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those committed under a decree, dated the first of August 1796, issued by Vićtor 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 of Josiah Hempstead, master of the brigantine Patty of Weathersfield, a copy of the decree also is annexed. “The secretary has received a printed copy of another decree of the same special agents to the Windward Islands, dated the 13th Pluvóise, 5th year, answering to February 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 defended by emigrants, naming Martinique, St. Lucie, Tobago, Demarara, Berbice, and isequibo ; and to leeward, Port-au-Prince, St. Marc, L'Arcahaye, and Jeremie ; declaring such vesse's and their cargoes to be good prize, as well as all vessels cleared out vaguely for the West 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.
“Department of State,
WE are come to the epocha, when General Washington retired from public life; I shall, therefore, insert his farewel address to the people of the United States, which appeared in September last ; and shall place after it some of those publications, which, while they tend to throw some light on his character and conduct, will prove to my readers, that his “grateful fellow citizens” did not always look upon him as a God.
“To the PEoPLE of the UNITED STATBs.
“ Friends and Fellow Citizens,
“The period for a new election of a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinét expression of the public voice, that I should now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of
whom a choice is to be made.
ency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both. . . “The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in the office to which your suffrages have twice called me, have been an uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference to what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature refle&tion on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea. “I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty, or propriety; and am persuaded whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire. “The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust, were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say, that I have with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government, the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious, in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing - weight made by the 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 republic. These injuries were— “ 1st. Spoliations and maltreatment of their vessels at sea, by French ships of war and privateers. “ 2d. A distressing and long continued embargo laid upon their vessels at Bourdeaux in the years 1793 and 1794. - “ 3d. The non-payment of bills and other evidences of debts due, drawn by the colonial admimistration in the West Indies. “ 4th. The seizure or forced sales of the cargoes of their vessels, and appropriating them to public use, without paying for them, or paying inadequately, or delaying payment for a length of time. “ 5th. The non-performance of contraćts made by the agents for the government supplies. “ 6th. The condemnation of their vessels and cargoes under such of the marine ordinances of
France as are incompatible with the treaties sub- o
sisting between the two countries. And, “ 7th. The captures sanctioned by a decree of the National Convention of the 9th of May, 1793,
which, in violation of the treaty of amity and com
merce, declared enemies' goods on board of their vessels, lawful prizes, and direéted the French ships of war and privateers to bring into port neutral vessels laden with provisions and bound to an ene
my's port. “It may be proper to remark here, that this decree of the Convention dire&ted the capture of neutral vessels laden with provisions and destined for enemy's ports, preceded by one month, the order of the British government for capturing “all vessels “ loaded
“ loaded with corn, flour or meal, bound to any “ port in France.” - w
“ Such was the nature of the claims of the citizens of the United States upon the French republic, 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 colle&ted . 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 to him with a like view. In September of that year, he assigned to his secretary, Mr. Skipwith (with the provisional appointment of consul at 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 patronizing 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 subjećted 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. 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 Committee of Public Safety, Finance, Commerce, and Supplies, dated 15th November, 1794. 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 continued in force the principles of the decree of the 9th May, 1793, which rendered liable to B b 3 seizure