Over the fall and winter of 1838 and spring of 1839, two sets of peace negotiations played out in or near London, and Palmerston divided his time between them. As both sets of negotiations took place on royal castles, the queen was the official host of both. Despite the entreaty of Willem of the Netherlands, she confined her role to greeting and welcoming the various parties.
In St. James’ Palace, beginning in October, the foreign minister met with representatives of France, Prussia, and the Bonapartist and Orangist factions of the Netherlands. Their goal was to decide the ruling house of the Netherlands, and the orientation of its foreign policy. Meanwhile, in Windsor Palace in mid-December, Palmerston met with U.S. Secretary of State John Tyler, Louisiana’s Hyde de Neuville, the Spanish ambassador Francisco Javier de Istúriz y Montero, and Mariano Paredes of New Spain. Representatives from France and Italy were also in attendance. Their goal was to bring a peaceful resolution to the War of 1837…
H. Michael Wolcott, A History of Western International Diplomacy, 1648-1858
March 28, 1839
No. 10 Downing Street
“I know this isn’t what you wanted, Henry,” said Palmerston. “You wanted the situation in the Netherlands resolved first. But the Dutch are not cooperating, and Tyler is. I have delayed matters as long as I can.”
Brougham nodded. “Are the French making demands?”
“Yes. But for what it may be worth, I don’t believe the situation at St. James is their fault. The Prussians are being every bit as stubborn there.”
“Then whatever is, this isn’t all some French plot.” Brougham shook his head. “Even knowing that this is the last thing Berrien wants, I hate it. It irks me to give that popinjay anything resembling a victory.”
Suppose I don’t sign the treaty
, he thought. Suppose I try to keep the territory in question. How much would it cost to fortify it? Even enough to protect it from invasion, let alone to build fleets on three lakes, to threaten—
he glanced at the map—New York and Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan? At least with this treaty, the new border will be easier to defend.
Unfortunately, that will be true on both sides.
“Even if he signs the treaty, you will get some of what you wanted,” said Palmerston.
“Well, yes.” Brougham smiled. “And there’s always a chance that Berrien will refuse. They say he’s a madman. If he doesn’t sign the treaty, it all falls apart and the war is on again. But that gives us several months to sort things out in the Netherlands. Make the most of them.”
The Treaty of Windsor was signed on Good Friday of 1839. According to its terms:
• The U.S. Treasury would pay the United Kingdom a sum of $10 million and Louisiana $5 million, officially as compensation for losses in the war. This was about a fifth of the cost of the war, but Tyler arranged for it to be payable over five years, and secured loans from the Banque de France and James de Rothschild to help meet the costs.
• Georgian Bay and the North Channel of Lake Huron would form part of the U.S.-Canada boundary. Cockburn and Manitoulin Islands would be U.S. territory. The disposition of other islands would be settled in later negotiations following a thorough survey by both nations.
• East of Georgian Bay, the border would run along the 45th parallel to the 79th meridian, then south along the 79th meridian to Lake Ontario.
While this evicted Canada from Lake Erie and put the most populous part of Upper Canada in U.S. hands, including the city of Toronto, it allowed Canada to retain a presence on Lake Ontario, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. This meant that the United States would still need to maintain a naval presence on those lakes if they wanted to keep their conquest.
Florida was kept intact, and remained British. New Spain was determined not to have suffered enough to justify compensation.
And so, Tyler was sent back to Washington, D.C. on the steamship Great Western…
H. Michael Wolcott, A History of Western International Diplomacy, 1648-1858
When the Senate passed the treaty at the end of April, Berrien might have felt (if the story had been written yet) as though he had turned over the black hourglass and wished for a short, victorious war—and with the hour long since passed, it was too late to take back the wish. He had gone to war to increase U.S. territory, and after less than a year and a half of war, U.S. territory had indeed been increased…
Andrea Fessler, The Waves from Sinepuxent
April 30, 1839
Berrien couldn’t remember the last time he’d had this many people in the Oval Office at the same time. Senators Southard, Clay, Winthrop, and Crockett had pride of place in front, along with his own secretary of state. Behind them were Representative Webster, Secretaries Poinsett, Upshur, and Taney, Generals Scott, Taylor, Kearny, and Armistead, and Admiral Perry.
“So many guests, and me without any whiskey,” he said. As witticisms went, it would have to do. He was betrayed, outnumbered, and quite possibly defeated, but the least he could do was keep his chin up.
“This shouldn’t take long,” said Southard, putting a sheaf of papers on his desk. “Secretary Tyler has achieved an honorable peace. The Senate has signed the treaty, 45 to 5. We are here to witness your signature.”
“What you mean to say,” said Berrien, “is that you’re all here to twist my arm until I sign it.”
“Think how silly you can make us all look if you sign it right away without any argument, Mr. President,” said Tyler. You damned traitor. I sent you to London to buy time, not this
“What if I don’t sign it at all?”
“Then I have failed you as Secretary of State, and must resign that office and return to private life.”
“I will do the same,” said Poinsett.
“As will I,” said Upshur. Berrien tried to imagine having to replace three Cabinet officers in the face of a hostile Senate.
“So will Admiral Perry, the other generals, and myself, sir,” said General Scott. He stepped forward, looming over everyone else in the room. “In our opinion, sir, this war has come to a satisfactory conclusion. We have taken that portion of the Canadas that revolted against British authority and brought them under our own umbrella. Having to pay the British for it, and going into debt to Paris in the process—that is a blow, but a growing nation can overcome it. We’re not willing to prosecute this war any further.”
“Not to be discourteous, but why is Mr. Webster here? This isn’t House business.”
“I hoped you would ask,” said Southard. “Mr. Webster can answer that himself.”
Daniel Webster stepped forward, Clay moving aside to make room for him. “Do not forget, Mr. President, that this was my war as much as yours. If Congress had not declared war, there would be no war. And as we speak, the House Budget Committee is considering the budget for fiscal year 1840. If necessary, we are fully prepared to reduce military expenditures to 1836 levels.”
“If we must, we shall.” He gestured to Taney.
“Mr. President,” said Taney, “we cannot raise enough money—not by bonds, not by taxes, not by tariffs—to win this war in one year. We cannot even sustain our current expenditures as things stand. If you doubt this, you may ask for my resignation.”
“And yet we have enough money to pay off the British.”
“Not yet,” said Tyler. “Our allies are loaning us those monies. And they were quite clear that these loans were contingent on your signature of the treaty.”
“And the rest of you gentlemen—you will allow this?”
“Do you doubt our patriotism, Mr. President?” said Poinsett. “Have we given you any cause? The generals, admirals, John Tyler, Abel, myself—each of us has labored in our own way to bring our nation victory in this war. But to continue to pursue it would be wrong, and if we have no power to prevent that wrong… well, there comes a point where even the best of men must turn Pilate. Better to wash our hands of evil than entangle ourselves further in it.”
Scott nodded. “You know the line from Beaumont and Fletcher? ‘If there were no such instruments as thou/We kings could never act such wicked deeds’? You, sir, are no king, and we are no such instruments.”
I want Florida. I want Louisiana. I want Texas
But he couldn’t get them without his secretaries of war and the Navy. Or his treasurer. Or his best generals and admiral. Certainly not in a year, and from what Webster had said, a year was all he had left.
I was defeated at Levy’s Field. I survived that, and here I am. I can survive this.
He signed the treaty.
Everyone in the room applauded. “Thank you, Mr. President,” said Southard.
“There is one more matter,” said Winthrop. Of course there is
. There was only one reason Winthrop would be here.
“While I have no enthusiasm for your office,” he continued, “I must remind you—you told me after your impeachment that you would not resign because you had a war to win. You are still impeached, and you no longer have that war. What will you do?”
“What will I do? I will continue exercising this office as best I can. Certain people in this room”—he deliberately did not look at Webster—“have accused me often enough of ‘Caesarism.’ I reject the accusation. I respect the will of the people. I respect it so much, in fact, that I am willing to subject myself to it in November of next year. Let me speak to them, and then let them judge me as they see fit.”
I am an orator, after all. If I can do nothing else, I can speak and persuade
It was a mistake to lead the people where they were not ready to go. I see that now. But give me another election, and I can
make them ready.
The end of the war affected some industries more than others. In his memoris, Christian Sharpes describes how the city of Harpersburgh nearly died the year after it was incorporated. Civilian demand for rifles and revolvers, though considerable in the United States, was not the same as the Army’s. Meanwhile, the Rappahannock Works, which had made the rockets deployed at Fort Severn, Falmouth, and Mount Hope, was purchased by William Aiken and re-retooled to make iron rails again.
Likewise, the majority of the incendiary-makers had to go back to selling patent medicines—and some were altogether ruined, having incurred more debt than they could meet the interest on without Army contracts. Stabler Brothers halted production of No. 23 (which although it was by far the most powerful incendiary in the American arsenal was quite dangerous to stockpile), reduced its production of white phosphorus to a tenth of what it had been, and redirected this output toward the makers of matches and fireworks. When asked why his brother Thomas did not abandon the product entirely, Robinson Stabler, oldest of the brothers, said, “Someone will make it, and no one can do it more safely.” The brothers continued to manufacture their less potent but safer incendiary, No. 19, albeit at reduced quantity. They also continued to produce gunpowder, and to experiment further into other propellants.
One who did not need to scale back production at all, but only retool a little, was Benjamin T. Babbitt, creator of Babbitt’s Best Incendiary. Babbitt’s distillery in Little Falls produced alcohol of a purity that the best moonshiners could hardly match. Having more interest in other fields, he sold the distillery in 1839 to Aeneas Coffey Jr., an Irish immigrant who was the son and namesake of one of the world’s most famous distillers. Aeneas Jr. would use his own knowledge of the industry to improve the Little Falls Distillery and make it an institution that flourishes to this day.
Babbitt himself had much more use for the other ingredient in his incendiary—rapeseed oil, which he extracted from oilseeds he bought in bulk from farms all over New England and the Mid-Atlantic. Although no one knew yet of the health hazards of rapeseed oil, they knew it was unpalatable to humans and not even much use as animal feed. It would be over a hundred years before agronomists in Maryland bred the cultivar from which modern brassicic oil is made. But it was an excellent lubricant, both for the trains whose tracks had expanded through the Hiemal Period and the war, and for the many machines that Babbitt himself built. He sold bottles of the oil in the same shop where he sold his patented mowing machine.
The oil had other uses as well. It could be burned in the same lamps as whale oil, and produced nearly as bright a flame—and, as it happened, the American whaling industry had been shut down by the war. Whalers towing whales back to Nantucket were too easy a target for British commerce raids. Even those whaler crews who were not captured took up fishing or working for the Navy to make ends meet. Babbitt was only too happy to flood the market with cheap lamp oil while the Nantucketers were still trying to assemble crews for new whaling voyages. (Even today, rapeseed oil is often used as a component of BPPs.)
Thomas Wingrove, An Economic History of the United States, Vol. 2
CANNING BRITISH EMBASSY PARIS 040839 PNKT
GOOD MORNING PNKT
PARIS IN SPRINGTIME FINE AS EVER PNKT
TAKING FLETCHERS SOMEWHERE BEAUTIFUL THIS WINTER PNKT
SUGGESTIONS WELCOME PNKT
 This is about what the U.S. paid for the whole Southwest after the Mexican-American War.
 I’m basing this on the cost of the Mexican-American war, which involved smaller armies and less damage to U.S. assets, but greater transportation costs. Basically I’m not great at calculating the cost of a whole war.
 An anachronistic reference to the story “The Black Hourglass” by Charles Brady, first published in 1866.
 He’s been promoted since the Bay of Fundy.
 A King and No King
, Act III, scene 3, lines 296-7.
 Harpers Ferry and Bolivar. As the spelling indicates, this is another Pittsburgh wannabe.
 You might want to recheck this post
, which I’ve had to update. Turns out there were more living Stablers than I knew about when I originally wrote it.
 Biopiezopyric fuels (OTL biodiesels). Yes, great machines of peace and war ITTL will fill their tanks with PP. I’m not even sorry.