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to convey to Halifax every person, not being a French citizen, but belonging to any nation at peace with Great Britain, who may be found on board of French privateers ; there to be tried as a pirate.
To this order, so far as it dooms to the penalties of piracy, Ameri. can citizens under the circumstances stated, I oppose the rights of a neutral nation. These rights are pressed with the more confidence ; as it is not pretended to declare them innocent of all offence. Far from it. We deem our citizens criminal who perpetrate hostility under any of the belligerent flags; and it is too notorious to have escaped you, that this is the decided language of our courts.
But are they pirates ? To answer this important question in the affirmative would be to admire rigor, rather than conciliation, to estimate, as of light concern, the jeopardy into which the peace of nations is thrown,—to confront the genuine doctrines of the law of nations, and even of the English law.
It will not be controverted, that he, who acts hostilely under a pron per commission, cannot be a pirate, nor yet, that a commission, granted to French privateers, covers from the crime of piracy French citizens, who sail under it. But the order referred to, if at all justi. fiable, can be justified upon this ground only, that such a commission does not spread its protection over American citizens, who may be a part of the crew.
The practice of nations is often quoted to illustrate the principles of general law; and stipulations of treaties are high evidences of that practice. Hence, when in the treaties of the United States, with France and Holland, the citizens and subjects of one contracting party are expressly prohibited from taking a commission from the enemy of the other, and the peril of piracy is attached to him who accepts the commission, but is not extended to subordinate mariners, it is natural to conclude, that, without this prohibition, even the principal himself would not have been a pirate. For, although treaties are sometimes declaratory of a pre-existing law, yet do they more often enact what otherwise would not bave existed. And in this instance, the treaty would seem to contemplate the introduction of a new arrangement; it being a subject which the parties appear to have had much at heart; and probably would not, if the piracy of the common sailors had been perfectly clear, have cast into doubt, by naming him only as a pirate, who was more obviously so than the inferior men, within his command. A terror upon the body of seamen would have been far more effectual, than upon individual captains or commanders; and notice of danger would have been the more humane, and was the more necessary to the former, as they were more ignorant and more liable to seduction.
to other Governments, condemns those who take commis. sions to prey upon a nation absolutely innocent with respect to them, as guilty of an infamous practice ; but then he adds “ la commission qu'ils reçoivent, en les assurant de l'indemnité, ne peut laver leur infar mie.” Thus he effaces the imputation of piracy.
This principle Molloy must have bad in view, when in the 15th section of his chapter on piracy, he states the following case :
A Dutchman, but naturalized by the Duke of Savoy, and living at Villa Franca in his dominions, procures a commission from the States of Holland, and coining to Leghorn, there rode with the colors and ensigns of the Duke of Savoy. The ship Diamond being then in port, and having received her lading, was afterwards in her voy. age surprized by that caper, and brought into Villa Franca, and there condemned and sold to one Poleman; which ship, afterwards coming from England, the plaintiffs having notice, made a seizure; and upon trial, adjudication passed for the plaintiffs, the original proprietors. For though the ship of war and the captors were of Savoy, and carried thither; yet, being taken by virtue of a Dutch commission, by the law-marine, she must be carried infra præsidia of that Prince or State, by virtue of whose commission she was taken. Nor can such carrying of the ensigns or colors of the Duke of Savoy, who was then in amity with the Crown of England; or the commander, though a subject of that Prince. make him a pirate, or subject them or those, to whom they have transferred their interest of the prize, any ways to be questioned for the same criminaliter. For that the ori ginal quo ad as to the taking was lawful; as one enemy might take from another," &c. (The rest of the case is unimportant on the present occasion.)
I must, therefore, make protestation against the treatment of sailors, who may be citizens of the United States, and under the circumstances described by Captain Cochrane, as pirates; and, I cannot but entertain a hope, that your impressions will not differ from mine ; especially when the assurance is repeated, that our laws shall be enforced against any person violating them in this particular.
I have the honor to be,
Secretary of State to Mr. T. Pinckney, Minister to Great Britain, dated
PHILADELPHIA, December 23, 1794.
DEAR SIR : My respect for your recommendation of Messrs. Talleyrand, Beaumetz, and Liancourt, and for the character of each of them, induces me to explain to you the reason why I bave not been able to pay them that attention, which I personally wished. It was a fact unknown to you, but too often impressed upon me indirectly to escape notice, that the French Republic would have learnt with disgust, that they had been received by the President. He having resolved not to receive
them, I beld it to be my duty, to do violence to my individual regard for their characters, by merging it in political considerations. sure, therefore, that you will accept this letter as an adequate apology, for not indulging myself on this occasion, with a demonstration of my esteem for your recommendation.
I have the honor to be, dear sir, &c.
Secretary of State to Mr. Hollingsworth, Attorney V. S. Maryland Dis
PHILADELPHA, Dec. 24th, 1794. Sir: I do myself the honor of enclosing to you the copy of a letter from the Minister of his Britannic Majesty, dated yesterday, relative to a prize, called the Hope, carried into Baltimore by a privateer, . named " Le Peuple Francois.” You perceive that the privateer is supposed to be one of the proscribed. I must therefore request you to make an immediate inquiry into the case, and to do whatsoever the law authorizes. If the intervention of the Governor of your State should be necessary, you are at liberty to despatch an express to him at the public expense.
I have the honor to be, sir,
Your most obt. serv't.
EDMUND RANDOLPH, P. S.-In case of the absence of Mr. Hollingsworth, the Collector will do what is necessary.
Secretary of State to Mr. Read, Attorney U. 8. Delaware District, dated
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 24th, 1794. SIR: I do myself the honor of enclosing to you a copy of a letter from Mr. Hammond, marking out some offenders against the laws of neutrality in your State. Permit me to ask your immediate attention to the subject, and to put the law in force against any citizens of the United States, who may come within the criminality described by Mr. Hammond.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obt. serv't.
Secretary of State to the Secretary of War, dated
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 24th, 1794.
SIR: Permit me to enclose to you a copy of a letter from Mr. Hammond, relative to a prize now at Baltimore, in the hands of a French Privateer. If the routine in which this business has been conducted enables you to give fuller effect to what ought to be done on this occasion, than has been done by my letter to the Attorney for the District of Maryland, wbich is also enclosed, I will thank you to attend to it immediately.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obto serv't.
Secretary of State to the British Minister, dated Philadelphia, Decem
ber 24, 1794.
Sir: I do myself the honor of acknowledging your two letters of yesterday.
The Secretary of War, in whose Department the inquiry into the case of the supposed illicit privateer lies, has undertaken immediately to exercise this function, so far as relates to the vessel herself. I have enclosed a copy of your letter to the Attorney of the District of Delaware, and urged him to put the law in force against any citizens of the United States who come within the criminal description.
With respect to the British vessel at Baltimore, which is a prize to the French privateer Le Peuple Francoise, I have written to the Attorney of the District of Maryland to examine the case, and to do what the law authorizes. If the intervention of the Governor of that State should be required, he is instructed to apply for it. Should the Attorney be absent, the Collector is desired to open the letter, and he will find in the body of it an instruction to him to proceed. I shall also despatch a copy of the letter on this subject to the Secretary of War, requesting his co-operation, if there be any thing within his Department.
I have the honor to be, sir,
Letter from Lieutenant Colonel Willis Wilson to the Governor of Vir.
PortsMOUTH, Jan. 3, 1795. SIR: I beg leave to enclose your Excellency a copy of a note from the British Consul to the Collector of the Customs of this port. The Collector, it seems, thought himself unwarranted to do any thing in the business. I was applied to by an officer of the Customs respecting the Consul's request or demand, and conceived it my duty to give orders to the commandant of the forts not to suffer the frigates to pass until your Excellency's orders were bad thereon. It is also my duty, for the sake of tranquillity, peace, and order, to make known that the commanders of his Britannic Majesty's ships have rendered themselves very obnoxious to the citizens of these two towns, as well as others, by lawless depredations on their property, and tyrannical impressments of native seamen ; that there now lie at our wharves three French ships of war, with crews to amount of six or seven hundred men ; the British ships in question, if allowed to come up, must also lay at the wharves to go through their repairs ; consequently, the necessary subordination cannot be had by the officers of either party over their seamen : I am, therefore, very apprehensive, in such a case, of dangerous consequences. In short, I think it very imprudent in the British to throw themselves in a port where there will be so great a majority of people with whom they are at war; for it is not in the power of ail neutral ports to keep order, or protect their neutrality : I am sure it is not the case with this. If, therefore, they are entitled to repairs in our ports, I humbly conceive Yorktown, or any port where there may not be so large a concourse of French citizens, a much more eligible place for them.
I will be very thankful to your Excellency for advice, whether the brigadiers have an existing command over the respective Counties, or whether that command is vested in the Lieutenant Colonels and the Brigadier Generals confined to the brigades
I hare the honor to be, &c.
(TRANSLATION.] The French Minister to the Secretary of State, Philadelphia 12th Plu
viose, 3d year of the French Republic, (Jan. 31, 1795.) Sir: It is now the third time that English vessels, notwithstanding my representations, have anchored with their prizes in the Chesapeake. I am assured that the French corvette l'Esperance has beer