Page images

«her affirms nor disaffirms their validity ; but declines the granting of restitution, as being inconsistent with the rules which govern in such cases. These rules are, That if the commission be good, the capture is good; if the commission be bad, the capture is bad; but whether it be good or bad, is not decided; it being enough to prove, that the transaction, for the reasons assigned, can in no wise be imputed to the United States. But if captures of this kind, prior to the 5th of June, 1793, do really amount (as is conceived by some) to no very considerable value, this would, of itself, lessen the importance of the insinuation.

4th. The Secretary of War has undertaken to ascertain the precise state of the privateers le Petit Democrate and le Carmagnole, and the result will be communicated to you. In the mean time, it is a matter of some surprise, that vessels, whose single employment and profit must consist in cruising on the ocean, should have remained in the port of New York during the whole winter, and probably up to the date of your letter (May 22d, 1794.) May it not be presumed that their activity has been checked by the intervention of the government? But, sir, if they have not been dismantled, your letter brings the first notice of the omission.

5th. It is true, that the sale of prizes made by French cruisers has not been prohibited in the United States, and that our treaty with France has been so interpreted, as not to contemplate a freedom to sell. The next resort was to the law of nations; which was scrupulously searched by the Executive, with the pure desire of discovering truth and justice to all. Upon this, as on many other occasions, the civilians differ; Vattel declaring, that a privateer may carry his prize into a neutral port, and there freely sell it; Martens affirming the same doctrine, if it has not been otherwise regulated by treaty; and others opposing it. In this schism among the writers, it was resolved by the President of the United States to impose no restraint upon those sales; and to refer them as .affairs of legislation to Congress, at the earliest moment of their session. Thus much has been observed, not as my final answer, but merely to introduce an assurance, that I will follow you in the main discussion, whensoever you shall bring it forward in detail.

6th. Undoubtedly, sir, you have been misinformed, that the vessels of France have been permitted to depart from our ports, notwithstanding the embargo. As the history of the executive proceedings is neither long nor entangled, it shall be frankly stated to you. As soon as the embargo was laid, expresses and advice boats were despatched to notify the officers of the customs and revenue cutters, and all Others concerned in its execution. The resolution imposing it involved all foreign nations; the instructions from the President of the United States favoured no nation, directly or indirectly. A French snow, La Camille, which had descended the river Delaware as low as New Castle on her voyage, was stopped by an officer of the United States; and the President, adhering to perfect impartiality, could not think himself justified to gratify the minister of the French Republick with a passport. Passports being kept under the special view of the President were issued only after his examination of each case, and the total number of them does not exceed twenty-six. Among them was one to yourself; one to an agent, who was sent to the West Indies, upon a business connected with the late captures and condemnations in various British courts of admiralty; one to a citizen, whose vessel was under trial in Bermuda, and who was anxious to forward the British instructions of the 8th of January, 1794, with a hope of rescuing her from confiscation; one to the friends of Joshua Barney, then in Jamaica; twenty for the accommodation of several unfortunate inhabitants of St. Domingo, to some of whom our government was advancing money for their support, and who could no longer endure their separation from home; one to some other persons in peculiar circumstances, desirous of returning to the West Indies; and in the last instance, one to the minister of the French Republick. If, therefore, by any other passport or permission the embargo has been relaxed, it was unauthorized by the President, and unlawful*. The distance of Hampton Road from this city, being more than three hundred miles, the officers of government, resident here, could not learn at the moment what was passing there. No intelligence of an official nature, or of any real importance, no complaint from any other foreign minister, or any other person, has since reached us. If, sir, you should happen to possess the information, I ask it as a favour of you to designate who granted the permission, and under what circumstances the French vessels left that road? An investigation, however, has been and shall be pursued, on our part, without delay. If the law has been violated, it shall be vindicated ; but a violation of law is very remote from a permission of the government.

7th. The uniformly unfriendly treatment, which the British officers are said to have experienced in the United States, cannot be answered, until it shall be more explicitly defined. Did this treatment break forth in words or actions, not cognizable by law? If so, no complaint can be offered to government. Or in words or actions, which were so cognizable? Our courts are free to foreigners against citizens, and independent of influence. To yourself let me appeal, that on the representations, which you thought proper to lay before the President, in relation to the British Consul at Baltimore, the British Consul at Norfolk, and the commander of the Daedalus frigate, the necessary measures were promptly adopted; the result has been transmitted to you, and no objection has been returned. Nor was the government backward in its interference in the late affair of Philadelphia. And these being the only occurrences of the kind within my knowledge, 1 trust, that no example can be produced of government refusing to extend its protection on every seasonable occasion.

8th. The events at Newport, in Rhode Island, are accurately detailed in the proceedings, which I have the honour of enclosing to you. Within the limits of the present letter, I cannot do more; as it might be an useless task to detain you with my remarks, when none of them might be adapted to the animadversions which you meditate. Itis enough, therefore, for me to engage, that these animadversions, whenever they shall appear, shall receive particular attention.

Although, sir, your charges against the United States are sketched only, the impression, which may have been intended, cannot be counteracted too soon by such general elucidations, as at a future day may be more minutely unfolded. But let these facts be as they will, are they indicative of a hostile disposition in the United States, and ought they ultimately to produce a state of war? This is not the place for us to retort our complaints. But compare them with the whole of your catalogue; and say. what may our feelings, be? Yet we prefer peace.

9th. As lord Dorchester's endeavour to ,stir up tlie Indians against us is without justification, so is the expedition of governour Simcoe without pretext.

That you have received no intelligence of such an event having actually occurred, leaves room to conjecture, that you may not be without intelligence of it having been designed; and that it has therefore probably taken place. But you insist, that much will depend on the place intended for the fort. Let the point allotted for it on the Miami be unknown; the place is, for our immediate purpose, adequately marked out by being on that river. A single glance of the eye over the map proves that its source is within the limits of the United States. In its whole length it is flanked on each side by our territory. Its very mouth is to the southward of our line, as recognised by our treaty with his Britannick majesty. On no part therefore of the rapids can a fort be built, but within our country.

This being fixed, your argument is, that if the fort be for the purpose of protecting subjects of his majesty, residing in districts, dependant on the fort of Detroit, or of preventing that fortress from being straitened by the approach of the American army, the principle of statu quo, until the final arrangement of the point in discussion between the two countries shall be concluded, will strictly

To change by hostile movements the condition of a thing, concerning which a treaty is opened, not being consonant with a spirit of adjustment, the principle of statu quo has been generally adopted. The nearest point of the Rapids to Detroit cannot be less than fifty miles. They have never been considered—they never could bo considered, as appendages to Detroit. But you proceed and say, that the proposed assumption of territory may depend on districts, which depend on Detroit. It is too obvious to dwell upon the remark, that if Detroit, which lies within the United States, becomes the first station from which a district still farther in, may arise, and that from this district another district may be generated, one encroachment may beget another ad intinitum. It will, however, be very acceptable to understand with accuracy, how much of our territory towards the Miami was actually possessed by the military establishment of Detroit at the

time of the peace. I mention the military establishment, because if any subjects of his Britannick majesty reside beyond the line of actual possession, they are, as being within our limits, under our jurisdiction.

To prevent the fortress of Detroit from being straitened by the approach of the American army, is either a new modification of the preceding idea, or founded upon an untenable suspicion. For the question must recur, are the rapids an appendage to Detroit? Were they connected with it at the peace? If convenience only were to be consulted, and a wide range of unsettled territory, by being suitable to the momentary circumstances of one nation, is to be transferred for that reason alone from another, which is the true proprietor, we might even then controvert the conveniency of the rapids to Detroit. If right be consulted, our right is complete. Is then our territory to be thus seized? Nay more, sir, I am authorized to say to you explicitly, that the American army has no instructions to straiten or annoy that post; and that if the descent on the rapids was dictated by this consideration, it ought to be discontinued, as being without cause. I have the honour to be, &c.

EDM. RANDOLPH. Mr. Hammond, Minister Plenipotentiary of his Britannick Majesty.

True copv.


Providence, May 16, 1794. Sir,—Agreeably to the request of the general assembly, I enclose you a report of the justices of the superior court of this state, and of the district judge of Rhode Island, repecting certain Americans detained on board a British, sloop of war.

The moderation which accompanied the determined resolution of the legislature in the progress of this business, with the accomplishment of the release of our fellow citizens, gave universal satisfaction.

I also enclose an account of the supplies granted the Nautilus, that it may be known they were limited to the vOL. ii. 10

« PreviousContinue »