James D. Richardson.

A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 2, part 1: James Monroe online

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thorough conviction on the part of the American Government that the
claim has no foundation in the treaty whatever. The reasons for this
conviction have been so fully set forth in the discussion that it was
not anticipated a further examination of it would be thought desirable.
As a subject of discussion, however, the American Government is willing
to resume it whenever it may suit the views of France to present further
considerations relating to it; but while convinced that the claim is
entirely without foundation, they can not place it on a footing of
concurrent negotiation with claims of their citizens, the justice of
which is so unequivocal that they have not even been made the subject
of denial.

From the attention which His Excellency the Viscount de Chateaubriand
has intimated his willingness to give to the consideration of these
claims the President indulges the hope that they will be taken into view
upon their own merits, and in that hope the representative of the United
States at Paris will at an early day be instructed to present them again
to the undivided and unconditional sense of the justice of France.

I pray you, sir, to accept the renewed assurance of my distinguished


[Extract of a letter from Mr, Sheldon (No. 2) to Mr, Adams, dated
Paris, October 16, 1823.]

I took an early occasion after the receipt of your dispatch No. 1, of
the 10th August, to communicate the subjects of it in a conversation
I had with Viscount de Chateaubriand. His observations in relation to
that of the claims, as connected with the pretensions of France under
the Louisiana treaty, were of a very general nature and amounted to
little more than a repetition of his readiness to enter upon the
consideration of whatever subjects of discussion might exist between the
two countries and the expression of his satisfaction at the prospect of
being soon relieved from the labor which the affairs of Spain had thrown
upon him, and having thus more time to devote to those of the United
States and others not of the same pressing nature. He avoided any
intimation of a disposition to take up the claims by themselves, and
it can hardly be expected that the French Government will at this time
relax from the ground they have so lately taken upon that point. I
informed him that I should communicate in writing an answer to the
overture made by Count de Menou at Washington for uniting in a new
negotiation this subject with that of the Louisiana treaty, in substance
the same as that gentleman had already received there, and should again
press upon the French Government the consideration of the claims by
themselves; to which he replied that any communication I might make
would be received and treated with all the attention to which it was
entitled on his part.

_Mr. Sheldon to the Viscount de Chateaubriand_.

PARIS, _October 11, 1823_.

SIR: Mr. Gallatin, during his residence as minister of the United
States in France, had upon various occasions called the attention
of His Majesty's Government to the claims of our citizens for the
reparation of wrongs sustained by them from the unjust seizure,
detention, and confiscation of their property by officers and agents
acting under authority of the Government of France. During the past
year His Majesty's ministers had consented to enter upon the
consideration of these claims, but they proposed to couple with it
another subject having no connection with those claims, either in its
nature, its origin, or the principles on which it depended - a question
of the disputed construction of one of the articles of the treaty of
cession of Louisiana, by virtue of which France claimed certain
commercial privileges in the ports of that Province. Mr. Gallatin had
not received from his Government any authority to connect these two
dissimilar subjects in the same negotiation, or, indeed, to treat upon
the latter, which had already been very amply discussed at Washington
between the Secretary of State of the United States and His Majesty's
minister at that place, without producing any result except a conviction
on the part of the Government of the United States that the privileges
for French vessels, as claimed by the minister of France, never could
have been, and were not in fact, conceded by the treaty in question.
A stop was then put to the negotiations already commenced in relation
to the claims, and with which had been united, on the proposition of
the French Government, and as being naturally connected with it, the
consideration of certain claims of French citizens on the Government
of the United States.

The chargé d'affaires of France at Washington has lately, on behalf
of his Government, expressed to that of the United States a wish that
this double negotiation might be resumed and that a definitive
arrangement might be made as well in relation to the disputed article of
the Louisiana treaty as of the subject of the claims upon the one side
and upon the other. The Government of the United States has nothing
more at heart than to remove by friendly arrangements every subject of
difference which may exist between the two countries, and to examine
with the greatest impartiality and good faith as well the nature and
extent of the stipulations into which they have entered as the appeals
to their justice made by individuals claiming reparation for wrongs
supposed to have been sustained at their hands.

But these two subjects are essentially dissimilar; there are no points
of connection between them; the principles upon which they depend are
totally different; they have no bearing upon each other; and the justice
which is due to individuals ought not to be delayed or made dependent
upon the right or the wrong interpretation by one or the other party of
a treaty having for its object the regulation of entirely distinct and
different interests.

The reclamations of American citizens upon the Government of France
are for mere justice - for the reparation of unquestionable wrongs,
indemnity or restitution of property taken from them or destroyed
forcibly and without right. They are of ancient date, and justice has
been long and anxiously waited for. They have been often represented to
the Government of France, and their validity is not disputed. Similar
reclamations without greater merit or stronger titles to admission
presented by citizens of other nations have been favorably received,
examined, and liquidated, and it seems to have been hitherto reserved
to those of the United States alone to meet with impediments at every
juncture and to seek in vain the moment in which the Government of
France could consent to enter upon their consideration. Although the
question arising under the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty has
already been fully examined, the Government of the United States is
ready, if it is desired by France, and if it is thought that any new
light can be thrown upon it, to discuss the subject further whenever it
shall be presented anew by France to their consideration. But they are
convinced that by blending it with the claims not only will no progress
be made toward its solution, but that these last, standing upon their
own unquestionable character, ought not to be trammeled with a subject
to which they are wholly foreign.

I am instructed to bring them anew before your excellency, and to
express the hope of the President that His Majesty's Government will not
continue to insist upon connecting together two subjects of so different
a nature, but that the claims may be taken up on their own merits and
receive the consideration which they deserve, unencumbered with other

I request your excellency to accept the assurance, etc,


[Extracts of a letter from the Secretary of State to Mr. Brown, dated
Washington, December 23, 1823.]

You will immediately after your reception earnestly call the attention
of the French Government to the claims of our citizens for indemnity.

You will at the same time explicitly make known that this Government
can not consent to connect this discussion with that of the pretension
raised by France on the construction given by her to the eighth article
of the Louisiana cession treaty. The difference in the nature and
character of the two interests is such that they can not with propriety
be blended together. The claims are of reparation to individuals for
their property taken from them by manifest and undisputed wrong. The
question upon the Louisiana treaty is a question of _right_ upon the
meaning of a contract. It has been fully, deliberately, and thoroughly
investigated, and the Government of the United States is under the
entire and solemn conviction that the pretension of France is utterly
unfounded. We are, nevertheless, willing to resume the discussion if
desired by France; but to refuse justice to individuals unless the
United States will accede to the construction of an article in a treaty
contrary to what they believe to be its real meaning would be not only
incompatible with the principles of equity, but submitting to a species
of compulsion derogatory to the honor of the nation.

[Extract of a letter (No. 2) from James Brown, envoy extraordinary and
minister plenipotentiary of the United States, dated April 28, 1824.]

I have in a letter to M. de Chateaubriand, copy of which I have now the
honor to send, made an effort to separate the claims of our citizens
from the Louisiana question.

_Mr. Brown to M. de Chateaubriand_.

PARIS, _April 28, 1824_.


_Minister of Foreign Affairs, etc_.

SIR: In the conference with which your excellency honored me a few
days ago I mentioned a subject deeply interesting to many citizens
of the United States, on which I have been instructed to address your
excellency, and to which I earnestly wish to call your immediate

It is well known to your excellency that my predecessor, Mr. Gallatin,
during several years made repeated and urgent applications to His
Majesty's Government for the adjustment of claims to a very large
amount, affecting the interests of American citizens and originating in
gross violations of the law of nations and of the rights of the United
States, and that he never could obtain from France either a settlement
of those claims or even an examination and discussion of their validity.
To numerous letters addressed by him to His Majesty's ministers on that
subject either no answers were given or answers which had for their only
object to postpone the investigation of the subject. Whilst, however,
he indulged the hope that these delays would be abandoned, and that the
rights of our citizens, which had been urged for so many years, would at
length be taken up for examination, he learned with surprise and regret
that His Majesty's Government had determined to insist that they should
be discussed in connection with the question of the construction of
the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty of cession. Against this
determination he strongly but ineffectually remonstrated in a letter
to Mr. De Villele, dated the 12th November, 1822.

It is notorious that the Government of the United States, whenever
requested by that of His Majesty, have uniformly agreed to discuss any
subject presented for their consideration, whether the object has been
to obtain the redress of public or private injuries. Acting upon this
principle, the question of the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty
was, upon the suggestion of the minister of France, made the subject of
a voluminous correspondence, in the course of which all the arguments
of the parties respectively were fully made known to each other and
examined. The result of this discussion has been a thorough conviction
on the part of the Government of the United States that the construction
of that article of the treaty contended for by France is destitute of
any solid foundation and wholly inadmissible. After a discussion so
full as to exhaust every argument on that question, the attempt to
renew it in connection with the question of the claims of our citizens
appeared to the Government of the United States to be a measure so
contrary to the fair and regular course of examining controverted
points between nations that they instructed Mr, Sheldon, their chargé
d'affaires, to prepare and present a note explaining their views of the
proceeding, which he delivered on the 11th of October, 1823. To this
note no answer has ever been received.

I have the express instructions of the Government again to call the
attention of that of His Majesty to this subject, and to insist that
the claims of our citizens may continue to be discussed as a distinct
question, without connecting it in any way with the construction of the
Louisiana treaty. The two subjects are in every respect dissimilar. The
difference in the nature and character of the two interests is such as
to prevent them from being blended in the same discussion. The claims
against France are of reparation to individuals for their property taken
from them by undisputed wrong and injustice; the claim of France under
the treaty is that of a right founded on a contract. In the examination
of these questions the one can impart no light to the other; they are
wholly unconnected, and ought on every principle to undergo a distinct
and separate examination. To involve in the same investigation the
indisputable rights of American citizens to indemnity for losses and
the doubtful construction of a treaty can have no other effect than to
occasion an indefinite postponement of the reparation due to individuals
or a sacrifice on the part of the Government of the United States of a
treaty stipulation in order to obtain that reparation. The United States
would hope that such an alternative will not be pressed upon them by the
Government of His Majesty.

Whilst I indulge a hope that the course to which I have objected will no
longer be insisted on by His Majesty's ministers, permit me to renew to
your excellency the sincere assurance that the United States earnestly
desire that every subject of difference between the two countries should
be amicably adjusted and all their relations placed upon the most
friendly footing. Although they believe that any further discussion of
the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty would be wholly unprofitable,
they will be at all times ready to renew the discussion of that article
or to examine any question which may remain to be adjusted between them
and France.

I request your excellency to accept, etc.


[Extract of a letter (No. 3) from James Brown to the Secretary of State,
dated Paris, May 11, 1824.]

I have the honor to inclose a copy of the answer of the minister of
foreign affairs to the letter which I addressed to him on the 27th
ultimo, upon the subject of the claims of our citizens against the
French Government. You will perceive that no change has been made in
the determination expressed to Mr. Gallatin of connecting in the same
discussion the question on the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty
of cession and the claims of the citizens of the United States against
France. In expressing this resolution it has not been considered
necessary even to notice the arguments made use of to induce them
to adopt a different opinion.

_Viscount Chateaubriand to Mr. Brown_.


PARIS, _May 7, 1824_.

SIR: The object of the letter which you did me the honor to address to
me on the 28th of April is to recall the affair of American claims,
already repeatedly called up by your predecessors, that they may be
regulated by an arrangement between the two powers, and that in this
negotiation the examination of the difficulties which were raised about
the execution of the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty should not
be included.

Although the claims made by France upon this last point be of a
different nature from those of the Americans, yet no less attention
ought to be paid to arrange both in a just and amicable manner.

Our claims upon the eighth article had already been laid before the
Federal Government by His Majesty's plenipotentiary when he was
negotiating the commercial convention of 24th June, 1822.

The negotiators not agreeing upon a subject so important, the King's
Government did not wish this difficulty to suspend any longer the
conclusion of an arrangement which might give more activity to commerce
and multiply relations equally useful to the two powers. It reserves to
itself the power of comprehending this object in another negotiation,
and it does not renounce in any manner the claim which it urged.

It is for this reason, sir, that my predecessors and myself have
constantly insisted that the arrangements to be made upon the eighth
article of the Louisiana treaty should be made a part of those which
your Government were desirous of making upon other questions still at

It is the intention of His Majesty not to leave unsettled any subject
of grave discussion between the two States, and the King is too well
convinced of the friendly sentiments of your Government not to believe
that the United States will be disposed to agree with France on all the

His Majesty authorizes me, sir, to declare to you that a negotiation
will be opened with you upon the American claims if this negotiation
should also include the French claims, and particularly the arrangements
to be concluded concerning the execution of the eighth article of the
Louisiana treaty.

Accept, sir, the assurances of the very distinguished consideration with
which I have the honor to be, etc.,


[Extracts of a letter (No. 4) from the Secretary of State to Mr. Brown,
dated Department of State, Washington, August 14, 1824.]

The subject which has first claimed the attention of the President
has been the result of your correspondence with the Viscount de
Chateaubriand in relation to the claims of numerous citizens of
the United States upon the justice of the French Government.

I inclose herewith a copy of the report of the Committee on Foreign
Relations of the House of Representatives upon several petitions
addressed to that body at their last session by some of those claimants
and a resolution of the House adopted thereupon.

The President has deliberately considered the purport of M. de
Chateaubriand's answer to your note of the 28th of April upon this
subject, and he desires that you will renew with earnestness the
application for indemnity to our citizens for claims notoriously just
and resting upon the same principle with others which have been admitted
and adjusted by the Government of France.

In the note of the Viscount de Chateaubriand to you of 7th May it is
said that he is authorized to declare a negotiation will be opened with
you upon the American claims if this negotiation should also include
French claims, and particularly the arrangements to be concluded
concerning the execution of the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty.

You are authorized in reply to declare that any just claims which
subjects of France may have upon the Government of the United States
will readily be included in the negotiation, and to stipulate any
suitable provision for the examination, adjustment, and satisfaction
of them.

But the question relating to the eighth article of the Louisiana treaty
is not only of a different character - it can not be blended with that of
indemnity for individual claims without a sacrifice on the part of the
United States of a principle of right. The negotiation for indemnity
presupposes that wrong has been done, that indemnity ought to be made,
and the object of any treaty stipulation concerning it can only be to
ascertain what is justly due and to make provision for the payment of
it. By consenting to connect with such a negotiation that relating to
the eighth article of the Louisiana convention the United States would
abandon the _principle_ upon which the whole discussion concerning
it depends. The situation of the parties to the negotiation would be
unequal. The United States, asking reparation for admitted wrong, are
told that France will not discuss it with them unless they will first
renounce their own sense of right to admit and discuss with it a claim
the _justice_ of which they have constantly denied.

The Government of the United States is prepared to renew the discussion
with that of France relating to the eighth article of the Louisiana
treaty in any manner which may be desired and by which they shall not
be understood to admit that France has _any_ claim under it whatever.

_Mr. Brown to Mr. Adams_ (_No. 12_).

PARIS, _August 12, 1824_.

SIR: Some very unimportant changes have taken place in the composition
of the ministry. The Baron de Damas, late minister of war, is now
minister of foreign affairs; the Marquis de Clermont Tonnese is
appointed to the department of war, and the Count Chabrol de Crousal
to that of the marine.

These appointments are believed to correspond with the wishes of the
president of the Council of Ministers, and do not inspire a hope that
our claims will be more favorably attended to than they have been under
the former administrations. The interpretation of the eighth article
of the Louisiana treaty contended for by France will, I apprehend,
be persisted in and all indemnity refused until it shall have been
discussed and decided. After the correspondence which has already passed
upon that article, it would appear that any further discussion upon it
would be wholly unprofitable. With a view, however, of ascertaining the
opinions of the minister of foreign affairs, I shall at an early day
solicit a conference with him, and inform you of the result.

I have had the honor of receiving your letter recommending the claim of
Mr. Kingston to my attention. The difficulties which that claim must
experience, from its antiquity and from the operation of the treaty of
1803, can not have escaped your observation. It has also to encounter,
in common with all our claims, the obstacle presented by the eighth
article, which is found broad enough to be used as a shield to protect
France, in the opinion of ministers, from the examination and adjustment
of any claim which we can present.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient and
humble servant,


_Mr. Brown to Mr. Adams_ (_No. 14_).

PARIS, _September 28, 1824_.

SIR: Little has occurred of importance during the present month, except
the death of the King. This event had been anticipated for nearly a
year; he had declined gradually, and the affairs of the Government
have been for some time almost wholly directed by Monsieur, who on his
accession to the throne has declared that his reign would be only a
continuation of that of the late King. No change in the policy of the
Government is expected, and probably none in the composition of the
ministry. The present King is satisfied with Mr. De Villele, who is at
its head; and if any of its members should be changed the spirit in
which public affairs are directed will not, it is believed, be affected
by that circumstance.

The ceremonies attending the change of the Crown have principally
occupied the public attention for the last fortnight. It will, I
presume, be officially announced by the French minister at Washington,
and, according to the forms observed here, will, I understand, require
fresh letters of credence for all foreign ministers at this Court,
addressed to the new King.

My health has not permitted me (having been confined for some weeks to
the bed by a rheumatic affection) to confer with the Baron de Damas on
our affairs since his appointment as minister of the foreign department.
I should regret this the more if I were not satisfied that the same
impulse will direct the decisions of the Government upon these points
now as before he had this department in charge, and that no favorable
change in those decisions can be expected from any personal influence
which might be exerted by the new minister. I shall, however, take the
earliest opportunity that my health will allow to mention the subject
to him and ascertain what his views of it are.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, sir, your most obedient and
humble servant.


[Extracts of a letter from Mr. James Brown to Mr, Adams (No. 16).]

PARIS, _October 23, 1824_.

The packet ship which sailed from New York on the 1st of September
brought me the letter which you did me the honor to address to me on

Online LibraryJames D. RichardsonA Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 2, part 1: James Monroe → online text (page 34 of 36)