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A compilation of the messages and papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 online

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between the two Repubhcs by a new treaty.



Paris, the jth Vendimiaire of the jth Year
of the French Republic, One and Indivisible.
The Minister of Exterior Relations to Citizen Pichon, Secretary of Legation of the
Frenq^i Republic near the Batavian Republic:

I have received successively, Citizen, your letters of the 22d and 27th Fructidor [8th
and 13th September]. They afford me more and more reason to be pleased with the
measure you have adopted, to detail to me your conversations with Mr. Murray.
These conversations, at first merely friendly, have acquired consistency by the sanc-
tion I have given to them by my letter of the nth Fructidor. I do not regret that
you have trusted to Mr. Murray's honor a copy of my letter. It was intended for
you only, and contains nothing but what is conformable to the intentions of Govern-
ment. I am thoroughly convinced that should explanations take place with confidence
between the two Cabinets, irritation would cease, a crowd of misunderstandings would
disappear, and the ties of friendship would be the more strongly united as each party
would discover the hand which sought to disunite them. But I will not conceal from
you that your letters of the 2d and 3d Vend^miaire, just received, surprised me
much. What Mr. Murray is still dubious of has been very explicitly declared, even
before the President's message to Congress of the 3d Messidor [21st June] last was
known in France. T had written it to Mr. Gerry, namely, on the 24th Messidor and
4th Thermidor; I did repeat it to him before he sat out. A whole paragraph of my
letter to you of the nth Fructidor, of which Mr. Murray has a copy, is devoted to
develop still more the fixed determination of the French Government. According
to these bases, you were right to assert that whatever plenipotentiary the Government
of the United States might send to France to put an end to the existing differences
between the two countries would be undoubtedly received with the respect due to
the representative of a free, independent, and powerful nation.

I can not persuade myself, Citizen, that the American Government need any further
declarations from us to induce them, in order to renew the negotiations, to adopt
such measures as would be suggested to them by their desire to bring the differences to
a peaceable end. If misunderstandings on both sides have prevented former explana-
tions from reaching that end, it is presumable that, those misunderstandings being
done away, nothing henceforth will bring obstacles to the reciprocal dispositions.
The President's instructions to his envoys at Paris, which I have only known by the
copy given you by Mr. Murray, and received by me the 21st Messidor [9th July],
announce, if they contain the whole of the American Government's intentions, dis-
positions which could only have added to those which the Directory has always
entertained; and, notwithstanding the posterior acts of that Government, notwith-
standing the irritating and almost hostile measures they have adopted, the Directory
has manifested its perseverance in the sentiments which are deposited both in my
correspondence with Mr. Gerry and in my letter to you of the i ith Fructidor, and
which I have hereinbefore repeated in the most explicit manner. Carry, therefore,
Citizen, to Mr. Murray those positive expressions in order to convince him of our
sincerity, and prevail upon him to transmit them to his Government.

I presume, Citizen, that this letter ydll find you at The Hague; if not, I ask it may
be sent back to you at Paris.

Salute and fraternity, CH: MAU: TALLEYRAND.

284 Messages and I^apers of the Presidents

February 25, 1799.
Gentlemen of the Senate:

The proposition of a fresh negotiation with Prance in consequence of
advances made by the French Government has excited so general an
attention and so much conversation as to have given occasion to many
manifestations of the pubUc opinion, from which it appears to me that a
new modification of the embassy will give more general satisfaction to
the Legislature and to the nation, and perhaps better answer the purposes
we have in view.

It is upon this supposition and with this expectation that I now nomi-
nate Oliver Ellsworth, esq., Chief Justice of the United States; Patrick
Henry, esq. , late governor of Virginia, and WiUiam Vans Murray, esq. ,
our minister resident at The Hague, to be envoys extraordinary and min-
isters plenipotentiary to the French Republic, with full powers to discuss
and settle by a treaty all controversies between the United States and

It is not intended that the two former of these gentlemen shall embark
for Europe until they shall have received from the Executive Directory
assurances, signified by their secretary of foreign relations, that they
shall be received in character, that they shall enjoy all the prerogatives
attached to that character by the law of nations, and that a minister or
ministers of equal powers shall be appointed and commissioned to treat
with them.


March 2, 1799.
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

Judging it of importance to the public that the Legislature should be
informed of the gradual progress of their maritime resources, I transmit
to Congress a statement of the vessels, with their tonnage, warUke force,
and complement of men, to which commissions as private armed vessels
have been issued since the 9th day of July last.



[From C. F. Adams's Works of John Adams, Vol. IX, p. 172.]


March 6, 1799.

As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor

any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a

deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a

Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher

John Adams 285

of hearts and righteous distributer of rewards and punishments are con-
ducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the
well-being of communities; as it is also most reasonable in itself that
men who are made capable of social acts and relations, who owe their
improvements to the social state, and who derive their enjoyments from
it, should, as a society, make their acknowledgments of dependence and
obligation to Him who hath endowed them with these capacities and
elevated them in the scale of existence by these distinctions; as it is
likewise a plain dictate of duty and a strong sentiment of nature that in
circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent danger earnest
and particular supplications should be made to Him who is able to defend
or to destroy; as, moreover, the most precious interests of the people of
the United States are still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and
insidious acts of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination
among them of those principles, subversive of the foundations of all
religious, moral, and social obligations, that have produced incalculable
mischief and misery in other countries; and as, in fine, the observance of
special seasons for public religious solemnities is happily calculated to
avert the evils which we ought to deprecate and to excite to the per-
formance of the duties which we ought to discharge by calling and fix-
ing the attention of the people at large to the momentous truths aheady
recited, by affording opportunity to teach and inculcate them by animat-
ing devotion and giving to it the character of a national act:

For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and I do hereby
recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of April next, be
observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn
humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain as
far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the
sacred duties of religion in public and in private; that they call to mind
our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before
Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through
the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that
through the grace of His Holy Spirit we may be disposed and enabled
to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time
to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety
and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and
so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that
"righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people;"
that He would turn us from our transgressions and turn His displeasure
from us; that He would withhold us from unreasonable discontent, from
disunion, faction, sedition, and insurrection; that He would preserve our
country from the desolating sword; that He would save our cities and
towns from a repetition of those awful pestilential visitations under which
they have lately suffered so severely, and that the health of our inhabit-
ants generally may be precious in His sight; thatHewouW favor us with

286 Messages and Papers of the Presidents

fruitful seasons and so bless the labors of the husbandman as that there
may be food in abundance for man and beast; that He would prosper our
commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, and give success to the people in
all their lawful industry and enterprise; that He would smile on our col-
leges, academies, schools, and seminaries of learning, and make them
nurseries of sound science, morals, and religion; that He would bless all
magistrates, from the highest to the lowest, give them the true spirit of
their station, make them a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that
do well; that He would preside over the councils of the nation at this
critical period, enlighten them to a just discernment of the public inter-
est, and save them from mistake, division, and discord; that He would
make succeed our preparations for defense and bless our armaments by
land and by sea; that He would put an end to the effusion of human blood
and the accumulation of human misery among the contending nations of
the earth by disposing them to justice, to equity, to benevolence, and to
peace; and that he would extend the blessings of knowledge, of true
liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion throughout the world.

And I do also recommend that with these acts of humiliation, peni-
tence, and prayer fervent thanksgiving to the Author of All Good be
united for the countless favors which He is still continuing to the people
of the United States, and which render their condition as a nation emi-
nently happy when compared with the lot of others.

Given, etc.


By the President op the United States of America.


Whereas combinations to defeat the execution of the laws for the valu-
ation of lands and dwelling houses within the United States have existed
in the counties of Northampton, Montgomery, and Bucks, in the State
of Pennsylvania, and have proceeded in a manner subversive of the just
authority of the Government, by misrepresentations, to render the laws
odious, by deterring the public officers of the United States to forbear the
execution of their functions, and by openly threatening their lives; and

Whereas the endeavors of the well-affected citizens, as well as of the
executive officers, to conciliate a compliance with those laws have failed
of success, and certain persons in the county of Northampton aforesaid
have been hardy enough to perpetrate certain acts which I am advised
amount to treason, being overt acts of levying war against the United
States, the said persons, exceeding one hundred in number and armed
and arrayed in a warlike manner, having, on the 7th day of this pres-
ent month of March, proceeded to the house of Abraham Lovering, in

John Adams 287

the town of Bethlehem, and there compelled William Nichols, marshal
of the United States in and for the district of Pennsylvania, to desist
from the execution of certain legal process in his hands to be executed,
and having compelled him to discharge and set at liberty certain per-
sons whom he had arrested by virtue of criminal process duly issued for
offenses against the United States, and having impeded and prevented
the commissioner and the assessors, appointed in conformity with the
laws aforesaid, in the county of Northainpton aforesaid, by threats and
personal injury, from executing the said laws, avowing as the motives
of these illegal and treasonable proceedings an intention to prevent by
force of arms the execution of the said laws and to withstand by open
violence the lawful authority of the Government of the United States;

Whereas by the Constitution and laws of the United States I am
authorized, whenever the laws of the United States shall be opposed or
the execution thereof obstructed in any State by combinations too pow-
erful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings or
by the powers vested in the marshals, to call forth military force to sup-
press such combinations and to cause the laws to be duly executed; and

Whereas it is in my judgment necessary to call forth military force in
order to suppress the combinations aforesaid and to cause the laws afore-
said to be duly executed, and I have accordingly determined so to do,
under the solemn conviction that the essential interests of the United
States demand it:

Wherefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, do hereby
command all persons being insurgents as aforesaid, and all others whom
it may concern, on or before Monday next, being the i8th day of this
present month, to disperse and retire peaceably to their respective abodes;
and I do moreover warn all persons whomsoever against aiding, abetting,
or comforting the perpetrators of the aforesaid treasonable acts; and I
do reqtiire all officers and others, good and faithful citizens, according
to their respective duties and the laws of the land, to exert their utmost
endeavors to prevent and suppress such dangerous and unlawful pro-

In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of
America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same
with my hand.
[sEAi,.] Done at the city of Philadelphia, the 12th day of March,
A. D. 1799, and of the Independence of the said United States
of America the twenty-third.


By the President:

Timothy Pickering,

Secretary of State.

288 Messages and Papers of the Presidents

[From a broadside in the archives of the Department of State.]

By the President of the United States of America,
a proclamation.

Whereas by an act of the Congress of the United States passed the
9th day of February last, entitled ' 'An act further to suspend the com-
mercial intercourse between the United States and France and the
dependencies thereof, " it is provided that at any time after the passing
of this act it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, if he
shall deem it expedient and consistent with the interests of the United
States, by his order to remit and discontinue for the time being the
restraints and prohibitions by the said act imposed, either with respect
to the French Republic or to any island, port, or place belonging to
the said Republic with which a commercial intercourse may safely be
renewed, and also to revoke such order whenever, in his opinion, the
interest of the United States shall require; and he is authorized to make
proclamatioriiihereof accordingly; and

Whereas the arrangements which have been made at St. Domingo for
the safety of the commerce of the United States and for the admission
of American vessels into certain ports of that island do, in my opinion,
render it expedient and for the interest of the United States to renew a
commercial intercourse with such ports: ,

Therefore I, John Adams, President of the United States, by virtue
of the powers vested in me by the above-recited act, do hereby remit and
discontinue the restraints and prohibitions theJrein contained within the
limits and under the regulations here following, to wit:

1 . It shall be lawful for vessels which have departed or may depart
from the United States to enter the ports of Cape Franfois and Port
Republicain, formerly called Port-au-Prince, in the' said island of St.
Domingo, on and after the ist day of August next.

2. No vessel shall be cleared for any other port in St. Domingo than
Cape Francois and Port Republicain.

3. It shall be lawful for vessels which shall enter the said ports of
Cape Francois and Port Republicain after the 31st day of July next to
depart from thence to any other port in said island between Monte Christi
on the north and Petit Goave on the west; provided it be done with the
consent of the Government of St. Domingo and pursuant to certificates
or passports expressing such consent, signed by the consul-general of the
United States or consul residing at the port of departure.

4. All vessels sailing in contravention of these regulations will be out
of the protection of the United States and be, moreover, liable to capture,
seizure, and confiscation,

John Adams 289

Given under my hand and the seal of the United States, at Philadelphia,
the 26th day of June, A. D. 1799, and of the Independence of
[SKAL.] ^^ g^.^ States the twenty-third.

By the President:

Timothy Pickering,

Secretary of State.


United States, December 3, 1799.
Gentlemen of the Senate and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

It is with peculiar satisfaction that I meet the Sixth Congress of the
United States of America. Coming from all parts of the Union at this
critical and interesting period, the members must be fully possessed of
the sentiments and wishes of our constituents.

The flattering prospects of abundance from the labors of the people by
land and by sea; the prosperity of our extended commerce, notwithstand-
ing interruptions occasioned by the belligerent state of a great part of the
world; the return of health, industry, and trade to those cities which
have lately been afflicted with disease, and the various and inestimable
advantages, civil and religious, which, secured under our happy frame
of government, are continued to us unimpaired, demand of the whole
American people sincere thanks to a benevolent Deity for the merciful
dispensations of His providence.

But while these numerous blessings are recollected, it is a painful duty
to advert to the ungrateful return which has been made for them by some
of the people in certain counties of Pennsylvania, where, seduced by the
arts and misrepresentations of designing men, they have openly resisted
the law directing the valuation of houses and lands. Such defiance was
given to the civil authority as rendered hopeless all further ^.ttempts
by judicial process to enforce the execution of the law, and it became
necessary to direct a military force to be employed, consisting of some
companies of regular troops, volunteers, and militia, by whose zeal and
activity, in cooperation with the judicial power, order and submission
were restored and many of the offenders arrested. Of these, some have
been convicted of misdemeanors, and others, charged with various crimes,
remain to be tried.

To give due effect to the civil administration of Government and to

insure a just execution of the laws, a revision and amendment of the

judiciary system is indispensably necessary. In this extensive country it

can not but happen that numerous questions respecting the interpretation

M P— vol, I— 19

ago Messages and Papers of the Presidents

of the laws and the rights and duties of officers and citizens must arise.
On the one hand, the laws should be executed; on the other, individ-
uals should be guarded from oppression. Neither of these objects is
sufficiently assured under the present organization of the judicial depart-
ment. I therefore earnestly recommend the subject to your serious con-

Persevering in the pacific and humane policy which, had been inva-
riably professed and sincerely pursued by the Executive authority of the
United States, when indications were made on the part of the French
Republic of a disposition to accommodate the existing differences between
the two countries, I felt it to be my duty to prepare for meeting their
advances by a nomination of ministers upon certain conditions which the
honor of our country dictated, and which its moderation had given it a
right to prescribe. The assurances which were required of the French
Government previous to the departure of our envoys have been given
through their minister of foreign relations, and I have directed them to
proceed on their mission to Paris. They have full power to conclude a
treaty, subject to the constitutional advice and consent of the Senate.
The characters of these gentlemen are sure pledges to their country that
nothing incompatible with its honor or interest, nothing inconsistent
with our obligations of good faith or friendship to any other nation, will
be stipulated.

It appearing probable from the information I received that our com-
mercial intercourse with some ports in the island of St. Domingo might
safely be renewed, I took such steps as seemed to me expedient to ascer-
tain that point. The result being satisfactory, I then, in conformity with
the act of Congress on the subject, directed the restraints and prohibi-
tions of that intercourse to be discontinued on terms which were made
known by proclamation. Since the renewal of this intercourse our citi-
zens trading to those ports, with their property, have been duly respected,
and privateering from those ports has ceased.

In examining the claims of British subjects by the commissioners at
Philadelphia, acting under the sixth article of the treaty of amity, com-
merce, and navigation with Great Britain, a difference of opinion on
points deemed essential in the interpretation of that article has arisen
between the commissioners appointed by the United States and the other
members of that board, from which the former have thought it their duty
to withdraw. It is sincerely to be regretted that the execution of an
article produced by a mutual spirit of amity and justice should have been
thus unavoidably interrupted. It is, however, confidently expected that
the same spirit of amity and the same sense of justice in which it origi-
nated will lead to satisfactory explanations. In consequence of the
obstacles to the progress of the commission in Philadelphia, His Britannic
Majesty has directed the commissioners appointed by him under the sev-
enth article of the treaty relating to the British captures of American ves-

John Adams 291

sels to withdraw from the board sitting in London, but with the express
declaration of his determination to fulfill with punctuality and good faith
the engagements which His Majesty has contiracted by his treaty with
the United States, and that they will be instructed to restune their func-
tions whenever the obstacles which impede the progress of the commission
at Philadelphia shall be removed. It being in like manner my sincere
determination, so far as the same depends on me, that with equal punc-
tuality and good faith the engagements contracted by the United States
in their treaties with His Britannic Majesty shall be fulfilled, I shall
immediately instruct our minister at lyondon to endeavor to obtain the
explanations necessary to a just performance of those engagements on the
part of the United States. With such dispositions on both sides, I can
not entertain a doubt that all di£5culties will soon be removed and that
the two boards will then proceed and bring the business committed to
them respectively to a satisfactory conclusion.

The act of Congress relative to the seat of the Government of the
United States requiring that on the first Monday of December next it
should be transferred from Philadelphia to the District chosen for its
permanent seat, it is proper for me to inform you that the commissioners
appointed to provide suitable buildings for the accommodation of Congress
and of the President and of the public offices of the Government have
made a report of the state of the buildings designed for those purposes
in the city of Washington, from which they conclude that the removal
of the seat of Government to that place at the time required will be prac-
ticable and the accommodation satisfactory. Their report will be laid
before you.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives:

Online LibraryUnited States. PresidentA compilation of the messages and papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897 → online text (page 31 of 64)