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ear to any proposition calculated to give her enemies the resources of their colonial trade, beyond the degree in which her present regulations permit. This is doubtless. to be apprehended, but considering the proposition as an article which may find a balance in the general bargain, it may not be inadmissible; or if inadmissible in the extent proposed, a middle ground may perhaps be accepted. The colonial trade in question consists of four branches; first, between the colonies and Great Britain herself; secondly, between the colonies and the neutral countries. carrying on the trade; thirdly, between the colonies and neutral countries not themselves carrying on the trade; fourthly, between the colonies and the countries to which they belong, or which are parties to the war with Great Britain.

The first and second branches are those with which her own regulation accords. The last is that to which her aversion will of course be the strongest. Should this

aversion be unconquerable, let it be tried then, and then only, whether, on our yielding, or rather omitting that point, she will not yield to us, in return, the direct trade between hostile colonies and neutral countries generally. You will be careful, however, so to modify the compromise as will mark as little as may be a positive relinquishment of the direct trade between the belligerent nations and their colonies.

Should such a compromise be altogether rejected, you will limit the article to the simple enumeration of contraband, it being desirable that, without a very valuable consideration, no precedent should be given by the United States of a stipulated acknowledgment that free ships do not make free goods. And you will omit the article altogether, if a proper list of contraband cannot be agreed on, particularly one that excludes money, provisions, and naval stores.


This article, taken from the convention of 1800 between the United States and France, is conformable to the general practice of the prize courts in the latter, and is the more worthy of adoption every where, as it would contribute so much to the consistency and stability of the

rules of admiralty proceedings. Without a single objection justly lying against it, it will have the important advantages of being a check on the inferior tribunals, of enabling the superior tribunal, where a faulty reason appears on the face of the sentence, to correct the wrong without delay or expense, and of being a check moreover on the decision of the superior tribunal itself. As prize causes also are tried by courts not of a third party, but of one of the parties interested, it is but reasonable that the ground should be known to the other, on which judgment has passed against its citizens or subjects, in order, if deemed proper, that negotiation may be employed for redressing past, or guarding against future injustice.


The fictitious blockades proclaimed by Great Britain, and made the pretext for violating the commerce of neutral nations, has been one of the greatest abuses ever committed on the high seas. During the late war they were carried to an extravagance, which would have been ridiculous, if in their effects they had not inflicted such serious and extensive injuries on neutral nations. Ports were proclaimed in a state of blockade, previous to the arrival of any force at them, were considered in that state without regard to intermissions in the presence of the blockading force, and the proclamations left in operation after its final departure, the British cruisers during the whole time seizing every vessel bound to such ports, at whatever distance from them, and the British prize courts pronouncing condemnations whenever a knowledge of the proclamation at the time of sailing could be presumed, although it might afterwards be known that no real blockade existed. The whole scene was a perfect mockery, in which fact was sacrificed to form, and right to power and plunder. The United States were among the greatest sufferers; and would have been still more so, if redress for some of the spoliations proceeding from this source had not fallen within the provisions of an article in the treaty of 1794.

From the effect of this and other arbitrary practices of Great Britain on the temper and policy of neutral nations towards her, from the spirit of her treaty made- near the

close of the late war with Russia, from the general disposition manifested at the beginning of the present towards the United States, and the comparative moderation observed in Europe with respect to blockades, (if indeed the two cases of the Weser and Elbe are not to be excepted) it was hoped that the mockeries and mischiefs practised under the name of blockades would no where be repeated. It is found, however, that the West Indies are again the theatre of them. The three entire and extensive islands of Martinique, Guadaloupe and St. Domingo have been published as in a state of blockade, although the whole naval force applied to the purpose is inconsiderable, although it appears that a part of this inconsiderable force is occasionally seen at the distance of many leagues at sea, although it does not appear that more than one or two ports at most have at any time been actually blockaded, and although complaints are heard, that the British ships of war do not protect their own trade against the numerous cruisers from the islands under this pretended blockade.

Enclosed herewith are three letters on this subject; two from me, the first to Mr. Thornton, the second to Mr. Merry, and the third from Mr. Merry to me. You will observe that he does not pretend to justify the measures pursued in the West Indies; but on the contrary wishes them to be regarded as proceeding from an officer whe does not pursue the intentions of his government. Still such measures prove that no general regulations or orders have been yet issued by that government against the evil, as might reasonably have been expected, and that a stipulated security against it is an object as important as it is just.

In the two letters to Mr. Thornton and Mr. Merry the ground is marked out, on which you will be able to combat the false blockades, and to maintain the definition of a real one, contained in the proposed article which is a literal copy from the fourth article of the Russian treaty above cited. In addition to these letters, you will find enclosed a letter of the to Mr. Pinkney, in which some views are taken of the subject, which may also be of use in your discussions with the British govern




This article is due, if not to all neutrals, at least to the United States, who are distinguished by the distance of their situation. Decisions of the British court of admiralty have so far respected this peculiarity as to admit a want of information as a plea for going to a blockaded port, where such a plea would be refused to less remote countries. But more than this may fairly be claimed. A vessel, knowing that a particular blockade existed two months before, may well conjecture that before her arrival at the port, which will require two months more, the blockade will have ceased; and may accordingly clear and steer for such a port with an honest intention, in case of finding on her approach the fact otherwise, not to attempt an unlawful entrance. To condemn vessels under such circumstances, would be manifestly unjust; and to restrain them from a distant voyage to a port once in a state of blockade, until information of a change shall have travelled a like distance, must produce a delay and uncertainty little short of an absolute prohibition of the commerce. To require them even to go out of their course, to seek at other ports information on the subject, would be an unreasonable imposition. The British government can have little objection to this article, after defining blockades as is agreed with Russia, and as is here proposed; since our distance is of itself a security against any concert with the blockaded for surreptitious entries, which might be attempted by nearer adventurers; and since, in the case of blockades by a force actually present, a preliminary notice may be required without impairing their efficacy, as might be the case with blockades, such as the preceding article guards against.

The only difference between the articles, as standing in the different columns, consists in the preamble to that which is to be admitted, if the proposition of the other should not succeed. The article is preferable without the recital of any reason particular to the United States, because, as a naked stipulation, it strengthens instead of weakening a general principle friendly to neutral and pacifick nations.


These are articles which are known to have been long wished and contemplated on the part of Great Britain, and together with the justice, and in many views the expedieney to Great Britain herself of the articles desired on our part, may induce her to accede to the whole. The articles are in substance the same with a project offered to the American administration in the year 1800 by Mr. Liston, who appears to have borrowed it from corresponding stipulations in the convention between the United States and France in the year The project was at that time dropped, owing perhaps, in part, to the change in the head of the department of state, between whom and Mr. Liston it had been discussed, and, principally, to the diffi'culty of combining with it proper stipulations against British impressments on the high scas. Without such an equivalent, the project had little to recommend it to the United States. Considered by itself, it was too the less admissible, as one of its articles, under some obscurity of expression, was thought to favour the British pretension to impress British seamen from American vessels on the high seas.

A copy of this document is enclosed, as it may be not without use in showing the ideas of the British government at that time, so far at least as its minister here was an organ of them.

The terms, in which these articles are to be proposed, differ but slightly from those in which they may be admitted. In the former, the delivery of deserters is confined to soldiers and seamen, without requiring a delivery of officers, whose desertion will not be from the service of their country, but on account of offences for which it might sometimes be more agreeable to the United States to be unbound to give them up for trial and punishment. At the same time this consideration ought not to be a bar to an arrangement, which, in its general character, will be so important to the interests of the United States.

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