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fair appropriation among the claimants of the lands set apart for the military bounties; and particularly how the locations of warrants, in order of priority, were to be made. It is suggested by Gen. Morgan, in his caveat, that the surveys upon which patents are sought by R. C. Anderson, Massey O'Bannion, and W. Lytle, have not been made in conformity with this law, but in a manner injurious to his and other officers' rights; and, therefore, that the emanation of the patents should be stayed until an investigation shall be made into the question whether these surveys have or have not been made agreeably to the laws of Virginia. The informa. tion of General Morgan is not on oath; yet it is notice to the Secretary of State of his objection, and may justify him in desiring the Secretary of War to make the proper inquiry, with whom affidavits should be lodged verifying the objections to be made by any credible person acquainted with the truth of thein, before any person authorized to administer an oath. I pretend not to pass any opinion, now, whether the allegations of General Morgan be well or ill founded; they being left open to inquiry and proof before another tribunal.
To answer your question more distinctly, I add, that if the parties applying for patents comply with the act of Congress of the 9th of June, 1794, the issuing of patents ought not to be delayed. But no person can be said to comply with this act of Congress, who has not complied with the laws of Virginia to which it refers, and with which it requires a compliance. General Morgan alleges that there has not been a compliance with the laws of Virginia, and solicits an inquiry into this allegation be. fore patents are issued in certain cases, which he describes. The request is, in my opinion, reasonable in itself, and tending to promote justice. I have, &c., &c.,
CHARLES LEE. To the SECRETARY OF STATE.
ACTIONS AGAINST FOREIGNERS.
The President will not interfere with judicial proceedings between an individual and the com
missioner of a foreign nation where the controversy may have a legal trial. But a person acting under a commission from the sovereign of a foreign nation is not amenable for what he does in pursuance of his commission, to any judicial tribunal in the United States.
PHILADELPHIA, December 29, 1797. Sır: I have taken into consideration your letter of the 23d, enclosing the note of his Britannic Majesty's minister, and the copy of Henry Sin. clair's memorial, complaining of two suits now depending against him in a court of law at Alexandria.
If the cause of action is fully and truly stated in the memorial, Henry Sinclair, upon a plea to the jurisdiction of the court, ought to prevail before the court; for it is as well settled in the United States as in Great Britain, that a person acting under a commission from the sovereign of a foreign nation is not amenable for what he does in pursuance of his commission, to any judiciary tribunal in the United States.
Though this be so, yet, according to the constitution and laws of the United States, the Executive cannot interpose with the judiciary proceed. ings between an individual and Henry Sinclair, whose controversy is en
titled to a frial according to law, and to whom it is hoped justice will be impartially and speedily administered.
The principle on which the interference of the President might be thought proper is the sanie that has been settled in the case of General Collot, and I believe in some other cases; in all of which there has been one and the same opinion against the power of the Executive to interfere.
I am, &c., &c.,
CHARLES LEE. To the SECRETARY OF STATE.
TREATY WITH GREAT BRITAIN.
Public officers should furnish authenticated documents in their custody when demanded, and
should assist in bringing forward testimony according to the duties of their several stations, and individuals should not refuse to give testimony.
PHILADELPHIA, January 3, 1798. Sir: I have considered with attention the representation bearing date the 16th of December last, made by his Britannic Majesty's minister, of the difficulties which the creditors alluded to in the 6th article of the treaty of amity, commerce, and navigation have experienced, and are likely to experience, in obtaining proofs necessary to substantiate their claims before the tribunal appointed under the treaty. It was neither known nor imagined by me, before I read the communication of the min. ister, that clerks or other persons holding offices of record have refused to furnish authenticated copies of documents in their custody, or that individuals would refuse to give testimony against the debtors. I hope instances of this kind have been rare, and will not occur again.
I am persuaded that both the honor and interest of the United States concur in a speedy and due execution of the 6th article of the treaty, and that it is reasonable and proper to pass a law to enable the claimants to produce regular testimony of the various facts which the treaty requires to be proved. It is expressly stipulated “that the commissioners shall have power to exanine all such persons as shall come before them, on oath or affirmation; and also to receive in evidence, according as they may think most consistent with equity and justice, all written depositions, or books, or papers, or copies or extracts thereof; every such deposition, book, or paper, or copy or extract, being duly authenticated, either according to the legal forms now respectively existing in the two countries, or in such other manner as the said commissioners shall
see cause to require or allow.” This stipulation implies that public officers should furnish copies of papers when demanded, and should assist in bringing forward testimony according to the duties of their several stations; and, also, that individuals should not refuse to give testimony. To aid and facilitate the true operation of this provision, when difficulties occur in the United States, is an obligation of good faith, and I believe will otherwise promote their interest. It is my opinion, therefore, that a law ought to be passed, with the proper regulations for removing the difficulties complained of, (but not exactly as suggested by the British minister,) by enforcing individuals to give testimony, and all public officers to do their duty, to
the end that this article may be carried into full execution according justice and its true intent. I have the honor, &c., &c.,
CHARLES LEE To the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
A requisition from the British minister is not authorized by the 27th article of the treaty
1794, unless the persons demanded are charged with murder or forgery committed wit the jurisdiction of Great Britain.
PHILADELPHIA, March 14, 1798. Sir: I have considered the affidavits of William Brigstock, alias John Johnson, and Yellis Mandeville. Neither of these states whe the crime of murder or piracy was committed, ---whether within the į risdiction of England or any of the British dominions, or whether on it high seas. I have supposed the latter; and if this be the fact, it is pla that the requisition of the British minister is not authorized by the 271 article of the treaty of 1794, which is confined expressly to persons wł are charged with murder or forgery committed within the jurisdiction either nation, and who seek refuge in the other-meaning their terr torial jurisdiction, respectively.
The criminal tribunals in the United States are fully competent to tr and punish persons who commit murder on the high seas, or piracy, a may appear from the 8th, 9th, and 10th sections of the act of 30th Apri 1790. One of the persons (Brigstock) is a citizen of the United States and it is not to be reasonably expected that his country will not exercis the right of trying him, as he is already in the hands of its officers o justice. The other two, perhaps, are citizens also, and entitled to th like treatment exactly that Brigstock is. But, supposing them to b foreigners, the stipulation in the 27th article is not applicable to thei case; and as they are triable in the courts of the United States, and in th custody of our laws for trial, I deem it more becoming the justice, honor and dignity of the United States, that the trial should be in our courts
Suppose it was not the British nation, (whose system of jurisprudenci is humane, fair, and just,) but the French, Spanish, or Prussian, tha had made the requisition: would it be right to comply with it? I thinl not; and on a matter of this kind, the same measure should be ineted by us to all nations, especially where our own citizens are concerned, and treaties do not require a different rule.
I think the evidence of that kind, that the prisoners should be commit ted for trial in New Jersey; and it is my sincere wish that, if guilty o the horrid crime of which they are accused, they may be convicted, and may suffer the punishment of our law.
I am, &c., &c.,
CHARLES LEE. To the SECRETARY OF Sirare.
is treason for a citizen or other person, not commissioned within the United States, to abet
France during a maritime war with her.
Buck TAVERN, August 21, 1798. Str: Having taken into consideration the acts of the French republic elative to the United States, and the laws of Congress passed at the last ession, it is my opinion that there exists not only an actual maritime war between France and the United States, but a maritime war authorized by both nations. Consequently, France is our enemy; and to aid, assist, and abet that nation in her maritime warfare, will be treason in a citizen or any other person within the United States not commissioned under France. But in a French subject, commissioned by France, acting openly according to his commission, such assistance will be hostility. The former may be tried and punished according to our laws; the latter must be treated according to the laws of war. I have thought it my duty to make this communication in consequence of the information you received from Rhode Island, of the intentions of a Frenchman, whose name I do not now call to mind, who is said to be somewhere in this country, on the business of buying ships and supplies of a military kind, for the West Indies. He should be apprehended and tried as a traitor, unless he has a commission, and acts according to it; in which case he should be treated as an enemy, and confined as a prisoner
I have the honor, &c., &c.,
To the SECRETARY OF STATE.
PRIZE SHIP AND CREW-HOW TO BE DISPOSED OF. If the prize be a pirate, the officers and crew are to be prosecuted in the circuit court of the United States without respect to the nation to which each individual may belong. If it be regularly commissioned as a ship of war, the officers and crew are to be detained as prisoners, except such as are citizens of the United States. Citizens of the United States who aid a nation with whom we are at war on the high seas, against the United States, are guilty of treason. Offenders against the United States may be arrested, imprisoned, or bailed, agreeably to the
usual mode of process in a State, but can be tried only before the court of the United States having cognizance of the offence. Proceedings against the ship and cargo are to be had before the district court of the United States, according to the laws of Congress and the usage and practice of courts of admiralty
in prize causes.
ALEXANDRIA, September 20, 1798. Sır: I take the liberty of writing to you on an interesting subject, concerning which you will perhaps hear from the Secretary of State.
According to the account given in the Norfolk paper of the 15th, it seems propable that the ship Nigre, prize to the Constitution, will be found to be a pirate. If, after due inquiry, (which you are requested to make, and for that purpose to go to Norfolk,) it shall appear to be the case, thé officers and crew, and all
others on board having any agency in the ship, are to be prosecuted (witnesses excepted) in the circuit court of the United
States for the district of Virginia, according to the laws of the United States, without respect to the nation to which each individual may belong, whether he be British, French, American, or of any other nation.
On the other hand, if the ship is regularly commissioned and authorized by France as a public or private ship of war, all the officers and crew are to be detained as prisoners, at the expense of the United Statesexcept such as are citizens of the United States, or of some one of them, who may be tried for treason in adhering to, and aiding, the enemies of the United States. After mature consideration of the decrees of France, and of the laws of the United States, and the conduct of each nation to the other, it is my opinion that the two nations are in a state of maritime war; and, consequently, that the citizens of the United States who aid and adhere to France in acts of hostility on the high sea, against the United States and their fellow-citizens, are guilty of treason. Perhaps this opinion may be found erroneous; if so, such citizens, if acquitted of treason, may be indicted for felony, under the 9th section of the act passed 30th April, 1790, entitled “An act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States.'
I conceive the law of Virginia, which requires the examination before a county or corporation court of criminals triable in the State courts, does not apply to criminals triable before the courts of the United States in the Virginia district. Upon this point, reference may be had to the 23d section of the 20th chapter of the acts of Congress of 1789. By this section, an offender against the United States is, agreeably to the usual mode of process against offenders in such State where he is found, to be arrested and imprisoned, or bailed, as the case may be, for trial before the court of the United States having cognizance of the offence. The arrest is to be agreeably to the usual mode of process in the State; the imprisonment or bailment is also to be agreeably to the usual mode of process in the State; but the trial is to be only before the court of the United States having cognizance of the offence. The examination preparatory to the trial is to be before a magistrate, who is to send to the clerk's office of the court copies of the process and the recognizances of the witnesses, for their appearance to testify. To adnit a different construction of this section, would be to admit a different mode of trial of the same offence against the United States, in their courts, as it might happen to be cognizable in one district or in another; for the examination before a county or corporation court, according to the law of Virginia, is a species of trial that gives a chance of acquittal unknown in other States. Besides, the text of the Virginia law seenis to be confined to offenders amenable to the courts of the State.
Against the ship and cargo, proceedings are to be had before the district court of the United States in Virginia, according to the laws of Congress and the usage and practice of courts of admiralty in prize causes.
It will afford me satisfaction to receive from you a statement of facts relative to this ship, and your ideas on the matters of law which have been the subject of these remarks.
I am, &c., &c.,
CHARLES LEE. To THOMAS NELSON, Esq.
District Attorney U. S., Yorktown, Virginia.