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board, are warranted by the law of nations. The force and operation of this law was contemplated by France and the United States, when they formed their treaty of commerce : and their special stipulation on this point was meant as an exception to an universal rule. Neither our weakness nor our strength, have any choice, when the question concerns the observance of a known rule of the law of
nations. You are pleased to remark, that the condućt of Great Britain in capturing American vessels bound to and from French ports, had been the subjećt of a note, which on the 29th of September, 1793, you addressed to the secretary of state, but which remained without an answer. Very sufficient reasons may be assigned for the omission. The subjećt, in all its respects, had been already officially and publicly discussed, and the principles and ultimate measures of the United States, founded upon their indisputable rights, were as publicly fixed. But if the subjećt had not, by the previous discussions, been already exhausted, can it be a matter of surprise, that there should be a repugnance to answer a letter containing such insinuations as these ? —“It must then be clear to every man, who will “ discard prejudices, love, hatred, and in a word, all the passions which lead the judgment astray, “ that the French Republic would have a right to “ complain, if the American government suffered the English to interrupt the commercial relations, which exist between her and the United States: if by a perfidious condescension, it per“mitted the English to violate a right which it “ought for its own honour and interest to defend ; if under the cloak of neutrality, it presented to England a poignard to cut the throat of “ its faithful ally; if, in fine, partaking in the ty“ rannical and homicidal rage of Great Britain, it “ concurred to plunge the people of France into the L 4 “ horrors
“ horrors of famine.” For the sake of preserving harmony, silence was preferred to a comment upon these insinuations. You are also pleased to refer to your letters of March and April last, relative to impresses of American seamen by British ships, and complain, that the government of the United States had not made known to you the steps they had taken to obtain satisfaction. This, Sir, was a matter, which concerned only that government. As an independent nation, we were not bound to render an account to any other, of the measures we deemed proper for the protećtion of our own citizens ; so long as there was not the slightest ground to suspećt that the government ever acquiesced in any aggression. But permit me to recur to the subjećt of the decree of the executive direétory. As before observed, we are officially informed, that the British government have issued no new orders for capturing the vessels of the United States. We are also officially informed, that on the appearance of the notification of that decree, the minister of the United States at Paris applied for information “whether orders were issued for the sei* zure of neutral vessels ; and was informed that “ no such order was issued, and further, that none “ such would be issued, in case the British did not “ seize our vessels.” This communication from the minister of the United States at Paris to their minister in London, was dated the 28th of August. But the decree of the directory bears date the 14th Messidor, answering to the second of July. These circumstances, together with some observations in your note, leave the American government in a state of uncertainty of the real intentions of the government of France. Allow me then to ask, whether, in the actual state of things, our commerce is considered as liable to suffer any new i restrictions
restriótions on the part of the French Republic? Whether the restraints now exercised by the British government are considered as of a nature to justify a denial of those rights, which are pledged to us by our treaty with your nation 2 Whether orders have been actually given to the ships of war and privateers of the French Republic, to capture the vessels of the United States ? And what, if they exist, are the precise terms of those orders ? These questions, Sir, you will see, are highly interesting to the United States. It is with extreme concern, that the government finds itself reduced to the necessity of asking an explanation of this nature, and if it shall be informed, that a new line of condućt is to be adopted towards this country, on the ground of the decree referred to, its surprise will equal its regret, that principles should now be questioned, which, after repeated discussions both here and in France, bave been demonstrated to be founded, as we conceive, on the obligations of impartial neutrality, of stipulations by treaty, and of the law of nations.—I hope, Sir, you will find it convenient, by an early answer, to remove the suspense in which the government of the United States is now held on the questions above stated. I shall close this letter by one remark on the singularity of your causing the publication of your note. As it concerned the United States, it was properly addressed to its government, to which alone pertained the right of communicating it, in such time and manner as it should think fit, to the citizens of the United States. I am, Sir, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
TIMOTHY PICKERING. To M. ADET, Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic.
From the Aurora, of 5th November, 1796.
The Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republic, near the United States of America, to the French Citizens who reside or travel in the said United States.
FROM the dawn of our revolution, the tricoloured cockade has been the rallying point of those energetic men, whose generous efforts gave the first blows to arbitrary power. At their call, the French nation, bent for centuries under the yoke, shook off that long drowsiness, twenty-four millions of men adopted that august symbol, they exclaimed, “we shall be free,” and all opposition was defeated, and the throne tumbled down in the dust, and all Europe armed against them has been vanquished.
The Republic decorates all her citizens with those national colours, the sacred symbol of liberty which they have won.
Frenchmen who are absent from their native land, ought not, amidst nations allied with theirs, to lay aside the distinétive mark which, by making them known, secures to them the protećtion and reciprocal respect guaranteed by our treaties with those nations.
Those who, from a guilty indifference, should slight that right, exempt themselves from that duty—those could lay no claim to that protećtion, they would renounce the support of the agents of the Republic. But, citizens, I am persuaded, that at the call of the minister of the French Republic, you will hasten to put on the symbol of a liberty, which is the fruit of eight years toils and privations, and of five years vićtories. Thus, you will draw a line of demarkation between you and those contemptible beings, whose unfeeling hearts are callous to the sacred name of native land, to the noble pride with which the freeman is animated by the sense of his independence. Thus, you will signalize those still more degraded beings, who being sold to the enemies of the Republic, drag from clime to clime, a life overwhelmed with misery and contempt—wretches whom history will not call to remembrance, except to perpetuate their disgrace. The use of the French chanceries, the national protećtion, will not be granted to any Frenchman but those, who, perfectly sensible of the dignity attached to the title of citizen, shall take a pride in wearing constantly the tri-coloured cockade. The executive direétory of the French Republic have pronounced thus. Being the organ of their decisions, I communicate them with pleasure to my fellow-citizens. As for those who, although Frenchmen born, have ceased to be Frenchmen, I do not speak to them; the public voice will inform them of their exclusion.
Done at Philadelphia, the 12th Brumaire, the fifth year of the French Republic, one and indivisible.
(Signed) P. A. ADET.