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The aggressions of England and France collectively, affecting almost the whole of our commerce, and persisted in, notwithstanding repeated remonstrances, explanations, and propositions the most candid and unexceptionable, are to all intents and purposes, a maritime war waged by both nations against the United States. It cannot be denied, that the ultimate and only effectual mode of resisting that warfare, if persisted in, is war. A permanent suspension of commerce, after repeated and unavailing efforts to obtain peace, would not properly be resistance : it would be withdrawing from the contest, and abandoning our indisputable right freely to navigate the ocean.
The present unsettled state of the world, the extraordinary situation in which the United States are placed, and the necessity, if war be resorted to, of making it at the same time against both nations, and these the two most powerful of the world, are the principal causes of hesitation. There would be none in resorting to that remedy, however calamitous, if a selection could be made on any principle of justice, or without a sacrifice of national independence.
On a question of such difficulty, involving the most important interests of the Union, and which has not, perhaps, until lately, been sufficiently considered, your committee think the house alone competent to pronounce a decisive opinion : and they have, in this report, confined themselves to an exposition of the subject, and to such introductory resolutions, as will be equally applicable to either alternative. The first of these, being merely declaratory of a determination not to submit to foreign aggressions, may perhaps, at a first view, appear superfluous. It is, however, believed by the committee, that a pledge, by the representatives of the nation, that they will not abandon its essential rights, will not, at this critical moment, be unacceptable. The misapprehensions which seem to have existed, and the misrepresentations which have been circulated, respecting the state of our foreign relations, render also such declaration expedient. And it may not be useless that every foreign nation should understand, that its aggressions never will be justified or encouraged by any description of American citizens. For the ques. tion for every citizen now is, whether he will rally round
the government of his choice, or enlist under foreign banners? Whether he will be for his country, or against his country ?
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO
GRESS. DECEMBER 23, 1808.
ACCORDING to the request of the House of Representatives, in their resolution of November 11, that copies should be laid before them of all acts, decrees, orders, and proclamations, affecting the commercial rights of neutral nations, issued or enacted by Great Britain and France, or any other belligerent power, since the year 1791, and also of an act placing the commerce of America, in English ports, upon the footing of the most favoured nation, I now transmit them a report of the Secretary of State, of such of them as have been attainable in the department of state, and are supposed to have entered into the views of the House of Representatives.
Department of State, Dec. 21, 1808. The Secretary of State, in pursuance of the resolution of the House of Representatives of the 11th of November, respectfully reports to the President of the United States, a copy of an act of the British parliament regulating the trade between the United States and Great Britain, and also copies of such belligerent acts decrees, orders, and proclamations, as affect neutral rights of commerce, and as have been attainable in the department of state; with the exception, however, of sundry acts, particularly blockades of doubtful import or inferior importance, which it was supposed would have inconveniently extended the delay and the size of the report.
BRITISH ORDERS IN COUNCIL, &c. &c.
corn, meal, &c. &c.
with goods the produce of French colonies, &c. 1794. Jan. 8. Revocation of the last order, and the
enactment of other regulations. 1798. Jan. 25. Revocation of the last order, and the
enactment of new regulations. 1799. March 22. Blockade of all the ports of Holland.
Nov. 27. Suspension of the blockade of Holland. 1303. June 24. Direct trade between neutrals and the
colonies of enemies not to be interrupted, unless upon the outward voyage contraband supplies
shall have been furnished by the neutrals. 1804. April 12. Instructions concerning blockades, com
municated by Mr. Merry. Conversion of the seige
of Curracoa into a blockade. Aug. 9. Blockade of Fecamp, &c. &c. 1805. 17. Direct trade with enemies' colonies sub
jected to restrictions.
May 16. Ditto from the Elbe to Brest.
part. 1807. March 12. Interdiction of the trade from port to
port, of France.
25. Six do. do.
March 28. Act of Parliament.
late the embargo.
April 14. Act of Parliament to prohibit the expor
tation of cotton wool, &c. &c. Act of Parliament making valid certain
orders in council, &c. &c.
tween the United States and Great Britain.
LIST OF FRENCH DECREES. 9th May, 1793, Authorizes French vessels to arrest and
bring into the ports of the Republick,vessels laden
with provisions destined for an enemy port. 23d May, 1793, Exempts American vessels from the ope
ration of the decree of the 9th. 28th May, 1793, Suspends the decree of 23d May. 1st July, 1793. The decree of 23d again enforced. 27th July, 1793. The decree of 23d May repealed, and
that of 9th May enforced. 25th Brumaire 3d year. (18th November, 1794.) Gene
eral regulations, the most important is, that mer. chandise belonging to the enemy is made liable to seizure in neutral vessels until the enemy shall exempt from seizure French merchandise similarly
situated. 14th Nivose 3d year. (30 January, 1795.) Repeals the
5th article of the above, and exempts enemy goods
from capture in neutral vessels. 14th Messidor 4th year. (2d July, 1796.) The French
will treat neutral nations, as they suffer themselves
to be treated by the English. 17th Ventose 5th year. (2d March, 1797.) Enemy's pro
perty in neutral vessels liable to confiscation, makes
necessary rôle d'equipages. 29th Nivose 6th year. (18th January, 1798.) The cha
racter of vessels to be determined by that of their
cargoes. 28th Ventose 7th year (18th March, 1799.) Explains the
4th article of the decree of 2d March, 1797.
8th Brumaire 7th year. (29th October, 1799.) Neutrals
found on board enemy vessels liable to be treated
as pirates. 24th Brumaire 7th year. (141h November, 1799.) Sus
pends the operation of the above decree of the 29th
October. 23d Frimaire 8th year. (13th December, 1800.) Repeals
the 1st article of the law of the 29th Nivose, 6th
year. (18th January, 1798.) 29th Frimaire 8th year. (19th December, 1800.) Enforces
the regulations of 26th July, 1778. 21st November, 1806. Berlin decree. 17th December, 1807. Milan decree. 17th April, 1808. Bayonne decree.
List of Decrees of the French Agents in the West Indies,
sent to the President December 22, 1808. 1. 1st August, 1797. Making horses contraband. 2. 1st February, 1797. Authorizes the capture of neutral
vessels bound to certain West India Islands. 3. 27th November, 1797. Authorizes the capture of
American vessels going to or coming from English
ports. 4. 5th February, 1805. Declares that all persons found
on board vessels bound to or coming from any ports in Hispaniola, in the possession of the rebels, shall suffer death.
SPANISH DECREES. 1. 15th February, 1800. Blockade of Gibraltar. 2. 18th February, 1807. In imitation of Berlin decree. 3. 3d January, 1808. In imitation of Milan decree.
BRITISH ORDERS, BLOCKADES, &c. Extract from a Convention between his Britannick Majesty
and the Empress of Russia, signed at London the 25 h of March, 1793.
« Art. 111. Their said majesties reciprocally engage to shut all their ports against French ships, not to permit the