Slike strani
PDF
ePub

to be questioned only by those who question the right of a nation to govern itself, and to be ceded only by those who are prepared to cede their independence.

But the prosperity of the United States is in a peculiar degree promoted by external commerce. A people almost exclusively agricultural have not within themselves a market for the surplus produce of their labour, or a sufficient number and variety of articles of exchange to supply the wants of the cultivators; they cannot have an internal which will compensate for the loss of an external commerce : they must search abroad for manufactures, for many other articles which contribute to the comfort and convenience of life, and they must search abroad also for a market for that large portion of the productions of their soil which cannot be consumed at home. The policy of a nation thus circumstanced must ever be to encourage external commerce, and to open to itself every market for the disposition of its fuperfluities and the supply of its wants. The commercial and manufa&uring character and capacities of England must turn into that channel a considerable portion of the commerce of any nation under the circumstances of the United States. It is a market too important and too valuable to be voluntarily closed ; in consequence, a confiderable portion of their commerce has taken that direction, and a continual solicitude has been manifested to regulate and secure it by contract. To abolith this commerce, or to refuse to give it permanence and security by fair and equal stipulations, would be facrifice which no nation ought to require, and which no nation ought to make. In forming her treaty of amity and commerce with the United States, France claimed no such prerogative. That treaty declares the intention of the parties to be, “ to fix, in an equitable and permanent manner, the rules which ought to be followed relative to the commerce and correspondence which the two parties desire to establish between their respective countries, states, and subjects;" and that “ they have judged that the faid end could not be better obtained than by taking for the basis of their agreement the most perfect equality and reciprocity, and by carefully avoiding all those burdensome preferences which are ufually sources of debate, embarrassment, and discontent; by leaving also each party at liberty to make, respecting commerce and navigation, those interior regulations which it shall find most convenient to itself, and by founding the advantages of commerce folely upon reciprocal utility and the just rules of free intercourse, referving to cach party the liberty of admitting at its pleasure, other nations to a participation of the same advantages.” The treaty itself contains no ftipulation in any degree contradictory to those declarations of the preamble, or which could suggest a fufpicion, that under these declarations was concealed a wish to abridge the fovereignty of the United States with respect to treaties, or to control their interests in regard to commerce. In forming a commercial treaty with Britain, therefore, in which no peculiar privilege is granted, the government of the United" States believed itself to be tranfa&ing a business exclusively its own, which could give umbrage to none, and which no other nation on earth would consider itself as having a right to interfere in. There existed, consequently, no motive for concealing from France, or any other power, that the negotiation of Mr. Jay might or might not terminate in a commercial treaty. The declaration therefore was not made; nor is it usual for nations about to enter into negotiations to proclaim to others the various objects to which those negotiations may possibly be directed. Such is not, nor has it ever been, the practice of France. To suppose a neceflity or a duty on the part of one government thus to proclaim all its views, or to consult another with respect to its are rangement of its own affairs, is to imply a dependence to which Do government ought willingly to submit. So far as the interests of France might be involved in the negotiation, the instructions given to the negotiator were promptly communicated. The minister of this republic was informed officially, that Mr. Jay wasinstructed not to weaken the engagements of the United States to France. Farther information was neither to have been required nor expected : indeed, that which was given furnished reason to' fuppose that one of the objects of the negotiation with Great Britain was a commercial treaty. Why then such unnecessary and unmerited sarcasms against a cautious and unoffending ally? Those objects which the pursued were such as an independent nation might legitimately pursue, and such as America never had diffembled, and never deemed it necessary to dissemble her with to obtain.

Why should an effort be made to impress France with an opinion that Mr. Jay was not authorized to negotiate a commercial treaty with Britain, when the fixed opinion of America had ever been, that France could not be and ought not to be disfatisfied with the formation of such a treaty? Why should the minister of France have been informed officially that Mr. Jay was especially instructed not to weaken the engagement of the United States to France, if it was intended to convince that minifter that his powers did not extend to subjects in any degree connected with those engagements? To what purpose should the govern. ment of the United States have practised a deception deemed by itself totally unnecessary, and which its utmost efforts could not long continue? It requires an equal degree of folly and vice to practise an useless fraud which must inevitably and immediately be detected, and the detection of which must expose its author to general infamy, as well as the enmity of those on whom the fraud had been practised. These conliderations ought to Vol. VII, Kk

have

haye produced some hesitation concerning the fa&t. The testimony in support of it ought to have been very positive and very unexceptionable before it received implicit faith. It fhould have been very clear that there was no mistake, no misunderstanding, concerning the information communicated, before the charge was made in such terms as the minister of France has been pleased to employ; but the testimony is believed to be satisfactory, that the government of the United States has not endeavoured to ima press in France any opinion on this fubje&t which the fact of the cafe did not warrant. The declaration of Mr. Randolph, made July 8th, 1795, is full on this point. It is in these words:

“I never could in truth have informed the French minifter, that the mission, as set forth in the Prefident's message to the Senate, contemplated only an adjustment of our complaints; if; by this phrase, it be intended to exclude commercial arrangements, I could have no reason for saying so, since the French republic could have had nothing to do with our commercial arrangements, if they did not derogate from her rights: it could have answered no purpose, when so short a time would develope the contrary-I never did inform the French minister as above itated.

« The only official conversation which I recollect with Mr. Fauchet upon this subject was, when I communicated to him, with the President's permission, that Mr. Jay was instructed not to weaken our engagements to France. Neither then, nor at any other time, in official nor unofficial conversation, did I ever say to him, that nothing of a commercial nature was contemplated, or that nothing but the controversies under the old treaty and the spoliations were contemplated.

« Mr. Fauchet some time ago said to me, that he understood from what I said, that Mr. Jay was not authorized to treat of commercial matters. I told him, that he misunderstood me; no letter had ever palled, upon this subject."

If then Mr. Randolph did give Mr. Fauchet the information contended for, it, is plain that he never was authorized to do so; but the confiderations already detailed render it infinitely more probable that Mr. Fauchet has misunderstood Mr. Randolph, than that Mr, Randolph has misinformed Mr. Fauchet.

The undersigned, have taken, they trust, a.correct view of the leading and influential measures adopted by the government of the United States: they have endeavoured to state, with plainness and with candour, the motives which have occasioned the adoption of those measures and the operation they are believed to have. They have thown that if America is to be reproached with partialities, irreconcilable with her neutral situation, it is not by France that those reproaches ought to be made. They have been induced to take this review by a hope which they cannot relinquish without regret, that it may contribute to efface impressions which misrepresentation may have made, and to take from the intention and conduct of the government they represent that false colouring which unfriendly pencils have so profusely bestowed upon them. They are anxious ftill to chërith a hope, that, by exposing frankly and fincerely the sentiments which have hitherto guided their nation, they may restore difpofitioris on the part of France compatible with the continuance of those fentiments.

preflions

Complaints have been made, that in the application in particular cases of those general principles which the neutral ftation of the United States rendered indispensable, inconveniencies and vexations which were unavoidable have been fometimes, fustained. These complaints have been separately and fully dif. cussed.

The undersigned perfuade themselves that the explanations which have been given respecting them, if not entirely satisfactory, have yet been such as to prove the good faith and upright intention which never ceased to direct the

condu&t of the United States.

If, notwithstanding this good faith and the purity of thefe intentions, the difficulty of their fituation has in any cafe produced even an involuntary departure from those principles by which they professed to be guided, they are ready to consider that cafe, and to repair any fault which may inadvertently have been committed. With these dispositions on their part, with this consci. ousness, of having never ceased to merit the friendship and esteem of the French nation, with a conviction that a temperate and thorough view of the past cannot fail to remove prejudices not warrantedly facts, the United States have relied confidently on · the justice of France for a discontinuance and reparation of those serious and heavy injuries which have been accumulated on them.

Desirous of establishing, not the dependence of a weak on a powerful nation, but that real and cordial friendship, the willing and spontaneous offering of generous minds, which can only be lafting when evidenced to be mutual, and can only be preserved when bottomed on reciprocal justice, the undersigned will now represent with candous and frankness the well-founded como plaints with which they are charged.

These complaints confift

Of claims uncontroverted by the government of France, but which remain unsatisfied; and

Of claims founded on captures and confiscations, the illega lity of which has not yet been admitted. In the first class are arranged

Firstly, Those whose property has been seized under the de. cree of the National Convention of the gth May 1793.

Kk 2

Secondly,

Secondly, Those who are entitled to compensation in consequence of the long detention of their vesels at Bourdeaux in the years 1793 and 1794.

Thirdly, The holders of bills and other evidences of debts due, drawn by the colonial administrations in the West Indies.

Fourthly, Those whose cargoes have been appropriated to pubkic use without receiving theretor adequate payment; and,

Fifthly, Those who have supplied the government under con-. tracts with its agents, which have not yet been complied with on the part of France.

These well-founded claims of American citizens, thus originating in voluntary and important supplies, in the forcible seizure of valuable property, accompanied with promises of payment, and in injurious detentions, constitute a mass of debt which the justice and good faith of the French government cannot refuse to provide for, and which is too considerable to be unnoticed by that of the United States. The undersigned are instructed to solicit your attention to this subject, and they would perfuade themselves that they do not folicit in vain. So many circuinstances concur to give force to the application, that they leave it to your government, in the confidence that no additional representations can be necessary. - They pass to complaints still more important for their amount, more interesting in their nature, and more serious in their consequences. On the 14th Messidor, 4th year of the French republic, one and indivisible (July 2d, 1796), the Executive Directory, decreed, “ That all neutral or allied powers shall without delay be notified that the flag of the French republic will treat neutral vesels, either as to confiscation, as to searches or capture, in the same manner as they shall suffer the English to treat them.” This decree, in any point of view in which it can be considered, could not fail to excite in the United States the most serious attention. It difpenfes at once, as they conceive, with the most solemn obligations which compact can create, and consequently asserts a right on the part of France to recede at her discretion from any ftipulations she may have entered into. It has been demonstrated that governments may by contract change, as between themselves, the rules established by the law of nations, and that such contract becomes completely obligatory on the parties, though it can in no manner affect the . rights of others : yet by this decree allies with whom such ftipulations exist are to be treated, without regard to such ftipulations, in the same manner as they are treated by others, who are bound by a different rule. This, as it respects the United States, is the more unfriendly, because a readiness has been manifelted on their part so to modify by consent their treaty with France, as to reins Itate the rules eltablished by the law of nations.

The

« PrejšnjaNaprej »