Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 3.djvu/427

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Chapter 18: Rejection of Monroe's Treaty

Monroe was singularly unfortunate in diplomacy. His disasters came not in any ordinary form of occasional defeat or disappointment, but in waves and torrents of ill-luck. No diplomatist in American history, except Monroe and Pinkney, ever signed a treaty in flagrant contradiction to orders, and at the same time submitted to be told that the opposite party to the contract reserved a right to break it; but if any other man had taken such a step it would have answered for a lifetime, and his mortifications would have ended there. No one could assume that the British ministry would care to do more, pending the ratification of its own treaty. Fox's successor, one of the most liberal Whig noblemen, having imposed on the United States terms which would have been hard as the result of war, with the addition that even these terms were conditional on a declaration of hostilities between the United States and France, the liberal Whigs might be supposed willing to wait for some new pretext before publicly tearing their own treaty to pieces.

If Monroe flattered himself that he had for the moment checked British aggression, he quickly