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plainel of do not in the most remote degree wound the interests of France, affect the pre-existing engagements of the United States, or change their situation in relation to the belligerent powers. Such, incontestably, was and is the opinion of the American government, and in this opinion only would the treaty have been agreed to. As no one of the arguments which have at various times been urged on this subject, on the part of the United States, has ever yet been noticed, the undersigned deem unnecessary any attempt to re-urge or to strengthen them. You say that you will content yourself “ with observing summarily, that in this Treaty every thing having been provided to turn the neutrality of the United States to the disadvantage of the French republic, and to the advantage of England ; that the federal government having in this act made to Great Britain concessions the most unheard-of, the most incoin patible with the interests of the United States, and the most derogatory from the alliance which existed between the faid states and the French republic, the latter was perfectly free to avail itself of the preservatory ineans with which it was furnished by the laws of nature and of nations, and by its anterior treaty, for the purpose of parrying the inconveniences of the treaty of London. Such are the reasons which have determined the arrêtés of the Directory of which the United States complain, as well as the conduct of its agents in the Antilles.” But you have not hown a single provision, “ which turns the neutrality of the United States to the disadvantage of the French republic and to the advantage of England.” You have not shown a single conceflion“ incompatible with the interests of the United States," or “ derogatory from their alliance with France."
It is confidered as having been demonstrated, that this treaty leaves the neutrality of the United States, with respect both to France and England, precisely in its former situation, and that it contains no concessions which are either unusual, or derogatory from their alliance with this republic. But if in forming this judgment the American government has deceived itself, still it ought to be remembered that it has ever manifested a readiness to place France on the footing of England with respect to the articles complained of.
You suppose that the 2d article of the treaty between France and the United States justifies the arrêtés of which the latter power complains : but that article only entilles either of the contrading parties to a participation of any particular favour in respect of commerce or navigation, which might thereafter be granted by the other to other nations, on allowing the same compeniation, if the conceffion was conditional. It has never been pretended to extend to pre-existing rights held and exercised under the law of nations, and barely recognised by any subsequent treaty. If this could be insisted on, ftill it was shown incontestably by the underligned, that the arrêrć particularly complained of, so far as it professes to found itself on the treaty with England, greatly transcends that treaty, and in its moft noxious article, that requiring a rôle d'équipage, has no relation to it. This all-effential circumstance you have not been pleased 10 notice ; and it is with infinite regret the undersigned observe, that the discussions at which you hint are to be limited to the abuses of the principle eltablished by the arrêté, and not extended to the compatibility of the principle itself with justice, the laws of nations, or existing treaties. ftuation, would have been the language of France? Would this republic permit a neutral nation, not bound thereto by any obligation whatever, to allow in its ports as a voluntary favour the sale of prizes made on French citizens, while the same favour was of necessity denied to the cruisers of France ?
It is well known that such a discussion, if indeed the underfigned could be permitted to enter upon it, would avail but little, since the vast mass of American property captured by the cruisers, and condemned by the courts of France, has been found in vessels not furnithed with a rôle d'équipage.
The undersigned have been minute in their attention to every syllable you have uttered on this interesting subject, because it has been often considered as having given cause of juft irritation to France, and they are sincerely delirous of probing to the bottom every subject which may have assumed that complexion. Their with is unaffected, to give to every coniplaint its real value, in order thus to prepare the way for accommodation, by the relinquishment of such as are not well founded, and the admission of those which have a real existence.
The third head of your complaints relates to the conduct of the government of the United States since their treaty with Eng. land.
You observe, that as soon as the treaty in question had been put in execution, the government of the United States seemed to think itself dispensed from the observance of any measures towards this republic, and you adduce in support of this general observation,
ift. The refusal to permit in the ports of the United States the sale of prizes made by French cruisers.
2dly. The invectives and calumnies against the French government, its principles and its officers, contained in certain journals and pamphlets published in the United States, &c.
3dly. The speech of the President to Congress in May last.
int. The government of the United States does not permit the fale in their ports of prizes made upon England by the cruisers of France.
The fact is admitted. To erect it into an offence, it becomes necessary to prove that this measure violates either the engagements or the neutrality of the United States. Neither is attempted. To show that it violates neither, had this been rendered necessary, would by no means have been deemed an arduous task. It will now only briefly be observed, that the 17th article of the treaty of commerce of the 6th of February 1778, which alone rclates
to this fubje&t, so far from ftipulating for the sale of prizes in the ports of either nation, limits itself to a declaration, that the captors shall have liberty to bring them into port, free from duties, arrests, and searches, and to depart with them to the places expreffed in their commillions; thereby evidently contemplating the then exifting regulations of this nation. France has manifested her own opinion on this subject, in her treaty with Great Britain of the 2óth of September 1786. The 16th article of that treaty declares, “ That it ihall not be lawful for foreign cruisers who thall not be the subjects of one or the other crown, and who fhall have a commiflion from any prince or state, enemies of the one or the other, to arm their vessels in the ports of one or the other of the said two kingdoms, to sell there what they shall have taken, or to change the same in any manner whatever.” In a war with England then, France being neutral, the cruisers of the United States are forbidden to fell iheir prizes in the posts of this republic. The 17th article of the treaty of February 1778, being reciprocal, France has pronounced her decision, that it does not give her cruisers a right to sell their prizes in the ports of America. If this right had been given by the treaty of February 1778, that between the United States and England could not be construed to impair it. Nor is the prohibition a departure from the neutrality of the United States. A nation, to violate its neutrality, muft manifest a partiality for one of the belligerent powers, must accord favours not ftipulated by pre-existing treaties to one which it refuses to the other. This is not even alleged in the present inftance. Far froin perinitting British cruisers to fell in the United States prizes they have made on the French, they are not even allowed to bring them into port. A candid consideration of this subject will prove that the withdrawal of a favour, the grant of which manifested so strongly the attachments of the United States, far from justifying the resentments which have been expreiled in consequence of it, can only be attributed to the foli. citude of the American government to render perfectly unexceptionable its observance of that neutrality which it professes to maintain. It has been shown unequivocally to have been the opinion of the contracting parties, that the treaty of commerce of the 6th of February 1778, did not give to either being at war, a right to sell its prizes in the poris of the other being at peace. It is not pretended that this is one of the rights accruing, without special ftipulation, under the laws and usages of nations.
It is not then a right at all. If granted, it is a voluntary favour. But a voluntary favour effential in the prosecution of the war, if granted by a neutral to one belligerent power, and of necessity refused to the other, affords to that other at least a more plausible pretext for complaint than has been given by any other act of the government of the United States. What, in such a
Ic is believed that such an use of neutrality would not be per.. mitted ; and the underligned felicitate themselves and their country that the government they represent has never intentionally given to this republic any cause of disfatisfaction, as serious as this would have been. You will not fail to observe, Citizen Minister, that this heavy accusation, when analysed, is nothing more than the refusal of a mere favour on the part of the American government, the grant of which might have been dangerous to itself, might have drawn it from that neutral Aation which it is its duty to observe, and which favour France had previously, in the most explicit terms, declared its determination not to grant under similar circumstances to the United States.
2dly. Your second allegation is, “ that the journals known to be indirectly under the control of the cabinet have redoubled their inveclives and calumnies against the republic, its magistrates and its envoys; and that pamphlets openly paid for by the minister of Great Britain have reproduced under every form, those insults and calumnies, without having ever drawn the attention of the government to a state of things so scandalous, and which it might have represed."
The genius of the constitution, and the opinions of the people of the United States, cannot be over-ruled by ihose who administer the government. Among those principles deemed sacred in Ame. rica ; among those facred rights considered as forming the bulwark of their liberty, which the government contemplates with awful reverence, and would approach only with the most cautious circuinspection, there is no one of which the importance is more deeply impressed on the public inind than the liberty of the press.
That this liberty is often carried to excess, that it has sometimes degenerated into licentiousness, is seen and lamented ; but the remedy has not yet been discovered. Perhaps it is an evil inseparable from the good with which it is allied : perhaps it is a shoot which cannot be fripped from the flalk without wounding vitally the plant from which it is torn. However delirable those measures might be which might correct without ensaving the press, they have never yet been devised in America. No regulations exist which enable the governinent to suppress whatever calumnies or invectives any individual may choose to offer to the public eye; or to punish such calumnies and invectives, otherwise than by a legal prosecution in courts which are alike open to all who confider theinselves as injured. Without doubt ihis abuse of a valuable privilege is matter of peculiar regret when it is extended to
the government of a foreign nation. The undersigned are perfuaded, it never has been so extended with the approbation of the government of the United States. Discussions respecting the conduct of foreign powers, especially on points respecting the rights and interests of America, are unavoidably made in a nation where public measures are the results of public opinion, and certainly do not furnish cause of reproach ; but it is believed that calumny and invective have never been substituted for the manly reasoning of an enlightened and injured people, without giving pain to those who adminifter the affairs of the Union. Certainly ihis offence, if it be deemed by France of sufficient magnitude to be worthy of notice, has not been confined to this republic. It has been still more profusely lavilhed on its enemies, and has even been bestowed with an unfparing hand on the federal government itself. Nothing can be more notorious than the calumnies and invectives with which the wiseft meafures and the most virtuous characters of the United States have been pursued and traduced. It is a calamity incident to the nature of liberty, and which can produce no serious evil to France. It is a calamity occasioned neither by the direct nor indirect influence of the American government. In fact, that government is believed to exercise no influence over any press. You must be sensible, Citizen Minister, with how much truth the saine complaint might be urged on the part of the United States. You must know well, what degrading and unworthy calumnies against their government, iis principles, and its officers, have been published to the world by French journalists, and in French pamphlets: that government has even been charged with betraying the best interests of the nation, with having put itself under the guidance of-nay more, with having fold itself to a foreign court. But these calumnies, atrocious as they are, have never constituted a subject of complaint against France. Had not other causes, infinitely more serious and weighty, interrupted the harmony of the two republics, it would still have remained unimpaired, and the mission of the undersigned would never have been rendered necessary.
3dly. You complain of the speech of the President made to Congress in May last. It denounces, you say, the Executive Directory, as searching to propagate anarchy and division in the United States. The constitution of the United States imposes on the President this important duty: “ He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the Union." It having been deemned proper to recall the minister from the United States to this republic, and to replace hin by a citizen, the objects of whose mislion, as expressed in his letters of credence, were, “ to maintain that good understanding, which, from the commencement of the alliance, had sublisted between the two nations; and to efface unfavourable inpreslions, banih suspi. Vol. VII.