Albert Gallatin: Jeffersonian Financier and Diplomat

By Raymond Walters | Go to book overview

26. The London Mission and Its Aftermath
1826=1829

In comparison with the delightful years at Paris, the Gallatins found London dull. When they arrived early in August, 1826, the British capital was in the doldrums. The heat and an impending parliamentary election had scattered the public men to the ends of the land. George Canning, the volatile, devious, dominating man who had inherited the mantle of the great Foreign Minister when Castlereagh cut his throat in a fit of insanity, was at Brighton, seeking "purer air." The men he had deputed to negotiate in his behalf, William Huskisson, President of the Board of Trade, and Henry Unwin Addington for the Foreign Office, were absent on holidays.1

It took several weeks for Gallatin and his ladies to settle down at the American legation at 62 Seymour Street. There was a brief flurry of interest in mid-August, when Canning came up to London for a few days and Gallatin had a pleasant talk with him.2 On the 1st of September, Gallatin journeyed to Windsor Castle to deliver his credentials to King George IV. The "first gentleman of Europe," whom he counted as a cipher, made a gracious little speech expressing the desire for amicable relations between Great Britain and the United States.3 In the weeks that followed Gallatin arranged meetings with Canning, Huskisson, and Addington; but by the end of September they were all gone again.4 "Literally without anything to do," he took Hannah and Frances for a sentimental visit to Paris.

While he revisited old haunts along the boulevards and looked up such old friends as Pozzo di Borgo and Lafayette, he kept his ears open for diplomatic developments. Pozzo di Borgo made it clear that Nicholas I, who had succeeded to the Russian throne in 1825, was not anxious to arbitrate between the United States and Great Britain over the slave indemnities or the border between Maine and New Brunswick, on which the good services of a "friendly sovereign" seemed likely to be needed.5

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