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and, in case of refusal, to communicate it to the British minister resident, or the lords of the admiralty.” This class of persons are further warned that letters of naturalization, granted them by foreign states, could not divest them of their natural allegiance, but a pardon was granted to those who should withdraw themselves from the foreign service, and return to their allegiance, and those who continued in such service shall be proceeded against ; and those who enter into the service of any state at war with Great Britain, are declared guilty of treason.
He transmitted at the same time the official interpretation which the Emperor of France, on the 18th of September, 1807, made of the Berlin decree, wherein he declared, it was said, that French armed vessels might seize on board neutral vessels not only English property, but all English merchandise proceeding from English manufactories or territory; and that he merely postponed the question whether neutral vessels with or without English merchandise on board, should be captured when proceeding to or from England.
In addition to the information thus transmitted to Congress, the president had another and yet stronger motive for recommending the embargo. The government had received information through an authentic private channel, that the British ministry had issued an order against neutral commerce, in retaliation of the Berlin decree: which information was confirmed by a ministerial English newspaper received at the same time.
* These facts are stated on the authority of Mr. Madison. It was to these he alluded in his correspondence with Mr. Pinckney, American minister at London, when he says, “among the considerations which enforced it [the embargo], was the probability of such decrees as were issued by the British government on the 11th of November.” But I am not confident whether he said that the newspaper contained the actual order in council, or merely gave clear intimations of it. Further evidence of this matter, which had formed a topic of party reproach, will În consequence of these hostile edicts, so ruinous to American commerce and seamen, he recommended to Congress a embargo on all vessels of the United States. The subject was immediately discussed in both Houses in secret session; and a bill laying an embargo was passed on Monday the 22nd, at 11 o'clock at night, by a vote of 82 to 44. A similar bill had received the sanction of the Senate on the very day the subject was introduced, by a vote of 23 to 6. According to this bill, all American vessels were prohibited from sailing from foreign ports, all foreign vessels from taking out cargoes, and all coasting vessels were required to give bond to land their cargoes in the United States.
The embargo was violently opposed by the federal party and their new associates. Nor was there the same unanimity in the rest of the nation concerning this measure as there had been for retaliating the attack on the Chesapeake. Some thought that it would have been prudent to allow foreign ships to export American products, whereby the most important benefits of foreign commerce would be preserved to the country, and the loss arising from the unprincipled spoliations of the belligerents be avoided. The complaints of the total stop that was thus put to foreign commerce were however, at first, neither very violent nor general ; but all were disposed to hope for a favourable result from a measure which, if it was seriously felt by the United States, was believed also to be still more seriously felt by their enemies.
On the 23d of November, the president sent to both Houses a detailed account of the proceedings in the trial of Burr and his associates, for the consideration of Congress. The purpose for which, in his opening message, he had stated
probably be found among Mr. Madison's papers, that constitute, probably, the most valuable repository of political information in the United States.
he should do this, had been peculiarly offensive to the federal party, and had been unacceptable to many of the republicans, because they understood that part of the message as intended to cast censure on the chief justice, and such were the mild, unassuming virtues, and the remarkable simplicity of manners and character of this eminent man, that the affec. tion with which he inspired all his acquaintance was, perhaps, yet greater than their respect for his talents.
Among the persons involved in Burr's scheme was John Smith, a senator from Ohio. He was one of those against whom the grand jury had found a true bill at Richmond. As soon as he attended the Senate, November 27th, a committee was appointed to inquire whether he should be permitted to hold his seat in that body. On the 31st of December, the committee having made a report against him, he was allowed to defend himself against the report there adduced, -by counsel, and by adducing testimony, both written and oral. After the evidence was heard, and several postponements of the investigation at his instance, the question of his exa pulsion was taken on the 9th of April, when, there being 19 yeas and 10 nays, and consequently not two-thirds for his expulsion, it was determined in the negative. Notwithstand. ing this narrow escape, he kept his scat and voted during the remainder of the session, but on returning home he sent in his resignation.
On the 25th of July, the day after Mr. Canning had received the proposal of the American ministers to renew the negotiation for a treaty, he informed Mr. Monroe, in a note, of a transaction off the coast of America, between a ship of war of his Majesty and an American frigate, in which some lives were lost, on board the frigate, expressed his sincere concern for the result, and assured him that if the British officers should have been culpable, the most prompt and ample reparation should be afforded.
On the 27th of July, Mr. Monroe acknowledged Mr. Canning's note, which gave him the only information he had of the transaction mentioned, and expressed, with his regret, his satisfaction that the occurrence was unauthorized; and two days afterwards, he tells Mr. Canning that though, without instructions from his government, he feels it his duty to mention the attack on the Chesapeake, the particulars of which he states, he forbears to mingle other causes of complaint with this, and trusts that the British government will promptly disavow the act, and give assurance that the officer who is responsible for it will receive punishment. 35 Mr. Canning replied on the 3d of August that, after the assurance he had already given that his majesty's readiness to make reparation for any injury done to the sovereignty of the United States, as soon as it appeared such reparation was due, he was surprised at the tone of Mr. Monroe's note. He declares that his majesty has never maintained the right to search ships of war for deserters, and if it should appear that the act rests solely on this pretension, his majesty has no difficulty in disavowing the act, and in manifesting his displeasure. In conclusion he remarks, that as Mr. Monroe does not think the present a proper occasion to mingle other causes of complaint with this, he laments that he did not abstain from alluding to them.
The next day, August 4th, Mr. Monroc communicated to his own government what had passed between him and the British minister: He adds, “ Such is the state of the country at the present crisis, that it is impossible to foresee what will be its course of conduct towards the United States. There has been at all times, since the commencement of the present war, a strong party here for extending its ravages to them.
This party is composed of the ship-owners, the pavy, the East and West India merchants, and several political characters of great consideration in the state. So powerful is this combination, that it is most certain that nothing can be obtained of the government on any point but what may be extorted by necessity.”
On the 8th of August, Mr. Canning inquires of Mr. Monroe whether the president's proclamation, which appeared in an inofficial paper, was authentic, and whether the government of the United States meant to carry it into effect, without waiting for an explanation on the part of the British government. Mr. Monroe replied the next day that he had not yet received any instructions from his government, but would give full information as soon as it was obtained. Mr. Monroe having at length received instructions, had an interview with Mr. Canning on the 3rd of September, and on the 7th, formally opens the negotiation by letter, and asks reparation, which he enforces by various arguments and consider. ations.
Mr. Canning replies on the 23rd. Adverting to the president's proclamation, he insists that so far as the United States have taken measures of retaliation into their own hands, so far may the British government take those measures into account in the estimate of reparation. He inquires also whether the proclamation would be withdrawn on the king's disavowal of the act. He says that the circumstances which may
have led admiral Berkeley to commit an act of hostility, if they “ cannot justify, may possibly extenuate it,” and consequently make a part of the present question; for if the men taken were British subjects, the refusal to deliver them up might be regarded as an act of hostility by the United States, and though the act of the British officer would still be unauthorized, it would materially affect the question as between government and government. He regrets that Mr. Monroe has mingled with this subject that of the impressment of seamen from merchant vessels. He, nevertheless, does discuss it, and justifies the practice on usage and reason.