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Situation of Country, Claims upon France. - Origin of Claims.
Claims upon Denmark; Settlement of. - History of French Claims; Negotiations concerning same. - Brazil. --- Negotia
- — tions with Turkey; Treaty. - Great Britain ; Colonial Controversy ; History of Dispute. — Policy of Great Britain ; Of the United States. Law of 1818. – Of 1820. — Negotiation. — British Law of 1822. Law of 1823. American Ports opened. - British Law of 1825. - Colonial Ports closed. - Negotiations renewed. - Proceedings in Congress. - Concessions by United States. — American Ports opened. - Colonial
. Ports opened.
The foreign relations of the spoliations of American comUnited States at the commence- merce during the war consequent ment of the new administration upon the French Revolution, compresented a peaceful and tranquil mitted with the double view of aspect.
filling their own treasuries, and Controversies had arisen with diminishing the resources of their Great Britain in relation to the enemies, by cutting off their trade West India trade and concerning with neutrals. the boundary line between Maine It had always been the favorite and the British Provinces of policy of powerful belligerents to Canada and New Brunswick; narrow the limits of veutral combut this last question had been merce, by multiplying the prereferred, by consent, to the de- texts of seizure and confiscation ; cision of the King of the ether- but, during that war, this system lands, and after a long contest, the was carried to an extent of which former had terminated in a sus- previous history had afforded no pension of all direct intercourse example, and was sought to be between the United States and justified on peculiar principles. the British Islands — both parties It was upon the wealth and readhering to their respective prin- sources of these United States ciples as too important to be that these measures were meant abandoned.
chiefly to operate, and it was the Claims, too, existed upon most policy of that government that of the Continental Powers for they were intended to control.
The grasping spirit of European tenanced by the Admiralty Courts monopoly attempted to impose of that kingdom. new shackles, in place of the co- Some vessels were captured lonial fetters that had been shaken for having French consular ceroff, and displayed itself in continu- tificates on board ; the Emperor al efforts to cripple the commerce Napolean having notified the it could not prohibit, lessen the northern courts that his consuls in resources it was not suffered to the United States would not issue approbate, and arrest the growth any neutral certificates after the of the prosperity it had no longer 22d of September, 1810, when, the power to crush. The first in fact, his order to his consuls act in this series of aggressions was not received in the United was an exclusion from an exten- States until the 13th of Novemsive branch in the carrying trade, ber following. Still
, those vesby a sudden revival, in a new sels, having certificates of the form, and with a wider applica- French Consuls, issued previous tion of the rule of 1756." Our to that period, were captured and partial submission to this measure condemned; and by this celebratwas followed by successive out- ed juggle between these courts, a rages by all the belligerent pow- large amount of property was ers upon American commerce, seized. Other vessels were conand the persons of those engaged demned as having accepted Britin it.*
ish convoy, a ground of condemFrom Spain, one of the bel- nation that ought never to have ligerent parties, satisfaction was been applied to those vessels obtained by the cession of Flori- which were compelled to accept, da, and the claims of American by superior force, of that proteccitizens op that power to the tion which proved so fatal to amount of $5,000,000 were li- them. quidated and paid. There still Negotiations were renewed un exists, however, claims upon the der Mr Adams' administration, Governments of France and other with the view of obtaining comcontinental powers of Europe, pensation for these claims, and formidable in their amount, and Mr Wheaton, a gentleman of talthe settlement of which is of the ent and learning, was selected as highest importance to the national Minister to Denmark. After two character.
years' residence, his exertions The claim upon Denmark rests were crowned with success, and upon grounds different from those
a treaty was formed, March 28th, upon France and the dependent 1830, by which the controversy kingdoms of that power.
was terminated; the Danish GovThey grew out of a system of ernment paying $650,000, in piratical privateering upon Ameri- full compensation of all claims can commerce, which was coun- arising from the illegal captures
* The aggressions of England finally provoked a war between the two countries, and by a resort to that remedy, of course all claims for spoliations or illegal seizures were done away.
and confiscations of American than their compulsory departure vessels.
from those of the continent, and The claims upon France, how- limited the right to seize to the ever, are of a paramount charac- single case of an attempt to evade ter, on account of the magnitude, this provision by a false declaration. and of the nature of the conside- At this time, too, the convention rations by which they are recom- between France and the United mended to public attention. States, of the 30th September,
In the year 1806, November 1800, was in full force. By the 21st, the Emperor of France, 22d article of that convention, on the alleged ground that Eng. it was agreed that the established land had infringed the rights of courts for prize causes should neutrals in blockading the coasts alone take cognizance of the vesof France and Holland, and pro- sels and property of American hibiting them from carrying on and French citizens, and that, the trade between the colonies when judgment should be proand the belligerent mother coun- nounced against them, the sentries, issued his celebrated Berlin tence should mention the reasons Decree. By this decree the of the decision. British Islands were declared to It was accordingly provided in be in a state of blockade, and all the Berlin decree, that the council correspondence with them was of prizes at Paris should decide prohibited. Letters written in upon all questions arising under English were made liable to that decree. When these Amerseizure; all trade in English ican vessels were seized, a quesmerchandize was forbidden, and tion arose whether they were liathe goods made lawful prize. ble to seizure under that decree, Vessels coming directly from on the ground, that they had not England or her colonies, or having gone voluntarily but had been cobeen there since the publication of erced into the ports of England. the decree were prohibited from The question was never submitentering any French ports and any ted to the council of prizes; but, attempt to evade that regulation, on the 4th of September, 1807, by means af a false declaration, the director general of the customis was punished by confiscation. issued a circular, giving the most
Under this decree a number rigorous construction to the decree, of American vessels arriving in and a retrospective effect to his France after its promulgation, own decision, so as to extend it were seized, because they had put over all the American vessels into England; being forced in by which had been previously seized stress of weather, or sent in by and were then waiting for trial. English cruisers for examination. The injustice therefore of the conThis seizure was unauthorized demnations which took place uneven by the decree itself, which der this construction of the decree imposed no other penalty on ves- did not consist merely in their insels coming from English ports, fringement of the law of nations,
but was beightened by their viola- ment. Orders were given to tion of the express terms of a capture, and even to destroy, every treaty.
American vessel bound to EngOn the 11th December, 1807, land or her dependencies. Nor the Berlin decree was followed by were the armed vessels of France the Milan decree, also in professed slow or scrupulous in enforcing rataliation of the invasions of neu- these orders. Numbers of Amertral rights by England. This de- ican vessels were burnt at sea, cree provided that any ship, which without even the form of a trial, should submit to be searched by an and condemned by no other seoEnglish vessel, or had been carried tence than the will of the captors. into England, or paid any duty to And this wanton violation of neuthe English Government, should tral rights was, in some instances, be adjudged to have forseited the carried so far as to cause the deprotection of its own Government, struction of American vessels to have become English property, bound from their own country, and to be good and lawful prize. not to hostile but to neutral ports.
The British Islands were de- The violent and inimical spirit clared to be in a state of blockade, shown by both belligerents toand all ships, of whatever nation, wards the commerce of the United sailing from or to English ports, States, at last induced the Ameriwere declared to be lawful prize can Government to lay an embarand liable to capture. This article go, for the purpose of withdrawing was a new and further infraction the property of its citizens from of the convention of 1800, which the grasp of their upprincipled was still in force. By the 12th policy. Even this measure, paciand 14th articles of that conven- fic as it was, had the effect of protion the French Government had voking further aggressions upon expressly stipulated that free the remnant of its commerce, in ships should give freedom to the the shape of a decree at Bayonne,
a goods of an enemy, and that April 17, 1808, ordering the seizAmerican vessels might pass and ure of all American vessels then repass, freely, to and from the in the ports of France, or which ports of the enemies of France, mnight afterwards arrive there, unless the same were actually without any pretence except one, blockaded, besieged or invested which was false in fact and in its This decree, like that issued at spirit most offensive and insulting. Berlin, was nominally applicable The pretence was, that an emto all neutral vessels : but the bargo having been laid by Conchief operation of both was upon gress, no American vessel could American commerce.
be lawfully abroad, and, conseIt was soon made the pretext quently, that those which appearof the seizure and sale of a greated as such, could have no title to number of American vessels and the national character, but ought cargoes, the proceeds of which, to be condemned as British prowithout scruple, were applied to perty. This most extraordinary the service of the French govern- claim on the part of the French
Government, was mel not only by firming those seizures ; extending proper remonstrances by the by a retrospective operation, the American minister, but by an ex- principle to all American vessels planation, showing that, at the which had entered France, or the time of laying the embargo, there dependent countries, since May were many
American vessels 20, 1809, and directing the proabroad, which were ordered by ceeds arising from their sale, to their owners not to return to the be paid into the Public Treasury. United States until that law should Even this outrageous measure,' be repealed. - The operation of as it has been justly styled, in the embargo on the commercial the official correspondence of the and agricultural interests of the American minister, was not the country, finally induced Congress limit of the aggressions of the to repeal the law in respect to all continental belligerents. In
purcountries, except England and suance of the coutinental system, France, and the non-intercourse promulgated in the Berlin and system was adopted in its stead. Milan decrees, which were comBy that system, all English and municated as orders to the deFrench vessels and merchandize pendent allies of France, many were excluded froin American American vessels were seized in ports, until they had revoked or the Kingdom of Naples, fortyso modified their hostile decrees, seven in number, and valued at as to exempt our commerce from four millions of dollars; were their destructive operation. In enticed into the Neapolitan ports that event, the commercial inter- by a decree of Murat, which recourse of the United States was laxed the rigor of the blockade to be renewed with that belliger- decrees as to American vessels, ent, which should thus evince its and, when they had trusted themdisposition to return to the ob- selves to this plighted faith, the servance of the rights of friendly Neapolitan Government caused nations.
them to be seized, with their carOn the 29th of April, 1809, goes, which were sold for the this law was communicated by benefit of the Government, and the American minister to the some of ihe vessels were taken French Government. No indica- into the public service. tion was given by that Govern- In Holland, American vessels ment that it was regarded as a arriving in her ports in 1809, hostile measure, and no remon- some of them forced in by stress strance was made against it. of weather, were sequestered,
Towards the end of that year, without any pretence of their however, orders were given to having infringed the laws of the seize all American vessels in the Kingdom, and their cargoes placed ports of France, or in possession in the public stores. The vesof her armies; and, after a great sels were permitted to depart, as number had been thus seized, a not having violated any laws; but decree was issued, dated at Ram- the cargoes were detained, until bouillet, March 23, 1810, con- the 16th of March, 1810, when