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and damps by night, constantly threatened the lives of the little bands, who were seeking, in open boats and vessels of the smallest size, the haunts of the freebooters among the rocks and shoals of the uninhabited coasts of Cuba and St. Domingo. They performed it, however, with such signal zeal and success, that at the end of sixty days from the commencement of his operations, the commodore, in his official dispatches, was able to say, “that there was not a pirate afloat in the region of Matanzas, the scene of their greatest depredations, larger than an open boat; and not a single piratical act had been committed on the coast of Cuba since he had organized and arranged his forces." He, however, very much regrets that the gazettes of the United States had given publicity to the fitting out of his armament, its destidation and object, long before his arrival in the West Indies, which enabled the pirates to change their ground, and prevented their complete destruction; which, otherwise, he should have accomplished. Many of them sought other hiding places in the southern and south-western coasts of Cuba, near cape Antonio, whence, at an after period, they renewed their depredations.

Pardoning pirates. Several convictions for piracy, attended with aggravating circumstances, were had in the courts of the United States, and the convicts pardoned. The representations which induced the president to exercise the pardoning power in these cases, have not been made known. The measure occasioned much animadversion. Few crimes less deserve executive clemency. The pirate is the professed enemy of the human race ; his victim is the peaceful merchant, pursuing his lawful business on the common highway of nations. Death in its most appalling forms is his usual resort. Pardoning this offense, after a conviction before an enlightened tribunal, justly excites alarm. Punishment, not certainly following conviction, is deprived of half its terrors. The pardoned culprit is again let loose upon society, encouraged to renew his depredations, in the hope, in case of a discovery, of a renewed act of clemency.

Sickness of the crews. The important objects of this expedition were not obtained without great sacrifices, not so much from any recontres with the pirates, as from the climate and nature of the service. The affair in which Lieutenant Allen and several of his men were killed, was almost the only one attended with the loss of life. In Au. gust, the yellow fever, in its most alarming and deadly form,

made its appearance in the squadron. Commodore Porter, after nearly falling a sacrifice to the disease, reached the United States with a considerable portion of his command. Commodore Rogers, with a number of surgeons, was sent out to their relief. Porter remained in the United States until February, 1824, when he returned and continued on the station until the last of May; when there again being some apperance of the fever among the crews, he left his post, and came to the United States. The government disapproved of his leaving the station, so early in the season, without their orders or consent, and without any sufficient cause, and ordered him to return in the John Adams, which sailed on the 24th of October, 1824. Just before his return, an incident took place which, though of little consequence in itself, became important from the transactions to which it gave

rise. Affair at Foxardo. In October, 1824, Lieutenant Platt, in a small schooner, was cruising off the island of St. Thomas, about thirty miles eastward of Porto Rico, when the house of Cabot, Baily, and Co., merchants of the former island, informed him that their store had been broken open, and goods to the amount of five thousand dollars stolen out of it, requesting his assistance, and offering a reward of a thousand dollars for their recovery. Suspicious circumstances led to a belief that they had been carried to Foxardo, a small town in Porto Rico. Lieutenant Platt engaged with zeal in the business, and having been furnished with a description and sample of the goods, and taking on board the clerk of the house, and a pilot from St. Thomas, proceeded to Foxardo, and made known his character and business to the authorities of the town. As he appeared before them in the dress of a private citizen, without his commission, and on business no ways connected with his official character, he became himself an object of suspicion, and was detained with circumstances of some indignity, until he could send on board and produce his uniform, and commission, when he was released without having obtained any information or assistance as to the object of his pursuit. On Commodore Porter's return, the lieutenant, feeling disappointed, and indignant at the treatment he received at Fox. ardo, reported to him the circumstances. The commodore, viewing it as an insult to his flag, and the government whose commission he bore, immediately proceeded with three ships to the harbor of Foxardo, landed, took possession of a small fort which guarded its entrance, marched up the town in military style, and demanded an apology, such as he should dictate, for the insult offered his lieutenant, threatening the destruction of the town, in case of refusal. The required apology being given, he re-embarked without doing or receiving any injury.

Commodore Porter superseded. This transaction was at variance with the commodore's instructions, which required him, by all the means in his power, consistently with the honor of his government, to cultivate a good understanding, and conduct with moderation towards the Spanish authorities. They considered it as a hostile invasion of their territories, and a violation of their rights. Commodore Porter was ordered home, and Captain Warrington appointed to succeed him in the command.

A court of inquiry. A court of inquiry was first held to report as well on the general conduct of the squauron, while in the West India seas, as on the particular circumstances of the Foxardo affair. The commodore objected to the organization of the court, on the ground that two of the officers out of the three of which it was composed, were his juniors, and refused to make any explanations before them ; but while the subject was under the consideration of the executive, published a vindication of his conduct, containing severe remarks on the secretary of the navy, and on the course which had been pursued towards him. The report of the court of inquiry was highly commendatory of the general conduct of the commodore, and of the armament under his command; but censuring him for the Foxardo transactions, imputing them, however, not to any improper motive but to an indiscreet zeal for the honor of the service.

Lieutenant Platt's undertaking to look up the lost goods, of the St. Thomas merchants, was entirely out of the line of his duty. Appearing at Foxardo in the capacity of a searcher för stolen goods, he could lay no claim to any special honors as a naval officer of the United States, however justice and propriety might require the inhabitants to aid him in his object. The commodore's military visit to avenge a supposed insult, could be considered in no other light than a hostile invasion of a peaceful territory. The weakness and incapacity of the village to make resistance, ag. gravated rather than diminished the offense.

Court martial. On the facts reported by the court of inquiry, the commodore was arrested, and tried by a court martial on two charges, the first for disobedience of orders, in the affair of Foxardo; the second, insubordiate and unof.

ficer like conduct, in relation to the time of publishing his pamphlet, and its subject matter.

Defense. His defense, on the first charge, rested on two grounds, one, that Foxardo was a piratical establishment,

hich he was authorized to suppress; but of this there was no proof. The other, to which it was indeed difficult to give a satisfactory answer, was that his conduct was fully justified by the precedent of the invasion of the Floridas in the Seminole war.

His defense, drawn up with great ability by Mr. Jones, compared the case with the precedent in all its objectionable points, evincing that as to violation of instructions, and unwarranted aggression on the territory of a nation at peace, he was fully borne out by an example, which had been passed over silence at least, if not approved by the executive; and that his conduct fell far short of the precrunt. No other answer could be given to this part of The defense, thąn that one bad precedent could not be made use of to justify another; and that if the government had been too remiss in the first instance, there was the more necessity for an example in the second. The defense also, went into an elaborte argument to show that the publication of the pamphlet in question, was not a military offense with. in any of the provisions of the acts for the regulation of the navy.

Judgment of the court. The court martial found him guilty on both charges, and sentenced him to be suspended from his command for six months. The sentence was approved and carried into execution. The commodore felt himself greatly aggrieved by these proceedings. He had voluntarily relinquished an easy and honorable station, as commissioner of the navy, for a very difficult and dangerous service, which he had executed with great zeal and success, resulting in important benefits to his country. For a single error in judgment, in relation to the extent of his powers, which had been attended with no evil, and which fell far short of other cases which had been overlooked, he had been taken from his command, ordered home, arrested, tried by a court martial, and suspended. Under these impressions, he resigned his command in the navy, and entered into a negotiation with the Mexican government, by which he became commander in chief of all the naval forces of Mexico, with a salary of twenty-five thousand dollars a year.

The vigorous measures taken by Commodore Porter and his squadron, effectually suppressed piracy in the gulf of Mexico, and the West Indian seas. A small force afterwards proved sufficient to protect the American commerce in that quarter.

Engaging in foreign service prohibited. Commodore Porter's engagement in the Mexican service, though warranted by the usages of European nations, who permit their officers, for the sake of perfecting themselves in the military art, to seek employment in foreign armies, was in direct violation of the principles of the American government, its laws, and the decisions of its highest tribunals. At an early period of General Washington's presidency, a pacific, neutral policy was adopted, which has been steadily adhered to through every successive administration. In June, 1791, an act was passed, prohibiting any citizen from enlisting, or entering himself, or hiring, or enlisting any other person in the military or naval service of any foreign prince or state, under a penalty of a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding three years.* This statute has been revised and continued with some additions to the present period; and American citi. zens have suffered its penalties under the sanction of the highest tribunals of the country.t

The commodore's conduct was a manifest violation of the statute, and of much greater moment than the enlistment of hundreds of private individuals. The Mexican government considered his name as a host, and his services in their navy as invaluable. But the popularity of the cause, the high standing of the officer, and the weakness of Spain, against whom his efforts were to be directed, not only shielded him from prosecution, but emboldened him to commit further acts, compromitting the neutrality of the United States. With little ceremony, and without asking the permission of the American government, he made Thompson's Island a place of rendezvous, for the Mexican fleet; a station most convenient to annoy the Spanish commerce with Porto Rico and Cuba. At New Orleans, he stationed a Mexican vessel of war, off the mouth of the. Mississippi, and published a handbill

, inviting able bodied seamen, and others, from any country, to join his standard. In this publication, high wages were offered, and a construction put upon the prohibitory statute, at variance with common sense, the opinion of the district attorney, and all American authority. He claimed, and induced some deluded persons to

* Acts of congress, June, 1791, and April, 1818. + United States os. Isaac Williams. Circuit court, district of Connecticut.

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