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him, intimated to the mediating powers, that the recognition of the United States in the negotiation would be a necessary condition precedent to the acceptance by France of the proposal for intervention. The negotiation lingered through January, 1782, when it died by the act of England.
Long before this final closing of the negotiation, Adams, despairing of its effect, had returned to Holland, and resumed his independent labors for recognition. He had scarcely reached Amsterdam, when he learned that the representations of Vergennes had resulted in the revocation of his commission to negotiate a treaty of commerce with England, but he had so long regarded that matter as practically ended, that the revocation gave him little uneasiness. He also received word that the peace commission had been enlarged by the addition of Dr. Franklin, Mr. Jay, Mr. Laurens, and Mr. Jefferson. The association with himself of so many able and representative men, gave him great satisfaction. The Congress, which was much lowered in tone and spirit, had, however, done other acts in connection with the commission, which, had he then known, would have caused him serious anxiety and annoyance. The first of these was the retreat from every condition precedent to the peace, save that of independence; the second-and this is the most ignominious act in the history of America-to direct its commissioners, “ultimately to govern themselves by the advice and opinion of the French minister."
In the meantime, Adams' distrust of Vergennes was increased by discovering that his own negotiations in Holland, those of Jay at Madrid, and of Dana at St. Petersburg, not only did not receive the assistance of France, but were covertly opposed. Hence he concluded to wait no longer upon the action of Vergennes, but to throw his whole personal reputation, and the success of his effort, upon a single cast. Several circumstances united to favor his effort. He first received a commission from the United States, authorizing him to negotiate a tripartite alliance of France, Holland, and the United States; next came news, conveyed directly by Washington, of the capitulation of Cornwallis, and, most potent of all, England adopted so arbitrary a course toward Holland, in declaring war when negotiation might so easily have settled the differences, that the old popular party of the commercial cities was aroused, and fairly overbalanced the stadtholder, who was the creature of a corrupt favorite, and the friend of England. Mention has been made of a memorial, addressed by Adams, to the States General, announcing his accrediting to Holland, and demanding recognition. In January, 1782, he began a round of formal visits to the representatives of the various states, requesting a categorical answer to this memorial. He was received with varying cordiality, according to the inclination of the several officers. The assent of seven of the states was necessary to the granting of his request, and, in every instance, the persons to whom he appealed, pleaded lack of authority, and promised to refer the matter. Soon
came news that one state lad decided favorably to the request; then that another had done so, and, finally, on the 19th of April, 1782, the council having received a sufficient number of favorable votes, recognized John Adams as minister plenipotentiary of the United States. He did not allow matters to rest with this recognition, but on the same day presented a proposal for a treaty of amity and commerce, and, pending the slow course of Dutch diplomacy, pressed the negotiation of a much needed loan. His success with council and capitalists was complete The treaty was signed on the 17th of October, 1782, and, before that time, a loan of five million guilders, only the first of several large investments, was closed. Thus his second mission to Holland came to an end.
Mr. Adams was wont to regard his success in Holland as the greatest accomplishment of his life, and it may with much reason be so considered. He went to that country, under the disapproval of the French minister, unacquainted with the language, customs, and sentiments of the people. He found them ignorant to the last degree as to American affairs, or, worse still, intentionally misled by friends of England. He overcame all obstacles; used the press and obtained the ears of prominent men in private. He conquered the secret discountenance of France, the opposition of the stadtholder and the aristocracy; created a public sentiment in favor of America, and won recognition, alliance, and, hardest of all, money. All this he accomplished quite alone, and it was, in truth, a great achievement.
THE NEGOTIATION OF THE PEACE.
HEN came the call to Paris, Adams was none too eager to go. He
had sufficient knowledge of Vergennes to doubt his good faith, and to be certain that the coming negotiation would be extremely vexatious. He did not, therefore, at once desert his mission in Holland, which had then reached a very critical point, but waited to secure the signature of his treaty, —then took his departure, arriving in Paris October 6, 1782.
The condition of the negotiation was most peculiar. Already, so early as the month of March, 1782, Lord North, whose administration had received its death blow, had sent a certain private agent named Digges to sound Mr. Adams, as to the terms upon which negotiation might be established, evidently desiring to conduct an independent and private conference with him. As a condition precedent to granting Digges an interview, Adams required that a third person be present, and that he himself should be at liberty to disclose anything that might pass to the Count de Vergennes. These requirements in effect announced the failure of Digges' mission. After an unimportant conversation he returned to England and later made a communication to Adams, which confirmed his suspicion that Lord North was simply sounding him with the hope of betraying him into some unwise communication, and was never sincere in his expressed desire to treat. Later came the crisis which upset North, to give place to a cabinet headed by the Marquis of Rockingham, with Charles Fox in the foreign, and Lord Shelburne in the colonial office. Of course the subject of American affairs, upon which the cabinet of North had been wrecked, was the rock in the course of the new ministry as well. At the very outset arose a complication between Fox and Shelburne, each of whom claimed that the American negotiation belonged in his province, which ultimately wrecked the ministry. Out of this grew a remarkable series of secret manceuvres, in which each of the ministers carried on his own preliminary
negotiation by means of private agents. Mr. Richard Oswald, sent as rep. resentative of Lord Shelburne, was soon deep in consultation with Franklin, while Mr. Thomas Grenville, an emissary of Fox, was sounding the Count de Vergennes.
It is neither necessary nor possible to follow the various phases of the preliminary steps to the negotiation. Fox favored admitting American independence in the first instance; Shelburne desired that question to remain as an element in the negotiation. The misunderstandings and mysterious reservations of agents, impressed Vergennes and Franklin with distrust of the good faith of Great Britain. Then Jay returned from Spain. He knew that Spain would claim such a boundary as should cut off the United States from the Mississippi river. All knew that England would make every possible encroachment at the north, and that she would protest against the demands of the United States regarding the fisheries. Jay suspected that Vergennes could not be relied upon for any active opposition. He did not, however, know—what was the fact—that Vergennes had sent a secret emissary to Lord Shelburne, intimating that France would not uphold America in any unjust demands, from which language a readiness to make liberal concessions, in the name of America, was intended to be inferred.
The defeat of Fox, his retirement from the cabinet, the death of Rockingham, and the eievation of Shelburne to the premiership, all these led up to the commissioning of Mr. Oswald to treat regarding peace, with "the thirteen colonies of North America, or any persons whatever.” Franklin and Vergennes expressed themselves willing to accept this peculiar commission and to treat with Mr. Oswald. Mr. Jay refused so to do, or to be content with aught but an antecedent recognition of American independence. It was by reason of this disagreement that Mr. Adams was summoned, not much to the satisfaction of Vergennes, and decidedly to the chagrin of Oswald, who had hoped to conclude his treaty without the intervention of a person so difficult either to intimidate or cajole. Adams' first suggestion, made in a letter to Jay during September, was that a compromise be effected by the amendment of Oswald's commission which should give him power to treat with the United States of America. He considered that this, while not a formal recognition, would be a sufficient admission to form the basis of a negotiation. The combined influence of Mr. Jay's pressing representations and of the anxiety of England to close a treaty without the intervention of Adams, was to secure this amendment of Oswald's instructions, and he at last stood recognized and apparently unhampered as the agent of Great Britain, and opened his business with Jay and Franklin. The first step was the submission by Mr. Oswald to his government of a threefold proposition, sug. gested by Mr. Franklin as a basis of negotiation. This embraced, first: the recognition of American independence and liberal definition of bounda. rios; second : such joint use of fisheries, as had existed since the French
war until the Revolution ; third: free navigation of the Mississippi. This proposal certainly was broad enough, covering every possibly controverted point; it was, in fact, too broad to suit king, cabinet, or people of Great Britain. It began to be suspected that Mr. Oswald was not quite as wise as a serpent, hence he was reinforced in his mission, by the appointment of Mr. Henry Strachey, who was instructed to insist upon the indemnification of refugees, the curtailment of boundaries, and the modification of American demands regarding trade and the fisheries. From the moment of the arrival of this gentleman, the harmony of the negotiation was at an end. France, too, began to manifest in an unequivocal manner her design to support the British commissioners in their demands for the modification of the American ultimata as to trade and the fisheries. It was at this point that Mr. Adams, having at last settled his important matters at the Hague, arrived at Paris to assume his place in the commission. This was indeed a most delicate one, calling for his action with and judgment between two colleagues radically disagreed upon a vital matter, he himself being fully of the mind of neither.
The attitude of France brought before the commissioners for the first time, a full practical appreciation of the disadvantage and the blind folly of the action of Congress, which had made them ultimately dependent upon the decision of the French minister. They had before felt this as a humiliation; they now saw before them only the choice between ignoring this direction and proceeding with a separate negotiation, and, on the other hand, standing idly by, while France should barter away the most valuable rights of America, to assist in oiling the wheels of European diplomacy for her own purposes. Jay was the first to declare his intention of proceeding independently of France; Franklin still professed confidence in the ultimate justice of that power, but, upon Adams' joining with Jay, he assented. Vergennes did not seem seriously offended at the action of the commissioners; it was, in fact, a delicate and vexatious duty taken from his hands, and if he might be clear of it, he was willing to waive every real and imaginary right, except that secured in the treaty of alliance, that the peace of France and America with Great Britain should be simultaneous.
When the negotiation was re-begun, under this new determination, Franklin and Jay were reinforced by Adams; Oswald by Strachey. The independence was conceded, as was the matter of navigation of the Mississippi. The points principally at issue were questions of boundary and the fisheries, claimed by America; the securing of debts due British subjects, and the payment of indemnity to refugees, insisted upon by the British. Adams came just in time to save the interests of New England as to the northeastern boundary and the fisheries, for, while his colleagues had pressed for them, they had not insisted upon them as essential. The result of the early consultations of the enlarged commission, was the drawing of