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consul of the evidence which led him to suppose the privateer had been fitted out and armed within the United States. Mr. Harrison upon receiving this disclosure felt himself called upon by considerations which, as a publick officer, he could not resist, to proceed against the privateer under the third section of the act of Congress, entitled An act in addition to the act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States, passed June 5th, 1794. This section works a forfeiture of the privateer, one half to the use of any person who shall give information of the offence, and the other half to the use of the United States. No person having appeared in quality of informer to institute the suit, Mr. Harrison, according to the course of the common law, filed an information in behalf of the United States solely against the privateer, as you will perceive by the copy of the information already transmitted to you. * No law of the United States, and no law or usage of this state required the information to be founded upon any previous affidavit or evidence of the truth of the matter alleged in it. The filing of an information is an act entirely in the discretion of the officer entrusted by law with the power of doing it; and if he should abuse his power, he stands upon the footing of all publick officers who are guilty of malversation in office. In the present instance, Mr. Harrison has acted from the best of his judgment upon the duty of his office, after officially obtaining information from a publick officer who conceived himself likewise bound by a sense of duty to communicate the information. The suit against the privateer is also at issue, and nearly the same testimony which is above stated has already been taken in it; and further testimony, to put it on the same footing with the suit against the prize, will be procured without delay. The final issue of the suit against the privateer is altogether a problem; but I have no doubt that at least probable cause will appear to justify her seizure and detention.

If any further information should be wanted, I will furnish it a6 soon as I am favoured with your commands. In the mean time I have the honour to be, in behalf of Mr. Harrison, sir, &c.


No. 74.

Extract of a Letter from Richard Harrison, District Attorney of Neva York, to the Secretary of State, dated August 13, 1795.

"With respect to the suit instituted against the French privateer La Vengeance, I have to refer you to colonel Troup's letter of the 7th instant, with this single addition, that as the suit was commenced on behalf of the United States, from motives of duty, upon such evidence as (if unimpeached) would afford not only probable cause for seizure, but jus{ ground for condemnation; so it will immediately be discontinued, from the same motives, if it shall be found that the weight of testimony is in favour of the claimant."

No. 75.


The Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republick near the United States, to Mr. Pickering, Secretary of the Department of War of the United States, charged with the Department of Slate. Philadelphia, the 3d Vindemiaire, 4th year of the French Republick, one and indivisible, (Sept. 24, 1795, O. S.)

Sir,—I have duly received Mr. Randolph's letter of the 11th August, in which he enclosed copies of that written from New York on the subject of the privateer la Vengeance, and of the documents produced at the suit pending in the district court of that city against the privateer and her prize.

My objections are still the same, and I should have renewed my representations, if the weak replies I received had not led me to imagine, that I had little to hope from such a step. I therefore thought it my duty to wait until I should be possessed of authentick documents to discuss at the same time, the points of right, and feet.

These documents' have come to hand.
I begin with the point of right.

The prize made by the privateer Vengeance of a Spanish ship, is arrested upon the allegation of the consul of that nation, stating that this privateer had been armed in the United States.

Upon this simple allegation, without an affidavit or other testimony, the attorney of the district had the privateer arrested. He pretends that affidavits are not necessary, and that if the decree should be favourable to the privateer, the damages accruing from her arrestation shall be borne by the plaintiff.—Besides he undertakes to assert that the prize cannot escape condemnation.

It is not my province to. dispute the responsibility for the damages and interest resulting from the arrest of the privateer, which is a matter foreign to the subject of the prize, and a punishment for a supposed violation of your neutrality.—Therefore I shall not discuss this part of the allegations of Mr. Attorney which appears to me erroneous; it is not doubted that in the final issue, the French privateer will have a right to claim damage and interest from the American government.

But I again recur to the assertion, that an affidavit is not necessary for ordering the arrest of a vessel.

What is the law, what is the usage, which establishes the prosecution for reparation of an offence, before it be ascertained that it has been committed ; and what certainty then had Mr. Attorney? His opinion. Upon what is it founded? The complaint of the Spanish agent, since there was not a single affidavit.

Now, sir, upon mere suspicions which the enemy interest will not fail always to bring forward, the French privateers are to be subjected to seizure! Such a measure tends to nothing less than to paralize the 17th article of our treaty.

Doubtless, sir, this is not the intention of your government. No, the United States under the veil of friendship would not endeavour by indirect means to abuse the advantages of an alliance cemented by French blood.

I therefore protest against this illegal arrest—I request you, sir, to examine into the irregularity of it, and to order its removal.

You may do this as it was the act ol* an agent of the executive power with the courts, and not that of the judiciary.

I return to the point of fact—that is to say, to the arming of the privateer in the United States. Like Mr. Attorney I had my conviction, it was only a moral, but it is now a physical one—among the numerous written documents which have come to my hands, I confine myself to the choice of four; of these I transmit you copies.

The first is the declaration of general Laveaux, stating that the vessel called la Dorade, arrived at Port de Paix, without any armament whatever, that she was sold to citizen Jacques Rouge, armed by him as a privateer, partly at that place and partly at the Cape. This declaration is certified by the municipality of Port de Paix.

The second is, a declaration of citizen Villatte, commandant at the Cape, stating that this privateer sailed from that place with six cannon.

The third is, the bill of sale of la Dorade, done at Port de Paix the 24th last Floreal, with an exact and minute inventory of every thing belonging to the vessel.

The fourth and last is, a declaration of the master warden of the port of Philadelphia, proving that this vessel sailed without an augmentation of force.

The reading of these papers will convince you, sir, that Mr. Attorney was not founded in the opinion which he looked upon as a sufficient reason for authorizing and justifying the seizure against which I complain.

As though this seizure were insufficient, Mr. Attorney, upon what foundation I know not (probably also according to his opinion) has ordered a second seizure of the vessel under the pretext that she exported arms and ammunition from the United States. I do not discuss also, sir, thi* difficulty superfluous in the main, but I complain of a step which is a formal insult, an outrage against the French Republick and myself as its representative.

The first point of difficulty was in discussion; I complained; a negotiation was opened between you and me; and this is the time Mr. Attorney chose to repeat the very thing about which I was complaining. He has violated usage and decency in the most wanton manner, since admitting the second seizure to be well founded, it was nc«. less for securing the penalty as long as the first had not

been removed.

I request justice, sir, and I am so much the more persuaded that you will readily render it to me, as you will be perfectly convinced, that this is considerably less a question of the particular interest of the privateer, than of maintaining the principles of the alliance and the rights of the French Republick; for which you have repeated to me assurances of attachment which leave me no doubt of your dispositions.

Accept, sir, &c.


No. 76.

The French Republick. Etienne Laveaux, Commander in Chief of the French Windward Islands in America.

At the request of the owners and captain of the ship la Vengeance formerly la Dorade to certify all the facts and circumstances known to us relative to this vessel,

We rendering homage to the truth, declare that on the 13 Floreallast (2 May, O. S.) the vessel called la Vengeance formerly la Dorade anchored in the road of Port de Paix about eight or nine o'clock in the morning; that immediately the captain, named Francis Michel, was brought before us as is customary, and in presence of part of the army declared that he had been charged by the agents of the French Republick near the United States, with a secret mission, of which he perfectly acquitted himself. This I do not conceive my duty to detail here. The vessel arrived as a merchant vessel, without either cannon or musket of any kind, and but slightly manned.

This mission being fulfilled, Francis Michel, attorney of John Baron, owner of the said vessel, sold her to citizen Jacques Rouge of this town, agreeably to a bill of sale executed before Dominigeaux and his partner, Notaries at Port de Paix, the 24 last Floreal.

The citizen Jacques Rouge having chosen Jean Antoine Bcrard to command this vessel, requested letters patent from me to arm her as a privateer. I granted them on the 27 th of last Floreal, and they were registered in the re

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