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vernment received such advice from the courts of Austria and Russia, as induced them to reject the American claims. Immediately after Mr. Pinkney's departure, the minister's reply was finished, and transmitted to Petersburgh, where it arrived some days before him. It was also sent to Mr. Gallatin, at Paris.
Reasons for their rejection. It contained a refusal, on several grounds, first, that Monsieur Murat, as he was termed, was a usurper, and that the legitimate sovereign was at war with him, and not bound to discharge his obligations; secondly, that the confiscations for which indemnity is sought, were not the acts of Murat, but were forced upon him by the violent interference of Napoleon; thirdly, that the proceeds of the confiscated property never reached the national treasury, but went into the private chest of Murat, to furnish the means of his profusion. The king of Naples, a man of blunt and familiar manners, used to say to the American consul, when pressing these cláims,
Why, Monsieur Murat took your ships its true; but he also took my kingdom. I suffered more than you did. I lost all; and shall I besides my own losses, have your's to bear also ?" The substance of the Neapolitan dispatches, though not opened by Mr. Pinkney, found their way into the gazettes of Petersburgh and Vienna. The government of the United States having no means of enforcing the claims of their citizens, but by a hazardous and unprofitable contest with the king of the two Sicilies, supported, as he doubtless would be, by the emperors of Russia and Austria, can do nothing more than to keep up a perpetual demand; for this purpose Mr. Appleton has recently been dispatched to Naples; but the prospect of success diminishes in proportion to the distance of time from the date of the injury.
Claims on the Netherlands. In the year 1815, Mr. Eustis was appointed minister to the king of the Netherlands, and instructed to claim indemnity for the confiscations in the years 1809 and 10, under Louis Bonaparte. In his first note upon the subject, without entering into an argument, he simply stated that the American claims rested on the principle so fully recogized by the governments of Europe ; that nations were responsible for the acts of their
and that any changes in the forms of their govern. ment cannot diminish the force of the obligation. The Dutch minister, Baron De Nogell, refused to acknowledge the claim on two grounds ; first, that the acts complained
of were not done by the Dutch government, but by Napoleon, who had the benefit of the confiscation, and whatever claim the United States may have, it must be against his successor, the present king of France; secondly, that if the seizures were to be considered as done by Louis Bonaparte, they were the acts of a usurper, for which the legiti. mate sovereign is not responsible. In the spring of 1816, Mr. Eustis was again instructed to renew the claim, and enforce it on the principles of indemnity, of which the government of the Netherlands had recently experienced the benefits. A correspondence immediately ensued, in which the American claims were ably enforced, and two of the most prominent cases selected for consideration. One, the ship Bacchus, which being ordered off by the Dutch government in 1809, was wrecked in getting out of the harbor. Her cargo being saved, it was sequestered, and finally ceded to Napoleon. The other, the Baltimore, which, after having received a protection, and license to enter a Dutch port,
ized, and her cargo, consisting of colonial produce, ceded to France. The Baron De Nogell now resisted all claims of this character, on the ground, that at the time the seizures were made, there in fact existed in Holland no government distinct from that of France, claiming that Louis was so much under the control of Napoleon, that he could in no sense be considered as the king of Holland. In the year 1819, Mr. Everett, the successor of Mr. Eustis, renewed the claim, bringing into view the authorities derived from the most approved writers on the subject of national law. To these authorities the baron replied, that inductions and analogies derived from the principles of the law of nations, led naturally to endless discussions, as it was always easy to oppose authority to authority. After intimating that the principles of national law were not to govern in this case, he endeavors to show, that it does not fall within any of those analogies, nor within the principles of the French indemnities. Without effecting any thing in Holland, the discussion of the subject was, at the suggestion of the baron, transferred to Washington, where, after a further fruitless attempt, it was suspended, in consequence of a suggestion from the Dutch minister, that it was the wish of his government, that the further discussion of the subject should not be urged at present.
The uniform ill-success with which these claims have been pressed upon the European governments, affords little prospect that any satisfaction will ever be realized, unless indeed some of them should find that it was cheaper to make compensation, than to incur the displeasure of the American government. A sense of justice or a regard to the principles of national law, have little influence, where the means of obtaining redress are not in the power of the injured party. Spain affords the only instance where any satisfaction has been obtained, and that not from any superior regard to principle, the claims having been delayed to the last moment, but merely because Cuba and the Floridas were within the reach of the American arms.
Second session of the fourteenth congress-Message--Compensation law re
pealed--Proceedings of the commissioner of claims regulated-American navigation act passed-Internal improvements of a national character-Their importance~Mr. Gallatin's report upon the subject--A bill having passed both houses of congress making appropriations to this object, is negatived by the president, on the ground of its unconstitutionality-The president's objections The bill lost--Arguments in favor of congress possessing the power by the constitution, as it now is--Presidents Madison and Monroe recommend an amendment of the constitution, conferring the power-Both houses adhere to the opinion, that such an amendment is unnecessary, and refuse to propose any-Provision made for the admission of the state of Mississippi into the union-Electoral votes counted; and the result declared-Mr. Monroe inaugurated-His address—The principles of his administration in relation to appointments developed in a private correspondence with General Jackson-The president's tour through the northern and western sections of the union-Ġeneral Jackson's order of the 22d of April, 1817.
Meeting of congress. The second session of the fourteenth congress, as provided by the constitution, commenced on the 2d of December, 1816. On the 3d, the president transmitted his annual message, giving a favorable account of the foreign relations, and of the finances of the United States. The receipts, including the balance in the treasury at the commencement of the year, he estimates at fortyseven millions, and the funded debt at one hundred and ten millions. The customs received in 1816, owing to the excessive importations immediately succeeding the war, far exceeded any former year. The tranquil state of Europe, and the prosperous circumstances of the country, furnished little of interest for the president's message, or the attention of congress.
Compensation law repealed. The compensation law of the last session had excited general dissatisfaction, and been the occasion of preventing many of the members of the present congress from being elected to the next. Early in the session, a committee was appointed to inquire into the expediency of repealing or modifying the act. The committee, after remarking on the delicacy of the task assigned to the representatives of the people, of determining on the value of their own services, say that the compensation of the members of the national legislature ought to be such as to command the first talents. That the value of money, considered as the means of living at this period, had depreciated nearly one half, compared with the time when their wages were first fixed at six dollars per day. That that sum is not now an adequate reward for persons qualified to discharge the duties of legislation, to compensate them for leaving their business, and devoting a considerable portion of the year to the public service. That it necessarily deranges their business for the remainder. And that the obvious consequence of an inadequate compensation will be an incompetency of talents in the national representation, or the perversion of the office to sinister purposes. After stating some reasons, why in their opinion an annual salary would be preferable to a per diem allowance, the committee, in deference to what they deem to be the public sentiment, report a bill in favor of the latter, leaving the sum a blank, to be filled by the house. The subject of filling this blank occupied much of the session, the sum varying from six to twelve dollars. In the end, none could be agreed on, and towards the close of the session a bill was passed, repealing all laws upon the subject, after the rising of the present congress. The effect of this measure was to give each member of the fourteenth congress three thousand dollars for two hundred and forty days service, or twelve dollars and an half a day, and leave to their successors the unpleasant task of fixing their own compensation.
Proceedings of the commissioner of claims. missioner appointed under the act of the last session on the subject of claims, for property lost or destroyed by the enemy during the late war, adopted a principle in relation to houses destroyed, which embraced claims to a great amount, which were supposed not to be within the purview of the law. The particular case which occasioned the greatest animadversion, was the house of Mrs. Carson, of Washington, from which a gun was fired at General Ross, and was burned by the enemy, as was supposed, for that reason. The commissioner decreed her a compensation, on the ground that it was occupied as a military station, which occasioned its destruction. The principle of this
case embraced many others, which were also allowed. The president, apprehending that the commissioner was proceeding upon a mistaken construction of the law, suspended his functions, and referred the subject to congress. The result was the passing of a law explanatory of the former act,