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passed, a Treaty was concluded with Great Britain, in strict conformity with its principles, in regard to her European Dominions. To her Colonies, however, in the West Indies and on this Continent, it was not extended, the British Government claiming the exclusive supply of those Colonics, and from our own Ports, and of the productions of the Colonies in return, in her own Vessels. To this claim The United States could not assent, and, in consequence, each Party suspended the intercourse, in the Vessels of the other, by a prohibition, which still exists.
The same conditions were offered to France, but not accepted. Her Government has demanded other conditions, more favourable to her navigation, and which should also give extraordinary encouragement to her manufactures and productions, in the Ports of The United States. To these it was thought improper to accede, and, in consequence, the restrictive regulations, which had been adopted on her part, being countervailed on the part of The United States, the direct cominerce between the two Countries, in the Vessels of each Party, has been in a great measure suspended. It is much to be regretted, that although a Negotiation has been long pending, such is the diversity of views entertained, on the various points which have been brought into discussion, that there does not appear to be any reasonable prospect of its early conclusion.
It is my duty to state, as a cause of very great regret, that very serious differences have occurred, in this Negotiation, respecting the construction of the 8th Article of the Treaty of 1803, whereby Louisiana was ceded to The United States, and likewise respecting the seizure of the Apollo, in 1820, for a violation of our Revenue Laws. The claim of the Government of France has excited not less surprise than concern, because there does not appear to be a just foundation for it, in either instance. By the 8th Article of the Treaty referred to, it is stipulated that, after the expiration of 12 Years, during which it was provided, by the preceding or 7th Article, that the Vessels of France and Spain should be admitted into the Ports of the ceded Territory, without paying higher duties on merchandize, or tonnage on the Vessels, than such as were paid by the Citizens of The United States, the Ships of France should for ever afterwards be placed on the footing of the most favoured Nation. By the obvious construction of this Article, it is presumed, that it was intended, that no favour should be granted to any Power in those Ports, to which France should not be forthwith entitled; nor should any accommodation be allowed to another Power, on conditions, to which she should not, also, be entitled upon the same conditions. Under this construction, no favour or accommodation, could be granted, to any Power, to the prejudice of France. By allowing the equivalent, allowed by those Powers, she would always stand, in those Ports, on the footing of the most favoured Nation. Ꮓ
But, if this Article should be so construed, as that France should enjoy, of right, and without paying the equivalent, all the advantages of such conditions, as might be allowed to other Powers, in return for important concessions made by them, then, the whole character of the Stipulation would be changed. She would not be placed on the footing of the most favoured Nation, but on a footing held by no other Nation. She would enjoy all the advantages allowed to them, in consideration of the like advantages allowed to us, free from every, and any, condition, whatever.
As little cause has the Government of France to complain of the seizure of the Apollo, and the removal of other Vessels, from the waters of the St. Mary's. It will not be denied, that every Nation has a right to regulate its commercial system, as it thinks fit, and to enforce the collection of its Revenue, provided it be done, without an invasion of the rights of other Powers. The violation of its Revenue Laws, is an offence, which all Nations punish:-the punishment of which, gives no just cause of complaint, to the Power to which the offenders belong, provided it be extended to all equally. In this case, every circumstance which occurred, indicated a fixed purpose to violate our Revenue Laws. Had the party intended to have pursued a fair trade, he would have entered our Ports, and paid the duties; or had he intended to have carried on a legitimate circuitous Commerce, with The United States, he would have entered the Port of some other Power, landed his goods at the Custom House according to Law, and reshipped and sent them in the Vessel of such Power, or of some other Power which might lawfully bring them, free from such duties, to a Port of The United States. But the conduct of the party in this case, was altogether different. He entered the River St. Mary's, the boundary between The United States, and Florida, and took his position on the Spanish side, on which, in the whole extent of the River, there was no Town, no Port, or Custom House, and scarcely any Settlement. His purpose therefore, was not to sell his goods to the Inhabitants of Florida, but to Citizens of The United States, in exchange for their productions, which could not be done, without a direct and palpable breach of our Laws. It is known that a regular systematic plan had been formed by certain other persons, for the violation of our Revenue System, which made it the more necessary to check the proceeding in its commencement.
That the unsettled bank of a River, so remote from the Spanish Garrisons and Population, could give no protection to any party, in such a practice, is believed to be in strict accord with the Law of Nations. It would not have comported with a friendly policy in Spain herself, to have established a Custom House there, since it could have subserved no other purpose, than to elude our Revenue Laws. But the Government of Spain did not adopt that measure. On the contrary, it is understood, that the Captain- General of Cuba, to whom an applica
tion to that effect was made, by these adventurers, had not acceded to it. The condition of those Provinces for many years, before they were ceded to The United States, need not now be dwelt on. Inhabited by different Tribes of Indians, and an inroad for every kind of adventurer, the jurisdiction of Spain may be said to have been, almost exclusively, confined to her Garrisons. It certainly could not extend to places where she had no Authority. The rules therefore, applicable to settled Countries governed by Laws, could not be deemed so, to the deserts of Florida, and to the occurrences there. It merits attention, also, that the Territory had been ceded to The United States, by a Treaty, the Ratification of which had not been refused, and which has since been performed. Under such circumstances therefore, Spain became less responsible for such acts, committed there, and The United States, more at liberty to exercise authority, to prevent so great a mischief. The conduct of this Government, has, in every instance, been conciliatory and friendly to France. The construction of our Revenue Law, in its application to the cases, which have formed the ground of such serious complaint on her part, and the order to the Collector of St. Mary's, in accord with it, were given 2 years before these cases occurred, and in reference to a breach, which was attempted by the Subjects of another Power. Its application, therefore, to the cases in question, was inevitable. As soon as the Treaty, by which these Provinces were ceded to The United States, was ratified, and all danger of further breach of our Revenue Laws ceased, an Order was given for the release of the Vessel which had been seized, and for the dismission of the libel which had been instituted against her.
The principles of the system of reciprocity, founded on the Law of the 3d of March, 1815, have since been carried into effect with the Kingdom of The Netherlands, Sweden, Prussia, and with Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck, and Oldenburg, with a provision made by subsequent Laws, in regard to The Netherlands, Prussia, Hamburg, and Bremen, that such produce and manufactures, as could only be, or most usually were, first shipped from the Ports of those Countries, the same being imported in Vessels, wholly belonging to their Subjects, should be considered and admitted as their own manufactures and productions.
The Government of Norway has, by an Ordinance, opened the Ports of that part of the Dominions of the King of Sweden, to the Vessels of The United States, upon the payment of no other or higher duties, than are paid by the Norwegian Vessels, from whatever place arriving, and with whatever articles laden. They have requested the reciprocal allowance for the Vessels of Norway in the Ports of The United States. As this privilege is not within the scope of the Act of the 3d of March, 1815, and can only be granted by Congress; and as it may involve the commercial relations of the Union with other Nations, the subject is submitted to the wisdom of Congress.
I have presented thus fully to your view our commercial relations with other Powers, that, seeing them in detail with each Power, and knowing the basis on which they rest, Congress may in its wisdom decide, whether any change ought to be made, and, if any, in what respect. If this basis is unjust or unreasonable, surely it ought to be abandoned; but if it be just and reasonable, and any change in it will make concessions subversive of the principles of equality, and tending in its consequences to sap the foundations of our prosperity, then the reasons are equally strong for adhering to the ground already taken, and supporting it by such further regulations as may appear to be proper, should any additional support be found necessary.
The question concerning the construction of the first Article of the Treaty of Ghent, has been, by a joint Act of the Representatives of The United States and of Great Britain, at the Court of St. Petersburg, submitted to the decision of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia. The result of that submission has not yet been received. The Commissioners, under the 5th Article of that Treaty not having been able to agree upon their decision, their Reports to the two Governments, conformably to the provisions of the Treaty, may be expected at an early day.
With Spain, the Treaty of February 22d, 1819, has been partly carried into execution. Possession of East and West Florida has been given to The United States, but the Officers charged with that service by an order from His Catholick Majesty, delivered by his Minister to the Secretary of State, and transmitted by a special Agent to the Captain-General of Cuba, to whom it was directed, and in whom the Government of those Provinces was vested, have not only omitted, in contravention of the Orders of their Sovereign, the performance of the express Stipulation, to deliver over the Archives and Documents relating to the Property and Sovereignty of those Provinces, all of which it was expected would have been delivered, either before or when the troops were withdrawn, but defeated, since, every effort of The United States to obtain them, especially those of the greatest importance. This omission has given rise to several incidents of a painful nature, the character of which will be fully disclosed by the Documents, which will hereafter be communicated.
In every other circumstance the Law of the 3d of March last, for carrying into effect that Treaty, has been duly attended to. For the execution of that part which preserved in force, for the Government of the Inhabitants, for the term specified, all the Civil, Military, and Judicial Powers, exercised by the existing Government of those Provinces, an adequate number of Officers, as was presumed, were appointed, and ordered to their respective Stations. Both Provinces were formed into one Territory, and a Governor appointed for it, but, in consideration of the pre-existing division, and of the distance and difficulty of com
munication between Pensacola, the residence of the Governor of West Florida, and St. Augustine, that of the Governor of East Florida, at which Places the inconsiderable population of each Province was principally collected, 2 Secretaries were appointed, 1 to reside at Pensacola and the other at St. Augustine. Due attention was likewise paid to the execution of the Laws of The United States relating to the Revenue and the Slave-trade, which were extended to these Provinces. The whole Territory was divided into 3 collection Districts, that part lying between the River St. Mary's and Cape Florida, forming one, that from the Cape to the Apalachicola, another, and that from the Apalachicola, to the Perdido, the third. To these Districts the usual number of Revenue Officers were appointed: and, to secure the due operation of these Laws, one Judge and a District Attorney were appointed to reside at Pensacola; and, likewise, one Judge and a District Attorney to reside at St. Augustine, with a specified boundary between them; and one Marshal for the whole, with authority to appoint a Deputy. In carrying this Law into effect, and especially that part of it relating to the Powers of the existing Government of those Provinces, it was thought important, in consideration of the short term for which it was to operate, and the radical change which would be made at the approaching Session of Congress, to avoid expense, to make no appointment which should not be absolutely necessary to give effect to those Powers, to withdraw none of our Citizens from other pursuits, whereby to subject the Government to Claims which could not be gratified, and the Parties to losses, which it would be painful to witness.
It has been seen, with much concern, that, in the performance of these duties, a collision arose between the Governor of the Territory, and the Judge appointed for the Western District. It was presumed, that the Law under which this transitory Government was organized, and the Commissions which were granted to the Officers, who were appointed to execute each a branch of the system, and to which the Commissions were adapted, would have been understood in the same sense, by them, in which they were understood by the Executive. Much allowance is due to Officers, employed in each branch of this system, and the more so, as there is good cause to believe that each acted under a conviction, that he possessed the power which he undertook to exercise. Of the Officer holding the principal Station, I think it proper to observe, that he accepted it with reluctance, in compliance with the invitation given him, and from a high sense of duty to his Country, being willing to contribute to the consummation of an event, which would ensure complete protection to an important part of our Union, which had suffered much, from incursion and invasion, and to the defence of which, his very gallant and patriotic services had been so signally, and usefully devoted.