April 22 1812: American Diplomats in London and Paris

On April 22, 1812, the American diplomats in London and Paris both write to Secretary of State James Monroe. In London, Jonathan Russell had just received a declaration from Lord Castlereagh setting out the British government's position on the Orders in Council. Russell interpreted the declaration as not representing any change in British policy. He ignored the subtle change in the British position and emphasis which was motivated by increased political opposition to the Orders in Council. In France, the problem was the opposite. Joel Barlow continued to give the French officials the benefit of the doubt. He continued to try to negotiate a treat only to be ignored or worse lied to.  

The two letters are reproduced below:

London April 22 1812 

Sir I received late last evening a note from lord Castlereagh of which the enclosed is a copy,  together with the declaration to which it refers. I hasten to communicate to you these important documents, as they appear to manifest definitively the determination of this government to persevere in its actual system, and to support with every sort of pretext the pretext of retaliation on which it was originally founded. I have the honour to be &c JONA. RUSSELL 

Joel Barlow

  Paris April 22 1812 

I am obliged at last to dismiss the Hornet without the       expected treaty,  which I should have regretted more than I do if your despatches, which I have had the honor to receive by the Wasp, had not somewhat abated my zeal in that work.

It really appeared to me that the advantages of such a treaty as I have sketched would be very great and especially if it could be concluded soon.

It is true that our claims of indemnity for past spoliations should be heard examined and satisfied which operation should precede the new treaty or go hand in hand with it. This is dull work hard, to begin and difficult to pursue I urged it a long time without the effect even of an oral answer. But lately they have consented to give it a discussion and the minister assures me that something shall be done to silence the complaints and on principles that he says ought to be satisfactory.  I shall not venture to detain the Wasp more than two or three weeks,  and I hope by that time to have something decisive to forward by her.  From some expressions in your letters, I am in hopes of receiving soon some more precise instructions on these subjects. 

My communication with England by Morlaix is almost entirely cut off. It is not so easy to send to London, unless by one of our own public ships, as it is to the United States.  I now send your despatches and my own to Mr Russell, by a messenger in the Hornet, whom I shall desire Captain Lawrence to put to  shore, or into a pilot boat,  on the coast of England. This messenger, with Mr Biddle,  will leave Paris this night for Cherbourg where the Hornet is ready to receive them. 

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