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late treaty with England, was not satisfactory to you. To this letter therefore I shall also make a reply, and in the hope it will produce its desired effect.
I observe that you confine your objections in this letter to a single article in that treaty, and which failed to secure protection in our bottoms to your goods, and which you deem a violation of a tacit agreement wbich you say has subsisted between the United States and France, since their treaty of 1778, and an abandonment of the principles consecrated by that treaty; you likewise say that the Directoire considers the stipulations of our treaty of 1778, which respect the neutrality of our flag, as altered and suspended by this act, and that it would think itself wanting in its duty if it did not modify a state of things which would never have been consented to but upon principles of strict reciprocity.
You seem aware and with great reason that you have no right to complain of that stipulation, unless it violates someexisting obligation either of the law of nations or of our treaty with you, and in consequence intimate that it has violated both : for you add that the principles of that treaty have in that respect become since the law of all civi. lized nations.
I shall endeavor to shew that that article has violated neither the one nor the other.
I presume it cannot be controverted, that, by the old and established law of nations, when two Powers are at war, either may take the goods of its enemy in a neutral ship. This doctrine is established by the most eminent writers, and admitted in practice by all nations between whom particular treaties have not stipulated the contrary. To prove this assertion in its first part, permit me to refer you to the following authorities, and which are clear and explicit to that effect. * And to prove it in the second part, permit me to ask if the law of nations was not so, why were special treaties entered into by particular nations to stipulate the contrary? Is it presumable that any Powers would form treaties to establish what was already established? Or was it thought when our treaty of 1778 was formed that in this respect it made no change, or, in other words, it stipulated nothing.
But you say that the law of nations has changed, and that the prin. ciples of that treaty have since become in that respect the general law of all civilized nations. Permit me to ask you by what authority was this done, or how does it appear that it is done ? I admit that it is changed among those nations who have formed treaties to that effect and between those who have formed them ; but further the doctrine cannot be carried. It cannot be said, for instance, that the assent of a particular number of nations to a rule which ought to operate between themselves only, is to become a rule for other nations who have never assented to it; or, in other words, that a part of the civilized world have a right to dictate a law to another part. Such a doctrine would substitute force to
*Bynkershoech vol. 2, quest. Juris, pub. lib. cap. 4.
right, and might be productive in other cases, and especially in the hands of governments less friendly to liberty than yours and ours are, of consequences the most fatal to society. It is, therefore, in my judgment, not a sound doctrine. That Britain opposed the principle that “ free ships should make free goods” in the last war, and has likewise opposed it in the present war, are facts well known to you. as it like. wise is that all your enemies in the present war have done the same, including some who are now your friends, and to the great detriment of America. Admitting then that a majority of the civilized nations have a right to bind the minority in a rightful cause, (as it is admitted the present one is,) how was it to be done upon the present occasion, when the Powers composing that majority had shifted sides, and were now marshalled in opposition to the principles they had lately espoused.
Thus it appears that the article in question has not violated the law of nations according to the opinion of enlightened authorities and the practice of nations. Nor has it violated our treaties with France; upon which latter point I shall also add a few words.
It is to be remarked that you do not urge a violation of any positive stipulation in our treaty of 1778; on the contrary, you charge only a breach of a tacit agreement which you intimate grew out of that treaty. But of what nature is that agreement and whence is it inferred ? The treaty contains an express stipulation between America and France, that when either of the parties are at war with another nation, it will respect the flag of the other party, trading with that other nation, and it stipulates no more on that head. And its reciprocity is to be found in a change of circumstances, whereby the party lately at war is now at peace, and enjoying in turn (the other being at war) the privilege of its flag, in trade with the enemy of the other. It does not stipulate that we will unite in imposing that rule on other nations, nor does it stipulate that we will adopt no other rule with any other nation: of course, we were free to act in that respect as we thought fit, and therefore have violated, by means thereof, no agreement with you, either positive or implied.
I concur with you, as I did in my last communication on this subject, that the utmost respect is due to the principle of free ships making free goods,” and with you I also unite in the hope that it will soon become universal; since it is a principle dictated by reason and necessary to the freedom of the sea, and in consequence to the peace and tranquility of nations.
The United States too, as you observe, inserted it in all their treaties, where they could obtain it, and to which I may add, that they will most certainly continue to press it in their future treaties, as opportunities occur, and circumstances may favor, till it becomes general. To promote which end, however, it is proper here to observe that an harmonious concert between the two nations is absolutely necessary, for otherwise it were impossible they should succeed.
You will observe, that in my reply to your complaints, I have here. tofore confined myself stricıly to the subject of those complaints, never going beyond them, to expose, in return, the injuries we have roceived from the Republic in the course of the present war.
But I might have told you in the outset, that, by a decree of the convention in 1793, the articles in question of our treaty of commerce were set aside, and in violation whereof about fifty of our vessels were brought into your ports, their cargoes taken from the proprietors, and who yet remain unpaid ; that about the same time, and without any motive being assigned, even to the present day, upwards of eighty other of our vessels were embargoed at Bordeaux, and detained there for more than a year, and to the great injury of the proprietors, who yet remain unpaid ; that for supplies rendered to your Islands in the West Indies, which have been, and still are, supported principally from the United States, as for innumerable spoliations that have been made, and are daily making, upon our commerce in those islands, as likewise for supplies rendered to the Republic here, immense sums are due to our citizens, as authenticated by the highest public authorities, there and here, and for the want of which, many of them are ruined.* I say I did not bring these things forward because it would have borne the as. pect of recrimination, and which I did not wish any part of my conduct to bear in any transaction with the French Republic; and because I was disposed to yield every possible accommodation to your present exigencies that my duty would permit, and because I confided, and still conside, that your Government, paying due regard to those exigencies, was disposed and would do all the justice in its power to those suffering individuals; nor do I mention these things now with that view. I do it, on the contrary, merely to inform you of them, since, as the communications that were made on these topics, were made to the preceding government, and arc, in consequence, probably unknown to the present one ; and since they are interesting facts which you ought to have before you in all your deliberations on the subject, provided it be, as I think it, equally the interest of both Republics, to preserve for ever the good understanding which now so happily subsists between them.
For what has passed, the United States have always found an excuse in that unhappy state of things, that was attendant on your Revolution, and have looked forward to the period when a free and happy constitution should be established here, as the moment when by conciliatory and friendly councils, the two Republics should harmonize, not in a painful review of any unpleasant incidents that had passed, if such there were, but in devising the means, founded in their mutual interest, and to be secured by suitable permanent arrangements, whereby to increase their harmony, and cement their union; and greatly mortified would they be, if this were not the case. But I trust that this will be the case, and under which impression, and upon the obser. vations already made, I submit the subject now in discussion between us, to the wisdom and candor of the Directoire Executif.
JAMES MONROE. * It is worthy of attention, that, under these circumstances, and when such considerable sums were due to the American citizens, the United States paid, and before it was due, the whole of the French debt, amounting to upwards of 20,000,000 f.
Secretary of State to Mr. Monroe, dated
PHILADELPHIA, September 9, 1796.
SIR: General Pinckney will be the bearer of this letter. He is to succeed you as the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States with the French Republic.
I enclose a triplicate of my letter to you of the 22d ultimo, in which the motives to his appointment are suggested. I also enclose your letter of recall, addressed to the Directory of the French Republic, and a copy thereof for your information of the manner in which the President wishes you to take leave of that body.
The claims of the American merchants on the French Republic are of great extent, and they are waiting the issue of them through the public agents, with much impatience. Mr. Pinckney is particularly charged to look into this business, in which the serious interests, and in some cases nearly the whole fortunes of our citizens, are involved. You will have the goodness to communicate to Mr. Pinckney such general information as may facilitate his inquiries concerning it, and hasten a successful conclusion.
I am, &c.
Extract from the Register of the Resolves of the French Executive Di
25th Fructidor, 4th year of the Republic, Sept. 11, 1796. The Executive Directory resolves as follows:
The Minister of Foreign Affairs will declare to Citizen Monroe, Minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, that if the Federal Government does not put a stop to the procedure against the citizen Collot, and does not refer those who sue him before the Government and his natural judges in France, the Executive Directory will take the necessary measures that reprisals shall be used for reparation of all the injuries of the American Government, and of its agents, towards the French citizens and Government. This resolve shall not be printed,
L. M. REVEILLERE LEPEAUX, President. By the Executive Directory:
LAGARDE, Secretary General,
French Minister of Foreign Affairs to Mr. Jonroe, dated
PARIS, 16th Vindemiaire, 5th year of the Republic,
October 7, 1796. Citizen Minister: The Executive Directory charges me to notify to you, the suspension of all the functions which it has prescribed to the Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic near the United States. It charges me likewise to communicate to you the arret, of which I have the honor to send you a copy ; and, agreeably to which, our ships armed for war, will treat the United States, as these suffer the English to treat them.
The first step, citizen Minister, does not need to be commented on. My dispatches of the 19th Ventose, and 19th Messidor last, and more especially the events which, for some time past, have followed each other in the United States, sufficiently explains its motives. Citizen Adet will enter with the Federal Government upon further explanations, whirh I dare hope will fully justify to it the measure of the Executive Directory. It is painful for the French Government to see itself forced to acts which bespeak a coldness between two nations, whom so many circumstances engage to unite themselves more and more closely. But, citizen Minister, you know too well from what side the first blow was given to that friendship, which our two nations had sworn to. It is very consoling for the Executive Directory on reviewing its conduct, and that of the Government which pre. ceded it, to find that the French Republic is blameless in this respect. At present its dignity would evidently be brought into question, it would neglect its duty, if it did not give unequivocal proofs of a just dissatisfaction.
The ordinary relations subsisting between the two people in virtue of the conventions and treaties, shall not on this account be suspended. Tbe consuls will remain charged to superintend them. The eventual modifications which shall be produced in that state of things by the arret of the Directory I communicate to you, can in no manner be considered as alterations made by us. These would generally be commanded by the circumstances, and by the violation of the most general laws of neutrality, which the English take the liberty to commit, if they were not, as they are, the fulfillment of the treaty between
he two Republics, and the necessary consequence of the treaty since concluded between the United States and England. The Federal Government is too enlightened not to have foreseen all the results of that treaty, and no doubt too just to desire that its whole weight should fall on the French Republic.
It shall not be the fault of the Executive Directory, Citizen Minister, if the political relations between the two nations are not speedily re-established on the footing they ought to be, and if the clouds, which