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Extract of a letter from Mr. Barlow to the Secretary of State.
Paris, 19th December, 1811. “ Since the date of my last, (21st November,) I have had many interviews with the minister of foreign relations. I have explained several points, and urged every argument for as speedy an answer to my note of the 10th, as its very serious importance would allow. He always treats the subject with apparent candor and solicitude, seems anxious to gain information, declares that neither he nor the emperor had before understood American affairs in the light in which they now appear, and always assures me that he is nearly ready with his answer.
“ But he says the emperor's taking so long a time to consider it, and make up his decision, is not without reason, for it
opens a wide field for meditation on very interesting matters. He says
the emperor has read the note repeatedly and with great attention; that he told him the reasoning in it was every where just, and the conclusions undeniable; but to reconcile its principles with his continental system presented difficulties not easy to remove.
“ From what the emperor told me himself at the last diplomatic audience and from a variety of hints and other circumstances, remarked among the people about his person, I have been made to believe that he is really changing his system relative to our trade, and that the answer to my note will be more satisfactory than I had at first expected. But the unexpected and unreasonable delay has almost discouraged me of late.
“I am extremely anxious to despatch the frigate, and had I imagined the delay would have been so great, I would not have ordered her to return after landing Mr. Russel in England. There is however a kind of consolation thus far; the captain writes me that had she been ready to sail three weeks ago, the weather has been such ever since, that she could not have left the port by this time.
“ I hope and am pretty certain now that I shall despatch the messenger Mr. Morris, in five or six days at latest.
“ I send this by a Mr. Odin of Boston by way of England. I have given him a passport as bearer of despatches, and he goes by Morlaix without expense to the United States."
No. V. Extract of a letter from Mr. Barlow to the Secretary of State.
Paris, December 31, 1811. “ I have now the honor to send you the answer of the duke of Bassano to my note of the 10th of November, accompanied by a triplicate copy of that note.
* This answer, if understood in its most liberal sense, may VOL. IV. App.
doubtless be considered full and satisfactory, as a basis for the future commercial relations between the two countries; for we can ask nothing better than a perfect reciprocity of advantages in those relations. But although an official declaration of the emperor's intention and readiness to conclude a treaty on such principles may be fairly taken as an adoption of the principles; yet considering the irritation of the public mind in the United States, arising from recent injuries, and the difficulty with which it can be brought to believe in a change of system so suddenly adopted and so vaguely announced, I thought it best to obtain, if possible, a more precise declaration as to certain points which had created so much difficulty.
* Accordingly I asked an interview with the duke for the 28th. I went to him on that day with a paper in my hand, of which I here inclose a translation.
“ My intention was to induce him to sign that paper, or the prin
les which it contained, either in its present or such other form as he might deem more consonant with the dignity of his government, such as putting them into the answer to a letter which I might write him, if he should think that the most eligible method.
“ After we had read over the paper together, and I had explained the motives of my proposition, he replied that every one of those principles was adopted by the emperor and would enter into the treaty and therefore it would be useless to announce them in a separate declaration. I endeavoured to convice him of the advantages that would result to France as well as to the United States from an immediate restoration of confidence among the American merchants. The great want of flour in France as well as Spain, and the accumulation of French produce perishing on hand for want of foreign commerce, were sufficient reasons for seizing the first occasion not inconsistent with the emperor's general system for giving activity to neutral capital in the ports of the empire.
“He then copied the heads of my paper and said he would lay the proposition before the emperor, and give me an answer the next day. I did not however get this answer till last night. He then invited me to an interview; and, after reading over the paper as before, and commenting on every clause, he declared the emperor's decision precisely to the following effect. It is not proper for me to sign this declaration; but you may notify it to your government, word for word, as if it were signed; for the principles are all adopted, and from this day forward they will be in operation. I have given the order to the chief of the customs for what concerns his department; the court of prizes is ordered to expedite its part of the business, and I shall instruct the consuls to give the certificates of origin. But you will observe this regards only the produce of the United States. Colonial produce cannot for the present be admitted, even in a French vessel, on a simple certificate of origin, without a special license.”
“ I then desired him to cause one more order to be given from
the proper department to the effect of repressing the rapacity of privateers. The emperor owed it to his own dignity to order' his courts to subject, at least to cost and damages, the owners of such paivateers as should capture innocent ships without a pretext, a business that was long known to be carried on, as well it might be under the present system of certain impunity, with the sure prospect of a great deal of partial plunder, and the hope of an advantageous compromise with the claimants. He acknowledged that something ought to be done in the case.
6 His observation on colonial produce induced me to bring up again the subject of special licenses, repeating what I had often stated before, the just objection that the president had instructed me to insist upon against that system. He said that if the president desired it, it should be discontinued; but they had not yet been able to find a substitute. He declared to me, as he has often done before, that the emperor would do any thing on this subject that should be most agreeable to the United States, provided it did not open a door to the introduction of English produce.
“ He always insists upon it that the special licenses are a clear advantage, as far as they go, to the commerce and navigation of the United States.—The system is an extension of favor to them, inasmuch as it relaxes the principles of the French navigation act, which confines the carrying trade of the colonies to French ships.
“ He added that the emperor did not pretend that this was out of pure friendship to the Americans. "We have need of coffee and
sugar. We can get our supply in this way, but if you can point out another that shall be more agreeable to the president, without giving us the produce of English colonies, we shall adopt it.'
“ Tbus I think, sir, you have the whole idea before you. And I should be glad to receive your further instructions on the subject.
“ Should it be the intention of the president that I should proceed in the treaty of commerce, it will be necessary likewise to give me instructions as precise as may be on all the essential points that you wish to enter into it.”
(inclosed in No. 5.) Translation of a letter from the Duke of Bassano to Mr. Barlow,
Paris, 27th December, 1811. The undersigned, minister of foreign relations, has laid before his majesty, the emperor and king, the note which Mr. Barlow, minister plenipotentiary of the United States of America, addressed to him on the 10th of last month.
If since the revocation of the decrees of Berlin and Milan, the commerce between France and the United States has had but lit. tle activity, the cause must be sought for in the outrages which the British government has exercised against the flag of the United States and against the French flag, and in the cruizes (croisieres) which it has established on the ocean and on the Mediterranean, on the coasts of France and on those of America.
The undersigned has in his bureau a memorandum of a great number of American vessels taken at the entrance of the rivers of France, and the English papers every day mention that these ves. sels are condemned and delivered up to the captors for having violated the blockade of 1806, or other orders of the British council.
Those American vessels which have escaped the enemy, and have entered the ports of France, have sold there, merchandise to advantage, have taken return cargoes and realized a profit on them, notwithstanding the enormous insurance they have been obliged to pay on account of the risk they run from British cruizers.
if the flag of the United States was respected, if it enjoyed the rights guaranteed to the navigation of neutrals by the law which has existed from time immemorial on this subject, and of which the treaty of Utrecht has specially recognized the principles, the commerce between the two countries would have its full developement, and the relations of the citizens of the United States with the empire, would open to their activity sources of considerable profit.
In fact, the tariff of the 5th August established duties which are paid by the consumers, and which can have no other influence than on the price of the articles. The duties of 200 or 300 per cent. laid in England on wines, on teas, and on many other articles, for a long time past, are in like manner, nothing more than duties of consumption, which have no other effect than to raise the price, without in any manner injuring the commerce in them.
The merchants of the United States are not subjected in France to any duties or to any obligations that are not equally imposed on French commerce, of which they moreover partake all the advantages. And whilst in the United States, cargoes imported in French vessels pay 10 per cent. more than if they had been imported in American vessels, the flag of the United States is treated in France as the imperial flag.
Nevertheless, a treaty of commerce, bottomed on the principle of a perfect reciprocity, could not fail to be entirely advantageous to both countries. The undersigned is authorized to negotiate, conclude, and sign such a treaty, It is with a lively satisfaction, that he makes known to the minister plenipotentiary of the United States, the intentions of his majesty on this important object. The United States will be entirely satisfied on the pending questions (questions actuelles), and there will be no obstacle to their obtaining the advantages they have in view, if they succeed in making their flag safe.
The undersigned has the honor to renew to Mr. Barlow, minis
ter plenipotentiary of the United States, the assurances of his
THE DUKE OF BASSANO.
(Inclosed in No. 5.) The minister plenipotentiary of the United States, and the undersigned minister of foreign relations, being respectively authorized and now ready to negotiate and conclude a treaty of commerce between the two countries, and as several months must elapse before such a treaty can be completed and ratified, during which time their commercial interest may suffer loss from the uncertainty now existing in the United States relative to certain points that are intended to enter into that treaty: the undersigned declares it to be the emperor's pleasure that in this interval the commerce of the United States in their own produce and that of the French colonies shall be free in his ports: That is to say, the formalities necessary to prove the property and origin of the goods shall be as simple and expeditious as the nature of the cases will permit.
No cause whatever shall warrant the capture or detention of an American vessel at sea, or her seizure in a French port, or in any other port, by French authority, but a well grounded suspicion of forgery in her papers.
No other papers shall be required but the passport and clearance by the American authorities, and a certificate of origin by a French consul; and the French consuls in the United States are ordered to give such certificates.
His majesty will cause the liberation of all the remaining ships and cargoes now in his ports belonging to American citizens, as fast as the necessary inquiries now going on shall prove them to be such.
(Inclosed in No. 5.) Translation of a letter from the Duke of Bassano to Mr. Barlow,
Paris, 21st December, 1811. I have the honour to announce to you that his majesty the emperor, by a decision of the 12th of this month, has ordered to be placed at the disposition of their government 23 Americans, whom the town of Dantzic had by mistake comprised in a levy of sailors it had to furnish to France. These sailors had been sent to Antwerp, and afterwards to Rochefort; and these successive removals having rendered impracticable the immediate proof of their citizenship, every decision on that subject was necessarily deferred. The usage is to deliver to the nearest consul those who are claimed by his government. Therefore, the twenty-three American sailors