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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 success. 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
of legislation would introduce once more into our national councils those disturbing questions in relation to the tariff of duties which have been so recently put to rest. Besides, by every measure adopted by the Governnent of the United States with the view of injuring France, the clear perception of right which will induce our own people, and the rulers and people of all other nations, even of France herself, to pronounce our quarrel just, will be obscured, and the support rendered to us, in a final resort to more decisive measures, will be more limited and equivocal. There is but one point in the controversy, and upon that the whole civilized world must pronounce France to be in the wrong. We insist that she shall pay us a sum of money, which she has acknowledged to be due ; and of the justice of this demand there can be but one opinion among man kind. True policy would seem to dictate that the question at issue should be kept thus disencumbered, and that not the slightest pretence should be given to France to persist in her refusal to make payment, by any act on our part affecting the interests of her people. The question should be left as it is now, in such an attitude that, when France fulfils her treaty stipulations, all controversy will be at an end.
It is my conviction that the United States ought to insist on a prompt execution of the treaty, and, in case it be refused, or longer delayed, take redress into their own hands. After the delay, on the part of France, of a quarter of a century, in acknowledging these claims by treaty, it is not to be tolerated that another quarter of a century is to be wasted in negotiating about the payment. The laws of nations provide a remedy for such occasions. It is a well-settled principle of the international code, that where one nation owes another a liquidated debt, which it refuses or neglects to pay, the aggrieved party may seize on the property belonging to the other, its citizens or subjects, sufficient to pay the debt, without giving just cause of war. This remedy has been repeatedly resorted to, and recently by France herself towards Portugal, under circumstances less unquestionable.
The time at which resort should be had to this, or any other mode of redress, is a point to be decided by Congress. If an appropriation shall not be made by the French Chambers at their next session, it may justly be concluded that the Government of France has finally determined to disregard its own solemn undertaking, and refuse to pay an acknowledged debt. In that event, every day's delay on our part will be a stain upon our national honor, as well as a denial of justice to our injured citizens. Prompt measures, when the refusal of France shall be complete, will not only be most honorable and just, but will have the best effect upon our national character.
Since France, in violation of the pledges given through her minister here, has delayed her final action so long that her decision will not probably be known in time to be communicated to this Congress, I recommend that a law be passed authorizing reprisals upon French property, in case provision shall not be made for the payment of the debt at the approaching session of the French Chambers. Such a measure ought not to be considered by France as a menace. Her pride and power are too well known to expect any thing from her fears, and preclude the necessity of the declaration that nothing partaking of the character of intimidation is intended by us. She ought to look upon it as the evidence only
of an inflexible determination on the part of the United States to insist on their rights. That Government, by doing only w hat it has itself acknowledged to be just, will be able to spare the United 1 States the necessity of taking redress into their own hands, and save the property of French citizens from that seizure and sequestration wh ich American citizens so long endured without retaliation or redress. If she should continue to refuse that act of acknowledged justice, and, i n violation of the law of nations, make reprisals on our part the occasion of hostilities against the United States, she would but add violence to injustice, and could not fail to expose herself to the just censure of civilized na tions, and to the retributive judgments of Heaven.
Collision with France is the more to be regretted, on account of the position she occupies in Europe in relation to liberal in stitutions. Bu t, in maintaining our national rights and honor, all Governments are alike to us. If, by a collision with France, in a case where she is clearly in the wrong, the march of liberal principles shall be impeded, the respo nsibility for that result, as well as every other, will rest on her own hea d. Having submitted these considerations, it belongs to Congress to decide whether, after what has taken place, it will still await the further action of the French Chambers, or now adopt such provisional measuresas it may deem necessary, and best adapted to protect the rights and ma intain the honor of the country. Whatever that decision may be, it will be faithfully enforced by the Executive, as far as he is authorized so to do.
According to the estimates of the Treasury Department, the revenue accruing from all sources, during the present year,will! amount to twenty million six hundred and twenty-four thousand seven hundred and seventeen dol lars, which, with the balance remaining in the Treasury on the 1st of January last, of eleven million seven hundred and two thousand nine hundred and five dollars, produces an aggregate of thirty-two million three huîdred and twenty-seven thousand six hundred and twenty-three dollars. The total expenditure during the year for all objects, including the public debt, is estimated at twenty-five million five hundred and ninety-one thousand three hundred and ninety dollars, which will leave a balance in the Treasury on the 1st of January, 1835, of six million seven hundred and thirty-six thousand two hundred and thirty-two dollars. In this balance, however, will be included about one million one hundred and fifty thousand dollars of what was heretofore reported by the department as not effective.
Of former appropriations, it is estimated that there will remain unexpended at the close of the year eight million two thousand nine hundred and twenty-five dollars, and that of this sum there will not be required more than five million one hundred and forty-one thousand nine hundred and sixty-four dollars, to accomplish the objects of all the current appropriations. Thus it appears that, after satisfying all those appropriatio ns, after discharging the last item of our public debt, which will be done on the 1st of January next, there will remain unexpended in the Treasury an effective balance of about four hundred and forty thousand dollars. That such should be the aspect of our finances, is highly flattering to the industry and enterprise of our population, and auspicious of the wealth and prosperity which await the future cultivation of their growing reIt is not deemed prudent, however, to recommend any change