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ed by the concurrent testimony of all the officers of the American ship, and of others whom it was proper to summon, cannot, it is presumed, leave a doubt in the mind of any one that captain Binghain made the attack, and without a justifiable cause.
That commodore Rodgers pursued a vessel which had at first pursued bim, and hailed her as soon as be approached within a suitable distance, are circumstances which can be of no avail to captain Bingham. The United · States have a right to know the national character of the armed ships which hover on their coast, and whether they visit it with friendly or illicit views. It is a right inseparable from the sovereignty of every independent state, and intimately connected with their tranquillity and peace. All nations exercise it, and none with more rigour, or at a greater distance from the coast, than Great Britain herself, por any on more justifiable grounds than the United States. In addition to the considerations which have recommended this precaution to other powers, it is rendered of the more importance to the United States, by the practice of armed vessels from the West Jodies in visiting our coasts for unauthorized and even piratical purposes. Instances have also occurred in which the commanders of British ships of war, after impressing seamen from American vessels, have concealed their names, and the names of their ships, whereby an application to their government for the reparation due for such outrages, with the requisite certainty, is rendered impracticable. For these reasons, the conduct of commodore Rodgers in approaching the Little Belt to make the necessary inquiries, and exchange a friendly salute, was strictly correct.
The President, therefore, can regard the act of captain Bingham no otherwise than as a hostile aggression on the flag of the Uuited States, and he is persuaded that his · Britannick majesty, viewing it in the same light, will bestow on it the attention which it merits. I have the honour to be, &c.
• JAMES MONROE. Augustus J. Foster, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe. Washington, October 24,
1811. SIR,-I have had the hopour to receive your letter of the 11th instant, enclosing a copy of the proceedings of a court of inquiry held by order of the President of the United States on tbe conduct of commodore Rodgers, in the late encounter between a frigate of the United States, the President, and his majesty's ship the Little Belt, fixing on captain Bingham the charge of baving commenced the engagement, and claiming in consequence the aitention of his majesty's government towards it, as to an act of hostility op the part of the British officer.
I may be permitted to remind you, sir, that after I had ascertained from you, that no hostile intentions on the part of the goveroment of the United States were connected with the proceedings of caplain Rodgers, all I asked in the first instance was, that ibe President of the United States would be pleased to order an inquiry into his conduct, which had tended so seriously to interrupt the barmony subsisting between our two countries, and which, bavipg hitherto received no palliation wbatever from any evidence in contradiction to captain Bingham's statement, as effi. cially transmitted to his majesty's government, must have continued to appear to them to be utterly incapable of receiving any.
The document you have now done me the honour to communicate to me, with the copy annexed of captain Rodgers' letter (for the first time officially before me,) is, however, so far satisfactory, as it shows that captain Rodgers has endeavoured to exculpate himself, exhibiting the ground on which he rests his defence, and I shall witbout delay transmit it to be laid before his royal bigbpess the prince regent. It certainly proves a most unaccountable difference to exist between the statement of the commander and officers of the Little Belt, and those of the President, as to the firing of the first gun; but I must remark, that from the concurrent testimony of several of the officers of the United States' ship, as to the orders given by captain Rodgers on nearing the Little Belt, there appears to have been an impression on his mind, that an encounter was to ensue; and, as the Little Belt was evidently endeavouring to avoid him, such an idea, it would seem, could only have
arisen from the opinion he entertained of his own proceedings as being likely to bring it on.
I take this occasion to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated Sept. 141h, in answer to mine of the 2d, a copy of which I immediately forwarded to my governinent. I have the honour to be, Sc.
AUG. J. FOSTER. Hon. James Monroe, &c. &c. &c.
CORRESPONDENCE RELATIVE TO THE FLORIDAS. Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe. . Washington, July 2, 1811.
· Sir,-The attention of his majesty's government has of late been called to the measures pursued by the United States, for the military occupation of West Florida. The language held by the President, at the opening of the late session of Congress, the bostile demonstrations made by the American forces under captain Gaines, the actual summoning of the fort of Mobile, and tbe bill submitted to the approbation of tbe American legislature, for the interior administration of the province, are so many direct and positive proofs that the government of America is prepared to subject the province of West Florida to the auiborily of the United States.
The Spanish minister in London addressed a nole, in the month of March last, to bis majesty's secretary of state for foreign affairs, expressing in sufficient detail the feelings of the government of Spain, respecting this unprovoked ag. gression on the integrity of that monarchy.
Mr. Morier in his note to Mr. Sinith of December 15, 1810, has already reminded the American government of the intimate alliance subsisting between his majesty and Spain, and he has desired such explanations on the subject, as might convince his majesty of the pacifick disposition of the United States towards Spain. Mr. Smith in his reply has stated, it was evident that no hostile or unfriendly purpose was entertained by America towards Spain ; and that the American minister at his majesty's court, had been enabled to make whatever explanations might comport with
the frank and conciliatory spirit which had been invariably manifested on the part of the United States.
Since the date of this correspondence Mr. Pinkney bas offered no explanation whatever, of the suotives which have actualed the conduct of the United States in this transaction; a bill has been introduced into Congress for the establishinent, government, and protection of the territory of the Mobile, and the fortress of that name bas been suni moned without effect.
His royal highness, the prince regent, in the name and . on the behalf of his majesty, is still willing to hope, that the American government has not been urged to this step by ambitious motives, or by a desire of foreign conquest, and territorial aggrandizement. It would be satisfactory, however, to be enabled to ascertain that no consideration, connected with the present state of Spain, has induced America lo dispoil ihat monarchy of a valuable foreign colony.
The government of tbe United States contends that Ibe right to the possession of a certain part of West Florida, will not be less open to discussion in the occupation of America, than under the government of Spain.
But the government of the United States, under this pretext, cannot expect to avoid the reproach, which must attend the ungenerous and unprovoked seizure of a foreign colony, while the parent state is engaged in a noble contest for independence, against a most unjustifable and violent invasion of the rights both of the monarch and people of Spain.
While I wait, therefore, for an explanation from you, sir, as to the motives which led to this unjust aggression by the United States, on the territories of his majesty's. ally, I must consider it as my duty to lose no time in full filling the orders of his royal higliness, the prince regent, by which I am commanded, in the event of its appearing on my arrival in this city, that the United States still persevere by menaces and active demonstration to claim the military occupation of West Florida, no!withstanding the remonstrances of his majesty's charge d'affaires, and the manifest injustice of the act, to present to you the solemn protest of his royal highness, in the name and on the behalf of his inajesty, against an atlempt so contrary to eveTy principle of publick justice, faith, and national honour,
and so injurious to the alliance subsisting between bis majesty and the Spanish nation. I hare the booour to be, &c. &c. &c..
LACG. J. FOSTER. The Hon. James Monroe, &c.
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster. Department of Slale, July
8, 1811. Sir,-I have had the honour to receive the note which you bare presented, by the order of his royal bighness the prince regent, to protest, in behalf of the regency of Spain, against the possession lately takeo, by the United States, of certain parts of West Florida.
Although the President cannot admit the right of Great Britain to interfere in any question relating to that province, he is willing to explain, in a friendly manner, the considerations wbich induced the United States to take the step, against which you have been ordered to protest.
It is to be inferred from your view of the subject, that the British governnient has been taught to beliere, that the United States seized a moment of national embarrass. ment, to wrest from Spain a province to which they had no right, and that they were prompted to it by their interest : alone, and a knowledge that Spain could not defend it. Nothing, however, is more remote from the fact, than the presumption on which your government appears to have acted. Examples of so unworthy a conduct, are unfor. tunately too frequent in the history of nations; but the United States have not followed them. The President had persuaded himself that the unequivocal proofs which the United States have given, in all their transactions with foreign powers, and particularly with Spain, of an upright and liberal policy, would have shielded them from so un: .merited a suspicion. He is satisfied that nothing is want. ing but a correct knowledge of facts, completely lo dissipate it.
I might bring to your view a long catalogue of injuries, which the United States have received from Spain, since the conclusion of their revolutionary war, any one of which would most probably bave been considered cause of war, and resented as such, by other powers. I will mention two