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very verge of plunging into that dreadful war wards under Washington's administration, this then desolating Europe. The government then claim of indemnity, no longer resting upon a issued its proclamation of neutrality, and non- claim of the sufferers, but upon a treaty stipuintercourse. Mr. B. next proceeded to show that France had no just claims upon us, aris- lation—upon an article in a treaty for their ing from the guaranty: This guaranty against benefit—was abandoned to obtain a general adFrance was not considered binding, even by vantage for the whole community in the comFrance herself, any further than was consistent mercial treaty with Great Britain. As these with our relations with other nations; that it was so declared by her minister; and, moreover,
claims for French spoliations are still continued that she acknowledged the justice of our neu (1850), I give some of the speeches for and trality. These treaties had been violated by against them fifteen years ago, believing that France, and the United States could not surely they present the strength of the argument on be bound by treaties which she had herself vio- both sides. The opening speech of Mr. Weblated; and consequently, we were under no obligation on account of the guaranty. Mr. B. ster presented the case : went on to show that, by the terms of the treaty of 1800, the debts due to our citizens “ He should content himself with stating very had not been relinquished :--that as the guaran- briefly an outline of the grounds on which these ty did not exist, and as the claims had not claims are supposed to rest, and then leave the been abandoned, Mr. B. concluded that these subject to the consideration of the Senate. He, claims ought not to be paid by this government. however, should be happy, in the course of the He was opposed to going back thirty-four years debate, to make such explanations as might be to sit in judgment on the constituited authori-called for. It would be seen that the bill proties of that time. There should be a stability posed to make satisfaction, to an amount not in the government, and he was not disposed to exceeding five millions of dollars, to such citiquestion the judgment of the man (Washing- zens of the United States, or their legal repreton) who has justly been called the first in var sentatives, as had valid claims for indemnity on and the first in peace. We are sitting here to the French government, rising out of illegal rejudge the decisions of the government thirty-captures, detentions, and condemnations, made four years since.
or committed on their property prior to the
30th day of September, 1800. This bill supThis is well stated, and the conclusion just posed two or three leading propositions to be and logical, that we ought not to go back thir- | true. ty-four years to call in question the judgment
" It supposed, in the first place, that illegal
seizures, detentions, captures, condemnations, of Washington's administration. Ile was look- and confiscations, were made, of the vessels and ing to the latest date of the claims when he said property of the citizens of the United States, thirty-four years, which surely was enough; before the 30th September, 1800. but Washington's decision in his proclamation
* It supposed, in the second place, that these of neutrality was seven years before that time; and under such circumstances, as that the suf
acts of wrong were committed by such orders and the claims themselves have the year 1800 ferers had a just right and claim for indemnity for their period of limitation-not of commence from the hands of the government of France. ment, which was many years before. This
“Going on these two propositions, the bill doctrine of governmental liability when aban-claims on France as came within a prescribed
assumed one other, and that was, that all such doning the claims of citizens for which indem- period, or down to a prescribed period, had been nity could not be obtained, is unknown in other annulled by the United States, and that this countries, and was unknown in ours in the car- gave them a right to claim indemnity from this lier ages of the government. There was a case in fairness and equity, on the part of this gov
government. It supposed a liability in justice, of this abandonment in our early history which ernment, to make the indemnity. These were rested upon no “assumption" of fact, but on the grounds on which the bill was framed. the fact itself; and in which no attempt was That there were many such contiscations no one made to enforce the novel doctrine. It was the mentioned in the first section of the bill. That
doubted, and many such acts of wrong as were case of the slaves carried off by the British they were committed by Frenchmen, and under troops at the close of the Revolutionary War, such circumstances as gave those who suffered and for which indemnity was stipulated in the wrong an unquestionable right to claim indemtreaty of peace. Great Britain refused that in- nity from the French government, nobody. he
supposed, at this day, would question. There deninity ; and after vain efforts to obtain it by were two questions which might be made the the Congress of the confederation, and after- ! subject of discussion, and two only occurred to
him at that moment. The one was, 'On what but an historical monument, going back to the ground was the government of the United States first treaty with France in 1778, and coming answerable to any extent for the injury done to down through our legislation and diplomacy on these claimants ?' The other, 'To what extent was the government in justice bound ?' And French questions to the time of its delivery. A first-of the first. 'Why was it that the gov- separate chapter is due to this great speech ; ernment of the United States had become re- and it will be given entire in the next one. sponsible in law or equity to its citizens, for the claims-for any indemnity for the wrongs committed on their commerce by the subjects of France before 1800 ?'
“ To this question there was an answer, which, whether satisfactory or not, had at least the merit of being a very short one.
It was, that,
CHAPTER CXVIII. by a treaty between France and the United States, bearing date the 30th of September, FRENCH SPOLIATIONS: SPEECH OF MR. WRIGHT, 1800, in a political capacity, the government of the United States discharged and released the government of France from this indemnity. It “Mr. Wright understood the friends of this went upon the ground, which was sustained by bill to put its merits upon the single and distinct all the correspondence which had preceded the ground that the government of the United States treaty of 1800, that the disputes arising be- had released France from the payment of the tween the two countries should be settled by a claims for a consideration, passing directly to negotiation. And claims and pretensions hav- the benefit of our government, and fully equal ing been asserted on either side, commissioners in value to the claims themselves. Mr. W. said on the part of the United States were sent out he should argue the several questions presented, to assert and maintain the claims of indemnity upon the supposition that this was the extent which they demanded; while commissioners ap- to which the friends of the bill had gone, or pointed on the part of France asserted a claim
were disposed to go, in claiming a liability on to the full extent of the stipulations made in '78, the part of the United States to pay the claimwhich they said the United States had promised ants; and, thus understood, he was ready to to fulfil. and in order to carry into effect the proceed to an examination of the strength of this treaty of alliance of the same date, viz.: Feb- position. ruary, 1778.
“ His first duty, then, was to examine the re“ T'he negotiation ultimately terminated, and a lations existing between France and the United treaty was finally ratified upon the terms and States prior to the commencement of the disconditions of an offset of the respective claims turbances out of which these claims have arisen; against each other, and for ever; so that the and the discharge of this duty would compel a United States government, by the surrender dry and uninteresting reference to the several and discharge of these claims of its citizens, had treaties which, at that period, governed those made this surrender to the French government relations. to obtain for itself a discharge from the onerous “ The seventeenth article of the treaty of amliabilities imposed upon them by the treaty of ity and commerce of the 6th February, 1778, 1778, and in order to escape from fulfilling other was the first of these references, and that article stipulations proclaimed in the treaty of com- was in the following words: merce of that year, and which, if not fulfilled, 6 6 Art. 17. It shall be lawful for the ships of might have brought about a war with France. war of either party, and privateers, freely to This was the ground on which these claims carry whithersoever they please the ships and rested.
goods taken from their enemies, without being " Heretofore, when the subject had been before obliged to pay any duty to the officers of the Congress, gentlemen had taken this view of the admiralty or any other judges; nor shall such case ; and he believed there was a report pre-prizes be arrested or seized when they come to sented to the Senate at the time, which set forth or enter the ports of either party; nor shall the that the claims of our citizens, being left open, searchers or other officers of those places search the United States had done these claimants no the same, or make examination concerning the injury, and that it did not exempt the govern- lawfulness of such prizes; but they may hoist ment of France from liability.”
sail at any time and depart and carry their
prizes to the places expressed in their commisMr. Wright, of New-York, spoke fully against sions, which the commanders of such ships of the bill, and upon a close view of all the facts war shall be obliged to show ; on the contrary, of the case, and all the law of the case as grow- to such as shall have made prize of the subjects,
no shelter or refuge shall be given in their ports ing out of treaties or found in the law of nations. people, or property of either of the parties; but His speech was not only a masterly argument, if such shall come in, being forced by stress of
weather, or the danger of the sea, all proper directly from the places of the enemy aforemenmeans shall be vigorously used, that they go tioned to neutral places, but also from one place out and retire from thence as soon as possible.' belonging to an enemy to another place belong.
“ This article, Mr. W. said, would be found to ing to an enemy, whether they be under the be one of the most material of all the stipula- jurisdiction of the same prince, or under sereral
. tions between the two nations, in an examina- And it is hereby stipulated that free ships shall tion of the diplomatic correspondence durin also give a freedom to goods, and that every the whole period of the disturbances, from the thing shall be deemed to be free and exempt breaking out of the war between France and which shall be found on board the ships belong. England, in 1793, until the treaty of the 30th ing to the subjects of either of the confederates,alSeptember, 1800. The privileges claimed by though the whole lading, or any part thereof, France, and the exclusions she insisted on as should appertain to the enemies of either, conapplicable to the other belligerent Powers, were traband goods being always excepted. It is also fruitful sources of complaint on both sides, and agreed, in like manner, that the same liberty be constituted many material points of disagree- extended to persons who are on board a free ment between the two nations through this en-ship, with this effect, that although they be ene tire interval. What these claims were on the mies to both or either party, they are not to be part of France, and how far they were admitted taken out of that free ship, unless they are soldiers by the United States, and how far controverted, and in actual service of the enemies.' will, Mr. W. said, be more properly considered “ The restrictions as to articles to be held be in another part of the argument. As connected, tween the two nations as contraband of 18, however, with this branch of the relations, he Mr. W. said, were to be found in the twentythought it necessary to refer to the twenty- fourth article of this same treaty of amity and second article of the same treaty, which was in commerce, and were as follows: the following words:
“Art. 24. This liberty of navigation and “ Art. 22. It shall not be lawful for any for-commerce shall extend to all kinds of merchaneign privateers, not belonging to subjects of the dises, excepting those only which are distinguishMost Christian King, nor citizens of the said ed by the name of contraband, and under this United States, who have commissions from any name of contraband, or probibited goods, shall other prince or State in enmity with either na- be comprehended arms, great guns, bombs, with tion, to fit their ships in the ports of either the fuses and other things belonging to them, canone or the other of the aforesaid parties, to sell non ball, gunpowder, match, pikes, swords, lanwhat they have taken, or in any other manner ces, spears, halberds, mortars, petards, grenades, whatsoever to exchange their ships, merchan- saltpetre, muskets, musket ball, helmets, breastdises, or any other lading ; neither shall they be plates, coats of mail, and the like kinds of arms allowed even to purchase victuals, except such proper for arning soldiers, musket rests, belts, as shall be necessary for their going to the next horses with their furniture, and all other war port of that prince or State from which they like instruments whatever. These merchandihave commissions.'
ses which follow shall not be reckoned among “Mr. W. said he now passed to a different contraband or prohibited goods; that is to say, branch of the relations between the two coun- all sorts of cloths, and all other manufactures tries, as established by this treaty of amity and woven of any wool, flax, silk, cotton, or any other commerce, which was the reciprocal right of material whatever; all kinds of wearing apparel either to carry on a free trade with the enemies together with the species whereof they are used of the other, restricted only by the stipulations to be made ; gold and silver, as well coined as of the same treaty in relation to articles to be uncoined: tin, iron, latten, copper, brass, coals; considered contraband of war. This reciprocal as also wheat and barley, and any other kind of right is defined in the twenty-third article of the corn and pulse: tobacco, and likewise all mantreaty, which is in the words following: ner of spices; salted and smoked flesh, salted
“* Art. 23. It shall be lawful for all and singu- fish, cheese, and butter, beer, oils, wines, sugars, lar the subjects of the Most Christian King, and and all sorts of salts ; and, in general, all provis the citizens, people, and inhabitants of the said ions which serve for the nourishment of manUnited States, to sail with their ships with all kind, and the sustenance of life ; furthermore, manner of liberty and security, no distinction all kinds of cotton, hemp, flax, tar, pitch, ropes, being made who are the proprietors of the mer- cables, sails, sail cloths, anchors, and any part chandises laden thereon, from any port to the of anchors, also ships' masts, planks, boards, and places of those who now are or hereafter shall beams, of what trees soever; and all other things be at enmity with the Most Christian King, or proper either for building or repairing ships, and the United States. It shall likewise be lawful all other goods whatever which have not been for the subjects and inhabitants aforesaid to sail worked into the form of any instrument or thing with the ships and merchandises aforementioned, prepared for war by land or by sea, shall not be and to trade with the same liberty and security reputed contraband, much less such as have been from the places, ports, and havens of those who already wrought and made up for any other use: are enemies of both or either party, without any all which shall be wholly reckoned among free opposition or disturbance whatsoever, not only goods; as likewise all other merchandises and
things which are not comprehended and particu-reignty, and independence, absolute and unlimitlarly inentioned in the foregoing enumeration of ed, as well in matters of government as comcontraband goods, so that they may be trans- merce, and also their possessions,' &c.; and that ported and carried in the freest manner by the the respective guarantees were for ever.' It subjects of both confederates, even to the places would by-and-by appear in what manner this belonging to an enemy, such towns or places be- guaranty on the part of our government was ing only excepted as are at that time besieged, claimed to be the foundation for this pecuniary blocked up, or invested.'
responsibility for millions, but at present ho "Mr. W. said this closed his references to this must complete his references to the treaties treaty, with the remark, which he wished care which formed the law between the two nations, fully borne in mind, that the accepted public law and the rule of their relations to and with each was greatly departed from in this last article. other. He had but one more article to read, and Provisions, in their broadest sense, materials for that was important only as it went to define the ships, rigging for ships, and indeed almost all the one last cited. This was the 12th article of the articles of trade mentioned in the long exception treaty of alliance, and was as follows: in the article of the treaty, were articles contra- Art. 12. In order to fix more precisely the band of war by the law of nations. This article, sense and application of the preceding article, therefore, placed our commerce with France upon the contracting parties declare that, in case of a a footing widely different, in case of a war between rupture between France and England, the reFrance and any third power, from the rules which ciprocal guaranty declared in the said article would regulate that commerce with the other shall have its full force and effect the moment belligerent, with whom we might not have a such war shall break out; and if such rupture similar commercial treaty. Such was its effect as shall not take place, the mutual obligations of the compared with our relations with England, with said guaranty shall not commence until the mowhich power we had no commercial treaty what- ment of the cessation of the present war between ever, but depended upon the law of nations as the United States and England shall have ascerour commercial rule and standard of intercourse. tained their possessions.'
“Mr. W. said he now passed to the treaty of “These, said Mr. W., are the treaty stipulaalliance between France and the United States, tions between France and the United States, exof the same date with the treaty of amity and isting at the time of the commencement of the commerce before referred to, and his first re- disturbances between the two countries, which ference was to the 11th article of this latter gave rise to the claims now the subject of contreaty. It was in the following words: sideration, and which seem to bear most mate
“* Art. 11. The two parties guarantee mutual- rially upon the points in issue. There were other ly from the present time, and for ever, against provisions in the treaties between the two govall other powers, to wit: The United States to ernments more or less applicable to the present His Most Christian Majesty the present posses- discussion, but, in the course he had marked out sions of the Crown of France in America, as well for himself, a reference to them was not indisas those which it may acquire by the future trea- pensable, and he was not disposed to occupy the ty of peace: And His Most Christian Majesty time or weary the patience of the Senate with guarantees on his part to the United States, their more of these dry documentary quotations than liberty, sovereignty, and independence, absolute he found absolutely essential to a full and clear and unlimited, as well in matters of government understanding of the points he proposed to exas commerce, and also their possessions, and the amine. additions or conquests that their confederation “Mr. W. said he was now ready to present may obtain during the war, from any of the do- the origin of the claims which formed the subminions now or heretofore possessed by Great ject of the bill. The war between France and Britain in North America, conformable to the England broke out, according to his recollection, fifth and sixth articles above written, the whole late in the year 1792, or early in the year 1793, as their possessions shall be fixed and assured to and the United States resolved upon preserving the said States at the moment of the cessation the same neutral position between those belliof their present war with England.'
gerents, which they had assumed at the com“This article, Mr. W. said, was the most im- mencement of the war between France and cerportant reference he had made, or could make, tain other European powers. This neutrality so far as the claims provided for by this bill on the part of the United States seemed to be were concerned, because he understood the acceptable to the then French Republic, and her friends of the bill to derive the principal consid- minister in the United States and her diplomatic eration to the United States, which created their agents at home were free and distinct in their liability to pay the claims, from the guaranty expressions to this effect. on the part of the United States contained in it. 1. Still that Republic made broad claims under The Senate would see that the article was a the 17th article of the treaty of amity and commutual and reciprocal guaranty, 1st. On the part merce before quoted, and her minister here asof the United States to France, of her posses- sumed the right to purchase ships, arm them as sions in America; and 2d. On the part of France privateers in our ports, commission officers for to the United States, of their liberty, sove-them, enlist our own citizens to man them,
and, thus prepared, to send them from our ports the disadvantages to them, and the great advanto cruise against English vessels upon our coast. tages to the British, of the different rules which Many prizes were made, which were brought governed the commerce between the two nations into our ports, submitted to the admiralty juris- and the United States. The rule between us diction conferred by the French Republic upon and France was the commercial treaty of her consuls in the United States, condemned, which the articles above quoted form a part, and and the captured vessels and cargoes exposed for the rule between us and Great Britain, was that sale in our markets. These practices were im- laid down by the law of nations. Mr. W. said mediately and earnestly complained of by the he would detain the Senate to point out but two British government as violations of the neutral of the differences between these rules of comity which our government had declared, and merce and intercourse, because upon these two which we assumed to maintain in regard to all principally depended the difficulties which followthe belligerents, as favors granted to one of the ed. The first was, that, by the treaty between belligerents, not demandable of right under our us and France, 'free ships shall also give a freetreaties with France, and as wholly inconsistent, dom to the goods; and every thing shall be according to the rules of international law, with deemed to be free and exempt which shall be found our continuance as a neutral power. Our gov- on board the ships belonging to the subjects of ernment so far yielded to these complaints as to either of the confederates, although the whole prohibit the French from fitting out, arming, lading, or any part thereof, should appertain equipping, or commissioning privateers in our to the enemy of either, contraband goods being ports, and from enlisting our citizens to bear alwaysexcepted;' while the law of nations, which arms under the French flag.
was the rule between us and England, made the " This decision of the rights of France, under goods of an enemy a lawful prize, though found in the treaty of amity and commerce, produced the vessel of a friend. Hence it followed that warm remonstrances from her ministerin the Uni- French property on board of an American vessel ted States, but was finally ostensibly acquiesced was subject to capture by British cruisers within by the Republic, although constant complaints out indignity to our flag, or a violation to interof evasions and violations of the rule continued national law, while British property on board of to harass our government, and to occupy the at- an American vessel could not be captured by a tention of the respective diplomatists.
French vessel without an insult to the flag of “ The exclusive privilege of our ports for the United States, and a direct violation of the her armed vessels, privateers, and their prizes, twenty-third article of the treaty of amity and granted to France by the treaty of amity and commerce between us and France, before refercommerce, as has before been seen, excited the red to. jealousy of England, and she was not slow in “Mr. W. said the second instance of disadvansending a portion of her vast navy to line our tage to France which he proposed to mention, coast and block up our ports and hårbors. The was the great difference between the articles insolence of power induced some of her armed made contraband of war by the twenty-fourth vessels to enter our ports, and to remain, in article of the treaty of amity and commerce, beviolation of our treaty with France, though not fore read to the Senate, and by the law of naby the consent of our government, or when we tions. By the treaty, provisions of all kinds, had the power to enforce the treaty by their ship timber, ship tackle (guns only excepted), ejection. These incidents, however, did not fail and a large list of other articles of trade and comto form the subject of new charges from the merce, were declared not to be contraband of French ministers, of bad faith on our part, of war, while the same articles are expressly made partiality to England to the prejudice of our contraband by the law of nations. Hence an old and faithful ally, of permitted violations of American vessel, clearing for a French port with the treaties, and of an inefficiency and want of a cargo of provisions or ship stores, was lawful zeal in the performance of our duties as neutrals. prize to a British cruiser, as, by the law of naTo give point to these complaints, some few in- tions, carrying articles contraband of war to an stances occurred in which British vessels brought enemy, while the same vessel, clearing for a their prizes into our ports, whether in all cases British port, with the same cargo, could not be under those casualties of stress of weather, or captured by a French vessel, because the treaty the dangers of the sea, which rendered the act declared that the articles composing the cargo in conformity with the treaties and the law of should not be contraband as betireen the United nations or not, is not perhaps very certain or States and France. Mr. W. said the Senate very material, inasmuch as the spirit of complaint would see, at a single glance, how eminently seems to have taken possession of the French these two advantages on the part of Great Britain negotiators, and these acts gave colorable ground were calculated to turn our commerce to her to their remonstrances.
ports, where, if the treaty between us and "Contemporaneously with these grounds of France was observed, our vessels could go in misunderstanding and these collisions of inter- perfect safety, while, laden with provisions, our est between the belligerents, and between the only considerable export, and destined for a interests of either of them and the preservation French port, they were liable to capture, as of our neutrality, the French began to discover carrying to an enemy contraband articles. Up