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Mr. Smith to Mr. Pinkney. Department of State, Nov. 11,


SIR,-From the enclosed copy of a letter from M. Champagny to general Armstrong, it appears that the French government has taken a ground in relation to the British violation of our neutral rights, not the same with that heretofore taken, and which it is proper you should be acquainted with. You will observe that the terms stating the condition on which the Berlin decree will be revoked are not free from obscurity. They admit the construction, however, that if Great Britain will annul her illegal blockades as distinct from her orders in council, such as the blockade from the Elbe to Brest, &c. prior to the Berlin decree, and perhaps of subsequent date, but still distinct from her orders in council, that France will put an end to her Berlin decree, or at least the illegal part of it. Whilst therefore it becomes important to take proper steps, as will be done, through general Armstrong, to ascertain the real and precise meaning of M. Champagny's letter, it is important also that your interposition should be used to ascertain the actual state of the British blockades, distinct from the orders in council, whether merely on paper or otherwise illegal, and whether prior or subsequent to the Berlin decree, and to feel the pulse of the British government on the propriety of putting them out of the way, in order to give force to our call on France to prepare the way for a repeal of the orders in council, by her repeal of that decree.

In the execution of this task, I rely on the judgment and delicacy by which I am persuaded you will be guided, and on your keeping in mind the desire of this government to entangle itself as little as possible in the question of priority in the violation of our neutral rights, and to commit itself as little as possible to either belligerent as to the course to be taken with the other.

If it should be found that no illegal blockades are now in force, and so declared by Great Britain, or that the British government is ready to revoke and withdraw all such as may not be consistent with the definition of block



ade in the Russian treaty of June, 1801, it will be desirable that you lose no time in giving the information to general Armstrong, and whatever may be the result of your inquiries, that you hasten a communication of it to me.

Writing on short notice of the present conveyance, I have only to add the assurance of my esteem and great consideration, &c.



Extract of a Letter from General Armstrong to the Secretary of State. Paris, January 28, 1810.

"IN conformity to the suggestions contained in your letter of the first of December, 1809, I inquired whether, if Great Britain revoked her blockades of a date anterior to the decree, commonly called the Berlin decree, his majesty the emperor would consent to revoke the said decree? To which the minister answered, that "the only condition required for the revocation, by his majesty, of the decree of Berlin, will be a previous revocation by the British government of her blockade of France, or part of France, [such as that from the Elbe to Brest, &c.] of a date anterior to that of the aforesaid decree; and that if the British government would then recall the orders in council which had occasioned the decree of Milan, that decree should also be annulled."


Extract of a Letter from Mr. Pinkney to the Secretary of State. London, February 28, 1810.

"I HAVE received from general Armstrong, a letter, of which a copy is enclosed; and have, in consequence, made a written inquiry of lord Wellesley (with whom I had before communicated personally on the subject,) as to the existence of the blockades to which it alludes. I am not without hopes that the reply to my inquiry will amount to a declaration (satisfying in substance the condition mentioned in general Armstrong's letter) that these blockades are not in force and if it should, I will send immediate notice to

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general Armstrong. I have prepared an official letter to you on this head, which, with such additions as circumstances may enable me to make to it, will be sent by the corvette," [the John Adams.]


Copy of a Letter from General Armstrong to Mr. Pinkney. Paris, January 25, 1810.

SIR,-A letter from Mr. Secretary Smith, of the 1st of December last, made it my duty to enquire of his excellency the duke of Cadore, what were the conditions on which his majesty the emperor would annul his decree, commonly called the Berlin decree, and whether, if Great Britain revoked her blockades of a date anterior to that decree, his majesty would consent to revoke the said decree? To these questions I have this day received the following answer, which I hasten to convey to you by a special messenger.


"THE only condition required for the revocation, by his majesty the emperor, of the decree of Berlin, will be the previous revocation by the British government of her blockades of France, or part of France [such as that from the Elbe to Brest, &c.] of a date anterior to that of the aforesaid decree."

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THE embarrassments which have prevailed in our foreign relations, and so much employed the deliberations of Con

gress, make it a primary duty, in meeting you, to communicate whatever may have occurred, in that branch of our national affairs.

The act of the last session of Congress, "concerning the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France, and their dependencies," having invited, in a new form, a termination of their edicts against our neutral commerce, copies of the act were immediately forwarded to our ministers at London and Paris, with a view that its object might be within the early attention of the French and British governments.

By the communication received through our minister at Paris, it appeared, that a knowledge of the act by the French government, was followed by a declaration that the Berlin and Milan decrees were revoked, and would cease to have effect on the first day of November ensuing. These being the only known edicts of France, within the description of the act, and the revocation of them being such that they ceased, at that date, to violate our neutral commerce, the fact, as prescribed by law, was announced by a proclamation bearing date the second day of November.

It would have well accorded with the conciliatory views, indicated by this proceeding, on the part of France, to have extended them to all the grounds of just complaint, which now remain unadjusted with the United States. It was particularly anticipated that as a further evidence of just dispositions towards them, restoration would have been immediately made of the property of our citizens seized under a misapplication of the principle of reprisals, combined with a misconstruction of a law of the United States. This expectation has not been fulfilled.

From the British government no communication on the subject of the act has been received. To a communication from our minister at London of the revocation, by the French government, of its Berlin and Milan decrees, it was answered that the British system would be relinquished as soon as the repeal of the French decrees should have actually taken effect, and the commerce of neutral nations have been restored to the condition in which it stood, previously to the promulgation of those decrees. This pledge, although it does not necessarily import, does not exclude the intention of relinquishing, along with the orders in council, the practice of those novel blockades which have

a like effect of interrupting our neutral commerce. And this further justice to the United States is the rather to be looked for, inasmuch as the blockades in question, being not more contrary to the established law of nations, than 'inconsistent with the rules of blockade formally recognised by Great Britain herself, could have no alleged basis, other than the plea of retaliation, alleged as the basis of the orders in council. Under the modification of the original orders of November, 1807, into the orders of April, 1809, there is indeed scarcely a nominal distinction between the orders and the blockades. One of those illegitimate blockades, bearing date in May, 1806, having been expressly avowed to be still unrescinded, and to be, in effect, comprehended in the orders in council, was too distinctly brought within the purview of the act of Congress, not to be comprehended in the explanation of the requisites to a compliance with it. The British government was accordingly apprized by our minister near it, that such was the light in which the subject was to be regarded.

On the other important subjects depending between the United States and that government, no progress has been made, from which an early and satisfactory result can be relied on.

In this new posture of our relations with those powers, the consideration of Congress will be properly turned to a removal of doubts which may occur in the exposition, and of difficulties in the execution of the act above cited.

The commerce of the United States, with the north of Europe, heretofore much vexed by licentious cruisers, particularly under the Danish flag, has latterly been visited with fresh and extensive depredations. The measures pursued in behalf of our injured citizens not having obtained justice for them, a further and more formal interposition with the Danish government is contemplated. The principles which have been maintained by that government in relation to neutral commerce, and the friendly professions of his Danish majesty towards the United States, are valuable pledges in favour of a successful issue.

Among the events growing out of the state of the Spanish monarchy, our attention was imperiously attracted to the

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