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London, May 7, 1807. SIR,We had the honour to receive, on the 27th of last month, your letter of the 18th of March, to which the detailed explanations contained in our letter of the 22d and 25th ult. render any particular reply unnecessary.
We transmit enclosed a statement of the American prize causes, for hearing in the high court of appeals. That which was forwarded by Mr. Purviance was very hastily prepared by general Lyman, under a misconception of our views, and included only cases in the high court of admiralty. We have the honour to be, &c.
WM. PINKNEY. James Madison, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
London, October 10, 1807. Sir,-We avail ourselves of the opportunity afforded by the return of the schooner Revenge, to give you a brief account of the transactions of the joint mission, from the time of Mr. Purviance's arrival in England, until the receipt of intelligence here of the late outrage in the American seas, upon the sovereignty, of our country.
Your letter of the day of May, was delivered to us on the day of July, and we lost no time in obtaining an interview with Mr. Canning, on the subjects to which it relates. In the course of that interview, we entered at large into the explanations required by our instructions, and at the same time recalled to Mr. Canning's attention, the statement which we had made to him at former conferences, relative to our want of power to bind our government by a treaty which should not provide in a satisfactory manner for the subject of impressment. That we might be enabled to give to Mr. Canning a more complete view of the grounds of the President's disapprobation of the instrument signed in December last, and of the alterations in that instrument which we had to
propose, we thought it advisable to suggest these altera. tions in the margin of a copy of it, and to prepare moreover separate clauses relative to impressments and indemnity. Of these papers copies are herewith transmitted.
We had scarcely finished our explanations when Mr. Canning intimated the propriety of putting them into the form of a note. He expressed, however, his readiness and his wish, for the purpose of saving time, to receive immediately the papers above mentioned, which, as containing the project of such an arrangement as would be acceptable to the President, we did not hesitate to deliver to him. An official note being required by Mr. Canning, we had no choice but to consent to that course, and as you will find in the copy of the note itself a brief recapitulation of the substance of what we thought it prudent to say to him in that stage of the transaction upon the principal points embraced by it, it is unnecessary to repeat it here. It is proper, however, to observe that although nothing was said by Mr. Canning which authorized us to calculate with certainty on the ultimate success of renewed negotia. tion, there was nothing in his language or manner of an unfriendly character.
Our note was prepared with as much expedition as the importance and delicacy of its topicks would permit; but before it was possible to send it to Mr. Canning he re. minded us of it by a note of which a copy is enclosed. Our note, which we hope will meet with the President's approbation, was delivered to Mr. Canning on the next day, :
We did not think it proper, for obvious reasons, either in conversation or in our note, to enter into any argument in support of the different alterations suggested by our project to the proposed treaty. This it was thought would be more regularly as well as advantageously attempted when negotiation should be resumed. It is only necessary to add, that, before Mr. Canning had replied to our note, information was received of the outrage committed by the Leopard, and that our proceedings were in consequence suspended.
We have the honour to enclose the copy of a bill delivered to us some time ago by lord Auckland, for permitung an intercourse by sea between the British North Ame. VO, vl.
rican colonies and the United States. This bill was brought into the house of commons during the last session of parliament by Mr. Rose and Mr. Eden, and has passed into a law. You will perceive that it has in view the 8th article of the project of a convention of limits already transmitted to you. A copy is also enclosed of the communication which we have thought it our duty to make to general Armstrong and Mr. Bowdoin. We have the honour to be, &c.
WM. PINKNEY. James Madison, Esq.
P. S. We have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letters of the 17th and 30th of July. There not being time to prepare copies of the project presented Mr. C. for Dr. Bullus, it will be forwarded by another opportunity without delay.
London, July 24, 1807. The undersigned, ministers extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the United States of America, have the honour to inform Mr. Canning that they are instructed by the President of the United States, to propose to his majesty's government a renewal of negotiation relative to the objects of the mission of the undersigned, with a view to a more satisfactory result than is found in the instrument signed on the 31st of December last, by his majesty's plenipotentiaries and those of the United States.
The undersigned are persuaded, that his majesty's government will see in this measure an unquestionable proof of the sincere desire of the President, to place the friendly relations of the two countries beyond the reach of those misunderstandings which either the absence or the inadequacy of precise arrangements on subjects of the greatest delicacy and importance, might from time to time occasion.
It is under the influence of this solicitude that the President has charged the undersigned to express to his majesty's government, his unfeigned regret that the instrument above mentioned does not appear to him to be such as he can approve, and at the same time to declare his entire confidence that the just and liberal sentiments which aniinate his majesty's government, corresponding with those which belong to the government of the United States, cannot fail to lead, without delay or difficulty, to such an issue, of the negotiation which is now proposed, as shall be suited in all respects to the rights and interests of both nations, and therefore calculated to ensure a long continuance of the friendship which so happily subsists between them. .
The undersigned have already had the honour to present to Mr. Canning a paper, which, taken in connection with a project on the subject of impressment, and another on the subject of certain claims to compensation by American citizens, presented by the undersigned at the same time, will be found to exhibit a complete view of the alterations which the instrument above mentioned is deemed by the President to require. They forbear to trouble Mr. Canning with a recapitulation of the details which these papers contain; but there are some explanations upon the topicks of impressment and compensation, which they do not furnish, and which it is therefore incumbent upon the undersigned to avail themselves of this occasion to give.
It was one of the primary objects of the mission of the undersigned, to adjust with his majesty's government a formal and explicit arrangement, relative to a practice by British ships of war, which has excited in a very great degree the sensibility of the American people, and claimed the anxious attention of their government. The practice alluded to, is that of visiting on the main ocean, the merchant vessels of the United States, navigating under the American flag, for the purpose of subjecting their crews to a hasty and humiliating inquisition, and impressing, as British seamen, such of the mariners as, upon that inquisition, the visiting officer declares to be so. The effect of this practice is that the flag of an independent power is dishonoured, and one of the most essential rights of its sovereignty violated; that American citizens either mistaken for British subjects, or assumed to be such without sufficient inquiry, are forced from the quiet pursuits of a lawful commerce into the severe and dangerous service
of a foreign military navy, to expose their lives in fighting against those with whom their country is at peace; and that the merchant vessels of the United States are frequently, thus stripped of so large a portion of their bands, before their voyages have been performed, as to bring into the most imminent peril, and sometimes to produce the actual loss, of the vessels, their cargoes, and their remaining crews. It cannot be thought surprising that a practice like this should act with peculiar force upon the feelings of those whom it oppresses, and that the sensation should extend itself to their countrymen and their government.
The government of the United States has accordingly made this pretension the subject of frequent discussion with Great Britain ; and, when an extraordinary mission to his majesty's government was last year determined on, it was one of the instructions to the undersigned, to whom the duties of that mission were confided, to make no treaty which should not provide for that object. In the first stages of the negotiation, which followed that mission, the undersigned were led to indulge a confident expectation that such a provision would be obtained. At length however, the rejection by his majesty's government of a project of an article on this point, which, without touching the question of right, offered, on the part of the United States, an effectual equivalent for the mere forbearance of the practice, having extinguished all hope of an immediate adjustment of this subject by treaty, the undersigned felt that they were called upon by candour, as well as by their duty to their government, to inform the British commissioners, that, the project relative to impressment have ing failed, they had no power to conclude a treaty upon the other points which had been discussed between them, so as to bind the government of the United States. The undersigned did accordingly give them this information, in the most explicit terms, and the negotiation was in consequence, for a short time, suspended. It was soon afterwards, however, suggested by his majesty's commissioners, that if this topick should be expressly reserved for future conventional arrangement, and a pledge given to the United States for resuming the consideration of it at a convenient season with that view, and if in the mean time such an informal understanding should be substituted, as