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The despatches by the Essex were delivered to me by lieutenant Rodgers on Sunday. 1 have the honpur, &c. &c.
(Signed) - Wm. PINKNEY.
The honorable R. Smith, &c.
Lord Wcllesley to Mr. Pinkney.*
In acknowledging the receipt of your letter of the 10th instant, I must express my regret that you should have thought it necessary to introduce into that letter any topics, which might tend to interrupt the conciliatory spirit, in which it is the sincere disposition of his majesty's government to conduct every negotiation with the government of the United States.
From an anxious desire to avoid all discussions of that tendency, I shall proceed without any further observation to communicate to you the view which his majesty's government has taken of the principal question which formed the object of my inquiry, during our conference of the 5th instant. The letter of the French minister for foreign affairs to the American minister at Paris, of the 9th August, 1810, did not appear to his majesty's government, to contain such a notification of the repeal of the French decrees of Berlin and Milan, as could justify his majesty's government in repealing the British orders in council. That letter states " that the decrees of Berlin and Milan are revoked, and that from the 1st of November, 1810, they will cease to be in force, it being understood that in consequence of this declaration, the English shall revoke their orders in council and renounce the new principles of blockade which they have attempted to establish." The purport of this declaration appeared to be that the repeal of the decrees of Berlin and Milan would take effect from the 1st of November, provided that Great Britain antecedently to that day, and in consequence of this declaration, should revoke the orders in council, and should renounce those principles of blockade, which the French govern, ment alleged to be new. A separate condition relating to America, seemed also to be contained in this declaration, by which America might understand, that the decrees of Berlin and Milan would be actually repealed on the 1st of November, 1810, provided that America should resent any refusal of the British government to renounce the new principles of blockade, and to revoke the orders in council.
By your explanation it appears, that the American government understands the letter of the French minister as announcing an absolute repeal, on the 1st of November, 1810, of the French decrees of Berlin and Milan; which repeal, however, is not to continue in force unless the British government, within a reasonable time after the 1st of November, 1810, shall fulfil the two conditions stated distinctly in the letter of the French minister. Under this explanation, if nothing more had been required from Great Britain, for
* This letter was not received till January 3d, 1811, at nighf
the purpose of securing the continuance of the repeal of the French decrees, than the repeal of our orders in council, I should not have hesitated to declare the perfect readiness of this government to fulfil that condition. On these terms, the British government has always been sincerely disposed to repeal the orders in council. It appears, however, not only by the letter of the French minister, but by your explanation, that the repeal of the orders in council will not satisfy either the French or the American government. The British government is further required, by the letter of the French minister, to renounce those princples of blockade which the French government alleges to be new. A reference to the terms of the Berlin decree will serve to explain the extent of this requisition. The Berlin decree states, that Great Britain "extends the right of blockade to commercial unfortified towns, and to ports, harbors, and mouths of rivers, which, according to the principles and practice of all civilized nations, is only applicable to fortified places." On the part of the American government, I understand you to require that Great Britain should revoke her order of blockade of May, 1806. Combining your requisition with that of the French minister, I must conclude, that America demands the revocation of that order of blockade as a practical instance of our renunciation of those principles of blockade which are condemned by the French government. Those principles of blockade Great Britain has asserted to be ancient and established by the laws of maritime war, acknowledged by all civilized nations, and on which depend the most valuable rights and interests of this nation. If the Berlin and Milan decrees are to be considered as still in force, unless Great Britain shall renounce these established foundations of her maritime, rights and interests, the period of time is not yet arrived, when the repeal of her orders in council can be claimed from her, either with reference to the promise of this government, or to the safety and honour of the nation. I trust that the justice of the American government will not consider, that France, by the repeal of her obnoxious decrees under such a condition, has placed the question in that state which can warrant America in enforcing the non-intercourse act against Great Britain and not against France. In reviewing the actual state of this question, America cannot fail to observe the situation in which the commerce of neutral nations has been placed by many recent acts of the French government; nor can America reasonably expect that the system of violence and injustice, now pursued by France with unremitted activity (while it serves to illustrate the true spirit of her intentions) should not require some precautions of defence on the part of G. Britain.
Having thus stated my view of the several considerations, arising from the letter of the French minister, and from that with which you have honoured me; it remains only to express my solicitude that you should correct any interpretation of either which you may deem erroneous. If either by the terms of the original decree to which the French minister's letter refers, or by any other authentic document, you can prove that the decrees of Berlin and Milan are absolutely repealed, and that no further condition is required of Great Britain than the repeal of her orders in council, I shall receive any such information with most sincere satisfaction; desiring you to understand, that the British government retains an anxious solicitude to revoke the orders in council, as soon as the Berlin and Milan decrees shall be effectually repealed without conditions injurious to the maritime rights and honour of the united kingdom. I have the honour to be, with great respect and consideration, sir, your most obedient, and humble servant. ,
(Signed) WELLESLEY. William Pinkney, Esquire, &c.
Mr. Pinkney to Lord Welletley.
I have received the letter which you did me the honour to address to me on the 29th of last month, and will not fail to transmit a copy of it to my government. In the mean time I take the liberty to trouble you with the following reply, which a severe indisposition has prevented me from preparing sooner.
The first paragraph seems to make it proper for me to begin by saying, that the topics introduced into my letter of the 10th of December, were intimately connected with its principal subject, and fairly used to. illustrate and explain it; and consequently that if they had not the good fortune to be acceptable to your lordship, the fault was not mine.
It was scarcely possible to speak with move moderation than my paper exhibits, of that portion of a long list of invasions of the rights of the United States, which it necessarily reviewed, and ot the apparent reluctance of the British government to forbear those invasions in future. I do not know that I could more carefully have abstained from whatever might tend to disturb the spirit which your lordship ascribes to his majesty's government, if, instead of being utterly barren and unproductive, it had occasionally been visible in some practical result, in some concession either to friendship or to justice. It would not have been very surprising, nor very culpable perhaps, if I had wholly forgotten to address myself to a spirit of conciliation, which had met the most equitable claims with steady and unceasing repulsion; which had yielded nothing that could be denied; and had answered complaints of injury by multiplying their causes. With this forgetfulness, however, I ara not chargeable; for, against all the discouragements suggested by the past, I have acted still upon a presumption that the disposition to conciliate, so often professed, would finally be proved by some better evidence than a perseverance in oppressive novelties, as obviously incompatible with such a disposition in those who enforce them, as in those whose patience they continue to exercise.
Upon the commencement of the second paragraph, I must observe, that the forbearance which it announces might have afforded some gratification, if it had been followed by such admissions as my government is entitled to expect, instead of further manifestation of that disregard of its demands, by which it has go long been wearied. It has never been my practice to seek discussions, of which the tendency is merely to irritate; but I beg your lordship to be assured, that I feel no desire to avoid them, whatever may be their tendency, when the rights of my country require to be vindicated against pretensions that deny, and conduct that infringes them.
If I comprehend the other parts of your lordship's letter, they declare in effect, that the British government will repeal nothing but the orders in council, and that it cannot at present repeal even them, because in the first place, the French government has required, in the letter of the duke of Cadore to general Armstrong, of the 5th of August, not only that Great Britain shall revoke those orders, but that she shall renounce certain principles of blockade (supposed to be explained in the preamble to the Berlin decree) which France alleges to be new; and, in the second place because the American government has (as you conclude) demanded the revocation of the British order of blockade of May, 1806, as a practical instance of that same renunciation, or, in other words, has made itself a party, not openly indeed, but indirectly and covertly, to the entire requisition of France, as you understand that requisition.
It is certainly true that the American government has required, as indispensable in the view of its acts of intercourse and non-intercourse, the annulment of the British blockade of May, 1806; and further, that it has through me declared its confident expectation that other blockades of a similar character (including that of the island of Zealand) will be discontinued. But by what process of reasoning your lordship has arrived at the conclusion, that the government of the United States intended by this requisition to become the champion of the edict of Berlin, to fashion its principles by those of France while it affected to adhere to its own, and to act upon some partnership in doctrines, which it would fain induce you to acknowledge, but could not prevail upon itself to avow, I am not able to conjecture. The frank and honourable character of the American government justifies me in saying that, if it had meant to demand of Great Britain an abjuration of all such principles as the French government may think fit to disapprove, it would not have put your lordship to the trouble of discovering that meaning by the aid of combinations and inferences discountenanced by the language of its minister, but would have told you so in explicit terms. What I have to request of your lordship, therefore, is that you will take our views and principles from our own mouths, and that neither the Berlin decree, nor any other act of any foreign state, may be made to speak for us what we have not spoken for ourselves.
The principles of blockade which the American government professes, and upon the foundation of which it has repeatedly protested against the order of May, 1806, and the other kindred innovations of those extraordinary times, have alreadv been so clearly
Vol. HI. App. t H
explained to your lordship, in my letter of the 21 st of September, that it is hardly possible to read that letter and misunderstand them. Recommended by the plainest considerations of universal equity, you will find them supported with a strength of argument and a weight of authority, of which they scarcely stand in need, in the papers which will accompany this letter, or were transmitted in that of September. I will not recapitulate what I cannot improve; but I must avail myself of this opportunity to call your lordship's attention a second time, in a particular manner, to one of the papers to which my letter of September refers. 1 allude to the copy of an official note of the 12th of April, 1804, from Mr. Merry to Mr. Madison, respecting a pretended blockade of Martinique and Gaudaloupe. No comment can add to the value of that manly and perspicuous exposition of the law of blockade, as made by England herself in maintenance of rules which have been respected and upheld in all seasons and on all occasions by the government of the United States. I will leave it, therefore, to your lordship's consideration, with only this remark, that, while that paper exists, it will be superfluous to seek in any French document for the opinions of the American government on the matter of it.
The steady fidelity of the government of the United States to its opinions on that interesting subject is known to every body. The same principles which are found in the letter of Mr. Madison to Mr. Thornton, of the 27th of October, 1803, already before you, were asserted in 1799, by the American minister at this court, in his correspondence with lord Grenville, respecting the blockade of some of the ports of Holland; were sanctioned in a letter of the 20th of September, 1800, from the secretary of state of the United States to Mr. King, of which an extract is enclosed; were insisted upon in repeated instructions to Mr. Monroe and the special mission of 1806; have been maintained by the United States against others as well as against England, as will appear by the inclosed copy of instructions, dated the 21st of October, 1801, from Mr. secretary Madison to Mr. Charles Pinkney, then American minister at Madrid; and finally, were adhered to by the United States, when belligerent, in the case of the blockade of Tripoli.
A few words will give a summary of those principles; and when recalled to your remembrance, I am not without hopes, that the strong grounds of law and right, on which they stand, will be as apparent to your lordship as they are to me.
It is by no means clear that it may not fairly be contended, on principle and early usage, that a maritime blockade is incomplete with regard to states at peace, unless the place which it would affect is invested by land as well as by sea. The United States, however, have called for the recognition of no such rule. They appear to have contented themselves with urging in substance, that ports not actually blockaded by a present, adequate, stationary force, employed by the power which attacks them, shall not be considered as shut to neutral trade in articles not contraband of war; that.