Слике страница

which have marked our commercial policy; the happiest effects upon the future trade between the United States and Portugal are anticipated from it, and the time is not thought to be remote when a system of perfect reciprocity will be established.

The instalments due under the convention with the king of the Two Sicilies, have been paid with that scrupulous fidelity by which his whole conduct has been characterized, and ihe hope is indulged that the adjustment of the vexed question of our claims will be followed by a more extended and mutually beneficial intercourse between the two countries.

The internal contest still continues in Spain. Distinguished as this struggle has unhappily been, by incidents of the most sanguinary cha. racter, the obligations of the late treaty of indemnification with us have been, nevertheless, faithfully executed by the Spanish government.

No provision having been made at the last session of Congress for the ascertainment of the claims to be paid, and the apportionment of the funds, under the convention made with Spain, I invite your early attention to the subject. The public evidences of the debt have, according to the terms of the convention, and in the forms prescribed by it

, been placed in the possession of the United States, and the interest, as it fell due, has been regularly paid upon them. Our commercial intercourse with Cuba stands as regulaied by the act of Congress. No recent information has been received as to the disposition of the government of Madrid on this subject, and the lamented death of our recently appointed minister, on his way to Spain, with the pressure of their affairs at home, render it scarcely probable that any change is to be looked for during the coming year. Farther portions of the Florida archives have been sent to the United States, although the death of one of the commissioners, at a critical moment, embarrassed the progress of the delivery of them. The higher officers of the local gov. ernment have recently shown an anxious desire, in compliance with the orders from the parent government, to facilitate the selection and delivery of all we have a right to claim.

Negotiations have been opened at Madrid, for the establishment of a lasting peace between Spain and such of the Spanish American governments of this hemisphere as have availed themselves of the intimation given to all of them, of the disposition of Spain to treat upon the basis of their entire independence. It is to be regretted, that simultaneous appointments, by all, of ministers to negotiate with Spain, bad not been made; the negotiation itself would have been simplified, and this long-standing dispute, spreading over a large portion of the world, would have been brought to a more spet dy conclusion:

Our political and commercial relations with Austria, Prussia, Sweden, and Denmark, stand on the usual favorable basis. One of the articles of our treaty with Russia, in relation to the trade on the northwest coast of America having expired, instructions have been given to our minister at St. Petersburgh to negotiate a renewal of it. The long unbroken amity between the two governments gives every reason for supposing the article will be renewed, if stronger motives do not exist to prevent it than, with our view of the subject, can be anticipated here.

I ask your attention to the message of my predecessor at the opening of the second session of the 19th Congress, relative to our commercial intercourse with Holland, and to the documents connected with that subject, communicated to the House of Representatives on the 10th of January,

1825, and 18th January, 1827. Coinciding in the opinion of my predecessor, that Holland is not, under the regulations of her present system, entitled to have her vessels and their cargoes received into the United States on the footing of American vessels and cargoes, as regards duties of tonnage and impost, a respect for his reference of it to the legislature has long prevented me from acting on the subject. I should still have waited, without comment, for the action of Congress, but recently a claiin has been made by Belgian subjects to admission into our ports for their ships and cargoes, on the same footing as American, with the allegation we could not dispute, that our vessels received in their ports the identical treatment shown to them in the ports of Holland, upon whose vessels no discrimination is made in the ports of the United States. Giving the same privileges, the Belgians expect the same benefits,-benefits that were in fact enjoyed when Belgium and Holland were united under one government. Satisfied with the justice of their pretension to be placed on the same footing with Holland, I could not, nevertheless, without disregard to the principle of our laws, admit their claim to be treated as Americans; and at the same time a respect for Congress, to whom the subject had long since been referred, has prevented me from producing a just equality, by taking from the vessels of Holland privileges conditionally granted by acts of Congress, although the condition upon which the grant was made, has in my judgment failed since 1822. I recommend, therefore, a review of the act of 1824, and such a modification of it as will produce an equality, on such terms as Congress shall think best comports with our settled policy, and the obligations of justice to two friendly powers.

With the Sublime Porte, and all the governments on the coast of Barbary, our relations continue to be friendly. The proper steps have been taken to renew our treaty with Morocco.

The Argentine republic has again promised to send, within the current year, a minister to the United States.

A convention with Mexico for extending the time for the appointment of conmissioners to run the boundary line has been concluded, and will be submitted to the Senate. Recent events in that country have awakened the liveliest solicitude in the United States. Aware of the strong temptations existing, and powerful inducements held out to the citizens of the United States, to mingle in the dissensions of our immediate neighbors, instructions have been given to the district attorney of the United States where indications warranted, to prosecute, without respect to persons, all who might attempt to violate the obligation of our neutrality; while at the same time it has been thought necessary to apprize the government of Mexico that we should require the integrity of our territory to be scrupulously respected by

From our diplomatic agents in Brazil, Chili, Peru, Central America, Venezuela, and New Grenada, constant assurances are received of the continued good understanding with the governments to which they are severally accredited. With those governments upon which our citizens have valid and accumulating claims, scarcely an advance toward the settlement of thein is made, owing mainly to their distracted state, or to the pressure of imperative domestic questions. Our patience has been, and will probably be still farther, severely tried; but our fellow citizens whose interests are involved, may confide in the determination of the government to obtain for them eventually, ample retribution.

both parties.

Unfortunately, many of the nations of this hemisphere are still self-tormented by domestic dissensions. Revolution succeeds revolution, injuries are committed upon foreigners engaged in lawful pursuits, much time clapses before a government sufficiently stable is erected to justify expectation of redress — ministers are sent and received, and before the discussions of past injuries are fairly begun, fresh troubles arise; but too frequently new injuries are added to the old, to be discussed together with the existing government, after it has proved its ability to sustain the assaults made upon it, or with its successor, if overthrown. If this unhappy condition of things continue much longer, other nations will be under the painful necessity of deciding whether justice to their suffering citizens does not require a prompt redress of injuries by their own power, without waiting for the establishment of a government competent and enduring enough to discuss and make satisfaction for them.

Since the last session of Congress, the validity of our claims upon France, as liquidated by the treaty of 1831, has been acknowledged by both branches of her legislature, and the money bas been appropriated for their discharge; but the payment is, I regret to inform you, still with held.

A brief recapitulation of the most important incidents in this protracted controversy, will show how utterly untenable are the grounds upon which this course is attempted to be justified.

On entering upon the duties of my station, I found the United States an unsuccessful applicant to the justice of France, for the satisfaction of claims, the validity of which was never questionable, and has now been most solemnly admitted by France herself

. The antiquity of these claims, their high justice, and the aggravating circumstances out of which they arose, are too familiar to the American people to require description. It is sufficient to say, that for a period of ten years and upwards, our commerce was, with but little interruption, the subject of constant aggression on the part of France, - aggressions, the ordinary features of which were condemna. tion of vessels and cargoes, under arbitrary decrees, adopted in contravention as well of the laws of nations as of treaty stipulations; burnings on the high seas; and seizures and confiscations, under special imperial rescripts, in the ports of other natious occupied by the armies or under the control of France. Such, it is now conceded, is the character of the wrongs we suffered, wrongs in many cases so flagrant thal even their authors never denied our right to reparation. Of the extent of these injuries, some conception may be formed from the fact that, after the burning of a large amount at sea, and the necessary deterioration in other cases by long detention, the American property so seized and sacrificed at forced sales, excluding what was adjudged to privateers, before or without condemnation, brought into the French treasury upwards of twenty-four millions of francs, besides large custom-house duties.

The subject has already been an affair of twenty years' uninterrupted negotiation, except for a short time when France was overwhelmed by the military power of united Europe. During this period, when other nations were extorting from her payment of their claims, at the point of the bayonet, the United States intermitted their demand for justice, out of respect to the oppressed condition of a gallant people, to whom they felt under obligations for fraternal assistance in their own days of suffering and of peril. The bad effects of these protracted and unavailing discussions, as well upon our relations with France as upon our national character, were obvious;

foreign power.

and the line of duty was to my mind equally so. This was either to insist upon the adjustment of our claims within a reasonable period, or to abandon them altogether. I could not doubt that by this course the interests and honor of both countries would be best consulted. Instructions were therefore given in this spirit to the minister who was sent out once more lo demand reparation. Upon the meeting of Congress, in December, 1829, I felt it my duty to speak of these claims, and the delays of France, in terms calculated to call the serious attention of both countries to the subject. The then French ministry took exception to the message, on the ground of its containing a menace, under which it was not agreeable to the French government to negotiate. The American minister, of his own accord, refuted the construction which was attempted to be put upon the message, and at the same time called to the recollection of the French ministry, that the President's message was a communication addressed, not to foreign governments, but to the Congress of the United States, in which it was enjoined upon him by the constitution, to lay before that body information of the state of the Union, comprehending its foreign as well as domestic relations; and, that if, in the discharge of this duty, he felt it incumbent upon him to summon the attention of Congress, in due time, to what might be the possible consequences of existing difficulties with any foreign government, he might fairly be supposed to do so under a sense of what was due from him, in a frank communication with another branch of his own government, and not from any intention of holding a menace over a

The views taken by him received my approbation, the French government was satisfied, and the negotiation was continued. It terminated in the treaty of July 4th, 1831, recognizing the justness of our claims, in part, and promising payment to the amount of twenty-five millions of francs, in six annual instalments.

The ratifications of this treaty were exchanged in Washington on the 2d of February, 1832; and in five days thereafter it was laid before Congress, who immediately passed the acts necessary, on our part, to secure to France the commercial advantages conceded to her in the compact. The treaty had previously been solemnly ratified by the king of the French, in terms which are certainly not mere matters of form, and of which the translation is as follows: "We, approving the above convention, in all and each of the dispositions which are contained in it, do declare, by ourselves, as well as by our heirs and successors, that it is accepted, approved, ratified, and confirmed; and by these presents, signed by our hand, we do accept, approve, ratify, and confirm it; promising, on the faith and word of a king, to observe it, and to cause it to be observed inviolably, without ever contravening it, or suffering it to be contravened, directly or indirectly, for any cause or under any pretence whatsoever.”

Official information of the exchange of ratifications in the United States reached Paris whilst the Chambers were in session. The extraordinary, and to us injurious, delays of the French government in their action upon the subject of its fulfilment, have been heretofore stated to Congress, and I have no disposition to enlarge upon them here. It is sufficient to observe that the then pending session was allowed to expire without even an effort to obtain the necessary appropriations; that the two succeeding ones were also suffered to pass away without anything like a serious attempt to obtain a decision upon the subject; and that it was not until the fourth session,

almost three years after the conclusion of the treaty, and more than two years after the exchange of ratifications, that the bill for the execution of ibe treaty was pressed to a vote and rejected.

In the mean time, the government of the United States having full confidence that a treaty entered into and so solemnly ratified by the French king, would be executed in good faith, and not doubting that provision would be made for the payment of the first instalment, which was to become due on the second day of February, 1833, negotiated a draft for the amount through the Bank of the United States. When this draft was presented by the holder, with the credentials required by the treaty to authorize him to receive the money, the government of France allowed it to be protested. In addition to the injury in the non-payment of the money by France

, conformably to her agreement, the United States were exposed to a heavy claim on the part of the bank, under pretence of damages, in satisfaction of which that institution seized upon, and still retains an equal amount of the public moneys. Congress was in session when the decision of the Chambers reached Washington; and an immediate communication of this apparently final decision of France not to fulfil the stipulations of the treaty, was the course naturally to be expected from the President. The deep tone of dissatisfaction which pervaded the public mind, and the correspondent excitement produced in Congress by only a general knowledge of the result, rendered it more than probable that a resort to immediate measures of redress would be the consequence of calling the attention of that body to the subject. Sincerely desirous of preserving the pacific relations which had so long existed between the two countries, I was anxious to avoid this course if I could be satisfied that, by doing so, neither the interest nor the honor of my country would be compromitted. Without the fullest assurances upon that point, I could not hope to acquit myself of the responsibility to be incurred in suffering Congress to adjourn without laying the subject before them. Those received by me were believed to be of that character.

That the feelings produced in the United States by the news of the rejection of the appropriation, would be such as I have described them to have been, was foreseen by the French government, and prompt measures were taken by it to prevent the consequences. The king in person expressed, through our minister in Paris, his profound regret at the decision of the Chambers, and promised to send, forth with, a national ship with despatches to his minister here, authorizing him to give such assurances as would satisfy the government and people of the United States, that the treaty would yet be faithfully executed by France. The national ship arrived, and the minister received his instructions.

Claiming to act under the authority derived from them, he gave to this government, in the name of his, the most solemn assurances, that as soon after the new elections as the charter would permit, the French Chambers would be convened, and the attempt to procure the necessary appropriations renewed; that all the constitutional powers of the king and his ministers should be put in requisition to accomplish the object; and he was understood, and so expressly informed by this government at the time, to engage that the question should be pressed to a decision at a period sufficiently early to permit information of the result to be communicated to Congress at the commencement of their next session. Relying upon these assurances, I incurred the responsibility, great as I regarded it to be, of suffering Congress to separate without communicating with them upon the subject.

« ПретходнаНастави »