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Rot appear to have been in possession of it at the date of his letter of last July. It is indeed become particularly interesting, that we should see this instrument since the publication of Mr. Russell's correspondence with his own government, by which it appears that really, and in fact, the French government did not release any American ships taken after November 1, until they had become acquainted with the President's proclamation, and that vessels have been taken so late as December 21, in the direct voyage from this country to London; for until a copy of such an instrument is produced, it is impossible to know whether any other trade is allowed by France than that between her own dominions and the ports of the U. States. I have the honor to be, &c.
AUGUSTUS J. FOSTER
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Jan. 14, 1812. SIR-I have had the houor to receive your letter of December 17th, and embrace the first moment that I could command, to make the observations which it suggests.
It would have afforded great satisfaction to the President, to have found in the communication, some proof of a disposition in the British government to put an end to the differences subsisting between our countries.- I am sorry to be obliged to state, that it presents a new proof only of its determination to adhere to the policy, to which they are iinputable.
You complain that the import of your former letters has been misunderstood in two important circumstances; that you have been represented to have dema:ded of the U. States, a law for the introduction of British goods into their ports, and that they should also undertake to force France to receive British manufactures into her harbors.
You state that on the first pomt, it was your intention only to remonstrate against the non-importation act, as partial in its operation, and unfriendly to G. Britain, on which account its repeal was claimed, and to intimate that if it was persevered in, G. Britain would be compelled to retaliate on the commerce of the U. States, by similar restrictions on her part. And on the second point, that you intended only to urge, that in consequence of the extraordinary blockade
of England, your government bad been obliged to blockade France, and to prohibit all trade in French articles, in return for the probibition by France of all trade in English articles.
It is sufficient to remark on the first point, that on what: ever ground the repeal of the non-importation act is required, the United States are justified in adhering to it. by the refusal of the British government to repeal its Orders in Council; and if a distinction is thus produced between G. Britain and the other belligerent, it must be reterred to the difference in the conduct of the two parties,
On the second point, I have to observe, that the explanation given cannot be satisfactory, because it does not meet the case now existing France did, it is true, declare a blockade of England, against the trade of the U. Staies, and prohibit all trade in English articles on the high seas, but this blockade and prohibition no longer exist.--It is true also, that a part of those Decrees, did prohibit a trade in English articles, within her territorial jurisdiction ; but this prohibition violates no national rights, or neutral commerce of the U. States. Still your blockade and probibition are continued, in violation of the national and neutral rights of the U. States, on a pretext of retaliation, which, if even applicable, could only be applied to the former, and not to the latter interdicts : and it is required that France shall change her internal regulations against English trade, before England will change her external regulations against the trade of the U. States. But you
still insist that the French Decrees are unrevoked, and urge in proof of it, a fact drawn from Mr. Russell's correspondence, that some American vessels have been taken since the 1st of November, in their route to England. It is a satisfactory answer to this remark, that it appears by the same correspondence, that every American vessel which had been taken in that trade, the seizure of which rested on the Berlin and Milau Decrees only, were, as soon as that fact was ascertained, delivered up to their owners. Might there not be other ground also, on which seizures might be made ? G. Britain claims a right to seize for other causes, and all nations admit it in the case of contraband of war. If by the law of nations, one belligerent has a right to seize neutral property in any case, the other
belligerent has the same right. Nor ought I lo overlook that the practice of counterfeiting American papers in England, which is well known to the continent, has by impairing the faith due to American documents, done to the U. States essential injury. Against this practice the minister of the U. States at London, as will appear by reference to his letter to the Marquis Wellesley of the 3d of May, 1810, made a formal representation, in pursuance of instructions from his government, with an offer of every information possessed by him, which might contribute to detect and suppress it. It is painful to add that this communication was entirely disregarded. That G. Britain should com. plain of acts in France, to which by her neglect, she was instrumental, and draw from them proof in support of her Orders in Council,ought certainly not to have been expected.
You remark also, that the practice of the French government to grant licences to certain American vessels, engaged in the trade between the U. States and France, is an additional proot that the French Decrees still operate in their fullest extent. On what principle this inference is drawn from that fact it is impossible for me to conceive. It was not the object of the Berlin and Milan Decrees to prohibit the trade between the U. States and France. They were meant to prohibit the trade of the U. States with G. Britain, which violated our neutral rights, and to prohibit the trade of G. Britain with the continent, with which the U. States have nothing to do. If the object had been to prohibit the trade between the U. States and France, G. Britain could never have found in them any pretext for complaint. And if the idea of retaliation, could in any respect have been applicable, it would have been by prohibiting our trade with herself. To prohibit it with France, would not have been a retaliation, but a co-operation. If licencing by France the trade in certain instances, prove any thing, it proves nothing more than that the trade with France in other instances, is under restraint. It seems impossible to extract from it in any respect, that the Berlin and Milan Decrees are in foree, so far as they prohibit the trade between the U. States and England. I might here repeat the French practice of granting licences to trade between the U. States and France, may have been intended in part, at least as a security against the simulated papers; the forging
of which was not suppressed in England. It is not to be infered from these remarks, that a trade by licence, is one with which the United States are satisfied. They have the strongest objections to it, but these are founded on other principles, than those suggested in your note.
It is a cause of great surprise to the President, that your government has not seen in the correspondence of Mr. Russell, which I had the honor to communicate to you on the 17th of October last, and which has been lately transmitted to you by your government, sufficient proof of the repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees, independent of the conclusive evidence of the fact, which that correspondence afforded; it was not to be presumed from the intimation of the Marquis of Wellesley, that it was to be transmitted to you, to be taken into consideration in the depending discussions, that it was of a nature to have no weight in these discussions.
The demand which you now make of a view of the order given by the French government to its cruizers, in consequence of the repeal of the French Decrees, is a new proof of its indisposition to repeal the Orders in Council. The declaration of the French government was, as has been heretofore observed, a solemn and obligatory act, and as such entitled to the notice and respect of other governments. It was incumbent on G. Britain, therefore, in fulfilment of her engagement, to have provided that her Orders in Council should not have effect, after the time fixed for the cessation of the French Decrees. A pretension in G, Britain to keep her Orders in force till she received satisfaction of the practical compliance of France, is utterly incompatible with her pledge. A doubt, founded on any single act however unauihorised, committed by a French . privateer, might on that principle, become a motive for delay and refusal. A suspicion that such acts would be committed might have the same effect; and in like manner her compliance might be withheld as long as the war continued. But let me here remark, that if there was room for a question, whether the French repeal did or did not take effect, at the date annonnced by France, and required by the U. States, it cannot be ailedged that the Decrees have not ceased to operate since the 2d of Febuary last, as heretofore observed. And as the actual cessation of the Decrees to violate our neutral rights, was the only essential
fact in the case, and has long been known to your government, the Orders in Council, from the date of that knowledge, ought to have ceased, according to its own principles and pledges.
But the question whether and when the repeal of the Berlin and Milan Decrees took effect in relation to the neutral commerce of the U. States, is superceded by the novel and extraordinary claim of G. Britain to a trade in British articles, with her enemy; for supposing the repeal to have taken place, in the fullest extent claimed by the U. States, it could, according to that claim, have no effect in removing the Orders in Council.
On a full view of the conduct of the British government in these transactions, it is impossible to see in it any thing short of a spirit of determined hostility to the rights and interests of the U. States. It issued the Orders in Council, on a principle of retaliation on France, at a time when it admitted the French Decrees to be ineffectual ; it has sustained those Orders in full force since, notwithstanding the pretext for them has been removed, and latterly it has added a new condition of their repeal, to be performed by France, to which the U. States in their neutral character, have no claim, and could not demand, without departing from their neutrality, a condition which, in respect to the commerce of other nations with G. Britain, is repugnant to her own policy, and prohibited by her own laws, and which éan never be enforced on any nation without a subversion of its sovreignty and independence. I have the honor to be, &c.
PRESIDENT'S MANIFESTO. To the Senate and House of Representatives of the U. States.
I communicate to Congress certaiir documents, being a continution of those heretofore laid before them, on the subject, of our affairs with G. Britain.
Without going back beyond the renewal in 1803, of the war in which G. Britain is engaged, and omitting unrepaired