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captors, or their agents, in defiance of the laws of the United States, (for the British treaty had then become a public law,) and in direct contempt o the injunction of the Federal Court. sold the prize ship to American citizens; and the French Consul, Mr. Dupont. sanctioned the sale. The purchasers immediately repaired the prize ship, which had been declared to be irreparable, and applied to the Collector for her clearance as an American vessel. The Collector seeing the deception which had been practised upon him, and considering the violation of the laws, and the contempt of the authority of the United States, very properly refused his concurrence to render these deceitful and illegal acts finally successful.
Your letter grounded on Mr. Dupont's information, and a memorial of Messrs. North and Vesey to the Secretary of the Treasury, state that the Collector refused permission to lade the prize cargo on board neutral vessels, until after a part of it had been destroyed by fire. But the papers before me show that the Collector had satisfied himself, as early as the 30th of May, that the prize cargo might law. fully be carried away in neutral or other bottoms, the prize ship hav. ing been considered as irreparable. Hence it appears highly improbable, and nearly impossible, that, after the 30th of May, the Collec. tor should have refused his permission to export the cargo in neutral vessels. In the interval between the 30th of May and 13th of June, (when it seems the great fire happened at Charleston.) it is possible that no application was made to the Collector to permit the exportation of the cargo in neutral vessels. But at no time has the Collector discovered a disposition to throw unnecessary difficulties in the way; and his sospense, in a case as new as it was important. continued only until he obtained advice, wbich sound discretion required him to ask.
You are under a mistake about the portion of the prize cargo which was destroyed by fire. Permit me to exhibit the facts as stated by Messrs. North and Vesey, the agents for the prize. The cargo of the ship Amity consisted of 490 hogslıcads of sugar, wt. gross,
786.398 pounds. 70 tierces of sugar,
857,268 pounds. 310 bags of pimento,
33,488 27 hogsheads of rum,
2,939 gallons. Consumed in the fire at Charleston, June 13th : 52 hogsheads of sugar,
87,292 pounds, 2 tierces
do. which is but little more than a tenth part of tlic cargo of sugar, and it is not intimated that any other part of her cargo was destroyed.
From this state of facts no blame appears to attach to any officer of the United S:ates. The sale of the prize and her cargo was lawfully prohibited ; but, by a liberal construction of the treaty with the French Republic, permission was given to export the cargo in other vessels, when the prize ship was in effect con leinned as utterly unfit ever again
to go to sea. It is true, that when the Collector found himself deceiv. ed by the agents—when he found that the ship had been illegally sold to American citizens, and then promptly repaired, he refused those American citizens a clearance for her departure.' It is true, that after the proofs and acknowledgment of the sale to those American citizensafter the American flag had, for several days, been flying on board her, he refused to perinit her departure as a French prize-he refused her to the Consul, Dupont, who, not respecting the laws and authority of the United States, knowingly sanctioned the sale ; and, under all these circumstances, will not his refusal be deemed excusable ?
In respect to the two prizes carried into Wilmington, in North Carolina, there does not appear, in the conduct of the Collector, Mr. Read, any designed rigor, beyond the requisitions of the laws of the United States. In his letter of the 26th of July, to the Secretary of the Treasury, which is now before me, he manifests a desire merely to perform his duty according to his conception of the meaning of the laws, but requests instructions for his guide. On the 20th of August, (the day after his letter was received,) the Secretary wrote him directions, particularly to permit the unlading of the prizes, if, upon examination, it appeared necessary to the repairing of them. T'he Collector's temporary opposition to this measure arose, evidently, from a mistaken construction of a former letter from the Secretary of the
Treasury. This mistake was promptly corrected, and it is now upwards of two months since they were going to unload both vessels. Any damage that may have ensued from the involuntary errors of the Collector, the captors or their agent, will do well to state for consideration. With respect to the losses which may have been sustain. ed by the captors of the prize-ship Amity, at Charleston, the documents with which I have been furnished, prove that they must be the result of their own misconduct, or of an accident which no human foresight could prevent. If the agents of the prize sball produce counter proofs, they will receive all due consideration.
To the four questions stated in your letter, be pleased to accept the following answers :
“ 1st. Will the prizes made by the ships of the Republic upon the English, continue to be sold here ?"
I have had the honor in some former letters to state to you the sense of the Government on this point, with the reasons to support it. Permission to sell prizes was considered by the Government not demandable as of right. The Power permitting could therefore restrain the sales. The only restraint, yet imposed, has respected captures made by privateers.
“ 2d. Will the prizes made by the privatcers of the Republic upon others than the English be sold ?”
As the original permission to sell prizes extended to those taken from all the enemies of the French Republic; and as the restraint lately imposed refers merely to British vessels, pursuant to the arti. cle of the treaty just mentioned, so the indulgence, in other respects, is to be considered as remaining at present on its original footing.
** 3d. Shall we unconditionally enjoy the right of unlading the prizes in case of damage, and of having them repaired ?"
The right of unloading prize-vessels when they are so damaged, as to be unfit to proceed to sea, without repairs, will not be controverted : but the unloading and storing of the cargoes must be under the inspection of the proper officers of the United States, as a necessary precaution against a transgression of our laws. And in case the prize-vessels are really irreparable, and in consequence, are regularly condemned as unfit ever to proceed to sea, their cargoes may be exported as French property, in other bottoms.
“ 4th. Can a part of the prize, sufficient only for the expense of repairs, be sold ?”
So much of the prize-cargo may be sold, as shall bona fide be necessary for the repairs: without which, the vessel will be unfit to pro. ceed to sea.
But such sales must be made under the inspection of the Collectors, pursuant to the instructions from the Treasury Department, for securing the duties on imports, and confining the amount of the sales to the necessity of each case.
With respect to the ship Amity, at Charleston, the Collector of that port will be instructed to permit her departure as a French prize.
This letter, in substance, as it now appears, was prepared to be sent you in the last month : but doubts arose on some points, concerning which, legal opinions were taken, and occasioned the further delay to this time.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient servant,
Secretary of State to Mr. King, Minister of the United States to Great
Britain, dated Department of State, November 26, 1796.
DEAR SIR: On the 14th instant, I enclosed you copies of a note from Mr. Adet, and of my answer.
He has since addressed to me another note, iu which he has enumerated the complaints of the Executive Directory of the French Republic, against the Government of the United States. Among the grounds of complaint, the commercial treaty with Great Britain holds a distinguished place, and is assigned as the direct cause of the orders of the Directory to Mr. Adet to suspend his ministerial functions with the Federal Government. This last long note, as well as the former, with my answer, has been published in a pamphlet, which I now enclose. To you, who have been a member of the Government, and are actually acquainted with all its transactions in relation to France, no illustration is necessary to convince you how groundless are the complaints exbibited by Mr.
Adet or how repugnant to principle and to treaty are the measures resolved on by the Directory respecting our commerce : you will see that I endeavor to obtain an explanation of the decree of the Directory ; but instead of an explanation, Mr. Adet is pleased to tell me that I appear not to have understood either bis note or the decree of the Directory, respecting our commerce. He adds, indeed, that the Directory mean by their decree, to set aside the rule mutually stipula. ted by our two nations, that free ships shall make free goods, and to add to the list of contraband articles, in equal violation of our treaty: but the object of my inquiry was to ascertain whether, in the actual state of things our commerce was to be expused to the vexations which might, by the men of war and privateery, be imagined to be warranted by the general terms of the decree. You will observe that your information from Mr. Monroe, and letter to our Consul, Mr. Johnson, founded thereon, contributed to increase the doubts excited by the tenor of the decree itself. The subsequent words of Mr. Adet increase our embarrassment; for our treaty with France is not simply to be violated in the two instances just mentioned, but reare to be exposed to "reprisals for all vexations contrary to the law of nations and to the treaties, which the Americans shall endure on the part of the English without an efficacious opposition.” And what opposition will the Directory deem efficacious, short of war with Great Britain? What other opposition can we make, seeing that a compliance with the views of the Directory would oblige us to require of Great Britain a voluntary relinquishment of her acknowledged rights under the laws of nations? If the decree is executed, we shall, in truth, suffer unexampled vexations : for the French armed ships and privateers will have no guide but their opinions of the cases of capture and kind of vexations we endure from the British. And then, in the final event, if circumstances shall incline the Directory to recur to principles and the stipulations of treaties, it will be said, in answer to our complaints, that their armed vessels have misconstrued their decree, as the British armed vessels mistook the orders of the 6th November, 1793, to carry our vessels into their ports for adjudication.
The articles of our produce are now generally so much lower in France than in the United States, our commerce with that country is reduced to a small scale; the opportunities of corresponding di. rectly with our sinister at Paris will, therefore, not often occur ; so that it will be in your power to communicate earlier advices of what is passing in France than we can expect from Mr. Pinckney. I must entreat you to advert to this circumstance, and that to a recital of facts you would add such reflections as a nсarer view of them shall suggest.
I commit to your care a letter for Gouverneur Morris, Esq. to be delivered when he returns to England: for we hear he is on the continent.
With great respect and esteem, sir,
Extract from the Speech of the President of the United States to both
Houses of Congress, dated December 7, 1796. " While. in our external relations, some serious inconveniences and embarrassments have been overcome, and others lessened, it is with much pain and deep regret I mention that circumstances of a very unwelcome nature have lately occurred. Our trade has suffered, and is suffering extensive injuries in the West Indies, from the cruisers and agents of the French Republic; and communications have been received from its Minister here which indicate the danger of a further disturbance of our commerce by its authority, and which are, in other respects, far from agreeable."
Decree of the French National Convention, dated 8th November, 1793,
and transmitted to Mr. Randolph, Secretary of State, by letter, dated the 7th Germinal 2d year. (27th March, 1794.)
The National Convention, after having heard the report of the Committee of Public Safety, decrees that all disputes arisen, or which may arise, on the validity or invalidity of prizes made by privateers, shall be decided by way of administration by the Provisory Executive Council The decree of the 14th February, (0. S.) attributing the judgment of these matters to the commercial tribunals is repealed. Copy agreeable to the original.
J. H. FAUCHET.
Extract from the Register of Arrets of the Committee of Public Safety,
Finance and Supplies, 25th Brumaire, 3d year of the Republic, No
vember 18, 1794. The Committee of Public Safety, Commerce, and Supplies, order as
ARTICLE 1st. The vessels of the United States of America, and those of other neutral Powers, shall be permitted to enter freely into the ports of the Republic, and retire from them when they please; nor shall it be permitted to any constituted authority to retard their departure, or to oblige the captains to sell their cargoes against their will.