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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
“ Ist. 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 administration in the West Indies.
66 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 contracts made by the agents for the government supplies.
“ Oth. The condemnation of their vessels and cargoes under such of the marine ordinances of France as are incompatible with the treaties sub-' sisting between the two countries. And,
“ 7th. The captures sanctioned by a decree of the National Convention of the gth of May, 1793, which, in violation of the treaty of amity and commerce, declared enemies' goods on board of their vessels, lawful prizes, 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. may be
proper to remark here, that this de. cree of the Convention directed 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 with corn, flour or meal, bound to any “ port in France."
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 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 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 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.
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 Bb 3
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 oth May, which authorized the -seizing of vessels going to an enemy's port with provisions, by the decree of the National Convention of the 28th July, 1793.
“ On the appearance of the decree of the gth of May, the American minister at Paris remonstrated against it, as a violation of the treaty of commerce between France and the United States. In consequence thereof, the Convention, by a decree of the 23d of the same month, declare, " that the vessels “ of the United States are not comprehended in the “ regulations of the oth of May. M. Le Brun, the minister of 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 will never depart, with " regard to their good friends and allies the people “ of 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 of 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 comprized in the regula“ tions of the decree of ihe gth of May; conformbly to the 16th it should be called the 23d] le of the treaty concluded the 6th of Febru
“ ary, 1778." The new minister for foreign affairs, M. Desforgues, accompanies this new decree of July 1st, with the following expression-"1 am
very 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 republics ;" yet this decree proved as unstable as the former ; on the 27th of July it was repealed.
“ The next decree on this subject was that of the joint committee of the 15th of November, 1794, already mentioned. Then followed the decree of the Committee of Public Safety of the 4th of January, 1795, (14 Nivôse, 3d year) repealing the 5th article in the decree of the 15th November preceding, and in effect the articles in the original decree of the gth of May, 1793, by which the treaty with the United States had been infringed. It is not necessary for the secretary toadd, that the decree of the 4th 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, Sonthonax, and Raimond) on the 27th of November passed a decree for the 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 confortable to the intentions of the Executive Directory; the privateers of the French republic in Europe, having captured some American vessels on the same pretence; and the consul of the republic at Cadiz having explicitly avowed his determination to condemn American vessels on that Bb 4
grourd, pleading the decree of the Directory for his authority.
“ The secretary has already intimated that the decree of the 15th November 1794, was not followed by the extensively good effects expected from it. By a communication from Mr. Skipwith, of the loth 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 103 American vessels by the embargo at Bourdeaux remained undetermined: no funds having been appropriated for the payment of them; and that none of the bills drawn by the colonial administration 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 of 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 annexed statement, copies of which were transmitted ten months ago to the officers of the principal collectors of the custonis, 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