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but be increased, in finding that the communication, which I had the honour to make to you, has not even had the effect of suspending your efforts to vindicate the perseverance of your government in enforcing those orders.
I regret also to observe, that the light in which you. have viewed this document, and the remarks which you have made on the subject generally, seem to preclude any other view of the conditions on which those orders are to be revoked, than those that were furnished by your former communications. You still adhere to the pretension that the productions and manufactures of Great Britain, when neutralized, must be admitted into the ports of your enemies. This pretension, however vague the language heretofore held by your government, particularly by the marquis of Wellesley in his communications with Mr. Pinkney on the subject, was never understoood to have been embraced. Nothing, indeed, short of the specific declarations which you have made, would have induced a belief that such was the case. I have the honour to be, &c. &c. (Signed) JAS. MONROE.
Augustus J. Foster, Esquire, &c. &c. &c.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.
I did not reply at great length to the observations contained in your letter of the 1st instant, on the pretensions of Great Britain as relative to the French system, because you seemed to me to have argued as if but a part of the system continued, and even that part had ceased to be considered as a measure of war against Great Britain. For me to have allowed this, would have been at once to allow in the face of facts that the decrees of France were repealed, and that her unprecedented measures, avowedly pursued in defiance of the laws of nations, were become mere ordinary regulations of trade. I therefore thought fit to confine my answer to your remarks, to a general statement of the sum of the demands of Great Britain, which was, that France should, by effectually revoking her decrees, revert to the usual method of carrying on war as practised in civilized Europe.
The pretension of France to prohibit all commerce in articles of British origin, in every part of the continent, is one among the many violent innovations which are contained in the decrees, and which arc preceded by the declaration of their being founded on a determination of the ruler of France, as he himself avowed, to revert to the principles which characterized the barbarism of the dark ages, and to forget all ideas of justice and even the common feelings of humanity in the new method of carrying on war adopted by him.
It is not, however, a question with Great Britain of mere commercial interest, as you seem to suppose, which is involved in the attempt by Bonaparte to blockade her both by sea and fand, but one of feeling and of national honour, contending as we do against the principles which he professes in his new system of warfare. It is impossible for us to submit to the doctrine that he has a right to compel the whole continent to break off all intercourse with us, and to seize upon vessels belonging; to neutral nations, upon the sole plea of their having visited an English port, or of their being laden with articles of British or colonial produce, in whatsoever manner acquired.
This pretension, however, is but a part of that system, the whole of which, under our construction of the letter of M. Champagny, of August 5, 1810, corroborated by many subsequent declarations of the French government, and not invalidated by any unequivocal declaration of a contrary tenor, must be considered as still in full force.
In the communication which you lately transmitted to me, I am sony to repeat that I was unable to discover any facts which satisfactorily proved that the decrees had been actually repealed, and I have already repeatedly stated the reasons which too probably led to the restoration of a few of the American ships taken in pursuance of the Berlin and Milan decrees after November 1. Mr. Russel does not seem to deny that the decrees may still be kept in force, only he thinks they have assumed a municipal character; but in M. Champagny's declaration, ambiguous as it was, there is no such division of them into two different characters; for if the contigency required by the French minister took place, the Berlin and Milan decrees were to cease, according to his expression, without any qualification. If therefore a part of them remain, or be revived again, as seems to be allowed even here, why may not the whole be equally so? Where proof can be obtained of their existence we have it; namely, in the ports of France in which vessels have been avowedly seized under their operation since November \. Of their maritime existence we cannot so easily obtain evidence, because of the few French ships of war which venture to leave their harbours. Who can doubt, however, but that, had the ruler of France a navy at his command equal to the enforcing of his violent decrees, he would soon show that part of them to be no dead letter. The principle is not the less obnoxious because it is from necessity almost dormant for the moment, nor ought it therefore to be less an object to be strenuously resisted.
Allow me, sir, here to express my sincere regret that I have not as yet been able to convince you, by what I cannot but consider the strongest evidence, of the continued existence of the French decrees, and consequently of the unfriendly policy of your government in enforcing the non-importation against us and opening the trade with our enemies. His royal highness will, I am convinced, learn with unfeigned sorrow, that such continues to be still the determination of America, and whatever restrictions on the commerce enjoyed by America in his majesty's dominions may ensue on the part of Great Britain, as retaliatory on the refusal by your government to admit the productions of Great Britain while they open their harbours to those of his majesty's enemies, they will, I am persuaded, be adopted with sincere pain, and with pleasure relinquished whenever this country shall resume her neutral position and impartial attitude between the two belligerents. I have the honour to be, &c. &c. &c. v
(Signed) AUG. J. FOSTER.
The honourable James Monroe, &c.
CORRESPONDENCE Between Mr. Monroe and Mr. Foster, relative to the Floridas.
Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.
The attention of his majesty's government has of late been called to the measures pursued by the United States, for the military occupation of West Florida. The language held by the president, at the opening of the late session of congress, the hostile demonstrations made by the American forces under captain Gaines, the actual summoning of the fort of Mobile, and the bill submitted to the approbation of the American legislature, for the interior administration of the province, are so many direct and positive proofs that the government of America is prepared to subject the province of West Florida to the authority of the United States.
The Spanish minister in London addressed a note, in the month of March last, to his majesty's secretary of state for foreign affairs, expressing in sufficient detail the feelings of the government of Spain, respecting this unprovoked aggression on the integrity of that monarchy.
Mr. Morier in his note to Mr. Smith of December 15, 1810, has already reminded the American government of the intimate alliance subsisting between his majesty and Spain, and he has desired such explanations on the subject, as might convince his majesty of the pacific disposition of the United States towards Spain. Mr. Smith in his reply has stated, it was evident that no hostile or unfriendly purpose was entertained by America towards Spain; and that the American minister at his majesty's court, had been enabled to make whatever explanations might comport with the frank and conciliatory spirit which had been invariably manifested on the part of the United States.
Since the date of this correspondence Mr. Pinkney has offered no explanation whatever, of the motives which have actuated the conduct of the United States in this transaction; a bill has been introduced into congress for the establishment, government, and protection of the territory of the Mobile, and the fortress of that name has been summoned without effect.
His royal highness, the prince regent, in the name and on the behalf of his majesty, is still willing to hope, that the American government has not been urged to this step by ambitious motives, or by a desire of foreign conquest, and territorial aggrandizement. It would be satisfactory, however, to be enabled to ascertain that no consideration, connected with the present state of Spain, has induced America to despoil that monarchy of a valuable foreign colony.
The government of the United States contends that the right to the possession of a certain part of West Florida, will not be less open to discussion in the occupation of America, than under the government of Spain.
But the government of the United States, under this pretext, cannot expect to avoid the reproach, which must attend the ungenerous and unprovoked seizure of a foreign colony, while the parent state is engaged in a noble contest for independence, against a most unjustifiable and violent invasion of the rights both of the monarch and people of Spain.
While I wait, therefore, for an explanation from you, sir, as to the motives which led to this unjust aggression by the United States, on the territories of his majesty's ally, I must consider it as my duty to lose no time in fulfilling the orders of his royal highness, the prince regent, by which I am commanded, in the event of its appearing on my arrival in this city, that the United States still persevere by menaces and active demonstration to claim themilitary occupation of West Florida, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his majesty's charge d'affaires, and the manifest injustice of the act, to present to you the solemn protest of his royal highness, in the name and on the behalf of his majesty, against an attempt so contrary to every principle of public justice, faith, and national honor, and so injurious to the alliance subsisting between his majesty and the Spanish nation. I have the honour to be, &c. &c. &c. (Signed) AUG. J. FOSTER.
The honorable James Monroe, &c.
Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.
I have had the honour to receive the note which you have presented, by the order of his royal highness the prince regent, to protest, in behalf of the regency of Spain, against the possession lately taken, by the United States, of certain parts of West Florida.
Although the President cannot admit the right of Great Britain to interfere in any question relating to that province, he is willing to explain, in a friendly manner, the considerations which induced the United States to take the step, against which you have been ordered to protest.
It is to be inferred from your view of the subject, that the British government has been taught to believe, that the United States seized a moment of national embarrassment, to wrest from Spain a province to which they had no right, and that they were prompted to it by their interest alone, and a knowledge that Spain could not defend it. Nothing, however, is more remote from the facf, than the presumption on which your government appears to hare acted. Examples of so unworthy a conduct, are unfortunately too frequent in the history of nations; but the United States have not followed them. The President had persuaded himself that the unequivocal proofs which the United States have given, in all their transactions with foreign powers, and particularly with Spain, of an upright and liberal policy, would have shielded them from so unmerited a suspicion. He is satisfied that nothing is wanting but a correct knowledge of facts, completely to dissipate it.
I might bring to your view a long catalogue of injuries, which the United States have received from Spain, since the conclusion of their revolutionary war, any one of which would most probably have been considered cause of war, and resented as such, by other powers. I will mention two of these only; the spoliations that were committed on their commerce to a great amount in the last war, and the suppression of their deposit at New Orleans just before the commencement of the present war, in violation of a solemn treaty; for neither of which injuries has any reparation or atonement been made. For injuries like those of the first class, it is known to you that Great Britain and France made indemnity. The United States, however do not rely on these injuries for a justification of their conduct in this transaction; although their claims to reparation for them are by no means relinquished, and, it is to be presumed, will not always be neglected.
When I inform you that the province of West Florida, to the Perdido, was a part of Louisiana, while the whole province formerlybelonged to France; that although it was afterwards separated from. the other part, yet that both parts were again re-united, in the hands of Spain, and by her re-conveyed to France, in which state the entire province of Louisiana was ceded to the United States in 1803; that in accepting the cession, and paying for the territory ceded, the United States understood and believed, that they paid for the country as far as the Perdido, as part of Louisiana; and that, on a conviction of their right, they included in their laws provisions adapted to the cession in that extent; it cannot fail to be a cause of surprise to the prince regent, that they did not proceed to take possession of the territory in question as soon as the treaty was ratified. There was nothing in the circumstances of Spain, at that time, that could have forbidden the measure. In denying the right of the United States to this territory, her government invited negotiation on that and every other point, in contestation between the parties. The United States accepted the invitation, in the hope that it would secure an adjustment, and reparation for every injury which had been received, and lead to the restoration of perfect harmony between the two countries; but in that hope they were disappointed.
Since the year 1805, the period of the last negotiation with Spain,