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from some accident not being able as yet to lay my hands upon the letter of Mr. Jefferson to you on the 9th of July, 1792, I was hopeful, that my personal declarations to you would continue to receive such full confidence as to afford sufficient opportunity for the most particular inquiry. But being disappointed in seeing that gentleman, I think it best to answer your letter without further delay.
I have it in charge from the President of the United States again to assure you, that his purpose to cultivate harmony with your nation, and to prevent the measures »f which you complain in the above letter, continues unchanged. Orders will be therefore immediately repeated upon this head, to repress the violences which you state; and they shall be accompanied with an injunction to use against the refractors every coercion which the laws will permit. We have received no intelligence of the particular facts to which you refer. But to prevent all unnecessary circuity in first inquiring into them, and next transmitting to this city the result, the proper instruction! will be given to act, without waiting for further directions.
In these measures, sir, you will see a real disposition in us, to friendship and good neighbourhood: and I shall be justified by your own recollection, when I claim the merit of our having been uniform in the same demonstrations. I have the honour to be, &c.
EDM. RANDOLPH. Mr. Hammond, Minister Plenipotentiary of Great Britain. True copy, GEO. TAYLOR, Ju».
>R0M THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO COlGRESS. JUNE 4, 1794.
I Lay before Congress the copy of a letter, with its •enclosure, from the Secretary of State to the minister plenipotentiary of his Britannick majesty; it being an answer to a letter from the minister to him, bearing date the 22d ultimo, and already communicated.
Philadelphia, June % 1794.
Sir,—If the letter with which you honoured me on the 22d ult. had not entered into a train of recrimination against the United States, I should not now trouble you with a return to its unpleasant topicks. Among the reasons which would have induced me to add nothing to my letter of the 1st of the last month, it would have been of some weight, that by silence I should avoid the repetition of a style and manner, which seem to have produced a personal excitement.
As you are willing to admit the authenticity of lord Dorchester's speech, we will, with your approbation, reserve for a future discussion, on what occasion, and to what degree, an explanation may be required by the government of the United States from a foreign minister.
I selected only one passage of that speech, because in it was concentered the real object of the whole; which was to declare an expectation that Great Britain would be at war with the United States in the course of the present year, and, if she were, to cause the warriours to draw a line. This is the undisguised sense of the governourgeneral, unaffected by the preliminary words which yoa nave thought proper to quote. It is your own interpretation. For so far are you from contradicting my assertion, that Lord Dorchester fostered and encouraged in the Indians, hostile dispositions towards us, that you confine the greater part of your remaining observations to vindicate his persuasion and your own, that the principal aggression, leading to hostility, proceeded from the United States; and to suggest many others of the same tendency, upon which you would not dilate.
I shall not shrink, sir, from your charges.
1st. Notwithstanding the territory, upon which certain inhabitants of Vermont are represented in your letter of the 5th of July, 1792, to have tresspassed, belongs to the United States; yet on the 9th of the same month, did my predecessor give you, as is admitted, positive assurances, of the determination to discourage and repress the subject of your complaint. The necessary instructions were accordingly forwarded to that state. On examining your correspondence with my department, it does not appear, that from the 9th of July. 1792, to the tOtfa of March. 1794. vot. ii. ,9
upwards of nineteen months, our government ever understood from yourself, or any authority of his Britannick majesty, that the original dissatisfaction continued. Nor was any discontent heard from that quarter through other. channels, except what related to outrages upon our own citizens by British subjects. Then, indeed, thirty days after the hostile tribes of Indians had been assembled by Lord Dorchester, at Quebec, you renew your remonstrance. Although it cannot be by any means believed, that this was written in order to usher in the intelligence, which soon after arrived, of his speech; yet is it difficult to account for so long an interval under d: circumstances supposed. Nor ought my answer, although delayed for fifty days, until the 29th of April, 1794, to be construed into an assent to any charge, since at the end of that period, having been disappointed, as my letter shows, in one opportunity of information, and no other presenting itself, we were not in a capacity of contradicting your assertions. However, sir, the instructions issued in consequence of your application, conveyed positive orders for the correction of what, upon examination, should be found. irregular. - 2d. Among the points, to which you intimate that you might have adverted, is enumerated the fitting out of two privateers, at Charleston, in South Carolina.--Whatever, this transaction might have been, it probably occurred at the commencement of the war, and before the existence of the war was communicated to our government, by any of the powers engaged. Had such a transaction been known to the President in time, you can well judge from his actual conduct, what he would then have done. His proclamation on the 22d of April, 1793; his call upon the state governours on the 26th of the same month, to cooperate with him in the work of impartiality and peace; the system of rules which he established, and which were imparted to you, are unerring indications of the spirit of those measures, on which he had determined. He suppressed the consular courts, which attempted to pass sentences of condemnation on captures;–he restored several vessels to British owners;–prosecutions have been instituted against the violators of neutrality. In a word, si what has been required, under the sanction of the law . nations, which has not been fulfilled ! How many things.
have been spontaneously done, to evince our impartiality? Let me request you to review my predecessor's letters to you of April 22, May 15, June 5, August 7,8, 25, September 5 and 1 2, 1793; and to say if more could be well expected from us ? After such demonstrations, it might have been hoped, that the equipment of these two privateers would not rise again in the shape of a charge. But the letter of the 5th of June being conceived of itself to be satisfactory, is here inserted.
"In the letter which I had the honour of writing you on the 15th May, in answer to your several memorials of the 8th of that month, I mentioned that the President, reserved for further consideration, a part of the one which related to the equipment of two privateers in the port of Charleston. The part alluded to, was that wherein you express your confidence that the executive government of the United States would pursue measures for repressing such practices in future, and for restoring to their rightful owners any captures which such privateers might bring into the ports of the United States.
"The President, after a full investigation of this subject, and the most mature consideration, has charged me to communicate to you, that the first part of this application is found to be just, and that effectual measures are taken for preventing repetitions of the act therein complained of; but that the latter part, desiring restitution of the prizes, is understood to be inconsistent with the rules which govern such cases, and would, therefore, be unjustifiable towards the other party.
"The principal agents in this transaction were French citizens. Being within the United States, at the moment a war broke out between their own and another country, they determine to go in its defence; they purchase, arm. and equip a vessel, with their own money, man it themselves, receive a regular commission from their nation, depart out of the United States, and then commence hostilities by capturing a vessel. If, under these circumstances, the comv i ion of the captors was valid, the property, according ii>e laws of war, was, by the capture, transferred to the i;—and it would be an aggression on their nation, for the United States to rescue it from ihem. whether on the high seas, or on coming into their ports. Jf the commission was not valid, and consequently the property not transferred by the laws of war to the captors, then the case would have been cognizable in our courts of admiralty, and the owners might have gone thither for redress. So that on neither supposition would the Executive be justifiable in interposing.
"With respect to the United States, the transaction can' in no wise be imputed to them. It was in the first moment of the war,—in one of their most distant ports,—before measures could be provided by the government to meet all the cases, which such a state of things was to produce,— impossible to have been known, and therefore impossible to have been prevented by that government.
"The moment it was known, the most energetick orders were sent to every state and port in the Union to prevent a repetition of the accident. On a suggestion, that citizens of the United States had taken part in the act, one who was designated, was instantly committed to prison for prosecution; one or two others have been since named, and committed in like manner; and should it appear, that there were still others, no measures will be spared to bring them to justice. The President has even gone farther: He has required, as a reparation of their breach of respect to the United States, that the vessels so armed and equipped shall depart from our ports.
"You will see, sir, in these proceedings of the President, unequivocal proofs of the line of strict right, which he means to pursue. The measures now mentioned are taken in justice to the one party; the ulterior measure of seizing and restoring the prizes, is declined in justice to the other; and the evil, thus early arrested, will be of very limited effects; perhaps, indeed, soon disappear altogether."
As to the permission from the governour of South Carolina, for the departure of those privateers from port, you may assure yourself of a proper inquiry; and I take the liberty of requesting any evidence which you may have of it. .
3d. With so many direct proofs in your hands of the opinion constantly maintained by our government against the legality of captures in general, made by illegal privateers, it is not easily explained, why the validity of those before the 5th of June, 1793, should be argued from a refusal to restore them. The above recited letter of that date ner