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Extract of a Letter from Thomas Pinckney, Esquire, to the
Secretary of State. London, Jan. 3, 1793. “I have only time to say, by the present opportunity, that their contents shall be duly attended to. I have strongly urged the adoption of equitable regulations concerning seamen, and from a conference with lord Grenville this day, I have greater hope of a favourable termination of this negotiation than 1 hitherto entertained. My expectations on this head are, however, only founded on what lord Grenville declares to be his own ideas of the subject at present; but as this business particularly concerns another department, nothing conclusive can be relied on from a declaration thus expressly confined.”
Extract of a Letter from Thomas Pinckney, Esquire, to the
Secretary of State. London, March 13, 1793. “Our trade continues subject to great inconvenience, both from our seamen being impressed from the idea of their being British subjects, and from their entering voluntarily on board of the king's ships, tempted by the present high bounties. I have had frequent conversations on this subject with lord Grenville, who always expresses himself to be sensible of the inconvenience to which we are subjected, and desirous to apply a remedy; but still nothing decisive is done. Our consuls are permitted to protect from impressment such of our seamen as are natives of America, but no others; and the difficulty of determining by agreement who besides natives are to be considered as citizens of the United States, will, I fear, during the present generation at least, remain an obstacle to every other plan ihan that of letting the vessel protect a given number of men, according to her tonnage. I insist upon the terms of our act of Congress as the rule of discrimination, and show that in point of time it accords with an act of their own relating to seamen. I send herewith a transcript of a representation I made on the subject of British officers detaining deserters from our vessels, under pretence of their being Englishmen, and extorting the payment of their wages : on this last subject a question is now depending in the court of admiralty ; the former remains without an answer from the lords commissioners of that department. Lord Grenville having said that he wished me to have some conversation with Mr. Bond, on account of his being particularly well acquainted with this subject, I told his lordship I had no objection to conversing with any person appointed by him on this subject. In a few days I received the enclosed note from Mr. Bond, to which I sent the answer annexed, in order to produce an explanation, whereby neither more nor less than the proper degree of importance might be attached to the conference. Mr. Bond came : He said he had no commission to treat on the subject; we therefore agreed that it was to be considered altogether as an informal conversation. We discoursed at length upon the subject, but I do not find that we are nearer coming to a conclusion on the business than we were before. He appeared not to be prepared for the extent of the reciprocity which I contended should form the basis, and pervade the whole of the transaction; for when he urged the point of our seamen, or at least their captain in their behalf
, being furnished with testimonials of their being Americans before they left our ports, I told him the inconveniences arising from this procedure would be equally felt by both nations ; for that we should expect their seamen to be furnished with similar testimonials when they came to our ports to those they expected our mariners would bring to theirs : he asked in what instance it would become necessary, (alluding, I presume, to our not being in the habit of impressing ;) I answered, that unless we could come to some accommodation which might en
seamen against this oppression, measures would be taken to cause the inconvenience to be equally felt on both sides. I have not since seen Mr. Bond, but find he is ordered out to America with the title of consul general for the middle and southern states."
Extract of a Note from Mr. Jay, Entoy Extraordinary and
Minister Plenipotentiary of ihe United States at London, to Lord Grenville, Secretary of Foreign Affairs. London, July 30, 1794.
“ The undersigned finds it also to be his duty to reprcsent, that the irregularities before mentioned, extended not only to the capture and condemnation of American vessels and property, and to unusual personal severities, but even to the impressment of American citizens, to serve on board of armed vessels. He forbears to dwell on the injuries done to these unfortunate individuals, or on the emotions which they must naturally excite, either in the breasts of the nation to whom they belong, or of the just and humane of every country. His reliance on the justice and benevolence of his majesty leads him to indulge the pleasing expectation, that orders will be given, that Americans so circumstanced be immediately liberated, and that persons honoured with his majesty's commissions do in future abstain from similar violences.
" It is with cordial satisfaction that the undersigned reflects on the impressions which such equitable and conciliatory measures would make on the minds of the United States, and how naturally they would inspire and cherish those sentiments and dispositions which never fail to preserve as well as to produce respect, esteem, and friendship.”
Extract of a Note from Mr. King, Minister Plenipotero
tiary of the United States at London, to Lord Grenville. London, Great Cumberland Place, Nov. 30, 1796.
“ In your lordship’s letter of the 21st of September, in answer to my application for the discharge of Maxwell, an American citizen, impressed and detained on board his majesty's ship Sandwich, the reason assigned against his discharge is," that he is married and settled in Bristol;" and I understand that the orders of the lords commissioners of the admiralty for the discharge of American seamen usually contain a proviso, that the discharge is not to operate in favour of any person who has entered on board
of any of his majesty's ships, or who is married or settled within any of his majesty's dominions. Without admitting, or contesting, on this occasion, the rule of English law, that a subject cannot divest himself of his natural allegiance, I take the liberty to request your lordship's attention to the diversity of practice, so much to the disadvantage of the American citizens, that prevails in the application of this rule.
“ If Great Britain requires the acquiescence of foreign nations in this law, so far as regards the requisition of her subjects married and settled abroad, or voluntarily engaged in foreign service, is she not bound to observe it in like manner herself, in respect to the subjects of foreign powers, under similar circumstances, in her service or within her dominions? If to the demand of a foreigner in her service by the nation to which he belongs, Great Britain answers, that such foreigner cannot be delivered, because he has voluntarily engaged to serve his majesty, or is married or settled within his majesty's dominions, is she not bound by her own principles to admit the validity of the same answer from such foreign nation, when she requires the surrender of British subjects found in a similar predicament in the service or within the territory of such foreign nation ? Justice, which is always impartial, furnishes the proper answer to these questions.
“Admitting, then, that the voluntary contract of an American citizen to serve on board a British ship, or the marriage or settlement of such citizen within his majesty's dominions, is the foundation of a right in his majesty's government to refuse the requisition of the United States of America, that such citizen should be discharged from his majesty's service, do we not thereby establish a principle that at once condemns and puts an end to the practice of his majesty's naval officers, in entering American ships, in search of and for the purpose of impressing British seamen, since all scamen found on board such ships are there of choice and by voluntary contract to serve in the American employ?
“But if neither of these circumstances can be considered as justly giving a right to his majesty's government to refuse the discharge of American citizens, does it not result that the usual proviso connected with the
orders for the discharge of such citizens, and which is assigned as a reason against the discharge of John Maxwell, is without any just foundation, and consequently operates to the disadvantage and injury of the American citizens.
Extract of a Letter from Rufus King, Esquire, to the Secretar ry of State. London, April 13, 1797.
SEAMEN. " It was before my arrival that lord Grenville had expressed to Mr. Pinckney a dissatisfaction with the practice of granting protections to American seamen by our consuls.
“ Before I received your opinion on this subject, lord Grenville had written me a letter, in which this branch of the consular power is denied, and notice given to us that the practice must be discontinued. A copy of this letter, and of mine transmitting it to our several consuls, I had the honour to send you with my letter of the 10th of December. Previous to the communication of this resolution of the British government, it had been notified to Mr. Pinckney, that all applications for the discharge of American seamen impressed into the British service, must in future come through the American minister, instead of coming from the American consuls, as had been customary. One consequence of this regulation has been, that the subject in all its details has come under my observation, and its importance, I confess, is much greater than I had supposed it. Instead of a few, and those in many instances equivocal cases, I have, since the month of July past, made application for the discharge from British men of war of 271 seamen, who, stating themselves to be Americans, have claimed my interference: Of this number 36 have been ordered by the admiralty to be discharged; 37 more have been detained as British subjects, or as American volunteers, or for want of proof that they are Americans ; and to my applications for the discharge of the remaining 148, I have received no answer; the ships on board of which these seamen were detained having, in many in