« PreviousContinue »
Extracts of a Letter from Mr. Smith to General Armstrong.
Department of State, Nov. 2, 1810. “You will herewith receive a printed copy of the proclamation, which conformably to the act of Congress, has been issued by the President on the revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees. You will however let the French government understand, that this has been done on the ground, that the repeal of these decrees does involve an extinguishment of all the edicts of France actually violating our neutral rights, and that the reservations under the expression "it being understood," are not conditions precedent, affecting the operation of the repeal, and on the ground also that the United States are not pledged against the blockades of Great Britain beyond what is stated in my letter to you of the 5th July. It is to be remarked, moreover, that in issuing the proclamation, it has been presumed that the requisition contained in that letter, on the subject of the sequestered property, will have been satisfied. This presumption is not only favoured by the natural connection of the policy and justice of a reversal of that sequestration, with the repeal of the decrees, but is strengthened by concurrent accounts, through different channels, that such property as has been sequestered has been actually restored.”
“ The enclosed copy of my last letter to Mr. Pinkney of the 19th ultimo, will afford you a distinct view of the line of conduct presented to him in relation to the British orders and blockades.
“ 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 despatches as you may deen it necessary to transmit to this department.”
Mr. Smith lo General Armstrong. Department of State;
Nov. 5, 1310. Sir,-As the ground on which the French government has deemed it expedient to place the revocation of its decrees, may suggest to it the further pretext of requiring a
restoration of the French property seized here under the non-intercourse law, as a condition to their restoring the American property condemned or sequestered under the French decree of March, you are authorized, in case a restoration can be thus, and not otherwise obtained, to acquiesce in such an arrangement, and, if necessary, to give to such arrangement a conventional form, requiring the sanction of the Senate. You will, however, take care to avoid any expressions implying an acknowledgment, on the part of the United States, that the non-intercourse law, which was not retrospective, has any analogy to the French decree, the injustice of which essentially consists in its retrospective operation. In truth, the arrangement on the part of the United States will be little more than nominal, as will appear by the enclosed copy of a letter from the treasury department. It may be proper to remark, that the third section of the act of May, for the recovery of forfeitures under the non-intercourse law, contemplated violations by our own citizens rather than French violations, which could not have been of sufficient importance to have called for such a provision, pointing particularly at them. I have the honour to be, &c.
R. SMITH. General Armstrong, &c. &c.
Mr. Pinkney to Mr. Smith. London, Feb. 19, 1810.
Sir, I received, on the 12th instant, by Mr. Powell, whom I had sent some time before to France, a letter from general Armstrong, of which a copy is enclosed ; and, keeping in view the instructions contained in your letter to me of the 11th of November last, I have written to lord Wellesley to inquire whether any, and if any, what blockades of France, instituted by Great Britain during the present war, before the first of January, 1807, are understood here to be in force. A copy of my letter to lord Wellesley is enclosed.
It is not improbable that this official inquiry will produce a declaration, in answer to it, that none of those blockades are in force; and I should presume that such a declaration will be received in France as substantially
satisfying the condition announced to me by general Armstrong
I am not aware that this subject could have been brought before the British government in any other form than that which I have chosen. It would not, I think, have been proper to have applied for a revocation of the blockades in question, (at least, before it is ascertained that they are in existence) or to have professed, in my letter to lord Wellesley, to found, upon general Armstrong's communicarion, my inquiry as to their actual state. I have, however, supposed it to be indispensable (and have acted accordingly) that I should explain to lord Wellesley, in conversation, the probability, afforded by general Armstrong's letter, that a declaration by this government to the effect above mentioned, would be followed by the recall of the Berlin decree.
I cannot, perhaps, expect to receive from lord Wellesley an answer to my letter, in time to send a copy by the John Adams, now in the Downs or at Portsmouth ; but I will send it by an early opportunity, and will take care that general Armstrong shall be made acquainted with it without delay. I have the honour to be, &c. &c.
P.S. March 23, 1810. Since the writing of this letter, lord Wellesley has sent me the answer (of the 2d instant) of which a copy is now enclosed. It was not satisfactory, and I pointed out its deficiencies to lord Wellesley in conversation, and proposed to him that I should write him another letter requesting explanations. He assented to this course, and I have writien him the letter of the 7th instant, of which also a copy is enclosed. His reply has been promised very frequently, but has not yet been received. I have reason to expect that it will be sufficient; but I cannot think of detaining the corvette any longer. The British packet will furnish me with an opportunity of forwarding it to you ; and I will send Mr. Lee with it to Paris, by the way of Morlaix. I have the honour to be, &c. &c.
· From General Armstrong to Mr. Pinkney. Paris, Jan.
25, 1810. Sır, -A letter from Mr. Secretary Smith of the 1st of December last, made it my duty to inquire of his excellency the duke of Cadore, what were the conditions on which his majesty the emperor would annul his decree, commonly called the Berlin decree; and whether, if Great Britain revoked her blockades, of a date anterior to that decree, his majesty would consent to revoke the said decree? To these questions I have this day received the following answer, which I hasten to convey to you by a special messenger :
Answer. “ The only conditions required for the revocation, by his majesty the emperor, of the decree of Berlin, will be a previous revocation, by the British government, of her blockades of France, or part of France (such as that from the Elbe to Brest, &c.) of a date anterior to that of the aforesaid decree." I have the honour to be, &c.
Mr. Pinkney to Lord Wellesley. Great Cumberland
Place, Feb. 15, 1810. MY LORD,In pursuance of the intimation which I had the honour to give to your lordship a few days ago, I beg to trouble your lordship with an inquiry, whether any, and if any, what blockades of France, instituted by Great Britain during the present war, before the 1st day of January, 1807, are understood by his majesty's government to be in force. I am not able at present to specify more than one of the blockades to which this inquiry applies ; nameiy, that from the Elbe to Brest, declared in May, 1906, and afterwards limited and modified; but I shall be much obliged to your lordship for precise information as to the whole. I have the honour to be, &c. &c.
Lord Wellesley to Mr. Pinkney. Foreign Office, March
2, 1810. Sir,,I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 15th ultimo, wherein you request to be informed whether any, and if any, what blockades of France, instituted by Great Britain during the present war, before the first day of January, 1807, are understood by his majesty's government to be in force? I have now the honour to acquaint you, that the coast, rivers and ports from the river Elbe to Brest, both inclusive, were notified to be under the restrictions of blockade, with certain modia fications, on the 16th of May, 1806; and that these restrictions were afterwards comprehended in the order of council of the 7th of January, 1807, which order is still in force. I have the honour to be, &c. &c.
Mr. Pinkney to Lord Wellesley. Great Cumberland Place,
March 7, 1810. MY LORD,—I have had the honour to receive your lordship's answer of the 2d instant, to my letter of the 15th of lasi month, concerning the blockades of France, instituted by Great Britain during the present war, before the first day of January, 1807.
I infer from that answer, that the blockade notified by Great Britain in May, 1806, from the Elbe to Brest, is not itself in force, and that the restrictions, which it established, rest altogether, so far as such restrictions exist at this time, upon an order or orders in council issued since the first day of January, 1807.
I infer also, either that no other blockade of France was instituted by Great Britain during the period above mentioned, or that, if any other was instituted during that period, it is not now in force.
May I beg your lordship to do me the honour to inform me whether these inferences are correct, and, if incorrect, in what respects they are so ? I have the honour to be, &c.