theirs. Hence the propriety of asking such explanations as may serve to tranquillize our commercial citizens, and continue the good understanding and friendship between the two nations, which it has been the uniform desire of the Ainrrican Government to maintain.

Permit me to request an early answer to this letter. With great respect, I am, &c."


No. 223. Secretary of State to Harrison Gray Otis, District Attorney of the

United States, dated



Sir: I received your letter of the 6th. Since I wrote you on the 30th ultimo; orders have been issued, from the Treasury Department, to the Collectors, not to admit to an entry any prizes taken by foreign privateers, commissioned by any Prince or State at enmity with Great Britain.

I trust the Chief Justice, Ellsworth, will bave written to Judge Lowell on this subject. agreeably to my request on the 30th ultimo, the question having been considered, and, I take it, determined by him in South Carolina.

By an act of Congress, (being in addition to the act, entitled "An Act to establish the Judicial Courts of the United States,") passed the 2d of March, 1793, any Judge of the Supreme Court may grant an injunction, in cases where it might be granted by the Supremo or a Circuit Court Judge Ellsworth's expected statement, I trust, will show that Judge Cushing may proceed in Massachusetts as he did in South Carolina. The British Consul, I think, omitted an act of duty, in not making the remonstrance against the sales of the prizes, or the entry of them, as you proposed ; unless there were on the spot agents of the owners of the vessels and cargoes, on whom that duty would be incumbent.

If no formal injunction should be obtained to prevent the sales, the agents of the captors may, I presume, be properly informed that the sales will be unlawful, and that they will subject themselves, if they proceed to sell the prizes, to indictment and punishment, for a violation of a supreme law of the United States. In one way or the other, I hope we shall be able to escape the charge of infringing a freaty: or, if the sales of any of the prizes should take place, that the United States will be justified by a rigorous prosecution of the ngents. The Attorney General is absent from the seat of Government, or I would have requested his advice on this occasion. I am, Sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,


No. 224.


The French Minister to the Secretary of State, dated Philadelphia, the

26th Messidor, 4th year of the French Republic, (14th July, 1796, 0. S.)

Sir: The business with which I have been burdened has prevented me from answering sooner the letter you did me the bonor to write to me, on the 1st of July.

I am sorry, Sir, to be obliged to leave you in an uncertainty, in wbich I myself participate. I do not know the nature of the orders

which may have been given by my Government to the officers of the *ships of war of the Republic, or what conduct it has prescribed to them to hold with regard to neutral vessels trading with our enemies. I am not informed whether the ancient arrêts of the Committee of Public Safety, relative to the commerce of the United States, are still in force or not. Some considerable time having elapsed since I have received news from France, I cannot have recourse to old dates to resolve your doubts. I can only refer to the answer which I had the honor of giving to your letter, relative to the Mount Vernon..

The Consul at Boston has just informed me, that the collector of the customs there has prevented the unlading and sale of the prizes carried into that port, by two French privateers. The Consul has ineffectually complained to him. The collector founds his refusal upon a letter which he says he received from you.

I request you. Sir, to inform me, whether the President has caused orders to be given for preventing the sale of prizes conducted into the ports of the United States by the vessels of the Republic or privateers armed under its authority, and, if so, upon what foundation this prohibition rests. Accept, Sir, &c.


No. 225." Extract of a report from Mr. Pickering, Secretary of State, to the President of the United States, dated


July 13th, 1796. .Mr. Adet asks whether the President has caused orders to be given to prevent the sale of prizes conducted into the ports of the United States, by vessels of the Republic, or privateers armed under its aua thority. On this, I have the honor to inform you, that the 24th article of the British treaty having explicitly forbidden the arming of privateers, and the selling of their prizes in the ports of the United States, the Secretary of the Treasury prepared, as a matter of course, circular letters to the Collectors, to conform to the restrictions contained in that article, as the law of the land. This was the more necessary, as formerly the Collectors had been instructed to admit ta an entry and sale the prizes brought into our ports.

No. 226.

Secretary of State to the French Minister, dated


July 19, 1796. SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 14th instant, in answer to mine of the 1st. You embraced the occasion to communicate the information you had received from the Consul at Boston, that the Collector of the Custoins there has prevented the unlading and selling of the prizes carried into that port by two French privateers ; grounding his proceeding on a letter received from me. And you inquire whether the President has given orders to pre. vent the sale of prizes carried into the ports of the United States, by vessels of the Republic, or privateers armed under its authority? and on what foundation this prohibition rests? I will be very frank, sir, in answering these questions, after making some preliminary observa- • tions.

The question about the sale of prizes is not a new one. It was agitated, and the point of right settled, in the year 17 93. Among the state papers communicated to Congress, at the close of that year, and which have been published, is a letter from Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Mor. ris, dated the 16th August, in which is the following passage : « The 17th article of our treaty, (meaoing with France.) leaves armed ves. sels free to conduct withersoever they please, the ships and goods ta. ken from their enemies, without paying any duty, and to depart, and be conducted freely to the places expressed in their commissions, which the captain shall be obliged to shew. It is evident that this article does not contemplate a freedom to sell their prizes here, but on the contrary, a departure to some other place, always to be expressed in their commission, where their validity is to be finally adjudged.

In such case, it would be as unreasonable to demand duties on the goods they had taken from an enemy, as it would be on the cargo of a merchant vessel, touching in our ports for refreshment or advices. And against this, the article provides. But the armed vessels of France have been also admitted to land and sell their prize goods here for consumption; in which case it is as reasonable they should pay disties, as the goods of a merchantman landed and sold for consumption. They have, however, demanded, and as a matter of right, to sell them free of duty; a right, they say, given by this article of the treaty.. though the article does not give the right to sell at all."

It is plain that France understood this 17th article in the same sense, and, accordingly, in her treaty of commerce with Great Britain, in 1786, she entered into a stipulation, which, in case of a war between the United States and Great Britain, would have prevented the ves. sels of the United States from arming as privateers, or selling their prizes, in the ports of France ; in like manner the United States in their commercial treaty with Great Britain, agreed on a similar prohi. bition; indeed, the 24th article of the latter treaty is but a translation of the 16th, betwen France and Great Britain.

Under this view of the case, sir, as soon a provision was made on both sides, to carry into effect the treaty between the United States and Great Britain, it behooved the Government of the former, to countermand the permission formerly given to French privateers, to sell their prizes in our ports. Such sales, you have seen, the United States had always a right to prohibit; and by the above mentioned stipulation, this right became a duty. These, sir, are the foundations of the orders which have been given to prevent the sale of the prizes lately carried into Boston by French privateers, to which you refer, it being understood that the prizes were British property. Those orders have since been made general, and communicated to the Collectors in all the ports of the United States. But, at present, those orders are £onfined to prizes brought into our ports by privateers.

I have the honor to be,
With great respect. sir.
Your most obedient servant,



No. 227.

Secretary of State to Mr. King, Minister United

Britain, dated

States to Great


July 27, 1796.


“Orders having been given to prevent the sale of prizes brought into our ports by French privateers, conformably to the 24th article of our treaty with Great Britain, a certain class of our citizens raised some little clamor, that the prohibition was not only unfriendly to France, but a violation of our treaty with that nation."

No. 228.

of the tent how usefumesswithout me

Extract of a letter from the commission of Foreign Affairs of the Bate

vian National Assembly, to the Minister Resident of the United States. of America, dated

HAQUE, September, 27, 1796. .“ We cannot let the present opportunity pass, without requesčing you to state to your Government how useful it would be to the interests of the inhabitants of the two republics, that the United States should at last seriously take to heart the numberless insults daily committed on their flag by the English to represent to them, that, when circumstances oblige our commerce to confide its interests to the neutral flag of American vessels ; it has a just right to insist that that flag be protected with energy, and that it be not insulted at the expense of a friendly and allied nation. Deign to recall to the re. membrance of the nation of which you are minister, that the numerous services which our Republic has rendered to it, our reciprocal relations, as well as mutual utility, imperiously require, that it should cease to view with indifference the manner in which the English act; who carry off with impunity from on board American vessels, the property of Batavians. Lead them to perceive that reasons of con. venience, treaties concluded subsequent to that with the Batavian Republic, cannot change or annul a treaty formally concluded and ratified between our two nations-between two nations who have equally suffered from the arrogance and despotism on the seas of proud Albion--in a word, between two nations, who, making common cause with the French Republic, and governing themselves by the imprescriptible rights of nature and of men, may render to the two hemis, pheres a peace for which humanity languishes."


imperided to it, or, that the to the res

No. 229.


The French Minister to the Secretary of State, dated

PHILADELPHIA, 21st Vindemiaire,
5th Year of the French Republic,

12th October, 1796. 0. S. SIR: The French privateer Leo took into Charleston an Eng, lish vessel called the Mary. The English Consul required that the sale of this veseel should be prohibited in virtue of the 24th article of the treaty coucluded between the King of Great Britain and the United States. The Government of South Carolina, uncertain as to the

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