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History
      "Russia is the most cordially friendly to us of any power on Earth." Thomas Jefferson


     RUSSIAN-AMERICAN COOPERATION IN EARLY 18000's

      President Jefferson and Czar Alexander I had been corresponding for some time. In 1805 the Imperor had written to Jefferson congradulating him on his reelection and making several inquiries concerning the Constitution. Jefferson had sent him several books, including The Federalist, and wrote, «I am happy that the principles in which the American people believe are placed under the protection of an umpire, who looking beyond the narrow bounds of an individual nation, will take under the cover of his equity the rights of the absent and unrepresented». To a friend Jefferson wrote, «Russia is the most cordially to us of any power on earth.»
     Jefferson, quick to take advantage of the situation created by the Treaty of Tilsit, determined to send a special representative to St. Petersburg, one with more powers than Harris, the American Consul. He chose William Short of Pennsylvania. Knowing how unpopular he was in the Senate, fearing the rejection of his appointment, he kept it secret, and sent Short without the necessary Senate confirmation. He waited until the following February, on the eve of his return to private life, to report his act, believing the Senate would no carry its opposition to the point of persecuting a retiring President. But the Senate refused its consent. Short, already in Paris and in communication with Russian officials, suddenly discovered he had no diplomatic standing. Due to slow communications, however, one important event had already taken place. Whem Rumyantsev, the Russian Chancellor, learned that Short was enroute to Russia to negotiate a commercial treaty, he inquired what rank Short had. Short replied that he held the rank of Minister. Rumyntsev said, «Good! Russia will immediately appoint an Envoy of equal rank.» In May, 1809, Count Theodore Pahlen was dispatched to America with full diplomatic powers.
     President Madison, immediately after after his inauguration, asked the Senate to confirm John Quincy Adams as American Minister to Russia. The Senate first rejected, then finally approved his nomination. Adams has been in the diplomatic service since hi was fourteen and was probably one of the very few Americans who new anything about Russia. He had so few illusions about the probable duration of his appointment that he left his family in Quincy, Massachusetts, and set out on a private ship. The passage was uneventful until at Christiansand the ship was halted by a Danish privateer and ordered to enter the harbor for investigation.
     Adams was furious. His indignation increased when he found that thirty-eight other American ships were being held. Sensing that Britain was responsible, he called on British Admiral Bertie and demanded an explanation. Bertie did not like Americans, certainly not arrogant ones. He did not even offer Adams a chair. He informed the American that neither he nor his ship could proceed toward Russia. Adams insisted on his diplomatic status and hinted that he had access to higher authorities who might not approve of the Admiral's conduct. After blustering a while, Bertie gave in, and the ship was allowed to sail on to Kronstadt.
     Emperor Alexander received him cordially, and said, «The American desire to keep apart from the unhappy disturbances that agitate Europe is a wise and just policy. I assure you I will do nothing to withdraw you from it.» Later that same afternoon, after the formalities of his arrival had been completed, Adams went to the Russian foreign Office and asked Chancellor Rumyantsev to secure the release of the American ships being held in Denmark. The Chancellor commented on the hazards traders must expect in time of war and advised dropping the matter. But Adams persisted. He went to see Alexander. Finally Rumyantsev reported, "Our Danish Minister will make urgent representation to his court regarding the matter. I am sure the King of Denmark will see fit to comply." Shortly afterward the American ships were released.
     Adams was not merely an excellent envoy, but probably enjoyed his years in St. Petersburg, though it was never his custom to admit that he was happy. He spoke always in terms of "duty" rather than pleasure. But when Madison offered him a release, and, a year later, he was offered a place on Supreme Court, he refused. Even his rather crotchety remarks about St. Petersburg indicate that he was not dissatisfied. "I engaged an apartment of five indifferent chambers, said to be the best in the city." He spoke of the "queer double-windows," precursors of storm windows. "There is a princess, Golitsin," he wrote, "venerable by the length and thickness of her beard, resembling a Grecian philosopher."
     Chancellor Rumyantsev wanted to establish diplomatic relations in order to obtain trading advantages and to protect Russian America. His deep interest in the Rezanov fur monopoly, the Russian-American Company, caused him complain almost daily to Adams about the Boston ships in Alaskan waters, and to object to the sale of firearms to the natives. One day he made a grandiose proposal, in which he stated that Russia would be content to extend her lands only as far south as the Columbia River, and that Russians in Alaska would trade only with Boston ships, if the Americans would let the Russians into the China trade.
     Adams almost fell out of his chair. This was a direct violation of the Nootka Sound Convention. It would give Russia a huge chunk of land and the Columbia River.

(Alexandre Tarsaidze. "Czars and Presidents.")
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