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moment when the committee were making their report, a small squadron of French frigates that had escaped from the Loire, were pillaging and plundering American vessels in the Atlantic. In fact, all America knew that no decree ner proclamation had ever been issued by Buonaparte, amouncing the revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees; and that Mr. Madison had availed himself of a mere conditional communication made to General Armstrong, which, from its nature, must have been nugatory, as the condition was one which no person could expect to be performed. The President, indeed, is compelled to acknowledre that no proof whatever had yet been given by France, of any intention to repair the other wrongs done to the United States, and particularly to restore the great amount of American property seized and condemned under edicts, which, though not affecting their neutral relations, and therefore not entering into questions between the United States and other belligerents, were nevertheless founded in such unjust principles, that the reparation ought to have been prompt and ample. This, being only a French aggression, is kindly taken on the part of Mr. Madison and though he cannot conceal that the United States have much reason to be dissatisfied with the rigorous and unexpected restrictions to which their trade with the French dominions has been subjected; yet, against England only and her hostile inflexibility,' he thinks it necessary to recommend to Congress to put the United States into an armour, and an attitude demanded by the crisis.'
It may be useful to inquire how the fact really stands between the two belligerents and neutral America, and against which, as the original and principal aggressor, if she really be aggrieved, the hostility of the latter might be expected to be pointed. We have no intention to discuss over again the merits of the various orders in council. The question to be now considered is one of fact rather than argument. The circumstances, in which heutrals are placed by the peculiar character of the present war, are entirely novel. France has done her utmost to extinguish neutrality altogether; that of America has survived only by the intervention of the Atlantic. At an early period of the war, the skill and valour of our seamen had nearly swept from the face of the ocean every ship, whether of war or commerce, belonging to the enemy; but while her colonies in the eastern and the western hemisphere remained in her possession, she continued to enjoy the benefits of a commerce with those colonies without any of its risks, through the channel of neutral America. The French marine, it is true, was, in like manner, nearly driven from the sea in the war which commenced in 1756; and they had recourse then, as now, to the employment of neutrals for supplying their colonies, and bringing back their produce. Our prize courts, however, condemned this new species of neutrality,
on the principle ' that a neutral has no right to carry on a trade with the colonies of one of the belligerent powers in time of war, in a way that was prohibited by that power in time of peace.' On this principle We acted during that war. The same rule was adopted on the breaking out of the revolutionary war, when the ports of all the colonies of France were thrown open to every neutral flag. The Americans raised a clamour against the rule on the pretence of its having been abandoned during the American war. This, however, was not true: far from being abandoned, it was actually put in practice; and the temporary relaxations it underwent were owing, in the first instance, to the French being able, in a great measure, to carry on their own colonial trade; and, secondly, to their having falsely asserted that they had entirely changed the colonial system and meant to throw open that trade to foreign nations in time of peace. Mr. Madison goes a step beyond this, and asserts that the principle was, for the first time, introduced by the English in the war of 1756 ; that it has no pretension or title to an ancient rule; and that, instead of being an established principle, it is well known, he says, that Great Britain is the only nation that has acted upon or otherwise given a sanction to it. One might, in the first place, have expected that the date of the year 1756 would be sufficient to satisfy an American as to the rights of a country which was then his own. But, iu the second place, it is to be observed, that the principle and the practice of capturing and condemning neutrals carrying on the colonial trade of a belligerent, were neither introduced for the first time in 1756, nor is Great Britain the only nation that has given a sanction to them. In the war of Queen Anne, ending in 1713, the French employed the Dutch to carry on their colonial trade; but five out of the six vessels so employed were captured and condemned by us; yet, neither the French nor the Dutch complained of the practice or the principle, which are, therefore, at least a century old.* The same rule was acted upon, without any relaxation, in 1793. In 1794, it is true, an indulgence was granted, as to American intercourse with the West Indies: and a farther relaxation took place in 1798, allowing the produce of the West India colonies to be brought by neutrals to the ports of this country, or to some port of the neutral country. These spontaneous acts of indulgence, on the part of Great Britain, and the liberal construction put upon his Majesty's order by the prize courts, laid the foundation of the unexampled prosperity of American commerce. The same system of liberality was pursued on the renewal of hostilities in 1803. The commanders of his Majesty's ships of war and privateers were instructed not to seize any neutral vessels which
Appendix to Vol. VI. of Robinson's Admiralty Reports,
should be found carrying on trade directly between the colonies of the enemy and the neutral country to which the vessel belonged, and laden with property of the inhabitants of such neutral country; provided that such neutral vessel should not be supplying, nor should, on the outer voyage, have supplied, the enemy with any articles contraband of war, and should not be trading with any blockaded ports.'
The able and well informed writer of War in Disguise,' has laid
open the enormous frauds and abuses to which this indulgence gave rise. It will be sufficient for our purpose to observe, that so far was the rule of 1756 relaxed, that the ports of the United States of America became so many entrepôts for the manufactures and commodities of France, Spain, and Holland, from whence they were re-exported, under the American flag, to their respective colonies; they brought back the produce of those colonies to the ports of America; they re-shipped them for the enemies' ports of Europe, they entered freely all the ports of the United Kingdom, wiá cargoes brought directly from the hostile colonies; thus, in fact, not only carrying on the whole trade of one of the belligerents, which that belligerent would have carried on in time of peace, but superadding their own and a considerable part of ours. Valuable cargoes of bullion and specie and of spices were nominally purchased by Americans, in the eastern colonies of the enemy, and wafted under the American flag to the real hostile proprietors. One single American house contracted for the whole of the merchandise of the Dutch East India Company at Batavia, amounting to no less a sum than one million seven hundred thousand pounds sterling. The consequence was, that, while not a single merchant ship belonging to the enemy crossed the Atlantic, or doubled the Cape of Good Hope, the produce of the eastern and western worlds sold cheaper in the markets of France and Holland, than in our own.
We defend our colonies,' says the writer to whom we have alluded, at a vast expence; we maintain at a still greater expence, an irresistible navy; we chase the flag of every enemy from every sea; and, at the same moment, the hostile colonies are able, from the superior safely and cheapness of their new-found navigation, to undersell us in the continental markets of Europe.'
Not satisfied with this unexampled state of prosperity, to which the commerce of America bad attained, through the munificent concessions made in her favor, she practised still farther on the fora bearance of Great Britain, by sending large and numerous cargoes, which might fairly be considered as contraband of war, direct into the ports of France; such, for instance, as 'three and four-inch' deals, spars, iron and other materials employed in fitting out, and
equipping, that very flotilla, which was avowedly preparing for the irvasion of this kingdom. One hundred and fifteen thousand French men were encamped on the heights of Boulogne, in the highest stale of discipline, and commanded by the choicest officers in the French service; one thousand two hundred vessels were ready to transport them to the pillage of the British capital. Yet, because the British government at length thought proper to with-hold its forbearance, - and to place the ports of France, between Ostend and Havre de Grace, under strict and rigorous blockade--the Americans thought proper to join in the clamours of France against, what they were pleased to call, our new principles of maritime law, the violation of neutral rights, and blockades ruinous to neutral commerce.
In April, 1806, it was found necessary to declare the ports of Prussia in a state of blockade, in consequence of the king of that country having, in violation of every principle of honour and justice, (since, how severely espiated!) seized upon Hanover and shut the ports of the German sea against the English flag; but this blockade was removed in September following. Yet this just retribution was deemed a fit subject for American interference.
In the same year the government found it expedient to declare the whole coast of France, from the Elbe to Brest, in a state of blockade; but it was explained by Mr. Fox, in a note to Mr. Monroe, that such blockade should not extend to prevent neutral ships and vessels laden with goods not being the property of his Majesty's enemies, and not being contraband of war, from approaching the said coasts, and entering into and sailing from the said rivers and ports,' &c. A concession almost exclusively made in favor of America.
These blockades, legitimate in principle, and effectually kept up by an adequate force, were called by Mr. Jefferson paper blockades;'an usurpation of maritime jurisdiction;' and he took that opportunity of more than hinting a doubt of our right of search, by asserting the French principle, tható free ships make free goods.
The death of an American seaman, by an accidental shot from the Leander, afforded another opportunity of increasing the clamour which Ir. Jefferson had contrived to raise against England. He issued a proclamation, in which he accused Captain Whitby of murder, and interdicted our ships of war from the waters of America. His purpose was completely answered by the violent and inflamma tory resolutions that were passed in Congress, and wbich ended in an act for excluding the manufactures of Great Britain from the ports of the United States, to be carried into effect however at a distant day.
In the meantime, commissioners were appointed to adjust the existing commercial differences between the two governments; Lord
Holland and Lord Auckland on the one side, and Mr. Monroe and Mr. Pinckney on the other. A treaty was concluded on just and liberal principles of reciprocal benefit, and sent over to America for ratification; which Mr. Jefferson thought fit to refuse, unless this country should consent to admit into it' new principles of maritime law, correspondent with those soon afierzeards declared by the French, and contrary to those long established by the law of nations.
The whole tenour of Mr. Jefferson's administration had excited strong suspicions of a secret understanding between him and France; and these suspicions were considerably strengthened by this rejection, and suggested alteration of the treaty concluded by his authorized minister here, at the very momeut of the notification in that country of the Berlin decree. It happened also that this decree was contemporaneous in its operation with the non-intercourse act against England; which, though passed in May, was not to take effect until November. The very language employed by America in her remonstrances and negociations with England, was exactly similar to that made use of by France. Every step she took seemed to confirm the existence of collusion between Mr. Jefferson and Buonaparte.
England however continued to bear the ill humour, and even the menaces of America, not indeed with indifference, but with that calm and dignified moderation which is naturally inspired by consciousness of rectitude combined with consciousness of power.Even the Berlin decree of the 21st November, 1806, appeared to make no change in her system of legal blockade, as it regarded France, or of concession and relaxation in favor of America. By this decree, the British islands were declared in a state of blockade. All British subjects, found in countries occupied by French troops, were ordered to be seized and made prisoners of war; all British property to be confiscated; all trade in British produce and manufactures was prohibited; and all neutral vessels, which had touched in England or any of her colonies, were made liable to confiscation.
There were, we think, two obvious ways of treating this declaration of war against all commerce, but more particularly against British commerce. Either to consider it as one of those empty menaces so frequently fulminated against us in those moments of temporary insanity to which the present ruler of the French is subject; and to take no notice of it whatever, at least till it had clearly been ascertained what its operation would be, and to what extent neutral powers would acquiesce in so odious a decree ;-or, to make him feel at once the full force of our naval power; to put forth the strength of this mighty arm, and lay waste the whole line of coast A 4