William H. Crawford would be the Ambassador during Napoleon’s first exile, Louis XVIII’s re-instatement, and then Napoleon’s escape from Elba.
The U.S. was unprepared for the War of 1812, and the fortunes of war proved vacillating. There were successes, such as William Henry Harrison’s victory in the Battle of the Thames, in which Tecumseh was killed, and Oliver H. Perry’s victory on Lake Erie. But there were also failures, such as a...
The U.S. was unprepared for the War of 1812, and the fortunes of war proved vacillating. There were successes, such as William Henry Harrison’s victory in the Battle of the Thames, in which Tecumseh was killed, and Oliver H. Perry’s victory on Lake Erie. But there were also failures, such as a winter expedition against Montreal; also, Fort Niagara was lost, Black Rock and Buffalo were burned, and great quantities of provisions and stores destroyed. The American hope of conquering Canada began to look like a dream, and the threat remained that the British and their Indian allies might yet gain a hold over territory in the American west in order to create an Indian buffer state between the U.S. and the Mississippi River. The British blockade of the U.S. eastern seaboard was constantly growing more rigid; not a single American man-of-war was on the open sea. Meanwhile the discontent with the war prevailing in New England, which was destined to culminate in the Hartford Convention, continued to be active and to threaten rebellious outbreaks. But the most ominous event was the downfall of Napoleon’s prospects, the likely conclusion of peace in Europe, and, in consequence, the liberation of the military, naval, and financial resources of Great Britain for a vigorous prosecution of the war in America.
Tsar Alexander I saw his ally Britain preoccupied with a war with the United States that he considered a side show, with the real conflict being fought in Europe. Anxious to disentangle Britain from the American war, and to increase his influence in European affairs, Alexander offered through U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Quincy Adams, to mediate the War of 1812. He presented documents detailing its mediation offer to Secretary of State James Monroe on February 27, 1813. Monroe accepted the offer on March 11, and in May sent Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin and former Senator James Bayard to join Adams in St. Petersburg as negotiators. Prior to their leaving, Madison had Monroe prepare instructions to be used by them. Madison also nominated William H. Crawford to be U.S. ambassador to Napoleonic France on May 27, 1813, and the Senate confirmed the appointment the next day. Crawford sailed for France on June 7. His instructions were to demand the repeal of the Berlin and Milan Decrees (put in place by Napoleon to attempt to strangle the British Islands, but in doing so interfering with U.S. commerce), to protest violations of American trading interests, and to attempt to negotiate a commercial treaty.
William H. Crawford was U.S. ambassador to France during the negotiations at Ghent to end the War of 1812, and was responsible for superintending the American consuls in Europe and keeping them informed of developments. More than that, he was an advisor to the President on the happenings on the Continent. As Ambassador to the Court of one of the two major adversaries in the conflicts in Europe, he was also actively involved in the Ghent negotiation process, advising the negotiators and responding to their confidential communiqués.
Document signed by President James Madison and Secretary of State James Monroe, Washington, May 28, 1813, appointing Crawford “plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Court of his Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor of the French and King of Italy; authorizing you hereby to do and perform all such matters and things as to the said place…”
This remarkable and unique document was acquired form the direct descendants of William H. Crawford and has never before been offered for sale.
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