« AnteriorContinua »
affair, that the Hon. Lieut.-Colonel Mullins was found guilty of neglect of duty upon the storm, and cashiered by the sentence of a court-martial.
camp, and almost instantly expired. Nearly at the same moment, General Gibbs and General Keane were both borne off wounded. These disastrous circumstances, the fall of many other commanding officers, and the materials for crossing the ditch not having been brought forward, (the men being wounded who were carrying them,) were sufficient to dishearten the troops; and their despondency was increased by perceiving that it was impossible to make any impression on the enemy's works, every man who reached the ditch being either drowned, or obliged to surrender. In this situa tion, the column began to waver, and was soon obliged to fall back in great confusion upon the reserve, which was coming up, under General Lambert.
General Lambert, on whom the command now devolved, after restoring order among the troops, and placing them in position, found, upon careful consideration, that it would be improper to hazard a renewal of the attack. The army, therefore, retreated to the entrance of Lac Borgne, where they remained for some days, until the 27th January, when the whole were re-embarked. During the retreat, the British troops were not molested in any degree by the enemy, and all the artillery, ammunition, and stores, were brought away, except six guns which it was impossible to remove, from the position in which they had been placed. The Americans treated the prisoners and wounded who fell into their hands, with much kindness and humanity. In this action we sus. tained a heavy loss. Besides Sir Edward Pakenham, and General Gibbs, who died of his wounds the day after the action, our loss, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, amounted to about 2000 men. It was an unusual and unpleasant circumstance of this unhappy
The last operation of this armament was the taking of Fort Mobile, on the coast of Louisiana. On the fort being closely invested, the American commander capitulated on the 11th of February, with his garrison, consisting of 366 men.
Before the cessation of hostilities, the British had once more an opportunity of measuring their strength with the Americans on the ocean. On the 15th January, a British squadron, which had been stationed off the coast of New York, to watch the motions of the American frigate the President, commanded by Commodore Decatur, and some other vessels, fell in with the President when attempting to get to sea. After a long chace, the Endymion frigate came up with the President, and a sanguinary action commenced, which was maintained for two hours and a half, when, in consequence of the Endymion being crippled in the rigging, the enemy got out of her reach. On another vessel of the British squadron, however, coming up, the President struck. The loss was considerable on both sides; but greatest on the side of the Ameri
The treaty of peace between Great Britain and the United States, which had been signed by the Commissioners at Ghent, on 24th December 1814, was ratified by the American government, on 17th February 1815; and, on the 16th of March, it was laid before Parliament. The substance of this treaty has been given in our last volume. In the month of March, motions were made in both Houses of Parliament for addresses of thanks to the Prince Regent for this treaty,
* Page 342.
which met with considerable opposi. tion. No objection was stated to the terms of the treaty; but it was contended that much blame was imputable to ministers, for the delays which had taken place in concluding it. was said, that, as soon as peace was concluded in Europe, a negociation with America ought instantly to have commenced. The treaty of Paris was signed on the 30th of May, and at that time peace should have been of fered to America. We should then have appeared, in the eyes of America and of Europe, as acting generously and magnanimously; and, by such a proceeding, we should have disarmed the hostile feelings of those who were most unfavourable to us. In place of this, however, we first declined the friendly offer of mediation made by the Emperor of Russia; and, when we afterwards entered into a direct negociation, through the means of commissioners, we proceeded in so dilatory a manner, that the first conference between the commissioners, at Ghent, did not take place till the 8th of August. It was further contend. ed, that it was in consequence of unreasonable, and consequently inadmissible, demands on our part, which we were afterwards obliged to retract, that the negociations at Ghent had been protracted till the 24th of December, when the treaty was signed. It was said, that, at the first conference, propositions had been made respecting the pacification with the Indians, who were in alliance with Great Britain, and the territorial rights of those Indians; the military occupation by the British of the Canadian Lakes, and the cession of certain islands which had been occupied by the Americans since the peace of 1783; and that it had been stated, that no peace could take place, unless these propositions were agreed to. The negociations had been suspended, till the instructions of the
American government could be obtain ed respecting these terms; and it had appeared, that, not only the American government, but the whole American people, were unanimous in refusing them. In consequence of this, new terms had been proposed by the British commissioners, in which there was not a word regarding the propositions which they had formerly declared to be a sine qua non; and when at last the treaty was concluded, it was found to be perfectly silent as to those propositions. The consequences of these delays were, in the words of Mr Ponsonby," a useless waste of treasure an unfortunate and ever-to-be lamented waste of the best blood of the country-of the most distinguished officers-of the bravest, the most heroic troops-all sacrificed through the negligence or indolence of his Majesty's ministers!-all sacrificed by their not concluding a treaty of peace with America, the moment the treaty with France was signed; and by delaying that treaty still farther in disputing points with America, which they afterwards thought fit to abandon."
On the part of ministers, it was said, that it was an extraordinary objection to the conduct of the negociators, that every one of the proposi tions, which had been made in the course of the discussions, was not to be found in the treaty when conclu ded. It was observed, that perhaps no treaty was ever known to have been concluded upon the terms originally proposed; for those terms al most invariably underwent some modifications. As to the delays for which our ministers were blamed, it was shown that they had originated with the American government. The American commissioners had been instructed to make no peace, without our first relinquishing the right of impressment; without our expressly admitting, that
it is more easy for those who govern them to observe the relations of peace and amity towards each other. It is not very easy, in governments constituted as ours are, to induce a quarrel between the two countries, if the true state of affairs be known to the people of each. Nothing but deception-nothing but misunderstanding-can produce such an effect. Both governments depend, in a great degree, on the support of popular opinion: That of America depends on it altogether; and, I thank God, the government of this country is very much influenced by the same principle. If, therefore, the people are not led astray, and if the two governments look to their true interests, it will be a difficult thing to encourage a war between nations so nearly assimilated. Many persons affect to look on America with great jealousy, as a growing and powerful rival; for my own part, sir, far from looking at America as a mere rival, I never tarn my eyes towards that great continent, without feeling in my mind emotions of a much nobler description. For such a country as England to have been the parent of such a country as America-to have raised that which was once a wilderness to its present state of cultivation-to have established wealth and prosperity over an immense empire to have given to the people that free system of government, which we alone possess amidst surrounding nations to see all this-to consider America as the child of England, growing up and flourishing under her fostering hand-this is a si tuation of more true glory and of more real happiness, than any other nation on the face of the earth can boast of. England has been made great herself by her own liberty. That liberty never was threatened by free states. Whenever it was menaced, it was by powers differently constituted.
the American flag covered all who sailed under it. If these points were conceded, they were authorised to sign a peace with Great Britain; but not otherwise. It was not till the day of the first conference at Ghent, that the American commissioners were authorised to sign a treaty, without insisting upon those points; and, till that was the case, it would have been useless to have any conference, as it would have been vain to enter into discussion respecting terms which were wholly inadmissible. With regard to the propositions, which, it was alleged, were made by our negociators, and afterwards departed from, it was said, that, if the frontier could have been established, it would have been a great object; but, with all its importance, it never occurred to our ministers to make it an object of war. The great end they had in view, was one that affected the honour of the country, that of protecting those who had fought and bled with us. We owed to the Indians to replace them in a state of peace, and in the enjoy ment of such possessions as they had before; and this had been accomplished by the treaty. It was, finally, stated, as a cause of the length of the negociation, that it was almost exclusively occupied in discussing questions which originated with the Americans themselves. The addresses, as moved, were carried by large majorities.
In the course of this discussion, all parties concurred in expressing their satisfaction that peace had been restored. On this subject, the following excellent observations were made by Mr Ponsonby. "I trust in God," he said, "another war may never arise between these two countries, to teach them the respect which they owe to each other. There are no two countries in the world whose interests are more blended together and there are no two countries where
It is her duty, therefore, to set up as the patroness of freedom throughout the world. The nations ought to be taught to look to her for all the blessings which mankind may derive from independence-they ought to receive from her example those benefits which no other power can confer."
The treaty of peace was followed by a commercial treaty between the two countries, which was signed in London in July, and ratified by the American government in December. The principal features of this treaty are, that it establishes a reciprocal liberty of commerce between Great Britain and America ;-that it stipulates, that the duties on goods exported from, or imported into either country, shall not be higher than the duties on the exportation or importation of similar goods, to or from any other country; and that it admits American vessels, under certain regulations, to trade with the British settlements in the East Indies. This treaty the American President communicated in his message to Congress on 5th December, in the following terms.-"It is another source of satisfaction, that the treaty of peace with Great Britain has been succeeded by a convention on the subject of commerce, concluded by the plenipotentiaries of the two countries. In this result, a disposition is manifested on the part of that nation, corresponding with the disposition of the United States, which, it may be hoped, will be improved in to liberal arrangements on other subjects, on which the parties have mutual interests, or which might endanger their future harmony. Congress will decide on the expediency of promoting such a sequel, by giving effect to the measure of confining the American navigation to the American seamen; a measure, which, at the same time that it might have that concilia
tory tendency, would have the further advantage of increasing the independence of our navigation, and the resources of our maritime rights."
As we are now again in relations of peace and friendship with the United States, it appears equally useless and impertinent to enter into any fur ther discussion as to the causes of the interruption of that friendship, or to enquire which party was to blame in producing the war. It would be a pity, like the modish couple in the farce, to renew an accommodated quarrel, by resuming the argument about a spade and a diamond, which originally gave rise to it. In the present pacific state of the world, which we fervently hope will not soon be disturbed, those subjects of irritation between Britain and the United States, which produced the late unhappy war, cannot occur. Till another Buonaparte shall arise, and again engage all the nations of Europe in one great quarrel, an event scarcely to be anticipa ted even in the lapse of ages, all questions respecting the maritime rights of neutrals may sleep in oblivion. Disputes on other subjects may, indeed, arise between Great Britain and America; with regard, for instance, to their territorial boundaries. But it is very unlikely that any misunderstanding about a few square miles of woods or marshes on the Canadian frontier, will tempt either nation to forego the advantages of peace, and to plunge again into a war, which can produce nothing but mutual disaster. Of the benefits of peace and friendly intercourse, both nations have been made well aware, by the temporary privation of them. Our quarrel with America deprived us of the best foreign market for our manufactures ;-a market, which was already of immense extent, and constantly increasing. America is, and, in the natural course of things, ought to be, for a long period to
come, a great agricultural country; -and the almost boundless extent of fertile land, which requires only to be cleared and cultivated, must allow the principle of population to operate in its fullest extent. The inhabitants of such a country will naturally employ themselves chiefly in the cultivation of the ground, and will not be diverted from this object by the wish to become manufacturers, if they can easily obtain the commodities they require from other countries, at the expense of a part of the abundant produce of their soil. The mutual intercourse, therefore, of America, with Britain, was a great mutual benefit. Britain supplied the American cultivators in abundance with manufactured commodities; thus enabling them to employ themselves in the manner most favourable for spreading their population over the immense continent which they inhabit; while the benefit to Britain was incalculable, from the great and daily increasing market thus produced for her manufactures. The war, however, by interrupting this intercourse, and by depriving the Americans of our manufactures, checked their progress in agriculture and population, by compelling them to devote a part of their labour and capital to the fabrication of those arti cles which were indispensable to them. The consequence has been, that the slow progression by which an agricul tural nation gradually becomes a manufacturing one, has been very greatly accelerated. Before the war, America was far from having reached that
point, at which, from the cultivation of the ground having approached its limits, from the check to population, and cheapness of labour arising from that circumstance, and from the accumulation of capital, a portion of this capital, and of the labour of the country, would necessarily be turned into the course of manufacturing industry. But, in consequence of the dispute with Britain, the Americans became manufacturers from necessity; and there is no doubt that this circumstance will permanently diminish, to a certain extent, the American market for our manufactures. It is understood, however, that many of the infant manufacturing establishments of America were stifled by the immense influx of British goods into that country immediately after the peace; and there is reason to hope, that the Ame ricans, when they can, as formerly, obtain an abundant supply of goods from Britain, will find it more advantageous to apply themselves to the cultivation of the boundless tracts of fertile land by which they are surrounded, than to endeavour to supply themselves with manufactured commodities. In addition to these considerations, the recollection of the distress produced in America by the absolute annihilation of her commerce, and in Britain, by the great abridgment of ours, in consequence of the war, will, it is to be hoped, render two nations, united by so many ties, unwilling, by any breach of friendship, to expose themselves and each other to a recurrence of similar misfortunes.