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Of the Secretary of State. Department of State, February
14, 1810. AGREEABLY to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 5th instant, requesting the President of the United States to cause to be laid before that House copies of the several communications made to the governments of France and Great Britain, in pursuance of the authorities vested by Congress in the Executive, with respect to the several orders and decrees of either violating the lawful commerce and neutral rights of the United States, except such parts as may, in his judgment, require secrecy; and also to communicate to the same House such information as he may have received touching the forgery of papers purporting to be those of American vessels, the Secretary of State has the honour of laying before the President the following papers, viz.
1. Extract of a letter from Mr. Smith, Secretary of State, to general Armstrong, minister plenipotentiary of the United States, at Paris, dated March 15, 1809.
2. Copy of a note from general Armstrong to count Champagny, minister of exterior relations at Paris, dated April 29, 1809.
3. Extract of a letter from Mr. Smith to Mr. Pinkney, minister plenipotentiary of the United States at London, dated March 25, 1809.
4. Extracts of a letter from Mr. Pinkney to Mr. Smith, dated May 1, 1809.
A. Extracts of a Letter from John M. Forbes, consul of the United States at Hamburg, to Mr. Madison, Secretary of State, dated November 13, 1807.
B. Extracts of a letter from Mr. Lee, commercial agent of the United States at Bordeaux, to the same, dated Nov. 1, 1808.
C. Copy of a letter from Mr. Hackley, consul of the United States at St. Lucar, to Mr. Smith, dated Cadiz, March 23, 1809.
D. Sundry original documents belonging to, and concerning the ship Aurora of New York.
E. Extract of a letter from Mr. Harris, consul of the United States at St. Petersburg, to Mr. Smith, dated 1325th October, 1809, covering certain papers belonging to the ship called the Georgia, of New York.
F. Extracts of a letter from John M. Forbes, dated November 7, 1809, to Mr. Smith, covering the forged sea letter of the ship Arno, of Boston, dated August 21, 1809, also a letter of the same date, signed Stephen Higginson and company, to captain William Kempton.
G, Extract of a letter from William Kirkpatrick, consol of the United States at Malaga, to Mr. Smith, dated Nov. 25, 1809. It may
proper moreover to state, that various other communications have been received at this department from the agents of the United States in foreign countries, which mention that the practice prevails of forging American ships' papers and documents ; but as they do not afford any details, they are not included in this report, which is respectfully submitted.
(1.) Extract of a Letter from the Secretary of State, to General
Armstrong, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris. Department of State, March 15, 1809.
“ The proceedings of Congress at their late session, combined with the executive communications, affording, as they do, additional proofs of the pacifick disposition of this government, and of its strict observance of whatever the laws of neutrality require, you will not fail to avail yourself of the just arguments thence deducible in urging the equitable claims of the United States. The 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 11th, and 17th sections of the act interdicting our commercial intercourse with Great Britain and France, will, in that view, claim your'attention, and especially the 11th section, authorizing the Executive to renew our commerce with the nation withdrawing the operation of its illegal edicts. And you will be careful to let it be understood that the authority thus vested, will, of course, be exercised in the event stated in the law."
(2.) General Armstrong to Count Champagny. Paris, April
1809. The undersigned, minister plenipotentiary of the United States, has the honour of presenting to his excellency the minister of exterior relations, the enclosed copy of a law recently passed by the legislature of the Union.
This law, as may be seen by the several provisions of it, has been forced upon them by the extraordinary circumstances of the times, and is to be regarded as an act of precaution, taken with a view only of protecting their own property and rights, and of once more appealing to the interests and justice of those who would disturb or destroy them.
Your excellency may be assured, that as nothing has given more disquietude to the United States than the necessity which has impelled them to the adoption of this measure, so nothing will give them more satisfaction, than to see that necessity cease. It is in the spirit and sincerity of this declaration, that the undersigned is instructed •to add, that any interpretation of the imperial decrees of the 21st of November, 1806, and 17th of December, 1807, which shall have the effect of leaving unimpaired the maritime rights of the Union, will be instantaneously followed by a revocation of the present act, and a re-establishment of the ordinary commercial intercourse between the two countries. I offer to your excellency, &c.
JOHN ARMSTRONG. His Excellency Count Champagny.
(3.) Extract of a Letter from the Secretary of State to William
Pinkney, Esq. Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States in London. Department of State, March 15, 1809.
“The proceedings of Congress at their late session combined with the executive communications, affording as they do, additional proofs of the pacifick disposition of this government and of its strict observance of whatever the
laws of neutrality require, you will not fail to avail yourself of the just arguments thence deducible in urging the equitable claims of the United States. The 1st, 2nd, 3d, 4th, 11th and 17th sections of the act interdicting our commercial intercourse with Great Britain and France, will, in that view, claim your attention, and especially the eleventh section, authorizing the Executive to renew our commerce with the nation withdrawing the operation of its illegal edicts. And you will be careful to let it be understood, that the authority thus vested, will of course be exercised in the event stated in the law."
( 4.) Extracts from a Letter of Mr. Pinkney, Minister Plenipo
tentiary of the United States, at London, to Mr. Smith, Secretary of State. London, May 1, 1809.
“Upon receipt of your letter of the 15th of March, it became my obvious duty to ask a conference with Mr. Canning;. It took place accordingly on Monday the 17th of April.”
“With a view to do justice to the character and tendency of the law of the first of March, I called the attention of Mr. Canning in a particular manner to the 11th section, which provides for the renewal of commercial intercourse with the power revoking or so modifying its edicts as that they should cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States; and in obedience to my instructions I assured him that the authority vested in the President to proclaim such revocation or modification, would not fail to be exercised as the case occurred."
“ I entered into a minute explanation of the law of the first of March, and in the course of it, availed myself of every inducement of interest which it could be supposed to furnish to this government to retract its orders in council, and of the proofs with which it abounds of the sincere desire of the American government to cultivate peace and friendship with Great Britain, even while it was repelling what it deemed encroachments and injuries, the most pernicious and alarming."
(A.) Extracts from a Letter from John M. Forbes, Consul of the
United States at Hamburg, to Mr. Madison, Secretary of State. November 13, 1807.
“Two days ago the chief of the French douaniers, M. Eudel, having from the circulating rumours of the town reason to suspect that an American ship, the Lucy, captain Jesse Englee, entered as coming from Norfolk, had come from England, proceeded to examine the crew; notice of this was given to me by the captain, who had also consigned his ship and freight to me, the cargo being addressed to Messrs. Osgand and Co. of this city, but having always refused to acknowledge the authority of the French douaniers, I declined being present in any
official character, and as the commercial correspondent of the captain sent my chief clerk on board to render such assistance as might be proper. The examination did not take place on board at the time appointed, but at a later hour at the house of M. Eudel. My clerk was not present, but I afterwards learned, that the mate and crew had all sworn that the ship came from London. As soon as I learned this I wrote the captain a letter, disclaiming all further individual agency in this business."
“I examined more closely the papers of the ship Lucy, and convinced myself, by comparison of hands, that the signatures both of the President and your excellency to the sea letter, were both evidently forged.
(B.) Extracts of a Letter from Mr. Lee, Consul of the United
States, at Bordeaux, to the Secretary of State. November 1, 1808.
“I have been long in expectation that the President would have instructed the consuls to detain in their hands, the papers of all American vessels found in their district after the embargo, unless they were bound directly to the United States. A determination of this nature would have done but little or no injury to our merchants, and put a