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But you assert that no violation of your neutral rights by France occur on the high seas, and that these were all the violations alluded to in the act of Congress of May 1810. I readily believe, indeed, that such cases are rare, but it is owing to the preponderance of the British
pavy that they are so. When scarce a ship under the French flag can venture to sea without being taken, it is not extraordinary that they make no captures. If such violations alone were within the purview of your law, there would seem to have been no necessity for its enactment. The British pavy might have been safely trusted for the prevention of their occurrence. But I have always believed, and my government has believed, that the American legislators had in view in the provisions of their law as it respects France, not only her deeds of violence on the seas, but all the novel and extraordina. ry pretensions and practices of her government which infringed their neutral rights.
We have had no evidence, as yet, of any of those pretensions being abandoned. To the ambiguous declaration in Mr. Champagny's note, is opposed the unambiguous and personal declaration of Bonaparte himself. You urge that there is nothing incompatible with the revocation of the decrees, in respect to the United States, in his expressions to the deputies from the free cities of Hamburg, Bremen and Lubeck; that it is distinctly stated in that speech,that theblockade of the British Islands shall cease when the British blockades cease; and that the French blockade shall cease in favor of those natious in whose favor Great Britain revokes hers, or who support their rights against her pretension.
It is to be inferred from this and the corresponding parts of the declaration alluded to, that unless Great Britain sacrifices her princiciples of blockade, which are those authorized by the established law of nations, France will still maintain her decrees of Berlin and Milan, which indeed the speech in question declares to be the fundamental laws of the French empire.
I do pot, I confess, conceive how these avowals of the ruler of France can be said to be compatible with the repeal of his decrees in respect to the United States. If the United States are prepared to insist on the sacrifice by Great Britain of the ancient and established rules of maritime war practised by her, then, indeed, they may avoid the operation of the French decrees; but otherwise, according to this document, it is very clear that they are still subjected to them.
The decree of Fontainbleau is confessedly founded on the decrees of Berlin and Milan, dated the 19th October, 1810, and proves their continued existence. The report of the French minister of December 8, announcing the perseverance of France in her decrees, is still further in confirmation of them, and a re-perusal of the letter of ihe minister of justice of the 25th last December, confirms me in the inference I drew from it; for, otherwise, why should that minister make the prospective restoration of American vessels, taken after the 1st November, to be a consequence of the non-importation and not
of the French revocation. If the French government had been sincere, they would have ceased infringing on the neutral rights of America after the 1st November : that they violated them, however, after that period, is notorious.
Your government seem to let it be understood that an ambiguous declaration from Great Britain, similar to that of the French minis ter, would have been acceptable to them. But, sir, is it consistent with the dignity of a nation that respects itself, to speak in ambiguous language? The subjects and citizens of either country would, in the end, be the victims, as many are already in all probability, whó from a misconstruction of the meaning of the French government, have been led into the most imprudent speculations. Such conduct would not be to proceed pari passu with France in revoking our edicts, but to descend to the use of the perfidious and juggling contrivances of her cabivet,by which she fills her coffers at the expense of independent nations. A similar construction of proceeding pari passu might lead to such de-. crees as those of Rambouillet or of Bayonne, to the system of exclusion or of licenses; all measures of France against the American commerce, in nothing short of absolute hostility.
It is urged that no vessel has been condemned by the tribunals of France on the principles of her decrees since the 1st November. You allow, however, that there have been some detained since that period, and that such part of the cargoes as consisted of goods not the produce of America was seized, and the other part, together with the vessel itself, only released after the president's proclamation became known in France. These circumstances surely only prove the difficulty that France is under in reconciling her anti-commercial and anti-Deutral system with her desire to express her satisfaction at the measures taken in America against the commerce of Great Britain. She seizes in virtue of the Berlin and Milan decrees, but she makes a partial restoration for the purpose.of deceiving America.
I have now followed you, I believe, sir, through the whole range of your argument, and on reviewing the course of it, I think I may securely say, that no satisfactory proof has as yet been brought forward of the repeal of the obnoxious decrees of France, but on the
contrary, that it appears they continue in full force, consequently that ho grounds exist on which you can with justice demand of Great
Britain a revocation of her orders in council ; that we have a right to complain of the conduct of the American government in enforcing the provisions of the act of May 1810, to the exclusion of the British trade, and afterwards in obtaining a special law for the same purpose, though it was notorious at the time that France still continued her aggressions upon American commerce, and had recently promulgated anew her decrees, suffering no trade from this country but thro' licenses publicly sold by her agents, and that all the suppositions you have formed of iunovations on the part of Great Britain, or of her pretensions to trade with her enemies, are whoily groundless. I have also stated to you the view his majesty's government has taken of the question of the blockade of May 1806, and it now only remains that I urge afresh the injustice of the United States' government per severing in their union with the French system, for the purpose of crushing the commerce of Great Britain.
From every consideration which equity, good policy or interest can suggest, there appears to be such a call upon America to give up th system which favors France to the injury of Great Britain, that I cannot, however little satisfactory your communications, as yet abandon all hopes that even before the congress meet, a new view may be taken of the subject by the president, which will lead to a more hap
I have the honor to be, &c.
AUG. J. FOSTER.
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster. SIR,
Department of State, October 1, 1811. I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 26th July, and to submit it to the view of the president.
In answering that letter, it is proper that I should notice a complaint that I had omitted to reply in mine of the 230 July, to your remonstrance against the proclamation of the president of November last, and to the demand which you had made, by the order of your government, of the repeal of the non-importation act of March 2d, of the present year.
My letter has certainly not merited this imputation.
Having shewn the injustice of the British government in issuing the orders in council on the pretext asssigned, and its still greater injustice in adhering to them after that pretext had failed, a respect for Great Britain, as well as for the United States, prevented my placing in the strong light in which the subject naturally presented itself, the remonstranee alluded to, and the extraordinary demand founded on it, that while your government accommodated in nething, the United States should relinquish the ground, which, by a just regard to the public rights and hopor, they had been compelled to take. Propositions tending to degrade a nation can never be brought into discussion by a government not prepared to submit to the degradation. It was for this reason that I confined my reply to those passages in your letter, which involved the claim of the United States, on the principles of justice, to the revocation of the orders in council. Your demand, however, was neither unnoticed nor unanswered In laying before you the complete, and as was believed, irresistible proof on which the United Siates expected, and called for the revocation of the orders in council, a very explicit answer was supposed to be given to that demand.
Equally unfounded is your complaint that I misunderstood that passage which claimed, as a condition of the revocation of the orders in council, that the trade of Grcat Britain with the continent should be restored to the state in which it was before the Berlin and Milan
decrees were issued. As this pretension was novel and extraordinary, it was necessary that a distinct idea should be formed of it, and with that view, I asked such an explanation as would enable me to form one.
In the explanation given, you do not insist on the right to trade in British property with British vessels, directly with your enemies Su b a claim you admit would be preposterous. But you do insist by necessary implication that France has no right to inhibit the importation into her ports of British manufactures, or the produce of the British soil, when the property of neutrals; and that, until France removes that inhibition, the U. States are to be cut off by G. Britain from all trade whatever with her enemies.
On such a pretension it is almost impossible to reason. There is, I believe, no example of it in the history of past wars. Great-Britain, the enemy of France, undertakes to regulate the trade of France; nor is that all; she te Is her she must trade in British goods. If France and Great Britain were at peace, this retension would not be set us, por even thought of. Has Great Britain then acquired, in this respect, by war, rights that she had not in peace? And does she announce to neutral nations, that unless they consent to become instruments of this policy,their commerce shall be annihilated, their vessels shall be shut up in their own ports
I might ask whether French goods are admitted into Great Britain, even in peace, and it they are, whether it be of right, or by the consent and policy of the British government? That the property should be neutralized does not affect the question. If the United States have no right to carry their own productions into France with the consent of the French government, how can they undertake to carry there those of Great Britain? In' all cases it must depend on the interest and will of the party,
Nor is it material to what extent, or by what powers, the trade to the continent is prohibited. If the powers who proh, bit it, are at war with Great Britain, the prohibition is a necessary consequence of that state. If at peace, it is their own act, and whether it be voluntary or compalsive, they alone are answerable for it. If the act be taken at the instigation and under the influence of France, the most that can be said is, that it justifies reprisal against them by a similar measure; on no principle whatever can it be said to give any sanction to the conduct of Great Britain towards neutral nations.
The United States can have no objection to the employment of their commercial capital in the supply of France, and of the contident generally, with manufactures, and to comprise in the supply those of Great Britain, provided those powers will consent to it. But they cannot undertake to force such supplies on France or on any other power, in compliance with the claim of the British government, on principles incompatible with the rights of every independent nation, and they will not demand in favour of another power, what they cannot claim for themselves.
All that Great Britain could with reason complain of,was the inhi. bition by the French decrees, of the lawful trade of neutrals with the British dominions. As soon as that inhibition ceased, her inhibition of our trade with Franee ought in like manner to have ceased.Having pledged herself to proceed pari passu with France, in the revocation of their respective acts violating neutral rights, it has afforded just cause of complaint, and even astonishment, to the United States, that the British government should have sanctioned the seizure and condemnation of American vessels, under the orders in council, after the revocation of the French decrees was announced, and even in the very moment when your mission, avowed to be con. ciliatory, was to have its effect. I will only add, that had it appeared finally, that France had failed to perform her engagement, it might at least have been expected, that Great Britain would not have molested such of
the vessels of the United States as might be entering the ports of France, on the faith of both governments, till that failure was clearly proved.
To many insinuations in your letter, I make no reply, because they sufficiently suggest the only one that would be proper.
If it were necessary to dwell on the impartiality which has been observed by the United States towards the two belligerents, I might ask, whether, if Great Britain had accepted the condition which was offered equally to her and to France, by the act of May 1, 1810, and France had rejected it, there is cause to doubt that the non-importation act would have been carried into effect against France ? No such doubt can possibly exist, because in a former instance when this government, trusting to a fulfilment by yours, of an arrangement which put an end to a non-intercourse with Great Britain, 'the rionintercourse was continued against France, who had not then repealed her decrees, as it was not doubted that England had done. Has it not been repeatedly declared to your government, that if Great Britain would revoke her orders in council, the president would immediately cause the non-importation to cease? You well know that the same declaration has been often made to yourself, and that nothing is wanting to the removal of the existing obstructions to the commerce between the two countries, than a satisfactory assurance, which will be received with pleasure from yourself, that the orders in council are at an end.
By the remark in your letter of the 3d of July, that the blockade of May 1806, had been included in the more comprehensive system of the orders in council of the following year, and that, if that blockade should be continued in force, after the repeal of the orders in council, it would be in consequence of the special application of a sufficient naval force ; I could not but infer your idea to be, that the repeal of the orders in council would necessarily involve the repeal of the blockade of May. I was the more readily induced to make this inference from the consideration, that if the blockade was not revoked by the repeal of the orders in council, there would be no