November 27 1814: Americans Receive British Response

27th. About eleven in the morning, Mr. Gallatin came into my chamber, with a note received from the British Plenipotentiaries. They have sent us back with this note the projet of a treaty which we had sent them, with marginal notes and alterations proposed by them. They have rejected all the articles we had proposed on impressment, blockade, indemnities, amnesty, and Indians. They have definitively abandoned the Indian boundary, the exclusive military possession of the Lakes, and the uti possidetis; but with a protestation that they will not be bound to adhere to these terms hereafter, if the peace should not be made now. Within an hour after receiving these papers we had a meeting of the mission at my chamber, when the note and the alterations to our projet proposed by the British Plenipotentiaries were read, and we had some desultory conversation upon the subject. All the difficulties to the conclusion of a peace appear to be now so nearly removed, that my colleagues all considered it as certain. I think it myself probable. But unless we take it precisely as it is now offered, to which I strongly incline, I distrust so much the intentions of the British Government, that I still consider the conclusion as doubtful and precarious.

It was agreed that we should meet at eleven o’clock to-morrow morning, and in the mean time that the note and projet should be taken successively by each of us, to make minutes for the reply to it. Mr. Gallatin suggested the propriety of asking a conference, to which I expressed some objection, but without insisting upon it. Mr. Bayard and Mr. Clay took the note and projet, and returned it to me with their minutes just before dinner. Mr. Gallatin took it this evening, with the promise to send it to me at six o’clock to-morrow morning.”

— John Quincy Adams, at Ghent, writes in his diary for November 27 1814.

“The British reply, dated November 26, took no notice of the American reservation as to the fisheries, but inserted in the project the old right of navigating the Mississippi. Both Bathurst and Goulburn thought that their silence, after the American declaration, practically conceded the American right to the fisheries, though Gambier and Dr. Adams thought differently. In either case the British note of November 26, though satisfactory to Adams, was far from agreeable to Clay, who was obliged to endanger the peace in order to save the Mississippi. Adams strongly inclined to take the British project precisely as it was offered, but Gallatin overruled him, and Clay would certainly have refused to sign.”

— Henry Adams, History of the United States During the Administrations of James Madison

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