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When on the 13th Floreal, 3d year, the fame minister expreffed himself in these terms, in a letter to the secretary of state: You have alledged, Sir, that the executive government of the United States cannot interfere in the affairs of which the tribunals have taken cognizance. In admitting this objection for all the bufinefs now in fuit, I do not the lefs think that your government could, by general measures, bring back the jurifdiction of the American tribunals, concerning prizes made by our veffels, within the limits prefcribed by our treaties, which make part of the fupreme law of the land: it might make known that the facility, with which your courts of Admiralty admit, without diftinction, all the chicanery which our enemies create against us in the prefent war, is evidently contrary to the spirit of the treaty." The government paid no attention to thefe reflections, and the anfwer of the fecretary of state merely notices the particular fact which had occafioned the note of citizen Fauchet.
What was the underfigned minifter plenipotentiary able to obtain in the affair of the Caflius and of the Vengeance?Nothing.
The government of the United States must have seen, however, by the claims which the minifters of the Republic addreffed to it, and by the great number of facts of which it has had a knowledge, how much the execution of the measures of the prefident, and of the law of the 5th of June, 1794, was contrary to the 17th article of the treaty; how much the agency of the tribunals, who ought not to have any cognizance of the validity or invalidity of prizes, tending to annul that article, and to deprive the Republic of the advantages which it affures to her. In fact, was it not evident that, when the powers at war with the Republic had the privilege, in virtue of the law of the 5th of June, 1794, of caufing to be arrested the privateers and their prizes, of detaining them in the ports of the United States, of ruining them by confiderable cofts, by the exceffive expenfes which they occafioned them, they drew from that privilege an immenfe advantage, to the detriment of France? Doubtless it was but of little import to them that fometimes the privateers obtained juftice in the laft refort, if they detained the privateers for a length of time, and if they by that means fheltered from their purfuit the commerce the enemy of France.
The neutrality of the United States in this cafe was altogether to their advantage; and the federal government, on feeing this ftate of things, fhould, out of respect to its neutrality and to treaties, folicit from the Congrefs the means of conciliating the duties of the former with the obligations of the latter.
The government very well knew how to folicit the law of the 5th of June, 1794. When the law was to bear on France alóne,
alone, when it gave the tribunals a right which has been abufed, and which enables them to decide upon prizes, why, on feeing the inconveniences of this law, has it not endeavoured to remedy them? Should it wait to be folicited on this head? Should it not anticipate all claims? And, when thofe were presented by the minifters of the Republic, fhould it not do justice?
Befides, if the government had been impartial, as it has pretended to be, it would not have adopted that flow and circuitous mode, fo favourable to the enemies of France, for deciding the cafes relative to its neutrality; it would have preferred the meafure propofed by Mr. Jefferfon, on the 25th of June, 1793, to the minifter of the Republic; these measures were fimple; they, were in conformity with the duties of neutrality, and the interefts of the Republic.
The federal government had decided queftions which interested. its neutrality, upon informations furnifhed by the state governors. and the agents of the Republic; the prizes remained in the hands of the French conful until this decifion took place: the ftipulations of the 17th article of the treaty of 1778 were not violated; and the government at the fame time fatisfied the obligations of duty and juftice. In vain would it fay that it had not this power. Notwithstanding the law of the 5th of June, 1794, giving to the tribunal the right of taking cognizance of cafes in which neutrality had been violated, did not the president on the 21ft of June, 1794, decide, that the fhip William, taken out of the limits of the waters of the United States, fhould be delivered to the captors? And on the 3d of July, 1794, did he not decide, that the Pilgrim had been taken in the waters of the United States, and that of courfe the fhould be given up to the owners? In thefe cafes the prefident not only decided on matters, the cogni zance of which had been configned to the tribunals, but likewife gave a retrospective effect to his own decifion upon the protecting line of the United States, which was not notified to the minister of the Republic till the 8th of November, 1793.
Not fatisfied with permitting the 17th article of the treaty to be violated by its agents and tribunals, the federal government alfo fuffered the English to avail themselves of advantages interdicted to them by that article. They armed in the ports of the United States, brought in and repaired their prizes, and, in a word, found in them a certain afylum.
The English privateer Trufty, Captain Hall, was armed at Baltimore to cruize against the French, and failed, notwithstanding the complaints of the conful of the Republic. At Charleftown, one Bermudian veffel, feveral English veffels, and one Dutch veffel, from the 24th of May to the 6th of June, 1793. took in cannon for their defence, and failed without oppofition.
What anfwer did the government give to the representations of the minister of the French Republic in this refpect? He faid that these veffels failed fo fuddenly, it was not able to have them arrested, But the treaty was not the lefs violable. Some inhabitants of the United States had aided in thefe illegal arınaments: what measures were taken against them? Was any fearch made to difcover them, to profecute them? Never; and yet the govern ment of the United States no fooner learned that, in confequence of the implied ftipulation which the treaty of Verfailles feemed to contain, the French were no fooner in the ports of the United States, than the moft energetic orders were fent for ftopping these armaments. Even citizens of the United States were imprisoned upon fufpicion that they had participated in them. The minifter cannot omit citing here the following paffage of a letter from the fecretary of state, Edmund Randolph, to Mr. Hammond, dated 2d June, 1794. "On a fuggeftion that citizens of the United States had taken part in the act (he fpeaks of the armaments in the United States), one, who was defignated, was inftantly com mitted to prifon for profecution; one or two others have been fince named and committed in like manner; and should it appear that there were ftill others, no meafures would be fpared to bring them to juftice." What more could the American government do in favour of the English, if they had a fimilar treaty to that with France, and had been fole poffeffors of the advantages affured to her by positive ftipulations?
However, in contempt of thefe very ftipulations, the Argonaut, an English thip of war, in January, 1795, conducted into Lynn haven Bay the French corvette L'Efperance, which she had taken upon the coaft; the there had her repaired, in order to fend her on a cruize. Letters were in confequence written by the fecretary of state to the governor of Virginia and to Mr. Hammond.. What was the refult? Nothing. On the 29th of May, 1793, the federal government had not yet done any thing pofitive as to the acts which produced the complaint of the minifter of the Republic, The fecretary of state announced, "That these facts shall be examined, and that if they are verified, the federal government will not be in the rear of its obligations.' To that has the reparation demanded by the Republic been limited.
What are we to think of thefe delays, when we fee the officers of the government acting with fo much activity against the French, on the flighteft fufpicion that they have violated the neutrality, when, in his letter of the 29th of April, 1794, the fecre tary of ftate anfwers the complaints of the English minifter-" We have received no intelligence of the particular facts to which you refer; but, to prevent all unneceffary circuity in firft inquiring into them, and next tranfmitting to this city the refult, the
proper inftructions will be given to act without further directions." How did the federal government conduct itself towards the autumn of 1794 The English frigate Terpsichore took the privateer La Montagne into the port of Norfolk. The French vice-conful claimed the execution of the treaty of the governor of Virginia. The governor anfwered him, that he would have the neceffary investigation made, and would afterwards take the proper measures.
The predeceffors of the undersigned then interpofed with the federal government; and the fecretary of ftate affured him that he wrote to the governor of Virginia to have juftice rendered. But this juftice was limited to investigations made with fuch flownefs, that five months after this affair was not finifhed; and, on the 24th of February, 1795, the fecretary of ftate contented himfelf with fending to the predeceffor of the underfigned the dif patches of the lieutenant-governor, dated 10th October, 1794, by which he announces, that he ordered the commandant of the militia of Norfolk to make the neceffary inquiries for enabling the executive of Virginia to render to the Republic the juftice which it had a right to expect. The refult of thefe inquiries is not known. However, the fact about which the minifter, Fauchet, complained to the fecretary of state was notorious, and painful refearches were not neceffary to convince himself of it. Do we not find in this proceeding a formal defire to elude the treaties, and to favour the English?
If the government of the United States had wished to maintain itself in that impartiality which its duties prefcribed, if it wifhed freely to execute the treaties, it would not have waited, every time that the English infringed them, for the minifter to folicit its juftice: fhould it not have given inftructions fo precife that the governors of the States and fubaltern officers of the federal government might know what duties they had to fulfill, in order to maintain the execution of treaties? Why have the most energetic orders (fuch as the fecretary of state, Randolph, mentions) been given, when the fupport of the neutrality inviolate, in favour of the English, came in queftion? Why have the measures taken by the federal government operated with fo much flownefs when France was interested? Why, in fine, have the multiplied claims of her minifters never produced the redrefs of the grievances of which they complained?
When the predeceffor of the undersigned minifter plenipotentiary claimed the execution of the 17th article of the treaty, interdicting the entry into the American ports of English veffels which hould have made prizes upon the French, when he cited this Simple and formal ftipulation" On the contrary, neither afylum nor refuge fhall be given in the ports or harbours of France, or of.
The United States, to vèffels which: fhall have made prizes of the French or Americans; and fhould they be obliged to enter, by tempeft or danger of the fea, all proper means thall be used to make them depart as foon as poffible," the fecretary of state, in order to avoid thutting the American ports against the English, interpreted this article in their favour. "But it would be un
candid to conceal from you the construction which we have hitherto deemed the true one. The first part of the 17th article relates to French fhips of war and privateers entering our ports with their prizes; the fecond contracts the fituation of the enemies of France, by forbidding fuch as fhall have made prizes of the French; intimating, from this connection of the two claufes, that veffels forbidden are thofe which bring their prizes with them. It has been confidered that this fection of the treaty was impartially destined to the withholding of protection or fuccour to the prizes themfelves; had it been otherwife it would have been fuperfluous to have prohibited from failing what they have taken in the ports of the United States "
He faid, moreover, that in letter of the 29th of May, 1795, "But, on the 3d of Auguft, the prefident declared his conftruction of that treaty to be, that no public armed veffels were thereby forbidden from our waters, except those which fhould have made prizes of the people or property of France coming with their prizes." But how is it poffible to find, in the ftipulations of the treaty, the fenfe given to them by the government of the United States? This expreffion of the treaty," which fhall have made prizes," is general, and applies to all capturing veffels, whether they enter the ports of the United States with prizes, or enter them alone after having made prizes. It is evident that the government adds to the letter of the treaty in this circumstance; and it is not aftonishing that it admits a conftruction of the treaty, when it expects to find a meaning difadvantageous to France, and in other inftances oppofes all construction, when this would be favourable to the Republic. But has it the right of conftruing the treaty, of changing, of its own accord, the fenfe of a clear and precife ftipulation, without the confent and concurrence of the other contracting party? Doubtlefs not, especially when, by so doing, it wounds her interefts.
The fecretary of state, by the 22d article, pretends to fupport his conttruction of the 17th article. What does this 22d article contain? A prohibition of the enemies of France and of the United States from arming in the refpective ports of the two powers, of felling their prizes, or of difcharging all or a part of their cargo there. This article, therefore, applies to the prizes; while the 17th applies to the capturing veffels. Did it not exist, the enemies of France or of the United States might fend their prizes into the refpective ports of the two powers, without conducting