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Message du Président du 3 Avril 1798, par lequel il communique confidentiellement au Congrès les Pièces qu'avait demandées la Chambre des Représentans. Message of the President of the United States, to both
Houses of Congress.
Gentlemen of the House of Representatives, In compliance with the request of the House of Representatives, expressed in their resolution of the second of this month, I transmit to both Houses, those instructions to and dispatches from, the Envoys Extraordinary of the United States to the French Republic, which were mentioned in my message of the nineteenth of March last, omitting only some names, and a few expressions descriptive of the persons.
I request that they may be considered in confidence, until the members of Congress are fully possessed of their contents, and shall have had opportunity to deliberate on the consequences of their publication; after which time I submit them to your wisdom.
United States, April 3d, 1798.
Instructions des Ministres d'Amérique, en Date dit 15 Juillet, 1797. L'Etat de Neutralité des Etats-Unis ayani été la Cause et le Prétexte des Ojenses et des Verations, dont le Gouvernement Fédéral se plaint d'avoir été eccablé pur la France, les Ministres Américains sont chargés de demander le Redressement de ces Griefs, surtout par Rapport aux Déprédations et autres Torts, autquels a été exposé le Commerce américain de la part de la France.- Notice des principaux Points, qui ont besoin d'étre changes ou revus dans le Traité de Commerce, et dans les autres Traités fuits avec la France; l' Attention des Ministres est dirigée principalement sur la Garantie réciproque donnée dans le Traité d'Alliance et à laquelle le Gouvernement Fédéral voudrait qu'on renonçat entièrement de Part et d'uutre, si non, que l'on en modifiât les Stipulations d'une manière plus précise. -Révision des Articles du Traité de Commerce, auxquels il serait lon de fuire des Changemens ;--Condute que les Ministres Plénipotentiaires auront à tenir relativement au Renouvellement de la Convention consulaire ;-Sur l'Intervalle qui doit se trouver dans la Sortie des Ports d'Amérique des l'aisseaux de Guerre des différentes Nations belligéran. tes ;-Sur la Ligne juridictionnelle dans les Eaux de l'Amérique.-Principes généraux que les Ministres auront à suivre dans la Négociation. Il leur est recommandé surtout, d'étre fermes et modérés dans leur Lanlage, pour oltenir le principal B'rt du Gouvernement Fédéral, la Conservation de la Pair avec la France.
Instructions to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Mara
shall, and Elbridge Gerry, Esquires, Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary, from the United States of America to the French Republic.
GENTLEMEN, It is known to you, that the people of the United States of America entertained a warm and sincere affection for the people of France, ever since their arms were united in the war with Great Britain, which ended in the full and formal acknowledgment of the independence of
these States. It is known to you, that this affection was ardent, when the French determined to reform their government and establish it on the basis of liberty ; that liberty in which the people of the United States were born, and which in ihe conclusion of the war above mentioned was finally and firmly secured. It is known to you, that this affection rose to enthusiasm, when the war was kindled between France and the powers of Europe, which were combined against her for the avowed purpose of restoring the monarchy; and every where vows were heard for the success of the french arms. Yet during this period France expressed no wish that the United States should depart from their neutrality. And while no duty required us to enter into the war, and our best interests urged us to remain at peace, the government determined to take a neutral station : which being taken, the duties of an impartial neutrality became indispensably binding. Hence the goernment early proclaimed to our citizens the nature of those duties and the consequences of their violation.
The minister of France, Mr. Genet, who arrived about this time, by his public declarations, confirmed the idea, that France did not desire us to quit the ground we had taken. His measures however were calculated to destroy our neutrality and to draw us into the war.
The principles of the proclamation of neutrality, founded on the law of nations, which is the law of the land, were afterwards recognized by the national legislature, and observance of them enforced by specific penalties, in the act of congress passed the fifth of June 1794. By these principles and laws the acts of the executive and the decisions of the courts of the United States were regulated.
A government thus fair and upright in its principles and just and impartial in its conduct, might have confidently hoped to be secure against formal official censure : but the United States have not been so fortunate. The acts of their government, in its various branches, though pure in their principle and impartial in operation, and conformable to their indispensible rights of sovereignty, have been assigned as the cause of the offensive and injurious measures of the French Republic. For proofs of the former, all the acts of the government may be vouched ; while the aspersions so freely uttered by the french ministers, the refusal to hear the minister of the United States specially charged to enter on amicable discussions on all the topics of complaint, the decrees of the Executive Directory and of their agents, the depredations on our commerce and the violences against the persons of our citizens, are evidences of the latter. These injuries and depredations will constitute an important subjectof your discussions with the government of the French Republic ; and for all these wrongs you will seek redress.
In respect to the depredations on our commerce, the principal objects will be, to agree op an equitable mode of examining and deciding the claims of our citizens, and the manner and periods of making them compensation. As to the first, the seventh article of the british and the twenty first of the spanish treaty present approved precedents to be adopted with France. The proposed mode of adjusting those claims, by commissioners appointed on each side, is so perfectly fair, we cannot imagine that it will be refused. But when the claims are adjusted, if payment in specie cannot be obtained, it may be found necessary to agree, in behalf of our citizens, that they shall accept public securities, payable with interest at such periods as the state of the french fnances shall render practicable.
These periods you will endeavour as far as possible to shorten.
Not only the recent depredations, under colour of the decrees of the Directory of the second of July 1796 and the second of March 1797, or under the decrees of their agents, or the illegal sentences of their tribunals, but all prior ones, not already satisfactorily adjusted, should be put in this equitable train of settlement. To cancel many or all of the last mentioned claims, might be the effect of the decree of the Executive Directory of the second of March last, reviving the decree of the gth of May 1793 : but this being an ex post facto, regulation, as well as a violation of the treaty between the United States and France, cannot be obligatory on the former. Indeed the greater part, probably nearly all the captures and confiscations in question, have been committed in direct violation of that treaty or of the law of nations. But the injuries arising from the capture of enemies property in vessels of the United States, may not be very extensive ; and if for such captured property the French Government will, agreeably to to the law of nations, pay the freight and reasonable demurrage, we shall not, on this account any farther contend. But of ship timber and naval stores taken and confiscated by the French, they ought to pay the full value ; because our citizens continued their trafic in those articles under the faith of the treaty with France. On these two points we ought to expect that the French Government will not refuse to do us justice : and the more, because it has not, at any period of the war, expressed its desire that the commercial treaty should in these respects be altered.
Besides the claims of our citizens for depredations on their property, there are many arising from express contracts made with the French Government or its agents, or founded on the seizure of their property in french ports. Other claims have arisen from the long detention of a multitude of our vessels in the ports of France. The wrong hereby done to our citizens was acknowledged by the French Government, and in some, perhaps in the most of the cases, small payments towards indemnifications have been made : the residue still remains to be claimed.'
All these just demands of our citizens will merit your attention. The best possible means of compensation must be attempted. These will depend on what you shall discover to be practicable in relation to the french finances. But an exception must be made in respect to debts due to our citizens by the contracts of the French Government and its agents, if they are comprehended in any stipulation, and an option reserved to them, jointly or individually, either to accept the means of payment which you shall stipulate, or to re