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The 1st article also imposes upon me obligations, which require the Co-operation of your zeal and punctuality. I therefore invite you, citizens, in the name of the public good, to aid me in my efforts to comply with the views of the Executive Directory, and I venture to say, those of all Europe, which will applaud the energy of an arrêté the object of which is to re-establish the balance of commerce and to destroy the overbearing preponderance of a perfidious and usurping government. In vain have its agents deceived a people to whose liberty we have given birth, unto the adoption of stipulations destructive of their and our interests; we know how to maintain an equilibrium, by just and indispensable reprisals. The Executive Directory have established their principles according to the laws. It is your duty to make the application, and I confidently yield the care of them to that disinterested patriotism which has called you to the august functions with which you are charged.
The Minister of Justice.
DEAR SIR : Since sending away the quadruplicate of No. 9, and a postscript to it of this date, I have received information that the French Directory have passed an article on the 12th Ventose, year 5th, declaring that, as by the treaty of the 6th February, 1778, between France and America, they mutually engage to grant no particular favor to other nations in respect of commerce and navigation, which shall not immediately become common to the other party, who shall enjoy the same favor freely, if the concession was freely made, or on allowing the same compensation, if the concession was conditional--that, therefore, the articles stipulated in favor of England by the treaty concluded at London, on the 19th of November, 1794, between that Power and the United States, are deemed to have been equally in fa. vor of the French Republic, and of course to modify, in those points which are contrary to it, the treaty concluded the 6th February, 1778. That it was, in consequence of these articles, that the French government had declared, by its arrêtés of the 14th and 28th of Messidor, year 4th, as it finds it constrained to do now, that it would use such means of reciprocity, as it had a right to exercise in respect to what related to matters of war, as well as what regards the political, commercial, and maritime interests of the French Republic; that, conse. quently, it was necessary,“ de fixes par le raprochment des traités du 6 Fevr. 1778, et du 19th November, 1794,” every doubt on these points in which the rights of reciprocity ought to be exercised ; and that therefore all merchandise which does not plainly appear to be Rentral property taken on board of onr ships, shall be confiscated: That the articles of contraband shall extend to those mentioned in the 24th article of our treaty with Great Britain ; and that every American bearing a commission given by the enemies of France, as well as every American sailor forming part of the crew of ships or vessels of an enemy, shall, by this fact alone, be deemed a pirate and treated as such, without being permitted in any case to allege, that he hath been pressed by violence, menaces, or otherwise.
That, according to the law of 14th February, 1793, the regulations of the 21st October, 1744, and of 26th July, 1778, concerning the manner of ascertaining property of neutral ships and merchandises, shall be excluded according to their form and tenor. The decree therefore, expressly states that every American vessel shall be in consequence good prize, that shall not have on board a roll of the crew, such as is prescribed by the form annexed to the treaty of the 6th February 1778, of which the execution is ordered by the 25th and 27th articles of the said treaty.
I will procure and forward the arrêté at length by the next oppor. tunity. I am at present apprehensive that I shall be too late with this sketch, for two vessels about sailing. The Hope and Antelope have been condemned, because they had not the role d'equipage, or seamen's articles, signed by a public officer ; which condemnation has proceeded on a mistaken exposition of facts, as nothing in the 25th or 27th articles, or in the form for sea-letters annexed to the treaty, requires the signature of a public officer to such articles or role d'. equipage. I will, by the next opportunity, also send the arguments of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, for such condemnation, and the observations drawn by Major Mountfiorence, and to be signed by Mr. Skipwith, andi presented to the Minister in answer thereto ; also, the report of the Minister of justice to the Directory, and approved by that body, on the condemnation of Captain Bryant's vessel : it is impossible to copy them now, as I must close my letters.
I have honor to be,
Your most obedient humble servant.
Decree of the Executive Directory concerning the navigation of neutral
vessels, loaded with merchandise, belonging to the enemies of the Republic, and the Judgment on the trials relative to the validity of mari. time prizes, 12th Ventose, year 5. (March 2, 1797.)
The Executive Directory, having examines the law of the 9th May, 1793, which, forasmuch as the fag of neutral Powers, not being re
spected by the enemies of the French Republic, and, all the laws of nations being violated to her prejudice, it is no longer permitted to the French People to fulfil. towards these Powers in general, the wish which it has so often manifested, and which it will constantly form for the full and entire liberty of commerce and of navigation, -orders, among other things :
1st. That the French vessels of war and privateers may stop, and carry into the ports of the Republic, neutral vessels which may be found loaded entirely, or in part, with merchandise belonging to the enemy.
2d. That the merchandise belonging to the enemy shall be declared good prize, and confiscated for the benefit of the captors.
3d. That, in all cases, the neutral vessels shall be released the moment the unloading of the merchandise seized shall have been effected: that the freight shall be paid at the rates which shall have been stipulated by the freighters, and a just indemnity shall be allowed for their detention by the tribunals, whose duty it may be to take cognizance of the validity of the prizes.
4th. That these tribunals shall moreover be bound to transmit, three days after their judgment, a copy of the inventory of the merchandise to the Minister of the Marine, and another copy to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
5th. That the present law, applicable to all prizes which have been made since the declaration of war, shall cease to have its effect when the enemy Powers shall have declared free and not seizable, though destined for the ports of the Republic, the merchandise loaded on board neutral vessels, which shall belong to the French Government or its citizens.
Having likewise examined the law of the 27th July, 1793, which, in maintaining that of the 9th May, preceding, here above recited, orders that it should have its full and entire execution ; and that, in consequence, all other regulations which may be contrary to it, are, and remain, repealed; a repeal which evidently comprehends the law of the first of the same month of July, by which the vessels of the United States of America had been excepted from the law of the 9th of May, in conformity to the 5th article of the treaty of the 6th Feb’ry, 1778.
Having also examined the 7th article of the law of the 13th Nivose, 3d year, (3d January, 1795,) which enjoins on all the agents of the Republic, on all the commandants of the armed force, on the officers, civil and military, to cause to be respected and observed, in all their arrangements, the treaties which unite France to the neutral Powers of the ancient continent and to the United States of America and adds, that no blow shall be aimed at those treaties, and that all regulations, which may be contrary to them, are annulled : considering that this last law does not derogate from that of the 9th May, 1793, save only in favor of those neutral Powers whose treaties, actually subsisting with the French Republic, are contrary to its regulations, that, consequently, it is important for the information as well of the commandants as the armed force of the Republic, and of the vessels commis
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sioned by it, as of the tribunals charged with deciding on the validity of the prizes, to take measures for preventing either that it should be supposed that treaties existed which never were made, or that treaties concluded for a limited time, which is expired, should be considered as still being in force, or that those which have been modified since their formation, should be considered as yet requiring a literal execution : that to this last description belongs particularly the treaty of amity and commerce, concluded the 6th of February, 1778, between France and the United States of America: that, in effect, by the second article of this treaty, France and the United States of America mutually engage not to grant any particular favor to other nations in relation to commerce or navigation, which does not become forth with common to the other party, and that it is added, by the same article, that this other party shall enjoy the favor gratuitously, if the grant is gratuitous, or on making the same compensation, if the grant is conditional; that thus the provision stipulated in favor of England, by the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation, concluded at London the 19th of November, 1794, between that Power and the United States of America, are considered to have been in behalf of the French Republic itself, and in consequence modifying, on the points where they differed, the treaty concluded 6th February, 1778; that it is agreeable to these provisions that the French Government has declared. by its decrees of the 14th and 28th Messidor, 4th year, 2d and 16th July, 1796, as it is likewise forced to do at present, that it will use the just measure of reciprocation, which it had a right to exercise in that respect, in every thing which has a relation to the circumstances of the war, as also to the political, commercial, and maritime interests of the French Republic; that, consequently, it is necessary to settle, by reconciling the treaties of the 6th February, 1778, and the 19th November, 1794, every doubt as to the case where this right of reciprocation ought to be exercised. Considering that there have been quite lately raised, as to the manner of stating the proofs of property in the ships and merchandise pretended to belong to neutrals, doubts and controversies which never would have taken place, if the provisions of the ancient regulations relative to this business had been better known ; that it consequently is of importance to recite the provisions, and to cause to be executed the 5th article of the law of the 14th February, 1793, which has maintained them.
After having heard the Minister of Justice, of the Marine, and of the Colonies, decrees what follows:
ART. 1. The Commissioners of the Executive Directory, near the Civil Tribunals of the Departments, shall take care that, on the trials as to the validity of maritime prizes, no judgment shall be founded on the 7th article of the law of the 13th Nivose, 3d year, (2d January, 1795,) unless the Minister of Justice i previously consulted, in conformity to the 3d article of the law of the 8th Floreal, 4th year', (27th April, 1796,) relative to the treaties in virtue of which some neutrals might pretend to withdraw themselves, by means of the first of these laws, from the execution of that of the 9th May, 1793.. 2d. The Minister of Justice would consequently examine if the treaties appealed to still remain in force, or whether they have been modified since their adoption : he shall be furnished, for this purpose, by the Minister of Exterior Relations, with all the information (renseignements) of which he shall be in want, and he shall refer the same to the Executive Directory, as is prescribed by the law of the 8th Floreal, 4th year, (27th April, 1796.)
3d, The Executive Directory reminds all French citizens, that the treaty entered into on the 6th February, 1778. between France and the United States of America, has been, from the terms of its second article, in strict right, (de plein droit) modified by that which was entered into in London on the 19th November, 1794, between the United States of America and England.
In consequence, agreeably to the 17th article of the treaty of London, of the 19th November, 1794, all merchandise belonging to an enemy, or not sufficiently proven to be neutral, loaded under the American flag, shall be confiscated; but the vessel, on board of which it shall have been found, shall be released and returned to the proprietor. It is enjoined on the Commissioners of the Executive Directory to cause to be accelerated, by all means in their power, the judgment on the trials which shall take place, either in relation to the validity of the capture of the cargo, or in relation to freights and demurrage.
4th. Agreeably to the 18th article of the treaty of London, of the 19th November, 1794, there shall be added the following articles to those declared contraband by the 24th article of the treaty of the 6th February, 1778, viz: wood for ship building, pitch, tar, and rosin, copper in sheets, canvas, hemp, and cordage, and every thing that serves, directly or indirectly, for the armament and equipment of vessels, except unwrought iron and fir plank. These several articles shall be confiscated, wherever they shall be destined, or when it is attempted to carry them to the enemy.
5th. Agreeable to the 21st article of the treaty of London, of the 19th of November, 1794, every individual known to be American, who holds a commission, given by the enemies of France, as also every mariner of that nation making a part of the crew of private or public ships (navires ou vaisseaux) of the enemy, sball be, from that act alone, declared a pirate, and treated as such; without allowing him, in any case, to show that he had been forced by violence, menaces, or otherwise.
6th. In conformity to the law of the 14th February, 1793, the regulations of the 21st October, 1794, and of the 26th July, 1778, a9 to the manner of proving the right of property in neutral ships and merchandise, shall be executed according to their form and tenor.
In consequence, every American vessel shall be a good prize which has not on board a list of the crew (rôle d'equipage) in proper form, such as is prescribed by the model annexed to the treaty of the 6th February, 1778, a compliance with which is ordered by the 25th and 27th articles of the same treaty.
7th. It is enjoined on the Commissioners of the Execntive Dirocto