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equilibrium, shall act in the same manner as the English? No, certainly ; for the neutrality of a nation consists in granting to belligerent Powers, the same advantages ; and that neutrality no longer exists, when, in the course of the war, that neutral nation grants to one of the belligerent Powers, advantages not stipulated by treaties anterior to the war, or suffers that Power to seize upon them. The neutral Go. vernment cannot then complain, if the other belligerent Power desires to enjoy advantages which its enemy enjoys, or if it avails itself of them : otherwise that neutral Government would deviate, with respect to it, from the line of neutrality, and would become its enemy.
The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary thinks it useless further to develop these principles. He does not doubt that the Secretary of State feels all their force ; and that the Government of the United States will perfectly maintain a neutrality which France has always respected, and will always respect when her enemies do not make it turn to her detriment.
The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary embraces this opportunity of reiterating to the Secretary of State the assurance of his esteem ; and informs him at the same time, that he will cause his note to be printed, in order to make publicly known the motives which, at the present juncture, influence the French Republic.
Done at Philadelphia, 6th Brumaire, 5th year of the French Re public, one and indivisible, (27th October, 1796, 0. S.)
P. A. ADET.
The French Minister to the Secretary of State, dated Philadelphia,
15th November, 1796, 0. S.
The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, now fulfils to the Secretary of State of the United States a painful but sacred duty. He claims, in the name of American honor, in the name of the faith of treaties, the execution of that contract which assured to the United States their existence, and which France regarded as the pledge of the most sacred union between two People, the freest upon earth. In a word, be announces to the Secretary of State, the resolution of a Government, terrible to its enemies, but generous to its allies.
It would have been pleasing to the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary to have only to express, on the present occasion, the attachment which his Government bears to the American People, the vows which it forms for their prosperity, for their happiness. His heart, therefore, is grieved at the circumstances, which impose upon him a different task. With regret, he finds himself compelled to substitute
the tone of reproach for the language of friendship. With regret, also, his Government has ordered him to take that tone : but that very friendship bas rendered it indispensable. Its obligations, sacred to men, are as sacred to Governments; and if a friend offended by a friend, can justly complain, the governinent of the United States, after the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary shall have traced the catalogue of the grievances of the French Republic, will not be surprised to see the Executive Directory manifesting their too just discontents.
When Europe rose up against the Republic at its birth, menaced it with all the horrors of war and famine ; when on every side the French could not calculate upon any but enemies, their thoughts turned towards America. A sweet sentiment then mingled itself with those proud sentiments which the presence of danger, and the desire of repelling it, produced in their hearts. In America they saw friends. Those who went to brave tempests and death upon the ocean, forgot all dangers, in order to indulge the hope of visiting that American continent, where, for the first time, the French colors had been displayed in favor of liberty. Under the guarantee of the law of nations, under the protecting shade of a solemn treaty, they expected to find in the ports of the United States an asylum as sure as at home: they thought, if I may use the expression, there to find a second country. The French Government thought as they did. Oh! hope, worthy of a faithful People, how hast thou been de. ceived! So far from offering the French tbe succors which friendship might have given without compromitting it, the American Government, in this respect, violated the letter of treaties. The 17th article of the treaty of Amity and Commerce, of 1778, states that French vessels of war, and those of the United States, as well as those which shall have been armed for war by individuals of the two States, may freely conduct where they please the prizes they shall have made upon their enemies, without being subject to any admiralty or other duty; without the said vessels, on entering into the harbors or ports of France, or of the United States, being liable to be arrested or seized, or the officers of those places taking cognizance of the validity of the said prizes; which may depart, and may be conducted freely and in fall liberty to the places expressed in their commissions, which the captains of said vessels shall be obliged to show : and that, on the contrary, no shelter or refuge shall be given to those who shall have made prizes upon the French or Americans; and that, if they should be forced, by stress of weather, or danger of the sea, to enter, they shall be made to depart as soon as possible. In contempt of these stipulations, the French privateers have been arrested in the United States, as well as their prizes ; the Tribunals have taken cognizance of the validity or invalidity of these prizes. It were vain to seek to justify these proceedings under the pretext of the right of vindicating the compromitted neutrality of the United States. The facts about to be stated will prove that this pretext has been the source of shocking prosecutions against the French privateers, and that the
conduct of the Federal Government has been but a series of violations of the 17th article of the treaty of 1778.
On the 4th of August, 1793, a circular letter of the Secretary of the Treasury was sent to all the Collectors of the Customs.
It accompanied regulations adopted by the President, prohibiting all armaments in favor of the belligerent Powers. These regulations immediately acquired the force of law, and the agents of the Government and the Tribunals concurred in their execution. They gave them a retrospective effect, and caused to be seized in the ports of the United States the armed vessels and prizes which had come in prior to that time. But even before these regulations, adopted by the President, had es. tablished any rule whatever upon the prohibition of armaments, the Tribunals had already, by order of the Government, assumed the cognizance of prizes made by French vessels. One of the predecessors of the undersigned protested against this, but in vain : the Tribunals still continued their prosecutions.
On the 3d of December, 1793, the President asked of Congress a law confirming the measures contained in the letter from the Secretary of the Treasury above mentioned. This law was passed the 5th June, 1794. What was its result? In consequence of this law the greater part of the French privateers have been arrested, as well as their prizes; not upon formal depositions ; not upon established testimony; not upon a necessary body of proofs; but upon the simple information of the Consul of one of the Powers at war with the French Republic; frequently upon that of sailors of the enemy Powers; sometimes according to the orders of Governors, but often upon the demand of the District Attorneys, who assert, upon principles avowed by the Government, that their conviction was sufficient to authorize them. without complaint or regular information, to cause the privateers to be prosecuted in virtue of the law above mentioned.
When the Ministers of the Republic have asked justice of the Government for the vexations experienced by the privateers, in contempt of the 17th article of the treaty, they have never been able to obtain satisfaction.
Thus, when the same Minister, on the 27th Vindemiaire, 3d year, (17th October, 1794.) reminded the Secretary of State of the means he had proposed to him for putting an end to the measures adopted against the French privateers; when he caused him to see that this means, which consisted in requiring security from those who claimed the prizes as illegal, would prevent the enemies of the Republic from instituting so many suits of which they themselves perceived the injustice, he obtained no other answer than that his proposition relative to securities was inadmissible.
When, on the 13th Floreal, sd year, the same Minister expressed himself in these terms, in a letter to the Secretary of State : You have alleged, sir, that the Executive of the United States cannot in. terfere in the affairs of which the Tribunals have taken cognizance. In admitting this objection for all the business now in suit, I do not the less think that your Government could, by general measures,
bring back the jurisdiction of the American Tribunals concerning prizes made by our vessels within the limits prescribed by our treaties, which make part of the supreme law of the land. It might make known that the facility with which your Courts of Admiralty admit, without distinction, all the chicanery which our enemies create against us, in the present war, is evidently contrary to the spirit of the treaty." The Government paid no attention to these reflections, and the answer of the Secretary of State merely notices the particular fact which had occasioned the note of Citizen Fauchet.
What was the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary able to obtain in the affair of the Cassius and of the Vengeance ? Nothing.
The Government of the United States must have seen, however, by the claims which the Ministers of the Republic addressed to i:, and by the great number of facts of which it has had a knowledge, how much the execution of the measures of the President, and of the law of the 5th of June, 1794, was contrary to the 17th article of the treaty; how much the agency of the Tribunals, who ought not to have any cognizance of the validity or invalidity of prizes, tended to annul that article, and to deprive the Republic of the advantage which it assures to her. In fact, was it not evident that, when the Powers at war with the Republic had the privilege, in virtue of the law of the 5th of June, 1794, of causing to be arrested the privateers and their prizes ; of detaining them in the ports of the United States; of ruining them by considerable costs, by the excessive expenses which they occasioned them, they drew from that privilege an immense advantage, to the detriment of France ? Doubtless, it was of little import to them that sometimes the privateers obtained justice in the last resort, if they detained the privateer for a length of time, and if they, by that means, sheltered from their pursuit the commerce of the enemy of France. The neutrality of the United States, in this case, was altogether to their advantage; and the Federal Government, on seeing this state of things, should, out of respect to its neutrality, and to treaties, have solicited from the Congress the means of conciliating the duties of the former with the obligations of the latter.
The Government very well knew how to solicit the law of the 5th June, 1794, when that law was to bear on France alone; when it gave to the tribunals a right which has been abused, and which enables them to decide upon prizes. Why, on seeing the inconveniences of this law, has it not endeavored to remedy them? Should it wait to be solicited on this head ? Should it not anticipate all claims, and when these were presented by the Ministers of the Republic, should it not do justice?
Besides, if the Government had been impartial, as it has pretended to be, it would not have adopted that slow and circuitous mode, so favorable to the enemies of France, for deciding the cases relative to its neutrality; it would have preferred the measures proposed by Mr. Jefferson on the 25th of June, 1793, to the Minister of the Republic. These measures were simple; they were in conformity with the duties of neutrality, and the interests of the Republic.
The Federal Government had decided questions which interested its neutrality, upon informations furnished by the State Governors, and the agents of the Republic; the prizes remained in the hands of the French Consul until this decision took place ; the stipulations of the 17th article of the treaty of 1778 were not violated ; and the Government at the same time satisfied the obligations of duty and justice. In vain would it say that it had not this power. Notwithstanding the law of the 5th of June, 1794, giving to the tribunals the right of taking cognizance of cases in which neutrality had been violated, did not the President, on the 21st of June, 1794. decide that the ship William, taken out of the limits of the waters f the United States, should be delivered to the captor ; and on the 30 July, 1794, did he not decide that the Pilgrim had been taken in the waters of the United States, and that, of course, she should be given up to the owners ? In these cases, the President not only decided on matters, the cognizance of which had been consigned to the tribunals, but likewise gave a retrospective effect to his own decision upon the protecting line of the United States, which was not notified to the minister of the Republic, till the 8th of November, 1793.
Not satisfied with permitting the 17th article of the treaty to be violated by its agents and tribunals, the Federal Government also suffered the English to seize upon the advantages interdicted to them 'by that article. They armed in the ports of the United States, brought in and repaired their prizes, and, in a word, found in them a certain asylum.
Thus, the English privateer Trusty, Captain Hall, was armed at Baltimore to cruise against the French, and sailed, notwithstanding the complaints of the consul of the Republic. At Charleston, one Bermudian vessel, several English vessels, and one Dutch vessel, from the 24th of May to the 6th of June, 1793, took in cannon for their defence, and sailed without opposition.
What answer did the Government give to the representations of the minister of the French Republic, in this respect? It said, that these vessels sailed too suddenly ; that it was not able to cause them to be stopped. But the treaty was not less violated. Some inhabi. tants of the United States bad aided in these illegal armaments : What measures were taken against them? Was any search made to discover them, to prosecute them? Never : And yet the Government of the United States no sooner learnt, that, in consequence of an inplied stipulation, which the treaty of Versailles seemed to contain, the French were arming in the ports of the United States, than the most energetic orders were sent for stopping these armaments. Even citizens of the United States were imprisoned, upon suspicion that they had participated in them. The minister cannot omit citing bere the following passage of a letter from the Secretary of State, Edmund Randolph, to Mr. Hammond, dated, June 2, 1794. “On a suggestion that citizens of the United States had taken part in the act, she speaks of the armaments in the United States,] one who was designated was instantly committed to prison for prosecutiou : one