Carolina
, at Niagara
and at Detroit
, were to be given up to the United States
, and the country east of the Mississippi
and north of Florida
was acknowledged to be theirs.
The article on the fishery contained arbitrary restrictions copied from former treaties with France
; so that the Americans
were not to take fish within fifteen leagues of Cape Breton, or within three leagues of any other British isle on the coast in America
Not only indemnity for the estates of the refugees, but for the proprietary rights and properties of the Penns and of the heirs of Lord Baltimore, was to be demanded.
‘If they insist in the plea of the want of power to treat of these subjects,’ said Townshend
, ‘you will intimate to them in a proper manner that they are driving us to a necessity of applying directly to those who are allowed to have the power.’
‘If the American
commissioners think that they will gain by the whole coming before parliament, I do not imagine that the refugees will have any objections,’ added Shelburne
Fitzherbert, the British
minister in Paris
, was instructed to take part in the American
negotiations; and, with his approval
and that of Strachey
was empowered to sign
Authority was given to Fitzherbert to inyoke the influence of France
to bend the Americans
had especially pleaded with them strongly in favor of the refugees.
In the hope of a settlement, parliament was prorogued to the fifth of December.
On the same day on which the final instructions to Oswald
were written, Vergennes
declared in a letter to Luzerne
: ‘There exists in our treaties no condi-
tion which obliges the king to prolong the war in order to sustain the ambitious pretensions which the United States
may form in reference to the fishery or the extent of boundaries.’4
‘In spite of all the cajoleries which the English
ministers lavish on the Americans
, I do not promise myself they will show themselves ready to yield either in regard to the fisheries, or in regard to the boundaries as the American
commissioners understand them.
This last subject may be arranged by mutual sacrifices and compensations.
But as to the first, in order to form a settled judgment on its probable issue, it would be necessary to know what the Americans
understand by the fishery.
If it is the drift fishery on banks remote from the coast, it seems to me a natural right; but if they pretend to the fisheries as they exercised them by the title of English subjects, do they, in the name of justice, think to obtain rights attached to the condition of subjects which they renounce?’
would not prolong the war to secure to the
Chap. XXIX.} 1782. Nov. 25.
Americans the back lands and the fisheries; the Americans
were still less bound to continue the war to obtain Gibraltar
Early in the morning of the twenty-fifth, the king was urging Shelburne
to confide in Vergennes
his ‘ideas concerning America
,’ saying, ‘France
must wish to assist us in keeping the Americans
from a concurrent fishery, which the looseness of the article with that people as now drawn up gives but too much room to apprehend.’
could have received the admonition, Adams
, and Jay
opened the parley by an elaborate speech, in which he explained the changes in the article on the fisheries, and that ‘the restitution of the property of the loyalists was the grand point upon which a final settlement depended.
If the treaty should break off, the whole business must go loose, and take its chance in parliament.’
wished to know if Oswald
could now conclude the treaty; and Strachey
answered that he could, absolutely.
desired to know if the propositions he had brought
were an ultimatum.
seemed loath to answer, but at last said, no. That day, and the three following ones, the discussion was continued.
On the twenty-ninth, Strachey
, and Fitzherbert, on the one side, and Jay
, and, for the first time, Laurens
, on the other, came together for their last word, at the apartments of Jay
. The American commissioners agreed that there should be no future confiscations nor prosecutions of loyalists; that all pending prosecutions should be
discontinued; and that congress should recommend
Chap. XXIX.} 1782. Nov. 25.
to the several states and their legislatures, on behalf of the refugees, amnesty and the restitution of their confiscated property.
thought this article better than any of the modifications proposed in England
, and congratulated himself on his triumph.
The question of the fisheries more nearly concerned Oswald
Against the British
draft, John Adams
spoke with the more effect as it rested not on the principle of the law of nations, but created an arbitrary restriction; and, with the support of every one of his colleagues, he declared he would not set his hand to the treaty unless the limitations were stricken out. After long altercations the article was reduced to the form in which it appears in the treaty, granting to the United States
equal rights with British fishermen to take fish on the coast of Newfoundland
, and on the coasts, bays, and creeks of all other British dominions in America
At this stage, Strachey
and Fitzherbert gave the opinion that it would be necessary to consult the government at home.
‘We can wait,’ answered Adams
, ‘till a courier goes to London
The reference would have carried the whole matter into parliament, and so would have been fatal to the treaty.
saw the danger and interposed: ‘If any further delay should be made, the clause insuring to the subjects of Great Britain
the right of recovering their debts in the United States
must also be reconsidered.’
But on this article Strachey
prided himself as his greatest success; and, rather than expose it to risk, he joined with Oswald
Fitzherbert, now left alone, reflected that peace with the United States
would be the best means of forcing France
Chap. XXIX.} 1782. Nov. 30.
to declare their ultimatum; and he, too, gave in his consent.
On the thirtieth, the commissioners of both countries signed and sealed fair copies of the convention.
Thus far no word in it had, except indirectly, indicated the existence of slavery in the United States
On the demand of Laurens
, a clause was interlined, prohibiting, on the British
evacuation, the ‘carrying away any negroes or other property of the inhabitants.’
So the treaty of peace, which already contained a confession that the United States
were not compacted into one nation, made known that in their confederacy men could be held as property; but it, as interpreted alike by American and English statesmen, included free negroes among the citizens of the United States
In the hope of preventing the possibility of a future dispute about boundaries, they were marked interchangeably by a strong line on copies of the map of America
The articles of peace, though entitled provisional, were made definitive by a declaration in the preamble.
Friends of Franklin
gathered around him, and as the Duke
kissed him for joy, ‘My friend,’ said Franklin
, ‘could I have hoped at such an age to have enjoyed so great happiness?’
The treaty was not a compromise, nor a compact imposed by force, but a free and perfect solution, and perpetual settlement of all that had been called in question.
By doing an act of justice to her former colonies, England
rescued her own liberties at home from imminent danger, and opened the way for
their slow but certain development.
selfish colonial policy which had led to the cruel and unnatural war was cast aside and forever by Great Britain
, which was henceforward as the great colonizing power to sow all the oceans with the seed of republics.
For the United States
, the war, which began by an encounter with a few husbandmen embattled on Lexington Green, ended with their independence, and possession of all the country from the St. Croix
to the south-western Mississippi
, from the Lake
of the Woods to the St. Mary
In time past, republics had been confined to cities and their dependencies, or to small cantons; and the United States
avowed themselves able to fill a continental territory with commonwealths.
They possessed beyond any other portion of the world the great ideas of their age, and enjoyed the practice of them by individual man in uncontrolled faith and industry, thought and action.
For other communities, institutions had been built up by capitulations and acts of authoritative power; the United States of America
could shape their coming relations wisely only through the widest and most energetic exercise of the right inherent in humanity to deliberation, choice, and assent.
While the constitutions of their separate members, resting on the principle of self-direction, were, in most respects, the best in the world, they had no general government; and as they went forth upon untried paths, kings expected to see the confederacy fly into fragments, or lapse into helpless anarchy.
But, for all the want of a government, their solemn pledge to one another of mutual citizenship and perpetual union made them one
people; and that people was superior to its institu-
tions, possessing the vital force which goes before organization, and gives to it strength and form.
Yet for success the liberty of the individual must know how to set to itself bounds; and the states, displaying the highest quality of greatness, must learn to temper their rule of themselves by their own moderation.