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dangerous experiment, of the effect which his absence might produce in the interior, and in a situation to be compelled to risk every thing, if pressed by his adversary, on the precarious issue of a single battle. These were strong reasons why we should not throw ourselves too decisively into that scale.
The situation of the United States, always a respectable one, was then less imposing than it usually was. It was known that they were not on good terms with Spain, and that France was the ally of Spain. Their interior tooy was disturbed by a conspiracy of doubtful extent and dangerous tendency, the consequences of which were sure to be greatly magnified by all who were unfriendly to our happy system of government. Those circumstances could not fail to be taken into view, by any the most friendly administration in England, when pressed to make concessions which it was unwilling to make. Add to these considerations, the important one, that the British ministry had become much impaired in its strength, especially in what concerned the United States, by the death of a very eminent and distinguished statesman, and had not the power, or thought that it had not, to pursue a liberal policy towards the United States, and that its power was evidently daily diminishing.
These considerations induced us to sign the treaty, and submit it to the wisdom of our government, after obtaining the best conditions that it was possible to obtain. We were aware that, in several points, it fell short of the just claims of our country. But we were persuaded that such an arrangement was made of the whole subject as justified us in the part which we took. In the rejection or adoption of the treaty, I felt no personal interest. Having discharged my duty with integrity and zeal, I neither wished applause. nor dreaded censure. Having the highest confidence in the wisdom, the rectitude and patriotism of the administration, I was satisfied that it would pursue the course, which an enlightened view of the publick interest, and a just sensibility to the national honour, might dictate.
Our letter of January 3d, was written in haste, and was deficient in many of the explanations which would otherwise have been given of the treaty. I was happy when at Washington to find that you were perfectly willing to receive any explanations which I might now be disposed to
give of that transaction, and to allow them the weight which they might deserve. In making this communication I have indulged the freedom which belonged to it, in full confidence that it would be approved.
I cannot conclude this letter without adding my most ardent wish, that the administration may succeed in conducting our affairs with every power, to the happiest result. My retirement, which had been long desired, and delayed only by the arduous and very important duties in which I was engaged, had become necessary as a relief to my mind, after much fatigue, and to the interest of my family, which had been neglected and greatly injured by my absence in the publick service. It is still my desire to cherish retirement. Should it, however, be our unfornate destiny, which I most earnestly hope will not be the case, to be involved in foreign war or domestick trouble, and should my services be deemed useful, I will not hesi. tate, at the desire of the administration, to repair again to the standard of my country.
I have the honour to be, with great consideration and esteem, your very obedient servant,
Extract of a Letter to Mr. Monroe from General Armstrong.
Paris, July 7, 1807. Sir,- The accounts you have had of recent captures made by French privateers of American vessels, under cover of the decree of November last, are not correct; at least, if such captures have been made, I know nothing of them. The only captures I have at any time heard of, were those made from Porto Ferrago. They are by no means of recent date, and have all, I believe, been redressed by the council of prizes. Two of these cases, to which I aitended personally, received decisions equally favourable and prompt. Interest and damages were given to the plaintiffs, and I know not why decisions, equally favourable, should not have been given in the other cases. I have, within a week, been informed by Mr. Erving, that he had reason to believe that a French privateer, then in a port of Spain, had plundered American ships, either going to or coming from England, of dry goods, to the amount of $300. Before any thing could be done in Spain
for the recovery of these goods, the ship went to sea, and professedly for the purpose of returning to the port of her armament. Believing her to have arrived there, I put all the evidence I possessed before M. Decres, who closes his answer with the following assurance: *“ Your excel. lency may be assured, that as far as it depends on me, the captains of these vessels, or their owners, shall obtain, if there is ground for it, a prompt and full reparation.". I quote this to show you that there is no disposition in the ministers of this government to sanction or protect such enterprises upon our commerce. From the uses you may be able to make of the facts, and their relation to your question generally, I subjoin a brief exposition of the construction now given to the November decree. It was, you know, admitted by both ministerial and judicial authori. ties, that this decree did not infract the provisions of the treaty of 1800 between the United States and France. Still it was contended that vessels (of the United States) coming from any port of Great Britain since the date of the edict, could not be admitted to entry in the ports of France. This rule, without some qualifications, was likely to become mischievous, and I accordingly obtained the following modifications of it, and hope to obtain a further modification, which will render it perfectly harmless. These changes took place as circumstances rose to produce them; for though the necessity for them was both foreseen and represented, it was only upon real, not upon hypothetical cases, that the ministers of his majesty were willing to act.
1. Vessels leaving ports of the United States before a knowledge of the arret had been promulgated there, are not subject to the rule.
2. Vessels not coming directly from a British to a French port, are not subject to the rule.
3. The curgoes of vessels coming directly from a British - 10 a French port, and offered for entry, on proof that the
touching of the ship in England, &c. was involuntary, are put in depot or sequestration, until his majesty shall have accided on the sufficiency of the proof offered; or they
$ V. E. peut etre assuree qu'il ne tiendra pas a moi que les capitaines de res navires ou leurs proprietaires D'obtiennont s'il y a lieu une reparation prompte et pleine, l'OL. 11.
are at once given up to the consignecs, on their giving security to abide the decision which shall be ultimately taken by the emperor in their respective cases. The tessels can go out freely, and without impediment of any kind. The former rule, of which this is an amelioration, was, that ships, as well as cargoes, coming under this des. cription, should be sequestered, &c. The farther altera. tion which I have asked is, the establishment of some principle which shall regulate the kind and degree of proof required with respect to the alleged application of a force majeure, &c. My own opinion is, that this may best be found in the greater or less correspondence which shall exist between the cargo when shipped in America, and when arrived here. If the correspondence be complete, the evidence ought to be considered as complete also, that they were not in Great Britain for the purposes of commerce, and not being there for these purposes, the inference is fair, that their going there at all was involuntary. This is a rule the ministers will consent to : whether his majesty will do so also, will be known in a few days. He is ex. pected here about the beginning of August."
Paris, le 18 Septembre, 1807. J'ai soumis à sa majesté l'empereur et roi, monsieur, les doutes que s'était formé s. e. le ministre de la marine et des colonies, sur l'étendue de quelques dispositions du décrêt impérial du 21 Novembre, 1806, qui a déclaré les isles Britanniques en état de blocus; voici quelles sont les intentions de sa majesté sur les points qui avaient été mis en question.
1. Les bâtimens armés en guerre peuvent-ils en vertu du décrêt impérial du 21 Novembre dernier, saisir sur les bâtimens neutres, soit les propriétés Anglaises, soit même toutes marchandises provenant de manufactures ou du territoire Anglais ?
Sa majesté m'a fait connaitre, que, puisqu'elle avait jugé à propos de n'exprimer aucune exception dans son décrêt, il n'y avait pas lieu d'en faire dans l'exécution à l'égard de qui que ce pût être.
2. Sa majesté a sursis à statuer sur la question de savoir si les armemens Français doivent s'emparer des bâtimens neutres qui vont en Angleterre, ou qui en sortent, lors même qu'ils n'ont point à bord de marchandises Anglaises. · 3. Sur la troisieme question, qui était de savoir si les armemens Français sont possible de la retenue ordonnée par l'article 6, du décret du 21 Novembre, sa majesté a déclaré que la disposition de cet article n'était suscepti. ble d'aucune restriction, c'est-à-dire, que la retenue doit avoir lieu sur le produit de toutes les confiscations de marchandiscs et propriétés qui ont été ou pourroient être prononcées en exécution du décrêt, sans égard au lieu de la saisie ou à la qualité des saisissans.
Vous voudrez bien, monsieur, notifier ces décisions au conseil des prises, les faire consigner sur les régistres et m'assurer la réception de ma lettre. Recevez, &c. &c. Le gd. juge min. de la justice.
REGNIER. Procureur Général Impérial du Conseil des Prises.
Paris, September 18, 1807. I HAVE submitted, sir, to his majesty the emperor and king, the doubts of his excellency the minister of marine and colonies, on the extent of some of the provisions of the imperial decree of November 21, 1806, which has declared the British islands in a state of blockade. The following are the intentions of his majesty, on the points in question.
1. Can armed vessels under the imperial decree of the 21st of November last, seize in neutral vessels, either Eng. lish property, or merchandise proceeding from the manufactures of the English territories ?
His majesty notifies me, that since he had not thought proper to express any exception in his decree, there is no ground to make any in the execution, with respect to any thing whatsoever.
2. his majesty has not decided the question whether French armed vessels may possess themselves of neutral vessels going to or from England, although they have no English merchandise on board.