James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Daniel Brent, 6 September 1815

From Daniel Brent

Was’n, Department of State,
Sepr. 6th 1815.

Dear Sir,

I have the Honor to transmit to you, herewith, four letters from Mr. Adams, from No 2 to 5, inclusively, with their Enclosures,1 together with a Despatch from Messrs. Clay & Gallatin of the 18 & 24th May, with its Enclosures,2 and one from Messrs. Adams, Clay & Gallatin, of July 3rd, with its several Enclosures, including a Copy of the late Convention concluded by these Gentlemen with Commissioners of the British Government.3 Altho’ these papers were all received at the office by the mail, from the North, of Yesterday, yet they come too late to be forwarded on by that which proceeded to the South. Copies of most, or all of them, and nothing more, with the original Convention, as executed by the Parties, were put into my Hands this morning by Mr. Richard Cutts, who received them from Mr. Gallatin, two or three days ago, in New York. I have the Honor to remain, with the greatest Respect, your faithful, obed sevt

Daniel Brent.

RC (DLC). Docketed by JM. For enclosures, see nn.

1The enclosed dispatches from John Quincy Adams to James Monroe were dated 8, 14, 15, and 19 July 1815 (DNA: RG 59, DD, Great Britain). That of 8 July (1 p.) enclosed copies of documents related to the 6 Apr. 1815 massacre of American prisoners at Dartmoor, including a 7 Apr. 1815 report by a committee of the survivors to U.S. agent for prisoners Reuben G. Beasley (7 pp.; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 4:51–52); a 10 Apr. 1815 letter from John W. Croker, secretary of the admiralty, to John Philip Morier, an under-secretary of state in the foreign office (2 pp.; printed ibid., 50); and an 11 Apr. 1815 letter to Beasley from Morier (1 p.; printed ibid.). For summaries of these documents, see JM to Monroe, 12 June 1815, n. 3. Adams also enclosed copies of a 26 Apr. 1815 report on the affair by commissioners Charles King and Francis Seymour Larpent (9 pp.; printed ibid., 21–23), concluding that much of the force used against the prisoners had been unjustified but that it was impossible to identify individual perpetrators; and King to Adams, 26 Apr. 1815 (3 pp.; printed ibid., 4:20), forwarding his and Larpent’s report and stating that the prisoners had told him they blamed Beasley rather than the U.S. government for their lengthy detention.

Adams’s letter to Monroe of 14 July 1815 (2 pp.) described the U.S. negotiators’ successful efforts to establish an equitable order for naming the parties to, and signing, the commercial treaty with Great Britain. He enclosed a printed copy of the Prince Regent’s 12 July 1815 speech to Parliament (2 pp.), which mentioned the treaty favorably. In his 15 July dispatch (1 p.), Adams acknowledged receipt of Monroe’s instructions of 11 May 1815, together with copies of the secretary of state’s correspondence with Anthony St. John Baker on the British failure to return U.S. slaves, the alleged sale of some of those slaves in the West Indies, and the delayed evacuation of British military posts in U.S. territory (for the correspondence, see Monroe’s letters to JM of 3 Apr. 1815, and n. 2; 8 Apr. 1815, and n. 2; 11 Apr. 1815, and n. 4; and 9 May 1815, and n. 1). Adams stated that he had broached the topic of the slaves with Lord Castlereagh and would pursue it, with the hope that Monroe could provide solid evidence to support U.S. claims. On 19 July 1815 (3 pp.), Adams reported on U.S. consular affairs in Great Britain, enclosing copies of his correspondence with the Foreign Office regarding Beasley’s authority to act as U.S. consul in London, and with the Prussian chargé d’affaires Friedrich von Greuhm regarding the appointment of Prussian consuls in U.S. ports (1 p.).

2Henry Clay and Albert Gallatin’s letter to Monroe, dated 18 May 1815 with a 24 May postscript (12 pp.; DNA: RG 59, Despatches of the U.S. Commissioners at Ghent; extract printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 4:8–10), reported their discussions with various British officials on the Dartmoor affair, the transportation of American prisoners to the United States, and, at greater length, the prospect of a commercial treaty between the two nations. They enclosed a 16 Apr. 1815 summary of their conversation with Castlereagh on these matters (9 pp.; extract printed ibid., 11); a copy of their 18 Apr. 1815 letter to Beasley regarding the appointment of King and a British commissioner to investigate and report on the events at Dartmoor (3 pp.; printed ibid., 20); Castlereagh’s 22 May 1815 letter to them (4 pp.; printed ibid., 23), expressing the Prince Regent’s regret over the Dartmoor affair, attributing the shootings to the “inexperience” of the militia guards, stating that they would be reprimanded, and offering compensation to the families of the victims; and a copy of Clay and Gallatin’s 24 May 1815 reply (1 p.; printed ibid.), stating that they would send Castlereagh’s note to the U.S. government and give a copy to Adams when he arrived in London.

3The 3 July 1815 letter to Monroe from Adams, Clay, and Gallatin (6 pp.; DNA: RG 59, Despatches of the U.S. Commissioners at Ghent; printed in ASP, Foreign Relations, 4:11–12) summarized their treaty negotiations and stated that they had deliberately excluded any provisions relating to seamen because they were convinced the British would not negotiate on that issue. In addition to a copy of the 3 July 1815 treaty, the enclosures (29 pp.; printed ibid., 7–8, 12–18) included copies of the undated proposed treaty submitted by the American to the British commissioners; the 16 June 1815 British counterproposal with two separate articles restricting U.S. trade with British colonies in Africa and the East Indies; and the notes exchanged during the negotiation from 17 to 30 June 1815.

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