Page images

vessels belonging to neutral nations upon the sole plea of their having visited an English port, or of their being laden with articles of British or colonial produce, in whatsoever manner acquired.

This pretension, however, is but a part of that system, the whole of which, under our construction of the letter of M. Champagny, of August 5, 1810, corroborated by many subsequent declarations of the French government, and not invalidated by any unequivocal declaration of a contrary tenor, must be considered as still in full force.

In the communication which you lately transmitted to me, I am sorry to repeat, that I was unable to discover any facts which satisfactorily proved that the Decrees had been actually repealed, and I have already repeatedly stated the reasons which too probably led to the restoration of a few of the American ships taken in pursuance of the Berlin and Milan Decrees after November 1. Mr. Russell does not seem to deny that the Decrees may still be kept in force, only he thinks they have assumed a municipal character; but in M. Champagny's declaration, ambiguous as it was, there is no such division of them into two different characters; for if the contingency required by the French Minister took place, the Berlin and Milan Decrees were to cease, according to his expression, without any qualification. If, therefore, a part of them remain, or be revived again, as seems to be allowed even here, why may not the whole be equally so? Where proof can be obtained of their existence, we have it, namely, in the ports of France, in which vessels have been avowedly seized under their operation since November 1. Of their maritime existence we cannot so easily obtain evidence, because of the few French ships of war which venture to leave their harbors. Who can doubt, however, that had the ruler of France a navy at his command, equal to the enforcing of his violent Decrees, he would soon show that part of them to be no dead letter. The principle is not the less obnoxious because it is from necessity almost dormant for the moment, nor ought it therefore to be less an object to be strenuously resisted.

Allow me, sir, here to express my sincere regret, that I have not as yet been able to convince you, by what I cannot 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 en-
emies. His royal higness will, I am convinced, learn with
unfeigned sorrow, that such continues to be still the deter-
mination of America, and whatever restrictions on the com-
merce, enjoyed by America in his majesty's dominions,
may ensue on the part of G. Britain, as retaliatory on the re-
fusal by your government to admit the productions of G.
Britain while they open their harbors to those of his majes-
ty'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 at-
titude between the two belligerents.
I have the honor to be, &c.


[ocr errors][merged small]

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the U. States,

I communicate to Congress copies of a correspondence between the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of G. Britain and the Secretary of State, relative to the aggression committed by a British ship of war on the U. States' frigate Chesapeake, by which it will be seen that the subject of difference between the two countries, is terminated by an offer of reparation which has been acceded to.

JAMES MADISON, Washington, November 13, 1811.

Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

WASHINGTON, October 30, 1811. SIR-I had already the honor to mention to you that I came to this country furnished with instructions from his royal highness the prince regent, in the name and on behalf of his majesty, for the purpose of proceeding to a final adjustment of the differences which have arisen between G. Britain and the U. States of America in the affair of the Chesapeake Frigate; and I had also that of acquainting you with the necessity under which I found myself of suspen

ding the executing of those instructions in consequence of my not having perceived that any steps whatever were taken by the American government to clear


the circumstance of an event which threatened so materially to interrupt the harmony subsisting between our two countries, as that which occurred in the month of last May, between the U. States' ship President and his majesty's ship Little Belt, when every evidence before his majesty's government seemed to shew that a most evident and wanton outrage had been committed on a British ship of war by an American Commodore.

A Court of Eaquiry, however, as you informed me in your letter of the 11th inst. has since been held by order of the President of the U, States on the conduct of Commodore Rodgers, and this preliminary to further discussion on the subject being all that I asked in the first instance as due to the friendship subsisting between the two States, I have now the honor to acquaint you that I am ready to proceed in the truest sp.cit of conciliation to lay before you the terms of reparation which his royal highess has commanded me to propose to the U. States' government, and only wait to know when it will suit your convenience to enter upon the discussion. I have the honor to be, &c.


your letter of

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Oct. 31, 1811. SIR-I have just had the honor to receive the 30th of this month.

I am glad to find that the communication which I had the honor to make to you on the 11th inst. relative to the Court of Enpuiry, which was the subject of it, is viewed by

, you in the favorable light which you have stated. .

Although I regret that the proposition which you now make in consequence of that communication, has been delayed to the present moment, I am ready to receive the ļerms of it whenever you may think proper to communicate them. Permit me to add, that the pleasure of finding them satisfactory, w ii be duly augmented, if they should be introductory to the removal of ALL the differences depending between our two countries, the hope of which is so little encouraged by your past correspondence. A prospect of

suce a result, will be embraced, on my part, with a spirit of conciliation, equal to that which has been expressed by you. I have the honor to be, &c.


Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1st, 1811. SIR-In pursuance of the orders which I have received from his royal highness, the prince regent, in the name and on the behalf of his majesty, for the purpose of proceeding to a tinal adjustment of the differences which have arisen between G. Britain and the U. States, in the affair of the Chesapeake frigate, I have the honor to acquaint you— First, that I am instructed to repeat to the American gove ernment the prompt disavowal made by his majesty, (and recited in Mr. Erskine's note of April 17, 1809, to Mr. Smith,) on being apprised of the unauthorized act of the officer in command of his naval forces on the coast of America, whose recall from an highly important and honorable command, immediately ensued, as a mark of his majesty's disapprobation

Secondly, that I am authorised to offer, in addition to that disavowal, on the part of his royal highness, the imme. diate restoration, as far as circumstances will admit, of the men who in consequence of admiral Berkley's orders, were forcibly taken out of the Chesapeake, to the vessel from which they were taken ; or if that ship should be no longer in commission, to such sea-port of the U. States as the American government may name for the puspose.

Thirdly, that I am also authorised to offer to the American government a suitable pecuniary provision for the sufferers in consequence of the attack on the Chesapeake, including the families of those seamen who unfortunately fell in action, and of the wounded survivors.

These bonorable propositions, I can assure you, sir, are made with the sincere desire that they may prove satisfactory to the government of the U, States, and I trust they will meet with that amicable reception which their concilia tory nature entitles them to. I need scarcely add how cordially I join with you in the wish that they might prove introductory to a removal of all the differences depending between our two countries. I have the honor to be, &c.


Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.

WASHINGTON Nov, 12, 1811. SIR-I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 1st November, and to lay it before the President.

It is much to be regretted that the reparation due for such an aggression as that committed on the U. States Frigate, the Chesapeake, should have been so long delayed ; nor could the translation of the offending officer from one command to another, be regarded as constituting a part of a reparation otherwise satisfactory ; considering, however, the existing circumstances of the case, and the early and amicable attention paid to it by his royal highness the prince regent, the President accedes to the proposition contained in your letter, and in so doing, your government will, I am persuaded, see a proof of the conciliatory disposition by which the President has been actuated.

The officer commanding the Chesapeake, now lying in the harbor of Boston, will be instructed to receive the men who are to be restored to that ship. I have the honor to be, &c.


MESSAGE, To the Senate and House of Representatives of the U. States.

I communicate to Congress a letter from the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of G. Britain, to the Secretary of State, with the answer of the latter.

The continued evidence, afforded in this correspondence, of the hostile policy of the British government agajnst our national rights, strengthens the considerations recommending and urgiug the preparation of adequate means for maintaining them.

JAMES MADISON. Washington, Jan. 16, 1812.

Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 17, 1811. SIR-I did not mean to have written to you at this moment on the subject of our late correspondence, but that I have had the mortification to perceive statements, circulated from highly respectable sources, which give a view of the pretensions of G. Britain relative to the U. States not war

« PreviousContinue »