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Relations with the Kingdom of Sicily.
The undersigned, Secretary of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs, in reply to the official note of the 30th of last month, in which his Excellency Mr. Pinkney, Envoy Extraordinary of the United States of America, has requested an audience of His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies, hastens to inform him that His Majesty will with pleasure receive him at the royal palace in Naples either to-morrow or next day, (as ma be most convenient to his Excellency,) at halfpast eleven o'clock in the forenoon.
The undersigned renews to his Excellency, &c.
IL. MARCHESE DI CIRCELLO.
Mr. Pinkney, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at St. Petersburg, to Mr. Adams, Secretary of State. St. Petersburg, Feb. 27, 1817. SIR: Notwithstanding the explicitness of my answer of the 30th of September of the last year to the proposal contained in the note of the Marquis di Circello of the 27th of the same month, I had scarcely quitted Naples when he sent after me his reply to my note of the 24th of August. The obstacles which, while I was present, threatened to retard that reply for many a week, and even for months, disappeared with a marvellous rapidity after I had departed ; for the reply passed me on the road to St. Petersburg, and arrived there long before me. The Neapolitan Minister at this Court (to whom it was forwarded by the Marquis di Circello, for the purpose of being delivered to me) manifested immediately upon my arrival here a very anxious desire that I should receive it. He even entreated me to do so, with such earnestness as it was not easy to resist. I refused, however, to have anything to do with his packet, and assigned as my reasons that I had ceased to have any right to meddle with the subjects of my late mission to his Government; that the Marquis di Circello was distinctly told by me, when I found that I must leave Naples without an answer to my note, that I would not continue to correspond with him upon the claim which it preferred, unless I should be instructed to do so by my Government; and that he could not but know, without the help of anybody's information, that it was impossible that I should so soon be in possession of such instructions, even if the President approved of that course, (as it was probable he would not,) for the conclusion of my negotiation. The Duke proposed finally to write me a letter, importing that he had the reply to my note, and that he wished me to take it. I assented to this, and the short correspondence, of which a * is enclosed, was the consequence. I had been perfectly sure that the reply was
a favorable one, and required no further discussion, (which, indeed, I did not understand it to be the intention of the Sicilian Government to indulge me in,) I would have received it. The celerity with which it had followed me, however, suggested the opposite presumption; and the Duke's desultory conversations with me, as often as I met him ū. which he talked, as the Marquis di Čircello was wont to do, of the poverty of his master, &c.,) did not weaken that presumption. Certain newspapers, too, professing to speak from authority, had affected to quote the reply as a refusal, which had already been given to me. You will find a republication of one of those articles in the enclosed Conservateur Impartial, and will be satisfied that the Sicilian Government, or its Minister at Vienna or St. Petersburg, has dictated the latter part of it. Upon the whole, having lost my power to deal with the reply as its contents might require, and fearing it was not what it ought to be, I thought it my duty to insist upon the impropriety of sending it at this moment to me, (an impropriety for which the Marquis di Circello could have no motive that I ought to sanction,) and upon that ground to decline to take it. The Duke has shown uneasiness at this course, and I am not sorry for it. His Government is a good deal disturbed by our claim, and we hazard nothing (and may gain) by practising upon its anxiety within certain bounds, or even to any extent we think fit. I have the honor to be, with very distinguished consideration, sir, your most obedient humble
Servant . WILLIAM PINKNEY.
Hon. SecretaRY of STATE.
The Duke of Serra Capriola to Mr. Pinkney. St. PETERsburg, Feb. 7, (19,) 1817.
SIR: I have received from my Court a note in answer to that addressed by your Excellency to the Marquis di Circello on the 24th of August last, and which it was not possible to deliver you before your departure, on account of the information necessary to be taken relative to the business with which you were charged by your Government.
I have the honor to give you this information, for the purpose of knowing if you are willing to receive it, and take your arrangements for that purpose.
In the meanwhile, be pleased to receive the assurances of the very distinguished consideration with which I have the honor to be, sir, your Excellency's most humble and most obedient
s ant ervant, SERRA CAPRIOLA.
Mr. Pinkney's answer to the foregoing. St. PETERsburg, Feb. 20, 1817, (N.S.) SiR: It would have been particularly agreeable to me to obtain, during the continuance of my functions as the Envoy Extraordinary of the United States at Naples, while I might regularly have taken and acted upon it, an answer to the note which in that character I addressed to the Marquis di Circello on the 24th of August of the last year, and I certainly spared no efforts for that purpose. I found it impracticable, however, after the importunity of many weeks, to obtain either an answer, or the designation of any precise time within which I might be authorized to expect one; and, as my ulterior duties here would not suffer me to wait at Naples for the issue of inquiries and deliberations, of which avowedly the term could not be foreseen even by those who were engaged in them, I was compelled to leave unsettled the subject of my note and to put an end to my mission. My power to correspond with the Government of the King of the Two Sicilies upon that subject, or otherwise to assume an agency in it, has consequently ceased, and can only be revived by the President of the United States, from whom I derived it originally, and to whom I have rendered an account of the use which I was able to make of it. Whether it will be his pleasure to renew it in any degree, or in what other way he will think it proper to deal with the subject, I have no means of knowing. I know only that he has yet given me no orders, upon it, and that there has not been time for such orders. The Marquis di Circello must be prepared for this answer to your Excellency’s letter to me of the 19th instant if he does me the honor to preserve any recollection of my note to him of the 30th of September last, of which (as well as of his note to me of the 27th of the same month) I shall be very willing to give you a copy if you desire it. I have the honor to be, with very distinguished consideration, your Excellency's most obedient
Relations with the Kingdom of Sicily.
humble servant, WILLIAM PINKNEY. His Exc'y the DUKE of SERRA CAPRIola.
The Duke of Serra Capriola to Mr. Pinkney.
SIR: I received yesterday the letter by which your Excellency has been o to reply to that which I addressed to you on the 7th (19th) of this month, stating the reasons by which you consider yourself no longer authorized to receive the note in answer to it, transmitted to me by the Minister of His Majesty the King, my master.
Your Excellency will readily conceive how unpleasant and painful it must i. been to the King not to have been able to cause an answer to be given to your note of the 24th of August last, during your mission at Naples; but you are aware, sir, that that answer must necessarily have been founded on documents and proofs not easily procured, inasmuch as the transaction in discussion took place under a Government foreign to the existing one. If this delay was painful to the King and to his Ministry, how much more will it not be on seeing the answer again impeded. I
consider it, therefore, my duty, sir, to engage you to receive the packet I am charged with, at least for the purpose of transmitting it to your Government. By this means you will satisfy the wishes of my Government, and make the President of the United States acquainted with the well-founded arguments which might accelerate the termination of this affair. Availing myself of the offer you have made me, sir, I have to request you would be pleased to favor me with a copy of the Marquis of Circello's letter, and of your answer of the 30th September. You will thereby greatly oblige me, sir; and, in thus tendering you my o: for it, I seize the present occasion of renewing to you the assurances of the very distinguished consideration with which I have the honor to be, sir, your Excellency's most humble and most obe
dient servant, SERRA CAPRIOLA.
Mr. Pinkney's reply to the foregoing.
SIR: It would really give me sincere pleasure to be able to conform to the wish which your Excellency presses upon me with so much earnestness; but I feel insurmountable repugnance, arising out of what I believe to be a correct sense of my duty, to giving any sanction to the making of a communication to me, as if I were still the accredited Envoy of the United States at Naples. I can have no difficulty, however, in consenting to forward to the Secretary of State of the United States anything which, by order of your Court, you may think fit to address to him. What may be the nature of the packet which has followed me from Naples I do not know, and do not desire to know, further than that it is in answer to a note written by me in an official character which I no longer possess. I have the utmost confidence, indeed, that it proposes a fair indemnity to our plundered merchants, not only with reference to that part of the spoil which, not having been sold by Murat, has passed into the hands of His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies, and is now in his possession, but with reference also to that larger portion of it which was converted into money. But let it propose what it may, it is not to me that it should address itself, at least until my Government is known to have given me such instructions, which it has not yet had time to give, even if it be disposed to adopt that course, as may justify me in receiving it, and in acting upon it as its contents may require. The copies which you desire are here with enclosed... They will satisfy you that the Marquis di Circello ought to anticipate the answer which I now repeat to your application. I have the honor to be, with the most distinguished consideration, your Excellency’s most obedient, humble servant, WILLIAM PINKNEY.
His Ex. the DUKE D1 SERRA CAPRioLA.
Relations with the Kingdom of Sicily.
Extract of a letter from Mr. Gallatin, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris, to Mr. Monroe, Secretary of State, dated
PARIs, November 19, 1816. .
I received, on the 16th instant, a note from the Neapolitan Ambassador, enclosing, by order of his Court, the copy of an official note, dated 15th October last, and addressed by the Marquis di Circello to Mr. Pinkney, after his departure from Naples. In answer to a verbal inquiry, the Ambassador told me that he did not know whether that note had been directed to Mr. Pinkney, at St. Petersburg, or at any other place on the road. He also said that his Government had authorized him to add to that communication to me any further observations which he might deem proper, but that he had abstained from it, knowing that neither he nor myself had any powers on that subject, and wishing, therefore, to avoid an unprofitable discussion.
It may be presumed that the Neapolitan Government delayed that note in order to prevent the possibility of a reply; and that their intention in communicating it to me was to hasten its transmission to you. Copies of the official note itself, and of that of the Ambassador to me, are enclosed.
PARís, November 15, 1816.
The undersigned, Ambassador Extraordinary of His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies, has the honor to transmit, by order of his Court, to Mr. Gallatin, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, a copy of an official note, addressed by the Marquis di Circello, Minister and Secretary of State of his said Majesty, to Mr. Pinkney, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, in answer to his note of the 24th of August last, on the subject of certain American vessels confiscated in 1809 by Murat.
The undersigned avails himself of this occasion to renew to Mr. Gallatin the assurances of his
high consideration. CASTELCICALA.
The Marquis of Circello, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Although the Government of His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies was from the first moment, in a situation to judge of the validity of the remonstrance and demands made by his Excellency Mr. Pinkney, Envoy Extraordinary of the United States of America, in his note of the 24th August last, nevertheless, wishing to examine and discuss them under all their aspects of right and of sact, it has waited, accordingly, until all the materials and lights were collected proper to this end.
The many difficulties attending the search after those materials, owing to the change in the order of things during which the facts occurred
that have given rise to the demands of Mr. Pinkney, rendered it imposible for the Royal Government to reply to |. note of his Excellency before his departure from Naples. Now that the papers and appropriate inquiries have shed the strongest light upon the affair in question, the undersigned, Councellor and Secretary of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs of His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies, hastens to give, by order of his Sovereign, the following reply to Mr. Pinkney, requesting his Excellency to be pleased to communicate it to his Government. All the arguments contained in the note of the 24th August look to the end of making His Majesty's Government responsible for the consequences of the confiscation and sale, whether just or unjust, of several American vessels and cargoes, which took place in Naples while the kingdom was held by Murat. In support of this pretension, it is assumed that the abuse of power and violation of good faith, by which these arbitrary acts were committed, are of such a nature as to survive the political authority of the author of them, and that, of course, as there accrued a right of reclamation against the Government of Murat, there exists one also against the present Government of the Two Sicilies. His Excellency adds, that although the American claimants have not the means of ascertaining to what uses the produce of the abovementioned sales was applied, yet they may presume that it was expended in works and objects of public utility, or left in the public coffers; and therefore affirms that, under this point of view, likewise, His Majesty's Government is bound to indemnify the victims of the spoliations committed during the ascendency of Murat. Without undertaking to inquire whether a sort of succession or inheritance, in legitimate and illegitimate Governments, can be maintained upon good grounds, the undersigned will be content to remark that, whatever may be the opinion of publicists as to this point, no one has ever pretended to visit the injustice of the contracts or deeds of usurpers upon the people subjected to their yoke, or upon the legitimate sovereigns. That theory would, indeed, be a disconsolate one which should extend the power of an enemy not only to the consequences of fact, but even to those of right. The victory which restored the legitimate prince would be fatal to both, if it must have the effect of making him responsible for the acts of injustice and violence which the usurper might have perpetrated against foreign nations. It avails not to say that these are of the description of obligations and engagements which survive the overthrow of the usurped dominion, as common to the nation over which that dominion was exercised. This would be the place to determine whether we could reasonably qualisy, as an obligation, an engagement from Government to Government, or nation to nation, a mere right of reclamation, which, according to the obligation of Mr. Pinkney himself, the United States kept in reserve, to be exercised with Murat, had not his power been subverted. But the undersigned will simply ask his Excellency if that very right is not to be regarded as null, seeing that the continual, strong, vehement demands, officially made by the Consul General of the United States at Naples upon the Minister of Murat, for the restitution of the confiscated vessels and cargoes, or compensation to the American owners, were rejected, or remained without a reply 7. However this may be, it is always incontestable that it is not against the actual Government of His Majesty that a right, to which he who created it would not hearken, can be tried, as it were, in the nature of an appeal. It is among the principles of reason and justice, that a sovereign, who never ceased to be in a state of war with the usurper of his dominions, and who, very far from having afforded grounds for presuming that his rights were waived, as is asserted in his note of the 24th August, carried into effect, in concert with his ally, England, a werful expedition in the islands of Procida and schia, nearest to the capital of his usurped kingdom, in the year 1809, precisely that in which the confiscation of the American ships at Naples took place. It is among the principles of reason and justice, that he should not be, on regaining his dominions in process of the war which had compelled him to absent himself from them, held responsible for the excesses of the enemy. Let, then, the relations of the usurper with the Powers friendly or allied to France have been what they may, the inference which the American ho may have drawn from them, in relation to the prosecution of their trade at Naples, should not be made to recoil upon the treasury of a sovereign who not only did not show any the least acquiescence in the usurpation, but did all that was in his power, and all that circumstances would permit, to vindicate his abused rights. There is still less foundation for the arguments brought forward in the note of the 24th August to prove that the Neapolitan nation was, in some sort, a party to the measures by which the Americans suffered, and therefore liable, in solidum, for the consequences. If the inhabitants of the kingdom of Naples could only have signified their wishes, these would undoubtedly have been for the maintenance of relations of justice and friendship with the Americans, the only nation which, by means of its neutrality, might provide a vent for the commodities accumulated through so many years in the kingdom, under the operation of the noted continental system of ruinous memory. But everybody knows that the Neapolitan nation, prostrated by a foreign domination, was but the mournful spectator and first victim of the arbitrary acts which were daily committed. So far, then, from being able to indemnify others, it would be exceedingly fortunate if she could find means of compensating herself for the losses and immense injuries which she sustained during the occupation of the kingdom. These considerations would be more than suf
Relations with the Kingdom of Sicily.
ficient to prove that the claims of the American merchants cannot reach either the actual Government of His Majesty or his people. But, to make the demonstration complete, and to exhibit the question under all its aspects, the undersigned will admit, for a moment, the absurd hypothesis, that the present Government of Naples stands in the place of that of Murat, and has succeeded to all his obligations. The demand of Mr. Pinknew will not be, on this account, the less unsustainable, since the confiscation and sale of the American vessels and cargoes were acts which proceeded directly from the power and from the will of Bonaparte. There exists, in fact, in the archives of the Treasury, a report of the Minister, Agar, who presided over that Department in 1809, addressed to Murat, who was then at Paris. The Minister relates, in this report, that two American ships had arrived at Naples, one from Salem, the other last from Algiers, laden with colonial produce; and that the necessary orders had been given to put the same under sequestration, conformably to the directions antecedently issued from higher authority, with respect to the other vessels arrived at Naples, before the departure of Murat for Paris. He proceeds then to point out the great benefit which the treasury would derive from opening the market to the colonial produce lying on board those ships, or in the custom-house of Naples, by the duties which would be collected upon the sale of it, and upon the export of the oils which the Americans would take as return cargoes. The Minister remarks, in fine, that the confiscation itself of the American vessels and cargoes was but an inconsiderable resource, compared with the very great advantage which would have resulted to the treasury from an active American trade, could it have been tolerated in the ports of the kingdom. Murat did not deem himself authorized to decide in any way, and submitted the report to his brother-in-law, Napoleon, who decreed, in margin that the vessels and cargoes in question shoul be confiscated, because the embargo laid in the F. of the United States induced him to be. ieve that the produce must be British property, and its introduction into the Continent a breach, therefore, of the two famous Berlin and Milan decrees. On the disclosure of this decision of Bonaparte in Naples, it was ordered, also, that the proceeds of the sales should not be paid over to the treasury of the State, but that a separate and special account should be opened for them, which was done accordingly. In order to understand well this distinction, and to be able to draw from it the consequences applicable to the case, it is useful to note, that during the military occupation of the kingdom, there existed a treasury, so called, destined to receive the public revenues and defray the public charges; and as, among the latter, the support of the luxurious household of Murat was not the least onerous, accordingly the sums allot
Independence of the Spanish Provinces.
ted to this purpose were paid into the hands of a particular treasurer, who disposed of them as his master directed. Besides this particular chest, into which, moreover, all the proceeds of the private domain were emptied, Murat established another, by the name of separate account or fund, (conto a parte,) as a receptable for the sums arising from the sale of the vessels and cargoes confiscated in 1809 and 1812, and also for the profits of the licenses which, in imitation of England and France, he sold to the vessels entering and leaving the ports of the kingdom. The new fund was always considered as appertaining to the extraordinary and private domain of Murat himself. An irrefragable proof of this may be offered. The first article of one of his decrees, of 25th April, 1812, is conceived in the following terms: “The commission established by our decree of November 30, 1811, for the purpose of liquidating the accounts of our ...lood, is, in addition, charged with examining the accounts of the vessels sequestered in our ports, regarded by us as the property of our extraordinary and private domain.” Besides, it is enough to read the account rendered of the cashier of the separate fund, to know that the sums paid into it were dissipated in largesses to the favorites of Murat, in marriage ortions to some of his relatives, and in other icentious expenses of Murat and of his wife, especially during their visit at Paris. It appears, moreover, that Murat having anticipated on said fund a sum of two hundred thousand livres on account of the treasury, towards the cost of the expedition with which, during several months, he menaced Sicily with an invasion from Calabria, the Minister of the Finances lost no time in reimbursing the fund with the proceeds of the public taxes. From the foregoing statement, two important and obvious consequences are to be drawn. The first is, that Murat only lent his name in the confiscation of American ships, as he did merely in all the other measures pursued in Naples during the occupation of the kingdom. This was no mystery, nor could foreign nations be ignorant of it. Still less could they be unacquainted with the extent of the power which Bonaparte usurped, in order to give all possible latitude of effect to his decrees of Milan and Berlin, in the countries over which he exerted his fatal influence. Obstinate in his fantasies, absolute in his will, he studied only to enlarge the sphere of his favorite plan. A mere remonstrance on this head, if Murat had allowed himself to prefer one, would have cost the latter his crown. Holland furnished an incontestable example of this truth. Murat, then, let it be repeated, was but the passive instrument of the will of Bonaparte in the confiscation of the American ships; and if this could give birth to responsibility, such responsibility should no longer be imputed to the country over which he reigned, and still less to the Government which has there resumed its lawful authority. The other, and not less important consequence,
is, that the treasury, which was the fund of the State, never enjoyed the proceeds of the confiscations, and that, instead of being employed to alleviate the burdens of the people, or applied to the improvement or embellishment of the country, as is supposed in the note of the 24th of August, those proceeds only served to feed the caprices and the oriental pomp of the family of Murat and his adherents. After this rapid and faithful exposition of facts, the undersigned will not enter upon the inquiry whether the American merchants would have been entitled to call for indemnity, if the Power which commanded and executed the confiscation of their property had, unfortunately, continued to flourish. He will go no further than to remark to Mr Pinkney, that such a call could not affect the actual Government of His Majesty, nor his people; and his Excellency and his Government are too enlightened and too impartial not to be fully convinced of this, now that they can dwell upon circumstances which perhaps were not previously within their knowledge. The undersigned renews to Mr. Pinkney, on this occasion, the assurange of his most distinguished consideration. IL. MARCHESE DI CIRCELLO.
The Secretary of State, to whom has been referred the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 5th December, has the honor of submitting the documents herewith transmitted, as containing the information possessed at this department requested by that resolution.
In the communications received from Don Manuel H. de Aguirre, there are references to certain conferences between him and the Secretary of State, which appear to require some explanation.
The character in which Mr. Aguirre presented himself was that of a public agent from the Government of La Plata, and of private agent from that of Chili. His commissions from both simply qualified him as agent. But his letter from the Supreme Director (Pueyrredon) to the Pres