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ed by emigrants, naming Martinique, Saint Lucia, Tobago, Demarara, Berbice and Essequibo ; and to leeward, Port-auPrince, Saint Marc, L'Archaye and Jeremie ; declaring such vessels and their cargoes to be good prize ; as well as all vessels cleared out vaguely for the lVest'Indies. A copy of this last decree will be added to this report, as soon as it shall be translated. All which is respectfully submitted.
TIMOTHY PICKERING. Department of State, February 27, 1797.
Copy of a decree of the National Convention, oj the 9th of May, 1793, Id year of the French Reptiblick.
The national convention, after having heard the report of its committee of Marine; considering that the flag of neutral powers is not respected by the enemies of France ; that two cargoes of flour having arrived at Falmouth in Anglo-American vessels, and been bought before the war, for the service of the French marine, have been detained in England by the government, which would not pay for it but at a price below what it had been sold for ; that a vessel of Papembourg, called the Therisia, commanded by captain Hendrick Kob, loaded with various effects belonging to Frenchmen, was carried into Dover, the 2d of last March, by an English cutter:
That a privateer of the same nation carried into the same port of Dover, on the 18th of the same month, the Danish ship Mercury Christianland, captain Treuchen, which had sailed from Dunkirk on the 17th, with a cargo of wheat, for Bordeaux:
That the ship John, captain Shkeley, loaded with about six thousand quintals of American wheat, in going from Falmouth to St. Malo, was stopped by a frigate, and carried to Guernsey, were the agents of government have simply promised to pay the value of the cargo although it was not on French account:
That 101 French passengers, of different professions, embarked at Cadiz, by order of the Spanish minister, on board the Genoese ship Providence, captain Ambrose Briasco, to be carried to Bayonne, were shamefully pillaged by the crew of an English privateer:
That various reports, which are successively made by the sea-port towns of the Republick, announce that the same acts of inhumanity and injustice are multiplied and repeated with impunity every day along the whole sea coast:
That under such circumstances, all the laws of nations being violated, it is not permissible that the French people should Vol. ii. 45
fulfil towards all the neutral powers in general, the vow, thejr have so repeatedly manifested, and constantly make for the full and entire liberty of commerce and navigation : Decrees as follows:
Article i. The French ships of war and privateers may stop and bring into the pons of the Republick such neutral vessels, as are loaded in whole or in part, either with provisions belonging to neutrals, and destined for enemy ports, or with merchandise belonging to enemies.
Ii. Merchandise belonging to enemies, shall be declared good prize, and confiscated for the benefit of the captors ; the provisions, bolonging to neutrals and loaded for enemy ports, shall be paid for according to their value in the place for which they were destined.
iii. In all cases, neutral vessels shall be released when the unlading of the provisions which are stopped, or the merchandise, which are seized is completed; the freight for them shall by payed at the rate stipulated by the persons who shipped them. A just indemnity shall be made in proportion to their detention by the tribunals who have cognizance of the validity of the prizes.
iv. Those tribunals shall be bound also to transmit, three days after their sentence, a duplicate of the inventory of the said provisions or merchandise to the Minister of Marine, and another duplicate to the Minister for foreign affairs.
v. The present law, applicable to all the prizes which have been made since the declaration of war, shall cease to have effect after the enemy powers shall declare free, and not liable to seizure, although destined for the ports of the Republick, provisions which may be neutral property, and merchandise loaded in neutral ships, which belongs to the French government, or to French citizens.
To James Monroe, Minister Plenipotentiary of the Untied Slates of America, at Paris. Paris, Vindemiaire, 3d gear, (October 1794.)
Sir,—At your request I now lay before you, a statement of the innumerable embarrassments and difficulties which our commerce has for a long time, and continues still to labour under, in the different ports of the French republick. It is evident if their government does not soon remedy the inces. sant abuses and vexations practised daily upon our merchants, vessels, captains and crews, the trade of the United States with France must cease. I cannot give you an ample detail of all the inconveniences and oppressions which have been thrown upon our commerce ; many of the consuls and their agents to whom you have written to forward such documents to my office. having not yet dons it; besides it would take volumes to expose them at full length.
From the communication however already received from the different ports, and from the information I have collected from the captains present, I can assure you that there are near 3OO sail of American vessels now in the ports of France; all of whom have suffered or are suffering more or less delay and difficulties, of which the examples annexed will afford you a general view.—The hardships of which I have chiefly to complain, and out of which there grows incalculable evils may be developed under four general heads.
1st. The capture indiscriminately of our vessels at sea by the vessels of war of the Republick.
2d. The impossibility of Americans selling their cargoes and receiving payment at the ports to which they are conducted, or of their own accord arrive.
3d. The difficulties and procrastination which they find in their transactions with the boards of marine and commerce.
4th. The non-compliance, or heretofore delay in fulfilling the contracts made by the agents of the French Republick in America, for supplies of provisions.
The seizure of our vessels at sea often gives rise to the most serious and well founded complaints ;—the stripping them of their officers and crews, who are generally replaced by boys and unexperienced hands in order to be conducted to ports, exposes them to much injury, and sometimes total loss; the confinement of our sailors taken out of those vessels, the seals upon their cargoes, and above all the sending the papers to the commission of marine at Paris, involves the most unwarrantable hardships and dalays; and I am sory to add that all our vessels experience some of those difficulties; and indeed such as arrive with cargoes on account of the Republick, months elapsing before the captains can get their clearances and papers, many of which are often lost or mislaid.
As to the second head, the agents of the commissions of commerce at the different ports having no power to treat directly for cargoes, it follows, that they must write to the commission at Paris for orders; and after one or two months fruitless correspondence, it often happens that the captains are obliged to come up to Paris; where being ignorant of forms and language they have to encounter a thousand difficulties.
It would be too tedious to mention all the inconveniences resulting from the third general complaint. In the first place, the delays at the commission of marine are incredible. The captains whose vessels are brought into ports by the armed vessels of the Republick, cannot withdraw their papers from the hands of the marine agents, but arc forced to Paris, to solicit, time after time, of the marine, a report upon them to the committee of publick safety. The cruel delays attending this will be illustrated in the examples annexed. The report being made before it can reach the latter body, it must have the signature of the commissaries, and go through other formalities; and when it receives the sanction of the committee of safety, has to travel nearly the same road back.—Judge, sir, of the tedious delay attending this; indeed you will see cases where the poor captains have been many months in arriving at the above point; and I myself, after having pressed several reclamations for weeks past, have not yet been able to bring one to that issue.
To sell to the commission of commerce is still more difficult. When a bargain is concluded with them, an order is issued to the keepers of the publick magazines to receive the cargo sold; who often pretend that there is no room to receive it, and frequently they keep the captains waiting weeks before their whim or convenience will induce them to receive it; this point gained, application must then be made at Paris to the commission of commerce for payment; who refer the captain to their board of agency; they make a report to the comptabilite of the same commission, from thence it must go to the committee of finance, then to the committee of publick safety, from whence it returns to the comptabilile. This labyrinth of perplexity of course throws the captain into the hands of an agent, who preys upon his distress; and when all these forms are fulfilled, it is not always that the captain can immediately touch his money. If, in the first instance, the commission will not purchase his cargo on the terms he asks, they tell him he may depart; but on returning to his vessel, is most commonly prevented from sailing by the agents at the port. If it is mutually agreed that merchandise shall be taken in exchange, the difficulties become greater. If assignats, with permission to export wines and brandy, the captain finds himself taken in; for the commission will put those very articles in requisition. If the commission tells the captain that they do not want his cargo, and that he may sell to individuals, he finds that he cannot export the proceeds unless he gives a security that he will import afterwards into the Republick the same amount in articles of the first necessity, such as provisions, Sec. If the captain is so unfortunate as to have to treat with the agents of the commission, he is certain to feel their imposition,—they frequently refuse to confirm their own agreements.—In short, after every sort of delay and vexation, should the captain claim an indemnity, he has to wade through double the1 difficulties heretofore stated, and perhaps after all to leave his business incomplete in the hands of an agent.
The 4th and last general complaint is of a delicate and important import. Mr. Fauchet, the French minister, has made considerable purchases of provisions in America for account and in the name of the French republick ;—one house has engaged to furnish 20,000 barrels of flour :—thirteen vessels loaded with these provisions have already arrived; and in vain have I demanded of the commission of commerce their answer respecting the payment of those contracts; except that in the commencement, they assured me the committee of finance had ordered the payment of three cargoes at Bordeaux; but to my surprise, two days after I found that no report had been made by the commission of that committee.
You having judged, sir, the commerce of this country being immediately under the control of one branch of the administration of its government, that it was necessary to adopt some corresponding measures in order to protect the rights and interests of our citizens, and for that purpose having provisionally named me to the place of consul, I have accepted it, as well to answer your views, as in the hope of rendering some good to both republicks.
Before I conclude, permit me to observe, that it is of indispensable importance to obtain some mode of having the claims of our citizens adjusted, for supplies furnished to the colonies of the French republick, and likewise the numerous claims in consequence of the late embargo at Bordeaux. I am authorized by many of the claimants to adjust them; and have many of the documents in hand, but wish for further instructions from you.
I would offer to your view a statement of the immense sums already paid by this Republick, and to be paid, as indemnities for the extraordinary and useless delays of our vessels; but the consuls and agents have not yet furnished me with the requisite documents: it is however a fact, that not a single vessel arrives from America and departs, without having some such reclama. tion to make. I am persuaded that many millions are absorbed in this manner.
It is with real regret, sir, that I find myself obliged, the duties of my station requiring it, to present to your view so many complaints of so serious a nature, as in my opinion calls for your earliest attention; but in doing this I do not forget, and it will ever be my effort to cultivate as much as possible, a good understanding between the citizens of our country and those of France.
With respect, &c. FULWAR SKIPWITH.
The Hon. Col. Monroe.
A Report on some of the American vessels captured by the armed 'vessels of the French Republick, and carried into the various ports of the Republick.
1st. The ship Alexander, captain Woodward, with a cargo of flour, on account of the French government, was captured on the 5th of August last, by the frigate Agricola, and conduct