Page images

were revoked, as you seem to imagine, but in consequence of its being thought that the American government upon its appearing that they were deceived by France, would have ceased their injurious measures against the British commerce. A considerable time elapsed before the decision took place on those ships, and there is no doubt, but that had the U. States' government not persisted in the unfriendly attitude towards G. Britain on discovering the ill faith of France, a spirit of conciliation in his majesty's government would have caused their release.

In reply to your observations on the pretensions of G. Britain, relative to the revocation of the French Decrees, I beg to repeat that the sum of the demand made by England is, that France should follow the established laws of warfare as practised in former wars in Europe. Her ruler by his Decrees of Berlin and Milan, declared himself no longer bound by them; he has openly renounced them in his violent efforts to ruin the resources of G. Britain, and has trampled on the rights of independent nations to effect his purpose. If the French government make use of means of unprecedented violence to prevent the intercourse of England with unoffending neutrals, can it be expected that England should tamely suffer the establishment of such a novel system of war without retaliation, and endeavoring in her turn to prevent the French from enjoying the advantages of which she is unlawfully deprived?

Having explained already the situation in which the question of the blockade of May, 1806, rests, according to the views of his majesty's government, and the desire of G. Britain to conduct her system of blockade according to the laws of nations, I will only advert to it on this occasion, for the purpose of taking the liberty of acknowledging to you, the very great pleasure I received from the highly honorable mark of respect, which you have taken the occasion to express for the illustrious statesman from whose counsels that measure emanated.

I need not repeat to you, sir, what sincere satisfaction it would give me, if without the sacrifice of the essential rights and interests of G. Britain, all the points in discussion between our two countries could be finally adjusted.

I have the honor to be, xc.


Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.


SIR-I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 22d of this month, and to lay it before the President.


The assurance which you have given of your disposition. reciprocate, in our communications on the important subjects depending between our governments, the respectful attention which each has a right to claim, and that no departure from it was intended in your letter of the 26th July, has been received with the satisfaction due to the frank and conciliatory spirit in which it was made.

I learn, however, with much regret, that you have received no instructions from your government, founded on the new proof of the revocation of the Berlin and Milan Decrees, which was communicated to the Marquis of Wellesley, by the American charge d'affairs at London, in a document of which I had the honor to transmit to you a copy. It might fairly have been presumed, as I have before observed, that the evidence afforded by that document, of the complete revocation of those Decrees, so far as they interfered with the commerce of the U. States with the British dominions, would have been followed by an immediate repeal of the Orders in Council. From the reply of the Marquis of Wellesley, it was at least to have been expected that no time had been lost in transmitting that document to you, and that the instructions accompanying it, would have manifested a change in the sentiments of your government on the subject. The regret, therefore, cannot but be increas ed in finding that the communication, which I had the honor to make to you, has not even had the effect of suspending your efforts to vindicate the perseverance of your government in enforcing those Orders.

I regret also to observe, that the light in which you have viewed this document, and the remarks which you have made on the subject, generally, seems to preclude any other view of the conditions on which those Orders are to be revoked, than those that were furnished by your former communications. You still adhere to the pretension that the productions and manufactures of G. Britain, when neutralized, must be admitted into the ports of your enemies. This pretension, however vague the language heretofore held by your government, particularly by the Marquis of

Wellesley, in his communications with Mr. Pinkney, on the subject, was never understood to have been embraced. Nothing, indeed, short of the specific declarations which you have made, would have induced a belief that such was the case.

I have the honor to be, &c.


Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31st, 1811. SIR-I did not reply at length to the observations contained in your letter of the 1st inst. on the pretensions of G. Britain as relative to the French system, because you seemed to me to have argued as if but a part of the system continued, and even that part had ceased to be considered as a measure of war against G. Britain. For me to have allowed this, would have been at once to allow in the face of facts, that the Decrees of France were repealed, and that her unprecedented measures, avowedly pursued in defiance of the laws of nations, were become mere ordinary regulations of trade. I therefore thought fit to confine my answer to your remarks, to a general statement of the sum of the demands of G. Britain, which was, that France should by effectually revoking her Decrees, revert to the usual method of carrying on war as practised in civilized Europe.

The pretensions of France to prohibit all commerce in articles of British origin, in every part of the continent, is one among the many violent innovations which are contained in the Decrees, and which are preceded by the declaration of their being founded on a determination of the ruler of France, as he himself avowed, to revert to the principles which characterised the barbarism of the dark ages, and to forget all ideas of justice, and even the common feelings of humanity, in the new method of carrying on war adopted by him.

It is not, however, a question with G. Britain of mere commercial interest, as you seem to suppose, which is involved in the attempt by Bonaparte to blockade her both by sea and land, but one of the feeling, and of national honor, contending as we do against the principles which he professes in his new system of warfare. It is impossible for us to submit to the doctrine that he has a right to compel the whole continent to break off all intercourse with us, and to seize проп

vessels belonging to neutral nations upon the sole plea of their having visited an English port, or of their being laden with articles of British or colonial produce, in whatsoever manner acquired.

This pretension, however, is but a part of that system, the whole of which, under our construction of the letter of M. Champagny, of August 5, 1810, corroborated by many subsequent declarations of the French government, and not invalidated by any unequivocal declaration of à contrary tenor, must be considered as still in full force.

In the communication which you lately transmitted to me, I am sorry to repeat, that I was unable to discover any facts which satisfactorily proved that the Decrees had been actually repealed, and I have already repeatedly stated the reasons which too probably led to the restoration of a few of the American ships taken in pursuance of the Berlin and Milan Decrees after November 1. Mr. Russell does not seem to deny that the Decrees may still be kept in force, only he thinks they have assumed a municipal character; but in M. Champagny's declaration, ambiguous as it was, there is no such division of them into two different characters; for if the contingency required by the French Minister took place, the Berlin and Milan Decrees were to cease, according to his expression, without any qualification. If, therefore, a part of them remain, or be revived again, as seems to be allowed even here, why may not the whole be equally so? Where proof can be obtained of their existence, we have it, namely, in the ports of France, in which vessels have been avowedly seized under their operation since November 1. Of their maritime existence we cannot so easily obtain evidence, because of the few French ships of war which venture to leave their harbors. Who can doubt, however, that had the ruler of France a navy at his command, equal to the enforcing of his violent Decrees, he would soon show that part of them to be no dead letter. The principle is not the less obnoxious because it is from necessity almost dormant for the moment, nor ought it therefore to be less an object to be strenuously resisted.

Allow me, sir, here to express my sincere regret, that I have not as yet been able to convince you, by what I cannot but consider the strongest evidence, of the continued existence of the French Decrees, and consequently of the

unfriendly policy of your government in enforcing the nonimportation against us, and opening the trade with our enemies. His royal higness will, I am convinced, learn with unfeigned sorrow, that such continues to be still the determination of America, and whatever restrictions on the commerce, enjoyed by America in his majesty's dominions, may ensue on the part of G. Britain, as retaliatory on the refusal by your government to admit the productions of G. Britain while they open their harbors to those of his majesty's enemies, they will, I am persuaded, be adopted with sincere pain, and with pleasure relinquished whenever this country shall resume her neutral position and impartial attitude between the two belligerents..

I have the honor to be, &c.




"To the Senate and House of Representatives of the U. States. I communicate to Congress copies of a correspondence between the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of G. Britain and the Secretary of State, relative to the aggression committed by a British ship of war on the U. States' frigate Chesapeake, by which it will be seen that the subject of difference between the two countries, is terminated by an offer of reparation which has been acceded to. JAMES MADISON.

Washington, November 13, 1811.

Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

WASHINGTON, October 30, 1811. SIR-I had already the honor to mention to you that I came to this country furnished with instructions from his royal highness the prince regent, in the name and on behalf of his majesty, for the purpose of proceeding to a final adjustment of the differences which have arisen between G. Britain and the U. States of America in the affair of the Chesapeake Frigate; and I had also that of acquainting you with the necessity under which I found myself of suspen

« PreviousContinue »