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manent alignment of the United States with France. His power, however, was limited. To some degree, it may be said, his ministry was tolerated by Parliament for the sole purpose of performing the disagreeable task of sanctioning the partition of the empire. On February 24, 1783, he was forced to resign, and was succeeded by an incongruous combination headed jointly by the inveterate contestants, Fox and North. Vaughan wrote to Franklin the next day, “But the overthrow of parties is nothing to the overthrow of systems relative to English commerce, which was intended to be placed on a footing that would have been an example to all mankind, and probably have restored England to her pinnacle again.”
The new government was to a considerable extent influenced by Lord Sheffield, whose "Observations on the Commerce of the United States," published in Change of 1783, set forth the long-established view of British policy England's policy with regard to trade and navigation. On July 2, 1783, a royal proclamation confined the West Indian trade to British ships; July 27, the commissioners found "it best to drop all commercial articles in our definitive treaty.” The subject, however, was one which the United States could not afford to drop, and John Adams was sent as minister to England to renew negotiations. Arriving in February, 1785, as first representative from America to the British crown, himself a leading figure in the struggle for independence, he was in a position of some delicacy, but nevertheless he found his new post eminently congenial. The ponderous seriousness of English public life sufficiently resembled respectability to win his lively approbation. On examining the library of George III., he felt that it contained every book which a king should have and no other. His sturdy Americanism, however, asserted itself. When the king somewhat jocularly remarked upon Adams's well known dislike of the French, the latter replied, “I must avow to your ma
1 Franklin, Works, viii. 261.
jesty, I have no attachment but to my own country.” The king responded, “quick as lightning,” “An honest man will never have any other.” 1
In spite of this auspicious opening Adams's mission failed of its main object. In fact, in 1788 an act of Parliament Adams's mis- made permanent the policy of the proclama
tion of 1783, and this in spite of the succession to the premiership of William Pitt, who in 1783 had shared Lord Shelburne's liberal convictions. Not only were American ships prohibited from engaging in the West Indian trade, but the policy of encouraging Canada to supply the islands with the goods they needed was adopted, with the result that British ships were allowed to carry United States goods to the islands only at such times and to such a degree as was absolutely necessary.
One reason for this policy was explained in the following words by the Duke of Dorset, with whom Adams was treat
ing: “The apparent determination of the reGreat Britain
spective states to regulate their own separate
interests, renders it absolutely necessary, towards forming a permanent system of commerce, that my court should be informed how far the commissioners can be duly authorized to enter into any engagement with Great Britain, which it may not be in the power of any one of the states to render totally useless and inefficient." This point was well taken to the extent that the sole power over commerce given to Congress by the Articles of Confederation was that of preventing the states from levying discriminating duties against nations with which the country was in treaty relations. Moreover, England had practical demonstration of the inefficiency of Congress in the fact that, in spite of the treaty of peace, various states still put obstacles in the way of the collection of British debts and refused to heed the recommendation of Congress for a greater leniency toward loyalists. This impotence of Congress not only
1 J. Q. and C. F. Adams, John Adams, vol. ü.
distrusts the Confederation
caused the British government to doubt the efficacy of a treaty on commercial subjects with the United States, but relieved it from any apprehension of effective retaliation. Congress could not pass retaliatory laws; and although some of the states, as Virginia and Georgia, did so, the English statesmen correctly judged that any universal agreement to such an end was not within the realm of practical politics.
Still more conclusive to the English mind was the fact that Great Britain, without a treaty, was nevertheless enjoying the most essential advantages of American trade. The Americans were familiar with Eng- holds Amer
ican trade lish goods, liked them, and found them on the whole the cheapest in the world. The British merchants more easily resumed American connections than other nations established them; and particularly they were willing to grant the long credits which the Americans desired. London, moreover, was actually the most convenient distributing centre of the world, and its merchants continued to handle many articles, such as German linens, which the Americans desired from the continent. In 1789 probably three quarters of our imports came from Great Britain, who in turn received perhaps half of our exports. France, although coaxing our trade by liberal concessions to our whale oil, fish, grains, and such products in 1787, and seeking earnestly to develop in the United States a taste for French brandy, secured but a small and not increasing portion of the American traffic. Naturally, therefore, England saw no necessity for granting favors, when without them she continued to enjoy that market for her factories and employment for her vessels of which Vergennes had thought to deprive her.
Thus the government under the Confederation w able to reopen the British West Indies to trade. Although the trade of the French islands was open to small Amer
1 Secret Journals of Congress, iv. 185–286; W. C. Fisher, American Trade Regulations before 1789, Amer. Hist. Assoc., Papers, 1889, iii. 467-493.
ican vessels trading directly there and back, yet it was subject to such disadvantages that it by no means took the Failures of the place of what we had lost. In fact this was not Confederation
entirely a gain after all, for the colonies had to some degree engaged in it before the Revolution, albeit illegally. With the loss of the Mediterranean traffic and the uncertainties in Spain and Portugal, the total effect of the Rev. olution on commerce could in 1789 hardly be said to have been satisfactory, and the failure of negotiations was rightly felt to have been due in large measure to the lack of a strong national government capable of making itself respected abroad.
The failure of the negotiations with Great Britain and Spain on the question of commerce was not by any means due entirely to the intrinsic difficulties of the Conditions on subject. Both nations were our neighbors, and the frontier the problems of territorial propinquity were in both cases more complicated and disturbing than those of oceanic traffic. The cession to the United States of the region bounded by the Appalachian mountains, the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, and the Floridas was not regarded by European statesmen as finally determining the future. As it stood, moreover, this area did not constitute a satisfactory territorial unit; for, as conditions of transportation then were, its commercial outlets fell to the control, not of the United States, but, as to the southern half, to Spain, who held the mouth of the Mississippi, and as to the northern half to Great Britain, who held the St. Lawrence. Its population was during the period of the Confederation about equally divided between Indians, who held themselves to be independent, and frontiersmen, whose loyalty to the central government of the United States was yet to be created and would depend upon the ability of that government to solve their problems. Thus, as Washington said, the western settlers “stood upon a pivot, the touch of a feather would turn them any way."
At the close of hostilities Great Britain still held important posts in the ceded area, at such strategic positions as Detroit, Michilimackinac, Niagara, and Oswego.
“ Posts,". In July, 1783, Washington sent Baron Steuben “ debts," and
“ loyalists" to General Haldiman, the governor-general of Canada, to accept the surrender of these forts. The latter said that he had received no instructions on the point and