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With this character conclusively given to that transaction by the convention, it would be worse than idle to attempt to give it another, in which the presumed misconduct of either of the two governments should be an ingredient. But give to it what character you will, and ascribe it to what fault you may, still, if the situation of the British government, in reference to the claims depending under the seventh article, is no worse than it would have been had not the suspension happened, it is inconceivable in what way, or upon what intelligible principles, it can give an equity against those to whom the suspension or its consequences cannot be attributed, to whom it has been so far from being advantageous, that the most liberal compensation which they are likely to procure will not repair the injury they have sustained by it.

I will make but one observation more on this subject. If we should enter into an inquiry whether either, and which of the two governments, was in fault as to the suspension; if we should even be disposed to think, as most certainly some of us would not, that the American government was so in fault; if we should go on to infer that therefore the British government was not to pay interest during the suspension to American claimants, there would still remain a most embarrassing question which we should find it difficult to settle, i. e. whether the American government should pay interest during the suspension to British claimants?

To give to British claimants a larger measure of redress in this respect than we give to American claimants, upon a vague charge of misconduct against, one of the high contracting parties, for which no countenance is found in the contract itself, would be to set up a distinction which the convention does not acknowledge, but disclaims; which the contracting party, outraged by the accusation, would hold, and justly hold, to be indecent and arrogant; and which, as regards the innocent complainants, would be too iniquitous for any honest man to lend himself to.

On the other hand, if, withheld by these or other considerations, we should forbear to make the distinction, what will have become of our principle, or our title to consistency? This is a dilemma on which I will not enlarge, but on which it might be well to reflect. It shows the utter inadmissibility of the objection which, if listened to and acted upon, would produce it.

Mr. Pinkney concludes by seconding the motion; but at the request of Mr. Trumbull, it was postponed for a few days, and on the 30th of April, the Board proceeded to make awards on the principle contended for by Mr. Gore and Mr. Pinkney.

No. II.


To the President of the United States, and the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled :



Your memorialists beg leave respectfully to submit to your consideration the following statement and reflections, produced by the situation of our public affairs, in a high degree critical and perilous, and peculiarly affecting the commerce of their country.

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In the early part of the late war between Great Britain and France, the former undertook to prohibit neutral nations from all trade whatsoever with the colonies of the latter. This exorbitant pretension was not long persisted in. It was soon qualified in favour of a direct trade between the United and these colonies, and some years afterwards was further relaxed in favour of European neutrals. The United States being thus admitted, by the express acknowledgment of Great Britain, to a direct trade, without limit, between their own ports and the colonies of the opposite belligerents, another trade naturally and necessarily grew out of it, or rather formed one of its principal objects and inducements. The surplus colonial produce, beyond our own consumption, imported here, was to be carried elsewhere for a market; and it was accordingly carried to Europe, sometimes by the original importer, sometimes by other American merchants, either in the vessels in which the importation was made, or in others. In the course of this traffic, it was understood to be the sense of Great Britain, and was explicitly declared by her courts of prize, that, although she had not expressly allowed to the merchants of the

United States, by the letter of her relaxations, and immediate trade between the colonies of her enemies and the markets of Europe, a circuitous trade to Europe, in the production of these colonies, was unexceptionable; and that nothing more was necessary to make it so, than that the continuity of the voyage should be broken by an entry, and payment of duties, and the landing of the colonial cargo in the United States. During the greater part of the late war, and the first years of the present, this trade was securely prosecuted by our merchants, in the form which Great Britain had thus thought fit to give to it.

The modification of a traffic, in itself entitled to be free, was submitted to, on our part, without repining, because it presented a clear and definite rule of conduct, which, although unauthorized in the light of a restriction, was not greatly inconvenient in its prac tical operation; and your memorialists entertained a confident hope, that, while on the one hand, they sought no change of system by which the assumption of Great Britain to impose terms, however mild in their character and effect, upon their lawful commerce, should be repelled; on the other hand, it would not be desired, that the state of things which Great Britain had herself prescribed, and which use and habit had rendered familiar, and intelligible to all, should be disturbed by oppressive innovations; far less that these innovations should, by a tyrannical retrospection, be made to justify the seizure and confiscation of their property, committed to the high seas, under the protection of the existing rule, and without warning of the intended change.

In this their just hope, your memorialists have been fatally disappointed. Their vessels and effects, to a large amount, have lately been captured by the commissioned cruizers of Great Britain, upon the foundation of new principles, suddenly invented, and applied to this habitual traffic, and suggested, and promulgated, for the first time, by sentences of condemnation; by which, unavoidable ignorance has been considered as criminal, and an honourable confidence in the justice of a friendly nation, pursued with penalty and forfeiture.

Your memorialists are in no situation to state the precise nature of the rules to which their most important interests have thus been sacrificed: and it is not the least of their complaints against

them, that they are undefined, and undefinable, equivocal in their form, and the fit instruments of oppression by reason of their ambiguity.

Your memorialists know that the circumstances which have heretofore been admitted to give legality to their trade, in colonial productions, with their European friends, protect it no longer. But they have not yet been told, and are not soon likely to learn, what other circumstances will be suffered to produce that consequence. It is supposed to have been judicially declared, in general, that a voyage undertaken for the purpose of bringing into the United States the produce of the belligerent colonies, purchased by American citizens, shall, if it appears to be intended that this produce shall ultimately go on to Europe, and an attempt is actually made to re-export and send it thither, be considered, on account of that intention, as a direct voyage to Europe, and therefore illegal, notwithstanding any temporary interruption or termination of it in the United States.

Your memorialists will not here stop to inquire upon what grounds of law or reason the same act is held to be legal when commenced with one intention, and illegal when undertaken with another. But they object, in the strongest terms, against this new criterion of legality, because of its inevitable tendency to injustice, because of its peculiar capacity to embarrass with seizure, and to ruin with confiscation, the whole of our trade with Europe in the surplus of our colonial importations.

The inquiry which the late system indicated was short and simple, and precluded error on all sides; but the new refinement substitutes in its place a vast field of speculation, overshadowed with doubt and uncertainty, and of which the faint and shifting boundaries can never be distinctly known.

Intention, as to the object of our colonial voyages, may be inferred from numerous circumstances, more or less conclusive. To anticipate them all is obviously impracticable; and of course to guard against the inference, in this respect, which British captors and British courts may be disposed to draw, will be impossible. Our property is therefore menaced by a great and formidable danger, which there are no means of eluding; for, even if it should chance to escape the condemnation which this pernicious

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