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and after a very lengthy conversation, the particular Agent himself, was convinced that nothing was asked, but what was conducive to the prosperity of the Colony. The enclosed Arreté was then drawn up, with the entire approbation of this Government. Some parts of it were still contrary to my Wishes, and I should never have consented to the Publication of it, had I not received the most solemn Assurances that what was offensive should not be strictly insisted on. I am happy to announce to you, Sir, that these Assurances have been since complied with, as I shall have an opportunity of shewing you in the course of the Remarks which I shall now proceed to make on this Proclamation.
The Preamble appears to be unexceptionable. It contains nothing more than some well grounded Reasons which have induced the Government of St. Domingo to enact the Laws which follow. The commencing paragraph of the first Article was necessary, as the Arreté of the Executive Directory of the 13 Thermidor had never been published in this Colony tho' I had received a copy of it from the particular Agent himself in the month of October 1798, when he was Commissary at Santo Domingo. The subsequent parts of it, are strictly conformable to the Wishes of the President. It forbids any Commissions to be granted in future, except by the particular Agent of the Directory,-it annulls all Commissions hitherto granted, and requires them, to be delivered back to the Agency; in failure of which the Holders of them shall be declared Pirates; it provides for the Security of the Persons and Property of American Citizens, and other Neuters, and expressly forbids the Administration, to take any Part of their Cargos, without previously obtaining the consent of the Captains and Super-Cargoes, as well with regard to the Price, as to the mode of payment. I objected to this article, “that calling in the Privateers would be attended with very little Advantage, if their Commissions were to be renewed". To which it was observed "that it was not meant to renew their Commissions. That sound policy demanded that the Captains of Privateers should still entertain a hope of obtaining fresh Commissions, in order to induce them to surrender their former ones. That otherways they might continue to cruize under their old Commissions, and do much mischief to those defenceless Vessels that might fall in their way". The strongest assurances, were at the same time given me, “that in proportion as the Privateers came in, they should be laid up ".
I have no doubt, but that this promise will be complied with. It has been partly fulfilled already, as all the French Merchant Vessels, belonging to this port, that had Guns on board for their defence, without being furnished with Commissions, have been compelled to land their Arms, before they could be cleared out.
It has also given me much pleasure, to observe that since my arrival no American Cargo has been taken by the Administration before a regular Bargain has been made with the Owners. You may therefore consider the American Commerce in future, as perfectly secure against the Depredations of French Privateers from this place, and the vexations of the Administration, notwithstanding anything that may appear to the contrary in the Arreté. It is needless to make any Remarks on the 2d. Article. As there are to be no more Privateers all the Regula
In the second paragraph below, 13 Thermidor an III. is indicated; but the Executive Directory did not begin the exercise of its functions till 11 Brumaire
tions respecting them are useless. The essential point being tacitly obtained, and the Government thinking it prudent still, to publish these Regulations, for the reasons I have already mentioned, I thought it injudicious to cavil much about them. I beg leave only to assure the President, that I firmly beleive this Government will grant no new Commissions. To his wisdom and prudence I must leave it to determine, whether after such a solemn assurance, he will think himself authorised to open the ports.' It may not be amiss here, to observe that even tho' Privateers (contrary to all expectation) should be still authorized to Cruize, yet there is nothing in the Laws of the 13 Thermidor of the 3d. year, and 3d. Brumaire of the 4th. year, which permits their depredations on neutral property. The first gives them permission to arm against the Enemies of France only, and the second regards merely the Division of their prizes. All other Laws of the Directory authorising Incursions on Neutral Property are by this article annulled, as far as they regard the Privateers of St Domingo. I have enclosed for the Presidents perusal the two Laws alluded to, together with the Letter (No. 5) that accompanied them from the Secretary of the Agency.
The 3d. Article permits the Merchant Vessels and Ships of War of the United States, to enter the Ports of this Island, whenever they please, and warrants them protection.
The 4th. Article annuls all former Decrees of the Agency of St. Domingo, which are contrary to the true meaning of the present Act.
What I have said relative to the 2d. Article may serve as a comment on the 5th. I will only add one observation. I was apprehensive that the Privateers, who are now on their Cruize, might endeaver to elude the Law, by carrying into unfrequented Ports, and plundering all Vessels they might take during the 30 days, within which they are obliged to deliver their Commissions. I therefore thot. it prudent to insist upon the Penalty being encreased, should an infraction of the Law be committed.
By the 6th Article all American Vessels taken after the Publication of this Law, shall be immediately restored without being entitled to Damages. After the expiration of 30 days, all vessels, that shall be taken, are not only to be restored, but the Owners of them shall be indemnified. The first Paragraph of this article indeed, appeared to me to be inadmissible. You will observe by the letter (No. 4) which I received from the particular Agent on this Business, that I endeavored to have it expunged. But after much Debate they consented that all vessels, which were at that moment on Trial should be released provided the Article remained. They thought it best however (to prevent a great deal of clamor, among the Owners of Privateers, who had been authorised to take prizes) that this acquittal should be the Act of the Tribunals, before whom the Prizes were tried. It might otherwise seem an arbitrary stretch of Power, that would give a great deal of discontent.
From the most accurate investigation I could make at the moment, there were only 4 Vessels in the ports of this Island considered as prizes. Those were at the Mole. Two of them had been unfortunately con
As authorized by the act of February 9, 1799. Adams's proclamation, which followed on June 26, 1799, may be seen in Richardson, Messages and Papers, I. 288.
$ See note 6.
demned the day before, and the Captain of the Privateer had gone off with a copy of the Condemnation.
I immediately obtained an order addressed to the commanding Officer at the Mole to stop all proceedings against the Vessels; an Appeal was made to the civil Tribunal, and the acquittal will positively take place. tomorrow. The other two were acquitted instantly." Thus you may observe Sir, that this part of the article has had no influence on the determinations of the Tribunals.
The 6th, 7th, and 8th. Articles were necessary, not only as a remark of Respect to the Government of the United States, but in order to give more security and weight to its Public Officers. With respect to the Power of judging of the validity of Securities offered to the Owners of Privateers, it is of no consequence.
As no Commissions will be granted, there will be nothing to do in that Business. The 9th and 10th. Articles are customary additions to all public Acts.
I trust, Sir, that after a careful perusal of the Arreté, and the few Brief Remarks I have made on it, you will find that all the essential points contained in your Instructions to me are complied with.
Ist. The most effectual Means have been used to call in the Privateers of this Colony, and annul their Commissions. And I can assure you, with Confidence, that methods equally effectual, will be taken to prevent them from being renewed.
2nd. The property of the Citizens of the United States will no longer be liable to be seized by the Government. Both that, and their persons, will in future be considered as sacred, and all their transactions, with the Administration, be conducted on the principles of Equity, and by mutual consent.
3rd. The armed Vessels of the United States, both public, and private, as well as mere Merchant Vessels, will be permitted freely to enter the Ports of the Island to victual, water and refit, and will in all Respects be received, and treated as Friends.
4th. All Vessels belonging to the United States, captured and carried into the ports of St. Domingo after the publication of the Arreté, will be immediately released. Should they be captured after 30 days from its being made public, they will not only be released, but the proprietors of them entitled to Damages.
I wished to have a clause inserted in this Proclamation by which advantages equal to those allowed to the Commerce of any other nation should be secured to the Citizens of the United States. But reflecting more maturely on the subject, I found it was unnecessary. All nations (except the French) have hitherto been on the same footing here, respecting the rates of Duties on Exports and Imports. The most tyrannical administrations, have never attempted to make any Innovations in the regulations of the Custom House. I therefore did not insist on the Insertion of this article after being positively assured that no change should take place, to the prejudice of America, in the rules which at present exist respecting the Commerce of Strangers.
10" The Vessels above alluded to were vizt.
The Brig Rebecca of Boston, Capt. John Wardell
The Schooner Sophia of Newbern, Capt. Stephen Minor
The Brig Delaware of Baltimore, Capt. John White
The Sloop Franklin of Newfield, Capt. John Howland." (Note in original.)
If however Sir you should deem it absolutely necessary to publish such a regulation, you need only mention it to me, and I am sure it will be immediately complied with.
I urged very strongly the necessity of excluding from the ports of St. Domingo all French armed Vessels commissioned elsewhere; but it was thought impolitic to insert such an article in a public Instrument, which allowed a permission of entering these Ports, to the armed Vessels of America. There was no hesitation however in privately granting what I desired. Orders have in consequence been given to suffer no French armed Vessel, to come into the Ports of the Colony except under Circumstances, which would induce any civilized Nation, to afford them an Asylum, such as stress of weather, want of Provisions etc. etc. etc. And it is stipulated, that even in such circumstances, they shall not remain in Port a moment longer, than is necessary, and that great care shall be taken to prevent them from doing any mischief to neutral Commerce. When you add to these Regulations that the Island will be pretty closely invested both by British and American armed Vessels, and that our Merchant Vessels, which will be continually going in, and coming out of its ports, will also be armed, I beleive you will coincide with me in opinion that there is not much to dread in future from French Privateers, commissioned elsewhere.
I have thus Sir endeavored to explain such parts of this Proclamation as appeared contrary to the views of the President. I have taken much pains to penetrate and discover the Intentions of the Government respecting the Commerce of America. From all I have been able to collect, I think I can assure you, that "the Depredations, Aggressions, and Hostilities, which occasioned the Restraints and Prohibitions of commercial intercourse between this Colony, and the United States","1 will not continue in future and that the Trade may of course be renewed with the utmost safety. For the wisdom and prudence of the President, it must be left to determine, whether it is "expedient and for the interests of America "," to renew the Commerce. Should he think proper to open the ports, I must beg leave to remark to you, that it is the wish of the General and chief, that the President would confine the permission of trading to this Island, to the Ports included between Monte Christi on the North and Petit Goave on the West, for the present.
This District is under the immediate Control of General Toussaint, and he will be responsible for every-thing that happens to American. Vessels trading to the different ports contained in it.
From Petit Goave on the West, round Tiberoon to Jackamel13 on the South, is governed at present by Rigaud, and tho' he is subordinate in command to the General in Chief, yet the latter will not answer for any Vessels, that may go to his Ports. For these and other political reasons, he is desirous that no American Vessels, should go to the south side of this Island. He indeed wished at first to restrict the Trade to the Cape," and Port au Prince, but upon observing to him that this Restraint would be displeasing to the Government of the United States, he consented to leave it to the Discretion of the President, to open all, or as many of the Ports, as he thought proper, included in the limits I 11 Partially a quotation from the non-intercourse act of June 13, 1798.
12 Partially a quotation from the non-intercourse act of February 9, 1799.
have mentioned. If you cast your Eyes upon a Map of the Island, Sir, you will observe, that from Monte Christi, to Petit Goave, a great number of very rich Ports are included, such as Fort Dauphin, the Cape, Port paix, the Gonaives, St. Marc, L'Arcahaye, Leogane, Port au Prince The General in Chief hopes, that in a very short time, he will be able to answer for the Ports on the South, with as much certainty, as for those on the North and West, and that in the mean Time, he will give such Proofs of his attention to the American Trade, as will induce the President to open these Ports, at his request.
In consequence of the Privileges granted in the Arreté, and the private assurances given me that what I had required in addition, and which Policy forbad the Government to publish, should also be complied with, I have given the General in Chief reason to beleive, that the President would open the Ports.
I beg leave to add an observation to shew, that the Renewal of the Commerce has now become not only an act of Policy, but also a measure of necessity. Notwithstanding the rigorous Laws enacted in America, to prevent Vessels from sailing to French ports, and the Vigilance of American Cruizers, the Flag of the United States is seen as frequently in every part of this Colony, as it was before the prohibiting Act was passed.
Several Mercantile Houses in America, regardless of the interests of their Country, have carried on a clandestine Trade with St. Domingo. My arrival has disconcerted them, and put a stop, to one of the most iniquitous attempts to frustrate the intentions of the American Government, that perhaps was ever formed. This I shall detail to you at full length in a future Letter.
From these considerations, Sir, I do not hesitate to pronounce it for the interests of America, that the Ports should be opened. Before this takes place however it is necessary to attend seriously to one circumstance, which is of the utmost importance. It has been publickly announced in America, that Great Britain wishes to participate in the Trade to this Colony.
If it is true, some immediate and amicable Arrangement should be made between that Country, and the Government of the United States. Otherwise the American Commerce will be liable to as much Interruption, after the ports are opened, as it has been during the operation of the restraining Acts. Letters from the British Minister at Philadelphia, to the Government of Jamaico, and Admiral Sir Hyde Parker," containing any arrangements that may be made, will be of great service. I beg leave Sir, to repeat, that I think the Commerce may be renewed with safety, as far as it respects the Conduct of this Government, and that if the President should deem it expedient to open the ports, it is for the interests of America, that this should be done as quickly as possible. I have the honor to be,