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Extracts of a Leller from Mr. Madison, Secretary of State,
to Mr. Pinkney, Minister of the United States at London. Department of State, Dec. 23, 1807.
“ Mr. Erskine having been so good as to let me know that the mail of this evening will carry his despatches for a British packet, which will sail from New York immediately on their arrival there, and other conveyances now failing, I avail myself of the opportunity, to enclose you a copy of a message from the President to Congress, and their act in pursuance of it, laying an immediate embargo on our vessels and exports. The policy and the causes of the measure, are explained in the message itself. But it may be proper to authorize you to assure the British government, as has been just expressed to its minister here, that the act is a measure of precaution only, called for by the occasion; that it is to be considered as neither hostile in its character, nor as justifying, or inviting or leading to hostility with any nation whatever, and particularly as opposing no obstacle whatever tó amicable negotiations and satisfactory adjustments with Great Britain, on the subjects of difference between the two countries.
The suddenness of the present opportunity does not allow me time to add more than a newspaper, containing a part of the proceedings of Congress in relation to the embargo.”
“P, S. As you may be able to find conveyances to Paris, whither none will for some time offer hence, I request the favour of you to communicate to general Armstrong the contents of this letter, and through him, or otherwise, to Mr. Erving at Madrid."
Extract from the Same to the Same. Department of State,
Feb. 19, 1808. "A vessel having been engaged to carry from the port of New York publick despatches and mercantile letters to Europe, I avail myself of the opportunity of forwarding vou a series of gazettes, which contain the proceedings of
Congress, and such current information as will give you a view of our internal affairs. They will be put, with this letter, into the hands of Mr. Nourse, a passenger in the despatch vessel, who will deliver them at London; and as the vessel, which will have previously touched at L'Orient, will, after waiting ten or twelve days at Falmouth, return to that port, and thence to the United States, you will have an opportunity of sending thither any communications you may wish to make to Paris, as well as of transmitting to your government such as may follow up your correspondence, which, at the present period, will be the more acceptable, the more it be frequent and full.
“ My last, which was committed to the British packet, enclosed a copy of the act of embargo, and explained the policy of the measure. Among the considerations which enforced it, was the probability of such decrees as were issued by the British government on the 11th of November ; the language of the British gazettes, with other indications, having left little doubt that such were meditated. The appearance of these decrees has had much effect in reconciling all descriptions among us to the embargo, and in fixing in the friends of the measure their attachment to its provident guardianship of our maritime interests.
Mr. Erskine communicated, a few days ago, the several late decrees of his government, with expressions of the regret felt by his Britannick majesty at the necessity imposed on him for such an interference with neutral commerce, and assurances that his majesty would readily follow the example, in case the Berlin decree should be rescinded, or would proceed, pari passu, with France, in relaxing the rigour of their measures. Mr. Erskine was asked, whether his government distinguished between the operation of the French decree, municipally on land, and its operation on the high seas? On this point he was unable to answer ; as he also was to an inquiry, whether the late British decrees had reference to the late extension of the French decree with respect to the United States? He seemed also, as is perhaps the case with his government, to have taken very little into consideration the violations of neutral commerce, and through them the vast injury to France antecedent to the Berlin decree. It is probable that something further is to pass between us on this subject."
Extract of á Letter from the Same to the Same. Depart
ment of State, March 8, 1808. “ Having just learnt that the present mail will arrive at New York in time for the British packet, I avail myself of the opportunity of forwarding your commission and letters of credence, as successor to Mr. Monroe, in the legation at London.
Since my last, which went by Ms. Nourse in a despatch vessel, bound first to L'Orient, and then to Falmouth, I have received your communication of the 230 November and of December. These, with a representation from general Armstrong to the French government, on the subject of the decree
of Berlin, as expounded and enforced in ihe case of the ship Horizon, were thought by the President to throw so much light on the course likely to be pursued by Great Britain and France, in relation to the United States, that he had the documents confidentially laid before Congress.
Mr. Erskine has made a written communication on the subject of the British orders. I shall answer him as soon as the very urgent business on hand will permit.”
Extract of a Letter from the Sa:ne to lhe Same. Depart-,
ment of State, March 22, 1808. “ My last bears date the 8th instant, and went by the British packet. It acknowledged your letter of November 23, and of December. I have since received those referred to in the letter, and also that of January 26, which came to hand last evening.
“I cannot enclose my answer to Mr. Erkine's communication of the British orders; the unceasing pressure of other matters, on a state of health still feeble, having thus tar delayed it. You will anticipate the complexion which will necessarily be given to it by the character of measures, not only violating our rights, and stabbing our interests, but superadding, under the name of indulgences, a blow at our national independence, and a mockery of our understandings."
Mr. Madison to Mr. Pinkney. Deparlment of State, April
4, 1808. Sir,--My last was of March 22, and went under the care of Mr. Rose. I now forward printed copies of the correspondence with him on the subject of his mission, and of the antecedent documents relating to the case of the Chesapeake.. As soon as the voluminous residue of the communications made to Congress issues from the press, it shall also be forwarded. You will find that they include certain documents relating to France, which were thought proper for the knowledge of Congress at the present crisis.
To these communications I add copies of Mr. Erskine's letter to me on the subject of the British decrees of November last, and of my answer. And that you may have a view of the ground which has been taken with respect to the French decree of November, 1806, and to the judicial exposition in the case of the Horizon, giving to it an illegal operation against the United States, I enclose copies of two letters to general Armstrong on those subjects,
The President made to Congress, a few days ago, other communications relating to the present crisis with Great Britain and France, among which were Mr. Erskine's letter, now enclosed, and a letter from M. Champagny to general Armstrong, explaining the course meditated by the French government with respect to the commerce of the United States. These, being excepted from the confidential character attached to the others, have been puhlished, and will be found among the printed enclosures. Your letter of February 26 was included in the communications to Congress, but not in the exception.
The conduct of the two great contending nations towards this country, as it will now appear to it and to the world, fully displays their mutual efforts to draw the United States into a war with their adversary. The efforts on both sides are too little disguised to be worthy the discernment of either, and are addressed moreover to motives which prove great ignorance of the character of the United States, and indeed of human nature.
From the posture in which Mr. Rose's final reply to the compromise proposed to him placed the question of adjustment in the case of the Chesapeake, it remains with the British government to resume it, if adjustment be their object. Whether a tender of reparation will be made here, or to you, will also lie on that side. It will certainly be most becoming that government, under all circumstances, to make the reparation here ; and this course might of right be insisted on by this government. The President, nevertheless, in the liberal spirit which always governs him, authorizes you to accept the reparation, provided it be tendered spontaneously, be charged with no condition, unless it be that, on the receipt of the act of reparation here, the proclamation of July 2d shall be revoked: and provided the reparation shall add, to the disavowal of the attack on the Chesapeake, an express engagement that the seamen retained shall be immediately restored, and that the guilty officer experience an exemplary punishment. The reparation will be the more satisfactory, and not exceed a just expectation, is the restoration of the seamen be made to the very ship from which they were wrested, and if provision be made for the wounded survivors, and for the families of those who lost their lives by the attack.
I must repeat, however, that it is considered entirely proper, that the reparation should be offered here, rather ihan in London, and it is only in the event of a decided repugnance in the British government to make it through a functionary here, that you are to accept it there.
The answer to Mr. Erskine's letter on the British orders, will furnish the grounds to be taken in your communications with his government on that subject. If the cabinet can be brought to view the orders in their true light, a revocation of the whole of them cannot fail to take place, unless they mean to violate every maxim of justice, or are fixed in hostile purposes against the United States. In not regarding the orders, indeed, as acts of hostility, and in trusting for redress to the motives and the means, to which they have appealed, the United States have given the most signal proof of their love of peace, and of their desire to avoid an interruption of it with the British nation.
Still it is to be understood, that whilst the insult offered in the attack on the American frigate remains unexpiated,