Page images


suit of ignominious gain, a treacherous subserviency in the transgressors, to a foreign policy, adverse to that of their. own country. It is then that the virtuous indignation of the public should be enabled to manifest itself, through the regular animadversions of the most competent laws.

To secure greater respect to our mercantile flag, and to the honest interest which it covers, it is expedient also, that it be made punishable in our citizens, to accept licences from foreign governments, for a trade unlawfully interdicted by them to other American citizens; or to trade under false colors or papers of any sort.

A prohibition is equally called for, against the acceptance, by our citizens of special licences, to be used in a trade with the United States; and against the admission into particular ports of the United States, of vessels from foreign countries, authorised to trade with particular ports only.

Although other subjects will press more immediately on your deliberations, a portion of them cannot but be well bestowed, on the just and sound policy of securing to our manufactures the success they have attained, and are still attaining, in some degree, under the impulse of causes not permanent; and to our navigation, the fair extent of which it is at present abridged by the unequal regulations of foreign governments.

Besides the reasonableness of saving our manufacturers from sacrifices which a change of circumstances might bring on them, the national interest requres, that, with respect to such articles at least as belong to our defence, and our primary wants, we should not be left in unnecessary dependence on external supplies. And whilst foreign governments adhere to the existing discriminations in their ports against our navigation, and an equality or lesser discrimination is enjoyed by their navigation in our ports, the effect cannot be mistaken, because it has been seriously felt by our shipping interests; and in proportion as this takes place, the advantages of an independent conveyance of our products to foreign markets, and of a growing body of mariners, trained by their occupations for the service of their country in times of danger, must be dimin-ished.

The receipts into the Treasury, during the year, ending on the thirtieth of September last, have exceeded thirteen millions and a half of dollars, and have enabled us to defray the current expenses, including the interest on the public debt, and to reimburse more than five millions of dollars of the principal, without recurring to the loan authorized by the act of the last session. The temporary loan obtained in the latter end of the year one thousand eight hundred and ten, has also been reimbursed, and is not included in that amount.

The decrease of revenue, arising from the situation of our commerce and the extraordinary expences which have and may become necessary, must be taken into view, in making commensurate provisions for the ensuing year. And I recommend to your consideration the propriety of ensuring a sufficiency of annual revenue, at least to defray the ordinary expences of government, and to pay the interest on the public debt, including that on new loans which may be authorized.

I cannot close this communication without expressing my deep sense of the crisis in which you are assembled; my confidence in a wise and honorable result to your deliberations, and assurances of the faithful zeal with which my co-operating duties will be discharged; invoking at the same time, the blessing of heaven on our beloved country, and on all the means, that may be employed in vindicating its rights, and advancing its welfare.




Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

WASHINGTON, July 3, 1811. SIR-I have had the honor of stating to you verbally the system of defence to which his majesty has been compelled to resort for the purpose of protecting the maritime rights and interests of his dominions against the new description of warfare that has been adopted by his enemies. I have presented to you the grounds upon which his majesty finds himself still obliged to continue that system, and I conceive that I shall best meet your wishes as expressed to me this morning, if in a more formal shape I should lay before you

the whole extent of the question, as it appears to his majes'ty's government to exist between Great-Britain and America.

I beg leave to call your attention, sir, to the principles on which his majesty's Orders in Council were originally founded. The Decree of Berlin was directly and expressly an act of war, by which France prohibited all nations from trade or intercourse with Great-Britain under peril of confiscation of their ships and merchandize; although France had not the means of imposing an actual blockade in any degree adequate to such a purpose. The immediate and professed object of this hostile Decree was the destruction of ail British commerce through means entirely unsanctioned by the law of nations, and unauthorised by any received doctrine of legitimate blockade.

This violation of the established law of civilized nations in war, would have justified Great-Britain in retaliating upon the enemy by a similar interdiction of all commerce with France, and with such other countries as might co-operate with France in her system of commercial hostility against Great-Britain.

The object of Great-Britain was not, however, the destruction of trade, but its preservation under such regulations as might be compatible with her own security, at the same time that she extended an indulgence to foreign commerce, which strict principles would have entitled her to withhold. The retaliation of Great-Britain was not therefore urged to the full extent of her right; our prohibition of French trade was not absolute, but modified; aud in return for the absolute prohibition of all trade with GreatBritain, we prohibited not all commerce with France, but all such commerce with France as should not be carried on through Great-Britain.

It was evident that this system must prove prejudicial to neutral nations; this calamity was foreseen, and deeply regretted. But the injury to the neutral nation arose from the aggression of France, which had compelled Great-Britain in her own defence to resort to adequate retaliatory measures of war. The operation on the American commerce of those precautions, which the conduct of France had rendered indispensable to our security, is therefore to "be ascribed to the unwarrantable aggression of France, and

not to those proceedings on the part of Great-Britain, which that aggression had rendered necessary and just.

The object of our system was merely to counteract an attempt to crush the British trade; Great-Britain endeavored to permit the continent to receive as large a portion of commerce as might be practicable, through Great-Britain ; and all her subsequent regulations, and every modification of her system by new orders or modes of granting or withholding licences, have been calculated for the purpose of encouraging the trade of neutrals through Great-Britain, whenever such encouragement might appear advantageous to the general interests of commerce, and consistent with the public safety of the nation. The justification of his ma jesty's Orders in Council, and the continuance of that defence, have always been rested upon the existence of the Decrees of Berlin and Milan, and on the perseverance of the enemy in the system of hostility, which has subverted the rights of neutral commerce on the continent; and it has always been declared on the part of his majesty's government, that wheneyer France should have effectually repealed the Decrees of Berlin and Milan, and should have restored neutral commerce to the condition in which it stood previously to the promulgation of those Decrees, we should immediately repeal our Orders in Council.

France has asserted that the Decree of Berlin was a measure of just retaliation on her part, occasioned by our previous aggression; and the French government has insisted that our system of blockade, as it existed previously to the Decree of Berlin, was a manifest violation of the received law of nations; we must therefore, sir, refer to the articles of the Berlin Decree, to find the principles of our system of blockade, which France considers to be new, and contrary to the law of nations.

By the 4th and 8th articles it is stated as a justification of the French Decree, that Great-Britain' extends to unfortified towns and commercial ports, to harbors, and to the mouths of rivers, those rights of blockade, which by the reason and the usage of nations, are applicable only to fortified places; and that the rights of blockade ought to be limited to fortresses really invested by a sufficient force.

It is added in the same articles that Great-Britain has declared places to be in a state of blockade, before which

she has not a single ship of war, and even places which the whole British force would be insufficient to blockade; entire coasts, and a whole empire.'

Neither the practice of Great Britain, nor the law of nations, has ever sanctioned the rule now laid down by France, that no place excepting fortresses in a complete state of investiture, can be deemed lawfully blockaded by


If such a rule were to be admitted, it would become nearly impracticable for Great-Britain to attempt the blockade of any port of the continent, and our submission to this perversion of the law of nations, while it would destroy one of the principal advantages of our naval superiority, would sacrifice the common rights and interests of all maritime states.

It was evident that the blockade of May, 1806, was the principal pretended justification of the Decree of Berlin, though neither the principles on which that blockade was founded, nor its practical operation, afforded any color for the proceedings of France.

In point of date, the blockade of May, 1806, preceded the Berlin Decree; but it was a just and legal blockade according to the established law of nations, because it was intended to be maintained, and was actually maintained by an adequate force appointed to guard the whole coast described in the notification, and consequently to enforce the blockade.

Great-Britain has never attempted to dispute, that in the ordinary course of the law of nations, no blockade can be justifiable or valid unless it be supported by an adequate force destined to maintain it, and to expose to hazard all vessels attempting to evade its operation. The blockade of May, 1806, was notified by Mr. Secretary Fox, on this clear principle, nor was that blockade announced until he had satisfied himself by a communication with his majesty's Board of Admiralty, that the Admiralty possessed the meaus and would employ them, of watching the whole 'coast from Brest to the Elbe, and of effectually enforcing the blockade...

The blockade of May, 1806, was therefore (according to the doctrine maintained by Great-Britain) just and lawful in its origin, because it was supported by both in inten

« PreviousContinue »