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London, and by the course of things, would not the commerce of the United States pass entirely to England during the present war?
After having consented to such conditions, the American Government cannot pretend to impartiality; it cannot say that it has maintained an equal neutrality between France and England, since it has granted to Great Britain advantages denied to France. But every one of these advantages granted to England was a real injury to the Republic; and if it is not maintained, without sporting with all principles, that a Government may consider itself as neutral, in granting to a belligerent power advantages which it refuses to another, it is clear that the Government of the United States, after having made its treaty with Great Britain, ceased to be neutral, when it opposed itself to the participation by France in the favors granted to the English.
In consequence, the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary again declares. that the Executive Directory has just ordered the vessels of war and privateers of the Republic to treat American vessels in the same manner as they suffered the English to treat them.
Were the treaty of London out of the question, the measure the Executive Directory now takes would not be less conformable to justice. The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary has developed to the Secretary of State, in his note of the 6th Brumaire last, [27th October, 1796,) principles which leave no doubt in this respect, and which the answer of the Secretary of State is far from destroying. But the stipulations of treaties now come to the support of general principles. The Republic call for the execution of the second article of the treaty of 1778. which says, that France and the United States mutually engage not to grant any particular favor, as to navigation or commerce, which shall not immediately become common to the other party.
The Government of the United States, having, by the treaty of London, sacrificed to England the freedom of their flag, the property of the enemies of England, and naval stores. France, by her treaty, is authorized to claim the same advantage, to make use of it, and the United States have no right to complain. Certainly it would have been more conformable to the designs of France, to her principles, to see the American flag floating without interruption upon the seas. to see the commerce of the United States enjoy that liberty, that freedom, which should belong to neutral nations, but in order to thać it was necessary that the American Government should know how to maintain that neutrality; it was necessary that it preserved it free from violation by Great Britain; and, if now, the execution of the measures which the directory is obliged to adopt, give rise to complaints in the United States, it is not against France they shuuld be directed, but against those men, who. by negotiations contrary to the interests of their country, have brought the French Government to use the prerogatives granted to the English.
When, after baving suffered to be violated the treaties which unite it to France, the Government of the United States has associated itself with England. and bas rendered its neutrality as useful to that Power, as it is now injurious to its ancient ally; could the Republic be silent? Her outraged generosity, her wounded honor, prevented her ; her silence were weakness; and, strong in her principles as in her pro. ceedings, she should demand her unacknowledged or forgotten rights.
Thus, therefore, as it results from the statement which the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary has just given :
1st. That the 17th article of the treaty of 1778 has been violated; that in contempt of this article, the American tribunals have been permitted to take cognizance of the validity of prizes made by French ships of war, and privateers, under pretext of original armament, or augmentation of armament in the United States, or of capture within the jurisdictional line of the United States :
2d. That the said article 17th has been equally violated by the admission of English vessels in the ports of the United States, which had made prizes on Frenchmen. and by the admission of their prizes :
The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary, in the name, and by orders of the Executive Directory, protests against the violation of the 17th article above cited, in contempt of which, the American tribunals have taken cognizance of the validity of prizes made by French ships of war, or privateers, under pretext of original armament, or augmentation of armament in the United States; or of capture within the jurisdictional line; claims the replevy of all seizures, and the repeal of all other judicial aots exercised ou those prizes; and protests, moreover, against all opposition to the sale of the said prizes.
Further, the undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary protests against the violation of the 17th article of the treaty of 1778, in contempt of which, English vessels which had made prize on Frenchmen, have been admitted into the ports of the United States; and declares that the executive directory cannot regard as a just construction of the treaty, the distinction which Mr. Randolph, Secretary of State, has established in his letter of the 29th May, 1795, in which he admits only the exclusion of the English vessels which bring in their prizes, and wishes to except from the prohibitory measure, the vessels which, after having made prizes, enter the ports of the United States.
The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary, moreover, declares that the Executive Directory regards the treaty of commerce concluded with Great Britain as a violation of the treaty made with France in 1778, and equivalent to a treaty of alliance with Great Britain, and that, justly offended at the conduct which the American Government has held in this case, they bave given him orders to suspend from this moinent, bis ministerial functions with the Federal Government.
The same cause which for a long time prevented the Executive Directory from allowing their just resentment to break forth, has also tempered its effects. Neither hatred, nor the desire of vengeance, rapidly succeed to friendship in the heart of Frenchmen; the name of America still excites sweet emotions in it, notwithstanding the wrongs of its Government; and the Executive Directory wish not to break with a people whom they love to salute with the appellation of friend.
The undersigned Minister Plenipotentiary, therefore, announces that the Government of the United States, and the American People, are not to regard the suspension of his functions as a rupture between France and the United States, but as a mark of just discontent, wbich is to last until the Government of the United States returns to sentiments and to measures, more conformable to the interests of the alliance, and the sworn friendship between the two nations.
This alliance was always dear to Frenchmen; they have done every thing to tighten its bands: The Government of the United States, on the contrary, bas sought to break them. Scarcely had the war broken out between France and England, when America was alone invited to the commerce of the Antilles. All the colonial ports were open to her. Her vessels entered the ports of France without being subjected to higher duties than French vessels.
When the English violated the freedom of the neutral flag, the Convention was obliged to use reprisals. They ordered that neutral vessels should be seized by the ships of the Republic. She excepted the Americans from this measure : Forced against her inclination to make it bear on them also, she waited with impatience for the moment when she might return to a conduct more conformable to her sentimonts for the United States. Soon she revoked her law relative to the arrest of their vessels. Soon, also, the Committee of Pubic Safety gave orders to respect the American flag. In every circumstance, France sought the means of proving to the United States, the sincerity of her friendship. When the Federal Government complained of the conduct of one of the predecessors of the undersigned, the French Government saw only the complaints of the Government of the United States, and immediately gave the most striking reparation.
Let the annals of the French Revolution be opened. let the minutes of that august sitting be seen, in which the National Convention received the Minister of the United States into jis bosom ; the address. es were not studied ; they sprang from hearts full of affection for an allied People; they breathed the feelings which dictated them; and the American Minister found himself in the midst of his friends. What joy did not the American flag inspire, when it waved unfurled in the French Senate? Tender tears trickled from cach eye; every one looked at it with amazement. There, said they, is the symbol of the independence of our American brethren-behold there the pledge of their liberty! May victory always attend it-may it lead to glory none but a free and happy People! These words, which escaped from a thousand mouths, were the expression of the sentiments of the whole nation. Was not an American to each Frenchman, another Frenchman ?--he was more he was a friend—and that sacred name, amidst civil dissensions, was equally respected by all.
What then was done by the Government? It put in question whether it should execute the treaties, or receive the agents of the rebel and proscribed princes? It made an insidious proclamation of neutrality; by its chicaneries it abandoned French privateers to its courts of justice; it eluded the amicable mediation of the Republic, for breaking the chains of its citizens at Algiers. Notwithstanding
treaty stipulations, it allowed to be arrested vessels of the State; it suffered England, by insulting its neutrality, to interrupt its commerce with France ; notwithstanding the faith of treaties, it gave an asylum to these same English, who, after having insulted her flag, pillaged her citizens, came also to brave the American People in its ports, and to take a station, whence to cruise, on a favorable opportunity, against the French: it might be said that it applauded their audacity, all subnuission to their will, it allowed the French colonies to be declared in a state of blockade, and its citizens interdicted the right of trading to them. It eluded all the advances made by the Republic for renewing the treaties of commerce, upon a more favorable footing to both nations; it excused itself on the most frivolous pretexts, whilst it anticipated Great Britain, by soliciting a treaty, in which, prostituting its neutrality, it sacrificed France to her enemies, or rather looked upon her as obliterated from the map of the world; it forgot the services that she had rendered it, and threw aside the duty of gratitude, as if ingratitude was a governmental duty.
Alas! time has not yet demolished the fortifications with which the English roughened this country, nor those the Americans raised for their defence; their half-rounded summits still appear in every quarter, amidst plains, on the tops of mountains. The traveller need not search for the ditch which served to encompass them; it is still open under his feet. Scattered ruins of houses laid waste, which the fire had partly respected, in order to leave monuments of British fury, are still to be found. Men still exist who can say, here a ferocious Englishman slaughtered my father; there my wife tore her bleeding daughter from the hands of an unbridled Englishman. Alas! the soldiers, who fell under the sword of the Britons are not yet reduced to dust; the laborer, in turning up his field, still draws from the bosom of the earth their whitened bones; while the ploughman, with tears of tenderness and gratitude, still recollects that his fields, now covered with rich harvests, bave been inoistened with French blood. While every thing around the inhabitants of this country, animates them to speak of the tyranny of Great Britain, and of the generosity of Frenchmen, when England has declared a war of death to that nation, to avenge herself for its having cemented, with its blood, the independence of the United States—it was at this moment their Government made a treaty of amity with their ancient tyrant, the implacable enemy of their ancient ally. Oh! Americans, covered with noble scars. Oh! you, who have so often flown to death and to victory, with French soldiers ! You who know those generous sentiments which distinguish the true warrior! Whose hearts have always vibrated with those of your companions in arms! Consult them to-day to know what they experience; recollect, at the same time, that, if magnanimous souls, with liveliness, rosent an affront, they also know how to forget one. Let your Government return to itself, and you will still find in Frenchmen faithful friends and generous allies. . Done at Philadelphia, the 25th Brumaire, 5th Year of the French Republic, (15th November, 1796-0. S.)
P. A. ADET.
Secretary of State to the French Minister.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, November 15, 1796.
SIR : On the 13th ult. I had the honor to receive your letter of the 12th, but not being possessed of any information on the subject, I laid it before the Secretary of the Treasury, under whose immediate superintendence the Collectors of the Customs are placed. He has favored me with the letters of the Collectors of Charleston and Wilmington against whom you complain, with sundry documents describing their proceedings in regard to the British ship Amity (which you call the Mary,) that was carried into the port of Charleston as a prize to the French privateer Lco; and to the British ship Betty Cathcart and the Snow Aaron. which were carried into the port of Wilmington, as prize to the French privateer Bellona.
If the French consul at Charleston, Mr. Dupont, had correctly stated the facts respecting the ship Amity. I trust you would have found no cause to complain against the Collector, Mr. Holmes, whose conduct appears evidently to have been guided by an honest sense of his duty, and the laudable spirit of a citizen when he saw the laws and authori. ty of his country treated with disrespect. Permit me then to state the case from the papers now before me.
On the 7th of April last, the privateer Leo carried her prize, the Amity, into Charleston. The prize was entered at the Custom House, and security given. as usual, for the duties on her cargo. The Federal Circuit Court being in session, the British Vice Consul applied and obtained an injunction, prohibiting the sale of the prize.
Then the captors represented to the Collector, that the prize ship was so disabled, that she could not proceed to the nearest French port, agreeably to our treaty with France. Thereupon, the Collector directed a survey of the ship to be made. The persons who surveyed her reported, on the 30th of May, various defects in her bottom, beams, decks, masts, yards, rigging, and sails, to prove her to be unfit for sea ; and Mr. Vessey, an Agent for the captors, asserted that the ship was incapable of being fitted for sea ; and that it was impossible for her to be refitted so as to carry her cargo to any foreign porta cargo of the immense weight of near 600 hogsheads of sugar, rum, &c. Hence it appeared reasonable to the Coilector that the captors should be allowed to ship the prize goods in other bottoms; and, after taking advice, which confirmed his opinion, he, on the application of the Agents, gave the requisite permission; and in consequence, “the greatest part of the cargo was shipped in neutral bottoms, for the benefit of the drawback, the duties having been previously secured.” Thus far al was very well; and I cannot but observe, that the proceedirigs of the Collector are marked with liberality.
But now the difficulties began. After the survey had been made, and the greatest part of the cargo shipped in neutral bottoms, the