• British Statesman Writes Of Ghent Treaty, The Slave Question, Adams-Onis Treaty

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    Offering a 7 pp, 7 ¼ x 9 ½, ALS, July 28, 1820, Washington, from ANTHONY ST. JOHN BAKER (1785-1854), who was Charge D’Affaires to SIR CHARLES BAGOT, G.C.B., former British Ambassador to the United States with superb political discussion about reshuffling the British legation, the Treaty of Ghent, intended, in part, to eliminate the slave trade, and the Adams-Onis Treaty.  St. John Baker carried the Treaty of Ghent to the United States at the close of the War of 1812.


    Marked “Private,” the letter reads, in part:

    “...We have had and still have in this country very warm weather but with the exception of a slight alarm in Connecticut which soon subsided have escaped all dangerous fevers (speaking of yellow fever)... Washington is in the same place it has always been at the end of July—quite quiet and desolate...We do not expect Stratford Canning [Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire] until towards the beginning of October in time to make preparations for the Winter Campaign.  My staff remains much in status quo expecting that Buchanan and Robertson have as you know gone home on a short leave of absence. The former, I hope and trust, will never return...Buchanan’s son [quite a youth] has the temporary charge of his consulate by Lord Castlereach’s express desire, and Crawford acts at Philadelphia...I now very seldom hear from Manners, the postage I presume having silenced him, as some Boston gentlemen who came here expecting the loan told me, what, at all events, I hope is an exaggeration, that his only means of subsistence were fish which is obtained for little or nothing, and potatoes which he raised himself. This ought not to be allowed at a place like Boston.  Dictators may dig but not consuls.

    “Mr. Digges [apropos of digging] has told me many particulars about the slaves under our Ghent Treaty [signed in 1814] which question you will probably have to settle, but you will no doubt find all his information in the letter which he forwarded you...In relation to the threatening tariff question...I will be curious if the Americans commence a system of restriction and bounties at the time we begin to abolish them and to remove the impediments to free trade...Baldwin is the great champion of the new AM. System. General Vives...and Gallatin are directly at issue with respect to a conversation which took place at Paris and which Gallatin reported home. Gallatin’s letter ought not to have appeared. It was I am informed sent to Congress by mistake...It is said unintentionally, although some ultra-wise people think it was meant to injure Gallatin...”

    [The reference is to the new Spanish Ambassador to the U.S., who denied that he told Gallatin he could turn over Florida to the U.S. without waiting for ratification of the Adams-Onis Treaty.  Under the treaty, the United States and Spain defined the western limits of the Louisiana Purchase and Spain surrendered its claims to the Pacific Northwest. In return the United States recognized Spanish sovereignty over Texas.]


    ANTHONY ST. JOHN BAKER came to the United States in 1812 as Secretary to the British Legation. Recalled in 1813, he returned in 1815 to ratify the Treaty of Ghent, having served as Secretary to the British Commission at Ghent. Baker stayed on as Charge D’Affaires until the arrival of Sir Charles Bagot as the new British Ambassador in July 1815. St. John Baker recorded his impressions in written accounts and watercolor sketches, several representing landscaped grounds and gardens.

    SIR CHARLES BAGOT (1781-1843) held a seat in Partiament from 1807-1809, was Minister Plenipotentiary to France in 1814 and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United States in 1815. With Richard Rush, he negotiated the Rush-Bagot Treaty to limit naval forces on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain, and helped to negotiate the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, which defined the border between British North America and the United States from Lake of Woods to the Pacific Ocean. He was the first Governor General of the Province of Canada. Thomas Attwood Digges (1742-1821) of Maryland was disowned by his family for indiscretions and moved to England for several years; he served as an informant to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin on the welfare of American prisoners in England during the Revolutionary War. Franklin later accused him of embezzling funds intended for those prisoners; Francisco Dionisio Vives (1755-1840) was a Spanish general, Minister of Spain to the United States and Governor of Cuba.

    Letter has folds, very light toning. Crisp writing in period brown ink.

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