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the port, induced Captain Reid to order his brig to be warped in shore, close under the guns of the castle. This prudential step was taken by Captain Reid to avoid collision with the overwhelming force in his presence, and to preserve, if possible, the neutrality of the port from violation. No other motive could, by possibility, have actuated him; nor can any other be justly imputed to him by any impartial tribunal. The act speaks for itself. While Captain Reid was endeavoring to lace his brig as near as practicable under the guns of the castle, four |. approached his vessel filled with armed men from the fleet. Captain Reid repeatedly hailed them, and warned them to keep off, which they disregarded. Knowing their object to be the capture of the brig, and finding his admonition to them to keep off unavailing, he ordered his men to fire on them, which was done, and some of their men were killed and wounded. The boats returned the fire, killing one man and wounding the first lieutenant of the American brig. These events took place almost simultaneously. The boats then retreated to the ships, and immediately prepared for another and more formidable attack. The American brig, in the meantime, was placed within half a cable's length of the shore, and within half pistol shot of the castle. Thus situated, Captain Reid hoped that no further attempt would be made to violate the neutrality of the port, especially as he was informed by our consul that the governor of Fayal had solemnly protested to the commander of the fleet against any further violence within the waters properly appertaining to the kingdom of Portugal. But soon after midnight, twelve or fourteen boats, supposed to contain four hundred men, with small cannon, swivels, blunderbuses, and other arms, made a violent attack on the brig, when a severe conflict ensued which lasted nearly forty minutes, and which terminated in the total defeat and partial destruction of the boats, with immense slaughter of the assailants. Thus ended the second attempt to capture the brig by boarding, as it was evident that Captain Lloyd desired to appropriate the vessel, when captured, to the use and service of the prince regent of England. Mortified at these repeated and signal defeats, the British commander determined, at all hazards, to capture the American brig, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the governor of Fayal, and the self-evident fact that in making the assault great injury and destruction of life and property in the town of Fayal must, of necessity, be the result. Accordingly, at day-break on the morning of the 27th, the brig Carnation anchored close in shore, and began a heavy cannonade on the American brig. Captain Reid, finding further resistance to a force so superior unavailing, abandoned his vessel, and soon after the British set her on fire. These constitute the material facts of the case, as set forth in the protest of Captain Reid. The next official document to which the undersigned refers, is the letter of John B. Dabney, consul at Fayal, to the Secretary of State of the United States, dated October 5, 1814, hereunto appended, and marked No. 2. This letter contains statements verified by the actual observation of the consul, exactly in accordance with the protest of Captain Reid, and is referred to as strong evidence in support of the verity of the protest. The statement of the consul further shows the earnest solicitude felt by himself and the governor of Fayal, to pre
vent, if possible, any further hostile attempt to capture the American brig, after the repulse of the four boats originally o on that service. This part of the official letter of the consul is sustained by the correspondence of the governor of Fayal with the commander of the British fleet, Captain Lloyd, and other letters from the governor to the prince regent of Portugal and his ministers. Having thus sustained, by the official authority of the consul of the United States, the accuracy of the statements contained in the protest of Captain Reid, which lays at the foundation of the evidence, by which the justice of this claim is supported, the undersigned proceeds, for the same purpose, to advert to the correspondence of the governor of Fayal, above referred to. * It will be seen by the correspondence marked Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, commencing with a letter from the American consul to the governor of the Azore islands, and ending with a letter from William Greaves, . consul of his Britannic majesty at Fayal, (all of yo. is hereto annexed, marked No. 3,) that every effort in the power of the governor to avert the attack made by the British squadron on the American brig General Armstrong utterly failed. This correspondence took place between the hours of nine and two o'clock of the night of the 26th–7th of September, 1814. The letter of Mr. Dabney bears date at 9 o'clock at night, in which he deprecates a renewed attack on the American brig by the naval force of his Britannic Majesty, in the port of Fayal, in o of the neutrality of the port; and urges the interposition of the governor with the British naval commander to prevent so great a calamity. This letter is answered by the governor, Elias Jose de Ribeiro, by an address to the commander of the British naval forces in port, at the hour of 10 o'clock of the same night, in which the governor acquaints him, that in the port of Fayal, under the dominion of his royal highness the prince regent of Portugal, “lies at anchor the United States schooner of war General Armstrong, which has been obliged to come here for want of water.” The governor then proceeds to urge the neutrality of Portugal, acknowledged by his Britannic Majesty, and admonishes the commanders of his naval forces to respect the vessels lying in that port. He makes a further request at the hands of Captain Lloyd, that he will abstain from any hostility against the General Armstrong. To this official note the commander of the British squadron, as such, replied by the statement of a palpable falsehood, known to be such to the governor, and to the inhabitants generally of Fayal, in these words:– “Permit me to inform you that one of the boats of his Britannic Majesty's ship, under my command, was, without the slightest provocation, fired on by the American schooner General Armstrong, in consequence of which two men were killed, and seven were wounded; and that the neutrality of the port, which I had determined to respect, has been thereby violated. In consequence of this outrage I am determined to take possession of that vessel, and hope that you will order your forts to protect the force o for that purpose.” t is false that but one boat of his Britannic Majesty's ship was fired on by the American brig General Armstrong; it is false that the neutrality of the the port had been violated by the American brig; it is
false that the commander of the British naval forces in the port of Fayal had determined to respect the neutrality of the port; and on these miserable pretexts, founded on falsehood, and known to be such, he expresses his determination to take possession of the brig, and has the further impudence to express a hope that the governor will order his forts to protect the force employed for that purpose It has rarely happened that so many unqualified falsehoods, and so much arrogant impudence, have been conveyed in so short an epistle. Instead of only one boat, which was fired on by the American brig, four boats, fully manned and equipped for boarding, and which were approaching the brig while Captain Reid was endeavoring to place her under the guns of the castle, were first warned off, and then |. on for the protection of the brig, when the intention of the assailants could no o: be doubted. Is this the mode in which Captain Lloyd intended to demonstrate his determination to protect the neutrality of the port of Fayal? But it is needless to animadvert further on this singular note, as it stands self-condemned from beginning to end. At one o'clock on the morning of the 27th of September, governor Ribeiro replied to this note of the British commander, and states emphatically that, “by it I see the motives which induce you to violate the neutrality of this port, in the contest now existing between his Britannic Majesty and the United States of America. They have been sufficiently demonstrated by the results, and I now look with alarm at those which may follow.” The governor further says:—“I must, however, assure you, sir, that from the accounts which I have received, it is certain that the British boats were the first to attack the American brig.” He then reminds the British commander that he should now give some public evidence of the harmony, friendship, alliance, and good understanding, which exists between “your sovereign and the prince regent of Portugal, by putting an end to the hostilities begun at 8 o'clock this night.” The next communication from the governor of the Azores to the commander of the British squadron succeeding the one just noticed, is dated 2 o'clock at night, being only one hour afterwards. In this last note the governor complains that the commander of the British fleet had not considered the letter which he wrote one hour previous worthy of an answer, and earnestly requests him to “suspend hostilities against the American brig [now lying in this port] until he should have had a conference with the governor on the subject, as to what may be best for the interests of his Britannic Majesty and the prince regent of Portugal.” This communication was responded to by his Britannic Majesty's consul at Fayal, who informs the governor that “an officer from his Britannic Majesty's ship Plantagenet came here with a request that I should accompany him to your excellency's quarters.” The British consul complained of sickness, and declined the interview, but proceeded to state:– “His object is to inform you, that the Americans having been the first to violate the laws of neutrality of this port, the commander will send a brig from this squadron to fire on the American schooner; and if said brig should encounter any hostilities from the castle, or your excellency should allow the masts to be taken from that schooner, he would regard this island as an enemy to his Britannic Majesty, and would treat the town and castle accordingly.”
Thus ends this most extraordinary correspondence, which not only fully sustains the protest of Capt. Reid, but demonstrates, beyond the possibility of doubt, the fixed determination of the commander of the British fleet, at the moment he entered the port of Fayal, to avail himself of the weakness of that island and the unprotected condition of the American brig, in the presence of the formidable naval force under his command, to capture the brig without damage to her hull, rigging, or armament, and make her a useful adjunct to the naval force then lying in the harbor of Jamaica, of which this squadron was to form a part
, and which was destined for the mouth of the Mississippi river, and the capture of the city of New Orleans. This achievement, Capt. Lloyd imagined, could be readily accomplished without a struggle, as the brig could not be expected to hazard a conflict with such fearful odds. But in this Capt. Lloyd found himself egregiously mistaken. Hence his mortification, evinced by the arrogance and violence of his conduct and language to Governor Ribeiro, whose weakness he insulted, although an ancient ally of his Britannic Majesty, by an uncalled for menace to consider the island in a state of hostility to Great Britain, and to reduce both the island and the castle, if any opposition from the shore should be made to his contemplated attack on the American brig. This is the manner in which this bold commander treated, at that time, his friend and ally, and ingloriously taunted him with his weakness to deter him from any effort to maintain the neutrality of his port. We shall see, hereafter, how the government of England has attempted to turn this same weakness to her own account, and to cast a shade over the efforts of the government of the United States to obtain indemnity and vindicate the rights of our own citizens and the national honor, equally violated in the attack made on the American brig in the neutral port of Fayal.
This evidence, drawn from the highest authority in Fayal, who was an eye witness of the whole transaction, and whose efforts were made in good faith to arrest the unlawful proceedings of the commander of the British fleet, coming, as it does, from the authorities of Portugal, must be deemed conclusive in respect to the aggressor, and thereby the responsibility of the violation of the neutral rights of Portugal is fixed on the commander of the British fleet, unless some testimony more clear and explicit can be adduced to implicate the commander of the American brig as the first aggressor. In opposition to such an inference, not only the direct testimony, but every attribute of human reason may by called into action.
The first impulse of a gallant commander, having the command of a single brig with a small amount of force and metal, finding his vessel in the neighborhood of a greatly superior force, would naturally be selfpreservation—to seek safety by all the means at his command. This is a principle of our nature which may not be controverted. Captain Reid, the commander of the Gen. Armstrong, on the arrival of the British fleet, first thought of weighing anchor and relying on the sails and speed of his vessel to seek safety in flight; but a calm prevailed, which left no hope of escape in that manner, and confiding in the integrity with which the neutrality of the port of Fayal would be respected by the fleet of her ancient friend and ally, England, he placed him
self under the guarantees of his position, and remained at anchor near the shores of the Azores. Can it be believed by any man having the possession of his ordinary reasoning powers, that Čaptain Reid, thus situated and thus exposed to a force more than ten times his own, would have provoked an attack from such fearful odds by a voluntary violation on his own part of the neutral port in which he had sought protection, and hoped to find it, against the assaults of an honorable enemy? Human reason forbids the supposition—the facts as they occurred contradict it—the evidence of the high officers of the government of Portugal contradicts it, and there is nothing to sustain the absurd proposition, but the impotent declarations of the commander of the British fleet, who, writhing under the unparalled defeats which his two armaments fitted out against the brig had sustained, taxed his imagination to find out excuses for his bad conduct, and the ill success which attended his efforts to obtain possession of this unyielding specimen of American bravery.
Passing from this local evidence, given by eye witnesses of the scenes which occurred at Fayal, on the 26th and 27th September, 1814, the undersigned refers to the communication from the governor of the Azores, to His Excellency Antonio de Aranjo Ascevado, minister of state of Portugal, in which the writer gives a detailed statement to the prince regent of Portugal through his minister, to use his own language, of the “horrible and bloody combat, occasioned by the madness, pride, and haughtiness of an insolent British officer, who would not respect the neutrality maintained by Portugal, in the existing contest between his Britannic Majesty and the United States of America." No further extracts will be made from this letter, but it is appended hereto and marked No. 4, and its contents recommended to the perusal of all who are in search of truth on the subject of this aggression. It is a full acknowledgment and asseveration, officially made to the prince regent of Portugal, that the British squadron, commanded by Captain Lloyd, in the port of Fayal, were the aggressors, and violated in the most fagrant manner, against the importunities of the governor, the neutrality of that port, by the capture and destruction of the General Armstrong. What more can be wanted to establish the responsibility of Portugal to the owners of the American brig, thus captured and destroyed in violation of the laws of nations? But if further evidence is required from the same source, it will be found in the following correspondence, which took place between the American minister, General Sumpter, and the Marquis de Aguiar, minister of foreign affairs, written expressly under the instructions of the prince regent of Portugal, at Rio Janeiro, to which place the House of Braganza had been driven by the successful invasion of Portugal by Napoleon Bonaparte.
On the 23d of December, 1814, the minister of foreign affairs at Portugal addressed a communication to General Sumpter, minister of the United States at Rio Janeiro, enclosing to him a letter addressed to Lord Stangford, envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary of Great Britain at that court, written under the express direction of the prince regent of Portugal, by his minister of foreign affairs, the Marquis de Aguiar, dated 22d December, 1814, hereto annexed, marked No. 5. It is a remarkable fact, connected with these letters, that the minister of the United States at the court of Portugal had received no