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The mission thus pleasantly begun was, however, destined to prove almost fruitless. The English ministers were leisurely and deliberate, while Adams with remarkable humility and praiseworthy persistence sought to discover why England did not give up our territory. In October he wrote to Jay: “I have the honor to agree fully with you in your opinion, that 'it is manifestly as much the interest of this country to be well with us as for us to be well with them '; but this is not the judgment of the English nation, it is not the judgment of Lord North and his party, it is not the judgment of the Duke of Portland and his friends, and it does not appear to be the judgment of Mr. Pitt and the present set." 1 He found the Englishmen confident that America could do nothing, neither raise a revenue, nor exclude shipping of foreign nations, nor build a fleet, and in truth they were not far from right.
Finally, nearly five months after his dramatic interview with the king, Adams succeeded in getting from the retentive ministers some notion as to their intentions. Lord Carmarthen told him that the frontier posts would not be delivered till “the debts were paid.” “Paid! my Lord!" ejaculated Adams; " that is more than ever was stipulated."? It was February, however, before the ministry gave an explicit answer to the American demands. The
*Dip. Corresp., 1783-1789 (3-vol. ed.), II., 478-482.
• Ibid., 581.
fourth article of the treaty stipulated that creditors of either country should find no lawful impediment to the recovery of their debts. To this article Carmarthen said America had paid little attention, and it would be foolish to suppose that England was obliged to carry out her promises if the United States was not under a similar obligation. Further satisfaction than this Adams could not get. He returned home in 1788 without a treaty and without much hope that England would deviate by a hair from the path which seemed to her the best-suited to her own gain.
Doubtless England refrained from entering into a commercial treaty because she believed the enforcement of navigation laws would put money in her merchants' pockets, and because she believed that, notwithstanding restrictions on West-Indian trade, she could secure and hold her commerce with the United States. She was, moreover, in no haste to deliver the western posts so long as their retention gave her traders opportunity to control the furtrade. But withal it must be remembered that the states had done little to promote good feeling. Their treatment of the loyalists after the peace was outrageous, while, in utter disregard of the treaty, they placed in one form or another impediments in the way of the collection of British debts. Jay declared that there had not been a single day since the ratification of the treaty on which it had "not been violated... by one or other of the
States."1 "I suspect,” he said to Adams, in speaking of the disorder and lawlessness in America, “that our posterity will read the history of our last four years with much regret."
Before the Revolution a large portion of the flour and fish exported from the United States found its best markets in the Mediterranean ports. But now the Barbary powers felt at liberty to seize American vessels and imprison the seamen. A number of men were held for ransom and handsome prices demanded for their liberty. Agents were sent to make peace and to see about the succor of the prisoners, but accomplished nothing. Algiers had twenty-one captives, for whose release was demanded the sum of $59,496.8 America had no funds to spend in redeeming its citizens from slavery, and its statesmen could do no more than ponder on the possible effect of war. A Tripolitan ambassador appeared in London, and with him Adams had a series of remarkable interviews, the humor of which appealed even to the serious mind of the American minister. "His Excellency made many inquiries concerning America, the climate, soil, heat, and cold, etc., and observed, it is a very great country, but Tripoli is at war with it.'" He said “that Turkey, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, and Morocco were the sovereigns of the Mediterranean, and that no nation could navigate that sea without a treaty of peace with them.” i The sum of 30,000 guineas was mentioned as the price of a treaty, making for the four Barbary powers, if all accepted the terms, 120,000 guineas. Jefferson went over from Paris to London, and in company with Adams had conferences with the stately Abdrahaman, who repeated his demand for 30,000 guineas, plus a little douceur of £3,000 for himself. A treaty was made with Morocco at the beginning of 1787; but the relations with the other Barbary states could not be arranged. America was too poor to pay and could not make up her mind to fight, and so this question, like others, awaited the establishment of a national government.
* Jay's report, Secret Journals of Congress, October 13, 1786; Jay, Corresp. and Public Papers, III., 214.
2 Am. State Papers, For. Rel., I., 104.
All this, like everything else one touches during the dismal period, discloses the helplessness of the confederacy. The English at first were actually curious to know whether Congress or the states individually had the right to negotiate,' and until 1791, eight years after the peace, sent no minister to America; Spain felt no fear save from the aggressive, ambitious spirit of the western settlers; the Barbary powers found the taking of American seamen an easy but not a lucrative employment.
* Dip. Corresp., 1783-1789, II., 567; Adams, Works, VIII., 374. Jay, Corresp. and Public Papers, III., 197. Dip. Corresp., 1783-1789, I., 574.
FOUNDING A COLONIAL SYSTEM
URING the dreariest days of the Revolution,
when it was often uncertain whether independence could be maintained, when British armies were occupying much of American territory, when Washington had not the troops or the equipment to beat the enemy back, there was much discussion concerning the ownership of the land beyond the mountains. For the ownership of the west was not only the source of diplomatic controversy and perplexity; it was also between the states themselves a topic for prolonged dispute. There would seem to have been little haste about determining the ownership of the almost uninhabited wilderness; but it is not strange that a nation which in less than a century was to reach out and occupy a continent and push its settlements three thousand miles beyond the Appalachians should, at the beginning of its existence, be confronted with a land problem and find its earlier political organization complicated with disputes about territorial titles. The parties to this internal controversy were on