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distance from the vessel to be searched, and sending their own boat with
to have been made by congress without solicitation.
Mr. Bidwell then submitted a resolution proposing an appropriation for the purpose of defraying any extraordinary expenses that might be incurred in foreign intercourse. The resolution of the committee was rejected, owing perhaps to the fact that, during the debate, one of the president's friends inadvertently disclosed his "secret wishes” to the house; and Mr. Bidwell's resolution for appropriating $2,000,000 was adopted. The act making the appropriation authorized the president to borrow the money at six per cent., and pledged for its reimbursement the extra duty of two and a half per cent., mentioned in a preceding chapter, as constituting the Mediterranean fund, which, peace having been made with Tripoli, was not wanted for the purpose intended. A resolution was adopted, however, declaring that “an exchange of territory between the United States and Spain, would be the most advantageous mode of settling the existing differences about their respective boundaries."
On this question, and from this time, Mr. Randolph and a few other republican members coöperated with the federalists, with whom he subsequently (1812) voted against the declaration of war. His opposition to the administration has been by some attributed to the refusal of Mr. Jefferson to appoint him to a foreign mission for which his friends had made application, though without his own solicitation.
To appease the government of France, whose complaints had assumed a somewhat menacing aspect, an act was passed to suspend all commercial intercourse with the revolting blacks of St. Domingo. All persons residing in the United States were forbidden to trade with any person in any part of that island not in possession or under the acknowledged government of France, on pain of forfeiture of the vessel and cargo.
To retaliate the impressment of our seamen and the infringement of our neutral rights, on the part of Great Britain, an act was passed, prohibiting the importation, from any of her ports, or of the ports of her colonies, any goods manufactured of leather, silk, hemp, tin, or brass ; low priced woolen cloths, window glass and glass ware, silver and plated ware, paper of every description, nails and spikes,'hats, ready-made clothing, millinery, playing cards, beer, ale, porter, pictures and prints
. An act was passed, authorizing the president, if he should deem it necessary, to call on the executives of the states for 100,000 militia, to be kept in readiness for immediate service; and an act appropriating not exceeding $150,000 for fortifying forts and harbors, and not exceeding $250,000 for building the fifty gun-boats before mentioned.
At this session was passed the act authorizing the construction of the Cumberland road; a work which has been the subject of more frequent discussions and appropriations than almost any other public improve
ment ever projected in this country. The road was to be made from Cumberland in Maryland, to the state of Ohio. It has since been continued westward through several states.
To carry out the intention of the act appropriating the money for the purchase of Florida, the president appointed General Armstrong, of New York, and Mr. Bowdoin, of Massachusetts, as joint commissioners with those of Spain, to settle our difficulties with that country. They met at Paris
. It was hoped that the influence of the French government might aid in effecting the desired consummation. The negotiation, however, was unsuccessful. Mr. Bowdoin was at the time minister to Spain. Mr. Charles Pinckney having desired to be recalled, Mr. Bowdoin had been appointed to succeed him.
It will be recollected, that the first ten articles of the treaty negotiated by Mr. Jay, in 1794, were permanent, and that the articles regulating commercial intercourse were to continue in force two years after the conclusion of the then existing European war, but in no case longer than ten years. This part of the treaty having expired in 1804, the British government proposed to extend the period of its continuance. The benefits ascribed to this treaty, had induced a large portion of the people to suppose that an offer to renew it would have been accepted. But it was declined. Among the objections to the treaty at the time of its ratification, were its supposed unfavorable operation upon the interests of France, and the absence of any stipulation against the impressment of our seamen. The latter objection, in particular, was urged against its renewal. A provision against impressment was certainly very desirable, and it was probably hoped by the administration, that the British government would eventually be induced to consent to such provision.
On the 12th of May, 1806, William Pinkney, of Maryland, was associated with Monroe, as envoy plenipotentiary to Great Britain. Another attempt was made to effect a satisfactory arrangement on the subject of impressment
. But the British government was still unwilling to relinquish its claim to take from our vessels such seamen as appeared to be
On the 31st of December, a treaty was concluded with British com missioners. A large proportion of the provisions of this treaty was taken from that of 1794. It was also silent on the subject of impressment. In their letter accompanying the treaty, our ministers said, that, although the British government did not feel at liberty to relinquish the claim to search our merchant vessels for British seamen, satisfactory assurance had been given them, that the practice would be essentially if not completely abandoned ; and that by the policy adopted by that government, the United States were made as secure against the exercise of the right claimed as if it had been relinquished by treaty. On the 2d of March, the president received from Mr. Erskine, the British minister at Washington, a copy of the treaty; but considering it liable to several serious objections, the most important of which seemed to be that it contained no stipulation against impressment, he did not even submit it to the senate.
The rejection of the treaty, by which our commercial intercourse with Great Britain was left without regulation, caused much dissatisfaction with the commercial community. And the refusal of the president to submit it to the senate, was condemned by the federal party. It was admitted to be objectionable in several particulars; but the negotiators on the part of the United States being political friends of the president, and having been also opposed to the treaty of 1794, it was presumed that a better treaty could not be obtained ; and it was preferable to no treaty at all. Or, had it been laid before the senate, some valuable modification of it might perhaps have been effected.
The course of the president was approved by the republican party. As the advice of the senate was not binding on the executive, he ought not to yield to it when, in his judgment, a measure was clearly prejudicial to the public interest. It had been said that he ought to have submitted it with propositions for its modification. But if he was convinced that the treaty was all that could be obtained from the British govern. ment, and that its adoption was impolitic, the withholding of it could not be justly considered a violation of duty.
A renewal of the negotiation, with a view to certain alterations of the rejected treaty, was proposed by Messrs. Monroe and Pinkney to Mr. Canning, successor to Mr. Fox, who had died since the conclusion of the treaty. But the proposal to negotiate on the basis of that treaty was declined. Mr. Monroe conceiving any acceptable arrangement with the British government to be hopeless, returned near the close of the year 1807.
Displeased at the manner in which the treaty had been received, Mr. Monroe, in a letter to Mr. Madison, dated February 23, 1808, vindicated the course of himself and his associate, and the treaty they had negotiated. He considered the informal assurance alluded to, and the acconpanying explanations, as placing the United States on ground both honorable and advantageous. “The British paper," continues Mr. Monroe, “ states that the king was not prepared to disclaim or derogate from a right on which the security of the British navy might essentially depend, especially in a conjuncture when he was engaged in wars which enforced the necessity of the most vigilant attention to the preservation and supply of his naval force; that he had directed his commissioners to
give to the commissioners of the United States the most positive assurances that instructions had been given, and should be repeated and enforced, to observe the greatest caution in the impressing of British seamen, to preserve the citizens of the United States from molestation or injury; and that prompt redress should be afforded on any representation of injury sustained by them.” He said, "the negotiation on the subject of impressment was to be postponed for a limited time and for a special object only, and to be renewed as soon as that object was accomplished; and, in the interim, that the practice of impressment was to correspond essentially with the views and interests of the United States."
The opinion that the ratification of the treaty would have been the better policy, has always been extensively entertained. By ving the question of impressment open for future negotiation, nothing could have been lost, while by the rejection of the treaty much was hazarded. It was construed by the government of Great Britain into an indisposition on the part of the president, to preserve a friendly intercourse with that nation. It left the relations between the two countries in a loose and irritating condition, and was considered as one of a train of causes that resulted in the war of 1812.
On the 22d of June, 1807, a British squadron of four vessels lay at anchor near the capes of Virginia. As the United States frigate Chesapeake passed the squadron, the British frigate Leopard put off and went to sea before the Chesapeake. When the latter came up, she was hailed by Captain Humphreys of the Leopard, who said he had a dispatch to deliver from the British commander-in-chief, meaning Admiral Berkeley of the American station. The dispatch proved to be an order to take from the Chesapeake certain men alleged to be deserters from a British frigate. Commodore Barrow refused permission to search his vessel, stating that he had forbidden his officers to enlist British subjects, and that he did not believe any were on board. Whereupon the Chesapeake received a broadside from the Leopard. Apprehending no danger, and being unprepared for action, the Chesapeake immediately struck her flag, having three men killed and eighteen wounded. A boat was then sent with an officer and four men, from the Leopard to the Chesapeake. Commodore Barrow considering the vessel a prize to the Leopard, the officers tendered their swords to Captain Humphreys, but he declined receiving them, saying he only wished to execute the order of the admiral; and having taken off four men, left the vessel, which returned to Hampton Roads. A formal demand had been made upon our government by Mr. Erskine, the British minister at Washington, for the surrender of these men. Three of them, as was made to appear after their capture, wero Americans, who had been in the British service.