Politics & Diplomacy
In early 1813 Czar Alexander I put forward an offer to serve as mediator between the United States and Great Britain. President Madison selected Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin and Senator James Bayard to travel to St. Petersburg and join U.S. ambassador to Russia John Quincy Adams in forming a peace delegation. By the time Gallatin and Bayard reached Russia, Britain had rejected Russia’s mediation offer.
The U.S. representatives remained in Europe through the summer, awaiting instructions and planning their return, when word came of a British offer of direct peace negotiations. They stayed through the fall, still waiting on word from Washington.
The Thirtieth Congress started its session early in May of 1813, at the request of President Madison. His agenda was small, simply the confirmation of the peace ministers already sent to Russia and the passage of new taxes to ward off a looming deficit. Instead of a brief session, the Congress stretched out its meetings into late July, debating resolutions against the war and a proposal for a new American embargo, rejecting one of Madison’s peace emissaries, and eventually passing the tax bills.