The caroline affair and the diplomatic crisis between britain and the United States in the period 1837-1841

Abstract: The Caroline affair has been one of the historical events of British-American diplomacy since the War of 1812 to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty 1842. The beginning of accident was the destruction of the American Caroline ship by British Army forces in Upper Canada on December 29, 1837. When the incident occurred, Britain’s and the United States’ opinions on this issue was in stark contrast. The differences in opinions were the causes of tensions between the two countries. In the threat of war occurrence, Britain and the United States held talks on the Caroline affair. Caroline's handling of the problem had played a significant role in reducing tensions, paving the way for resolving conflicts in the relationship between the two countries through the Webster-Ashburton treaty in 1842. At the same time, this issue established new principles in international politics. This article is intended to contribute to the history of the Caroline affair, McLeod’s case and the history of British-American relations related to this issue from 1837 to 1841.

pdf9 trang | Chia sẻ: thanhle95 | Lượt xem: 137 | Lượt tải: 2download
Bạn đang xem nội dung tài liệu The caroline affair and the diplomatic crisis between britain and the United States in the period 1837-1841, để tải tài liệu về máy bạn click vào nút DOWNLOAD ở trên
Tạp chí Khoa học Xã hội, Nhân văn và Giáo dục – ISSN 1859 – 4603 UED JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES & EDUCATION 44 | UED Journal of Social Sciences, Humanities & Education, Vol 7. No.5 (2017), 44-52 * Corresponding author Nguyen Van Sang The University of Danang - University of Science and Education PhD.Candidate, Institute of History - University of Lodz, Poland Email: nguyenvansang168@gmail.com Received: 05 – 09 – 2017 Accepted: 20 – 12 – 2017 THE CAROLINE AFFAIR AND THE DIPLOMATIC CRISIS BETWEEN BRITAIN AND THE UNITED STATES IN THE PERIOD 1837-1841 Nguyen Van Sang Abstract: The Caroline affair has been one of the historical events of British-American diplomacy since the War of 1812 to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty 1842. The beginning of accident was the destruction of the American Caroline ship by British Army forces in Upper Canada on December 29, 1837. When the incident occurred, Britain’s and the United States’ opinions on this issue was in stark contrast. The differences in opinions were the causes of tensions between the two countries. In the threat of war occurrence, Britain and the United States held talks on the Caroline affair. Caroline's handling of the problem had played a significant role in reducing tensions, paving the way for resolving conflicts in the relationship between the two countries through the Webster-Ashburton treaty in 1842. At the same time, this issue established new principles in international politics. This article is intended to contribute to the history of the Caroline affair, McLeod’s case and the history of British-American relations related to this issue from 1837 to 1841. Key words: Britain; the United States; diplomatic crisis; Caroline affair; McLeod’s case. 1. Introduction Caroline is the name of a ship owned by the Americans, used to support the insurgency against British rule in Upper Canada in 1837 [1]. The ship was subsequently captured, burned and sank near Niagara Falls under the command of Colonel Alan MacNab of the militia force and Captain Andrew Drew of British Royal Navy. Americans see this incident as an encroachment on their state honor. Immediately the Americans along the border asked the Government to start a war with Britain in Canada. The diplomatic crisis in relations between Britain and America emerged. It was called Caroline affair, Caroline case, Caroline incident or Caroline controversy [2]. This crisis could be lead to the outbreak of a war between the two countries. Diplomatic activities were conducted by the British and American governments to resolve Caroline affair while avoiding a possible war until an agreement was reached through the Webster - Ashburton Treaty [3]. 2. The beginning of Caroline affair in 1837 In 1837, in Upper Canada, present Ontario, a group of people under the command of William Lyon Mackenzie [4] revolted against British rule to fight for Canadian independence [5]. The intrusion of liberalism and coercion by the British colonial Government in Canada was the main cause of the uprising. In addition, Canadians were not satisfied with the British rule and considered the United States as a model, a source of support and shelter [6]. The news of the uprising spread out rapidly and received support from many parts of the United States, especially the part of the people along the Canadian border [7]. Some American supporters of the revolt believed that the uprising was the spiritual succession of the war of independence in 1776. They hoped the uprising would completely eradicate the British rule in North America, what Americans regretted when their revolution in 1783 did not achieve. They believed that Britain had finally given up its rule in ISSN 1859 - 4603 - UED Journal of Social Sciences, Humanities & Education, Vol 7. No.5 (2017), 44-52 45 North America, and Canada would join the Federation of Americas. American supporters of the uprising also intended to bring the issue of democracy into Canada, furthermore desired for interests in this land. At this time, the bearers of missionary ideals in the American leadership also strongly supported the uprising [8]. Their support posed a threat to peace between Britain and the United States, which had strained ties between the two countries, possibly leading to a war between the two. The US Government also recognized that. On November 21st, 1837, the United States declared neutral for the uprising and called on the Americans to obey [9]. However, due to the strong involvement of a large body of American citizens in the uprising, government efforts failed [10]. Subsequent to his failure in Upper Canada, William Lyon Mackenzie, the leader of the uprising and a remnant of the group, fled to the United States seeking more support. As the insurgents arrived in Buffalo, Dec 12th, 1837 Trowbridge, Mayor of Buffalo, sent a letter to Mr. Fillmore, who was later a member of the US Senate. In the letter, he expressed concern that the presence of insurgents and the support of a part of the Americans would pose a nuisance to relations between Britain and the United States [11]. On the following day, William Lyon Mackenzie and Rolfe held a meeting in Buffalo, New York on the rise, calling for arms assistance and recruiting American volunteers to enter Upper Canada. Immediately, hundreds of American volunteers joined, weapons and ammunition were provided [12]. At the same time, William Lyon Mackenzie, along with more than 25 men, controlled and formed an interim government in the Navy Island [13]. The uprising caused British attention. The governor of Upper Canada sent a message to the Governor of New York to inform the insurgents but did not receive a reply. The situation became more serious when on December 28th, 1837, Mr. Trowbridge reported that 200 or 300 men, mostly American campers were found on the Navy Island in Upper Canada. The force was armed under the command of an American named Van Rensselaer and involved in the uprising. The force then increased to more than 1,000 people [14]. In particular, this was also the time when insurgents on the island began receiving support from the Caroline. This vessel worked like a ferry from the US coast [15], mainly at Black Rock and the Navy Island in communication between insurgents on the island to land [16]. Colonel Allan Napier Mc Nab, the commander of British forces at Chippewa, predicted that the destruction of the Caroline would prevent American support for the Navy Island and disrupted the Canadian admission plan by the rebellion. Therefore, he ordered an expedition for this purpose [17]. According to Captain Gilman Appleby, the Caroline departed Buffalo on the morning of December 29th and arrived at the port of Schlosser in New York. On the way, the train stopped at Black Rock. Upon leaving the Black Rock, a series of rifles fired at Caroline from Canada but did not damage it. After releasing "a guest number" on the Navy Island, Caroline docked and landed at Fort Schlosser around 3 pm. In the afternoon, Caroline made two trips to the Navy Island and finally returned to Schlosser around 6 pm. In the evening, 10 crew and 23 people were all American citizens who stayed on board the whole night. At midnight, about 70-80 men were armed with weapons on board and attacked on board ships with rifles and swords. Crew and passengers with all 33 people tried to escape. The ship was captured, towed to land owned by British forces, then was cut, pulled out to pull to the river, burned and pushed down the Niagara Falls [18]. The captain and crew all said that the attack was carried out by British forces garrisoned in Upper Canada's Chippewa. Because, after Caroline was destroyed, they heard loud shouting from the shores of Canada [19]. In the attack, the two killed Amos Durfee were killed in the dock with a bullet on the head and a boy serving the cabin on the board, two others were arrested [20]. 3. British-American opinions and the diplomatic crisis in their relations related to the Caroline affair On January 4th 1838, President Van Buren received information about Caroline affair and determined to avoid a war with Britain. Van Buren immediately ordered General Winfield Scott to come to the Niagara border to lead the US military and use his "rhetoric and diplomacy" to awake American volunteers withdraw from the uprising of the Canadians [21]. On January 5th, 1838, President Van Buren issued a neutral Nguyen Van Sang 46 statement, urging US citizens to stop hostilities. He said these actions affected the neutrality of the United States, interfered in the internal affairs of neighboring British territories, and even violated the law and territory of the neighboring country [22]. On the same day, the United States gave its first opinion regarding Caroline affair by Mr. Forsyth, the message of US Secretary of State to the British Minister, Fox in Washington. Mr. Forsyth expressed his surprise, regretted the incident, and warned that the incident would create the subject of a claim and demanded Upper Canada to respond soon to the incident [23]. However, on the British side, Mr. Fox in the reply letter of 6 January 1838 made three pleas for the action by British forces: 1. The piracy nature of the Caroline ship and the need for self-defense; 2. The usual US rules were not enforced at the time of the event and in reality the rebels were publicly acknowledged; 3. Caroline's pursuit and destruction was self-defense and self-preservation [24]. On the basis of the defense, the British expressed a lack of seriousness, no interest, no recognition of any wrongdoing [25]. Britain's lack of respect for the Caroline affair did not please the United States government. Not giving up, the ambassador of the United States in London, Stevenson continued to pursue the case. He sent a letter to British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston, who promised to look into the issue [26]. The issue was actually reviewed again by lawyers. However, their report dated February 21, 1838 and concluded on March 25, 1838, the British affirmed, they felt that the actions of British institutions were absolutely necessary for the future, not retaliation for the past. As a result, they believed the behavior of British forces was in accordance with the National Law. This argument was repeated in the subsequent time that led to Caroline affair not being adequately dealt with. Stevenson's efforts did not change the British attitude [27]. In fact, the British began to worry about the Caroline ship affair during Christie's arrest for allegedly engaging in assaults on Caroline ship [28] and Alexander McLeod [29] on charges of murdering and burning down Caroline ship [30]. The McLeod’s case began with the fact that a deputy police of Niagara County in Upper Canada named Alexander McLeod boasted that he was involved in the destruction of the Caroline. Immediately, the US authorities arrested McLeod in Lewiston, New York on November 12th, 1840 [31]. McLeod was arrested at Lockport prison for allegedly deliberately burning down the Caroline and killing Amos Durfee. Following the arrest of Christie and McLeod, the British administration began to issue visas for the Caroline affair and McLeod case. December 13th, 1840 Fox sent a letter to Mr. Forsyth responded to the arrest of McLeod by US Government. He said the accusation was insufficient evidence and called for McLeod's release. In the letter, Mr. Fox reiterated the principle mentioned in the case of Christie and reaffirmed that the case of McLeod was just the execution of the order by the superiors. The destruction of the Caroline ship was the topic of discussion between the two governments and could not force citizens to take responsibility [32]. Mr. Forsyth answered Mr. Fox that McLeod's imprisonment is the jurisdiction of the State of New York, not under the authority of the federal government, so the interference by the federal government in the area under the jurisdiction of the state would be inappropriate [33]. In fact, at this moment, President Van Buren was campaigning for the election and trying to win the support of state voters, especially in New York state. The view of the state and the federal authority was one of the most sensitive political issues at the moment [34]. So, during the exchange between Mr. Fox and Mr. Forsyth later, their views on Caroline and McLeod did not change significantly [35]. 4. The process of negotiation and resolutions about the Caroline affair When William Henry Harrison was elected President on March 4th, 1841, his administration embodied more pragmatic thoughts on US issues, including relations with Britain [36]. British Minister, Mr. Fox felt that the new administration was fit to demand the release of Alexander McLeod. Therefore, on March 12th 1841, Mr. Fox sent a letter to US Secretary of State Daniel Webster, who was considered more tolerant than his predecessor. Beside representing the same opinion as in the conversations with Mr. Forsyth, Mr. Fox presented a new opinion that the McLeod’s case was an international political issue that must be resolved by the two governments, and the New York State court had no capacity and authority to decide [37]. As it was related to the relationship between ISSN 1859 - 4603 - UED Journal of Social Sciences, Humanities & Education, Vol 7. No.5 (2017), 44-52 47 federal and state rights, so when receiving a letter from Mr. Fox, Daniel Webster immediately sent a letter to John J. Crittenden, Attorney General of the United States for legal support for McLeod's problem [38]. Two problems were stated by Mr. Webster that he would like to adopt the McLeod's case to force the British government to resolve the Caroline affair and to seek help from Crittenden to find the way to liberate McLeod [39]. Based on the Constitution, the Harrison administration said that the federation had jurisdiction over diplomatic relations and that it was the basis for the intervention in the state of New York for McLeod’s case [40]. However, within a month of his administration, Harrison died [41]. John Tyler replaced him to be the President of the United States, continuing to assert that there was no great disagreement with Britain, advocating peaceful relations and bringing about much change in the British foreign policy [42]. At the start of the administration of John Tyler, one of the Caroline affair’s and McLeod's controversial events changed the course when Daniel Webster, who had been appointed Secretary of State, sent letters to Mr. John Tyler. Fox on April 24th, 1841. In the letter, Webster presented the solution to both Caroline affair and McLeod case. One of the contents of this letter was known as "Caroline Ruler" in the international law [43]. Webster accepted the British request for personal non-liability in the event that they acted on the orders of the superiors, or in other words, Webster had drafted and firstly issued the right of self-defense and protection (self-defense and self- preservation). However, the trial was a hindrance to the release of McLeod. If the federal government intervened to free McLeod, it had to find a way to comply with the law and the proceedings of the court [44]. This meant that McLeod had to be brought to court so that prosecutors could file charges against prosecution. Webster explained that while British law allowed the prosecutor to institute charges of not being prosecuted at any time during the course of the case, New York state law only allowed this in the sessions of court meeting [45]. This made Fox unhappy when he pointed out that McLeod was not guilty and did not have to be judged. However, the New York Supreme Court rejected a “nolle prosequi” and also denied the “habeas corpus” order. The only way that the court could do was to judge at the court. The McLeod's trial took place and there was no evidence that McLeod's involvement in the Caroline affair. McLeod was acquitted in October 1841 [46]. At this point, the failure to resolve the Caroline affair and the lengthy handling of the McLeod's case, along with other issues, was the reason for the growing tension between the United States and Britain that needed to be resolved by a peaceful measure to prevent a war [47]. In fact, national honor was a barrier for the United States government and Britain in resolving the Caroline affair. In this situation, at the meeting between Lord Aberdeen, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Edward Everett, Ambassador of the United States to London in late December 1841 [48], Aberdeen announced that Lord Ashburton who would be sent to Washington [49] had a mission to negotiate with the United States on border issues and other issues, including the Caroline affair and McLeod's case [50]. Lord Ashburton's mission also received support from the new US administration [51]. During the treaty negotiations, Webster and Ashburton exchanged letters. On July 27th, 1842, Webster sent a letter to Lord Ashburton about the Caroline affair, which provided a more detailed formula of self-defense and self- preservation [52]. Webster continued to assert that the destruction of the Caroline ship had severely damaged the sovereignty and honor of the United States while the United States had not received any compensation, even apologies from the British [53]. In response to Webster, Lord Ashburton, seeking to find a peaceful solution to British-US relations, acknowledged that the Caroline affair was destroyed by British forces in Upper Canada. This action had been accepted by the British government and was not intended to be disrespectful to the United States authorities. Ashburton said it was too long since the incident, so he expressed the desire to apologize to the United States Government and to provide justification for British action in the case of Caroline [54]. Thus, Webster acknowledged that the use of force was justified as a necessity of self-defense, while Lord Ashburton argued that there were plausible grounds for defending the United States. The United States had received a similar apology from the British government via Ashburton's letter which made President John Tyler satisfied and affirmed that the Caroline affair would never become further discussion between the two Nguyen Van Sang 48 governments [55]. The British side did not have to compensate for the Caroline's destruction by Caroline's allegedly illegal operation. Thus, the United States and the United Kingdom were satisfied with each other's views. The Caroline affair was officially closed two days before the Webster - Ashburton treaty was signed a few days later [56]. 5. Conclusion Thus, the Caroline affair in 1837 and McLeod’s case was a diplomatic incident in the relationship between Britain and the United States over the issue of Canada. National interests and honor were the issues that caused the problem to last long, leading to tensions in the relationship between the two countries. However, the highly regarded point of views of the two governments were the basis for ending the Caroline affair and McLeod's case. Ending the Caroline affair solved one of the major conflicts between the United States and Britain, ending the threat of war between the two countries, similar to the
Tài liệu liên quan