to exceed. But one million has been added by a special agreement with Spain, which is intended to be applied to the claims of French subjects against that country for property sequestered since the restoration of Ferdinand VII.

Although the French government has obtained as favorable terms in that respect as had been expected, the hope of a simultaneous stipulation for the withdrawing of the army of occupation in the course of this year has been disappointed. The final decision on that subject is referred to the congress of Dusseldorf or its vicinity, which will take place in September, and at which the two Emperors and the King of Prussia are expected to assist. I have, however, no doubt that if no new incident shall in the mean while take place, the evacuation of the French territory will at that time be agreed on, taking the 24 millions of rentes asked from the Chambers for that object in payment, or as a security for the payment, of the two last years of the war contribution, and of some arrears due on account of the army of occupation.

I had, in my letter of the 2d of January last, mentioned that I would wait for an answer from your Department to my despatch of the 23d of April, 1817, before I took any new steps on the subject of our own claims, and I had no expectation that a new application would at this moment prove successful. Yet it appeared that to remain altogether silent at the moment when an arrangement for the claims of the subjects of every other nation was on the eve of being concluded, might in some degree be injurious to the rights of our citizens. It was also apprehended that in their public communications the Ministers of the King, wishing to render the new convention as palatable as possible, might announce to the nation in general terms that all the foreign claims of individuals were now satisfied. These considerations induced me to address to the Duke de Richelieu the note of the 3d instant, of which I have the honor to nclose a copy,' as well as of that by which he acknowledged the receipt of mine. You will perceive that in his communication to the

1 This note will be found in American State Papers, vol. v. (Foreign Relations) 290.

[ocr errors]

Chambers (which has been inserted correctly in no other newspaper than the Moniteur) he has expressed himself in the following terms: “France (by this payment) is liberated, both as to principal and interest, from all the debts contracted towards the subjects of the other European powers prior to the 20th November, 1815.” The consideration of our claims is not, therefore, barred by anything which has taken place; but there is not yet any disposition to take up the subject. I have reason to believe that the fraction of 40,000 francs annuity, equivalent to 800,000 francs capital, which has been added to the 16 millions of rentes, is given to Portugal as an indemnity for vessels burnt at sea by Admiral Lallemant,-a species of claims which the French government has always appeared disposed to admit, if standing alone. But, with that single exception, there is no claim embraced by the late conventions of a nature similar to ours. They are all for debts recognized or contracts made by the former government of France. Sweden presented a claim for spoliations made on her commerce when she was a neutral nation, which has been expressly rejected as not coming within the scope of the conventions of 1815; and, as her subjects had no other claims, she receives nothing in the distribution of the gross sum now allowed by the late convention. Yet the Swedish chargé has informed me that most of the vessels for which the claim was made had been actually acquitted by the council of prizes. Having always been aware of the nature of the conventions made by the allied powers, care was taken in my note of the 9th November, 1816, to the Duke de Richelieu, to guard against any inferences which might thence be drawn against our claims.

Notwithstanding these unfavorable appearances, as circumstances may unexpectedly arise which would render some arrangement practicable, I beg leave to request some further instructions on the subject. Referring to my former communications, and more particularly to my note to the Duke de Richelieu of the 9th November, 1816, and to my despatches to your Department of the 20th January and 23d April, 1817, I will only add that the three principal questions on which I do not feel sufficiently instructed are these: 1st. Can the claims for condemned property be abandoned if France shall consent to settle those for vessels burnt at sea, and for property not definitely condemned? 2dly. May payment for these be accepted in stock at par, abandoning also the arrears of interest? 3dly. What gross sum in stock, to be distributed by our own government, might be accepted in lieu of all claims?

I have the honor, &c.


WASHINGTON, 1st May, 1818. DEAR SIR,—The papers which have been forwarded to you by the State Department will have kept you informed of the measures of the government during the recent session of Congress. The laws enforcing the neutral relations of the United States have been revised, consolidated, and rendered more equal in their operation, and consequently more just and conformable to the principles of good neighborhood.

The perseverance of the British Ministry in excluding us from the commerce of the West India Islands has at length produced a measure on the part of this government which is to take effect on the 1st of October next. The unanimity with which the measure has been adopted is a guarantee that it will not be lightly abandoned. It is perhaps known to you that last spring four propositions were submitted by the British Ministry to Mr. Adams, tendering under certain restrictions a participation in the West India trade to American shipping. These propositions were transmitted by Mr. Adams to the State Department, with a declaration that they presented no basis upon which to form an arrangement, even for the short time which the commercial convention had yet to run. As Mr. Adams had declined acting upon them, and would have taken his departure from London before instructions could be sent to him, no effort was made to effect anything under these propositions. I, however, stated my opinion to the President that a successful result might be anticipated from an effort to negotiate on the basis presented by the British Ministry. In framing Mr. Rush's instructions during the absence of the President, Mr. Adams was directed to call upon me in order to receive my views of the subject, for the purpose of framing an instruction upon the basis presented. I declined entering into an explanation of my views, upon two grounds: 1st. That Congress was upon the eve of its session, when it was probable the subject would be acted upon, and no good could result from its being the subject of legislative deliberation and of diplomatic discussion at the same time. Another inducement to this course had been produced by the submission of the propositions themselves by Mr. Rush to several intelligent merchants, who had given their opinions against them as less advantageous than the probable effect of legislative measures which might be with safety adopted. From the reasoning presented in these opinions, it was manifest that several of them had misconceived their effects; yet this circumstance did not offer any inducement to weaken the considerations which have been previously presented.

It is probable that this measure may hasten the negotiations for a definitive arrangement, in anticipation of the expiration of the commercial convention between the two countries. I do not know what are the views of the President upon this subject. My own impression is that we should not move in the business, but that we should be perfectly prepared to meet them with a spirit of conciliation upon this subject. As I have not the most unlimited confidence in the judgment of our minister there, I shall suggest the propriety of provisional instructions being sent to you to join him upon the presentment of any serious proposition to negotiate upon this question. My opinion of Mr. Rush is not as unfavorable as many of my countrymen, especially in Congress. As a man, I have a great regard for him; but as a statesman, I think him deficient in judgment, and of confidence in his judgment. Perhaps the latter defect is more dangerous than the former.

The bill to provide for the support of the Revolutionary soldiers may give us a degree of celebrity in foreign countries, but I am persuaded that it will not add much to our fame at home. It will in fact be a general provision for the poor in the States to the east of Pennsylvania. $300,000 have been appro

[ocr errors]

priated for that object, but it is generally believed that three times that amount will be insufficient for it.

News from Rio Janeiro presents us with a very unfavorable view of the temper of the Portuguese government. Perhaps the reception which our commissioners received there may predispose the Independents at Buenos Ayres to give them a more friendly greeting than they otherwise would have received from them.

We have just received from Mr. Erving a manifesto of the Emperor Alexander, dated at Moscow the 26th November, upon the subject of quarrel between Spain and Portugal, and between the former and her colonies. At that date it seems that the suppression of the insurrection at Pernambuco was not known at Moscow. The plain English of this manifesto, if it admits of explanation, is that the allied sovereigns are not agreed among themselves upon the principles of pacification to be offered to Spain and her colonies; that the Emperor fears that they will not agree upon any terms; that the views of England and Spain particularly are adverse, and that the Emperor is disposed to take part with the Spaniard. His appeal to the pride, the consistency, the justice, and the magnanimity of the allied sovereigns to concert together the means of applying the principles of the European confederacy to the first practical case which has presented itself, as the only means of giving the lie to the sinister motives which had been attributed to it, could have been the result only of a strong impression that the occasion was likely to confirm the predictions which had been uttered upon that subject. As I have not seen the propositions of the English Cabinet, nor even the letter of Mr. Erving communicating the paper already described, I may have formed an inaccurate idea of it. With such lights as I possess, I can make nothing of it beyond what I have communicated.

I see that the law regulating the liberty of the press was rejected in the House of Peers (not the law regulating the journals). Was this rejection effected by the Liberal party ? and is the effect of the rejection beneficial to that liberty? Why has the King rejected the bill for recruiting the army? Was it radically changed in either House ? Upon what ground was it rejected ?

« ForrigeFortsett »