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do not hesitate to tell you, that they rest on a basis which I cannot admit."
"You oppose to my complaints, to my just reclamations, upon the footing of right, the private or public opinion of the president of the United States; and this egis, not appearing to you sufficient, you bring forward aphorisms of Vattel, to justify or excuse infractions committed on positive treaties." And he has the af frontery to add, "do not punish the brave individuals of your nation, who arrange themselves under our banner, knowing perfectly well, that no law of the United States gives to the government, the sad power of arresting their zeal, by acts of rigor. The Americans are free; they are not attached to the glebe, like the slaves of Russia; they may change their situation when they please, and by accepting at this moment, the succor of their arms in the habit of trampling on tyrants, we do not commit the plagiat of which you speak. The true robbery, the true crime, would be to enchain the courage of these good citizens, of these sincere friends of the best of causes."*
Not only were French vessels armed in American ports, and manned by American citizens, to cruise against nations in amity with the United States; but these vessels returned into port with their prizes, some of which were taken on the high seas, and others within the jurisdictional limits of the United States.
In some instances, also, the public armed ships of France, took vessels on our shores, and in our waters, and brought them in as prizes.
When our neutrality was thus violated, either by a public or private armed ship, the president deemed it his duty, as far as practicable, to cause the vessels to be restored; and for this purpose only, the courts of the United States, made inquiry and took cognizance of prizes thus made.
The French minister complained loudly of this conduct of the American government; declaring, that French consuls alone, In could decide whether these vessels were lawful prize or not.
* American State Papers, vol. 1, p. 96.
vain did the president in reply, say, that by the consular convention, no such power was given to French consuls-in vain did he refer to the established law of nations, "that it was an essential attribute of the jurisdiction of every country, to preserve peace, to punish acts in breach of it, and to restore property taken by force, within its limits"-in vain did he refer for a recognition of the same principles, to the 6th article of the treaty between the two countries, by which each party stipulates by all the means in their power, to protect and defend each others vessels and effects, in their respective ports or roads, or on the seas near their countries, and to recover and restore the same to the right owners.
These well known principles, recognized by a solemn compact between France and America, were entirely disregarded by the French minister and consular agents; and the president was at last compelled to give notice to the consuls, that if they continued to exercise "within the United States, a general admiralty jurisdiction, and in particular, to assume to try the validity of prizes, and to give sentence thereon as judges of admiralty," or should undertake "to give commissions within the United States, and to enlist or encourage the enlistment of men, natives, or inhabitants of the states, to commit hostilities on nations, with whom the United States were at peace, their exequaturs should be revoked, and their persons be submitted to such prosecutions and punishments as the laws should prescribe for the case." Notwithstanding this, French consuls not only continued to exercise admiralty jurisdiction, and to determine the validity of prizes, but did actually resist the process of the federal courts, supposed to interfere with the exercise of such jurisdiction. A regular writ of replevin was issued at Boston, by virtue of which, the schooner Greyhound, brought into Boston harbor as a French prize, was taken possession of by the marshal of the district of Massachusetts. By orders from the French consul Duplaine, this vessel was forcibly taken from the custody of the marshal, by the French frigate Concord, then in the harbor, and was for some time detained by force, under the protection of the frigate. Informed of this outrage on the laws of the country, the president imme
diately revoked and annulled the exequatur of the consul, and prohibited his further exercise of consular powers. The French minister himself, also, forbade an officer of justice to serve a process, on a vessel taken within a mile of the American shores, and brought into New York as a prize; and gave orders to a French squadron, then in the harbor, to protect this vessel against any person, who should attempt to take her into custody.*
Convinced that it was a breach of neutrality, to permit either of the belligerents to arm in our ports, the president requested the governors of the several states, to take measures to prevent the same; and also directed instructions to sent to the collectors of the customs, to give notice of all acts, contravening the laws of neutrality in their respective ports, to the governors of the states, and to the attornies of the United States.
These instructions were accompanied with certain rules, relative to the arming of vessels, and to the enlistment of men.
Mr. Genet complained, likewise, that French property was taken from American vessels, on the high seas, by belligerents, contrary to the law of nations, "that free ships should make free goods;" and that this was permitted by the American government, to the great injury of France. In communicating these complaints, the language of the minister was, in the highest degree, insulting to the American executive and nation.
"On all the seas," he said, in his note to the secretary of state of July 25th, "an audacious piracy pursues, even in your vessels, French property, and also that of the Americans destined for our ports. Your political rights are counted for nothing; in vain do the principles of neutrality establish, that friendly vessels make friendly goods; in vain, sir, does the president of the United States endeavor, by his proclamation, to reclaim the observation of this maxim; in vain does the desire of preserving peace, tend to sacrifice the interests of France, to that of the moment; in vain does the thirst of riches preponderate over honor, in the political balance of America; all this management, all this condesension, end in nothing; our enemies laugh at it; and the French, too
* American State Papers, vol. 1, 167, 168, and 169.
confident, are punished, for having believed, that the nation had a flag, that they had some respect for their laws, some conviction of their strength, and entertained some sentiment of dignity. It is not possible for me, sir, to paint to you all my sensibility on this scandal, which tends to the diminution of your commerce, to the oppression of ours, and to the debasement and vilification of republicans." He added, in the conclusion of this extraordinary communication, "But if our fellow citizens have been deceived, if you are not in condition to maintain the sovereignty of your people, speak; we have guarantied it when slaves, we shall be able to render it formidable, having become freemen.”
He demanded, at the same time, to be informed, what measures the American government had taken to obtain restitution of the property plundered from his fellow citizens, under the protection of its flag. In answer to this insolent letter, the secretary remarked "I believe it cannot be doubted, but that, by the general law of nations, the goods of a friend found in the vessel of an enemy are free, and that the goods of an enemy, found in the vessel of a friend, are lawful prize. Upon this principle, I presume, the British armed vessels have taken the property of French citizens found in our vessels, in the case above mentioned, and I confess I should be at a loss, on what principle to reclaim it." The secretary added, that sundry nations had changed this principle by special treaties. That this modification of national law, had been adopted in treaties the United States had made with France, the United Netherlands, and Prussia; but that with England, Portugal and Austria, they had no treaties, and, therefore, "had nothing to oppose to their acting according to the law of nations, that enemy's goods were lawful prize, though found in the bottom of a friend."*
Remonstrances against these proceedings of the French minister, were made in vain-he seemed determined to set the
* To preserve peace within our waters, as far as possible, as the American ports were the resort of the armed vessels of all the belligerents, the president established a rule, that no hostile public armed vessel should sail from the same port within twenty four hours of each other. This rule was highly displeasing to the French minister.
law and the government of the country at defiance. At Philadelphia, under the eye of the government, he caused a vessel, taken from the British, called the Little Democrat, to be armed; and directly contrary to the remonstrances of the president and the governor of Pennsylvania, he ordered her departure. In a conference with the governor of Pennsylvania, or his secretary, on this subject, his language towards the president was extremely intemperate; and he threatened to appeal, from his decision to that of the American people.
Wearied, at last, with the conduct of the French minister, his insulting language, his outrage upon the laws, his assumption of the sovereignty of the country, and his threats of appealing from the government to the people; the president came to the resolution of soliciting his recall. On the 16th of August, Mr. Morriss, the American minister in France, was requested to communicate these wishes of the president to the French government.
In a letter to Mr. Morriss, the president presented a detailed account of the conduct of the minister, and directed him immediately to lay the same before the French government. After stating that Mr. Genet had acted as co-sovereign of the country, had armed vessels, levied men, given commissions of war, independent of the government and in opposition to its orders and efforts, and had endeavored to excite discord and distrust between the American people and their government, and between the two nations; the president concluded by saying, " that his government would see that the case was pressing. That it was impossible for two sovereign and independent authorities to be going on, within one territory, at the same time, without collision. They will perceive, that if Mr. Genet perseveres in his proceedings, the consequences would be too hazardous to us, the example so humiliating and pernicious, that he might be forced even to suspend his functions, before a successor could arrive to continue them. If our citizens," he said, "had not already been shedding each other's blood, it was not owing to the moderation of Mr. Genet, but to the forbearance of the government. That it