December 19 1814: One Step Closer to Peace

On December 19 1814, as the British fleet and army prepare to attack New Orleans, Lord Bathurst writes to the British Commissioners at Ghent, authorizing to accept the American positions as to the islands of Passamaquoddy and Fisheries. That is, these issues will either not be referred to in the treaty or will be discussed at future negotiations. Peace is now very close.

. Foreign Office, December 19, 1814.

My Lord and Gentlemen—I had this morning the honour of receiving your despatch of the 14th, enclosing the note presented on that day by the Commissioners of the United States, and desiring instructions thereupon. With regard to the alteration proposed in the 1st Article, whereby the occupation of the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay may be reserved to us, there is no objection to the proposition contained in the American Note, except so far as relates to the surrender of such islands to the United States, if no decision shall have been agreed upon, within a given number of years. This stipulation might give to the United States an interest to postpone any discussion on the subject. There would be no objection to a stipulation, by which it should be provided that the right to the islands in Passamaquoddy Bay should be that point of reference on which the Commissioners should be required first to consider and decide.

With respect to the discussion which has grown out of the latter part of the 8th Article, the Prince Regent regrets to find that there does not appear any prospect of being able to arrive at such an arrangement with regard to the fisheries as would have the effect of coming to a full and satisfactory explanation on that subject.

As this appears, however, now to be the only remaining point on which any difficulty exists, he is unwilling to protract, by a prolongation of the discussion, the period when the war between his Majesty and the United States may be happily terminated. You will therefore present a note, in which, after referring to the language held by you on this subject from the very commencement of the negotiation, in which you stated explicitly that the British Commissioners did not intend to grant gratuitously to the United States the privileges formerly granted by treaty to them of fishing within the limits of the British sovereignty, and of using the shores of the British territories for purposes connected with fisheries, you will state that, as there does not appear any prospect of agreeing upon an Article wherein that question may be satisfactorily adjusted, you are authorized to accept the proposition which the Commissioners of the United States proposed in the Protocol of the 1st of December, wherein they expressed their readiness to omit the 8th Article altogether.

It will not be necessary for you to insist on the Article entitled, “An Article relative to the Right of Prosecuting Suits in the Courts of Justice,” as we rely upon the Courts of Justice being open in the United States, by which the just claims of British subjects may be fairly prosecuted.
I am, &c., Bathurst.

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