the papers which I obtained from the French
archives when Mr. Mignet
had them in charge, have been of the greatest benefit in preparing this volume.
Important aid has been derived from the exceedingly copious and as yet unedited cabinet correspondence of Frederic the Second of Prussia
with his foreign ministers in England
, the Netherlands, Denmark
, and Russia
In choosing from this vast mass of materials, I received the most friendly assistance from the superintendent, Mr. Dunker
, and from Mr. Friedlander
Extracts from these letters, which are all written in the French
language, will be published in Paris
I sought for some expression, on the part of Frederic, of a personal interest in Washington
; but I found none.
The Chevalier von Arneth
, so honorably known as historian, editor, and critic of integrity and acuteness, had the exceeding goodness to direct for me an examination of the archives at Vienna
; very many reports from the Austrian ambassadors in London
were copied for me under his direction.
They assist to define exactly the pressure under which Vergennes
entered upon measures for mediation and for peace.
Mr. Frederic Kapp
rendered me the best service in negotiating on my behalf for the purchase of ample collections
of letters and journals of German officers who served in America
are preserved the reports of an agent sent from Brussels
to the United States
in the interest of Belgian commerce.
Of the best of these, Mr. De la Plaine
, of the American
legation in Austria
, took copies of which he generously made me a present.
, lately of our legation at Petersburg
, communicated to me all that he could find on earlier American affairs in the archives at Moscow
My transcripts from the Dutch
archives, for which I had formerly much occasion to feel obliged to Mr. W. Groen van Prinsterer
, have been largely increased through the intervention of my friend Count de Bylandt
My request to make further researches in the English
archives was cheerfully granted, and in the most liberal terms, by the Earl
, and the permission was continued by the Earl
Indeed, there seemed to prevail in the foreign office a readiness to let every thing be investigated and made known respecting the past policy of Great Britain
toward the United States
The American government has manifested the same disposition, and this I hold to be wise.
The two great cosmopolitan nations are entering on a new era in their relations to one another; and their statesmen may mutually derive lessons alike from the errors which disturbed the past, and from what was done well.
The rule in natural science that ‘life divides’ is equally true of nations.
The United States
and Great Britain
will each live its great and divergent life; but it is to be hoped that the same ideas of freedom, truth, and justice will be developed in them both, and bring them nearer each other.
I have specially to thank Lord Tenterden for having favored me with copies of papers which establish the correctness of my narrative where it had been unjustly called in question.
My best thanks are also due to Mr.
, of the Public Record Office
, for the very obliging manner in which he gives effect to the permission granted me, and aids my researches.
To Mr. Spofford
, of Washington
, I owe two volumes of the manuscript correspondence of General Greene
. Mr. Seward
, in the State Department, and his successor Mr. Fish
, with equal friendliness furnished me with documents which I needed from our own records.
The late Joseph H. Lewis
intrusted to me the very voluminous professional and private correspondence of General Wayne
I was also aided materially by the late Governor Andrew
and by Secretary Warner
, by the late Senator Mason
, by Mr. George S. Bryan
, and by the never-failing friendship of Mr. Brantz Meyer
, Mr. J. Carson Brevoort
, and Mr. George H. Moore
On the character of Alexander Hamilton
, I sought and obtained instruction from the late President Nott
, as well as from the late Mr.
Church, who was Hamilton
's secretary in his last period of military service.
On two points I follow the verbal communications of Madison
; and it was not without fruit that I once passed a day with John Adams
With regard to the peace between the United States
, I think I might say that my materials in their completeness are unique.
Of the letters of the American
commissioners, nearly all are in print; yet I have been able to make gleanings from unpublished papers of them all, and have full reports of their conversations with the British
On the French
side, I have papers drawn up for the guidance of the negotiation; the reports of Rayneval
, repeated in the accounts addressed by Vergennes
himself to Montmorin
, the French
ambassador at Madrid
, and to Luzerne
, the French
minister at Philadelphia
On the British
side, I have the official letters of Shelburne
, and of every member of the British commission; beside a profusion of the private letters and papers of Shelburne
and of Oswald
I have also the private papers, as well as the official ones, of Strachey
; and the courtesy of the present head of the family voluntarily gave consent to the unrestricted use of them.
of Lansdowne, of 1848, was persuaded that no letters existed from George the Third to his father while first minister; but assured me from his father that the king did nothing to obstruct the peace with the United States
Passing lately through London
, Lord Edmond FitzMaurice
was so good as to inform me that the numerous original letters of the king to Lord Shelburne had been discovered; and he allowed me to make transcripts from them all, as well as from fragments of Lord Shelburne's autobiography.
This generosity was all the greater, as Lord FitzMaurice will himself write a biography of his ancestor.
The conduct of Shelburne
, and the younger Pitt
, in 1782, in the negotiations for peace with America
, are marked by liberality and candor; but as to the administration of Lord North, English opinion will finally decide that it no more deserves to be recognised as the expression of the British
mind on the fit methods of colonial administration than the policy of James the Second to be accepted as the proper exponent of English liberty.
From these and other materials, it has been possible to place some questions of European
as well as of American history in a clearer light.
The embarrassments of Vergennes
, arising alike from his entanglements respecting Gibraltar
, and the urgency of his king for peace, explain and justify the proceedings of the American
commissioners in signing preliminaries of peace in advance.
It will appear how much Frederic the Second aided America
to enter into the war for her independence.
The interest of this exposition is heightened rather than impaired by the fact that his motives sprung from his love to his own people.
It also becomes certain that the Empress Catharine
promulgated her naval code, not in ignorance of its character as has been hitherto stated, but with a full knowledge of what she was doing; and that she practised on the British
minister at Petersburg
no other cajolery than was needed to make him the channel through which the code was communicated to Great Britain
, so that direct crimination might be avoided.
The contemporary documents show that England
declared war on the Dutch
republic, solely to prevent her from being unconditionally received into the armed neutrality.
I have been able from new materials to trace the division between the North
and the South
, arising from slavery, further back than had as yet been done.
As to separatism, or the exaggerated expression of what we call States Rights, it did not grow out of the existence of slavery, but out of an element in human nature.
The much agitated question as to the time and manner of the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts
finds itself solved without going from home: the witness was at the door.
The conduct of Shelburne
in making peace between the two countries is made clear from his own words and acts.
The part taken by Franklin
in initiating and forwarding the negotiation for peace is illustrated, not from his own letters alone, but from those of Oswald
it was never misapprehended.
It is worth noticing that, though the negotiators on each side reciprocally marked the boundary agreed upon by a well-defined line on the map, yet, during the strife which was kept up about it for half a century, the American
government did not catch a glimpse of this evidence till a treaty of compromise was ratified, and the map
was not produced till the British
ministry that made the compromise had to defend it in parliament.
It appears further that, late as was the participation of John Adams
in the negotiation, he came in time to secure to New England
its true boundary on the north-east.
had always asked for the continuance of the accustomed share in the coast fisheries; and they were heartily supported by Jay
, who had in congress steadily voted against making the demand.
The requirement of the change in the form of Oswald
's commission, so grateful to the self-respect of America
, is due exclusively to Jay
It is good to look away from the strifes of the present hour, to the great days when our country had for its statesmen Washington
and John Adams
, and their compeers.
The study of those times will always teach lessons of moderation, and of unselfish patriotism.