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mon cause with any other neutral power ; they have not bound up
their fate with, nor do they mean to submit their rights to the arbitration of, or to pare them down so as to suit the convenience of any power whatever : these rights are clear, pronoun*ced, and unequivocal : they are found in the great code of pube lic law. If other powers have not the same interest in defending; if they find it convenient to relinquish, or, for any other reasons whatever, cease to assert such rights, no obligation to abandon them is thereby imposed on America ; but on the contrary, standing alone amidst the great struggle of nations, her obligation to protect that sacred deposit is strengthened, and she becomes doubly responsible to posterity for this great inheritance ; since she is not deficient in the
power and means of
pre serving it.
His excellency, the minister of state, seems to suppose, that the principal object of the undersigned is to obtain the "redision" of the sentences of the tribunal specified in his note of November 4th. It is proper, therefore, to consider this part of the subject, though he must premise by observing, and he begs his excellency to understand, that the object of that note, which embraced various subjects of complaint, was to obtain satisfaction and compensation, leaving the mode" and the means" to be adjusted by mutual accord; for he is entirely unwilling to rest the claims of the United States, or to make them in any wise dependant on an abstract discussion as to the course which may be taken to produce the satisfaction required.
The undersigned, in his note of November 4th, has shown, as he trusts, most clearly and indisputably, that the rights of the United States, as a neutral nation, have been violated by the decisions therein referred to ; if not, he has invited the minister of state to discuss the principles on which his reclamation is founded. Can it be deemed to be a satisfactory answer to such a reclamation that other nations have submitted to similar decisions? Can it be imagined, that the term “ definitive," as applied to such decisions, is conclusive against the United States? Can it be expected that they will acquiesce in a decision as just, because it is termed definitive?” The constitution, the faculties, and the police of admiralty tribunals in this as in every other country are formed by and depend on the will of the sovereign, and he is strictly responsible to foreign nations, in all cases affecting their rights, for a correct administration of justice on the principles of public law which forms the basis of those rights. No foreign nation submits its cause to the arbitrary or capricious decision of such tribunals, or respects their decisions in any degree further than as these may be found to conform to its own sense
of its own rights. The tribunal is the mere instrument of the sovereign with which he operates, and it is his duty so to direct and use it, that it may not do injury to the rights of others. The foreign nation, therefore, looks with reason to the tribunal only as indicative of the temper of the sovereign by whom it is appointed and under whose authority it acts, and not as to the arbitrator of its own destiny. When a foreign government complains of the conduct of such tribunals, it calls upon the good faith of the sovereign to repair the wrong which he ought to have restrained. Shall it be competent to the sovereign to refer the offended party for satisfaction to the very cause of complaint? What is this but to adopt the injustice complained of? Since when has it been agreed that the belligerents shall give law to neutral nations? Does the “ ancient faith” which in peace augmenting confidence removed the probabilities of war, and in war mitigated its horrors, does it no longer subsist? Or in a merely political calculation does it not occur that the belligerent may hereafter become neutral? However these questions may
be answered, it is certain that there is a self-conserving principle in truth and right which ensures their vindication, so that a nation may be said to be deceiving itself when it refuses what is due to the just demands of others.
His excellency the minister of state, has been instructed to observe, that if his majesty could consent to a revision of the sentences of his tribunals in favour of those whose property
has been condemned, he ought to extend such revision to the sentences by which captured property has been acquitted.
The undersigned takes the liberty of remarking that the reclamation which he has made, is the reclamation of the American government against certain sentences of condemnation passed on American property by tribunals appointed by his Danish majesty, and acting under his authority. The American government finds itself aggrieved by such decisions. Iš his majesty dissatisfied with the decisions of a contrary character by which American property has been acquitted ? certainly not : yet only upon that ground could his majesty desire a revision of the sentences of acquittal: for no question now exists between the captor and the captured : the question is between government and government: nor is it readily to be conceived that tribunals whose decisions the government of the United States has found such ample and solid reasons to complain of, can in other cases have done injustice to his majesty's subjects. It is because the tribunals have been partial to his majesty's subjects, because they are not courts of arbitration in which the United States has its equal representation, and hence have acted on principles the justice of which the United States does not acknowledge, that a revision of their sentences against the property of American citizens may be reasonably proposed by the American government, and may be acceded to by his majesty, without this plan contemplating any injury to his subjects. These are the grounds on which similar revisions have been demanded in other countries, and have been granted, and compensation obtained, without its ever having been proposed that sentences of acquittal, which have only tended to diminish the amount of the injuries complained of, should be also revised.
The undersigned cannot therefore but hope that his Danish majesty, on a reconsideration of this important subject, will see fit to adopt some plan, with respect to the matters complained of, which may satisfy the just expectations of the United States. He has thought that it best comported with the friendly and conciliatory dispositions of his government, not to propose any which should interfere with such arrangements as having due regard to the object it might be most convenient to his majesty to make, and therefore in his note of November 4th stated, what he will here repeat—" that the mode, the means, and to a certain extent even the time may be subjected to considerations of mutual convenience and accord.” He requests that the minister of state will be pleased to lay this note entire before his majesty.
He renews to his excellency the minister of state, assurances of his distinguished consideration. (Signed)
GEORGE W. ERVING. His excellency Mr. de Rosenkrantz, first minister of state, and
chief of the department of foreign affairs, &c.
Copenhagen, April 20th, 1812. Sir, with my dispatch No. 8 (of September 8), I had the honour to submit to you copies of my correspondence with Mr. Desaugiers, then charge d'affaires of France, which I had previously laid before the minister of state here, and which was also transmitted by Mr. Desàugiers to his government. In my notes to Mr. Desaugiers were particularized the various excesses of the French corsairs in these waters, which appeared to me contrary to the spirit and intention of that government, as well as injurious to our commerce. It is with great satisfaction that I now transmit to you the new instructions which Mr. Desaugiers has been ordered to give to the captains of the corsairs.
With the most perfect respect and consideration, sir, your very obedient servant, (Signed)
GEORGE W. ERVING.
No. 22. Extract of a letter from Mr. Erving to Mr. Monroe, Secretary
Copenhagen, May 9, 1812. “ I have the honour herewith to transmit to you duplicate of my letter No. 20 (by Mr. Lewis), dated April 18th. The note of the same date to which it refers, with the few alterations which will be found in this duplicate, was sent to Mr. de Rosenkrantz on the 21st, and was laid by him before the king on the 1st instant. In the mean time I had several conversations with that minister upon the subject of it, in which I did not fail to urge whatever might contribute to a favourable answer on the part of his majesty. Finally, on the 8th instant (yesterday), he sent to me the note of which the inclosed is a copy. You will observe, sir, the new position which our claims assume under this communication, and the reasonable expectation which it affords of a settlement hereafter. I have endeavoured to have this point placed in a more formal and explicit shape.'
Mr. De Rosenkrantz. to Mr. Erving: The undersigned, minister of state and of foreign affairs, has had to explain to Mr. Erving, special minister of the United States of America, in his note of the 9th of last month, the motives which have influenced the king his master not to grant the revision of the sentences of his supreme tribunal of admiralty, definitively terminating the causes brought before this tribunal, arising from the captures made by Danish cruizers, of vessels sailing under the flag of the United States, and that for this reason he could not persuade himself that the ulterior representations which the special minister had thought proper still to address him could produce any change in the determination of his majesty. The minister of foreign relations has however prevailed on the king his master to be pleased to examine the note which Mr. Erving addressed to him under date of the 18th of last month, reiterating the claim to redress for the wrongs previously recited, and satisfaction for which he considers it his duty still to insist upon.
The undersigned hastens to have the honour to inform the special minister that it has been enjoined on him by his sovereign to answer the above-mentioned note of the special minister by VOL. I. PART I.
referring to the contents of his preceding note of the 9th, as to the friendly dispositions of his majesty towards the government of the United States, to add the expressions of his extreme regret that he annot agree to the opinion expressed by Mr. Erving as being that of his government, in regard to the conduct observed towards vessels under American flags, brought into the ports of his dominion by his armed vessels or by those provided with letters of marque.
The war in which the Danish nation is engaged with Great Britain, who employs every means to conceal from observation the enterprises of its merchants, in making use of foreign flags : and merchants have caused those measures, the object of which is to preclude English commerce from the advantage growing out of the disposition it has always found in the merchants of other nations, to become the agents of prohibited trade: it is too well known to Mr. Erving, and it ought to be to his government, that American merchants and mariners have frequently lent themselves to enterprises of this nature, for the Danish government to consider it necessary to multiply the proofs which it has on this subject.
It is known to the Danish government that the United States do not pretend either to approve or defend the conduct of American citizens, who, from the thirst of gain, are engaged in enterprises which expose them to loss, if the fraud is discovered : proofs are not wanting to show that they have frequently succeeded in imposing both on the officers empowered to examine captured vessels, and on the tribunals of prizes. The subterfuges to which they resort to prevent the discovery of the enemy character of the expedition have necessarily induced those intrusted by the king with the examination, as well as the tribunal, to redouble their activity, in order to fulfil the views of his majesty ; but it never has been conformable with these to suffer that any injury should be sustained by the mariners and merchants of friendly nations who carry on a licit and unsuspicious com
The persevering struggle of the Danish government in favour of the principles upon which repose the liberty of the commerce and navigation of neutral nations, forbids the supposition that it would wish to derogate from them; but it has a complete right to tear the mask from the commerce of its enemy, who recognises no law in regard to navigation, as soon as neutral powers are in question. The king will not renounce the exercise of this right. If his majesty could be persuaded that in particular cases it should happen that appearances might have prevailed in the examination of some causes to the detriment of some Ame