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policy, and became heads of opposite divisions, but without becoming either unjust or unkind to each other. Mr. Adams sided with the party CHAPTER XXXII. discriminated as federal; and in that character became the subject of political attacks, from BRITISII INDEMNITY FOR DEPORTED SLAVES. which his competitor generously defended him, declaring that "a more perfectly honest man In this year was brought to a conclusion the never issued from the hands of his Creator;" and, long-continued controversy with Great Britain though opposing candidates for the presidency, in relation to the non-fulfilment of the first artineither would have any thing to do with the elec- cle of the treaty of Ghent (1814), for the restition, which they considered a question between tution of slaves carried off by the British troops the systems of policy which they represented, in the war of 1812. It was a renewal of the misand not a question between themselves. Mr. understanding, but with a better issue, which Jefferson became the head of the party then grew up under the seventh article of the treaty called republican---now democratic; and in that of peace of 1783 upon the same subject. The character became the founder of the political power of Washington's administration was not school which has since chiefly prevailed in the able to procure the execution of that article, United States. He was a statesman: that is to either by restoration of the slaves or indemnity. say, a man capable of conceiving measures use- The slaves then taken away were carried to Nova ful to the country and to mankind---able to re- Scotia, where, becoming an annoyance, they were commend them to adoption, and to administer transferred to Sierra Leone; and thus became the them when adopted. I have seen many politi- foundation of the British African colony thera cians—a few statesmen—and, of these few, he The restitution of deported slaves, stipulated in their pre-eminent head. He was a republican the first article of the Ghent treaty, could not be by nature and constitution, and gave proofs accomplished between the two powers; they disof it in the legislation of his State, as well as in agreed as to the meaning of words; and, after the policy of the United States. He was no seven years of vain efforts to come to an underspeaker, but a most instructive and fascinating standing, it was agreed to refer the question to talkor ; and the Declaration of Independence, arbitrament. The Emperor Alexander accepted even if it had not been sistered by innumerable the office of arbitrator, executed it, and decided classic productions, would have placed him at in favor of the United States. That decision was the head of political writers. I never saw him as unintelligible to Great Britain as all the prebut once, when I went to visit him in his retire- vious treaty stipulations on the same subject had ment; and then I felt, for four hours, the charms been. She could not understand it. A second of his bewitching talk. I was then a young sen- misunderstanding grew up, giving rise to a second ator, just coming on the stage of public life-he a negotiation, which was concluded by a final patriarchal statesman just going off the stage of agreement to pay the value of the slaves carried natural life, and evid. ntly desirous to impress off. In 1827 payment was made-twelve years some views of policy upou me-a design in which after the injury and the stipulation to repair it, he certainly did not fail. I honor him as a patriot and after continued and most strenuous exertions of the Revolution-as one of the Founders of the to obtain redress. Republic---as the founder of the political school The case was this: it was a part of the system to which I belong; and for the purity of charac- of warfare adopted by the British, when operatter which he possessed in common with his com-ing in the slave States, to encourage the slaves to patriots, and which gives to the birth of the desert from their owners, promising them freeUnited States a beauty of parentage which the dom; and at the end of the war these slaves genealogy of no other nation can show.
were carried off. This carrying off was foreseen by the United States Commissioners at Ghent, and in the first article of the treaty was provided against in these words; "all places taken, &c. shall be restored without delay, &c., or carrying away any of the artillery, or other public
property originally captured in the said posts or ion, founded solely upon the sense which results places, and which shall remain therein upon the from the text of the article in dispute, does not exchange of the ratifications of this treaty, or think himself called upon to decide here any my slaves or other private property." The question relative to what the laws of war permit British Government undertook to extend the or forbid to the belligerents; but, always faithful limitation which applied to public property to to the grammatical interpretation of the first arthat which was private also; and so to restore ticle of the treaty of Ghent, his Imperial Majesty only such slaves as were originally captured declares, a second time, that it appears to him, within the forts, and which remained therein at according to this interpretation, that, in quitting the time of the exchange of ratifications—a con- the places and territories of which the treaty of struction which would have excluded all that Ghent stipulates the restitution to the United were induced to run away, being nearly the States, his Britannic Majesty's forces had no whole; and all that left the forts before the ex- right to carry away from the same places and Change of ratifications, which would have includ- territories, absolutely, any slave, by whatever ed the rest. She adhered to the construction means he had fallen or come into their power." given to the parallel article in the treaty of 1783, This was the second declaration, the second de and by which all slaves taken during the war cision of the point; and both parties having were held to be lawful prize of war, and free un- bound themselves to abide the decision, be it der the British proclamation, and not to be com- what it might, a convention was immediately conpensated for. The United States, on the contrary, cluded for the purpose of carrying the Emperor's confined this local limitation to things appurte- decision into effect, by establishing a board to nant to the forts; and held the slaves to be pri- ascertain the number and value of the deported vate property, subject to restitution, or claim for slaves. It was a convention formally drawn compensation, if carried away at all, no matter up, signed by the ministers of the three powers, how acquired.
done in triplicate, ratified, and ratifications exThe point was solemnly carried before the changed, and the affair considered finished. Not Emperor Alexander, the United States represent- so the fact! New misunderstanding, new negoed by their minister, Mr. Henry Middleton, and tiation, five years more consumed in diplomatic Great Britain by Sir Charles Bagot—the Counts notes, and finally a new convention concluded ! Nesselrode and Capo D'Istrias receiving the ar- Certainly it was not the value of the property guments to be laid before the Emperor. His in controversy, not the amount of money to be Majesty's decision was peremptory; " that the paid, that led Great Britain to that pertinacious United States of America are entitled to a just resistance, bordering upon cavilling and bad faith. Indemnification from Great Britain for all private It was the loss of an advantage in war-the loss property carried away by the British forces; of the future advantage of operating upon the and, as the question regards slaves more espe- slave States through their slave property, and cially, for all such slaves as were carried away which advantage would be lost if this compensaby the British forces from the places and terri- tion was enforced,—which induced her to stand tories of which the restitution was stipulated by out so long against her own stipulations, and the the treaty, in quitting the said places and territo- decisions of her own accepted arbitrator. ries.” This was explicit; but the British minis- This new or third treaty, making indemnity ter undertook to understand it as not applying for these slaves, was negotiated at London, Noto slaves who voluntarily joined the British vember, 1826, between Mr. Gallatin on the part troops to free themselves from bondage, and who of the United States, and Messrs. Huskisson and came from places never in possession of the Addington on the part of Great Britain. It comBritish troops; and he submitted a note to that menced with reciting that “difficulties having effect to the Russian minister, Count Nesselrode, arisen in the execution of the convention concludto be laid before the Emperor. To this note ed at St. Petersburg, July 12th, 1822, under the Alexander gave an answer which is a model of mediation of his majesty the Emperor of all the categorical reply to unfoundad dubitation. He Russias, between the United States of America said: “ the Emperor having, by the mutual con- and Great Britain, for the purpose of carrying sent of the two plenipotentiaries, given an opin- | into effect the decision of his Imperial Majesty upon the differences which had arisen between power, or art, or time could evade, and the printhe said United States and Great Britain as to ciple of which being established, there will be no the true construction and meaning of the first need for future arbitrations. article of the treaty of Ghent, therefore the said I have said that this article in the treaty of parties agree to treat again,” &c. The result of Ghent for restitution, or compensation, for de this third negotiation was to stipulate for he ported slaves was brought to a better issue than payment of a gross sum to the government of its parallel in the treaty of peace of 1783. By the United States, to be by it divided among the seventh article of this treaty it was declared those whose slaves had been carried off: and the that the evacuation (by the British troops) should sum of one million two hundred and four thou- be made without carrying away any negroes of sand nine hundred and sixty dollars was the other property belonging to the American inamount agreed upon. This sum was satisfactory habitants.” Yet three thousand slaves werd to the claimants, and was paid to the United carried away (besides ten times that numberStates for their benefit in the year 1827 -just 27,000 in Virginia alone-perishing of disease in twelve years after the conclusion of the war, and the British camps); and neither restitution nor after two treaties had been made, and two arbi- compensation made for any part of them. Both trations rendered to explain the meaning of the were resisted—the restitution by Sir Guy first treaty, and which fully explained itself. Carleton in his letter of reply to Washington's Twelve years of persevering exertion to obtain demand, declaring it to be an impossible infamy the execution of a treaty stipulation which solely in a British officer to give up those whom they related to private property, and which good faith had invited to their standard; but reserving the and sheer justice required to have been complied point for the consideration of his government, and, with immediately! At the commencement of in the mean time, allowing and facilitating the the session of Congress, 1827-28, the President, taking of schedules of all slaves taken awayMr. John Quincy Adams, was able to communi- names, ages, sex, former owners, and States cate the fact of the final settling and closing up from which taken. The British government of this demand upon the British government for resisted compensation upon the ground of war the value of the slaves carried off by its troops. captures; that, being taken in war, no matter The sum received was large, and ample to pay how, they became, like other plunder, the prothe damages; but that was the smallest part of perty of the captors, who had a right to dispose the advantage gained. The example and the of it as they pleased, and had chosen to set it principle were the main points—the enforcement free; that the slaves, having become free, be of such a demand against a government so power- longed to nobody, and consequently it was no ful, and after so much resistance, and the con- breach of the treaty stipulation to carry thern demnation which it carried, and the responsibilty away. This ground was contested by the Conwhich it implied-this was the grand advantage. gress of the confederation to the end of its existe Liberation and abduction of slaves was one of ence, and afterwards by the new federal govern the modes of warfare adopted by the British, and ment, from its commencement until the claim largely counted on as a means of harassing and for indemnity was waived or abandoned, at injuring one half of the Union. It had been the conclusion of Jay's treaty, in 1796. The practised during the Revolution, and indemnity very first message of Washington to Congress avoided. If avoided a second time, impunity when he became President, presented the inexa would have sanctioned the practice and rendered cution of the treaty of peace in this particular, it inveterate; and in future wars, not only with among others, as one of the complaints justly Great Britain but with all powers, this mode of existing against Great Britain ; and all the diannoyance would have become an ordinary re- plomacy of his administration was exerted to sort, leading to servile insurrections. The in- obtain redress-in vain. The treaties of '94 and demnity exacted carried along with it the con- '96 were both signed without allusion to the subdemnation of the practice, as a spoliation of ject; and, being left unprovided for in these trezprivate property to be atoned for; and was both ties, the claim sunk into the class of obsolete de a compensation for the past and a warning for mands; and the stipulation remained in the treaty the future. It implied a responsibility which no a dead letter, although containing the precisa words, and the additional one“ negroes,” on which pensation for these slaves to pay those debts, at the Emperor Alexander took the stand which com- the very moment when compensation was abanmanded compensation and dispensed with argu- doned by the same treaty which enforced the ments founded in the laws of war. Not a shilling payment of the debts. They had a treaty oblihad been received for that immense depredation gation for indemnity, express in its terms, and upon private property ; although the Congress of since shown to be valid, when deprived of this the confederation adopted the strongest resolves, stipulation by another treaty, in order to obtain and even ordered each State to be furnished with general advantages for the whole Union. This copies of the schedules of the slaves taken from is something like taking private property for it; and hopes of indemnity were kept alive until public use. Three thousand slaves, the property extinguished by the treaty of '96. It was a of ascertained individuals, protected by a treaty bitter complaint against that treaty, as the Con- stipulation, and afterwards abandoned by another gress debates of the time, and the public press, treaty, against the entreaties and remonstrances abundantly show,
of the owners, in order to obtain the British Northern men did their duty to the South in commercial treaty of '94, and its supplement of getting compensation (and, what is infinitely '96: such is the case which this revolutionary more, establishing the principle that there shall spoliation of slave property presents, and which be compensation in such cases) for the slaves puts it immeasurably ahead of the French spolicarried away in the war of 1812. A majority ation claims prior to 1800. There is but four of the commissioners at Ghent who obtained the years' difference in their ages—in the dates of stipulation for indemnity were Northern men- the two treaties by which they were respectively Adams, Russell, Gallatin, from the free, and surrendered—and every other difference between Clay and Bayard from the slave States. A the two cases is an argument of preference in Northern negotiator (Mr. Gallatin), under a favor of the losers under the treaty of 1796. Northern President (Mr. John Quincy Adams), Yet I am against both, and each, separately or finally obtained it; and it is a coincidence wor- together; and put them in contrast to make one thy of remark that this Northern negotiator, stand as an argument against the other. But who was finally successful, was the same de- the primary reason for introducing the slave bater in Congress, in '96, who delivered the best spoliation case of 1783, and comparing its less argument (in my opinion surpassing even that fortunate issue with that of 1812, was to show of Mr. Madison), against the grounds on which that Northern men will do justice to the South; the British Government resisted the execution that Northern men obtained for the South an of this article of the treaty.
indemnity and security in our day which a I am no man to stir up old claims against the Southern Administration, with Washington at federal government; and, I detest the trade its head, had not been able to obtain in the days which exhumes such claims, and deplore the fa- of our fathers. cility with which they are considered—too often in the hands of speculators who gave nothing, or next to nothing, for them. But I must say that the argument on which the French spoliation claim is now receiving so much consideration, applies with infinitely more force to the planters
CHAPTER XXXIII. whose slaves were taken during the war of the Revolution than in behalf of these French spoli- MEETING OF THE FIRST CONGRESS ELECTED UNation claims. They were contributing-some in DER THE ADMINISTRATION OF MR. ADAMS. their persons in the camp or council, all in their voluntary or tax contributions—to the indepen- | The nineteenth Congress, commencing its legal dence of their country when they were thus de- existence, March the 4th, 1825, had been chiefly spoiled of their property. They depended upon elected at the time that Mr. Adams' administrathese slaves to support their families while they tion commenced, and the two Houses stood diwere supporting their country. They were in vided with respect to him—the majority of the debt to British merchants, and relied upon com- Representatives being favorable to him, while the majority of the Senate was in opposition. The gress, he took occasion to disclaim some views elections for the twentieth Congress—the first attributed to him, I deem it just to give him the under his administration-were looked to with benefit of his own words, both in making the great interest, both as showing whether the new disclaimer, and in giving the account of the President was supported by the country, and his abortion of an impracticable scheme which had election by the House sanctioned, and also as an so lately been prosecuted, and opposed, with so index to the issue of the ensuing presidential much heat and violence in our own country. He election. For, simultaneously with the election said of it: in the House of Representatives did the canvass “Disclaiming alike all right and all intention for the succeeding election begin-General Jack- of interfering in those concerns which it is the son being the announced candidate on one side, prerogative of their independence to regulate as and Mr. Adams on the other; and the event in to them shall seem fit, we hail with joy every
indication of their prosperity, of their harmony, volving not only the question of merits between of their persevering and inflexible homage to the parties, but also the question of approved or those principles of freedom and of equal rights, disapproved conduct on the part of the represen- which are alone suited to the genius and temper tatives who elected Mr. Adams. The elections of the American nations. It has been therefore
with some concern that we have observed inditook place, and resulted in placing an opposition cations of intestine divisions in some of the remajority in the House of Representatives, and publics of the South, and appearances of less increasing the strength of the opposition majori- union with one another, than we believe to be ty in the Senate. The state of parties in the the interest of all. Among the results of this House was immediately tested by the election of cluded at Panama do not appear to have been
state of things has been that the treaties conspeaker, Mr. John W. Taylor, of New-York, ratified by the contracting parties, and that the the administration candidate, being defeated by meeting of the Congress at Tacubaya has been Mr. Andrew Stevenson, of Virginia, in the options to be represented at this Congress, while a
indefinitely postponed. In accepting the invitaposition. The appointment of the majority of manifestation was intended on the part of the members on all the committees, and their chair- United States, of the most friendly disposition men, in both Houses adverse to the administra- towards the Southern republics by whom it tion, was a regular consequence of the inflamed had been proposed, it was hoped that it would state of parties, although the proper conducting tions of this hemisphere to the common acknow
furnish an opportunity for bringing all the naof the public business would demand for the ad- ledgment and adoption of the principles, in the ministration the chairman of several important regulation of their international relations, which committees, as enabling it to place its measures would have secured a lasting peace and harmony fairly before the House. The speaker (Mr. Ste- mutual benevolence throughout the globe. But
between them, and have promoted the cause of venson) could only yield to this just sense of as obstacles appear to have arisen to the repropriety in the case of one of the committees, assembling of the Congress, one of the two minthat of foreign relations, to which Mr. Edward isters commissioned on the part of the United Everett, classing as the political and personal States has returned to the bosom of his country, friend of the President, was appointed chairman. mission to Mexico remains authorized to attend
while the minister charged with the ordinary In other committees, and in both Houses, the at the conferences of the Congress whenever stern spirit of the times prevailed; and the or- they may be resumed." ganization of the whole Congress was adverse to This is the last that was heard of that so much the administration.
vaunted Congress of American nations, and in The presidential message contained no new the manner in which it died out of itself, among recommendations, but referred to those previ- those who proposed it, without ever having been ously made, and not yet acted upon; among reached by a minister from the United States, which internal improvement, and the encourage- we have the highest confirmation of the soundment of home industry, were most prominent. ness of the objections taken to it by the opposiIt gave an account of the failure of the proposed tion members of the two Houses of our Concongress of Panama; and, consequently, of the
gress. inutility of all our exertions to be represented In stating the condition of the finances, the there. And, as in this final and valedictory no- message, without intending it, gave proof of the tice by Mr. Adams of that once far-famed con- | paradoxical proposition, first, I believe, broached