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Relations with Great Britain.
consuls or commercial agents of Great Britain leaves it with regret, and adopts another, either may object to any seamen, and attend the inves- in consequence of marriage, of disease, or as an tigation. The commander of a public ship re- asylum for old age. ceiving a person not duly qualified, shall forfeit To a stipulation which shall operate prospecta thousand dollars, and the commander or owner ively only, the same objection does not apply. la of a private ship, knowing thereof, five hundred naturalizing foreigners, the United States may dollars, to be recovered in any action of debt, one prescribe the limit to which their privileges shall half to the informer, and one-half to the United extend. If it is made a condition that po native States. It is also made penal, punishable as a British subject, who may hereafter become a citfelony by imprisonment and labor from three to ized, shall be employed in our public or private five years, or by fine from five hundred to one ships, their exclusion will violate no right. Those thousand dollars, for any person to forge or coun- who might become citizens afterwards would acterfeit, or to pass or use any forged or counter- quire the right, subject to that condition, and would feited certificate of citizenship, or to sell or dis- be bound by it. To such a stipulation, the Presipose of one.
deot is willing to assent, although he would much It may fairly be presumed, that, if this law prefer the alternative of restraints on naturalizashould be carried into effect, it would exclude all rion; and, to prevent frauds, and to carry the British seamen from our service.
same fully into effect, you are authorized to apply By requiring five years continued residence in all the restraints and checks, with the necessary the United States, as the condition of citizenship, modifications, to suit the cases that are provided few if any British seanien would ever take ad: l in the act above recited, relative to seamen, for vantage of it. Such as had left Great Britain, the purposes of that act. and had resided five years in this country, would In requiring that the stipulation to exclude be likely to abandon the sea forever. And by British seamen from our service, with the regumaking it the duty of the commanders of our lations for carrying it into effeci, be made recipublic, and of the collectors in the case of private procal, the President desires that you make a ships, to require an authenticated copy from the provision, authorizing the United States, if they clerk of the court, before which a British subject, should be so disposed, to dispense with ihe obliwho offered his service, had been naturalized, as gations imposed by it on American citizens. indispensable to his admission, and highly penal The liberal spirit of our Government and laws in either to take a person not duly qualified, and is unfriendly to restraints on our citizens, such by allowing also British agents to object to any at least, as are imposed on British subjects, from one offering his service, and to prosecute by suit becoming members of other societies. This bas the commander or collector, as the case might been shown in the law of the last session, relative be, for receiving an improper person, it seems to to seamen, to which your particular attention bas be impossible that such should be received. been already drawn. This provision may like
If the second alternative is adopted, that is, if wise be reciprocated if desired. all oative British subjects are to be hereafter ex- The President is not particularly solicitous cluded from our service, it is important that the that either of these alternatives (making the prostipulation providing for it should operate so as posed reservation in case the latter be) should be noi to affect those who have been already natu- preferred. To secure the United States against ralized. By our law, all the rights of natives are impressment he is willing to adopt either. He given to naturalized citizens. It is contended by expects in return, that a clear and distinct provisome that these complete rights do not extend sion shall be made against the practice. The beyond the limits of the United States; that, in precise form in which it may be done is not in. naturalizing a foreigner, no State can absolve him sisted on, provided the import is explicit. All from the obligation which he owes to his former that is required is, that, in consideration of the Government, and that he becomes a citizen in a act to be performed on the part of the United qualified sense only. This doctrine, if true in States, the British Government shall stipulate any case, is less applicable to the United States in some adequate mapper, to terminate or forthan to any other Power. Expatriation seems bear the practice of impressment from American to be a natural right, and, by the original charac- vessels. ter of our institutions, founded by compact on It has been suggested, as an expedient made principle, and particularly by the unqualified in for the adjustment of this controversy, that Britvestment of the adopted citizen with the full | ish cruisers should have a right to search our rights of the native, all that the United States could vessels for British seamen, but ihat the commando, 10 place him on the same footing, has been ders thereof should be subjected to penalties done. In point of interest, the object is of little in case they made mistakes, and took from them importance to either party. The number to be American citizens. By this the British Goveraaffected by the stipulation is inconsiderable; nor ment would acquire the right of search for seacan that be a cause of surprise, when the charac- men, with that of impressing from our vessels ter of that class of men is considered. It rarely the subjects of all other Powers. It will not eshappens that a seaman, who settles on a farm, cape your attention that, by admitting the right, or engages in a trade, and pursues it for any in any case, we give up the principle, and leave length of time, returns to sea. His youthful the door open to every kind of abuse. The same days are exhausted in his first occupation. He l objection is applicable to any and every other
Relations with Great Britain.
arrangement which withholds the respect due to faithfully into effect, without derogating, howour dag, by not allowing it to protect the crew ever, from the conciliatory spirit of the accomsailing under it.
modation, If the first alternative should be adopted, it will A strong desire has heretofore been expressed follow that none of the British seamen who may by the British Government to obtain of the Unibe in the United States at the time the treaty ted States an arrangement to prevent the desertakes effect, and who shall not have become citi- tion of British seamen when in our ports, and it zens, will be admitted into our service until they cannot be doubted that a stipulation io that effect acquire that right.
would be bighly satisfactory as well as useful to If the second is adopted, the number of native Great Britain. It is fairly to be presumed that British seamen, who have been naturalized, and it, alone, would afford to the British Goveroment will be admissible into our service, will not, it is a strong inducement to enter into a satisfactory believed, exceed a few hundred; all others who arrangement of the difference relating to immay be in the United States at the time the treaty pressment. The claim is not inadmissible, espetakes effect, or who may arrive afterwards, will cially as the United States have a reciprocal inbe excluded.
terest in the restoration of deserters from Ameri. As a necessary incident to an adjustment on can vessels in British ports; you may, therefore, the principle of either alternative, it is expected agree to an article, such as has been heretofore that all American seamen, who have been im- authorized by the United States, which shall pressed, will be discharged, and that those who make it the duty of each party to deliver them up. have been naturalized, under the British laws, by Of the right of the United States to be exempted compulsive service, will be permitted to with from the degrading practice of impressment, so draw.
much has been already said, aod with such ability, I have to repeat that the great object which that it would be useless, especially to you, who you have to secure, in regard to impressment, is, are otherwise so well acquainted with it, to dilate that our flag shall protect ihe crew, and, providing on its merits. I must observe, however, that the for this in a satisfactory manner, that you are practice is utterly repugnant to the law of naauthorized to secure Great Britain effectually tions; that it is supported by no treaty with any against the employment of her seamen in the ser- nation; that it was never acquiesced in by any'; vice of the United States. This, it is believed, and that a submission to it by the United States would be done by the adoption of either the above would be the abandonment, in favor of Great alternatives, and the application to that which Britain, of all claim to neutral rights, and of all may be adopled, of the checks contained in the other rights on the ocean. law of the last session, relative to seamen; in aid This practice is not founded on any belligerent of which it will always be in the power of Great right. The greatest extent to which the belliBritain to make regulations operating in her own gerent claim has been carried, over the vessels of ports with a view to the same effect. To termi- neutral nations, is, to board and take from them nate, however, this controversy, in a manner persons in the land and sea service of an enemy, satisfactory to both parties, the President is will contraband of war, and enemy's property. All ing, should other checks be suggested as likely nations agree respecting the two first articles, but to be more effectual, consistent with the spirit of there bas been and still exists a diversity of opinour Constitution, that you should adopt them. ion as to the last. On that and other questions The strong feature of the first alternative, wbich of considerable importance, disputes bave arisen authorizes the naturalization of seamen, requires which are yet unsettled. The Empress Cathetheir continued residence in the United States rine, of Russia, a distinguished advocate of just for five years, as indispensable to the attainment principles, placed herself, ia 1780, at the head of of that right. In case this alternative be adopted, neutral nations, in favor of a liberal construction the President is willing, for example, to secure a of their rights, and her successors bave generally compliance with that condition, to make it the followed her example. In all the discussions on duty of each alien, who may be desirous to be these topics, we find nothing of the British claim come a citizen, to appear in court every year, for to impressment; no acknowledgment of it in any the term of five years, until his right shall be treaty, or proof of submission to it by any Power. completed. This example is given, not as a limi- If instances have occurred in which British cruistation, but as an illustration of your power; for ers have taken British seamen from the vessels of to the exclusion of British seamen from our ser- other nations, they were, as it is presumed, in vice no repugnance is felt. To such exclusion cases either not acquiesced in, or of an extraorthe amicable adjustment of this controversy with dinary nature only, affording no couotenance to Great Britain affords a strong motive, but not the their practice and pretension in relation to the only one. It is a growing sentiment in the Uni- United States. Cases of this kind, if such there ted States that they ought to depend on their be, afford no proof of a systematic claim in the own population for the supply of their ships of British Government to impressment, or of subwar aod merchant service. Experience has shown mission to it by other Powers. This claim has that it is an abundant resource. In expressing been set up against the United States only, who this sentiment you will do it in a manner to in- have, in consequence thereof, been compelled to spire more fully a confidence that the arrange- discuss its merits. ment which you may enter into will be carried The claim is, in fact, traced to another source,
Relations with Great Britain.
the allegiance due by British subjects to their pose for which the entry was made ? There is a Sovereign, and his right, by virtue thereof, to levity in this argument which neither suits the their service. This has been distinctly stated in parties nor the subject. The British Governa late declaration by the Prince Regent. Know- ment sounds its right of impressment from our ing the nature of the claim, we know also the ships on that of allegiance, which is a permanent extent of the right and obligations incident to it. right, equally applicable to peace and war. The Allegiance is a political relation between a sov- right of impressment, therefore, from the vessels ereign and his people. It is the obligation which of other Powers must likewise be permanent, and binds the latter in return for the protection which equally applicable to peace and war. It would they receive. These reciprocal duties have the not, however, take this broad ground, lest tbe insame limit. They are confined to the dominions justice and extravagance of the pretension might of the sovereign, beyond which he has no rights, excite the astonishment and indignation of other can afford no protection, and of course can claim Powers, to whom it would be equally applicable. no allegiance. A citizen or subject of one Power, To claim it as a belligerent right would have been entering the dominions of another, owes allegi- equally unjust add absurd, as no trace of it could ance to the latter in return for the protection he be found in the belligerent code. The British receives. Whether a sovereign has a right to Government was therefore reduced to a very emclaim the service of such of bis subjects as have barrassing dilemma. To acknowledge that it left his own dominions, is a question respecting could not support the claim on either priociple which also a difference of opinion may exist. It would be to relinquish it
, and yet it could rely on is certain that no sovereign has a right to pursue neither. It endeavored to draw some aid from his subjects into the territories of another,' be the both. A state of war exists which brings the parmotive for it what it may: Such an entry, with ties together, Great Britain as a belligerent, and out the consent of the other Power, would be a the United States as a neutral Power. British violation of its territory, and an act of hostility. officers have now a right to board and search Offenders, even conspirators, cannot be pursued American vessels, but for what? Persons in the by one Power into the territory of another, nor service of an enemy, contraband of war, or enare they delivered up by the latter, except in emy's property? This would not accomplish the compliance with treaties, or by favor. That the end. It is
, however, the utmost limit of ihe bellivessels of a nation are coosidered a part of its gerent right. Allegiance, which is an attribute of territory, with the exception of the belligerent sovereignty, comes to her aid and communicates right only, is a principle too well established to all the necessary power. The national character be brought into discussion. Each State has ex. of the neutral vessel ceases. The complete right clusive jurisdiction over its own vessels. Its laws of sovereignty and jurisdiction over it is transgovern in them, and offences against those laws ferred to Great Britain. It is on this foundation are punishable by its tribunals only. The flag of that the British Government has raised this a nation protects everything sailing under it in monstrous superstructure. It is with this kind time of peace, and in time of war likewise, with of argument ihat it attempts to justify its practhe exception of the belligerent rights growing tice of impressment from our vessels. out of the war. An entry on board the vessels of The remark contained in the declaration of one Power by the cruisers of another, in any other the Prince Regent, that, in impressing British case, and the exercise of any other authority over seamen from American vessels, Great Britain exthem, is a violation of right, and an act of hos-ercised no right which she was not willing to tility.
acknowledge as appertaining equally to the Gov. The British Government, aware of the truthernment of the United States, with respect to of this doctrine, has endeavored to avoid its con- American seamen in British' merchant ships, sequences in the late declaration of the Prince proves only that the British Government is conRegent. It has not contended that British cruis. scious of the justice of the claim, and desirous of ers have a right to pursue and search our vessels giving to it such aid as may be derived from a for British seamed. It asserts only that they plausible argument. The semblance of equality, have a right to search them for other objects, and however, in this proposition, which strikes at first being on board for a lawful cause, and finding view, disappears on a fair examination. It is unBritish seamen there, that they have a right to fair, first, because it is impossible for the United impress and bring them away, under the claim of States to take advantage of it. Impressment is allegiance. When we see a systematic pursuit not an American practice, but utterly repugnant of our vessels by British cruisers, and the im- to our Constitution and laws. In offering to repressment of seamen from them, not at a port of ciprocate it nothing was offered, as the British the enemy, where a regular blockade has been Government well knew. It is unfair, secondly, instituted, and by the blockading squadron, but because if impressment was allowable, a reciproin every part of the ocean, on our coast, and even cation of the practice would be no equivalent to in our harbors, it is difficult to believe that in the United States. The exercise of a right in pressment is not the real motive, and the other common, at sea, by two nations, each over the ihe pretext for it. But, to place this argument of vessels of the other, the one powerful and the the British Government on the strongest ground, other comparatively weak, would be to put the let it be admitted that the entry was lawful, is it latter completely at the mercy of the former. so to commit an act not warranted by the pur-1 Great Britain, with her vast navy, would soon
Relations with Great Britain.
be the only party which made impressment. policy. The practice and the claim began toThe United Siates would be compelled to abstain gether, soon after the close of our Revolutionary from it, and either to submit to ihe British rule, war, and were applicable to deserters only. They with all the abuses incident to power, or to resist extended next to all British seamen; then to all it. But should the United States be permitted British subjects, including, as in ihe case of to make impressment from British vessels, the emigrants from Ireland, persons who would not effect would be unequal. Great Britain has, per- have been subject to impressment in British haps, thirty ships of war at sea to one of the Uni- ports, not being seafaring men; and, finally, to ted States, and would profit of the arrangement Swedes, Danes, and others, known to be not Britin that proportion. Besides, impressment is a ish subjects, and by their protections appearing practice incident to war-in which view, like to be naturalized citizens of the United States. wise, the inequality is not less glaring, she being Other views may be taken of the subject, to at least thirty years at war to one of the United show the unlawfulness and absurdity of the BritStates. Other considerations prove that the Brit- ish claim. If British cruisers have a right to ish Government made this acknowledgment mere- take British seamen from our vessels, without rely as a pretext to justify its practice of impress- garding the abuses inseparable from the practice, ment, without intending thai the right or prac. they may take from them, on the same principle, tice should ever be reciprocated. What would and with much greater reason, every species of be the effect of its adopcion by American ships property to which the British Government has of war with British merchant vessels ? An Ameri- any kind of claim. Allegiance cannot give to a can officer buards a British merchant vessel, and sovereign a better right to take his subjects than claims, as American citizens, whom he pleases. ownership to take his property. There would be How many British seamen would disclaim a title no limit to this pretension or its consequences. which would take them to the United States, All property forfeited by exportation, contrary to and secure them there all the advantages of citi- the laws of Great Britain, every article to which zenship? The rule of evidence, as the ground her sovereignty, jurisdiction, or ownership would of impressment in every instance, must likewise extend, in British vessels, would be liable to seizbe reciprocated between the two Governments. ure in those of the United States. The laws of The acknowledgment of the men would surely England would be executory in them. Instead be a better proof of their national character than of being a part of the American, they would be. the decision of a British officer who boarded an come a part of the British territory. American vessel, however impartial he might be, It might naturally be expected that Great Britand strong his power of discrimination, when ain would have given, by her conduct, some supopposed by the voluntary and solemn declaration port to her pretensions; that, if she had not disof the party. In this way we might draw from claimed altogether the principle of naturalizathe British service the greater part, if not all tion, she would at least have excluded from her their seamen. I might further ask, why was this service foreign seamen. Her conduct, however, acknowledgment made at this late period, for the has been altogether at variance with her precepts. first time only, after the declaration of war, and She has given great facility to naturalization, in when, on that account, it could produce no effect ? all instances where it could advance her interest, In the various discussions of this subject, in many and peculiar encouragement to that of foreign of which it has been demanded whether the seamen. She naturalizes by special act of ParBritish Government would tolerate such a prac- liament; she naturalizes all persons who reside tice from American ships of war, no such inti- a certain term of years in British colonies, all mation was ever given.
those who are born of British subjects in foreign If Great Britain had found the employment of dominions, and all seamen who have served a her seamen in our service injurious to her, and certain short term in the British service, and been disposed to respect our rights, the regular would doubtless protect all such as British subcourse of proceeding would have been for her jects, if required by them so to do. Her GovGovernment to have complained to the Govern- ergors of neighboring provinces are, at this time, ment of the United States of the injury, and to compelling emigrants thither from the United have proposed a remedy, Had this been done, States to bear arms against the United States. and no reasonable reniedy been adopted, sound The mediation offered by Russia presents to in principle and reciprocal in its operation, the Great Britain, as well as to the United States, a British Government might have had some cause fair opportunity of accommodating this controversy of complaint, and some plea for taking the rem- with honor. The interposition of so distinguished edy into its own hands. Such a procedure would, a Power, friendly 10 both parties, could not be at least, have given to its claim of impressment declined by either, on just ground, especially by the greatest plausibility. We know ihat such Great Britain, between whom and Russia there complaint was never made, except in defence of exists at this time a very interesting relation. the practice of impressment, and that, in the When the British Ministers are made acquainted meantime, the practice has gone on, and grown at St. Petersburg, with the conditions on which into a usage, which, with all its abuses, had re- you are authorized to adjust this difference, it sistance been longer delayed, might have become seems as if it would be impossible for Great Brita law. The origin and progress of this usurpa-ain to decline them. Should she do it, still adtion afford strong illustrations of the British hering to her former pretensions, her motive could
Relations with Great Britain.
not be misunderstood. The cause of the United orders, however, and with them the blockade of Stales would thenceforward become the common May, 1806, and, as is understood, all other illegal cause of nations. A concession by them would blockades, have been repealed, so that that cause operate to the disadvantage of every other Power. of war has been removed. All that is now expect
They would all find, in the conduct of Great ed is, that the British Government will unite in Britain, an unequivocal determination to destroy a more precise definition of blockade, and in this the rights of other flags, and to usurp the absolute no difficulty, is anticipated, for having declared dominion of the ocean. It is to be presumed that that no blockade would be legal, which was not the British Government will find it neither for supported by an adequate force, and that the the honor por interest of Great Britain to push blockades which it might institute should be supthings to that extremity, but will have accepted ported by an adequate force, there appears to be, this mediation, and have sent a Minister or Min according to the just interpretation of these terms, isters to St. Petersburg with full powers to adjust no difference of opinion on the subject the controversy on fair and just conditions. The British Government has recently, in INO
Should improper impressions have been taken formal acts, given definitions of blockade, either of the probable consequences of the war, you of which would be satisfactory. The first is to be will have ample means to remove them. It is seen in the communication from Mr. Merry to certain, that from its prosecution Great Britain this Department, bearing date on the 12th of April, can promise to herself' no advantage, while she | 1804. The following are the circumstances atexposes berself 10 great expenses and to the dan- tending it. Commodore Hood, the commander ger of still greater losses. The people of the of a British squadron in the West Indies, in 1803, United States, accustomed to the indulgence of a baving declared the islands of Martinique and long peace, roused by the causes and the progress Guadaloupe in a state of blockade, without apof the war, are rapidly acquiring military habits plying an adequate force to maintain it, the Secand becoming a military people. Our knowledge retary of State remonstrated against the illegality in paval tactics has increased, as has our maritime of the measure, which remonstrance was laid strength. The gallantry and success of our little before the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, Navy have formed an epoch in naval history in England, who replied that they had sent The laurels which these brave men have gained, "orders not to consider any blockade of those not for themselves, but for their country, from an islands as existing unless in respect of particular enemy pre-eminent in naval exploits, for ages ports, which might be actually invested, and then past, are among the proudest boasts of their grate not to capture vessels, bound to such ports, unless ful and affectionate fellow-citizeos. Our manu- they shall previously have been warned not to factures have taken an astounding growth. In enter them.". The second definition is to be found short, in every circumstance, in which the war in a convention between Great Britain and Rusis felt, its pressure tends evidently to unite our sia, in June, 1801, fourth section, third article, people, to draw out our resources, to invigorate which declares, "that, in order to determine wbat our means, and to make us more iruly an inde- characterizes a blockaded port, that denomination peudent nation, and, as far as may be necessary, is given only to a port where there is, by the disa great maritime Power.
position of the Power which attacks it, with ships If the British Government accepts the media- stationary or sufficiently near, an evident danger tion of Russia, with a sincere desire to restore a in entering.” The President is willing for you good intelligence between the two countries, it to adopt either of these definitions ; but prefers may be presumed that a fair opportunity will be the firsi, as much more precise and determinate ; afforded for the arrangement of many other im- and when it is considered that it was made the portant interests, with advantage to both parties. criterion by so formal an act, between the two The adjustment of the controversy relating to Governments, it cannot be presumed that the impressment only, though very important, would British Goveroment will object to the renewal of leave much unfinished. Almost every neutralit. Nothing is more natural, after the differences right has been violated ; and its violation persis- which have taken place between the two counted in to the moment that war was declared. The tries, on this and other subjects, and the departure President sincerely desires, and it is doubtless for from this criterion by Great Britain, for reasons the interest of Great Britain, to prevent the like which are admitted by her no longer to exist, in future. The interposition of the Emperor of than that they should, on the restoration of a good Russia to promote an accommodation of these understanding, recur to it again. Such a recurdifferences is deemed particularly auspicious. rence would be the more satisfactory to the Pres.
[Confidential paragraph No. 1, omitted.] ident, as it would afford a proof of a disposition
A strong hope is, therefore, entertained that full in the British Government, not simply to compropowers will be given to the British Commission mise a difference, but to re-establish sincere frienders to arrange all these grounds of controversy in ship between the two nations. a satisfactory manner. In entering on this inter- An interference with our commerce between esting part of your duty, the first object which enemy colonies and their parent country, was will claim your attention is that of blockade. The among the first violations of our neutral rights, violation of our neutral right by illegal blockades, committed by Great Britain in her present war carried to an enormous exient, by Orders in Coun with France. It took place in 1805, did extensive cil, was a principal cause of the war. These injury and produced universal excitement. In