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This outrage produced great excitement throughout the United States, and was universally condemned. It is an established principle, that a national vessel shall be considered as part of the territory of the nation, and equally inviolable; wherefore the orders of Berkeley could under no circumstances have been justifiable.
On the 2d of July, president Jefferson issued a proclamation requiring all British armed vessels then within the harbors or waters of the United States, to depart without delay, and interdicting the entrance of such vessels.
A statement of the affair having been made by Mr. Monroe to Mr. Canning, the latter declared, that, if the facts should prove to be as stated, the act would be disowned by his government. Regarding the proclamation as itself an act of retaliation, and as taking the reparation into the hands of the American government, he inquired whether this government would withdraw the proclamation on the knowledge of his majesty's disavowal of the act which had occasioned its publication. Mr. Monroe having remarked, in his note to Mr. Canning, that it would be“ improper to mingle with this more serious cause of complaint, other examples of indignity and outrage to which the United States have been exposed from the British squadron.” Mr. Canning also expressed the wish of his government to adjust the case of the Leopard independently of the question of impressment with which it had been unnecessarily connected. And he said it was the intention of that government, if Mr. Monroe was not authorized to treat of it separately, to lose no time in sending a minister to America fully empowered to bring this unfortunate dispute to a conclusion. Mr. Rose was afterward sent to this country for that purpose.
Mr. Rose, on the 26th of January, 1808, stated to Mr. Madison, that he was instructed not to enter upon any negotiation for the adjustment of the Chesapeake affair, while the proclamation continued in force; and in relation to his not having been commanded to enter into the discussion of the other causes of complaint, he said, “it was because it had been deemed improper to mingle them with the present matter; an opinion originally and distinctly expressed by Mr. Monroe, and assented to by Mr. Canning."
Mr. Madison, in his reply, on the 5th of March, remarked : “ It has been sufficiently shown that the proclamation, as appears on the face of it, was produced by a train of occurrences terminating in the attack on the American frigate, and not by this last alone. To a demand, there fore, that the proclamation be revoked, it would be perfectly fair to oppose a demand, that redress be first given for the numerous irregularities which preceded the aggression on the American frigate, as well as for
this particular aggression.” And he argued, that even if the proclama-
Mr. Rose, having no authority to enter upon a negotiation on the con-
It was soon after the outrage upon the Chesapeake, that the United
message at the commencement of the session of 1806 and 1807,
employ cruisers to seize and bring into port any vessel violating this act; such vessel to be forfeited, and her commander to be liable to fine not exceeding $10,000, and imprisoned not more than four por less than two years. Coasting vessels of not less than forty tons burthen were permitted to transport slaves, under certain regulations, from state to state; and vessels of less burthen than forty tons might, without being subject to the same penalties, transport slaves on rivers and inland bays
of the sea.
As usual on questions relating to slavery, there was a warm debate on this occasion. To the prohibition of the importation of slaves, there was no opposition. But certain details of the measure were the subjects of much controversy. It was proposed that the persons unlawfully brought into the country should be forfeited to the United States, and sold for life, for the public benefit. Another proposition was to make them free. And another to apprentice them for a term of years. A majority were unwilling that the general government should be subjected to reproach by the sale of human beings, and also that they should all be made free, as some states had forbidden emancipation : it was therefore finally agreed, that the several states should provide for the disposal of them
THE COMMERCIAL WARFARE BETWEEN GREAT BRITAIN, FRANCE, AND THE
BRITISH ORDERS IN COUNCIL; FRENCH BERLIN AND MILAN DECREES; THE EMBARGO, &C.; DIPLOMATIC DISCUSSIONS.
The war of 1812 may be traced to remote causes-to those of a date anterior even to that of the earliest transactions with which we commence the following sketch.
In August, 1804, Great Britain declared the French ports, from Ostend to the Seine, in a state of blockade. On the 16th of May, 1806, the British secretary of state, Mr. Fox, notified our minister at London, Mr. Monroe, that measures had been directed to be taken for the blockade of all the coasts, rivers, and ports, from the river Elbe to the river Brest, both inclusive. This order, however, did not apply to neutral vessels laden with goods not the property of his majesty's enemies, and not contraband of war, provided they had not been laden at an enemy's port, nor were bound to an enemy's port. Such vessels were "pot pre
vented from approaching the said coasts, rivers, and ports, except those
The next day, May 17, Mr. Monroe communicated to Mr. Madison,
upon the trade of the United States, as follows: “The note is couched in terms of restraint, and professes to extend the blockade further than was heretofore done; nevertheless it takes it from many ports alrcady blockaded, indeed from all cast of Ostend and west of the Seine, except in articles contraband of war and enemies' property, which are seizable without blockade. And in like form of exception, considering every enemy as one power, it admits the trade of neutrals, within the same limit, to be free, in the productions of enemies' colonies, in every but the direct route between the colony and the parent country.
It can not be doubted that the note was drawn by the government in reference to the question; and if intended by the cabinet as a foundation or which Mr. Fox is authorized to form a treaty, and obtained by him for the purpose, it must be viewed in a very favorable light. It seems clearly to put an end to further seizures, on the principle which has been heretofore in contestation.” And on the 20th of May, Mr. Monroe wrote again : "From what I could collect, I have been strengthened in the opinion which I communicated to you in my last, that Mr. Fox's note of the 16th was drawn with a view to a principal question with the United States, I mean that of the trade with enemies' colonies. It embraces, it is true, other objects, particularly the commerce with Russia, and the north generally, whose ports it opens to neatral
powers, under whose flag British manufactures will find a market there. In this particular, especially, the measure promises to be highly satisfactory to the commercial interest, and it may be the primary object of the government."
This order was followed, on the part of Napoleon, by the Berlin decree; so called from its having been issued from the city of Berlin, the capital of Prussia, into which city he entered on his successful march through that kingdom. This decree, dated the 21st of November, 1806, declared the British islands in a state of blockade; and “all commerce and correspondence with them was prohibited.” “All property whatsoever, belonging to a subject of England, and all merchandise belonging to England, or coming from its manufactories, or colonies, was declared lawful prize.” Napoleon had been successful with his armies, having conquered a large portion of Europe; but his power on the seas had been much broken by the superior force of the British navy. Hence the
adoption of his continental system, as it was called, by which he intended to stop all trade between Great Britain and the continent. In the face of existing treaties between France and the United States, our minister at Paris was informed that the decree was applicable to American commerce.
This act of the French government was succeeded by the British orders in council, of January 7, 1807, which were superseded by, or merged in, other orders issued the 11th of November following. By these orders, all ports and places belonging to France and her allies, from which the British flag was excluded, and all the colonies of his Britanic majesty's enemies, were declared to be in a state of blockade. All trade in the produce or manufactures of these countries or colonies was prohibited ; and all vessels trading to or from them, and all merchandise on board, were made subject to capture and condemnation ; with an exception only in favor of the direct trade between neutral countries and the colonies of his majesty's enemies.
This measure, so detrimental to neutral commerce, was followed, on the 17th of December, 1807, by another still more sweeping on the part of France, called the Milan decree, by which the British islands were declared in a state of blockade, by sea and land; and cvery ship, of whatever nation, or whatever the nature of its cargo, that should sail from the ports of England or her colonies, or of countries occupied by English troops, and proceeding to England or to her colonies, or to countries occupied by the English, to be good prize. And every ship, of whatever nation, which had submitted to search by an English ship, or had made a voyage to England, or paid any tax to that government, was declared denationalized, and lawful prize.
These measures were most disastrous to American commerce, and wholly unauthorized by the law of nations. To be lawful, a blockade must be maintained by a force stationed at an enemy's ports, sufficient to make it dangerous for vessels to enter. That so extensive a blockade was or could be maintained by an adequate force was not even pretended by either party. It is true, the government of Great Britain asserted that the limited blockade of 1806 had been duly supported; but the pretension has never been generally conceded. Yet, under these orders and decrees, or mere "paper blockades," as they were called, an immense number of American vessels, with their cargoes, were captured by the privateers and cruisers of the two belligerents, and condemned as prize.
On the 22d of December, 1807, and before intelligence of the Milan decree had been received, congress, in pursuance of a recommendation of the president, passed the famous embargo law, by which all vessels with