A fortnight was allowed to pass before the British government replied. Then, September 23, Canning sent to the American legation an answer. He began by requesting to know whether the President's proclamation was authentic, and whether it would be withdrawn on a disavowal of the act which led to it; because, as an act of retaliation, it must be taken into account in adjusting the reparation due. He insisted that the nationality of the men seized must
"Chesapeake" affair; and he concluded his argument by saying that his Government looked on this complete adjustment as indispensably necessary to heal the deep wound which had been inflicted on the national honor of the United States. After the severity with which Monroe had been rebuked for disregarding his instructions on this point barely a few months before, he had no choice but to obey his orders without the change of a letter; but he doubtless knew in advance that this course left Canning master of the situation. The British government was too well acquainted with the affairs of America to be deceived by words. That the United States would fight to protect their national vessels was possible; but every one knew that no party in Congress could be induced to make war for the protection of merchant seamen. In rejecting such a demand, not only was Canning safe, but he was also sure of placing the President at odds with his own followers and friends.
- Canning to Monroe, Sept. 23, 1807; State Papers, iii. 199.