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keeps its engagements, as still to demand with confidence their execution.
An occasion now presents itself. Even adopting your construction of the treaty, it has just been violated at Norfolk. The English frigate Terpsichore anchored there with a French privateer, called La Montagne, which she had taken. The Consul of the Republic complained in writing to the Governor of Virginia, against this infraction, and a length of time elapsed without the Governor's deigning to give him an answer. I expect one from you, whose principles I know, more speedy, no doubt, and conformable with justice. This delay gives rise to a very painful reflection; it is, that there is the greatest fervor to satisfy the unjust demands of our enemies, and the greatest coldness to satisfy our lawful demands. Norfolk will furnish the two proofs of what I advance; the execution of our treaties was claimed, but no answer was given. A vessel whose mast was broken in her passage to Guadaloupe, where she was carrying provisions, was obliged to return to Norfolk. It was immediately wished to arrest her, on the assertion of some Englishmen, and the proceedings which were to be employed were so odious, so insulting to the public officers of the Republic, that I am obliged to enter into some details relative to this affair.
A Frenchman learned at Charleston the recapture of Gaudaloupe ; his first feeling excited him to go to the assistance of his newly arrived brethren; he purchased a schooner which he loaded with provisions, intending to avail himself of the American papers belonging to the vessel he had bought; it was justly observed to him, that, agreeably to the laws of the United States, the transfer of a vessel to a foreigner made it necessary to give up the papers ; he was then obliged, agreeably to the laws of France, to take out from the Consulate a certificate of the purchase, to serve him until his arrival at the first French port. For the defence of his property, he put on board thirteen cannon, which he possessed before the purchase of the vessel. He notified the Governor of South Carolina of it, who, finding him armed simply for his own defence, and not for a cruize, made no objection. He had hardly arrived, when it was wished to arrest him. I leave you to judge of the indignation of a man, who, impatient at the space which separated him from his fellow citizens dying with hunger, found himself treated as a criminal amongst an allied nation. He esteemed every moment of delay which he experienced as so many assassinations of the Frenchmen who were threatened with approaching famine. To put the finishing stroke to this inhospitable conduct, the Consul of the Republic was solicited to arrest the captain, without giving the grounds of the suit instituted against him, as if it was desired to make the Consul act the part of a constable. I send you the documents which establish this fact. I know, sir, that you will answer me, that a superior court will determine on the legality of these persecutions, and that justice will finally be done. But in an unjust prosecution which they may have raised, I have already remarked to you, it is of little consequence to the English agents, how the suit shall be determined ; if
may give rise.
they have contravened an operation which was to save a French colony, they have attained the object they proposed ; and if, in the present case, for example, they should be obliged to pay heavy damages, heavier even than the value of the vessel, they will pay them with pleasure. If they shall have prevented the supplies of one of our colonies, it must be to them as grateful, as it is grievous to us, to render those the instrumepts of the ruin of one of our possessions in the islands, who have guarantied their safe possession by their treaties with us. | However disagreeable it may be to me to fatigue the Federal Government with my complaints, I must again recur to the capture of the English brigantine Perseverance. I shall content myself with submitting the facts, and shall leave to you the reflections to which they
The English brigantine Perseverance, captured by the privateer Le Sans Pareil, commissioned at Cape Francois, in the island of St. Domingo, arrived at New York* the 13th of last August. The English Vice Consul immediately suggested that the Sans Pareil had been commissioned at Charleston. The Collector of the Customs at once caused the prize to be seized, the captors to be expelled, possession to be taken, and all her papers to be carried away.
The French prize-master wished to object to two English sailors, who, being improperly influenced, declared, under oath, that this officer had killed a man at Charleston : and he was finally imprisoned.
Happily, the Consul of the Republic at Boston, being informed of this strange persecution, sent his Shancellor to Newport.
The Chancellor found that, from just suspicions conceived against the two English sailors, and the impossibility of their giving security to appear at the criminal suit commenced against the prize-master, they had been themselves committed to prison, that seeing themselves abandoned, uneasy about the consequences, perhaps repentant, they had confessed that their deposition was false ; that finally they bad retracted judicially, by confessing that they had been actuated only by malice, and had been set at liberty; that in the mean time nobody was prosecuted but the two perjurers; and that the final enlargement of the prize-master was delaved.
The Chancellor, on his arrival, requested from the Collector a communication of the papers of the prize : he requested him to send her to Providence for the sake of greater security ; because an attempt had been made the night before, by the owner and the English sailors, to carry her off. He obtained neither: was obliged to protest, and went to Newport to claim justice from the Governor.
The Governor heard the cause on the 25th of August. The Engglish Vice Consul obtained its adjournment to a distant day, and appeared desirous of gaining time. Finally, the prize was restored to the captors; but in the interval she became injured the costs of suit consumed a part of her value, and the privateersmen became discouraged.
I spare you, sir, an infinity of daily complaints, all of which equally disclose an extreme facility in a great number of the civil officers of the United States, of condescensior to the first requisitions of the English agents, and who thereby second, no doubt involuntarily, the intrigues of our perfidious enemies. It would be very pleasing to me no more to be obliged to trouble you with the recital of the injustice and malevolence of which those men are the victims, who, after having braved death, are compelled to submit to all the disgusts of the most cunning chicanery, before they can enjoy the price of their blood, those men, finally, who are afraid of losing in fulfilling the office of the lawyer, about which they know but little, that time which they might have better employed in purging your coasts of the pirates who devour your commerce.
Pardon, sir, the length of this despatch : the importance of the matter which I have treated would not adınit of more brevity. If any of the expressions which it contains should wound the Executive of the United States, it will be entirely against the wish of my heart, and I must pray you not to attribute them to any design of offending it. but to a sentiment of grief which I feel in writing it. You have been long persuaded of the profound esteem I profess for him who is its head, and whom I every day learn more to venerate. Accept, Sir, &c.
J. H. FAUCHET.
The Secretary of State to the British Minister, dated
PHILADELPHIA, September 23, 1794.
SIR: Not a day passes, which does not bring some report of the British cruisers capturing American vessels. As far as we are able to judge from the representations of the parties interested, America property and American bottoms are searched and seized, under a variety of frivolous pretexts; and in some instances in our very Bays.But after making every allowance for these reports and these representations. I have no doubt that the schooner Betsy, and the barque John, belonging to Messrs. Read and Forde, merchants in this city, which have been lately carried into Bermuda by the Experiment Privateer of that Island, have been arrested without color or excuse:Increasing, as these depredations seem to be, and counteracting as they do. the expectations, which have been formed of an amicable adjustment between the United States and Great Britain ; nay, reviving, as is too obvious, the spirit of the instructions of November 6th, 1793. I trust, that you will not confine your answer to the observation, that if these vessels be innocent, they will be acquitted : I rather lope, that if you possess any information, which may put an end to this constant and exasperating invasion of our property, you will transmit it to such places, as that it may more certainly reach the cruizers; and particularly, that you will furnish the agent of Messrs. Read and Forde with such letters, as may shelter their vessels and effects. I restrain myself to the request that any intelligence may be forwarded : But, sir, if you have powers also on the subject, you will be convinced of the necessity of exerting them, to prevent this hourly sacrifice of American substance, and these violent trials of American patience.
I have the honor to be, &c.
The Secretary of State to the French Minister, dated'
PHILADELPHIA, September 27, 1794. SIR: I do myself the honor of informing you that the Governor of Rhode Island has decided that the Perseverance, a prize to the Sanspareil, shall be restored to the captors; and of assuring you that I am, with great respect, &c.
PHILADELPHIA, 10th Vindemiaire.
(October 1, 1794, 0. S.) SIR: I send you the answer given by Mr. Lee, Governor of Vir. ginia, to the vice-consul of Norfolk, who claimed the execution of the 17th article of the treaty of commerce between France and the United States. I shall be obliged by your informing me what the instructions are, which this Governor could have received from the President, or, at least, what is the issue of my complaints against the manifest violation of the article I have just cited. I beg leave to observe to you, that the brevity of the letter of Mr. Lee affords no satisfaction, and that if he delays any length of time in obtaining information, the jus. tice I demand will be too tardy, and will afford the English frigates time to be supplied, and finally to brave the authority of your Governinent.
Accept my esteem,
J. H. FAUCHET.
P.S.-You will remark, sir, that the letter of the vice-consul of Norfolk remained twelve days without an answer, and that, when complaints are made against prizes taken by our cruizers, two hours are enough for even unjust seizures to take place.
Secretary of State to the French Minister, dated
PHILADELPHIA, October 2, 1794.
SIR: I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 1st instant, in which you are pleased to repeat the complaint contained in your letter of the 18th ult. against the English frigate Terpsichore, carrying into Norfolk, in Virginia, as a prize, the French privateer La Montagne. You remonstrate also upon the delay which the Governor of Virginia has shown, in granting the relief required by the consul of the French Republic; and desire to be informed of the instructions which have been given in this affair by the Executive of the United States, or at least of the issue of your application.
It was my intention to have replied to the case of the Terpsichore, in the answer which I purpose to make to your letter of the 18th ult. But I have no hesitation in delivering it to you, as my opinion, that her coming into our ports with a prize, is inadmissible by our treaty with France. It is more. It is contrary to the rules which have been long ago prescribed by the President of the United States to the Governors of the individual States, and which Governor Lee, in his letter of the 12th ult. to consul Oster, undertakes to execute.
From the circumstances, however, of Governor Lee being possessed of standing instructions and powers, adequate to the exigency, and of Mr. Oster having laid the matter before him, it could not be presumed that he had effected an unnecessary procrastination. Nor did you specify in your letter of the 18th ultimo, the interval between Mr. Oster's application and the retardment of Governor Lee's answer. Hence, as it was known to me that it would require some time for a letter to pass from Norfolk to Richmond, the seat of Government, for an answer to be returned from Richmond to Norfolk, and for the usual al. lowance for the possibility of the Governor's absence, (which now seems probable from an expression in his letter of the 12th ult. to Mr. Oster) I did not hold myself justified in expressing to him a suspicion of neglect. Without such a suspicion it would have been absolutely useless to address him, as he could have been merely instructed to make the necessary inquiries, and to fulfil the sense of the President; both which things he ought to accomplish of course, upon being notified of the occasion.
As Governor Lee, in that letter of the 12th ultimo, promises to discharge the duties which are expected from him, I cannot doubt that