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The Secretary of State to General Turreau. Department
of State, Dec. 18, 1810. Sir, I have had the honour of receiving your letter of the 12th instant, in reply to my inquiries in relation to certificates of origin, as well as to the admission into France of the products of the agriculture of the United States.
From your letter it appears, that the importation into France of cotton and tobacco, the produce of the United States, is, at this time, specially and absolutely prohibited.
From the decree of the 15th July, it moreover appears, that there can be no importation into France, but upon terms and conditions utterly inadmissible, and that, therefore, there can be no importation at all of the following articles, the produce of the United States, namely: fish oil, dye wood, salt fish, cod fish, hides and peltry.
As these enumerated articles constitute the great mass of the exports from the United States to France, the mind is naturally awakened to a survey of the actual condition of the commercial relations between the two countries, and to the consideration that no practical good, worthy of notice, has resulted to the United States from the revocation of the Berlin and Milan decrecs, combined, as it unexpectedly has been, with a change in the commercial system of France, so momentous to the United States.
The act of Congress of May last had for its object, not merely the recognition of a speculative legitimate princi-ple, but the enjoyment of a substantial benefit. The overture, therein presented, obviously embraced the idea of commercial advantage. It included the reasonable belief, that an abrogation of the Berlin and Milan decrees would leave the ports of France as free for the introduction of the produce of the United States, as they were pre viously to the promulgation of those decrees.
The restrictions of the Berlin and Milan decrees had the effect of restraining the American merchants from sending their vessels to France. The interdictions in the system that has been substituted, against the admission of American products, will have the effect of imposing upon them an equal restraint. If, then, for the revoked decrees, municipal laws, producing the same commercial effect, have been substituted, the mode only, and not the measure, has undergone an alteration. And however true it may be, that the change is lawful in form, it is, nevertheless, as true, that it is essentially unfriendly, and that it does not at all comport with the ideas inspired by your letter of the 27th ult. in which you were pleased 10 declare the “distinctly pronounced intention of his imperial majesty of favouring the commercial relations between France and the United States in all the objects of traffick, which shall evidently proceed from their agriculture or manufactures."
If France, by her own acts, has blocked up her ports against the introduction of the products of the United States, what motive has this government, in a discussion with a third power, to insist on the privilege of going to France ? Whence the inducement to urge the annulment of a blockade of France, when, if annulled, no American cargoes could obtain a market in any of her ports? In such a state of things, a blockade of the coast of France would be to the United States as unimportant, as would be a blockade of the coast of the Caspian seà.
The British Edicts may be viewed as having a double relation ; first, to the wrong done to the United States; second, to the wrong done to France. And it is in the latter relation only, that France has a right to speak. But what wrong, it may be asked, can France suffer from British orders which co-operate with her own regulations ?
However sensible the United States may be to the violation of their neutral rights under those edicts, yet, if France herself has by her own acis rendered it a theore. tical instead of a practical violation, it is for this government to decide on the degree in which sacrifices of any sort may be required by considerations which peculiarly and exclusively relate to the United States. Certain it is, that the inducements to such sacrifices are weakened, as far as France can weaken them, by having converted the right to be maintained, into a naked one, whilst the sacrifices to be made would be substantial and extensive.
A hope, however, is indulged, that your instructions from your government will soon enable you to give some satisfactory explanations of the measures to which reference has been made, and that their operation in virtue of modi
fications, which have not yet transpired, will not be as has been herein represented.
The President has received with great satisfaction the information, that the consuls of France have been heretofore in the official and authorized practice of furnishing certificates of origin to American vessels, as well to those destined to neutral ports, as to those whose sovereigns are in alliance with France; and that this practice, sanctioned by the French government, did not cease in any part of the United States before the 13th of last month, and then only in consequence of a despatch from the duke of Cadore, bearing date the 30th of August preceding. This satisfaction arises from the hope, that similar information may have been given to the Danish government, and from a sense of the happy influence which such a communication will have had on the American property, that had been seized and detained by the privateers of Denmark, upon the supposition that these certificates of origin were spurious and not authorized by the French government. It is, nevertheless, to be regretted, that the functionaries of France in Denmark had not made known to the Danish authorities, during the occurrence of such outrages on the American trade, the errour of denouncing, as illegitimate, authentick documents, which had been lawfully issued by the accredited agents of his imperial majesty. I have the honour to be, &c.
R. SMITH. General Turreau, &c. &c. &c.
Translation of a Letter from General Turreau, Minister
Plenipotentiary of His Imperial and Royal Majesty the Emperor of the French, &c. &c. to Mr. Smith, Secretary of State. Washington, Dec. 25, 1810.
Sir, I have received the letter you have done me the honour to write to me on the 13th of this month, and I hasten to transmit a copy of it to his excellency the duke de Cadore.
This despatch, sir, being an answer to the letters which I had the honour to write to you on the 27th of November and 12th of this month, naturally takes me back to their
object, to which I believe it is my duty again to call your attention.
I pray you to observe that the last instructions I have received from my court relative to the new directions the commerce of France with the United States must follow, are of a very old date : the official despatches from which I have taken them are of the 12th and 28th of April last.
It is the more probable that the regulations of my government in regard to this commerce have undergone some modifications, as the consul general received by the “Hornet,” despatches of the 10th July, 22d and 30th Au. gust last, in which it is specially stated, that cottons may be imported into France in American vessels and under certain regulations; whereas, according to the instructions which were addressed to me on the 12th and 25th of April preceding, cotton and tobacco are specially pro. hibited.
I will add to these data, (ces données) that, according to the orders transmitted to the consuls of his majesty res. pecting certificates of origin, and under the daie before cited (30th August last) they may deliver them to all Amcrican vessels destined for France; observing, that these certificates are not applicable but 10 the products of the United States. If these certificates of origin cannot be applied but to the productions of the United States, and cannot be given to any vessels but those destined for France, the introduction of these productions is not then prohibited there.
You will be pleased especially to observe, sir, that the dispositions which were announced to me by the despatches of the 12th and 28ih of April, are of course anterior to the repeal of the decrees of Berlin and Milan, and are necessarily without an object the moment the said decrees are no longer in force. I do not know of any subsequent acts which modify this repeal, for the instructions already cited, sent to the consul general the 30th August last, relative to the certificates of origin, are only a consequence of it, and formally exclude only colonial productions.
Furthermore, sir, I have before me the letters of the duke of Cadore to general Armstrong, under date of the 5th of August, and 12th September, of which copies have been sent to me by order of my court. These are the only documents on which it seems to me reasonable to fix the
attention (s'arrêter) and I see in them nothing which can cause it to be supposed that the French government may have had an intention to modify or to restrict the repeal of the before cited decrees. This act contains no reserve: it does not exact any guaranty. The declaration of the duke of Cadore is formal; and it is the provisions themselves of the act of the honourable Congress of the 1st of May last, which have dictated to him the consequence.
I seize this occasion with eagerness, sir, to renew to you the assurance of my high consideration.
(C.) General Armstrong to Mr. Smith. Washington, Dec. 27,
1810. Sir,-- The enclosed documents, marked 1 and 2, were intended to have made part of my last communication. The paper entitled Avis au commerce, &c. (notice to merchants,) contains a tariff of the new duties payable in France, and shows, besides, what are the articles of commerce admissible there. If this paper has no other value, it will be found important from the illustration it gives to that passage of the duke of Cadore's letter to me of the 121h of September last, in which he says that American vessels loaded with merchandise, the growth of the American States, will be received without difficulty into the ports of France. It is also in perfect concert with the practice of the French customhouse, in the case of the ship Ida, coming from Boston with a cargo of cotton.
I am, sir, &c.
JOHN ARMSTRONG, Hon. Robert Smith, Secretary of State.