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I proceed to notice another part of your letter of the 3d instant, which is reviewed in a more favourable light. The president has received with great satisfaction, the communication, that should the orders in council of 1807, be revoked, the blockade of May, of the preceding year, would cease with them, and that any blockade which should be afterwards instituted, should be duly notified and maintained by an adequate force. This frank and explicit declaration, worthy of the prompt and amicable measure adopted by the prince regent in coming into power, seems to remove a material obstacle to an accommodation of differences between our countries, and when followed by the revocation of the orders in council, will, as I am authorized to inform you, produce an immediate termination of the non-importation law, by an exercise of the power vested in the president for that purpose.
I conclude with remarking, that if 1 have confined this letter to the subjects brought into view by yours, it is not because the U. States have lost sight, in any degree, of the other very serious causes of complaint, on which they have received no satisfaction, but because the conciliatory policy of this government has thus far separated the case of the orders in council from others, and because, with respect to these others, your communication has not afforded any reasonable prospect of resuming them, at this time, with success. It is presumed that the same liberal view of the true interests of Great Britain, and friendly disposition towards the United States, which induced the prince regent to remove so material a difficulty as had arisen in relation to a repeal of the orders in council, will lead to a more favourable further consideration of the remaining difficulties on that subject, and that the advantages of an amicable adjustment of every question depending between the two countries, will be seen by your government in the same light as they are by that of the United States. I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed) JAS. MONROE.
Augustus J. Foster, Esquire, 8cc.
Mr. boater to Mr. Monroe.
Having been unable to ascertain distinctly from your letter to me of yesterday's date whether it was the determination of the president to rest satisfied with the partial repeal of the Berlin and Milian decrees, which you believe has taken place, so as to see no reason in the conduct of France- for altering the relations between this country and Great Britain, by exercising his power of suspending the operation of the non-importation act; allow me to repeat my question to you on this point, as contained in my letter of the 14th instant, before I proceed to make any comments on your answer. I have the honour to be, with distinguished consideration, sir, your most obedient humbvle servant,
(Signed) AUG. J. FOSTER.
The honourable James Monroe, S ecretary of State.
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.
I had the honour to receive your letter of yesterday's date, in time to submit it to the view of the president before he left town.
It was my object to state to you in my letter of the 23d instant, that under existing circumstances, it was impossible for the president to terminate the operation of the non-importation law of the 2d March last: that France having accepted the proposition made by a previous law equally to Great Britain and to France, and having revoked her decrees, violating our neutral rights, and Great Britain having declined to revoke hers, it became the duty of this government to fulfil its engagement, and to declare the non-importation law in force against Great Britain.
This state of affairs has not been sought by the United States. When the proposition contained in the law of May 1st, 1810, was offered equally to both powers, there was cause to presume that Great Britain would have accepted it, in which event the non-importation law would not have operated against her.
It is in the power of the British government, at this time, to enable the president to set the non-importation law aside, by rendering to the United States an act of justice. If Great Britain will cease to violate their neutral rights by revoking her orders in council, on which event alone the president has the power, I am instructed to inform you that he will, without delay, exercise it by terminating the operation of this law.
It is presumed that the communications which I have had the honour to make to you, of the revocation by France of her decrees, so far as they violated the neutral rights of the United States, and of her conduct since the revocation, will present to your government a different view of the subject from that which it had before taken, and produce in its councils a corresponding effect. I have the honour to be, Sec.
(Signed) JAS. MONROE.
Aug. J. Foster, Esq. Sec.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.
I have had the honour to receive your letter of July 23d, in answer to mine of the 3d and 14th instant, which, give me leave to say, were not merely relative to his majesty's orders in council, and the blockade of May, 1806, but also to the president's proclamation of last November, and to the subsequent act of congress of March 2d, as well as to the just complaints which his royal highness, the prince regent, had commanded me to make to your government with respect to the proclamation and to that act.
If the United States' government had expected that I should have made communications which would have enabled them to come to an accommodation with Great Britain, on the ground on which
Vol. III. App. t D
alone you say it was possible to meet us, and that you mean by that expression a departure from our system of defence against the new kind of warfare still practised by France; I am at a loss to discover from what source they could have derived those expectations, certainly not from the correspondence between the marquis Wellesly and Mr. Pinkney.
Before I proceed to reply to the arguments which are brought forward by you, to show that the decrees of Berlin and Milan are cepealed, I must first enter into an explanation upon some points on which you have evidently misapprehended, for I will not suppose you could have wished to misinterpret my meaning.
And first, in regard to the blockade of May, 1806, I must aver that I am wholly at a loss to find out from what part of my letter it is that the president has drawn the unqualified inference, that should the orders in council of 1807, be revoked, the blockade of May, 1806, would cease with them. It is most material that on this point no mistake should exist between us. From your letter it would appear as if, on the question of blockade which America had so unexpectedly connected with her demand for a repeal of our orders in council, Great Britain had made the concession required of her; as if, after all that has passed on the subject, after the astonishment and regret of his majesty's government at the United States having taken up the view which the French government presented, of our just and legitimate principles of blockade which are exemplified in the blockade of May, 1806, the whole ground taken by his majesty's government was at once abandoned. When I had the honour to exhibit to you my instructions, and to draw up, as I conceived according to your wishes, and those of the president, a statement of the mode in which that blockade would probably disappear, I never meant to authorize such a conclusion, and I now beg most unequivocally to disclaim it. The blockade of May, 1806, will not continue after the repeal of the orders in council, unless his majesty's government shall think fit to sustain it by the special application of a sufficient naval force, and the fact of its being so continued or not, will be notified at the time. If in this view of the matter, which is certainly presented in a conciliatory spirit, one of the obstacles to a complete understanding between our countries can be removed by the United States' government waiving all further reference to that blockade, when they can be justified in asking a repeal of the orders, and I may communicate this to my government, it will, undoubtedly, be very satisfactory: but I beg distinctly to disavow having made any acknowledgment that the blockade would cease merely in consequence of a revocation of the orders in council. Whenever it does cease, it will cease because there will be no adequate force applied to maintain it.
On another very material point, sir, you appear to have misconstrued my words; for in no one passage of my letter can I discover any mention of innovations on the part of Great Britain, such as you say excited a painful surprise in your government. There is no new pretension set up by his majesty's government. In answer to questions of yours as to what were the decrees or regulations of France which Great Britain complained of, and against which she directs her retaliatory measures, I brought distinctly into your view the Berlin and Milan decrees; and you have not denied, because indeed you could not, that the provisions of those decrees were new measures of war on the part of France, acknowledged as such by her ruler, and contrary to the principles and usages of civilized nations. That the present war has been oppressive beyond example by its duration, and the desolation it spreads through Europe, I willingly agree with you, but the United States cannot surely mean to attribute the cause to Great Britain. The question between Great Britain and France is that of an honorable struggle against the lawless efforts of an ambitious tyrant, and America can but have the wish of every independent nation as to its result.
On a third point, sir, I have also to regret that my meaning should have been mistaken. Great Britain never contended that British merchant vessels should be allowed to trade with her enemies, or that British property should be allowed entry into their ports, as you would infer; such a pretension would indeed be preposterous; but Great Britain does contend against the system of terror put in practice by France, by which usurping authority, wherever her arms or the timidity of nations will enable her to extend her influence, she makes it a crime to neutral countries as well as individuals that they should possess articles, however acquired, which may have been once the produce of English industry or of the British soil. Against such an abominable and extravagant pretension, every feeling must revolt; and the honour, no less than the interest, of Great Britain engages her to oppose it.
Turning to the course of argument contained in your letter, allow me to express my surprise at the conclusion you drawin considering the question of priority, relative to the French decrees or British orders in council. It was clearly proved that the blockade of May, 1806, was maintained by an adequate naval force, and therefore was a blockade founded on just and legitimate principles; and I have not heard that it was considered in a contrary light, when notified as such to you by Mr. Secretary Fox, nor until it suited the views of France to endeavour to have it considered otherwise. Why America took up the view the French government chose to give of it, and could see in it grounds for the French decrees, was always matter of astonishment in England.
Your remarks on the modifications at various times, of our system of retaliation, will require the less reply, from the circumstance of the order in council of April 1809, having superseded them all. They were calculated for the avowed purpose of softening the effect of the original orders on neutral commerce, the incidental effect of those orders on neutrals having been always sincerely regretted by his majesty's government; but when it was found that neutrals objected to them, they were removed.
As to the principle of retaliation, it is founded on the just and natural right of self defence against our enemy: if France is unable to enforce her decrees on the ocean it is not from the want of will, for she enforces them wherever she can do it; her threats are only empty where her power is of no avail.
In the view you have taken of the conduct of America, in her relations with the two belligerents, and in the conclusion you draw with respect to the impartiality of your country, as exemplified in the non-importation law, I lament to say I cannot agree with you. That act is a direct measure against the British trade, enacted at a time when all the legal authorities in the United States appeared ready to contest the statement of a repeal of the French decrees, on which was founded the president's proclamation of November 2d, and consequently to dispute the justice of the proclamation itself.
You urge, sir, that the British government promised to proceed pari passu with France in the repeal of her edicts. It is to be wished you could point out to us any step France has taken in the repeal of hers. Great Britain has repeatedly declared that she would repeal when the French did so, and she means to keep to that declaration.
I have stated to you that we could not consider the letter of August 5, declaring the repeal of the French edicts, provided we revoked our orders in council, or America resented our not doing so, as a step of that nature; and the French government knew that we could not; their object was, evidently, while their system was adhered to in all its rigor, to endeavour to persuade the American government that they had relaxed from it, and to induce her to proceed in enforcing the submissiom of Great Britain to the inordinate demands of France. It is to be lamented that they have but too well succeeded; for the United States' government appear to have considered the French declaration in the sense in which France wished it to be taken, as an absolute repeal of her decrees, without adverting to the conditional terms which accompained it.
But you assert that no violations of your neutral rights by France occur on the high seas, and that these were all the violations alluded to in the act of Congress of May 1810. I readily believe, indeed, that such cases are rare, but it is owing to the preponderance of the British navy that they are so. When scarce a ship under the French flag can venture to sea without being taken, it is not extraordinary that they make no captures. If such violations alone were within the purview of your law, there would seem to have been no necessity for its enactment. The British navy might have been safely trusted for the prevention of their occurrence. But I have always believed, and my government has believed, that the American legislators had in view in the provisions of their law, as it respects France, not only her deeds of violence on the seas, but all