« PreviousContinue »
her vessels made under the pretext of a general blockade of the Mediterranean, and followed it with her accession to the definition of a blockade contained in the armed neutrality.
5th. That the United States have the stronger ground for remonstrating against the annoyance of her vessels, on their way to Gibraltar, inasmuch as, with very few exceptions, their object is not to trade there for the accommodation of the garrison, but merely to seek advice or convoy, for their own accommodation, in the ulterior objects of their voyage. In disturbing their course to Gibraltar, therefore, po real detriment results to the enemy of Spain, whilst a heavy one is committed on her friends. To this consideration it may be added, that the real object of the blockade is, to subject the enemy to privations, which may co-operate with external force in compelling them to surrender; an object which cannot be alleged in a case, where it is well known that Great Britain can, and does at all times, by her command of the sea, secure to the garrison of Gibraltar every supply which it wants.
6th. It is observable that the blockade of Gibraltar is rested by the proclamation, on two considerations : one, that it is necessary to prevent illicit traffick, by means of neutral vessels, between Spanish subjects and the garrison there; the other, that it is a just reprisal on Great Britain for the proceedings of her naval armaments against Cadiz and St. Lucar. The first can surely have no weight with neutrals, but on a supposition, never to be allowed, that the resort to Gibraltar, under actual circumstances, is an indulgence from Spain, not a right of their own; the other consideration, without examining the analogy between the cases referred to and that of Gibraltar, is equally without weight with the United States, against whom no right can accrue to Spain from its complaints against Great Britain ; unless it could be shown that the United States were in an unlawful collusion with the latter; a charge which they well know that Spain is too just and too candid to insinuate. It cannot even be said that the United States have acquiesced in the depredations committed by Great Britain, under whatever pretexts, on their lawful commerce.
Had this indeed been the case, the acquiescence ought to be regarded as a sacrifice made by prudence to a love of peace, of which all nations furnisk occasional examples, and as involving a question between the United States and Great Britain, of which no other nation could take advantage against the former. But it may be truly affirmed, that no such acquiescence has taken place. The United States have sought redress for injuries from Great Britain as well as from other nations. They have sought it by the means which appeared to themselves, the only rightful judges, to be the best suited to their object; and it is equally certain, that redress has in some measure been obtained, and that the pursuit of complete redress is by no means abandoned.
7th. Were it admitted that the circumstances of Gibraltar, in February, 1800, the date of the Spanish proclama. tion, amounted to a real blockade, and that the proclamation was therefore obligatory on neutrals; and were it also admitted that the present circumstances of that place amount to a real blockade, (neither of which can be admitted,) still the conduct of the Algesiras cruisers is altogether illegal and unwarrantable. It is illegal and unwarrantable, because the force of the proclamation must have expired whenever the blockade was actually raised, as must have been unquestionably the case since the date of the proclamation, particularly and notoriously when the port of Algesiras itself was lately entered and attacked by a British fleet, and because, on a renewal of the blockade, either a new proclamation ought to have issued, or the vessels inaking for Gibraltar ought to have been pre-monished of their danger, and permitted to change their course as they might think proper. Among the abuses committed under pretext of war, none seem
to have been carried to greater extravagance, or to threaten greater mischief to neutral commerce, than the attempts to substitute fictitious blockades by proclamation, for real blockades formed according to the law of nations; and consequently none against which it is more necessary for neutral nations to remonstrate effectually, before the innovations acquire maturity and authority from repetitions on one side, and silent acquiescence on the other."
Mr. Smith, Secretary of the Navy, lo Commodore Preble.
Navy Department, Feb. 4, 1804. Sir,-Your letter of the 12th November, enclosing your circular notification of the blockade of the port of Tripoli, I have received.
Sensible, as you must be, that it is the interest, as well as the disposition of the United States, to maintain the rights of neutral nations, you will
, I trust, cautiously avoid whatever may appear to you to be incompatible with those rights. It is however deemed necessary, and I am charged by the President to state to you, what, in his opinion, characterizes a blockade. I have therefore to inform you, that the trade of a neutral in articles not contraband, cannot be rightfully obstructed to any port, not actually blockaded by a force so disposed before it, as to create an evident danger of entering it. Whenever therefore you shall have thus formed a blockade of the port of Tripoli, you will have a right to prevent any vessel from entering it, and to capture for adjudication, any vessel that shall attempt to enter the same, with a knowledge of the existence of the blockade. You will however not take as prize any vessel, attempting to enter the port of Tripoli, without such knowledge; but in every case of an attempt to enter, without a previous knowledge of the existence of the blockade, you will give the commanding officer of such vessel notice of such blockade, and forewarn him from entering. And if, after such a notification, such vessel should again attempt to enter the same port, you will be justifiable in sending her into port for adjudication. You will, sir, hence perceive that you are to consider your circular communication to the neutral powers, not as an evidence that every person attempting to enter has previous knowledge of the blockade, but merely as a friendly notification to them of the blockade, in order that they might make the necessary arrangements for the discontinuance of all commerce with such blockaded port. I am, &c. &c.
R. SMITH. Commodore Preble.
Extracts from a Letter of Mr. Smith to Mr. Pinkney. De
partment of State, Nov. 2, 1810. “With the duplicate of my letter to you of the 19th ult. I now send you a copy of the President's proclamation, founded on the repeal of the Berlin and Milan de. crees. Enclosed you will also receive a copy of my letter to general Armstrong, of this day, which will afford you a view of the reservations and understanding under which this proclamation has been issued.
“ To the copy of the proclamation lierewith transmitted in relation to West Florida, and to my, letter to general Armstrong touching the same, I refer you for information as to the views of this government in taking possession of that country, and as to the considerations which had constrained the President at this juncture to resort to this
“ This despatch will be delivered to you by one of the officers of the United States frigate Essex, who will have orders to return to his ship as soon as he shall have received such letters as you may deem it necessary to transmit to this department."
Mr. Smith to Mr. Pinkney. Department of State, Nov.
15, 1810. Sir,-From a review of the conduct of the British government, in relation to a plenipotentiary successor to Mr. Jackson, as presented in your several communications, including even those brought by the Hornet, at which date and on which inviting occasion the subject does not appear to have been within the attention of the government, the President thinks it improper that the United States should continue to be represented at London by a minister plenipotentiary. In case, therefore, no appointment of a successor to Mr. Jackson of that grade should have taken place at the receipt of this letter, you will consider your functions as suspended, and you will accordingly take your leave of absence, charging a fit person with the affairs of the legation.
Considering the season at which this instruction may have its effect, and the possibility of a satisfactory change in the posture of our relations with Great Britain, the time of your return to the United States is left to your discretion and convenience. I have the honour, &c. &c.
R. SMITU. Wm. Pinkney, Esq. &c. &c.
Mr. Smith to General Armstrong. Department of State,
June 5, 1810. SIR,-Your letters of the 17th, 18th, and 21st February, and 10th, 15th, 21st, and 24th March, with their seve. ral enclosures, were received on the 21st May.
As the John Adams is daily expected, and as your further communications by her will better enable me to adapt to the actual state of our affairs with the French government, the observations proper to be made in relation to their seizure of our property, and to the letter of the duke of Cadore of the 14th of February, it is by the President deemed expedient not to make at this time any such animadversions. I cannot, however, forbear informing you, that a high indignation is felt by the President, as well as by the publick, at this act of violence on our property, and at the outrage, both in the language and in the matter, of the letter of the duke of Cadore, so justly portrayed in your note to him of the 10th of March.
The particular object of this letter is to add to my despatches of the 4th and 22d May, another chance of hasten
your hands a copy of the act of Congress of the last session, concerning the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France.
In the fourth section of this act you will perceive a new modification of the authority given to the President. If there be sincerity in the language held at different times by the French government, and, especially, in the late overture to proceed to amicable and just arrangements in case of our refusal to submit to the British orders in council, no pretext can be found for longer declining to put an end to the decrees of which the United States have so justly complained. By putting in force, agreeably lo