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3. On the question, whether French armed vessels are subject to the deduction ordered by the sixth article of the decree of November 21, his majesty has declared that the provision of that article was not susceptible of any restriction; that is to say, that the deduction must take effect on the proceeds of all confiscations of merchandise and property, which have been or may be pronounced in execution of the decree, without regard to the place of seizure or charater of the captors.
You will be so good, sir, as to notify these decisions to the council of prizes, to have them entered in the registers, and to acknowledge the receipt of my letter. '
Accept, &c. &c.
REGNIER. Procureur General Imperial of
the Council of Prizes.
Paris, August 9, 1307, SIR, -Your excellency is not unapprized that, soon after the promulgation of the imperial decree of the 21st of November last, one of similar character and injunctions was issued by the prince of peace, in behalf of his catholick majesty. Under this order, sundry vessels belonging to the citizens of the United States have been captured on
the high seas, brought into the ports of Spain, and are – now before the court of admiralty for examination. To
this brief statement, I subjoin an extract from a letter of the 27th ultimo, from the charge des affaires of the United States at Madrid, which will show your excellency, that the fate of these vessels will depend, not on the construc. tion which might be given to the Spanish decree, by the Spanish tribunals, but on the practice which shall have been established by France under her decree of November last ; and that prince Masserano has accordingly been directed to ask from your excellency such exposition of that decree, and of the practice under it, as shall regulate, on this head, the conduct of Spanish courts and cruisers towards neutral commerce in general. Assured as I feel myself, that this exposition, whenever given, will not be less friendly and liberał, than that already found in the
decisions of his imperial majesty's council of prizes and correspondence of his minister of marine, viz. that the provisions of the decree in question do not infract any of the rights of commerce, stipulated by treaty between France and the United States, it is incumbent on me to pray your excellency that it (the exposition required) be given as expeditiously as possible, to the end that the legitimate commerce of the United States be relieved from all farther annoyance, growing out of the doubtful meaning and operation of the Spanish decree aforesaid.
Your excellency will permit me to avail myself of this occasion to recall to your attention the subject of my letter of the 26th of June last. I learn from Antwerp, that the cargoes mentioned in that letter are yet under sequestration, and that considerable loss, as well by diminution of price in the articles, as by accumulation of interest and charges, has been already incurred.
Your excellency will do me the honour to accept the assurances of my profound respect.
JOHN ARMSTRONG. His Excellency the Prince of Benevento.
Paris, Sept. 24, 1807. Sir, I have this moment learned that a new and extended construction, highly injurious to the commerce of the United States, was about to be given to the imperial decree of the 21st of November last. It is therefore incumbent upon me to ask from your excellency an explanation of his majesty's views in relation to this subject, and particularly whether it be his majesty's intention, in any degree, to infract the obligations of the treaty now subsisting between the United States and the French empire ? I pray your excellency, &c. &c. &c.
JOHN ARMSTRONG. His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations.
Fontainbleau, le 7 Oct. 1807. • Monsieur,— Vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'inviter le 24 Septembre à vous transmettre quelques éclaircissemens sur l'exécution du décret de blocus des isles Britanniques envers les bâtimens des Etats Unis.
Les dispositions de tous les réglémens et de tous les traités relatives à l'état de blocus, ont paru applicables à la circonstance actuelle, et il résulte des explications qui viennent de m'être adressées par le procureur général impérial près le conseil des prises, que sa majesté a regardé tout bâtiment neutre, sortant des ports Anglais, avec des cargaisons de marchandises Anglaises, ou d'origine Anglaise, comme pouvant être valablement saisi par les bâtimens de guerre Français.
Le décrêt de blocus est rendu depuis près de onze mois : les principales puissances d'Europe, loin de réclamer contre ses dispositions, les ont adoptées. Elles ont reconnu qu'il fallait en rendre l'exécution complette pour la rendre plus efficace, et il a paru qu'il était facile d'accorder les mesures avec la conservation des traités ; surtout dans un temps où les infractions de l'Angleterre contre les droits de toutes les puissances maritimes, rendent leurs intérêts communs et tendent à les unir pour le soutien de la même cause. Recevez, monsieur, &c. &c.
CHAMPAGNY. S. Ex. le. Gen. Armstrong,
Min. Plen. des Etats Unis.
Fontainbleau, Oct. 7, 1807. SIR, You did me the honour, on the 24th of Sepiember, to request me to send you some explanations as to the execution of the decree of blockade of the British islands, as to vessels of the United States.
The provisions of all the regulations and treaties relative to a state of blockade have appeared applicable to the existing circumstance, and it results from the explanations which have been addressed to me by the imperial procureur general of the council of prizes, that his ma. jesty has considered every neutral vessel, going from English ports, with cargoes of English merchandise, or of English origin, as lawfully seizable by French armed vessels.
The decree of blockade has been now issued eleven months. The principal powers of Europe, far from protesting against its provisions, have adopted them. They have perceived that its execution must be complete, to render it more effectual, and it has seemed easy to reconcile these measures with the observance of treaties, especially at a time when the infractions, by England, of the rights of all maritime powers, render their interests common, and tend to unite them in support of the same cause. Accept, &c. &c.
CHAMPAGNY. His Excellency General Armstrong,
Min. Plen. of the United States.
the case of copy of the yesterday 1h.
Paris, Nov. 1807: Sir, It was not till yesterday that I received from Mr. Skipwith a copy of the decree of the council of prizes, in the case of the Horizon. This is the first unfriendly decision of that body under the decree of the 21st of November, 1806. In this case, and on the petition of the defendant, the court has recommended the restoration of the whole cargo. I did not, however, think proper to join in asking as a favour, what I believed myself entitled to as a right. I subjoin a copy of my note to the minister of foreign affairs. And am, sir, &c.
JOHN ARMSTRONG. Mr. Madison, &c.
Paris, Nov. 12, 1807. SIR,-The document to which these observations are prefixed, will inform your excellency that an American ship, trading under the protection of the laws of nations, and of particular treaties, and suffering shipwreck on the coast of France, has recently been seized by his majesty's officers, and adjudged by his council of prizes, as follows, viz.
“Our council puts at liberty the American vessel, the Horizon, shipwrecked the 30th of May last, near Morlaix, and consequently orders, that the amount of the sale legal
Jy made of the wreck of the said vessel, together with the merchandise of the cargo, which, according to an estimate made in presence of the overseers of the administrations of he marine and custom house, shall be acknowledged not to proceed either from English manufactures or territory, shall be restored to captain Mac Clure, without deducting any other expenses but those relative to the sale."
“And with regard to the other merchandise of the car. go, which, from the result of the said estimate, shall be acknowledged to come from manufactures or from English territory, by virtue of the 5th article of the decree of the 21st of November, 1806, they shall be confiscated for the use of the state. The whole to be sold by the forms prescribed in the regulations, and the application of the product to be made in conformity to the arrangements of the said decree, deduction being made for the expense of say. ing the goods, and that of the support of the crew, until the day ihat the captain shall receive the notification of the present decision."
The reasons, upon which this decision is founded, are at once so new and so alarming to the present friendly relation of the two powers, that I cannot but discuss them with a freedom in some degree proportioned to my sense of their novelty and importance.
“Considering,” says the council, “that the neutrality of the ship and cargo were sufficiently established, the whole ought to be restored, (agreeably to the provisions of the convention of the 30th September, 1800,) provided no merchandise of English origin had been found in her, and of course, that she had not been brought within the limits of the imperial decree of the 21st of November, 1806."
Here is an open and unqualified admission that the ship was found within the rules prescribed by the convention of 1800; that according to these rules, her cargo and herself ought to have been restored; and that such would have been thc fact, but for the operation of the decree of the 21st of November, 1306.
In the letter your excellency did me the honour to write me on the 7th of October last, you thought it " casy to reconcile the obligations of this decree with the preservation of those arising frem trcalies." It was not for me to examinc the means by which this reconciliation was to be er.