British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

3
BRITISH PLENIPOTENTIARIES TO THE AMERICAN COMMISSIONERS AT GHENT 19 August 18141

. . . In considering the points above referred to as a sine qua non of any treaty of peace2 the view of the British Government is the permanent tranquillity and security of the Indian nations and the prevention of those jealousies and irritations to which the frequent alteration of the Indian limits has heretofore given rise.

For this purpose it is indispensably necessary that the Indian nations who have been during the war in alliance with Great Britain should at the termination of the war be included in the pacification. It is equally necessary that a definite boundary should be assigned to the Indians and that the contracting parties should guarantee the integrity of their territory by a mutual stipulation not to acquire by purchase or otherwise any territory within the specified limits. The British Government are willing to take as the basis of an article on this subject those stipulations of the Treaty of Greenville subject to modifications which relate to a boundary line. . . . 3

Great Britain desires revision of the frontier between her North American dominions and those of the United States not with any view to an acquisition of territory as such but for the purpose of securing her possessions and preventing future dispute. The British Government considers the Lakes from Lake Ontario to Lake Superior both inclusive to be the natural military frontier of the British possessions in North America. As the weaker power in the North American continent, the least capable of acting offensively and the most exposed to sudden invasion, Great Britain considers the military occupation of these Lakes as necessary to the security of her dominions. A boundary line equally dividing these waters with a right in each nation to arm both upon the Lakes and upon their shores, is calculated to create a contest for naval ascendancy in peace as well as in war. The power which so occupies these Lakes should as a necessary result have the military occupation of both shores. . . . 4

____________________
1
F.O. 95/II. The British plenipotentiaries were Lord Gambler, Henry Goulburn, and William Adams.
2
The second head of the Protocol for the Conference of the 8th and 9th August had made the sine qua non of any treaty the extension of peace to the Indian allies of Great Britain and the recognition of the boundaries of their territory as 'a permanent barrier between the dominions of Great Britain and the United States'.
3
The United States-Indian Treaty in 1795, when Indians received and recognized the protection of the United States in the country south-east of Lake Erie.
4
The Americans rejected this plan absolutely and the British plenipotentiaries, in order to preserve negotiations, finally dropped the idea of a buffer state.

-481-

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