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fore to a removal of the Embargo as it applies to France, it will be impossible to view a perseverance of Great Britain in her retaliating orders, in any other light than that of war without even the pretext now assumed by her.
In order to entitle the British Government to a discontinuance of the Embargo as it applies to Great Britain, it is evident that all its decrees, as well those of Jany. 1807 as of Nov. 1807, ought to be rescinded as they apply to the United States, and this is the rather to be looked for, from the present administration, as it has so strenuously contended that the decrees of both dates were founded on the same principles and directed to the same object.
Should the British Government take this course you may authorize an expectation that the President will, within a reasonable time, give effect to the authority vested in him on the subject of the Embargo laws. Should the orders be rescinded in part only it must be left to his free judgment to decide on the case. In either event you will lose no time in transmitting the information to this Department and to Genl. Armstrong; and particularly in the event of such a course being taken by the British Government as will render a suspension of the Embargo certain or probable, it will be proper for you to make the communication by a Courier to Genl. Armstrong, to whom a correspondent instruction will be given, and to provide a special conveyance for it hither unless British arrangements shall present an opportunity equally certain and expeditious.
The suspension of the non-importation Act having expired without any renewal of the suspending power to the President, that Act is now and must continue in operation. The Senate proposed during the last days of the Session to revest such a power in the President, as a provision for a state of things which might warrant the exercise of it. In the House of Representatives the Bill was rejected by a large majority. The debate will best explain the grounds of the rejection. Whilst the wrongs which led to that measure continue, it is
probable that the measure will be continued; especially as the idea gains force daily, that we are less unripe for manufacturing establishments than has been supposed, and that we are admonished by experience to lessen our dependence for supplies on foreign nations. There is no longer any ground to apprehend that this Act can be an obstacle to adjustments on other subjects; the right of the United States to make such regulations at any time being admitted, and the justice of them being derived from commercial discriminations actually enforced by Great Britain against the United States.
From the notification of Jany. communicated in your letter of Jany. 8th, it seems that every possible variety of blockade legal and illegal is to be exhausted against our commerce. I beg leave to refer you to my letter of the 3d June 1806 to your predecessor and its inclosure for the kind of answer suitable to such notifications.
Among the documents forwarded, are a few printed copies of the communications made to Congress as stated in my last. The letters received from you and not yet acknowledged are under dates of the 8th Jany. and 2d February.
I have the honor to be &c.
TO JOHN ARMSTRONG.
D. OF S. MSS. INSTR.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, May 2nd, 1808.
Since my last letter of which Lt. Lewis was the bearer, I have received your several letters of 27 Decr, 22 Jany, 15 & 17 February, with their respective inclosures.
That of the 15th Jany. from Mr. Champagny to you has, as you will see by the papers herewith sent, produced all the sensations here, which the spirit and stile of it were calculated to excite in minds alive to the interests and honor of the nation. To present to the United States the alternative of bending to the views of France against her enemy, or of incurring a confiscation of all the property of their Citizens
carried into the French prize Courts, implied that they were susceptible of impressions by which no independent and honorable nation can be guided; and to prejudge and pronounce for them the effect which the conduct of another nation ought to have on their Councils and course of proceeding, had the air at least of an assumed authority, not less irritating to the public feelings. In these lights the President makes it your duty to present to the French Government the contents of Mr. Champagny's letter; taking care, as your discretion will doubtless suggest, that whilst you make that Government sensible of the offensive tone employed you leave the way open for friendly and respectful explanations if there be a disposition to offer them; and for a decision here on any reply which may be of a different character.
On the subject of your letter of Feby. 15th and its inclosures, the sentiments of the President prescribe that the French Government be assured of the full justice he does to the manner in which the wishes of the Emperor are disclosed for an accession of the U. States to the War against England, as an inducement to which his interposition would be employed with Spain to obtain for them the Floridas. But that the United States having chosen as the basis of their policy a fair and sincere neutrality among the contending powers, they are disposed to adhere to it as long as their essential interests will permit; and are more especially disinclined to become a party to the complicated and general warfare which agitates another quarter of the Globe for the purpose of obtaining a separate and particular object, however interesting to them. It may be intimated at the same time, that in the event of such a crisis as will demand from the United States a precautionary occupation of the Floridas against the hostile designs of Great Britain, it will be recollected with satisfaction that the measure had been contemplated with approbation by His Imperial Majesty.
An immediate seizure of the Floridas, according to your suggestion, would not have his approbation, or perhaps even
acquiescence, as may be inferred from the final explanation of Mr. Champagny, namely that it was in the case of an attack on those provinces by Great Britain, and then for their defence only, that the march of American troops into them would not be disagreeable to the Emperor.
Congress closed their Session on the 25 ult. For a general view of their proceedings, I refer to the series of Newspapers heretofore and now forwarded, and to other prints which are added. Among their Acts of Chief importance is that which vests in the President an authority to suspend in whole or in part the Embargo laws.
The conditions on which the suspending authority is to be exercised will engage your particular attention. They appeal equally to the justice and the policy of the two great belligerent powers now emulating each other in violation of both. The President counts on your best endeavors to give to this appeal all the effect possible with the French Government. Mr. Pinkney will be doing the same with that of Great Britain. The relation in which a recall of its retaliating decrees by either power, will place the United States to the other is obvious; and ought to be a motive to the measure proportioned to the desire which has been manifested by each, to produce collisions between the U. States and its adversary. and which must be equally felt by each to avoid one with itself.
Should wiser Councils or increasing distresses induce Great Britain to revoke her impolite [impolitic?] orders against neutral commerce, and thereby prepare the way for a removal of the Embargo as it applies to her, France could not persist in the illegal part of her decrees, if she does not mean to force a contest with the United States. On the other hand should she set the example of revocation Great Britain would be obliged, either by following it, to restore to France the full benefit of neutral trade which she needs, or by persevering in her obnoxious orders after the pretext for them had ceased, to render collisions with the United States inevitable. In
every point of view therefore, it is so clearly the sound policy of France to rescind so much at least of her decrees as trespass on neutral rights, and particularly to be the first in taking the retrograde step, that it cannot be unreasonable to expect that it will be immediately taken.
The repeal of her decrees is the more to be expected, above all if Great Britain should repeal or be likely to repeal hers, as the plan of the original decree at Berlin did not extend to a violation of the freedom of the seas, and was restricted to a municipal operation nearly an entire year, notwithstanding the illegal British orders of Jany, 1807; and as a return of France to that restricted scope of her plan, would so immaterially diminish its operation against the British commerce, that operation being so completely in the power of France on land, and so little in her power on the high seas.
But altho' we cannot of right demand from France more than a repeal of so much of her decrees as violate the freedom of the seas, and a great point will be gained by a repeal of that part of them, yet as it may not have the effect of inducing a repeal of the whole illegal system of the British Government which may seek pretexts; or plead a necessity for counteracting the unprecedented and formidable mode of warfare practiced against her, it will be desirable that as little room as possible should be left for this remaining danger to the tranquil enjoyment of our commercial rights.
In whatever degree the French Government may be led to change its system, you will lose no time in transmitting the information to this Department and to Mr. Pinkney, and by hired conveyances, if necessary. A correspondent instruction is given to Mr. Pinkney.
It is of the greatest importance that you should receive from each other the earliest notice of any relaxations, as each Government is under a pledge to follow such an example by the other. And it is not of less importance that the President or Congress should be acquainted with the facts, that the proceedings here may be accommodated to them.