« ForrigeFortsett »
The learned conclusions of the Attorney General of the United States, and the deliberations of the American Government, have been, on this subject, the rule of my conduct. I have caused the prize to be given up; and, although of considerable value, my brave brethren, the seamen of the Ambuscade, have readily concurred in a measure, which I represented to them as a proper mean to convince the Ameri. can Government of our deference and of our friendship.
The French Republicans, sir, know the duties which nations owe to one another; enlightened on the rights of man, they have just ideas of the general laws of society, comprised under the common denomination of the law of nations, (droit des gens,) informed with respect to the interests of their country, they know how to distinguish its enemies and its friends, and you may assure the American Government, that collectively and individually, they will seize every occasion of showing to the Sovereign People of the United States, their respect for their laws, and their sincere desire to maintain with them the most perfect harmony.
Secretary of State to Mr. Genet, dated
PHILADELPHIA, June 5th, 1793. SIR : In my letter, of May 15th, to M. de Ternant, your predecessor, after stating the ,answers which had been given to the several memorials of the British Minister, of May 8th, it was observed that a part remained still unanswered, of that which respected the fitting gut armed vessels in Charleston, to cruise against nations with whom we were at peace.
In a conversation which I had, afterwards, the honor of holding with you, I observed that one of those armed vessels, the Citoyen Genet, had come into this port with a prize; that the President had, thereupon, taken the case into further consideration, and, after mature consultation and deliberation, was of opinion, that the arming and equipping vessels in the ports of the United States, to cruise against nations with whom they are at peace, was incompatible with the territorial sovereignty of the United States; that it made them instrumental to the annoyance of those nations, and, thereby, tended to compromit their peace, and that he thought it necessary, as an evidence of good faith to them, as well as a proper reparation to the sovereignty of the country, that the armed vessels of this description should depart from the ports of the United States.
The letter of the 27th instant, with which you have honored me, has been laid before the President, and that part of it which contains your observations on this subject has been particularly attended to. The respect due to whatever comes from you, friendship for the French nation, and justice to all, have induced him to re-examine the subject, and particularly to give, to your representations thereon, the consideration they deservedly claim. After fully weighing again, how. ever, all the principles and circumstances of the case, the result appears still to be, that it is the right of every nation to prohibit acts of sovereignty from being exercised by any other within its limits, and the duty of a neutral nation to prohibit such as would injure one of the warring Powers; that the granting military commissions, within the United States, by any other authority than their own, is an infringement on their sovereignty, and particularly so, when granted to their own citizens, to lead them to commit acts contrary to the duties they owe their own country; that the departure of vessels, thus illegally equipped, from the ports of the United States, will be but an acknow. ledgment of respect, analogous to the breach of it, while it is necessary, on their part, as an evidence of their faithful neutrality. On these considerations, Sir, the President thinks that the United States owe it to themselves, and to the nations in their friendship, to expect this act of reparation, on the part of vessels, marked, in their very equipment, with offence to the laws of the land, of which the law of nations makes an integral part.
The expressions of very friendly sentiment, which we have already had the satisfaction of receiving from you, leave no room to doubt, that the conclusion of the President being thus made known to you, these vessels. will be permitted to give no further umbrage by their presence in the ports of the United States. I have the honor to be, &c.
Secretary of State to the Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain in
the United States, dated
PHILADELPHIA, June 5th, 1793.
« In the letter which I had the honor of writing you on the 15th of May, in answer to your several memorials of the 8th of that month, I mentioned that the President reserved for further consideration a part of the one which related to the equipment of two privateers in the port of Charleston. The part alluded to, was that wherein you express your confidence that the Executive Government of the United States would pursue measures for repressing such practices in future, and for restoring to their rightful owners any captures which such privateers might bring into the ports of the United States.
The President, after a full investigation of this subject, and the most mature consideration, has charged me to communicate to you, that the first part of this application is found to be just, and that effectual measures are taken for preventing repetitions of the act therein complained of; but that the latter part, desiring restitution of the prizes, is understood to be inconsistent with the rules which govern such cases, and would, therefore, be unjustifiable towards the other party.
The principal agents in this transaction were French citizens. Be. ing within the United States, at the moment a war broke out between their own and another country, they determine to go in its defence; they purchase, arm, and equip a vessel with their own money, man it themselves, receive a regular commission from their nation, depart out of the United States, and then commence hostilities by capturing a vessel. If, under these circumstances, the commission of the captors was salid, the property, according to the laws of war, was, by the capture, transferred to them, and it would be an aggression on their pation, for the United States to rescue it from them, whether on the bigh seas, or on coming into their ports. If the commission was not valid, and consequently, the property not transferred by the laws of war, to the captors, then the case would have been cognizable in our courts of admiralty, and the owners might have gone thither for redress. So that, on neither supposition, would the Executive be justifiable in interposing."
Mr. Genet to the Secretary of State, dated
2d year of the French Republic. SIR: I have seen with pain, by your letter of the 5th of this month, that the President of the United States persists in thinking that a nation at war bad not the right of giving commissions of war to those of its vessels which may be in the ports of a neutral nation; this being, in his opinion, an act of sovereignty.
I confess to you, sir, that this opinion appears to me contrary to the principles of natural right; to the usages of nations; to the connexions which unite us; and even to the President's proclamation.
The right of arming, sir, for the purpose of its defence, and repel. ling unjust aggressions, in my opinion, may be exercised by a nation at war, in a neutral State; unless by treaty, or particular laws of this State, that right be confined to a single nation, friend or ally, and expressly interdicted to others. This is exactly the case in which we are. The United States, friends of the French, their allies and guarantees of their possessions in America, have permitted them to
enter armed, and remain in their ports, to bring there their prizes, to repair in them, to equip in them, whilst they have expressly refused this privilege to their enemies. The intention of the United States has been to facilitate to us the means of protecting, efficaciously, our commerce, and of defending our possessions in America, so useful to our mutual prosperity; and as long as the States, assembled in Congress, shall not have determined that this solemn engagement shall not be performed, no one has a right to shackle our operations, and to annul their effect, by hindering those of our marines, who may be in the American ports, to take advantage of the commissions which the French Government has charged me to give them, authorizing them to defend themselves, and fulfil, if they find an opportunity, all the duties of citizens against the enemies of the State. Besides, sir, at all times, like commissions, during a war, have been delivered to our vessels. The officers of the marine transmit them to them, in France, and the consuls, in foreign countries; and it is in virtue of this usage, which no Power has ever thought of regarding as an act of sovereignty, that the Executive Council has sent here such commissions.
However, sir, always animated with the desire of maintaining the good harmony which so happily subsists between our two countries, I have instructed the consuls not to grant letters, but to the captains who gliall obligate themselves, under oath and security, to respect the territory of the United States, and the political opinions of their President, until the representatives of the sovereign shall have confirmed or rejected them. This is all that the American Government can expect from our deference; every thing that passes out of the waters of the United States not coming within their cognizance.
It results from this note, sir, that the commissions transmitted in virtue of the orders of the Executive Council of ihe Republic of France, to the French vessels in the ports of the United States, are merely an authority to arm themselves, founded upon the natural right and constant usage of France; that these commissions have been expedited at all times, in like circumstances; that their distribution cannot be considered but as an act of consular administration, and not of sovereignty; and that every obstruction by the Government of the United States, to the arming of French vessels, must be an attempt on the rights of man, upon which repose the independence and laws of the United States; a violation of the ties wbich unite the People of France and of America, and even a manifest contradiction of the system of neutrality of the President : for, in fact, if our mer. chant vessels or others, are not allowed to arm themselves, when the French alone are resisting the league of all the tyrants against the liberty of the People, they will be exposed to inevitable ruin in going out of the ports of the United States, which is certainly not the intention of the People of America. Their fraternal voice has resounded froin every quarter around me, and their accents are not equivocalthey are pure as the hearts of those by whom they are expressed, and the more they bave, touched my sensibility, the mure they must inter
est in the happiness of America, the nation I represent; the moro I wish, sir, that the Federal Government should observe, as far as in their Power, the public engagements contracted by both nations; and that, by this generous and prudent conduct, they will give at least to the world, the example of a true neutrality, which does not consist in the cowardly abandonment of their friends in the moment when danger menaces them, but in adhering strictly, if they can do no better, to the obligations they have contracted with them. It is by such proceedings that they will render themselves respectable to all powers; that they will preserve their friends, and deserve to augment their number.
Circular letter from the Governor of Virginia to the Commandants of Counties in which are ports of navigation, dated
Richmond, June 8, 1793. Sir: The President of the United States having called on me, in my character of Commander in Chief of the Militia of this State, to be ready to suppress any attempt or attempts which may be made within the limits thereof, to violate the neutrality he has declared in behalf of the People of the United States, towards the belligerent Powers, I consider it iny duty to communicate the same to the Commandants of the Militia of those counties whose local situation may require it; together with the sentiments expressed by the President on this occasion.
He has declared that the treaty existing between the United States and France, and the treaty existing between the United States and Holland, do not authorize those Powers to arm vessels within our ports; therefore, any attempt on the part of the belligerent Powers, or their subjects, so to do, will be a violation of the neutrality
In all such cases you will, therefore, be pleased to interpose with your Militia, seizing and detaining any vessel which you may find within the limits of your county, commissioned, equipped, and manned, as a privateer, on behalf of any of the belligerent Powers, or of their subjects; and you will also interpose in all acts of bostility woich may happeň between the belligerent Powers, detaining the party first aggressing.
In any event of this sort, you will be so good, without loss of time, to communicate the case to ine, with all the evidence legaliy taken in writing, appertaining thereunto, that I may transmit the same to the President of the United States, whose decision, when known to me, will be forwarded to you. I have the honor to be, Sir, &c.