Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

79].

And, when we "tish Captain would equally suffer, if he America are of no value? "had all the risk and loss to incur of an know, when no man will deny, when "improper detention. Against this, how-official records of the fact exist, that hundreds of native Americans have been iinpressed and sent to serve on board our ships of war: when this is notorious; when it neither will nor can be denied, what is. of value to America if this cause be not of value?-As to the proposition for making English seamen "contraband of war," it is so impudent, it is so shameful, it is even so horrid, that I will do no more than just name it, that it may not escape the reader's indignation.-Indeed, there needs no more than the reading of this one article to convince the Americans, that all the factions in England are, in effect, of one mind upon the subject of this war; and, I am afraid, that this conviction will produce consequences, which we shall have sorely to lament, though I shall, for my own part, always have the satisfaction to reflect, that every thing which it was in my power to do, has been done, to prevent those consequences.

66

66

"ever, the arguments are strong. The
"American Captain may have been impo-
"scd upon by the similarity of language,
&c.; and when brought into one of our
(6 ports,
where there is a competent Court
to adjudge the point, a real American
seaman might find it impossible to ad-
"duce proofs of his nativity. Besides, in
"both events, the penalty would be inor-
"dinate.Another suggestion has been
"made, that the British naval officer im-
"pressing a seaman on board an American
"vessel, and vice versa, should be bound
(6 to make a certificate in duplicate (or
"what the French call a proces verbal), to
the fact, one copy of which he should
deliver to the American Captain, and
"transmit the other to the Admiralty to
"be filed; and that the seaman seized
"should have his action for damages in the
"Courts of Law, the certificate to be pro-

duced by the Admiralty as proof of the "trespass, if the person can prove himself to be a native of the country that he "pretended to be. We confess we think "that this ought to satisfy both Govern

WM. COBBETT.
Botley, 14th January, 1813.

66

66

6:

ments, for this would make officers cau"tious in exercising the right which at the "same time cannot be safely surrendered.” This is poor, paltry trash. But, it contains one assertion, which I declare to be false. It is here asserted, that "the right of impressment of seamen on board of trading ships, is a right which has, at all times "been asserted, and acquiesced in by sovereign States respectively."—I give this an unqualified denial. I say, that it is a right, which no nation has before asserted, and that no nation ever acquiesced in.Let the Morning Chronicle name the nation that has ever done either: let him cite the instance of such a practice as we insist upon; let him name the writer, every English writer, on public law, who has made even an attempt to maintain such a doctrine; nay, let him name the writer, who has laid down any principle, or maxim, from which such a right can possibly be deduced. And, if he can do none of these, what assurance, what a desperate devotion to faction, must it be to enable a inan to make such an assertion! The assertion of the "value of the cause" being slight to America, in comparison to what it is to us, has The value what no better foundation. is of value, what is of any value at all, if the liberty and lives of the people of

OFFICIAL PAPERS.

-Declaration of the Regent of England against them.

AMERICAN STATES.

The earnest endeavours of the Prince Regent to preserve the relations of peace and amity with the United States of America having unfortunately failed, His Royal Highness, acting in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty, deems it proper publicly to declare the causes and origin of the war, in which the Government of the United States has compelled him to engage.

-No desire of conquest, or other ordinary motive of aggression has been, or can be, with any colour of reason, in this case, imputed to Great Britain: that her commercial interests were on the side of peace, if war could have been avoided, without the sacrifice of her maritime rights, or without an injurious submission to France, is a truth which the American Government will not deny. His Royal Highness does not, however, mean to rest on the favourable presumption to which he is entitled. He is prepared, by an exposition of the circumstances which have led to the present war, to shew that Great Britain has throughout acted towards the United States of America

with a spirit of amity, forbearance, and | circumstances of unparalleled provocation, conciliation; and to demonstrate the inad- His Majesty had abstained from any meamissible nature of those pretensions, which sure, which the ordinary rules of the law have at length unhappily involved the two of nations did not fully warrant. Never countries in war. It is well known to was the maritime superiority of a Belligethe world, that it has been the invariable rent over his enemy more complete and deobject of the Ruler of France, to destroy cided. Never was the opposite Belligerent the power and independence of the British so formidably dangerous in his power, and Empire, as the chief obstacle to the accom- in his policy to the liberties of all other naplishment of his ambitious designs. He tions. France had already trampled so first contemplated the possibility of assem- openly and systematically on the most sabling such a naval force in the Channel as, cred rights of neutral powers, as might combined with a numerous flotilla, should well have justified the placing her out of the enable him to disembark in England an pale of civilized nations. Yet in this exarmy sufficient, in his conception, to sub-treme case Great Britain had so used her jugate this country; and through the con- naval ascendency, that her enemy could quest of Great Britain he hoped to realize find no just cause of complaint and in orhis project of universal empire.- By the der to give to these lawless decrees the apadoption of an enlarged and provident sys-pearance of retaliation, the Ruler of France tem of internal defence, and by the valour was obliged to advance principles of mariof His Majesty's fleets and armies, this de- time law unsanctioned by any other authorisign was entirely frustrated; and the naval ty than his own arbitrary will.-The force of France, after the most signal de- pretexts for these decrees were, first, that feats, was compelled to retire from the Great Britain had exercised the rights of ocean.——An attempt was then made to war against private persons, their ships and effectuate the same purpose by other means; goods, as if the only object of legitimate a system was brought forward, by which hostility on the ocean were the public prothe Ruler of France hoped to annihilate the perty of a State, or as if the edicts, and commerce of Great Britain, to shake her the Courts of France itself had not at all public credit, and to destroy her revenue; times enforced this right with peculiar rito render useless her maritime superiority, gour. Secondly, that the British orders of and so to avail himself of his continental blockade, instead of being confined to forascendency, as to constitute himself, in a tified towns, had, as France asserted, been great measure, the arbiter of the ocean, unlawfully extended to commercial towns notwithstanding the destruction of his fleets. and ports, and to the mouths of rivers; and thirdly, that they had been applied to places, and to coasts, which neither were, nor could be actually blockaded. The last of these charges is not founded on fact, whilst the others, even by the admission of the American Government, are utterly groundless in point of law.

-With this view, by the Decree of Berlin, followed by that of Milan, he declared the British territories to be in a state of blockade; and that all commerce, or even correspondence with Great Britain was prohibited. He decreed that every vessel and cargo which had entered, or was found proceeding to a British port, or which, under any circumstances, had been visited by a British ship of war, should be lawful prize: he declared all British goods and produce wherever found, and however acquired, whether coming from the Mother Country, or from her colonies, subject to confiscation: he further declared to be denationalized the flag of all neutral ships that should be found offending against these his decrees: and he gave to this project of universal tyranny the name of the Continental System. For these attempts to ruin the commerce of Great Britain, by means subver-powers, to revisit, upon France, in a sive of the clearest rights of neutral na- more effectual manner, the measure of her tions, France endeavoured in vain to rest own injustice; by declaring, in an Order her justification upon the previous conduct in Council, bearing date the 11th of Noof His Majesty's Government. Under vember 1807, that no neutral vessel should

Against these Decrees, His Majesty protested and appealed; he called upon the United States to assert their own rights, and to vindicate their independence, thus menaced and attacked; and as France had declared, that she would confiscate every vessel which should touch in Great Bri tain, or be visited by British ships of war, His Majesty having previously issued the Order of January 1807, as an act of miti gated retaliation, was at length compelled, by the persevering violence of the enemy, and the continued acquiescence of neutral

[ocr errors]

proceed to France, or to any of the coun- security was demanded, that the Berlin tries from which, in obedience to the dic- and Milan Decrees, even if revoked, tates of France, British commerce was ex- should not under some other form be recluded, without first touching at a port established; and a direct engagement was in Great Britain, or her dependencies. At offered, that upon such revocation, the the same time His Majesty intimated his American Government would take part in readiness to repeal the Orders in Council, the war against Great Britain, if Great whenever France should rescind her De-Britain did not immediately rescind her crees, and return to the accustomed prin- Orders. Whereas no corresponding enciples of maritime warfare; and at a sub-gagement was offered to Great Britain, of sequent period, as a proof of His Majesty's whom it was required, not only that the sincere desire to accommodate, as far as Orders in Council should be repealed, but possible, his defensive measures to the that no others of a similar nature should be convenience of neutral powers, the opera-issued, and that the blockade of May, 1806, tion of the Orders in Council was, by an should be also abandoned. This blockorder issued in April 1809, limited to a ade, established and enforced according to blockade of France, and of the countries accustomed practice, had not been objected subjected to her immediate dominion. to by the United States at the time it was Systems of violence, oppression, and ty-issued. Its provisions were on the conranny, can never be suppressed, or even trary represented by the American Minister checked, if the power against which such resident in London at the time, to have injustice is exercised, be debarred from been so framed, as to afford, in his judgthe right of full and adequate retaliation: ment, a proof of the friendly disposition or, if the measures of the retaliating pow- of the British Cabinet towards the United er, are to be considered as matters of just States.Great Britain was thus called offence to neutral nations, whilst the mea- upon to abandon one of her most important sures of original aggression and violence, maritime rights, by acknowledging the are to be tolerated with indifference, sub. Order of blockade in question, to be one mission, or complacency.-The Govern- of the edicts which violated the commerce ment of the United States did not fail to of the United States, although it had never remonstrate against the Orders in Council been so considered in the previous negociaof Great Britain. Although they knew tions ;-and although the President of the that these Orders would be revoked, if the United States had recently consented to Decrees of France, which had occasioned abrogate the Non-Intercourse Act, on the them, were repealed, they resolved at the sole condition of the Orders in Council same moment to resist the conduct of both being revoked; thereby distinctly admitBelligerents, instead of requiring France, ting these orders to be the only edicts in the first instance, to rescind her Decrees. which fell within the contemplation of the Applying most unjustly the same measure law, under which he acted.A propoof resentment to the aggressor, and to the sition so hostile to Great Britain could not party aggrieved, they adopted measures of but be proportionably encouraging to the commercial resistance against both-a sys- pretensions of the enemy; as by thus altem of resistance which, however varied leging that the blockade of May 1806, in the successive acts of embargo, non-in- was illegal, the American Government tercourse, or non-importation, was evi- virtually justified, so far as depended on dently unequal in its operation, and prin- them, the French Decrees. After this cipally levelled against the superior com- proposition had been made, the French merce, and maritime power of Great Bri- Minister for Foreign Affairs, if not in contain. The same partiality towards cert with that Government, at least in France was observable, in their negocia- conformity with its views, in a dispatch, tions, as in their measures of alleged re- dated the 5th of August, 1810, and adsistance.- -Application was made to both dressed to the American Minister resident Belligerents for a revocation of their re- at Paris, stated that the Berlin and Milan spective edicts; but the terms in which Decrees were revoked, and that their opethey were made were widely different.- ration would cease from the 1st day of NoOf France was required a revocation only vember following, provided His Majesty of the Berlin and Milan Decrees, although would revoke his Orders in Council, and many other edicts, grossly violating the renounce the new principles of blockade; neutral commerce of the United States, or that the United States would cause their had been promulgated by that Power. No rights to be respected; meaning thereby,

1

that they would resist the retaliatory measures of Great Britain. Although the repeal of the French Decrees thus announced was evidently contingent, either on concessions to be made by Great Britain, (concessions to which it was obvious Great Britain could not submit,) or on measures to be adopted by the United States of America; the American President at once considered the repeal as absolute. Under that pretence, the Non-Importation Act was strictly enforced against Great Britain, whilst the ships of war, and merchant ships of the enemy were received into the harbours of America.The American Government, assuming the repeal of the French Decrees to be absolute, and effectual, most uujustly required Great Britain, in conformity to her declarations, to revoke her Orders in Council. The British Government denied that the repeal, which was announced in the letter of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, was such as ought to satisfy Great Britain; and in order to ascertain the true character of the measures adopted by France, the Govern ment of the United States was called upon to produce the instrument, by which the alleged repeal of the French Decrees had been effected. If these Decrees were really revoked, such an instrument must exist, and no satisfactory reason could be given for withholding it.At length, on the 21st of May 1812, and not before, the American Minister in London did produce a copy, or at least what purported to be a copy, of such an instrument.- -It professed to bear date the 28th of April 1811, long subsequent to the dispatch of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs of the 5th of August 1810, or even the day named therein, viz. the 1st of November following, when the operation of the French Decrees was to cease. This instrument expressly declared that these French Decrees were repealed in consequence of the American Legislature having, by their Act of the 1st of March 1811, provided, that British ships and merchandize should be excluded from the ports and harbours of the United States.

repealed by the American Government : that they were not repealed in conformity with a proposition simultaneously made to both Belligerents, but that in consequence of a previous Act on the part of the American Government, they were repealed in favour of one Belligerent, to the prejudice of the other: that the American Government having adopted measures restrictive upon the commerce of both Belligerents, in consequence of Edicts issued by both, rescinded these measures, as they effected that power, which was the aggressor, whilst they put them in full operation against the party aggrieved; although the Edicts of both powers continued in force; and lastly, that they excluded the ships of war, belonging to one Belligerent, whilst they admitted into their ports and harbours the ships of war belonging to the other, in violation of one of the plainest and most essential duties of a neutral nation. Although the instrument thus produced was by no means that general and unqualified revocation of the Berlin and Milan Decrees, which Great Britain had continually demanded, and had a full right to claim; and although this instrument, under all the circumstances of its appearance at that moment, for the first time, was open to the strongest suspicions of its authenticity; yet, as the Minister of the United States produced it, as purporting to be a copy of the instrument of revocation, the Government of Great Britain, desirous of reverting, if possible, to the ancient and accustomed principles of maritime war, determined upon revoking conditionally the Orders in Council. Accordingly, in the month, of June last, his Royal Highness the Prince Regent was pleased to declare in Council, in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty, that the Orders in Council should be revoked, as far as respected the ships and property of the United States, from the 1st of August following. This revocation was to continue in force, provided the Government of the United States should, within a time to be limited, repeal their restrictive laws against British commerce. His Majesty's Minister in America was expressly ordered to declare to the Government of the United States, that "this measure had

been adopted by the Prince Regent in "the earnest wish and hope, either that the "Government of France, by further relax"ations of its system, might render perse" verance on the part of Great Britain in retaliatory measures unnecessary, or if this hope should prove delusive, that His

66

By this instrument, the only document produced by America, as a repeal of the French Decrees, it appears beyond a possibility of doubt or cavil, that the alleged repeal of the French Decrees was conditional, as Great Britain had asserted; and not absolute or final, as had been maintained by America: that they were not repealed at the time they were stated to be"

66

"Majesty's Government might be enabled, Treaty of Utrecht, and were therefore "in the absence of all irritating and re- binding upon all States. From the penal"strictive regulations on either side, to enter ties of this Code no nation was to be "with the Government of the United States exempt, which did not accept it, not only "into amicable explanations, for the pur-as the rule of its own conduct, but as a law, pose of ascertaining whether, if the ne- the observance of which it was also re"cessity of retaliatory measures should un-quired to enforce upon Great Britain. "fortunately continue to operate, the parti- In a Manifesto, accompanying their De"cular measures to be acted upon by Great claration of hostilities, in addition to the "Britain, could be rendered more accept- former complaints against the Orders in "able to the American Government, than Council, a long list of grievances was brought "those hitherto pursued."- -In order to forward; some trivial in themselves, others provide for the contingency of a Declara- which had been mutually adjusted, but none tion of War on the part of the United States, of them such as were ever before alleged previous to the arrival in America of the by the American Government to be grounds said Order of Revocation, instructions were for war. As if to throw additional sent to His Majesty's Minister Plenipoten- obstacles in the way of peace, the Ametiary accredited to the United States (the rican Congress at the same time passed a execution of which instructions, in conse-law, prohibiting all intercourse with Great quence of the discontinuance of Mr. Foster's Britain, of such a tenor, as deprived the functions, were at a subsequent period in- Executive Government, according to the trusted to Admiral Sir John Borlase President's own construction of that Act, Warren), directing him to propose a ces- of all power of restoring the relations of sation of hostilities, should they have com-friendly intercourse between the two States, menced; and further to offer a simulta- so far at least as concerned their commercial neous repeal of the Orders in Council on Intercourse, until Congress should re-asthe one side, aïd of the Restrictive Laws on semble.--The President of the United the British ships and commerce on the other. States, has, it is true, since proposed to They were also respectively empowered Great Britain an Armistice; not, however, to acquaint the American Government, in on the admission, that the cause of war reply to any inquiries with respect to the hitherto relied on was removed: but on blockade of May, 1806, whilst the British condition that Great Britain, as a prelimiGovernment must continue to maintain its nary step, should do away a cause of war, legality," That in point of fact this now brought forward as such for the first particular Blockade had been discontinued time; namely, that she should abandon "for a length of time, having been merged the exercise of her undoubted right of "in the general retaliatory blockade of search, to take from American merchant "the enemy's ports under the Orders in vessels British seamen, the natural-born "Council, and that His Majesty's Govern- subjects of His Majesty; and this conces"ment had no intention of recurring to sion was required upon a mere assurance "this, or to any other of the blockades of that laws would be enacted by the Legisla "the enemy's ports, founded upon the orture of the United States, to prevent such "dinary and accustomed principles of Ma- seamen from entering into their service; but independent of the objection to an exclusive reliance on a Foreign State, for the conservation of so vital an interest, no ex

""

ritime Law, which were in force pre"vious to the Orders in Council, without "a new notice to Neutral Powers in the "usual form.". The American Go-planation was, or could be afforded by the vernment, before they received intimation | Agent who was charged with this Overture, of the course adopted by the British either as to the main principles upon which Government, had in fact proceeded to the such laws were to be founded, or as to the extreme measure of declaring war, and provisions which it was proposed they issuing "Letters of Marque," notwith-should contain.This proposition havstanding they were previously in possession ing been objected to, a second proposal of the Report of the French Minister for was made, again offering an Armistice, Foreign Affairs, of the 12th of March, 1812, provided the British Government would promulgating anew, the Berlin and Milan secretly stipulate to renounce the exercise Decrees, as fundamental laws of the French of this Right in a Treaty of Peace. An Empire, under the false and extravagant immediate and formal abandonment of its pretext, that the monstrous principles exercise, as a preliminary to a cessation therein contained were to be found in the of hostilities, was not demanded; but his

[ocr errors]
« EdellinenJatka »