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My letter to you, herewith enclosed, will give you the credence necessary to enable you to do the business, which it commits to your management, and which I am persuaded you will readily undertake.
Your inquiries will commence by observing, that, as the pre^ sent constitution of government and of the courts established in pursuance of it, removes the objections heretofore made to putting the United States in possession of their frontier posts, it is natural to expect from the assurances of his Majesty and the national good faith, that no unnecessary delays will take place. Proceed then to press a speedy performance of the treaty, respecting that object.
Remind them of the article by which it was agreed, that negroes belonging to our citizens should not be carried away, and of the reasonableness of making compensation for them. Learn with precision, if possible, what they mean to do on this head.
The commerce between the two countries you well under stand. You are apprized of the sentiments and feelings of the United States on the present state of it, and you doubtless have heard, that in the late session of Congress, a very respectable number of both houses were inclined to a discrimination of du ties unfavorable to Britain, and that it would have taken place, but for conciliatory considerations, and the probability that the late change in our government and circumstances would lead to more satisfactory arrangements.
Request to be informed, therefore, whether they contemplate a treaty of commerce with the United States, and on what principles or terms in general. In treating this subject, let it be strongly impressed on your mind, that the privilege of carrying our productions in our vessels to their islands, and of bringing in return the productions of those islands to our own ports and markets, is regarded here as of the highest importance ; and you. will be careful not to countenance any idea of our dispensing with it in a treaty. Ascertain, if possible, their views on this point ; for it would not be expedient to commence negotiations without previously having good reasons to expect a satisfactory termination of them.
It may also be well for you to take a proper occasion of re marking, that their omitting to send a minister here, when the United States sent one to London, did not make an agreeable impression on this country ; and request to know what would be their future conduct on similar occasions.
It is in my opinion very important, that we avoid errors in our system of policy respecting Great Britain, and this can only be done by forming a right judgment of their disposition and views. Hence you will perceive how interesting it is, that you obtain the information in question, and that the business be so managed, as that it may receive every advantage, which abilities, address, and delicacy can promise and afford. I am. Sir, Your most obedient humble servant,
- George Washington
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832