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ruary, 1780, made publick the principles on which shft would maintain the commerce of her subjects. It is necessary here to recite only two of them. 1. That all the effects belonging to subjects of the nations at war should be free on board neutral vessels; contraband goods excepted. 2f That the articles of contraband, should be regulated by the 10th and 11th articles of her treaty of commerce with Great Britain, extending the regulations of those articles to all the belligerent powers.
To enforce the observance of these principles, she gave orders for equipping a considerable part °f l,er marine.
In July of the same year, Denmark acceded to the principles of the armed neutrality, and entered into a convention with Russia, for maintaining them, assuming for hef rule in determining what articles should be deemed contraband, her treaty of commerce with Great Britain, concluded the 11th of July, 1670. In the 3d article of this treaty, the description of contraband goods is in general terms: "Any provisions of war, as soldiers, arms, machines, cannon, ships, or other things of necessary use in> war." But by a convention concluded at London on the 4th of July, 1780, between Great Britain and Denmark, "To explain the treaty of commerce of 1670 between the two powers," the articles deemed contraband are particularly enumerated, and among them we see "timber for ship building, tar, rosin, copper in sheets, sails, hemp and cordage, and generally whatever serves directly for the equipment of a vessel, unwrought iron and fir planks excepted." It is remarkable that these are the very articles, admitted as contraband in the 18th article of our treaty of commerce with Great Britain, and for which admission Mr. Adet declares "all the commercial relations between France and the United States are entirely broken."
But it is further to be noticed that this convention between Russia and Denmark, concluded in the midst of the American war, for maintaining the principles of the armed neutrality, and to which other European powers acceded, is explicitly declared, in the 9th article, to have been concluded and agreed on for the time that war should last ;* though it was to serve as a basis to future engagements which circumstances might render necessary, on account
* Hilt, armed neutrally, page 77, Marten's Treaties, vol 2, page 103.
of new naval wars in Europe; and with the latter view. the king of Sweden manifested the utmost solicitude lest the war should be closed without the intervention of the neutral powers. He therefore, was urgent that the Empress, with all the parties to the maritime convention, **should propose to the belligerent powers the establishing of a Congress, in which the different concerns, both of the powers at war and of the neutral states, should be examined and terminated.”—And these concerns he afterwards mentions to be “the pacification, and the settling of a maritime code of laws;” objects truly important, and meriting all the solicitude manifested on the occasion by the king. But these steps of the king of Sweden serve as additional proofs that the principles of the armed neutrality were not considered by the parties to the maritime convention, as sanctioned by the existing law of nations. For permanently to establish those assumed principles, by introducing them into a maritime code, was obviously the influential motive with the king for desiring a Congress, at which such a code might be settled with the assent of all the nations of Europe. But this project did not succeed : no Congress was formed : the belligerent powers made peace at different periods;–and with that war ended the maritime convention. This no nation has more reason to regret than our own, as well because the principles in question respect some very valuable portions of our exports, as because our disposition and our policy preserving us in peace, such an extended liberty of commerce would prove highly advantageous to us as carriers for the powers at war. We have seen then, that the law of nations, the marine laws of France, her own treaties as well as those of other nations, and even the system of the armed neutrality, incontestably establish these principles, that enemy's goods on board of neutral vessels are rightful subjects of capture and condemnation; and that timber and other articles for the equipment and armament of ships, are contraband of war: and, therefore, that the admission of these principles, in the treaty between the United States and Great Britain, not being a grant to her of any right
* * Hist, arm neut page 147, 150.
(for in what sense could we be said to give what she before possessed ?) furnishes no just ground of offence to France. In what sense too can the United States be said to have " refused to other nations a right" which they and we voluntarily and mutually agreed to renounce? Or how are we chargeable with " partiality in favour of England," because we do not take arms to compel her also to renounce it?
But Mr. Adet, still resting on the idea that not to compel Great Britain to renounce, is to grant her a right, seems to imagine that we shall attempt to obviate his complaints by saying, " that France having the right by her treaty of 1778, to enjoy all the advantages in commerce and navigation which the United States have granted to England, is not injured by the stipulations of the treaty of 1794, (with Great Britain,) relative to contraband of war, as they become common to her." But we shall say no such thing. The 2d article to which he refers has no relation to this subject. Had we granted any particular favour to Great Britain, or to any other nation, in respect to commerce and navigation, we readily admit that by this article France would be immediately entitled to the same. But in regard to contraband of war, we have granted nothing, and therefore, under that article, France can claim nothing.
Under the influence of present and temporary interests, the very nature of the stipulations between France and the United States, on the subject of free commerce and the limitation of contraband, seems to be forgotten. They took for the basis of their treaty " the most perfect equality and reciprocity:" would they then conspire to their own hurt? would they voluntarily, and mutually stipulate for injuries.9 Or for advantages? Certainly the latter; and both considered the agreement reciprocally advantageous which secured to each, in its turn, the freedom of commerce provides by the rules, that free ships should make free goods;—and that timber and naval stores should be excluded from the list of contraband.
Connected with this subject is what concerns the article of provisions. Mr. Adet says that " after having assured to the English the carriage of naval stores, the federal government wished to assure them that of meals ; in a word, it desired to have commerce only with England. Thus it stipulates by the 18th article, that the American vessels
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laden with grain, may be seized under the frivolous pretext, that it is extremely difficult to define the cases wherein provisions, and other articles, which are generally excepted, could be classed in the list of contraband of war."
There are so many extraordinary assertions in Mr. Adet's notes, those in the above paragraph excite no surprise. The federal government is constituted of citizens who have a common interest with their fellow citizens of the United States. That common interest has a peculiar relation to commerce, on the freedom and extension of which the publick revenue and the general prosperity of our country chiefly depend. Will it then be believed that the government wished this commerce to be restrained, particularly the commerce in meals, which compose the most valuable part of our exports? Especially will it be believed that the government desired that our citizens might have commerce only with England." Let the general sense of our fellow citizens answer these charges. Let the great mass of our commercial brethren answer—they whose enterprise traverses every sea and explores every region of the globe, to extend their gainful trade ; citizens whose commercial adventures to France and her colonies have risen annually to many millions; adventures by which many have hazarded their credit and their fortunes. Yet among all our citizens none have been more solicitous to form a commercial treaty with Britain; none more decided in approving that which has been made.
For the reasoning of our own government on this subject, I beg leave to refer you to my letter of September 12, 1795, written by the President's direction to Mr. Monroe. Therein it was attempted to show the necessity and our right of forming that treaty with Great Britain, and I hope it will appear to you that the conclusion is there fairly drawn ; that even the 18th article as it respects provisions, would operate favourably to France.
Before the treaty with Great Britain, her cruisers captured neutral vessels bound to France with provisions. She. asserted that in certain cases, provisions were contraband of war; consequently, that she might lawfully capture and confiscate such provisions. We opposed the principle and the practice. Britain insisted on her right. In this dilemma, it was agreed by the treaty, that whenever provisions becoming contraband by the law of nations should be captured, they should be paid for with a reasonable mercantile profit. This stipulation, without admitting the principle, by securing the American merchants from loss in case of capture, would certainly tend to promote rather than to discourage adventures in provisions to France.
But as this treaty has been the subject of serious complaint on the part of France, it is important to inquire with what foundation the complaint is made.
I might pass over the unworthy insinuations of the, minister, that the treaty was entered into by us in order to ensure advantages to the English, and to furnish our own government with a reply to the claims of France, and peremptory motives for refusals to accede to them that the true object of the negotiation was incessantly disguised under specious pretexts, and covered with the veil of dissimulation. These insinuations have been indiscreetly addressed to the people of the United States. They will gain no belief. It may, however, be useful for you to be truly informed on this subject.
The President's message to the Senate on the 16th of April, 1794, does not declare (as Mr. Adet asserts) " That Mr. Jay was sent to London only to obtain a redress of wrongs." The President says, that Mr. Jay's mission would announce to the world "A solicitude for a friendly adjustment of our complaints," and that "going immediately from the United States, such an envoy would carry with him a full knowledge of the existing temper and sensibility of our country ; and thus be taught to vindicate our rights with firmness, and to cultivate peace with sincerity." And shall the pursuit of either of these objects be denied to us ? What were our complaints ? The most urgent regarded the spoliations on our commerce, and the inexccutioa, of the article of the treaty of peace respecting the posts. With the latter was connected the Indian war, with which we had been harassed for so many years; and with the former, the injury or ruin of our merchants, and the consequent extensive damage to agriculture. These being flic most prominent objects of the mission, were of course most observable and most talked of; and without them the mission probably would not at that time have been • contemplated. But had we no other " complaints?" Did not the impressment of our seamen, like the spoliations on eur commerce, excite an universal complaint? Had we