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were in fact enjoyed when Belgium and Holland were united under one Government. Satisfied with the justice of their pretension to be placed on the same footing with Holland, I could not, nevertheless, without disregard to the principle of our laws, admit their claim to be treated as Americans; and at the same time a respect for Congress, to whom the subject had long since been referred, has prevented me from producing a just equality, by taking from the vessels of Holland privileges conditionally granted by acts of Congress, although the condition upon which the grant was made, has. in my judgment, failed since 1822. I recommend, therefore, a review of the act of 1824, and such a modification of it as will produce an equality, on such terms as Congress shall think best comports with our settled policy, and the obligations of justice to two friendly powers.
With the Sublime Porte, and all the Governments on the coast of Barbary, our relations continue to be friendly. The proper steps have been taken to renew our treaty with Morocco.
The Argentine Republic has again promised to send, within the current year, a Minister to the United States.
A convention with Mexico, for extending the time for the appointment of commissioners to run the boundary line, has been concluded, and will be submitted to the Senate. Recent events in that country have awakened the liveliest solicitude in the United States. Aware of the strong temptations existing, and powerful inducements held out to the citizens of the United States to mingle in the dissensions of our immediate neighbors, instructions have been given to the District Attorneys of the United States, where indications warranted it, to prosecute, without respect to persons, all who might attempt to violate the obligations of our neutrality; while, at the same time, it has been thought necessary to apprize the Government of Mexico, that we should require the integrity of our territory to be scrupulously respected by both parties.
From our diplomatic agents in Brazil, Chile, Peru, Central America, Venezuela, and New Granada, constant assurances are received of the continued good understanding with the Governments to which they are severally accredited. With those Governments upon which our citizens have valid and accumulating claims, scarcely an advance towards a settlement of them is made, owing mainly to their distracted state, or to the pressure of imperative domestic questions. Our patience has been, and will probably be still further, severely tried; but our fellow-citizens whose interests are involved, may confide in the determination of the Government to obtain for them, eventually, ample retribution.
Unfortunately, many of the nations of this hemisphere are still self-tormented by domestic dissensions. Revolution succeeds revolution; injuries are committed upon foreigners engaged in lawful pursuits; much time elapses before a Government sufficiently stable is erected to justify expectation of redress. Ministers are sent and received, and before the discussions of past injuries are fairly begun, fresh troubles arise; but too frequently new injuries are added to the old, to be discussed together, with the existing Government, after it has proved its ability to sustain the assaults made upon it, or with its successor, if overthrown. If this unhappy condition of things continues much longer, other nations will be under the painful necessity of deciding whether justice to their suffering citizens does not require a prompt redress of injuries by their own power, without waiting for the establish
ment of a Government competent and enduring enough to discuss and to make satisfaction for them.
Since the last session of Congress, the validity of our claims upon France, as liquidat d by the treaty of 1831, has been acknowledged by both branches of her Legislature, and the money has been appropriated for their discharge; but the payment is, I regret to inform you, still withheld.
A brief recapitulation of the most important incidents in this protracted controversy will show how utterly untenable are the grounds upon which this course is attempted to be justified.
On entering upon the duties of my station, I found the United States an unsuccessful applicant to the justice of France, for the satisfaction of claims, the validity of which was never questionable, and has now been most solemnly admitted by France herself. The antiquity of these claims, their high justice, and the aggravating circumstances out of which they arose, are too familiar to the American people to require description. It is sufficient to say, that, for a period of ten years and upwards, our commerce was, with but little interruption, the subject of constant aggressions on the part of France-aggressions, the ordinary features of which were condemnations of vessels and cargoes under arbitrary decrees, adopted in contravention, as well of the laws of nations as of treaty stipulations; burnings on the high seas; and seizures and confiscations, under special imperial rescripts, in the ports of other nations occupied by the armies, or under the control of France. Such, it is now conceded, is the character of the wrongs we suffered-wrongs, in many cases, so flagrant, that even their authors never denied our right to reparation. Of the extent of these injuries, some conception may be formed from the fact, that after the burning of a large amount at sea, and the necessary deterioration, in other cases, by long detention, the American property so seized and sacrificed at forced sales, excluding what was adjudged to privateers before or without condemnation, brought into the French treasury upwards of twenty-four millions of francs, besides large custom-house duties.
The subject had already been an affair of twenty years' uninterrupted negotiation, except for a short time, when France was overwhelmed by the military power of united Europe. During this period, whilst other nations were extorting from her payment of their claims at the point of the bayonet, the United States intermitted their demand for justice, out of respect to the oppressed condition of a gallant people, to whom they felt under obligations for fraternal assistance in their own days of suffering and of peril. The bad effects of these protracted and unavailing discussions, as well upon our relations with France as upon our national character, were obvious; and the line of duty was to my mind equally so. This was, either to insist upon the adjustment of our claims within a reasonable period, or to abandon them altogether. I could not doubt that, by this course, the interests and honor of both countries would be best consulted. Instructions were therefore given in this spirit to the Minister who was sent out once more to demand reparation. Upon the meeting of Congress, in December, 1829, I felt it my duty to speak of these claims, and the delays of France, in terms calculated to call the serious attention of both countries to the subject. The then French Ministry took exception to the message, on the ground of its containing a menace, under which it was not agreeable to the French Government to negotiate. The American Minister, of his own accord, refuted the construction which was attempted to be put upon the message, and, at
the same time, called to the recollection of the French Ministry, that the President's message was a communication addressed, not to foreign Governments, but to the Congress of the United States, in which it was enjoined upon him, by the Constitution, to lay before that body information of the state of the Union, comprehending its foreign as well as its domestic relations; and that if, in the discharge of this duty, he felt it incumbent upon him to summon the attention of Congress, in due time, to what might be the possible consequences of existing difficulties with any foreign Government, he might fairly be supposed to do so, under a sense of what was due from him in a frank communication with another branch of his own Government, and not from any intention of holding a menace over a foreign power. The views taken by him received my approbation, the French Government was satisfied, and the negotiation was continued. It terminated in the treaty of July 4, 1831, recognizing the justice of our claims, in part, and promising payment to the amount of twenty-five millions of francs, in six annual instalments.
The ratifications of this treaty were exchanged at Washington, on the 2d of February, 1832, and in five days thereafter it was laid before Congress, who immediately passed the acts necessary, on our part, to secure to France the commercial advantages conceded to her in the compact. The treaty had previously been solemnly ratified by the King of the French, in terms which are certainly not mere matters of form, and of which the translation is as follows: “We, approving the above Convention, in all and each of the dispositions which are contained in it, do declare, by ourselves, as well as by our heirs and successors, that it is accepted, approved, ratified, and confirmed; and by these presents, signed by our hand, we do accept, approve, ratify, and confirm it; promising, on the faith and word of a King, to observe it, and to cause it to be observed inviolably, without ever contravening it, or suffering it to be contravened, directly or indirectly, for any cause, or under any pretence whatsoever.”
Official information of the exchange of ratifications in the United States reached Paris whilst the Chambers were in session. The extraordinary, and to us injurious, delays of the French Government, in their action upon the subject of its fulfilment, have been heretofore stated to Congress, and I have no disposition to enlarge upon them here. It is sufficient to observe, that the then pending session was allowed to expire without even an effort to obtain the necessary appropriations: that the two succeeding ones were also suffered to pass away without any thing like a serious attempt to obtain a decision upon the subject; and that it was not until the fourth session, almost three years after the conclusion of the treaty, and more than two years after the exchange of ratifications, that the bill for the execution of the treaty was pressed to a vote, and rejected.
In the mean time, the Government of the United States, having full confidence that a treaty entered into and so solemnly ratified by the French King, would be executed in good faith, and not doubting that provision would be made for the payment of the first instalment, which was to become due on the second day of February, 1833, negotiated a draft for the amount through the Bank of the United States. When this draft was presented by the holder, with the credentials required by the treaty to authorize him to receive the money, the Government of France allowed it to be protested. In addition to the injury in the nonpayment of the money by France, conformably to her engagement, the United States were exposed to
a heavy claim on the part of the bank, under pretence of damages, in satisfaction of which that institution seized upon, and still retains, an equal amount of the public moneys. Congress was in session when the decision of the Chambers reached Washington; and an immediate communication of this apparently final decision of France not to fulfil the stipulations of the treaty, was the course naturally to be expected from the President. Toe deep tone of dissatisfaction which pervaded the public mind, and the correspondent excitement produced in Congress by only a general knowledge of the result, rendered it more than probable, that a resort to imme: diałe measures of redress would be the consequence of calling the attention ot that body to the subject. Sincerely desirous of preserving the pacific relations which had so long existed between the two countries, I was anxious to avoid this course if I could be satisfied that, by doing so, neither the interest nor the honor of my country would be compromitted. Without the fullest assurances upon that point, I could not hope to acquit myself oi the responsibility to be incurred in suffering Congress to adjourn without laying the subject before them. Those received by me were believed to be of that character.
That the feelings produced in the United States by the news of the rejec, stered of the appropriation, would be such as I have described them to have beell, was foreseen by the French Government, and prompt measures were taken by it to prevent the consequences. The King, in person, expressed through our Minister at Paris, his profound regret at the decision of the Chambers, and promised to send, fortiwith, a national ship, with despatches to his Minister here, authorizing him to give such assurances as would satisty the Government and people of the United States that the treaty would vet be faithfully executed by France. The national ship arrived, and the Jenister received his instructions. Claiming to act under the authority derived trom them, he gave to this Government, in the name of his, the most solemn assurances, that, as soon after the new elections as the charter would permit, the French Chambers would be convened, and the attempt to procure the necessary appropriations renewed: that all the constitutional powers of the King and his Ministers should be put in requisition to accomplis)ı ule object; and he was understood, and so expressly informed by this Government at the time, to engage that the question should be pressed to a de(ision at a period sufficiently early to permit information of the result to be communicated to Congress at the commencement of their next session, Relying upon these assurances, I incurred the responsibility, great as I reGarded it to be, of suffering Congress to separate without communicating with them upon the subject.
The expectations justly founded upon the promises thus solemnly made to this Government by that of France, were not realized. The French Chambers met on the 31st of July, 1834, soon after the election; and although our Minister in Paris urged the French Ministry to bring the subject Letore them, they declined doing so. He next insisted that the Chambers, if prorogued without acting on the subject, should be reassembled at a period Wearly that their action on the treaty might be known in Washington prior to the meeting of Congress. This reasonable request was not only declined, but the Chainbers were prorogued to the 29th of December, a day so late that their decision, however urgently pressed, could not, in all probability, be obtained in time to reach Washington before the necessary adjournment of Congress by the constitution. The reasons given by the Ministry for
refusing to convoke the Chambers at an earlier period, were afterwards shown not to be insuperable, by their actual convocation on the 1st of December, under a special call
, for domestic purposes--which fact, however, did not become known to this Government until after ihe commencement of the last session of Congress.
Thus disappointed in our just expectations, it became my imperative duty to consult with Congress in regard to the expediency of a resort to retaliatory measures, in case the stipulations of the treaty should not be speedily complied with; and to recommend such as, in my judgment, the occasion called for. To this end, an unreserved communication of the case, in all its aspects, became indispensable. To have shrunk, in making it, from saying all that was necessary to its correct understanding, and that the truth would justify, for fear of giving offence to others, would have been unworthy of us. To have gone, on the other hand, a single step further, for the purpose of wounding the pride of a Government and people with whom we had so many motives for cultivating relations of amity and reci. procal advantage, would have been unwise and improper. Admonished by the past of the difficulty of making even the simplest statement of our wrongs, without disturbing the sensibilities of those who had, by their position, become responsible for their redress, and earnestly desirous of preventing further obstacles from that source, I went out of my way to preclude a construction of the message by which the recommendation that was made to Congress might be regarded as a menace to France, in not only disavowing such a design, but in declaring that her pride and her power were too well known to expect any thing from her fears. did not reach Paris until more than a month after the Chambers had been in session: and such was the insensibility of the Ministry to our rightful claims and just expectations, that our Minister had been informed that the matter, when introduced, would not be pressed as a cabinet measure.
Although the message was not officially communicated to the French Government, and notwithstanding the declaration to the contrary which it contained, the French Ministry decided to consider the conditional recomInendation of reprisals, a menace and an insult, which the honor of the nation made it incumbent on them to resent. The measures resorted to by them to evince their sense of the supposed indignity, were, the immediate recall of their Minister at Washington, the offer of passports to the American Minister at Paris, and a public notice to the Legislative Chambers that all diplomatic intercourse with the United States had been suspended.
Having, in this manner, vindicated the dignity of France, they next proceeded to illustrate her justice. To this end, a bill was immediately introduced into the Chamber of Deputies, proposing to make the appropriations necessary to carry into effect the treaty.
into effect the treaty. " As this bill subsequently passed into a law, the provisions of which now constitute the main subject of difficulty between the two nations, it becomes my duty, in order to place the subject before you in a clear light, to trace the history of its passage, and to refer, with some particularity, to the proceedings and discussions in regard to it. The Minister of Finance, in his opening speech, alluded to the measures which had been adopted to resent the supposed indignity, and recommended the execution of the treaty as a measure required by the honor and justice of France. He, as the organ of the Ministry, declared the message, so long as it had not received the sanotion of Congress, a mere expression of the personal opinion of the President, for which neither the Government nor peo