Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

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.

JAMES MONROE.

CHAPTER III.

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

of war.

wrongs of inferior magnitude, the conduct of her government presents a series of acts hostile to the U. States as an independant and neutral nation.

British cruizers have been in the continued practice of violating the American flag, on the great highway of nations, and of seizing and carrying off persons sailing under it : not in the exercise of a belligerent right, founded on the law of nations against an enemy, but of a municipal prerogative over British subjects. British jurisdiction is thus extended to neutral vessels in a situation where no laws can operate, but the law of nations and the laws of the country to which the vessels belong'; and a self-redress is assumed, which, if British subjects were wrongfully detained and alone concerned, is that substitution of force for a resort to the responsible sovereign, which falls within the definition

Could the seizure of British subjects, in such cases be regarded, as within the exercise of a belligerent right, the acknowledged laws of war, which forbid an article of captured property to be adjudged, without a regular investigation before a competent tribunal, would imperiously demand the fairest trial where the sacred rights of persons were at issue. In place of such a trial, these rights are subjected to the will of every petty commander.

The practice, hence, is so far from affecting British subjects alone, that under the pretext of searching for these, thousands of American citizens, under the safe-guard of public law, and of their national flag, have been torn from their country, and from every thing dear to them ; have been dragged on board ships of war of a foreign nation, and exposed under the severities of their discipline, to be esiled to the most distant and deadly climes, to risk their lives in the battles of their oppressors, and to be the melancholy instruments of taking away those of their own broihren.

Against this crying enormity, which G. Britain would be so prompt to avenge if committed against herself, the U. States have in vain exhausted remonstrances and expostulations. And that no proof miglit be wanting of their conciliatory dispositions, and no pretest left for the continuance of the practice, the British government was formally assured of the readiness of the United States to enter into arrangements, such as could not be rejected, if the recovery of British subjects were the real and the sole olsjeci. The communication passed without effect.

British cruizers have been in the practice also of violating the rights and the peace of our coasts. They hover over and harrass our entering and departing commerce.

To the most insulting pretensions they have added the most Jawless proceedings in our very harbors ; and have wantonly spilt American blood within the sanctuary of our territorial jurisdiction. The principles and rules enforced by that nation, when a neutral nation, against armed vessels of belligerents, hovering vear her coasts, and disturbing her commerce, are well known. When called on nevertheless, by the U. States, to punish the greater offences committed by her own vessels, her governinent has bestowed on their commanders additional marks of honor and confidence.

Under pretended blockades, without the presence of an adequate force, and sometimes without the practicability of applying one, our commerce has been plundered in every sea : the great staples of our country have been cut off from their legitimate markets; and a destructive blow aimed at our agricultural and maritime interests. In aggravation of these predatory measures, they have been considered as in force from the dates of their notification ; a retrospective effect being thus added, as has been done in other important cases, to the unlawfulness of the course pursued. And to render the outrage the more signal, these mock blockades have been reiterated and enforced in the face of official communications from the British governinent, declaring as the true definition of a legal blockade, . that particular ports must be actually invested, and previous warning given to vessels bound to them, not to enter.'

Not content with these occasional expedients for laying waste our neutral trade, the cabinet of G. Britain resorted, at length, to the sweeping system of blockades, under the name of the Orders in Council, which has been moulded and managed, as might best suit its political views, its commercial jealousies, or the avidity of British cruizers.

To our remonstrances against the complicated and transcendant injustice of this innovation, the first reply was, that the Orders were reluctantly adopted by G. Britain as a necessary retaliation on Decrees of her enemy, proclaiming a general blockade of the British isles, at a time when the naval force of that enemy dared not to issue from his own ports. She was reminded, without effect, that her own

« PreviousContinue »