James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Congress, 12 November 1812 (Abstract)

§ To Congress

12 November 1812. “For the further information of Congress relative to the pacific advances made on the part of this Government, to that of Great Britain, and the manner in which they have been met by the latter, I transmit the sequel of the communications on that subject received from the late chargé d’affaires at London.”1

RC and enclosures, two copies (DNA: RG 233, President’s Messages, 12A-D1; DNA: RG 46, President’s Messages, 12A-E2). First RC 1 p.; in the hand of Edward Coles, signed by JM; printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 3:585. For enclosures, see n. 1.

1JM transmitted a copy of Russell’s 19 Sept. 1812 letter to Monroe (1 p.; printed ibid., 3:590–91), announcing that Lord Castlereagh had rejected the offer of an armistice, subject to Great Britain’s agreeing to the conditions for ending the orders in council, illegal blockades, and impressment, that Monroe had proposed in his 27 July 1812 instructions to Russell (printed ibid., 3:586).

Russell’s two 12 Sept. 1812 letters to Castlereagh (2 pp. and 4 pp.; printed ibid., 3:591) informed the British foreign secretary that he had received additional instructions to propose a convention to end hostilities pending the appointment of commissioners by the U.S. and Great Britain to negotiate a treaty providing for the security of both nations’ seamen, the regulation of their commerce, and “all other interesting questions now depending between them” and that he regretted to learn that Lord Castlereagh was “out of town.”

Two communications from Lord Castlereagh and his secretary, William Hamilton, to Russell on 16 Sept. 1812 (1 p. each; printed ibid., 3:591) announced that Castlereagh would reply to Russell in a few days and would agree to meet Russell that same evening. Russell’s 16 Sept. reply to William Hamilton (1 p.; printed ibid., 3:592) stated that he regretted the delay and that he would leave London on 20 Sept. to embark for the U.S. Castlereagh’s 18 Sept. response (3 pp.; printed ibid., 3:592) rejected Russell’s proposals for a convention and treaty negotiations on the grounds that they differed little in substance from proposals that Great Britain had already rejected.

Russell’s 19 Sept. 1812 letter to Monroe (1 p.; printed ibid., 3:592) covered a copy of his 19 Sept. letter to Castlereagh (2 pp.; printed ibid., 3:592) expressing disappointment at the British rejection of his offer and denying Castlereagh’s contention that there were no substantial differences between the American proposals. Russell’s 7 Nov. 1812 letter to Monroe (1 p.; printed ibid., 3:593) informed the secretary of state that he expected to land in New York that day, that he would set out for Washington as soon as possible, and that as a consequence of the British rejection of his armistice proposals, “a vigorous prosecution of the war appears to be the only honorable alternative left to us.”

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