Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

tween the two nations. Mr. Erskine had been instructed to submit three conditions as the groundwork of an arrangement between them; and if these conditions should be officially recognized by the American government, "his majesty would lose no time in sending a minister fully empowered to consign them to a formal and regular treaty;" and it appeared from Mr. Erskine's correspondence that the three conditions had been submitted, although the instructions in extenso had not been communicated. They had, however, been read at length by Mr. Canning to Mr. Pinkney in London, and they had been made the basis of the official correspondence between Mr. Erskine and the secretary of state; from which, the British minister contended, our government must or might have known the nature and extent of the instructions. And his persistence in maintaining this point, after an explicit declaration by the secretary, that our government had not such knowledge, and that with such knowledge the arrangement would not have been made, was regarded as a reflection

upon

the government; and Mr. Jackson was informed that no farther communication would be received from him. He immediately (November, 1809,) retired to New York, where he resided until, in pursuance of the request of the president, he was recalled. No successor to Mr. Jackson was appointed until early in the year 1811.

In retaliation of the non-intercourse act, the Rambouillet decree was issued by Napoleon on the 23d of March, 1810. This decree, more sweeping in its operation on American property than any that had preceded it, extended back to the 20th of May, 1809. Every American vessel and cargo, which had since that time entered, or should thereafter enter into any ports of France or her colonies or of any country occupied by the French, was liable to be seized and sold. The aggressions of France were thus noticed by Mr. Monroe in an official dispatch : “ The influence of France has been exerted to the injury of the United States, in all the countries to which her power has extended. In Spain, Holland, and Naples, it has been most sensibly felt. In each of these countries the vessels and cargoes of American merchants have been seized and confiscated, under various decrees, founded in different pretexts, none of which had even the semblance of right to support them." The non-intercourse law having expired, congress, on the 1st of May

, 1810, passed a new act, of a similar nature, which provided that, if either Great Britain or France should, before the 3d day of March, 1811, so revoke or modify her edicts as that they should ccase to violate our neutral commerce, and if the other nation should not, within three months thereafter, do the same, then the act interdicting commercial intercouse, should be revived against the nation refusing to revoke.

On the 5th of August, 1810, the French minister of foreign affairs, the duke of Cadore, informed our minister at Paris, Gen. Armstrong, that “the Berlin and Milan decrees were revoked, and would cease to have effect after the 1st of November following;” stating, as the reason for the revocation, that " the congress of the United States had retraced its steps, and had engaged to oppose the belligerent (Great Britain) which refused to acknowledge the rights of neutrals.” He stated also, as conditions of the repeal of the decrees," that the English shall revoke their orders in council, and renounce the new principles of blockade which they have wished to establish ; or that the United States shall cause their rights to be respected by the English."

Regarding this note of the French minister as sufficient evidence of the repeal of the decrees, the president, on the 2d of November, issued a proclamation declaring the restrictions imposed by the act of the 1st of May to be removed as respected France and her dependencies. And on the 2d of March, 1811, congress passed an act, declaring these restrictions to be in force against Great Britain. It had been expected that the British government would revoke its orders in case the decrees should be repealed. This, however, it refused to do. This refusal was the occasion of a long controversy between the two governments, commenced at London and continued and concluded at Washington. The prominent features of the controversy, as presented by the correspondence between lord Wellesley and Mr. Pinkney, will appear from the following paragraphs :

The British government did not consider the notification of the repeal of the French decrees to be such as to justify the repealing of the orders in council. The repeal of the decrees was not absolute, but conditional -to take effect the 1st of November, provided Great Britain, before that time, should revoke her orders, and renounce the principles of blockade which France alleged to be new.

The American government, it was intimated, had united with France in requiring of Great Britain a renunciation of these new principles. To what principles allusion is here made, appears from the Berlin decree, which states that Great Britain “extends the right of blockade to commercial unfortified towns, and to porta, harbors, and mouths of rivers, which, according to the principles and practice of all civilized nations, is only applicable to fortified places." Great Britain, on the contrary, asserted that the principles of blockade condemned by France were ancient, and established by the laws of maritime war acknowledged by all civilized nations. Notwithstanding, if France had conditioned the repeal of her decrees on the revocation of the British orders alone, that condition would have been fulfilled.

The American government disclaimed having demanded the renunciation of the principles of blockade condemned by France. It had simply

urged, that ports not actually blockaded by a present, adequate, stationary force, should not be shut against neutral trade in articles not contraband of war.

The blockade of 1806 had not been thus maintained ; and its annulment was therefore indispensable to the renewal of intercourse. It was also insisted by the American minister, that the French decrees were repealed, and no longer in operation; and that, as the foundation of the orders in council was gone, they ought to be repealed.

This subject was afterwards discussed at Washington by Mr. Foster and Monroe. The correspondence was opened by Mr. Foster on the 3d of July, 1811, of whose letter the following is an abstract:

The decree of Berlin was an act of war, by which France prohibited all nations from trade or intercourse with Great Britain, under peril of confiscation of their ships and merchandise, although she had not the means of imposing an actual blockade. The professed object of the decree was the destruction of all British commerce, through means entirely upsanctioned by the law of nations. Great Britain would have been justified in retaliating upon the enemy by a similar interdiction of all commerce with France, and with such other countries as might coöperate with her in her system of commercial hostility against Great Britain. The latter, however, instead of prohibiting the trade of neutrals with France, had prohibited such trade only as should not carried on through Great Britain. This injury to neutral commerce had been foreseen and regretted; but it arose from the aggression of France, which had compelled Great Britain to retaliate in her own defense. The object of the orders in council was merely to counteract an attempt to crush British trade. Having rested the justification of her orders upon the existence of the decrees of Berlin and Milan, she had always declared her readiness to repeal those orders, whenever France should have repealed her decrees, and restored neutral commerce to the condition in which it stood before the promulgation of those decrees. France had asserted that the decree of Berlin was a measure of just retaliation for the previous aggression of Great Britain by her system of blockade, which France declared to be a violation of the law of nations, because it had been applied to unfortified towns and commercial ports, to harbors, and mouths of rivers; whereas the rights of blockade, she maintained, were limited to fortresses really invested by a sufficient force. She had also asserted that Great Britain had declared places in a state of blockade which the whole British force would be insufficient to blockade. Great Britain denied that the law of nations sanctioned the rule laid down by France, that no places but fortresses could be lawfully blockaded by sea.

It was admitted by Great Britain, that no blockade was justifiable or valid unless supported by an adequate force destined to maintain it, and to expose to hazard all vessels attempting to evade its operation. The blockade of May, 1806, had not been notified by Mr. Fox, until he had satisfied himself that the board of admiralty had the means and would employ them, of watching the whole coast from Brest to the Elbe, and of enforcing the blockade. And it had been supported, both in intention and fact, until the time when the orders in council were issued. France had declared a blockade of all the ports and coasts of Great Britain and her dependencies, without assigning, or being able to assign any force to support it. America appeared to concur with France in asserting that Great Britain had been the original aggressor on neutral rights, and that the aggression consisted in the blockade of 1806; the objection to which rested on the supposition that it had not been duly maintained. But it appeared from the facts of the case, that neither ander the objections urged by France, nor under those stated by the American government, could that blockade be deemed contrary to the law of nations. The orders in council were therefore founded on a just principle of defensive retaliation against the violation of the law of nations by France in the Berlin decree; and the blockade of May, 1806, was now included in the more extensive operation of the orders in council. The orders in council would not be continued after the effectual repeal of the decrees; nor would the blockade of 1806 continue after the repeal of the orders in council, unless sustained by a sufficient naval force.

The British minister insisted that the decrees had never been repealed. The French minister's note to Mr. Armstrong, dated the 5th of August, 1810, was called a "deceitful declaration.” Its language was ambiguous. It had, however, been recently explained by the emperor himself, in a speech to certain deputies from Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck, in which he declared that "the Berlin and Milan decrees should be the public code of France, as long as England maintained her orders in council of 1806 and 1807.” Certain official documents were also referred to as evidence that the decrees were yet in force. It had been said that the only two American ships taken under the Berlin and Milan decrees since the 1st of November, had been restored. They might have been restored for some other reason than that assigned; for, having been captured in plain contravention of the supposed revocation, why were they not restored immediately, instead of being detained in French ports, and subjected to so much difficulty in obtaining a release? The fears of the French navy, however, had prevented many cases of the kind on the ocean under the decrees of Berlin and Milan; but the most obnoxious and destructive parts of those decrees were exercised with full violence, not only in the ports of France, but in those of all other countries to which France thought she could commit injustice with impunity.

To the letters of Mr. Foster, Mr. Monroe replied on the 23d of July.

The United States, he said, were little disposed to enter into the question concerning the priority of aggression by the two belligerents, as the aggression of neither could be justified by the prior aggression of the other. But as this had been made a plea in support of the orders in council, it might be remarked, that the blockade had not been maintained with the requisite strictness until it was comprised in and superseded by the orders of November of the following year, nor evcn until the French decrec of the same year. But the orders in council went even beyond the plea, in extending their operation against the trade of the United States with nations which had not adopted the French decrces. The modification of the orders permitting neutrals to trade with the continent through Great Britain, was not viewed in a favorable light. The political pretension set up by it was incompatible with the sovereignty and independence of other states; and as a commercial regulation, it was destructive to neutral commerce. As an enemy, Great Britain could not trade with France; nor did France permit a neutral to come into her ports from Great Britain. Forcing our trade through Great Britain, had therefore the effect of depriving us of the market of her enemy for our productions, and of compelling their sale in Great Britain, where, by a surcharge of the market, their value was nearly destroyed.

The United States had observed the impartiality due to both parties as belligerents. They had borne, with equal indulgence, injuries from both. The offers presented to them by the late acts of our government, were made equally to both. The embargo and non-intercourse acts were peaceful measures. So also was the non-importation act; and the distinction which it now made between the belligerents, resulted from the compliance of one with the offer made to both, and which was still open to the compliance of the other. It had been stated that Great Britain would proceed pari passu with France in the revocation of her edicts. Our government maintained that France had revoked her decrces. Of this, the announcement of Champagny, the duke of Cadore, to Mr. Armstrong, was sufficient evidence. Two American vessels had been detained in French ports; but they had not been condemned. Both these ressels proceeded from a British port, and had on board some articles which were prohibited by the laws of France, or were such as could be admitted by the government alone. This appeared to be the only cause of the detention. If the detention of the vessels was owing to their passing from a British to a French port, or to the nature of their cargoes, it afforded no cause of complaint to Great Britain. The right of complaint belonged to the United States, whose neutral rights had been violated.

In the speech of the emperor to the deputies of the free cities of Ham

« PředchozíPokračovat »