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520

IMPRESSMENT OF SEAMEN.

[CHAP. VII.

In a few days Mr. Hammond sent to Mr. Jefferson a copy of those instructions, which he defended as consistent with the law of nations; provisions being considered contraband, when the privation of such supplies is necessary to reduce a nation to reasonable terms of peacewhich he argued were the present circumstances of France.

To this letter Mr. Jefferson replied that the principle which declares provisions to be contraband in the case stated, or in any case but that of a place actually blockaded, was entirely new. But that as the American Minister in London had been instructed to make a representation of the subject, he declined a further discussion of it. In the correspondence relative to it between Mr. Pinckney and Lord Grenville, the same ground was taken by the Ministers of the two countries respectively as had been taken by their colleagues in the United States.

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The practice, by British men-of-war, of impressing men from American ships, on the ground that they were British subjects, and consequently, according to the British doctrine, incapable of putting away their natural allegiance, was a further cause of irritation and of diplomatic remonstrance.

The American Government endeavored at first to resist the claim, but finding that course hopeless, they sought to subject the alleged British right to regulation, so that the citizens of the United States should not be liable to its abuse. Mr. Jefferson decidedly objected to certificates of citizenship, which, as the necessary means of protection, were degrading, and would be unavailing from the reckless character of seamen, who would want the precaution to provide them, or having provided them, would always be in danger of losing them. He further suggested

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RIGHTS OF NEUTRALS.

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some cautionary provisions to prevent American vessels from becoming the ready asylums for British seamen.

The British Government, among other justifications for their order in council of June, 1793, relied on the example of the National Convention of France, which, by a decree of the ninth of May, 1793, had authorised their armed vessels to seize all ships laden with provisions bound to an enemy's post, or which had on board merchandize belonging to an enemy - declaring such merchandize lawful prize; but the provisions were to be paid for, and neutral vessels were to receive their stipulated freight, and to be indemnified for detention.

This decree having been complained of by the American Minister, as contrary to the treaty with the United States, the Convention, on the twenty-third of May, decreed that the United States were not comprehended in the decree of the ninth; but this last decree was revoked five days later, and on a second remonstrance from Mr. Morris, it was renewed on the first of July. But it was again revoked on the twenty-seventh of that month, and the American vessels ceased to be excepted from the decree of the ninth of May.

It deserves to be remarked that this decree of the National Convention was not mentioned by Lord Grenville in his correspondence with Mr. Pinckney, nor by Mr. Hammond in his communication of the British order in council, nor is it noticed by the journals of the day, or in the debates of Parliament. The first mention of it by a diplomatic agent of Great Britain is by Mr. Hammond, in his letter to Mr. Randolph, Secretary of State, dated the eleventh of April, 1794, and that merely in answer to a remark quoted by him from Mr. Pinckney's memorial to the British Ministry, that France would make use of the acquiescence of the United States in the

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ENGLISH PROVISION ORDER.

[CHAP. VII. British orders "as a pretext for the violation of neutrality," and that she might derive from those orders "the right to pursue a similar course. Mr. Hammond refers then to the fact that the French decree of a like character was previous to the British order.

One reason of this remarkable forbearance to justify the provision order complained of by the example of their enemy-a practice subsequently so familiar to both nations might have been that it was desirable to Great Britain to defend a measure which would so greatly enlarge the power and efficiency of her navy, on the broad and permanent ground of international law rather than that of retaliating a French decree, which might be revoked at any time, and had in fact been revoked twice in three months. Another reason might have been that the French Government could, with some reason, have denied that they had thus taken the lead in this course against neutrals, since Great Britain and Russia, in their treaty of the twenty-fifth of March, 1793, had sanctioned a similar invasion of neutral rights.1

These instructions to the armed vessels of Great Britain, certain to be so vexatious and injurious to American commerce, excited much feeling in the United States s; brought a great accession of strength to the party who wished the country to make common cause with France; and added much to the difficulties of the administration, bent as it was on keeping the country in a state of peace and neutrality.

In the consultation of the Cabinet, according to custom, on the subject of the President's opening speech to Congress, the members showed their wonted discordance of views. On the subject of the proclamation of neutrality, Mr. Hamilton maintained that the President had

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DISCUSSIONS IN THE CABINET.

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a right to declare his opinion to his fellow-citizens and to the world, that it was neither our duty nor interest to join in the war; that the proclamation was regarded by other nations as a declaration of neutrality, future, as well as past; and, to declare otherwise now, would be a deception on them. He therefore was for using such expressions as would neither affirm the right nor surrender it.

Messrs. Jefferson and Randolph denied the President's right to make any declaration as to the future, concerning war or peace. Mr. Jefferson went a step further, and denied that the President had any right to declare that neutrality would be our interest; and policy recommended that this question should be left doubtful, that other nations might "come and bid for our neutrality."

The President himself disclaimed any intention of looking beyond the present; and he justified the use of the term "neutrality" in his answers to public addresses on the subject, on the ground that the term had not been objected to in his Cabinet.

On a renewal of the discussion, it was maintained by Mr. Hamilton that the President and Senate might, under the treaty-making power, make a treaty of neutrality, which would take from Congress the right to declare war; and that, in this way, they might exercise any power whatever, even those exclusively assigned to Congress.

Mr. Jefferson, on the other hand, insisted that "in giving to the President and Senate the power to make treaties, the Constitution meant only to authorise them to carry into effect, by way of treaty, any powers they might constitutionally exercise. In his private notes,' he remarks: “I was sensible of the weak points in this 1 Since published under the name of Ana.

524 THE PRESIDENT'S OPENING SPEECH. [CHAP. VII. position, but there were still weaker in the other hypothesis."

Mr. Jefferson was also doubtful about the power of Congress to establish a military academy, but all the other members of the Cabinet being in favor of it, the President recommended to Congress such an establishment. To it the country has been indebted for many of its best officers, and, without it, must either have remained deficient in the requisite military science, or have been dependent for it on foreign countries.

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Congress met on the second day of December, and on the following day the President addressed both Houses assembled in the Senate chamber. After making acknowledgments for his re-election, but still declaring his preference for a retired life, he mentioned his proclamation of neutrality as an admonition to our citizens against contraband trade, or, hostile acts against belligerents; stated the rules he had prescribed to himself for the observance of treaties and for maintaining the privileges of the United States, and recommended that the country should be put in a state of complete defence, that we might secure the fulfilment of the duties of other nations towards us, while we fulfilled ours towards them. He reminds them that appeals to arms are sometimes inevitable, and that the country cannot support the rank to which it is entitled, with the reputation of weakness. He therefore recommends an increase in the supply of arms, and an improvement in the militia system. He is also in favor of a gradual redemption of the public debt, and suggests that some addition to the revenue will be required. He repeats his former humane suggestions relative to the Indians.

Two days later he sent to both Houses a message accompanied with numerous documents, concerning the

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