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Americans in France. This system had been conceived before the revocation of the decrees of Berlin and Milan had been resolved upon. Now circumstances are changed by the resolution taken by the United States, to cause their flag and their independence to be respected, that which has been done before this last epoch, can no longer serve as a rule under actual circumstances. Accept the assurances of my high consideration, CHAMPAGNY,
Duke de Cadpre.
Mr. Russell to Mr. Smith.
By the first opportunity which presented itself after the admission of our vessels on the 4th of May, I communicated this event to the American charge d'affaires at London, in hopes that it might be useful there. The inclosed is a copy of the note which I addressed to him on the occasion. I am, &c. &c.
(Signed) JONATHAN RUSSELL.
The honorable Robert Smith, Sec'ry of State.
Mr. Russell to Mr. J. S. Smith.
I hand you herewith the copy of a letter to me from his excellency the duke of Bassano, dated the 4th inst.* and inclosing a list of the American vessels whose cargoes have been admitted by order of'the emperor.
As this list contains all the American vessels, except one only whose papers were mislaid, which have arrived spontaneously in the ports of France, since the first of November last, which had not already been admitted; the measure adopted by this government may perhaps be considered to be of a general character and a consequence of the actual relations between the two countries, growing out of the revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees, so far as they violated the neutral rights of the United States. I am, sir, with great consideration, &c.
(Signed) JONATHAN RUSSELL.
John S. Smith, Esq. fee. Sec.
Mr. Russell to the Secretary of State.
The case of the New Orleans Packet having apparently excited considerable interest, it may not be unacceptable to you to receive a more particular account of it than I have hitherto transmitted.
This vessel, owned by Mr. Alexander Ruden, of New York, left that place on the 25th of July, with a clearance for Lisbon, but actually destined for Gibraltar. Her cargo, likewise the property of Mr. Ruden, consisted of 207 whole tierces and 31 half tierces of
* See this copy in the inclosures of Mr. Russell's letter 15th July, which will be found in a subsequent part of this correspondence.
rice, 330 bags of Sorinam cocoa, 10 hogsheads of tobacco, 6 tierces of hams, 5O barrels of pork, 60 barrels of beef, 200 barrels of flour, 30 tierces of beans and 64 firkins of butter. On her passage to Gibraltar, she was boarded by an English frigate and an English schooner, and after a short detention allowed to proceed. On arriving at Gibraltar the 26th of August, Mr. Munroe, the supercargo, proceeded to sell the cargo, and actually disposed of the flour, the beans and butter, when about the 20th of September a packet arrived there from England bringing newspapers containing the publication of the letter from the duke of Cadore of the 5th of August. On the receipt of this intelligence, Mr. Munroe immediately suspended his sales, and after having consulted with Mr. Hackley, the American consul at Cadiz, he determined to proceed with the remainder of his cargo to Bourdeaux. He remained however at Gibraltar till the 22d of October, that he might not arrive in France before the 1st of November, the day on which the Berlin and Milan decrees were to cease to operate. He arrived in the Garonne on the 14th of November, but by reason of his quarantine did not reach Bourdeaux before the 3d of December. On the 5th of this month the director of the customs there seized the New Orleans Packet and her cargo under the Milan decrees of the 23d November and 17th December, 1807, expressly set forth, for having come from an English port and for having been visited by an English vessel of war. These facts having been stated to me by Mr. Munroe, or by Mr. Meyer, the American vice-consul at Bourdeaux, and the principal one, that of the seizure under the Milan decrees, being established by the proces verbal put into my hands by Mr. Martini, one of the consignees of the cargo, I conceived it to be my duty not to suffer the transaction to pass unnoticed, and thereby permit it to grow into a violation of the engagements of this government. While I was considering the most proper mode of bringing the conduct of the customhouse officer at the port under the eyes of his superiors, I learnt of the arrival of the Essex at L'Orient. From the time at which this frigate was reported to have left the United States, I had no doubt that she had brought the proclamation of the president announcing the revocation of the very decrees under which this precipitate seizure had been made. I could but think, therefore, that it was important to afford to this government an opportunity of disavowing the conduct of its officer, so incompatible with the engagements on which the president had in all probability reposed with confidence, in season to shew that this confidence had not been mistimed or misplaced. To have waited for the receipt of the proclamation in order to make use of it for the liberation of the New Orleans Packet, appeared to me a preposterous and unworthy course of proceeding, and to be nothing better than absurdly and basely employing the declaration of the President that the Berlin and Milan decrees had been revoked, as the means of obtaining their revocation. I believed it became me to take higher ground, and, without confining myself to the mode
best calculated to recover the property, to pursue that which the dignity of the American government required. ,
A crisis in my opinion presented itself, which was to decide whether, the French edicts were retracted as a preliminary to the execution of our law, or whether by the non-performance of one party and the prompt performance of the other, the order in which these measures ought to stand was to be reversed, and the American government shuffled into the lead where national honour and the law required it to follow. Uncertain what would be the conduct of this government, but clear what it ought to be, I thought it politic to present briefly the honest construction of the terms in which the revocation of the decrees was communicated on the 5th of August, that the conditions might not be tortured into a pretext for continuing them. I believed this to be the more necessary as no occasion hitherto occurred for offering such an interpretation. I likewise supposed it to be desirable to take from this government, by a concise statement of facts, the power of imputing neglect to the United States, in performing the act required of them, for the purpose of finding in this neglect a color for again executing the decrees. These were my views in writing promptly and frankly on the occasion.
So acceptable indeed did I suppose it would be to the feelings of the American government, to obtain at least an explanation of an act ostensibly proving the continued operation of the decrees, previous to communicating the proclamation of the president, announcing their revocation, that, although I received this proclamation on the 13th December, I deferred the communication of it to the duke of Cadore, until the 17th of that month; nor should I then have communicated it, had not an interview with him on the 15th, led me to believe that much time might be necessary to procure official reports from the customhouse, relative to the seizure in question, and that until these reports were received, it would be impossible formally to explain or correct this proceeding. When, however, I declined, uninstructed as I was, incurring the responsibility of this protracted delay, and decided on communicating the proclamation before a satisfactory explanation was received, 1 took care to guard against any misconstruction, by explicitly declaring at the outset that this proclamation "had been issued alone on the ground that the revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees did not depend on any condition previously to be performed by the United States."
The customhouse officers at Bourdeaux commenced unlading the New-Orleans Packet on the 10th of December, and completed this work on the 20th of that monjh, as appears by their proces verbal of those dates. That of the 20th expressly declares that the confiscation of this property was to be pursued before the imperial council of prizes at Paris, according to the decrees of the 23d November and 17th of December, 1807; or, in other words, the decrees of Milan- The decree of the 23d of March, orthe Rambouillet decree, is also mentioned; but as I wrote my note of the 10th of December with a view only to the letter of the duke of Cadore announcing the revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrees, and as the jiroces verbal of the 5th appears to waive the application of the Rambouillet decree as unnecessary, I took no notice of it.
On Monday the 17th of December my remonstrance was submitted to a council of commerce, and referred by it to the director general of the customs for his report. From this time, all further proceedings against the New Orleans Packet were suspended. The papers were not transmitted to the council of prizes, nor a prosecution instituted before that tribunal for the confiscation of the property, as was professedly the intention of the officers concerned in the seizure. This prosecution was not only abandoned, but on the 9th of January the vessel and cargo were placed at the disposition of the consignees, on giving bond to pay the estimated amount, should it definitively be so decided. Nothing is now wanting to complete the liberation of the New Orleans Packet and her cargo but the cancelling of this bond.
It appears, therefore, that the remonstrance of the 10th of December arrested the proceeding complained of, before it had assumed a definitive character, or unequivocally become a breach of faith, and not only rescued the property from the seizure with which it had been visited, but, by procuring its admission, placed it in a situation more favorable than that of many other vessels and cargoes which continued to be holden in a kind of morte-main by the suspension of all proceedings with regard to them. I have the honour to be, &c. &c.
(Signed) JONA. RUSSELL.
Hon. Secretary of State of the United States.
. P. S. July 5th. I have the Satisfaction to announce to you that since writing the above, an order has been given to cancel the bond, and a letter just received from the commercial agent of the United States at Bordeaux, informs me that it is actually cancelled.
Extract of a letter from Mr. Russell to the Secretary of State of the United States, dated
"Paris, 15th July, 1811. "On the 5th of that month [May] I received a note [No. 1J from the duke of Bassano, dated the 4th, containing a list of sixteen American vessels whose cargoes had been admitted by order of the emperor. I immediately transmitted to you several copies of this communication, and I gave you on the 8th such an account [No. 2 J of the admitted cases, as might aid you in forming a correct estimate of the political value of the measure adopted in their favor.
Although I was fully impressed with the importance of an earlr decision in favor of the captured vessels, none of which had beei included in the list above mentioned, yet I deemed it proper to wait a few days before I made an application upon the subject. By this delay I gave the government here an opportunity of obtaining the necessary information concerning these cases, and of pursuing spontaneously the course which the relations between the two countries appeared to require. On the 11th, however, having learnt at the council of prizes that no new order had been received there, I judged it to be my duty no longer to remain silent, lest this government should erroneously suppose that what had been done was completely satisfactory to the United States, and, construing my silence into an acquiescence in this opinion, neglect to do more. I therefore on that day addressed to the duke of Bassano my note [No. 3] with a list of American vessels captured since the 1 st of November. On the 16th, I learnt that he had laid this note, with a general report on it, before the emperor, but that his majesty declined taking any decision with regard to it, before it had been submitted to a council of commerce. Unfortunately, this council did not meet before the departure of the emperor for Cherbourg; and during his absence, and the festivals which succeeded it, there was no assemblage of this body.
Immediately on receiving the communication of the duke of Bassano of - the 4th of May, I addressed him a note [No. 4] concerning the brig Good Intent, detained at St. Andero. Although this vessel had in fact been captured, yet, from the peculiar circumstances of the case, I hoped that she would be placed on the same footing as those which had been admitted. The answer [No. 5] which was returned by the duke of Bassano, dated the 25th and received the 28th, announced to me, however, that this affair must be carried before the council of prizes. Wishing to rescue this case from this inauspicious mode of proceeding, I again addressed him in relation to it, in a note [No. 6 J on the 2d of June. If I could not obtain at once the restoration of this vessel, it was desirable, at least, that she should be admitted to the benefit of the general measure, which I insinuated might be taken in favor of the captured class mentioned in my note of the 11th of May.
As in this note I have stated the case of the Good Intent to be analogous to those of the Hare and the John, it may be proper to explain to you both the points of resemblance and diversity, in. order to reconcile this note with my declaration, that no captured vessel was on the list of the 4th of May. The cases agree in the destination to places under the authority of France, and in the arrestation by launches in the service of the French government; they differ in the Hare and John having already, before they were taken, arrived at the port, and within the territorial jurisdiction of the country to which they were bound, and the Good Intent having been taken without such jurisdiction, and conducted to a pot t to which she was not destined. The taking possession of the Hare, and the John, may be considered then as a seizure in port, and that of the Good Intent as a capture on the high seas.
On perceiving that the schooner Friendship was not named in
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