Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 26
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APPENDIX—To Gales & Beaton's Messier.
18gJ| g"g^oNSS' ^ Documents accompanying the President's Message. pSen. and H. of R.
gotiated, the other contracting |>arty, being under no
obligation to ratify the compact, before it shall have been'
ascertained whether, and in what manner, it has been dis-
posed of in the United States, its ratification can in no
case be rendered unavailing by the proceedings of the
Government of the United States upon the treaty. And
that every Government contracting with the United
States, and with a full knowledge that all their treaties,
until sanctioned by the constitutional majority of their
Senate, are, and must be, considered as merely inchoate,
and not consummated compacts, is entirely free to with-
hold its own ratification until it shall have knowledge of
the ratification on their part. In the full powers of Eu-
ropean governments to their ministers, the sovereign
usually promises to ratify that which his minister shall
conclude in his name; and yet, if the minister transcends
his instructions, though not known to the other party,
the sovereign is not held bound to ratify his engage-
ments. Of this principle Great Britain has once availed
herself, in her negotiations with the United States. But
the full powers of our ministers abroad are necessarily
modified by the provisions of our constitution, and pro-
mise the ratification of treaties signed by them, only in
the event of their receiving the constitutional sanction
of our own government.
If this arrangement does, in some instances, operate
as a slight inconvenience to other governments, by in-
terposing an obstacle to the facility of negotiation, it is,
on the other hand, essential to guard against evils of the
deepest import to our own nation, utterly incompatible
with the genius of our institutions, and it is supported
by considerations to which the equitable sense of other
nations cannot fail to subscribe.
' The treaties of the United States, are, together with
their Constitution, the supreme law of the land. The
power of contracting them is, in the first instance, given
to the President, a single individual. If negotiated
abroad, it must be by a minister or ministers under his
appointment; and if in Europe, with powers largely dis-.
cretionary—the distances seldom permitting opportuni-
ties to the minister of consulting his Government for in-
structions, during the progress of the negotiation. Were
there no other check or control over this power, and
were there an obligation, even of delicacy, requiring the
unqualified sanction of every treaty so negotiated, the re-
sult would be an authority possessed by every minister
of the United States, entrusted with a full power for ne-
gotiating a treaty, to change the laws of this Union, upon
objects of the first magnitude to the interests of the
In their negotiations with each other, the European
nations are generally so near, and the communications
between them are so easy and regular, that a negotiator
can seldom have a justifiable occasion to agree' to any
important stipulation, without having an opportunity of
asking and receiving the instructions of his govern-
per, that the right of judgment upon all the stipulations
agreed to by a minister, should be reserved, in the most,
unqualified manner, to both governments, parties to the
treaty ; and that every compact, so negotiated, should be
understood to be signed by the minister remote from his
own country, only sub spe rati; not conclusive upon his
nation, until its government shall have passed sentence
of approbation upon it.
These general observations are submitted, in order
that you may make such use of them as you shall deem
expedient to satisfy the British Government, thai, in this
established principle of our constitution, there is nothing
to which any foreign government can justly take excep-
tion : and that it only reserves to our government a
power of supervision, necessary for our own safety
fc Inch the European governments effectively reserve to
themselves, and none more cautiously than Great Bri-
, I am, with great respect, sir, your very humble and
JOHN ClUINCY ADAMS.
Ii. Rush, Esq. Envoy, cjc. London.
Mr. Jlddington to Mr. Adams.
Washington, 6th Nor. 1824.
Sir : You have already been apprised of the circum-
stance of his Majesty, my sovereign, having declined af-
fixing his ratification to the convention concluded in
London on the 13th of March last, between the British
and American Plenipotentiaries, for the more effectual
suppression of the slave trade, amended and qualified ks
that instrument had been by the Senate of the United
In lieu of that convention, however, His Majesty pro-
poses to the American government to substitute ano-
ther, verbatim the same as the amended instrument, one
point alone'excepted ; that exception is, the erasure of
the word " America," in tlie first article, a word which
stood in the original projet of the article, as proposed by
the President to the British Government, but which the
United States thought fit, after the mutual acquiescence •
of both parties in it, to expunge.
In announcing to you the fact of my having been fur-
nished with full powers to conclude and sign with the
American Government a new treaty, such as I have
above described, it will be unnecessary for me to enter
at length into the motives which have actuated His Ma-
jesty in coming to this decision, as you have already been
made acquainted with those motives thro' the medium
of an official letter, addressed,on the 27th August last, by
His Majesty's Secretary of State, to the American En-
voy in London, in which allthe grounds of that determi-
nation are fully expounded.
A few observations, on my part, however, in brief allu-
sion to one or two points connected with this subject,
may here be not misplaced.
In the acquiescence ofllis Majesty in allthe altera-
tions, with one only exception, effected by the Senate
in a treaty originally projected by this government, at
the spontaneous recommendation of the House of lie-
presentatives, the President will, I doubt not, see the
clearest manifestation of the earnest desire of His Ma-
jesty's Government to carry into effect the important
and salutary object for which the treaty was designed,
however they may have deemed the original form in
which that treaty was presented for the ratification of
this government, the best calculated to attain that
To the amendment which would exempt the shores
of America from that vigilance which is to be employed
on those of the British West Indies, thereby destroying
that equality which is the prevailing principle of the pro-
visions of the treaty, and which cannot be withdrawn oil
the one side, or on the other, consistently with the mu-
tual respect and confidence which subsist between the
two contracting parties, His Majesty has found himself
unable to accede ; and I doubt not, that, upon a fair and
unbiassed reconsideration of that point, the American
government will see and acknowledge the justice of
His Majesty's views, and will not hesitate to prove that
acknowledgment, by consenting to re-admit the expung-
ed word " America," into the treaty.
It will not fail, sir, to occur to you, that the condition
required of Great Britain, prior to the signature of the
1 t'eaty by the American Plenipotentiary, namely, the de-
nunciation as piracy, by the British Parliament, of the
slave trade, when exercised by British subjects, has al-
ready been fulfilled.
On the justice of accepting the value already paid for
a stipulated act, and withholding the performance of
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Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/402/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.