Page images

To agree to Treaty Stipulations in violation of these principles, was not within the competent authority, or not within the just discretion of the American Government. They could neither sacrifice the Individual rights of their Citizens, by subjecting them to trial for offences against their municipal Statutes, before Foreign Judges, in Countries beyond the Seas; nor the rights of National Independence, by authorizing Foreign Naval Officers to search and seize any American Vessel, and still less, a convoyed Vessel, in the very presence of the American Commander of the Convoy. The reasons for declining these engagements were assigned to the British Government, in terms as explicit as was thought compatible with the spirit of conciliation which it was desirable to preserve throughout the discussion, and have remained without reply.

To the opinion strongly expressed in your Letter, of the inefficiency of the measures proposed on the part of The United States, as a substitute for those deemed by your Government to be alone adapted to the attainment of the end, namely, the concession of the mutual right of search, it might be replied, that neither the experience of the respective measures, as they have been found to operate in practice, nor the examination of them as they may be expected to operate in their nature, will warrant the conclusion that has been drawn. Of the right of mutual search it is clear, that its efficiency depends altogether upon its universal adoption. So long as it shall be declined by any one Maritime State, however inconsiderable, its adoption by all others, would leave it altogether ineffectual. Without reverting to the strong repugnance which has been manisested to it by other Maritime States of the first rank, it is scarcely to be expected that any principle so liable to misapplication and abuse, can obtain, as an innovation upon the Laws of Nations, the universal concurrence of all Maritime Powers. The expedient proposed on the part of The United States, of keeping Cruizers of their own constantly upon the Coast where the Traffick is carried on, with Instructions to co-operate by good offices, and by the mutua communication of information with the Cruizers of all other Powers stationed and instructed to the attainment of the same end, appears ir its own nature as well as to experience, so far as it has abided that test better adapted to the suppression of the Traffick, than that of the Bri tish Government, which makes the Officers of one Nation the executor of the Laws of another. Abundant evidence has been exhibited by your Government, and has been made manifest to the World, that it i not the American Flag under which, at this time, this flagitious trade i driven. The Cruizers of The United States have at least produce the effect of depriving the Dealers in the trade of the use of their Flag The most unqualified assent of The United States to the practice a mutual search could do no more.

It is finally to be observed, that the purpose of both Government being the same, a purpose important in itself, and dear to the interest

of humanity, could scarcely be subserved by a controversial and acrimonious discussion, or an uncharitable estimation, on either part, of the ineans adopted by the other for the attainment of the common end. It is believed that end will be best and most effectually promoted, if each Party, applying with carnestness and sincerity the means of its own choice, and reconcileable to the genius of its own Institutions, shall permit the other to pursue its own course, without molestation, and without reproach.

I pray you, Sir, to accept the assurance, &c. The Right Hon. S. Canning.


(Inclosure 2.)--The Hon. J. Q. Adams to the Rt. Hon. S. Canning. Sir,

Department of State, Washington, 20th August, 1821. I HAVE the honour of inclosing korewith a Copy of an Instruction which will be immediately issued to the Commanders of the Publick Vessels of the United States, charged with the duty of cruizing on the Coast of Africa, for the purpose of carrying into effect the Laws of The United States against the Slave Trade.

I pray you to accept the assurance, &c. The Right Hon. S. Canning.



(Inclosure 3.)- Instructions to American Ships of War. (EXTRACT from Additional Instructions which shall be given to the

respective Commanders of the Cruizing Vessels of the Navy of The United States, engaged, or that shall be engaged, on the Coast of Africa in the Suppression of the Slave-trade.)

To the Instructions heretofore given you for your government whilst cruizing under and in execution of the Laws of The United States for the suppression of the Slave-trade, I now add, “ That an arrangement has been made between the Government of The United States and that of Great Britain, that the Commanders of the publick Vessels they may respectively have employed on the Coast of Africa for the suppression of the Slave-trade, should co-operate by all suitable means for the accomplishment of that object." You will, therefore, as far as may be compatible with the discharge of your own duties, co-operate with the Commander of any British armed Vessel with which you may fall in, cruizing or stationed on the coast of Africa, with a view to the suppression of the Slave-trade.

Should the occasion occur in which you may find it mutually convenient to cruize in company with any such Vessel, you will do so; and you will communicate to the Commander of such Vessel


information which at any time you may have obtained, which you may deem useful to bim, and adapted to the object common to both Countries: the suppression of the Slave-trade.

(Inclosure 4.)- The Right Hon. Stratford Canning to the Hon. John

Quincy Adams. SIR,

Washington, 27th August, 1821. I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of two Letters from you dated the 15th and 20th instant, relative to the suppression of the Slave-trade; the second inclosing an Extract of the Instructions under which any Vessels of The United States cruizing on the Coast of Africa are intended henceforward to act.

These Communications I shall take the earliest opportunity of trans. mitting to His Majesty's Secretary of State; and I cordially hope that the expectation which you cherish of the benefit likely to result from carrying into effect the plan of limited co-operation, suggested by the American Government, and accepted by His Majesty, may be completely realized.

In your Letter of the 15th, there are some points of argument so nearly affecting the character of those measures which were previously proposed by the British Government, that I deem it an indispensable duty to notice them on the present occasion ; not, be assured, Sir, with any design of leading to a controversial and acrimonious discussion, which, if I did not concur with you in deprecating, I should but ill express His Majesty's invariable sentiments; but for the sole purpose of doing justice to that system of combined operations, which, at sundry times I have had the honour of recommending to your adoption, as the most efficient litherto devised, for the complete extirpation of the Slave-trade.

Much as I am at a loss to imagine on what grounds you have supposed any misunderstanding to exist, with respect to the motives which have led your Cabinet to decline acceding to the proposals of the Britislı Government, it is impossible to consider the anxiety which you manifest to explain and illustrate those motives, otherwise, than as offering additional evidence of the genuine and zealous desire entertained by the Government of The United States, to persevere in contributing effectually to the extinction of that most criminal traffick. Nor will you be surprised, Sir, that in treating a subject which you have justly described as dear to humanity, I, too, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, should be anxious, as far as it depends ou my humble efforts, to set every part of the question in its true and natural light.

of the two principles which you have specified as necessarily Jimiting the exertions of the American Government, namely, the exten of their Constitutional Authority, and the respect due to the Indepen dence of other Nations, the former is one, which, in this case, cai hardly be considered as open to discussion; no question of right bein; at issue between the two Governments, and each being solely and exclu sively the competent judge of its own powers. That such has been th impression of His Majesty's Ministers I have but little doubt; and whil

the Government of The United States regard the limits of their delegated Authority, as opposing an insuperable bar to their acceptance of the British Proposals, and while they can neither suggest any adequate modification of those Proposals, nor discover in the Case itself sufficient grounds to warrant their applying for a more enlarged discretion, it only remains for those who are placed under no such restraints, to lament a circumstance, which, however it may coincide with the position and principles of this Nation, must tend, in their conception, to retard the accomplishment of an object most deeply interesting to the World at large.

But it is no departure from a perfect acquiescence in the view which you have taken of your own Powers and the genuis of your own Constitution, to express a full persuasion, that the construction of the Mixed Com. missions, and their forms of Process, as settled by Treaty, for the Adjudication of Slave Cases, however they may vary from the Institutions of this or of that Country, will be found in practice to afford an ample protection to individual rights. It is true, that the accused Persons enjoy neither the benefit of a Trial by Jury, nor that of appealing to their Natural Tribunals; but substitutes of no light value are found in the place of those important defences. The requisite proofs of guilt are distinctly specified. Of two Judges, who in the first instance form the Tribunal, one is the Countryman of the Defendant. In case of acquittal, a full compensation, including demurrage, is secured on the faith of Government, to the Party acquitted. And, finally, the eyes of both Governments, each ready to require justice at the hands of the other, are constantly fixed upon the proceedings of the Courts. In addition to these striking facts, I need not remind you, how often American property, in common with that of other Neutral Merchants, has been definitively adjudged by a Foreign Court of Admiralty. Any distinction, which might at first be drawn between a practice enforcer by the general Law of Nations, and one which can only be sanctioned by mutual concession, would, I think, be reduced on further examination to a mere matter of feeling, or at most, of incompetent authority.

The second principle assumed in your Letter, is no less indisputable, as a general proposition, than the first; but it is not so easy to comprehend in what respect the independence of Nations could possibly be endangered by the adoption of measures directed to a common end, reciprocal in their operation, and grounded entirely on the consent of the Parties. You have referred to the practice asserted by Great Britain throughout the late Wars, of claiming her Seamen by right of search, from on board the Merchant Vessels of Neutral Powers. Allow me to say, that I do not perceive how the exercise of a belligerent right for that specific purpose, can be fairly identified with the Proposal now made, and already accepted by three Independent Powers, to agree, in time of Peace, to a mutual right of search, for the deliverance of those

unhappy Beings, whom the concurrent Laws of Christendom have not yet been able to preserve from the rapacity of the Slave Merchant. It might be observed, that your argument would equally affect the prac. tice of search under any circumstances; the search for contraband of War, no less than the search for Negroes. The fact is, that whatever rights are claimed as belonging to a state of War, must stand on their own grounds. They can neither be strengthened nor invalidated by concessions made under different circumstances, and adapted to other ends.

If this objection had not assumed the form of a principle, but were merely derived from an apprehension that abuses might eventually prevail in the practice of searching Vessels at sea, it would not, perhaps, have been difficult to suggest limitations sufficient to guard against such a contingency. By contracting the range, and particularly the period, of its operation, the measure in question might have been submitted to the test of experience, without involving the risk of any serious inconvenience.

The most sanguine imagination could hardly expect that an evil 80 vast, so deeply rooted as the traffick in Slaves, could be completely subdued without considerable sacrifices, as well as the most strenuous and unremitting exertions. It is more particularly under this view of the case, that I proceed to notice the very pointed repugnance which you have expressed to a Clause in the Slave-trade Convention between Great Britain and The Netherlands, extending the right of visit to Vessels under convoy of a National Ship. If this concession were really so objectionable as it has appeared to the American Government it should at least be remembered that it bears upon both the Power which are Parties to the Treaty; and, whatever sacrifice of feeling o of interest may be incurred by the arrangement, that Party whose Fleet are the most numerous, whose trade is the most extensive, can hard! be considered as having less than an equal share of the bürthen. Sup posing, again, that The United States, as I infer from your remarks, ar wholly foreign to those motives, whatever they may be, which prevaile upon the Courts of London and Brussels to adopt the above-mentione Clause, it is clear that the omission of a stipulation, in that case supe fluous, could not have affected the general scheme of co-operatio proposed by the British to the American Government. I am con vinced, Sir, that you did not mean to 'represent this point as a parı mount objection to the whole.

In the course of our frequent Communications on this importa subject, I have never proposed an unlimited accession to the Engag ments contracted by His Majesty with Spain, Portugal, or The N therlands, and amicably communicated to the American Governmei as the only form of Convention into which His Majesty was willing enter with The United States. However satisfactory those Engag

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »