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Allow me, sir, bere to express my sincere regret that I bave not as yet been able to convince you, by what I canpot but consider the strongest evidence, of the continued existence of the French decrees, and consequently of the unfriendly policy of your government in enforcing the non-importation against us and opening the trade with our enemies. His royal highpess will, I am convinced, learn with unseigned sorrow, that such continues to be still the determination of America, and whatever restrictions on the commerce enjoyed by America in bis majesty's dominions may ensue on the part of Great Britain, as retaliatory on the refusal by your government to admit the productions of Great Britain while they open their harbours to those of his majesty's enemies, they will, I am persuaded, be adopted with sincere pain, and with pleasure relinquished whenever this country shall resume her neutral position and impartial attitude between the two belligerents. I bave the honour to be, &c. &c. &c.
AUG. J. FOSTER. The Hon. James Monroe, &c.
CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO THE BRITISH SLOOP
OF WAR LITTLE BELT. From Mr. Morier to Mr. Monroe. Ballimore, June
SIR, I have the honour to enclose an official letter addressed to rear admiral Sawyer by captain Bingham, commanding his majesty's sloop the Litile Belt, wbich contains an account of the late engagement between that ship and the American frigate the President.
In thus communicating to you without orders from his majesty's government this document, which in the most essential fact differs so materially from that of commodore Rodgers, I trust tbat this government will receive it as a proof of the sincere desire wbich exists with me, to open the way to an amicable arrangement of the question which
may arise out of this unfortunate affair, when it shall be known to bis majesty's governinent. I have the honour to be, &c. &c.
J. P. MORIER. The Hon. James Monroe, &c. &c.
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Morier. Department of State, June
28, 1811. SIR, I had the honour to receive yesterday your letter of the 26th inst. communicating a statement from captain Bingham to admiral Sawyer, of the circumstances attend. ing the late unfortunate enconnier between the United States frigate the President, and his Britannick majesty's sloop the Little Belt.
It is to be regretted that the statement made by captain Bingham should have varied in any circumstance from that made by tbe commander of the American frigate. I. flatter myself, with the disposition of the President, which I am authorized to express, to make it the subject of mutual and friendly explanations, that its disagreeable tendency will be obviated. I am induced to express this expectation with the more confidence, froin the conciliatory manner in which you have made this communication. I have the honour to be, &c.
'JAMES MONROE. Mr. Morier, Charge d'Affaires
of bis Britannick Majesty.
Mr. Foster to NIr. Monroe. Washington, July 3, 1811.
SIR,The assurances which you did me the honour to give me yesterday verbally, that no instructions whatever had been given to commodore Rodgers which could, under any construction, be meant to authorize his attempting to recover by force any person claimed as an impressed American citizen from on board any of his majesty's ships of war, were amply sufficient to convey to my mind every satisfaction upon that subject. The reports, howe ever, current in the United States, and connected with commodore Rodgers' conduct and proceedings, as well as the inferences which will be drawn from the expressions VOL. VIII.
which he used to the captain of his majesty's sloop Little Bell, being of a tendency to create doubts in Great Britain, as to the nature of the authority under which he acted, I willingly accept your offer of making me the same statement, in a more formal manner, in order that I may transnit it to my government, to prevent all possible mistake on so important a point.
The question arising out of the rencounter between the United States' frigate President and bis majesty's sloop Linle Belt, will ihen remaio limited to the act itself. You are already, sir, in possession of the British commander's statement of the circumstances which altended it ; his account and that of the American commodore disfer very materially with respect to some of the most important features of the transaction ; but in this they agree, that the chase wbich brought on the action commenced on the part of commodore Rodgers; for it cannot be maintained that the advance made by captain Bingham for the purpose of ascertaining if the sail descried by him was his majesty's ship Guerriere, which it appears he had orders to join, was for the purpose of chasing, even if that could be urged as a plea by the American commander. As soon as he found his signals unanswered, he bore away, until, to his infinite surprise, he found himself the object of the strange vessel's eager pursuit and hostile attitudes. What could be commodore Rougers' intention is not apparent. That he could not discover at the distance of seventy or one hundred yards that the ship before bim was a flush deck sloop, though it was but a little after eight o'clock on the 16th of May ; that he could not make out ber colours at half past six o'clock; that his guns were double shotted, and that with the security he possessed from the great force and superior sailing of the ship under his command, and the circumstance of belonging to a neutral nation, he did not rather hold off during ibe night if be wished to speak the sloop, than by running under her stern in a menancing attitude, incur the risk of provoking a misunderstanding, must appear unaccountable to the comprehension of every unprejudiced person, and will, I am sure, sir, seem to you a sufficient reason, if there were no other, to warrant my demanding that an examination be instituted into his conduct, with a view to suitable satisfaction being afforded to his majesty for the loss of so
many of his subjects so wantonly slaughtered, and for the insolt offered to bis nag. But should captain Bingham’s charges be brought home to commodore Rodgers of bis having refused to state the name of the nation he belonged to, though asked to do so on their nearing each other in the dark, and of having fired a broadside into the sloop without provocation, which inight at once have sunk so snall a vessel, I am convinced I need only appeal to the justice of the American government, for i hat government to see in its proper light le ragnitude of the outrage, and offer to his majesty every reparation that can appear due..
It is with great pleasure, sir, that I avail myself of this opportunity to acknowledge the prompiness with which you came forward with the assurances alluded to in the first part of this letter, and the readiness which you showed to receive any communications from me in regard to the unhappy occurrence which forms the subject of the remainder. I have the honour to be, &c.
AUG. J. FOSTER, Hon. James Monroe, &c. &c. &c.
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster. Deparlment of State, July
16, 1811. S18-I have had the honour to receive your note respecting the late encounter between the American frigale the President, and his Britannick majesty's sloop of war the Little Belt.
It is very satisfactory to find that you received the communication which I had the honour to make to you, in our first interview, on the subject of your inqniry, relative to that unfortunate occurrence, in the amicable spirit in wbich it was intended. Although the excitement, which had been produced by previous and recent aggressions, particularly by the impressment of American citizens from American vessels, even on the coast of the United States, was great, yet no order had been given by the government for the recovery by force of any citizens so impressed, from any British ship of war. The orders given to the commanders of the frigales, and other armed vessels of
the United States, were for the protection of their coast, and of their commerce within the legitimate limits.
I need not repeat to you, sir, the sincere regret of this governinent, that such an encounter took place, and more especially ibat it should have produced the unfortunate consequences wbich atlended it. I bave the honour to be, &c.
JAS. MONROE. Augustus J. Foster, Esq. &c.
Mr.Foster to Mr. Monroe. Washinglon, July 24, 1811,
Sir, I have had the honour to receive your letter dat. ed on the 16th iostant, in answer to mine of the 3d, in which I expressed a desire to have stated, in a more formal manner, your devial to me of orders baving been given to commodore Rodgers, which could, under any construction, authorize that commander to attack any of his majesty's ships of war in search of any person claimed as an American seaman, and in which I also demanded that an examination should be instituted into that officer's conduct, with a view to suitable reparation being afford, ed to his majesty, for what appears a wanion and unprovoked attack made by the frigate under his command upon his majesty's sloop of war the Little Belt.
The denial I asked for, you have given me, and I beg to assure you, sir, that though I troubled you with the demand, because the extensiveness of the rumour, which had attributed such orders to the American government, had made it my duty so to do, yet I never entertained an idea for one moment, that the government of the United States could hare issued such orders, because they must have been considered as manifestations of direct intentions of hostility, which would have been incompatible with the relations of amity subsisting between America and Great Britain.
On such a point, sir, a simple denial was all I asked and what I expected to receive. It was therefore with pain that I found you had connected it with allusions to other topicks, calculated to produce irritation, on which, whatever coinplaints you may have to make to me, I shall be ever ready to receive and forward them for redress to the