CHAPTER V. THE DECLARATION OF PARIS NEGOTIATION
On July 18 Russell informed Adams that Great Britain was ready to enter into a convention with the United States, provided a similar convention was signed with France at the same time. This convention, as submitted by Adams, simply recorded an agreement by the two powers to abide by the four points of the Declaration of Paris, using the exact wording of that document. Adams' draft had been communicated to Russell on July 13. There then followed a delay required by the necessity of securing similar action by Dayton, the American Minister at Paris, but on July 29 Adams reported to Russell that this had been done and that he was ready to sign. Two days later, July 31, Russell replied that he, also, was ready, but concluded his letter, "I need scarcely add that on the part of Great Britain the engagement will be prospective, and will not invalidate anything already done." It was not until August 8, however, that Cowley, the British Ambassador to France, reported that Dayton had informed Thouvenel, French Foreign Minister, that he was ready to sign the similar convention with France. With no understanding, apparently, of the causes of further delay, and professing complete ignorance of the meaning of Russell's phrase, just quoted, Adams waited the expected invitation to an official interview for the affixing of signatures. Since it was a condition of the negotiation that this should be done simultaneously in London and Paris, the further delay that now occurred caused him no misgivings.
On August 19 Russell requested Adams to name a convenient day "in the course of this week," and prefaced this request with the statement that he enclosed a copy of a Declaration which he proposed to make in writing, upon signing the convention. "You will observe," he wrote, "that it is intended to prevent any misconception as to the nature of the engagement to be taken by Her Majesty." The proposed Declaration read:
"In affixing his signature to the Convention of this day
between Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland
and the United States of America, the Earl Russell declares,
by order of Her Majesty, that Her Majesty does not intend
thereby to undertake any engagement which shall have any
bearing, direct or indirect, on the internal differences now
prevailing in the United States."
Under his instructions to negotiate a convention for a pure and simple adherence to the Declaration of Paris, Adams could not now go on to official signature. Nor was he inclined to do so. Sincerely believing, as he stated to Russell in a communication of August 23, that the United States was "acting with the single purpose of aiding to establish a permanent doctrine for all time," and with the object of "ameliorating the horrors of warfare all over the globe," he objected "to accompany the act with a proceeding somewhat novel and anomalous," which on the face of it seemed to imply a suspicion on the part of Great Britain that the United States was "desirous at this time to take a part in the Declaration [of Paris], not from any high purpose or durable policy, but with the view of securing some small temporary object in the unhappy struggle which is going on at home." He also pointed out that Russell's proposed declaration either was or was not a part of the convention. If it was a part then the Senate of the United States must ratify it as well as the convention itself, and he would have gone beyond his instructions in submitting it. If not a part of the convention there could be no advantage in making the Declaration since, unratified by the Senate, it would have no force. Adams therefore declined to proceed further with the matter until he had received new instructions from Washington.
To this Russell answered, August 28, with a very explicit exposition of his reasons. Great Britain, he said, had declared her neutrality in the American conflict, thereby recognizing the belligerent rights of the South. It followed that the South "might by the law of nations arm privateers," and that these "must be regarded as the armed vessels of a belligerent." But the United States had refused to recognize the status of belligerency, and could therefore maintain that privateers issued by the Southern States were in fact pirates, and might argue that a European Power signing a convention with the United States, embodying the principles of the Declaration of Paris, "would be bound to treat the privateers of the so-called Confederate States as pirates." Hence Russell pointed out, the two countries, arguing from contradictory premises as to the status of the conflict in America, might become involved in charges of bad faith and of violation of the convention. He had therefore merely intended by his suggested declaration to prevent any misconception by the United States.