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citizens upon the Government, arising before and since the division of Colombia, rendering it, in my judgment, improper longer to delay this step.
Our representatives to Central America, Peru, and Brazil, are either at, or on their way to, their respective posts.
From the Argentine Republic, from which a minister was expected to this Government, nothing further has been heard. Occasion has been taken, on the departure of a new consul to Buenos Ayres, to remind that Government that its long delayed minister, whose appointment has been made known to us, had not arrived.
It becomes my unpleasant duty to inform you that this pacific and highly gratifying picture of our foreign relations does not include those with France at this time. It is not possible that any Government and people could be more sincerely desirous of conciliating a just and friendly intercourse with another nation, than are those of the United States with their ancient ally and friend. This disposition is founded, as well on the most grateful and honorable recollections associated with our struggle for independence, as upon a well grounded conviction that it is consonant with the true policy of both. The people of the United States could not, therefore, see, without the deepest regret, even a temporary interruption of the friendly relations between the two countries—a regret which would, I am sure, be greatly aggravated, if there should turn out to be any reasonable ground for attributing such a result to any act of omission or commission on our part. I derive, therefore, the highest satisfaction from being able to assure you that the whole course of this Government has been characterized by a spirit so conciliatory and forbearing, as to make it impossible that our justice and moderation should be questioned, whatever may be the consequences of a longer perseverance, on the part of the French Government, in her omission to satisfy the conceded claims of our citizens.
The history of the accumulated and unprovoked aggressions upon our commerce, committed by authority of the existing Government of France, between the years 1800 and 1817, has been rendered too painfully familiar to Americans to make its repetition either necessary or desirable. It will be sufficient here to remark that there has, for many years, been scarcely a single administration of the French Government by whom the justice and legality of the claims of our citizens to indemnity were not, to a very considerable extent, admitted, and yet near a quarter of a century has been wasted in ineffectual negotiations to secure it.
Deeply sensible of the injurious effects resulting from this state of things upon the interests and character of both nations, I regarded it as among my first duties to cause one more effort to be made to satisfy France that a just and liberal settlement of our claims was as well due to her own honor as to their incontestable validity. The negotiation for this purpose was commenced with the late Government of France, and was prosecuted with such success as to leave no reasonable ground to doubt that a settlement of a character quite as liberal as that which was subsequently made, would have been effected, had not the revolution, by which the negotiation was cut off, taken place. The discussions were resumed with the present Government, and the result showed that we were not wrong in supposing that an event by which the two Governments were made to approach each other so much nearer in their political principles, and by which the motives for the most liberal and friendly intercourse were so greatly multiplied, could exercise no other than a salutary influence upon the negotiation. After the most deliberate and thorough examination of the whole subject, a treaty between the two Governments was concluded and signed at Paris on the 4th of July, 1831, by which it was stipulated that “the French Government, in order to liberate itself from all the reclamations preferred against it by citizens of the United States for unlawful seizures, captures, sequestrations, confiscations, or destruction of their vessels, cargoes, or other property, engages to pay a sum of twenty-five millions of francs to the United States, who shall distribute it among those entitled, in the manner and according to the rules it shall determine;" and it was also stipulated, on the part of the French Government, that this twenty-five millions of francs should“ be paid at Paris in six annual instalments of four million one hundred and sixty-six thousand six hundred and sixty-six francs and sixty-six centimes each, into the hands of such person or persons as shall be authorized by the Government of the United States to receive it.” The first instalment to be paid " at the expiration of one year next following the exchange of the ratifications of this convention, and the others at successive intervals of a year, one after another, till the whole shall be paid. To the amount of each of the said instalments shall be added interest at four per centum thereupon, as upon the other instalments then remaining unpaid, the said interest to be computed from the day of the exchange of the present convention.”
It was also stipulated, on the part of the United States, for the purpose of being completely liberated from all the reclamations presented by France on behalf of its citizens, that the sum of one million five hundred thousand francs should be paid to the Government of France, in six annual instalments, to be deducted out of the annual sums which France had agreed to pay, interest thereupon being in like manner computed from the day of the exchange of the ratifications. In addition to this stipulation, important advantages were secured to France by the following article, viz. “ The wines of France, from and after the exchange of the ratifications of the present convention, shall be admitted to consumption in the States of the Union, at duties which shall not exceed the following rates by the gallon, (such as it is used at present for wines in the United States,) to wit: six cents for red wines in casks; ten cents for white wines in casks; and twenty-two cents for wines of all sorts in bottles. The proportion existing between the duties on French wines thus reduced, and the general rates of the tariff which went into operation the 1st of January, 1829, shall be maintained in case the Government of the United States should think proper to diminish those general rates in a new tariff.
“In consideration of this stipulation, which shall be binding on the United States for ten years, the French Government abandons the reclamations which it had formed in relation to the eighth article of the treaty of cession of Louisiana. It engages, moreover, to establish on the long staple cottons of the United States, which, after the exchange of the ratifications of the present convention, shall be brought directly thence to France by the vessels of the United States, or by French vessels, the same duties as on short staple cottons.”
This treaty was duly ratified in the manner prescribed by the constitutions of both countries, and the ratification was exchanged at the city of Washington on the 2d of February, 1832. On account of its commercial stipulations, it was, within five days thereafter, laid before the Congress of the United States, which proceeded to enact such laws favorable to the commerce of France as were necessary to carry it into full execution; and France has, from that period to the present, been in the unrestricted enjoyment of the valuable privileges that were thus secured to her. The faith of the French nation having been thus solemnly pledged, through its constitutional organ, for the liquidation and ultimate payment of the long deferred claims of our citizens, as also for the adjustment of other points of great and reciprocal benefits to both countries, and the United States having, with a fidelity and promptitude by which their conduct will, I trust, be always characterized, done every thing that was necessary to carry the treaty into full and fair effect on their part, counted, with the most perfect confidence, on equal fidelity and promptitude on the part of the French Government. In this reasonable expectation we have been, I regret to inform you, wholly disappointed. No legislative provision has been made by France for the execution of the treaty, either as it respects the indemnities to be paid, or the commercial benefits to be secured to the United States, and the relations between the United States and that Power, in consequence thereof, are placed in a situation threatening to interrupt the good understanding which has so long and so happily existed between the two nations.
Not only has the French Government been thus wanting in the performance of the stipulations it has so solemnly entered into with the United States, but its omissions have been marked by circumstances which would seem to leave us without satisfactory evidences that such performance will certainly take place at a future period. Advice of the exchange of ratifications reached Paris prior to the 8th of April, 1832. The French Chambers were then sitting, and continued in session until the 21st of that month ; and although one instalment of the indemnity was payable on the 2d of February, 1833, one year after the exchange of ratifications, no application was made to the Chambers for the required appropriation, and, in consequence of no appropriation having then been made, the draft of the United States Government for that instalment was dishonored by the Minister of Finance, and the United States thereby involved in much controversy. The next session of the Chambers commenced on the 19th of November, 1832, and continued until the 25th of April, 1833. Notwithstanding the omission to pay the first instalment had been made the subject of earnest remonstrance on our part, the treaty with the United States, and a bill making the necessary appropriations to execute it, were not laid before the Chamber of Deputies until the 6th of April, nearly five months after its meeting, and only nineteen days before the close of the session. The bill was read, and referred to a committee, but there was no further action upon it. The next session of the Chambers commenced on the 26th of April, 1833, and continued until the 26th of June following. A new bill was introduced on the 11th of June, but nothing important was done in relation to it during the session. In the month of April, 1834, nearly three years after the signature of the treaty, the final action of the French Chambers upon the bill to carry the treaty into ef
fect was obtained, and resulted in a refusal of the necessary appropriations. The avowed grounds upon which the bill was rejected, are to be found in the published debates of that body, and no observations of mine can be necessary to satisfy Congress of their utter insufficiency. Although the gross amount of the claims of our citizens is probably greater than will be ultimately allowed by the commissioners, sufficient is, nevertheless, shown, to render it absolutely certain that the indemnity falls far short of the actual amount of our just claims, independently of damages, and interest for the detention. That the settlement involved a sacrifice in this respect, was well known at the time—a sacrifice which was cheerfully acquiesced in by the different branches of the Federal Government, whose action upon the treaty was required, from a sincere desire to avoid further collision upon this old and disturbing subject, and in the confident expectation that the general relations between the two countries would be improved thereby.
The refusal to vote the appropriation, the news of which was received from our minister in Paris about the 15th day of May last, might have been considered the final determination of the French Government not to execute the stipulations of the treaty, and would have justified an immediate communication of the facts to Congress, with a recommendation of such ultimate measures as the interest and honor of the United States might seem to require. But with the news of the refusal of the Chambers to make the appropriation, were conveyed the regrets of the King, and a declaration that a national vessel should be forthwith sent out, with instructions to the French minister to give the most ample explanations of the past, and the strongest assurances for the future. After a long passage, the promised despatch vessel arrived. The pledges given by the French minister, upon receipt of his instructions, were, that as soon after the election of the new members as the charter would permit, the Legislative Chambers of France should be called together, and the proposition for an appropriation laid before them ; that all the constitutional powers of the King and his Cabinet should be exerted to accomplish the object; and that the result should be made known early enough to be communicated to Congress at the commencement of the present session. Relying upon these pledges, and not doubting that the acknowledged justice of our claims, the promised exertions of the King and his Cabinet, and, above all, that sacred regard for the national faith and honor for which the French character has been so distinguished, would secure an early execution of the treaty in all its parts, I did not deem it necessary to call the attention of Congress to the subject at the last session.
I regret to say that the pledges made through the minister of France have not been redeemed. The new Chambers met on the 31st July last, and although the subject of fulfilling treaties was alluded to in the speech from the throne, no attempt was made by the King or his Cabinet to procure an appropriation to carry it into execution. The reasons given for this omission, although they might be considered sufficient in an ordinary case, are not consistent with the expectations founded upon the assurances given here, for there is no constitutional obstacle to entering into legislative business at the first meeting of the Chambers. This point, however, might have been overlooked, had not the Chambers, instead of being called to meet at so early a day that the result of their delibera
tions might be communicated to me before the meeting of Congress, been prorogued to the 29th of the present 'month-a period so late that their decision can scarcely be made known to the present Congress prior to its dissolution. To avoid this delay, our minister in Paris, in virtue of the assurance given by the French minister in the United States, strongly urged the convocation of the Chambers at an earlier day, but without
It is proper to remark, however, that this refusal has been accompanied with the most positive assurances, on the part of the Executive Government of France, of their intention to press the appropriation at the ensuing session of the Chambers.
The executive branch of this Government has, as matters stand, exhausted all the authority upon the subject with which it is invested, and which it had any reason to believe could be beneficially employed.
The idea of acquiescing in the refusal to execute the treaty will not, I am confident, be for a moment entertained by any branch of this Government; and further negotiation upon the subject is equally out of the question.
If it shall be the pleasure of Congress to await the further action of the French Chambers, no further consideration of the subject will, at this session, probably be required at your hands. But if, from the original delay in asking for an appropriation ; from the refusal of the Chambers to grant it when asked ; from the omission to bring the subject before the Chambers at their last session; from the fact that, including that session, there have been five different occasions when the appropriation might have been made ; and from the delay in convoking the Chambers until some weeks after the meeting of Congress, when it was well known that a communication of the whole subject to Congress at the last session was prevented by assurances that it should be disposed of before its present meeting, you should feel yourselves constrained to doubt whether it be the intention of the French Government in all its branches to carry the treaty into effect, and think that such measures as the occasion may be deemed to call for should be now adopted, the important question arises, what those measures shall be.
Our institutions are essentially pacific. Peace and friendly intercourse with all nations are as much the desire of our Government as they are the interest of our people. But these objects are not to be permanently secured, by surrendering the rights of our citizens, or permitting solemn treaties for their indemnity, in cases of flagrant wrong, to be abrogated or set aside.
It is undoubtedly in the power of Congress seriously to affect the agricultural and manufacturing interests of France, by the passage of laws relating to her trade with the United States. Her products, manufactures, and tonnage, may be subjected to heavy duties in our ports, or all commercial intercourse with her may be suspended. But there are powerful, and, to my mind, conclusive objections to this mode of proceeding. We cannot embarrass or cut off the trade of France, without, at the same time, in some degree, embarrassing or cutting off our own trade. The injury of such a warfare must fall, though unequally, upon our own citizens, and could not but impair the means of the Government, and weaken the united sentiment in support of the rights and honor of the nation which must now pervade every bosom. Nor is it impossible that such a course