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In conclusion, the British
commissioners obtained the adoption of an agreement that both parties
"would use their best endeavors to promote the entire abolition of the
slave trade." In Great Britain the agitation for this measure had
reached proportions which were not the least among the embarrassments
of the ministry; and at this critical juncture the practical
politicians conducting affairs found themselves constrained by a
popular demand to press the subject upon the less sympathetic
statesmen of the Cabinet.

The American commissioners had made a good fight, and shown complete
appreciation of the factors working continuously in their behalf. To
the end, and even more evidently at the end, was apparent the
increasing anxiety of the British Government, the reasonable cause for
it in European conditions, and the immense difficulty under such
circumstances of accomplishing any substantial military successes in
America. The Duke of Wellington wrote that "all the American armies
of which I ever read would not beat out of a field of battle the
troops that went from Bordeaux last summer;"[523] but still, "his
opinion is that no military advantage can be expected if the war goes
on, and he would have great reluctance in undertaking the command
unless we made a serious effort first to obtain peace, without
insisting upon keeping any part of our conquests."[524] On December
23, Liverpool sent a long and anxious letter to Castlereagh, in reply
to his late despatches. The fear of a renewal of war on the Continent
is prominent in his consideration, and it was recognized that the size
of the European armaments, combined with the pecuniary burden of
maintaining them, tended of itself to precipitate an outbreak. Should
that occur, France could scarcely fail to be drawn in; and France, if
involved, might direct her efforts towards the Low Countries, "the
only object on the continent which would be regarded as a distinct
British interest of sufficient magnitude to reconcile the country to
war," with its renewed burden of taxation. "We are decidedly and
unanimously of opinion that all your efforts should be directed to the
continuance of peace. There is no mode in which the arrangements in
Poland, Germany, and Italy, can be settled, consistently with the
stipulations of the Treaty of Paris, which is not to be preferred,
under present circumstances, to a renewal of hostilities between the
Continental Powers." Coincidently with this, in another letter of the
same day, he mentions the meetings which have taken place on account
of the property tax, and the spirit which had arisen on the subject.
"This, as well as other considerations, make us most anxious to get
rid of the American war."[525]

The Treaty of Ghent was signed December 24, 1814, by the eight
commissioners. The last article provided for its ratification, without
alteration, at Washington, within four months from the signature. A
_chargé d'affaires_ to the United States was appointed, and directed
to proceed at once in a British ship of war to America, with the
Prince Regent's ratification, to be exchanged against that of the
President; but he was especially instructed that the exchange should
not be made unless the ratification by the United States was without
alteration, addition, or exclusion, in any form whatsoever.
Hostilities were not to cease until such action had taken place. The
British Government were apparently determined that concessions wrung
from them, by considerations foreign to the immediate struggle, should
not be subjected to further modification in the Senate.

Mr. Baker, the British _chargé_, sailed in the British sloop of war
"Favorite," accompanied by Mr. Carroll bearing the despatches of the
American commissioners. The "Favorite" arrived in New York on
Saturday, February 11. The treaty was ratified by the President, as it
stood, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, on the 17th
of February, 1815.

* * * * *

A year after the conclusion of peace, a weighty opinion as to the
effect of the War of 1812 upon the national history was expressed by
one of the commissioners, Mr. Albert Gallatin. For fifteen years past,
no man had been in closer touch with the springs of national life,
national policy, and national action; as representative in Congress,
and as intimate adviser of two consecutive Presidents, in his position
as Secretary of the Treasury. His experience, the perspicuity of his
intellect, and his lucidity of thought and expression, give particular
value to his conclusions; the more so that to some extent they are the
condemnation, regretfully uttered, of a scheme of political conduct
with the main ideas of which he had been closely identified. He wrote:
"The war has been productive of evil and of good, but I think the good
preponderates. Independent of the loss of lives, and of the property
of individuals, the war has laid the foundations of permanent taxes
and military establishments, which the Republicans[526] had deemed
unfavorable to the happiness and free institutions of the country. But
under our former system we were becoming too selfish, too much
attached exclusively to the acquisition of wealth, above all, too much
confined in our political feelings to local and state objects. The war
has renewed and reinstated the national feelings and character which
the Revolution had given, and which were daily lessening. The people
have now more general objects of attachment, with which their pride
and political opinions are connected. They are more Americans; they
feel and act more as a nation; and I hope that the permanency of the
Union is thereby better secured."[527]

Such, even at so early a date, could be seen to be the meaning of the
War of 1812 in the progress of the national history. The people, born
by war to independence, had by war again been transformed from
childhood, absorbed in the visible objects immediately surrounding it,
to youth with its dawning vision and opening enthusiasms. They issued
from the contest, battered by adversity, but through it at last fairly
possessed by the conception of a national unity, which during days of
material prosperity had struggled in vain against the predominance of
immediate interests and local prepossessions. The conflict, indeed,
was not yet over. Two generations of civic strife were still to
signalize the slow and painful growth of the love for "The Union";
that personification of national being, upon which can safely fasten
the instinct of human nature to centre devotion upon a person and a
name. But, through these years of fluctuating affections, the work of
the War of 1812 was continuously felt. Men had been forced out of
themselves. More and more of the people became more Americans; they
felt and acted more as a nation; and when the moment came that the
unity of the state was threatened from within, the passion for the
Union, conceived in 1812, and nurtured silently for years in homes and
hearts, asserted itself. The price to be paid was heavy. Again war
desolated the land; but through war the permanency of the Union was
secured. Since then, relieved from internal weakness, strong now in
the maturity of manhood, and in a common motive, the nation has taken
its place among the Powers of the earth.

FOOTNOTES:

[473] Monroe to Russell, Aug. 21, 1812. American State Papers, Foreign
Relations, vol. iii. p. 587.

[474] Ante, vol. i. p. 390.

[475] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 590.

[476] Correspondence between Russell and Castlereagh, Sept. 12-18, 1812;
and Russell to Monroe, Sept. 17. American State Papers, Foreign
Relations, vol. iii. pp. 591-595.

[477] Russell's italics.

[478] The correspondence relating to the Russian proffer of mediation is
to be found in American State Papers, vol. iii. pp. 623-627.

[479] American State Papers, vol. iii. pp. 621-622.

[480] Ibid., pp. 695-700.

[481] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 701.

[482] Ibid., p. 703.

[483] Ante, p. 266, and note.

[484] Writings of Albert Gallatin, edited by Henry Adams, vol. i. pp.
586, 592.

[485] Ante, p. 332.

[486] Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. i. p. 603.

[487] Ibid., vol. i. p. 629.

[488] A similar consciousness appears to the writer discernible in a
letter of Wellington to Castlereagh, of May 25, 1814. To procure "the
cession of Olivenza by Spain to Portugal, we could promise to _bind_
North America, by a secret article in our treaty of peace, to give no
encouragement, or _countenance_, or assistance, to the Spanish colonies"
(then in revolt). Memoirs and Correspondence of Lord Castlereagh, series
iii. vol. ii. p. 44. The italics are mine.

[489] Castlereagh to the British commissioners, July 28, 1814.
Castlereagh's Memoirs and Correspondence, series iii. vol. ii. p. 69.

[490] Ibid., Aug. 14, 1814, pp. 88, 89.

[491] Castlereagh to Liverpool, Paris, Aug. 28, 1814. Castlereagh
Memoirs, p. 101.

[492] Note of the British commissioners, Aug. 19, 1814. American State
Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 710. My italics.

[493] Castlereagh to Liverpool, Aug. 28, 1814. Castlereagh Memoirs,
series iii. vol. ii. p. 100.

[494] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Sept. 2, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[495] Castlereagh Memoirs, etc., series iii. vol. ii. p. 101.

[496] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. pp. 711-713.

[497] Castlereagh to Liverpool, August 28. Memoirs, etc., series iii.
vol. ii. p. 102.

[498] Liverpool to Castlereagh, September 2, Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[499] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 713.

[500] American State Papers, Foreign Relations, vol. iii. p. 717.

[501] Bathurst to Castlereagh, Sept. 16, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[502] Castlereagh Memoirs, series iii. vol. ii. p. 138.

[503] Liverpool to Castlereagh, September 27. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[504] September 23. Ibid.

[505] Castlereagh Memoirs, series iii. vol. ii. p. 148.

[506] Liverpool to Castlereagh, Sept. 27, 1814. Castlereagh Papers MSS.

[507] Ante, p.



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