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In the several cases adduced, in which Great Britain required certain preliminaries, previously to entering into negotiation, she regulated her conduct by the same principles to which she now adheres; and refused, whilst no hostility was exhibited on her part, to treat with powers, whose proceedings denoted it towards her; and who maintained their right in what they had assumed.
From the considerations thus offered, I trust that neither the order of reason or that of usage are in contradiction to the demand I have urged, nor am I aware how the order of time opposes the revocation, in the first instance, of that act, which affects injuriously one of the parties, and is still avowed by the other.
The subject is thus presented to you, sir, in the light in which it was natural that it should offer itself to his majesty's government. It certainly conceived the President's proclamation to rest chiefly, and most materially, upon the attack made upon the frigate of the United States, the Chesapeake, by his majesty's ship Leopard, although other topicks were adduced as accessories. In this apprehension, it may be held to have been sufficiently warranted by the precise time, at which, and the circumstances under which, it was issued, and by its whole context; and the more so, as the impulse under which it was · drawn up appears to have been so sudden as to have precluded a due examination of all the grounds of allegation contained in it. And here I beg leave to assure you, that, with respect to the spirit and tone of that instrument, it would be highly satisfactory to me, if I could feel myself justified in expressing, on the part of his majesty, any degree of coincidence with the opinions you have announced, or, when thus appealed to, and making every allowance for the irritation of the moment, I could dissemble the extreme surprise experienced by Great Britain, that the government of a friendly nation, even before an amicable demand of reparation was made, and yet meaning to make that demand, should have issued an edict directing measures of injury very disproportionate to what it knew was an unauthorized offence, and both in its terms and its purport so injurious to the government to which that demand was to be addressed, and tending to call forth in both nations the feelings under which a friendly adjustment would be the most difficult. But if, as I learn from
you, sir, the proclamation rests substantially on other causes, it is then peculiarly to be regretted, that, together with the demand for redress made in September last, the government of the United States did not think fit to offer a negotiation, or an explanation of so momentous a measure, or to declare that its recall must be more or less connected with the adjustment of other alleged wrongs. Neither did it think it necessary to return any answer to the remonstrance given in by his majesty's envoy at Washington, on the 13th July, 1807, in which he represented, “ that he considered that interdiction to be so unfriendly in its object, and so injurious in its consequences to his majesty's interests, that he could not refrain from expressing the most sincere regret, that it ever should have been issued, and most earnestly deprecating its being enforced.”
It could not be supposed that a circumstance of so great weight could be overlooked by his majesty's government, in determining the line of conduct to be held in the negotiation; and as little could it be expected to pass it over, when, on the failure of the discussion with Mr. Monroe, it directed a special mission to be sent to the United States. It had the less reason to imagine that any other grievances could be connected with that, for the adjustment of which I am empowered to negotiate, as Mr. Monroe, in his letter to Mr. Canning of the 29th of July last, had stated with respect to other subjects of remonstrance, that it was improper to mingle them with the present more serious cause of complaint; an opinion to which Mr. Canning declared his perfect assent in his letter to that minister of the 2d of the subsequent month; so that this act was left as single and distinct, to be singly and distinctly considered. His majesty's government, therefore, could not consistently with any view of the subject then before it, or indeed with the just object of my mission, direct or empower me to enter upon matters not connected with that of ihe Chesapeake; and they could with the less propriety do it, as, in order to render the adjustment of differences of such a nature the more easy and the more conspicuous, the ministers charged especially with such offices have been, with few, is any exceptions, restricted to the precise affair to be negotiated. With respect, therefore, to those other causes of complaint, upon which you inform me that the President's proclamation rests, I cannot be furnished with documents enabling me either to admit or to controvert those statements of grievance, foreign to the attack upon that ship, contained in your letter, or authorized to discuss the matters themselves. I shall therefore not allow my. self to offer such comments as my personal knowledge of some of those transactions suggest to me, although their tendency would materially affect both the marked manner in which those transactions are portrayed, and the disadvantageous light in which his majesty's government is represented to have acted respecting them. I am moreover led to the persuasion, that my government will be the more easily able to rescue itself from inculpation by the inference arising from passages in Mr. Monroe's letters to Mr. Secretary Canning, of the 29th of September last, that the differences unhappily existing between the two nations were in a train of adjustment.
Ifhis majesty has not permitted me to enter into the discussion of the search of neutral merchant ships for British seamen, together with the adjustment of the amount of re- : paration for the attack upon the Chesapeake, it was no wise with a view of precluding the further agitation of that question at a suitable time; but it was that the negotiation might be relieved from the embarrassment arising from the connection of the present matter with the one so foreign to it, and, as it was hut too well known, so difficult to be adjusted, of a right distinctly disclaimed with one which Great Britain has at all times asserted, of enforcing her claim to the services of her natural born subjects, when found on board merchant vessels of other nations; a claim which she founds in that principle of universal law, which gives to the state the right of requiring the aid and assistance of her native citizens. The recurrence, therefore, to that course of negotiation, which had been originally settled between Mr. Secretary Canning and Mr. Monroe, and which had been alone broken in upon by the orders subsequently received by that minister, can only be considered as a resumption of that course of things which Great Britain strenuously contended there was no ground to depart from. I may observe that this purpose might have heen effected without the intervention of a special minis. ter.
It will be in your recollection, sir, that, in our first interview, I stated the condition, which makes the subject of the present letter, before I was informed by you, that the President of the United States would consent to the separation of the two subjects.
I had trusted, that the exposition, which I added in my letter of the 26th of January to the verbal explanation 1 had before offered, of the grounds of his majesty's demand, was both in its purport, and in the terms in which it was couched, such as to prevent a suspicion that they were in their intention derogatory to the honour, or calculated to wound the just sensibility of the nation. I may add, that such a supposition could not be reconciled with the various ostensible and unequivocal demonstrations of his majesty's good faith, and anxiety, that this transaction should be brought to an amicable termination, which were exhibited even prior to any remonstrances on the part, or by order of this government. The other topicks which I felt myself authorized to advance in that letter, in illustration of that amicable disposition on the part of the king, were brought forward from the conviction I entertained that they must be of a nature to be satisfactory to this government, and therefore such as it was particularly my duty to enforce, but not with a view to rest upon them the right to advance the claim which I have stated.
I may here remark, it is obvious, that, far from requiring that the first steps towards an arrangement of reparation should be taken by the United States, Great Britain has already made them openly and distinctly : they are indubitable testimonies to ihe respect borne and decidedly marked by Great Britain to the ties of amity subsisting between the two nations, and of her cordial desire to maintain them unimpaired; and as such alone they were urged.
As bis inajesty would have derived sincere satisfaction from the evidence of corresponding feelings on the part of the United States, so it would be the more painful to me. to dwell upon a series of insults and menaces, which, without any provocation of warlike preparation on the part oi Great Britain, have been for months accumulated upon her through the United States, and but too frequently froni quarters whose authority necessarily and powerfully commanded attention.
I ought perhaps to apologize for adverting to an incidental expression in your letter, if I did not think it right to remove any ambiguity respecting the nature of the claim which Great Britain maintained to her seamen, native ci. tizens of the realm, who have deserted from her service to that of other powers; it is, that on demand they shall be discharged forthwith, and consequently they shall instantly be freed from their newly contracted obligations.
Before I close this letter, allow me to state to you, sir, that I have felt it my duty to transmit to his majesty's government the exposition, contained in your letter of the 5th instant, of the various demands on the honour and good faith of Great Britain, on which the complaint is made, that satisfaction has not been afforded to the United States, and on which, conjointly with the affair of the Chesapeake, you inform me that the proclamation of the President of the United States of the 2d July, 1807, is founded. It will be for his majesty's government to determine on the part of Great Britain, whether any, and what obligations remain to be fulfilled by her- whether any denial, or such protraction of redress have occurred on her part as to render necessary or justifiable the perseverance in an edict, which, when not necessary or justifiable, assumes a character of aggression; and whether, on the result of these considerations, the present negotiation can be resumed on the part of his majesty, with a due regard for his own honour, or with a prospect of a more successful termination.
I have the honour to be, with the highest consideration,
G. H. ROSE.
Mr. Madison to Mr. Monroe. Department of State, Jan. 5,
1804. Sia, The information and observations which you have as yet received from me since your arrival in London, on the impressment of our seamen and other violations of our rights, have been in private letters only. The delay in making these injuries the subject of official communications proceeded, first, from an expectation that the British government would have notified formally to the United States, as a neutral power, the state of war between Great