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lick 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 government, 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 Mr. 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
under whose orders he acted, Mr. Canning is not at present enabled to communicate to Mr. Monroe.
If Mr. Monroe should have received any accounts of it, Mr. Canning trusts that he will lose no time in communicating them to Mr. Canning.
But whatever the real merits and character of the transaction may turn out to be, Mr. Canning could not forbear expressing without delay the sincere concern and sorrow which he feels at its unfortunate result; and assuring the American minister, both from himself and on the behalf of bis majesty's government, that if the British officers should prove to have been culpable, the most prompt and effectual reparation shall be afforded to the government of the United States.
James Monroe, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
• To Mr. Canning, MR. MONROE presents his compliments to Mr. Canning, and is much obliged to him for the information communicated in his note of Saturday. Mr. Monroe has heard with extreme regret the account it contains of a rencontre between a British ship of war and an American frigate off the coast of the United States. He has no knowledge of the subject except what Mr. Canning's note has furnished, but will not fail to communicate the earliest intelligence which he may receive of an event so deeply to be lamented. Mr. Monroe derives in the mean time much satisfaction from the friendly assurance of Mr. Canning, that this unfortunate occurrence was not authorized by his majesty's government, and that suitable reparation will be made for the injury, if on inquiry the British officer shall be found the aggressor.
Portland Place, Monday, July 27, 1807.
To Mr. Canning. Portland Place, July 29, 1807. SIR, -Although I have no instruction from my government on the subject, it is my duty to request the attention of his Britannick majesty's government to a late aggression
on the sovereignty of the United States, of a very extraordinary nature. The circumstances of the transaction are too distinctly marked to leave any doubt of the extent of the outrage, or of the reparation which it obviously claims. By accounts which are entitled to full confidence, it appears, that on the 23d of June last, his majesty's ship the Leopard attacked an American frigate off the coast of the United States, with a view to assert and enforce the unfounded and most unjustifiable pretension to search for deşerters, and after having killed and wounded a number of her men, entered on board and carried away forcibly several of the crew. The conduct of the British officer, which in itself forms an act of complete hostility, is rendered more reprchensible from the consideration, that just before this aggression be held a station within the jurisdiction of the United States, in the waters of the Chesapcake, where, while he enjoyed the rights of hospitality, he projected this attack against the ship of a neutral power, whose commander, relying on the good faith of his majesty's government, and the friendly relations subsisting between Great Britain and the United States, could not have suspected the design. I might state other examples ‘of great indignity and outrage, many of which are of recent
date, to which the United States have been exposed off - their coast, and even within several of their harbours, from the British squadron ; but it is improper to mingle them with the present more serious cause of complaint. I have called your attention to this subject, in full confidence that his majesty's government will see, in the act complained of, a flagrant abuse of its own authority, and that it will not hesitate to enable me to communicate to my government, without delay, a frank disavowal of the principle on which it was made, and its assurance that the officer who is responsible for it shall suffer the punishment which so unexampled an aggression on the sovereignty of a neutral nation justly deserves. I have the honour to be, &c.
JAMES MONROE. The Right Hon. George Canning, &c. &c. &c.
From Mr. Canning. Foreign Office, Aug. 3, 1807. Sir,- I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your official note of the 29th ult. which I have lost no time in laying before the king.
As the statement of the transaction, to which this note refers, is not brought forward either by the authority of the government of the United States, or with any precise knowledge of the facts on which it is founded, it might have been sufficient for me to express to you his majesty's readiness to take the whole of the circumstances of the case, when fully disclosed, into his consideration, and to make reparation for any alleged injury to the sovereignty of the United States, whenever it should be clearly shown that such injury has been actually sustained, and that such reparation is really due.
Of the existence of such a disposition, on the part of the British government, you, sir, cannot be ignorant : 1 have already assured you of it, though in an unofficial form, by the letter which I addressed to you on the first receipt of the intelligence of this unfortunate transaction : and I may perhaps be permitted to express my surprise, after such an assurance, at the tone of that representation which I have just had the honour to receive from you.
But the earnest desire of his majesty to evince, in the most satisfactory manner, the principles of justice and moderation by which he is uniformly actuated, has not permitted him to hesitate in commanding me to assure you, that his majesty neither does, nor has at any time, maintained the pretension of a right to search ships of war, in the national service of any state, for deserters.
If, therefore, the statement in your note should prove to be correct, and to contain all the circumstances of the case, upon which complaint is intended to be made, and if it shall appear that the act of his majesiy's officers rested on no other grounds than the simple and unqualified assertion of the pretension above referred to, his majesty has no difficulty in disavowing that act, and will have no difficulty in manifesting his displeasure at the conduct of his officers.
With respect to the other causes of complaint (whatever they may be which are hinted at in your note, I perfectly VOL. VI.