John] 1793-1863 [Russell.

The history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. online

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1 will only repeat, sir, in answer to your observa-
tions, on the late condemnation of the ships taken un-
•ler his Majesty's Ord»^rs in Council, what I have


already had the honor to state to 3 ou, that the delay
vhich took place in their condemnation was not in
consequence of any doubt existing- in Ins Majesty's
g-overnment, as to whether the French Decrees were
revoked, as you seem to imagine, hut in consequence
of its being thought that the American government,
upon its a[)peanng that tliey were deceived by France,
wouUl have ceased tl;eir injurious measures against
the British commerce. A considerable time elapsed
before the decision took place on those ships, and
(liere is no doubt, but that had the United States' gov-
ernment not persisted in the unfriendly attitude to-
wards Great-Britain on discovering the ill faith of
France, a spirit of concihation in his Majesty's gov-
ernment would have caused their release.

In reply to your observations on the pretensions of
Great-Britain relative to the revocation of the French
Decrees, I beg to repeat that the sum of the demand
made by England is, that France should follow the es-
tablished lavAsof warfare as practised in former wars
in Europe. Her ruler by his Decrees of Berlin and
Milan declared himself no longer bound by them ; he
has openly renounced them in his violent eftorts to
Tuin the resources of Great- Britain, and has trampled
on the rights of independent nations to effect his pui-
pose. If the French government make use of means
of iniprecedented violence to prevent the intercourse
of England with unoffending neutrals, can it be ex-
pected that England should tamely suffer the estab-
lishment of such anovel system of uar without retalia-
tion, and endeavoring in her turn to prevent the
French from enjoying the advantages of which she
is unlawfully deprived ?

Having explained already the situation in which
the question of the blockade of May, 1806, rests, ac-'
cording to the viewS;ofhis Majesty's government, and
the desire of Great-Britain to conduct her system of
blockade according to the laws of nations, I will only
advert to it on this occasion for the purpose of taking
the liberty of acknowledging to von tlie very great


pleasure I received from the highly honorable mark
of respect which you have taken the occasion to ex-
press for tiie illustrious statesman from whose counsels
that measure emanated.

1 need not repeat to you, sir, what sincere satisfac-
tion it w ould give mc, if w ithout the sacrifice of the
essential rights and interests of Great-Britain all the
points in discussion between our two countries could
be finally adjusted.

I have the honor to be, with the highest considera-
tion and respect, sir, yours,

To the hon. James Monroe^ S^c.

Adjustment of the affair of the Chesa-
peake AND the Leopard.


To the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States.

I communicate to Congress copies of a correspond-
ence between the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister
Plenipotentiary of Great-Britain and the Secretary of
Slate, relative to the aggression committed by a Brit-
ish Ship of war on the United States Frigate Chesa-
peake, by which it w ill be seen that the subject of dif-
ference between the two countries, is terminated by
an ol^'er of reparation which has been acceded to.


JVashington, November 13, 1811.


Mr. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

Washixgtox, October 30, 1811.

I had already the honor to mention to you that I
came to this country furnished with instructions from
his Royal Hig-hness the Prince Reg^ent, in the name
and on the behalf of his Majesty, for the purpose of
proceeding' to a final adjustment of the differences
which have arisen between Great-Britain and the
United States of America in the affiiir of the Chesa-
peake Frig-ate; and I had also thatuf acquainting-you
with the necessity under which I found myself of sus-
pending- the execution of those instructions in conse-
quence of my not having perceived that any steps
whatever were taken by the American government to
clear up the circumstances of an event whicii threat-
ened so materially to interrupt the harmony subsisting-
between our two countries, as that which occurred in
the month of last May, between the United States'
Ship President, and his Majesty's Ship Little Belt,
when every evidence before his Majesty's govern-
ment seemed to shew that a most evident and wanton
outrage had been committed on a British Ship of
ivar by an American Commodore.

A Court of Enquiry however, as you informed me
in your letter of the 11th inst. has since been held
\>y order of the President of the United States on the
[conduct of Commodore Rodgers, and this prelimina-
'y to further discussion on the subject being- all that I
isked in the first instance as due to the friendship
jubsisting between the two States, I have now the
lonor to acquaint you that I am ready to proceed in
he truest spirit of conciliation to lay before you the
erms of reparation which his Royal Highness has
commanded me to propose to the United States' gov-
?rnment, and only wait to know when it will suit your
convenience to enter upon the discussion.


1 have the honor to be, with the hig-hest considera-
tion and respect, sir, your most obedient humble ser-

The 7wn. James Monroefkc.

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.

Depari^ment of State, Oct. 31, 1811.

1 have just had the honor to receive your letter
of the 30th of this month.

lam glad to tind that the communication which I
liad the honor to make to you on the 11th inst relative
to the Court of Enquiry, which was the subject of il,
is viewed by you in the favorable light which you
tave stated.

Although I regret that the proposition which you
now make in consequence of that communication, has
l>een delayed to the present moment, I am ready
to receive the terms of it whenever you may
think proper to communicate them. Permit me to
add, that the pleasure of finding them satisfactory will
be duly augmented, if thev should be introductory to
a removal of ALL the differences depending between
our two countries, the hope of which is so little en-
couraged by your past coirespondence. A prospect
of such a result, will be embraced, on my part, with a
spirit of conciliation, equal to that which has been ex-
pressed by you.

I have the honor to be, %lc,

Aiifjustus J. Foster, Esq. SCc.


Mr. Faster to Mr. Di^nroe.

Washington, Nov. 1st, 1811.

In pursaance of the onlers which I hav-fe received
tVom his Royal Hi^hries-i, the Prince Recent, in the
name and on the behalf of h s Majestv, tor the pur-
pose of proceeding to a tinal adjustment of the ditfer-
ences which have arisen between Great-Britain and
the United States, in the affair of the Chesapeake
Frigate, I have the honor to acquaint vou — First, that
I am instructed to repeat to the American govern-
ment the prompt disaivowal made bv his Majesty,
(and recited m Mr. Erskine's note of April 17, 1S<J9,
to Mr. Smith,) on being apprised of the unanthonsed
act of the officer m command of his naval forces oq
the coast of America, whose recall from an highly
important and honorable command immediatelv en-
sued as a mark of his Majesty's disapprobation.'

Secondly, that I am authorised to ofter, in addi-
tion to that disavowal, on the part of his Roval High-
ness, the immediate restoration, as far as circumstan-
ces will admit, of the men who in consequence of
Admiral Berkley's orders, were forciblv taken out of
the Chesapeake, to the vessel from which they were
taken ; or if that ship should be no longer in commis-
sion, to such sea-port of the Uaited States as the
American government may name for the purpose.

Thirdly, that I am also "authorised to offer to the
American government a suitable pecuaiarv provision
for the sufferers in consequence of the attack on the
Ciiesapeake, including the families of those seamen
who unfortunately fell m action, aiid of the wounded

These hanorable propositions, 1 can assure vou,
sir, are m ule with the sincere desire thU they may
prove satisfactory to the government of the United
States, I trust they will meet with that amicable
reception which tha;r couciliatorv nature entitles
them to. I need scarcely add how cordiallv I join


with you in the wish that they might prove introduo^
tory to a removal of all the differences depending be-
tween our two countries.

I have the honor to be, with sentiments of the high-
est consideration and respect, sir, yours, &c.


To the hon. James Monroe, S^c.

Mr. Monroe to Mr. Foster.

Washington, Nov. 12, 1811,


I have had the honor to receive your letter of the
1st November, and to lay it before the President.

It is much to be regretted that the reparation due
for such an aggression as that committed on the
United States Frigate, the Chesapeake, should have
been so long delayed ; nor could the translation of
the offending officer from one command to another,
be regarded as constituting a part of a reparation
otherwise satisfactory ; considering however the ex-
isting circumstances of the case, and the early and
amicable attention paid to it by his Royal Highness
the Prince Regent, the President accedes to the pro-
position contained in your letter, and in so doing your
government will, I am persuaded, see a proof of the
conciliatory disposition by which the President has
been actuated.

The officer commanding the Chesapeake, now ly-
ing in the harbor of Boston, will be instructed to re-
ceive the men who are to be restored to that ship.
I have the honor, &c.


Augustus J. Foster, Esq. ^c.


Mr. Monroe, to Mr. Foster.

Department or State, Oct. 29, 1811.

I have had the honor lo receive your letter of tlie
22d of this month, and to lay it before the President.

The assurance which you have given of your dis-
position to reciprocate, in our communication on the
important subjects depending between our govern-
ments, the resj)ectful attention which each has a right
to claim, and that no departure from it was intended
in your letter of the 26th July, has been received with
the satisfaction due to the frank, and conciliatory spirit
in which it was made.

I learn however, with much regret, that you have
received no instructions from your government found-
ed on the new proof of the revocation of the Berlin
and Milan Decrees, which was communicated to the
Marquis of Wellesley by the American charge d' af-
fairs at London, in a document of which 1 had the
honor to transmit to you a copy. It might fairly
have been presumed, as I have before observed, that
the evidence afforded by that document, of the com-
plete revocation of those Decrees, so far as they in-
terfered with the commerce of the United States with
the British dominions, would have been followed by
an immediate repeal of the Orders in Council. From
the reply of the Marquis of Wellesley, it was at least
to have been expected that no time had been lost in
transmitting that document to you, and that the in-
structions accompanying it would have manifested a
change in the sentiments of your government on the
subject. The regret therefore cannot but be increas-
ed in tinding that the communication which I had the
honor to make to you, has not even had the effect of
suspending your efforts to vindicate the perseverance
of your government in enforcing those Orders.

I regret also to observe, that the light in which you
have viewed this document, and the remarks which
you have made on the subject, generallv, seems in


preclude any other view of the conditions on which
those Orders are to be revoked, than those that were
furnished by your former communications. You still
adhere to the pretension that the productions and man?',
ufactures of Great-Britain, when neutralized, must be
admitted into the ports of your enemies. This prcr
tension however vague the language heretofore held
by your government, particularly by the Marquis of
Wellesley, in his communications with Mr. Pinkney,
on tl.e subject, was never understood to have been
embraced. Nothing, indeed short of the specific de-
clarations which you have made, would have induced
a belief that such was the case.

I have the honor to be, &c.


Augustus J, Foster y ^c.

3Ir. Foster to Mr. Monroe.

Washington, Oct. 31st, 1811.

1 did not reply at great length to the observations
contained in your letter of the 1st inst. on the pre-
tensions of Great-Britain as relative to tJie French
system, because you seemed to nie to have argued as
if but a part of the system continued, and even that
part had ceased to be considered as a measure of war
ai>amst Great-Britain. For me to have allowed this
would have been at once to allow in the face of facts,
that the Decrees of France were repealed, and that
her unprecedented measures, avowedly pursued in
defiance of the laws of nations, were hecome mere
ordmary regulations of trade. I therefore thought
fit to confine my answer to your remarks, to a gene-
ral statement of the sum of the demands of Great-
Britani, which was, that France should by eftectually
revjiking her Decrees, revert to the usual method of
• carrying on war as practised in civilized Europe.


The pretensions of France to prohibit all conif
merce in jU'ticles of British origin, in every part of
the continent, is one among tlie nn^ny violent imiova-
tions which are contamed in the Decrees, and Mhich
are preceded by tlie declaration of their being found-
ed on a delennination of the ruler of France, as he
himself avowed, to revert to the principles wlncli
ciiaractcrised the barbarism of tlie dark ages, and to
forget all ideas of justice, and even the common feel-
ings of humanity, in the new method of carrying on
war ado[jted bv him.

It is not however a cpiestion with Great-Britain
of mere commercial interest, as you seem to sup-
pose, which is involved in the attempt by Bo.iaparte
to blockade her both by sea and land, but one of the
feeling, and of national honor, contending as we do
against the principles which he professes in his new
system of warfare. It is impossible for us to submit
to the doctrine that he has a right to compel the whole
continent to break oti" all intercourse with us, and to
seize upon vessels belonging to neutral nations upon
the sole plea of their having visited an English port,
or of their being laden with articles of British or co-
lonial [)roduce, in whatsoever manner acquired.

This preteiision, however, is but a part ot that sys-
tem, the whole of which, under our construction of
tlie letter of M. Champagny, of August 5, 1810,
corroborated by many subsequent declarations of the
French government, and not invalidated by any une-
quivocal dechsration of a contrary tenor, must be con-
sidered as stdl in full force.

In the communication which you lately transmitted
to me, I am sorry to repeat, that I was unable to dis-
cover any facts which satisfactorily proved that the
Decrees had been actually repealed, and I have al-
ready repeatedly stated the reasons m hich too proba-
bly led to the restoration of a few of the American
ships taken in pursuance of the Berlin and Miian De-
crees after November 1. Mr. Russell does not seem
to deny that the Decrees may stiil be kept in force,


only he thinks they have assumed a municipal char-
acter ; but in M. Cliampagny's declaration, ambig^u-
ous as it was, there is no such division of them into
two different characters; for if the contingency re-
quired by the French Minister took place, the Kerlin
and Milan Decrees were to cease, according to his
expression, without any qualification, h therefore a
part of them remain, or be revived again, as seems
to be allowed even here, why may not the whole be
equally so ? Where proof can be obtained of their
existence, we have it, namely, in the ports of France,
in which vessels have been avowedly seized under
their operation since Nov. 1. Of their maritime ex-
istence we cannot so easily obtain evidence, because
of the few French ships of war which venture to
leave their harbors. W ho can doubt however that
had the ruler of France a navy at his command,
equal to the enforcing of his violent Decrees, he
"would soon show that part of them to be no dead let-
ter. The principle is not the less obnoxious because
it is from necessity almost dormant for the moment,
nor ought it therefore to be less an object to be stren-*
wously resisted.

Allow me, sir, here to express my sincere regret,
that I have not as yet been able to convince you, by
•what I cannot but consider the strongest evidence, of
the continued existence of the French Decrees, and
consequently of the unfriendly policy of your gov-
ernment in enforcing the non-importation against us,
and opening the trade with our enemies. His Royal
Highness will, I am convinced, learn with unfeigned
sorrow, that such continues to be still the determina-
tion of America, and whatever restrictions on the
commerce enjoyed by America in His Majesty's do-
minions, may ensue on the part of Great-Britain, as
retaliatory on the refusal by your government to ad-
juitthe productions of Great-Brilain while they open
their harbors to those of His Majesty's enemies, they
will, I am persuaded, be adopted with sincere pain,
and wiih pleasure relinquished whenever this country


shall resume her neutral position and impartial attitude
between the two belligerents.

I have the honor to be, with the greatest considera-
tion and respect, sir, your most obedient humble ser*


To the /torii J, Monroe, 8^c.


The f of lowing Message was, on the 17 th January^
1812, transmitted by the President to both Houses
of Congress.

To the Senate and House of liepresentativcs of the
United States.

I communicate to Congress a letter from the Envoy
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Great-
Britam to the Secretary of State, with the answer of
the latter.

The continued evidence, afforded in this corres-
pondence, of the hostile policy of the British gov-
ernment against our national rights, strengthens the
considerations recommending and urging the prepar-
ation of adequate means for maintaining them.


Washington, Jan, 16, 1812.


3Ir. Foster to Mr. Monroe. *■

Washington, Dec. 17, 1811.

I (lid not mean to have written to you at this mo-
ment on the subject of our late correspondence, but
that I have had the mortification to perceive state-
ments, circulated from hij^hly respectable sources,
which give a view of the pretensions of Great- Britain
relative to the United States not warranted by any of
the letters which I hud the honor to address to you,
and which, at a time when discussions are continuing'
so important to the two countries might, if left unrec-
fified, produce an effect highly to be lamented by both
the American and British governments, inasmuch as
by creating unnecessary irritation, they might throw
obstacles in the way of a restoration of a friendly un-
derstanding between them.

I find it asserted, in the statement referred to, that
I have, in the name of my government, demanded
that the United States* government should pass a hiw
for the introduction of British goods into the Ameri-
can ports, and also that the United vStates should un-
dertake to force France to receive into her harbors
British maimfactures.

I beg permission, sir, to declare that neither of
these demands have been made by me, and that my
meaning must not have been understood, if such was
conceived to have been its import. I could not have
denranded the passage of such a law as above stated,
because my government does not pretend to interfere
"with the internal government of a friendly poM er, nor
did I mean to demand that America should force
France to receive our manufactures.

All I meant to say was, that the admission of
French commerce while that of England has bee»
excluded from the United States' ports, was regar-
ded by Great-Britain as highly unfreindly i-i Amer-
ica, and that a continuation of such policy would be
retaliated upon by Great-Britain with similar re.stric-


tjons on her part, which was so far merely an ofFering^
of like for like. Bat while the American non-impor-
tation act excludes British trade from the United
States' ports, it must be recollected that it goes still
further and excludes also British armed ships from
American ports, while it admits those of the enemies
of Great-Britain. * A neutral nation is responsible
for the equality of its rules of conduct towards the bel-
ligerent powers' (to use the words of an American
Secretary of State in the year 1796,) and therefore the
part of the law which establishes an inequality was
justly an object of more serious complamt on the part
of Great-Britain. You are aware, sir, of the advan-
tage which his IMajesly's enemies have derived from
this state of inequality, which enables them, though
possessing- no port in this hemisphere, cotitiniially to
prey on the trade of his Majesty's subjects, secure of
a refuge for their cruisers and their prizes.

The prohibition of entry to his Majesty's ships un-
der these circumstances might perhaps justify Great-
Britain in asserting, that whatever reason she may
have for repealing or modifying her Orders in Coun-
cil, so as to lessen or entirely remove the pressure now
unavoidably laid on the trade of America as a neu-
tral nation, she might }et refuse to enter into any dis-
cussion oil that subject with the United States, until
either by the revocation of the prohibition above stat-
ed, or the placing all the belligerents under the same
prohibition, America should cease ta violate the du-
ties of a neutral nation.

With respect, however, to the supposed demand
that America should force the entry of British manu-
factures into France, it is most particularly necessary
that I should explain myself, as a total misconception
appears to have taken place upon this point. The ques-
tion of retaliation on the French Decrees is directly
one between England and France. In consequence
of the extraordinary blockade of England, we have in
our defence been obliged to blockade France, and
prohibit all trade in French articles yd return for the


prohibition by France of all trade in English articles.
This measure of retaliation, it is wished, should oper-
ate on France alone, but from the trade carried on
•with France by America, it unavoidably operates also
on her; it is a measure to destroy the French trade
in return for the similar measure of France on which
it is retaliatory, and its acting- on neutrals is an inci-
dental effect of it, consequent upon the submission of
neutrals to the original measures of the enemy against
Great-Britain. It is mdeed melancholy that the unna-
tui-al situation of Europe should produce such a re-
sult, but I cannot see how this can be considered as
war on American commerce when all other Ameri-
can trade but that which is carried on with our en-
emy's ports in defiance of a blockade authorized by
the laws of retaliation is unaffected by it. We com-
plain that America does not resist the regulations of
theBerhn and Milan Decrees, and object to permit-
ting the French to trade with her during their con-
tinuance agamst the commerce of England ; but this
is not exacting, as has been represented, that Ameri-
ca should force British manufactures into France ; it
is pursuing only a just course of retaliation on our
enemy. If America wishes to trade with France, if
French commerce is of importance to her — we expect
she should exact of France to trade with her as she has a
right to demand in her quality of neutral ; but if she does
not choose to exercise this right, all we ask is, that she
should abstain from lending her assistance to the trade
of France, and not allow her commerce to be a medi-
um of undermining the resources of Great-Britain.

I have thought it necessary thus to endeavor to
set these two pouUs in their true light : the repeal of
the law was asked, as being an unfriendly measure,

Online LibraryJohn] 1793-1863 [RussellThe history of the war, betwee the United States and Great-Britain, which commenced in June, 1812, and closed in Feb. 1815 .. → online text (page 6 of 38)