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You shall deliver the cargoes to me, and I will take them in part payment of the Prussian war debt.” On March 25, 1810, he published the Rambouillet decree, which was practically a public announcement of that of Vienna, but with this difference, that it merely sequestered the American vessels instead of confiscating them. He thus held in his hands over eight million dollars' worth of American property as hostage for our behavior. The number of vessels seized in the various countries indicated the state of trade: 51 in France, 44 in Spain, 28 in Naples, and 11 in Holland. To carry out this vigorous policy he was forced to depose his brother Louis, king of Holland, and annex that country to France, as well as to drive from the cabinet his valuable assistant, Fouché. He still continued, however, to license American vessels to import specified goods, and they continued to pay high for such licences.
In spite of the attention that he devoted to it, American trade can hardly be said to have been a leading consideration with Napoleon at this time; his main desire,
Napoleon and the closing of the American market to British Macon Bill
No. 2 goods, was still fulfilled. Very different, however, was the situation created by the next change in the American system. Restive under our own regulations, public sentiment, after a hard struggle, at length, May 1, 1810, obtained a practical abandonment of the restrictive system by means of an act popularly known as “Macon Bill No. 2," which allowed trade with all the world. The only continuance of the policy of using commercial regulation as a weapon of diplomacy is found in the provision authorizing the President, in case either Great Britain or France should, before the third day of March following, “so revoke or modify her edicts” as to cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States," and the other country should not do so, to renew the non-intercourse act against the obdurate power.
This was indeed a blow to Napoleon's continental system, for it reopened to England her most valuable single market.
It is said that he devoted three days to a consideration of the situation. The result was a letter from his foreign minister, Cadore, of August 5, 1810: “In this new state of things, I am authorized to declare to you, sir, that the decrees of Berlin and Milan are revoked, and that after the 1st of November they will cease to have effect; it being understood that, in consequence of this declaration, the English shall revoke their orders in council, and renounce the new principles of blockade which they have wished to establish; or that the United States, conformably to the act you have just communicated, shall cause their rights to be respected by the English. It is with the most particular satisfaction, sir, that I make known to you this determination of the Emperor. His majesty loves the Americans. Their prosperity and their commerce are within the scope of his policy.”
But Napoleon's purpose was not the abandonment of his system. “It is evident," said he, “that we commit ourselves to nothing." He explained to his council that, should the English withdraw their orders, he could achieve his results by customs regulation. What he hoped was that by the ambiguity of his letter he might once more embroil England and the United States. Meantime, to clean the slate of the past, he ordered the American vessels sequestered by the Rambouillet decree to be confiscated. This order was not published; but, when its effects became evident, Cadore explained that it did not affect the future, that it was in reprisal for our non-intercourse act, and that the law of reprisal was final.
Madison seized upon this letter with avidity. He at once demanded that Great Britain withdraw her orders, including Napoleon and the blockade of 1806, and threatened nonMadison
intercourse should she fail to do so. The Marquis of Wellesley, who had succeeded Canning, was more favorably disposed toward the United States; but as he read the Cadore letter it contained a conditional offer, not a statement of fact. He thought it meant that, if Great Britain should withdraw her orders, Napoleon would withdraw his decrees; that if she should not do so the decrees would also remain in force unless the United States made her neutrality respected, that is, unless she forced England to recall her orders. In this impasse the United States would not, he believed, be justified in differentiating between the belligerents until she received evidence of the withdrawal of the decrees. He also found in the letter an additional condition, -namely, that Great Britain must renounce her principle of blockade. Madison, however, understanding that the decrees were actually withdrawn,-for Napoleon failed to answer the riddle which he had set,
declared non-intercourse with England reëstablished after February 2, 1811. He was sustained by an act of Congress of March 2, 1811, and in April, as an expression of his discontent, he withdrew Pinkney from London. Once more, therefore, Napoleon closed the American market to England.
His wall, however, was crumbling at its opposite extremity. It has been noted that on December 31, 1810, Russia opened her ports to neutral vessels. American ship- Napoleon and ping straightway crowded her ports, and much Russia that they brought was British. Of our exports to Russia in 1811, amounting to over $6,000,000, only $1,630,499 were of our own products. Nor did the total amount given in our figures include cargoes taken in England and admitted by Russia because of the American flag borne by the ship carrying them, a flag which in many cases it had no right to fly. Napoleon called upon the czar to close this breach. The Russian court was divided, torn by factions. Curiously, Romanzoff, who was sympathetic with France, wished to encourage the American merchant marine in order to release Russia from her former dependence on England; Nesselrode, whose inclinations were English, objected to extending privileges to the United States not granted to Great Britain. He wished alliance with the latter power. American trade, long torn by the dogs of war, thus became the bone of contention to set them fighting among themselves. John Quincy Adams found himself at St. Petersburg,--familiar to him as a boyhood memory from his stay there while secretary to Francis Dana, our first minister,-more vitally involved in European entanglements than had been any American minister since Franklin. Napoleon would assent to no compromise, the czar would not close his ports, and events marched rapidly toward war and Napoleon's invasion.
In behalf of our commerce, Russia was preparing for war with France and alliance with England; Napoleon was preparing to force Russia to close her ports to neutral trade. Could we still preserve our neutrality in this supreme moment of struggle? To which side did our interests ally us? To Russia, fighting to defend our rights but allied with England, our great commercial rival? or to Napoleon, endeavoring to shut us out of Europe, but professing himself, if he won and brought England to terms, willing to establish peace on earth and freedom on the seas? Even if these professions were not to be accepted at their face value, at any rate it was probable that a victorious Napoleon would not be lenient, should one have stirred his wrath.
During the spring of 1811 Madison and Monroe, the latter of whom had just replaced Smith at the state department, Napoleonic debated over the question. The immediate triumph
issue was whether we should send a minister to France to take the place of Armstrong, who had returned to America. Evidence accumulated that Napoleon's decrees still operated and that the sequestered American vessels were actually confiscated. The balance turned against France. At this critical moment, however, Napoleon once more proved himself equal to the emergency. His foreign minister, the Duke of Bassano, informed Jonathan Russell, our secretary of legation, that the emperor had authorized “the admission of the American cargoes which had been provisionally placed on deposit.” This turned the scale; Joel Barlow was appointed minister, and relations were continued.
1J. Q. Adams, Memoirs (12 vols., Philadelphia, 1874–77), ii. 491-662, üi.
The administration still hoped for peace, although leaning toward France; but its plans were set at naught by the entrance into national politics of two new The “ War factors. The first was a general fighting spirit
Hawks " brought to Congress, when it met in the autumn of 1811, by a number of young men who soon began to act together and to be known as the “War Hawks.” The aroma of war had for twenty years floated across the Atlantic, but it had brought only its glories and not its sorrows. To the younger generation war seemed to be almost the normal condition, and to offer opportunities of distinction and advancement which peace denied. If, however, the wars of Europe had an effect on American youth, the effect was general. No longer, as in 1793, did the particular issues of European politics divide the majority of Americans into partisans of France and of England. The new war leaders were nationalists; they wished to fight to vindicate the honor of their country, smirched, they believed, by her long supine submission to the whacks and blows of the belligerents. Isolation they accepted, but they did not believe that it must necessarily be passive. Many of the leaders were indifferent as to whom they fought; Calhoun, the logical, with the enthusiasm of youth, would fight both.
Direction was given to this warlike spirit by the second factor. Once more western problems became vital: they were to determine the issue. This time it was primarily
The West a question of the northwest, though its views were voiced in Congress by Henry Clay of Kentucky, speaker of the new House of Representatives. The most obvious
IJ. C. Calhoun, Works (ed. R. K. Crallé, 6 vols., New York, 1853–55), vol. ii.
2 Henry Clay, Works (ed. C. Colton, 7 vols., New York, 1897), vol. i. ch, ix.