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case of the outrage on the Chesapeake. But, as in this case every admissible advance has been exhausted on the part of the United States, it will be improper to renew the subject to the British government, with which it must lie to come forward with the requisite satisfaction to the United States. You will therefore merely evince a disposition to meet, in a conciliatory form, any overtures that may be made on the part of the British government.
The British government having so long omitted to fulfil the just expectations of the United States, in relation to a successor to Mr. Jackson, notwithstanding the reiterated assurances to you
of such an intention, has no claims to further indulgence. On the receipt of this letter, therefore, should the appointment of a plenipotentiary successor not have been made and coinmunicated to you, you will let your purpose be known of returning to the United States, unless, indeed, the British government should have unequivocally manifested a disposition to revoke their orders in council, conformably to the act of Congress of May last, and our affairs with them should have accordingly taken so favourable a turn as to justify, in your judg. ment, a further suspension of it. I have the honour, &c. &c.
R. SMITH. William Pinkney, Esq. &c. &c. &c.
Extract of a Letter from Mr. King, Minister Plenipotentiary
of the United States, ai London, to Mr. Pickering, Secretary of State. London, July 15, 1799.
“SEVEN or eight of our vessels, laden with valuable cargoes, have been lately captured, and are still detained for adjudication ; these vessels were met in their voyages to and from the Dutch ports declared to be blockaded. Several notes have passed between lord Grenville and me upon this subject, with the view, on my part, of establishing a more limited and reasonable interpretation of the law of blockade than is attempted to be enforced by the English government. Nearly one hundred Danish, Russian, and other neutral ships, have, within a few months, been in like manner intercepted going to and returning from the United Provinces. Many of them, as well as some of ours, arrived
in the Texel in the course of the last winter, the severity of which obliged the English fleet to return to their ports, leaving a few frigates only to make short cruises off the Texel as the season would allow.
My object has been to prove that in this situation of the investing fleet there can be no effective blockade, which, in my opinion, cannot be said to exist without a competent force stationed and present at or near the entrance of the blockaded port.”
Extract of a Letter from Mr. King' to Lord Grenville.
Downing Street, London, May 23, 1799. “ It seems scarcely necessary to observe, that the presence of a competent force is essential to constituie a blockade; and although it is usual for the belligerent to give notice to neutral nations when he institutes a blockade, it is not customary to give any notice of its discontinuance; and that consequently the presence of the blockading force is the natural criterion by which the neutral is enabled to ascertain the existence of the blockade; in like manner as the actual investment of a besieged place is the only evidence by which wedecide whether the siege is continued or raised. A siege may be commenced, raised, recommenced, and raised again, but its existence at any precise time must always depend upon the fact of the presence of an investing army. This interpretation of the law of blockade is of peculiar importance to nations situated at a great distance from each other, and between whom a considerable length of time is necessary to send and receive information."
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Marshall, Secretary of State,
to Mr. King. September 20, 1800. 2dly. The right to confiscate vessels bound to a blockaded port, has been unreasonably extended to cases not coming within the rule, as heretofore adopted.
On principle it might well be questioned, whether this rule can be applied to a place not completely invested by land as well as by sea. If we examine the reasoning on which is founded the right to intercept and confiscate supplies designed for a blockaded town, it will be difficult to resist the conviction, that its extension to towns invested by sea only is an unjustifiable encroachment on the rights of neutrals. But it is not of this departure from principle, departure which has received some sanction from practice, that we mean to complain. It is, that ports, not effectually blockaded by a force capable of completely investing them, have yet been declared in a state of blockade, and vessels attempting to enter therein have been seized, and on that account confiscated.
This is a vexation proceeding directly from the government, and which may be carried, if not resisted, to a very injurious extent. Our merchants have greatly complained of it with respect to Cadiz and the ports of Holland.
If the effectiveness of the blockade be dispensed with, then every port of all the belligerent powers may, at all times, be declared in that state, and the commerce of neutrals be thereby subjected to universal capture. But if this principle be strictly adhered to, the capacity to blockade will be limited by the naval force of the belligerent, and, of consequence, the mischief to neutral commerce cannot be very extensive. It is, therefore, of the last importance to neutrals, that this principle be maintained unimpaired.
I observe that you have pressed this reasoning on the British minister, who replies, that an occasional absence of a fleet from a blockaded port ought not to change the state of the place.
Whatever force this observation may be entitled to, where that occasional absence has been produced by accident, as a storm, which for a moment blows off the fleet, and forces it from its station, wbich station it immediately resumes, I am persuaded, that where a part of the fleet is applied, though only for a time, to other objects, or comes
to port, the very principle, requiring an effective blockade, which is, that the mischief can then only be co-extensive with the naval force of the belligerent, requires, that during such temporary absence the commerce of neutrals to the place should be free."
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Madison to Mr. Charles
Pinkney, Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States, at Madrid. Department of State, Washington, October 25, 1801.
“The pretext for the seizure of our vessels seems at present to be, that Gibraltar has been proclaimed in a state of blockade, and that the vessels are bound to that port. Should the proceeding be avowed by the Spanish government, and defended on that ground, you will be able to reply :
1st. That the proclamation was made as far back as the 15th February, 1800, and has not since been renewed; that it was immediately protested against by the American and other neutral ministers at Madrid, as not warranted by the real state of Gibraltar, and that no violations of neutral commerce having followed the proclamation, it was reasonably concluded to have been rather a menace against the enemies of Spain, than a measure to be carried into execution against her friends.
2d. That the state of Gibraltar is not, and never can be admitted by the United States to be that of a real blockade. In this doctrine they are supported by the law of nations, as laid down in the most approved commentators, by every treaty which has undertaken to define a blockade, particularly* those of latest date among the maritime nations of Europe, and by the sanction of Spain herself, as a party to the armed neutrality in the year 1781. The spirit of articles xv. and xvi. of the treaty between the United States and Spain, may also be appealed to as favouring a liberal construction of the rights of the parties in such cases. In fact, this idea of an investment, a siege or a blockade, as collected from the authorities referred to, necessarily results from the force of those terms; and though it has been sometimes grossly violated or evaded by powerful nations in pursuit of favourite objects, it has invariably kept its place in the code of publick law, and cannot be shown to have been expressly renounced in a single stipulation between particular nations.
* See late treaties between Russia and Sweden, and between Russia and Great Britain.
3d. That the situation of the naval force at Algesiras, in relation to Gibraltar, has not the shadow of likeness to a blockade, as truly and legally defined. This force can neither be said to invest, besiege or blockade the garrison, nor to guard the entrance into the port. On the contrary, the gun-boats infesting our commerce have their stations in another harbour, separated from that of Gibraltar by a considerable hay; and are so far from beleaguering their enemy at that place, and rendering the entrance into it dangerous to others, that they are, and ever since the proclamation of the blockade have been, for the most part, kept at a distance by a superior naval force, which makes it dangerous to themselves to approach the spot.
4th. That the principle on which the blockade of Gib. raltar is asserted, is the more inadmissible, as it may be extended to every other place, in passing to which vessels must sail within the view and reach of the armed boats belonging to Algesiras. If, because a neutral vessel bound to Gibraltar can be annoyed and put in danger by way. laying cruisers, which neither occupy the entrance into the harbour nor dare approach it, and by reason of that danger is liable to capture, every part of the Mediterranean coasts and islands, to which neutral vessels must pass through the same danger, may with equal reason be proclaimed in a state of blockade, and the neutral vessels bound thereto made equally liable to capture : Or if the armed vessels from Algesiras alone, should be insufficient to create this danger in passing into the Mediterranean, other Spanish vessels, co-operating from other stations, might produce the effect, and ihereby not only blockade any particular port of any particular nation, but blockade at once a whole sca surrounded by many nations. Like blockades might be proclaimed by any particular nation, enabled by its naval superiority to distribute its ships at the mouth of the same, or any similar sea, or across channels or arms of the sea, so as to make it dangerous for the commerce of other nations to pass to its destination. These monstrous consequences condemn the principle from which they flow, and ought to unite against it every nation, Spain among the rest, which has an interest in the rights of the sca. Of this, Spain herself appears to have been sensible in the year 1780, when she yielded to Russia ample satisfaction for seizures of