United States. President.

State papers and publick documents of the United States, from the accession of George Washington to the presidency, exhibiting a complete view of our foreign relations since that time .. (Volume 2) online

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FelloAV citizens of the Senate,

and of the House of Representatives,

In recurring to the internal situation of our country,
since I had last the pleasure to address you. I find ample
vol. n. 14


reason for a renewed expression of that gratitude to tEV
Ruler of the Universe, which a continued series of pros-
perity has so often and so justly called forth.

The acts of the last session, which required special ar~
rangercents. have been, as far as circumstances would
admit, carried into operation.

Measures calculated to ensure a. continuance of the
friendship of the Indians, and to preserve peace along the
extent of our interior frontier, have been digested and
adopted. In the framing of these, care has been taken
to guard, on the one hand,, our advanced settlements from
the predatory incursions of those unruly individuals who
cannot be restrained by their tribes ; and on the other
hand, to protect the rights secured to the Indians by treaty ;
to draw them nearer to the civilized state ; and inspire
them with correct conceptions of the power, as well as-
justice of the government.

The meeting of the deputies from the Creek nation at
Colerain, in the state of Georgia, which had for a prin-
cipal object the purchase of a parcel of their land by that
state, broke up without its being accomplished ; the na-
tion having, previous to their departure, instructed them
against making any sale : the occasion, however, has been
improved, to confirm hy a new treaty with the Creeks,
their pre-existing engagements with the United States :
and to obtain their consent to the establishment of trading
houses, and military posts within their boundary ; by
means of which, their friendship, and the general peace
may be more effectually secured.

The period during the late session at which the appro-
priation was passed for carrying into effect the treaty of
amity, commerce and navigation between the United
States and his Britannick majesty, necessarily procrasti-
nated the reception of the posts stipulated to be delivered,
beyond the date assigned for that event. As soon, how-
ever, as the governour general of Canada could be ad-
dressed with propriety on the subject, arrangements were
cordially and promptly concluded for their evacuation,
and the United States took possession of the principal of
them, comprehending Oswego, Niagara, Detroit, Michel -
limakinac and Fort Miami, where such repairs and addi-
tions have been ordered to be made, as appeared indis-



The commissioners appointed on the part of the United
3 and of Great Britain, to determine which Is the
river St. Croix mentioned In the treaty of peace of I

din the choice of Egbert Benson,1Csq. ofNew York,
for the third commissioner. The wholemetal St. Andn
in Passamaquoddy bay, in the beginning of OctdbeY 5 and
directed sun 5 to be made of the rivers in dispute; but
icable to have these surveys completed
the next year, they adjourned, to meet in Boston,
in August, 1797, for the final decision of the question.

Other commissioners appointed on the part of the
United States, agr< lably to the seventh article of the
treaty with Great Britain, relative 10 captures and con-
demnation of vessels and other property, met the com-
missioners of his Britannick majesty, in London, in Au-
gust last, when John Trumbull, Esq. was chosen by lot,
for the fifth commissioner. In October following, the
board were to proceed to business. As yet, there has
been no communication of commissioners on the part of
£reat Britain, to unite with those who have been ap-
pointed on the part of the United States, for carrying into

• (Feet the sixth article of the treaty.

The treaty with Spain required that the commissioners
for running the boundary line between the territory of
the United States and his Catholids majesty's provinces of
East and West Florida, should irreet at the Natchez be-
fore the expiration of six months after the exchange of
the ratifications, which was effected at Aranjuez, on the
twenty-fifth day of April ; and the troops of his Catholick
majesty occupying any posts within the limits of the
United States, were, within the same period to be with-
drawn. The commissioner of the United States there-
fore commenced his journey for the Natchez in Septem-
ber; and troops were ordered to occupy the posts from
which the Spanish garrisons should be withdrawn. In-
formation has been recently received of the appointment
of a commissioner on the part of his Catholick majesty for
running the boundary line ; but none of any appointment
for the adjustment bf the claims of our citizens whose
vessels were captured by the armed vessels of Spain.

In pursuance of the act of Congress passed- in the last

• session, for the protection and relief of American seamen.
agents Were, appointed, one to reside in Great Britain


and the other in the West Indies. The eiiects of the
agency in the West Indies are not yet fully ascertained ;
but those which have been communicated afford grounds
to believe the measure will be beneficial. The agent
destined to reside in Great Britain, declining to accept
the appointment, the business has consequently devolved
on the minister of the United States in London, and will
command his attention, until a new agent shall be ap-

After many delays and disappointments, arising out of
the European war, the final arrangements for fulfilling the
engagements made to the dey and regency of Algiers,
will, in all present appearance, be crowned with success ;
but under great, though inevitable disadvantages, in the
pecuniary transactions, occasioned by that war, which
will render a further provision necessary. The actual
liberation of all our citizens, who were prisoners in Al-
giers, while it gratifies every feeling heart, is itself an
earnest of a satisfactory termination of the whole negotia-
tion. Measures are in operation for effecting treaties
with the regencies of Tunis and Tripoli.

To an active external commerce, the protection of a
naval force is indispensable. This is manifest with re-
gard to wars in which a state is itself a party. But be-
sides this, it is in our own experience, that the most sin-
cere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the depre-
dations of nations at war. To secure respect to a neutral
flag, requires a naval force, organized and ready to vin-
dicate it, from insult or aggression. This may even pre-
vent the necessity of going to war, by discouraging
belligerent powers from committing such violations of the
rights of the neutral party, as may, first or last, leave no
other option. From the best information I have beer*
able to obtain, it would seem as if our trade to the Medi-
terranean, without a protecting force, will always be in-
secure, and our citizens exposed to the calamities from
which numbers of them have but just been relieved.

These considerations invite the United States to look
to the means, and to set about the gradual creation of a
navy. The increasing progress of their navigation pro-
mises them, at no distant period, the requisite supply of
seamen: and their means, in other respects, favour the
undertaking. It is an encouragement, likewise that

I \ I B f iTtm.9.

particular situation will give weight ami influence to a
moderate naval force in their hands. Will it no1 then be
advisable to begin, without delay, to provide and lay up
the materials for the building and equipping of ships of
war . and to proceed in the work, bj degrees, in propor-
tion as our resources shall render it practicable without
inconvenience; so thai a future war of Europe may not
find our commerce in the same unprotected state, in which
it was found b) the present ?

Congress have repeatedly, and not without sure-.
directed their attention to the encouragement of manufac-
tures. The objeel is of too much consequence not to
ensure a continuance of their efforts in every way which
I appear eligible. U a general rule, manufactures
on publick account arc inexpedient. But where the state
of things in a country leaves little hope that certain bran-
ches of manufacture will, for a greal length of time, ob-
tain; when these are of a nature essential to the furnish-
and equi of the publick force in thru ol war;

iblishments tor procuring them on
count, to th- fthe ordinary demand for the publick

service, recommended bj stroi >nal

policy, as an exception to the general rule.'' Ought our
country to remain it: such cases dependent on foreign
supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? It
the necessary articles should in this mode, cost more in
time of peace, will not the security and independence
thence arising, form an ample compensation? Establish-
ments of this sort, commensurate only with the calls ct
the publick service in time of peace, will, in time of war,
easily be extended in proportion to the exigencies of the
government; and may even, perhaps, be made to yield a
surplus for the supply of our citizens at large, so as to
mitigate the privations from the interruption of their trade.
If adopted, the plan ought to exclude all those branches
which are already, or likely soon to be established fn EKe
country ; in order that there may be no danger of inter-
ference with pursuits of individual industry.

It will not he doubted, that with reference either to
individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary
importance. In proportion as nations advance in popu-
lation, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth be-
comes more apparent, and renders the Cultivation oi the


soil more and more an object of publick patronage. 'Insti-
tutions for promoting it, grow up, supported by the pub-
Jick purse : — and to what object can it be dedicated with
greater propriety ? Among the means which have been
employed to this end, none have been attended with
greater success, than the establishment of Boards, com-
posed of proper characters, charged with collecting and
diffusing information, and enabled by premiums, and small
pecuniary aids, to encourage and assist a spirit of disco-
very and improvement. This species of establishment
contributes doubly to the increase of improvement, by
stimulating to enterprise and experiment, and by drawing
to a common centre the results every where, of individual
skill and observation ; and spreading them thence over
the whole nation. Experience accordingly has shown
-that they are very cheap instruments of immense national

I have heretofore proposed to the consideration of Con-
gress, the expediency of establishing a national univer-
sity, and also a military academy. The desirableness of
both these institutions, has so constantly increased with
every new view I have taken of the subject, that I cannot
omit the opportunity of once for all, recalling your atten-
tion to them.

The assembly to which I address myself, is too en-
lightened not to be fullv sensible how much a flourishing
state of the arts and sciences contributes to national pros-
perity and reputation. True it is, that our country, much
to its honour, contains many seminaries of learning highly
respectable and useful ; but the funds upon which they
rest are too narrow to command the ablest professors, in
the different departments of liberal knowledge, for the
institution contemplated : though they would be excellent

Amongst the motives to such an institution, the assimi-
lation of the principles, opinions and manners of our
countrymen, by the common education of a portion of
•our youth from every quarter, well deserves attention.
The more homogeneous our citizens can be made in these
-particulars, the greater will be our prospect of permanent
union : and a primary object of such a national institution
should be, the education of our youth in the science of
, ■■>7crnnie?it. In a rcpubliek, what species of knowledge

ri rAPBBs. i 1 1

ually important .' and what duty move pressing
on its legislature, than to patronise a plan for communi-
cating it to those, who are to be the future guardians oi
the ubertii - of tin count]

The institution of a military academy, i recom-

ded bj cogen reasons. However pacifick the gen-
eral policy of a nation maj be, n ought never to be with-
out an adequate stock of military knowledge for
eies. The firsl would impair the energy of its chara
and both would hazard its - - it to greater

evils when war could not be avoided. Besides thai
might often not depend upon its . In propor-

the observance of pacifick maxims might exempt a
nation from the necessity of practising the rules of the
military art, aught to be its care in preserving, and trans*
mitting by proper establishments, the knowledge of that
art. Whatever argument may be drawn from particular
examples, superficially viewed, a thorough examination
of the subject will evince, thai the art of war i^ at once
Comprehensive and coi ed ; that it demands much

previous Btudy; and that die possession of if, in its mos
improved and ; . i^ always i moment to

the security of a nation. This, therefore, ought to be a.
serious care of every government ; and for this purposey
an academy, where a regular course of instruction is
given, is an obvious expedient, "which different nations-
have successfully employed.

The compensations to the officers of the United States*
in various instances, and in none more than in respect to*
the most important stations, appear to call for legislative
revision. The consec;uences of a defective provisioi
of serious import to the government. If private wealth is
to supply the defect of publiek retribution, it will greatly
contract the sphere within which the selection oi
meter for cilice is to be made, and will proportionally
diminish the probability of a choice of men able as well
as upright. Besides that it would be repugnant to the
vital principles of our government, virtually to exclude
from publiek trusts, talents and virtue, unless accompa-
nied by wealth.

While in our external relations, some serious inconve-
niences and embarrassments have been overcome, and :
other> lessened, it is with much pain and deep regret ':


mention, that circumstances of a very unwelcome nature
have lately occurred. Our trade has suffered, and is suf-
fering extensive injuries in the West Indies, from the
cruisers and agents of the French Rcpublick ; and com-
munications have been received from its minister here,
which indicate the danger of a further disturbance of our
commerce by its authority, and which are, in other respects,
far from agreeable.

It has been my constant, sincere and earnest wish, in
conformity with that of our nation, to maintain cordial
harmony, and a perfectly friendly understanding with that
Republick. This wish remains unabated ; and I shall
persevere in the endeavour to fulfil it, to the utmost extent
of what shall be consistent with a just and indispensable
regard to the rights and honour of our country : nor will
I easily cease to cherish the expectation, that a spirit of
justice, candour and friendship, on the part of the Repub-
lick, will eventually ensure success.

In pursuing this course, however, I cannot forget what
is due to the character of our government and nation ; or
to a full and entire confidence in the good sense, patriot-
ism, self-respect, and fortitude of my countrymen.

I reserve for a special message, a more particular com-
munication on this interesting subject.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,, — I have di-
rected an estimate of the appropriations necessary for the
service of the ensuing year, to be submitted from the pro-
per department; with a view of the publick receipts and
expenditures to the latest period to which an account can
be prepared.

It is with satisfaction I am able to inform you, that the
revenues of the United States continue in a state of pro-
gressive improvement.

A reinforcement of the existing provisions for discharg-
ing our publick debt, was mentioned in my address at the
opening of the last session. Some preliminary steps were
taken towards it, the maturing of which will, no doubt,
engage your zealous attention during the present. I will
only add, that it will afford me a heartfelt satisfaction to
roiicur in such further measures, as will ascertain to our
country the prospect of a speedy extinguishment of the
debt. Posterity may have cause to regret, if from anv


motive, intervals of tranquillity are left unimproved lor
accelerating this valuable end.

tlemen of the Senate^ and of the Hou - / Rtprei enta
-M\ solicitude to see the militia of the United Statea
placed on an efficient establishment, has been so often,
and so ardentl) expressed, thai I shall but barely recall
the subjecl to your view on the present occasion, at the
^ame time, thai I shall submil to your inquiry, whethei
our harbours are yet sufficient) secured.

The situation in which I now stand, for the lasl time,
in the midst of Lhe representatives of the people of the
Unite . naturallj recalls the period when the admin-

istration of the present form of government commenced;
and I cannot omit the occasion to congratulate you,*mimy
country, on the suc< ess oi the expei iment, nor to repeal mj
ferv( nt suppln ations to the Supreme Ruler of the universe
and Sovereign Arbiter of nations, that his providential care
ma\ still : i i to the United States ; that the virtue

and happiness of the people ma) be preserved ; and that
the govern:.. (nt which they have instituted for the pro-
jection of their liberties may be perpetual.



ALGIERS. JAN. 9, 1797.

[See Vol. Confidential Documents.]


GRESS. JAN. 19, 1797.

At the opening of the present session of Congress, I
mentioned that some circumstances of an unwelcome na-
ture had lately occurred in relation to France : that our
vol. if. 1-5


trade had suffered and was suffering extensive injuries m
(he West Indies from the cruisers and agents of the French
Republick; and that communications had been received
from its minister here which indicated danger of a further
disturbance of our commerce by its authority, and that
were in other respects far from agreeable ; but that I re-
served for a special message, a more particular communi-
cation on this interesting subject. This communication I
now make.

The complaints of the French minister embraced most
of the transactions of our government in relation to France
from an early period of the present war ; which therefore
it was necessary carefully to review. A collection has
been formed, of letters and papers relating to those trans-
actions, which I now lay before you, with a letter to Mr,
Pinckney, our minister at Paris, containing an examination
of the notes of the French minister, and such information,
as I thought might be useful to Mr. Pinckney in any fur-
ther representations he might find necessary to be made
to the French government. The immediate object of his
mission was to make to that government such explanations
of the principles and conduct of our own, as by manifest-
ing our good faith, might remove all jealousy and discon-
tent, and maintain that harmony and good understanding
with the French Republick, which it has been my constant
solicitude to preserve. A government which required only
a knowledge of the truth to justify its measures, could not
but be anxious to have this fullv and frankly displayed.


From Mr. Pickering, Secretary of State, to Mr. Pinckney.
Plenipotentiary of the United States at Paris. Depart'
ment of State, Jan. 16, 1797.

Sir, — In my letters of the 5th and 26th ult. I sent you
two notes from Mr. Adet, the minister of the French Re-
publick to the United States ; the former dated the 27th
of October, and the other the 15th of November last;
and my answer to the first. The latter note, embracing
numerous topicks of complaint, and going as far back as
the year .793, required a particular examination of'all the
rans&cticr.j of our government from that time to the pre-
fix Q Jfpi Uher indispensable duties of the office prevent-

. RS. 1 1 ■

( (1 m\ entering on this examination as early as 1 had ex-
d, and the currenl business has retarded the pursuit.
The result of this examination I am now, by the direi tion
of the President of the United States, to communicate to
you. This history of our affairs you will find suppo
by documents, many of which were delivered to you ai
your departure, and the residue will be herewith trans
!. The remarks and reasonings on facts you will
duly appreciate; and from the whole, joined with your
own observations, you will be enabled, it is believed, to
vindicate the United Stare-, and to demonstrate their im-
partiality as a neutral nation, their fidelity in the observa-
tion of treaties, and their friendship as an ally.

The discussion on which I am entering will involve
much repetition: for tin general questions and particular
cases grouped together in the minister's last note, have
been subjects of controversy and correspondence from
Iffay, 1793, to this day. Some other points have indeed
been contended for, which the minister has now passed
without notice. Win they are omitted I know not; for in
these cases the United States were as positively charged
with violating treaties, as in those which he has been
pleased now to detail. Some of them it may be found
proper to introduce, to render less imperfect the view ot
our relations to France.

The complaints of the French minister against the
United States, have reference to three principal subjects.
1st. To the abandonment of their neutral rights to the
injury of France, in not maintaining the pretended princi-
ples of the modern law of nations, That free ships make
free goods, and that timber and naval stores for the equip-
ment and armament of vessels, are not contraband of war.
2d. To violations of our treaties with France, even in
their letter.

3d. To the treaty of amity and commerce between the
United States and Great Britain ; which he alleges " de-
prives France of all the advantages stipulated in a pre-
vious treaty." A fourth complaint is truly ingenious.
The fortune of war has constrained some of the bellige-
rent powers from enemies, to become her allies : and if
the alleged abandonment of the rules of the modern law oi
nations, in its consequences, works an injury to those al-
lies, from that moment France is also injured, Perhaps v


will be in time to notice this last charge when those allies
themselves complain ; if the answer to the first, involving
the same principle, should not render such notice alto-
gether unnecessary.

I shall now present to your view those facts and obser-
vations which will prove, we conceive, that the minister's
complaints are without any just foundation.

Under the first charge, that we have not maintained, as
we ought to have done, our neutral rights, it is alleged ;

1st. That the position, that free ships make free goods,
is an established principle of the modern law of nations,
and that Great Britain, by capturing French property on
board our vessels, has violated our neutral rights ; and
that unless we compel Great Britain to respect those
rights, France will be justified in violating them.

Not to remark on the singular reasoning, that if one
warring power commits an act of injustice towards a neu-
tral and innocent nation, another warring power may law-
fully commit the like injustice, we may ask what authority
is adduced to show that the modern law of nations has
established the principle, That free ships make free goods ?
Vattel says positively, " *that effects belonging to an ene-
my found on board a neutral ship, are seizable by the
rights of war." Agreeably to this long established rule
of the law of nations France herself, in her marine laws,
has directed that the merchandises and effects belonging to
her enemies which shall be found on board neutral vessels
shall be good prizc.~\ By a former law, indeed, the neu-
tral vessels themselves, as well as the effects of her ene-
mies on board, were declared to be good prize. { Valin
remarks, however, that this regulation was peculiar to
France and Spain ; and that elsewhere the goods of the

Online LibraryUnited States. PresidentState papers and publick documents of the United States, from the accession of George Washington to the presidency, exhibiting a complete view of our foreign relations since that time .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 10 of 45)