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interpretation which the 24th article should receive, deferred its de cision for some days. In the mean time the French Consul condemn. ed the prize, and unlading was commenced. It was stayed by a war, rant in the hands of the marshal, who obliged the agents of the priva. teer to appear before the Admiralty.
A decision rendered by the chief justice (Ellsworth) in a special court, interdicted the sale of the prize, in virtue of the 24th article of the treaty concluded with England. This decision was confirmed by the Circuit Court of Carolina, who, when they were going to throw in an appeal to the Supreme Court, the circular letter from the Secreta. ry of the Treasury, relative to the sale of our prizes was made known, and it was conceived that an appeal became useless.
In the mean time the vessel being ready to sink, she was examined and condemned. The privateer agents, of whom Judge Ellsworth took a bond of 10,000 dollars as a security 'that they would not sell the prize, solicited permission to export the cargo in neutral vessels ;
-this was refused, and the cargo, which consisted of 87,000 weight of sugar, became a prey to the flames, during the fire at Charleston. Permission, however, has been given to export a trifling part of the cargo, saved from the conflagration.
The condemned vessel was purchased and repaired by an American. His project was to go and sell her in the Antilles ; but he was obliged to abandon her, and to cancel his bargain, because he was re. fused American papers. The privateer agents then wished to send off this vessel in ballast, with French papers; the Collector of the Customs, Mr. Holmes, opposed it, and the vessel remains in the port of Charleston, notwithstanding the protest of the French Consul, of the 16th Fructidor,
Such are the facts of which the Consul of Charleston has rendered me an account, about which I spoke to you yesterday, and to which I call your attention. Such is the violation of our treaty, against which I solicit your justice.
The 17th article of our treaty secures to our privateers the faculty of entering into the ports of the United States, and going out of them with their prizes. The 24th article of the treaty concluded with Great Britain, in truth, interdicts the privateers of the country at war with that Power, from entering the ports of the United States; but by the 25th article, our rights are acknowledged, and the Government has assured me that it would maintain them. Our privateers have therefore the liberty of freely bringing in and taking out their prizes. The Mary could and should then go out of the port of Charleston without any obstacle, as she entered there ; and therefore, the Collector of the Customs violated our treaty when he prevented her going out. But how shall I qualify the refusal given to the agents of the privateer Leo to export in neutral vessels the cargo of this prize? Upon what can such an act be supported ? Is there in the treaty concluded with Great Britain any explicit stipulation, which can be brought forward ? Doubtless there is none; and yet, because our trea ty does not contain in an explicit manner the right of selling our prizes, it is contested with and refused to us ? By a forced interpretation of the treaty concluded with Great Britain, will it be found that we have not the right to export, in a case of necessity, the car. go of our prizes, in neutral vessels ? This manner of reasoning is be. yond a doubt inadmissible, and a just and impartial man will never use it. Besides, facts support what I have the honor of saying to you, since the permission which was refused at first, was afterwards granted. The state of things had not been changed ; and if the Collector of the Customs thought he could permit the wreck of the cargo of the Mary to be exported in neutral vessels after the conflagration of Charleston, why did he not allow it before? He was therefore moved not by the spirit of justice, which ought to direct his actions, but by a partiality of which it is difficult to give an account: for be should merely have taken care, according to the orders transmitted to him, that the prize was not sold in the United States, and it was not for him under any pretext to give a greater extent than really existed, to the stipulations of the treaty concluded with the English, in order to make them bear heavy on us. Does this conduct appertain to the agent of a neutral Government? In consequence of it, have I not a right to require that the Collector of the Customs be punished for having violated the treaty on the one hand, and for having certainly excee ied his orders by retarding the exportation of the prize's cargo, which he had no right to do?
I could wish, sir, it were in my power here to stop my just complaints; but there are other facts, which I cannot pass over in silence, and of which it is requisite I should inform you.
The French privateer Bellona has carried into Wilmington, North Carolina, the Betty Cathcart and the Aaron, prizes made upon the English. The sale of these prizes has been prohibited. They were very leaky. Two tradesmen, named by the Collector, James Read, have certified, that they could not be sent out again to sea. The privateer and her agents have requested permission to unlade these priz. es, in order to repair the vessels. The Collector refused, upon the basis of the 24th article of the treaty concluded with Great Britain. But I now have that article before me, and I see no stipulation which could authorize the Collector, James Read, to take the step he has done.
Nothwithstanding the solicitations and protestations of the agents of the privateer against his refusal, James Read still persisted in it, altho' the leaks of the Betty Cathcart were such that she made be. tween 30 and 40 inches of water in an hour. In this latter circumstance, he founds his conduct on the orders of Government.
I cannot believe, sir, that the Collector James Read then advanced a fact. I cannot believe, that the Federal Government, by hindering the unlading of prizes not in a condition to go to sea, thereby wished to aggravate the conditions of a treaty made with our enemies, when they are already so disadvantageous to us. I cannot believe that it wished by its own motion to add 20 the wrongs which the English well know how to do us by their treaty with the United States.
· But be this as it may, it is no less true that the officers and crew of the Bellona, as well as those of the Leo, have ex, erienced consider. able losses by the conduct of the collectors of the Customs of Charleston and Wilmington ; that these Collectors were not at all authorized thus to act; that, on the one hand our treaty has been violated, and on the other, an arbitrary proceeding, which cannot be justified by any means, has been allowed against French citizens coming into your ports under the faith of previous treaties and conventions, and when they were in no way notified that these conventions were changed. It is no less true that these citizens have experienced real damage from the doings of the officers of the Government, and that they ought therefore to be indemnified in one way or other. This is what I request, sir, in the name of justice, besides invoking your severity against the collectors, James Read and Holmes.
I hope, sir, that I shall obtain the object of these requests, that the Mary may freely go out under a Freneh flag, and that I shall bave only a satisfactory account to render to my Government under these circumstances : but in order to avoid in future claims of a like nature, I request you to be pleased to answer the following questions :
1. Will the prizes made by the ships of the Republic upon the English continue to be sold here?
2. Will the prizes made by our privateers upon others than the English be sold here?
3. Shall we unconditionally enjoy the right of unlading the prizes in case of damage, and of having them repaired ?
4. Can a part of the prize sufficient only for the expense of repairs be sold?
It is useless, sir, for me to enter into any detail to lead you to conceive how important it is for the interests of our privateers, that I should be able to say to them, in a precise manner, what they are to expect on coming into your ports.
I shall be much obliged to you, also, if you will be pleased to answer me as speedily as possible, in order that I may inform my Government of your ulterior resolutions.
P. A. ADET:
The French Minister to the Secretary of State, dated
PHILADELPHIA, 27th October, 1796. The undersigned. Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, in conformity to the orders of his Government, has the honor of transmitting to the Secretary of State of the United States a resolution, taken by the Executive Directory of the French Republic, on the 14th Messidor, 4th year, (July 2. 1796) relative to the conduct which the ships of war of the Republic are to hold towards neutral vessels The flag of the Republic will treat the flag of neutrals in the same manner as they shall suffer it to be treated by the English.
The sentiments which the American Government have manifested to the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary, do not permit him to doubt, that they will see, in its true light, this measure as far as it may concern the United States ; and that they will also feel, that it is dictated by imperious circumstances, and approved by justice.
Great Britain, during the war she has carried on against the Republic, has not ceased using every means in her power to add to that scourge, scourges still more terrible: she has used the well known liberality of the French nation, to the detriment of that nation. Know. ing how: faithful France bas always been in the observance of her treaties; knowing that it was a principle of the French Republic to respect the flags of all nations, the British Government, from the beginning of the war, has caused neutral vessels, and in particular American vessels, to be detained ; taken them into their ports, and dragged from them Frenchmen and French property. France, bound by a treaty with the United States, could find only a real disadvantage in the articles of that treaty which caused to be respected as American property English property found on board American vessels. They had a right, under this consideration, to expect that America would take steps in favor of her violated neutrality. One of the predeces. sors of the undersigned, in July, 1793, applied on this subject to the Government of the United States ; but he was not successful. Nevertheless, the National Convention, who by their decree of the 9th May, 1793, had ordered the seizure of enemy's property on board neutral vessels, declaring, at the same time, that the measure should cease when the English should respect neutral flags, had excepted, on the 23d of the same month, the Americans from the operation of this general order. But the Convention was obliged soon to repeal the law which contained this exception so favorable to Americans; the manner in which the English conducted themselves, the manifest intention they had to stop the exportation of provisons from America to France, rendered it unavoidable.
The National Convention, by this, had restored the equilibrium of neutrality which England had destroyed ; had discharged their duty 'in a manner justified by a thousand past examples, as well as by the necessity of the then existing moment; they might, therefore, before they revoked the orders they had given to seize enemy's property on board American vessels, have waited till the British Government had first definitively revoked the same order ; a suspension only of which was produced by the embargo laid by Congress the 26th March, 1794; but as soon as they were informed, that, under orders of the Government of the United States, Mr. Jay was directed to remonstrate against the vexatious measures of the English, they gave orders, by the 13th Nivose, 3d year, to the ships of war of the Republic, to respect American vessels ; and the Committee of Public Safety, in their explana. tory resolve of the 14th of the same month, (January 4th, 1795,) hastened to sanction the same principles, The National Convention and the Committee of Public Safety had reason to believe that this open and liberal conduct would determine the United States to use every effort to put a stop to the vexations practised against their commerce, to the injury of the French Republic. They were deceived in this hope ; and tho’ the treaty of friendship, navigation, and commerce, between Great Britain and the United States, had been signed six weeks before France adopted the measure I have just spoken of, the English did not abandon the plan they had formed, and continue to stop and carry into their ports all American vessels bound to French ports or returning from them.
This conduct was the subject of a note, which the undersigned addressed on the 7th Vindemiaire, 4th year, (29th September, 1795, 0.S.) to the Secretary of State. The remonstrances which it contained were founded upon the dnties of neutrality, upon the principles which Mr. Jefferson had laid down in his letter to Mr. Pinckney, dated the 13th September, 1793; yet this note has remained without an answer, though recalled to the remembrance of the Secretary of State, by a despatch of the 9th Germinal, 4th year, (29th March, 1796, 0.S.); and American vessels bound to French ports, or returning from them, have still been seized by the English. Indeed, more; they have added a new vexation to those they had already imposed upon Americans; they have impressed seamen from on board American vessels; and have thus found the means of strengthening their crews at the expense of the Americans, without the Government of the United States having made known to the undersigned the steps they had taken to obtain satisfaction for this violation of neutrality, so hurtful to the interests of France, as the undersigned had set forth in his despatches to the Secretary of State, of the 9th Germinal, 4th year, (29th March, 1796, 0. S.) 19th Germinal (8th April, 1796,) and 1st Floreal, (20th April 1796,) which have remained without an answer.
The French Government, then, finds itself, with respect to America at the present time, in circumstances similar to those of the year 1793; and if it sees itself obliged to abandon, with respect to them and neutral Powers in general, the favorable line of conduct it had pursued, and to adopt different measures, the blame should fall upon the British Government; it is their conduct which the French Government has been obliged to follow.
The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary conceives it his duty to remark to the Secretary of State, that the neutral Governments, or the allies of the Republic, have nothing to fear as to the treatment of their flag by the French, since, if keeping within the bounds of their neutrality, they cause the rights of that neutrality to be respected by the English, the Republic will respect them. But if, through weakness, partiality, or other motives, they should suffer the English to sport with that neutrality, and turn it to their advantage, could they then complain, when France, to restore the balance of neutrality to its