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he, or the Lieutenant Governor, in his absence. bas before this day completed the business, according to national faith.
But that there may not be any impediment to the gratification of - your wishes, I have the pleasure of enclosing to you the copy of a let
ter, wbich will be despatched by the mail of to-morrow to the Execu, tive of Virginia.
I have the honor to be, &c.
P. S..This letter was sent this morning, Oct. S.
PHILADELPHIA, October 3, 1794.
SIR: It is with great mortification, that intelligence has been re. ceived at the Department of State, from the Minister of the French Republic, that the British frigate Terpsichore, has carried, as prize, into Norfolk, or some of our ports in its neighborhood, the French privateer La Montagne. Our treaty with France positively forbids the admission of a foreign ship of war under such circumstances. The rules which have been adopted by the President are pointed on this particular subject; what is due to all nations, we ought faithful. ly to render to the British; what is beyond the rights of the law of nations, we are under no obligation to perform. especially towards the British shipping, which is bourly destroying our trade, and more especially in defence of a treaty which ought to be held saered.
It appears, sir, by a letter from Gov. Lee to the French Consul at Norfolk, on the 12th of September last, that he had undertaken to make the necessary inquiries into the fact, and to do what the nature of the case demanded. The Minister of the French Republic is uneasy at the delay of the Governor's answer. and is led to apprehend from them, a more injurious delay in the effecting of the business. I have given bim my ideas of the course of this affair, trusting and believing that the patriotism of the Executive of Virginia will not suffer this gross insult to our treaty.
Let me entreat you, sir, to exert the attachment, which I know your whole body to possess to national faith, and to cause to be rendered to the French Republic, that justice to which it is entitled, upon the presumption, that the facts, as stated, shall be found to be accurate,
I have the honor to be, &c.
The French Minister to the Secretary of State, dated
PHILADELPHIA, the 15th Vindemiaire,
3d year of the French Republic, (6th October, 1794. 0. S.) SIR: In proportion to the pain of complaining of the negligence and tardiness which are shown in many parts of the United States, in the execution of the treaties, which equally bind our two nations, is the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of the despatch, in which I find expressed, with the energy of a friend, the intention of the Federal Government, to maintain the engagements which it has contracted with the French Republic. I observe to you, however, that this intention will produce no effect, if you are obliged to notify it to the Gov. ernors every time that hostile vessels, with their prizes, shall enter the ports from their cruise. For these vessels would then have time to take in provisions for themselves and their prizes, before the order of departure. (which ought to be given to them immediately, for fulfilling the object of the contractiug parties,) can be notified to them. It does not require a long time to make the researches necessary for determin. ing whether a vessel puts into a harbor only by force of the dangers of the sea. This is a case in which a few hours suffice for obtaining informaq tion; and it appears to me, that there is already a fault on the part of the Governors, or of those who are appointed to maintain the laws, that a demand must be made upon them for the execution of the iustructions which they have received from their Government. They have failed in their duty, which prescribes a continual vigilance and attention, to prevent any thing being done contrary to the laws or treaties of their country.
You will pardon, sir, these reflections, when you shall learn, that an English frigate has just anchored in Hampton road, with two French privateers, as prizes. If, on the very day of her arrival, she has not been directed to depart immediately, if there must have been long inquiries beforehand, and the consul must have written in the first in stance, the English will have had time to revictual, and supply all their wants : and the articles of our treaty, which, at first sight, seems necessarily to be so disadvantageous to them, will in no respect control their piracies. To crown the system of robbery, which they have invented, nothing more will be wanting, than to carry into your own ports the vessels which they shall have taken from yourselves, since they already conduct thither, in spite of your laws, those which they have taken from your allies.
Accept, sir, my esteem.
J. H. FAUCHET,
No. 185. Letter from the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, to Thomas Newton, Esq. Commandant of the Militia at Norfolk.
In Council, 9th of October, 1794. Sir: I have received a letter from the Secretary of State, dated the 3d instant, stating that he had been informed by the Minister of the French Republic, that the British Frigate the Terpsichore had carried as prize into Norfolk, or some of our ports, the French privateer La Montagne. Our treaty with France positively forbids the admission of a foreign ship of war under surh circumstances. The rules which have been adopted by the President, are pointed on this particular subject. Those rules have been communicated to you by the Governor's circular letter of the 5th of December last, to which I beg leave to rcfer. What is beyond the rights of the law of nations, we are under no obligation to perform, especially towards the Bri. tish shipping, which is hourly destroying our trade; and more especially, in defiance of a treaty which ought to be held sacred.
I beg, sir, that you will, as commandant of the Norfolk Militia, be pleased to inquire into this case, as well as all others of a similap nature, and report the same to the Executive with all possible despatch; and that you will, in the mean time, cause to be rendered to the French Republic that justice to which it is entitled, upon the presumption that the facts, as stated, shall be found to be accurate. This case was taken up by the Governor in his character of Commander in Chief of the Militia, before he left this place, upon the representation of the Vice Consul of Norfolk. I find by the Governor's letter to Mr. Oster, of the 12th ult., that he assures liim, he will make the necessary inquiries, and then pursue the conduct which the President's instructions enjoin." Not having received any communications respecting the inquiries made by the Governor, I naturally concluded the frigate had been ordered to depart, and had done so.
May I beg the favor of you to communicate the contents of this letter to Mr. Oster, and to Mr. William Lindsay, the Collector of the port of Norfolk.
I have the honor to be, &c.
PHILADELPHIA, 26 Vindemiaire, 3d year of the French Republic, 17th Oct. 1794, (0. 8.) SIR : I conceive how painful it must be to you to observe me recurring so often to the same questions, and speaking to you so frequently
on the same affairs : be persuaded that it is not less so to me, to have daily new motives of complaint against the abuse made of the laws in order to persecute our privateers. You announce to me that La Perseverance, prize to the Sans Pareil, had been delivered to the captors by order of the Governor of Rhode Island. In contempt of that decision the English agents have just created new difficulties -a new decision is still expected to take place on the first Monday of November. It is impossible, sir, for this state of things to continue much longer. You are sensible how necessary it will be to retrench from our treaty the article which reciprocally permits the ships of war of the two nations to conduct to, and sell their prizes in, their respective ports, should this right become illusory and void by the difficulty thrown in the way of its execution. I proposed a method as simple as it is just, for putting an end to this tyrannical chicanery—this method was to require security from those who prosecuted prizes as illegal. Were this measure adopted, it would render our enemies less ingenious in their proceedings, and prevent them from bringing so many actions of the justice of which they themselves are convinced. Your silence led me to presume that you were of opinion with me on this point. I am undeceived by the recent complaints which crowd upon me from all parts. I expect, sir, that the Federal Government will put an end to these persecutions by the mode I have proposed, or by any other which its wisdom may suggest.
Permit me, sir, to call to your attention, at the same time, the out. rage committed on board the Favorite by men clothed in American uniform. Among the army which they have pillaged, there are some of which the Republic stand in great need. I hope that forms will not add to the crime already committed-delays, injurious to the inte. rests of the French Republic, outraged by an act so contrary to the law of nations and to treaties.
Accept, sir, my esteem.w ord
Copy of a Circular to the Governors of the several States, dated (from
the State Department,)
PHILADELPHIA, October 22d, 1794. SIR: It gives me pain to inform your Excellency, that Mr. Fauchet, the Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, believes that he has reason to complain of the treatment which French prizes have too often received in our ports.
He represents, that, by the machinations of the enemies of his coun. try, the captors are harassed by seizures, arrests, and detentions, the most vexatious and cruel ; that as soon as the claimants are foiled in one attempt, they betake themselves to another.
On my part, as, from the confidence which the President reposes in the Executives of the States, they have been requested to fulfil the general rules laid down by him, I could only undertake to address your Excellency upon the subject.
Mr. Fauchet is anxious that a bond should be given by the claimants, before the Executives shall interpose in any case of a prize. Doubting the legality and expediency of this suggestion, I have it not in my power to recommend it. But I have assured him that none of the Chief Magistrates of the States will ever interfere, without a strong presumption of title. A late circumstance has, however, brought to view the practicability of oppression, unless precautions be adopted by the Executives. The claimants may often pursue a double chance, by first procuring a trial before the Governors; and, if defeated, by next resorting to the courts of law. It is desirable, therefore, that, whensoever an application shall be made to your Excellency, with respect to a prize, you should cause it to be examined well, whether the courts have jurisdiction to inquire into the affair. If they have, then it seems proper that your Excellency should not interpose. If the courts have not jurisdiction, and you are convinced that there is good ground for detaining the prize, in order to comply with the rules established by the President last year, then, and then only, your Excel. lency will so proceed. By these means, the vexation complained of will be avoided, as far as lies in the power of the Executive of the United or individual States; and the construction of the treaty will be left to the Judiciary, who are more particularly the expositors of it. By these means, also, the article of that treaty will be best preserved from violation, and the honor of our nation sustained.
But nothing wbich I have now taken the liberty of offering to your Excellency's consideration, is intended to check the succor which, at any time, you may find it necessary to give to the officers charged with the execution of legal process.
I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the highest respect, your Excellency's
Most obedient servant,
Secretary of State to the British Minister, dated
PHILADELPHIA, October 23, 1794.
SIR : Under the authority of a letter, addressed on the 5th ultimo, by Captain Alexander F. Cochrane, commander of his Britannic Ma. jesty's Ship Thetis, to Mr. John Hamilton, the British Consul at Norfolk in Virginia, I am compelled with pain to learn, that all the Captains of his Britannic Majesty's ships are particularly ordered