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as they have been found to operate in practice, nor the examination of them as they may be expected to operate in their nature, will warrant the conclusion that has been drawn. Of the right of mutual search it is clear that its efficiency depends altogether upon its universal adoption. So long as it shall be declined by any one maritime state, however inconsiderable, its adoption by all others would leave it altogether ineffectual. Without adverting to the strong repugnance which has been manifested to it by other maritime states of the first rank, it is scarcely to be expected that any principle so liable to misapplication and abuse can obtain as an innovation upon the laws of nations the universal concurrence of all maritime powers. The expedient proposed on the part of the United States, of keeping cruizers of their own constantly upon the coast where the traffic is carried on, with instructions to co-operate by good-offices and by the mutual communication of information, with the cruizers of other powers, stationed and instructed to the attainment of the same end, appears in its own nature as well as to experience, so far as it has abided that test, better adapted to the suppression of the traffic than that of the British government, which makes the officers of one nation the executors of the laws of another. Abundant evidence has been exhibited to your government, and has been made manifest to the world, that it is not the American flag under which at this time this flagitious trade is driven. The cruizers of the United States have at least produced the effect of depriving the dealers in the trade of the use of their flag. The most unqualified assent of the United States to the practice of mutual search could do no more.

It is finally to be observed that the purpose of both governments being the same, a purpose important in itself, and dear to the interests of humanity, could scarcely be sub

served by a controversial and acrimonious discussion, or an uncharitable estimation, on either part of the means adopted by the other for the attainment of the common end. It is believed that end will be best and most effectually promoted, if each party, applying with earnestness and sincerity the means of its own choice, and reconcilable to the genius of its own institutions, shall permit the other to pursue its own course, without molestation and without reproach.

I pray you, etc.1




WASHINGTON, 16 August, 1821.

At the last meeting of the members of the administration at your house, at which Mr. Clay's claim of a supplementary half outfit was under your consideration, a statement of facts relating to the allowances which have heretofore been made to the ministers of the United States in foreign countries was desired by Mr. Wirt, as a basis upon which he might definitely make up his opinion upon the case. You requested me to draw up such a statement from the documents in the Department, to which I assented.

1 Five days later instructions were issued to commanders of the public vessels of the United States, charged with the duty of cruising on the coast of Africa, for carrying into effect the laws of the United States against the slave-trade. In transmitting Adams' note to Londonderry, Stratford Canning wrote, September 4: "I have reason, however, to think that all the members of the American cabinet are by no means equally adverse to a limited right of search. The constitutional impediments are those upon which they seem the most unanimous, and if it were possible still to entertain a hope of engaging them to a more decided co-operation, it could only be by means of waiving the mixed commissions, and proposing some simpler mode of adjudication for captured vessels."

On a review of those documents I am convinced that any statement of facts which I could draw up founded upon them, must be susceptible of an imputation of receiving a coloring from the person by whom it should be made. Under the particular circumstances of the case I must therefore request of you the favor of being discharged from all future consideration of it whatever, and that no opinion which I have given relating to it may have any weight, or be taken to account in the final determination.

In making this request I do not refer to the fact that Mr. Clay's application was made not through the Department, but directly to yourself. Mr. Clay has very candidly explained to me that this circumstance did not proceed from intentional neglect or personal distrust on his part, but because he found it necessary to advert to circumstances within your memory. But the responsible opinion upon the claim having been, from motives of the delicacy and propriety of which as regards myself I am entirely sensible, referred to the Attorney General, I hope you will think it compatible with the justice due to all parties to release me from all agency in the consideration of the claim whatever. I do not mean that I wish you to hold me irresponsible for the opinions upon the claim which I have heretofore given, but that, as far as they were my opinion, they may be set aside, and that the whole examination of and decision upon it may be had without reference to any views of mine relating to it past or future.

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I have seen Lieutenant Stockton and fully conversed with him concerning the captures of which the French minister complains. He has promised me a particular report upon them in writing. I am confirmed in the opinion that the Jeune Eugénie should be left to the regular course of the law without interference of the Executive. I told Lieutenant Stockton that I had advised a Court of Inquiry, and of the objection to that course by the Secretary of the Navy. My motive was not censure or even the semblance of it from him, but with a view by the report of the court to have a satisfactory answer to give to the complaint of the French minister. The courts upon Commodore Rodgers in the affair of the Little Belt, and upon Captain Warrington for captures made after the peace, occurred to me as precedents.

This affair and the communications from Florida have determined me to shorten my visit here and to hasten my return. You may expect me between the 5th and 10th of next month. Have the goodness to inform the French minister that there are no French seamen on board of the Alligator, and that none ever enlisted there from the captured vessels. Assure him also that I delay answering his several letters on this subject, only for the purpose of obtaining further

1 Robert Field Stockton (1795-1866).

2 Of the Jeune Eugénie, for being concerned in the slave-trade. The effect produced on the French government is described in Adams, Writings of Gallatin, II. 213.

information with the hope of rendering the answer satisfactory. . . .


BOSTON, 22 September, 1821.


I have received your letter No. 13 with its enclosures. From the views of the President signified in his letter to you of the 15th instant,1 I am satisfied of the expediency of delivering over the Jeune Eugenie to the French Consul. But I wish it should be submitted to the consideration of the President how this can be done without a strong though tacit censure of Lieutenant Stockton. By giving up the vessel we not only admit the fact that she was entirely French property, but we deprive our officer of the means of showing judicially his reasons for believing her to have been American. We surrender not only the question of further right but the justification of the individual. It seems to me also necessary that some very precise instruction should be given to all our officers who may be employed on that service hereafter, that they may know whether they can safely under any circumstances whatever board a vessel under a foreign flag.

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1 An error, as Brent's letter was dated the 15th, and Monroe was at Oakhill, Virginia.

* Adams, Memoirs, November 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 1821.

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