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And what reafon is affigned for denying to us the enjoyment of this right? Your own words furnish the anfwer: France, bound by treaty to the United States, could find only a real difadvantage in the articles of that treaty, which caufed to be refpected, as American property, English property found on board American veffels." This requifition, and the reafon affigned to fupport it, alike excite furprize. The American government, Sir, confcious of the purity of its intentions, of its impartial obfervance of the laws of neutrality, and of its inviolable regard to treaties, cannot for a moment admit, that it has forfeited the right to claim a reciprocal obfervance of ftipulations on the part of the French Republic, whofe friendship moreover it has every reafon to cultivate with the moft perfect fincerity. This right, formerly infringed by a decree of the National Convention, was recognized anew by the repeal of that decree. Why it fhould be again queftioned we are at a lofs to determine. We are ignorant. of any new restraints on our commerce by the British government; on the contrary, we poffefs recent official information, that no new orders have been iffited.

The captures made by the British of American veffels, having French property on board, are warranted by the law of nations. The force and operation of this law was contemplated by France and the United States, when they formed their treaty of commerce, and their special ftipulation on this point was meant as an exception to an univerfal rule; neither our weakness nor our ftrength have any choice, when the queftion concerns the obfervance of a known rule of the law of nations.

You are pleased to remark, that the conduct of Great Britain, in capturing veffels bound to and from French ports, had been the fubject of a note, which on the 29th of September, 1795, was addreffed to the fecretary of ftate, but which remained without an anfwer. Very fufficient reafons may be affigned for the omiffion. The fubject, in all its afpects, had been officially and publicly difcuffed, and the principles and ultimate measures of the United States, founded on their indifputable rights, were as publicly fixed. But if the fubject had not, by the previous difcuffions, been already exhaufted, can it be a matter of furprife that there fhould be a repugnance to answer a letter containing fuch infinuations as these?

"It must then be clear to every man, who will difcard prejudices, love, hatred, and, in a word, all the paffions which lead the judgment aftray, that the French Republic have a right to complain, if the American government fuffered the English to interrupt the commercial relations which exift between her and the United States; if by a perfidious condefcenfion it permitted the English to violate a right which it ought, for its own honour ant


intereft, to defend; if, under the cloak of neutrality, it prefented to England a poniard to cut the throat of its faithful ally; if, in fine, partaking in the tyrannical and homicidal rage of Great Britain, it concurred to plunge the people of France into the horrors of famine!" For the fake of preferving harmony, filence was preferred to a comment upon thefe infinuations.

You are alfo pleafed to refer to your letters of March and April laft, relative to impreffes of American feamen by Britifh fhips, and complain that the government of the United States had not made known to you the fieps they had taken to obtain fatisfaction. This, Sir, was a matter which concerned only that government. As an independent nation, we are not bound to render an account to any other of the measures we deemed proper for the protection of our own citizens; fo long as there was not the flighteft ground to fufpect that the government ever acquiefced in any aggreffion. But permit me to recur to the fubject of the decree of the Executive Directory.

As before obferved, we are officially informed that the British government have iffued no new orders for capturing the veffels of the United States. We are alfo officially informed, that on the appearance of the notification of that decree, the minifter of the United States at Paris applied for information, "Whether orders were iffued for the feizure of neutral veffels, and was informed, that no fuch order was iffued, and further, that no fuch order would be iffued, in cafe the British did not feize our veffels." This communication from the minifter of the United States, at Paris, to their minister at London, was dated the 28th of Auguft; but the decree of the Directory bears date, the 14th Meflidor, anfwering to the 2d of July. Thefe circumstances, together with fome obfervations in your note, leave the American government in a state of uncertainty of the real intentions of the government in France. Allow me then to afk, whether, in the actual state of things, our commerce is confidered as liable to fuffer any new reftrictions on the part of the French Republic? Whether the restraints now exercited by the British government are confidered as of a nature to justify a denial of thofe rights, which are pledged to us by our treaty with your nation? Whether orders have been actually given to the thips of war of the French Republic to capture the vefiels of the United States? And what, if they exift, are the precife terms of thofe orders?

The questions, Sir, you will fee, are highly interefting to the United States. It is with extreme concern that the government finds itself reduced to the neceffity of afking an explanation of this nature; and if it fhall be informed that a new line of conduct is to be adopted towards this country, on the ground of the decree referred to, its furprife will equal its regret, that principles fhould now be questioned, which, after repeated difcuffions, both here

and in France, have been demonftrated to be founded, as we conceive, in the obligations of impartial neutrality, of ftipulations by treaty, and of the law of nations. I hope, Sir, you will find it convenient, by an early anfwer, to remove the fufpenfe in which the government of the United States is now held on the question above stated.

I fhall clofe this letter by one remark on the fingularity of your caufing the publication of your note. As it concerned the United States, it was properly addreffed to its government, to which alone pertained the right of communicating it in fuch time and manner as it fhould think fit to the citizens of the United States. I am, Sir, with great refpect,

Your most obedient fervant,

United States, Philadelphia, Nov. 3.

Ta M. Adet, Minifter Plenipotentiary of the
French Republic.

Note from the Minister of the French Republic to the Secretary of State of the United Provinces.

THE underfigned minifter plenipotentiary of the French Re public now fulfils, to the fecretary of state of the United States, a painful but facred duty. He claims, in the name of American honour, in the name of the faith of treaties, the execution of that contract, which affured in the United States their existence, and which France regarded as the pledge of the most facred union between two people the freeft upon earth: in a word, he announces to the secretary of state the refolution of a government, terrible to its enemies, but generous to its allies.

It would have been pleafing to the undersigned minifter plenipotentiary to have only to exprefs, on the prefent occefion, the attachment which his government bears to the American people, the vows which it forms for their profperity, for their happiness. His heart, therefore, is grieved at the circumftances which impose upon him a different tafk. With regret he finds himself compelled to fubftitute the tone of reproach for the language of friendship. With regret alfo his government has ordered him to take that tone, but that very friendship has rendered it indifpenfible. Its obligations, facred to men, are as facred to governments; and if a friend, offended by a friend, can juftly complain, the government of the United States, after the underligned minifter plenipotentiary fhall have traced the catalogue of grievances of the French Republic, will not be furprised to fee The Executive Directory manifefting their too just difcontents.


When Europe rofe up against the Republic at its birth, menaced it with all the horrors of war and famine; when on every fide the French could not calculate upon any but enemies, their thoughts turned towards America: a fweet fentiment then mingled itfelf with thofe proud fentiments which the prefence of danger, and the defite of repelling it, produced in their hearts. In America they faw friends. Thofe who went to brave tempefts and death upon the ocean forgot all dangers, in order to indulge the hope of vifiting that American continent, where, for the first time, the French colours had been difplayed in favour of liberty. Under the guarantee of the law of nations, under the protecting thade of a folemn treaty, they expected to find in the ports of the United States an afylum as fure as at home: they thought, if I may ufe the expreffion, there to find a fecond country. The French government thought as they did. O hope, worthy of a faithful people, how haft thou been deceived! So far from offering to the French the fuccours which friendship might have given without compromifing it, the American government, in this refpect, violated the letter of treaties.

The 17th article of the treaty of amity and commerce of 1778 ftates, that French veffels of war, and thofe of the United States, as well as thofe which fhall have been armed for war, by individuals of the two ftates, may freely conduct, where they pleafe, the prizes they fhall have made upon their enemies, without being fubject to any Admiralty or other duty; without the faid weffels, on entering into the harbours of France, or of the United States, being liable to be arrested or feized, or the officers of thofe places taking cognizance of the validity of the faid prizes; which may depart and be conducted freely and in full liberty to the places expreffed in their commiffions, which the captains of the faid veffels fhall be obliged to fhew; and that, on the contrary, no fhelter or refuge fhall be given to thofe who thall have made prizes upon the French or Americans; and that, if they fhould be forced by ftrefs of weather or the danger of the fea to enter, they shall be made to depart as foon as poffible.

In contempt of thefe ftipulations, the French privateers have been arrested in the United States, as well as their prizes; the tribunals have taken cognizance of the validity or invalidity of thofe prizes. It were vain to feek to justify thofe proceedings under the pretext of the right of vindicating the compromifed neutrality of the United States. The facts about to be stated will prove that this pretext has been the fource of fhocking perfecutions against the French privateers, and that the conduct of the federal government has been but a feries of violations of the 17th article of the treaty of 1778.

On the 4th of Auguft, 1793, a circular letter of the fecretary of the treasury was fent to all the collectors of the customs. It


accompanied regulations adopted by the prefident, prohibiting all armaments in favour of the belligerent powers. These regula tions immediately acquired the force of law, and the agents of the government and the tribunals concurred in their execution. They gave them a retrospective effect, and caufed to be feized, in the ports of the United States, the armed veffels and prizes which had come in prior to that time. But even before thefe regulations, adopted by the prefident, had established any rule whatever upon the prohibition of armaments, the tribunals had already, by order of the government, affumed the cognizance of prizes made by French veffels. (No 1.) One of the predeceffors of the underfigned protefted against this, but in vain. The tribunals ftill continue their profecutions.

On the 3d of December, 1793, the prefident afked of Congrefs a law, confirming the meafures contained in the letter from the fecretary of the treafury above mentioned (No. 2.) This law was pailed the 5th of June, 1794. What was its refult? In confequence of this law the greater part of the French privateers have been arrefted, as well as their prizes, not upon formal depofitions, not upon established teftimony, not upon a neceffary body of proofs, but upon the fimple information of the conful of one of the powers at war with the French Republic; frequently upon that of failors of the enemy powers; fometimes according to the orders of governors, but often upon the demand of the district attornies, who affert, upon principles avowed by the government (No. 3), that their conviction was fufficient to authorize them, without complaint.or regular information, to cause the privateers to be profecuted in virtue of the law above-mentioned, (No. 4)..

When the minifters of the Republic have afked juftice of the government for the vexations experienced by the privateers, in contempt of the 17th article of the treaty, they have never been able to obtain fatisfaction.

Thus when, on the 9th Fructidor, third year (26th August, 1794), the predeceffor of the underfigned addreffed a complaint to the government on this fubject, the fecretary of state anfwered, on the 3d of September, 1794, by a phrafe indicative of delay.

Thus when the fame minifter, on the 27th Vendemiaire, 3d year (17th October, 1794), reminded the fecretary of state of the means he had propofed to him for putting an end to the measures adopted against the French privateers; when he caufed him to fee that this means, which confift in requiring fecurity from thofe who claimed the prizes as illegal, would prevent the enemies of the Republic from inftituting fo many fuits, of which they them felves perceived the injuftice; he obtained no other answer than that his propofition relative to fecurities was inadmiffible. VOL. V. M m


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