Page images


I can confidently assure your Excellency, that you have been misinformed as to some of the circumstances attending it. I have understood that the Privateer Pancheta has been of considerable annoyance to our commerce in these Seas, and that, falling in with The United States' Schooner Grampus, fired into her. The consequences that would result from such an act, may be conceived by your Excellency.

The instructions given to Officers of the American Navy are such, as to render it impossible that they can be the Aggressors; and the feelings that have characterised them, will always insure, in these unhappy rencontres, humanity and tenderness.

Vessels have formerly been sent into Ports of The United States on apparent good grounds, such as, attempts on our commerce; but, in all instances in which cause for condemnation did not appear, heavy damages were awarded, and the Sufferers made more than whole in their property: retribution is there always at hand.

In the Case of the Pancheta, I beg leave to assure your Excellency, there must have been great cause for the course pursued. As to the indignity offered to the Flag, your Excellency, I trust, is misinformed; for no Officer in the Navy dare stand before the Tribunal of the American People, justly charged with having violated the best constituents of the American character-magnanimity and knightly generosity.

This unfortunate occurrence has grown out of the necessity of sending an Armed Force to these Seas, for the purpose of convoying our Vessels, and of guarding them against the violence that has been committed upon them by Privateers infesting the Ocean, for the purposes of plunder. If, in the execution of this duty, rendered necessary by the state of things, calamities unavoidably occur, they must, doubtless, be deplored by the lovers of peace and concord, but cannot be chargeable to us, as voluntary acts.

It is an indisputable fact, although not known to your Excellency, that the Captain's and Mate's trunks of the American Brig Sam, captured and taken into Cape Roxo, were broken open while himself and Crew were on board the Privateer, and 420 Spanish dollars taken from them; also, 1 trunk of Madras handkerchiefs and other merchandize. These are transactions unknown to your Excellency, having taken place prior to your Excellency's arrival; they are the acts of Privateersmen, from which it would be absurd to infer the character of a wise and liberal Nation, like that of Spain.

Seeing the evils that result from the course pursued by Privateers out of this Island, I call upon your Excellency, in the name of humanity, and of that benign policy which has marked the course of our political career, to place such checks and restraints upon their

proceedings, as will, in future, secure the American commerce from interruption, and those vexatious seizures, of which the Citizens of The United States justly complain.

These complaints, resting on the foundation of wrongs of an aggra vated nature, which cannot be justified by any previous aggressions of American Citizens, convinces me that they will not be sanctioned by one of your Excellency's liberal and comprehensive views.

Confident of this, I feel much satisfaction in complying with that part of my Instructions which requires me to learn from your Excellency, how far Privateers fitted out of this Island are authorized to capture and bring in for adjudication the Vessels of The United States pursuing a lawful commerce. Information on this head will serve to explain fully the footing on which our maritime relations rest in this quarter. Be pleased to accept, &c.

ROBERT T. SPENCE. P.S. I also enclose a Copy of a Letter from the Master of the Brig General Andrew Jackson, relative to his treatment from the Crew of the Spanish Privateer General Pereira.

H. E. Don Francisco Gonzalez de Linarez.


(Inclosure E.)-Captain Spence to the Governor of Porto Rico.

United States' Ship Cyane,

St. John's, Porto Rico, 30th August, 1822. SINCE the receipt of your Letter, alluding to the capture of the Pancheta, some of the circumstances attending it have come to my knowledge.

It appears that this Privateer has been, for a considerable time, engaged in intercepting our Vessels, frequently boarding them, and exercising an intolerable inquisition, vexations of themselves, sufficient to call for a remedy, but would not have occasioned any offensive measures on the part of American Cruisers. The instructions given to our Commanders confine their discretionary powers within limits too circumscribed to admit of their being led to an act of indiscretion. They are imperatively commanded to do nothing that can tend to interrupt the harmony existing between The United States and other Powers, whose maritime rights have ever been respected, and never designedly infringed.

The immediate cause of the Pancheta's capture, was, her having been guilty of several recent acts of plunder; and her having, but a short while previously to her "mishap," taken a number of articles from an American Trader, to which the Captain and Crew made oath. If these facts are as represented, and I am induced to think they will be incontrovertibly established, they certainly must be denominated acts of Piracy committed upon the Citizens of The United States, who have

been made to suffer, in their property and feelings by these and similar outrages. Add to these causes, on being hailed, she fired into the United States' Schooner Grampus! What Armed Vessel could expect to fire at an American Ship of War with impunity?

These circumstances, when the affair shall be judicially investigated, I am inclined to think, will be found substantially correct: if otherwise, there is an equity in the Government and Laws of The United States, that never was appealed to in vain. There is a sentiment of honour and generosity in "the American People," that will sustain the injured, be he friend or foe,-that will redress wrongs with "even-handed justice."

I have deemed it proper to make this statement, with a view to allay the sensations of which your Excellency speaks, as having been excited by this transaction:-sensations I have had occasion myself to experience, with the additional aggravation of knowing, that the Authors of them, lurking in obscurity, were sheltered from personal amenability, while, in the present case, your Excellency must feel an assurance, that the standing of the active Officer in command of the Grampus, as well as the magnitude of the affair, are such, as to pass them in review of the whole American People,-a never-erring ordeal; that Laws, and not Individuals, will decide as to the criminality of the cruize of the Pancheta; and will determine how far that Officer was justifiable in arresting her depredatory excursions.

American Cruizers have been sent to these Seas to protect our trade. There existed a crying cause; the means of mischief were accumulating; impunity had produced audacity; and the Ocean washing the Shores of these Islands, which the interest of the World require should be unprofaned by the path of the Plunderer, had become the theatre of outrage and rapine. American Citizens had suffered in their property and sacred persons. To remedy these evils, our Officers will be active, vigilant, and unweary; producing, by their conduct, a conviction, that, when acts are perpetrated, such as the Pancheta is charged with having committed, there is no escape. There must be safety in Peace, or its best objects are defeated; there must be security on the great "thoroughfare" of all Nations, otherwise its best purposes are perverted.

Persuaded that your Excellency will not consider this as unreasonable, and that you will see the consequences I have pointed out, as the inevitable result of causes herein set forth,

I remain, &c.


H. E. Don Francisco Gonzalez de Linarez.


(Inclosure F.)—Captain Spence to the Governor of Porto Rico. United States' Ship Cyane,

St. John's, Porto Rico, 1st September, 1822. YOUR Letters of the 28th and 31st ultimo, in answer to several Communications from me, have been duly received-Translations of which, I have but this moment been able to obtain.

In relation to the capture of the Pancheta, I beg permission to repeat, that it must be considered as a disaster growing out of the unjustifiable conduct of her Crew, and as one of the retributive results, of an abuse of her Cruizing License.

We require, that our lawful commerce shall be unmolested; that our Vessels shall not, from frivolous causes, and on pretexts, of which every Privateersman constitutes himself a judge, be intercepted, and subjected to inquisitorial scrutiny, and American Citizens made to incur intolerable inconvenience and expense. Evils like these, have a remedy, which the most forbearing would not expect should remain dormant.

I am convinced your Excellency has been incorrectly informed, as to the treatment of the Crew of the Pancheta, which you represent as cruel, and unnecessarily harsh. The Officer commanding the Schooner Grampus is well known for his humane feelings, and I am persuaded that all practicable and proper mildness was exercised on the occasion.

It is not to a discussion of the Laws and principles of “ Blockade," that I am desirous of calling your Excellency's attention-they are settled, and established by the concurrent opinion of the wisest Statesmen, and are no longer doubtful. "Blockade" is not a mystical arcanum; it involves certain practical Rules, amply explained, and I am persuaded, well and fully understood by your Excellency.

It was to invite a just application to these principles, according to the acknowledged usages of the Age, that I was led to present the subject to your Excellency's attention; thereby to prevent the seizure of our Vessels, and to do away a pretext, often alleged, for sending them in for adjudication.

It was presumed, that your Excellency's powers extended to the correction of evils, existing within the range of your Authority; that you had the means of checking the licentiousness of Privateering, and that, seeing the pernicious effects of it, would feel every disposition to shield the commerce of The United States, by the interposition of

seasonable restraints.

While I feel confident, that your Excellency will adopt, with promptitude, measures calculated to ascertain the extent of the grievances set forth in my Communication of the 28th ultimo, I must beg leave, again to repeat the expression of my hope and expectation, that you will cause

all American Vessels, now illegally detained, in the Ports of this Island, forthwith to be released, and equitable damages awarded such of the Citizens of The United States, as have suffered, either in property or person.

The well known character of your Excellency, for wisdom and justice, inclines me to believe, that these expectations will appear reasonable and right, and that they will be fully and satisfactorily realized by Your Excellency's, &c.

H. E. Don Francisco Gonzalez de Linarez.



(Inclosure G.)-Captain Spence to the Governor of Porto Rico. United States' Ship Cyane,

St. John's, Porto Rico, 3rd September, 1822.

I HAVE had the honour to receive several Communications from your Excellency, in reply to Letters addressed to you on subjects of very considerable moment.

Your professions of respect for the Laws of Nations, and your determination of making them, and the Laws of the "Constitutional Monarchy of Spain," your guides; and the intention you express of inquiring into the matters set forth in my Official Representations, &c. are all properly appreciated, and will, doubtless, prove highly efficacious. The Laws of Spain, no doubt, are all which the accumulated experience of Ages, and the united wisdom of sage Men, can make them; and, if administered by one of your Excellency's impartiality, would, I am persuaded, afford no good cause of complaint.

I had the honour, a few days since, to present for the consideration of your Excellency, some of the Proceedings and Decisions of the constituted Tribunals of the Island: whether such are just or legal, your Excellency can decide-to me they seem novel, and extraordinary; and, with a knowledge of some of the minor circumstances attending these vexatious Trials, I cannot refrain from saying they appear strange.

I am sure your Excellency will deem it due to the dignity of the "Constitutional Monarchy" you represent, to cause American Citizens to be indemnified for the loss sustained by such adjudications as your Excellency has been invited to investigate. It is but right and just to expect this of the Laws of Spain; and, while I indulge a belief that such will be the course pursued, I am led to call your attention to the policy of doing away all future occasion for dissatisfac tion, by rendering the Owners, or Captains, of the Privateers out of Porto Rico, more accountable.

In my Letter of the 29th ultimo, I requested that your Excellency would do me the honour to state how far these Privateers are authorized by the Authorities of the Island, to capture and bring in for Ad

« PreviousContinue »