« ForrigeFortsett »
23d Frimaire, and of have pronounced the replevy, decrees defini., tively that they have no occasion to deliberate thereon.”
A member. The affair in question bas been sent to the Committee of Public Safety, Commerce, and of Marine united. It occupied the latter several times; he does not think that national justice requires the restitution of the merchandises taken, and his motive is, that those merchandises are enemy property. In fact, several reasons lead to a belief that those merchandises are American; I say several, for there are also others which lead to doubt of their being so, and even demonstrate that they are English property fraudulently transported, as the deposition of one of the crew has led him to believe. Now, if it be true that these merchandises are enemy property, the national generosity cannot in any hypothesis authorize the restitution of them. There does, indeed, exist a treaty which stipulates that American vessels shall neutralize the merchandises which they carry; but this treaty is disastrous for the French Republic, and although the Committee has not thought that it should propose to you to apply modifications herein, it supports itself by the decrees which you have hitherto enacted, and especially that of Brumaire, in which it is said that the treaties shall be supported, except where the revolutionary government shall be in the necessity of making modifications. Now, it is perhaps an indispensable modification to seek to impoverish the commerce of our enemies, daily enriching itself by the means of a disastrous treaty. The interest of Americans is not here in question ; it is that of the English : for enemy merchandises, under whatever flag they may be transported, are still enemy property. I demand, therefore, that the project which is submitted to you be sent back to the discussion of the three committees; that the discussion be had immediately; and that the Committee of Public Safety be charged to examine the treaty of February, 1778, and to make a report on the ques, tion if it be not susceptible of the application of the decree of Brumaire. · Jean Bon St. Andre.--Two propositions are made to you, the one particular, the other general. I shall say nothing to you on the general proposition. It is for the Convention to examine whether it think the treaty of "8 susceptible of modification. But as long as treaties exist, and you have besides recently contracted the obligation of executing them in an important and solemn act, I do not think that any consideration should lead you to deviate from the principles which you have adopted. The question being called for from all parts, the decree was adopted.
No. 37. Mr. Morris to the Secretary of State, dated Paris, 19th Oct. 1793.
(EXTRACT.] 66 It is probable that the successor of Mr. Genet may ask the interposition of our Government in the discussions likely to arise. I have given assurances to the extent of what our laws and constitution may authorize. You will be able to measure better than I can that extento and at any rate this hint will be kept secret, for that is, as you will readily see, of the utmost importance.
- In Mr. Deforgues letter of the 14th, and the Decree which accompanied it, you will see the reasons assigned for violating the treaty. You will see, also, that it was not from the difficulty of refuting them that I declined entering into the controversy. In effect he had acknowledgod and lamented to me the impropriety of the Decree, but unable to prevail over a greater influence for the repeal of it, he is driven to the necessity of excusing a stop which it is not possible to justify. There is no use in arguing with those who are already convinced, and where no good is to be expected some evil may follow. I bave therefore only stated the question on its true ground, and leave to you in America to insist on a rigid performance of the treaty, or slide back to the equal state of unfettered neutrality. Your orders will of course be given to me according to the determination which the President shall take, and until then I hold the matter open.”
No. 38. (No. 42.) Mr. Morris to the Secretary of State, dated Paris, 26th
[EXTRACT.] « We have (as Mr. Fenwick informs me) ninety-two sail of vessels at Bordeaux. I have formerly mentioned to you the embargo laid in that port. It has at length produced the greatest distress. The crews have consumed their provisions. The merchants will be sad. dled with heavy loss and cost. I have made reiterated applications, but the situation of that city has prevented the Comité de Salut Public, from a direct interference. The commissaries have persisted in their measure of shutting the port. They promise Mr. Fenwick rem dress from day to day,"
1059 and city has fine couvery par
No. 39. fNo. 44.)-Mr. Morris to the Secretary of State, dated Paris, 21st of
[EXTRACT.] "I am promised daily, that the embargo laid on our ships in the port of Bordeaux shall be taken off, and an indemnification be granted for the losses which it has occasioned. I have never been able to learn why it was laid, but have some reason to believe that just ground of suspicion had been given as to the voyages, the cargoes, and even the property, of some of the vessels then in that port.
The deputation now here, is pursuing the affair before the commit. tees, and will, I trust, be successful, as it had already been resolved on to give adequate, redress, and I presume that they will not impair the favorable intention which existed previous to their arrival."
Paris, 27th February, 1794,-9th Ventose. The Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States from America to
the Republic of France, to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Sir: The Captains of the American vessels brought into your ports, and the interested in the said vessels and their cargoes, address · to me very serious complaints, which appear to me but too well founded.
I shall not here examine the measure in itself, excusable perhaps in the present extraordinary circumstances of the Republic. But ad. mitting that even a hard necessity might justify the violation of the rights of a neutral and ally nation, should it be expected to experience only the inevitable vexations of that violation ? It ought to expect that the French Republic would pay for these forced supplies with so much the more liberality and readiness, as the manner in which they have been acquired is rather uncommon. But I observe with regret, that those who, sailing for France, have had the misfor. tune to be conducted to England, have had less to complain of than those who have been conducted into the ports of the Republic, in which delays and expenses consume the whole amount. Some of the American vessels have been re-captured, but the Captains guarded with a part of their crews on board the French vessel by whom they were taken, have not been informed of the re-capture, until their arrival in a port of the Republic, where they have for months solicited damages, relief, the means of support, and permission to depart. I am sorry to add that all their solicitations have proved ineffectual. Captains Florence, Donavan, and Benjamin Rogers, taken into Brest by the Impetueux, Captain Bishop, are in this circumstance. Several American vessels and cargoes, among others that of the Danish vessel Kragerve, are in this same port, and I am informed that no person is there authorized on the part of the Republic to treat for the cargoes, to pay the freight of the vessels, or to fix the damages which the injured persons conceive themselves entitled to.
Thus the unfortunate, taken at sea by the vessels of an ally nation, and conducted prisoners into distant ports, are obliged, although with out means and almost destitute of resources, to undertake a long and expensive voyage, in order to obtain that justice which in fine can be rendered only in the ports whence they sailed, as it is there that they must verify and arrange definitively the price, according to the quality.
I hope, Sir, that the most particular orders will be expedited to remedy these evils, and that you will speedily enable me to render a satisfactory account thereof to the American Government.
Paris, 14th Ventose, 2d year of the Republic, one and indivisible.
(5th March, 1794.) The Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Minister of the United States.
I have received your two letters of the 9th of this month, concerning different demands, the importance of which I am aware of. I bave already submitted them to the Committee of Public Safety, I shall renew my solicitations to them, in order to obtain a decision as speedily as you desire.
If the Committee have not yet determined on the claims of the American proprietors and captains, you must attribute the delay merely to the existing circumstances, and the multiplicity of business committed to them.
SAINPORT, 6th March, 1794,
EXTRACT. . “I send herewith a copy of my letter with one of the same date, respecting the vessels and cargoes brought in by French frigates, contrary not only to our treaty, but to every principle of the law of nations. These captures create great confusion, must produce much damage to mercantile men, and are a source of endless and wellfounded complaint. Every post brings me piles of letters about it from all quarters, and I see no remedy. You have a copy of the min. ister's answer to my letter, holding out the hope of speedy decision; but it may be very long before it can be obtained. And in the mean time, if I would give way to the clamors of the injured parties, I ought to make demands very like a declaration of war. What ain I to do in such cases ? It is impossible for me to guess the intentions of Government, and, indeed, Sir, the responsibility is great and distressing.”
No. 43. Nr. Buchot, French Commissioner of Foreign Relations, to Mr. Morris.
PARIS, 16th Messidor,
2d year of the Republic, ( 5th July, 1794.) 6. The sentiments of the Convention and of the Government towards your fellow citizens, are too well known to you to leave a doubt of
their dispositions to make good the losses, which the circumstances inseparable from a great revolution may bave caused some American navigators to experience.”
No. 44. Extracts of a letter from Mr. Randolph, Secretary of State, to Mr. Mon
roe, Minister to France, dated
PHILADELPHIA, June 10th, 1794. 6. You have been nominated as the successor of Mr. Gouverneur Morris, in the office of Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of France, from a confidence, that, while you keep steadily in view the necessity of rendering yourself accepta. ble to that Government, you will maintain the self-respect due to your own. In doing the one and the other of these things, your own prudence and understanding must be the guides, after first possessing yourself of the real sentiments of the Executive relative to the French nation.”
From Mr. Genet and Fauchet, we have uniformly learned that France did not desire us to depart from neutrality, and it would have been unwise to have asked us to do otherwise. For our ports are open to her prizes, while they are shut to those of Great Britain; and supplies of grain could not be forwarded to France with so much cer. tainty; were we at war, as they can even now, notwithstanding the British instructions; and as they may be, if the demands to be made upon Great Britain should succeed. We have, therefore, pursued neutrality with faithfulness; we have paid more of our debt to France than was absolutely due, as the Secretary of the Treasury asserts; and we should have paid more, if the state of our affairs did not re
quire us to be prepared with funds for the possible event of war. We · mean to continue the same line of conduct in future, and to remove all
jealousy with respect to Mr. Jay's mission to London, you may say that he is positively forbidden to weaken the engagements between this country and France. It is not improbable, that you will be obliged to encounter, on this head, suspicions of various kinds. But you may deslare the motives of that mission to be, to obtain immediate compensation for our plundered property, and restitution of the posts.”
«Should you be interrogated about the treaty of commerce, you may reply that it has never been proposed to us by Mr. Fauchet. As to any thing else concerning it, you will express yourself not to be in. structed; it being a subject to be negotiated with the Government here.
In like manner, if a treaty of alliance, or if the execution of the guarantee of the French islands, by force of arms, should be propounded, you will refer the republic of France to this side of the wa. ter. In short, it is expected, with a sure reliance on your discretion, that you will not commit the United States, by any specific declarations, except where you are particularly instructed ; and except too in giving testimony of our attachment to their cause,