Slike strani
PDF
ePub

raised on the consumers by the circuit of the voyage and the charges incident to the port regulations ? This cannot be presumed. With respect to the enemies of Great Britain, the object would be unimportant. With respect to her neutral friends, it would not be a legitimate object. Must not the answer then be sought in the mere policy of lessening the competition with, and thereby favouring the price of British and other colonial productions re-exported by British merchants from British ports; and sought consequently not in a belligerent right, or even in a policy merely belligerent, but in one which has no origin or plea but those of commercial jealousy and monopoly.

Blockades. On this subject, it is fortunate that Great Britain has already, in a formal communication, admitted the principle for which we contend. It will be only necessary, therefore, to hold her to the true sense of her own act. The words of the communication are, “ that vessels must be warned not to enter.” The term warn, technically imports a distinction between an individual notice to ves. sels, and a general notice by proclamation, or diplomatic communication ; and the terms not to enter, equally distinguishes a notice at or very near the blockaded port, from a notice directed against the original destination or the apparent intention of a vessel, nowise approaching such a port.

Marginal Jurisdiction on the Iligh Seas. There could surely be no pretext for allowing less than a marine league from the shore, that being the narrowest allowance found in any authorities on the law of nations. If any nation can fairly claim a greater extent, the United States have pleas which cannoi

' be rejected; and if any nation is more particularly bound by its own example not to contest our claim, Great Britain must be so by the extent of her own claims to jurisdiction on the seas which surround her. It is hoped, at least, that within the extent of one league you will be able to obtain an effcctual prohi

bition of British ships of war from repeating the irregularities which have so much vexed our commerce, and provoked the publick resentment; and against which an article in your instructions emphatically provides. It cannot be too carnestly pressed on the British government, that in applying the remedy copied from regulations here. tofore enforced against a violation of the neutral rights of British harbours and coasts, nothing more will be done than what is essential to the preservation of harmony be. tween the two nations. In no case is the temptation or the facility greater to ships of war for annoying our commerce, than in their hovering on our coasts and about our harbours; nor is the national sensibility in any case more justly or more highly excited, than by such insults. The communications lately made to Mr. Monroe, with respect to the conduct of British commanders, even within our own waters, will strengthen the claim for such an arrangement on this subject, and for such new orders from the British government, as will be a satisfactory security against future causes of complaint.

East and West India Trades. If the West India trade cannot be put on some such footing as is authorized by your instructions, it will be evidently best to leave it as it is; and of course, with a freedom to either party to make such regulations as may be justified by those of the other.

With respect to the East India trade, you will find a very useful light thrown on it in the remarks of

of which several copies were forwarded in October. They will confirm to you the impolicy, as explained in your instructions, of putting the trade under the regulations admitted into the treaty of 1794. The general footing of other nations, in peace with Great Britain, will be clearly more advantageous; and on this footing it will be well to leave or place it, if no peculiar advantages, of which there are intimations in

remarks, can be obtained.

Indemnifications. The justice of these ought to be admitted by Great Britain, whenever the claim is founded on violations of our rights, as they may be recognised in any new arrangement or understanding between the parties. But in cases, of which there are many examples, where the claim is supported by principles which she never contested, the British government ought to have too much respect for its professions and its reputation, to hesitate at concurring in a provision analogous to that heretofore adopted.

It is not satisfactory to allege that in all such cases redress may be attained in the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. If this were true, there would be sound policy, as well as true equity and economy, in transferring the complaints from partial tribunals, occupied with a great mass of other cases, to a joint tribunal, exclusively charged with this special trust. But it is not true that redress is attainable in the ordinary course of justice, and under the actual constitution and rules of the tribunals which administer it in cases of captures. Of this the facts within your knowledge, and particularly some which have been lately transmitted to Mr. Monroe, are ample and striking proofs; and will doubtless derive, from the manner of your presenting them, all the force with which they can appeal to the sentiments and principles, which ought to guide the policy of an enlightened nation. I have the honour to be, &c.

JAMES MADISON.

From Mr. Madison to Messrs. Monroe and Pinkney. De

partment of State, March 18, 1807. GENTLEMEN,--Your despatch of January 3, with the treaty, signed December 31, with the British commissioners, were safely delivered on the 15th irist. Your letter of December 27, notifying the approach of that event, had been previously received in time to be included in a communication of the President to Congress, then in session. A copy of the instrument in its actual form, with the declaration of the British commissioners on sign

[ocr errors]

ing it, was received by Mr. Erskine on the day of the adjournment of Congress, and communicated by him to the Executive. ,

The observations relating to the whole subject, as it is now presented, with such instructions in detail as will explain the views of the President, will be prepared with as little delay as possible, and transmitted by Mr. Purviance, who holds himself in readiness to be the bearer.

For the present I am charged by the President to refer you to my letter of Feb. 3, and to signify his desire that ihe negotiation may proceed in the form therein stated, but without being brought to an absolute conclusion until further instructions shall arrive.

You will conform also to the views of the President in forbearing to enter into any conventional arrangements with the British government, which shall embrace a trade or intercourse of its subjects with the Indian tribes within any part of the territories westward of the Mississippi under the authority of the United States. Considerations derived from a recent knowledge of the state, and of the aboriginal inhabitants of that extensive region, irresistibly oppose the admission of foreign traders into it.

I have only to add, that a proclamation will immediately issue, suspending the non-importation measure until the next session of Congress. This will be a sufficient evidence to the British government of the conciliatory sentiments of the President, and of his sincere desire that no circumstance whatever may obstruct the prosecution of experiments for putting an end to differences, which ought no longer to exist between two nations having so many motives to establish and cherish a mutual friendship. I have the honour to be, &c.

JAMES MADISON.

From Mr. Madison to Messrs. Monroe and Pinkney. De

partment of State, May 20, 1807. GentLEMEN,—My letter of March 18 acknowledged the receipt of your despatches, and of the treaty signed on the 31st of December, of which Mr. Purviance was the bearer, and signified, that the sentiments and views of the President, formed on the actual posture of our affairs with Great Britain, would without any useless delay be communiVOL. VI.

34

cated. The subject is accordingly resumed in this despatch, with which Mr. Purviance will be charged. To render his passage the more sure and convenient, he takes it in the sloop of war Wasp, which will convey him to a British port, on her way to the Mediterranean. She will touch also at a French port, probably L'Orient, with despatches for general Armstrong and Mr. Bowdoin, and will afford a good opportunity for any communications you may have occasion to make to those gentlemen.

The President has seen in your exertions to accomplish the great objects of your instructions, ample proofs of that zeal and patriotism in which he confided; and feels deep regret that your success has not corresponded with the reasonableness of your propositions, and the ability with which they were supported. He laments more especially that the British government has not yielded to the just and cogent considerations which forbid the practice of its cruisers in visiting and impressing the crews of our vessels, covered by an independent flag, and guarded by the laws of the high seas, which ought to be sacred with all nations.

The President continues to regard this subject in the light in which it has been pressed on the justice and friendship of Great Britain. He cannot reconcile it with his duty to our sca-faring citizens, or with the sensibility or sovereignty of the nation, to recognise even constructively a principle, that would expose on the high seas their liberty, their lives, every thing, in a word, that is dearest to the human heart, to the capricious or interested sentences, which may be pronounced against their allegiance by officers of a foreign government, whom neither the law of nations, nor even the laws of that government, will allow to decide on the ownership or character of the minutest article of property found in a like situation.

It has a great and necessary weight also with the Presi. dent, that the views of Congress, as manifested during the session which passed the non-importation act, as well as the primary rank held by the object of securing American crews against British impressment, among the objects which suggested the solemnity of an extraordinary mission, are opposed to any conventional arrangement, which, without effectually providing for that object, would disarm the United States of the means deemed most eligible as an eventual remedy.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »