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W. 154), “It is inconsistent for a nation which has been patiently bearing for ten years the grossest insults and injuries from their late enemies, to rise at a feather against their friends and benefactors, and at a moment, too, when circumstances have kindled the most ardent affections of the two people towards each other ;" he still wrote to the French representative, M. Ternant, demanding the cessation of the fitting out of certain privateers in Charleston (3 Jeff
. 561); and to his successor, Citizen Genet (whom we afterwards sent home for endeavoring to make use of our harbors for such illegal purposes), “ The fitting out of armed vessels against nations with whom we are at peace” is “instrumental to the annoyance of those nations, and thereby tends to compromit their peace,” and “it is the duty of a neutral nation to prohibit such acts as would injure one of the warring parties. (Ibid. 571.)
One of the first cases demanding action by the government was that of the Little Sarah. Upon the suggestion by Mr. Hammond, the British representative, that she was being fitted as a French privateer, she was seized, and being found to contain a suspicious armament, was prevented from sailing. About the same time the British ship Grange was taken in American waters by the French war vessel l’Embuscade. The act was considered a breach of our sovereignty, and the prize seized and restored to her British owners. Numerous prizes were, on proof that the capturing vessels had been fitted out in the United States, restored to their owners. The government did not wait for action by the British representative, but held its own officers to the duty of vigilance. The governors of the states were frequently called upon to arrest vessels about departing (Hamilton's W., vol. 2, 463). In one case we find this language used :
“The case in question is that of a vessel armed, equipped, and manned, in a port of the United States for the purpose of committing hostilities on a nation at peace with us.
“ As soon as it was perceived that such enterprises would be attempted, orders to prevent them were despatched to all the states and ports of the Union. In consequence of these the governor of New York, receive ing information that a sloop heretofore called the Folly, now the Republican, was fitting, armning, and manning, to cruise against a nation with whom we were at peace, seized the vessel.”
The President, being apprized, ordered her and the persons engaged to be delivered over to the tribunals for pun
ishment. (3 Jeff. W. 386.) Such seizures were frequently made, the government entering into it as a matter of honor, not appearing to suppose that its duty would be performed by sitting coldly by until the British minister under all the embarrassments of being a stranger, should produce irrefragable proof of infractions of its own laws. Gen. Washington seems to have considered it a shameful and humiliating excuse for a government to plead that it "is ignorant of what is carried on daily and repeatedly in its own country.” It was impossible, however, with our limited navy, to prevent entirely such expeditions, and at last, at the risk of a war with our friend, it was resolved in Cabinet Council, on the 15th of August, 1793, " That the Minister of the French Republic be informed that the President considers the United States as bound by positive assurances given in conformity to the laws of neutrality, to effectuate the restoration of, or make compensation for prizes which shall have been made of any of the parties at war with France, subsequent to the 5th day of June last, by privateers fitted out in their ports. That it is consequently expected that he will cause restitution to be made of all prizes taken and brought into our ports subsequent to the above-mentioned day by such privateers ; in defect of which the President considers it incumbent upon the United States to indemnify the owners of those prizes ; the indemnification to be reimbursed by the French nation." (4 Hamilton's Works, 468.) At the same time Mr. Jefferson's important letter to Mr. Hammond was written.*
* PHILADELPHIA, September 5, 1793. SIR:-I am honored with yours of August 30th ; mine of the 7th of that month assured that measures were taken for excluding from all further asylum in our ports, vessels armed in them to cruise on nations with which we are at peace, and for the restoration of the prizes, the Lovely Lass," "Prince William, Henry," and the “ Jane, of Dublin ; and should the measures for restitution fail in their effect, the President considered it as incumbent on the United States to make compensation for the vessels.
We are bound by our treaties with three of the belligerent nations, by all the means in our power to protect and defend their vessels and effects in our ports, or waters or on the seas near our shores, and to recover and restore the same to the right owners, when taken from them. If all the means in onr power are used, and fail in their effect, we are not bound by our treaties with those nations to make compensation.
Though we have no similar treaty with Great Britain, it was the opinion of the President that we should use toward that nation the same rule, which, under this article, was to govern us with the other nations; and even to extend it to captures made on the high seas and brought into our ports; if done by vessels which had been at war with them.
Having, for particular reasons, forborne to use all the means in our power for the restitution of the three vessels mentioned in my letter of August 7th, the President thought it incumbent on the United States to made compensation for them. And though nothing was said in that letter of other vessels taken under like circumstances
The basis of this voluntary action of our government was, that sound maxim of the law of nations, that a state is prima facie responsible for whatever is done within its jurisdiction, since it must be presumed to be capable of preventing or punishing offences committed within its boundaries ; and that a body politic is, therefore, responsible for the acts of individuals which are acts of actual or meditated hostility towards a nation, with which the government of these subjects professes to maintain relations of friendship or neutrality. (3 Phillimore's International Law, 218; Grotius, 1. ii., c. 21, § 2; Puffendorf, 1. i., c. 5, § ult.) In the year following, upon the application of England, and for her better protection (Canning's Speeches, vol. 4, pp. 152–3, Abr. Debates in Congress, vol 7), we passed the act of 1794; and lastly, and most important to be remembered when the day of settlement comes, we, in that year, entered into a treaty of amity and commerce with her, by which, on her demand,
and brought in after the 5th of June, and before the date of that letter, yet when the same forbearance had taken place, it was and is his opinion that compensation will be equally due.
As to prizes made under the same circumstances, and brought in after the date of that letter, the President determined that all the means in our power should be used for their restitution. If these fail, as we should not be bound by our treaties to make compensation to the other powers in the analogous case, he did not mean to give an opinion that it ought to be done to Great Britain. But still, if any cases shall arise subsequent to that date, the circumstances of which shall place them on similar ground with those before it, the President would think compensation equally incuinbent on the United States.
Instructions are given to the governors of the different states to use all the means in their power for restoring prizes of this last description, found within their ports. Though they will, of course, take measures to be informed of them, and the general governinent bas given them the aid of the custom-house officers for this purpose, yet you will be sensible of the importance of multiplyiug the channels of their information as far as shall depend on yourself, or any person under your direction, in order that the governors may use the means in their power for making restitution.
Without knowledye of the capture they cannot restore it. It will always be best to give the notice to them directly; but any information which you shall be pleased to send me, also, at any time, shall be forwarded to them as quickly as distance will permit.
Hence you will perceive, sir, that the President contemplates restitution or compensation in the case before the 7th of August; and after that date restitution if it can be affected by any means in our power; and that it will be important you should substantiate the facts, that snch prizes are in our ports or waters.
Your list of the privateers illicitly in our ports, is, I believe, correct,
With respect to losses by detention, waste, spoliation, sustained by vessels taken as before-mentioned, between the dates of June 5th and August 7th, it is proposed, as a provisional measure, that the collector of the customs of the district, and the British consul or any other person you please, shall appoint persons to establish the value of the vessel and cargo at the time of her capture and of her arrival in the port into which she is brought, according to their value in that port. If this shall be agreeable to you, and you will be pleased to signify it to me, with the names of the prizes understood to be of this description, instruction will be given accordingly, to the collector of the customs where the respective vessels are.
I have the honor to be, &c.
Tuomas JEFFERSON, GEORGE HAMMOND, Esq.
we undertook to pay to her and her citizens all losses suffered by armed vessels fitted out in our ports.*
Our conduct during this whole period received, and still receives, the commendation of all enlightened publicists
. Phillimore and Ward are profuse in their praise of the justice, dignity, and intelligence, which marked the action of this government; and George Canning lost no opportunity in Parliament to urge an emulation of our example. In the debates, upon Lord Althorpe’s petition for the repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act (Hansard's Parl. Debates N. S., vol. 8, pp. 1019–59, Canning's Speeches, vol. 4, pp. 152–3), he said :
"It surely could not be forgotten, that, in 1794, this country complained of various breaches of neutrality (though much inferior to those now under consideration), committed on the part of subjects of the United States. What was the conduct of that nation in consequence? Did she resent the complaint as an infringement of her independence? Did it refuse to take such steps as would insure the inmediate observance of neutrality ? Neither. In 1794, immediately after the application from the British government, the legislature of the United States passed an act, prohibiting, under heavy penalties, the engagement of American citizens in the armies of any foreign powers.† Was that the only instance of the kind ? It was but last year (1818) that the United States passed an act, by which the act of 1794 was confirmed in every respect, again prohibiting the engagement of their citizens in the service of any foreign powers; and pointing distinctly to the service of Spain or the South American provinces.”
He might have added, had he spoken at a later period, that in 1838 we again, upon the request of Great Britain,
called in legislative aid ; this time to prevent succor to the Canadian rebellion. Again, in 1823, he said (Canning's Speeches, vol. 5, pp. 50–1):
“If I wished for a guide in a system of neutrality, I would take that laid down by America in the days of the presidency of Wash
* Extract from 7th article of treaty of 1794: “And whereas, certain merchants and others, his majesty's subjects, complain that in the course of the war they have sustained' loss and damage by reason of the capture of their vessels and merchandise, taken within the limits and jurisdiction of the States, and brought into the ports of the same, or taken by vessels originally armed in the ports of the said States. It is agreed, that in all cases where restitution shall not have been made agreeably to the tenor of the letter from Mr. Jetterson to Mr. Hammond, of September 5th, 1793, the complaints of the parties shall be referred to the commissioners hereby appointed," &c., &c.
It was because we stood by this very act, and would not permit Mr. Crampton to infringe it by recruiting for the war against Russia, that we were pressed almost to the point of hostilities in 1855.
ington and the secretaryship of Jefferson. Here, sir,” he added, aster stating what we had done, “I contend, is the principle on which we ought to act.”
After the treaty of 1794, the efforts of our government to prevent infractions of its neutrality were still increased.
In 1803 (President's Message, Oct. 17), Mr. Jefferson said :
“We have seen, with sincere concern, the flames of war lighted up again in Europe ; and nations, with which we have the most friendly and useful relations, engaged in mutual destruction. In the course of this conflict, let it be our endeavor, as it is our interest, to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent nations by every act of justice and innocent kindness ; to receive their armed vessels with hospitality from the distresses of the sea ; but to administer the means of annoyance to none; to establish in our harbors such a police as may maintain law and order; to restrain our citizens from embarking, individually, in a war, in which their country bas no part, and to punish severely those persons, citizen or alien, who usurp our flag not entitled to it.”
In 1805, still greater vigor was announced. Mr. Jefferson, in the annual message of that year, says, after reciting certain infractions of our neutrality and sovereignty:
“These enormities appearing to be unreached by any control of their sovereigns, I found it necessary to equip a force, to cruise within our own seas, to arrest all vessels of this description found hovering on our coasts within the limits of the Gulf Stream, and to bring in the offenders for trial as pirates.” (Am. State Pap., For. Rel., vol. 1, p. 66.)
In 1817, Spain was engaged in a contest with her colonies. The proximity of the scene of conflict, the sympathy which our people naturally held with the struggling colonies, and the adventurous character of our seamen, all combined to make interference feasible and attractive. Many attempts were made, the better to prevent which, we passed the act of 1818, alluded to by Mr. Canning. A voluminous correspondence took place between Don Luis de Onis, the Spanish minister, and the State Department, touching these armaments, a critical examination of which will show that the charges now constantly made by the English press, that our
* It is well known that the “Alabama" usually approaches her victims under the English Aag; see papers in the matter of the “Brilliant,” published by the New York Chamber of Commerce, 1862.