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TO THE HISTORY OF THE TWELFTH CONGRESS.
[ FIRST SESSION.]
COMPRISING THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS ORIGINATING DURING THAT CON
GRESS, AND THE PUBLIC ACTS PASSED BY IT.
To the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States : Communicated to Congress by the Messages of No. I communicate to Congress certain documents,
vember 5, and 14, 1811; January 16, 17, March 16, being a continuation of those heretofore laid beJune 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 16, and 22, 1812; and Novem fore ihem, on the subject of our affairs with Great ber 4, 1812.
Britaio. To the Senate and House of
Without going back beyond the renewal, in Representatives of the United States :
1803, of the war in which Great Britain is enI communicate to Congress copies of a correspond- gaged, and omitting unrepaired wrongs of infeence between the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister rior magnitude, the conduct of her Government Plenipotentiary of Great Britain and the Secretary of State, relative to the aggression committed by a Brit- presents a series of acts hostile to the United
States as an independent and neutral nation. ish ship of war on the United States' frigate Chesapeake; by which it will be seen that that subject of
British cruisers have been in the continued difference between the two countries is terminated by practice of violating the American flag on the an offer of reparation, which has been acceded to. great highway of nations, and of seizing and car
JAMES MADISON. rying off persons sailing under it, not in the exerNOVEMBER 13, 1811.
cise of a belligerent right, founded on the law of
nations against an enemy, but of a municipal preTo the Senate and House of
rogative over British subjects. British jurisdicRepresentatives of the United States :
tion is thus extended to neutral vessels, in a situ. I communicate to Congress a letter from the Envoy ation where no laws can operate but the law of Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Great nations, and the laws of the country to which the Britain to the Secretary of State, with the answer of vessels belong; and a self-redress is assumed, the latter.
which, if British subjects were wrongfully deThe continued evidence afforded in this correspond- tained and alone coocerned, is that substitution of ence, of the hostile policy of the British Government force for a resort to the responsible sovereigo, against our national rights, strengthens the considera- which falls within the definition of war. Could tions recommending and urging the preparation of the seizure of British subjects, in such cases, be adequate means for maintaining them.
regarded as within the exercise of a belligerent JAMES MADISON.
right the acknowledged laws of war, which forJANTARY 16, 1812.
bid an article of captured property to be adjudged,
without a regular investigation before a compeTo the Senate and House of
tent tribunal, would imperiously demand the Representatives of ihe United States :
fairest trial, where the sacred rights of persons I lay before Congress a letter from the Envoy Ex
were at issue. In place of such a trial, these traordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Great rights are subjected to the will of every petty Britain to the Secretary of State, with the answer of commander. the latter. JAMES MADISON.
The practice, hence, is so far from affecting JAXTARY 17, 1812.
British subjects alone, that, under the pretext of To the Senate and House of
searching for these, thousands of American citi. Representatives of the United States :
zens, under the safeguard of public law and of I lay before Congress a letter from the Envoy Ex- their national flag, have been torn from their traordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Great country, and from everything dear to them; have Britain to the Secretary of State.
been dragged on board ships of war of a foreigo JAMES MADISON. nation, and exposed, under the severities of their MARCH 13, 1812.
discipline, to be exiled to the most distant and
Relations with Great Britain.
deadly climes, to risk their lives in the battles of without effect, that her own prior blockades, untheir oppressors, and to be the melancholy instru- supported by an adequate naval force actually ments of taking away those of their own brethren. applied and continued, were a bar to this plea:
Against this crying enormity, which Great that executed edicts against millions of our proBritain would be so prompi io avenge is commit- perty could not be retaliation on edicts confessted against herself, the United States have in vain edly' impossible to be executed; that retaliation, exhausted remonstrances and expostulations. And to be just, should fall on the party setting the that no proof might be wanting of their concilia-guilty example, not on an innocent party, which tory dispositions, and no pretext left for a contin- was not even chargeable with an acquiescence uance of the practice, the British Government in it. was formally assured of the readiness of the Uni- When deprived of this flimsy veil, for a proted States to enter into arrangements, such as hibition of our trade with her enemy, by the recould not be rejected if the recovery of Britisha peal of his prohibition of our trade with Great subjects were the real and the sole object. The Britain, her Cabinet, instead of a corresponding communication passed without effect.
repeal, or a practical discontinuance of its orders, British cruisers have been in the practice also formally avowed a determination to persist in of violating the rights and the peace of our coasts. them against the United States, until the marThey hover over and harass our entering and de-kets of her enemy should be laid open to British parting commerce. To the most insuliing pre-products; thus asserting an obligation on a Deu. tensions they have added the most lawless pro-iral Power to require one belligerent to encourceedings in our very harbors, and have wantonly age, by its internal regulations, the trade of anspilt American blood within the sanctuary of our oiher belligerent; contradicting her own practice territorial jurisdiction. The principles and rules towards all nations, in peace as well as in war; enforced by that nation, when a neutral nation, and betraying the insincerity of those professions against armed vessels of belligerents hovering which inculcated a belief that, having resorted near her coasts, and disturbing her commerce, are 10 her orders with regret, she was anxious to find well known. When called on, nevertheless, by an occasion for putting an end to them. the United States, to punish the greater offences Abandoning still more all respect for the neucommitted by her own vessels, her Goveroment tral rights of the United States, and for its own has bestowed on their commanders additional consistency, the British Government now demarks of honor and confidence.
mands, as prerequisites to a repeal of its orders, as Under pretended blockades, without the pres- they relate to the United States, that a formality ence of an adequate force, and sometimes with should be observed on the repeal of the Freach out the practicability of applying one, our com- decrees, nowise necessary to their termination, merce has been plundered in every sea; the great nor exemplified by British usage; and that the staples of our country have been cut off from their French repeal, besides including that portion of legitimate markets; and a destructive blow aimed the decrees which operate within a ierritorial at our agricultural and maritime interests. In jurisdiction, as well as that which operates on aggravation of these predatory measures, they ihe high seas, against the commerce of ihe Voihave been considered as in force from the dates ied States, should not be a single and special reof their notification; a retrospective effect being peal in relation to the United States, but should thus added, as has been done in other important be extended to whatever other neutral patios, cases, to the unlawfulness of the course pursued. unconnected with them, may be affected by those And to render the outrage the more signal, these decrees. Aod, as an additional insult, they are mock blockades have been reiterated and enforced called on for a formal disavowal of conditions in the face of official communications from the and pretensions advanced by the French Gov. British Government, declaring, as the true defini- ernment, for which the United States are so far tion of a legal blockade, “ that particular ports from having made themselves responsible, that must be actually, invested, and previous warning in official explanations, which have been pubgiven to vessels bound to them not to enter." lished to the world, and in a correspondence of the
Not content with the occasional expedients for American Minister at London with the British laying waste our neutral trade, the Cabinet of Minister for Foreign Affairs, such a responsibilGreat Britain resorted, at length, to the sweeping ity was explicitly and emphatically disclaimed. system of blockades, under the name of Orders It has become, indeed, sufficiently certain, that in Council, which has been moulded and man- the commerce of the United States is to be sacriaged as might best suit its political views, its ficed, not as interfering with the belligerent commercial jealousies, or the avidity of British rights of Great Britain, not as supplying the cruisers.
wants of her enemies, which she herself supplies, To our remonstrances against the complicated but as interfering with the monopoly which she and transcendent injustice of this innovaiion, the covets for her own commerce and navigation. first reply was, that the orders were reluctantly She carries on a war against the lawful comadopted by Great Britain, as a necessary retalia- merce of a friend, that she may the better carry tion on decrees of her enemy, proclaiming a on a commerce with an enemy; a commerce pol. general blockade of the British isles, at a time luled by the forgeries and perjuries which are, when the naval force of that enemy dared not to for the most part, the only passports by which it issue from his own ports. She was reminded, I can succeed.
Relations with Great Britain.
Anxious to make every experiment short of the ade to be comprehended in the Orders in Counlast resort of injured nations, the United States cil, the United States were compelled so to regard have with held from Great Britain, under succes- it, in their subsequent proceedings. sive modifications, the benefits of a free inter- There was a period when a favorable change course with their market; the loss of which could in the policy of the British Cabinet was justly not but outweigh the profits accruing from her considered as established. The Minister Pleni. restrictions of our cominerce with other nations. potentiary of His Britannic Majesty here proposAnd to entitle these esperiments to the more fa- ed an adjustment of the differences more imme. vorable consideration, ihey were so framed as to diately endangering the harmony of the two counenable her to place her adversary under the ex- tries. The proposition was accepted with the clusive operation of them. To these appeals her promptitude and cordiality corresponding with Government has been equally inflexible, as if wil the invariable professions of this Government. A ling to make sacrifices of every sort rather than foundation appeared to be laid for a sincere and yield to the claim of justice, or renounce the er- lasting reconciliation. The prospect, however, rors of a false pride. Nay, so far were the ato quickly vanished. The whole proceeding was tempts carried to overcome the attachment of the disavowed by the British Government, without British Cabinet to its unjust edicts, that it receiv- any explanations which could, at that time, reed every encouragement, within the competency press the belief that the disavowal proceeded of the Executive branch of our Government, to from a spirit of hostility to the commercial rights expect that a repeal of them would be followed and prosperity of the United States. And it has by a war between the United States and France, since come into proof, that at the very moment unless the French edicts should also be repealed. when the public Minister was holding the lanEven this communication, although silencing for- guage of friendship, and inspiring confidence in ever the plea of a disposition in the United Siates the sincerity of the negotiaiion with which he to acquiesce in those edicts, originally the sole was charged, a secret agent of his Government plea for them, received no atiention.
was employed in intrigues, having for their obIf no other proof existed of a predetermination ject a subversion of our Government, and a disof the British Government against a repeal of its memberment of our happy Union. orders, it might be found in the correspondence In reviewing the conduct of Great Britain of the Minister Plenipotentiary of the United towards the United States, our attention is neStates at London, and the British Secretary forcessarily drawn to the warfare just renewed by Foreign Affairs, in 1810, on the question whether the savages, on one of our extensive frontiers; a the blockade of May, 1806, was considered as in warfare which is known to spare neither age nor force, or as not in force. It had been ascertained sex, and to be distinguished by features peculithat the French Government, which urged this arly shocking to humanity. It is difficui to acblockade as the ground of its Berlin decree, was count for the activity and combinations which willing, on the event of its removal, to repeal that have for some tiine been developing themselves decree, which being followed by alternate repeals among tribes in constant intercourse with British of the other offensive edicts, might abolish the traders and garrisons, without connecting their whole system on both sides. This inviting oppor- hostility with that influence, and without recoltunity for accomplishing an object so important lecting the authenticated examples of such into the United States, and professed so often to be ter positions heretofure furnished by the officers the desire of both the belligerents, was made and agents of that Government. known to the British Government. As that Gov- Such is the spectacle of injuries and indigniernment admits that an actual application of an lies which have been heaped on our country, and adequate force is necessary to the existence of a such the crisis which its unexampled forbearance legal blockade, and it was notorious that if such a and conciliatory efforts have not been able to force had ever been applied, its long discontinu- avert. It mighi al least bave been expected that ance had anpulled the blockade in question, there an enlightened nation, if less urged by moral obcould be no sufficient objection on the part of ligations, or invited by friendly dispositions on Great Britain to a formal revocation of it; and the part of the United States, would have found, no imaginable objection to a declaration of the in iis true interest alone, a sufficient motive to fact, that the blockade did not exist. The decla- respect their rights and their tranquillity on the ration would have been consistent with her avow- high seas; that an enlarged policy would have ed principles of blockade, and would have enabled favored that free and general circulation of comthe United States to demand from France the merce, in which the British nation is at all times pledged repeal of her decree, either with success, interested, and which, in times of war, is the in which case the way would have been opened best alleviation of its calamities to herself, as for a general repeal of the belligerent edicis; or well as to other belligerents; and more especiwithout success, in which case the United States ally that the British Cabinet would not, for the would have been justified in turning their meas- sake of a precarious and surreptitious intercourse ures exclusively against France. The British with hostile markets, have persevered in a course Government would, however, neither rescind the of measures, which necessarily put at hazard the blockade, nor declare its non-existence to be in invaluable market of a great and growing counferred and affirmed by the American Plenipoten- try, disposed to cultivate the mutual advantages liary. On the contrary, by representing the block- l of an active commerce.
Relations with Great Britain.
Other councils have prevailed. Our modera- To the Senate and House of tion and conciliation have had no other effect Representatives of the United States : than to encourage perseverance, and to enlarge I transmit, for the information of Congress, pretensions. We behold our seafaring citizens copies of a correspondence of the Minister Plen. still the daily victims of lawless violence, com- ipotentiary of Great Britain, with the Secretary mitted on the great common and highway of of State. pations, even within sight of the country which
JAMES MADISON. owes them protection. We behold our vessels June 4, 1812. freighted with the products of our soil and industry, or returning with the honest proceeds of To the Senate and House of them, wrested from their lawful destinations, Representatives of the United States : confiscated by prize courts, no longer the organs of public law, but the instruments of arbitrary have passed between the Secretary of State and
I lay before Congress copies of letters which edicis; and their unfortunate crews dispersed and the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipolost, or forced or inveigled in British ports into tentiary of Great Britain. British fleets; whilst arguments are employed in
JAMES MADISON. support of these aggressions, which have no
JUNE 8, 1812. foundation, but in a principle equally supporting a claim to regulate pur exiernal commerce in all to the Senate and House of cases whatsoever. We behold, in fine, on the side of Great Brit
Representatives of the United States : ain, a state of war against the United States;
I transmit, for the information of Congress, and on the side of the United States, a state of copies of letters which have passed between the peace towards Great Britain.
Secretary of State and the Envoy ExtraordinaWhether the United States shall continue pas- ry and Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain. sive under these progressive usurpations, and
JAMES MADISON. these accumulating wrongs, or, opposing force to
JUNE 11, 1812. force in defence of their national rights, shall commit a just cause into the hands of the Al- To the Senate and House of mighly Disposer of events, avoiding all connex. Representatives of the United States : ions which might entangle it in the contests or I transmit, for the information of Congress, views of other Powers, and preserving a constant copies of letters which have passed between the readiness to concur in an honorable re-establish- Secretary of State and the Envoy Extraordinament of peace and friendship, is a soleman ques- ry and Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain. tion, which the Constitution wisely confides to
JAMES MADISON. the Legislative Department of the Government. JUNE 15, 1812. In recommending ii to their early deliberations, I am happy in the assurance that the decision will to the Senate and House of be worthy the enlightened and patriotic councils Representatives of the United States : of a virtuous, a free, and a powerful nation.
I transmit, for the information of Congress : Having presented this view of the relations of copies of a letter to the Secretary of State from the United States with Great Britain, and of the the Chargé des Affaires of the United States at solemn alternative growing out of them, I pro- London, accompanied by a letter from the latter ceed to remark, that the communication last made to the British Minister of Foreign Affairs. to Congress, on the subject of our relations with
JAMES MADISON. France, will have shown, that since the revoca
JUNE 16, 1812. tion of her decrees, as they violated the neutral rights of the United States, her Government has to the Senate and House of authorized illegal captures by its privateers and public ships; and that other outrages have been
Representatives of the United States : practised on our vessels and our citizens. It
I communicate to Congress copies of a letter will have been seen, also, that no indemnity had to the Secretary of State from the Chargé des been provided, or satisfactorily pledged, for the Affaires of the United States at London, and of extensive spoliations committed under the violent a note to him from the British Secretary for and retrospective orders of the French Govern- Foreign Affairs.
JAMES MADISON. ment against the property of our citizens seized within the jurisdiction of France. I abstain, at
JUNE 22, 1812. this time, from recommending to the consideration of Congress definitive measures with respect
1.-Correspondence between the Minister or Charge to that nation, in the expectation that the result
d'Affaires of the United States at London and the of unclosed discussions between our Minister
Secretary of State. Plenipotentiary at Paris and the French Gov- Mr. Pinkney to the Secretary of State. ernment will speedily enable Congress to decide,
LONDON, January 17, 1811. with greater advantage, on the course due to the Sir: I had the honor to receive, on the 5th inrights, the inierests, and the honor of our country. stant, while I was confined by a severe illoess,
June 1. 1812. JAMES MADISON. your' letter of the 15th of November, and, as
Relations with Great Britain.
soon as I was able, prepared a note to Lord Wel revoke their Orders in Council, and renounce the lesley in conformity with it.
new principles of blockade which they bave atOn the 3d instant, I had received a letter from tempied to establish." Lord Wellesley, bearing date the 29th ultimo, on The purport of this declaration appeared to be the subjects of the Orders in Council and the that the repeal of the decrees of Berlin and Milaa British blockades, to which I was anxious to re- would take effect from the 1st of November, proply, at the same time that I obeyed the orders of vided that Great Britain, antecedently to that the President signified in your letter above men- day, and in consequence of this declaration, should tioned. I prepared an answer accordingly, and revoke the Orders in Council, and should reseat it in with the other note, and a bote of the nounce those principles of blockade which the 15th, respecting iwo American schooners lately French Government alleged to be new. A sepcaptured on their way to Bordeaux, for a breach arate coodition relating to America seemed also of the Orders in Council. Copies of all these to be contained in this declaration, by which papers are enclosed.
America might understand that the decrees of My answer to Lord Wellesley's letter was Berlin and Milan would be actually repealed on written under the pressure of indisposition, and the 1st of November, 1810, provided that Amerthe influence of more indignation than could ica should resent any refusal of the British Govwell be suppressed. His letter proves, what ernment to renounce the new principles of blockscarcely required proof, that if the present Gov. ade, and to revoke the Orders in Council. ernment continue, we cannot be friends with By your explanation it appears that the AmerEngland. I need not analyze it to you.
ican Government understands the letter of the I am still so weak as to find it convenient to French Minister as announcing an absolute remake this letter a short one, and will therefore peal on the 1st of November, 1810, of the French only add that I have derived great satisfaction decrees of Berlin and Milan, which repeal, howfrom your instructions of the 15th of November, ever, is not to continue in force unless the Britand have determined to return to the United ish Government, within a reasonable time after States in the Essex. She will go to L'Orient the first of November, 1810, shall fulfil the two for Mr. Grayson, and then come to Cowes for conditions stated distinctly in the letter of the me and my family. I calculate on sailing about French Minister. Uoder this explanation, if nothe last of February. The choice of a Chargé thing more had been required from Great Britd'Affaires embarrasses me exceedingly, but I will ain for the purpose of securing the coatinuance of do the best I can. The despatches by the Essex the repeal of the French decrees than the repeal of were delivered to me by Lieutenant Rodgers on our Orders in Council, I should not have hesitated Sunday. I have the honor to be, &c.
to declare the perfect readiness of this Government
WM. PINKNEY. to fulfil that condition. On these terms the BritROBERT SMITH, Esq., &c.
ish Government has always been sincerely dis[Referred to in Mr. Pinkney's letter of January 17.] posed to repeal the Orders in Council. It apLord Wellesley to Mr. Pinkney.
pears, however, not only by the letter of the
French Minister, but by your explanation, that FOREIGN OFFICE, December 29, 1810. the repeal of the Orders in Council will not satSir: In acknowledging the receipt of your isfy either the French or the American Governletter of the 10th instant, I must express my re- ment. The British Government is further regret that you should have thought it necessary to quired by the letter of the French Minister to introduce into that letter any topics which might renounce those principles of blockade which the tend to interrupt the conciliatory spirit in which French Government alleges to be new. A referit is the sincere disposition of His Majesty's ence to the terms of the Berlin decree will serve Government to conduct every negotiation with to explain the extent of this requisition. The the Government of the United States.
Berlin decree states that Great Britain extends From an anxious desire to avoid all discus- the right “ of blockade to commercial unfortified sions of that tendency, I shall proceed without towns, and to ports, harbors, and mouths of rivany further observation to communicate to you ers, which, according to the principles and practhe view which His Majesty's Government has tice of all civilized nations, is only applicable to taken of the principal question which formed the fortified places.” On the part of the Anerican object of my inquiry during our conference on Government, I understand you to require that the 5th instant. The letter of the French Min- Great Britain should revoke her order of blockister for Foreigo Affairs to the American Minis-ade of May, 1806. Combining your requisition ter at Paris of the 9th of August, 1810, did not with that of the French Minister, I must conappear to His Majesty's Government to contain clude that America demands the revocation of such a notification of the repeal of the French that order of blockade as a practical instance of decreess of Berlin and Milan as could justify our renunciation of those principles of blockade His Majesty's Government in repealing the Brit. which are condemned by the French Goveraish Orders in Council. The leiter states "ihat ment. Those principles of blockade Great Britthe decrees of Berlin and Milan are revoked, and ain has asserted to be ancient, and established by that from the first of November, 1810, they will the laws of maritime war, acknowledged by all cease to be in force; it being uoderstood that in civilized nations, and on which depend the most consequence of this declaration the English shall I valuable rights and interests of this nation. If