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for the recovery of these goods, the ship went to sea, and professedly for the purpose of returning to the port of her armament. Believing her to have arrived there, I put all the evidence I possessed before M. Decres, who closes his answer with the following assurance: *Your excellency may be assured, that as far as it depends on me, the captains of these vessels, or their owners, shall obtain, if there is ground for it, a prompt and full reparation." I quote this to show you that there is no disposition in the ministers of this government to sanction or protect such enterprises upon our commerce. From the uses you may be able to make of the facts, and their relation to your question generally, I subjoin a brief exposition of the construction now given to the November decree. It was, you know, admitted by both ministerial and judicial authorities, that this decree did not infract the provisions of the treaty of 1800 between the United States and France. Still it was contended that vessels (of the United States) coming from any port of Great Britain since the date of the edict, could not be admitted to entry in the ports of France. This rule, without some qualifications, was likely to become mischievous, and I accordingly obtained the following modifications of it, and hope to obtain a further modification, which will render it perfectly harmless. These changes took place as circumstances rose to produce them; for though the necessity for them was both foreseen and represented, it was only upon real, not upon hypothetical cases, that the ministers of his majesty were willing to act.
1. Vessels leaving ports of the United States before a knowledge of the arret had been promulgated there, are not subject to the rule.
2. Vessels not coming directly from a British to a French port, are not subject to the rule.
3. The cargoes of vessels coming directly from a British to a French port, and offered for entry, on proof that the touching of the ship in England, &c. was involuntary, are put in depot or sequestration, until his majesty shall have decided on the sufficiency of the proof offered; or they
* V. E. peut etre assuree qu'il ne tiendra pas a moi que les capitaines de res navires ou leurs proprietaires n'obtiennont s'il y a lieu une reparation prompte et pleine.
are at once given up to the consignees, on their giving security to abide the decision which shall be ultimately taken by the emperor in their respective cases. The vessels can go out freely, and without impediment of any kind. The former rule, of which this is an amelioration, was, that ships, as well as cargoes, coming under this description, should be sequestered, &c. The farther alteration which I have asked is, the establishment of some principle which shall regulate the kind and degree of proof required with respect to the alleged application of a force majeure, &c. My own opinion is, that this may best be found in the greater or less correspondence which shall exist between the cargo when shipped in America, and when arrived here. If the correspondence be complete, the evidence ought to be considered as complete also, that they were not in Great Britain for the purposes of commerce, and not being there for these purposes, the inference is fair, that their going there at all was involuntary. This is a rule the ministers will consent to: whether his majesty will do so also, will be known in a few days. He is expected here about the beginning of August."
Paris, le 18 Septembre, 1807.
J'AI soumis à sa majesté l'empereur et roi, monsieur, les doutes que s'était formé s. E. le ministre de la marine et des colonies, sur l'étendue de quelques dispositions du décrêt impérial du 21 Novembre, 1806, qui a déclaré les isles Britanniques en état de blocus; voici quelles sont les intentions de sa majesté sur les points qui avaient été mis en question.
1. Les bâtimens armés en guerre peuvent-ils en vertu du décrêt impérial du 21 Novembre dernier, saisir sur les bâtimens neutres, soit les propriétés Anglaises, soit même toutes marchandises provenant de manufactures ou du territoire Anglais?
Sa majesté m'a fait connaitre, que, puisqu'elle avait jugé à propos de n'exprimer aucune exception dans son décrêt, il n'y avait pas lieu d'en faire dans l'exécution à l'égard de qui que ce pût être.
2. Sa majesté a sursis à statuer sur la question de savoir si les armemens Français doivent s'emparer des bâtimens neutres qui vont en Angleterre, ou qui en sortent, lors même qu'ils n'ont point à bord de marchandises Anglaises.
3. Sur la troisieme question, qui était de savoir si les armemens Français sont possible de la retenue ordonnée par l'article 6, du décrêt du 21 Novembre, sa majesté a déclaré que la disposition de cet article n'était susceptible d'aucune restriction, c'est-à-dire, que la retenue doit avoir lieu sur le produit de toutes les confiscations de marchandises et propriétés qui ont été ou pourroient être prononcées en exécution du décrêt, sans égard au lieu de la saisie ou à la qualité des saisissans.
Vous voudrez bien, monsieur, notifier ces décisions au conseil des prises, les faire consigner sur les régistres et m'assurer la réception de ma lettre. Recevez, &c. &c.
Le gd. juge min. de la justice. REGNIER. Procureur Général Impérial du Conseil des Prises.
Paris, September 18, 1807.
I HAVE submitted, sir, to his majesty the emperor and king, the doubts of his excellency the minister of marine and colonies, on the extent of some of the provisions of the imperial decree of November 21, 1806, which has declared the British islands in a state of blockade. The following are the intentions of his majesty, on the points in question.
1. Can armed vessels under the imperial decree of the 21st of November last, seize in neutral vessels, either English property, or merchandise proceeding from the manufactures of the English territories?
His majesty notifies me, that since he had not thought proper to express any exception in his decree, there is no ground to make any in the execution, with respect to any thing whatsoever.
2. his majesty has not decided the question whether French armed vessels may possess themselves of neutral vessels going to or from England, although they have no English merchandise on board.
3. On the question, whether French armed vessels are subject to the deduction ordered by the sixth article of the decree of November 21, his majesty has declared that the provision of that article was not susceptible of any restriction; that is to say, that the deduction must take effect on the proceeds of all confiscations of merchandise and property, which have been or may be pronounced in execution of the decree, without regard to the place of seizure or charater of the captors.
You will be so good, sir, as to notify these decisions to the council of prizes, to have them entered in the registers, and to acknowledge the receipt of my letter. Accept, &c. &c.
The Grand Judge Minister of Justice,
Procureur General Imperial of the Council of Prizes.
Paris, August 9, 1807.
SIR, Your excellency is not unapprized that, soon after the promulgation of the imperial decree of the 21st of November last, one of similar character and injunctions was issued by the prince of peace, in behalf of his catholick majesty. Under this order, sundry vessels belonging to the citizens of the United States have been captured on the high seas, brought into the ports of Spain, and are now before the court of admiralty for examination. To this brief statement, I subjoin an extract from a letter of the 27th ultimo, from the charge des affaires of the United States at Madrid, which will show your excellency, that the fate of these vessels will depend, not on the construc tion which might be given to the Spanish decree, by the Spanish tribunals, but on the practice which shall have been established by France under her decree of November last; and that prince Masserano has accordingly been directed to ask from your excellency such exposition of that decree, and of the practice under it, as shall regulate, on this head, the conduct of Spanish courts and cruisers towards neutral commerce in general. Assured as I feel myself, that this exposition, whenever given, will not be less friendly and liberal, than that already found in the
decisions of his imperial majesty's council of prizes and correspondence of his minister of marine, viz. that the provisions of the decree in question do not infract any of the rights of commerce, stipulated by treaty between France. and the United States, it is incumbent on me to pray your excellency that it (the exposition required) be given as expeditiously as possible, to the end that the legitimate commerce of the United States be relieved from all farther annoyance, growing out of the doubtful meaning and operation of the Spanish decree aforesaid.
Your excellency will permit me to avail myself of this occasion to recall to your attention the subject of my letter of the 26th of June last. I learn from Antwerp, that the cargoes mentioned in that letter are yet under sequestration, and that considerable loss, as well by diminution. of price in the articles, as by accumulation of interest and charges, has been already incurred.
Your excellency will do me the honour to accept the assurances of my profound respect.
JOHN ARMSTRONG. His Excellency the Prince of Benevento.
Paris, Sept. 24, 1807.
SIR, I have this moment learned that a new and extended construction, highly injurious to the commerce of the United States, was about to be given to the imperial decree of the 21st of November last. It is therefore incumbent upon me to ask from your excellency an explanation of his majesty's views in relation to this subject, and particularly whether it be his majesty's intention, in any degree, to infract the obligations of the treaty now subsisting between the United States and the French empire?
I pray your excellency, &c. &c. &c.
JOHN ARMSTRONG. His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Relations.
Fontainbleau, le 7 Oct. 1807.
MONSIEUR, Vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'inviter le 24 Septembre à vous transmettre quelques éclaircisse