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and in the midst of friendly assurances from the British government.
The printed papers herewith sent will enable you to judge of the spirit which has been roused by the occasion. It pervades the whole community; is abolishing the distinctions of party; and regarding only the indignity offered to the sovereignty and flag of the nation, and the blood of citizens so wantonly and wickedly shed, demands in the loudest tone an honourable reparation.
With this demand you are charged by the President. The tenour of his proclamation will be your guide in reminding the British government of the uniform proofs given by the United States of their disposition to maintain faithfully every friendly relation; of the múltiplied infractions of their rights by British naval commanders on our coasts and in our harbours; of the inefficacy of reiterated appeals to the justice and friendship of that government; and of the moderation on the part of the United States, which reiterated disappointments had not extinguished; till at length no alternative is left, but a voluntary satisfaction on the part of Great Britain, or a resort to means depending on the United States alone.
The nature and extent of the satisfaction ought to be suggested to the British government, not less by a sense of its own honour than by justice to that of the United States. A formal disavowal of the deed, and restoration of the four seamen to the ship from which they were taken, are things of course, and indispensable. As a security for the future, an entire abolition of impressments from vessels under the flag of the United States, if not already arranged, is also to make an indispensable part of the satisfaction. The abolition must be on terms compatible with the instructions to yourself
and Mr. Pinckney on this subject; and if possible without the authorized rejection from the service of the United States of British seamen who have not been two years in it. Should it be impossible to avoid this concession on the part of the United States, it ought, as of itself more than a reasonable price for future security, to extend the reparation due for the past.
But beyond these indispensable conditions, the United States have a right to expect every solemnity of form and every other ingredient of retribution and respect, which,
according to usage and the sentiments of mankind, are proper in the strongest cases of insult to the rights and sovereignty of a nation. And the British government is to be apprized of the importance of a full compliance with this expectation to the thorough healing of the wound, which has been made in the feelings of the American nation.
Should it be alleged as a ground for declining or diminishing the satisfaction in this case, that the United States have themselves taken it by the interdict contained in the proclamation, the answer will be obvious. The interdict is a measure, not of reparation, but of precaution, and would besides be amply justified by recurrences prior to the extraordinary outrage in question.
The exclusion of all armed ships whatever from our waters is in fact so much required by the vexations and dangers to our peace, experienced from their visits, that the President makes it a special part of the charge to you, to avoid laying the United States under any species of restraint from adopting that remedy. Being extended to all belligerent nations, none of them could of right complain, and with the less reason, as the policy of most nations has limited the admission of foreign ships of war into their ports, to such numbers as being inferior to the naval force of the country, could be readily made to respect its authority and laws.
As it may be useful, in enforcing the justice of the present demand, to bring into view applicable cases, especi. ally where Great Britain has been the complaining party, I refer you to the ground taken and the language held by her, in those of Falkland's island and Nootka sound, notwithstanding the assertion by Spain in both cases, that the real right was in her, and the possessory only in Great Britain. These cases will be found in the Annual Registers for 1771, and 1790, and in the parliamentary debates for those years. In the latter you will find also two cases referred io, in one of which the French king sent an ambassador extraordinary to the king of Sardinia, in the most publick and solemn manner, with an apology for an infringement of bis territorial rights in the pursuit of a smuggler and murderer. In the other case, an ambassador extraordinary was sent by the British government to the court of Portugal, with an apology for the pursuit and destruction, by admiral Boscawen, of certain French ships on the coasts of this last kingdom. Many other cases, more or less analogous, may doubtless be found; sce, particularly, the réparation by France to Great Britain, for the attack on Türk's Island in 1764, as related in the Annual Register, and in Smollet's Continuation of Hume, vol. 10, the proceedings in the case of an English merchantman, which suffered much, in her crew and otherwise, from the fire of certain Spanish xebecs cruising in the Mediterranean; and the execution of the lieutenant of a privateer, for firing a gun into a Venetian merchantman, which killed the captain, as stated in the Annual Register, for 1781, page 94. The case of an affront offered to a Russian ambassador in the reign of queen Anne, though less analogous, shows, in a general view, the solemnity with which reparation is made for insults having immediate relation to the sovereignty of a nation.
Although the principle which was outraged in the proceedings against the American frigate is independent of the question concerning the allegiance of the seamen taken from her, the fact that they were citizens of the United States, and not British subjects, may have such an influence on the feelings of all, and perhaps on the opinions of some unacquainted with the laws and usages of nations, that it has been thought proper to seek more regular proofs of their national character than were deemed sufficient in the first instance. These proofs will be added by this conveyance, if obtained in time; if not, by the first that succeeds.
The President has an evident right to expect from the British government, not only an ample reparation to the United States, in this case, but that it will be decided without difficulty or delay. Should this expectation fail, and above all, should reparation be refused, it will be incumbent on you to take proper measures for hastening home, according to the degree of urgency, all American vessels remaining in British ports; using, for the purpose, the mode least likely to awaken the attention of the British government. Where there may be no ground to distrust the prudence or fidelity of consuls, they will probably be found the fittest vehicles for your intimations. It will be particularly requisite to communicate to our publick ships in the Mediterranean the state of appearances, if it be such as ought to influence their movements.
All negotiation with the British government on other subjects will of course be suspended, until satisfaction on this be so pledged and arranged as to render negotiation honourable. Whatever may be the result or the prospect, you will please to forward to us the earliest intormation.
The scope of the proclamation will signify to you, that the President has yielded to the presumption, that the hostile act of the British commander did not pursue the intentions of his government. It is not indeed casy to suppose that so rash and so critical a step should have originated with the admiral, but it is still more difficult to believe, that such orders were prescribed by any govern. ment, under circumstances such as existed between Great Britain and the United States.
Calculations, founded on dates, are also strongly opposed to the supposition, that the orders in question could have been transmitted from England. In the same scale, are to be put the apparent and declared persuasion of the British representative, Mr. Erskine, that no orders of a hostile spirit could have been issued or authorized by his government; and the coincidence of this assurance with the amicable professions of Mr. Canning, the organ of the new administration, as stated in the despatch of April 22, from yourself and Mr. Pinckney.
Proceeding on these considerations, the President has inferred that the justice and honour of the British government will readily make the atonement required; and in that expectation, he has forborne an immediate call of Congress; notwithstanding the strong wish which has been manifested by many, that measures, depending on their authority, should without delay be adopted. The motives to this forbearance have at the same time been strengthened by the policy of avoiding a course, which might stimulate the British cruisers, in this quarter, to arrest our ships and seamen now arriving and shortly expected in great numbers from all quarters. It is probable however that the legislature will be convened in time to receive the answer of the British government on the subject of this despatch, or even sooner, if the conduct of the British
squadron here, or other occurrences, should require immediate measures beyond the authority of the Executive.
In order to give the more expedition and security to the present despatch, a publick armed vessel, the Revenge, is specially employed; and Dr. Bullus is made the bearer, who was on board the Chesapeake, on his way to a consulate in the Mediterranean, and will be able to detail and explain circumstances which may possibly become interesting in the course of your communications with the British government.
The vessel, after depositing Dr. Bullus at a British port, will proceed with despatches to a French port, but will return to England with a view to bring the result of your transactions with the British government. The trip to France will afford you and Mr. Pinckney, a favourable opportunity of communicating with our ministers at Paris, who being instructed to regulate their conduct on the present occasion by the advices they may receive from you, will need every explanation that can throw light on the probable turn and issue of things with Great Britain. I have the honour to be, &c.
No. II. Correspondence between Mr. Monroe and Mr. Canning, in
Relation to the Attack on the Chesapeake, with Nír. Monroe's Letters to the Secretary of State on the same Subject.
Foreign Office, Saturday, July 25, 1807. Mr. Canning presents his compliments to Mr. Monroe ; and with sentiments of the deepest regret hastens to inform him that intelligence has just been received of a transaction which has taken place off the coast of America, between a ship of war of his majesty, and a frigate belonging to the United States; the result of which has been the loss of some lives on board the American frigate.
The particulars of this transaction, and the grounds of the justification of the British officer, and of the admiral