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CIRCULAR to the Collectors of Customs in The United
States, relative to the treatment of Belligerent Armed Vessels, and their Cargoes, belonging to France and Spain,
and to Spanish America, in the Ports of The United States. SIR,
Treasury Department, 30th July, 1823, As it is probable that, in the progress of the War which now .exists between France and Spain, the publick and private armed Vessels of one, and perhaps of both Belligerents may, by stress of weather, pur, suit of enemies, or some other urgent necessity, be forced to enter the Ports and Harbours of The United States, it becomes the duty of the Government to prescribe the manner in which they shall be treated whilst they remain within its jurisdiction.
As there exists, upon this subject, no legisl uive enactment, the question must be decided by the Conventional Engagements which The United States have contracted with the Belligerent Parties.
By the 8th Article of the Treaty between The United States and Spain,* it is provided that the publick and private Vessels of Spain, when forced by stress of weather, pursuit of Enemies, or any other urgent necessity, to seek shelter or harbour, may enter into any of the Rivers, Bays, Roads, or Ports, belonging to the United States, and shall be received with all humanity, and enjoy all favour, protection, and help, and be permitted to refresh and provide themselves, at reasonable rates, with provisions and all things needful for the subsistence of their persons, or reparation of their ships, and prosecution
* Art. VIII. Treaty between The United States and Spain. San Lorenzo el Real, 27th October, 1795.
In case the Subjects and Inhabitants of either Party, with their Shipping, whether Publick and of War, or Private and of Merchants, be forced, through stress of weather, pursuit of Pirates or Enemies, or any other urgent nocessity for seeking shelter and harbour, to retreat and enter into any of the Rivers, Bays, Roads, or Ports, belonging to the other Party, they shall be received and treated with all humanity, and enjoy all favour, protection, and help, and they shall be permitted to refresh and provide themselves, at reasonable rates, with victuals, and all things needful for the subsistence of their persons, or reparation of their Ships, and prosecution of their Voyage, and they shall no ways be hindered from returning out of the said Ports or Roads, but may rémove and depart when and whitlicr they please, without any Tet or hindrance,
laid before the Senate for the exercise of their constitutional authority concerning them.
In the execution of the Treaties of Peace of November 1782 and September 1783, between The United States and Great Britain, and which terminated the War of our Independence, a line of Boundary was drawn as the demarcation of Territory between the two Countries, extending over near 20 degrees of latitude, and ranging over seas, lakes, and mountains, then very imperfectly explored, and scarcely opened to the geographical knowledge of the Age. In the progress of discovery and settlement by both Parties since that time, several questions of Boundary between their respective Territories, have arisen, which have been found of exceedingly difficult adjustment. At the close of the last War with Great Britain, four of these questions pressed themselves upon the consideration of the Negotiators of the Treaty of Ghent, but without the means of concluding a definitive arrangement concerning them. They were referred to three separate Commissions, consisting of two Commissioners, one appointed by each Party, to examine and decide upon their respective Claims. In the event of disagreement between the Commissioners, it was provided that they should make Reports to their several Governments; and that the Reports should finally be referred to the decision of a Sovereign the common Friend of both. Of these Commissions, two have already terminated their sessions and investigations, one by entire, and the other by partial agreement. The Commissioners of the fifth Article of the Treaty of Ghent have finally disagreed, and made their conflicting Reports to their own Governments. But from these Reports a great difficulty has occurred in making up a question to be decided by the Arbitrator. This pur. pose has, however, been effected by a fourth Convention, concluded at London by the Plenipotentiaries of the two Governments on the 29th of September last. It will be submitted, together with the others, to the consideration of the Senate.
While these questions have been pending, incidents have occurred of conflicting pretensions, and of dangerous character upon the Territory itself in dispute between the two Nations. By a common understanding between the Governments it was agreed that no exercise of exclusive jurisdiction by either Party, while the Negotiation was pending, should change the state of the question of right to be definitively settled. Such collision has nevertheless recently taken place, by occurrences the precise character of which has not yet been ascertained. A communication from the Governor of the State of Maine, with accompanying Documents, and a Correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Minister of Great Britain, on this subject, are now communicated. Measures have been taken to ascertain the state of the facts more correctly by the employment of a special Agent to visit the spot where the alleged outrages have occurred, the result of whose enquiries, when received, will be transmitted to Congress,
While so many of the subjects of high interest to the friendly relations between the two countries have been so far adjusted, it is matter of regret that their views respecting the Commercial Intercourse between The United States and the British Colonial Possessions have not equally approximated to a friendly agreement.
At the commencement of the last Session of Congress, they were informed of the sudden and unexpected exclusion by the British Government, of access, in Vessels of The United States, to all their Colonial Ports, except those immediately bordering upon our own Territories. In the amicable discussions which have succeeded the adoption of this measure, which, as it affected harshly the interests of The United States, became a subject of expostulation on our part, the principles upon which its justification has been placed have been of a diversified character. It has been at once ascribed to a mere recur-, rence to the old long established principle of Colonial monopoly, and at the same time to a feeling of resentment because the offers of an Act of Parliament, opening the Colonial Ports upon certain conditions, had not been grasped at with sufficient eagerness by an instantaneous conformity to them. At a subsequent period it has been intimated that the new exclusion was in resentment because a prior Act of Parliament of 1822, opening certain Colonial Ports under heavy and burdensome restrictions to Vessels of The United States, had not been reciprocated by an admission of British Vessels from the Colonies, and their Cargoes, without any restriction or discrimination whatever. But, be the motive for the interdiction what it may, the British Government have manifested no disposition, either by Negotiation or by corresponding legislative enactments, to recede from it, and we have been given distinctly to understand that neither of the Bills which were under the consideration of Congress at their last Session would have been deemed sufficient in their concessions, to have been rewarded by any relaxation from the British interdict. It is one of the inconveniences inseparably connected with the attempt to adjust by reciprocal legislation interests of this nature, that neither Party can know what would be satisfactory to the other; and that after enacting a Statute for the avowed and sincere purpose of conciliation, it will generally be found utterly inadequate to the expectations of the other Party, and will terminate in mutual disappointment.
The Session of Congress having terminated without any Act upon the subject, a Proclamation was issued on the 17th March last, COBformably to the provisions of the 6th Section of the Act of 1st March, 1823, declaring the fact that the Trade and Intercourse authorized by the British Act of Parliament of 24th June, 1822, between The United
States and the British enumerated Colonial Ports, had been by the subsequent Acts of Parliament of 5th July, 1825, and the Order of Council of 27th July, 1826, prohibited. The effect of this Proclamation, by the terms of the Act under which it was issued, has been, that each and every provision of the Act concerning Navigation, of 18th April, 1818, and of the Act supplementary thereto of 15th May, 1820, revived, and is in full force. Such, then, is the present condition of the Trade, that, useful as it is to both Parties, it can, with a single momentary exception, be carried on directly by the Vessels of neither. That exception itself is found in a Proclamation of the Governor of the Island of St. Christopher, and of the Virgin Islands, inviting, for 3 months from the 28th of August last, the importation of the Articles of the produce of The United States, which constitute their export portion of this Trade, in the Vessels of all Nations. That period having already expired, the state of mutual interdiction has again taken place. The British Government have not only declined Negotiation upon this subject, but, by the principle they have assumed with reference to it, have precluded even the means of Negotiation. It becomes not the self-respect of The United States, either to solicit gratuitous favours, or to accept as the grant of a favour that for which an ample equivalent is exacted. It remains to be determined by the respective Governments, whether the Trade shall be opened by Acts of reciprocal Legislation. It is in the mean time satisfactory to know, that apart from the inconveniences resulting from a disturbance of the usual channels of Trade, no loss has been sustained by the Commerce, the Navigation or the Revenue of The United States, and none of magnitude is to be apprehended from this existing state of mutual interdict.
With the other maritime and commercial Nations of Europe, our Intercourse continues with little variation. Since the cessation, by the Convention of 24th June, 1822, of all discriminating duties npon the Vessels of The United States and of France, in either Country, our Trade with that Nation has increased and is increasing. A disposition on the part of France has been manifested to renew that Negotiation; and, in acceding to the proposal, we have expressed the wish that it might be extended to other objects, upon which a good understanding between the Parties would be beneficial to the interests of both. The origin of the political relations between The United States and France, is coeval with the first years of our Independence. The memory of it is interwoven with that of our arduous struggle for national existence. Weakened as it has occasionally been since that time, it can by us never be forgotten; and we should hail with exultation the moment which should indicate a recollection equally friendly in spirit, on the part of France. A fresh effort has been recently made by the Minister of The United States residing at Paris, to obtain a consideration of the just claims of Citizens of The United States, to the reparation of wrongs
long since committed, many of them frankly acknowledged, and all of them entitled, upon every principle of justice, to a candid examination. The proposal last made to the French Government has been to refer the subject, which has formed an obstacle to this consideration, to the determination of a Sovereign, the common friend of both. To this offer no definitive answer has yet been received; but the gallant and honourable spirit which has at all times been the pride and glory of France, will not ultimately permit the demands of innocent sufferers to be extinguished in the mere consciousness of the power to reject them.
A new Treaty of Amity, Navigation, and Commerce, has been concluded with the Kingdom of Sweden, which will be submitted to the Senate for their advice with regard to its ratification. At a more recent date, a Minister Plenipotentiary from the Hanseatic Republicks of Hamburg, Lubeck, and Bremen, has been received, charged with a special Mission for the Negotiation of a Treaty of Amity and Commerce between that ancient and renowned League and The United States. This Negotiation has accordingly been commenced, and is now in progress, the result of which will, if successful, be also submitted to the Senate, for their consideration.
Since the accession of the Emperor Nicholas to the Imperial Throne of all the Russias, the friendly dispositions towards The United States, so constantly manifested by his Predecessor, have continued unabated; and have been recently testified by the appointment of a Minister Plenipotentiary to reside at this place. From the interest taken by this Sovereign in behalf of the suffering Greeks, and from the spirit with which others of the Great European Powers are co-operating with him, the friends of freedom and of humanity may indulge the hope, that they will obtain relief from that most unequal of conflicts, which they have so long and so gallantly sustained : that they will enjoy the blessing of self-government, which by their sufferings in the cause of liberty they have richly earned; and that their independence will be secured by those liberal Institutions, of which their Country surnished the earliest examples in the history of mankind, and which have consecrated to immortal remembrance the very soil for which they are now again profusely pouring forth their blood. The sympathies which the People and Government of The United States have so warmly indulged with their cause, have been acknowledged by their Government, in a letter of thanks, which I have received from their illustrious President, a translation of which is now communicated to Congress, the Representatives of that Nation to whom this tribute of gratitude was intended to be paid, and to whom it was justly due.
Io the American hemisphere the cause of freedom and Independenence has continued to prevail; and if signalized by none of those splendid triumphs which had crowned with glory some of the preceding years, it has only been from the banishment of all external force