Excerpt from The Diplomatic Archives of the Department of State, 1789-1840
We get, in fact, from this correspondence a vivid contemporary history of five years of the Napoleonic wars, a history at times based on sur mise and conjecture, it is true, but bringing the situation before us with remarkable distinctness. Any one of these letters might be selected and printed in this pamphlet as an illustration of the kind of historical material that lies concealed in these archives, but I have chosen the one commenting on the retreat of Napoleon from Moscow (no. VII, p.
Adams had the task in hand of discussing with the court of Russia the reasons for America's entering the war and was also later con cerned with the proposition of Russian mediation. The reports of his interviews have therefore evident value in American diplomatic history. We should naturally be more surprised, however, to find that not even all the American materials for a study of the treaty of Ghent are at hand in print. It is hard to see how any set of despatches could touch us more closely than the series sent by Adams during the dreary wait ing at Ghent (see Nos. VIII - X, pp. 43 Perhaps we can see by reading these why the United States was willing to accept a peace that did not essentially settle the objects of the war, and why the com missioners were ready to close hostilities by signing such a treaty. By studying such despatches as these of Adams we get an idea of the per sistent fight England made against Napoleon's power, of the continuing interest of the United States, of how England finally brought America to a stage of exasperation and desperation, and of the position of tre mendons importance that England occupied after the first overthrow of Napoleon.
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