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Such was the object of Mr. Jay's mission to London ; such was the object of a negotiation, enveloped from its origin in the shadow of mystery, and covered with the veil of dissimulation. Could the executive directory have any other idea of it, on examining its issue, on seeing all the efforts made by the American government to conceal the secret from every eye?
In his inessage to the senate of the 16th April, 1794, the president declared, that Mr. Jay was sent to London only to obtain a redress of the wrongs done to the United States; at the same time the secretary of state communicated to the predecessor of the undersigned, a part of the instructions to Mr. Jay, reminding him of the intention of the American government not to deviate from its engagements with the Republic of France. The French minister, deceived by this communication, contributed ingenuously to deceive his government. The American minister in France removed the fears of the French government, as to the mission of this envoy extraordinary, and represented it as the only means of obtaining indemnification for the losses which the American commerce had sustain
What has this negotiation produced ? A treaty of amity and commerce, which deprives France of all the advantages stipulated in a previous treaty. : In fact, all that could render the neutrality profitable to England and injurious to France is combined in this treaty. Her commercial relations with the United States are entirely broken, by the abandonment of the modern public law on contraband, a law which, England had consecrated in eleven treaties, and which the Americans had also consecrated in their treaties with France, Holland, Sweden, and Prussia. From the new arrangements adopted by the United States with regard to Eng
“ law of the land : it might make known that the
facility with which your courts of admiralty ad“ mit, without distinction, all the chicanery which
our enemies create against us, in the present war, “ is evidently contrary to the spirit of the treaty.” The government paid no attention to these reflections, and the answer of the secretary of state, merely notices the particular fact which had occasioned the note of Citizen Fauchet.
What was the undersigned minister plenipotentiary able to obtain in the affair of the Cassius and of the Vengeance ? Nothing.
The government of the United States must have seen however, by the claims which the ministers of the Republic addressed to it, and by the great number of facts, of which it has had a knowledge, how much the execution of the measures of the president, and of the law of the 5th June, 1794, was contrary to the 17th article of the treaty; how much the agency of the tribunals, who ought not to have any cognizance of the validity or invalidity of prizes, tended to annul that article, and to deprive the Republic of the advantage which it assures to her. In fact, was it not evident, that when the powers at war with the Republic had the privilege, in virtue of the law of the 5th of June, 1794, of causing to be arrested the privateers and their prizes, of detaining them in the ports of the United States, of ruining them by considerable costs, by the excessive expenses. which they occasioned them, they drew from that privilege an immense advantage, to the detriment of France ? Doubtless it was of little import to them, that sometimes the privateers obtained justice, in the last resort, if they detained the privateer for a length of time, and if they, by that means, sheltered from their pursuit the commerce of the enemy of France. The neutrality of the United States, in this case was alto
gether to their advantage ; and the federal government, on seeing this state of things, should, out of respect to its neutrality and to treaties, solicit from the Congress the means of conciliating the duties of the former with the obligations of the latter.
The government very well knew how to solicit the law of the 5th of June, 1794, when that law was to bear on France alone, when it gave to the tribunals a right which has been abused, and which enables them to decide upon prizes : why, on seeing the inconveniences of this law, has it not endeavoured to remedy them? Should it wait to be solicited on this head ? Should it not anticipate all claims, and when those were presented by the ministers of the Republic, should it not do justice ?
Besides, if the government had been impartial, as it has pretended to be, it would not have adopted that slow and circuitous mode, so favourable to the enemies of France, for deciding the cases relative to its neutrality ; it would have preferred the measures
proposed by Mr. Jefferson, on the 25th of June, 1793, to the minister of the Republic : these measures were simple, they were in conformity with the duties of neutrality, and the interests of the Republic.
The federal government had decided questions which interested its neutrality, upon informations furnished by the state governors and the agents of the Republic; the prizes remained in the hands of the French consul, until this decision took place ; the stipulations of the 17th article of the treaty of 1778, were not violated; and the government at the same time satisfied the obligations of duty and justice. In vain would it say, that it had not this power. Notwithstanding the law of the 5th June, 1794, giving to the tribunal the right of taking cognizance of cases in which neutrality had been violated, did not the president on the 21st of June,
1794, decide that the ship William, taken out of the limits of the waters of the United States, should be delivered to the captor ; and on the 3d of July, 1794, did he not decide that the Pilgrim had been taken in the waters of the United States, and that of course she should be given up to the owners ? In these cases the president not only decided on matters, the cognizance of which had been consigned to the tribunals, but likewise gave a retrospective effect to his own decision upon the protecting line of the United States, which was not notified to the minister of the Republic, till the sth of November, 1793.
Not satisfied with permitting the 17th article of the treaty to be violated by its agents and tribunals, the federal government also suffered the English to avail themselves of advantages interdicted to them by that article. They armed in the ports of the United States, brought in, and repaired their prizes, and, in a word, found in them a certain asylum.
Thus the English privateer Trusty, Capt. Hall, was armed at Baltimore to cruise against the French, and sailed notwithstanding the complaints of the consul of the Republic. At Charleston, one Bermudian vessel, several English vessels, and one Dutch vessel, from the 24th May to the 6th June 1793, took in cannon for their defence, and sailed without opposition.
What answer did the government give to the representations of the minister of the French Republic in this respect ? He said that these vessels sailed so suddenly, it was not able to have them arrested. But the treaty was not the less violated. Some of the inhabitants of the United States had aided in these illegal -armaments : what measures were taken against them? Was any search made to discover them, to prosecute them? Never; and
yet the government of the United States no sooner learned that, in consequence of an implied stipulation which the treaty of Versailles seemed to contain, the French were arming in the ports of the United States, than the most energetic orders were sent for stopping these armaments. Even citizens of the United States were imprisoned upon suspicion that they had participated in them. The minister cannot omit citing here the following passage of a letter from the secretary of state, Edmund Randolph, to Mr. Hammond, dated 2d June 1794. “ On a suggestion that citizens of the United
States had taken part in the act, [he speaks of " the armaments in the United States] one who
was designated, was instantly committed to pri“ son for prosecution: one or two others have been
since named and committed in like manner, and “ should it appear, that there were still others, no “ measures would be spared to bring them to jus“ tice.” What more could the American government do in favour of the English, if they had a similar treaty to that with France, and had been sole possessors of the advantages assured to her by positive stipulations?
However, in contempt of these very stipulations, the Argonaut, an English ship of war, in January 1795, conducted into Lynnhaven bay, the French corvette L'Espérance, which she had taken upon the coast ; she there had her repaired, in order to send her on a cruise. Letters were in consequence written by the secretary of state to the governor of Virginia and to Mr. Hammond. What was the result? Nothing. On the 29th of May 1795, the federal government had not yet done any thing positive as to the acts which produced the complaint of the minister of the Republic. The secretary of state announced, “ that these facts shall be exa“ mined, and if they are verified, the federal go