19th Congress.]

No. 441.

[2d Session.



Extract of Instructions from H. Clay to R. King, May 10, 1825.

"With respect to the other objects of the negotiation which was suspended on the 28th of July last, their great importance, and the new lights which are thrown upon them by subsequent events, and especially the effect on the colonial trade which is likely to be produced by the measures recently proposed in the British Parliament by Mr. Huskisson, the matured form of which has not yet reached us. require the most cautious and deliberate consideration. My recent entry upon the duties of the Department of State, and the great pressure of the mass of other business which called for immediate attention, have not allowed me yet to bestow on those objects the time which is indispensably necessary to the formation of a satisfactory adjustment. I am not, therefore, now ready to communicate to you the instructions of the President which they require. To detain you for them might have the effect of occasioning some injury to the current affairs of the legation, and to other interests demanding your presence at London. 1 have, therefore, the approbation of the President in requesting that, without waiting for them, you proceed on your voyage. As soon as I return from Kentucky, for which I expect in a few days to depart, I will commence the work of preparing them, and hope to be able to place them in your possession early in September. This delay is the less regretted, because, from the engagement of Mr. Huskisson in Parliament, who will probably be again associated in the negotiation, and from other obvious causes, it is not likely that it can be renewed before the approaching autumn, and no great intermediate mischief will probably accrue to any of the interests to which it relates. In the interval your time may be usefully dedicated to the object of a full and clear comprehension of the present state of the relations between the two countries; to the transaction, after your arrival in England, of occasional official business as it arises, and to an affair of much immediate practical consequence, to which I shall now proceed to direct your attention.

"You are aware that a convention between the United States and his Britannic Majesty was concluded and signed at St. Petersburg, under the mediation of the Emperor of all the Russias, on the 30th (12th) day of May, (June,) 1822, (see Appendix to the acts of the session of 1823,) for the purpose of carrying into effect the award of his Imperial Majesty, as arbitrator of the differences which had arisen between Great Britain and the United States out of the treaty of Ghent, in regard to slaves and other property carried away by the British forces in contravention to this treaty. By that convention a mixed commission was to be constituted to settle the just indemnification which his Imperial Majesty awarded to be due to the citizens of the United States for the slaves and property so deported. On the part of this Government Mr. Langdon Cheves was appointed, and on that of Great Britain, Mr. George Jackson. The Commissioners met at Washington on the 25th day of August, 1823, and, after various adjournments, their session continued until the 27th of April, 1825, when they adjourned to meet on the 8th of December following. The proceedings of the Board have been arrested by a most extraordinary refusal of Mr. Jackson to execute the fifth article of the convention, and it cannot be again made to move on to the accomplishment of the objects of its institution without the interposition of the British Government. Before I call your attention particularly to the exceptionable course which that Commissioner appears to have considered himself bound to adopt, I will make some observations upon the nature of the constitution of the Board. By the fifth article it is provided that, 'in the event of the two Commissioners not agreeing in any particular case under examination, or of their disagreement upon any question which may result from the stipulations of this convention, then, and in that case, they shall draw by lot the name of one of the two arbitrators, who, after having given due consideration to the matter contested, shall consult with the Commissioners, and a final decision shall be given conformably to the opinion of the majority of the two Commissioners and of the arbitrator so drawn by lot.' The whole practical inconvenience of such a general provision for submitting every question that might arise in every cause to arbitration, in the event of the non-concurrence of the Commissioners, was probably not foreseen at the conclusion of the convention. Experience has fully developed it. All interlocutory points, every preliminary question about the forms of trial, the authentication of evidence, its effects, and the rules of proceeding (and what a multitude of such points and questions may not occur?) are thus to be referred, in the contingency, but too often happening, of a disagreement between the Commissioners. If the settlement of one question settled the whole class to which it belonged in all analogous cases, the evil, which then would be still great, might be borne. But, unfortunately, the very same question (the sufficiency, for example, of the authentication of a deposition, or any other) may arise in different cases, and be determined according as the lot for the arbitrator may be cast. And thus it may, and most probably will, happen that the proof or the claim of one individual will be rejected under precisely the same circumstances of those of another which will be received and allowed.

"This malformation of the tribunal could have only been remedied by a spirit of mutual concession and accommodation between its component members. Such a spirit has, unfortunately, not been evinced in the course of its proceedings by Mr. Jackson. The protocol of the Commissioners, and so much of the correspondence between them as is necessary to put you in possession of what has been and of what has not been done accompany these instructions. From a perusal of those documents you will not fail to observe that he has manifested throughout the most impracticable disposition. I shall only advert to some of the instances of his course of conduct to sustain that remark.

"1. It became important, by some general rule, in the commencement of the proceedings of the Board, to notify claimants of the species of authentication of their depositions which would be required. The usual form of authenticating such acts is by the signature of the Justice who takes them, accompanied by the certificate and seal of the Governor of a State, Judge of a superior court, or Notary. This did not satisfy Mr. Jackson, who must also have the certifying officer to state that he knew the handwriting of the officiating Justice. Now, this extraordinary requisition (for by what tribunal, British or American, was it ever before made ?) it is, in many cases, almost impossible to comply with. It may be asked, why did


the American Commissioner concur in the adoption of such a rule? Because it was better to have some known rule, even a bad one, than none, and because it did not bind him to exclude testimony which should be authenticated in the usual and established forms.

"2. In the case of Cowper a question arose which is applicable to all the cases, and that is, whether interest should be allowed upon the ascertained value of the property carried away, in violation of the treaty of Ghent, as a part of that just indemnification which his Imperial Majesty awarded. Mr. Cheves thought interest was equally due with the principal. Mr. Jackson rejected it as wholly inadmissible. The discussions on this point have been extended to a great length. You will find them in the voluminous correspondence between the Commissioners themselves, and in the papers of Mr. Tazewell and Mr. Livingston in behalf of the claimants. If I could add anything to what has been so ably urged in support of the demand it would be unnecessary. Mr. Jackson endeavors to sustain his argument by a literal criticism on the text of the convention, rejecting, as unworthy of material consideration, the contemporaneous imperial acts. Mr. Cheves maintains his side of the question from the text, also, of the convention, from the terms and the spirit of the imperial decision, from analogous cases, and from the reason of the thing. And surely there can be no adequate conception of a just indemnification for injuries, the redress of which has been so long delayed, which does not comprehend interest. What is, briefly, the case? Great Britain, by the most solemn of compacts, stipulates not to transport from the American territories the most productive description of property. Her faith is promptly and perseveringly invoked to fulfil her obligations and do justice to the injured American proprietors. She withholds it upon the plea that she was not bound to the surrender of the property. The two Governments appeal to the Emperor of Russia to decide this point of difference, and his Imperial Majesty determines that Great Britain was bound by the treaty of Ghent to surrender the property, and awards a just indemnification. The convention which was subsequently concluded is merely the means of giving effect to the imperial award. And the question is, whether the parties who, more than ten years ago, ought to have had their property, with all its intervening use and profits, will have been justly indemnified without interest for the very great and, as the imperial decision proves, unjust delay, which Mr. Jackson is increasing by the very course which he has felt himself authorized to adopt? But I have said that it is not necessary, nor do I mean to discuss the point of interest. Whether it be just or not is not material in considering the exceptionable resolution to which he has brought himself. That resolution is not even to refer the claim of interest to the arbitrament expressly provided for in the fifth article of the convention. That article declares that, in the event of the two Commissioners not agreeing in any particular case under examination, &c., it shall be referred to a tribunal composed of them and an arbitrator to be designated by lot. A particular case is under examination; the Commissioners disagree in it. The casus foederis occurs, and Mr. Jackson refuses to execute the fifth article. And on what pretext is this extraordinary refusal attempted to be supported? Upon the allegation that interest is, in his judgment, clearly excluded from the convention. He, no doubt, thinks so; Mr. Cheves, with equal honesty of intention, thinks otherwise; and this difference between them is precisely one of those cases of non-concurrence which were foreseen, and all of which, without exception, when, unfortunately, they shall arise, are to be submitted to the arbitrator. If Mr. Jackson is justified in the refusal, in this particular, to constitute the triple tribunal, what is to prevent his declining the reference in every other case? Undoubtedly if an unjust claim be preferred, either as it regards the right or the sufficiency of the evidence by which it is attempted to be substantiated, it is not within the convention; and Mr. Jackson may therefore refuse the reference in all cases in which he shall decide against the claimant. If, as he supposes, the claim of interest is not comprehended in the convention, that will be a sufficient ground for the determination of the arbitrator against it. The refusal to bring it to the test of the convention implies some distrust of the correctness of his own judgment, or an unreasonable want of confidence in the rectitude of the umpire. It is evident that, if the Commissioner representing one party has the right to predicate his refusal to refer a subject to the arbitrator upon his separate notion that it is not embraced in the convention, the great object of that instrument is defeated; for that object undoubtedly was, that neither party should absolutely decide, but that a mixed tribunal, in which both were to be represented, should pronounce on all controverted questions in which both are interested. And neither in the spirit nor in the terms of the convention is any countenance to be found for the idea that one class of controverted cases more than any other is excepted from its operation. If it be urged, on the one hand, that the effect of this broad ground of reference might be to draw within the jurisdiction of the mixed tribunal claims upon Great Britain which were never designed to be included in the convention, the argument will be answered, on the other, by stating that the opposite ground might put without their jurisdiction claims to which it was evidently intended to extend. The true answer is the same to both, and that is, that they are extreme cases, against which the only security is to be found in the integrity, intelligence, and obligations of the Board.

"3. In the case of Jumonville de Villiers, a citizen of Louisiana, the claim of indemnity for twenty slaves, carried away from Dauphin island, in the Bay of Mobile, does not appear to have been questioned by Mr. Jackson, upon the ground either of the sufficiency of the proof by which it was established, or the time of the transportation of the slaves; but to the allowance of the claim he objected, upon the pretence that Dauphin island was no part of the territory of the United States, but belonged to West Florida. Mr. Cheves, declining to discuss our incontestable right to that island, derived from the cession of Louisiana, of which it constituted a part, offered to refer the difference between him and his associate, agreeably to the provisions of the fifth article of the convention; but Mr. Jackson, having erected himself into a judge of what belonged to us and what to Spain, decided that Dauphin island was not an appendage of Louisiana, but of West Florida, and therefore belonged to Spain at the period of the exchange of the ratifications of the treaty of Ghent, and refused to consent to the proposed reference. Dauphin island was, during the late war, reduced and occupied by the British arms as a part of the territory of the United States. Had it not been a part of their territory, the military occupation of it by Great Britain would have been an unprovoked act of war on her part against Spain, with whom she was then in peace. It was, on the return of peace, surrendered to the United States as a territory, place, or possession' (to use the language of the treaty of Ghent) taken from them during the war. Thus, in order to screen the British Government from the indemnity due to American citizens for one or two hundred negro slaves, Mr. Jackson would represent his nation as having committed an act of deliberate and wanton war upon the territories of a friendly and unoffending sovereign, and as having, after perpetrating that act of enormity, transferred the territory violently wrested from that sovereign to the United States, who had no right to it. The mere statement of the case, which truth compels me to make, must wound the sensibility of his Britannic Majesty's Government. If it were creditable to discuss the question of the right of the United States to


Dauphin island, it would be easy to show that the Province of Louisiana, which was ceded to them on the 30th of April, 1803, extended as far east as the Perdido, and, of course, included the Bay of Mobile; that, prior to the late war with Great Britain, the United States had actually taken possession of the whole Province up to that limit; that they had incorporated the Bay of Mobile, including Dauphin island, in one of their territories, and governed it by their laws; and that the treaty with Spain of the 22d day of February, 1819, did not operate as an original cession, but only as a confirmation of their previous title, acquired under that with France, to the country lying between the Perdido and the island of New Orleans. It would have been a more compendious mode of disposing of this claim, on the part of Mr. Jackson, to have drawn in question our title to any part of Louisiana, as was done during the conferences at Ghent. He would then have gotten rid of the territory, the claimant, and his slaves. But the conclusive answer to his plea is to be found in the terms of the first article of the treaty of Ghent. They stipulate that 'all territory, places, and possessions whatsoever taken by either party from the other during* the war, or which may be taken after the signing of this treaty, excepting only the islands hereinafter mentioned, shall be restored without delay, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any of the artillery or other public property originally captured in the said forts or places, and which shall remain therein upon the exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, or any slaves or other private property.' Dauphin island was not one of those which were excepted from surrender. That article binds the high contracting parties to a mutual restoration of territory, places, and possessions, without regard to the consideration of title. The mere fact of possession prior to the war determined the duty of restoration on the return of peace. It was so intended, and well understood by both parties. Under that stipulation, as being one of the possessions taken from us during the war, the mouth of the Columbia has been restored, although our title to it was subsequently contested by Great Britain. And from none of the places or possessions thus to be restored was Great Britain to carry away any slave or other property. If this impeachment of our title to or possession of Dauphin island (for which, at an earlier period, Mr. Jackson might have been entitled to the grateful acknowledgments of Spain, but which, at this late day, will hardly be made) had been even colorable, the claim of D'Villiers might have presented a fit subject of reference to the arbitrator of the convention. Incontestable as both title and possession were, Mr. Cheves, in consideration of what belonged to the character and dignity of his Government, would not have been without justification if he had declined an arbitration of the question had it been offered by the other Commissioner. In tendering it himself, you cannot fail to perceive manifested by him the greatest moderation and the strongest disposition faithfully to execute the fifth article of the convention. Nor can you avoid contrasting the conduct of the two Commissioners in this respect. Whilst Mr. Jackson refuses to refer, to say the least of it, the debatable question of interest, Mr. Cheves is willing to refer a case in which our clear and indisputable right to Dauphin island was the only point to be collaterally adjudicated.

"4, By the third article of the convention his Britannic Majesty engaged 'to cause to be produced before the commission, as material towards ascertaining facts, all the evidence of which his Majesty's Government may be in possession, by returns from his Majesty's officers or otherwise, of the number of slaves carried away.' On the 25th of October last Mr. Push requested of Mr. Canning the fulfilment of that undertaking. Mr. Canning, in a note to Mr. Rush, under date the 16th of February last, informed him that he lost 'no time in directing the necessary returns to be prepared. This has been done in as far as the records in the possession of his Majesty's Government could supply the information required, and the returns have been forwarded to Mr. Jackson at Washington for the use of the mixed British and American commission.' From the well known fairness and straightforwardness of Mr. Canning, there can be no doubt that Mr. Jackson was made the medium merely of communicating, unconditionally, the information thus collected to the Board. Instead of promptly performing that duty, keeping the documents in his own possession, he opened a negotiation with Mr. Cheves as to the uses which should be made of them after they came into the joint possession of the Board. He insisted, as one of the conditions upon which they should be delivered over to the commission, that all access to them should be denied to the claimants until the testimony was closed in their respective cases, and they were put down for final trial; and then that each claimant might be cautiously allowed to inspect so much of the returns as related to his particular case, and no more. The object of the stipulation undoubtedly was to supply all the testimony which might happen to be in the custody of the British Government respecting facts very difficult to prove. Its operation was in the nature of a discovery of evidence, which the ordinary tribunals of the two countries, in cases of individual litigation, would have enforced, but which, in national concerns, could only be provided for by treaty. The evidence thus discovered and produced might supply the defects of other proof, or might, itself, require the explanations which other testimony could render. But how were these explanations to be made if the returns were to be locked up from the view of the parties whose interests were to be affected? Mr. Jackson seems to have supposed that testimony which was to be furnished for the benefit of both parties ought to be employed exclusively for that of one of them as a check upon what might be produced by the other. The party was, according to him, to be indulged, at the last moment, as a gracious favor, with a view of that evidence which was possibly to defeat his just expectations, although a timely examination of it would have enabled him to have adduced the most conclusive explanatory proof. And where does Mr. Jackson find any precedent for the extraordinary condition which he would have imposed? Surely not in the enlightened judicial codes of either of the two countries, unless he goes as far back as to the proceedings of the Star Chamber. The case which he puts, (and which is believed to be of rare occurrence,) where, during the examination of one witness in court, other witnesses are kept out to prevent their hearing* him, will not bear him out; for, in that case, the party to be affected by the testimony is allowed to hear it, and may, during the progress of the trial, by cross-examination, or adducing other witnesses in his behalf, counteract its effect. The condition which Mr. Jackson would have imposed was, doubtless, founded upon the apprehension of an improper use being made by the claimants of the returns, so as to subject the British Government beyond its just responsibility. But it ought to be borne in mind that the definitive list of property for which indemnity was to be made, required by the convention, was given in to the Commissioners, and that the claimants, consequently, could make no addition of other property to it. The convention having stipulated the production of the returns without any conditions, it is hardly necessary to add that Mr. Cheves rejected those which Mr. Jackson had no authority from that instrument, and, it is believed, none from his Government, to propose. The returns were then produced and filed. The proceedings of the Board will show that Mr. Jackson persevered in rejecting every general and special application which was made in behalf of the claimants for a sight of them. Mr. Cheves then proposed that the Secretary of the Board should be directed to prepare a transcript of the returns to be transmitted to his Govern-


ment to facilitate the discharge of his duty, and to afford to it an opportunity of seeing how far a compliance had been made with the stipulation of the third article. To this Mr. Jackson also objected, without some pledge or guaranty should be given to him that this Government would make no other use of the returns than such as he deemed proper. I put it to the candor of Mr. Canning to suppose a change of positions, and to ask himself what would have been his estimate of a demand of such a pledge or guaranty if it had been required at London by an American Commissioner? Mr. Cheves, it is useless to say, refused to be the organ of making such an affrontive proposal to his Government.

"It is painful to me to have been obliged to dwell so long upon the conduct of the British Commissioner. I might have greatly extended a list of the examples of his unaccommodating spirit, but those which I have selected must be sufficient to bring a conviction of it home to the British Government. It would have been much more agreeable to have seen in his official course here manifestations of that liberality, frankness, and mutual good feeling which happily characterize the subsisting relations, generally, of the two countries, and which it will be my constant purpose and pleasure to labor to increase.

"You cannot avoid remarking, in the scheme of the composition of this Board, the great difference in the relative situation of the parties, and the disadvantageous attitude in which the claimants are placed. The British Government is the party from which indemnity is expected for a large amount of property. The Government of the United States, in its corporate character, has no interest in the affair. It is to pay nothing; to receive nothing. It is the guardian only of the rights of its citizens, who are in the pursuit of that indemnity. If, when the two Commissioners are divided in opinion, the British Commissioner refuses the reference for which provision is made in the fifth article, that refusal is tantamount to a decision in favor of Great Britain. And if the refusal were extended to every case of division (and it really does not appear likely that there will be many of concurrence) the result would be that the object of the convention would be almost entirely defeated. Should the British Government sanction this course of proceeding of its Commissioner, which is not, however, to be supposed, it would turn out that one party absolutely made that decision which was to flow from the common consultations and joint judgment of both. We might, indeed, again invoke the friendly interposition of his Imperial Majesty, and he might again lend his friendly offices, and pronounce a new award. Out of this new award fresh questions might spring, dividing the judgments of the Commissioners, rendering further appeals to his umpirage necessary, and presenting a never-ending circle.

"From a commission so constituted and so executed, no practical benefit is likely to flow. It should be the mutual desire of both parties to be delivered from it. We have had reason to believe, from some former intimations, that the British Government is anxious to dispense with it by an agreement fixing upon some gross amount for all the indemnities which the convention promises. This is the only hypothesis upon which the course of Mr. Jackson is explicable. Believing that it is the interest of the claimants to make a reasonable compromise, you are requested to sound the British Government upon the subject, and if such an arrangement be attainable, you are authorized to make it. A power for that purpose accompanies these instructions.

"The difficulty is in fixing on a proper sum. We can only make an approximation, but even that will probably be nearer the justice of the case than any aggregate amount which may be expected to be awarded by the present or any other commission which would be created under the convention. The total number of slaves on the definitive list, to which the Board is now restricted, is 3,601, the details of which may be seen in the accompanying paper designated A. The aggregate sum of their values, estimated by the average price which has been agreed upon by the Board, is $1,183,200. Ten years' interest upon that sum, at six per cent., per annum, amounts to $109,920, giving, as the total of principal and interest, $1,893,120. The entire value of all personal property other than slaves, for which, as having been carried away, or destroyed, in contravention to the treaty of Ghent, claims have been laid before the Board, according to the best estimate which can be made, is $500,000. Ten years' interest upon that sum would be $300,000, making an aggregate, in principal and interest, of $800,000. The entire amount of the value of all property, including slaves, for which indemnity is claimed, and including interest, may be stated at $2,693,120. If, therefore, you could obtain that sum, every claimant might be fully compensated. But that can hardly be expected, and I will, therefore, endeavor to exhibit views of the deductions from that sum which would probably be made if the commission proceeds to fulfil its duties.

"1. As to the slaves. Of these, upwards of two thousand four hundred were carried away from the States of Virginia and Maryland, and, of this number, not more than five hundred will probably be brought, by the proof, within the terms of the treaty of Ghent. Of the residue of the 3,601, after deducting the 2,400, the principal part of them were taken from the States of Georgia and Louisiana, and all these are supposed to be comprehended in the provision of that treaty. The average values fixed by the Board were, for the slaves carried from Virginia and Maryland, $280 each; for Louisiana, $580 each; and for the other southern States, $390 each. The slave account, then, it may be conjectured, would probably stand thus:

"500 from Virginia and Maryland, at $280


"250 from Louisiana, at $580


"900 from Georgia, &c., at $390


"Producing, together, a total sum, without interest, of


"2. As to the personal property other than slaves. The estimated value of all that is claimed is about $500,000. But many of these claims are clearly not within the terms of the treaty of Ghent. For example, a large item in the list (a copy of which, designated B, accompanies this letter) is for tobacco destroyed in 1814. However just it may have been to compensate the owners of that property for their loss, it is not provided for. It is believed that $250,000 principal may be assumed as large an amount as would be obtained for all the property other than slaves under the most liberal exercise of the powers of the Board. The aggregate amount, then, of the indemnity for every description of property which would probably be awarded by the commission may be safely assumed, it is believed, at $886,000, exclusive of interest. If to that sum be added ten years' interest, amounting to $531,600, the total of both principal and interest would be $1,417,600. A compromise, therefore, by which the British Government would agree to pay the sum of $1,417,600, would be deemed advisable. With respect to the question of interest, if the British Commissioner, in the event of the Board being again put in motion, should consent to refer it to the arbitrator, the reference could take place in every individual case, and the lot for arbitrator would be cast in each case. Upon the only supposition on which we can reason—that of an equality between


the parties—in the result of that appeal to chance, it would turn out that the British choice of the arbitrator would prevail as often as the American; and we may safely conclude that as often as the British arbitrator had to decide upon the claim to interest it would be rejected. In conjecturing the amount of interest which may possibly be obtained, on the contingency of the progress of the Board, we must deduct one-half from the preceding estimate—that is, $265,800—which, being taken from the aggregate of $1,417,600, would leave $1,151,800 as the highest sum which it may be fairly presumed would be awarded by the commission if it be not abolished. This sum, therefore, of $1,151,800, you will consider, in treating, as the minimum to which you can fall. I observed in the estimates laid before Parliament for the British service of the present year, one of £250,000 sterling to cover the awards of the commission. This sum being very near the same as that to which you are limited, it is probable that they may have adopted some such process to arrive at it as I have employed, and it is, therefore, anticipated that you will have no difficulty in coming to the agreement with the British Government which you are now authorized to conclude.

"In the event of your being able to effect this arrangement, it would be proper to insert in the convention which you may conclude that the gross amount shall be distributed among the persons entitled to indemnity under the treaty of Ghent, and the award of his Imperial Majesty, and the convention signed at St. Petersburg, in pursuance of it, in such manner, by an American commission, as the Congress of the United States may by law direct. It would be well, also, to insert a clause declaring that, in the distribution thus to be made, the average value of the slaves which has been fixed by the Commissioners should govern, and that the commission should be restricted to the definitive list of slaves and other property which has been given in to the mixed commission, with such additions to it as ought to be equitably made, in consequence of omissions in the Department of State. This would simplify the duty to be performed, avoid the necessity of establishing the value of each particular slave, and prevent the uncertainty which would attend a new search after a just average. It would, likewise, be proper to provide in the convention that if the aggregate sum stipulated to be paid by Great Britain should fall short of the amount of claims to be ascertained by the American commission under the act of Congress, there should be a ratable deduction from the sum adjudged to each claimant. If, on the contrary, there should be an excess, that excess should be distributed by the same commission among such other owners of slaves and personal property carried away or destroyed by the British forces as Congress may direct.

"If you should be unable to come to any agreement to put an end to the present commission, by substituting, in lieu of it, a gross sum, to be apportioned among the claimants, you will then urge the British Government to infuse a better spirit into their Commissioner, and, especially, that they instruct him to execute the fifth article of the convention, according to its true intent and meaning, by referring to the arbitrator all the questions on which he and Mr. Cheves have disagreed. And, to prevent the delay which would arise from resorting again to the British Government, he ought to be charged with a similar reference of all other questions on which, from time to time, the Commissioners, during the future progress of the Board, may, unfortunately, happen to disagree.

"I am, with great respect, sir, your very humble and obedient servant,

"H. CLAY."

Letter from H. Clay to Albert Gallatin.

No. 3.] Department of State, Washington, June 21, 1826.

Sir: In the general instructions which were directed from this Department, on the 10th May, 1825, to Mr. King, the then condition of the mixed commission appointed by the Governments of the United States and Great Britain, under the convention of 1822, to carry into effect the award of the Emperor of Russia, was fully stated, and Mr. King was required to urge the British Government to operate upon their Commissioner to give effect to the stipulations of the convention, and especially to the fifth article, which provides, in cases of disagreement between the Commissioners, for a reference to arbitration. He was also authorized to agree to compromise the whole affair by receiving a gross sum, and to dispense altogether with the commission. You will consider these instructions, as well as any others addressed to Mr. King, and which remain to be executed, (copies of all of which are furnished you,) as still in force, and applicable to your mission.

As soon as circumstances appear to have admitted after Mr. King's arrival in England, he called the attention of the British Government to that subject. A copy of the correspondence which passed between him and Mr. Canning is now placed in your possession. The result, finally, was a transfer of the negotiation from London to Washington. It was accordingly opened here with Mr. Vaughan, and what passed on the occasion will be seen by you in the several notes which were exchanged between him and this Department, of which copies are also now supplied you.

A perusal of the whole correspondence at London and in this city will show that it was of a nature far from being calculated to give satisfaction to this Government. Mr. Canning, after having invited Mr. King to state a specific sum which would meet the views of the United States in the way of compromise, which sum was, accordingly, promptly stated, contented himself with a laconic rejection of the amount, and, without bringing forward any counter proposal, abruptly and unexpectedly transferred the negotiation to Washington. Upon being informed of this transfer, a hope was indulged by the President that the just expectations which were so confidently cherished, in respect to the issue of Mr. King's application to the British Government for a faithful execution of the convention, would be, at last, realized through the agency of Mr. Vaughan at Washington. In this we have been entirely disappointed; and it has been seen, with no little surprise, that the only instruction with which the British plenipotentiary was charged by his Government was to communicate their approbation of Mr. Commissioner Jackson's disallowance of the claim to interest, as a part of the indemnity awarded by his Imperial Majesty, and his refusal to refer the disagreement between him and Mr. Cheves on that point to the arbitration expressly stipulated in the fifth article of the convention. The British Government did not even deign to communicate to this the reasons by which they had satisfied themselves, and which might, therefore, produce conviction here of the justness and propriety of Mr. Jackson's decisions in those two respects. We were told, indeed,


by Mr. Vaughan that he was instructed to say that the law officers of the Crown entertained the opinion that there was no foundation for the demand of interest. What we had to do with the opinion of the law officers of the British Crown, that it should be brought forward in a diplomatic note addressed to this Government, was not stated. The British Government has the unquestionable right, if it think fit, to consult its law officers on any question, and their opinion may form, with that Government, a proper, or even deciding, consideration in making up its judgment, but it is entitled to have no influence with the Government of the United States beyond the force of the argument or the reasons brought forward to sustain it; and with these we have not been favored. The Government of the United States has every reason to hold in the highest estimation the opinions of its own law officer, but it is only in conformity to the example which has been set them by Great Britain that you are instructed to communicate that we also have consulted the Attorney General of the United States, our law officer, and that, after full examination and consideration, he has formed the opinion that the demand of interest is well founded, and consequently that, when the two Commissioners disagreed about the allowance of it, the British Commissioner was bound by the convention to have concurred in submitting the question to arbitration. A copy of Mr. Wirt's opinion accompanies these instructions, and you will make, during your negotiation, such use of it as may appear to you to be proper.

The question of interest was not the only question which it must have been known to the British Government, at the time the instructions to Mr. Vaughan were prepared, divided the two Commissioners. There were several others, one of which has an importance scarcely inferior to the question of interest. I allude to the disagreement between the Commissioners about the slaves of Louisiana taken away from Dauphin island. Yet his instructions were restricted to the sole question of interest, leaving all others to remain as so many impediments in the progressive execution of the commission. You will observe from my correspondence with Mr. Vaughan that I could extract from him the views of the British Government, neither in reference to those other questions, nor in regard to the principles which they meant to insist on as applicable to the fifth article of the convention. It is now more than a year since the disagreement arose between the Commissioners, which rendered necessary the appeal through Mr. King to the British Government to fulfil its just engagements. If that circle of time be necessary to enable the British Government to decide only one of the various points of disagreement, it is evident, from the number of those which have arisen, and which may be anticipated, that the duration of the commission will be interminable, should the British Commissioner wait for the communication of the pleasure of his Government in each particular instance of disagreement between the Commissioners. It was under the apprehension of an indefinite and unreasonable prolongation of the commission that the instruction was dictated to Mr. King, to require from the British Government a direction to their Commissioner to refer all questions of difference between him and his colleague, arising under the convention, to the arbitration for which it provides.

The Commissioners, who were in vacation at the date of the instructions to Mr. King, resumed their sessions on the 8th day of December last, and continued them until the 10th day of the present month, when they again adjourned to meet on the 6th day of December next. A copy of their journal is now delivered to you, from which you will perceive that they have not made the smallest advance towards the completion of the business of the Board. There appeared to be no abatement of the unaccommodating spirit of Mr. Commissioner Jackson, upon which it was my disagreeable duty to animadvert in the instructions to Mr. King. He perseveres in his refusal to allow a reasonable access of the claimants to the evidence which the British Government was bound by the convention to produce; and, after the decision of the Board is pronounced on a question submitted by one of them to its consideration, hesitates, and has not yet decided to allow the claimants the small privilege of examining the journal of the proceedings of the Commissioners to ascertain the effect of the decision upon their interests. Mr. Cheves, in a letter addressed to this Department on the 12th instant, justly remarks that the late correspondence between the Commissioners affords "the most conclusive evidence of the hopelessness of this commission, unless some new impulse be given to it by the two Governments. Indeed, should all the points in difference between the Commissioners be settled by negotiation, it is morally certain, unless the British Commissioner shall be imbued with a new spirit, that new differences will immediately arise. There is not a hope of the execution of the convention in any way, unless unrestrained operation, in all possible cases, be given to the fifth article. Even then, from the structure of the convention, its results never can be satisfactory." This correspondence took place, as you will discover from the journal, after Mr. Cheves had yielded to the wish of the British Commissioner to make a new experiment to get along with the business of the Board—an experiment which he thought, and which it is evident, must be useless, as long as the British Commissioner continues to refuse to refer the question of interest, and other questions on which he disagrees with his associate, to arbitration; for, without the settlement of that question of interest, which applies to every case, it is altogether impracticable to decide any. It can be no longer doubted that the effect, if not the design, of the proceedings of the British Commissioner is to defeat, entirely, the commission, by first disagreeing, in all cases, with the American Commissioner, and then refusing, in every one, to call in the arbitrator of the convention. The President will not allow himself to believe that this conduct of its agent can be sanctioned by the British Government. The approbation of his refusal to refer the question of interest must have been hasty, and without due consideration.

However obviously it is the interest of both parties to put aside the commission, and to arrange, by a compromise founded on a spirit of mutual concession, a gross sum to be received in lieu of the awards of the Commissioners, you will forbear to make any proposal to that effect. After all that has yet occurred on that subject, both at London and Washington, this Government would be wanting in the respect which is due to itself if it submitted to the British Government any new proposal for a compromise. Should that Government think proper to offer any, you will receive and decide upon it according to your instructions. If they do not authorize you to agree to it, you will reject, it, or, should you deem it worthy of consideration here, you will take it ad referendum.

But you will lose no time, on your arrival in England, in calling the attention of Mr. Canning to the state and prospects of the commission, and to urge that the British Government instruct their Commissioner to carry into effect the convention, by agreeing to refer all questions of disagreement whatever between the two Commissioners (including that of interest) to the arbitration of the convention. If that be refused, on the ground that the British Government has decided against the allowance of interest, you will then propose that the Commissioners shall proceed, under instructions to them, to refer all other questions of disagreement to the arbitration of the convention, with a reservation of the question of interest, to be left to the Emperor of Russia to decide whether it ought not to be referred to arbitration,


according to the true intent and meaning of the award of his imperial brother, and the convention to carry it into effect. If they refuse to agree to instruct their Commissioner to refer all questions other than that of interest, and should insist upon excepting from reference that in regard to Dauphin island also, you are authorized to agree to the exception of that also, provided they consent that it shall be reserved and referred to the Emperor Nicholas in like manner with that of interest. You are furthermore authorized to propose a general submission to the Emperor Nicholas of all the questions in which Mr. Jackson has refused the arbitration for his decision upon each and all of them, whether they ought or ought not to have been left to arbitration. A power comprehending an authority to agree to such partial or general reference to the Emperor of Russia, and also to compromise the dispute, accompanies these instructions. Perhaps you will find it advisable to have a conference with Mr. Canning on this subject, in which, if you do not perceive a strong probability of an amicable and speedy settlement of the differences, you will address an official note to him, pointing out the instances in which the convention, and especially the fifth article, has been violated by Mr. Jackson, and demanding of the British Government to require of him to yield his co-operation in calling upon one of the arbitrators, in the manner specified in the fifth article, to decide all the eases on which he and his colleague have heretofore disagreed, or on which they may hereafter disagree.

In making this fresh appeal to the friendly offices of the Emperor of Russia the parties will not present themselves to his Imperial Majesty in a very favorable light. We would not concur in it but from necessity. Should it be agreed to, it will be requisite that no time should be lost in bringing the case before the Emperor, as the Commissioners will have to continue in office until his decision is known, in order to conform their proceedings to it.

Mr. Vaughan, in all probability, has long since communicated to his Government the correspondence which took place between him and this, and it is not unlikely that, before your arrival in England, instructions will have been despatched to him adapted to the state in which that correspondence left the business. It will be expedient, therefore, prior to your entering on this negotiation, to ascertain whether such instructions have been transmitted.

By the sixth article of our treaty with Great Britain of November, 1794, it was agreed to establish a Board, consisting of five members, to award the compensation which ought to be made to British creditors, in consequence of being prevented from recovering the amount due to them from American citizens by various lawful impediments created contrary to the treaty of peace. It so happened that a majority of the Board was composed of British subjects, and that majority laid down such sweeping principles for their government that the American members of the commission felt themselves constrained to secede from the sessions of the Board, or unjustly to lend themselves to the subjection of their Government to the payment of a most enormous sum not in the contemplation of the parties to the treaty. Their session became the subject of subsequent negotiation and a correspondence between the two Governments, extracts from which are herewith transmitted to you. They were not sent to Mr. King, because, being our minister at the Court of London with whom they took place, they were familiar to him. After much delay and discussion the two countries agreed, by the convention of 1802, (see 1st volume of the Laws, page 225,) as has been recently proposed, to dispense with the commission altogether, and that the United States should pay to Great Britain the gross sum of £600,000, in satisfaction and discharge of the money which they might have been liable to pay if the commission had proceeded.

It is remarkable how, in respect to analogous commissions, the position of the British Government being shifted, they would shift the principles which they contend as applicable to the case. Lord Grenville insisted, in substance, that the two Governments had no control over the commission; that the decisions of the Commissioners, in all cases, were binding, and that the Government of the United States had no right to object to them as exceeding the limits of the treaty; and he called upon the American Government to fulfil its stipulations, by requiring the attendance of their seceding Commissioners, or appointing others in their stead. If it be retorted that, the position of the American Government being also changed, we now bring forward principles different from those which we contended for on the occasion of the former commission, you will not admit the statement. Our great objection, in the execution of the former commission, was, that the Board laid down general rules of boundless operation, and attempted to decide cases by classes, and not, as they successively arose, according to the practice of the courts of both countries; and that the inevitable effect was to enlarge the powers of the commission, and to extend the liability of the United States beyond the plain stipulations of the treaty. The validity of this objection was admitted, at least by implication, by the British Government; for Mr. King states, in his despatch of the 22d April, 1800, that Lord Grenville expressed his opinion "that the new Board [it was proposed to create a new one] ought to proceed in a different manner from their predecessors, by deciding cases singly, one after another, instead of attempting to decide them by general resolves and in classes."

Contrary to the course recently pursued by Mr. Canning, Lord Grenville had no difficulty in stating a gross sum which the British Government might be willing to receive, in lieu of the amount to be awarded by the commission, if it proceeded, and, in the first instance, mentioned between one and two millions sterling, although, ultimately, only £600,000 was agreed upon; and this sum was finally fixed, after mutual propositions and such a comparison of opinions as is indispensable, in any case, to enable two parties, with conflicting interests and views, to conclude a satisfactory arrangement. Without further recalling a recollection of the circumstances by which that amicable result was attained, it is to be regretted that the example has been lost on the British Government, whose recent course has not been such as to allow of a similar, or any other, friendly issue of the present commission.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your obedient servant,


Albert Gallatin, appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to London.

Extract of a letter from Mr. Clay to Mr. Gallatin.

"Mr. Vaughan also addressed a note to this Department, under date of the 20th ultimo, of which a copy is herewith, in regard to the non-execution of the St. Petersburg convention. The answer to it, of which a copy is also transmitted, will put you in possession of the views of the President on the two


points to which Mr. Vaughan's note refers. These views you will use, and strengthen and enforce by such additional observations as may occur to you, in your discussions with the British Government. In regard to the question relating to Dauphin island, the manner in which that Government expresses itself authorized the supposition that it might labor under a mistake in believing our title to the island to be derived from the Florida treaty of 1819, instead of that of Louisiana of 1803. It was thought, therefore, expedient to assume the existence of such a mistake, which would afford to the British Government an opportunity of a decent retreat from untenable ground. The treaty of Ghent renders unnecessary any consideration of the question of our title; the fact of possession, by the terms of the first article, and the reduction of it by the British forces, being sufficient to entitle us, first, to its restoration, and, secondly, to indemnity for the slaves taken away from it. After all that has occurred, both with Spain and with Great Britain, if the claim to compensation for those slaves should continue to be resisted upon the ground which has been assumed, there can be no difficulty in comprehending the real motive which actuates the British Government.

"I am your obedient servant, H. CLAY.

"Albert Gallatin,

"Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States to Great Britain."

Letter from H. Clay to Albert Gallatin.

No. 10.] Department of State, Washington, October 21, 1826.

Sir: Your despatch, No. 9, under date of the 13th day of September last, has been received, in which you intimate the propriety of an enlargement of your instructions, so as to admit of a compromise with the British Government of the slave convention, by accepting two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, if a larger sum be unattainable. Considering the impracticability of the existing Board, and the little prospect which it holds out of a speedy and satisfactory decision of the claims presented for its consideration, and confiding in your discretion, the President authorizes you to consent to receive that sum, if no larger can be obtained. You will, of course, not agree to it until you shall have exhausted all reasonable efforts to obtain more favorable terms. It will be better that it should be made payable in England, and you are also authorized to agree to receive it at the times suggested in your previous despatch, if shorter periods of payment should be declined.

I am, with great respect, your obedient servant, H. CLAY.

Albert Gallatin, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, London.

To the Senate of the United States:

In the message to both Houses of Congress at the commencement of their present session it was intimated that the commission for liquidating the claims of our fellow-citizens to indemnity for slaves and other property carried away after the close of the late war with Great Britain, in contravention to the first article of the treaty of Ghent, had been sitting in this city with doubtful prospects of success, but that propositions had recently passed between the two Governments which it was hoped would lead to a satisfactory adjustment of that controversy.

I now transmit to the Senate, for their constitutional consideration and advice, a convention signed at London by the plenipotentiaries of the two Governments on the 13th of the last month relating to this object. A copy of the convention is at the same time sent, together with a copy of the instructions under which it was negotiated, and the correspondence relating to it.

To avoid all delay these documents are now transmitted, consisting chiefly of original papers, the return of which is requested.


Washington, December 20, 1826.

Albert Gallatin, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, to Henry Clay, Secretary of State.

No. 4.] London, August 19, 1826.

Sir: I had my first interview with Mr. Canning at the Foreign Office on the 17th instant. He said, on my giving him the copy of my letters of credence, that he expected that the King would be in town on the beginning of next month, when I would have an audience, and that any unforeseen delay in that respect would in no degree affect the exercise of my diplomatic functions or retard the negotiations with which I was charged.

After some general and friendly conversation, I stated that I was specially instructed to call as soon as possible his attention to the proceedings of the commission appointed in pursuance of the St. Petersburg convention of 1822.

Acquiescing in the opinion expressed on a former occasion by Mr. Canning, that the questions arising out of the convention were not in themselves, at least in this stage of the business, a proper subject of discussion between the two Governments, I said that we did not complain that the British Commissioner should, on any such question, have differed in opinion from the American Commissioner, but of his having uniformly refused, whenever such difference had taken place, to refer the question to


the arbitrator in the manner provided for by the convention. That gentleman had thereby assumed the exclusive and unwarrantable authority of deciding alone on every question on which there was a disagreement between him and his colleague. It was impossible that the Government of the United States should submit to such an assumption. Our complaint was, that the convention was not executed; our application to the British Government would be that, the non-execution arising from the act of their Commissioner, positive instructions should be given to him to agree to a reference of every case or question coming before the commission where, not being able to agree, such reference was asked by the American Commissioner. To resort to the pretence that the points on which the reference had been refused were not questions arising out of the convention, was still deciding what was in question, that it was the province of the arbitrator to decide. In point of fact, all the questions on which the reference had been refused must be admitted to have been intimately connected with the subject—to have necessarily arisen from the nature of the claims under consideration.

Without either denying or admitting the correctness of those observations, Mr. Canning said that he had not been aware that the British Commissioner had refused to refer in any other case than that of interest; and on that question he acknowledged that much might be said on both sides. He asked whether there was no remedy provided by the convention for such occurrence as we complained of; and he inquired particularly whether Mr. King had not been, and whether I was not, authorized to settle the whole subject by a compromise. I answered, that there were not only other questions besides that of interest which the British Commissioner had refused to refer, but that, although I had not yet sufficiently investigated all the proceedings and papers, I believed that there was not a single instance in which the reference, when asked by his colleagues, had not been refused by him. That such reference was the only remedy provided by the convention was evident; and here I took the opportunity, but without expressly applying the observation to the non-execution of the convention, to express how preferable it appeared to my Government that every subject of difference between the two countries should be settled amongst themselves, rather than to apply to the decision of a third Power; an observation to which Mr. Canning fully assented.

As to a compromise, I said that Mr. King had undoubtedly been, and that I still was, authorized to agree to a reasonable one as a substitute for the convention. But as Mr. Canning had simply rejected as inadmissible the proposal which Mr. King had been invited to make on that subject without making any counter offer on his part, any overtures of that kind must now come from the British Government. If made, I would be ready to receive and discuss it; but I would make none myself. All I had to ask was, that efficient measures should be speedily adopted by the British Government for the bona fide execution of the convention.

Mr. Canning said that the reason why he had not accompanied his rejection of Mr. King's proposal with any explanation was, that, in his view of the subject, that proposal was not founded on the principles of a compromise. It had appeared to his Majesty's Government that the sum asked was equal to the whole amount of the claims filed, including the interest on the whole, and for the whole period. This was a matter of detail which I was not willing, and which I said I was not prepared to discuss.

In the course of the conversation, which was more desultory than it appears here, Mr. Canning recurred several times to the subject of compromise, and my answer was always substantially the same. He finally said that the ministers would re-assemble on the 1st of September, and that they would then determine on the best course to be pursued on that subject. That he would prefer a compromise to enforcing the convention may be fairly inferred. But I have not sufficient data from what fell from him to judge of the probability of his making such an offer as may be accepted. I did not fail to urge every reason there was, independent of those derived from the justice of our claim, for putting an end to the interminable delays which had already occurred. That sea officers should have carried away slaves to whom they had given an asylum might be understood; but then there ought to have been no hesitation on the part of the British Government to have made immediate compensation. If the number carried away was much greater than could possibly have been anticipated by them, it must have arisen from some omission or want of precision in the orders transmitted to their naval commanders when peace was announced to them. That after a refusal to indemnify, and reference to a third Power—that after a delay of eight years arising from those causes, and a decision supposed to be final had been obtained, new impediments should again be thrown in the way, had been wholly unexpected. In a matter of private claims, deemed to have been secured by three distinct treaties or conventions, and affecting the interests of many individuals, Mr. Canning must be sensible that such delays, almost amounting to a denial of justice, must have created a strong sensation. And there was a circumstance which he had, perhaps, forgotten, and which I would beg leave to remind him of, as having necessarily increased the displeasure felt on the present occasion. A stipulation, similar to that of the treaty of peace of 1814, had already been introduced in that of 1183, and it had been equally disregarded. This had been a cause or a pretence for the alleged non-fulfilment on our part of certain stipulations respecting the payment of British debts, and both had been followed by ten years of mutual recriminations and increased difficulties. But though most of these had then been settled, no indemnity had to this day been made for the slaves that had been carried away contrary to the provisions of the treaty of 1183. The effect of a renewed disregard of a similar stipulation, and affecting the same part of the country, would be easily understood, and required no comment.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,


Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Clay.

No. 7.] London, September 12, 1826.

Sir: I stated in my last despatch that I was in hopes, in my next conference with Mr. Canning, to ascertain what would be the proper course to pursue on the subject of the proceedings of the commission under the St. Petersburg convention.

Previous to the day appointed for that interview (the 7th instant) he wrote me a note postponing it, on account of Mr. Huskisson's indisposition, to the 11th, and informing me at the same time that he would leave this city for Paris on this day.


On receiving this information, and seeing there "would he no time left between the conference and his departure, I determined to forego the advantage which might be derived from a previous conversation, and to try at once to bring him to a point by stating officially those grounds of complaint which I had already mentioned, verbally, on my first conference of the 17th of August. Indeed, I thought it the best if not the only mode of ascertaining what were his real intentions, and whether he had or had not transferred the discussion to Washington.

You will perceive that in that note, dated the 6th instant, and of which a copy is enclosed, I confined myself strictly to the question of right, viz: that of a reference to an arbitrator in all cases where it was asked by the American Commissioner; * * * only alluding to the ultimate remedy which might be sought for by appealing to the Emperor of Russia, and carefully avoiding, in that respect, whatever might have the appearance of a threat. To that note I received, on the evening of the 10th, the answer dated the 9th, of which a copy is also enclosed. Yesterday, the 11th, I went, according to the appointment, to the Foreign Office, where I found both Mr. Canning and Mr. Huskisson. Mr. Canning immediately alluded to his note, and gave some explanation of it. I told him that the only object of my Government was to bring the discussion on that subject to a favorable issue as speedily as possible, and that if its transfer to Washington was calculated to attain that end, and not to produce unnecessary delays, they would be perfectly satisfied with that course. But as I was unacquainted with the nature of that despatch, the contents of which Mr. Vaughan was authorized to communicate to the Secretary of State, and with the extent of the discretionary powers with which he (Mr. Vaughan) had been intrusted on that occasion, it was utterly impossible for me to decide whether it was proper or not to suspend the discussion here until an answer had been received from Washington, and that in that respect I must abide by his decision.

I hardly need observe that, as Mr. Canning was leaving town the next day for France with an intention of being absent about six weeks, and as the discussion must in the meanwhile, at all events, cease, it was wholly immaterial whether it should for the present be formally considered as suspended or not.

Although Mr. Canning did not state what were the instructions given to Mr. Vaughan, I infer from the general tenor of the conversation which took place that they are not such as will lead to any result, and that your first despatch will give me such information as will enable me to resume the discussion by the time Mr. Canning returns.

The only important observations that fell from him were, that the right of reference could not be admitted generally; that there were substantial reasons for denying it on the question of interest, and that if admitted in that case, the result would be unequal and unjust on account of the contradictory decisions that would take place, according to the arbitrator on whom the lot might fall. He then said that the view taken of that subject by the British Government was, that the Commissioners should proceed in the examination of the claims, reserving the question of interest to be afterwards discussed between the two Governments, who would then be better able to judge of what ought or might be done on that point.

I will not trouble you with the arguments I adduced in reply to his general observations, and which are already familiar to you; but I declared explicitly that we could not agree to the course he proposed, and on which the British Commissioner had already insisted. The remedy provided by the convention in cases of disagreement between the two Commissioners might be defective, inconvenient, and unequal in its operation; but there was no other provided, and to that we must adhere. To agree to the postponement of the question of interest in the manner proposed would be an abandonment on our part of the right the convention gave us to refer, and leave us afterwards without any remedy but the uncertain result of the negotiation.

The turn the conversation took led again to the expedient of arranging the difference by compromise. 1 repeated what, in reply to Mr. Canning's question, I had stated in our first conference, that I had powers on that subject, as on all others, but that Mr. King's offer having been rejected without any being made on the part of Great Britain, I was not authorized to make another, but would be ready to receive and discuss any that Mr. Canning might be disposed to make. He made me repeat what I had said, and observed that he had not understood me precisely at our first interview.

My belief is, that there is a great reluctance in receding from the ground they have already taken in supporting Mr. Jackson, and that there is a disposition to compromise.

The remainder of what passed at that conference, as it relates to other subjects, will be stated in a distinct despatch.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your obedient servant,


Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State.

Mr. Canning to Mr. Gallatin.

Foreign Office, September 9, 1826.

The undersigned, his Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note of Mr. Gallatin, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from the United States, dated the 6th instant, relating to the proceedings of the commission appointed under the convention of St. Petersburg of the 12th of July, 1822.

Upon comparing that note with the copy, transmitted to the undersigned by his Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in the United States, of a letter addressed to that minister on the 15th of April last by the American Secretary of State, the undersigned is inclined to believe that, had Mr. Gallatin been apprised that Mr. Clay's letter had been so communicated to the undersigned, and that an answer had been sent to Mr. Vaughan's despatch, the substance of which answer is to be communicated to Mr. Clay, Mr. Gallatin would have suspended for the present any further proceeding upon the same subject.

The undersigned had not the dates of this correspondence present to his mind at the time when he had first the honor of seeing Mr. Gallatin, and he was not aware, therefore, that what Mr. Gallatin might have to say to him upon the subject of the commission could not arise out of that correspondence.

Upon reference to the archives, he finds that Mr. Vaughan's despatch, enclosing the copy of Mr. Clay's


letter, not having been received here till the 27th of May, the answer to it, which bears date the 13th of June, cannot have reached America before Mr. Gallatin set sail for England.

The undersigned would therefore submit to Mr. Gallatin whether there can be any advantage in carrying on simultaneously two discussions on the same subject—the one through his Majesty's envoy in the United States, the other between Mr. Gallatin and the undersigned.

The undersigned only thinks it necessary here to repeat the assurance, which Mr. Vaughan is instructed to give to Mr. Clay, that the British Government is earnestly desirous of seeing the business of the commission brought to a speedy and satisfactory termination.

The undersigned requests Mr. Gallatin to accept the assurance of his high consideration.


Albert Gallatin, Esq.

Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Canning.

62 Upper Seymour Street, September 6, 1826.

The undersigned, envoy of the United States of America, has been specially charged by his Government to make the following representation to Mr. Canning, his Majesty's principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, respecting the proceedings of the commission appointed in conformity with the convention of St. Petersburg of the 12th of July, 1822.

It is not intended by the Government of the United States that a discussion should take place between the two Governments on the merits of any particular case, or of any question growing out of the convention, on which the Commissioners may have disagreed. The ground of complaint is, that when such disagreement has unfortunately taken place, the British Commissioner has uniformly refused the reference contemplated by the fifth article of the convention. Such disagreement has happened with respect to questions relative to evidence, to interest, to the definitive list, and to the territory where private property had been carried away. The proof and the effect of this uniform refusal are conspicuous in the fact that to this day not a single case or question has been referred to an arbitrator under the article aforesaid. The reason assigned has been that, in the opinion of the British Commissioner, none of the questions alluded to resulted from the stipulations of the convention. This, in every case, was precisely the subject of disagreement. To refuse to refer has, in every case, been to assume what was in question. He first, as Commissioner, rejects a claim or decides against a question because, in his opinion, it is not embraced by the convention; and then refusing, for the very same reason, to refer, he makes his own decision conclusive, and constitutes himself in every such instance the sole judge of the case. This cannot be considered but as defeating altogether the object of the convention, which has provided no other remedy for any possible difference of opinion between the Commissioners but the reference to an arbitrator.

As to any argument drawn from the possibility of extreme cases, it is sufficient to observe that it is precisely as possible that the British Commissioner should refuse to refer cases clearly embraced by the convention, as that the American Commissioner should propose to refer cases clearly not comprehended by that instrument; and that, in point of fact, all the questions on which a disagreement has actually happened were such as, whether embraced or not by the convention, were at all courts intimately connected with the nature of the claims and grew out of their consideration

To judge from the past there would seem to be no limit to the number of cases or questions on which the two Commissioners may differ. To what extent the course heretofore pursued by the British Commissioner will be carried is unknown; but it is evident that the Government of the United States cannot acquiesce in that assumed interpretation of the convention which makes him the exclusive judge of every question.

On one occasion already has an explanation of the award of the Emperor of Russia been asked and given. To renew similar applications relative to the true meaning of that decision, or of the convention concluded under his mediation, for the purpose of carrying that award into effect, would, to the United States at least, be most unpleasant.

It is their earnest wish that every subject of difference between the two countries should be adjusted by amicable arrangements and among themselves. This course they sincerely believe to be far better calculated to preserve and promote harmony and friendly relations, and in every respect preferable to a reference to a third Power.

The undersigned has accordingly been instructed to lay the facts above stated before his Majesty's Government, in full confidence that a complaint so entirely founded in justice will be redressed, and that a proper and efficient remedy will be applied. To infuse a new and more accommodating spirit would be highly useful. What the Government of the United States think they have a strict right to ask is, that in order to give its true and full effect to the convention the British Commissioner shall be instructed to assent to the reference contemplated by the fifth article in all the cases and upon all the questions on which a disagreement has already taken place, or may hereafter happen between the two Commissioners, whenever such reference is asked by his colleague.

The undersigned requests Mr. Canning to accept the reiterated assurance of his highest consideration.


Eight Hon. Mr. Canning, &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Clay.

No. 9.] London, September 13, 1826.

Sir: Private information, received since my despatch No. — of yesterday, authorizes me to say that this Government is disposed to offer £250,000 in lieu of the indemnity which might be obtained by virtue of the St. Petersburg convention, the payment to be made by instalments, the first of which not before April or May next, and the last not later than April or May, 1828.


Although, in that case, every effort will be made to demonstrate the justice of a more adequate compensation, and to obtain it, I am of opinion that the attempt will be useless. There is, as far as I can judge, a settled determination not to apply to Parliament for any additional appropriation. It is clear that the conduct of the naval officers who carried away the slaves might have been prevented if positive and explicit orders had been sent to them at the time. One of them is now one of the Lords of the Admiralty. The clause in the Ghent treaty would also be represented as improvident, and as a proof of incapacity on the part of the British plenipotentiaries; and a discussion on the reference to the Emperor of Russia, and on his decision, would be unpleasant to the ministry.

I make these observations in anticipation, and before I can announce that the proposal has been officially made, because, if I am right in my view of the subject, the sum in question, though coming very near, may fall somewhat short of the minimum prescribed by the instructions.

Your estimate of that minimum is—

Claims that will be admitted—principal


Ten years' interest, at 6 per cent., $531,600, one-half of which, according to the chances of reference, would be obtained under the convention




But one year has elapsed since you made the estimate, and I apprehend that you calculated the interest to the time when you wrote, and not with reference to that when the payments would be made. Calculating the interest from May 1, 1815, to May 1, 1827, is twelve years instead of ten, and, taking the half of it, is 36 instead of 30 per cent., on the principal.

The estimate thus corrected would be—



Twelve years' interest, at 6 per cent., $637,920, one-half of which is


Estimated interest on installments subsequent to May 1, 1827



1,233 000

Which last sum appears to me to be the true minimum, as prescribed by the spirit of the instructions.

This sum of $1,233,000, calculated at what is erroneously called par—that is to say, at 4s. 6d. sterling per dollar—is equal to £277,425.

Calculated at 4s. 2 1/2 d. per dollar, which is its true value, it would be equal to about £259,443.

Supposing the exchange to continue as it is, viz: 10 per cent., below the nominal par, the said $1,233,000 would be procured in America for bills on London amounting to a fraction less than £250,000, or on an average three months earlier than the dates on which the payment of the instalments has been calculated.

On this last supposition, therefore, the sum proposed would cover the minimum as calculated by me; and it is wholly improbable that the exchange will fall below the real par, at which rate (4s. 2 1/2 d. per dollar, or 7 per cent., below the nominal par) the £250,000 would produce about $1,188,000, perhaps received about three months earlier than calculated.

This, to be sure, is but a trifle below the sum prescribed; yet, as the fact whether the £250,000 will actually cover the sum or minimum depends on a contingency, viz: the rate of exchange at the time, I request to be informed immediately whether, if nothing better can be obtained, I am authorized to accept it. It would not be worth while to refer, for that purpose, the whole case to Washington, and, in truth, I do not believe that I will have it in my power to do it, or that the proposal will be officially made to me until after it shall have been ascertained that it will be accepted.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State, Washington.

Mr. Gallatin to the Secretary of State.

No. 11.] London, September 16, 1826.

Sir: I have the honor to enclose copy of my answer of this day to Mr. Canning's note of the 9th instant relative to the slave commission. Independent of the reasons already mentioned, I was the more inclined to make no objection to the suspension of the discussion for the present, on account of the unofficial proposal of compromise.

The more I have reflected on this the more I feel satisfied of the propriety of acceding to it, and of the improbability of obtaining better terms.

Amongst other considerations, I will observe that your estimate, founded on the information received from the American Commissioner, has for basis the chance of what we could get under the convention, supposing this Government to accede to our demands that the British Commissioner should refer, in every case, when required by his colleague so to do. Mr. Cheves, in his calculation, has made no deduction from the amount claimed for the Georgia and Louisiana slaves. He believes that the proofs will be sufficient with respect to all of them; but, considering his colleague's temper, it cannot be doubted, especially if instructed to refer, as above stated, that he will be still more difficult, and ask himself, for a reference in numerous cases where the proof shall have appeared satisfactory to Mr. Cheves. In all such cases our chance is but one-half of the claim, and it is already certain that we must abide by that chance as respects the Louisiana slaves, the reference having been asked in that case by our Commissioner.

This item alone amounts to £32,000, making a deduction of £16,000 in the estimate, on the same principle on which it has been calculated.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State.


Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Canning.

Upper Seymour Street, September 16, 1826.

The undersigned, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, had the honor to receive the note of Mr. Canning, his Majesty's principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, dated the 9th instant, and written in answer to the note of the undersigned of the 6th, relating to the proceedings of the commission appointed under the convention of St. Petersburg of the 12th of July, 1822.

The object of both Governments is to avoid unnecessary delays, and to bring the business of the commission to a speedy and satisfactory termination. Whether this will be accelerated by the transfer of the discussion to America depends on the nature and extent of the powers of Mr. Vaughan in that respect. The undersigned, being unacquainted with these, and unable to form an opinion on the subject, abides by that of Mr. Canning. He does it the more cheerfully as, by comparing dates, it appears that information of the result at Washington may be expected by the time when the discussion can, if necessary, be renewed with convenience in this country.

The undersigned requests Mr. Canning to accept the assurance of his high consideration.


Right Honorable George Canning, &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Clay.

No. 18.] London, November 4, 1826.

Sir: Mr. Canning having returned to London two days ago, I lost no time in asking an interview, which took place yesterday. I ultimately proposed to accept £270,000 as an indemnity for the slaves and other property carried away contrary to the stipulations of the treaty of Ghent, the additional £20,000 which I asked to make part of the last instalment. To this proposal he was not prepared or disposed to accede, and said he must have time to consider it.

You will perceive, by reference to my former letter, and by making the calculations, that the £250,000 offered are equivalent, at the exchange of 10 per cent., below the nominal, or about 4 per cent., below the real par, to the minimum contemplated by the instructions, adding two years' half interest thereto; and, as this has been the average exchange for the last twelve months, I intend to accept that sum if Mr. Canning refuses to accede to my proposal. There are other reasons for it, which have been mentioned in my former despatch on this subject.

I pray you to recollect that all that has heretofore passed respecting compromise has been confidential and unofficial, and with the understanding that, in case we should not agree, nothing that had taken place should be published, or considered as affecting the rights of either party.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,


Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State, Washington.

Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Clay.


No. 22.] London, November 11, 1826.

Sir: The informal offer of £250,000 in lieu of the sums which Great Britain might be liable to pay as indemnity and compensation for the slaves and other private property carried away in contravention of the 1st article of the treaty of Ghent was founded on the following basis, viz:

Claims admitted by both Commissioners


Claims doubtful, on which reference under the convention would be asked


And which, the chances of the arbitrator's decision being equal, would be reduced to one-half.


Making the probable amount of principal that would be allowed under the convention


The chance of the interest being also equal, one-half of it only should be added to the principal;
and as the American rate of interest was 6, and the British 5 per cent., this question would also be referred;
the rate of interest must therefore be taken at 5 1/2 one-half of which was 2 1/2 per cent., for 12 years




The difference between which and the £250,000 offered would more than cover the interest on the deferred instalments.

In my informal answer given on the 3d instant I admitted that though, in justice, the whole interest was due to the claimants, yet, taking into consideration the chances of a reference under the convention, the reduction of the interest to one-half was a proper basis of compromise. But I objected to the British rate of interest being assumed as one of the elements of the calculation, since the damages arising from delay had been sustained in America. As related to the principal, admitting, also, the reduction to one-half of the claims which might be referred as doubtful, I said that claims to the amount of two hundred thousand pounds were considered by the American Commissioner as indisputable; and about sixty thousand pounds might be considered as doubtful, either for want of legal proof or for other reasons. Even supposing that the British Commissioner should raise objections against all the claims, £140,000


only excepted, I could not estimate the principal that probably would be allowed under the convention at less than


The twelve years' interest, at 3 per cent., on which, being


Would make the total amount, if paid on May 1, 1827


But if the payments were made in London on the drafts of the Treasurer of the United States, I would take £270,000 in three instalments, at the same dates which had been offered, viz: £100,000 on 1st May next, £100,000 on 1st November ensuing, and £70,000, instead of the £50,000 offered, on May 1, 1828.

Mr. Canning invited me to an official conference at the Foreign Office for the 9th instant, at which Messrs. Huskisson and Addington, the plenipotentiaries appointed to treat with me, also attended. After some preliminary observations on the informal communications which had taken place, and having stated that all the claims having been made in dollars, any agreement we might make for a gross sum in lieu thereof must be expressed in the same currency, they offered, as the highest sum which, after a thorough investigation, they could give, twelve hundred thousand dollars.

I stated that, as related to the informal proposals, mine was expressed in pounds because that of Mr. Canning was in that currency; that from my having asked that the payments should be in London, it was clear that I had taken the rate of exchange into consideration, not indeed at its present high rates, on which I could not rely, since the payments were offered at six, twelve, and eighteen months from this date, but at that which I considered the true par, or at about 5 1/2 per cent., above the nominal par, and that my proposal of £270,000, payable in three instalments, was founded on that basis. Now that a formal offer of $1,200,000 was made, and in the shape of an ultimatum, I would give mine, from which I could not recede, as it was the minimum prescribed in my instructions. It would be $1,204,960, payable on the 1st of May, 1827, with interest at the rate of six per cent., a year on any portion of that sum, the payment of which should be made subsequent to that day. As to the sum itself, I expressed my regret to be compelled to ask the amount in addition to that offered in round numbers, but in every instruction there must be some limit, and the amount of interest produced that fractional sum. You will recollect that the minimum prescribed in the instructions to my predecessors, and to which I was referred, was $886,000 principal; the rate of interest was fixed at 3 per cent., and that there would be next spring 12 years of interest. The 1st of May, 1815, had been agreed on as the time from which it should commence.

My proposal was ultimately agreed to, but as the British plenipotentiaries had not yet the necessary information of the time when the payments would suit the convenience of the Treasury, the amount and dates of the instalments were left undecided for the moment, and we proceeded to arrange the details of the convention, to which I will hereafter advert. Most of them having been arranged, as I had come prepared with a draft of a convention, it was agreed that I should leave it with the British plenipotentiaries, and that after having made the alterations in conformity with what we had agreed on, they should send me the next day a new draft for my inspection, and that we should again meet this day at the Foreign Office in order to conclude.

The draft was accordingly sent to me yesterday by Mr. Addington, and having made in the margin several necessary alterations, I was ready to return, it when I received a private note from him, intimating that Mr. Canning considered it as indispensible that the ratifications should be exchanged in London; that an article to that effect was therefore sent to me, and also an alteration in the article which provided for the instalments, they being now made to depend on the date of that exchange, instead of fixing the precise days on which they should be paid. In my original draft, Washington was designated as the place for exchanging the ratifications. In that first prepared by Mr. Addington and sent to me there was no article providing for the exchange, and the dates and amount of instalments were still left in blank.

The reason for making London the place where the ratifications should be exchanged was sufficiently obvious; it was a subject not proper for discussion, at least on my part; and in the sequal Mr. Canning avoided to approach it. On principle I could not object to it, since the right of selecting the place where to exchange the ratifications was equal on both sides; and Washington having in general been the place heretofore agreed on, London might now be asked on the ground of reciprocity.

I answered Mr. Addington, also, in a private note, avoiding to make the question one of right, or in itself of any importance, but stating merely the inconveniences that would arise from the uncertainty of the times of the payment, and from the delay in the adjustment of claims, since the convention would not be laid before Congress till ratified by both parties. I added that I would call at the Foreign Office at 3 o'clock, in order to try to obviate the difficulty, if Mr. Canning should be disengaged, and could receive me.

When I called I found there was a Cabinet council, but Mr. Addington to receive me. I proposed to him that the payment of the first instalment should be postponed until the 1st of November, interest being paid on it to that date from the 1st of May. This he thought would be inadmissible, as they were limited, as well as myself, as to the gross sum to be paid, and would not swell it with additional interest. In saying this he alluded, undoubtedly, to the great reluctance of exceeding the estimate for that object which had been laid before Parliament. He carried, however, my proposal to Mr. Canning, and returned after awhile with a proposition intended, as he said, to obviate, as far as practicable, the inconvenience complained of. It was, that half the money should be paid after the ratification of the convention by the President, but without waiting for that of the King. This would give us a sufficient pledge, if any indeed was wanting, that his ratification would certainly follow that of the President. The second instalment they would pay on the 1st of August, which was as long after the 1st of May as the probable time which would elapse between the payment of the first instalment and the last mentioned day, so as to make both together tantamount to a payment of the whole on the 1st of May, and therefore without interest. As they were ready to pay the money, they could not take into consideration the delay which might arise on account of the early adjournment of Congress; but they presumed that the anticipated payment of the first half might also facilitate an anticipated provision on our part for the adjustment of the claims. The proposition, considered without reference to this last point, but only as connected with that of exchanging the ratifications in London, appeared to me sufficient, and I accordingly accepted it. In a conference which took place the same afternoon, after the council had been dissolved, with the British plenipotentiaries and Mr. Canning, the few details not yet arranged were adjusted; but in order to have


time for transcribing four fair copies of the convention, the next meeting was postponed to Monday the 13th instant.

In arranging the details, the object of the British plenipotentiaries was to be fully discharged, not only from any demand on account of the claims, but also from any species of responsibility as to the manner in which these claims might be adjusted and paid. This they said belonged exclusively to the United States; and they rejected altogether the clause I proposed, that if the sum paid by Great Britain should fall short of the principal of the claims allowed, there should be a ratable deduction from such claims respectively, and that if there was a surplus it should be distributed in the same proportion among the claimants. I stated that, exclusive of the wish to facilitate the labors of the new American commission which must be appointed to adjust the claims, the compromise being founded on the estimate of their amount, and this again on the valuation of the slaves as already fixed by the present commission, and on the total amount of the claims presented to it, it was necessary that those two bases should be preserved. For that purpose it was agreed that, in annulling the convention of St. Petersburg", the second article, which provides for the valuation of slaves, should be preserved as having been already executed, and that so much of the third article as related to the definitive list, and had already been executed, should also be preserved; leaving no question open, in that respect, but that of the claims not included in the definitive list on account of omissions in the Department of State, on which particular question the Commissioners had not made a decision. The sum to be paid by Great Britain was defined to be "for the use of the persons entitled to indemnification and compensation by virtue of the decision of the Emperor of Russia and of the convention of St. Petersburg," so as to make that decision and convention the rules which must govern the proceedings of the new commission. The British plenipotentiaries refused to enter into any other stipulations as to the manner in which the United States should direct the adjustment and payment of the claims to be made, and a clause was inserted at their request, "that the British Government should have no further concern or liability on that subject," in order to avoid a possibility of an appeal to Great Britain, as party to the convention, by any claimant who might complain that the decision of the United States in his case was not in conformity with the provisions of the convention.

I think that Mr. Canning was sensible from the beginning that our right to a reference in all cases under the St. Petersburg convention was well founded, and that the embarrassment arising from the ground assumed, perhaps without sufficient consideration on that question, and the inconvenience of an appeal to the Emperor of Russia, were strong motives for making a compromise. He also appeared struck with an observation I made at one of our interviews: that a similar provision to that of the 1st article of the treaty of Ghent had been inserted in the treaty of peace of 1783; that slaves had, in contravention thereto, been also carried away, and for whom, to this day, no compensation had ever been made, and that a repetition of the same injury, in relation to the same species of property, and affecting the same part of the country, had a most unfavorable aspect. I believe, also, that, satisfied that the steps taken here on the subject of the colonial intercourse would be considered as not of a very friendly nature, he was desirous to arrange, at this time, this vexatious subject of difference. He was, I am confident, equally determined not to go beyond the estimate laid before Parliament, and he is entitled to the credit of having at once offered the sum he meant to adhere to. Had he not gone to France the very day he sent me his informal proposal, the business would have been arranged six weeks ago.

I have said that he had avoided a discussion on the question of the place where the ratifications should be exchanged. He, however, told me, after the agreement was made, that he admitted fully what I had stated to Mr. Addington, that the convention could not be laid before Congress until ratified by both parties. This, I presume, was said designedly, as, from the view entertained of the subject here, such a course would appear extremely objectionable in reference to this Government. I presume that such information may, nevertheless, be given to Congress of the great probability of a compromise taking place as may justify an act providing for that contingency, and investing the President with the necessary powers, so that the new commission may at once be organized, and proceed to the adjustment of the claims. Although I have no authority for it, it is very evident that the proceedings in the case of the slave trade convention are the cause of London being selected for the place where to exchange the ratifications. And I think I may state with tolerable correctness the view which is taken here of that subject. No fault is found with the decision of the Senate in this or any other similar case. This is considered as a natural and occasionally unavoidable consequence of the political institutions of the United States. It is expected that each branch of Government must and will exercise its discretion on all subjects which by the Constitution are made to depend on its decision. But this circumstance produces this effect, that the power of giving instructions, in fact of carrying on negotiations, and that of ratifying, not being-placed in the same hands, the ratification ceases to be a matter of course, but is a substantial act quite distinct from that of concluding and signing; whilst in Great Britain both powers belonging to the same person or body, there is always a moral certainty that a treaty concluded will be ratified. The exceptions, at least, are extremely rare, arising from a departure from the instructions, or from some important unforeseen event, and always requiring a solemn explanation. It is on * * * that difference, as I understand, that is founded the argument that, in order to place in their respective negotiations both countries on an equal footing, it is necessary that the ratification of the United States should precede that of Great Britain; the first being necessarily always uncertain, whilst that of England may almost always be considered as certain. I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State, Washington.

P. S.—By designating this letter "confidential" it is not intended that it should not remain on the files of the Department of State, but only to suggest that, on account of some of its details, it is not at this time altogether fit for publication. 1 will write another letter in transmitting the convention.

A. G.

Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Clay.

No. 23.] London, November 13, 1826.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a new convention, concluded this day with the British plenipotentiaries, by which Great Britain agrees to pay and the United States agree to accept the sum of $1,204,960


in lieu of and satisfaction for the indemnity due on account of slaves and other private property carried away in contravention of the first article of the treaty of Ghent.

In my first conferences with Mr. Canning, and in my note to him of the 6th of September, I had only insisted, according to my instructions, on a faithful execution of the convention of St. Petersburg. By my note of the 16th of the same month I acceded to the suggestion contained in his of the 9th, to postpone the discussion of that subject. This I was induced to do, both on account of his intended journey to Paris and because he appeared disposed to offer a compromise.

The basis of that now agreed upon is, that the choice of the arbitrator's decision on all the questions on which the Commissioners may differ being considered as equal, the claim for interest, and all those of a doubtful nature, should be reduced to one-half. There was, as might have been expected, a difference in our estimates of doubtful claims; and the sum finally agreed upon is that, adding thereto two years' half interest, which was stated in the instructions to my predecessor, to which I was referred, as the least which the United States would accept.

The principal, as estimated by the instructions, was


Twelve years' interest from the 1st May, 1815, the day from which it was agreed, that it should commence, would, at six per cent., have amounted to $631,920 —one-half of which, according to the instructions and to the basis of the compromise, is



This sum is made payable in two equal installments, the dates of which are such as to make both, as nearly as we could estimate, equivalent to a payment of the whole on the 1st of May, 1821.

The estimate of $886,000 principal was, as you know, made on the best data in the possession of the American Commissioner under the St. Petersburg convention. It is possible that there may be claims admissible beyond that amount. But, on the other hand, that estimate includes a sum of near $150,000 on account of slaves carried away from Dauphin island, which was disputed, on which a reference had already been asked, and the decision on which was therefore doubtful. Upon the whole, I believe that, although the sum payable by Great Britain under this new convention falls short, principally as relates to interest, of what was due in justice to the claimants, yet it is more than all that could have been received under the convention of St. Petersburg, even supposing the right of asking for a reference in cases where the Commissioners differed, to have been allowed in all cases and to its fullest extent.

The British plenipotentiaries objected to stipulations which might be construed as making them parties to the manner in which the claims might hereafter be adjusted or paid; and they rejected altogether the clause, which I was instructed to propose, respecting the apportionment of the money in case it should either exceed or fall short of the whole amount of claims finally allowed. The other provisions suggested by the instructions have, however, been substantially made part of the convention by preserving so much of the St. Petersburg convention as related to them.

The average value of slaves, as fixed by the Board appointed under the last mentioned convention, is made absolute by virtue of the second article of this convention, which also confirms the definitive list of claims, leaving no question open, in that respect, but that of the claims not included in that list on account of omissions in the Department of State, on which particular question the Commissioners had not made an ultimate decision.

The words in the first article which declare that the sum agreed upon is paid and received "for the use of the persons entitled to indemnification and compensation by virtue of the decision of the Emperor of Russia and of the convention of St. Petersburg," will serve as a rule to govern the proceedings of the new American commission which may be appointed for the final adjustment of the claims.

The last paragraph of the fourth article, which provides that "the British Government shall have no further concern or liability with respect to the adjustment of the claims and to the distribution of the money," was inserted at the request of the British plenipotentiaries, in order to remove every doubt in that respect, and particularly to prevent the possibility of an appeal to Great Britain, as party to the convention, by any claimant who might complain that the final decision in his case was not in conformity with the stipulations of the convention.

It has been agreed that the ratifications should be exchanged in London. To this I objected, on the ground of the delay it might produce. But I could not object on principle, the right to select the place being equal on both sides, and the exchange having heretofore generally taken place at "Washington, which was also specially designated in the St. Petersburg convention. The anticipated payment of the first instalment is, in the meanwhile, a pledge, if any was wanted, that the convention will certainly be ratified by Great Britain.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your most obedient and very humble servant,


Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State, Washington.

Mr. Gallatin to Mr. Clay.

No. 27.] London, November 17, 1826.

Sir: I had the honor to receive yesterday your letter of the 21st ultimo, in answer to mine of 13th September, and authorizing the acceptance of Mr. Canning's offer of £250,000 in lieu of the indemnity due on account of slaves and other private property carried away in contravention of the treaty of Ghent. Although it was hardly possible to have received an answer within a shorter time, the convention, as you know, was already signed when it reached me. But it is gratifying to find that the President had concurred in the view I had taken of the subject.

I have the honor to be, respectfully, sir, your most obedient servant,


Hon. Henry Clay, Secretary of State, Washington.


Convention with Great Britain.

Difficulties having arisen in the execution of the convention concluded at St. Petersburg on the twelfth day of July, 1822, under the mediation of his Majesty the Emperor of all the Russias, between the United States of America and Great Britain, for the purpose of carrying into effect the decision of his Imperial Majesty upon the differences which had arisen between the said United States and Great Britain on the true construction and meaning of the first article of the treaty of peace and amity concluded at Ghent on the twenty-fourth day of December, 1814, the said United States and his Britannic Majesty, being equally desirous to obviate such difficulties, have respectively named plenipotentiaries to treat and agree respecting the same, that is to say:

The President of the United States of America has appointed Albert Gallatin their Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to his Britannic Majesty, and his Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland the Right Honorable William Huskisson, a member of his said Majesty's most honorable Privy Council, a member of Parliament, President of the Committee of Privy Council for Affairs of Trade and Foreign Plantations, and Treasurer of his said Majesty's Navy, and Henry Unwin Addington, Esq., late his Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires to the United States of America, who, after having communicated to each other their respective full powers, found to be in due and proper form, have agreed upon and concluded the following articles:

Art. I. His Majesty the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland agrees to pay, and the United States of America agree to receive, for the use of the persons entitled to indemnification and compensation, by virtue of the said decision and convention, the sum of twelve hundred and four thousand nine hundred and sixty dollars, current money of the United States, in lieu of and in full and complete satisfaction for all sums claimed or claimable from Great Britain, by any person or persons whatsoever, under the said decision and convention.

Art. II. The object of the said convention being thus fulfilled, that convention is hereby declared to be cancelled and annulled, save and except the second article of the same, which has already been carried into execution by the Commissioners appointed under the said convention, and save and except so much of the third article of the same as relates to the definitive list of claims, and has already likewise been carried into execution by the said Commissioners.

Art. III. The said sum of twelve hundred and four thousand nine hundred and sixty dollars shall be paid at Washington to such person or persons as shall be duly authorized, on the part of the United States, to receive the same, in two equal payments, as follows:

The payment of the first half to be made twenty days after official notification shall have been made by the Government of the United States to his Britannic Majesty's minister in the said United States of the ratification of the present convention by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate thereof; and the payment of the second half to be made on the first day of August, 1827.

Art. IV. The above sums being taken as a full and final liquidation of all claims whatsoever arising under the said decision and convention, both the final adjustment of those claims and the distribution of the sums so paid by Great Britain to the United States shall be made in such manner as the United States alone shall determine, and the Government of Great Britain shall have no further concern or liability therein.

Art. V. It is agreed that, from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the present convention, the joint commission appointed under the said convention of St. Petersburg of the twelfth of July, 1822, shall be dissolved, and, upon the dissolution thereof, all the documents and papers in possession of the said commission relating to claims under that convention shall be delivered over to such person or persons as shall be duly authorized, on the part of the United States, to receive the same; and the British Commissioner shall make over to such person or persons so authorized all the documents and papers (or authenticated copies of the same where the originals cannot conveniently be made over) relating to claims under the said convention which he may have received from his Government for the use of the said commission, conformably to the stipulations contained in the third article of the said convention.

Art. VI. The present convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged in London in six months from this date, or sooner if possible.

In witness whereof, the plenipotentiaries aforesaid, by virtue of their respective full powers, have signed the same, and have affixed thereunto the seals of their arms.

Done at London this thirteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty-six.