« ForrigeFortsett »
[Documents---Continued from No. 5.]
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe. Sir,
Washington, Oct. 24, 1811. I have had the honor to receive your letter dated on the 16th inftant, in answer to mine of the 3d, in which I expressed a de. fire to have stated, in a more formal manner, your denial to me. of orders having been given to commodore Rodgers, which could, under any construction, authorize that commander to attack any of his majesty's ships of war in fiarch of any person claimed as an American feamen,and in which I also demanded that an examina. tion be instituted into that officer's conduct, with a view to suitable reparation being afforded to his majesty, for what appears a wanton and unprovoked attack made by the frigate ander his command upon his majesty's sloop of war the Little Belt.
The denial I asked for you have given me, and I beg to assure you, sir, that though I troubled you with the demand, because the extensiveness of the rumor, which had atributed such orders to the American government, had made it my duty fo to do, yet I never entertained an idea for one moment, that the U. States could have issued such orders, because they must have been considered as manifestations of direct intcptions of hostility, which would have been incompatible with the relations of amity fubfifting between America and Great Britain.
On such a point, fir, a simple denial was all I asked and what I expected to receive. It was therefore with pain that I found you had connected it with allusions to other topics, calculated to produce irritation, on which whatever complaints you may have to make to me, I shall be ever ready to receive and forward them for recress to the commander in chief of his majesty's naval forces at Halifax, or to his majesty's governinent; but the mentioning of which, in your note in answer to mine on a distinct subject of the most serious importance, you will pardon me if I must confider as matter of regret, especially as you wished me to receive the communication you made me, as given in an amicable spirit.
Mercover, from the tenor of the part of your letter in which you have connected the question of the impressment with that of an attack on a British ship of war, an inference is forced upon me, which you surely never could have meant me to draw, but which, nevertheless, the passage conveys, namely—that although the government of the United States had not given orders for the recovery by force of any American citizen claimed from a British national ship, they still maintain they might have been justified in so doing. The right of searching a ship of war has been so pofitively difavowed on the part of his majesty's government, and so disclaimed by that of America, that I could not have expected any doubts would ever again have been thrown on the matter, and yet the langugge of your letter, until it is explained, will cer. tainly authorize luch doubts as far as relates to the American govcriment.
I have no answer at all from you, sir, to my demand for an inquiry being instituted into the conduct of captain Rodgers. This omiffion has occasioned to me the more surprize, because in addition to there appearing no cause why the governinent of America should decline to liften to fo just a demand on my part, there seemed to be every reason why they should, even for their own fatisfaction, have defired to clear up the circumstances of his most extraordinary proceeding I will frankly own to you, that I did think, on reaching this city, to have found that officer's conduct already, by the spontaneous act of the government of the United States, undergoing an examination, instead of hearing that he had been sent immediately to sea again, which seemed to denote an approbation of his behavior ; and I thought I could the more rely on this being the course the president would have pursu. ed, froni a confideration of that which his majesty's government had taken in the case of the Chesapeake, when every reparation practicable, at the instant the intelligence reached London of that unfortunate event, was made known to you, fir, promptly and unasked for.
I feel the more regret, fir, at the course taken by your government in this affair. because I have been necessarily obliged, in consequence, to fufpend carrying into execution that part of my instructions by which I was directed, immediately on my arrival here, to offer such further reparation for the attack on the Chesapeake frigate, as would, I am convinced, have proved fatisfactory. I had the honor to state to you in our first interview, that I had such instructions, although I omitted to mention it in my note, because, as you may remember I expressed to you at the time, it seemed to me the American government might feel more free to act, as the justice of the case required, if the two fubjects were kept unconnected; and in this opinion I thought you appeared to concur.
I have the honor to be,
AUG. J. FOSTER.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.
Philadelphia, Sept. 4, 1811.
James Townsend, commanding officer at Halifax, dated May 30, 1811, ; inclosing a statement of the action by the officers of the Little Belt, ; the report of the commissioner of his majesty's navy-board at Halifax, in respect to the damage done the Little Belt, ; a copy of rear-admiral Sawyer's letter, ; inclosing his inttructions to capt. Bingham, ; as well as a list of killed and wounded on board the sloop of war, ; and, finally, a copy of the correspondence on the subject, which took place between the marquis Wellesley and Mr. Smith, American charge d'affaires in London, [7--8]: of that of capi. Bingham's official letter you are already in poflefion.
In communicating to you, fir, the documents, I am particu. larly directed to call your attention to the instruclions of admiral Sawyer, which furnish the strongest evidence of the pacific and friendly intentions of his majesty's government towards this coun. try. The very pointed manner in which the commander in chief on the Halifax station had enjoined captain Bingham to avoid give ing offence to the government or subjects of the United States, is of itself presumptive proof of the truth of that officer's statement, even if there were not such strong evidence as appears from the deposition of the different officers on board, his majefty's ship as to the action having been commenced by captain Rodgers.
His majesty's government were entitled to expect, as I have had already the honor to obferve to you, sir, in my former let. ter, that the American government would have manifested a prompt disposition to obviate, by an early disavowal and by just reparation, the necessary tendency of such an event to discurb the friendship fubfisting between the two ftates, and this expect. ation was the more natural from the example afforded by his ma. jesty's government in the cafe of the Chesapeake.
Such, however, not having been the case, I am commanded by his royal highness to lose no time in communicating to you the papers enclosed, which explain in the fullest manner the circumstances of the transaction, and the very great extent of the outrage committed,and bywhich fomany valuable lives were facri. ficed, and in demanding the immediate disavowal, on the part, of the United States, of the act of aggreffion committed against his majesty's Thip, as also in requiring a just reparation of the injury received. I have the honor to be, &c. (Signed)
AUG. J. FOSTER.
[Documents to be continued in No. 7.]
TWELFTH CONGRESS....FIRST SESSION.
[Documents---Continued from No. 6.]
No. 1. Lord J. Townshend to J. W. Croker, Esq. SIR, His Majesty's ship Eolus, Halifax Harbor, May 30, 1811.
As it may be of material consequence that his majesty's government should have the earliest information of a circumstance that has taken place on this coast, I have forwarded, and request you will lay before my lords commissioners of the admiralty, the copy of a letter which captain Bingham of his majesty's sloop Little Belt has sent to rear-admiral Sawyer, recounting a severe action which took place on the evening of the 16th instant, between that ship and the United States' frigate President.
After having considered the whole circumstance, and judging it advisable to procure the strongest documents in my power for their lordships information, the commander in chiet not having returned from Bermuda) I have caused depositions to be taken of all the commissioned officers of the Little Belt, respecting the unpleasant business, which I herewith enclose.
I am, sir, &c. &c. &c. (Signed)
No. 2. Statement of the officers of his majesty's sloop the Little Belt. THE officers of his majesty's sloop Little Belt Statement of the action between that sloop and the United States' frigate President, on the evening of the 16th instant; taken before the right honorable lord James Townshend, captain of his majesty's slip Eolus, and senior officer at Halifax, Nova-Scotia, Charles John Austin, esquire, captain of his majesty's ship Cleopatra, and Alexander Gordon, esquire, commander of his majesty's sloop Rattler.
Lieutenant Moberly, senior lieutenant, states, that on the 16th instant, while cruizing off the coast of America, cape Charles bearing west 54 miles, at 11 A. M. saw a strange sail : that she was a lugger, reported from the mast head, on the starboard beam; we then steering S. S. W. the wind aft or a little on the starboard quarter, on which took in our studding sails and hauled our wind for her on the starboard tack ; shortly after, made her out to be a ship. At 2 30 P.M. having then made out the chace to be a frigate with a commodore's broad pendant flying, being then about six
miles distance, and not having answered any of our signals, viz. 275, private signal,
and our number, concluded her to be the American frigate United States ; shewed our colours and steered our course south, set stud. ding sails; at 5 o'clock observed the frigate make all sail, and to keep more away for us: at 7 found she was gaining on us fast; captain Bingham then thinking it best to speak her before dark, shortened sail, and hove too, colors up, we then making out her stars in her broad pendant, beat to quarters and got all clear for action, a second time having beat, before, at 2 P. M. double shotted and breached the guns; at 7 50 observed the frigate to have shortened sail to topsails, top-gallant sails and jib, and standing down as if with an intention of passing under our stern, wore twice to evade this: captain Bingham hailed, and was not answered ; the frigate then hove too close to us on the larboard beam, captain Bingham hailed the ship a hoy, which was repeated word for word by the frigate ; captain Bingham asked what ship that was, which was also repeated as before, and on asking a second time was answered by a broadside ; captain Bingham was then standing on the midship gun, jumped off and gave orders to fire, which was done in less than a minute after her first fire, we being quite ready, guns pointed, and continued firing about an hour, when the frigate ceased firing and hailed us to know what ship this was ; captain Bingham answered his majesty's ship Little Belt several times before he understood us; he then asked if our colours were down, No, was captain Bingham's answer; captain Bingham then hailed to know what ship that was, and was answered the United States' frigate, the name we could not understand ; in the mean time the frigate had filled and was standing from us ; a short time after lost sight of her, hove too for the night, having no sail to set. At day light saw a sail to windward, made her out to be the same ship we engaged; at 6 she bore up for us under easy sail ; at 8 she passed within hail, asked permission to send a boat on board, which was granted : boat came on board, staid ten minutes, then returned ; understood the frigate to be the President, belonging to the United States, commodore Rodgers; observed the President to fill, and stand on the starboard tack under her topsails.
Lieut. Thomas Levell states, that on May 16, 1811, at 11 A.M. saw a strange sail from mast head, which was reported to be a lugger, having her main top gallant sail handed, fore and mizen set; we were then going nearly before the wind, turned the hands up, took in studding sails, and made sail in chace on the starboard tack ; at 1. 30. observed her to be a frigate, made the private signal, our number also, 275, neither of which she answered; observing her to have a blue broad pendant at her mast head, at 2 wore ship, and steered our course south, hoisted our colors, observed her to be in chase of us, supposed her to be an American frigate, cleared ship for action. At 5, beat to quarters a second time, double shotted the guns, and double breached those that were bad. At 7. 30. shortened sail and hove to, as she was coming up with us very fast, hoisted our colors, observed the stars in his broad pendant, wore ship three or four times