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you are not to pledge or commit your government, to consider a recall of the orders as a ground on which a removal of the existing restrictions on the commerce of the United States with Great Britain may be justly expected..
The two letters to general Armstrong, of the 22d May, 1807, and February 3th, 1808, are proofs of the sincerity and impartiality with which the President has proceeded in relation to the belligerent parties, and may, perhaps, assist you in repressing unjust suspicions, imbibed by the British cabinet. It would be happy for all parties, the belligerents as well as the United States, if truth could, in this case, be made to prevail ; and if the retaliating rivalship of the former against the latter could be converted into an emulation, as politick as it would be magnanimous in both, to take the lead in a fair, lawful, and conciliatory course, towards a nation which has done no wrong to either. Should the experiment be made on either side, it would probably be followed on the other;, and it could never happen, that the side first doing justice would suffer on that account.
In the present state of our relations to Great Britain, it would be premature to mark out the course to be pursued with respect to further negotiations on other topicks than those above noticed. You are authorized, however, to continue your interpositions in behalf of our impressed or detained scamen; and in the event of a repeal of the British orders, and of satisfactory pledges for repairing the aggression on the Chesapeake, to enter into informal arrangements for abolishing impressments altogether, and mutually discontinuing to receive the seamen of each other, into either military or merchant service, conformably to the instructions on this point transmitted by Mr. Purviance.
You will find by a passage in Mr. Rose's reply of March 17, that the British government does not maintain the principle, that the obligation of the United States extends beyond the discharge of deserlers from their publick service; and by an order of the navy department here, already carried into execution, of which a copy is enclosed, that it has lately been decided, that no foreign seamen, whether deserters or not, shall serve on board our ships of war. The principles respectively manifested by
these documents, ought to facilitate such an adjustment as is contended for by the United States. I have the honour to be, &c.
JAMES MADISON. William Pinkney, Esq. Minister Plenipotentiary
Extract of a Letter from the Same to the Same. De-a
partment of State, April 30, 1808. “My last was of the 4th inst. and went by a British packet from New York. I now forward a copy of it.
Congress ended their session on the night of the 25th instant. The series of newspapers, herewith sent, affords a view of their proceedings subsequent to the communications last made to you. Some other prints are included, which throw light on the workings of publick opinion and the state of publick affairs.
You will find that the critical posture of our foreign relations has produced provisions of different kinds for our greater security; and particularly that no pains have been spared to stop every leak by which the effect of the embargo laws might be diminished. I refer you also to the report made to the Senate by a committee on the documents relating to the affair of the Chesapeake, and on the letters of M. Champagny and Mr. Erskine; and indicating the spirit which may be expected to influence the future policy of this country, if kept under the excitement resulting from the system now pursued against it.
You will observe at the same time, that whilst a determination is sufficiently evinced against a dishonourable acquiescence in the despotick edicts enforced on the high seas, the United States are ready to resume their export trade as soon as the aggressions on it shall cease ; and that in a hope that this might happen during the recess of Congress, the President is authorized, in such an event, to suspend, in whole or in part, the several embargo laws.
The conditions on which the authority is to be exercised, appeal equally to the justice and policy of the two great belligerent powers, which are now emulating each other in a violation of both. The President counts on
your endeavours to give to this appeal all the effect possible with the British government. General Armstrong will be doing the same with that of France. The relation in which a revocation of its unjust decrees by either, will place the United States to the other, is obvious; and ought to be a motive to the measure, proportioned to the desire which has been manifested by cach to produce collision between the United States and its adversary, and which must be equally felt by cach to avoid one with itself.
Should ihe French government revoke so much of its decrees as violate our neutral rights, or give explanations and assurances having the like effect, and entitling it therefore to a removal of the embargo as it applies to France, it will be impossible to view a perseverance of Great Britain in her retaliating orders, in any other light than that of war, without even the pretext now assumed by her. ; · In order to entitle the British government to a discontinuance of the embargo, as it applies to Great Britain, it is evident that all its decrees, as well those of January, 1807, as of November, 1807, ought to be rescinded, as they apply to the United States ; and this is the rather to be looked for from the present administration, as it has so strenuously contended that the decrees of both dates were founded on the same principles, and directed to the same object.
Should the British government take this course, you may authorize an expectation that the President will, within a reasonable time, give effect to the authority vested in him on the subject of the embargo laws.
Should the orders be rescinded in part only, it must be left to his free judgment to decide on the case. In either event, you will lose no time in transmitting the information to this department and lo general Armstrong; and particularly in the event of such a course being taken by the British government, as will render a suspension of the embargo certain or probable, it will be proper for you to make the communication by a courier to general Armstrong, to whom a correspondent instruction will be given, and to provide a special conveyance for it hither, unless British arrangement shall present an opportunity equal ly certain and expeditious."
Extract of Letter from Mr. Madison to Mr. Pinkney. De
partment of State, July 18, 1808. “ Your communications by lieutenant Lewis were safe. ly delivered on the evening of the 8th inst.
As it had been calculated that the interval between the return of Mr. Rose, and the departure of lieutenant Lewis, would give sufficient time to the British government to decide on the course required by the posture in which the affair of the Chesapeake was left, its silence to you on that subject could not fail to excite the particular attention of the President: and the appearance is rendered the more unfavourable by the like silence, as we learn from Mr. Erskine, of the despatches brought to him by the packet which left England and arrived at New York at nearly the same time with the Osage. I have intimated to Mr. Erskine the impressions made by this reserve, without, however, concealing our hope that the delay does not imply a final purpose of withholding reparation, and that the next communications from London will be of a different import. They must at least ascertain the real views of the British government on this interesting subject.”
“ There was certainly no just ground for Mr. Canning to expect any particular communications from you on the arrival of the Osage, unless they should have grown out of such accounts from France as would second our demands of justice from Great Britain, particularly the revocation of her orders in council : and in imparting to him what you did from that quarter, every proof of candour was given which the occasion admitted.
If Mr. Canning was disappointed, because he did not receive fresh complaints against the orders in council, he ought to have recollected, that you had sufficiently dwelt on their offensive features, in the first instance; and that as he had chosen to make the formal communication of them to this government through another channel, it was through that channel, rather than through you, that answers to it would be most regularly given."
66 The communications and instructions forwarded by Mr. Purviance, who was a passenger in the St. Michael, will enable you to bring the British government to a fair issue on the subject of its orders. If it has nothing more in view than it is willing to avow, it cannot refuse to concur in an arrangement, rescinding, on her part, the orders in council; and on ours, the embargo. If France should concur in a like arrangement, the state of things will be restored, which is the alleged object of the orders. If France does not concur, the orders will be better enforced by the continuance of the embargo against her, than they are by the British fleets and cruisers, and in the mean time, all the benefits of our trade will be thrown into the lap of Great Britain. It will be difficult, therefore, to conceive any motive in Great Britain to reject the offer which you will have made, other than the hope of inducing, on the part of France, a perseverance in her irritating policy towards the United States, and, on the part of the latter, hostile resentments against it.
If the British government should have elected the more wise and more worthy course, of meeting the overture of the President, in the spirit which dictated it, it is to be hoped, that measures will have been taken in concert with you, and through its minister here, for hastening, as much as possible, the renewal of the intercourse, which the orders and the embargo have suspended; and thereby smoothing the way for other salutary adjustments.
It appears that the British government, not satisfied with the general blockade, by her orders of November 11th, has superadded a particular blockade, or rather a diplomatic notification of an intended one, of Copenhagen, and the other ports in the island of Zealand ; that is to say, a strict and legal blockade of the whole island. The island cannot be much less than two hundred miles in its outline, and is described as abounding in inlets. It is not probable, therefore, if it be possible, that the blockade, within the true definition, should be carried into effect. And as all defective blockades, whether so in the disproportion of force to the object, or in the mode of notification, will authorize fair claims of indemnification, it is the more necessary that guarded answers should be given, in such cases, as heretofore suggested.
Since the British order of evidently inviting our citizens to violate the laws of their country, by patronising on the high seas their vessels destitute of registers, and other necessary papers, and therefore necessarily smugglers, if not pirates, the circular letter of Mr. Iluskisson