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your communications whenever it may suit your convenience.] 1
I pray you, etc.
TO THE PRESIDENT
WASHINGTON, 31 July, 1821.
The Baron de Neuville called at the office of the Department yesterday, and asked an explanation of one or two passages in the note which I lately sent him concerning the case of the Apollon. He seems now disposed to change his ground, and to rest his complaint in that case upon the fact of the vessel's having been seized, and not having been allowed the option of going away. The two other vessels, the Eugène and the Neptune, he admits were allowed to go away and did go. He also lays much stress on the statement of Edou that Captain Payne, commander of the fort at Amelia Island, told him "he might act as he chose in Amelia river, and might even unload his cargo on Tiger Island, opposite Amelia, and make use of two uninhabited houses on it as storehouses"; but that he would not allow him to have any commercial intercourse with Amelia Island.
I told Mr. de Neuville that admitting this statement of Edou to be true, it did not alter the nature of the transac
1 Struck out, and the following substituted: "The Baron de Neuville will see that nothing disrespectful or unfriendly to France was intended; that the order, in its origin, did not apply to her, and that its application to the cases, in favor of which he takes an interest, was a necessary consequence of that impartiality which was due to its own character. The Secretary of State indulges a strong hope that this explanation will be satisfactory. He gives it in that spirit of candor and good will which is indulged by the United States towards France."
tion, and that the seizure of his vessel was in consequence only of his resistance. That the intention of the government was manifested by the option given to the two other vessels, and there has been no motive of treating Edou differently from the rest. I suppose I shall have a note of eight or ten sheets upon these notable points.
With regard to the Louisiana convention claim, you will recollect that, after a very long reply to my last note to him, he concludes by saying he shall propose to refer the subject for future negotiation. I am now to answer him again, and must ask your instructions whether to consent to, or refuse future negotiation upon it. My own impression is, that to agree to future negotiation would be to give up our ground. There is nothing to negotiate upon. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, but chicanery in the claim.
In all this negotiation with France our experience hitherto has too clearly proved, that we get nothing by concession. You will see by the despatch from Mr. Gallatin which I send you, that Baron Pasquier has taken the pro forma decree of the district judge for the restoration of the ship as a decision upon the merits.1 When I spoke to the Baron yesterday of the action of Edou now pending against the Collector of St. Mary's, he intimated that he neither knew nor cared anything about that action, and seemed to be displeased that it had been brought. I told him that so far as private rights were concerned, the judicial tribunals were entirely competent to their protection, and that if the treasury order of 6 May, 1818, or the opinion given by me that it was applicable to the Apollon, were not sanctioned by the law, they would not avail the collector in his defence. Captain Edou would recover damages if illegally seized, in spite both
1 Adams, Memoirs, October 29, November 8, 1821; Adams, Writings of Gallatin, II. 184.
of the treasury order and of my opinion. I added that the private interests being thus protected, he knew that according to the usual practise of nations there was no public question between us and France in the case. If any jurisdiction had been violated, it was that of Spain. France might have her recourse to Spain, but she had in strictness no right to ask us a single question about it. We had, as he knew, never taken this ground, but he knew as well that, but for our disposition to give every fair and reasonable satisfaction to France, we might have taken it. I ask your special attention to his reply. "Oh, as to that, he said, his instructions were in a much higher tone than he had assumed. By his instructions he had been ordered to say, that France must have direct satisfaction from the United States, and that she would not have a word to say to, or with Spain about it."
He finally said, that he should answer my note, and in the meantime would send a copy of it to his government, who would judge for themselves what they should do in the case. He had never intended to ask that the American government should acknowledge an error in itself, and as I now declared that the subaltern officers had not misunderstood their instructions, he could not expect an acknowledgment that the error was in them. He had expressed his own opinion. upon the subject, and had thought from a conversation one day with me, that this matter would not have made a difficulty between the two countries. I desired him to recollect the circumstances of the conversation to which he now alluded. He had come to me and declared, that all the commercial and navigating questions, as well as that of the Louisiana claim, were of altogether trivial importance to France. That as to them France was ready to agree to almost any terms we should propose. Nothing would be
easier than for us to adjust them. But in the affair of the Apollon, her honor must be satisfied. My answer was, sir, to adjust the trifles with me upon any terms that we can accept, and we will not break with you for the affair of the Apollon. Sign a convention with me upon the commercial and navigating interests, abandon your untenable claim to exclusive privileges in Louisiana, then I will give you carte blanche for the Apollon. I will sign any paper you will draw up. I now repeat to you the same words. But observe, the things which you spoke of as of no importance to France must first be settled to our satisfaction, and then I will sign a paper to be drawn up by yourself - because, besides my general confidence that you would insist upon my signing no paper which I ought not to sign, I should have the special confidence resulting from your previous agreement with me upon all the points which, though in your estimate, of quite inferior moment, were in ours the only important things to adjust. But as you have not accepted my offer, you can hardly claim it of me as an engagement. Much less can you infer from an offer implying confidence in your generosity, a disposition to yield to, or sign anything derogatory to the honor of my country.
He then asked me what I had meant by saying in my last note that the Secretary of State was yet expecting to receive proposals from him upon the navigating question? I told him that it was in consequence of the offer in his note of [July 3], and my acceptance of it in my note to him of 5 July. He said he had made his proposals, and had none others to make. He had made his proposals. They had not been accepted, and none had been made to him in return. To judge of my surprise at this assertion you must have the whole correspondence before you. But I saw it was useless to debate the matter with him. I simply referred him to our
rejection of his basis of a mutual reduction of existing duties, and to our offer of a reciprocal discriminating duty upon the tonnage of the merchandise. He said he had no authority to treat upon any other basis than a mutual reduction, talked again of the reduction of one-third as the extreme limit of his powers, of reductions upon wines, and silks, and brandies, as equivalents for reductions in France even to the amount of one-third, in short of things canvassed and rejected three months ago, repeating ever and anon that he had made proposals which had not been accepted, and that none had been made to him in return.
My conclusion from all this is that it will be highly expedient that I should immediately make to him upon the navigation subject a direct and specific proposal in the form of an article for a convention. It will be best in my own judgment to offer him our ultimatum at once. Should you be of that opinion, I must ask your instructions what to offer. I would now send you a draft of an article for your consideration, but for the supposition that you would prefer a previous consultation with the members of the administration. I solicit your instructions as soon as may be convenient and remain, etc.
TO THE PRESIDENT
WASHINGTON, 3 August, 1821.
I herewith enclose a letter from Mr. Canning of the first of June with its enclosures, together with my draft of an answer for your revisal. Mr. Canning has repeatedly and very urgently applied for an answer.