Slike strani
PDF
ePub

with all he had hitherto done, immediately applied to the supreme court of the United States, which was not more favourable to him, and confirmed the sentence of the circuit court. The government, notwithstanding the representations of the undersigned minifter plenipotentiary, took a decided part in the appeal, and gave it in charge to Mr. Lee, the attorney general, to argue, which he did with much eloquence, but with the success such a caufe merited.

Affair of the Cassius. In the month of Thermidor, of the 3d year (August 1795), the corvette Le Caflius, belonging to the Republic, commanded by Captain Davis, and sent by General Leveaux to the undersigned minister plenipotentiary on a particular mission, requiring her immediate return to St. Domingo, was seized in virtue of an order from the district court of the United States, for the state of Pennsylvania, and her captain was arrested at the suit of a merchant of Philadelplaia, to answer for å pretended illegal capture made in virtue of his commission, and out of the jurisdiction of the United States.

The undersigned minister plenipotentiary complained of this violation of the treaties and of the law of nations, and requested the government to cause, as soon as possible, the release of the corvette Le Caffius and her captain. He conceived himselffo much the morë grounded in this request, as he knew that a like intèrposition was not new in the annals of the United States ; as he knew that the executive power of the state of Pennsylvania had interposed in a fimilar case, and in the same manner, in favour of the state of Virginia, and as this measure, dictated by a profound knowledge of the law of nations, and of the reciprocal duties of nations, had been approved and ratified by the tribunals, organs of the law. *But Mr. Randolph, secretary of state of the United States, replied to the undersigned on the 15th of August, 1995—“ As long as the “ question is in the hands of our courts, the executive cannot withso draw it from them.”

The undersigned insisting, on the ist Fructidor, in the third year (18th August, 1795), expressed himself in these terms: “ I do “ not know, nor ought I to know, any other than the govern“ ment of the United States; I cannot under any shape admit the “ competency of your tribunals in the different circumstances “ which arise on the execution or inexecution of the treaties. If o these tribunals are the first to violate them, I can only address “ myself to the government for reparation of that violation ; other

Simon Nathan veiflus the Commonwealth of Virginia. Dallas's Reports, p. 77

" wise

I wise it would be to render the agents of the French goverment " the French government itself-amenable to these tribunals; “ which would be to reverse principles.” Informed that the Caffius and her captain might be liberated on giving security, the underligned requeited, by the fame letter, that the government of the United States would itself furnish this fecurity; and knowing that the supreme court of the United States, which was then in fellion, had the power in certain cases of arresting the proceedings of the inferior courts, on their signifying to them a prohibition, he suggested to the secretary to adopt this fure and prompt method to put an end to this vexatious procedure. Both these requests were refused. The captain of Le Cassius then addreffed himself 10 the supreme tribunal, requested the prohibition and obtained it. The district court was enjoined immediately to stop the proceedings which had been commenced, and to liberate Captain Davis and his vessel.

But at the very instant in which the marshall was desired to execute the order of the supreme court, he had already in posseflion a new order from another tribunal (the circuit court) enjoining him to arrest the vesse! anew, upon the charge of an English merchant and naturalised American, itating that this vestel had been formerly armed in the United States; and consequently requested that she should be confiscated, one moiety to himtelf, the other mciety to the

government. The undersigned being uninforıned whether this vessel had ever been armed in the ports of the United States, he was also assured that some individuals had only attempted to put on board arms and ammunition, and which they were prevented from doing at the time ; but he takes upon himn to affirın, that since this vessel has become the property of the French Republic, General Laveaux armed and equipped her wholly at St. Domingo; and that, on her arrival here, the had not a cannon or pound of powder which had not been put on board her in the territory of France. This new order was signed by one of the judges of the supreme court (in quality of circuit judge) who, having already ordered the prohibition in the first instance, must have known very well that this vessel was the property of the French Republic; and who must also have known that the circuit court was not competent to this proceeding; which the law and usage have constantly attributed to the district tribunals. But the district court then sat but once a year at Philadelphia ; its approaching yet distant feflion was to be at York Town, and the prosecutor had adopted this roundabout mode to take away every means from the French Republic of obtaining restitution of her vessels legally before the expiration of near a year. In the interval she was to rot at the quays of Philadelphia. This has taken place. The underligned, from a fpirit of conciliation, made an useless attempt with one of the

judges judges of the circuit court to obtain the liberation of the vessel, our giving security; the reply was that the judge could do nothing of himself; that the court when assembled could alone determine.

The undersigned minifter plenipotentiary made new representations to the secretary of state of the United States upon the fore. going facts. Mr. Pickering, then secretary of state, in his answer of ist August, 1795, repeats this phrase of Mr. Randolph. “ As " long as the question is in the hands of our courts, the executive “cannot withdraw it from them,” adding thereto this remarkable expression : “ and therefore is not chargeable with suffering a viola“ tion of the treaties existing between the two Republics." The undersigned complained that the new suit commenced against the Cassius had been carried to an incompetent tribunal, and in the same letter, of ist August, 1795, the secretary of state replied on this head to the underligned, “ the counsel who have told you that “ fuch is the law, have led you into an error," &c. maintaining the competency of the tribunal.

The underligned minister, in these circumstances, saw himself obliged to disarm the vessel, to discharge the crew, that during these transactions he had supported at great expense, and abandoned the Cassius to the government of the United States, protesta ing against the illegality of her arrest.

The undersigned minister is not acquainted with the details of what happened since that time relative to this affair ; he only knows that, in the month of October last, the circuit court declared itself incompetent, notwithstanding the affertion of the secretary of state, and quashed all the proceedings. In consequence the secretary offered him the Callius; as if, after having retained, in contempt of treaties, a state vessel, after having left her to rot in port, the government of the United States were not to answer, both for the violation of the treaties, and for the damages the Callius has suf. tained.

(No. 5). The secretary of state, by his public letter of the is of November last, in answer to the note of the underligned minister plenipotentiary of the 6th of Brumaire last, appears not to have understood either that note or the decree of the Executive Directory, of the 14th Meslidor, of the 4th year.

This decree does not simply contain the order for seizing Englith property on board of neutral vefsels, and of course on board of American vessels; it orders that the vessels of the Republic shall act towards neutrals in the same manner as neutrals thall suffer the English to treat them.

This decree consequently implies, not only the seizure of cnemies property on board of American velTels, against the principle free ships make free goods, a principle which the American government abandoned, after having recoghized it by acceding to the

declas

[ocr errors][merged small]

declaration of Russia in 1780; not only the seizure of articles classed as contraband in the treaty concluded between Lord Grenville and Mr. Jay, and declared innocent merchandizes by the treaty of 1778, but also reprisals for all vexations, contrary to the law of nations, and to the treaties, which the Americans shall endure on the part of the English, without an efficacious oppofition.

The secretary of state has been pleased to observe, that France and the United States, by a reciprocal treaty, had consecrated the principle, free ships make free goods, and diminished the list of articles sèizable as contraband. Upon this bafis he built reasoning which he might have spared, if he had been pleased to remember the 2d article of the treaty of 1778.

The secretary has also been pleased to reply, in part, to the note of the underligned minister plenipotentiary, dated 6th Brumaire, relative to the press exercised on the American failors, that the federal government were not to give an account to any nation of the measures it takes for the protection of its citizens ; if such an answer required a reply, the underligned minister plenipotentiary would request the secretary of state to observe, that the object of his note of the 6th Brumaire, and of his letters of the 9th and 19th Germinal last, which are there referred to, was not ai all to know the steps taken by the federal government, for the protection of its citizens, but the measures pursued by it for preventing its citizens from increasing the maritime forces of the enemies of the French Republic, its ally. It is evident that in this case the federal government should expect, and the French Republic would have a right to regard, its silence as a tacit consent to that measure, and a real hostility:

The undersigned minister plenipotentiary can no longer be fufpected of having demanded of the government of the United States explanations forcign to the relations which exist between that government and the French Republic, of having had the intention to wound the federal government, in his letter of the 7th Vendimiaire in the 4th year, since, after the passage cited by the secretary of state, is the following paragraph: “ But I ain convinced “ it will not be fo. The American government is too much at“ tached to the laws of an exact neutrality, it knows too well that “ the cause of free people is linked to that of France, to allow to “ be usurped by the English a right injurious to the interest of “ the Republic.

“ It is in this conviction that I have written you this letter, per“ suaded that it is perhaps superfluous to address to you these re. “ clamations. I do not doubt but the American government will “ prove to all Europe the intention it has of maintaining the most “exact neutrality with regard to the belligerent powers, that it Vol, V. PP

* will

“ will oblige England to violate no longer the rights of nations, " and that it will not henceforward reduce France to the pain of “ addressing new claims upon this subject.”

(No. 6.) In the General Advertiser, published at Philadelphia on the oth of June, 1796, may be seen the questions proposed by the President, on the 18th of April, 1793, to the heads of the de. partments. The undersigned minister plenipotentiary contents himself with giving here an extract.

Question 2. Shall a minister from the republic of France be received?

Question 3. If received, Mall it be absolutely, or with qualifications, and if with qualifications, of what kind ?

Question 4. Are the United States obliged, by good faith, to conlider the treaties heretofore made with France as applying to the present situation of the parties ; may they either renounce them or hold them suspended till the government of France shall be established

Question 12. Should the future regent of France send a minister to the United States, ought he to be received ?

(No. 7.) The French government, jealous of giving to the United States proofs of its attachment, had commenced negotiations with the regency of Algiers, in order to put an end to the war which that power was making on the commerce of the United States. The minister for foreign affairs, by a letter of the 5th of January, 1794, instructed the predecessor of the undersigned to communicate to the federal government the steps which the French government had taken in this respect. The predecessor of the undersigned in consequence wrote to the secretary of state, on the 16th Prairial, in the 2d year, the following letter-I have already had the pleafure, Şir, to inform you, verbally, of the interest which the committee of Public Safety of the National Convention had early taken in the truly unhappy situation of your commerce in the Mediterranean.

I now fulfil the duty imposed on me by the government, by call. ing to your recollection, in writing, the steps which are to be taken by our agent with the Dey of Algiers, for represling this new manoeuvre of the British administration, which has put the finishing Atroke to its proofs of malevolence towards free people. The difpatch of the minister communicating this measure to me, is dated ihe 5th of January, and did not come to my hands till fifteen days. ago; I do not yet know by what route : I could have wished it had been less tardy in coming to me, that I might fooner have fulfilled the agreeable talk of proving to you, by facts, the protestations of friendship, of which I have so often spoken in the name of the Republic of France.

The information which I shall receive from Europe in a little time will doubtless possess me of the success of those negotiations

« PrejšnjaNaprej »