Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1822: GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
1822: GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 14th January, 1822.
I have the honor to enclose the copy of a note which I wrote on the 10th instant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the subject of the Antwerp claims.1
The sales of the cargoes in question, including the estimated value of the potash and pearlash previously taken for the use of the War Department, and deducting the cotton sold to Fillietaz, for which compensation has already been made, amounted to near five millions of francs. The claim of Fillietaz appears to have been liquidated in the following manner. The sixth part was deducted from the principal; a reduction which was, as I understand, common to all the claims of the subjects of the Netherlands, the amount allowed under the convention of 1818 for that object not being sufficient to pay the whole of the claims which were admitted. For the five-sixths remaining, 5 per cent. stock was given, at the rate of 75 per cent. on its nominal value (which is precisely the same thing as if stock had been given for the claim without deduction at the rate of 90 per cent.), bearing interest, I think, from the 22d of September, 1818. The market price of stock when delivered (April, 1819) was about 67; it is now about 85 per cent. The price of foreign produce was so high in 1810, when the sales took place, that it brought from 100 to 200 per cent. advance on the prime cost. The claimants would therefore, notwithstanding the loss of interest and other deductions, be well compensated if their claim was admitted and liquidated on the same principle as that of Fillietaz.
The only other claims within my knowledge, with respect to which there has been no final condemnation either by the council of prizes or imperial decisions, are, 1st, the vessels and cargoes seized in 1810 at St. Sebastian and other Spanish ports in the possession of France, under color of reprisals for the Act of Congress of 1st March, 1809, and the sales of which amounted to about seven millions of francs; 2dly, four vessels and cargoes seized in Holland at the same time and under the same pretence, and which were delivered to the French government; with the amount of the proceeds of the sale of these I am not acquainted. These two descriptions and the Antwerp cargoes make up the sequestrations, the proceeds of which were directed by the decree of the 22d July, 1810, to be paid in public treasury; 3dly, the vessels burnt at sea before the Berlin decree and subsequent to the revocation of that and of the Milan decree; and the value of which is not ascertained, but is not believed to be considerable. There were three burnt after the revocation of the decrees, besides the Dolly and Telegraph; and four in 1805 by Admiral Lallemand. These last four and cargoes were valued at 627,000 francs, and, as the other neutral vessels burnt at the same time have been paid for under the convention of Paris, it is probable that the claim would be admitted if this government was not afraid of the precedent it would establish in favor of our other reclamations.
The claims for the sequestrations of St. Sebastian and Holland differ from that for the Antwerp cargoes, not as respects substantial justice, but in that, 1st, the first took place by virtue of, or were sanctioned by, a special decree (that of Rambouillet), and were made under color of reprisals; and, 2dly, the secret decree of the 5th of August, 1810, transmitted in my despatch No. 186, and the expression, confiscated, used in the Duke of Cadore’s letter to Mr. Armstrong of the 12th September of the same year, may afford an additional pretence to this government to say that the property was definitively condemned by that of Bonaparte. It is not, of course, my intention, in a despatch addressed to you, to state the obvious answers which may be made. My object is only to point out the objections which may, and probably will, be raised. With respect to the pretence of reprisals, it is sufficient to say that the Act of Congress of the 1st of March, 1809, was prospective, forbidding, after the 20th of May following, a certain intercourse, and affixing the penalty of confiscation in case of disobedience, whilst the Rambouillet decree was retrospective in its enactments and in its application. But, as that ground will principally be resorted to, as, indeed, the Duke of Cadore says expressly in his letter above mentioned that, as to the merchandise confiscated, the principles of reprisal must be the law in that affair, it would be important to ascertain whether, in point of fact, any one French vessel was actually confiscated for a violation of the Act of 1st of March, 1809. I presume that information may be obtained by addressing two circulars,—one to the clerks of the district courts, and one to the collectors of the customs.
But there are two grounds which have been or may be taken, and to which, as they would operate as a bar to all our claims, it was necessary particularly to attend. For that reason the suggestion that a payment in the treasury was tantamount to a condemnation was refuted at large in the enclosed note, and every fact collected which could bear on the subject. I could not answer directly in the same manner, and by arguments drawn from the law of nations and from the acts of this government, the other ground, which has been distantly hinted but not positively asserted, that the King’s government was not answerable for the acts of that of Bonaparte. But it is with that in view that I have alluded to the manner in which the arriéré has been paid, and to the indubitable fact that the existing government did continue to enjoy the benefit arising from the proceeds of the sequestered cargoes. This consideration, and the arguments to show that the payment in treasury was not a condemnation, are as applicable to the sequestrations under the Rambouillet decree as those of Antwerp.
I thought it expedient to speak tenderly of the conduct of the Minister of Finances (Gaudin, Duke of Gaëte) when the vessels arrived at Antwerp, because he has still some influence, is still employed as president of the bank, and may be called on by the present Ministers for explanations. But in saying, in another part of the note, that Baron Louis was not inconsistent with himself, and might, even in 1814, have considered the Antwerp cargoes as confiscated, I had less for object to soothe his feelings than to anticipate the objection which might be made,—that, in the report alluded to, the proceeds of the American sequestered cargoes were not enumerated amongst the deposits for which government was still responsible.
Although I have enumerated all the cases within my knowledge where actual condemnation had not taken place, I must add that it is possible that some vessels captured, and probable that some burnt at sea, whilst the Berlin and Milan decrees were in force, have not yet been definitively condemned. But there can be no expectation that indemnity will ever be obtained either for those or in any of the cases where there has been such condemnation. From all the documents I have yet seen, I do not believe that the amount of this last-mentioned class, after deducting the cases where the destination of the vessels was concealed, enemy’s property covered, or which generally might afford plausible grounds of condemnation, can exceed two millions of dollars in value. The Danish prizes and the vessels and cargoes seized at Naples are not included in that estimate. The amount of sequestrations and vessels burnt at sea, where no condemnation has taken place, may be estimated at about three millions of dollars. This last estimate cannot be far from the truth, since we know the amount of the two largest claims,—the St. Sebastian and the Antwerp sequestrations. The answer which this government may give to my last note will show whether we have anything to expect from its justice in any case whatever. For, if the Antwerp claim is rejected, there can be no expectation that they will voluntarily allow any other.
I have understood indirectly that the sufferers under the St. Sebastian sequestrations had made application to be paid out of the five millions of dollars allowed by the treaty with Spain. The government of that country had nothing to do with that transaction, which was the result of a French decree executed by French authorities in a part of Spain exclusively occupied and governed by France. And I apprehend, as the slightest pretences are resorted to, that the application may injure the claim here.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 28th January, 1822.
I had yesterday a conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the subject of the Antwerp claims. In the course of it I referred him to my letters to one of his predecessors of the 9th November, 1816, and of the 22d of April, 1817: to the first, in order that he might have a general view of the nature and extent of our claims; to the other, for the purpose of showing both the cause of the delay which had taken place on that subject, and that we had always considered the reclamations for the property sequestered and not condemned to be of such nature that the claims ought to be liquidated and paid in the ordinary course of business, and did [not] require any diplomatic transaction. I then stated that although our commercial difficulties might have justly claimed the more immediate attention of the two governments, yet there was this difference between the two subjects, that the last was only one of mutual convenience, each party being, after all, at liberty, though at the risk of encountering countervailing measures, to regulate its own commence as he pleased, whilst the question of indemnity for injuries sustained was one of right. In this case we demanded justice, and [I] was sorry to be obliged to say that, notwithstanding my repeated applications during a period of near six years, I had not been able to obtain redress in one single instance for my fellow-citizens; an observation which applied not only to cases which had arisen under the former government of France, but also to wrongs sustained under that of his Majesty. Such result could not escape the notice of my government, and had accordingly been complained of in the most pointed manner in the instructions I had from time to time received. There was indeed an aggravating and most extraordinary circumstance with respect to the applications relative to injuries sustained under Bonaparte’s government. Not only had I failed in obtaining redress, but I had not even been honored with an answer. It could not be concealed that such a course of proceedings on the part of France had a tendency to impair the friendly relations between the two countries, and might have an unfavorable effect even in the discussion of other subjects. I therefore earnestly requested that he would immediately attend to the reclamation now before him, and no longer delay the decision which we had a right to expect.
Viscount Montmorency at once answered that he had read the papers relative to the Antwerp sequestrations, and that he was struck with the justice of the claim. He regretted, he added, that the settlement of this reclamation should have fallen on the present Ministry; that a decision had not taken place in the year 1819; that such an objection as that complained of had at that time been raised by the Minister of Finances. This candid declaration was made, he said, in full confidence that I would understand it as an opinion formed on a first impression, and as being only his individual opinion. He had not yet conferred on the subject with the Minister of Finances or his other colleagues, which he promised to do without delay, and to lay the subject before the King as soon as possible. Speaking of our claims generally, he alluded to the hardship that the King’s government should be made responsible for all the misdeeds of Bonaparte; an observation to which I did not think necessary to answer, as he spoke only of the hardship of the case, and did not assert that the obligation did not exist. So far as I could judge of his intention, it was that something should be done at present that might soothe our feelings; and I do not believe that he would be disposed to go at this time beyond the Antwerp claims. I think, indeed, that if they could separate Mr. Parish’s from Mr. Ridgeway’s reclamation, which appears altogether impossible, they would grant indemnity only for the cargoes which had been consigned to the first house. It must be admitted that the subject is extremely unpopular with all parties, and that there will probably be a difficulty in obtaining the necessary appropriations from the legislative body. . . .
I have also the honor to enclose two memoirs of Mr. Delagrange in American cases pending before the council of state, which show the pertinacity with which the administration of the Douanes continue to insist, notwithstanding the decision in the case of the Eagle, that a sequestration is tantamount to a condemnation. Whether it is on account of that decision, or because, as asserted to me by the Under-Secretary of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs, they have not been able to find out the decree of 22d of July, 1810, that in this instance they insist on the sequestration instead of the payment in the treasury, I cannot say, and is not very material. The case of Faxon stands by itself, and I enclose the supplementary memoir in his behalf, principally on account of another most arbitrary decree of Bonaparte, dated 3d of October, 1810, which was altogether unknown to me. Had I had it when I wrote my long note of 10th of January last to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I would have quoted it as an additional proof that when Bonaparte intended to confiscate, an express clause to that effect was inserted in the body of his decrees. The 10th Article of the treaty with Holland also shows that, at least at that time, he had not made any final decision on the American property sequestered, and that its fate was to depend on the political relations with the United States.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 29th January, 1822.
The conference I had on the 27th instant with the Minister of Foreign Affairs being devoted to the consideration of our claims for indemnity, our commercial difficulties were mentioned only in an incidental way. I inferred from what [was said] that Viscount Montmorency had not yet thoroughly investigated the subject, and he informed me that he had only confirmed the instructions previously transmitted or prepared by Mr. Pasquier. But from the manner in which he stated the King’s anxiety that this subject should be settled, I am induced to believe that he is really fatigued with that state of things—a disposition of which, if it does exist, I will not fail to avail myself in case the instructions given to Mr. de Neuville should prove insufficient, and the subject should be sent back here. It will be essential in that case that your ultimatum should be communicated to me.
As, the instructions being already transmitted, nothing could at this moment be done here, I ascribe to the same cause (to the King’s intentions) the repeated overtures made by Montmorency to Marbois, to obtain his opinion and perhaps his interference in the affair. This being mentioned to me by Mr. de Marbois, I communicated to him the substance of the last rejected proposals respectively made by you and by Mr. de Neuville, and my note of the 15th October last to Mr. Pasquier; and addressed also to him the letter of which copy is enclosed. He has appeared to me perfectly satisfied that our proposals ought to be accepted.
I must observe that this gentleman is the same alluded to in a former despatch as having suggested to me that we ought to make some concessions. I now learn that he and Mr. Laforest were consulted in 1820, when Mr. de Neuville was here, on the subject of the view which that gentleman had taken of our affairs; that they were both opposed to him, particularly as related to Louisiana, although his advice prevailed; and that the object in view in insisting on the preposterous construction of the 8th Article of the Louisiana Treaty was to obtain for a limited term of years a prolongation of the privileges granted by the 7th Article of the same treaty. This will explain why one of the Ministers, who was Mr. Lainé, did suggest to me, as mentioned in the same despatch, the propriety of our agreeing to such stipulation.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 1st February, 1822.
I had the honor to receive your despatch No. 45, which has been a longer time in reaching me than usual.
In a letter dated, I think, in September last, the copy of which is mislaid, I had communicated my intention of returning home next spring. But I must acknowledge that the situation in which the American claims are now placed, and the possibility that the negotiation relative to a commercial arrangement may be sent back here, make me now desirous of continuing here some time longer, rather than to return without having, notwithstanding my earnest endeavors, succeeded in any one subject which had been intrusted to my care. If the President shall have acted in consequence of my said letter, which was not, I believe, received at the date of your despatch No. 45, there will be no disappointment, as it was of course what I had expected. But if, as that despatch states, he shall have postponed his nomination of a successor until my answer to it should have been received, I will avail myself of his kind offer and remain here some time longer. In either case I request you to have the goodness to present my acknowledgments to him for this new proof of his continued confidence. I also beg, on account of the uncertain situation in which I will in the mean while remain, that you will be kind enough to let me know the result as soon as possible. . . . I have anticipated in my former despatches nearly all that I might have to say in the case of the Apollon. The ground which I took was that which, after my conference with Mr. Pasquier, appeared best calculated to produce an impression here and to discourage the intention of continuing to make it a national affair. In incidents of this kind, when more importance has been attached to them than they really deserve, time is, after all, the best remedy. Still, I do not think that the view I had taken of the subject was contradictory to that taken by you or by the President in his message. It is not asserted that we had a general right to make a seizure of a foreign vessel in an adjacent foreign province, but that the seizure was justified not only by the circumstances of the case, but by the peculiar situation in which we stood with respect to that part of the province where the seizure was made. The actual possession of Amelia Island and the nearly contemporaneous order issued by the Treasury were most important facts in relation to that situation. The inference I drew from those facts was conclusive if it could be supported; if erroneous, it did not impair the other arguments drawn from that relative situation, which had been urged by you and were already in the possession of this government.
Mr. Pasquier never returned any answer to my note of 28th June last.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 2d February, 1822.
Viscount Montmorency, in the conference I had with him on the 27th ult., alluded, but in a very mild manner, to the capture by the Alligator of the French vessels on the presumption that they were engaged in the slave-trade. He appeared satisfied with the explanation I gave as to the course pursued in the affair, that of bringing it before courts of justice, but expressed his regret that the captain had again sailed on a cruise.
I did not think proper to allude to a fact which had come to my knowledge, that the British ambassador had made a few days ago a remonstrance to this government with respect to one of the prizes of the Alligator, retaken by the crew and carried to Guadeloupe, whence she is said to have sailed again for Africa with the American crew on board, and to have brought back a cargo of slaves to Guadeloupe. The information indeed is said to have been obtained from yourself, and having nothing from you on the subject was a sufficient reason for not mentioning it. But I found that Viscount Montmorency felt some uneasiness on account of the charges brought generally by England against France for conniving at the slave-trade contrary to the obligations of their treaty. He asked me, and he said he did not put the question to me as to a minister, whether I thought that the trade was carried on to the extent stated in Great Britain, and whether, in my opinion, it was necessary, in order effectually to prevent that evil, to assent to the measure proposed by Great Britain, to allow the cruisers of either nation to capture vessels of the other engaged in that trade.
I answered to his first question that I believed the accounts to be exaggerated, that I could not think that sixty thousand Africans were still carried annually to America; but that I had no doubt that the trade was still carried on to a very great extent; that American vessels and capital were probably employed in it (which had been the true cause of the captures made by the Alligator), but in a much less degree than either the Spanish, Portuguese, or French, and that the sales were undoubtedly connived at in the colonies of France.
With respect to the second inquiry, I observed that no nation was more jealous than the United States were of the pretensions of Great Britain on the subject of maritime rights; and I took the opportunity of stating the nature and magnitude of the injuries we had sustained by the unwarranted seizure of our seamen on the high seas under the pretence of their being British subjects. The government of the United States had heretofore refused to accede to the proposal of Great Britain. Yet such was the anxious wish that that trade might be effectually stopped, that a committee of Congress had proposed that some measure similar to that proposed by England might be adopted. How far this might be the expression of a general feeling, or whether a practicable plan could be devised that should be consistent with national rights, it was not in my power to say. But I would acknowledge that unless something of that kind was done, and unless all the European governments united in forbidding and by every means in their power preventing the trade, it appeared impossible completely to suppress it.
If France felt disposed to make an arrangement with Great Britain on that subject, there was a point on which, since he had asked my opinion, I would beg leave to call his attention. The government of the United States had principally objected to the new principle that such cases, supposing the capture to be permitted, should be tried before a mixed tribunal. I believe that we never would agree that the property and, above all, the persons of our citizens should, for any presumed violation of our own laws, be tried by a foreign or mixed tribunal. This was repugnant to our Constitution, but not less so to the rights of every independent nation, inconsistent with the protection that every government owed to its citizens or subjects, and liable to numberless abuses. If any agreement, therefore, was made, it appeared to me indispensable that, exclusive of every other restriction, it should be made an express and absolute condition that the vessel and crew that might be captured should in every instance be sent to the country under whose flag they sailed or to which they belonged, and be exclusively tried by the tribunals of their own country. Viscount Montmorency appeared struck with those observations.
Although I have thought it my duty to communicate what passed on that occasion, I do not believe that there is at this time any disposition on the part of France to make an arrangement with Great Britain on that subject. I much doubt their being in earnest in suppressing the trade; and I am certain that the attempt to do it through the means of a convention with that country would be generally unpopular. For the treaty by which France has agreed to forbid that traffic has already the appearance of having been compulsory, and they are already sufficiently mortified by that circumstance, and by the repeated remonstrances which that treaty gave a right to the British government to make against the infractions of the law.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 4th February, 1822.
I answered two days ago Mr. Adams’s letter of 6th November, and beg leave to reiterate the expression of my sense of your continued confidence and friendship. I wrote hastily, and did not do justice to my real motives for wishing at this moment to continue here some time longer. They are very far from being purely personal; but, thinking I saw a better prospect than heretofore to succeed in the arrangement of our various reclamations and of our commercial relations, I felt that my intimate knowledge of the subjects in question, and the experience I have acquired of the machinery of this government and of the men employed, might enable me, better than a new minister, to take advantage of any favorable circumstances. But, after having explained the cause which has produced a change in my resolution, I must add that I am perfectly aware that you may have acted on my letter of last summer, and that although a nomination to the Senate of a successor may not, on receipt of this, have taken place, yet such tenders of the office, arrangements, or other preliminary steps may have been made or taken as would render it improper or inconvenient not to make a new appointment. I beg you, in that case, to consider my last answer to Mr. Adams as if it had not been written, and I only request the favor of an immediate answer, in order that I may make arrangements accordingly either for staying or returning.
I have also written to Mr. Adams the substance of a conversation on the slave-trade. Referring to this and to the modifications there suggested, I beg leave to submit an observation to your consideration. The total suppression of that traffic has become such a popular topic in England that the Ministers are compelled to follow the stream, and to use everywhere every possible endeavor to obtain from other nations their assent to some measure tending to produce the desired effect. It seems to me, therefore, that if it was once judged convenient and practicable so to restrict and modify an arrangement on that subject with Great Britain as to render it consistent with national and private rights, it would not be impossible to obtain, in consideration thereof, some favorable adjustment of other concerns. The extension of our northern boundary—the 49th degree of latitude—is but of secondary importance; but our commerce with the British West Indies is an object of immediate and great interest. You have concluded to have, in that respect, all or nothing. All we will ultimately obtain: we have now nothing; and I think that we do not by that sacrifice hasten in any degree the time when we shall obtain everything we want. The sacrifice is, in the mean while, very great. I do not allude to the representations from Norfolk, but to the general depression of the price of provisions, particularly grain, which affects the whole country from James River to Vermont, and which, the accident of bad crops in Europe excepted, nothing can relieve but a free intercourse with the West Indies. That no permanent relief can be expected from the European market appears demonstrated. The mean price of wheat in France does not exceed, and has not for some years much exceeded, a dollar per bushel. In some districts it is less than three-fourths of a dollar. In England the price is only 40 per cent. higher. In both countries the corn-laws prevent the importation nine years out of ten. The markets of Portugal and Spain will grow every day worse for us. An arrangement with Great Britain, founded on the basis she had offered, would give us a free market in their West Indies for our provisions, instead of carrying, as we now do, our flour to England to be thence re-exported in British vessels to her islands, thereby lessening the consumption and reducing the price below the cost of production and freight. That arrangement would also secure us at least one-half of the navigation employed in the intercourse between those islands and the United States. I think it therefore worthy of consideration to examine whether it might not be proper, taking that proposal as a basis, to attempt (in case an arrangement respecting the slave-trade is thought practicable) to obtain modifications in it which would render it admissible; that is to say, that Great Britain should abandon the collateral conditions attached to her proposal (non-permission to export sugar, right without reciprocity to favor her provisions in the West Indies, &c., &c.) for the sake of making the agreement which they so earnestly wish on the subject of the slave-trade.
Mrs. Gallatin requests to be affectionately remembered to Mrs. Monroe. We have all heard with great satisfaction that your health was restored. I request you to accept the assurances of my high respect and sincere attachment.
Your most obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, April 23, 1822.
In several conversations I had with Viscount de Montmorency on the subject of the Antwerp cases, he always evinced a sense of the justice of the claim and a disposition that indemnity should be made. But I have not yet been able to obtain an official answer, and, finding that objections, which were not distinctly stated, were still made by the Department of Finances, I asked Mr. de Montmorency’s permission to confer on the subject with Mr. de Villèle, in order that I might clearly understand what prospect there was of obtaining justice. This was readily assented to, and I had accordingly an interview yesterday with that Minister.
I found that Mr. de Villèle had only a general knowledge of the subject, and had not read my note of 10th January last, to which I referred him, and which he promised to peruse with attention. It appeared, however, to me that, although he was cautious not to commit himself, he was already satisfied, from the inspection of the papers in his Department, and without having seen my argument, that the claim was just, and that the ground assumed by Baron Louis in his letter to Mr. Parish was untenable.
His objections to a payment of the claim at this time, supposing that on a thorough investigation it proved to be just, were the following:
1st. There were no funds at his disposal from which the payment could be made; and it was absolutely necessary that an application should be made to the Chambers for that purpose: a demand which would be very ill received, as it had been generally supposed that France was relieved from every foreign claim of that description.
2dly. Such was [the] amount of wrongs committed by Bonaparte, and the acknowledged impossibility that France could repair them all, that all the European powers, although with arms in their hands and occupying a part of the country, had consented to receive, as a payment in full, a stipulated sum which fell very short of the amount of their claims. The payment thus made by France had therefore been in every instance the result of an agreement (une transaction) founded on equitable principles and on an abandonment on the part of the foreign powers of a considerable part of their claims. It appeared to him impossible that an application for funds could be made to the Chambers for the purpose of satisfying American claims, unless it was also the result of a transaction of a similar nature.
3dly. Even in that case the engagement to pay any sum at this time for that object would, for the reasons already stated, and for many others arising from the change of government, appear extremely hard. The only way to render it palatable was that it should be accompanied by the grateful information that our commercial difficulties were arranged in a satisfactory manner; he regretted, therefore, extremely that the discussion of the two subjects had been separated, one being treated in the United States and the other here; and he asked whether it was probable that the result of the negotiation at Washington would be known at Paris before the next session of the Chambers, which is to take place in June next.
I must say that these observations did not appear to be made with an intention of throwing new obstacles in the way of an adjustment of our claims, but for the purpose of stating the difficulties which this government would have to encounter in any attempt to effect that object. It was not the less necessary to reply [to] suggestions thus made; and I observed, with respect to the delays which had taken place, that they were to be ascribed solely to the French government. It was in consequence of the determination of the Duke of Richelieu, and I referred to my letter to him of the 22d of April, 1817; it was against my opinion, and notwithstanding my strong remonstrances, that the subject had been postponed and that provision was not made for our claims at the same time as for those of subjects of European powers. But I had taken care to remind the Duke of Richelieu, when the communication for the last object was made to the legislative body, that the American claims were not included in the settlement; and he had accordingly expressly stated in that communication that the sum to be voted would discharge France from all demands on the part of the subjects of European powers. This was so well understood that a subsequent grant of seven millions had been voted for the purpose of discharging the Algerine claims. Ours alone remained unsettled; and the Chambers must have expected, and could not therefore be astonished, that an application for that object should also be made to them.
As to the propriety of a convention for the general adjustment of the claims of American citizens, I informed Mr. de Villèle that this was precisely what the United States had asked; and I referred him to my note of the 9th of November, 1816, which to this day remained unanswered. The extraordinary silence of the French government was at least a proof of its reluctance to adopt that mode of settlement; and there was an intrinsic difficulty in what he called a transaction. The United States could have no objection to a partial admission and reimbursement of the claims of their citizens; but they would not, in order to obtain that object, sacrifice other reclamations equally just, and give that general release which France was desirous to obtain in consideration of that partial payment. Under those circumstances, it was a natural and perhaps a more practicable course to press a settlement of those claims which it might be presumed she intended ultimately to pay. To repel this, on the plea that a convention embracing the whole was a preferable mode, was an untenable position so long as our overture having the last object in view remained unanswered.
After having expressed my sincere wishes that an arrangement of our commercial difficulties might soon be effected, and having shown from a recapitulation of what had taken place at the time that the transfer of the negotiations for that object to Washington was owing to the French government, I stated that there was no connection whatever between that and the subject of our claims, and that even when discussed at the same place they had always been treated distinctly. Our reclamations were of much older date, and, not to speak of the former government of this country, they had since the restoration been pending for near four years before any discussion of our commercial relations had commenced. I was ready to acknowledge that it would be at any time an unpleasant duty for his Majesty’s Ministers to be obliged to ask funds for the purpose of repairing the injuries sustained during a former period by the citizens of a foreign nation; and I was sensible that the task would be more easy after the settlement than during the existence of other difficulties. But justice, and our perseverance, on which he might rely, required that the duty, however unpleasant, should at some time be performed; and I was the less disposed to acquiesce in new and vexatious delays on the ground alluded to, because the result of the negotiation was very uncertain. The delay in that respect was also solely due to the French government. They had thrown great obstacles in the way of an arrangement by blending other subjects with that immediately to be attended to. Afterwards they became sensible, in the latter end of September last, that it was necessary to send new instructions to Mr. de Neuville. I had in the month of October made every representation and given all the explanations which could be necessary. Yet the instructions to Mr. de Neuville were not, as I understood, sent till late in January, and had not yet, I believed, been received on the 12th of March. The success of the negotiation depended on the nature of those instructions, with which I was not acquainted. If they produced no favorable result, the consequence would only be that the commerce between the two countries would be lessened and flow through indirect channels, probably to our mutual loss and to the profit of the British manufactures and navigation. But, however this might be lamented, it was only a question of policy. Each of the two nations had a right to regulate her commerce as in her opinion best suited her interest. But with respect to our claims it was a question of right, the consideration of which ought not and could not be abandoned or postponed, even if the commercial relations should continue to be less extensive and less advantageous than they had formerly been or might again become in case a satisfactory arrangement respecting the discriminating duties was made. Whether the result of the negotiation could be known here in June it was of course impossible for me to say.
Mr. de Villèle, having taken memoranda, and promised [to] read the notes to which I had alluded, asked me whether there was any difference between Mr. Parish’s claim (meaning the three vessels consigned to his house) and that for the four other Antwerp ships; to which I answered most decidedly in the negative. He then, having the decree of 22d July, 1810, before him, inquired in what consisted the difference between the Antwerp claims and those for other property sequestered and embraced by the same decree, viz., the St. Sebastian seizures and the vessels given up by Holland. I answered, none whatever in substance, and that the reason why a specific application was made for the Antwerp claims alone in my letter of 10th of January last was that having already demanded indemnity for all the claims in my note of 9th November, 1816, the claimants who relied on the exertions of their government to obtain redress had generally thought it unnecessary to make separate applications. Mr. Parish, however, being on the spot, had urged a special decision in his case, and my government having, for the reasons already stated, acquiesced in that course, the Antwerp claims were in that manner first presented to the consideration of that of France. But I had expressly stated in my note that this was not in any way to be construed as an abandonment of other claims equally just, although their features might not in every respect be precisely the same. Between the Antwerp and the other claims for property sequestered and not condemned I knew none but merely nominal differences. The St. Sebastian vessels and cargoes had been seized and sold under an untenable and frivolous pretence, that of retaliation, to which a retrospective effect had been given. The Antwerp cargoes had been seized and sold without any pretence whatever being assigned for it. In neither case had a condemnation taken place. In both cases we had always claimed restitution or trial before the ordinary competent tribunal. The right to ask for such trial was in both cases derived from the law of nations, and it was for the Antwerp cargoes also founded on positive treaty stipulations.
Mr. de Villèle then said that he intended to shut up that abyss the arriéré, to ask from the Chambers in June the funds necessary for that purpose, and to pledge himself that the sum asked for that purpose would be the last, and would be sufficient to discharge every species of arrears without exception. He had not, he said, sufficiently examined the subject of our claims to give any decisive opinion, but he believed, at all events, that a reasonable indemnity for what had not been definitively condemned was the maximum of what could or should under any circumstances whatever be expected; and even for that he did not mean to commit himself: indeed, the decision belonged to another Department, but he would wish to know, for the purpose above mentioned, what was the aggregate of our claims for property of the last description.
I answered that this was a subject on which I had not sufficient information. I knew indeed generally, but not officially, that the sales of the property included in the decree of 22d July, 1810, amounted to more than fourteen millions of francs; but on that point the records of his own Department would give him the most precise information. Of the value of the vessels burnt at sea I had not any correct estimate. There might be other cases as yet unknown to me which would fall under the same description (of property not condemned). And, upon the whole, I had not in the present stage of the business attended to details of that kind, having been exclusively employed in pressing on the French government the justice of our claims, and having left for a subsequent discussion what related to their amount. I added that he must be sensible that I would not take any step which might be construed into an abandonment of the claims for property unlawfully condemned. He immediately answered that our conversation was not at all official, that he expected nothing of that kind or that would commit me, and he wanted only a rough estimate to guide him in his calculations. But he must say that the amount of sales was not in his opinion the proper basis of a liquidation. It was well known that the continental blockade had raised foreign produce to an extravagant rate, and we could not claim an indemnity for the advance arising from that cause.
I replied that, although I did not intend at this time to enter on the subject of liquidation, it was proper to remind him, 1st, that Bonaparte had, immediately before the sales, laid such extraordinary duties on the property already in port and sequestered that, whilst the Bayonne sales for the property seized at St. Sebastian amounted to about seven, the duties exceeded eight millions, so that the portion of the advance to which he alluded had already been detained by the treasury in the shape of duties; 2dly, that even allowing interest to the claimants would not compensate for the loss arising from the detention of the capital for such a number of years.
It is not as yet possible for me to conjecture what effect the view which Mr. de Villèle seems to have taken of the subject may have on the decision of the present Administration, in which he has very justly a great weight. But should the decision be to open a negotiation for a general settlement of the claims, it may become necessary for you to transmit instructions on the various points with respect to which they had been asked in my despatch No. 67, of the 27th April, 1818.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 26th April, 1822.
. . . The recognition of the independence of the Spanish-American provinces by the United States was rather unexpected, as the message of the President at the opening of the session had led to suppose that it would be postponed another year. I think, however, that it is not generally unfavorably received, and this principally on account of the hatred of all the governments against that of Spain. Great Britain of course likes it, and will be glad of a pretence to do the same thing substantially, though probably not in the same fair and decisive way. The other lesser maritime powers have the same feelings. Russia has now other objects to engross her attention. The continental powers are indifferent about it. For the feelings and opinions of this government I think I may refer you to the last numbers of the Journal des Débats, on the subject both of Mr. Zea’s note and the report of Congress on the President’s message. It was not my fault that that note was not better drawn. The Ministers have not mentioned the subject to me, but Monsieur, who always expresses himself in a very friendly way towards the United States, told me that he apprehended the “moral” effect of our recognition on the revolutionary spirit of Europe. I observed that ours was only the declaration of a fact; that this fact, which was undoubtedly a very important political event, was simply that America, having acquired the power, had determined to be no longer governed by Europe; that to this, when it had taken place, we must necessarily have given our sanction; that we had done it without any reference to the form of government adopted by the several provinces; and that the question, being one of national independence, was really altogether unconnected with any of those respecting internal institutions which agitated Europe.
I have the honor, &c.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 13th May, 1822.
My dear Sir,—
It is now nearly two years since I have received a letter from you. Your last was dated about the 30th of August, 1820.
The negotiation between France and the United States, which has been carried on here for two years past, concerning our commercial relations, is likely to terminate successfully. I know of nothing which will probably prevent it, unless our determination to support every officer of the government in violating the orders, laws, and Constitution of the government and nation should oppose an insurmountable obstacle to it. Captain Stockton, of the Alligator, has seized a number of French vessels, under the French flag, with French papers and French officers, and crews, at least, not composed of American citizens; yet we have tendered no satisfaction to the French government for this outrage upon their flag and upon the principles which we stoutly defend against England. A disposition to discuss has always characterized our government; but until recently an appearance of moderation has marked our discussions. Now our disposition to discuss seems to have augmented, and the spirit of conciliation has manifestly been abandoned by our councils. We are determined to say harsher things than are said to us, and to have the last word. Where this temper will lead us cannot be distinctly foreseen. We are now upon bad terms with the principal maritime states, and perhaps on the brink of a rupture with Russia, on account of the prohibition to trade with the North-West coast beyond the 51st degree of north latitude and to approach within 100 Italian miles of the islands on the Asiatic side. I have labored to restrain this predominant disposition of the government, but have succeeded only partially in softening the asperities which invariably predominate in the official notes of the State Department. If these notes had been permitted to remain as originally drafted, we should, I believe, have before this time been unembarrassed by diplomatic relations with more than one power. The tendency to estrange us from all foreign powers, which the style of the notes of the State Department has uniformly had, has been so often demonstrated, yet so often permitted, that I have almost given up the idea of maintaining friendly relations with those powers. But of late another embarrassment, no less perplexing in its tendency, has arisen. Our Mars has intuitive perceptions not only upon military organization, but upon fortifications and other military subjects. These intuitions of his have involved the President in contests with both Houses of Congress. He has contrived to make them those of the President instead of his own. A state of irritation prevails which greatly exceeds anything which has occurred in the history of this government. The Secretary of War is now, in the estimation of the public, lord of the ascendant. Certain it is that every appointment in Florida was made without my knowledge, and even the appointments connected with my own Department have been made without regard to my wishes, or rather without ascertaining what they were.
It is understood that an impression has been made upon the mind of the President that the rejection of the military nominations by the Senate has been effected by my influence.
I have known this for nearly two months, but have taken no step to counteract it, and shall take none, because I believe it will not be injurious to me to remain in this state, or even to be removed from office.
The latter, however, is an honor which I shall not solicit, although I do not believe it would be injurious to me in a political point of view.
You will perceive by the newspapers that much agitation has already prevailed as to the election of the next President. The war candidate, as Mr. Randolph calls him, is understood to be extremely active in his operations, and, as it has been said by religious zealots, appears to be determined to take the citadel by storm.
An impression prevails that Mr. A.’s friends, in despair of his success, have thrown themselves into the scale of his more youthful friend, lately converted into a competitor. You will have seen that Mr. Lowndes has been nominated by the South Carolina Legislature, or rather by a portion of it. This event, as well as the present course of the Secretary of War, it is believed, may be traced to the election of Governor Clark, of Georgia. This gentleman is personally my enemy. He was elected in 1819 in opposition to Colonel Troup by a majority of 13 votes. In 1821 he was opposed by the same gentleman. Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Lowndes had conceived the idea that if he should be re-elected the electoral vote of Georgia would be against me. He was re-elected by a majority of two votes. Calhoun and Lowndes had through the year favored Mr. A.’s pretensions; they found, however, that it was an uphill work. Considering me “hors du combat,” and finding Mr. A. unacceptable to the South, each of them supposed that the Southern interest would become the property of the first adventurer. Mr. C. had made a tour of observation in Pennsylvania, whilst Mr. L. kept watch at home. When the result of the Georgia election was known, Mr. C. threw himself upon Pennsylvania, and Mr. L., who had remained in South Carolina until after the meeting of its Legislature, was nominated by a portion of it to the Presidency.
A conference took place between them, but no adjustment was effected, as each determined to hold the vantage-ground which he was supposed to have gained. The delusion as to Georgia has passed away; but Mr. C. cannot now recede, and entertains confident hopes of success. Pennsylvania he calculates upon, as well as upon many other States. Mr. Clay is held up by his friends, but has not taken any decided measure. I consider everything that has passed as deciding nothing. Everything will depend on the election of Congress, which takes place this year in all the States except Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. My own impression is that Mr. C. will be the Federal candidate, if his name is kept up. If he should be put down (and I think he will be, especially if Pennsylvania should declare against him), Mr. Adams will be the Federal candidate. Mr. Clay will be up if Pennsylvania, Virginia, or New York will declare for him. At present there is not much prospect of either.
The stockholders of the Bank of the United States are becoming restive under the low dividends which they receive. A decided opposition to Mr. Cheves will be made the next year. I understand that many of the stockholders are for placing you at the head of that institution. I know not whether you wish such an appointment. The election of governor comes on next year. Many persons are spoken of for that office. Bryan, Ingham, Lowrie, and Lacock are among the number, and some intimations have reached me that if you were here you might be selected. Ingham is connected with Mr. Calhoun. The others are unfavorable to his views.
Present my respects to Mrs. Gallatin and every member of your family.
I remain, dear sir, your sincere friend, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 13th June, 1822.
The conference I had on the 18th ultimo with Viscount de Montmorency on the subject of the American claims turned principally on the difficulties which this government would find in effecting an arrangement with us. The result of a free conversation on what was practicable seemed to be that a definitive agreement was preferable to a partial payment, and that the choice must, in that respect, be between the two following modes: either the payment of a stipulated sum in full discharge of the demands of the United States for spoliations, and to be distributed by their government, or a reference of the whole case to a joint commission, which, in case of disagreement, would refer the disputed points to a sovereign chosen by the two governments. Mr. de Montmorency appeared inclined to the last mode. I would prefer the first if we could agree on the sum and I was instructed to that effect. I am also inclined to think that the American claimants, who, from the few applications made, seem to have considered their case as desperate, would be pleased with an arrangement on that basis. Although Mr. de Montmorency appeared to continue to be personally well disposed, he did not conceal that there were objections in the council of ministers; and he stated, a few days after, that they were inclined to postpone the subject until the result of the negotiation at Washington was ascertained. I concluded, nevertheless, to insist for an answer to my last note, being satisfied that it would not amount to a rejection, which would have committed hereafter this government, and that there would be some advantage in obtaining something more than verbal from them. The answer of the 1st instant was accordingly received, copy of which is herewith enclosed. We had so many accounts of a near prospect of an arrangement being on the eve of being concluded between you and Mr. de Neuville that I waited a few days before I made a reply; but, having now heard of the adjournment of Congress without any convention having been made, I this day have made the answer, of which I have the honor to enclose a copy.
It will be difficult for this government, after the silence observed in Mr. de Montmorency’s answer, ever to say that the King is not responsible for the acts of Bonaparte, or to make any other equally general objection against the claims. But you will perceive that, if the question respecting discriminating duties was arranged, they might still, on the ground now assumed, refuse to consider that of indemnities until their claim under the Louisiana Treaty was also arranged; and the allusion to certain French reclamations is also of bad omen. I had supposed that nothing more was meant than the Beaumarchais claim and that which may be made for the Apollo; but I have been informed that within a few days researches are made of old claims for lands in Louisiana, amongst which the most worthy of attention is that of Marquis Lauriston, one of the present Ministry, a lineal descendant of Law, for a large concession at the time of the Mississippi scheme.
In the budget which has just been presented, application is made for an additional credit of more than 61 millions of francs to pay off the balance of the arriéré. No mention is made of our claims; but I think that enough is asked to enable government to pay a sum about equal to the amount of claims for property sequestered and not condemned.
I have had the honor, since the date of my last letter, to receive your despatches Nos. 46 and 47, and have accordingly made arrangements for a longer stay here; but you see that it is very doubtful whether my endeavors with this government will prove more successful than heretofore. Permit me to request again instructions on the subject of an arrangement for our claims on the basis of the payment of a gross sum, in case the proposal should be made. I think myself sufficiently authorized to make a convention for the appointment of a joint commission on the basis above stated. With respect to the French reclamations, there would perhaps be no objection to refer Beaumarchais’ claim, provided our citizens’ claims for contracts were also included.
I have the honor, &c.
CRAWFORD TO GALLATIN.
Washington, 26th June, 1822.
My dear Sir,—
On the 24th inst. a commercial convention was signed by Mr. Adams and Mr. de Neuville. It is published in the Intelligencer of this day. If it is permitted to operate a few years, all discriminating duties will cease. I am, however, apprehensive that it will not be permitted to produce this effect.
The importations during the year ending the 31st of March last have greatly exceeded those of the preceding year. Notwithstanding the price of breadstuffs has considerably increased during the last six months, I am persuaded that the importations greatly exceed in value our exportations.
The pacification of the civil war, which for the last ten or twelve years has existed in Spanish America, has invited to commercial speculations in those regions which have tended to swell the amount of our importations. Much of the foreign merchandise which has been imported and is still importing will, it is presumed, be reshipped to those markets. Until returns can be had from these shipments, pecuniary embarrassment to a considerable extent will be felt in all our commercial cities. If those returns should not answer the expectations which have been cherished, failures to a considerable extent may be expected in the course of the year.
The receipts from the customs for the two first quarters of the year will be about $8,000,000, and probably an equal amount may be received in the third and fourth. If this amount shall be realized, we shall be able to pay off a part of the $2,000,000 of six per cents. of 1820.
The prospect of a war in Europe and the renewal of commerce, or rather the extent of commercial speculations now in train, have probably in some degree prevented subscriptions of six per cent. stock in exchange of five. This may, however, be attributed to the provisions of the Act itself, as the exchange may be made at any time before the 1st of October next. By delaying the subscription for a quarter, one-quarter of one per cent. is saved, and the uncertainty which still rests upon the question of war between Russia and Turkey will be removed. The relative prices of six and five per cent. stock still warrant the expectation that the exchange will be effected.
In my last letter I suggested the probability that the presidency of the Bank of the United States might be offered to you if you were in the United States at the time of the next election. Mr. Cheves has informed me confidentially that he will resign his office about the latter end of this year. He will declare this intention when the next dividend shall be declared.
If the place is acceptable to you, there is, I think, no obstacle in the way but your absence. If you are disposed to accept it, it will be proper for you to authorize your friends to say so. I have understood that the stockholders are desirous of having the president from among their directors. To this the government can have no objection, except that it will probably be injurious to the institution. Circumstances have occurred, and still exist, that make the bank exceedingly unpopular in many parts of the United States. It needs the countenance and support of the government to enable it to repel the acts of hostility which are continually directed against it. So long as the president is a government director, the attacks made upon the bank will to ordinary understanding be considered as made against the government. If, however, the stockholders should be at all tenacious on this point, they will find no obstacle to the gratification of their wishes on the part of the government.
As the commercial convention with France has been agreed upon, and as I understand that all the indemnity which will probably ever be obtained will have been obtained before you receive this letter, all inducement to a longer residence in France is at an end. Independent of the office to which I have referred, that of Governor of Pennsylvania will be disposed of next year. If you intend to engage in any way whatever in the concerns of this country after your return, I think you ought to be here during the next autumn. I believe there is no disposition in any party to re-elect Heister. The schismatics, who with Binns opposed Findlay at the last election, are desirous of uniting with their former friends in the next election. It is understood that they are desirous of bringing you forward; and I presume the great body of the party will meet them upon this subject. Ingham will be supported in caucus by those devoted to F.; but that, I believe, is only a small part of those who supported him in his last effort. Bryan, the late auditor, Lowry, and Lacock are spoken of; but no commitment has taken place, except by Ingham and his friends, who, it is understood, wish to connect that question with the election of Mr. Calhoun as President. The other gentlemen are understood to be decidedly opposed to the pretensions of the latter gentleman.
Mr. de Neuville will be able to give you many details upon our local politics, with which he is pretty well acquainted.
The collision between the President and Senate upon certain military nominations has very much soured his mind, and given a direction to his actions which I conceive to be unfortunate for the nation as well as for himself. I hope, however, that a better state of feeling will, after the first irritation has passed off, be restored and cherished on both sides. The public seems to have taken less interest in this affair than I had expected. Two or three criticisms have appeared in the Intelligencer upon the conduct of the Senate; but they have attracted but little attention in any part of the Union.
The controversy which is going on between Mr. A. and R., and in which you are made a party, has attracted considerable notice, and will probably continue to command attention. You will readily perceive that the object of the party was less to injure Mr. A. than to benefit another, by placing him in a conspicuous point of view, and especially by showing that Western interests could not be safely trusted to persons residing in the Atlantic States.
I believe it is the wish of Mr. de Neuville that Count de Menou should remain here some time as chargé d’affaires, and perhaps eventually to succeed him. The Count desires it very much himself, and I believe no person more acceptable to the government could be sent. I understand that the President will write to you on this subject. I believe we are principally indebted for the commercial convention to the friendly disposition of Mr. de N. for this country. He has certainly had the arrangement of the difficulty much at heart, and I hope will continue to interpose his good offices to render permanent the provisional arrangement, with such modifications as experience may render necessary. If you can consistently with propriety further the views of those gentlemen upon this occasion, you will confer a particular obligation upon me.
My family have suffered much by bilious fever for the last twelve months. I have myself suffered much, and am now in a state of suffering from that cause. Through the whole spring we have had several of the family confined by it. To regain our wonted health I shall set out with my family for Georgia the 5th of next month, and shall not return before the 1st of October, when I hope to hear from you. Mr. Erving has lately returned, but brought me no letters. He is now in Boston.
Present my respects to Mrs. Gallatin and to the other members of your family, and accept the assurance of the sincere respect with which I have the honor to be your most obedient servant.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 10th July, 1822.
In the hasty answer (No. 206) which I had the honor to make to your despatch No. 45, I briefly stated the reasons which had induced me to think that the view which I had presented to the French government of the case of the Apollo was not incompatible with that taken by you on the same subject. On a more attentive perusal of your despatch, I perceive that you also consider it as doubtful whether the ground which I had assumed could be maintained by the fact. I presume this must allude to the position which, in my letter of 28th June, 1821, to Mr. Pasquier, I had assigned to Bell’s River and to the pretended port of St. Joseph’s. This at least seems to me to be the only fact, not notorious, which is asserted in that letter. For the assumption that our jurisdiction was extended to that spot by the act of taking possession of Amelia Island and by the order of the Treasury of May, 1818, is only an inference from the presumed fact, an inference which may be erroneous, and must rest on the arguments adduced to support it.
With respect to the presumed position of Bell’s River I may have been mistaken, as I had no map where that stream was designated, and had never heard of it before. Yet I would not have ventured on the assertion on which the whole argument rested, had I not had the strongest reasons to believe it correct; and these I beg leave, in my own justification, to state.
Mr. Clarke, the consular agent at Savannah, in his letter of 14th September, 1820, to the collector of St. Mary’s, informs him that a Spanish port of entry is established on the west side of Bell’s River, an arm of St. Mary’s. In his private letter of 15th September (in possession of the government of the United States) he says that the port of St. Joseph’s lies on the west side of Bell’s River (an arm of St. Mary’s River), at Low’s plantation on the main, situated about midway between the town of Fernandina and St. Mary’s; entrance by St. Mary’s bar; a good depth of water up Bell’s River by the way of the harbor of Fernandina. In his letter of 29th September to A. Argote Villalobos, he pretends that the reason why the government of the United States had, after taking possession of Fernandina, compelled all vessels entering those waters to enter and clear at this customhouse, was because the Spanish government had no port of entry above; and, in the same letter, he alleges as a reason why there was no necessity to move the Apollo from Bell’s River, that the battery of Fernandina and four armed vessels in this harbor (St. Mary’s) might have stopped her departure to sea.
From these statements, made by Mr. Clarke himself, I thought it perfectly correct to state in my letter to Mr. Pasquier that “the spot where the Apollo was seized, and where she had proceeded after having anchored for some days opposite Fernandina, was higher up within the said harbor, on the southern side of St. Mary’s River, in an inlet of the same called Bell’s River, and about midway between the Spanish town of Fernandina and the American town of St. Mary’s.” It was the mouth or entrance of Bell’s River in that of St. Mary’s which I had understood Mr. Clarke, and which I intended to designate, as being midway between the two towns. This might have been expressed with more precision; but I transcribed Mr. Clarke’s expressions, and, however understood, it does not affect the argument.
Considering the fact as established that the pretended port of St. Joseph’s was situated on an arm or inlet of St. Mary’s River, above the town and fort of Fernandina, I attempted, in my letter to Mr. Pasquier, to prove from our possession of the only Spanish fortified place in the harbor, from the motives which had induced us to take possession, and from the order of the Treasury of May, 1818, that the United States had at that time taken actual possession of all the waters of St. Mary’s, and, amongst the rest, of the spot where the Apollo was seized. This was only an inference, and the argumentative part of the letter. But permit me to add an observation relative to the order of the Treasury.
It directs the collector to enforce the revenue laws upon all vessels entering the river St. Mary’s, without regard to the side of the river in which they may anchor, and declares that those which may thereafter arrive must be considered as within the jurisdiction of the United States and subjected to the revenue laws in every respect.
When the collector wrote on the 26th August, 1820, on the subject of the Apollo, that vessel was still anchored opposite the town of Fernandina; and I have always been at a loss to understand why he should have hesitated at that time to enforce the order with respect to her, a course which would have saved us the trouble of this discussion. But he added that it had been represented to him as the intention of the captain of the ship to proceed beyond the town of Fernandina, and further within the waters of the province.
The answer from the Treasury of the 9th September, 1820, was, that the Secretary of State had been consulted on the case of the French ship alluded to, and that he was of opinion that it was embraced by the Treasury instruction of May, 1818. The collector, on receipt of this answer, seized the ship in Bell’s River, where she had in the mean while proceeded.
As this answer of 9th September established no new principle, gave no new instructions, and only declared the case of the Apollo to be embraced by the former instructions of May, 1818; as the collector did not consider the removal of the ship to Bell’s River as altering the question, and as his conduct was approved, I naturally concluded that you had considered the original order of May, 1818, as embracing the case and authorizing the seizure; and, having taken myself precisely the same view of the subject, I thought that to enforce it by every argument in my power was not only not inconsistent with the ground you had taken, but, in fact, supporting that on which the seizure had been authorized. It is true that the ground I assumed was different from yours, in that you had not carried, in your correspondence with Mr. de Neuville, the consequences following from the possession of Amelia Island and from the order as far as I have, and in that I omitted resorting to arguments drawn from other sources, which you had already exhausted, and which I had reason to believe would not remove the irritation felt by this government. But I did not think that in so doing I had assumed a ground incompatible with that taken at Washington; and I still hope that you will find that there is no substantial disagreement between them.
I was the more anxious to support the position which I had assumed, because, however strong the reasons alleged in justification of the seizure, still, if it was conceded that it was made on a spot not previously in our possession, it was liable to be considered as a violation of foreign territory and of the rights of the nation whose vessel had been seized. That for acts of that nature reparation has been obtained may be proven by the transactions relative to the Nootka Sound affair in the year 1790. It will be seen by reference to the documents in that case that Great Britain, before she would enter into a discussion of the main question, insisted, and that Spain agreed, that satisfaction should be given for the injury complained of; and that injury was the detention of British vessels in a place over which Great Britain denied that Spain had jurisdiction. I know that distinctions may be drawn; nor do I pretend to say that in that instance England had the right to ask the satisfaction, or that the United States ought to follow the example given by Spain. But the fact might nevertheless be quoted by France as a precedent; and it appeared to me important to avoid, if possible, a discussion on the right of making a seizure on territory not within our previous possession and jurisdiction.
This letter was prepared early in February last, but I did not think it worth while to send it whilst my longer stay here and further connection with the discussion of the subject remained so uncertain.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 29th July, 1822.
I had the honor to receive your despatches Nos. 48 and 49, together with the copy of the convention signed on the 24th ult. by Mr. de Neuville and yourself. The terms are more favorable to France than I had been led to presume would be acceded to, and than was hoped for by this government. Great satisfaction has been shown on receipt of the intelligence, and it is probable, from the anxiety previously evinced on the subject, that the present Ministry would have been disposed to agree to a greater reduction of the discriminating duties. I hope, however, that the superior activity of our ship-owners and seamen will enable us to stand the competition, and that the convention, having been signed, will be ratified.
The first separate article is entirely in favor of the French, and would seem to be a gratuitous and unnecessary concession, unless it has been intended to get rid of the legal questions which had arisen with respect to our right of requiring the extraordinary tonnage duty from French vessels which had arrived at New Orleans.
Although my first impression was against the second separate article, and its operation is doubtful, I incline to the opinion that it would, upon the whole, be favorable to us. But its execution will be difficult, at least here; and I understand that the French merchants of Havre are opposed to it and hope that it will not be ratified by this government.
Viscount Montmorency has, on my request, agreed to a conference for Thursday next on the subject of our claims; but, from the manner in which he spoke, I fear that further delays are intended.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 8th September, 1822.
I had, on the 17th ult., written to Viscount Montmorency, and again, on the 31st, to Mr. de Villèle, on the subject of our reclamations, only to remind them that the late convention had removed the only cause assigned for delay. I received last night Mr. de Villèle’s note of the 3d, of which copy is enclosed. I am inclined to think that Mr. de Neuville has also represented that it was necessary to give us some satisfaction in that respect, but to what extent I cannot say; and I have been too often disappointed to entertain very sanguine hopes.
The indisposition alluded to in my note to Mr. de Villèle was a rheumatic pain, which has confined me for four weeks. I begin to walk, and hope to be able to go out in a few days. But that circumstance has prevented my urging verbally the subject and my obtaining any correct information of the real intentions of the Ministry.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 24th September, 1822.
I had yesterday a conference with Mr. de Villèle on the subject of our claims. He expressed his wish that a general arrangement might take place embracing all the subjects of discussion between the two countries; stated those to be, the reclamations of the United States for spoliations on their trade, those of France on account of Beaumarchais’ claim, and of the vessels captured on the coast of Africa, and the question arising under the Louisiana Treaty; and asked whether I was prepared to negotiate upon all those points. I answered that I was ready to discuss them all; but that I must object to uniting the Louisiana question to that of claims for indemnity, as they were essentially distinct, and as I thought that, after all that passed, we had a right to expect that no further obstacle should be thrown in the discussion of our claims by connecting it with subjects foreign to them. Mr. de Villèle appeared to acquiesce in that observation, and I then said that with respect to the reclamations of France, I had already answered, in my letter of the 13th of June last to Viscount Montmorency, that I was ready to take them into consideration, provided there was a perfect reciprocity both in point of time and as related to the nature of the claims; and that Beaumarchais’ claim arising from a contract, if that was taken up, all the claims of our citizens of the same nature must also be embraced by the arrangement which was contemplated. I added, that although my applications for indemnity had heretofore been only for cases of spoliations contrary to the law of nations, yet the claims arising from contracts were numerous, and I mentioned those for supplies to St. Domingo during Le Clerc’s expedition, all of which had, by an arbitrary act of Bonaparte, been cut down to one-third part of the original amount.
Mr. de Villèle said that he had thought that the proper distinction to be made on both sides was, whether redress might be obtained before courts of justice or not, and that those claims alone ought to be embraced by an arrangement between the two governments in which such remedy could not be had. He then said that, as a difference of opinion might be expected in many cases between the commissioners to whom the business might be referred, it would be necessary to provide means for an ultimate decision in such cases, and asked (what he well knew) what means had been resorted to for that purpose in our arrangements with other nations on similar subjects.
On the last point I answered that we had either provided that an additional commissioner should be drawn by lot, or that the subject should be referred to a foreign sovereign selected by mutual consent; and Mr. de Villèle at once said that the last was by far the most eligible mode, and that the sovereign ought to be selected and named at the time of making the arrangement, without waiting for the contingency under which it might become necessary to appeal to him.
As to the distinction he had suggested, I observed that I could easily see how it would apply in relation to French claims; that the principle adopted in the United States was that no suit could be brought against them, but that all their agents or officers might be sued for damages without the authorization of the Administration; and that, according to that principle, the heirs of Beaumarchais could not, and the owners of the vessels captured on the coast of Africa might, obtain redress before the ordinary tribunals. But I could not accede to the proposal, because a great portion of our claims was for indemnities in cases where the tribunals had already condemned the property by virtue or under color of decrees violating the law of nations, our application in those cases being founded on the injustice of the decrees themselves. It might be that for that very reason those claims might, even with the distinction suggested, be considered as not excluded; but this was doubtful, and I was unable to judge how that distinction would generally apply to the claims of the citizens of the United States. Mr. de Villèle said that it was impossible that France should consent to pay for the property which had been actually condemned. I replied that it was equally impossible that the government of the United States should consent to abandon the claim; and that since there was such difference of opinion in that respect, it was precisely one of the cases in which a reference to a third party would become necessary.
Mr. de Villèle then said that it was his intention to propose to the King to appoint Mr. de Neuville to negotiate with me on the subject. I answered that I was ready to open the discussion with any person the King might be pleased to appoint for that purpose, and that certainly no one could be more agreeable than Mr. de Neuville; but that I thought it most eligible that the Cabinet and myself should, in the first place, agree on some general basis; that, after having left my application unanswered during six years, it appeared to me that we were entitled to something more than the notice of the appointment of a person to treat; that we expected, and in fact had asked, a decisive answer; and that I disliked every proposal which had the appearance of adding further delays to that which had already taken place. Mr. de Villèle disclaimed any intention of that kind; declared his inability, from want of time and of knowledge of the subject, to investigate it and to agree to any preliminary basis, and ended the conference by saying that he would, however, converse with Mr. de Neuville and request him to confer with me before he proceeded to an official appointment.
I have the honor, &c.
JEFFERSON TO GALLATIN.
Monticello, October 29, 1822.
After a long silence, I salute you with affection. The weight of eighty years pressing heavily on me, with a wrist and fingers almost without joints, I write as little as possible, because I do it with pain and labor. I retain, however, still the same affection for my friends, and especially for my ancient colleagues, which I ever did, and the same wishes for their happiness. Your treaty has been received here with universal gladness. It was indeed a strange quarrel, like that of two pouting lovers, and a pimp filching both; it was nuts for England. When I liken them to lovers, I speak of the people, not of their governments. Of the cordial love of one of these the Holy Alliance may know more than I do. I will confine myself to our own affairs. You have seen in our papers how prematurely they are agitating the question of the next President. This proceeds from some uneasiness at the present state of things. There is considerable dissatisfaction with the increase of the public expenses, and especially with the necessity of borrowing money in time of peace. This was much arraigned at the last session of Congress, and will be more so at the next. The misfortune is that the persons most looked to as successors in the government are of the President’s Cabinet; and their partisans in Congress are making a handle of these things to help or hurt those for or against whom they are. The candidates, ins and outs, seem at present to be many; but they will be reduced to two, a Northern and Southern one, as usual: to judge of the event the state of parties must be understood. You are told, indeed, that there are no longer parties among us; that they are all now amalgamated; the lion and the lamb lie down together in peace. Do not believe a word of it. The same parties exist now as ever did. No longer, indeed, under the name of Republicans and Federalists. The latter name was extinguished in the battle of Orleans. Those who wore it, finding monarchism a desperate wish in this country, are rallying to what they deem the next best point, a consolidated government. Although this is not yet avowed (as that of monarchism, you know, never was), it exists decidedly, and is the true key to the debates in Congress, wherein you see many calling themselves Republicans and preaching the rankest doctrines of the old Federalists. One of the prominent candidates is presumed to be of this party; the other a Republican of the old school, and a friend to the barrier of State rights, as provided by the Constitution against the danger of consolidation, which danger was the principal ground of opposition to it at its birth. Pennsylvania and New York will decide this question. If the Missouri principle mixes itself in the question, it will go one way; if not, it may go the other. Among the smaller motives, hereditary fears may alarm on one side, and the long line of local nativities on the other. In this division of parties the judges are true to their ancient vocation of sappers and miners.
Our University of Virginia, my present hobby, has been at a stand for a twelvemonth past for want of funds. Our last Legislature refused everything. The late elections give better hopes of the next. The institution is so far advanced that it will force itself through. So little is now wanting that the first liberal Legislature will give it its last lift. The buildings are in a style of purely classical architecture, and, although not yet finished, are become an object of visit to all strangers. Our intention is that its professors shall be of the first order in their respective lines which can be procured on either side of the Atlantic. Sameness of language will probably direct our applications chiefly to Edinburgh.
I place some letters under the protection of your cover. You will be so good as to judge whether that addressed to Lodi will go more safely through the public mail or by any of the diplomatic couriers, liable to the curiosity and carelessness of public officers. Accept the assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship and respect.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 13th November, 1822.
Mr. Hyde de Neuville called on me some days after my conference with Mr. de Villèle, and I am sorry to say that his conversation was very unsatisfactory. He said that he did not consider the present government as bound to pay the American claims arising from Bonaparte’s aggressions and decrees, and that any indemnity which might be made on that account must be considered as an act of generosity. He rejected altogether the supposition that this indemnity if made could extend to cases where a condemnation had taken place. And when speaking of the remaining cases, those of sequestration without condemnation, he insisted that for the vessels given up by Holland our recourse must be against that government, although the proceeds had been placed in the treasury of France, and that with respect to the St. Sebastian cases, the application of the claimants to the commissioners appointed to decide on the claims under our treaty with Spain was a bar against their presumed right to demand payment from France. He dwelt at the same time on the injustice on the part of the United States in not paying Beaumarchais, and on the wrongs sustained by France in the Florida seizures and in the capture of vessels on the coast of Africa. I saw clearly, upon the whole, that his return to France and his influence on our affairs must have the most unfavorable effect on our application for indemnity. I will not trouble you with the observations which I made in answer, as the ground taken and the arguments I have already used are familiar to you.
I concluded that the only chance of success was to wait for the return from Verona of Viscount Montmorency, and avoided pressing for any definitive step on the part of this government. But I received on the 8th instant a letter of Mr. de Villèle of the 6th, copy of which is enclosed, together with that of my answer of the 12th.1
There is no doubt that the attempt to blend the discussion respecting the claims with that concerning the construction of the 8th Article of the Louisiana Treaty is intended to postpone, if not to defeat, the first object. It must have been presumed that I could not have powers on the Louisiana question, and that in case I had, they could not be such as to authorize me to acquiesce in the construction contended for by France. From the tenor of the letter, as well as from other circumstances, I am inclined to think that government will persevere in insisting that the two subjects should be united in the same negotiation. I had received a suggestion to that effect from a respectable quarter, and I beg leave also to refer to the semi-official article in the Journal des Débats of the 8th instant, observing that that paper is considered as the organ of Mr. de Villèle’s sentiments.
It will now remain for the President to decide whether it is proper to send me powers on the subject of the Louisiana Treaty, and, in that case, whether it is for the interest of the United States to purchase the annullation of the 8th Article. That this government mean to make their claim under it an offset against the just demands of our citizens is obvious to me. Yet, as I may be mistaken, and as a change of Ministry or some unforeseen circumstances may unexpectedly give an opportunity of making an arrangement, I beg leave again to refer to the several letters in which I have applied for instructions on that subject. I must also observe that, although my powers authorize me to provide by convention for the just claims of French subjects against the United States, I have no instruction whatever on that point. The only French claims within my knowledge are those already mentioned, Beaumarchais’, the vessels seized in the waters of St. Mary’s River, and those captured by Captain Stockton.
I have the honor, &c.
GALLATIN TO MONROE.
Paris, 13th November, 1822.
With respect to my longer stay here, I entertain a just sense of your partiality and kind feelings towards me; and I may add that so far as I am personally concerned the station is not only highly honorable, but more agreeable than any other public employment which [I] might fill. But considerations connected with my children and with my private affairs imperiously require my presence in America at least for some months. Under those circumstances I will, with your permission, return next spring, but take leave here as only going with leave of absence. I would probably be ready to return here in the autumn, and take care that the public interest should not in the mean while suffer. Mr. Sheldon is indeed fully equal to the task of managing all the current affairs of the mission, and France has given us the example of leaving a chargé for a short time. But this must not by any means prevent you from filling the place at once on my return if you think it proper. I will only thank you to let me know your intention in that respect as soon as possible after the receipt of this letter.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 19th November, 1822.
I received last night, and have the honor to enclose, a copy of Mr. de Villèle’s answer (dated 15th instant) to my letter of the 12th. You will perceive that, without taking any notice of the reasons I had urged why a distinct negotiation should be immediately opened on the subject of the claims against both governments, he insists that this shall be treated in connection with the question respecting the construction of the 8th Article of the Louisiana Treaty. The object is too obvious to require any comments on my part, and this final decision leaves me no other course than to refer the whole to my government.
I have the honor, &c.
[1 ]This note will be found in American State Papers, vol. v. (Foreign Relations) pp. 301-306.
[1 ]This note will be found in American State Papers, vol. v. (Foreign Affairs) p. 312; and again, p. 671.