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standing that his letter of 4 April should, at his option, cease to be a confidential and become an official communication. A voluminous correspondence has since ensued upon the objects which had constituted the main causes of the Baron's return to his mission here, and it is with great regret that, as a result of that correspondence, the President has yet perceived no symptom of probability that the views of the two governments can be brought to coincide upon either of them. With regard to the claim of France upon the eighth article of the Louisiana cession treaty, the opinion of the President is unchanged; and the reply to the last note of the Baron de Neuville upon that subject may be expected at an early day. The Secretary of State is still waiting for new propositions from the Baron de Neuville upon the navigating question; and the Baron de Neuville, who since the date of his letter of 4 April, has received the instructions of his government concerning the cases of the Apollon and the Eugène, to which is added the case of the Neptune, by transmitting to this Department the translation of his letter of 4 April, is understood to have rendered it official.
In that letter the Baron de Neuville declared that in his opinion no "commercial arrangement could take place between our two nations so long as the grave error, which he had been induced to point out, should not have been acknowledged and satisfaction given."
This grave error had been so designated in a previous letter of the Baron de Neuville of 16 March last, to been answered on the 30th of that month, that it could never be admitted as such by this gov
which he had
Between two parties, whether individuals or governments, having various objects of mutual interest to adjust together, a situation can scarcely be conceived, [more assuming on
the one part, and] 1 more humiliating [on the other], than that in which the [one] 2 should declare that he will come to no agreement upon one 3 subject of high acknowledged importance to both, until the other should have acknowledged himself to have committed a grave error upon a subject totally distinct and having no sort of connection with it. [A situation in which one party dictates, and the other submits to such terms, would seem to be susceptible of no additional aggravation, unless it should be that the party of whom such acknowledgment is required should have] 5 previously declared that he never could make it. Yet this was the law which the Baron de Neuville's note appeared [determined] " to impose upon the American government.
In his note of the 9th instant he renews [and renders official] the demand that the American government should acknowledge that a grave error has been committed in the cases of the Apollon, the Eugène and the Neptune, with the explanation that this error is imputed only to subordinate officers. [And he thinks it interests the dignity of the crown of France, that a clerk in the Treasury Department, a collector of the customs, and the officers of a revenue cutter should be acknowledged to have committed a grave error, by mistaking the purport of their instructions from the government.] 8
The objection to making this acknowledgment is, that it
1 Struck out.
2 These phrases were made to read: "more humiliating to the one, than that in which the other," etc.
'These words were struck out, and “and in a case in which he had” substituted. • Struck out.
* Struck out, and the following substituted: "who had, as he presumes, mistaken the purport of their orders from their government."
with [truth or]1
cannot be made consistently [either] justice. [Neither the clerk in the Treasury, whom Baron de Neuville has thought proper to name] 2 nor the collector of the customs at St. Mary's, mistook his orders or instructions. It is not [the practice of] 3 the American government [to] discharge upon subordinate executive officers, who have faithfully done their duty, the responsibility which properly belongs to itself. A copy of the order of the 6th of May, 1818, from the Treasury Department to the collector of St. Mary's has already been communicated to the Baron de Neuville. That order having been issued more than two years before the act of Congress of 15 May, 1820, imposing the new tonnage duty on French vessels, it cannot be necessary to say that no proceeding under it could be intended to impair the dignity of the crown of France, or to commit an injury upon any French subject. The Baron de Neuville, in his letter of 4 April, appears to have mistaken the object and purport of this order; he supposes it to have reference only to pirates. He will find by recurring to it that it was issued on a previous "practice of British vessels in the River St. Mary's, in eluding the revenue laws [of the United States] by anchoring on the south side of the river, and carrying on a smuggling trade with the northern shore."
The order then observes: "it is understood that there is no Spanish town on the southern shore to which these vessels resort for the purpose of legitimate trade. Their conduct must, therefore, be considered as an outrage upon our laws. If they intend to trade with the United States, they must conform to the law regulating that trade."
1 Struck out.
2 This was changed to read: "as the Baron de Neuville will be sensible when informed that neither the clerk in the Treasury."
3 "desired that" was substituted.
It then proceeds to direct the collector of St. Mary's “to enforce the revenue laws upon all vessels entering the River St. Mary's, without regard to the side of the river in which they may anchor."
It adds that those which should be there at the receipt of the order must "forthwith depart, or enter their cargoes at the custom house; and those which might thereafter arrive must be considered as within the jurisdiction of the United States, and subjected to the revenue laws in every respect.” An exception to the operation of the order was directed in the case of Spanish vessels.
The justification of this order rests upon the well known principle of natural equity and of the laws of nations, that all rights of property must be so used and enjoyed as not to do wrong to another.1 The territorial right of Spain on the south side of the river, sacred and inviolable so long as it was used for just and lawful purposes, forfeited that sanctity from the moment when it was made the resort of persons who could be there for no other purpose than wrong
"In general no work can be constructed upon a river, or elsewhere, prejudicial to the rights of others. If a river belongs to one nation, and another has incontestably the right of navigation upon it, the first cannot build a dyke or mills upon it, which would render it no longer navigable; its right in this case is only a limited property, which it can exercise only by respecting the rights of others. Vattel, B. I., ch. 22, § 272.
"This passage is cited only as authority for the principle. The Baron de Neuville will perceive how much stronger for the application of the principle is the case in discussion between us than that put by the author. The case put by the author is of a river wholly owned by one nation, and upon which the other has only a right of navigation. The case in discussion is of a river (St. Mary's) half of which, together with the right of navigation upon the whole, belonged to the United States. The case put by the author prohibits the erection of dykes or mills, works useful and laudable in themselves, but which would be prejudicial to the right of another. The case in discussion is further tainted with moral turpitude, with false pretences, and the perversion of official proceedings all exclusively for the purpose of defeating the laws of the neighboring nation." — Note in original.
to the United States. The use and navigation of the river, being common to the United States and Spain, was so far subject to a common jurisdiction, that the United States had a right to take all measures upon it necessary to protect the execution of their own laws from fraud or smuggling. This necessity did indeed apply as well to the cases of pirates and of slave-traders, as to the British smugglers. The laws of the United States would have been equally prostrate before them all, if they could have carried on securely their nefarious traffic by merely anchoring on the south side of the river.
The order was executed with regard to the British vessels which were there at the time, and the River St. Mary's ceased to be the receptacle of slave-traders, pirates and smugglers. But when the act of Congress of 15 May, 1820, imposed an extra tonnage duty upon French vessels, a project appears to have been formed of defeating entirely its operation by means of this same fraudulent use of the Spanish territorial right, south of St. Mary's River. From the two letters of the Spanish consular agent, G. I. F. Clarke, copies of which have already been transmitted to the Baron de Neuville, it is evident that this project was very deeply laid, and comprehensively meditated; including even the avowed design of protracting the unpleasant state of commercial collisions between the United States and France, which it was the express object of the Baron de Neuville's renewed mission to adjust.
In execution of this project an application was made to the governor of East Florida, to constitute a port, not exactly on the south side of St. Mary's River, but a few miles higher up, on the shore of one of its branches, Bell River to constitute a port where there was neither town nor settlement to carry on any lawful trade whatever! The governor of