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sentiments which animate the councils of his royal highness towards America, may accelerate the return of amity and mutual confidence between Great-Britain and the United States.
The undrsigned avails himself of this opportunity to repeat to Mr. Russell the assurances of his high consideration. CASTLEREAGH.
Foreign Office, April 21, 1812.
ORDER IN COUNCIL. At the Court at Cariton-House, the 21st day of April, 1812, present his royal highness the prince regent in Council.
Whereas the government of France has, by an official report, communicated by its minister of foreign affairs to the conservative Senate, on the 10th of March last, removed all doubts as to the perseverence of that government in the assertion of principles, and in the maintainance of a system, not more hostile to the maritime rights and commercial interest of the British empire, than inconsistent with the rights and independence of neutral nations, and has thereby plainly developed the inordinate pretensions which that system, as promulgated in the Decrees of Berlin and Milan, was from the first designed to enforce.
And whereas his majesty has invariably professed his readiness to revoke the Orders in Council adopted thereupon, as soon as the said Decrees of the enemy should be formally and unconditionally repealed, and the commer ce of neutral nations restored to its accustomed course:
His royal highness the prince regent (anxious to give the most decisive proof of his royal highness' disposition to perform the engagements of his majesty's government) is pleased, in the name and on the behalf of his majesty, and by and with the advice of his majesty's privy Council, to order and declare, and it is hereby ordered and declared, that if, at any time hereafter, the Berlin and Milan Decrees shall by some authentic act of the French government, publicly promulgated, be absolutely and unconditionally repealed, then, and from thenceforth, the Order in Council of the 7th day of January, 1807, and the Order in Council of the 26th day of April, 1809, shall, without any further order, be, and the same are hereby declared from thenceforth to be wholly and absolutely revoked ; and further, that the
full benefit of this order shall be extended to any ship or cargo captured subsequent to such authentic act of repeal: of the French Decrees, although antecedent to such repeal such ship or vessel shall have commenced and shall have been in the prosecution of a voyage, which, under the sad Orders in Council, or one of them, would have subjected ber to capture and condemnation; and the claimant of any ship or cargo which shall be captured or brought to adjudieation, on account of any alleged breach of either of the said Orders in Council, at any time subsequent to such authentic act of repeal by the French goverment, shall without any further Order or Declaration on the part of his majesty's government on this subject, be at liberty to give in evidence in the high Courts of Admiralty, or any Court of Vice-Admiralty, before which such ship or cargo shall be brought for adjudication, that such repeal by the French government had been, by such authentic act, promulgated prior to such capture; and upon proof thereof, the Voyage shall be deemed and taken to have been as lawful as if the said Orders in Council had never been made saving, nevertheless, to the captors, such protection and indemnity as they may be equitably entitled to in the judgment of the said Court, by reason of their ignorance, of uncertainty as to the repeal of the French Decrees, or of the recognition of such repeal by his majesty's government at the time of such. capture.
His royal highness, however deems it proper to declare, that should the repeal of the French Decrees, thus anticipated and provided for, prove afterwards to have been illusory on the part of the enemy; and should the restrictions thereof be still practically enforced, or revived by the enemy; G. Britain will be compelled, however reluctantly, after reasonable notice, to have recourse to such measures of retaliation as may then appear to be just and necessary.
And the Right Honorable the lords commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, his Majesty's principal Secretaries of state, the lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and the Judges of the high Court of Admiralty, and the Judges of the Courts of Vice-Admiralty, are to take the necessary measures therein as to them shall respectively apertain. CHETWYND.
Mr. Russell to Lord Castlereagh.
My Lord-I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note which your lordship addressed to me on the 21st of this month, enclosing, by command of his royal highness, the prince regent, a copy of a declaration accompanying an Order in Council which had this day been passed.
It would afford me the highest satisfaction, in communieating that declaration and order to my government, to have represented them, as conceived in the true spirit of conciliation and with a due regard to the honor and interests of the U. States. I regret, however, that so far from perceiving in them any evidence of the amicable sentiments which are professed to animate the councils of his royal highness, I am compelled to consider them as an unequivocal proof of the determination of his Bi aunic majesty's government to adhere to a system, which, both as to prin ciple and fact, originated, and has been continued in error; and against which, the government of the U. States, so long as it respects itself and the essential rights of the uation over which it is placed, cannot cease to contend.
The U. States have never considered it their duty to enquire, nor do they pretend to decide, whether England or France was guilty, in relation to the other, of the first violation of the public law of nations; but they do consider it their most imperious duty to protect themselves from the unjust operation of the unprecedented measure of retaliation professed by both powers to be founded on such violation. In this operation, by whichever party directed, the U. States have never, for a moment, acquiesced, nor by the slightest indication of such acquiescence, afforded a pretext, for extending to them the evils, by which England and France affect to retaliate on each other. They have in no instance departed from the observance of that strict impartiality. which their peaceful position required, and which ought to have secured to them the unmolested enjoyment of their neutrality. To their astonishment, however, they perceived that both these belligerent powers, under the pretence of annoying each other, adopted and put in practice new principles of retaliation, involving the destruction of those commercial and maritime rights which the U. States regard as essential and inseperable attributes of their independence. Although alive to all the injury and injustice of
this system, the American government resorted to no measures to oppose it, which were not of the most pacific and impartial character in relation to both the aggressors. Its remonstrances, its restrictions of commercial intercourse, and its overtures for accommodation, were equally addressed to England and France: and if there is now an inequality in the relations of the U. States with these countries, it can only be ascribed to England herself, who rejected the terms proffered to both, while France accepted them, and who continues to execute her retaliatory Edicts on the high seas, while those of France have here ceased to operate.
If G. Britain could not be persuaded by considerations of universal equality, to refrain from adopting any line of conduct, however unjust, for which she might discover a precedent in the conduct of her enemy, or to abandon an attempt of remotely and uncertainly annoying that enemy through the immediate and sure destruction of the vital interest of a neutral and unoffending state, yet it was confidently expected that she would be willing to follow that enemy also in his return towards justice, and, from a res-pect to her own declarations to proceed pari passu with him in the revocation of the offending Edicts. This just expectation has, however, been disappointed, and an exemption of the flag of the U. States from the operation of the Berlin and Milan Decrees, has produced no corresponding modification of the British Orders in Council. On the contrary, he fact of such exemption on the part of France, appears, by the declaration and Order in Council of the British government on the 21st of this month, to be denied, and the engagements of the latter, to proceed, step by step, with its enemy, in the work of repeal and relaxation, to be disowned or disregarded.
That France has repealed her Decrees so far as they respected the U. States, has been established by declarations and facts, satisfactory to them, and which it was presumed should have been equally satisfactory to the British government. A formal and authentic declaration of the French government communicated to the minister plenipotentiary of the U. States at Paris, on the 5th of August, 1810, announced that the Decrees of Berlin and Milin were revoked, and should cease to operate on the 1st of the succeeding November, provided that a condition presented to Eng
land, or another condition presented to the U. States should be performed. The condition presented to the U. States was performed, and their performance rendered absolute the repeal of the Decrees. So far, therefore, from this repeal depending upon a condition in which G. Britain could not acquiesce, it became absolute, independent of any act of G. Britain, the moment the act proposed for the performance of the U. States was accomplished. Such was the construction given to this measure by the U. States from the first; and that it was a correct one has been sufficiently evinced by the subsequent practice.
Several instances of the acquittal of American vessels and cargoes, to which the Decrees would have attached, if still in force against the U. States, have from time to time, been presented to his Britannic majesty's government. That these cases have been few, is to be ascribed to the few captures, in consequence of this repeal, made by French cruizers; and should no other such case occur, it would be owing to the efficacy of this repeal, and to the exact observance of it, even by the most wanton and irregular of those Cruizers.
From the 1st of November, 1810, to the 29th of January of the present year, as appears by a note which I had the honor to address to the predecessor of your lordship, on the 8th of February last, the Berlin and Milan Decrees had not been applied to American property, nor have I heard that such application has since been made.
But against the authentic act of the French government of the 5th August, 1810, and the subsequent conduct of the government, mutually explaining each other, and conforming the construction adopted by the U. States, a report said to be communicated by the French minister of Foreign affairs to the conservate senate, is opposed. Without pretending to doubt the genuineness of that report, although it has reached this country only in a newspaper, yet it is to be lamented that as much form and evidence of authenticity have not been required, in an act considered as furnishing cause for the continuance of the Orders in Council, as an act which by the very terms of these Orders challenged their revocation.-The act of the 5th of August, 1810, emanating from the sovereign of France, officially commu nicated to the British government, and satisfactorily expound