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   Chapter 109 1811).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 4329

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: The Erskine treaty.]

On April 19, 1809, Madison obtained what seemed a diplomatic triumph; Erskine, the new British envoy, signed a formal agreement that the British government should withdraw the Orders in Council. A proclamation was then issued, announcing that trade might be renewed with Great Britain. As France had from the first protested that her Decrees were simply retaliatory, it was expected that they would in due time also be annulled. The satisfaction of the country was short-lived: Erskine had gone beyond his instructions. Once more the opportunity to conciliate the United States was thrown away by England; his agreement was formally disavowed; and on August 9 the President had the mortification of issuing a second proclamation, announcing that the Orders had not been withdrawn, and that trade with England was still forbidden.

[Sidenote: Jackson's negotiation.]

Another British minister, James Jackson, was received October 1, and began his negotiation by asserting that Madison had tricked Erskine into signing an agreement which the American government knew he was not authorized to make. The charge was denied, and his relations were finally closed on November 8 by a note in which he was informed that inasmuch as he "had used a language which cannot be understood but as reiterating and even aggravating the same gross insinuation, no further communications will be received." Having thus practically been dismissed for brutally insulting the government to which he was accredited, Jackson made a tour of the Eastern States, and was received with hospitality and enthusiasm by the leading New England Federalists.

[Sidenote: Macon Bill No. 2.]

[Sidenote: Anger of France.]

[Sidenote: Pretended revocation by France.]

From France no satisfaction could be obtained during 1809. To remove all restrictions on commerce was to give up everything; but Congress was tired of resistance, and on May i, 1810, passed the "Macon Bill No. 2," which was practically a surrender of all the principles at stake. It provided that commerce should be free, but that if either England or France should withdraw her Orders

or Decrees, intercourse should be prohibited with the nation which retained them. The probable effect on France was speedily seen by the publication of a Decree which had been issued March 23, 1810: it declared that all American vessels which had entered French ports after the date of the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809 were to be seized. This was practically an act of war. The Macon bill now suggested to the Emperor that the Americans might be entrapped into another ambush: on August 5 his foreign minister wrote to Armstrong, the American minister, that "the Emperor loves the Americans," and that he would revoke the Milan and Berlin Decrees from November 1, provided England would withdraw her Orders in Council. Five days earlier the secret Decree of the Trianon had ordered the seizure of all American vessels that might reach French ports. The object of these measures was to entice American vessels within the reach of the French, and the ruse was successful. November 1 the President issued a proclamation declaring trade with England suspended because France had withdrawn her Decrees. Then ensued a long diplomatic discussion: since captures of American vessels by French cruisers continued, the British government refused to admit that the Decrees had been withdrawn, and complained of the prohibition of English trade. On December 25 Napoleon drew in his net by a general order for the seizure of all American vessels in French ports; and property to the value of about ten million dollars was thus confiscated.

[Sidenote: Fruitless negotiation with England.]

The British ministry kept its promise to Jackson, not to recall him till the end of a year. In February, 1811, Pinkney, our minister in London, demanded his passports, and left England with a tacit threat of war. The British government instantly sent a fourth minister, Mr. Foster, to the United States, and on June 13, 1811, reparation was made for the "Leopard- Chesapeake" outrage. This tardy act was received with coldness: four weeks earlier the English corvette "Little Belt" had fired upon the American frigate "President;" the fire was returned, and the "Little Belt" captured.

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