Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1816:GALLATIN TO MONROE. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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1816:GALLATIN TO MONROE. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 12th July, 1816.
. . . I arrived here on the 9th instant, and on the ensuing day communicated my arrival to the Duke de Richelieu, and requested an interview with him. He answered the same evening, and appointed yesterday at twelve o’clock, when I had a conversation of half an hour with him. This was, of course, very general, perfectly civil, and even cordial on his part, and accompanied with the usual expressions of the friendly disposition of the French government towards the United States. He spoke with much approbation of the principles adopted in our late commercial convention with Great Britain, and, on my observing that our commercial relations with France had already much increased, and that the principal obstacle to their further extension arose principally from the regulations of this government, he said that he regretted the fiscal spirit which still characterized its measures, and which the pressure of the times rendered it difficult at once to correct. In answer to his inquiry whether we were generally on good terms with England, I told him that the two governments were on perfectly good terms, but that some degree of irritation arising from the late state of war still existed with the people on both sides, and that to that cause should be ascribed much of what appeared in our public journals. He said that he knew that not much importance ought to be attached to such publications; that otherwise they might have some reason to complain, which he did not, of the manner in which the present government of France was treated in many of our newspapers; yet that it was unintelligible to him how the most democratic papers in England and in the United States could defend or regret the man who had crushed liberty everywhere. I assured him that, so far as related to America, hatred of Great Britain or apprehension of her enormous power was the true cause of whatever might, in those papers, seem to be written in favor of Bonaparte, who had been considered as the great and formidable enemy of that country. He said that he wished that any erroneous opinions which might exist with respect to the administration of the reigning family here might be corrected; that ex-kings and other emigrants of the same description who had lately removed to the United States would probably try to nourish or create unfavorable prejudices; that he knew that I would see and judge with impartiality, and had no doubt that I would soon be satisfied that they were no oppressors, and intended to govern with the utmost mildness.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 6th August, 1816.
You were informed by my despatch No. 1 of my arrival in this city on the 9th of last month. On the 11th I had the audience from the King, to whom I delivered my letters of credence. The reception, both from him and from the Princes, was what is called gracious, and accompanied with the usual expressions of most friendly disposition towards the United States.
My abode here has been too short to enable me to form any opinion of the prospect we have of succeeding in obtaining the indemnities so justly due to our citizens, and I do not wish to enter into the discussion until I shall have ascertained as far as practicable the disposition of this government in that respect. Whatever this may be, the situation of their finances will be a formidable obstacle in our way. That there will be a great deficit this and every succeeding year until the foreign contributions are discharged is notorious. The precise amount of that deficit for this year is not so well known, but, from a source entitled to confidence, has been stated to me as exceeding three hundred and fifty millions of francs. It is not believed that any practical increase of taxes can produce more than one hundred millions. The residue, or 250 millions a year for five years, must therefore remain unpaid, or be provided for by creating new stock. That situation would, indeed, be deplorable in a country where there is no public credit, and where the Treasury cannot raise money in any other manner than by selling their 5 per cent. stock at the market rate, which does not now exceed 58 per cent. I still hope that the statement is exaggerated; but the reliance which seems to be placed on the forbearance of the allied powers confirms the opinion that the internal resources are not sufficient to meet the foreign demands.
It has been suggested to me that some classes of claims, particularly that of vessels burnt at sea, would, if pressed by themselves, have a better chance of being admitted; but, unless otherwise instructed, I will not pursue a course which might injure the general mass of our claims. . . .
GALLATIN TO MADISON.
Paris, 12th August, 1816.
The month I have already spent in Paris has been necessarily devoted in a great degree to my private arrangements, and I am only within two days settled in my house.
Various considerations induce me to think that it will be proper to open soon the discussion of the subject of indemnities with this government; and I believe that they expect it. In making my compliments to the King, I took care, alluding to our former intimate alliance with France, to say that it could not have been disturbed but during those times when moral and political obligations were overthrown and the law of nations (le droit des gens) trampled upon; that therefore the President saw, in the event which had brought back the Bourbons to the throne of France, a pledge of the renewal of those friendly connections, &c.
* * * * * * * * * *
The busts you wish are not amongst the most popular, and must be sought for; but I hope to obtain them so as to send them before this autumn.
* * * * * * * * * *
The crop, which, on account of incessant rains, was in danger, looks now fine, and will, it is hoped, be saved. It was a subject of great alarm. They said that the people were not healthy enough to bear starving.
I met La Fayette at Mr. Parker’s seat, fifteen miles from Paris. Though not forbidden, he does not think proper to come here. He is in good health, and anxious to hear the result of his New Orleans location. I have seen Humboldt and Say but once, and a single moment, and had not time to pay them the compliments in your behalf.
The English I have seen here do not seem to put much confidence in Lord Exmouth’s expedition against the Algerines. I have not heard a single word about or from our squadron, the arrival of the Washington at Gibraltar only excepted. Nor have I any account from Shaler or from Erving. Not a single hint has been dropped respecting our differences with Spain. It seems to me as if none of the powers had made up their mind on the question of the independence of the Spanish colonies.
With sincere attachment and great respect, your obedient servant.
I have a fine hotel, for which, furnished (but without plate, linen, china, kitchen furniture, etc.), I give 13,000 francs a year.
JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, September 8, 1816.
The jealousy of the European governments rendering it unsafe to pass letters through their post-offices, I am obliged to borrow the protection of your cover to procure a safe passage for the enclosed letter to Madame de Staël, and to ask the favor of you to have it delivered at the hotel of M. de Lessert without passing through the post-office.
In your answer of June 7 to mine of May 18, you mentioned that you did not understand to what proceeding of Congress I alluded as likely to produce a removal of most of the members, and that by a spontaneous movement of the people, unsuggested by the newspapers, which had been silent on it. I alluded to the law giving themselves 1500 D. a year. There has never been an instance before of so unanimous an opinion of the people, and that through every State of the Union. A very few members of the first order of merit in the House will be re-elected, such as R. M. Johnson, who has been re-elected, Clay, of Kentucky, by a small majority, and a few others. But the almost entire mass will go out, not only those who supported the law or voted for it, or skulked from the vote, but those who voted against it or opposed it actively, if they took the money; and the examples of refusals to take it were very few. The next Congress, then, Federal as well as Republican, will be almost wholly of new members.
We have had the most extraordinary year of drought and cold ever known in the history of America. In June, instead of 3¾ inches, our average of rain for that month, we had only ⅓ of an inch; in August, instead of 9⅙ inches our average, we had only of an inch; and it still continues. The summer, too, has been as cold as a moderate winter. In every State north of this there has been frost in every month of the year; in this State we had none in June and July, but those of August killed much corn over the mountains. The crop of corn through the Atlantic States will probably be less than one-third of an ordinary one, that of tobacco still less, and of mean quality. The crop of wheat was middling in quantity, but excellent in quality. But every species of bread grain taken together will not be sufficient for the subsistence of the inhabitants, and the exportation of flour, already begun by the indebted and the improvident, to whatsoever degree it may be carried, will be exactly so much taken from the mouths of our own citizens. My anxieties on this subject are the greater, because I remember the deaths which the drought of 1755 in Virginia produced from the want of food.
There will not be the smallest opposition to the election of Monroe and Tompkins, the Republicans being undivided and the Federalists desperate. The Hartford Convention and peace of Ghent have nearly annihilated them.
Our State is becoming clamorous for a convention and amendment of their constitution, and I believe will obtain it. It was the first constitution formed in the United States, and of course the most imperfect. The other States improved in theirs in proportion as new precedents were added, and most of them have since amended. We have entered on a liberal plan of internal improvements, and the universal approbation of it will encourage and insure its prosecution. I recollect nothing else domestic worth noting to you, and therefore place here my respectful and affectionate salutations.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 12th September, 1816.
I had, at my request, an interview, on the 30th ultimo, with the Duke of Richelieu on the subject of the indemnities due to American citizens for property wrested from them under the administration of the late Emperor of France. I stated that the demand for indemnity had been incessantly pressed while he remained in power, and towards the latter end of it with some prospect of obtaining compensation; that the time which had necessarily elapsed before Mr. Crawford could be accredited to the King, and afterwards Prince Talleyrand’s departure for Vienna and Mr. Crawford’s return to the United States, had heretofore prevented a renewal of the application to his Majesty’s government, and that it was now made with perfect confidence in the probity which distinguished that government, and in the full expectation of obtaining from it that justice to which we were so indisputably entitled.
The Duke answered that, foreseeing the object of the conference which I had asked, he had already directed the papers relative to the subject to be collected and laid before him; that he believed that we would not be ultimately disappointed in our expectations, but that he hoped that, in the present situation of France, with which I must be well acquainted, we were not going to fill up the measure of the embarrassment under which she now labored.
I replied that, having been most shamefully plundered to an immense amount, and having already experienced so many vexatious and evasive delays, the government of the United States must necessarily press the payment of claims which could never be abandoned, yet that it was not its wish unnecessarily to increase the difficulties of France; that it was, on the contrary, evidently the interest of the United States that she should be independent and powerful; and I requested him to explain precisely what he meant by our filling up the measure of her embarrassments. By demanding, he answered, immediate payment of what is due to you. On this I observed that the first point was the recognition of our claims, and that, this once done, the time and mode of payment would be the subject of subsequent consideration, and must be arranged on principles of mutual accommodation.
He then said that as soon as he had digested the papers connected with the subject he would lay it before the King and the council of ministers, and then invite me to another conference and communicate the result of their deliberations. Alluding to his acknowledgment that the government of France wanted to gain time, I requested him not to make me experience any unnecessary delay with respect to their determination on the main question. He promised me that he would not, and ended the conference by saying that he would, on his part, hope that if we came to an agreement as to the principles I would not object to the adoption of such forms in the liquidation of the claims as would give them the time they absolutely wanted. I did not think proper to observe that their giving stock in payment would remove the difficulty, because, although they have nothing else to give, it is desirable that its acceptance, instead of being proposed by us, should be considered as a concession on our part; and because the sale of stock being their principal resource for every extraordinary expenditure, their objection applies to an immediate issue sufficient to pay us.
I have not heard from the Duke since that conference, and the Ministry must have been principally occupied with the deliberations connected with the dissolution of the legislative body and the new elections. It had been my intention not to write to you until our next interview should have enabled me to form some correct opinion of what we have to expect; but General Bernard’s departure presented an opportunity which could not be omitted.
It has appeared to me inexpedient to enter on the subject of the commercial relations of the two countries till the result of our demand for indemnity shall have been ascertained, as this government might be induced to try to get rid of the last subject by making concessions with respect to the other. It may be added that in practice our shipping interest suffers no inconvenience so far as relates to the intercourse with France itself.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 25th September, 1816.
Not having heard from the Duke de Richelieu since our conference of the 30th ult., I addressed him this morning a note, copy of which is enclosed. He had been absent a few days, but is expected back this day.
You will see in the Moniteurs which accompany this the rumors respecting Mr. Pinkney’s negotiation, and the various speculations which it has occasioned. I have not heard from him, and know nothing more on the subject than what may be inferred from the public papers.
I received yesterday, by a Dutch courier, a letter from Mr. Erving, at Madrid, dated 11th instant, together with despatches for the Department of State, which are herewith transmitted.
Various circumstances induce me to believe that the prospect of succeeding in our application for indemnities is less favorable than might have been anticipated. It is not improbable that some understanding on the subject is taking place between this government and that of Naples; and others against whom we have similar claims may be disposed to encourage a rejection of our demands in both places. The tenor of the next conference will point out the most eligible course to be pursued. It was, at all events, necessary to place on record the fact that application had been made, as the long delay in renewing it to the existing government has already had an unfavorable appearance.
Much sensibility is, on every occasion, expressed on the subject of the hostility to the government of France, apparent in most of the American newspapers friendly to our Administration. This is not brought as an official ground of complaint, the extent of the liberty of our press being understood, but is stated as an evidence of unfriendly disposition. I mention this because the several paragraphs in the Moniteur, though not entirely, may in some degree be considered as a kind of retaliation for certain pieces in the National Intelligencer. Of the general sensibility on such subjects I had lately a direct proof, the King and one of the Princes having, on the last Court, cordially congratulated the minister of Holland on the project of law recommended to States-General by the King of the Netherlands. That measure was, his Majesty said, honorable to the King and beneficial to the repose of Europe.
I enclose a copy of Chateaubriand’s suppressed work. Nobody is the dupe of the pretended concern for liberty with which he has covered his attack against the Ministry. Everybody knows that the party of whom he is the organ want neither charter nor constitutional provisions, that their object is power, and the restoration of the privileges and property of which the revolution has deprived them. The offensive sentence which caused his dismissal will be found in the postscriptum. The elections of deputies by the electoral bodies will be more contested than has been heretofore usual. The Ultras differ from other former oppositions in that they dare to avow themselves and to exert their influence. The general calculation is that they will succeed in returning about one-third of the deputies.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO MADISON.
Paris, 14th September, 1816.
Amongst the offers of persons wishing to go to the United States and to enter their service, one only has appeared to me worthy of attention and to deserve to be submitted to the decision of government. Mr. Le Sueur, whose letter explaining his views is enclosed, is a civil engineer of reputation, who has executed with much correctness various extensive trigonometrical operations, and whose services, in addition to those of Mr. Hassler, with whom in point of science and practice he may be assimilated, might assist and hasten our trigonometrical survey of the coast of the United States.
That this should be executed in a manner equal to the best modern European operations is important both with respect to the object itself and as connected with the scientific character of the country. That Mr. Le Sueur is equal to a task of that kind is sufficiently proven by the testimonies of the dépôt de la guerre and of three of the best judges, all three members of the National Institute (Biot, Ramond, and Delambre), whose original certificates I have seen, and on the truth of which you may rely. The appropriation for carrying on the survey of the coast is general, and you may employ what agents you please. Be good enough to favor me with your determination, as I must answer Mr. Le Sueur. He has also a collection of instruments, which he will sell to government in whole or in part (if it is convenient to purchase it), but only in case he is employed. Perhaps we might have two sets of engineers and surveyors, beginning at a given point, say the entrance of the Delaware, and one set extending the survey north, whilst the other went south; by which means the whole might be executed within five instead of ten years.
I have seen La Fayette but once, as he still remains at La Grange, where he presses me to pay him a visit, which my having opened the subject of indemnity prevents at this time. The crops cannot be very good, on account of the perpetual rains, but will still turn out better than had been expected. Beyond what you see, you can hardly ascertain the truth even on that point, as the reports vary according to the political feelings of the travellers.
We are fixed very comfortably, though expensively. Servants are, I think, worse and dearer than at Washington, and the cheating and plundering by them and almost every one else make, in my opinion, this place still dearer than London.
We are all in good health, Mrs. G. already excessively tired of Paris. We beg to be affectionately remembered to Mrs. Madison, and I remain, with sincere respect and attachment,
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 9th October, 1816.
My dear Sir,—
The arrival of Mr. Vail excited a hope that I should receive a letter from you. The disappointment was not great, as the present state of France presents nothing inviting to a correspondent who does not indulge in conjecture nor delight to sport in the regions of imagination.
At home we have cause of exultation as well as of regret. In many respects the nation was never more prosperous. Domestic articles of almost every description bring the highest prices, and many of the articles of foreign growth or manufacture are sold at first cost.
The crops have generally been bad from one end of the continent to the other, especially of Indian corn. Those of wheat, in the Middle States, were abundant and of superior quality. In the two Carolinas, a large emigration must take place for the purpose of finding subsistence. In Georgia the corn crops are good, but the cotton will be short, as no rain fell in the month of August.
Our political horizon has been overhung with one continued storm, raised by the Compensation Bill. In most cases, especially in the West and South, the opposers of the bill have been confounded with its supporters by the public indignation. In Kentucky, Clay, Johnson, and Desha have been re-elected. The latter voted against the bill, and the two first owe their success to the political character of their opponents. Mr. Pope was the competitor of Mr. Clay, and was beaten about 650 votes. Colonel Johnson was elected by a larger majority.
In the State of Georgia it is supposed that the whole representation has been turned out, upon the old maxim that the receiver is as bad as the thief. They voted against the bill, but received the salary.
Bibb, whose election takes place next month, it is believed has no chance of success. In Tennessee, their county meetings have requested the Senators and Representatives to resign, and I have been denounced and burnt in effigy there on account of the Cherokee convention, and in the Mississippi Territory for being disposed to remove the intruders from the public lands. The bad temper of the first will, I suppose, evaporate, as two treaties have just been made with the Cherokees and Chickasaws, which connected the settlements of Tennessee with the Gulf of Florida. This cession embraces all the western part of the bend of Tennessee, and all south of that river embraced by a line running up Caney Creek to its head; then due south to Gaines’s road; thence along that road to the cotton-gin port on the Tombigby River, and down that river to the Choctaw line, on the west; and on the east by a line drawn due south from the Tennessee River, where it is intersected by the eastern line of Madison County, until it is intersected by a line drawn due west from the Ten Islands in the Coosa, a little above Fort Strother.
This cession, which the Tennessee people contended was ceded by Jackson’s treaty, in many points of view is the most important which has been obtained for many years. The only objection which I have to it, and to Jackson’s treaty itself, is that the contract with Georgia has been most scandalously violated. By that compact the United States bound itself to extinguish the Indian title to the whole of the territory retained by the State “as soon as practicable.” As Jackson’s treaty was declared, it was just as easy to have obtained a cession of all the Creek claims within the limits of Georgia as that which was obtained. The cession demanded and yielded will prevent a cession to Georgia for a century at least.
We have just obtained an extension of the Illinois purchase to the shores of Lake Michigan, embracing twenty miles of coast. This cession has been obtained by the relinquishment of all that part of the Illinois cession lying north of the northern line of Ohio when extended to the Mississippi.
A large amount of presents and an annuity of a thousand dollars a year in goods for twelve years have also been given to obtain the relinquishment of the claims of those tribes to that part of the Illinois purchase lying south of the said line. This purchase, considered with a view to war with our northern neighbors, is of vast importance. It will be surveyed and brought into the market with the least possible delay. Upon the whole, notwithstanding the complaints which have been made against the government for favoring the Indians, and against them for pertinaciously holding lands of which they make no use, I think more has been done this year in Indian negotiation than in any former year. If the Choctaw claim east of the Tombigby can be satisfactorily adjusted, we have nothing further to desire in the West for many years.
Some agitation prevails in Louisiana, arising from the apprehension of a Spanish invasion in that quarter. The information is implicitly relied upon by Colonel Jessup, who commands at Orleans; but, as he has not disclosed either the source or the details of it, we cannot form a correct estimate of the credit to which it is entitled. Under these circumstances, we have only ordered the concentration of the force assigned to the southern division at such points as will most effectually guard against the apprehended invasion. In doing this, we have directed the movements to be made as silently as possible, and that the object of the movement may not be disclosed. The predisposition to a war with Spain is so strong in this nation, especially in the section adjoining that which is menaced, that a slight excitement might be productive of consequences which the power of the government would not be able to control.
I presume you have been made acquainted with the ridiculous dispute in which we have been engaged with Russia, in consequence of a criminal procedure against Kosloff, the consul-general. It now has a most unpromising aspect, arising wholly from Daschkoff’s improper conduct. The French minister seems to have as little prudence, but, I hope, more good faith.
Mr. Monroe arrived in the city last evening, and I have heard that the President reached it this evening. To enable the President to bring Mr. Clay into the Cabinet, I consented to take the Treasury Department, but limited my acquiescence to the disposition of that gentleman to take the War Department. He has declined, and still the President writes to me that he has offered the War Department to Mr. Lowndes. He further stated that Mr. Monroe was with him, and that he had availed himself of his advice. As my consent was given on a condition which has failed, I ought not to be pressed further on the subject. There can be no mistake in the case, as my consent was in writing.
Present my respects to Mrs. Gallatin and the other members of your family, and accept the assurance of my sincere regard.
I am yours, &c.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 14th October, 1816.
The Duke de Richelieu appointed the 30th for the interview which I had asked in my note to him of the 25th ultimo. He first asked me whether England intended to indemnify us for the captures made under the orders in council. I replied that we had not yet obtained anything, and added that although we had made an express declaration before signing the peace with her that we did not abandon our just claims for indemnity, yet he must be sensible that the circumstance of our having made war against England for that very object, and afterwards concluded a peace without providing for it, placed us, with respect to that nation, on a very different footing from that on which we stood with France. On this he observed that we had also in some degree impaired our claim against France by having adopted measures of retaliation, such as the exclusion of her vessels and produce from our ports. I made the obvious answer that this prohibition, which we had made common to England and France, had no hostile character, that it was only a municipal measure, such as every nation had a right, without giving offence, to adopt at all times, and which did not materially differ from the prohibitory laws now adopted by France with respect to foreign manufactures.
The Duke then stated that he was not authorized to enter into a negotiation for the purpose of providing an indemnity to the citizens of the United States for the captures and confiscations made by virtue of the Berlin and Milan decrees; that it was absolutely impossible for the present government of France to make compensation for the whole mass of injustice and injuries done by the former governments; that the whole territory, if sold, would not suffice for that object; that it had, therefore, been necessary to limit the measure of indemnity to the most flagrant cases, and that such had been the course adopted in the late treaties between France and the European powers; that the Berlin and Milan decrees were of a general nature, and not exclusively applicable to us, and that compensation for injuries arising from their execution, if made to us, must be extended to other nations, such as the Swedes, who, he said, were also sufferers in that respect; in fine, that, as the principle of granting indemnities on account of losses sustained under those decrees had not been recognized by the late treaties of Paris, it was not deemed proper to adopt it in our favor.
I replied that it was preposterous to suppose that the United States could, in any case, be bound by principles adopted in treaties to which they had not been parties; that the allied powers had selected those cases for indemnity in which they were principally concerned; that, as they had almost always been at war or in alliance with France, their claims were of a nature totally different from ours, which were derived from a most flagrant violation of neutral rights; that whilst some of those powers had an interest in preventing the recognition of the principle of indemnity for such violation, the few eases affecting a nation whose weight in the negotiations was inconsiderable (Sweden) must have been necessarily overlooked; and that the Berlin and Milan decrees, though nominally of a general nature, had, so far as they infringed neutral rights, fallen almost exclusively on the United States. I added that there were, however, some claims admitted in the late treaties which, according to the common usage of nations and to every notion of justice, were far less founded in right than those of our citizens for the losses sustained under those decrees; and I mentioned as an instance the compensation to British subjects for losses arising from the general reduction of the public debt of France to one-third of its original amount.
To this last observation the Duke immediately replied that this was one of the concessions which had been made to Great Britain in consideration of her having released France from the payment of the large balance due for the support of prisoners. To my other observations he made no satisfactory answer, and, without seeming to deny the justice of our claim for indemnity on account of the two decrees, he persisted in his first declaration, that he was not authorized to conclude any arrangement on that subject. He added that his government was disposed to pay (in stock) for vessels burnt at sea.
I then stated explicitly that the United States could not abandon the claims of their citizens for indemnity in any case where there had been a violation of neutral rights according to the acknowledged law of nations; but that as, exclusively of the Berlin and Milan decrees, there had been numerous other acts of the French government under which great losses had been sustained, I wished to know with precision what were the cases in which his Majesty’s government was disposed to make compensation, in order that I might be enabled to judge whether I could accept or make any proposal according with those views and not inconsistent with our rights, or whether I ought simply to transmit the determination of this government to my own.
The Duke professed himself not to be well informed with respect to the acts to which I alluded, and requested me to confer with Mr. De Rayneval, who acts as Under-Secretary of State, and on whose report he would be enabled to lay the subject before his Majesty’s council.
You will perceive a great difference between what passed on this occasion and the tenor of our interview of the 30th of August. As the Duke de Richelieu could have no interest in not explicitly saying then what he stated at the last conference, and as indeed want of candor is by no one ascribed to him, it may be presumed that he did not at first know the whole amount of our claims, or that he has been overruled by the council of ministers. But it is worthy of notice that not the most distant hint has been given that this government was not responsible for the conduct of Bonaparte. Such doctrine is untenable even here.
Mr. Rayneval accordingly called on me on the 3d instant. He said that he had never before attended to the subject, and I did not attempt to discuss it with him. I only gave him the list of the several decrees, beginning with that of Berlin and ending with that of Rambouillet, and stated that there were a number of cases in which seizures had been made under color of those decrees and the vessels and cargoes sold, but where no condemnation had taken place, and that there might also be cases where property had been sequestered without reference to any decree. I explained to him that the object of our conference was to point out to him the several grounds of complaint on our part in order to enable him to report to the minister, and he promised to examine the subject immediately and to see me before he made that report. I have not heard from him since that day, and if any further delay takes place I will address an official note to the minister, in which it will be necessary to discuss the whole subject.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 11th November, 1816.
I have the honor to enclose the copy of my note1 of the 9th instant to the Duke de Richelieu on the subject of indemnities due to citizens of the United States on account of the illegal and irregular sequestrations and condemnations made under the authority of the former government of France.
I had some difficulty in collecting from scattered documents the information necessary to present a correct view of the subject and adapted to existing circumstances. Mr. Armstrong’s correspondence is not to be found amongst the archives of this legation, and it was during the period of his mission that almost all the unlawful acts of the French government took place. I have no expectation that the projet of arrangement will be adopted in the shape proposed by me.
Your letter of the 10th September, enclosing your correspondence with Mr. Hyde de Neuville on the subject of Mr. Skinner’s toast, was received on the 6th instant. I have written a note to the Duke de Richelieu asking for an interview, in which a verbal representation will be made in conformity with your instructions. The extreme sensibility shown on subjects of this kind, and of which my former despatches have given several instances, makes me apprehend some difficulty, and that this trivial incident may interfere with more important concerns. . . .
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, November 19, 1816.
I received on the 16th instant a note from the Neapolitan ambassador, enclosing, by order of his Court, the copy of an official note dated the 15th October last, and addressed by the Marquis de Circello to Mr. Pinkney after his departure from Naples. In answer to a verbal inquiry, the ambassador told me that he did not know whether that note had been directed to Mr. Pinkney at St. Petersburg, or at any other place on the road. He also said that his government had authorized him to add to that communication to me any further observations which he might deem proper, but that he had abstained from it, knowing that neither he nor myself had any powers on that subject, and wishing therefore to avoid an unprofitable discussion.
It may be presumed that the Neapolitan government delayed that note in order to prevent the possibility of a reply, and that their intention in communicating it to me was to hasten its transmission to you. Copies of the official note itself and that of the ambassador to me are enclosed.
I took the opportunity of a transient conversation on the 14th instant with the Duke of Richelieu to state explicitly to him the impossibility of removing from office the postmaster of Baltimore on account of the toast of the 4th July, and the dissatisfaction of my government with the minister of France on account of the manner in which he had made a demand to that effect. The Duke appeared both surprised and grieved, and made some remarks, to which I replied. But as he has appointed the 21st instant for an interview, and the subject will then be more fully discussed, I will not trouble you at this time with the observations made on both sides.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 21st November, 1816.
I had this morning an interview with the Duke de Richelieu on the subject of the application made by the minister of France for the removal of the postmaster of Baltimore on account of the toast given by him on the 4th of July last.
After reiterating the assurances of the respect felt by the President for his most Christian Majesty, and of his earnest desire to cultivate the most amicable relations with the government of France, I stated the impossibility of complying with the request of Mr. Hyde de Neuville, and the dissatisfaction felt by the government of the United States at the peremptory manner in which he had urged that request. It is unnecessary to enter into the detail of the explanations given and the observations made to show that our institutions and habits as well as public opinion would, independent of the dictatorial tone assumed by Mr. de Neuville, have forbidden the removal of an inferior officer merely because he had, on such a day as the 4th of July, indulged in an expression of his political opinions with respect to a foreign power or sovereign. I had, indeed, only to amplify the suggestions presented in your despatch of the 10th September.
In answer, the Duke of Richelieu premised that the liberty of the press as established in America and the liberty of speech belonging to private citizens were so perfectly known and understood, that the abuse of either, however unpleasant to the feelings of the French government, would not have been a subject of complaint. But we certainly would agree with him in acknowledging that the government of every civilized nation desirous of preserving friendly relations with another government must preserve those rules of mutual courtesy and civility which were established by public usage. It was, therefore, incomprehensible to him that any government could detach itself from its agents, and, whilst professing regard and consideration for a friendly sovereign, permit him to be wantonly and openly insulted by one of those agents, and refuse any reparation for such public insult. He was, he said, altogether unable to understand the alleged difficulty of dismissing for such an outrage an officer removable at the will of the government, since, as he was informed, such removals were frequent in the United States, where there did not exist, as in some other countries, any vested right in offices. In asking for the dismission of Mr. Skinner there was no intention of giving offence; it was only stating the kind of reparation which appeared most natural, and which would be satisfactory. The United States were too powerful, too independent of France and of every other nation, to suppose that any attempt should be made to dictate to them. Nor ought we to be astonished at the sensibility felt on this occasion. The world was yet divided in two parties, one of which wished to preserve, and the other to destroy, existing establishments. We felt perfectly safe in that respect; but the more precarious the situation of France might be supposed, the more important it was to take notice of any public insult, and to show that the sovereign of France was not a king of straw (the Duke’s own words). It would not be our interest, under the difficulties which she had now to encounter, that she should be vilified in the person of her monarch in the face of the world.
Thinking it important that you should know the ground assumed on that subject by this government, I have in this statement done full justice to the reasoning of the Duke. And I am sorry to say that no explanation I could give appeared to make any impression on him. I did not omit to dwell on the notorious facts that the King of Great Britain had been an annual theme of personal abuse on that day, without any notice having ever been taken of it by that government, which understood fully the nature of ours; and that it was unexampled with us that an officer should be removed for such a cause. I also alluded to the conduct of Daschkoff in Kosloff’s case (which was known to the Duke), to the singular coincidence by which an attempt was made to put our government at variance for the most trivial causes with two friendly powers, and to the advantages which Great Britain might hope to draw from that state of things.
The Duke still reverted to his first positions; and when he had become fully satisfied that no promise to remove the postmaster would be given to him, he said that the government of France could not certainly force ours to make them reparation for the insult given by that officer, and that they would be compelled to evince their dissatisfaction at our refusal in their own way. He immediately added that they would not preserve any public agent in the town where his Majesty had been publicly insulted. To that it was not necessary to make any reply; but I presume that their resentment will, unless policy should direct another course, be shown in a different way, and that the consideration of our demands will be adjourned. I will be able to ascertain this within a short time; and in that case my residence here will not only be personally unpleasant, but altogether useless to the public. I will omit, in the mean while, no opportunity of giving such further explanations, consistent with the ground which has been taken, as may prevent a result injurious to our citizens. The fact is, that, as has been sufficiently proved by the law which the King of the Netherlands has been compelled to have enacted, and by various other circumstances, a most sickly sensibility exists on the subject of personal abuse of the King, and that they view here objects connected with sovereigns through a medium so different from ours, that it is extremely difficult to make them feel and understand our explanations.
I have the honor, &c.
[1 ]This note will be found in American State Papers, Second Series, vol. v. 284.