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conscience void of offence and free from every essential charge that can claim the sanction of truth.
I am etc.
TO BARON HYDE DE NEUVILLE
DEPARTMENT of State, WASHINGTON, 22 February, 1822.
In answer to your letter of the 11th instant, enclosing the report and protest of Pierre Dessu, which have been submitted to the consideration of the President of the United States, I have the honor of informing you that the proper inquiry will immediately be instituted into the circumstances of the case, the result of which I shall have the honor of communicating to you as soon as the same shall have been received.
I have already stated to you that the government of the United States has never asserted, but has invariably disclaimed the pretension of a right to authorize the search by the officers of the United States in time of peace, of foreign vessels upon the high seas, without their jurisdiction. Upon this principle the Jeune Eugénie was at your request delivered over to the consul of France at Boston. That vessel and the three others, taken by Lieutenant Stockton on the coast of Africa in the act of slave-trading, were captured by him not as French, but as American vessels, fraudulently abusing, as he supposed, the flag and the official documents of France, in a traffic consigned to infamy by the voice of France as well as of all other christain nations. It is but too well known, that among the most common expedients of those who still pursue that traffic is the substitution of false flags
and papers for those of their own country, under which they are aware that they could not escape detection and punishment. Lieutenant Stockton, meeting vessels of American construction, of the property in which no evidence of the transfer from American to French owners was exhibited, vessels trading in slaves without attempting disguise, yet wearing flags and producing papers bearing every appearance of that fraud and falsehood, inseparable from the prosecution of the trade, concluded [by a reasoning inspired by his zeal for the service with which he was charged, and by a sentiment of respect for France herself] 1 that they could not be entitled to the true character of French vessels, since they were thus openly engaged in a commerce reprobated by the laws of France.
Relying upon your assurance, and on the faith of the documents transmitted with your letter of the sixth of August, that these vessels [notwithstanding the circumstances in which they were found,]1 were really and exclusively the property of French subjects, a suggestion was, by instruction from the President, made by the District Attorney of the United States to the court, before which the case of the Jeune Eugênie was regularly pending; and the court, conformably to that suggestion, did adjudge that the vessel should as you desired, be delivered up to the consul of France, together with the evidence of her participation in the slave-trade, that she might be sent for trial to the tribunals of her own sovereign. Since which instructions have been issued from the Department of the Navy to the officers of the United States charged with the duty of carrying into effect the laws for the suppression of the slave-trade, to forbear all examination or visitation of any vessel bearing a flag of any other nation than that of this Union.
1 Words within brackets were struck out.
It is presumed that these measures will satisfy your government, as well with regard to the causes of complaint against Lieutenant Stockton, heretofore alleged, as to the disclaimer by the United States of all pretension to a right of search, in time of peace, of the vessels of any nations, not having violated their laws. [The government of the United States is fully sensible that no officer of theirs can by authority from them assume to act as the High Justiciar of the seas. To them it must suffice, if by their vigilance their own flag shall no longer shield from punishment the dealers in this abominable commerce; and if the audacity and notoriety with which vessels exhibiting the standard, and persons appealing successfully to the protection of the French. government, still consummate their transcendent wickedness, in all its worst aggravations, should give countenance to those groundless calumnies upon the intentions of France, which you so justly repel, it yet remains to France alone, by the efficacy of her own repressive measures, at once to silence the voice of slander, and to redeem her flag from the pollution of this detested traffic.] 1 1
pray you, etc.
TO PIERRE DE POLETICA 2
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, 25 February, 1822.
I have had the honor of receiving your note of the 11th inst. enclosing a printed copy of the regulations adopted by the Russian-American company and sanctioned by his
1 Sentences within brackets were struck out.
Poletica had been in Washington, 1810-1812, as Secretary to the Russian legation.
Imperial Majesty, relating to the commerce of foreigners in the waters bordering on the establishments of that company upon the northwest coast of America.1
I am directed by the President of the United States to inform you that he has seen with surprise in this edict the assertion of a territorial claim on the part of Russia, extending to the 51st degree of north latitude on the continent; and a regulation interdicting to all commercial vessels other than Russian, upon the penalty of seizure and confiscation, the approach upon the high seas within one hundred Italian miles of the shores to which that claim is made to apply. [The relations of the United States with H. I. M. have always been of the most friendly character, and it is the earnest desire of this government to preserve them in that state. It was expected, before any act which should define the boundary between the territories of the United States and Russia on this continent, that the same would have been arranged by treaty between the parties. To exclude the vessels of our citizens from the shore, beyond the ordinary distance to which the territorial jurisdiction extends, has excited still greater surprise.] 2
This ordinance affects so deeply the rights of the United States and of their citizens, that I am instructed to enquire whether you are authorized to give explanations of the grounds of right upon principles generally recognized by the laws and usages of nations which can warrant the claims and regulations contained in it.
I avail myself, etc. 3
1 See two dispatches from Nesselrode to Poletica, October 7, 1821, in American Historical Review, XVIII, 329. The ukase, dated September 4/16, 1821, is in American State Papers, Foreign Relations, IV. 857.
* This paragraph, suggested by Monroe, is in his own language.
Nesselrode in his second despatch wrote: "Mais tout en préférant à cet égard le mode le plus confidentiel et le plus amical possible, il nous semble que vous
TO PIERRE DE POLETICA
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, WASHINGTON, 30 March, 1822.
I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 28th ulto., which has been submitted to the consideration of the President of the United States.
From the deduction which it contains of the grounds upon which the articles of regulation of the Russian-American Company have now for the first time extended the claim of Russia on the northwest coast of America, to the 51st degree of north latitude, its only foundation appears to be the existence of the small settlement of Novarchangelsk, situated not on the American continent, but upon a small island, in latitude 57. And the principle upon which you state that this claim is now advanced is, that the 51st degree is equidistant from that settlement of Novarchangelsk and the establishment of the United States at the mouth of Columbia River. But from the same statement it appears that in the year 1799, the limits prescribed by the Emperor Paul to the
pourriez néanmoins observer à Mr. Adams, avec la franchise que vous êtes habituê à faire présider à vos relations avec ce Ministre, que, du moment ou le gouvernement américain s'est déclaré hors d'état de surveiller les opérations commerciales de ses sujets, et de leur interdire nommément des entreprises qui blessent les intérêts d'une Puissance étrangère quelconque, il a par la même reconnu à celle-ci le plein droit d'adopter les mesures les plus efficaces pour réprimer des entreprises de ce genre, et de se garantir, fut-ce même par des moyens coércitifs, contre des préjudice réels."
On February 19 the Secretary of State, who had known of the ukase since December, had informed Stratford Canning of the official communication of the document, and stating his principal objection to its claims, asked if any information had been received from London. Canning could only reply that he had received as yet no intimation from Londonderry on the subject.