Page images
PDF
EPUB

jects which merited attention at the present time, that he would also advert in it to the several subjects, which we had had under consideration, in the sentiments which he had expressed in our conferences. He seemed to be aware that the proposition was a reasonable one, and promised, without hesitation, to comply with it; but, says he, I am afraid that I cannot be very distinct in it. I replied that I should leave that to himself, but that I presumed he could easily recollect what had passed between us on each point ; that in respect to the trade with enemies' colonies especially, I did suppose that it had been intended by the late order to place it on the ground of the Russian treaty, and that he might go with safety in his letter as far as the order went. He neither admitted or denied the fact explicitly, though he did not seem willing to give his sanction to the inference I had drawn. I criticised the order, as well as I could from memory, to show why I had made the inference, without, however, expressing any approbation of the order. He said, it was true, that the produce of enemies' colonies might, under the exceptions stated in the order, find admission in neutral vessels into the enemies ports, but yet he did not seem willing to admit, that that was the particular object of the order. I did not press this point further, because I saw no motive for it. I concluded, however, from this conversation, as I had done from what had occurred before, that this measure had been taken to prevent the further seizure and condemnation of our vessels on the principle in discussion between our governments, and that the acknowledgment of it had been withheld from a consideration mentioned by Mr. Fox in one of our conferences, that such acknowledge ment would be to give up the point in negotiation. Several circumstances, independent of those alluded to, sup. port this idea. It is not necessary to state them, because I trust that the business will ere long be placed on a muchmore solid footing. I am, with great respect, &c.

JAMES MONROE.

Letter from Mi. Madison, Secretary of Stale, to Messrau

Monroe and Pinkney, Ministers Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States in London. Department of State, May 17, 1806,

Gentlemen,-1 herewith enclose a commission and letters of credence, authorizing you to treat with the Bri. tish government concerning the maritime wrongs which have been committed, and the regulation of commerce and navigation between the parties. Your authority is made several as well as joint, as a provision for any contingency depriving either of the co-operation of the other.

The importance of the trust is evinced by its being made the occasion of an extraordinary mission, as well as by the subjects which it embraces. And I have great pleasure in expressing the confidence which the President feels, in the prudence and talents to which the business is committed.

It is his particular wish that the British government should be made fully to understand, that the United States are sincerely and anxiously disposed to cherish good will and liberal intercourse between the two nations, that an unwilliness alone to take measures not congenial with that disposition has made them so long patient under violations of their rights and of the rules of a friendly reciprocity; and when forced at length by accumulating wrongs to depart from an absolute forbearance, they have not only selected a mode strictly pacifick, but, in demonstration of their friendly policy, have connected with the measure an extraordinary mission, with powers to remove every source of difference, and even to enlarge the foundations of future harmony and mutual interest.

There can be the less ground of umbrage to the British government in the act prohibiting the importation of cer. tain articles of British manufacture, 1st. Because there is nothing on the face of the act beyond a mere commercial regulation, tending to foster manufactures in the United States, to lessen our dependence on a single nation by the distribution of our trade, and to substitute for woollens and linens, manufactures made from one of our principal agricultural staples. 2d. Because it is far short of a reciprocity with British exclusions of American articles of export. 3d. Because, as a commercial measure, discriminating in time of war, between British and other nations, it has examples in British practice. It deserves attention also, that a discrimination was made, and under another name still exists, in the amount of convoy duty imposed on the trade between Great Britain with Europe, and with America. 4th. Because the measure cannot be ascribed to a partiality towards the enemies of Great Britain, or to a view of favouring them in the war, having for its sole object the interest of the United States, which it pursues in a mode strictly conformable to the rights and the practice of all nations.

In fine the act may truly be represented as so far from derogating from the amicable dispositions of the United States towards Great Britain, that it has resulted solely from the inefficacy of their protracted and reiterated endeavours, otherwise to obtain a just redress, and from a hope that an appeal in this peaceable form to the reflections and interests of an enlightened nation would be more successful in removing every obstacle to a perfect and permanent cordiality between the two nations.

The instructions given to Mr. Monroe, January 5, 1804, having taken into view, and being still applicable to a great proportion of the matter now committed to your joint negotiations, it will be most convenient to refer you to those instructions as your general guide, and to confine the present to the alterations and additions, which a change of circumstances, or a contemplation of new objects, may require.

The first article of the project comprised in the instructions of 1804 relates to the impressment of seamen. The importance of an effectual remedy for this practice derives urgency from the licentiousness with which it is still pursued, and from the growing impatience of this country under it. So indispensable is some adequate provision for the case, that the President makes it a necessary preliminary to any stipulation, requiring a repeal of the act shutting the market of the United States against certain British manufactures. At the same time he authorizes yo'l, in case the ultimatum, as stated in the article above referred to, should not be acceptable to the British government, to substitute one in the terms following: “No seaman nor seafaring person shall, upon the high seas, and without the jurisdiction of either party, be demanded, nor taken out of any ship or vessel, belonging to the citizens or subjects of one of the parties, by the publick or private armed ships or men of war, belonging to, or in the service of the other party, and strict orders shall be given for the due observance of this engagement."

An article in these terms was, with the acquiescence of lord Hawkesbury and Mr. Addington, concerted between Mr. King and lord St. Vincent, on the approaching renewal of the late war. It was frustrated by an exception of the “ narrow scas," inserted by lord St. Vincent, an exception so evidently inadmissible, both in principle and in practice, that it must have been intended as a pretext for evading the stipulation at that time. Perhaps the present ministry may neither be disposed to resort to such a pretext, nor unwilling to avail themselves of the precise sanction as far as it was given by their predecessors.

With respect to contraband, which is the subject of the 4th article, it may be observed, that, as it excludes naval stores from the list, and is otherwise limited to articles strictly military, it must, if admissible to Great Britain, leave but feeble objections to an abolition of contraband altogether. In the present state of the arts in Europe, with the intercourse by land, no nation at war with Great Britain can be much embarrassed by leaving those particular articles subject to maritime captures. Whilst belligerent nations, therefore, have little interest in the limited right against contraband, it imposes on neutrals all the evils resulting from suspicious and vexatious searches, and from questions incident to the terms used in the actual enumeration. It is not an unreasonable hope, therefore, that, in place of this article, an entire abolition of contra. band may be substituted. Should this be found unattainable, it may be an improvement of the article, as it stands, to subjoin, for the sake of greater caution, to the positive enumeration, a negative specification of certain articles, such as provisions; money, naval stores, &c. as in no case to be deemed within the meaning of the article; with a proviso, that the specification shall not be construed to imply in the least, that any articles not specified in the exception shall, on that account, be liable to be drawn into question.

À doctrine has been lately introduced by the British courts, and at length adopted by the instructions of June, 1 303, to British cruisers, which regards contraband conveyed in one voyage, as affecting a resumed or return voyage, although the contraband shall have been previously deposted at its port of destination. It will be a further improvement of the article to insert a declaratory clause against this innovation, and the abuses incident to it.

The fourth article, besides the stipulation on the subject of contraband, relates to two other objects ; 1st, that of free ships, free goods : 2d, that of a trade with enemies? colonies.

1st. With respect to the first, the principle that a neutral flag covers the property of an enemy, is relinquished in pursuance of the example of the Russian treaty, on which the article is modelled; the relinquishment, however, being connected with, and conditioned on, the provision required in favour of the neutral right to the colonial trade. The importance of that principle to the security of neutral commerce, and to the freedoin of the seas, has at all times been felt by the United States; and although they have not asserted it as the established law of nations, they have ever been anxious to see it made a part of that law. It was with reluctance, of course, that a contrary stipulation was authorized, and merely as a mean of obtaining from Great Britain the recognition of a principle now become of more importance to neutral nations possessing mercantile capital, than the principle of “ free ships free goods." It is to be particularly kept in view, therefore, that such a contrary stipulation is to be avoided, if possible ; and if unavoidable, that the stipulation be so modified as to interfere as little as possible with the spirit and policy of any provisions in favour of the principle which may be likely to be introduced into a treaty of peace among the present belligerent powers of Europe. Should it be known that Russia as well as France mean to insist on such a provision; and that such a stipulation by the United States, however modified, will materially affect her confidence and good will towards them, the objection to the measure will acquire a force that can yield only to the consideration, chat without such a sacrifice, the provisions for the security of our seamen, and of our neutral commerce, cannot be

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »