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acting by the direction of the French court. He proposed, what he called a conciliatory line between the United States and Spain. This was to begin at the division of East from West Florida, and run thence to fort Toulouse on the river Alabama, thence by different courses to Cumberland river, and down the Cumberland to the Ohio. It was insisted that the United States could have no pretensions westward of this line. That “as to the course and navigation of the Mississippi, they followed the property, and would belong therefore to the nation to which the two banks belonged: the United States could have no pretensions, not being masters of either border of the river:” and that “as to what respects the lands situated to the northward of the Ohio, there was reason to presume that Spain could form no pretensions thereto: their fate must be regulated with the court of London.” It is certain that originally, Spain made no pretensions to any lands eastward of the Mississippi to the northward of the Floridas; and it is clear that the idea of her finally making the claim, was suggested by the court of France. . We are now prepared to understand the declarations made in the instructions to citizen Genet, minister pleniotentiary from the French Republick to the United States. These instructions are dated the 4th of January, 1793, and were published in December of that year, in Philadelphia, by Mr. Genet, in vindication of his extraordinary measures, which had induced our government to desire his recall. In these instructions we find the following passages. “The executive council has called for the instructions given to citizen Genet's predecessors in America, and has seen in them, with indignation, that at the very time the good people of America expressed their gratitude to us in the most feeling manner, and gave us every proof of their friendship, Vergennes and Montmorin thought. that it was right for France to hinder the United States from taking that political stability of which they were capable ; because they would soon acquire a strength. which it was probable they would be eager to abuse.” “The same Machiavelian principle influenced the operations of the war for independence: the same duplicity reigned over the negotiations for peace.” We see, then, that in forming connection with us in 1778, the court of France, the actual organ of the nation. WOL, i ly 22
had no regard to the interest of the United States ; but that their real object was, by seizing the occasion of dismembering the British empire, to diminish the power of a formidable rival; and that when, after we had carried on a distressing war for seven years, the great object for which we had contended, independence was within our reach, that court endeavoured to postpone the ackowledgment of it by Great Britain, and eventually to deprive us of its fairest fruits—a just extent of territory, the navigation of the Mississippi, and the fishery. Such being the motives and ja of France, what inspired our truly grateful sentiments towards that nation ? The ardent affection, the sincere friendship of Americans to Frenchmen? We were engaged in a common cause against Great Britain. We received loans of money— We were aided by troops and ships in attacking and conquering the common enemy in the bosom of our country; and this association in war produced acquaintances and personal friendships: and experiencing these benefits, we ave way to our feelings, without inquiring into the motives from which they were rendered. But why are we so often reminded of the debt of gratitude 2 Is it really because more than gratitude—because compensation is expected to cancel it ! If compensation is the object, the treaty of alliance has absolved the claim— “The contracting parties declare, that being resolved to fulfil, each on its own part, the clauses and conditions of the present treaty of alliance, according to its own power and circumstances, there shall be no after claim of compensation, on one side or the other, whatever may be the event of the war.” I am here naturally led to notice Mr. Adet's charge already mentioned—That we have not offered to France the succours which friendship might have given without compromitting the government. If Mr. Adet had specified the kind of succours which might thus have been offered, we could better judge of the correctness of his assertion. But is it true that we have rendered no succours to France Read the following passages in the Secretary of State's letter of the sixteenth of August, 1793, to Mr. Morris. “We recollect with satisfaction, that in the course of two years, by unceasing exertions, we paid up seven years arrearages and instalments of our debt to France, which the inefficacy of onr first form of government had suffered to be accumulating ; that pressing on still to the entire fulfilment of our engagements, we have facilitated to Mr. Genet, the effect of the instalments of the present year to enable him to send relief to his fellow citizens in France, threatened with famine; that in the first moment of tire insurrection which threatened the colony of St. Domingo, we stepped forward to their relief with arms and money, taking freely on ourselves the risk of an unauthorized aid, when delay would have been denial;" —" that we have given the exclusive admission to sell here the prizes made by France on her enemies in the present war, though unstipulated in our treaties, and unfounded in her own practice or in that of other nations, as we believe."
To this detail I have to add, that of all the loans and supplies received from France in the American war, amounting nearly to fifty-three millions of livres, the United States under their late government had been enabled to pay not two millions and a half of livres; that the present government, after paying up the arrearages and instalments mentioned by Mr. Jefferson has been continually anticipating the subsequent instalments, until in the year 1795, the whole of our debt to France was discharged, by anticipating the payments of eleven millions and a half of livres; no part of which would have become due until the second of September 1796, and then only one million and a half 5 the residue at subsequent periods; the last not until the year 1802.
There remain yet various passages in Mr. Adet's notes on which some observations are to be made.
In my letter of the 1 st of November last, in answer to Mr. Adet's note of October 27th, in which he communicated the decree of the executive directory of the second of July last, declaring that the flag of the Republick of France, should treat the flag of neutrals in the same manner as these shall suffer it to be treated by the English, I asked an explanation of the decree; mentioning the circumstances which excited doubts. There seemed to be sufficient cause for inquiry. Had the decree referred to the past captures by the English, our knowledge of them would have been some guide in forming our opinion of the threatened captures by the French: but the operation of the decree was to depend on the future conduct of the English: the French were to treat the flag of neutrals as these shall suffer it to be treated by the English. As this could not be ascertained beforehand, we wished to know whether the restraints then exercised by the British government were considered as of a nature to justify a denial of those rights which were pledged to us by our treaty with France Whether the orders had actually been given to capture the vessels of the United States ? And if given, what were the precise terms of those orders Mr. Adet, in his reply, says that I appear not to have understood either the decree of the directory or his note which accompanied it. The meaning of the decree is certainly not very obvious. The manner of executing it, was declared to depend on a contingency—the future conduct of the English. How were French cruisers in the four quarters of the world to determine what was the conduct of the English at any given time ! If he could have furnished a copy of the orders actually given to French armed vessels, under the decree, we might have seen clearly what were the intentions of the directory. If we are to take the practice of the French armed vessels and of some of the French tribunals as the true illustration of the decree, Mr. Adet’s own explanation will be very defective. He has specified only two cases—the taking of English (or other enemy's) property on board American vessels, and the seizure of all the goods classed as contraband in our treaty, with Great Britain. In the case of contraband goods, the seizure of them is lawful only when they are destined to the ports of their enemies; and the contraband goods only are liable to confiscation... But the special agents of the directory in the West Indies, order the seizure of all vessels having on board contraband goods, no matter whether destined to an enemy’s, or to a neutral, or even to a French port; and when seized they confiscate not merely the contraband articles, but all other goods, and the vessel herself in which they are laden. They also assign in their de*rees of confiscation another cause of capture and condemnation—that the American vessel has sailed to or from a port in possession of the English. We are not informed that the English take any neutral vessels for this cause. We have heard of several American vessels being captured and confiscated by the French, merely because they bad not a sea letter, when no doubt could have been entertained of the property being American. Yet it is conceived that the want of a sea letter was never intended to exclude other proofs of property.
Further, ought we to have imagined that the executive directory intended to leave it to the discretion of every privateer and of every inferior tribunal to judge what at any time subsequent to their decree was the actual treatment received by American vessels from the British? Ought we to have imagined that the decree was formed in such indefinite terms on purpose to give scope for arbitrary constructions, and consequently for unlimited oppression? Ought we to have imagined what Mr. Adet has himself declared to be the meaning of the decree, that the French armed vessels were not to content themselves with capturing American vessels having English property or contraband goods on board, and getting such property and goods condemned by their tribunals; but if any English commanders were to practise :t vexations'' towards Americans, that Frenchmen were to do the same! Ought we to have imagined that the directory intended the citizens of France should be encouraged to take revenge on their friends for the outrages of their enemies? And what is to limit these vexations? If one English commander in a hundred, perversely and wantonly abuses his power, is every French officer to become his rival in dishonour? or if we are to suffer only measure for measure (and surely the decree goes not beyond this) who is to designate the every hundredth French officer, who is to be the instrument of similar oppression?
But French armed vessels are to make all these captures in violation of the treaty, and we are to suffer all these vexations in violation of reason and humanity, while we endure them from the English "withoui an efficacious opposition!" And what opposition will be deemed efficacious? For all captures made by the British contrary to 'he law of nations, we have, agreeably to that law, demanded satisfaction. The British have engaged to make us satisfaction ; and commissioners are now sitting to liquidate those demands. What opposition could have been more efficacious? What further opposition can be lawful?
Instead of further comments on this subject, let me pre*ent to you some passages in Mr. Adet's letter of the 14th