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upon the subject, in the hope, notwithstanding what had heretofore passed, that some practicable mode might still be adopted, by which they could consent to become party to the association for finally extirpating the traffic. That I was aware of the addresses which had been presented to his Royal Highness, by both Houses of Parliament, at the close of the last session, for the renewal of negotiations with the governments both of the United States and France, to effectuate this most desirable end—That it was his Lordship’s design to enclose to me, at an early day, copies of these addresses, as a foundation upon which to build in the new endeavor which this Government was now prepared to make. In doing so, his object, however, merely would be, that of bespeaking my interposition towards making known to the President the measure contemplated; since it was intended that all further negotiation should be carried on at Washington. This he thought indispensable, after the past failure, as it could not be supposed that I was prepared with any new authority or instructions to resume it upon this side of the water. That the new minister, Mr. Canning, who, his Lordship now informed me, was to sail as early in the Spring as practicable, would accordingly have the whole subject in charge, and be prepared to enter upon it on his arrival, under ardent hopes for an auspicious termination to his labors.
" I replied, that I would, in the same spirit as before, make known the communication to my Government. I adverted again to the obstacles which the Constitution of the United States interposed to the project, and also to the peculiar and extreme caution with which the momentous question of search mingled with it would be looked at throughout every part of the country. I said, that these reasons superadded themselves to that derived from the failure of the attempt already made here, to give great propriety, as it struck me, to a change of the scene of negotiation; that, if any thing could be done, it could be done only, or at all events be done best, at Washington; thai the President, I was sure, continued to possess all his original sensibility to the importance of the subject, and would entertain any proposals, differently modified, that were submitted, with the same anxious dispositions as ever, for a favorable result to their objects.
“ The conversation went off by a reference on my part to the Holy League. I remarked, that, as the Government of Great Britain had declared, that the principles of that league had its entire approbation, although it had not formally become a party to it, so the United States, acting within their constitutional limits, had long and earnestly striven, and would, it might be confidently affirmed, though restrained from going hand in hand with Europe, always continue their efforts in the same beneficent spirit, for putting down totally the slave trade. It is well known that the Earl of Liverpool, not longer ago than last February, described, in the House of Peers, the character of this league, as well as the insurmountable impediment which held back this country from signing it. He distinctly declared, that, as the signatures were all in the autograph of the respective sovereigns, England, in point of form, could never accede to it; for it was not consistent with her Constitution, that the Prince Regent should himself sign such an instrument, without the intervention of a responsible minister. Upon my reminding Lord Castlereagh of this declaration, which I was the more ready to do, since it was your wish that the illustration should be brought into view, he candidly admitted, that we, too, doubtless, had our constitutional embarrassments; but he nevertheless hoped, that such, and all others, might, by pro. per modifications of the plan, be overcome.”
Mr. Canning to the Secretary of State.
The undersigned, his Britannic Majesty's Extvoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary, took an early opportunity, after his arrival in the City of Washington, to inform Mr. Adams that, in pursuance of Lord Castlereagh's note, dated the 11th November, 1819, communicating to Mr. Rush an address of both Houses of Parliament, relating to the African slave trade, he was instructed to bring that important question again under the consideration of the American Government, in the hope of being found practicable so to combine the preventive measures of the two countries as materially to accelerate the total extinction of an evil which both have long united in condemning and opposing.
Mr. Adams will find no difficulty in recollecting the several conversations which have passed between him and the undersigned on this subject; he will remember that the last of those conversations, which took place towards the close of October, was terminated with an assurance on his part that the proposals of the English Government would be taken into full deliberation as soon after the meeting of Congress as the state of public business would allow, with a sincere disposition to remove any impediments which appeared at first sight to stand in the way of their acceptance.
An interval of considerable length having elapsed since that period, the undersigned is persuaded that Mr. Adams will shortly be at liberty to communicate the definitive sentiments of his Government on a subject which is of too deep and too general an importance not to engage the attention and benevolent feelings of the United States.
In this persuasion the undersigned conceives it unnecessary, on the present occasion, to go over the various grounds which formed the matter of his late conversations with Mr. Adams.
Notwithstanding all that has been done, on both sides of the Atlantic, for the suppression of the African slave trade, it is notorious that an illicit commerce, attended with aggravated sufferings to its unhappy victims, is still carried on; and it is generally acknowledged that a combined system of maritime police can alone afford the means of putting it down with effect.
That concurrence of principle in the condemnation and prohibition of the slave trade, which has so honorably distinguished the Parliament of Great Britain and the Congress of the United States, seems naturally and unavoidably to lead to a concert of measures between the two Governments the moment that such co-operation is recognised as necessary for the accomplishment of their mutual purpose. It cannot be anticipated that either of the parties, discouraged by such difficulties as are inseparable from all human transactions of any magnitude, will be contented to acquiesce in the continuance of a practice so flagrantly immoral, especially at the present favorable period, when the slave trade is completely abolished to the North of the Equator, and countenanced by Portugal alone to the South of that line.
Mr Adams is fully acquainted with the particular measures recommended by his Majesty's ministers as best calculated, in their opinion, to attain the object which both parties have in view; but he need not be reminded that the English Government is too sincere in the pursuit of that common object to press the adoption of its own proposals, however satisfactory in themselves, to the exclusion of any suggestions equally conducive to the same end, and more agreeable to the institutions or prevailing opinion of other nations.
The undersigned embraces this opportunity to offer Mr. Adams the assurance of his high consideration.
STRATFORD CANNING. Washington, December 20, 1820.
The Secretary of State.to Mr. Canning.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, December 30, 1820. SIR: I have had the honor of receiving your note of the 20th inst. in reply to which, I am directed by the President of the United States to inform you, that, conformably to the assurances given you in the conversation to which you refer, the proposals made by your Government to the United States, inviting their accession to the arrangements contained in certain treaties with Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands, to which Great Britain is the reciprocal contracting party, have again been taken into the most serious deliberation of the President, with an anxious desire of contributing, to the utmost extent of the powers within the competency of this Government, and by means compatible with its duties to the rights of its own citizens, and with the principles of its national independence, to the effectual and final suppression of the African slave trade.
At an earlier period of the communications between the two Governments upon this subject, the President, in manifesting his sensibility to the amicable spirit of confidence with which the measures, concerted between Great Britain and some of her European allies, had been made known to the United States, and to the free and candid offer of admitting the United States to a participation in these measures, had instructed the minister of the United States residing near your Government to represent the difficulties resulting as well from certain principles of international law, of the deepest and most painful interest to these United States, as from limitations of authority prescribed by the people of the United States to the legislative and Executive depositaries of the national power, which placed him under the necessity of declining the proposal. It had been stated that a compact, giving the power to the naval officers of one nation to search the merchant vessels of another for offenders and offences against the laws of the latter, backed by a further power to seize and carry into a foreign port, and there subject to the decision of a tribunal composed of at least one half foreigners, irresponsible to the supreme corrective tribunal of this Union, and not amenable to the control of impeachment for official misdemeanor, was an investment of power over the persons, property, and reputation, of the citizens of this country, not only unwarranted by any delegation of sovereign power to the National Government, but so adverse to the elementary principlesand indispensable securities of individual rights, interwoven in all the political institutions of this country, that not even the most unqualified approbation of the ends to which this organization of authority was adapted, nor the most sincere and earnest wish to concur in every suitable expedient for their accomplishment, could reconcile it to the sentiments or the principles of which, in the estimation of the people and Government of the United States, no consideration whatsoever could justify the transgression.
In the several conferences which, since your arrival here, I have had the honor of holding with you, and in which this subject has been fully and freely discussed between us, the incompetency of the power of this Government to become a party to the institution of tribunals, organized like those stipulated in the conventions above noticed, and the incompatibility of such tribunals with the essential character of the constitutional rights guarantied to every citizen of the Union, has been shown by direct references to the fundamental principles of our Government, in which the supreme unlimited sovereign power is considered as inherent in the whole body of its people, while its delegations are limited and restricted by the terms of the insiruments sanctioned by them, under which the powers of legislation, judgment, and execution, are administered; and by special indications of the articles in the Constitution of the United States, which expressly prohibit their constituted authorities from erecting any judicial courts, by the forms of process belonging to which, American citizens should be called to answer for any penal offence, without the intervention of a grand jury to accuse, and of a jury of trial to decide upon the charge.
But, while regretting that the character of the organized means of cooperation for the suppression of the African slave trade, proposed by Great Britain, did not admit of our concurrence in the adoption of them, the President has been far from the disposition to reject or discountenance the general proposition of concerted co-operation with Great Britain, to the accomplishment of the common end, the suppression of the trade. For this purpose armed cruisers of the United States have been for some time kept stationed on the coast which is the scene of thisodious traffic; a measure whichitisin the contemplation of this Government to continue withoutintermission. Asthere are armed British vessels, charged with the same duty, constantly kept cruizing on the same coast, I am directed by the President to propose that instructions, to be concerted between the two Governments, with a view to mutual assistance, should be given to the commanders of the vessels respectively assigned to that service; that they may be ordered, whenever the occasion may render it convenient, to cruize in company together, to communicate mutually to each other all information obtained by the one, and which may be useful to the execution of the duties of the other, and to give each other every assistance which may be compatible with the performance of their own service, and adapted to the end which is the common aim of both parties.
These measures, congenial to the spirit which has so long and so steadily marked the policy of the United States, in the vindication of the rights of humanity, will, it is hoped, prove effectual to the purposes for which this co-operation is desired by your Government, and to which tnis Union will continue to direct its most strenuous and persevering exertions. I pray you, sir, to accept the assurance of my distinguished consideration.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS. The Right Hon. STRATFORD CANNING, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary
from Great Britain.
To the House of Representatives:
I transmit to the House of Representatives a report from the Secretary of State, with the enclosed documents, relating to the negotiation for the suppression of the slave trade, which should have accompanied a message on that subject, communicated to the House some time since, but which were accidently omitted.
JAMES MONROE. Washington, January 12, 1821.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
January 11, 1821. The Secretary of State has the honor of submitting to the President copy of a despatch from the Minister of the United States at London, enclosing documents relating to the negotiation for the suppression of the slave trade, which should have been transmitted with those accompanying the message of the President, to the house of Representatives, of the 4th instant, but which were accidently omitted.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS.
LIST OF PAPERS. Extracts of a letter from Mr. Rush to the Secretary of State, dated 19th November, 1819.
Lord Castlereagh to Mr. Rush, 11th November, 1819.-Copy.
Address from House of Commons, 7th July, 1819, to the Prince Regent. Copy.
Address from House of Lords, 9th July, 1819, to the Prince Regent. Copy.
Mr. Rush to Lord Castlereagh, 16th November, 1819.-Copy.
Extracts of a letter from Mr. Rush to the Secretary of State, dated
LONDON, November 19, 1819. "I received, on the 14th instant, a note from Lord Castlereagh, dated the Ilth, on the subject of the slave trade. The addresses from the House of Commons and House of Lords, to the Prince Regent, came with it. As the whole purport of this communication has been detailed, beforehand, in my last despatch, I am not aware that any further explanations from me are now requisite.
" The distinct testimony which is borne, in both these addresses, to the United States having been first in point of time among the nations of the world to abolish the trade, will be perceived with satisfaction. It is, so far as I know, the first occasion upon which the acknowledgment has been made, in any official or authentic manner, by any State in Europe.
“ It appeared to me prudent to frame an answer of entire conciliation to Lord Castlereagh’s note; and I hope that the spirit which it breathes may meet the President's approbation. It bears date on the 16th, and is among the enclosures transmitted herewith.”