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Relations with Great Britain.

denied by our Government, and, as it is contended, upon the soundest principles of the law of nations. I wish to possess, and to give correct information on the whole subject, and shall be happy that your Lordship will enable me to do it.

It would have been agreeable to me to have postponed this inquiry until I should be honored with the interview which I requested of your Lordship on the 31st ultimo, and which you have been so good as to promise me next week; but the importance of the subject, the impression that the measure has made on the parties interested, and doubtless will make in the United States, to

and postponed at the instance of Lord Harrowby until his return. These subjects will be found in a communication to Lord Harrowby of the 5th of September last, which contains a project of a convention to define certain neutral rights, to discriminate between American and British seamen, and protect the former from impressment; and also to establish, by a modification of the convention entered into by Lord Hawkesbury and Mr. King, on the 12th of May, 1803, in the manner proposed, and for the reasons stated in that com munication, the boundary between the territories of His Majesty and those of the United States on their northwestern frontier. The two first men-gether with the propriety of giving to my Govtioned of these topics have been the cause of ernment such information as is official and aumuch irritation and complaint on the part of the thentic only, will, I flatter myself, satisfy your United States, which cannot otherwise than be Lordship that I could not justify a longer delay. increased by the principles which appear to have I have the honor to be, my Lord, your most been adopted in some late decisions of the Court obedient, humble servant, J. MONROE. of Admiralty relative to the commerce of the United States with the colonies of the enemies of Great Britain, and with the parent country in the productions of such colonies. Mr. Monroe is persuaded that it is of great importance to both countries to arrange these points between them, and he flatters himself that it will be easy to do it on terms that will be equally safe and satisfactory to both parties.

No. 2.

From Lord Mulgrave.

DOWNING STREET, August 5, 1805. Lord Mulgrave presents his compliments to Mr. Monroe, and will have the honor of appointing a day for receiving him at the Foreign Office early next week. Lord Mulgrave wishes to inform himself of the state of the business opened to Lord Harrowby, previous to his conference with Mr. Monroe.

No. 3.

To Lord Mulgrave.

DOVER STREET, August 8, 1805. MY LORD: The late seizures of the vessels of the United States by His Majesty's cruisers is so important an event as to make it my duty to invite your Lordship's attention to it. My Government will naturally expect of me immediately the best information I can obtain of the nature and character of the measure, the extent to which it has been and will be carried, and of the policy which dictates it. Being in a state of profound peace with His Britannic Majesty and his dominions, conscious of having cherished that relation, and performed all its duties with the most perfect good faith, it will be surprised at a measure which will be understood to breathe a contrary spirit. | From the view which I have of the subject I can only state, that many of our vessels have been brought in under orders that were equally unknown to the parties that were affected by them, and to the representative of the United States accredited with His Majesty; that the principles on which some of them have been condemned are

No. 4.
From Lord Mulgrave.

DOWNING STREET, August 9, 1805. SIR: I have just received the honor of your letter of yesterday's date, stating the existence of some measures relative to the vessels of the United States, of which you have cause to complain. As you have not mentioned either the nature or the period of the trasanction to which you allude, I am not enabled to give you a satisfactory answer; and I am not aware of any recent occurrence of so pressing a nature as to require an explanation previous to the day on which I shall have the honor of seeing you in the course of the next week. If you will inform me more particularly of the ground of complaint, I shall, without delay, give the subject every attention in my power. I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient, humble servant, MULGRAVE.

No. 5.
To Lord Mulgrave.

DOVER STREET, August 12, 1805. MY LORD: I have been honored with your Lordship's letter of the 9th instant, and shall willingly comply with your request in stating more fully the nature of the complaint to which I alluded in mine of the Sth, and the period within which it has occurred. By a report of the Consul of the United States for this port and district, of which I have the honor to enclose you a copy, it appears that, in the course of a few weeks past, about twenty American vessels have been seized in the Channel and North Sea, by His Majesty's ships of war and privateers, and brought into his ports for trial: the officers who seized them stated (according to the report of some of the masters) that they had acted by order, as is to be presumed, of the Government. As this proceeding was sudden, without notice, and without example in the conduct of the present war, as it has embraced a considerable number of vessels, and may be extended to many others, it was impossible for me to reconcile it with the friendly relations subsisting between the two Powers. It is, therefore, my

Relations with Great Britain.

duty to request of your Lordship such information respecting it, as I may transmit without deday to my Government. Of a measure so highly important to the rights and interests of the United States, no erroneous opinion should be formed, no

No. 6.

From Lord Mulgrave.

DOWNING STREET, August 12, 1805. Lord Mulgrave presents his compliments to Mr. Monroe, and will be very happy to see him at his office on Thursday next, at two o'clock.

No. 7.

To Lord Mulgrave.

DOVER STREET, August 12, 1805.

Mr. Monroe presents his compliments to Lord Mulgrave, and will do himself the honor to wait on him at his office on Thursday next, at two o'clock. He has the pleasure to send his Lordship a reply to his letter of the 9th instant.

incorrect idea entertained.

It is proper here to observe, that the decisions of the courts to which I alluded in mine of the 8th, the principles of which are considered by my Government as subversive of the established law of nations, were given in the case of the "Essex" a few weeks since, and in those of the "Enoch" and "Mars" on the 23d and 24th ultimo. These decisions impose restraints on the commerce of neutral nations with the enemies of Great Britain, which it is contended derive no sanction from that authority. The principle on which they are founded asserts a right in Great Britain to restrain neutral nations from any commerce with the colonies of an enemy in time of war which they do not enjoy in time of peace; or, in other words, denies, in respect to neutrals, the sovereignty of an enemy in time of war over its own colonies, which remain in other respects subject to its au thority, and governed by its laws. It cannot well be conceived how there should be a difference on principle, in the rights of neutral Powers, to a commerce between any two ports of an enemy, not regularly blockaded, and any other two of its ports: how it should be lawful to carry on such commerce from one port to another of the parent country, and not from its colonies to the parent country. As the Board of Commissioners under the seventh article of the Treaty of 1794, in revising the decisions of the British courts founded on the instructions of November 6, 1793, condemned this doctrine, there was just cause to expect that

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Madison. LONDON, August 20, 1805. SIR: I had an interview with Lord Mulgrave yesterday, on the late seizure of our vessels, which, less favorable result than I had anticipated from I am sorry to observe, presented the prospect of a the preceding one. He asserted the principle, in the fullest extent, that a neutral Power had no right to a commerce with the colonies of an enemy in time of war which it had not in time of peace, and every extension of it in a former

it would never have been revived. It is under-state, beyond the limit of the latter, was due to the concession of Great Britain, not to the right of the neutral Power. I denied the principle in equal extent, and insisted that Great Britain had no more right in war to interpose with or control the commerce of a neutral Power with the colonies of an enemy, than she had in peace. As we could not agree on the principle, I asked on what trade? His reply showed that it was not disfooting his Government was willing to place the

stood that no other Power admits it, and that it is also repugnant to the practice of Great Britain herself with respect to her own colonies in time of war. It is easy to show that the doctrine is of modern date even in England; that the decisions of her courts have not been uniform, and that those in the cases referred to have carried the pretension to an extent which, by assuming cognizance, if not jurisdiction, in the interior concerns of the United States, is utterly incompati-posed to relax in the slightest degree from the docble with the rights of sovereignty, and the self-trine of the late decrees of the Courts of Admirespect which, as an independent nation, they can roots the commerce of the United States in the ralty and Appeals, which go to cut up by the never lose sight of. I forbear, however, to enter further into this subject at present, in the expectation that I shall be honored with such information from your Lordship of the views of His Majesty's Government as will be satisfactory to that which I have the honor to represent. I have the honor to be, my Lord, &c. JAMES MONROE.

produce of the colonies of its enemies, other than for the home consumption of their citizens. I urged, in as strong terms as I could, the objecbut he showed no disposition to accommodate, so tions which occurred to me to this pretension. that we parted as remote from an accord as possibly could be. I asked Lord Mulgrave whether I should consider the sentiments which he expressed as those of his Government? He said he had in the commencement expressed a desire that our conversations should be considered rather as informal than official, as entered into more in the hope of producing an accord than in the expectation that we should ultimately disagree; that he was sorry to find that we could not agree;

No 8.
To Lord Mulgrave.

DOVER STREET, August 16, 1805. Mr. Monroe presents his compliments to Lord Mulgrave, and has the honor to return his Lordship the papers which he was so good as to deliver him yesterday. Mr. Monroe is sorry to find that those documents furnish no satisfactory explanation on the real ground of complaint on the part of the United States, as stated in his letter of the 12th; he will, therefore, be happy to see Lord Mulgrave again on the subject, as soon as it may be convenient for his Lordship to receive him.

Relations with Great Britain.

that, however, he should report the result to the Cabinet, and give me such an answer to my letters for my Government, of the views of his own, as it might wish to be taken of its conduct and policy in this business. I do not state the arguments that were used in the conference on each side, because those of Lord Mulgrave will probably be furnished by himself, and you will readily conceive those to which I resorted. What the ultimate decision of his Government may be, I cannot pretend to say. It is possible that he held the tone mentioned above, in the late conference, to see whether I could be prevailed on to accommodate with his views. It is difficult to believe that it will yield no accommodation on its part to our just claims, in the present state of public affairs.

In my former interview with Lord Mulgrave, he said that I should find, by the reports which he gave me, that most of the vessels had been dismissed; and it appeared by the reports that some of them had been, one or two on the opinion of Dr. Lawrence, counsel for the captured, which had been taken in the absence of the King's proctor. I returned to him the reports, to obtain copies for General Lyman has informed me that others have been since dismissed, and, as he thought, some that had been seized on the new doctrine of continuity of voyage, though nothing to countenance such an expectation escaped Lord Mulgrave in the last conference.


It is decided, on consideration of all circumstances, that Mr. Bowdoin will repair to Paris, where he will probably remain until he receives the orders of the President, and that Mr. Erving will proceed immediately to Madrid, to relieve Mr. Pinckney. Mr. Bowdoin, by being on that ground, will be more in the way of obeying such orders as he may receive, than here; and both he and Mr. Erving, respectively, may perhaps take their ground with greater propriety in this stage, while it is known that our Government has not acted, than afterwards.

I am, sir, with great respect and esteem, your very obedient servant,


No. 34.

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Madison.

was promised, but which has not yet been given. A few days before Mr. Erving left this for the continent, I requested him to ask Mr. Hammond when I should be favored with one. I send you a note of the conversation between them. Having waited some time longer, I thought it my duty to press the point again, and, in so doing, to expose as fully as I could the fallacy and injustice of the principle on which Great Britain asserts the right to interdict our commerce with the colonies of her enemies, and elsewhere in the productions of those colonies. I do not know that I shall be able to obtain an answer to this or the other letters. The presumption is against it, because she does not wish to tie up her hands from doing what her interest may dictate, in case the new combination with Russia and Austria should be successful against France. In the mean time she seeks to tranquillize us by dismissing our vessels in every case that she possibly can. It is evident to those who attend the trials, that the tone of the judge has become more moderate; that he acquits whenever he can acquit our vessels, and, keeping within the precedent of the Essex, seizes every fact that the papers or other evidence furnish, in the cases which occur, to bring them within that limit. If anything can be done in our affairs, it may be in a week or ten days; and if not done in that time, it most probably will not be during the present winter. I shall do everything in my power to bring them to a satisfactory conclusion.

I am, sir, with great respect and esteem, your very obedient servant

No. 35.

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Madison.

LONDON, September 25, 1805. SIR: I have already forwarded you copies of two letters to Lord Mulgrave, respecting the late seizure of American vessels, and you will receive with this a copy of a third one. His Lordship has endeavored to manage this business without writing from a desire, which has been very apparent, to get rid of it without any compromitment. With that view he gave me, in an early interview, a report of the King's advocate general and proctor on my first letter, which had been referred to them, which gave some explanation on the sub-that the President expected that this Government ject, which he might suppose would be satisfac- would make such an example of the officers who tory. I soon, however, assured him that it was had most signalized themselves by their misconnot, and pressed an answer to my letters, which | duct, as would serve as a warning to the com

LONDON, October 18, 1805. SIR: I sent you lately, by Colonel Mercer, my note to Lord Mulgrave of the 23d ultimo, relative to the late seizures of our vessels, in which I thought proper to advert, at the conclusion, to the other topics that were depending when I left this country for Spain. I endeavored to touch those topics, especially the insults in our ports and impressment of our seamen, in a manner to show a due sensibility to such outrages, and, if possible, to conciliate this Government to concur in a suitable arrangement to prevent the like in future. It seemed to be improper, and it was certainly useless, to touch them without expressing the sense which the President entertained of the injury and indignity to which the United States had thereby been exposed. The acts were of a nature to require it, and the conduct of this Government since had increased the obligation to do it. It appeared, also, by your letters, which were received by Mr. Purviance in my absence,

JAMES MONROE. P. S. I enclose you a copy of my letter to General Armstrong, by Mr. Erving.

Relations with Great Britain.

manders of other vessels who may hereafter seek menced, began to assume a serious aspect. It beshelter or hospitality in our ports. This had not came my duty, in my first letter to Lord Mulgrave, been done. On the contrary, I was informed by to notice them, and they soon claimed the princithe best authority, that Captain Bradley, of the pal attention. On the 10th, however, I thought Cambrian, whose conduct had been most offen-myself perfectly at liberty to give notice of my sive, had been promoted, immediately on his return, intention to depart. in a guarded manner. I had to the command of a ship-of-the-line. By that already said everything, in my several communimeasure, which prejudged the case, this Govern- cations on the subjects that were depending, that ment seemed to have adopted those acts of its I intended to say, unless it should be made necesofficers as its own, and even to announce to all sary to add more by a reply to them; I had also others that the commission of like aggressions waited in vain a sufficient time for a reply; I within our jurisdiction would pave the way to could not depart without giving timely notice of their preferment. It is said, it is true, that the it, especially after the late correspondence; and translation of an officer from a frigate to a ship-of-the the-line is not considered in all cases a promotion, or, more correctly speaking, is not such a one as is solicited by the officers of the navy. The command of a frigate on a separate station, especially one which affords an opportunity to make prizes, is often preferred by them to that of a ship-of-theline in a fleet, and may perhaps be deemed a more important trust by the Government. Ostensibly, however, and in effect, it is a promotion; the least, therefore, that could be said of the disposition which this Government has shown respecting the misconduct of that officer, was, that if it had not been the cause, it certainly formed no obstacle to his. Under such circumstances, it seemed to be impossible to separate the officer from the Government in these outrages, and quite useless to demand the censure of him. I thought it, therefore, most advisable in the present stage, at least, to treat the affair in a general way, rather than in reference to a particular occurrence; and in looking to the offensive object, and paying any I have no doubt that the seizure of our vessels regard to what was due to the United States, the was a deliberate act of this Government. I do manner was as conciliating as I could make it. not know that the measure was regularly subHaving waited near three weeks after my let-mitted to and decided in the Cabinet, but I am ter of the 23d ultimo to Lord Mulgrave, without satisfied that that department of it, having cog hearing from him, I wrote him on the 10th in- nizance of and control over the business, dictated stant, and stated that, by the permission of the the measure. The circumstances attending the President, I proposed to sail to the United States transaction justify this opinion. Before the cothis autumn, and, as the favorable season was far alition with Russia and Sweden, the commerce advanced, wished to depart with the least possible was free. The blow was given when that coalidelay; that I should be happy to see the interest-tion was formed. Great Britain has shown much ing concerns depending between our Governments political management in the whole of this affair. satisfactorily arranged before I sailed; that I had By the emendatory article of her treaty with been, and should continue to be, prepared to enter Russia, in 1801, the latter abandons the right to on them while I remained in England; and that the direct trade between the colonies of an enemy the time of my departure would be made subser- and the parent country, and agrees to rest on the vient to that very important object. To this note ground which the United States may hold in that I received, some days afterwards, a short answer, respect. It is to be presumed that she declined which promised as early a reply to my commu- the seizure before the coalition was formed with nication as the additional matter contained in the Northern Powers, lest it might alarm them and that of the 23d ultimo would permit. Having endanger the coalition; and that she made the taken the liberty to inform you from Madrid that seizure afterwards, on the idea, that, as they were I should sail for the United States soon after my embarked in the war with her, they would bearrival here, it was my intention, after making a come indifferent to the object, and leave her free fair experiment to arrange the concerns of this to push her pretensions against us. The manner Government, to have departed forthwith, be the in which the pressure is made, being through the success of it what it might. I considered myself Admiralty Court, on a pretext that the trade is as having the permission of the President to re- direct, although the articles were landed in our turn home after such an experiment, and was ports and the duties paid on them, is equally a very much my wish, and that of my family, to proof of management on her part. It was obviavail ourselves of it. But, unfortunately, at that ously intended to urge, (indeed Lord Mulgrave in period, the seizures, which had just before com- our first interview began by urging,) that there

season was so far advanced, that, if I withheld it longer, I should be exposed to a winter passage, or compelled to remain until the spring. It was on these considerations that I wrote the above mentioned note to Lord Mulgrave, in the hope of promoting, without longer delay, a satis factory arrangement of the points alluded to. But so vague is his answer, that it is quite out of my power to determine at this time whether it will be proper for me to sail or not in the course of the present season. Indeed, there is but one vessel now in port, destined to the United States, in which I should wish to embark with my family at so late a period. She will be commanded by Captain Tompkins, for Norfolk, who, I understand, proposes to set out in the beginning of next month. By that time I shall probably see more fully into the ultimate intentions and policy of this Government towards the United States; and I think I may venture to say, that, if I sail during the present autumn, it will be in that vessel.

Relations with Great Britain.

and increasing prosperity, and I am satisfied that nothing which is likely to succeed will be left untried to impair it. That this sentiment has taken a deep hold of the public councils here was sufficiently proved by the late seizures, being at a time when the state of our affairs with Spain menaced a rupture, from which Great Britain could not fail to derive the most solid advantages. It was natural to expect, especially when we advert to the then critical situation of this country, that the Government would have seized the oppor

had been no new measure, that the Government had not acted in the business, while the court, by considering every species of that commerce direct, and every accommodation on the part of our citizens with previous regulations fraudulent and evasive, should push the pretensions of the Government to such an extent as to annihilate it altogether. Lord Mulgrave insisted in express terms, in the second interview, that we ought not to carry it on at all with the parent country; that the importation into our country ought to be confined strictly to supplies necessary for home consump-tunity to promote that object, by a more just and tion. I am equally confident that if Great Bri- enlightened policy. The part, however, which it tain should succeed in establishing her pretensions acted was calculated, so far as depended on it, to against us, she would avail herself hereafter of prevent one. It proves satisfactorily that no event the example with the Northern Powers. It is, is deemed more unfavorable to Great Britain than therefore, a question of great importance to them the growing importance of the United States, and also. that it is a primary object of her Government to check, if not to crush it. It is possible that this Government may be influenced in its conduct by a belief that the United States will not revive the treaty of 1794, unless they be driven to it by such means. It may also be attributable to policy still more unfriendly. There is cause to believe that many prejudices are still fostered here in certain circles at least, which the experience of multiplied and striking facts ought long since to have swept away. Among these it is proper to mention an opinion, which many do not hesitate to avow, that the United States are, by the nature of their Government, being popular, incapable of any great, vigorous, or persevering exertion: that they cannot, for example, resist a system of commercial hostility from this country, but must yield to the pressure. It is useless to mention other prejudices still more idle, which had influence on past measures and certainly still exist with many of great consideration. With such a view of their interest, of the means of promoting it, and the confidence which is entertained of success, it cannot be doubted that it is their intention to push their fortune in every practicable line at our expense. The late seizure is probably an experiment on this principle of what the United States will bear, and the delay which is observed in answering my letters, only an expedient to give the Government time to see its effect. If it succeeds they will, I presume, pursue the advantage gained to the greatest extent, in all the relations subsisting between the two countries, more especially in the impressment of our seamen, the prostration and pillage of our commerce through the war, and in the more elevated tone of the Government in a future negotiation. If it fails, I am equally confident that their whole system of conduct towards the United States will change, and that it would then be easy to adjust our affairs with this country, and place them on an equal and a reciprocally advantageous footing. Perhaps no time was ever more favorable for resisting these unjust encroachments than the present one. The conduct of our Government is universally known to have been just, friendly, and conciliating towards Great Britain, while the attack by her Government on the United States is as universally known to be unjust, wanton, and unpro

With respect to our other concerns with Great Britain, I am sorry to say that I do not see any prospect of arranging them on just and reasonable terms at the present time. No disposition has been shown to prescribe, by treaty, any restraint on the impressment of our seamen whenever the Government may be disposed, or even when any of its officers in the West Indies or elsewhere may think fit. On the subject of boundary nothing has been lately said, nor does there appear to be any inclination to enter on it. I have also reason to think that this Government is equally disposed to postpone an arrangement of our commerce in general, by treaty, for any number of years. On this point, however, I cannot speak with so much confidence as on the others, having never made any proposition that was calculated to obtain an explicit declaration of its sentiments. The conversations which I had with Lords Hawkesbury and Harrowby before I went to Spain, on the other subjects, naturally brought this into view; but being incidentally, it was only slightly touched. The proposition which was made by the latter, to consider the treaty of 1794 in force, was a temporary expedient, not a permanent regulation. From that circumstance, and the manner in which they spoke of that treaty, I concluded that their Government would be willing to revive it for an equal term. It might, however. have been made only to obtain delay. You will observe that in my note of the 23d ultimo I have taken the liberty to mention the subject in a manner to show that it is not one to which the United States are indifferent, or which the President wishes to postpone. Although I have no power to form a treaty of so comprehensive a nature, yet I thought I might with propriety open the subject, so far at least as to ascertain the views of this Government on it for your information.

On a review of the conduct of this Government towards the United States, from the commencement of the war, I am inclined to think that the delay which has been so studiously sought, in all these concerns, is the part of a system, and that it is intended, as circumstances favor, to subject our commerce at present and hereafter to every restraint in their power. It is certain that the greatest jealousy is entertained of our present

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