Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

is made towards that most desirable and consoling result. Let Great Britain follow the example. The ground thus gained will soon be enlarged by the concurring and pressing interests of all parties, and whatever is gained will accrue to the advantage of afflicted humanity.

I proceed to notice another part of your letter of the 3d instant, which is viewed in a more favourable light. The president has received with great satisfaction the communication, that should the orders in council of 1807, be revoked, the blockade of May, of the preceding year, would cease with them, and that any blockade which should be afterwards instituted, should be duly notified and maintained by an adequate force. This frank and explicit declaration, worthy of the prompt and amicable measure adopted by the prince regent in coming into power, seems to remove a material obstacle to an accommodation of our differences between our countries, and when followed by the revocation of the orders in council, will, as I am authorized to inform you, produce an immediate termination of the non-importation law, by an exercise of the power vested in the president for that purpose.

I conclude with remarking, that if I have confined this letter to the subjects brought into view by yours, it is not because the United States have lost sight, in any degree, of the other very serious causes of complaint, on which they have received no satisfaction, but because the conciliatory policy of this government has thus far separated the case of the orders in council from others, and because, with respect to these others, your communication has not afforded any reasonable prospect of resuming them, at this time, with success. It is presumed, that the same liberal view of the truc interests of Great Britain, and friendly disposition towards the United States, which induced the prince regent to remove so material a difficulty as had arisen in relation to a repeal of the orders in council, will lead to a more favorable further consideration of the remaining difficulties on that subject, and that the advantages of an amicable adjustment of every question depending between the two countries, will be seen by your government in the same light as they are by that of the United States. I have the honor to be, &c. &c.

(Signed) JAS. MONROE.

Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe. Sir,

Washington, July 24, 1811. Having been unable to ascertain distinctly, from your letter to me of yesterday's date, whether it was the determination of the president to rest satisfied with the partial repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees, which you believe has taken place, so as to see no reason in the conduct of France for altering the relations between this country. and Great Britain, by exercising his power of suspending the operation of the non-importatiou act; allow me to repeat my question to

you on this point, as contained in my letter of the 14th instant, before I proceed to make any comments on your answer. I have the honor to be, with distinguished consideration, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

(Signed) AUG. J. FOSTER.

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster. Sir,

Department of State, July 26, 1811. I had the honor to receive your letter of yesterday's date; in time to submit it to the view of the president before he left town.

It was my object to state to you, in my letter of the 23d inst. that under existing circunstances, it was impossible for the president to terminate the operation of the non-importation law of the 20 March last : that France having accepted the proposition made by a previous law equally to Great Britain and to France, and having revoked her decrees violating our neutral rights, and Great Britain having declined to revoke hers, it became the duty of this government to fulfil its engagement, and to declare the non-importation law in force against Great Britain.

This state of affairs has not been sought by the United States. When the proposition, contained in the law of May 1, 1810, was. offered equally to both powers, there was cause to presume that Great Britain would have accepted it; in which event the non-im. portation law would not have operated against her.

It is in the power of the British government, at this time, to enable the president to set the non-importation law aside, by rendering to the United States an act of justice. If Great Britain will cease to violate their neutral rights, by revoking her orders in council, on which event alone the president has the power, I am instructed to inform you, that he will, without delay, exercise it by terminating the operation of this law.

It is presumed, that the communications which I have had the honor to make to you, of the revocation by France of her decrees, so far as they violated the neutral rights of the United States, and of her conduct since the revocation, will present to your government a different view of the subject from that which it had before taken, and pruduce in its councils a corresponding effect. I have the honor to be, &c.

(Signed) JAS. MONROE.

Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe. Sir,

Washington, July 26, 1811. I have had the honor to receive your letter of July 23d, in answer to mine of the 31 and 14ti instant, which, give me leave to say, were not merely relative to his majesty's orders in council, and the blockade of May 1806, but also to the president's proclamation of last November, and to the subsequent act of congress of March 2d, as well as to the just complaints which his royal highness the prince regent had commanded me to make to your government with respect to the proclamation and to that act

If the United States government had expected that I should have made communications which would have enabled them to come to an accommodation with Great Britain, on the ground on which alone you say it was possible to meet us, and that you mean by that expression a departure from our system of defence against the new kind of warfare still practised by France, I am at a loss to discover from what source they could have derived those expectations ; certainly not from the correspondence between the marquis Wellesley and Mr. Pinkney,

Before I proceed to reply to the arguments which are brought forward by you, to shew that the decrees of Berlin and Milan are repealed, I must first enter into an explanation upon some points on which you have evidently misapprehended; for I will not suppose you could have wished to misinterpret my meaning.

And first, in regard to the blockade of May, 1806, I must aver, that I am wholly at a loss to find out from what part of

my

letter it is that the president has drawn the unqualified inference, that should the orders in council of 1807 be revoked, the blockade of May 1806 would cease with them. It is most material, that on this point no mistake should exist between us. From your letter it would appear as if, on the question of blockade which America had so unexpectedly connected with her demand for a repeal of our orders in council, Great Britain had made the concession required of her; as if, after all that has passed on the subject, after the astonishment and regret of his majesty's government at the United States having taken up the view which the French government presented, of our just and legitimate principles of blockade which are exemplified in the blockade of May 1806, the whole ground taken by his majesty's government was at once abandoned. When I had the honor to exhibit to you my instructions, and to draw up, as I conceived according to your wishes, and those of the president, a statement of the mode in which that blockade would probably disappear, I never meant to authorize such a conclusion, and I now beg most unequivocally to disclaim it. The blockade of May 1806 will not continue after the repeal of the orders in council, unless his majesty's government shall think fit to sustain it by the special application of a sufficient naval force, and the fact of its being so continued or not, will be notified at the time. If in this view of the matter, which is certainly presented in a conciliatory spirit, one of the obstacles to a complete understanding between our countries can be removed by the United States gova ernment waving all further reference to that blockade, when they can be justified in asking a repeal of the orders, and I may communicate this to my government, it will undoubtedly be very satisfactory -But I beg distinctly to disavow having made any acknowledgment that the blockade would cease merely in consequence of a revocation of the orders in council. Whenever it does cease, it will cease because there will be no adequate force applied to maintain it.

On another very material point, sir, you appear to have misconstrued my words: for in no one passage of my letter can I discover

any mention of innovations on the part of Great Britain, such as you

say excited a painful surprize in your government. There is no new · pretension set up by his majesty's government. In answer to ques

tions of yours as to what were the decrees or regulations of France which Great Britain complained of, and against which she directs her retaliatory measures, I brought distinctly into your view the Berlin and Milan decrees; and you have not denied, because indeed you could not, that the provisions of those decrees were new measures of war on the part of France, ackuowledged as such by her ruler, and contrary to the principles and usages of civilized nations. That the present war has been oppressive beyond example by its duration, and the desolation it spreads through Europe, I willingly agree with you, but the U. States cannot surely mean to attribute the cause to Great Britain. The question between Great Britain and France is that of an honorable struggle against the lawless efforts of an ambitious tyrant, and America can but have the wish of every independent nation as to its result.

On a third point, sir, I have also to regret that my meaning should have been mistaken. Great Britain never contended that British merchant vessels should be allowed to trade with her enemies, or that British property shouid be allowed entry into their ports, as you would infer; such a pretension would indeed be preposterous; but Great Britain does contend against the system of terror put in practice by France, by which usurping authority, wherever her arnis or the timidity of nations will enable her to extend her influence, she makes it a crime to neutral countries as well as to individuals that they should possess articles, however acquired, which may have been once the produce of English industry or of the British soil. Against such an abominable and extravagant pretension, every feeling must revolt; and the honor, no less than the interest, of Great Britain en-4 gages her to oppose it.

Turning to the course of argument contained in your letter, allow me to express my surprize at the conclusion you draw in considering the question of priority relative to the French decrees or British or. ders in council. It was clearly proved, that the blockade of May 1806, was maintained by an adequate naval force, and therefore was a blockade founded on just and legitimate principles; and I have not heard that it was considered in a contrary light, when notified as such to you by Mr. Secretary Fox, nor until it suited the views of France to endeavor to have it considered otherwise. Why America took up the view which the French government chose to give of it, and could see in it grouids for the French decrees, was always matter of astonishment in England.

[The remainder of this letter of Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe, will appear in the first page of Ne. 3. of the REPORTER.)

CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER. .

No. 3.]

Twelfth Congress.... FIRST SEssion.

(1811-12.

[Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe-Concluded from No. 2.] Your remarks on the modifications at various times, of our system of retaliation, will require the less reply, from the circumstance of the order in council, of April 1809, having superseded them all. They were calculated for the avowed purpose of softening the effect of the original orders on neutral commerce, the incidental effect of those orders on neutrals having been always sincerely regretted by his majesty's government; but when it was found that neutrals objected to them, they were removed.

As to the principle of retaliation, it is founded on the just and natural right of self-defence against our enemy. If France is unable to enforce her degrees on the ocean, it is not from the want of will; for she enforces them wherever she can do it: her threats are only empty where her power is of no avail.

In the view you have taken of the conduct of America, in her relations with the two belligerents, and in the conclusion you draw with respect to the impartiality of your country, as exemplified in the non-importation law, I lament to say I cannot agree with you.That act is a direct measure against the British trade, enacted at a time when all the legal authorities in the United States appeared ready to contest the statement of a repeal of the French decrees, on which was founded the president's proclamation of November 2, and consequently to dispute the justice of the proclamation itself.

You urge, sir, that the British government promised to proceed pari passu with France in the repeal of her edicts. It is to be wished you could point out to us any step France has taken in the repeal of hers

. Great Britain has repeatedly declared, that she would repeal when the French did so; and she means to keep to that declaration.

I have stated to you that we could not consider the letter of August 5, declaring the repeal of the French edicts, provided we revoked our orders in council, or America resented our not doing so, as a step of that nature ; and the French government knew that we could not; their object was, evidently, while their system was adhered to in all its rigor, to endeavor to persuade the American government that they had relaxed from it, and to induce her to proceed in enforcing the submission of Great Britain to the inordinate demands of France. It is to be lamented that they have but tos well succeededs for the United States' government appear to have considered the French declaration in the sense in which France wished it to be taken, as an absolute repeal of her decrecs, without adverting to the conditional terms which accompanied it.

« ForrigeFortsett »