Page images

invading the independence of neutral powers, and of their flag, we have decreed, and do decree as follows:

The decrees of Berlin and Milan are definitively, and to date from the first day of November last, considered as not having existed (non avenus) in regard American vessels.

NAPOLEON. By the Emperor, The Minister, Secretary of State.


(B. ) Mr. Barlow to the Secretary of State. Paris, October 25,

1812. SIR,-By the letters from the duke of Bassano and my answer, copies of which are herewith enclosed, you will learn that I am invited to go to Wilna, and that I have accepted the invitation. Though the proposal was totally unexpected, and on many accounts disagreeable, it was impossible to refuse it without giving offence, or at least risking a postponement of a negotiation which I have reason to believe is now in a fair way to a speedy and advantageous close.

From the circumstances which have preceded and which accompany this proposition, I am induced to believe that it is made with a view of expediting the business. There may, indeed, be an intention of coupling it with other views not yet brought forward. If so, and they should extend to objects beyond the simplicity of our commercial interests, and the indemnities which we claim, I shall not be at a loss how to answer them.

I shall have the honour to write you, as soon as possible, from Wilna, and shall return to Paris without any unnecessary delay. I remain. &c.



The Duke of Bassano to Mr. Barlow. Wilna, October 11,

1812. Sir, I have had the honour to make known to you how much I regretted, in the negotiation commenced between the United States and France, the delays which inevitably attended a correspondence carried on at so great a distance. Your government has desired to see the epoch of this arrangement draw near. His majesty is animated by the same dispositions, and willing to assure to the negotiation a result the most prompt, he has thought that it would be expedient to suppress the intermediaries and to transfer the conference to Wilna. His majesty has in consequence authorized me, sir, to treat directly with you. If you will come to this town, I dare hope, that with the desire which animates us both to conciliate such important interests, we will immediately be enabled to remove all the difficulties, which until now have appeared to impede the progress of the negotiation.

I have apprized the duke of Dalberg that his mission was thus terminated, and I have laid before his majesty the actual state of the negotiation, to the end that when you arrive at Wilna the different questions being already illustrated (eclaircies,) either by your judicious observations, or by the instructions I shall have received, we may, sir, conclude without delay an arrangement so desirable and so conformable to the mutually amicable views of our two governments.

Accept, sir, &c.



Mr. Barlow to the Duke of Bassano. Paris, October 25,

1812. Sir,-In consequence of the letter you did me the honour to write me on the 11th of this month, I accept your invitation, and leave Paris to-morrow for Wilna, where I hope to arrive in 15 or 18 days from this date. My secretary of legation and one servant will compose all my suite. I mention this to answer to your extreme goodness in asking the question, and your kind offer of finding me a convenient lodging. I hope the trouble you will give yourself in this will be as little as possible.

The negotiation on which you have done me the honour to invite me at Wilna, is so completely prepared in all its parts between the duke of Dalberg and myself, and, as I understand, sent on to you for your approbation about the 18th of the present month, that I am persuaded, if it could have arrived before the date of your letter, the necessity of this meeting would not have existed, as I am confident that his majesty would have found the project reasonable and acceptable in all its parts, and would have ordered that minister to conclude and sign both the treaty of commerce and the convention of indemnities.






About to add the solemnity of an oath to the obligations imposed by a second call to the station, in which my country heretofore placed me, I find, in the presence of this respectable assembly, an opportunity of publickly repeating my profound sense of so distinguished a confidence, and of the responsibility united with it. The impressions on me are strengthened by such an evidence, that my faithful endeavours to discharge my arduous duties have been favourably estimated ; and by the consideration of the momentous period at which the trust has been renewed. From the weight and magnitude now belonging to it, I should be compelled to shrink, if I had less reliance on the support of an enlightened and generous people, and felt less deeply a conviction, that the war with a powerful nation, which forms so prominent a feature in our situation, is stamped with that justice, which invites the smiles of heaven on the means of conducting it to a successful termination.

May we not cherish this sentiment, without presumption, when we reflect on the characters by which this war is distinguished ?

It was not declared on the part of the United States, until it had been long made on them, in reality, though not in name ; until arguments and expostulations had been exhausted; until a positive declaration had been received, that the wrongs provoking it would not be discontinued ; nor until this last appeal could no longer be delayed, without breaking down the spirit of the nation, destroying all confidence in itself and in its political institutions; and either perpetuating a state of disgraceful suffering, or regaining, by more costly sacrifices and more severe struggles, our lost rank and respect among independent powers.

On the issue of the war are staked our national sove. reignty on the high seas, and the security of an important class of citizens, whose occupations give the proper value to those of every other class. Not to contend for such a stake, is to surrender our equality with other powers, on the element common to all; and to violate the sacred title, which every member of the society has to its protection. I need not call into view the unlawfulness of the practice, by which our mariners are forced, at the will of every cruising officer, from their own vessels into foreign ones, nor paint the outrages inseparable from it. The proofs are in the records of each successive administration of our government; and the cruel sufferings of that portion of the American people have found their way to every bosom not dead to the sympathies of human nature.

As the war was just in its origin, and necessary and noble in its objects, we can reflect with a proud satisfaction, that, in carrying it on, no principle of justice or honour, no usage of civilized nations, no precept of courtesy or humanity, have been infringed. The war has been waged on our part, with scrupulous regard to all these obligations, and in a spirit of liberality which was never surpassed.

How little has been the effect of this example on the conduct of the enemy!

They have retained as prisoners of war citizens of the United States, not liable to be so considered under the usages of war.

They have refused to consider as prisoners of war, and threatened to punish as traitors and deserters, persons emigrating without restraint to the United States; incorporated by naturalization into our political family, and fighting under the authority of their adopted country, in open and honourable war, for the maintenance of its rights and safety. Such is the avowed purpose of a government, which is in the practice of naturalizing, hy thousands, citizens of other countries, and not only of permitting but compelling them to fight its battles against their native country.

They have not, it is true, taken into their own hands, the hatchet and the knife, devoted to indiscriminate mas.



« PreviousContinue »