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juries, and sufferings, a departure from this policy may become a duty; and the most pacifick nation find itself compelled to exchange for the calamities of war, the greater distresses of longer forbearance.
In the present state of things, the committee cannot recommend any departure from that policy which withholds our commercial and agricultural property, from the licensed depredations of the great maritime belligerent powers. They hope that an adherence to this policy will eventually secure to us the blessings of peace, without any sacrifice of our national rights; and they have no doubt that it will be supported by all the manly virtue, which the good people of the United States have ever discovered, on great and patriotick occasions. But the committee would suggest, on this subject, that better councils in the belligerent governments, producing a juster conduct towards neutral nations, would render a continuance of the embargo unnecessary, and that it will be a provident measure to vest in the Executive a power, in such an event, to suspend until the next session of Congress, wholly, or in part, the several acts prohibiting the departure of our vessels for foreign ports.
Although the committee have abstained from entering into any particular comparison, of the proceedings of the French and British governments, towards the United States; they cannot reconcile with their duty, or with the just sensibility of the nation, not to advert to the tenour and language of the late communications, made by the respective organs of those governments.
In the letter of M. Champagny, the United States are not only threatened with confiscation, as the final destiny of American property, seized under French decrees, unless disposition shall be manifested by them against Great Britain, satisfactory to France, but they are even declared, without reserve of any sort, to be actually in a state of war against Great Britain.
In the letter of Mr. Erskine to the Secretary of State, the United States are explicitly charged with justly subjecting their commerce to confiscations under the British orders, by not opposing an effectual resistance against the decrees of France; in other words, by not making war against that nation, in case no other interposition should be effectual.
There are in this exposition of the British orders, certain features, which claim particular attention; among the regulations of which they consist, it is provided, that the commerce of the United States, bound from their own ports to its legal and ordinary markets, shall pass through British ports, shall there, in all cases, take their clearances from British officers, shall, in some cases, obtain special licenses, and in others, pay a direct and avowed tax; thus putting the United States on a commercial footing, even worse than was allowed to British colonies-which were left free to carry their exports directly to foreign markets, in cases where an intermediate voyage to the parent country would be too oppressive. In the present case, not a single article is permitted to be sent from the United States to the most southern parts of Europe, without a previous voyage to Great Britain, and in some instances, not without purchasing even that privilege, without paying a tribute to the British treasury.
The committee have taken into consideration the documents relating to the attack on the frigate Chesapeake ; but they have not deemed it their duty, in the actual posture of that subject, to make any other remark, than that it strengthens the motives for persevering in all the provisional and precautionary measures hitherto contemplated.
FROM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS. NOV. 8, 1808.
To the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States.
It would have been a source, fellow citizens, of much gratification, if our last communications from Europe had enabled me to inform you, that the belligerent nations, whose disregard of neutral rights has been so destructive to our commerce, had become awakened to the duty and true policy of revoking their unrighteous edicts. That no means might be omitted to produce this salutary effect, I
lost no time in availing myself of the act authorizing a suspension, in whole or in part, of the several embargo laws. Our ministers at London and Paris were instructed to explain to the respective governments there, our disposition to exercise the authority in such manner as would withdraw the pretext on which the aggressions were originally founded, and open the way for a renewal of that commercial intercourse which it was alleged on all sides had been reluctantly obstructed. As each of those governments had pledged its readiness to concur in renouncing a measure which reached its adversary through the incontestable rights of neutrals only, and as the measure had been assumed by each as a retaliation for an asserted acquiescence in the aggressions of the other, it was reasonably expected that the occasion would have been seized by both for evincing the sincerity of their professions, and for restoring to the commerce of the United States its legitimate freedom. The instructions to our ministers, with respect to the different belligerents, were necessarily modified with a reference to their different circumstances, and to the condition annexed by law to the executive power of suspension, requiring a degree of security to our commerce which would not result from a repeal of the decrees of France. Instead of a pledge, therefore, for a suspension of the embargo as to her in case of such a repeal, it was presumed that a sufficient inducement might be found in other considerations, and particularly in the change produced by a compliance with our just demands by one belligerent, and a refusal by the other, in the relations between this other and the United States. To Great Britain, whose power on the ocean is so ascendant, it was deemed not inconsistent with that condition, to state explicitly, that on her rescinding her orders in relation to the United States, their trade would be opened with her, and remain shut to her enemy, in case of his failure to rescind his decrees also. From France no answer has been received, nor any indication that the requisite change in her decrees is contemplated. The favourable reception of the proposition to Great Britain was the less to be doubted, as her orders of council had not only been referred for their vindication to an acquiescence on the part of the United States, no longer to be pretended, but as the arrangement proposed, whilst it resisted the illegal decrees of France, involved, moreover, substantially, the precise
advantages professedly aimed at by the British orders. The arrangement has, nevertheless, been rejected.
This candid and liberal experiment having thus failed, and no other event having occurred on which a suspension of the embargo by the Executive was authorized, it necessarily remains in the extent originally given to it. We have the satisfaction, however, to reflect, that in return for the privations imposed by the measure, and which our fellow citizens in general have borne with patriotism, it has had the important effects of saving our mariners, and our vast mercantile property; as well as of affording time for prosecuting the defensive and provisional measures called for by the occasion. It has demonstrated to foreign nations the moderation and firmness which govern our councils, and to our citizens the necessity of uniting in support of the laws and the rights of their country, and has thus long frustrated those usurpations and spoliations which, if resisted, involved war, if submitted to, sacrificed a vital principle of our national independence.
Under a continuance of the belligerent measures, which, in defiance of laws which consecrate the rights of neutrals, overspread the ocean with danger, it will rest with the wisdom of Congress to decide on the course best adapted to such a state of things; and bringing with them, as they do, from every part of the Union, the sentiments of our constituents, my confidence is strengthened, that in forming this decision, they will, with an unerring regard to the essential rights and interests of the nation, weigh and compare the painful alternatives out of which a choice is to be made. Nor should I do justice to the virtues, which on other occasions have marked the character of our fellow citizens, if I did not cherish an equal confidence, that the alternative chosen, whatever it may be, will be maintained with all the fortitude and patriotism which the crisis ought to inspire.
The documents, containing the correspondences on the subject of the foreign edicts against our commerce, with the înstructions given to our ministers at London and Paris, are now laid before you.
The communications, made to Congress at their last session, explained the posture in which the close of the discussions relative to the attack by a British ship of war on the frigate Chesapeake left a subject on which the na
tion had manifested so honourable a sensibility. Every view of what had passed, authorized a belief that immediate steps would be taken by the British government for redressing a wrong, which, the more it was investigated, appeared the more clearly to require what had not been provided for in the special mission. It is found that no steps have been taken for the purpose. On the contrary, it will be seen in the documents laid before you, that the inadmissible preliminary, which obstructed the adjustment, is still adhered to; and, moreover, that it is now brought into connection with the distinct and irrelative case of the orders in council. The instructions which had been given to our minister at London, with a view to facilitate, if necessary, the reparation claimed by the United States, are included in the documents communicated.
Our relations with the other powers of Europe have un dergone no material changes since your last session. The important negotiations with Spain, which had been alternately suspended and resumed, necessarily experience a pause, under the extraordinary and interesting crisis which distinguishes her internal situation.
With the Barbary powers we continue in harmony, with the exception of an unjustifiable proceeding of the dey of Algiers towards our consul to that regency. Its character and circumstances are now laid before you, and will enable you to decide how far it may either now or hereafter call for any measures not within the limits of the executive authority.
With our Indian neighbours the publick peace has been steadily maintained. Some instances of individual wrong have as at other times taken place, but in no wise impli cating the will of the nation. Beyond the Mississippi, the loways, the Sacs, and the Alibamas, have delivered up for trial and punishment individuals from among themselves, accused of murdering citizens of the United States. On this side of the Mississippi, the Creeks are exerting themselves to arrest offenders of the same kind, and the Choctaws have manifested their readiness and desire for amicable and just arrangements respecting depredations committed by disorderly persons of their tribe. And generally, from a conviction that we consider them as a part of ourselves, and cherish with sincerity their rights and interests, the attachment of the Indian tribes is gaining