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cessary, or so vouched to the committee as to leave them in ! no doubt of the truth of them.
“ It has become a practice for many of the privateers of the belligerent powers to send into port all American vessels they meet with, bound from any of the French ports in the West Indies to the United States; and it is positively asserted, that the owners of some of them have given general instructions to their captains to that effect-And though many of those vessels have been afterwards liberated, yet the loss by plunder, de. tention and expense, is so great as to render it ruinous to the American owner :-In many cases, where the cargoes have been valuable, the owners of the privateers, after acquittal, have lodged appeals which they never intended to prosecute, but merely with a view of getting the property into their hands upon a valuation made so unfairly, as to ensure them a considerable profit, even if they should be finally made liable.
“ Fourteen days only are allowed to an American owner to make his claim, which renders it impossible for him, except he is on the spot, and every difficulty which a combination of interested persons can devise, is thrown in the way, to prevent his getting security; and in few instances can it be done, but by making over his vessel and cargo to the securities, and thereby subjecting himself to the heavy additional charge of commission, insurance, &c. It may be added, that the most barefaced bribery is sometimes practised to prevail on unwary boys, or those who know little of the obligation of an oath, to induce them to give testimony in favour of the captors.
“ Beside the cases here enumerated, the committee have in. formation of a number of vessels belonging to this port, being captured and carried into different ports; but as the legal proofs are not come forward, they forbear to mention them.
“ It is proper, however, for them to add, thal, besides the loss of property occasioned by those unjust captures and detentions, the masters and crews of the vessels are frequently subjected to insults and outrages, that must be shocking to Americans. Of this the case of captain Wallace is an instance.-There are others within the knowledge of the committee, of which they only wait the legal proof to lay them before the Secretary.
" To this last list of grievances the committee are sorry to find it their duty to add, i hat by reason of the vexation, loss, and outrages, suffered by the merchants of the United States, its commerce already begins to languish, and its products are likely to be left upon the hands of those who raise them. Prodens men doubt the propriety of hazarding their property, when they find that the strictest conformity with the laws of nations, or of their own country, will not protect them from the rapacity of men who are neither restrained by the principles of honour, nor by laws sufficiently coercive to give security to those, who are not subjects of the same government.
"The committee conclude this representation with an assurance, that they have, in no degree, exaggerated in the statement they have made, and that they will continue to communi. cate all such information, as they may further receive ; of which nature, before the closing of this report, they are sorry to add, is that of the irruptions of the Algerines from the Mediterranean, in consequence of a truce concluded with that regency, it is said, by the British minister, on behalf of Portugal and Holland. This alarming event, to which some American ships, we hear, have already become victims, is of so distressing a nature, as must soon deprive us of some of the most lucrative branches of our commerce, if not speedily checked or prevented. The immediate rise it has produced in insurance, and the fears it may instil into our seamen and commanders, are of a nature highly deserving the serious consideration of government, on whose protection and zeal for the interests, commercial and agricultural, of the country, the committee implicitly rely.”
In a supplementary letter the committee of Philadelphia make this conclusion, " that the cases which they recite, and others less formally announced, serve to show, that there are frequent instances of suppression of papers, registers, &c. very prejudicial to our shipping on their trials, and of injuries by the destruction of letters, to the general correspondence of the country with foreign nations.” 7
When we examine the documents which have been transmitted from different parts of the Union, we find the British, the French, the Spaniards, and the Dutch, charged with attacks upon our commerce.
It is urged against the British,
1. That their privateers plunder the American vessels, throw them out of their course by forcing them, upon groundless suspicion, into ports, other than those, to which they were destined.; detain them, even after the hope of a regular confiscation is abandoned ; by their negligence, while they hold the possession, expose the cargoes to damage, and the vessels to destruction ; and maletreat their crews.
2. That British ships of war have forcibly seized mariners, belonging to American vessels, and in one instance under the protection of a Portuguese fort.
3. That by British regulations and practice our corn and provisions are driven from the ports of France, and restricted to the ports of the British, or those of their friends.
1. That our vessels are not permitted to go from the British ports in the islands without giving security (which is not attainable but with difficulty and expense) for the discharge of the cargo in some other British or a neutral port.
5. That without the imputation of a contraband trade, as defined by the law of nations, our vessels are captured for carry. ing on a commercial intercourse with the French West Indies,
although it is tolerated by the laws of the French Republick, and that for this extraordinary conduct no other excuse is alleged, than that by some edict of a king of France this intercourse was prohibited; and
6. That the conduct of the admiralty in the British islands is impeachable for an excess of rigour, and a departure from strict judicial purity; and the expenses of an appeal to England too heavy to be encountered, under all the circumstances of discouragement.
Against the French it is urged,
1. That their privateers harass our trade no less than those of the British.
2. That two of their ships of war have committed enormities on our vessels.
3. That their courts of admiralty are guilty of equal oppression.
4. That besides these points of accusation, which are common to the French and British, the former have infringed the treaty between the United States and them, by subjecting to seizure and condemnation our vessels; trading with their enemies in merchandise, which that treaty declares not to be contraband, and under circumstances not forbidden by the law of nations.
5. That a very detrimental embargo has been laid upon large numbers of American vessels in the French ports;* and,
6. That a contract with the French government for coin has been discharged in depreciated assignats.
Against the Spaniards, the outrages of privateers are urged;
And against the Dutch, one condemnation in the admiralty is insisted to be unwarrantable,
Under this complication of mischief, which persecutes our commerce, I beg leave, sir, to submit to your consideration, whether representations, as far as facts may justify, ought not to be immediately pressed upon the foreign governments, in those of the preceding cases for which they are responsible.
Among these, I class, 1. The violences perpetrated by publick ships of war. 2. Prohibitions, or regulations inconsistent with the laws of nations. 3. The improper conduct of courts. 4. Infractions of treaty. 5. The imposition of embargoes; and, 6. The breach of publick contracts. How far a government is liable to redress the rapine of privateers, depends upon the peculiarities of the case. It is incumbent upon it, however, to keep its courts freely open, and to secure an impartial hearing to the injured applicant. If the rules prescribed to privateers be too loose, and opportunities of plunder or ill-treatment be provoked from that cause, or from the prospect of impunity, it
• There is reason to believe that the embargo was removed in Dec. last, and the detention compensated by an order of the committee of Publick Safety, in France.
is impossible to be too strenuous in remonstrating against this formidable evil.
Thus, sir, have I reduced to general heads the particular complaints, without making any inquiry into the facts beyond the allegations of the parties interested.
I will only add, that your message seems to promise to Congress some statement upon these subjects. I have the honour, sir, to be, &c.
EDM. RANDOLPH. The President of the United States.
True copy. Geo. Taylor, jr. C. C. D.S.
OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CONGRESS.
MARCH 12, 1794. I TRANSMIT to you the translations of two letters from the commissioners of his Catholick Majesty to the Secretary of State, and of the enclosures.
[These letters, it is believed, were not published.]
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CONGRESS.
MARCH 18, 1794. The Minister plenipotentiary of the French Republick, havo ing requested an advance of money, I transmit to Congress certain documents relative to that subject.
GEO. WASHINGTON. [These documents, it is believed, were not published.]
OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CONGRESS.
APRIL 4, 1794. I Lay before you three Letters from our Minister in London; advices concerning the Algerine Mission, from our Minister at Lisbon, and others; and a letter from the Minister Plenipotentiary of the French Republick, to the Secretary of State, with his answer.
London, December 26, 1793. DEAR SIR,_ This serves to cover an * additional instruction, which, though dated the 6th of November, was made publick, at the admiralty, but a few days ago.-I only received it from our proctor last evening. I am, dear sir, &c.
THOMAS PINCKNEY. Secretary of State.
I mention the circumstance of the dates, because it appears to me of some importance.
London January 2, 1794. Dear Sir,—At the moment when I was preparing to go to the conference with Lord Grenville, this morning, I received a note from him, excusing himself from the meeting. I then endeavoured to see Mr. Burges, but without success; and as this is the last hour for writing by the packet, I must send the en. closed additional instruction, without any explanation obtained from the ministry. The Danish minister is sick, and at Bath; but the Swedish minister appears alarmed at this measure, as I am informed the mercantile interest, connected with America, appear to be, from a committee of them having waited on Mr. Pitt. Upon this instruction, as it stands, it is unnecessary for me to make any comment. If a repeal or modification of it should take place, or if I can obtain the principles upon which this government has issued it, I will immediately communicate.
Toulon is again possessed by the French Republick. We have not yet the particulars. I remain, dear sir, &c.
THOMAS PINCKNEY. The Secretary of State.
G. R. (L.S)
Additional instruction to the Commanders of all our
ships of war and privateers, that have or may hate Letters of Marque against France. Given at our Court at St. James's, the 6th day of No.
vember, 1793, and in the 34th year of our Reign. That they shall stop and detain all ships laden with goods, the produce o! any colony belonging to France, or carrying provisions, or other supplies, for the use of such colony, and shall bring the same, with their cargoes, to legal adjudication in our courts of admiralty. By his Majesty's command,
London, January 9, 1794. MY DEAR SIR-You will receive herewith the copy of an instruction to the commanders of his Britannick majesty's ships of war, &c. dated the 8th of this month, concerning which I had
*This follows the letter from Mr. Pinckney of Jan. 2, 1794.