Slike strani

MARCH, 1808.

Foreign Relations.

H. OF R.

him plainly, "This system of impunity and tole- thrown on the long-continued darkness of this rance can no longer continue, and His Majesty quarter of our horizon. On the 19th of Februa'is convinced that your Government will think it ry, 1807, we have at last some official developdue, from its frankness, promptly to put an end ment of our relations with France. It is a great 'to it." These letters are evidence incontroverti- era in our information; and as my resolution ble, that, notwithstanding the total silence of the will have reference to it, and as there is to be Executive relative to France, there may exist im- drawn from the facts it contains a strong argu. portant particulars of information which, although ment for this measure, the House must indulge he may not choose voluntarily to publish, yet me in some remarks on the information then which, if called for, he will not hesitate to dis- communicated. The extraordinary decree of the close. I make no comment on the mandatory French Government of the 21st of November, style of these letters. In all languages the mode 1806, was, as we all know, of a most dubious charof supplication and the mode of command have a acter. Its language admitted very different congeneral resemblance. Sometimes they are pre-structions. It might be a mere municipal regucisely similar. When such forms of expression lation. It might be a general rule for the conare addressed to an equal, whether the intention duct of French cruisers; in which case it deeply be to express the former or to intimate the latter, affected our neutral rights, and directly infringed is to be collected from the general temper, char- our treaty with France. The uncertainty conacter, and relative situation of those who utter cerning its construction filled this country with and of those to whom they are addressed. Al-apprehension, and our Minister at Paris, with though I am far from suggesting that this House sufficient promptitude, demanded an explanation was influenced to the prohibition of the trade with from Decres, the French Minister of Marine, of St. Domingo by the language of these letters, yet the official interpretation intended to be given to I can never cease to regret that the measure then it. Decres, in his reply to the American Minisadopted was preceded by a publication of thatter of the 24th December, 1806, after having statcorrespondence. I could have wished that a ma-ed what "he considered," and what "he thinks," jority of Congress had, previous to the issuing of the imperial decree means, adds this pointed that summons, awakened to that moral sense of and remarkable caution: "It will be proper that the atrocious nature of this commerce, which af- your Excellency should communicate with the terwards was manifested by them. The only re- 'Minister of External Relations as to what conmaining information derived from official sources cerns the correspondence of the United States during the session, under consideration, was ob- of America with England." And to the end tained in consequence also of a request from the that General Armstrong might not mistake as to Senate for an illustration of those "new prin- the nature and necessity of his recurrence to anciples, which had been interpolated into the law other department for the satisfaction he sought, ' of nations." The Executive Message of the the Minister of Marine subjoins this most impres27th of January, 1806, states, among the new sive postscript: "It will not escape General Armprinciples interpolated, the following, by the strong that my answers cannot have the develFrench: That privateers, two-thirds of whose opment which they would receive from the crews were not native subjects of England, should' Minister of Exterior Relations, and that it is be considered as pirates; that foreigners found on 'naturally to him to whom he ought to address board vessels of the enemy should be considered himself for those explanations which I am very



as prisoners of war, and not entitled to the pro-happy to give him, because he wishes them, but


tection of the agents of their country. Yet we had no information then, nor have we since, whether any explanation had been demanded or given of those decrees. If a silent acquiescence in them was not adopted on the part of our Government, it is unknown to this House.

upon which I have much less positive information than the Prince of Benevento."

To this part of Decres's letter I shall recur hereafter. At present, I shall proceed to bring into one view all the remaining knowledge concerning our French relations which has been permitted to come to us through official sources.

The next period of Executive development of the state of our foreign relations commences with the last session. In his Annual Message, in December, 1806, the President hopes a favorable issue of our difficulties with Great Britain, and tells us those with Spain are not settled, but the some characteristic omission I have noticed in the former exists also in this. There is no France

The next period of Legislative intelligence on this subject is that which commenced with the present session. In his official Message, at its opening, the Executive tells us of a treaty with Great Britain rejected; of the outrage on the Chesapeake; of our unsettled difficulties with Spain. But as to France, whether we have any

ers and our Indian neighbors have a prominent station in this great history-piece of our foreign relations. I mean not to say that it was not wise and masterly thus to leave that great nation wholly out of the annual representation. I judge not the Executive, but merely state the fact as an additional reason for my resolution.

in the exhibition. Yet the Mediterranean Pow-relations with her at all, or whether, as to us, there be any such nation on the globe, for anything in this Message, neither the House nor the nation are the wiser. It is true that there is a general, sweeping sentence, which includes everything: "With the other nations of Europe, our harmony has been uninterrupted, and commerce and friendly intercourse have been maintained : on their usual footing." But whether this be a

At the end of this session, however, light was

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Foreign Relations.

H. of R.

MARCH, 1808.

development of our relations with France, such as this people ought then to have been satisfied with; whether the aspect of that nation upon the prospects of this, and almost every other country, for three years past, has been such as perfectly to authorize the Executive of the United States, during all that time, to maintain, in each of bis annual official Messages, a total silence on our connexions with her, I leave this House to consider. To my mind, it is an ominous silence, full of meaning.

There is, however, one fact discovered in the letter of the 12th of November which ought not to be passed over without notice. Mr. Armstrong in this refers to a letter of Mr. Champagny to him of the 7th October preceding, in which, says Mr. Armstrong, "you," (Champagny) "thought that the decree of the 21st of November might be recon'ciled to the treaty between the United States and France." From this unlucky quotation it is manifest, that on the seventh of October last, Mr. Champagny did address a letter to Mr. Armstrong, rel

All the residue of our official information rela-ative to the decree of the 21st of November, 1806. tive to France has been of a confidential nature. What was that letter? Was it an answer to any Yet, with the exception of a part of the commu-letter addressed by Mr. Armstrong to him? If so, nication at the time of laying the embargo, it all what was Mr. Armstrong's letter? Can there be has been so intrusted to us that we have a right a good reason why the import of these letters relto speak openly, and say what it was; and with ative to the official construction intended to be respect to that portion, on which our lips are given to the operation of a most dubiously exclosed, I have a right to state, generally, what it pressed decree, deeply affecting most important rights, should, for one hour, be concealed from the public?

was not.

First, then, as to what we possess. In the order of time is the letter of Mr. Champagny of the 21st I have now recapitulated all the information on of August last, in reply to a letter of Mr. Arm- the relations, of which it is permitted us freely to strong of the 8th of August. This letter of Arm-speak. As to that which may be deemed confistrong has not been communicated. It appears, dential, I abstain from saying what we have. I however, from Champagny's answer, that it was have a right, however, to say what we have not. not any claim of exposition of the decree of 21st We have not any of the correspondence between of November, 1806, nor of the general views of Mr. Armstrong, and our Government, since his the French Government towards us, or our com- letter of the 24th December, 1806, communicated merce, but merely had relation to a particular com- in the President's public Message of the 19th of plaint, concerning American vessels, carried into February, 1807. Spanish ports. Such it is expressly stated by The question recurs, have we any reason to Champagny to be, in his reply. The next infor- believe, that any such information, not commumation is the letter of Regnier, the grand judge, nicated, is in the possession of our Government? which accompanied the recommendation of the The evidence that such information does exist, embargo. This letter was dated the 18th Septem- and that the Executive has it, is to my mind more ber, 1807. By this it is discovered that it is the than probable; it amounts in degree, next to abintention of the decree of the 21st of November, solute certainty. In the first place, as to a demand 1806, to subject English merchandise and manu-made by Mr. Armstrong, of the French Minister factures on board neutral vessels to capture. But of Exterior Relations, for an explanation of that why, or how, this exposition of the decree was at decree, is it possible for any man to doubt, for a this late hour obtained, whether it was accidental, moment, that he did make such a demand, and that or whether it was the consequence of the applica- the knowledge of that demand, and probably the tion of our Minister, we are ignorant; for the let-answer, with Mr. Armstrong's explanation of his ters of Mr. Armstrong to our Government, which own conduct, must be in the hands of the Execuaccompanied Regnier's letter, have never been tive? communicated to us.

Our next information, of which we may speak, is that contained in the late confidential communication of the Executive; being a letter to the French Minister of Exterior Relations, dated the 12th of November last. This letter also was not any official demand of explanation, relative to the decree of the 21st of November, 1806, but merely a remonstrance against a decision of the Council of Prizes, which had condemned the cargo of an American vessel, wrecked on the French coast, solely for being English manufactures, and his exposition of the cruelty and unprincipled nature of that sentence. But what the answer of the French Minister of Exterior Relations was, or what were the communications of Mr. Armstrong to our Government, which accompanied his transmittal of his letter of the 12th of November, we know not. They have never been submitted to our inspection.

Observe the facts. On the 10th of December, 1806, scarcely twenty days after the issuing of the November decree, Mr. Armstrong, with an honorable promptitude, demands of the French Minister of Marine, an explanation of its construction. The Minister replies, substantially, "this is my opinion upon that subject, but mine is not the proper department for constructions of this kind; go to the Minister of Exterior Relations. 'He knows the Emperor's will; he can give you every satisfaction." Mr. Armstrong transmitted this information, with a letter, to our Government, of the 24th of December, 1806.



Now, what was the obvious duty of the American Minister? Was it not to turn round at once to the Minister of Exterior Relations, and request the explanations so much desired, from the source to which he was thus not merely officially referred; but absolutely urged to resort, by the Minister of Marine? If he did, would he fail to communicate

MARCH, 1808.

Foreign Relations.

the result of that application to our Government, accompanied by his own observations? But suppose he has neglected any such application, and has omitted to apprize this Government of his proceedings, is this a reason for refusing to adopt the resolution which I propose? On the contrary, is it not a strong reason for the measure? If Mr. Armstrong has been guilty of such a culpable neglect, at such a crisis as this, relative to so allimportant a subject, ought not this House to know it? Ought we not to impeach him before the Senate of high crimes and misdemeanors; and ought he not at once to be recalled to answer to the just complaints of his country? Precisely the same is it, if it be true, as seems to be circulated, in whispers, that Mr. Armstrong has transmitted Resolved, That the President of the United States be no letters to our Government, which have not been requested to communicate to this House the despatches, communicated to us. Shall confidence be con- addressed to this Government, by the American Mintinued in a Minister resident at the Court of a ister at Paris, touching the proceedings of the French Power, whose arms and whose policy affect the Government in relation to neutral commerce, which interests of the globe, if he have omitted, for one have been received since the despatches of that Minwhole year, to keep our Government informed ofister, communicated to Congress, by Message, on the 19th of February 1807. his observations and opinions? Take which conclusion you will, a resolution similar to the one I propose, ought to be adopted. Either Mr. Armstrong has done his duty, the information is in the country, and it ought to be communicated; or, Mr. Armstrong has failed in his duty, and it becomes ours at once, to call him, in a Constitutional way, to answer for his fault.

But is it to be credited that no other communications than the meager ones we possess, have been sent by Mr. Armstrong, in all the ships, public and private, which for this year past have afforded him opportunities, for that purpose? If more information on these relations be not in the country, the fact ought to be known. If it be in the country, why ought we not to ask for it? Must not it be important to enable us, intelligently, to perform our duty? We are called upon to raise an army; but against whom it is to operate, seems to be a question, which none of us can solve. Is it against France, or Spain, or Great Britain? | Against either, or all of them? Must not a material difference be made in the numbers, the appointment, and the nature of the levies, whether an invasion by France be apprehended, or a desolation of our seacoast by Great Britain, or of our frontiers by Spain?

Let not gentlemen say the adoption of such a resolution will throw a censure upon the Executive. The information in his possession may be of that critical nature, that he may hesitate to make it public on his single responsibility. It has been frequently urged, on similar occasions, that we ought to have a confidence that the Executive has done his duty. But the argument proves too much. It supposes that the Chief Magistrate cannot err in judgment. And if it be conclusive, it forever debars this House of the exercise of its Constitutional privilege of asking for information. The present is no period for motives of extreme delicacy to have influence in this House. Let us have a perfect knowledge of all our foreign relations, that we may neither entertain any attachments, nor any antipathies, respecting other na-resolution.

H. OF R.

tions, except such as the real conduct and views of each will justify.

The reports in circulation, which have found their way into our newspapers, in the form of letters from France, that the French Emperor has said "there shall no longer be any neutrals," and the confiscation of several hundred thousand dollars of American property, in territories under the control of France, are circumstances which loudly call for the adoption of the resolution I have now the honor to offer, which has for its object, to obtain a full development of all the known intentions of that Government relative to neutral commerce. The resolution is in these words:

Mr. QUINCY having required the yeas and nays on the consideration of this resolution, and the question having been put "will the House now consider the resolution?" It was negativedyeas 44, nays 66, as follows:

YEAS-John Boyle, Epaphroditus Champion, Martin Chittenden, John Claiborne, John Culpepper, Samuel W. Dana, John Davenport, jr., Joseph Desha, James Elliot, Francis Gardner, Edwin Gray, John HarThomas Kenan, Joseph Lewis, jr., Edward St. Loe ris, William Hoge, Benjamin Howard, James Kelly, Livermore, John Love, Nathaniel Macon, Robert Marion, Josiah Masters, William Milnor, Jeremiah Morrow, John Morrow, Jonathan O. Mosely, Gurdon S. Mumford, Timothy Pitkin, jun., Josiah Quincy, John Rea of Pennsylvania, Samuel Riker, John Rowan, John Russell, Samuel Smith, Richard Stanford, William Stedman, Peter Swart, Samuel Taggart, Benjamin Tallmadge, Jabez Upham, Philip Van Cortlandt, Archibald Van Horn, Killian K. Van Rensselaer, and David R. Williams.

NAYS-Lemuel J. Alston, Willis Alston, jun., Ezekiel Bacon, David Bard, Joseph Barker, Burwell Bassett, William W. Bibb, William Blackledge, John Blake, jun., Thomas Blount, Robert Brown, William A. Burwell, William Butler, Joseph Calhoun, George W. Campbell, Matthew Clay, John Clopton, Howell Cobb, Richard Cutts, John Dawson, Josiah Deane, Daniel M. Durell, John W. Eppes, William Findley, James Fisk, Meshack Franklin, Peterson Goodwyn, Isaiah L. Green, John Heister, William Helms, James Holland, David Holmes, Daniel Ilsley, Richard M. Johnson, Walter Jones, William Kirkpatrick, Nehemiah Knight, John Lambert, Daniel Montgomery, jun., Roger Nelson, Thomas Newbold, Thomas Newton, Wilson C. Nicholas, John Porter, John Pugh, John Rhea of Tennessee, Matthias Richards, Ebenezer Seaver, James Sloan, Dennis Smelt, John Smilie, Jedediah K. Smith, John Smith, Henry Southard, Clement Storer, John Taylor, John Thompson, George M. Troup, James I. Van Allen, Daniel C. Verplanck, Jesse Wharton, Robert Whitehill, Isaac Wilbour, Marmaduke Williams, Alexander Wilson, and James Witherell.

And so the House refused to consider the said

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The House took up for consideration the bill from the Senate for raising an additional force, with the report of the select committee upon it. Mr. GARDNER moved to adjourn.-Negatived,

47 to 44.

Mr. ROWAN moved to commit the bill to a Committee of the Whole. Such a bill as this should not be lightly passed over. What occasion called for this bill now? If we are to have war, said he, we must immediately raise a larger force. Whenever the occasion for force is manifest, none will be more ready to raise it than I; but till that time I am opposed to raising a regular force. I will not do it merely because it is deemed necessary by an individual; it belongs to the people to raise an army and declare war; we must know the state of affairs before we can be justified in doing it. When any event occurs which shall render this force necessary, we will raise it. If we have war, we must raise a much larger force. A few days or a few weeks sooner will not be an object; at all events do not pass through the bill without its being committed. Is it possible that the Congress of the United States can already raise an army without even committing the bill? I hope not. I have no object in wishing for delay, but to know whether the force be necessary. If it be necessary, the bill shall have my support; and on the same principle it shall not till I know whether it be necessary or not. We have not as yet I hope forgot the sentiment of the nation on the subject of standing armies expressed a few years ago; and surely we shall see cause for it now before we agree to pass the bill.

Mr. DAWSON said he was not apprehensive that anything which he ever did or said should be called anti-republican. He said he should certainly, according to the usual custom of the House, have moved a reference of this bill to a Committee of the Whole, had not a bill in every material point similar, already passed in Committee of the Whole, and been fully discussed.

If the gentleman from Kentucky examined the bill, Mr. D. said, he would have found that there was no idea of raising an army without full investigation.

Mr. TALLMADGE said he was certainly disposed to commit the bill. Such a bill as this, so important in its principles and consequences, it must appear to the House, ought to be discussed, and that very fully. The gentleman from Virginia, said Mr. T., has told us that this bill is similar to the other in its general principles. It will very well be remembered that when the House came out of Committee of the Whole on that bill, a motion was made that the bill lie on the table; it did lie on the table, and from the best of all reasons. The bill was so defective in its details that it could not be carried into operation. This bill should be committed, not only for the reasons offered by the gentleman from Kentucky, but because it is the most defective in detail that ever came before the House. I have a number of amendments prepared which I wish to offer,

MARCH, 1808.

but cannot well do it except the bill be com. mitted.

The question having been put on reference to a Committee of the Whole it was carried— yeas 72.

Mr. ROWAN wished it to be made the order of the day for Wednesday.

Mr. DAWSON named to-morrow.
Mr. W. ALSTON named to-day.

The question being of course first taken on Wednesday, was negatived, 43 to 42.

Mr. DAWSON's motion was then carried without a division.

TUESDAY, March 15.

Mr. CLARK presented a petition, in the French language, from a committee appointed by, and on behalf of, sundry proprietors of lands in the Territory of Louisiana, praying that Congress would modify the law respecting claims to land in that Territory, so that the agent for the United States shall be obliged to produce proof of fraudulent and antedated titles before the Board of Commissioners, instead of the inhabitants being obliged to prove their authority.-Referred to the Committee on the Public Lands.

On motion of Mr. BASSETT,

Ordered, That the Committee of the Whole to whom was committed, on the twenty-third of December last, the bill to incorporate the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexandria, be discharged from the consideration of the


The House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole on the bill to alter and establish certain post roads; and, after some time spent therein, the Committee rose and reported progress. The question was then stated from the Chair, that the Committee of the Whole have leave to sit again on the said bill, and debate arising thereon, an adjournment was called for, and carried.

WEDNESDAY, March 16.

Mr. KEY presented a petition of sundry inhabitants of the District of Columbia, praying that such acts or parts of acts heretofore passed by Congress, as prohibit the removal of slaves from one of the counties composing the said District to the other, may be repealed.-Referred to the Committee for the District of Columbia.

Mr. JEREMIAH MORROW presented a petition of sundry inhabitants of Montgomery county, in the State of Ohio, praying that such modification or amendments to the laws authorizing the sale of public lands may be adopted, as to enable the pe titioners to make payments for the purchase of their several tracts of land, without the inconveniences to which they will otherwise be subjected.-Referred to the Committee on the Public Lands.

On motion of Mr. NEWTON,

Resolved, That the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures be instructed to inquire whether the sums in which the collectors of the cus

MARCH, 1808.

toms are severally bound to the United States ought not to be increased.

The House resumed the consideration of the question depending yesterday at the time of adjournment, that the Committee of the Whole to whom was committed the bill to alter and establish certain post roads, have leave to sit again on the same: Whereupon,

Resolved, That the House will, to-morrow, again resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on the said bill.

Mr. D. R. WILLIAMS held in his hand a resolution by which he wished to call the attention of the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures to the discussion of a subject which he had long considered as of the last importance to our commercial interests directly, and perhaps not indirectly to the domestic interest of the country. The object of the following resolution being merely to direct the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures to inquire, he should not offer any observations on its expediency:

Resolved, That the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures be instructed to inquire into the expediency of prohibiting the entry of any vessel into the United States from any port or place to which a vessel of the United States is not permitted, by a permanent regulation of the country owning such place, or by

Additional Army—The Mint.


The resolution was agreed to without a division.


The House then resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, on the bill for raising an additional military force.

The bill was taken up by sections, and various amendments made to the detail.

H. OF R.

Alston, jun., David Bard, Joseph Barker, Burwell Bas-
sett, William W. Bibb, William Blackledge, John
Blake, jun., John Boyle, Robert Brown, William A.
Burwell, William Butler, George W. Campbell, Epaph-
roditus Champion, Martin Chittenden, John Claiborne,
Joseph Clay, George Clinton, jun., Howell Cobb, Or-
chard Cook, John Culpepper, Richard Cutts, Samuel
W. Dana, John Davenport, jr., Josiah Deane, Daniel
Francis Gardner, James M. Garnett, Peterson Good-
M. Durell, James Elliot, William Ely, James Fisk,
wyn, Edwin Gray, Isaiah L. Green, John Harris, John
Heister, William Helms, William Hoge, Daniel Ilsley,
Rbt. Jenkins, Thomas Kenan, Nehemiah Knight, John
Lambert, Edward St. Loe Livermore, Robert Marion,
William Milnor, Daniel Montgomery, jun., Thomas
Moore, Jeremiah Morrow, Jonathan O. Mosely, Thom-
as Newton, Wilson C. Nicholas, Timothy Pitkin, jr.,
John Porter, John Pugh, John Rea of Pennsylvania,
John Rhea of Tennessee, Jacob Richards, Matthias
Richards, Samuel Riker, Ebenezer Seaver, James Sloan,
John Smilie, Jedediah K. Smith, Henry Southard,
Richard Stanford, William Stedman, Clement Storer,
Peter Swart, Samuel Taggart, Benjamin Tallmadge,
James I. Van Allen, Philip Van Cortlandt, Killian K.
John Thompson, George M. Troup, Jabez Upham,
Van Rensselaer, Robert Whitehill, Isaac Wilbour,
Marmaduke Williams, Alexander Wilson, and James


This motion was supported by Mr. TALLMADGE by arguments drawn from transactions during the Revolutionary war, and opposed by Mr. NELSON on the same ground.

THURSDAY, March 17.

On motion of Mr. MCCREERY,

Mr. TALLMADGE proposed an amendment, going altogether to reverse the provision of the bill in respect to cavalry. The bill at present provides that one regiment of cavalry shall be raised, to consist of eight companies, of thirty-eight men each, with a discretion to be given to the President to increase each company to sixty-four.

Resolved, That the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures be instructed to inquire into the expediency of reviving an act, passed on the seventeeth of March, one thousand eight hundred, which expired on the third instant, declaring the assent of Congress to certain acts of the States of Maryland and Georgia.

Mr. G. W. CAMPBELL, from the committee to whom was committed, on the eighteenth instant, Mr. T. proposed to substitute the provision, by the bill sent from the Senate, entitled "An act to inserting four troops of cavalry of sixty-four men amend the act entitled 'An act establishing cireach, and four companies of dismounted dra-cuit courts, and abridging the jurisdiction of the goons. district courts of the districts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio," reported several amendments thereto; which were twice read, and agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That the said bill, with the amendments, be read the third time to-morrow.

Mr. Lewis presented a petition of sundry inhabitants of the county of Alexandria, in the Territory of Columbia, praying a revision and amendment of such acts or parts of acts, passed by Congress, for the government of the said Territory, as relate to promissory notes, given as securities for the payment of money, and to insolvent debtors, within the same, for the reasons therein specified.-Referred to the Committee for the District

It was agreed to-ayes 65.

Further amendment having been made to the detail of the bill-without having gone through it, the Committee rose, reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.


ton, John Dawson, Joseph Desha, James Holland, DaNAYS-Thomas Blount, Joseph Calhoun, John Clopvid Holmes, Richard M. Johnson, Joseph Lewis,jr., John Love, Matthew Lyon, Nathaniel Macon, John Morrow, Roger Nelson, John Rowan, Dennis Smelt, Abram Trigg, Archibald Van Horn, and Jesse Wharton.

An engrossed bill farther to prolong the continuance of the Mint at Philadelphia, was read the third time; and, on the question that the same do pass, it was resolved in the affirmative-of Columbia. yeas 83, nays 19, as follows:

A Message was received from the President of YEAS-Evan Alexander, Lemuel J. Alston, Willis the United States, transmitting a decree of the

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