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secretary of state. The remonstrances which it contained, were founded on the duties of neutrality, upon the principles which Mr. Jefferson had laid down in his letter to Mr. Pinckney, dated the 13th September, 1793. Yet this note has remained without an answer, though recalled to the remembrance of the secretary of state by a dispatch of the 9th Germinal 4th year [29th March, 1796, O.S.] and American vessels, bound to French ports, or returning from them, have still been seized by the English. Indeed more—they have added a new vexation to those they had already imposed upon Americans.—They have impressed seamen from on board American vessels, and have thus found the means of strengthening their crews at the expense of the Americans, without the government of the United States having made known to the undersigned the steps they had taken to obtain satisfaction for this violation of neutrality, so hurtful to the interests of France, as the undersigned had set forth in his dispatches to the secretary of state of the 9th Germinal, 4th year, [29th March, 1796, O. S.] 19th Germinal, [8th April, 1796, and first Floréal, [20th April, 1796,) which have remained without an answer. The French government, then, finds itself, with respect to America, at the present time, in circumstances similar to those of 1793; and if it sees itself obliged to abandon, with respect to them and neutral powers in general, the favourable line of condućt they had pursued, and to adopt different measures, the blame should fall upon the British government.—It is their conduct which the French government has been obliged to follow. The undersigned minister plenipotentiary conceives it his duty to remark to the secretary of state, that the neutral governments of the allies of the
Republic Republic have nothing to fear as to the treatment of their flag by the French, since, if keeping within the bounds of their neutrality, they cause the rights of that neutrality to be respected by the English, the Republic will respect them. But if through weakness, partiality or other motives, they should suffer the English to sport with that neutrality, and turn it to their advantage, could they then complain, when France, to restore the balance of neutrality to its equilibrium, shall ačt in the same manner as the English No, certainly ; for the neutrality of a nation consists in granting to belligerent powers the same advantages, and that neutrality no longer exists, when, in the course of the war, that neutral nation grants to one of the belligerent powers, advantages not stipulated by treaties anterior to the war, or suffers that power to seize upon them. The neutral government cannot then complain if the other belligerent power will enjoy advantages which its enemy enjoys, or, if it seizes on them ; otherwise that neutral government would deviate, with respect to it, from the line of neutrality and would become its enemy. The undersigned minister plenipotentiary thinks it useless further to develope these principles. He does not doubt that the secretary of state feels all their force, and that the government of the United States will maintain from all violation a neutrality which France has always respected, and will always respect when her enemies do not make it turn to her detriment. The undersigned minister plenipotentiary embraces this opportunity of reiterating to the secretary of state the assurances of his esteem, and informs him, at the same time, that he will cause this note to be printed, in order to make publicly known L 2 the the motives which, at the present junéture, influences the French Republic.
Done at Philadelphia, 6th Brumaire, 4th year of the French Republic, one and indivisible, (27th Oétober, 1796.) (Signed) P. A. ADET.
Extrač from the Register of Resolves of the Executive Directory, of the 14th Messidor, 4th year of the French Republic, one and indivisible.
The executive direétory, considering, that if it becomes the faith of the French nation to respect treaties or conventions which secure to the flags of Some neutral or friendly powers, commercial ad
vantages, the result of which is to be common to
the contračting powers: the same advantages (if they should turn to the benefit of our enemies, either through the weakness of our allies or of neutrals, or through fear, through interested views, or through whatever motives) would ipso facio warrant the inexecution of the articles in which they were stipulated : -
Decree as follows:—All neutral or allied powers shall, without delay, be notified, that the flag of the French Republic will treat neutral vessels, either as to confiscation, as to searches, or capture, in the same manner as they shall suffer the English to treat them.
The minister of foreign relations is charged with the execution of the present resolve, which shall not be printed.
A true Copy,
AMERICAN AMERICAN STATE PAPER.
Department of State, November 1st, 1796, SIR,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your note of the 27th ult, covering a decree of the executive directory of the French Republic, concerning the commerce of neutral nations. This decree makes no distinétion between neutral powers who can claim only the rights secured to them by the laws of nations, and others, between whom and the French Republic, treaties have imposed special obligations. Where no treaties exist, the Republic by seizing and confiscating the property of their enemies found on board neutral vessels, would only exercise an acknowledged right under the law of nations. If towards such neutral nations, the French Republic has forborne to exercise this right, the forbearance has been perfeótly gratuitous. The United States, by virtue of their treaty of commerce with France, stand on different ground. In the year 1778, France voluntarily entered into a commercial treaty with us, on principles of perfeót reciprocity, and expressly stipulating that free ships should make free goods. That is, if France should be at war with any nation with whom the United States should be at peace, the goods (except contraband) and the persons of her enemies (soldiers in ačtual service excepted) found on board the vessels of the United States, were to be free from capture. That, on the other hand, if the United States should engage in war with any nation, while France remained at peace, then the goods (except contraband) and the persons of our enemies (soldiers in actual service excepted) found on board French L 3 vessels,
vessels, were also to be free from capture. This is plainly expressed in the twenty-third article of that treaty ; and demonstrates that the reciprocity thereby stipulated, was to operate at different periods, that is, at one time in favour of one of the contračting parties, and of the other at another time. At the present time, the United States being at peace, they possess by the treaty, the right of carrying the goods of the enemies of France without subjecting them to capture. But what do the spirit of the decree of the executive direétory and the current of your observations require That the United States should now gratuitously renounce this right. And what reason is assigned for denying to us the enjoyment of this right Your own words furnish the answer. “France bound by treaty to the United “ States, could find only a real disadvantage in the “ articles of that treaty which caused to be res“ pećted as American property, English property “ found on board American vessels.”—This requisition, and the reason assigned to support it, alike excite surprise. The American government, Sir, conscious of the purity of its intentions, of its impartial observance of the laws of neutrality, and of its inviolable regard to treaties, cannot, for a moment admit, that it has forfeited the right to claim a reciprocal observance of stipulations on the part of the French Republic; whose friendship moreover, it has ever cultivated with perfeót sincerity. This right, formerly infringed by a decree of the national convention, was recognized anew by the repeal of that decree. Why it should be again questioned, we are at a loss to determine. We are ignorant of any new restraints on our commerce by the British government; on the contrary, we possess recent official information, that no new order has been issued. The captures made by the British, of American vessels having French property on - board,