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June 7 1812: Foster to Monroe

On June 7 1812, Augustus Foster, the British Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States, writes indignantly to the Secretary of State James Monroe to deny that the British government has played any role in "urging the Indian tribes to the late atrocities committed on the frontiers of the United States." He encloses excerpts from the correspondence Sir James Craig and Lord Liverpool to support his contention. He adds that "it is really a serious inconvenience thus to find it necessary continually to furnish fresh evidence in order to oppose rumors, which, though unsupported by the shadow of a document or any other authority whatever than mere hearsay, do yet derive a consequence from the circulation given to them under the official sanction of a State Government". Foster's letter is reproduced below together with the correspondence he enclosed.


Augustus J. Foster, Esq., &c.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.
Sir: Washington, June 7, 1812.

It is extremely painful to me to find that, notwithstanding the assurance which I had the honor to make to you on the authority of communications from His Majesty's Captain General in Canada, that His Majesty's officers had not only had no hand in urging the Indian tribes to the late atrocities committed on the frontiers of the United States, but had even endeavored, in the true spirit of friendly neighborhood, to restrain them as far as lay in their power, such reports still continue to be circulated with revived industry, and have in a great degree even been countenanced by statements which were recently made in an address from a Governor of one of the United States to the citizens of that State.


To set this question at rest, I beg leave, sir, to transmit to you the enclosed copies of a letter from the late Governor of Canada to His Majesty's Secretary of State for the War Department, and the answer of Lord Liverpool, which have been recently received by me through Lord Castlereagh's office; and from which you will perceive that His Majesty's ministers had not only expressed their decided approbation of the conduct of the Government of Canada, in using whatever influence they might possess over the Indians to dissuade them from committing hostilities on the citizens of the United States, but also had especially directed that those exertions should be continued.

While I assure you, sir, very frankly, that I do not believe such evidence was necessary to convince the American Government of the erroneous nature of the above-mentioned'reports, I yet beg to request that this letter and its enclosures may, as early as possible, be laid before the President.

I also beg leave to add, that it is really a serious inconvenience thus to find it necessary continually to furnish fresh evidence in order to oppose rumors, which, though unsupported by the shadow of a document or any other authority whatever than mere hearsay, do yet derive a consequence from the circulation given to them under the official sanction of a State Government.

I have thought it necessary to be thus explicit on this subject, on account of the odious nature of the reports in question. Dreadful and horrible as they arc, they would at any time suffice to excite the most violent irritation through a country; but they surely ought not to be made use of without the most clear and convincing proofs to constitute their veracity. I have the honor, dec.


[Referred to in Mr. Foster's despatch of June 7, 1812.] 

Copy of a letter from Sir James H. Craig to the Earl of Liverpool. 

My Lord: Quebec, March 29, 1811.

Under the present circumstances existing between His Majesty's Government and that of the American States, I feel it to be necessary to forward to your lordship the information that is contained in the enclosed letter and papers from Lieutenant Governor Gore, and to which I add a copy of my answer to him on the subject. This is the first direct communication that I have had either from Lieutenant Governor Gore, or from any officer of the Indian Department, relative to the intentions of the Indians. My private accounts, however, which, though not official, were equally to be relied on, gave me assurances of their determination to have recourse to arms, so long ago as in November; and in my wish to assist in saving the American frontier from the horrors usually attending the first burst of an Indian war, by enabling them to take precautions against it, I communicated my accounts to Mr. Morier; and though I thought that an official communication might be extremely objectionable, I gave him, however, permission, if he did not think it improper from any circumstance of situation, in which he might find himself with them, verbally to convey the information to the American Government, and I have since heard from Mr. Morier that he did so. In January J. repeated to Mr. Morier that I continued to receive a confirmation of the intelligence I had before sent him, but I do not know whether he made any further communication to the American Government.

I have the honor to be, &c.

J. H. CRAIG.


[Referred to in Mr. Foster's despatch of June 7, 1812.]


Copy of a letter from Lord Liverpool to the officer administering the Government of Lower Canada.

Sir: Downing Street, July 28, 1811.

In reference to the despatches Nos. 37 and 39, of Lieutenant Governor Sir James Craig, with their respective enclosures, on the subject of the hostile intentions which have been manifested by the Indians against tiie Americans, and of the measures which had been taken by that officer to dissuade them from a recourse to arms, 1 am commanded by His Royal Highness the Prince Regent to acquaint you that the conduct of Sir James Craig, in this respect, has received His Royal Highness's entire approbation, and I am to desire that you will persevere in the attempt made by him to restrain the Indians from the commission of any act of hostility on the American frontier. ,

I have the honor to be, Sec.
LIVERPOOL.

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