Front Page Titles (by Subject) DÉCISION DU 5 AOÛT, 1810. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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DÉCISION DU 5 AOÛT, 1810. - 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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DÉCISION DU 5 AOÛT, 1810.
Vu le rapport ci-dessus fait au1 conseil de commerce et des manufactures, d’où il résulte:
1. Que le gouvernement des États-Unis ne s’est pas borné par son acte du 1er mars, 1809, à ordonner qu’à dater du 20 mai suivant les bâtiments et marchandises françaises qui entreraient dans les ports seraient mis sous le séquestre, mais qu’il a ordonné la confiscation des dits bâtiments et marchandises:—
2. Qu’il a établi par le même acte que lorsque les communications avec la France viendrait à se rétablir, les confiscations continueraient à avoir leur effet:—
3. Que l’acte du 1er mars, 1809, a été mis en exécution toutes les fois que l’occasion s’en est présentée, non-seulement contre les marchandises, mais aussi contre les bâtiments français:—
Nous avons ordonné et ordonnons ce qui suit:
1. Les fonds provenants des ventes des marchandises américaines qui ont été effectuées jusqu’à ce jour, et dont le montant avait été mis en dépôt à la caisse d’amortissement, seront transportés au trésor public.
2. Les marchandises américaines qui sont mis sous le séquestre seront mises en vente, et les fonds en provenants versés au trésor public.
3. Les bâtiments américains sur le sort desquels il n’avait point été statué jusqu’à ce jour, seront également mis en vente et les fonds en provenants versés au trésor public.
4. Attendu que l’acte des États-Unis du 1er mars, 1809, ne contient aucune disposition contre les équipages de nos bâtiments, voulant toujours traiter les États-Unis aussi favorablement qu’il est possible, et n’usant qu’à regret du droit de représaille à leur égard, nous entendons que les équipages des bâtiments américains entrés dans nos ports ne soient point considérés comme prisonniers, mais soient envoyés dans leur patrie.
5. Les dispositions ci-dessus seront exécutées à l’égard de tous les bâtiments américains entrés et séquestrés dans nos ports depuis le 20 mars,1 1809, jusqu’au 1er mai de la présente année 1810, date de l’acte par lequel les États-Unis ont révoqué celui du 1er mars, 1809.
6. À l’avenir et jusqu’au 1er novembre prochain, époque fixée par la lettre de notre ministre des relations extérieures au plenipotentiaire des États-Unis pour la révocation de nos décrets de Berlin et de Milan (dans le cas où les conditions établies dans la dite lettre seraient remplies), les navires américains pourront entrer dans nos ports; mais leur déchargement ne pourra avoir lieu, à moins qu’ils ne soient munis d’une license signée de notre main, que sur un rapport fait en2 conseil de commerce, constatant qu’ils n’ont pas été dénationalisés par leur soumission aux arrêts du conseil britannique, et qu’ils n’out point contrevenu à nos décrets de Berlin et de Milan.
En notre palais de Trianon, le 5 août, 1810.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 26th September, 1821.
I had the honor to receive your despatches numbered from 38 to 41 inclusive, and also No. 43. They were all transmitted, though not all at the same time, from Brest to the Minister of Foreign Affairs by Mr. Roth, who has not yet arrived here.
The despatch No. 42, which has not yet been received, related, it is presumed, to the negotiation with Mr. de Neuville, as there seems to be a chasm in your correspondence with him.
You have, as I had anticipated, taken rather different ground from mine in the case of the Apollon. They are not, however, contradictory, and I was induced to assume that which I did principally from the tenor of my conversation with Mr. Pasquier, as he appeared to insist that whatever might have been the intentions of Captain Edou, or even the acts committed by him whilst off Amelia Island, the seizure of the vessel in a place not within the jurisdiction of the United States was a violation of the law of nations and an insult to the French flag. I incline to the opinion that their demand for reparation, if urged at all, shall be confined to that of indemnity for a private wrong sustained by an individual. For the justice of that claim Mr. Pasquier appeared to rely on the decree of acquittal by the court; but, Captain Edou having selected as a proper mode of redress a suit for damages against the seizing officers, there can be no difficulty in repelling an application for indemnity in another shape.
Your arguments on the main question, arising from the Louisiana Treaty, appear to me as perspicuous and conclusive as those of Mr. de Neuville are weak and unintelligible. But you have resorted to two collateral reasons, one drawn from the Constitution of the United States, the other from a distinction between the special and general favors which may be granted to other foreign powers, on both which I will beg leave, in a subsequent letter, to submit some observations to your consideration. The final proposal of Mr. de Neuville, to postpone that subject to a future negotiation, is the most favorable omen that has yet appeared of a disposition on the part of this government to come to some reasonable arrangement on the question of navigation.
I wish, more than from Mr. Pasquier’s conversation I have reason to hope, that they will also treat that question by itself, and without mixing with it demands for a general diminution in the rate of duties on French produce or manufactures, or for any other alteration in the tariff than what applies to the subject under discussion. The complaints already made to the cortes of Portugal of the rate of our duties on Madeira wine are a proof of the inconveniences arising from any concession to any nation in that respect. Nor do I believe that this government would be satisfied with a fair reciprocity giving them no advantage over either ourselves or other nations. I do not think that they would admit, as the sole condition, the principle that French produce and manufactures imported in the United States, and American produce and manufactures imported into France, should pay no higher duties than similar articles the produce or manufactures of other countries. To the proposal of laying a higher duty on China than on French silk manufactures, you had assented, on condition that the sale of American tobacco should be released from the monopoly of the Administration and be made common as all other articles. If this offer was intended as an indirect rejection of the French proposals, it would have the effect in view; but if seriously made, I must say that it was inadmissible on the part of France. It cannot be expected that she will subvert a system of imposition tested by experience, and which yields a net revenue of forty millions of francs. This government cannot, as is done in England, forbid the cultivation of tobacco within its territory. It is indeed limited to those Departments where it was found to exist, and, as a compensation for the restrictions under which it is necessarily laid there for fiscal purposes, the Administration is obliged to employ in the manufacture of the article five-sixths of domestic and only one-sixth part of foreign tobacco. It is this regulation which has so much affected our trade in that article with France, and reduced the consumption of tobacco of the United States here from 24 thousand hogsheads, as was the case before the Revolution, to about 5 thousand hogsheads of the same weight. Before the Revolution, as now, tobacco was cultivated in some provinces—Alsace, Flanders, &c.—which had been acquired by treaties; they were, with respect to revenue, considered as foreign, not being, on the one hand, subject to the monopoly of the general farms, as then called, whilst on the other their tobacco was considered as foreign in the residue of France, and not purchased by the farm because of very inferior quality. The abolition of all privileges and of every distinction between provinces, as well as of all internal custom duties from one to the other, has necessarily led to the present system of revenue on tobacco.
By that system, government, being the sole manufacturers of tobacco and the sole sellers of the manufactured article, are of course the only purchasers either of domestic or foreign manufactured tobacco for home consumption. The cultivators must beforehand declare the number of acres to be planted; their crop is constantly watched, and the Administration has a right to purchase the whole or part of it at a fixed price, which leaves always a fair profit to the planter for the part thus sold. But he must necessarily export, unless he chooses to burn, what is not purchased by the Administration. In the same manner all the tobacco imported in France can, for home consumption, be sold only to government. When imported, it is deposited in public stores; and that is what is called the entrepôt. Whilst there, it may be freely and is very often sold to any persons, foreigners or French, who wish to speculate on the article. But it is never removed from the entrepôt but for exportation, unless when purchased by the Administration. Considered as a revenue system, it is perfectly well calculated for the object intended, and it affords sufficient protection to the cultivators. For if the monopoly was abolished and our tobacco freely introduced, the home cultivation would at once be prostrated, or at least greatly reduced. The proposal to substitute licensed manufacturers for the Administration was rejected, after a debate in which the whole subject was discussed with great ability; and we would have gained nothing by the change, as we would have been obliged to sell exclusively to those manufacturers for home consumption.
Reverting to the question of navigation, it is difficult to ascertain how far the limited and circuitous intercourse now existing presses on France; and yet it is on that pressure we must rely for an equitable arrangement. I am assured that the mercantile interest of Havre begins to be tired and to wish for an accommodation, although pride may prevent an open avowal of their wishes. Many French vessels continue to go to Louisiana, partly under an expectation that the American extra tonnage duty is contrary to the treaty and that the courts of the United States will decide in their favor. Adding to these those which come from foreign ports (out of Europe) with cotton of the United States, I have no doubt that they fall short of the American vessels which bring produce to English and Dutch ports, imported afterwards in France, and that, compared to French vessels still employed in the trade with us, the balance, if I may so express myself, is in our favor. But the greatest part of our produce intended for France is, I apprehend, imported in British and other foreign vessels, sometimes owned, very often freighted, by French houses. They will not feel all the inconveniences arising from the present state of things until we shall have stopped that species of intercourse. With respect to the commodities consumed, I believe that France consumes the same quantity of our produce as heretofore, and that our consumption of French produce and manufactures has been considerably lessened.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 27th September, 1821.
I had the honor to receive your despatch No. 40, enclosing a copy of a letter from Mr. Connell, as agent for sundry insurance companies having claims on the French government.
I have some reason to believe that that gentleman’s letter to you grew out of the communications made by Mr. Mertens to the persons interested in the Antwerp sequestrations. He was not, however, sanguine in his expectations of obtaining justice from the French government, since he wrote for the express purpose of obtaining the approbation of the parties for his intended sale of the claims to some French subjects, at a loss of about half the principal and all the interest. Mr. Mertens has informed me that he has obtained the consent of those parties, amongst whom the insurance companies represented by Mr. Connell must be included. I beg leave to refer to my former despatches on that subject, and to my correspondence with Mr. Mertens, which has already been transmitted to the Department of State.
Whatever may have been the source whence Mr. Connell derived his information, he is certainly mistaken in thinking that there has appeared any symptom on the part of the French government to do us justice, even in the Antwerp cases, which are certainly amongst those against which it is almost impossible to raise any objection. The favorable inference he draws from the partial repayment to Hamburg, and from the admission of the claim of the Algerine Jews, is also, unfortunately, erroneous. I have already stated in a former despatch that this last claim had been recognized by a former treaty, notwithstanding which, and the evident solicitude of the government to cultivate friendly relations with the Barbary powers, it had not been admitted by the present government until after it had been purchased by a company of French speculators, the same who offer to purchase the Antwerp claims. With respect to the payment made to Hamburg, it was included amongst the cases embraced by the treaties of Paris of the year 1815. But, on account of the enormous amount of reclamations presented under those conventions, they were all reduced, either by virtue of private agreements, or, more generally, by decisions of the Duke of Wellington, who, by common consent, acted as an arbitrator to apportion the gross sum which France agreed to pay, and the four allied powers [agreed] should be received, in lieu of what she would have had to pay in consequence of the awards made by the several commissioners appointed by virtue of the treaties of 1815.
Both transactions were imposed upon France by superior force; the original treaties when she was invaded and half her territory occupied by the armies of the allies; the stipulated payment of a gross sum in lieu of the strict performance of those treaties, when an army of 100,000 men still occupied her principal fortresses; and this stipulation was made the express condition of their evacuation. I must add, and the observation has heretofore been made, that it would be extremely dangerous to refer to those stipulations and to the payments made by virtue thereof for precedents applicable to our claims. Of this the Duke of Richelieu was aware; and he drew an argument against us from the circumstance that, even in treaties which necessity alone had compelled France to sign, claims similar to ours had not been included, a certain class of vessels burnt at sea (not the Dolly and Telegraph) only excepted. My answer to this remark is unconnected with the subject of this letter, and will be found in my correspondence of the year 1816.
These observations are made only in order to show that there are no new circumstances giving a more favorable aspect to the prosecution of our claims, or making this a more auspicious time than heretofore to urge their settlement. In one respect the present moment is unfavorable; the state of the pending negotiations on other subjects is not calculated to render this government more flexible on this; and there is some reason to believe that their principal object in pressing their newly-raised pretensions under the 8th Article of the Louisiana Treaty is to obtain an equivalent for its abandonment, either in commercial advantages, or in a relaxation of our demands for indemnity.
I will, as heretofore, be ready to seize any proper opportunity that may offer to urge the general question, and more particularly a decision with respect to the Antwerp claims, which are now separated from the others and specially under the consideration of the Department of Foreign Affairs. I can only press a decision, as, until some answer shall have been made by this government, I have nothing to add to the arguments urged, not only in my general application, but in my letters to that Department on that particular class. The manner in which the demand should be urged may also vary according to the final result of the negotiation pending at Washington.
Nothing could gratify me more than to bring the subject to some determinate conclusion before my departure: nothing is more easy than to write to this government, pressing our right to have, at all events, an answer; this mode could long ago have been pursued had I only consulted my own feelings; if, using the discretion left to me, I have waited for what might be considered a favorable opportunity, not to bring the subject before the present government and urge the justice of our claims (which has been repeatedly done), but to demand a final answer, it has been solely for the sake of the parties interested, and in order not to place their claims on still worse footing than they already are.
Mr. Gracie has not yet obtained, although he has the promise of, a copy of the unpublished decree of July, 1810, by virtue of which it is suggested that the proceeds of the ships and cargoes sequestered at Antwerp were transferred from the caisse d’amortissement to the treasury.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 23d October, 1821.
I have the honor to enclose a copy of a note I addressed to Mr. Pasquier the 15th instant. It is much longer than I had at first contemplated; but as the result of the negotiation seemed to depend on the final instructions this government might now send to Mr. de Neuville, I thought it important to state fairly the question at issue, once more to refute the arguments used principally here in support of the high discriminating duties for which France still insists, and at the same time to point out, without committing my government, a mode which might have a chance of being acceded to on its part.
Discriminating duties on the value of the merchandise are undoubtedly the most favorable to the United States; but the basis proposed by Mr. de Neuville, and which you rejected, that of a similar reduction on both sides, preserving in each country the mode heretofore adopted by each, is, if the principle alone is taken into consideration without reference to the rate of duty, less disadvantageous to us than the other basis, founded on both sides on tonnage duties, of which you had given the option. In intimating, therefore, to Mr. Pasquier that if the rate of discriminating duties laid in France on the American navigation could be agreed on there would be no difficulty in settling the rate of duties to be laid in America on the French shipping, it was my intention to give a hope that if that first point was arranged, the principle of the basis proposed by Mr. de Neuville might perhaps be admitted. This would cost us nothing; and, if considered by this government as a concession on our part, may help them to extricate themselves from the situation in which they are, and facilitate an accommodation. That, however, depends altogether on their disposition to agree to reasonable terms with respect to the rate of duty; and I cannot expect that they will make any communication to me on that point. It is their interest, in order that it may in that way reach you, to impress on me the opinion that they will adhere to a high rate. On that question, which appears to me the only important one, the rate of the French discriminating duties to which we can agree, you must ultimately decide, and our merchants and captains are the best judges of the extent to which we may accede. I have in my note to Mr. Pasquier fairly, though in civil terms, stated the two principal causes of the inferiority of the French navigation, viz., the obstinacy of government in keeping in force ancient and ridiculous regulations, and the total ignorance of maritime affairs of the ship-owners, particularly those residing in Paris. I might to these have added the indolent and expensive habits of the sea-captains and other officers. Those several considerations taken together certainly give us for the present a decided superiority; and I incline to the opinion that a reduction on both sides of the discriminating duties to one-fourth of the rate at which they stood before the late extraordinary tonnage duties would still leave us more than one-half of the navigation. You will find that the surcharge on our cotton imported in vessels of the United States would at that rate be about two centimes, or seven-twentieths of a cent, per American pound.
It is true that an agreement founded on this basis, or on any other short of a total abrogation of the discriminating duties, will give us but a nominal equality; and I think that if we can pass such laws as will restore it in reality, it would be much better to wait until this government had become disposed to make an arrangement on that principle. But they are aware of the difficulties which we have to encounter; they know that we cannot retaliate directly by discriminating duties either on the French articles imported or on the American products exported in French vessels. Extreme means, such as an exclusion of those vessels or a prohibition of French manufactures, would be too hostile. Yet that something must be done is evident. The comparative statement contained in the latter part of my note to Mr. Pasquier shows the enormous difference now existing in favor of French vessels; and I annex the calculation on which it is founded. It is to be hoped that some efficient measures may be devised to counteract those adopted by France. No others have suggested themselves to me but a prohibition of the exportation of our cotton to American ports, and an increase of tonnage duty on the French vessels equal to the French surcharge of sixty-two to sixty-seven francs per ton, with a discretionary power to the President to increase it still further, so as to make always the duty equal to any rate to which this government might raise their own. I beg leave to observe that there is an error in your letter of 13th of August last to Mr. de Neuville. Alluding to my notes of 7th and 8th July, 1820, to Mr. Pasquier, you say that I had shown that the French surcharge, even if reduced to one-half, would still be nearly equal to the price of the freight: it was the whole of the surcharge, and not its half, that I had considered as equal to the freight.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 13th November, 1821.
The first time I saw Mr. Pasquier after he had received my note of the 15th October last, he mentioned that he intended to have a conference with me on that subject, and that he was collecting some materials that might enable him to discuss it. He repeated in substance the same thing a few days after, and added that he hoped to have it in his power to invite me to an interview within four or five days. I understood, though he did not say so positively, that that conference was to precede the decision of this government on the final instructions to be sent to Mr. de Neuville. A fortnight has, however, elapsed without my hearing further from Mr. Pasquier. In the mean while an ordinance has been issued continuing till the 1st of April next the premium on the importation by French vessels of cotton from American entrepôts. This being only a continuation of the existing state of things, it may be inferred that the project of increasing the difference of duty between the importations from American and European entrepôts has been abandoned. What may be the dispositions of this government on the main question I cannot conjecture; but it appears to me that the irritation arising from that cause has subsided, and will at least no longer form an obstacle to the discussion of our reclamations for indemnities. The ambassador of Russia continues to appear anxious that an arrangement may take place, and, as he speaks to me about it on every opportunity which offers, I presume that he holds a similar language to this government.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 15th November, 1821.
. . . I also enclose the copy of an extract of the unpublished decree of the 22d of July, 1810, by virtue of which the proceeds of the sequestered American property, including that seized at Antwerp, were directed to be paid into the treasury and applied [to] public purposes. It appears to be that, the substance of which at least was known to Baron Louis, the former Minister of Finances, and on which he founded his opinion, as communicated to Mr. Parish, that the property was definitively condemned. But although that decree, which is only a supplementary budget without legislative interference, and refers exclusively to matters of finance, must necessarily be in the possession of that Department, it seems that, not having a precise recollection of the details, they have not thought of looking there for the order in question, and that supposing that there must have been a special decree for that purpose, which they cannot of course find, since it does not exist, they have not been able to furnish the Department of Foreign Affairs with the copy which has been repeatedly asked for. Mr. Rayneval, the Under-Secretary of State, who is to make a report on Mr. Parish’s memorial, and on my letter to Mr. Pasquier of the 9th of May, 1820, which accompanied it, assured me not long ago that the want of that document was the only cause of the delay, and that he really believed that there was no such decree. I had not then the enclosed extract, and, as it has been obtained confidentially from the Duke of Bassano, I am not authorized to communicate it to this government even if it was thought proper to do it. So far as relates to the mere question of right, it cannot certainly be affected by the decree; but one of the principal grounds on which I have been able to separate the Antwerp claims from all others without injuring these is, that not only the claimants had not violated any of the unlawful decrees of Bonaparte, but that their claims were not affected by any subsequent act of his, and it would, therefore, be more convenient not to have to encounter any argument, however fallacious, which may be drawn from that source. This inconvenience would have been altogether avoided, and the order of July, 1810, would probably never have been alluded to, had it not been for the unfortunate application of Mr. Parish to the Department of Finances.
Having, upon the whole, reason to believe that the report of Mr. de Rayneval cannot be unfavorable, and that the dispositions of this government are rather more friendly than during the last fifteen months, I have concluded to press the subject at this time, and gave to Mr. Gracie a letter of introduction for Mr. de Rayneval, copy of which is enclosed. This gentlemen has, in a first interview, appointed another for the 19th instant, in which he has promised to state whether there was any objection, and, in his opinion, any necessity for my writing another official letter to Mr. Pasquier. You will see, by referring to that which I had written on the 9th of May, 1820, and which has not yet been answered, that it would be difficult at this stage of the business to adduce any new arguments, and that it is more eligible to wait till the objections are stated before an attempt is made to enforce and illustrate the ground which has already been taken.
I must add that, besides the motives just stated, I had another cogent reason to urge a decision at this time. You are already in possession of my correspondence with Mr. Mertens, and several circumstances which have lately come to my knowledge have impressed the belief that an extensive speculation was on foot for the purchase of our claims, and that persons whom I had not heretofore suspected might be concerned in it. I hope that my last letter to Mr. Mertens has already arrested the plan, and I will now be able to act in concert not only with Mr. Gracie, but also with Mr. John Connell, of Philadelphia, who arrived here two days ago, and who has powers of attorney from the insurance companies for a considerable portion of the claims arising from the sequestered cargoes consigned to the former house of Mr. Ridgeway, at Antwerp. There were in the whole seven sequestered there, four of which were consigned to his house and three to that of Mr. Parish. I have not seen the accounts of sales, but have been told that the amount exceeded four millions of francs.
I have the honor, &c.
[1 ]Peut-être “par le conseil.” Note by A. G.
[1 ]Probablement “mai.”
[2 ]Ou, “au.”