« ForrigeFortsett »
or two others have been since named and committed in like manner, and should it appear that there were still others, no measure would be spared to bring them to justice.” What more could the American Government do in favor of the English, if they had a similar treaty to that with France, and had been sole possessors of the advantages assured to her by positive stipulations?
However, in contempt of these very stipulations, the Argonaut, an English ship of war, in January, 1795, conducted into Lynnhaven bay the French corvette L'Esperance, wbich she had taken upon the coast; she there had her repaired, in order to send her upon a cruise. Letters were in consequence written by the Secretary of State to the Governor of Virginia, and to Mr. Hammond. What was the result ? Nothing. On the 29th of May, 1795, the Federal Government had not yet done any thing positive, as to the acts which produced the complaint of the Minister of the Republic. The Secretary of State announced, “ that these facts shall be examined, and that, if they are verified, the Federal Government will not be in the rear of its obligations.” To that has the reparation deinanded by the Republic been limited.
What are we to think of these delays, when we see the officers of the Government acting with so much activity against the French, on the slightest suspicion that they have violated the neutrality, When? in his letter of 29th April, 1794, the Secretary of State answers the complaints of English Minister—"We have received no intelligence of the particular facts to which you refer : But to prevent all unnecessary circuity, in first inquiring into them, and next transmitting to this city the result, the proper instructions will be given to act, without further directions.” How did the Federal Government conduct towards the Autumn of 1794 ? The English frigate Terpsichore, took tho privateer La Montagne into the port of Norfolk. The French Vice Consul claimed the execution of the treaty of the Governor of Virginia : The Governor answered him, that he would have the necessary investigation made, and would afterwards take the proper measures. The predecessor of the undersigned then interposed with the federal Government; and the Secretary of State assured him that he would write to the Governor of Virginia, to have justice rendered. But this justice was limited to investigations, made with such slowness, that, five months after, this affair was not finished ; and on the 24th of February, 1795, the Secretary of State contented himself with sending to the predecessor of the undersigned the despatches of the Lieutenant Governor, dated October 10, 1794, by wbich he announces that be ordered the commandant of the militia of Norfolk to make the necessary inquiries, for enabling the Executive of Virginia to render to the republic the justice it had a right to expect. The result of these inquiries is not known. However, the fact about which the minister Fauchet complained to the Secretary of State, was notorious, and painful researches were not necessary to convince himself of it. Do we not find in this proceeding a formal desire to elude the treaties, and to favour the English ?
If the Government of the United States had wished to maintain itself in that impartiality which its duties prescribed, if it had wished freely to execute the treaties, it would not have waited, every time that the English infringed them, for the minister to solicit its justice : Should it not have given instructions so precise, that the Governors of the States. and subaltern officers of the Federal Government, inight know what duties they had to fulfil, in order to maintain the execution of treaties? Why have the most energetic orders (such as the Secretary of State, Randolph, mentions) been given, when the support of the neutrality inviolate in favor of the English came in question? Why have the measures, taken bythe federal Government operated with so much slowness, when France was interested? Why, in fine, have the multiplied remonstrances of her ministers never produced the redress of grievances of which they complained ?
When the predecessor of the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary claimed the execution of the 17th article of the treaty, interdicting the entry into the American ports of English vessels which should have made, prizes upon the French : when he cited this simple and formal stipulation : “ On the contrary, neither asylum nor refuge shall be given in ports or harbors of France or of the United States, to vessels which shall have made prizes of the French or Americans : and should they be obliged to enter by tempest or danger of the sea, all proper means shall be used to make them depart as soon as pos. sible ;' the Secretary of State, in order to avoid shutting the American ports against the English. interpreted this article in their favor. “ But it would be unrandid to conceal from you the construction which we have hitherto deemed the true one. The first part of the 17th article relates to French ships of war and privateers entering our ports with their prizes ; the second contrasts the situation of the enemies of France, by forbidding such as shall have made prize of the French ; intimating from this connection of the two clauses, that the vessels forbidden are those which bring their prizes with them. It has been considered that this section of the treaty was principally destined to the withholding of protection, or succor, to the prizes themselves; had it been otherwise, it would have been superfluous to have prohibited (in the 22d article of foreign privateers) from selling what they have taken in the ports of the United States."
He said, moreover, in his letter of the 29th of May, 1795—. But on the 3d of August, the President declared his construction of that treaty to be, that no public armed vessels were thereby forbidden from our waters, except those which should have made prize of the people or property of France, coming with their prizes.” But how is it possible to find in the stipulations of the treaty the sense given to them by the Government of the United States? This expression of the treaty," which shall have made prizes," is general, and applies to all capturing vessels, whether they enter the ports of the United States with prizes, or enter them alone, after having made prizes It is evident, that the Government adds to the letter of the treaty in this circumstance; and is it not astonishing that it admits a construction
of the treaty, when it expects to find a meaning disadvantageous to France, and in other instances opposes all construction, when this would be favorable to the Republic. But has it the right of construing the treaty, of changing, of its own accord, the sense of a clear and precise stipulation, without the consent and concurrence of the other contracting party? Doubtless not, especially, when, by so doing, it wounds her interests.
The Secretary of State, by the 22d article, pretends to support his construction of the 17th article. What does this 22d article contain ? A prohibition of the enemies of France and of the United States from arming in the respective ports of the two Powers, of selling their prizes, or of discharging all or a part of their cargo there. This article, therefore, applies to the prizes; whilst the 17th applies to the capturing vessels. Did it not exist, the enemies of France, or of the United States, might send their prizes into the respective ports of the two Powers, without conducting them there themselves : The 17th article, containing only a prohibitory arrangement for the capturing vessels, could not prohibit them from doing this. It was necessary then to have recourse to a formal prohibition : Besides, as the vessels which have made prizes on the French or Americans, are admitted into the ports of France or of the United States, in cases of tempest or dangers of the Sea, they might, in this case, have conceived themselves authorized to dispose of their prizes, to sell them, or to discharge their cargoes; it was necessary, therefore, to take this right from them in a positive manner; it was necessary to prevent them from benefitting by a stipulation made in favor of humanity; this is the end answered by the 22d article, which is not superfluous, as the Secretary of State maintains, but, on the contrary, contains a distinct stipulation from that of the 17th. It is then evident from this, thaty in the cases above cited by the undersigned, the stipulations of the 17th article have been violated. They have been equally so, by the admission. in sundry ports, of the Thetis and Hussar frigates, which captured Le Prevoyance, and La Raison, French store-ships, and by admitting in the last instance this same ship La Raison, prize to the Thetis. into the ports of the United States.
But admitting for a moment the construction gratuitously given by the Secretary of State to the 17th article of the treaty of 1778, this article has not the less been violated, when the Argonaut, which had quitted Hampton Roads in order to capture L'Esperance, was permitted to enter with that prize; when the Terpsichore was suffered to bring in the privateer La Montagne. In vain were sought, in the resources of a false and subtle logic, the means of excusing such conduct. The facts speak, and every upright mind, not blinded by passion, will necessarily yield to their evidence.
Yet the prohibitory stipulation of the admission of prizes made by her enemies, is the only advantage which France expected to enjoy, after having wrought and guarantied the Independence of the United States, at a time when she might, as the price of that very Independence, have granted them less liberal conditions,
These wrongs of the American Government, towards the Republic, just stated by the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary, will soon be aggravated by new ones. It was a little matter only to allow the English to avail theroselves of the advantages of our treaty; it was necessary to assure these to them by the aid of a contract which might serve at once as a reply to the claims of France, and as peremptory motives for refusals, the true cause of which it was requisite incessantly to disguise to her under specious pretexts.
Such was the object of Mr. Jay's mission to London ; such was the object of a negotiation enveloped, from its origin, in the shadow of mystery, and covered with the veil of dissimulation. Could the Executive Directory have any other idea of it, on examining its issue; on seeing all the efforts made by the American Government to conceal the secret from every eye ?
In his message to the Senate, of the 16th April, 1794, the Presi. dent declared that Mr. Jay was sent to London only to obtain a redress of the wrongs done to the United States ; at the same time, the Secretary of State communicated to the predecessor of the undersigned, a part of the instructions to Mr. Jay, reminding him of the intention of the American Government not to deviate from its engagements with the Republic of France. The French Minister, deceived by this communication, contributed, ingenuously, to deceive his Government. The American Minister in France removed the fears of the French Government, as to the mission of this Envoy Extraordinary, and represented it as the only means of obtaining indemnification for the losses which the American commerce had sustained. What has this negotiation produced ? A treaty of amity and commerce, which deprives France of all the advantages stipulated in a previous treaty.
In fact, all that could render the neutrality profitable to England and injurious to France, is combined in this treaty. Her commercial relations with the United States are entirely broken, by the abandonment of the modern public law on contraband-a law which England had consecrated in eleven treaties, and which the Americans had also consecrated in their treaties with France, Holland, Sweden, and Prussia. From the new arrangements adopted by the United States with regard to England, the free carriage of the articles for the equipment and armament of vessels, is granted exclusively to that power.
By the 23d article of the treaty of Versailles, the United States have the liberty of freely carrying on commerce with the enemies of France. The 24th article of the treaty with Holland, the 10th article of the treaty with Sweden, and the 13th article of the treaty with Prussia, contain the same stipulation. This last article gives even more extensive rights to the United States, by permitting them to carry to the enemies of this Power, all the articles enumerated in the list of such as are contraband of war, without their being liable to confiscation. But, by the 18th article of the treaty of London, the articles for arming and equipping vessels are declared contraband of war. The Government of the United States has, therefore, by this stipular
tion, granted to the English a right which they had refused, in consequence of the modern public law, to other nations with whom they hare made treaties-that of seizing. on board their vessels, articles proper for the construction and equipment of vessels. The English, then, according to that, enjoy the exclusive commerce of articles proper for the construction of vessels ; yet, prior to the treaty concluded between John Jay and Lord Grenville, the United States had the right of carrying on commerce with every Power. The partiality of the American Government in favor of England has, therefore, been such, that not only the interests of France, but also those of other States, have been sacrificed to her
In vain will it be objected that France, having the right, by her treaty of 1978, to enjoy all the advantages in commerce and navigation which the United States bave granted to England, is not injured by the stipulations of the treaty of 1794, relative to contraband of war, as they become common to her. But the right secured to her by the second article of the treaty of 1778, does not at all extend to the allies wbom the success of her arms and the just resentment inspired by the ambition of England, have definitively given, and shall give, to her, in Europe. These dispositions change, during the course of the war, the situation of the United States towards England and the belligerent Powers allied to France. The interest of these Powers is common to France, and, from the moment that is injured, France is injured also.
After having assured to the English, alone, the carriage of naval stores, the Federal Government wished to assure them that of meals; in a word, it desired to have commerce only with England. Thus it stipulates by the 18th article, that the American vessels laden with grain may be seized under the frivolous pretext, that it is extremely difficult to define the cases wherein provisions and other articles which are generally excepted, could be classed in the list of contraband of war. Thus it stipulates in article 17, that the American veg. sels may be arrested upon the single suspicion, either that they have merchandise belonging to the enemy, or that they carry to him articles contraband of war. The United States, in their treaty with France, have made stipulations entirely opposite to those just cited : whilst her vessels of war are bound to respect the American flag going to English possessions, the English drag into their ports American vessels going to the ports of France, subject them to decisions more or less arbitrary, and often condemn them on account of the name alone of their owners, by which means all the commercial relations between the United States and France are entirely suspended. What American will venture to send vessels into French ports? What commerce will he venture to undertake with the French possessions, when it will be certain that his funds, either in going to or returning from them, run the greatest hazard? Would he not rather prefer trafficking with a country to which bis vessel might go without being exposed to other risks than those of the sea ? Would he not prefer Great Britain to France for his speculations? In virtue of the treaty of