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CABINET DECISIONS J. MSS. - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 8 (Correspondence 1793-1798) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 8
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CABINET DECISIONSJ. MSS.
December 7, 1793.
At a meeting of the Heads of Departments and Attorney-General at the President’s, on the 7th of December, 1793.
Mr. Genet’s letter of Dec. 3, questioning the right of requiring the address of consular commissions to the President, was read. It is the opinion that the address may be either to the United States or to the President of the United States, but that one of these should be insisted on.
A letter of James King was read, dated Philadelphia, Nov. 25, 1793, complaining of the capture of his schooner Nancy by a British privateer and carried into New Providence, and that the court there has thrown the onus probandi on the owners, to show that the vessel and cargo are American property. It is the opinion that Mr. King be informed, that it is a general rule that the government should not interpose individually, till a final denial of justice has taken place in the courts of the country where the wrong is done; but that, a considerable degree of information being shortly expected relative to these cases, his will be further considered and attended to at that time.
The Secretary of State informed the President that he had received a number of applications from Mr. Genet, on behalf of the refugees of St. Domingo, who have been subjected to tonnage on their vessels and duties on their property, on taking asylum in the ports of this country, into which they were forced by the misfortunes of that colony. It is the opinion that the Secretary of State may put the petitions into the hands of a member of the legislature in his private capacity, to be presented to the legislature.
TO THE FRENCH MINISTER
Philadelphia, December 9, 1793.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 3d instant, which has been duly laid before the President.
We are very far from admitting your principle, that the government on either side has no other right, on the presentation of a consular commission, than to certify that, having examined it, they find it according to rule. The governments of both nations have a right, and that of yours has exercised it as to us, of considering the character of the person appointed; the place for which he is appointed, and other material circumstances; and of taking precautions as to his conduct, if necessary; and this does not defeat the general object of the convention, which, in stipulating that consuls shall be permitted on both sides, could not mean to supersede reasonable objections to particular persons, who might at the moment be obnoxious to the nation to which they were sent, or whose conduct might render them so at any time after. In fact, every foreign agent depends on the double will of the two governments, of that which sends him, and of that which is to permit the exercise of his functions within their territory; and when either of these wills is refused or withdrawn, his authority to act within that territory becomes incomplete. By what member of the government the right of giving or withdrawing permission is to be exercised here, is a question on which no foreign agent can be permitted to make himself the umpire. It is sufficient for him, under our government, that he is informed of it by the executive.
On an examination of the commissions from your nation; among our records, I find that before the late change in the form of our government, foreign agents were addressed sometimes to the United States, and sometimes to the Congress of the United States, that body being then the executive as well as legislative. Thus the commissions of Messrs. L’Etombe, Holker, D’annemoures, Marbois, Crevecœur, and Chateaufort, have all this clause: “Prions et requerons nos très chers et grands amis et alliés, les Etats Unis de l’Amerique septentrionale, leurs gouverneurs, et autres officiers, &c. de laisser jouir, &c. le dit sieur, &c. de la charge de notre consul,” &c. On the change in the form of our government, foreign nations, not undertaking to decide to what member of the new government their agents should be addressed, ceased to do it to Congress, and adopted the general address to the United States, before cited. This was done by the government of your own nation, as appears by the commissions of Messrs. Mangourit and La Forest, which have in them the clause before cited. So your own commission was, not as M. Gerard’s and Luzerne’s had been, “a nos très chers, &c. le President et membres du Congres general des Etats Unis,” &c., but “a nos très chers, &c. les Etats Unis de l’Amerique,” &c. Under this general address, the proper member of the government was included, and could take it up. When, therefore, it was seen in the commission of Messrs. Dupont and Hauterive, that your executive had returned to the ancient address to Congress, it was conceived to be an inattention, insomuch that I do not recollect (and I do not think it material enough to inquire) whether I noticed it to you either verbally or by letter. When that of M. Dannery was presented with the like address, being obliged to notice to you an inaccuracy of another kind, I then mentioned that of the address, not calling it an innovation, but expressing my satisfaction, which is still entire, that it was not from any design in your Executive Council. The Exequatur was therefore sent. That they will not consider our notice of it as an innovation, we are perfectly secure. No government can disregard formalities more than ours. But when formalities are attacked with a view to change principles, and to introduce an entire independence of foreign agents on the nation with whom they reside, it becomes material to defend formalities. They would be no longer trifles, if they could, in defiance of the national will, continue a foreign agent among us whatever might be his course of action. Continuing, therefore, the refusal to receive any commission from yourself, addressed to an improper member of the government, you are left free to use either the general one to the United States, as in the commissions of Messrs. Mangourit and La Forest, before cited, or the special one, to the President of the United States.
I have the honor to be, with respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATESJ. MSS.
December 11, 1793.
The President doubtless recollects the communications of mr. Ternant expressing the dissatisfaction of the Executive council of France with mr. Morris, our minister there, which, however mr. Ternant desired might be considered as informal: that Colo. Smith also mentioned that dissatisfaction, & that mr. Le Brun told him he would charge mr. Genet expressly with their representations on this subject; & that all further consideration thereon lay over therefore for mr. Genet’s representations.
Mr. Genet, some time after his arrival (I cannot now recollect how long, but I think it was a month or more) coming to my house in the country one evening, joined me in a walk near the river. Our conversation was on various topics, & not at all of an official complexion. As we were returning to the house being then I suppose on some subject relative to his country (tho’ I really do not recall to mind what it was), he turned about to me, just in the passage of the gate, & said, “but I must tell you we all depend on you to send us a good minister there, with whom we may do business confidentially, in the place of mr. Morris.” These are perhaps not the identical words, yet I believe they are nearly so; I am sure they are the substance, & he scarcely employed more in the expression. It was unexpected & to avoid the necessity of an extempore answer, I instantly said something resuming the preceding thread of conversation, which went on, & no more was said about mr. Morris. From this, I took it for granted he meant now to come forward formally with complaints against mr. Morris, as we had been given to expect, & therefore I mentioned nothing of this little expression to the President. Time slipped along, I expecting his complaints, & he not making them. It was undoubtedly his office to bring forward his own business himself, & not at all mine, to hasten or call for it; & if it was not my duty, I could not be without reasons for not taking it on myself officiously. He at length went to New York, to wit, about the NA of NA without having done anything formally on this subject. I now became uneasy lest he should consider the little sentence he had uttered to me as effectually, tho’ not regularly, a complaint. But the more I reflected on the subject, the more impossible it seemed that he could have viewed it as such; & the rather, because, if he had, he would naturally have asked from time to time, “Well, what are you doing with my complaint against mr. Morris?” or some question equivalent. But he never did. It is possible I may, at other times have heard him speak unfavorably of mr. Morris, tho’ I do not recollect any particular occasion, but I am sure he never made to me any proposition to have him recalled. I believe I mentioned this matter to mr. Randolph before I left Philadelphia: I know I did after my return; but I did not to the President till the receipt of mr. Genet’s letter of Sep. 30, which from some unaccountable delay of the post never came to me in Virginia, tho’ I remained there till Oct. 25. (and received there three subsequent mails), and it never reached me in Philadelphia till Dec. 2.
The preceding is the state of this matter, as nearly as I can recollect it at this time, & I am sure it is not materially inaccurate in any point.
TO MR. CHURCHJ. MSS.
Philadelphia Dec 11, 1793.
The President has received your letter of Aug. 16. with its enclosures. It was with deep concern that he learnt the unhappy fortunes of M. de la Fayette, and that he still learns his continuance under them. His friendship for him could not fail to impress him with the desire of relieving him, and he was sure that in endeavoring to do this, he should gratify the sincere attachments of his fellow citizens. He has accordingly employed such means as appeared the most likely to effect his purpose; tho’ under the existing circumstances, he could not be sanguine in their obtaining very immediately the desired effect. Conscious, however, that his anxieties for the sufferer flow from no motives unfriendly to those who feel an interest in his confinement, he indulges their continuance, & will not relinquish the hope that the reasons for this severity will at length yield to those of a more benign character.
TO THE BRITISH MINISTER.
Philadelphia, December 15, 1793.
I am to acknowledge the honor of your letter of November 30th, and to express the satisfaction with which we learn, that you are instructed to discuss with us the measures, which reason and practicability may dictate for giving effect to the stipulations of our treaty, yet remaining to be executed. I can assure you, on the part of the United States, of every disposition to lessen difficulties, by passing over whatever is of smaller concern, and insisting on those matters only, which either justice to individuals or public policy render indispensable; and in order to simplify our discussions, by defining precisely their objects, I have the honor to propose that we shall begin by specifying, on each side, the particular acts which each considers to have been done by the other, in contravention of the treaty. I shall set the example.
The provisional and definitive treaties, in their 7th article, stipulated that his “Britannic Majesty should, with all convenient speed, and without causing any destruction, or carrying away any negroes,or other property, of the American inhabitants, withdraw all his armies, garrisons, and fleets, from the said United States, and from every port, place, and harbor, within the same.”
But the British garrisons were not withdrawn with all convenient speed, nor have ever yet been withdrawn from Machilimackinac, on Lake Michigan; Detroit, on the strait of Lakes Erie and Huron; Fort Erie, on Lake Erie; Niagara, Oswego, on Lake Ontario; Oswegatchie, on the river St. Lawrence; Point Au-fer, and Dutchman’s Point, on Lake Champlain.
2d. The British officers have undertaken to exercise a jurisdiction over the country and inhabitants in the vicinities of those forts; and
3d. They have excluded the citizens of the United States from navigating, even on our side of the middle line of the rivers and lakes established as a boundary between the two nations.
By these proceedings, we have been intercepted entirely from the commerce of furs with the Indian nations, to the northward—a commerce which had ever been of great importance to the United States, not only for its intrinsic value, but as it was the means of cherishing peace with those Indians, and of superseding the necessity of that expensive warfare we have been obliged to carry on with them, during the time that these posts have been in other hands.
On withdrawing the troops from New York, 1st. A large embarkation of negroes, of the property of the inhabitants of the United States, took place before the commissioners on our part, for inspecting and superintending embarkations, had arrived there, and without any account ever rendered thereof. 2d. Near three thousand others were publicly carried away by the avowed order of the British commanding officer, and under the view, and against the remonstrances of our commissioners. 3d. A very great number were carried off in private vessels, if not by the express permission, yet certainly without opposition on the part of the commanding officer, who alone had the means of preventing it, and without admitting the inspection of the American commissioners; and 4th. Of other species of property carried away, the commanding officer permitted no examination at all. In support of these facts, I have the honor to enclose you documents, a list of which will be subjoined, and in addition to them, I beg leave to refer to a roll signed by the joint commissioners, and delivered to your commanding officer for transmission to his court, containing a description of the negroes publicly carried away by his order as before mentioned, with a copy of which you have doubtless been furnished.
A difference of opinion, too, having arisen as to the river intended by the plenipotentiaries to be the boundary between us and the dominions of Great Britain, and by them called the St. Croix, which name, it seems, is given to two different rivers, the ascertaining of this point becomes a matter of present urgency; it has heretofore been the subject of application from us to the Government of Great Britain.
There are other smaller matters between the two nations, which remain to be adjusted, but I think it would be better to refer these for settlement through the ordinary channel of our ministers, than to embarrass the present important discussions with them; they can never be obstacles to friendship and harmony.
Permit me now, sir, to ask from you a specification of the particular acts, which, being considered by his Britannic Majesty as a non-compliance on our part with the engagement contained in the 4th, 5th, and 6th articles of the treaty, induced him to suspend the execution of the 7th, and render a separate discussion of them inadmissible. And accept assurances, &c.
REPORT ON THE PRIVILEGES AND RESTRICTIONS ON THE COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES1
The Secretary of State, to whom was referred by the House of Representatives, the report of a committee on the written message of the President of the United States, of the 14th of February, 1791, with instructions to report to Congress the nature and extent of the privileges and restrictions of the commercial intercourse of the United States with foreign nations, and the measures which he should think proper to be adopted for the improvement of the commerce and navigation of the same, has had the same under consideration, and thereupon makes the following Report:
The countries with which the United States have their chief commercial intercourse are Spain, Portugal, France, Great Britain, the United Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, and their American possessions; and the articles of export, which constitute the basis of that commerce, with their respective amounts, are,
To descend to articles of smaller value than these, would lead into a minuteness of detail neither necessary nor useful to the present object.
The proportions of our exports, which go to the nations before mentioned, and to their dominions, respectively, are as follows:
These imports consist mostly of articles on which industry has been exhausted.
Our navigation, depending on the same commerce, will appear by the following statement of the tonnage of our own vessels, entering in our ports, from those several nations and their possessions, in one year; that is to say, from October, 1789, to September, 1790, inclusive, as follows:
Of our commercial objects, Spain receives favorably our breadstuff, salted fish, wood, ships, tar, pitch, and turpentine. On our meals, however, as well as on those of other foreign countries, when reexported to their colonies, they have lately imposed duties of from half-a-dollar to two dollars the barrel, the duties being so proportioned to the current price of their own flour, as that both together are to make the constant sum of nine dollars per barrel.
They do not discourage our rice, pot and pearl ash, salted provisions, or whale oil; but these articles, being in small demand at their markets, are carried thither but in a small degree. Their demand for rice, however, is increasing. Neither tobacco nor indigo are received there. Our commerce is permitted with their Canary islands under the same conditions.
Themselves, and their colonies, are the actual consumers of what they receive from us.
Our navigation is free with the kingdom of Spain; foreign goods being received there in our ships on the same conditions as if carried in their own, or in the vessels of the country of which such goods are the manufacture or produce.
Portugal receives favorably our grain and bread, salted fish, and other salted provisions, wood, tar, pitch and turpentine.
For flax-seed, pot and pearl ash, though not discouraged, there is little demand.
Our ships pay 20 per cent. on being sold to their subjects, and are then free-bottoms.
Foreign goods (except those of the East Indies) are received on the same footing in our vessels as in their own, or any others; that is to say, on general duties of from 20 to 28 per cent., and, consequently, our navigation is unobstructed by them. Tobacco, rice, and meals, are prohibited.
Themselves and their colonies consume what they receive from us.
These regulations extend to the Azores, Madeira, and the Cape de Verd islands, except that in these, meals and rice are received freely.
France receives favorably our bread-stuffs, rice, wood, pot and pearl ashes.
A duty of 5 sous the quintal, or nearly 4½ cents, is paid on our tar, pitch, and turpentine. Our whale oils pay 6 livres the quintal, and are the only foreign whale oils admitted. Our indigo pays 5 livres the quintal, their own 2½; but a difference of quality, still more than a difference of duty, prevents its seeking that market.
Salted beef is received freely for re-exportation; but if for home consumption, it pays five livres the quintal. Other salted provisions pay that duty in all cases, and salted fish is made lately to pay the prohibitory one of twenty livres the quintal.
Our ships are free to carry thither all foreign goods which may be carried in their own or any other vessels, except tobaccoes not of our own growth; and they participate with theirs, the exclusive carriage of our whale oils and tobaccoes.
During their former government, our tobacco was under a monopoly, but paid no duties; and our ships were freely sold in their ports and converted into national bottoms. The first national assembly took from our ships this privilege. They emancipated tobacco from its monopoly, but subjected it to duties of eighteen livres, fifteen sous the quintal, carried in their own vessels, and five livres carried in ours—a difference more than equal to the freight of the article.
They and their colonies consume what they receive from us.
Great Britain receives our pot and pearl ashes free, whilst those of other nations pay a duty of two shillings and three pence the quintal. There is an equal distinction in favor of our bar iron; of which article, however, we do not produce enough for our own use. Woods are free from us, whilst they pay some small duty from other countries. Indigo and flax-seed are free from all countries. Our tar and pitch pay eleven pence, sterling, the barrel. From other alien countries they pay about a penny and a third more.
Our tobacco, for their own consumption, pays one shilling and three pence, sterling, the pound, custom and excise, besides heavy expenses of collection; and rice, in the same case, pays seven shillings and four pence, sterling, the hundred weight; which rendering it too dear, as an article of common food, it is consequently used in very small quantity.
Our salted fish and other salted provisions, except bacon, are prohibited. Bacon and whale oils are under prohibitory duties, so are our grains, meals, and bread, as to internal consumption, unless in times of such scarcity as may raise the price of wheat to fifty shillings, sterling, the quarter, and other grains and meals in proportion.
Our ships, though purchased and navigated by their own subjects, are not permitted to be used, even in their trade with us.
While the vessels of other nations are secured by standing laws, which cannot be altered but by the concurrent will of the three branches of the British legislature, in carrying thither any produce or manufacture of the country to which they belong, which may be lawfully carried in any vessels, ours, with the same prohibition of what is foreign, are further prohibited by a standing law (12 Car. 2, 18, sect. 3), from carrying thither all and any of our own domestic productions and manufactures. A subsequent act, indeed, has authorized their executive to permit the carriage of our own productions in our own bottoms, at its sole discretion; and the permission has been given from year to year by proclamation, but subject every moment to be withdrawn on that single will; in which event, our vessels having anything on board, stand interdicted from the entry of all British ports. The disadvantage of a tenure which may be so suddenly discontinued, was experienced by our merchants on a late occasion,1 when an official notification that this law would be strictly enforced, gave them just apprehensions for the fate of their vessels and cargoes despatched or destined for the ports of Great Britain. The minister of that court, indeed, frankly expressed his personal convictions that the words of the order went farther than was intended, and so he afterwards officially informed us; but the embarrassments of the moment were real and great, and the possibility of their renewal lays our commerce to that country under the same species of discouragement as to other countries, where it is regulated by a single legislator; and the distinction is too remarkable not to be noticed, that our navigation is excluded from the security of fixed laws, while that security is given to the navigation of others.
Our vessels pay in their ports one shilling and nine pence, sterling, per ton, light and trinity dues, more than is paid by British ships, except in the port of London, where they pay the same as British.
The greater part of what they receive from us, is re-exported to other countries, under the useless charges of an intermediate deposit, and double voyage. From tables published in England, and composed, as is said, from the books of their customhouses, it appears, that of the indigo imported there in the years 1773, ’4, ’5, one-third was re-exported; and from a document of authority, we learn, that of the rice and tobacco imported there before the war, four-fifths were re-exported. We are assured, indeed, that the quantities sent thither for re-exportation since the war, are considerably diminished, yet less so than reason and national interest would dictate. The whole of our grain is re-exported when wheat is below fifty shillings the quarter, and other grains in proportion.
The United Netherlands prohibit our pickled beef and pork, meals and bread of all sorts, and lay a prohibitory duty on spirits distilled from grain.
All other of our productions are received on varied duties, which may be reckoned, on a medium, at about three per cent.
They consume but a small proportion of what they receive. The residue is partly forwarded for consumption in the inland parts of Europe, and partly re-shipped to other maritime countries. On the latter portion they intercept between us and the consumer, so much of the value as is absorbed in the charges attending an intermediate deposit.
Foreign goods, except some East India articles, are received in vessels of any nation.
Our ships may be sold and neutralized there, with exceptions of one or two privileges, which somewhat lessen their value.
Denmark lays considerable duties on our tobacco and rice, carried in their own vessels, and half as much more, if carried in ours; but the exact amount of these duties is not perfectly known here. They lay such duties as amount to prohibitions on our indigo and corn.
Sweden receives favorably our grains and meals, salted provisions, indigo, and whale oil.
They subject our rice to duties of sixteen mills the pound weight, carried in their own vessels, and of forty per cent. additional on that, or twenty-two and four-tenths mills, carried in ours or any others. Being thus rendered too dear as an article of common food, little of it is consumed with them. They consume some of our tobaccoes, which they take circuitously through Great Britain, levying heavy duties on them also; their duties of entry, town duties, and excise, being 4.34 dollars the hundred weight, if carried in their own vessels, and of forty per cent. on that additional, if carried in our own or any other vessels.
They prohibit altogether our bread, fish, pot and pearl ashes, flax-seed, tar, pitch, and turpentine, wood (except oak timber and masts), and all foreign manufactures.
Under so many restrictions and prohibitions, our navigation with them is reduced to almost nothing.
With our neighbors, an order of things much harder presents itself.
Spain and Portugal refuse, to all those parts of America which they govern, all direct intercourse with any people but themselves. The commodities in mutual demand between them and their neighbors, must be carried to be exchanged in some port of the dominant country, and the transportation between that and the subject state, must be in a domestic bottom.
France, by a standing law, permits her West India possessions to receive directly our vegetables, live provisions, horses, wood, tar, pitch, turpentine, rice, and maize, and prohibits our other bread stuff; but a suspension of this prohibition having been left to the colonial legislatures, in times of scarcity, it was formerly suspended occasionally, but latterly without interruption.
Our fish and salted provisions (except pork) are received in their islands under a duty of three colonial livres the quintal, and our vessels are as free as their own to carry our commodities thither, and to bring away rum and molasses.
Great Britain admits in her islands our vegetables, live provisions, horses, wood, tar, pitch, and turpentine, rice and bread stuff, by a proclamation of her executive, limited always to the term of a year, but hitherto renewed from year to year. She prohibits our salted fish and other salted provisions. She does not permit our vessels to carry thither our own produce. Her vessels alone may take it from us, and bring in exchange rum, molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa-nuts, ginger, and pimento. There are, indeed, some freedoms in the island of Dominica, but, under such circumstances, as to be little used by us. In the British continental colonies, and in Newfoundland, all our productions are prohibited, and our vessels forbidden to enter their ports. Their governors, however, in times of distress, have power to permit a temporary importation of certain articles in their own bottoms, but not in ours.
Our citizens cannot reside as merchants or factors within any of the British plantations, this being expressly prohibited by the same statute of 12 Car. 2, c. 18, commonly called the navigation act.
In the Danish American possessions a duty of 5 per cent. is levied on our corn, corn meal, rice, tobacco, wood, salted fish, indigo, horses, mules and live stock, and of 10 per cent. on our flour, salted pork and beef, tar, pitch and turpentine.
In the American islands of the United Netherlands and Sweden, our vessels and produce are received, subject to duties, not so heavy as to have been complained of; but they are heavier in the Dutch possessions on the continent.
To sum up these restrictions, so far as they are important:
First. In Europe—
Our bread stuff is at most times under prohibitory duties in England, and considerably dutied on reexportation from Spain to her colonies.
Our tobaccoes are heavily dutied in England, Sweden and France, and prohibited in Spain and Portugal.
Our rice is heavily dutied in England and Sweden, and prohibited in Portugal.
Our fish and salted provisions are prohibited in England, and under prohibitory duties in France.
Our whale oils are prohibited in England and Portugal.
And our vessels are denied naturalization in England, and of late in France.
Second. In the West Indies—
All intercourse is prohibited with the possessions of Spain and Portugal.
Our salted provisions and fish are prohibited by England.
Our salted pork and bread stuff (except maize) are received under temporary laws only, in the dominions of France, and our salted fish pays there a weighty duty.
Third. In the article of navigation—
Our own carriage of our own tobacco is heavily dutied in Sweden, and lately in France.
We can carry no article, not of our own production, to the British ports in Europe. Nor even our own produce to her American possessions.
Such being the restrictions on the commerce and navigation of the United States; the question is, in what way they may best be removed, modified or counteracted?
As to commerce, two methods occur. 1. By friendly arrangements with the several nations with whom these restrictions exist; Or, 2. By the separate act of our own legislatures for countervailing their effects.
There can be no doubt but that of these two, friendly arrangements is the most eligible. Instead of embarrassing commerce under piles of regulating laws, duties, and prohibitions, could it be relieved from all its shackles in all parts of the world, could every country be employed in producing that which nature has best fitted it to produce, and each be free to exchange with others mutual surplusses for mutual wants, the greatest mass possible would then be produced of those things which contribute to human life and human happiness; the numbers of mankind would be increased, and their condition bettered.
Would even a single nation begin with the United States this system of free commerce, it would be advisable to begin it with that nation; since it is one by one only that it can be extended to all. Where the circumstances of either party render it expedient to levy a revenue, by way of impost, on commerce, its freedom might be modified, in that particular, by mutual and equivalent measures, preserving it entire in all others.
Some nations, not yet ripe for free commerce in all its extent, might still be willing to mollify its restrictions and regulations for us, in proportion to the advantages which an intercourse with us might offer. Particularly they may concur with us in reciprocating the duties to be levied on each side, or in compensating any excess of duty by equivalent advantages of another nature. Our commerce is certainly of a character to entitle it to favor in most countries. The commodities we offer are either necessaries of life, or materials for manufacture, or convenient subjects of revenue; and we take in exchange, either manufactures, when they have received the last finish of art and industry, or mere luxuries. Such customers may reasonably expect welcome and friendly treatment at every market. Customers, too, whose demands, increasing with their wealth and population, must very shortly give full employment to the whole industry of any nation whatever, in any line of supply they may get into the habit of calling for from it.
But should any nation, contrary to our wishes, suppose it may better find its advantage by continuing its system of prohibitions, duties and regulations, it behooves us to protect our citizens, their commerce and navigation, by counter prohibitions, duties and regulations, also. Free commerce and navigation are not to be given in exchange for restrictions and vexations; nor are they likely to produce a relaxation of them.
Our navigation involves still higher considerations. As a branch of industry, it is valuable, but as a resource of defence, essential.
Its value, as a branch of industry, is enhanced by the dependence of so many other branches on it. In times of general peace it multiplies competitors for employment in transportation, and so keeps that at its proper level; and in times of war, that is to say, when those nations who may be our principal carriers, shall be at war with each other, if we have not within ourselves the means of transportation, our produce must be exported in belligerent vessels, at the increased expence of war-freight and insurance, and the articles which will not bear that, must perish on our hands.
But it is as a resource of defence that our navigation will admit neither negligence nor forbearance. The position and circumstances of the United States leave them nothing to fear on their land-board, and nothing to desire beyond their present rights. But on their seaboard, they are open to injury, and they have there, too, a commerce which must be protected. This can only be done by possessing a respectable body of citizen-seamen, and of artists and establishments in readiness for shipbuilding.
Were the ocean, which is the common property of all, open to the industry of all, so that every person and vessel should be free to take employment wherever it could be found, the United States would certainly not set the example of appropriating to themselves, exclusively, any portion of the common stock of occupation. They would rely on the enterprise and activity of their citizens for a due participation of the benefits of the seafaring business, and for keeping the marine class of citizens equal to their object. But if particular nations grasp at undue shares, and, more especially, if they seize on the means of the United States, to convert them into aliment for their own strength, and withdraw them entirely from the support of those to whom they belong, defensive and protecting measures become necessary on the part of the nation whose marine resources are thus invaded; or it will be disarmed of its defence; its productions will lie at the mercy of the nation which has possessed itself exclusively of the means of carrying them, and its politics may be influenced by those who command its commerce. The carriage of our own commodities, if once established in another channel, cannot be resumed in the moment we may desire. If we lose the seamen and artists whom it now occupies, we lose the present means of marine defence, and time will be requisite to raise up others, when disgrace or losses shall bring home to our feelings the error of having abandoned them. The materials for maintaining our due share of navigation, are ours in abundance. And, as to the mode of using them, we have only to adopt the principles of those who put us on the defensive, or others equivalent and better fitted to our circumstances.
The following principles, being founded in reciprocity, appear perfectly just, and to offer no cause of complaint to any nation.
1. Where a nation imposes high duties on our productions, or prohibits them altogether, it may be proper for us to do the same by theirs; first burdening or excluding those productions which they bring here, in competition with our own of the same kind; selecting next, such manufactures as we take from them in greatest quantity, and which, at the same time, we could the soonest furnish to ourselves, or obtain from other countries; imposing on them duties lighter at first, but heavier and heavier afterwards, as other channels of supply open. Such duties having the effect of indirect encouragement to domestic manufactures of the same kind, may induce the manufacturer to come himself into these States, where cheaper subsistence, equal laws, and a vent of his wares, free of duty, may insure him the highest profits from his skill and industry. And here, it would be in the power of the State governments to co-operate essentially, by opening the resources of encouragement which are under their control, extending them liberally to artists in those particular branches of manufacture for which their soil, climate, population and other circumstances have matured them, and fostering the precious efforts and progress of household manufacture, by some patronage suited to the nature of its objects, guided by the local informations they possess, and guarded against abuse by their presence and attentions. The oppressions on our agriculture, in foreign ports, would thus be made the occasion of relieving it from a dependence on the councils and conduct of others, and of promoting arts, manufactures and population at home.
2. Where a nation refuses permission to our merchants and factors to reside within certain parts of their dominions, we may, if it should be thought expedient, refuse residence to theirs in any and every part of ours, or modify their transactions.
3. Where a nation refuses to receive in our vessels any productions but our own, we may refuse to receive, in theirs, any but their own productions. The first and second clauses of the bill reported by the committee, are well formed to effect this object.
4. Where a nation refuses to consider any vessel as ours which has not been built within our territories, we should refuse to consider as theirs, any vessel not built within their territories.
5. Where a nation refuses to our vessels the carriage even of our own productions, to certain countries under their domination, we might refuse to theirs of every description, the carriage of the same productions to the same countries. But as justice and good neighborhood would dictate that those who have no part in imposing the restriction on us, should not be the victims of measures adopted to defeat its effect, it may be proper to confine the restrictions to vessels owned or navigated by any subjects of the same dominant power, other than the inhabitants of the country to which the said productions are to be carried. And to prevent all inconvenience to the said inhabitants, and to our own, by too sudden a check on the means of transportation, we may continue to admit the vessels marked for future exclusion, on an advanced tonnage, and for such length of time only, as may be supposed necessary to provide against that inconvenience.
The establishment of some of these principles by Great Britain, alone, has already lost to us in our commerce with that country and its possessions, between eight and nine hundred vessels of near 40,000 tons burden, according to statements from official materials, in which they have confidence. This involves a proportional loss of seamen, shipwrights, and ship-building, and is too serious a loss to admit forbearance of some effectual remedy.
It is true we must expect some inconvenience in practice from the establishment of discriminating duties. But in this, as in so many other cases, we are left to choose between two evils. These inconveniences are nothing when weighed against the loss of wealth and loss of force, which will follow our perseverance in the plan of indiscrimination. When once it shall be perceived that we are either in the system or in the habit of giving equal advantages to those who extinguish our commerce and navigation by duties and prohibitions, as to those who treat both with liberality and justice, liberality and justice will be converted by all into duties and prohibitions. It is not to the moderation and justice of others we are to trust for fair and equal access to market with our productions, or for our due share in the transportation of them; but to our own means of independence, and the firm will to use them. Nor do the inconveniences of discrimination merit consideration. Not one of the nations before mentioned, perhaps not a commercial nation on earth, is without them. In our case one distinction alone will suffice: that is to say, between nations who favor our productions and navigation, and those who do not favor them. One set of moderate duties, say the present duties, for the first, and a fixed advance on these as to some articles, and prohibitions as to others, for the last.
Still, it must be repeated that friendly arrangements are preferable with all who will come into them; and that we should carry into such arrangements all the liberality and spirit of accommodation which the nature of the case will admit.
France has, of her own accord, proposed negotiations for improving, by a new treaty on fair and equal principles, the commercial relations of the two countries. But her internal disturbances have hitherto prevented the prosecution of them to effect, though we have had repeated assurances of a continuance of the disposition.
Proposals of friendly arrangement have been made on our part, by the present government, to that of Great Britain, as the message states; but, being already on as good a footing in law, and a better in fact, than the most favored nation, they have not, as yet, discovered any disposition to have it meddled with.
We have no reason to conclude that friendly arrangements would be declined by the other nations, with whom we have such commercial intercourse as may render them important. In the meanwhile it would rest with the wisdom of Congress to determine whether, as to those nations, they will not surcease ex parte regulations, on the reasonable presumption that they will concur in doing whatever justice and moderation dictate should be done.
TO THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL
Philadelphia, Dec. 18. 1793
The Minister Plenipotentiary of France has inclosed to me the copy of a letter of the 16th inst. which he addressed to you, stating that some libellous publications had been made against him by mr. Jay, chief Justice of the U. S. & mr. King, one of the Senators for the state of New York, & desiring that they might be prosecuted. This letter has been laid before the President, according to the request of the Minister, & the President, never doubting your readiness on all occasions to perform the functions of your office, yet thinks it incumbent on him to recommend it specially on the present occasion, as it concerns a public character peculiarly entitled to the protection of the laws. On the other hand, as our citizens ought not be to vexed with groundless prosecutions, duty to them requires it to be added, that if you judge the prosecution in question to be of that nature, you consider this recommendation as not extending to it; it’s only object being to engage you to proceed in this case according to the duties of your office, the laws of the land & the privileges of the parties concerned. I have the honor &c.
OPINION ON NEUTRAL TRADE
Dec. 20th, 1793.
Explanation of the origin of the principle that “free bottoms make free goods”
A doubt being entertained whether the use of the word modern, as applied to the law of nations in the President’s proclamation, be not inconsistent with ground afterwards taken in a letter to Genet, I will state the matter while it is fresh in my mind,—beginning it from an early period.
It cannot be denied that according to the general law of nations, the goods of an enemy are lawful prize in the bottom of a friend, and the goods of a friend privileged in the bottom of an enemy; or in other words, that the goods follow the owner. The inconvenience of this principle in subjecting neutral vessels to vexatious searches at sea, has for more than a century rendered it usual for nations to substitute a conventional principle that the goods shall follow the bottom, instead of the natural one before mentioned. France has done it in all her treaties; so I believe had Spain, before the American Revolution. Britain had not done it. When that war had involved those powers, Russia, foreseeing that her commerce would be much harassed by the British ships, engaged Denmark, Sweden, and Portugal to arm, and to declare that the conventional principle should be observed by the powers at war, towards neutrals, and that they would make common cause against the party who should violate it; declaring expressly, at the same time, that that Convention should be in force only during the war then existing. Holland acceded to the Convention, and Britain instantly attacked her. But the other neutral powers did not think proper to comply with their stipulation of making common cause. France declared at once that she would conform to the conventional principle. This in fact imposed no new obligation on her, for she was already bound by her treaties with all those powers to observe that principle. Spain made the same declaration. Congress gave similar orders to their vessels; but Congress afterwards gave instructions to their ministers abroad not to engage them in any future combination of powers for the general enforcement of the conventional principle that goods should follow the bottom, as this might at some time or other engage them in a war for other nations; but to introduce the principle separately with every nation by the treaties they were authorized to make with each. It had been already done with France and Holland, and it was afterwards done with Prussia, and made a regular part in every treaty they proposed to others. After the war, Great Britain established it between herself and France. When she engaged in the present war with France, it was thought extremely desirable for us to get this principle admitted by her, and hoping that as she had acceded to it in one instance, she might be induced to admit it as a principle now settled by the common consent of nations, (for every nation, belligerent or neutral, had stipulated it on one or more occasions,) that she might be induced to consider it as now become a conventional law of nations, I proposed to insert the word modern in the proclamation, to open upon her the idea that we should require the acquiescence in that principle as the condition of our remaining in peace. It was thought desirable by the other gentlemen; but having no expectation of any effect from it, they acquiesced in the insertion of the word, merely to gratify me. I had another view, which I did not mention to them, because I apprehended it would occasion the loss of the word.
By the ancient law of nations, e. g. in the time of the Romans, the furnishing a limited aid of troops, though stipulated, was deemed a cause of war. In latter times, it is admitted not to be a cause of war. This is one of the improvements in the law of nations. I thought we might conclude, by parity of reasoning, that the guaranteeing a limited portion of territory, in a stipulated case might not, by the modern law of nations, be a cause of war. I therefore meant by the introduction of that word, to lay the foundation of the execution of our guarantee, by way of negotiation with England. The word was, therefore, introduced, and a strong letter was written to Mr. Pinckney to observe to Great Britain that we were bound by our treaties with the other belligerent powers to observe certain principles during this war: that we were willing to observe the same principles towards her; and indeed, that we considered it as essential to proceed by the same rule to all, and to propose to her to select those articles concerning our conduct in a case of our neutrality from any one of our treaties which she pleased; or that we would take those from her own treaty with France, and make a temporary Convention of them for the term of the present war; and he was instructed to press this strongly. I told Genet that we had done this; but instead of giving us time to work our principles into effect by negotiation, he immediately took occasion in a letter, to threaten that if we did not resent the conduct of the British in taking French property in American bottoms and protect their goods by effectual measures (meaning by arms), he would give direction that the principle of our treaty of goods following the bottom should be disregarded. He was, at the same time, in the habit of keeping our goods taken in British bottoms; so that they were to take the gaining alternative of each principle, and give us the losing one. It became necessary to oppose this in the answer to his letter, and it was impossible to do it soundly, but by placing it on its own ground, to wit: that the law of nations established as a general rule that goods should follow the owner, and that the making them follow the vessel was an exception depending on special conventions only in those cases where the Convention had been made: that the exception had been established by us in our treaties with France, Holland, and Prussia, and that we should endeavor to extend it to England, Spain, and other powers; but that till it was done, we had no right to make war for the enforcement of it. He thus obliged us to abandon in the first moment the ground we were endeavoring to gain, that is to say, his ground against England and Spain, and to take the very ground of England and Spain against him. This was my private reason for proposing the term modern in the proclamation; that it might reserve us a ground to obtain the very things he wanted. But the world, who knew nothing of these private reasons, were to understand by the expression the modern law of nations, that law with all the improvements and mollifications of it which an advancement of civilization in modern times had introduced. It does not mean strictly anything which is not a part of the law of nations in modern times, and therefore could not be inconsistent with the ground taken in the letter of Genet, which was that of the law of nations, and by no means could be equivalent to a declaration by the President of the specific principle, that goods should follow the bottom.
TO MARTHA JEFFERSON RANDOLPHJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, Dec. 22. 1793.
My dear Martha.—
In my letter of this day fortnight to mr. Randolph, and that of this day week to Maria, I mentioned my wish that my horses might meet me at Fredericksburg, on the 12th of January. I now repeat it, lest those letters should miscarry. The President made yesterday, what I hope will be the last set at me to continue; but in this I am now immovable, by any considerations whatever. My books & remains of furniture embark tomorrow for Richmond. These will be as much in bulk as what went before. I think to address them to Colo. Gamble. As I retained the longest here the things most necessary, they are of course those I shall want soonest when I get home. Therefore I would wish them, after their arrival to be carried up in preference to the packages formerly sent. The Nos. most wanting will begin at 67. I hope that by the next post I shall be able to send mr. Randolph a printed copy of our correspondence with mr. Genet & mr. Hammond, as communicated to Congress. They are now in the press. Our affairs with England & Spain have a turbid appearance. The letting loose the Algerines on us, which has been contrived by England, has produced peculiar irritation. I think Congress will indemnify themselves by high duties on all articles of British importation. If this should produce war tho’ not wished for, it seems not to be feared. My best affections to mr Randolph, Maria. & our friends with you. Kisses to the little ones. Adieu my dear Martha. Yours with all love.
TO THE BRITISH MINISTER
Philadelphia Decr. 26. 1793.
Your letter of the 23rd instant, desiring an ascertainment, in the mode pointed out in my letter of Septr. 5. of the losses occasioned by waste, spoliation, and detention, of the Sloop Hope, taken on the 10th of August, by the privateer la Citoyen Genet, brought into this port the 14th and restored on the 20th in consequence of the orders of this Government, has been laid before the President.
I have observed to you in the letter of Sept. 5. that we were bound by Treaties with three of the belligerent powers, to protect their vessels on our coast & waters, by all the means in our power: that if these means were sincerely used in any case, and should fail in their effect, we should not be bound to make compensation to those nations. Though these means should be effectual, and restitution of the vessel be made; yet if any unnecessary delay, or other default in using them should have been the cause of a considerable degree of waste or spoliation, we should probably, think we ought to make it good: but whether the claim be for compensation of a vessel not restored, or for spoliation before her restitution, it must be founded on some default in the Government.
Though we have no treaty with Great Britain, we are in fact in the course of extending the same treatment to her, as to nations with which we are in treaty: and we extend the effect of our stipulations beyond our coasts & waters, as to vessels taken and brought into our ports, by those which have been illicitly armed in them. But still the foundation of claim from hazard of them, must be some palpable default on the part of our Government. Now none such is alledged in the case of the sloop Hope. She appears to have been delivered within 6 days after her arrival in port, a shorter term than we can possibly count upon in general. Perhaps too the term may have been still shorter between notice to the proper officer and restitution; for the time of notice is not mentioned. This then, not being a case where compensation seems justly demandable from us, the President thinks it unnecessary to give any order for ascertaining the degree of injury sustained.
I have stated to the President, the desire you expressed to me in conversation, that the orders proposed to be given for ascertaining damages, in the special cases described in my letter of Sep. 5., should be rendered general, so that a valuation might be obtained by the officers of the Customs, whenever applied to by a Consul, without the delay of sending for the orders of the Executive in every special case. The President is desirous not only that justice shall be done, but that it shall be done in all cases without delay. He therefore, will have such general orders given to the collector of the customs in every state. But you must be pleased to understand that the valuation in such case, is to be a mere provisory measure, not producing any presumption whatever that the case is one of those whereon compensation is due, but that the question whether it is due or not shall remain as free and uninfluenced as if the valuation had never been made. I have the honor to be &c.
SUPPLEMENTARY REPORT ON COMMERCE
[Dec. 30. 1793.]
The Secretary of State, to whom the President of the United States referred the resolution of the House of Representatives of December 24, 1793, desiring the substance of all such laws, decrees, or ordinances, respecting commerce in any of the countries with which the United States have commercial intercourse, as have been received by the Secretary of State, and not already stated to the House in his report of the 16th instant, reports:
That he has had an official communication of a Decree rendered by the National Assembly of France on the 26th day of March last, of which the following is a translation:
“Exempting from all duties the subsistences and other objects of supply in the Colonies, relative to the United States, pronounced in the sitting of the 26th of March, 1793, 2d year of the French Republic.
“The National Convention, willing to prevent by precise dispositions, the difficulties that might arise relatively to the execution of its decree of the 19th February last, concerning the United States of America—to grant favors to this ally-nation, and to treat it, in its commercial relations with the Colonies of France, in the same manner as the vessels of the Republic—decree as follows:
“Art. 1. From the day of the publication of the present decree in the French-American Colonies, the vessels of the United States, of the burdens of sixty tons at the least, laden only with meals and subsistences, as well as the objects of supply announced in article 2, of the arrêt of 30th August, 1784, as also lard, butter, salted salmon, and candies shall be admitted into the ports of said Colonies exempt from all duties. The same exemption shall extend to the French vessels laden with the same articles, and coming from a foreign port.
“Art. 2. The captains of vessels of the United States, who, having brought into the French American Colonies the objects comprised in the above article, wish to return to the territory of the said States, may lade in the said Colonies, independent of sirups, rum, taffias, and French merchandises, a quantity of coffee equivalent to the one-fiftieth of the tonnage of every vessel, as also a quantity of sugar equal to one-tenth, on conforming to the following articles:
“Art. 3. Every captain of an American vessel, who wishes to make returns to the United States of coffee and sugar of the French Colonies, shall make it appear that his vessel entered therein with at least two-thirds of her cargo, according to article 1. For this purpose, he shall be obliged to transmit, within twenty-four hours after his arrival, to the custom-house of the place he may land at, a certificate of the marine agents, establishing the guage of his vessel and the effective tonnage of her cargo. The heads of the said custom-houses shall assure themselves that the exportation of the sugars and coffee does not exceed the proportion fixed by the second article of the present decree.
“Art. 4. The captains of vessels of the United States of America shall not pay, on going from the islands, as well as those of the Republic, but a duty of 5 livres per quintal of indigo, 10 livres per thousand weight of cotton, 5 livres per thousand weight of coffee, 5 livres per thousand weight of brown and clayed sugars, and 50 sols per thousand weight of raw sugar. Every other merchandise shall be exempt from duty on going out of the Colonies.
“Art. 5. The sugars and coffee which shall be laden shall pay at the custom-houses which are established in the colonies, or that shall be established, in addition to the duties above fixed, those imposed by the law of 19th March, 1791, on the sugars and coffee imported from the said Colonies to France, and conformably to the same law.
“Art. 6. The captains of vessels of the United States, who wish to lade merchandises of the said Colonies, for the ports of France, shall furnish the custom-house at the place of departure with the bonds required of the masters of French vessels by the second article of the law of 10th July, 1791, to secure the unlading of these merchandises in the ports of the Republic.
“Art. 7. The vessels of the nations with whom the French Republic is not at war may carry to the French American Colonies all the objects designated by the present decree. They may also bring, into the ports of the Republic only, all the productions of the said Colonies, on the conditions announced in the said decree, as well as that of 19th of February.
“Copy conformable to the original,
That he has not received officially any copy of the decree said to have been rendered by the same Assembly on the 27th day of July last, subjecting the vessels of the United States laden with provisions to be carried, against their will, into the ports of France, and those having enemy goods on board to have such goods taken out as legal prize.
That an ordinance has been passed by the Government of Spain, on the 9th day of June last, the substance of which has been officially communicated to him in the following words, to wit:
“Extract of an Ordinance that the inhabitants of Louisiana, being deprived of their commerce with France, (on account of the war,) as allowed by the ordinance of January, 1782, &c., His Majesty considering that they and the inhabitants of the Floridas cannot subsist without the means of disposing of their productions and of acquiring those necessary for their own consumption; for that purpose, and to increase the national commerce—the commerce of those provinces and their agriculture—has directed the following articles to be provisionally observed:
“The inhabitants of the above-mentioned provinces to be allowed to commerce freely both in Europe and America with all friendly nations who have treaties of commerce with Spain; New Orleans, Pensacola, and St. Augustine, to be ports for that purpose. No exception as to the articles to be sent or to be received. Every vessel, however, to be subjected to touch at Corcubion, in Gallicia, or Alicant, and to take a permit there, without which, the entry not to be allowed in the ports above mentioned.
“The articles of this commerce, carried on thus directly between those provinces and foreign nations to pay a duty of fifteen per cent. importation, except negroes, who may be imported free of duty. The productions and silver exported to purchase those negroes to pay the six per. cent. exportation duty. The exportation of silver to be allowed for this purpose only.
“The commerce between Spain and those provinces to remain free. Spaniards to be allowed to observe the same rules and to fit out from the same ports (in vessels wholly belonging to them, without connexion with foreigners) for those provinces as for the other Spanish Colonies.
“To remove all obstacles to this commerce, all sorts of merchandise destined for Louisiana and the Floridas (even those whose admission is prohibited for other places) may be entered in the ports of Spain, and, in like manner, tobacco and all other prohibited articles may be imported into Spain from these provinces, to be re-exported to foreign countries.
“To improve this commerce and encourage the agriculture of those provinces the importation of foreign rice into the ports of Spain is prohibited, and a like preference shall be given to the other productions of these provinces, when they shall suffice for the consumption of Spain.
“All articles exported from Spain to these provinces shall be free of duty on exportation, and such as being foreign, shall have paid duty on importation into Spain, shall have it restored to exporters.
“These foreign articles, thus exported, to pay a duty of three per. cent. on entry into those provinces. Those which are not foreign to be free of duty.
“The articles exported from those provinces to Spain to be free of duty, whether consumed in Spain or re-exported to foreign countries.
“Those Spanish vessels which, having gone from Spain to those provinces, should desire to bring back productions from thence directly to the foreign ports of Europe, may do it on paying a duty of exportation of three per. cent.
“All vessels, both Spanish and foreign, sailing to those provinces, to be prohibited from touching at any other port in His Majesty’s American Dominions.
“No vessel to be fitted out from New Orleans, Pensacola, or St. Augustine for any of the Spanish islands or other Dominions in America, except for some urgent cause, in which only the respective Governors to give a permission, but without allowing any other articles to be embarked than the productions of those provinces.
“All foreign vessels purchased by His Majesty’s subjects, and destined for this commerce, to be exempted from those duties to which they are at present subjected, they proving that they are absolute and sole proprietors thereof.”
He takes this occasion to note an act of the British Parliament of the 28 George III., chap. 6, which, though passed before the epoch to which his report aforesaid related, had escaped his researches. The effect of it was to convert the proclamations regulating our direct intercourse with their West Indian Islands into a standing law, and so far to remove the unfavorable distinction between us and foreign nations, stated in the report, leaving it, however, in full force as to our circuitous intercourse with the same islands, and as to our general intercourse, direct and circuitous, with Great Britain and all her other Dominions.
TO DR. ENOCH EDWARDSJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, Decr. 30, 1793.
I have to acknolege the receipt of your two favors of July 30th. & Aug. 16. and thank you for the information they contained. We have now assembled a new Congress, being a fuller & more equal representation of the people, and likely I think, to approach nearer to the sentiments of the people in the demonstration of their own. They have the advantage of a very full communication from the Executive of the ground on which we stand with foreign nations. Some very unpleasant transactions have taken place here with Mr. Genet, of which the world will judge, as the correspondence is now in the press; as is also that with mr. Hammond on our points of difference with his nation. Of these you will doubtless receive copies. Had they been out yet, I should have had the pleasure of sending them to you; but to-morrow I resign my office, and two days after set out for Virginia where I hope to spend the remainder of my days in occupations infinitely more pleasing than those to which I have sacrificed 18. years of the prime of my life; I might rather say 24. of them.—Our campaign against the Indians has been lost by an unsuccessful effort to effect peace by treaty, which they protracted till the season for action was over. The attack brought on us from the Algerines is a ray from the same centre. I believe we shall endeavor to do ourselves justice in a peaceable and rightful way. We wish to have nothing to do in the present war; but if it is to be forced upon us, I am happy to see in the countenances of all but our paper men a mind ready made up to meet it, unwillingly, indeed, but perfectly without fear. No nation has strove more than we have done to merit the peace of all by the most rigorous impartiality to all.—Sr John Sinclair’s queries shall be answered from my retirement. I am, with great esteem, dear Sir, your most obedient servant.
TO THE FRENCH MINISTER
Philadelphia, Decr. 31, 1793.
I have laid before the President of the United States your letter of the 20th instant, accompanying translations of the instructions given you by the Executive Council of France to be distributed among the members of Congress, desiring that the President will lay them officially before both houses, and proposing to transmit successively other papers, to be laid before them in like manner: and I have it in charge to observe, that your functions as the missionary of a foreign nation here, are confined to the transactions of the affairs of your nation with the Executive of the United States, that the communications, which are to pass between the Executive and Legislative branches, cannot be a subject for your interference, and that the President must be left to judge for himself what matters his duty or the public good may require him to propose to the deliberations of Congress. I have therefore the honor of returning you the copies sent for distribution, and of being, with great respect, Sir, your most obedient, and most humble servant.
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATESJ. MSS.
Philadelphia, Dec. 31, 1793.
Having had the honor of communicating to you in my letter of the last of July, my purpose of retiring from the office of Secretary of State at the end of the month of September, you were pleased for particular reasons, to wish it’s postponement to the close of the year. That term being now arrived, & my propensities to retirement daily more & more irresistible, I now take the liberty of resigning the office into your hands. Be pleased to accept with it my sincere thanks for all the indulgences which you have been so good as to exercise towards me in the discharge of it’s duties. Conscious that my need of them has been great, I have still ever found them greater, without any other claim on my part than a firm pursuit of what has appeared to me to be right, and a thorough disdain of all means which were not as open & honorable, as their object was pure. I carry into my retirement a lively sense of your goodness, & shall continue gratefully to remember it. With very sincere prayers for your life, health and tranquility, I pray you to accept the homage of the great & constant respect & attachment with which I have the honor to be Dear Sir your most obedient &c.
[1 ]Transmitted to Congress in the following letter:
[December 16, 1793.]
According to the pleasure of the House of Representatives, expressed in their resolution of February 23, 1791, I now lay before them a report on the privileges and restrictions on the commerce of the United States in foreign countries. In order to keep the subject within those bounds which I supposed to be under the contemplation of the House, I have restrained my statements to those countries only with which we carry on a commerce of some importance, and to those articles also of our produce which are of sensible weight in the scale of our exports; and even these articles are sometimes grouped together, according to the degree of favor or restriction with which they are received in each country, and that degree expressed in general terms without detailing the exact duty levied on each article. To have gone fully into these minutiæ, would have been to copy the tariffs and books of rates of the different countries, and to have hidden, under a mass of details, those general and important truths, the extraction of which, in a simple form, I conceived would best answer the inquiries of the House, by condensing material information within those limits of time and attention, which this portion of their duties may justly claim. The plan, indeed, of minute details which have been impracticable with some countries, for want of information.
“Since preparing this report, which was put into its present form in time to have been given in to the last session of Congress alterations of the conditions of our commerce with some foreign nations have taken place—some of them independent of war; some arising out of it.
“France has proposed to enter into a new treaty of commerce with us, on liberal principles; and has, in the meantime, relaxed some of the restraints mentioned in the report. Spain has, by an ordinance of June last, established New Orleans, Pensacola, and St. Augustine into free ports, for the vessels of friendly nations having treaties of commerce with her, provided they touch for a permit at Corcubion in Gallicia, or at Alicant; and our rice is, by the same ordinance, excluded from that country. The circumstances of war have necessarily given us freer access to the West Indian islands, whilst they have also drawn on our navigation vexations and depredations of a most serious nature.
“To have endeavored to describe all these, would have been as impracticable as useless, since the scenes would have been shifting while under description. I therefore think it best to leave the report as it was formed, being adapted to a particular point of time, when things were in their settled order, that is to say, to the summer of 1792. I have the honor to be, &c.
“To the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America,”
See VII., pp. 234, 240, 243, and 246.
[1 ]April 12, 1792.—T. J.