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freshments as ray ship's company are in need of; and that in case I send my own boats on shore, ray people and officers shall not be liable to insult from any of the inhabitants or other of whatever description, and to represent in plain terms to the governour that my officer who carries this, or any other officer or people whom I may send on their just and lawful occasions receive from any one individual whether in the nature of a mob or otherwise any affront or insult, I will immediately on ray part come in with his majesty's ship under my command and protect my own people. And farther, that if the government or states here are in such cases as I have mentioned guilty of such a breach of neutrality, I will then look upon myself in the same manner as not bound to observe the neutrality of these ports: and that I am resolved to be treated in the same manner in all respects whatever, as they do those of the French Republick—and I am more plain in the nature of my present demands, as I have received a hint that, if I send my people on shore, while the Medusa lies at Newport, they will be considered as spies. In this case I want to spy nothing. I am in full possession of every intelligence regarding that ship, which I want to be possessed of. And I require a written answer from the governour of Rhode Island to these demands, and that without loss of time. I am, sir, &c.
To Thos. Wm. Moore, Esq.
State of Rhode Island, 12c.
The preceding contains a true copy of an original letter from Thos. Wm. Moore, and of a copy of Rodham Home's letter to him accompanying it, duly compared.
Witness, HENRY WARD, Secretary.
OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE ON THE MEMORIAL OF SUNDRY CITIZENS OF Tli* UNITED STATES, RESIDING IN THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, REFERRED TO HIM,,BY ORDER OF THE HOUSE, ON THE SEvENTH OF MAY LAST. FEB. 27, 1797.
The Secretary of State, in pursuance of an order of the House of Representatives of the 7th of May, 1796, on the memorial and petition of sundry citizens of the United States residing in the city of Philadelphia, relative to the losses they had sustained by the capture of their property by French armed vessels on the high seas, or in consequence of the forced or voluntary sales of their provisions and merchandise to the officers of the colonial administrations of the French Republick, having examined the same, together with accounts of similar losses sustained by American citizens from the French, in the European seas, or in the ports of France, which in the details were necessarily connected with the former, respectfully reports:—
That since the commencement of the present war, various and continual complaints have been made by citizens of the United States to the Department of State, and to the ministers of the United States in France, of injuries done to their commerce under the authority of the French Republick and by its agents. These injuries were
1st. Spoliations and maletreatment of their vessels at sea by
rench ships of war and privateers:
2d. A distressing and long continued embargo laid upon their vessels at Bordeaux, in the years 1793 and 1794:
3d. The non-payment of bills and other evidences of debts due, drawn by the colonial administrations in the West Indies:
4th. The seizure or forced sales of the cargoes of their vessels, and the appropriating of them to publick use, without paying for them, or paying inadequately, or delaying payment for a great length of time.
Sth. The non-performance of contracts made by the agents of the government for supplies:
6th. The condemnation of their vessels and cargoes under such of the marine ordinances of France as are incompatible with the treaties subsisting between the two countries: and
7th. The captures sanctioned by a decree of the National Convention of the 9th of May, 1793, (hereto annexed and marked A.) which, in violation of the treaty of amity and commerce, declared enemy's goods on board of their vessels lawful prize, and directed the French ships of war and privateers to bring into port neutral vessels laden with provisions and bound to an enemy's port.—It may be proper to remark here, that this decree of the Convention, directing the capture of neutral vessels laden with provisions and destined for enemy ports, preceded by one month the order of the British government for capturing " all vessels loaded with corn, flour or meal, bound to any port in France, or any port occupied by the armies of France."
Such was the general nature of the claims of the citizens of the United States upon the French Republick, previous to the departure of Mr. Monroe, as minister plenipotentiary to France in the summer of 1794, and since his residence there. To him were intrusted the documents which had been collected to substantiate particular complaints; and he was instructed to press the French government to ascertain and pay what might be found justly due. From time to time, as additional cases rose, they were transmitted 10 him, with the like view. In September of that year, he assigned to his secretary, Mr. Skipwith, (with the provisional appointment of consul for Paris) the charge of stating the cases, and placing them in the proper train of settlement; reserving to himself the duty of fixing general principles with the government, and of patronising and superintending his proceedings.
In conformity with the direction of the minister, Mr. Skipwith, shortly afterwards, made a general report on the injuries and difficulties and vexations to which the commerce of the United States was subjected by the regulations and restraints of the French government, or by the abuses practised by its agents: to which he added a number of particular cases. A copy of the whole, marked [B,] is hereto annexed.—This report was laid before the French government; and added to the various representations of Mr. Monroe and his predecessor, it produced a decree of the joint committees of pubiick safety, finance, commerce and supplies, dated the 15th November, 1794, a copy of which, marked [C,] is annexed. This decree, apparently calculated to remedy many of the evils complained of, afforded but a very partial, in respect to compensations, a comparatively small relief; while it continiied in force the principle of the decree of the 9th of May, 1793, which rendered liable to seizure and confiscation the goods of enemies found on board neutral vessels. American vessels had been declared exempt from that part of the decree of the 9th of May, which authorized the seizing of vessels going to an enemy's port with provisions, by the decree of the National Convention of the 27th of July, 1793.
On the appearance of the decree of the 9th of May, the American minister at Paris remonstrated against it, as a violation of the treaty of rommerce between France and the United States. In consequence hereof, the convention, by a decree of the 23d of the same month, declare, '<That the vessels of the United States are not comprised in the regulations of the decree of the 9th of May." M. le Brun, the minister for foreign affairs, on the 26th of May, communicated this second decree to our minister, accompanying it with these words; "you will there find a new confirmation of the principles from which the French people mill never depart, with regard to their good friends and allies the United States of America." Yet two days only had elapsed before those principles were departed from : on the 28th of May, the convention repealed their decree of the 23d. The owners of a French privateer that had captured a very rich American ship (the Laurens) found means to effect the repeal, to enable them to keep hold on their prize. They had even the apparent hardiness to say before hand, that the decree of the 23d would be repealed. *
The American minister again complained. So on the first of July, the convention passed a fourth decree, again declaring, "That the vessels of the United States are not comprised in the regulations of the decree of the 9th of May; conformably to the sixteenth [it should be the twenty-third] article of the treaty concluded the sixth of February, 1778."—The new minister for foreign affairs, M. Desforgues, accompanies this new decree of July first with the following expression: "I am yery happy in being able to give you this new proof of the fraternal sentiments of the French people for their allies, and of their determination to maintain to the utmost of their power the treaties subsisting between the two Republicks.'' Yet this decree proved us unstable as the former: on the 27th of July it was repealed.
The next decree on this subject was that of the joint committees, of the 15th of November, 1794, already mentioned. Then followed the decree of the committee of publick safety, of the 4th of January, 1795, (14th Nivosc, 3d year,) repealing the 5lh article in the decree of the 15th of November preceding, and in effect the articles in the original decree of the 9th of May, 1793, by which the treaty with the United States had been infringed. It is not necessary for the Secretary to add, that the decree of the 4th of January, 1795. has been repealed by the decree of the executive directory of the 2d of July, 1796; under colour of which are committed the shocking depredations on the commerce of the United States which are daily exhibited in the newspapers. The agents of the executive directory to the Leeward Islands, (Leblanc, Santhonax and Raimond)on the 27th of November, 1796, passed a decree (marked C. C.) for capturing all American vessels bound to or from British ports. The Secretary presumes this is not an arbitrary, unauthorized act of their own, but that it is conformable to the intentions of the executive directory; the privateers of the French Republick in Europe, having captured some American vessels on the same pretence; and the consul of the Republick, at Cadiz, having explicitly avowed his determination to condemn American vessels on that ground; pleading the de. cree of the directory for his authority.
The Secretary has already intimated, that the decree of the 15th of November, 1794, was not followed by the extensively good effects expected from it. By a communication from Mr. Skipwith, of the 10th of last September (the latest communication from him, in answer to the Secretary's request for information) it appears that the claims for detention of one hundred and three American vessels by the embargo at Bordeaux remained undetermined ; no funds having been appropriated by the legislature for payment of them; and that none of the bills drawn by the colonial administrations in the West Indies had been paid to him ; the treasury having tendered payment in assignats at their nominal value, and afterwards in another species of paper, called mandats, which had suffered a great depreciation even before they were put into circulation: both which modes of payment were refused to be accepted. The progress made by Mr. Skipwith in the adjustment of other claims, so far as known to the Secretary, will appear in the an. nexed printed statement marked [D,] copies of which were transmitted ten months ago to the offices of the principal collectors of the customs, from the Department of State, for the information of our mercantile citizens.
That nothing might be left undone which could be accomplished by the executive, the attention of general Pinckney, the present minister of the United States to France, was particularly directed to the subject of these claims: but the interval which has elapsed since his departure has not admitted of any interesting communication from him, on this business.
In connection with other spoliations by French armed vessels, the Secretary intended to mention those committed under a decree dated the 1st of August, 1796, issued by Victor Hugues and Lebas, the special agents of the executive directory to the Windward Islands, declaring all vessels loaded with contraband articles of any kind liable to seizure and confiscation, with their entire cargoes; without making any discrimination in favour of those which might be bound to neutral, or even to French ports. This decree has been enforced against the American trade, without any regard to the established forms of legal proceedings, as will appear from the annexed deposition (marked E ) of Josiah Hempstead; master of the brigantine Patty of Weathersfield. A copy of the decree, marked [F,j is also annexed.
The Secretary has received a printed copy of another decree of the same special agents to the Windward Islands, dated the thirteenth ofPluviose, fifth year, answering to February the 1st, 1797, authorizing the capture of all neutral vessels destined to any of the Windward or Leeward Islands in America, which have been delivered up to the English, and occupied or defend