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law. We were extremely desirous, and used our best exertions, to introduce articles to the same effect, into our treaty, but it was utterly impossible to accomplish it. It must however be allowed, that if engagements of the kind alluded to, especially in regard to blockade, for which there was a special document, would not be observed, that it would be useless to stipulate them by treaty.
On the subject of the 17th article, I have already made some remarks under another head. I cannot think that a stipulation to receive the ships of war of each party, hospitably into the ports of the other, restrains them from limiting the number of ships to be admitted at one time, or from designating the ports to which they shall be admitted. A stipulation to admit them settles only, as I presume, the principle, that they shall be admitted, and leaves open to arrangement the other points connected with it. This opinion is supported by a passage in the article itself, as to the ports which secures to vessels which might be driven by stress of weather, &c. into ports not open to them in ordinary cases, an hospitable reception in such ports. Had the right to designate the ports been given up by the general stipulation, there would have been no necessity for that contained in this passage. The remark is equally applicable to the other case, that of the number to be admitted at one time. As that must be an affair of special and strict regulation, an exception which admitted more, by securing rights to them in case they entered, would necessarily defeat the limitation itself.
The stipulation which relates to the good treatment of the officers of each party in the ports of the other, being reciprocal, contains no reflection on one, which is not applicable to the other; and I will venture to affirm that it is equally necessary in regard to Great Britain as to the United States. It is well known in respect to the latter, that the passions which were excited by the revolution, did not long survive the struggle; that the sword was no sooner sheathed, than the calamities of the war were forgotten. The injured are always the first to forgive. It is, however, just to remark that time has essentially effaced, from the people of both nations, the hostile impression which that arduous conflict produced.
The 23d article was thought to contain an useful stipu lation by securing to the United States the advantages in
navigation and commerce, which Great Britain might afterwards grant to any other nation. That stipulation was obviously founded on the right of the most favoured nation, and subject of course to the conditions incident to it. It amounts to this, that if Great Britain should concede any accommodation to another power in commerce with her East or West India colonies, or any other part of her dominions, gratuitously, the United States would be entitled to it on the same terms; but if she made such accommodation, in consideration of certain equivalents to be given her in return, that the United States would not be entitled to those advantages without paying the equivalents. The doctrine is the same in its application to the United States. If they could grant any privileges in trade to France or Spain for admission into their West India colonies, Great Britain would be entitled to the same, provided she admitted the United States into her islands also, and not otherwise. I could not perceive therefore how it was possible that the United States should be injured by the stipulation contained in this article; while it was probable that they might derive some advantage from it. It could not restrain them from passing a navigation act to place them on an equal footing with Great Britain, especially if it was made general, or applied only to her and the other nations having such acts. The right to pass such an act was not taken away by any other stipulation in the treaty, and there was nothing in this article that had such a tendency. The terms "shall continue to be on the footing of the most favoured nation, &c." refer to the principles established by the preceding articles, and not to the existing laws or regulations of either party. If the latter was the case, it would follow, that the tonnage duties, the discriminating duties, &c. would remain as they were. The preceding articles were intended, in the points to which they extended, to establish a standard of equality between the parties, to which the regulations of each, whether they exceeded or fell short of it, should be brought. It could not be doubted that the British export duty was of the first description, that it violated the principle of the most favoured nation. The British commissioners admitted the fact, and did not pretend to justify it on that ground. They urged in its favour only, that the same duty was mposed on exports to their own colonies in America, and
that if any change was made in it, to satisfy the claim of the United States on the principle of the right of the most favoured nation, it would be to raise it on the goods exported to other countries, not to reduce it on those sent to the United States. The principle, however, established by this article, being applicable to that duty, it was to be presumed that it might fairly be relied on to obtain a modification of it, either by reducing the duty on exports to the United States, or raising it on those to other nations. There is nothing in this article to restrain the United States from adopting measures to counteract the British policy with respect to the West Indies. If that object had not been secured by a special article, from the possibility of being affected by the others, the principle established by the present one could not have affected it, otherwise than beneficially.
Having replied to your objections to the several articles of the treaty, and the papers connected with it, and given our view of them, I shall proceed to make some remarks on the whole subject to do justice to the conduct of the American commissioners in that transaction.
In every case which involved a question of neutral right, or even of commercial accommodation, Great Britain was resolved to yield no ground which she could avoid, and was evidently prepared to hazard war, rather than yield much. There seemed to be no mode of compelling her to yield, than that of embarking in the war with the opposite belligerent, on which great question it belonged to the national councils to decide. We had pressed the claims of the United States in the negotiation, to the utmost limit that we could go, without provoking that issue. It is most certain that better terms could not have been obtained at the time we signed the treaty than it contains.
The state of the war in Europe suggested likewise the propriety of caution on our part. Russia was then on the side of England, and likely to continue so; and Austria, known to be in the same interest, was holding an equivocal attitude, and ready to take advantage of any favourable event that might occur. Prussia, lately powerful, had been defeated, but was not absolutely subdued; her king, the ally and friend of Alexander, kept the field with him, and made head against France. The emperor of France, far removed from his dominions, was making the bold and
dangerous experiment, of the effect which his absence might produce in the interior, and in a situation to be compelled to risk every thing, if pressed by his adversary, on the precarious issue of a single battle. These were strong reasons why we should not throw ourselves too decisively into that scale.
The situation of the United States, always a respectable one, was then less imposing than it usually was. It was known that they were not on good terms with Spain, and that France was the ally of Spain. Their interior too, was disturbed by a conspiracy of doubtful extent and dangerous tendency, the consequences of which were sure to be greatly magnified by all who were unfriendly to our happy system of government. Those circumstances could not fail to be taken into view, by any the most friendly administration in England, when pressed to make concessions which it was unwilling to make. Add to these considerations, the important one, that the British ministry had become much impaired in its strength, especially in what concerned the United States, by the death of a very eminent and distinguished statesman, and had not the power, or thought that it had not, to pursue a liberal policy towards the United States, and that its power was evidently daily diminishing.
These considerations induced us to sign the treaty, and submit it to the wisdom of our government, after obtaining the best conditions that it was possible to obtain. We were aware that, in several points, it fell short of the just claims of our country. But we were persuaded that such an arrangement was made of the whole subject as justified us in the part which we took. In the rejection or adoption of the treaty, I felt no personal interest. Having discharged my duty with integrity and zeal, I neither wished applause. nor dreaded censure. Having the highest confidence in the wisdom, the rectitude and patriotism of the administration, I was satisfied that it would pursue the course, which an enlightened view of the publick interest, and a just sensibility to the national honour, might dictate.
Our letter of January 3d, was written in haste, and was deficient in many of the explanations which would otherwise have been given of the treaty. I was happy when at Washington to find that you were perfectly willing to receive any explanations which I might now be disposed to
give of that transaction, and to allow them the weight which they might deserve. In making this communication I have indulged the freedom which belonged to it, in full confidence that it would be approved.
I cannot conclude this letter without adding my most ardent wish, that the administration may succeed in conducting our affairs with every power, to the happiest result. My retirement, which had been long desired, and delayed only by the arduous and very important duties in which I was engaged, had become necessary as a relief to my mind, after much fatigue, and to the interest of my family, which had been neglected and greatly injured by my absence in the publick service. It is still my desire to cherish retirement. Should it, however, be our unfornate destiny, which I most earnestly hope will not be the case, to be involved in foreign war or domestick trouble, and should my services be deemed useful, I will not hesitate, at the desire of the administration, to repair again to the standard of my country.
I have the honour to be, with great consideration and esteem, your very obedient servant,
Extract of a Letter to Mr. Monroe from General Armstrong. Paris, July 7, 1807.
SIR," The accounts you have had of recent captures made by French privateers of American vessels, under cover of the decree of November last, are not correct; at least, if such captures have been made, I know nothing of them. The only captures I have at any time heard of, were those made from Porto Ferrago. They are by no means of recent date, and have all, I believe, been redressed by the council of prizes. Two of these cases, to which I attended personally, received decisions equally favourable and prompt. Interest and damages were given to the plaintiffs, and I know not why decisions, equally favourable, should not have been given in the other cases. I have, within a week, been informed by Mr. Erving, that he had reason to believe that a French privateer, then in a port of Spain, had plundered American ships, either going to or coming from England, of dry goods, to the amount of $300. Before any thing could be done in Spain