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The Governour of Virginia, to the Secretary of State. Richmond, Feb. 12, 1795.
Sir,—I am extremely concerned, that any seeming inattention to the treaty of the United States with France, should be attributed to the executive of Virginia: I however flatter myself that an investigation of that subject will totally exculpate them from having in any instance authorized an imputation on our national faith.
Although divested of effectual means to prevent in all our ports, the acts of the citizens or subjects of the belligerent nations which may contravene an article of the treaty, I trust the enclosed transcripts of the several and repeated letters and instructions on the subject, will satisfy the minister plenipotentiary of the French Republick, as well as yourself, that the executive have made every effort to render such instances as few as possible, and on every occasion to remedy them where they have occured.
Of the act now particularly complained by Mr. Fauchet, jour letter of tbe 1st instant, with its enclosure communicated to us the first information; nor will this be a matter of surprise, when the relative situation of Lynnhaven Bay is considered.
The information has now been submitted to the consideration of the council of state, and that no delay may prevent the application of such remedy as is attainable, and the circumstances of the case may on further investigation indicate, they have advised, that I shall become personally the agent in the business: in consequence of which I intend to set out to-morrow for Norfolk, and on my return, or as soon as the object of my journey is at all effected, you may expect a further communication respecting it.
In the mean time I must request you will be so obliging as to make Mr. Fauchet acquainted with the step determined on, as well as the contents of the enclosed, and assure him, that, independent of their sense of national dignity and the obligation arising from particular stipulations, the executive of Virginia will never want inclination to render to the French Republick every act of friendship as well as justice, which is compatible with their political situation. I have the honour to be, &c. RT. BROOKE.
To the Commandants of Counties in which are Ports of JNavigation. Richmond, June 8, 1793.
SIR,-The President of the United States having called on me, in my character of commander in chief of the militia of this state, to be ready to suppress any attempt or attempts which may be made within the limits thereof, to violate the neutrality he has declared in behalf of the people of the United States towards the belligerent powers, I consider it my duty to communicate the same to the commandants of the militia of those counties whose local situation may require it; together with the sentiments expressed by the President on this occasion. He has declared that the treaty existing between the United States and France, and the treaty existing between the United States and Holland, do not authorize those powers to arm vessels within our ports; therefore any attempt on the part of the belligerent powers or their subjects so to do, will be a violation of the neutrality. In all such cases you will therefore be ...}to interpose with your militia, seizing and detaining any vessel which you may find within the limits of your county, commissioned, equipped and manned as a privateer, on behalf of any of the belligerent powers, or of their subjects; and you will also interpose in all acts of hostility which may happen between the belligerent powers, detaining the party first aggressing. In any event of this sort, you will be so good, without loss of time, to communicate the case to me with all the evidence legally taken in writing appertaining thereunto, that I may transmit the same to the President of the United States, whose decision, when known to me, will be forwarded to you. I have the honour to be, sir, &c. HENRY LEE.
To the Commandants of Counties, in which are ports of navigation. Richmond, August 22, 1793.
Sir,—It having been decided by the President of the United States, that no armed vessel, which has been or shall be originally fitted out, in any port of the United States, as a cruiser or privateer, by either of the parties at war, is to have asylum in any of the ports of the United States: in case any vessel within the foregoing description, should arrive in any port or harbour within the limits of your county, you are to cause her to be ordered to depart immediately, and in case of her refusal, you are to take effectual measures to oblige her to depart. Force is not to be resorted to, until every proper effort has been previously made to procure the early departure without it. If any such vessel or vessels shall have sent or brought, subsequent to the fifth instant, or should hereafter send or bring any prize or prizes into any port or harbour within your county, you will cause such prize or prizes to be immediately secured by your militia for the purpose of being restored to the former owners. The following are the names of the privateers comprehended within the meaning of this letter, that have hitherto come to the knowledge of the government of^the United States:
fitted out at Charleston, S. C.
Philadelphia. - Delaware.
You will be pleased to transmit in writing to the governour, all the cases with the evidences thereon, which may occur in pursuance of this communication.
I have the honour to be, &c.
"From the Lieutenant Governour of Virginia to the vice consul of the French Republick at Norfolk. Richmond, Oct. 9, 1794.
Sir,—The communications made by you to the governour, respecting the British frigate the Terpsichore, he took up as commander in chief of the militia, before he left this place, and, I presume, instituted the inquiries which he promised to make, in his letter to you of the 12th ult. As the result of those inquiries were not communicated to me, I concluded the British frigate had been ordered to depart, and had done so. I have just now received a letter from the Secretary of State, on the subject of the Terpsichore, and have now given the most pointed instructions to the commandant of the Norfolk militia on the subject of it, and which I have requested him to communicate to you.
I entreat, sir, that you will be so obliging as to make me acquainted without loss of time of all cases of a similar nature, which may hereafter occur, and hope that you will be persuaded I shall always feel a particular gratification, on all occasions, to render to the French Republick "that justice to which it is entitled.
I have the honour to be, &c.
FiVm Lieutenant Govemour of Virginia, to Thomas Newton, Esq. commandant of the militia of Norfolk. In council, 0th of October, 1794.
Sir,—T have received a letter from the Secretary of State, dated the 3d instant, stating that he had been informed by the minister of the French Republick, that the British frigate, the Terpsichore, had carried as prize into Norfolk, or some of our ports, the French privateer la Montagne. Our treaty with France positively forbids the admission of a foreign ship of war under such circumstances. The rules, which have been adopted by the President, are pointed on this particular subject. Those
.rules have been communicated to you, by the governour's circular letter of the 5th of December last, to which I beg leave to refer. What is beyond the rights of the law of nations, we are under no obligation to perform, especially towards the British shipping, which is hourly destroying our trade; and more especially, in defiance of a treaty which ought to be held sacred.
I beg, sir, that you will, as commandant of the Norfolk militia, be pleased to inquire into this case, as well as all others of a similar nature, and report the same to the executive, with all possible despatch; and that you will, in the mean time, cause to be rendered to the French Republick, that justice to which it is entitled, upon the presumption, that the facts, as stated, shall be found to be accurate. This case was taken up by the governour, in his character of commander in chief of the militia, before he left this place, upon the representation of the vice consul of Norfolk. I find by the governour's letter to Mr. Ostcr of the 12th ult. that he assures him, "he will make the necessary inquiries, and then pursue the conduct which the President's instructions enjoin." Not having received any communications respecting the inquiries made by the governour, I naturally concluded the frigate had been ordered to depart, and had done so.
May I beg the favour of you to communicate the contents of this letter to Mr. Oster; and to Mr. William Lindsay, the collector of the port of Norfolk.
1 have the honour to be. &c.
The Lieutenant Governour of Virginia, to the commandant? of the militia of the borough of Norfolk, and of the counties of Norfolk and Elizabeth city. In council, 25th Oct. 1794.
Sir,—The minister of the Republick of France is ap. prehensive, from circumstances which have been experienced, that unless decisive measures are adopted with respect to vessels hostile to the French nation, bringing into our ports French prizes, the 17th article of the treaty* of commerce will become null.