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obvious, that I doubt not you will adopt measures for restraining it effectually in future."

The first complaint alluded to in the Message of the President, is a letter addressed to the Secretary of State, by the Envoy of Great Britain, dated on the 31st of August, 1804, in which he observes:

“I have received information respecting several vessels which have of late been armed in, and have sailed from the different ports of the United States, some loaded with articles contraband of war, (gunpowder is said to be the general article,) others with cargoes of innocent goods, and others again in ballast. After the diligent inquiry which it has been my duty to make on so important a subject, I think that I can have the honor of stating to you with certainty, that several vessels of the above description, which are mentioned to be schooner rigged, have sailed lately from the port of Baltimore, whilst others of a larger size, even ships of considerable burden, and completely equipped for war, have sailed from the port of Philadelphia, bound to the possessions of His Majesty's enemies in the East as well as West Indies. It is said the object of some of these equipments is to force a trade with the blacks in the Island of St. Domingo, in which attempt the public prints have stated so circumstantially, as to leave no doubt on the subject, that two American vessels have been captured by French cruisers, after making resistance. But I have strong reason to believe, that the destination of others, particularly from the port of Philadelphia, have been with cargoes of contraband articles to the enemies' possessions in the East and West Indies.

"Let their destination, however, be what they may, it cannot, I conceive, but be justly considered, that such armaments, on the part of the citizens of a neutral State, must be attended with consequences prejudicial to a belligerent Power, and may, therefore, be deemed rightly as offensive, for which reason the law of nations has stated one of the first obligations of neutrality to be that of abstaining from all participation in warlike expeditions. The armed vessels alluded to, may become the property of the King's enemies either by capture at sea, or by purchase in the ports to which they are destined, and are thus in readiness to be converted immediately into instruments of hostility against His Majesty, whilst in another point of view they are calculated to protect the vessels when they are loaded with contraband articles, against the lawful search and detention of a lawfully commissioned cruiser, when the latter shall be of inferior force. Indeed, I conceive that it may not be giving too great an extent to the principle of the law of nations, without attending to the nature of the cargo, to consider the very arms, ammunition, and other implements of war, with which such vessels are furnished as contraband articles, when the vessels have been thus equipped without the authority of the nation to which they belong.

"I understand, sir, that the armanents in question have in fact taken place under no commission or authority whatever from the Government of the United States. I have therefore thought it my duty to have the honor of making you acquainted with the information that has reached me on this subject, and if the observations which I have taken the liberty to make upon it should happily be conformable to the sentiments of the American Government, I can safely trust to their justice, as well as to their jealousy of observing the most strict neutrality in the present war, to take such measures as shall appear to them the most proper for


suppressing the illegal proceedings complained of on the part of those individuals, citizens of the United States, who shall appear to be concerned in them."

Inaletter from the Chargé des Affaires of France dated the 7th of May, 1804, and addressed to the Secretary of State, he observes:

"The undersigned is informed, in a manner which leaves him no room to doubt it, that the American merchants, who pursue this commerce (meaning the commerce with St. Domingo) publicly arm, in the ports of the United States, vessels which are intended to sup port by force a traffic contrary to the law of nations. and to repel the efforts which the cruisers of the French Republic are authorized to make in order to prevent it These armaments have also for their object to cover the conveyance of munitions to the revolted of that colony. The Government of the United States cannot be igno rant of these facts, which are public; the consequences thereof have already been manifested in the West Indies, where the public papers advise that there have been actions between the French cruisers and American vessels carrying on this commerce. In considering the matter merely under the view of the law of nations, it is manifest that American citizens, under the very eyes of their Government, carry on a private and pirati cal war against a Power with which the United States are at peace. The undersigned would be wanting in his duty if he did not vindicate, under such circumstances, the rights and dignity of his Government, which are openly injured, and if he did not call the attention of Mr. Madison to the disagreeable reflection which the French Government would have a right to make, if the silence of the local authorities respecting acts of this nature should be imitated by the Govern ment of the United States."

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The French Government certainly could not see without a profound regret, that after having given to the United States the most marked proofs of the desire to place the good understanding of the two nations upon the most immoveable foundations, by abandoning national interests which might have eventually produced collisions, individual interest should now be permitted to compromit this good understanding. Its regret would be still much greater, if, when the dignity and safety of France are openly injured in the United States, by their citizens, the American Government should preserve, respecting these violations, a silence which would appear to offer an excuse, and even a sort of encouragement, to all the excesses which cupidity may attempt. Besides, that the peace of the two nations cannot but be seriously compromitted by the proceedings of the individuals, and by the reprisals to which they must necessarily lead, this state of things would infallibly tend to diminish the amicable dispo sition which the two Governments wish to cultivate."

Mr. L. observed that the commerce as carried on by the citizens of the United States is not only a violation of the law of nations, which the United States as an independent nation is bound to obey, but is in direct violation of a treaty made in 1800, between the United States and France: a treaty on the most liberal principles as to the rights of neutrals, and highly advantageous and honorable to both nations.

To remedy the evils complained of, a law was enacted during the last session of Congress to regulate the clearance of armed merchant vessels; this act has operated as a deception, as, since the publi

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cation of the law, the trade with St. Domingo has been carried on to as great if not greater extent than formerly. The only merit of the arming law, is, that in a national view it removes the responsibility from the individual who may be engaged in the trade, to the Government by which it is authorized.

Whilst we are anxious to have our own national rights respected, is it honorable to violate the rights of a friendly Power with whom we are at peace? or is it sound policy to cherish the black population of St. Domingo whilst we have a similar population in our Southern States, in which should an insurrection take place, the Government of the United States is bound to render effectual aid to our fellow-citizens in that part of the Union? Mr. L. concluded by observing that in bringing forward the bill under consideration, he was not influenced by views of friendship towards England or France, but to preserve the immediate honor and future peace of the United States.

Mr. ADAMS.—Mr. President: Had the gentleman who asks leave to introduce this bill, assigned any new reasons as the foundation of his motion, whatever my opinion might have been upon their merits, I should not think it proper to combat them at this time; but the object of the bill is so simple, that its details are immaterial. Its purpose is totally to prohibit a branch of our commerce, which at the last session of the Legislature was proved to be of great importance to the country. Unless, therefore, a majority of the Senate should be of opinion that the bill ought to pass, it appears to me that the present is the stage at which it ought to be arrested: since the mere discussion of the question, and pendency of the measure before Congress, may have an unfavorable effect upon the commercial interest, or at least injuriously affect individual merchants, in the course of their affairs. It is well known to every member upon this floor, and to the public in general, that the same gentleman who now wishes to introduce this bill, at the last session of Congress made a motion for leave to bring it in at that time, which was rejected; and I expected that on its renewal at this time he would have alleged some new grounds for the measure; but in this expectation I have been disappointed. He tells us, indeed, that unless we do prohibit this commerce it will inevitably lead us into a war with the French Republic. I have certainly no more disposition than any gentleman here to be at war with the French Republic; but, excepting that gentleman's assertion, (to which I am willing to give all the credit which it can be entitled to,) what particle of evidence have we that the St. Domingo trade will expose us to any such danger? What evidence has the gentleman himself alleged in support of his assertion? Why, sir, he has read to us a part of the President's Message, at the opening of the last session of Congress; and a correspondence between the British and French Ministers, and the Secretary of State, six or nine months previous to that time, and complaining that some of our merchant vessels were armed. It is surely needless for me to mention


in this House that in consequence of that very passage in the President's Message of last year, and of those very complaints of those foreign Ministers, a bill did actually pass both Houses of Congress, after a long and ample discussion of the subject; which bill was intended to remove those causes of complaint, and is now in force. This bill I have understood was satisfactory on all hands, and it has been within a very few days declared by a member of this body, in his place, to have given satisfaction to the French Government in particular, nor has that information been contradicted. This conclusion indeed may be inferred from the tenor of the President's communication to Congress at the commencement of the present session. If any intimation of complaints from foreign Powers relative to this subject, is contained in this message, it has escaped my attention, and I can indeed safely affirm there is none. And is not this silence itself, a strong, an irresistible proof that no such complaints have been made, but that the measures adopted by Congress at the last session have been satisfactory? Believing it as I do, and that no needless interference of the Government with the regular course of commercial transactions ought ever to be countenanced, I hope the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. LOGAN) will not have leave to bring in this bill.

Mr. JACKSON Seconded Mr. LOGAN's motion, and in reply to Mr. ADAMS said, that he wished Mr. LOGAN to make it an annual motion, as Mr. Sawbridge had, in the Parliament of England, to reduce septennial Parliaments, but with more effect, until the trade so highly dishonorable to national character was annihilated. As to Mr. ADAMS's observations that the bill was not allowed to be brought in last session, and that he had heard no new arguments, he would answer the gentleman by asking what new arguments had been advanced on the bill to prohibit the importation of slaves, when leave was given two days since to bring in the bill, and the same arguments had been rung in our ears by Quakers and others, ever since the Constitution had been in operation, and not a new one had been produced. He said that the day would come when this dishonorable traffic would be rued by the United States; that day must arrive when a general peace would take place, when the present hostilities must cease; that it must and would then become the interest of every nation of Europe, having colonies in the West Indies, to extirpate this horde or ship them off to some other place. That the United States, by affording them succor, arms, ammunition, and provisions, must be considered by them as their allies-their supporters and their protectors. That he believed the United States would be viewed in this light by the French Government and by themselves, and that they would demand and expect us to grant them an asylum as allies and protectors, and send them to our coast. This was no novelty, and he had received information from a late celebrated French General, given in a public company at the city of Washton where he boarded, and the General was one who dined there; that arrangements had been made, if General Le Clerc had been victorious, to

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send those brigands to the Southern States. This was a melancholy subject for South Carolina and Georgia, and one of those brigands introduced into the Southern States was worse than an hundred importations of blacks from Africa, and more dangerous to the United States.


length and detail, stated his objections to giving leave.

He complimented his friend from Pennsylvania. for the purity of his motives in bringing forward the present motion. But he could not refrain from an expression of his surprise, and even his regret, that the subject had been moved again in the Senate.

During the last session of Congress, the whole of the intercourse with St. Domingo had undergone a full investigation. While the bill regulating the clearance of armed merchant vessels was under discussion, that part of our foreign commerce had been minutely examined. It would be remembered that the bill had been committed, recommitted, amended, and modified, with the utmost labor and skill. Besides the talents which the Senate afforded, all the sources of Executive information had been drained, to aid their researches. And the letters of the British and French Ministers, complaining of the conduct of our merchants in forcing this trade, were opened to our view. The crude material of the bill had been hammered at and worked upon so elaborately, at to have as last received the complete burnish of a law. With all the knowledge that could be derived from so many quarters, the bill was at length passed to check the violence of our navigators, and to restrain the adventurous zeal of our merchants. The provisions of this law, were such as it was deemed just and proper that a neutral nation should take. And this was a liberal condescension to the wishes of the two great maritime and belligerent Powers, without forgetting the respect that we owed to our own. With both these he wished to cultivate peace and good understanding; but to neither of them would he consent to yield any portion of our neutral and

Mr. S. SMITH.-Mr. President: Had the honorable mover produced any new document, or given us any new information, I certainly should have given my vote that he should have the leave required; or had the Senate been composed of the same members as those of the last year, I should have contented myself by giving a silent vote on the question. An addition being made to the Senate of several new members, it may not be improper to state, that this subject was at the last session presented to the view of Congress by the President. A bill was predicated thereon, and after great consideration and lengthy discussion passed into a law. Has the mover produced to the Senate any document to show that France is not satisfied with what has been done? Does the gentleman know that any new complaint has been made? I know of none, and I, therefore, think it fair to presume that France has been fully satisfied with the law already passed. The gentleman has said that both the French and British Ministers have considered the trade to St. Domingo as contrary to the law of nations. I see nothing of the kind in the note from the British Minister. I have no doubt of the British being disposed to interdict that branch of trade as they have done almost all our other most lucrative commerce. Had the gentleman brought forward a bill to interdict all trade with Great Britain, he might have produced many more reasons in its support than he has been pleased to offer in support of the bill proposed. But what is this law of nations? Is it the written law, or that law as-national rights. sumed by nations who have the most power? If the gentlemen mean the written law, I must believe that they are mistaken. I have somewhere read, that when a part of a State separates itself, and is capable of supporting that separation, forms for itself a government, and fully conducts its own affairs, that other nations do not infringe this law by trading or commencing a friendly intercourse with such part.

We are told that a celebrated French General since here has said, that had General Le Clerc succeeded, he meant to have landed all the blacks of St. Domingo on our southern shores. This may be-but, sir, it is not probable. If such, however, had been his intention, it could not have arisen from resentment on account of our commerce, for we had been of the greatest utility to him and his army, and had then carried on no commerce that was not fully sanctioned by France. Nay, I might say, that owing to the supplies from the United States, the colony of St. Domingo had been preserved to the mother country until the arrival of General Le Clerc. Unless, Mr. President, the honorable mover shall produce some new information, I shall be under the necessity of voting against leave to bring in this bill. Mr. MITCHILL, in a speech of considerable

The difficulties exhibited in the ministerial correspondence, Mr. M. said were thus removed. With a promptitude that deserved to be admired, Congress interposed its authority, for the purpose at once of doing justice to our neighbors, regulating our commerce, and tranquilizing the Mexican seas. With these salutary provisions, he believed the two complaining nations had been satisfied. At least we had done so much that they ought in all reason to be content. Congress had already manifested a due regard to all that France and Great Britain had offered upon the branch of West Indian commerce, and in the true spirit of good neighborhood, and correct principle, had modified and restricted the intercourse with Hayti. And so fully did the Europeans seem to acquiesce in our conduct, that he had not heard any further remonstrances made by either of them about it. He thought the observations of the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. ADAMS) very much in point. Under a conviction that we had done as much as public faith and national honor required, he had given his vote against the introduction of a similar bill during the last session. curred from that time to this circumstances of the case, or to for him to change his conduct.

Nothing had ocday, to alter the make it necessary He thought now,

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as he did then, that there was danger of overacting our part and of doing too much; of being good to our neighbors, to such a degree, and in such a manner, as to be very cruel to ourselves.

After all this condescension on our part, after inquiring into the alleged misconduct of our people, and taking immediate measures to prevent the repetition, and after having done all we politically could or that we honorably ought, the subject is once more introduced to the Senate. It comes now, not from the Executive Department, not from the cabinets of the nations concerned, nor from the recommendation of a Senatorial committee, but from the suggestions of an individual member of our own body.

The commerce of the United States, he said, was an astonishing spectacle. It reached from Arctic to Antarctic, and was coextensive with the circumference of the globe. Most of the inhabited countries of the earth were visited by our navigators, and the striped flag of the Union fluttered in the remotest harbors. Our countrymen have made material additions to the science of geography. They have found markets unknown to commercial men before. They have derived cargoes from the depths of the ocean, and laid the cod, the seal, and the whale, under contribution. They have exported the productions of their own happy country, so fertile in the articles which sustain and cherish life, to all places where they were wanted, and brought home the crude materials or the manufactures of those regions in return. By an energy and enterprise unexampled in the history of the human species, they have excited the jealousy of foreigners, who are not only behind them in mercantile exertion, but who cannot weigh an anchor or reef a topsail equal to them. Such was our situation-peaceful, industrious, and desirous of measuring out liberal justice to all our neighbors. But this was no protection against commercial rivalship. Emulation and competition existed in all callings and professions. Mercantile jealousy had been alarmed by it. Experience had shown to the most active of them that they were unsuccessful competitors. What was the consequence? They had endeavored to interrupt by force or stratagem, that predominant trade which they could not outdo or equal by fair means. In the havens of Britain the port charges were of the most exorbitant kind. The money paid by us for passing their light-houses was excessive. The fees for performing quarantine were out of all proportion to the good expected, or service done. Convoy duties were also frequently exacted; and the custom-houses collected a higher rate of charge upon merchandise exported to the United States than to any part of Europe. In addition to all this, the cruisers of that nation had made the most ungenerous abuse of the power of searching our vessels. They had taken out and impressed into their service emigrants coming to our country. They had violently drawn into their service our seamen, natives of our land. Naturalized foreigners had not been spared. Our neutrality had been violated by their forcing our impressed citizens to fight against the political 9th CON.-2


friends of their country. Our ships had been frequently detained and spoiled on the high seas; and their officers and crews grossly insulted. Vessels bearing the variegated stripes and constellated stars of our Union had been sent to distant British ports for adjudication. Cargoes had been condemned under the most arbitrary pretexts, and our merchants and underwriters, by the process of an ex parte trial, stripped of their property. Our ports had been blockaded. The public authority in our very harbors had been defied, and the armed vessels of the nation had been fired at. And, to crown the whole, the same nation, instigated by the like jealous and invidious considerations, seem bent upon prohibiting our carrying trade in colonial produce, and resolved to reduce us once more to the dependence of provinces.

Are we, sir, already come to this? You [the Vice President, Mr. CLINTON, was in the Chair] well remember the effects wrought by the injurious proceedings of the British Parliament in 1774. You bore a noble and manly part in the struggles of freemen against oppression at that day. Thirty years ago, you and your patriotic associates could form a general non-importation agreement, and, despising the luxuries of the mother country, and superior to her prowess, you, spirits of freedom, achieved our glorious Revolution. If the case requires it, may we not do this again? If we must curtail our commerce by our own statutes, it is certainly a better policy to retaliate upon an adversary in that way, than to abandon to her, as the proposed bill contemplates, a lucrative portion of our trade. Surely, laboring as we do, under all these embarrassments, a proposition for lessening our navigation and forbidding our ships to frequent the open ocean, would hardly have been expected from one of our own body.

For my own part, said Mr. M., I think the St. Domingo commerce is no great thing in itself. We might do exceedingly well without it; and I am very far from approving the means by which it has been carried on; but I dislike the idea of forbidding it, at the mandate of a foreign Power. Like our Revolutionary patriots, let us put our foot here, and hence refuse to budge. It is not for us to legislate at the nod or bidding of any nation. I hope we understand our business better than to register edicts for them; while we pay due respect to others, it becomes us also to respect ourselves. The precedent is a dangerous one. If we agree to interdict this intercourse, we may, at the next session, be informed that we ought to withdraw from some other important port or region. When we are found to be so complying to one nation, we shall be subjected to a like request or menace from another. until, sir, our flag shall be furled in one foreign port after another, and nothing be left us but the coasting trade at home. The sad consequences have been ably portrayed by the gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. SAMUEL SMITH.)

There was another reason evincing the unseasonableness of the proposition at the present time. This was a disastrous and eventful era of our commerce. The merchants in every seaport of

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the nation were assembling to consider their losses from the rapacity of the belligerent Powers, and submit them to the consideration of Congress. It would be better to wait for the statements that such a practical class of men should make. Our judgments would be aided by the facts which their memorials would contain.

Mr. M. then considered the prohibition in the Constitution on Congress as to the laying of export duties, and said that the exportation of our domestic productions, so necessary to our country, and so cautiously guarded, ought not to be interrupted by any spontaneous regulations of our own. He was an advocate for the mare liberum. He wished a wide and open market for the beef, pork, fish, flour, rice, and cotton, of the country.

He then adverted to the operation which a restrained commerce would have upon agriculture. With the ceasing of exports, this great spring to the planter's and grazier's industry is at once taken away; the plough would stop; and it would be melancholy to see the fair and enchanting face of our country degenerate to the savage state, and yield naught but the unthrifty crop of weeds and brambles.

Turning, then, to ship-building and its cluster of attendant trades and arts, he feared that it would fall into neglect. That employment which gives, perhaps, the grandest idea of the skill of man, would be discontinued, and the inhabitants of our seaports be forced back to the country to keep them from starving.

Nor was this revenue to be omitted in the enumeration. As far as the imports from Hayti are consumed by our citizens, so far the revenue is aided; and, if exported under drawback, the carrying trade is helped by the transportation, and the return cargo, whether of brandy, wines, hardware, or dry goods, may be expected to afford an ad valorem or specific contribution to the Treasury.


We are informed, by the Message of the Presi dent of the United States and the documents before us, that depredations are made on our commerce on all quarters, and our citizens not only robbed of their property, but in some instances subjected to personal insult and injury; it is also well known that Congress have received confdential communications from the President, and are deliberating with closed doors. The general expectation is that something energetic and spirited will be done in defence of our neutral rights and national honor. How great will be the surprise if the first step taken by the Senate of the United States is found to be a further restriction, or a tota prohibition, of a lawful and lucrative branch of our commerce? As to restricting or prohibiting this trade to St. Domingo (which no gentleman has produced a single authority from the law of nations to prove to be unlawful) for the purpose of securing our citizens from the personal insults and injuries to which they are exposed in the West Indies, he could not approve it; a more proper and dignified course he thought would be to send armed ships into those seas, to capture or demolish those bucaniers and pirates, who rob us of our property, and insult and murder our citi zens. They are a banditti whom no nation wil own, or admit, to be acting under their authority though sailing under their flag, and whom it is not in the power of such nation to restrain.


The gentleman from Georgia has told us that the conflict in St. Domingo is that of masters attempting to reclaim their slaves, and that if the United States suffer the trade to be carried on, we shall be considered as aiding and upholding those slaves, and give offence to France. that when peace shall take place in Europe, the French will transport those negroes by thousands to the shores of South Carolina and Georgia, to the endangering the lives of the citizens of those A word or two concerning the situation of States. This Mr. H. considered as a bugbear, with France in this affair, he should beg leave to offer. which we ought not to be frightened, for, as to The coffee and sugar of that productive island the warfare in St. Domingo being a mere conhad reached the ports of that empire in American flict between master and slave, it will be well rebottoms. And, in return, the productions and membered that the French Republic long ago manufactures of France had been carried by the liberated all the slaves in that island, and declared same conveyance to the revolted colony of black them free. As to the citizens of the United States freemen. It was presumable such an intercourse carrying arms and military stores to the enemies would give to France several of the benefits of a of France, the law of nations has declared the direct commerce. And, as our act of the last ses-penalty, which is a forfeiture of the property, and sion had yielded to her the sovereignty, he did not think that, in the exciting intermediate state between rebellion and revolution among the Haytians France had any just cause of displeasure against us. If she had, the numberless captures and depredations done under her flag, must have given her the most ample satisfaction. Under these impressions, he judged it neither politic nor necessary to legislate further on the subject, and should, consequently, say No to the motion.

Mr. HILLHOUSE said, he hoped the question would be taken by yeas and nays, because he confidently expected there would be a great majority of the Senate opposed to giving leave to bring in the bill, for he considered the measure not only as improper, but as ill-timed.

the United States can in no way be implicated thereby. And as to France landing those negroes on our shores, he said there was power, and he believed there would be found a disposition in the people of the United States to repel such an insult; for if we cannot prevent France or any other Power from invading our territory and insulting our national honor, by landing their outcasts upon our shores, we shall no longer deserve the name of an independent nation.

Mr. JACKSON, in reply to Mr. SMITH and Mr. MITCHILL, confessed he had seen no official document, other than what the honorable mover had read, but he had seen at Newcastle, in Delaware, a whole fleet bound to St. Domingo, to force a trade which even captains of vessels, true Ameri

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