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conflicting interest between them on those points. The general commercial relation may then be adjusted or postponed as may be must consistent with the views of his majesty's government. On that point also it is believed that it will not be difficult to make such an arrangement as, by giving sufficient scope to the refources, to the industry and the enterprize of the people of both coun. tries, may prove highly and reciprocally advantageous to them. In the to
pick of impreílment, however, the motive is more urgent. In that line the e rights of the United States have been so long trampled under foot, the feel. Fings of humanity in respect to the sufferers, and the honour of their govern
ment, even in their own ports, so often outraged, that the astonished world . may begin to doubt, whether the patience with which these injuries have been
borne ought to be attributed to generous or unworthy motives : Whether - the United States merit the rank to which in other respects they are juftly en
titled among independent powers, or have already, in the very morn of their political career, loft their energy, and become degenerate. The United States are not insensible that their conduct has exposed them to such fufpicions, though they well know that they have not merited them. They are aware,
from the fimilarity in the person, in the manners, and above all, the identity • of the language, which is common to the people of both nations, that the fub
ject is a difficult one ; they are equally aware, that to Great-Britain also it is a delicate one, and they have been willing in seeking an arrangement of this important interest, to give a proof, by the mode, of their very fincere desire to cherith the relations of friendship with her. I have only to add, that I shall be happy to meet your lordship on these points, as soon as you can make it convenient to you. I have the honour to be, with high confideration, your lordship's most obedient fervant.
EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO MR.
MONROE, RELATIVE TO IMPRESSMENTS, DATED STH JANUARY, 1804.
WE consider a neutral fag, on the high seas, as a safeguard to those failing under it. Great Britain, on the contrary, afferts a right to search for, and seize her own subjects ; and under that cover, as cannot but happen, are often seized and taken off, citizens of the United Stats, and citizens or subjects of other neutral countries, navigating the high seas, under the protection of the American ilag.
Were the right of Great Britain, in this case, not denied, the abuses flowing from it would juftify the United States in claiming and expecting a dif. continuance of its exercise. But the right is denied, and on the best grounds.
Although Great Britian has not yet adopted, in the same latitude with moft other nations, the immunities of a neutral fag, the will not deny the general freedom of the high seas, and of neutral vessels navigating them, with such exceptions only as are annexed to it by the law of nations. She must produce then such an exception in the law of nations, in favour of the right the contends for. But in what written and received authority will the find it ? In what usage except her own will it be found ? She will find in both, that a neutral vessel does not protect certain objects denominated contraband of war, including enemies ferving in the war, nor articles going into a blockaded port, nor as the has maintained, and as we have not contested, enemy's property of any kind. But no where will she find an exception to this freedom of the seas, and of neutral flags, which justifies the taking away of any per. son not an enemy, in military service, found on board a neutral veffel.
If treaties, British as well as others, are to be consulted on this subject, it will equally appear, that no countenance to the practice can be found in
them. Whilft they adinit a contraband of war, by enumerating its me." and the effect of a real blockade by defining it, in no inftance do these or imply a right in any fovereign to enforce his claims to the allegiana e his subjects, on board neutral vefsels on the high seas. On the care : whenever a belligerent claim against persons on board a neutral vefiel, E : ferred to in treaties, enemies in military service alone are excepted from general immunity of persons in that fituation ; and this exception cara the immunity of those who are not included in it.
It is not then from the law or the usage of nations, nor from the tesc. treaties, that any fänction can be derived for the practice in queftion. A furely it will not be pretended that the sovereignty of any pation extends any case whatever, beyond its own dominions, and its own vettels on the feas. Such a doctrine would give just claim to all nations, and more tha any thing would countenance the imputation of aspiring to an united pire of the feas. It would be the less admissible too, as it would be appaa ble to times of peace, as well as to times of war, and to property as well as to perfons. If the law of allegiance, which is a municipal law, be in force at a the high feas, on board foreign veffels, it must be fo at all times there, as it i within its acknowledged sphere. If the reason alleged for it be good in tem of war, namely, that the sovereign has then a right to the service of all s subjects, it must be good at all times, because at all times, he has the line right to their service. War is not the only occasion for which he may x2 their fervices, nor is external danger the only danger against which their for vices may be required for his fecurity. Again ; if the authority of a DS cipal law can operate on persons in foreign veffels on the high seas, becace within the dominion of their sovereign, they would be subject to that Iza, and are violating that law by being in that fituation, how reject the infererer that the authority of a municipal law may equally be enforced, on board for eign vessels, on the high seas, against articles of property exported in violation of such a law, or belonging to the country from which it was exported ? AN thus every commercial regulation, in time of peace too, as well as of #2, would be made obligatory on foreigners and their vefrels, not only while within the dominion of the sovereign making the regulation, but in every fan and at every distance where an armed veilel might meet with them. Another inference deserves attention. If the fubjects of one sovereign may be tako by force from the vessels of another, on the high feas, the right of taking them when found, implies the right of fearching for them ; à vexation of commerce, efpecially in time of peace, which bas not yet been attempted, and which for that as well as other reasons, may be regarded as contradictag the principle from which it would flow.
Taking reason and justice for the tests of this practice, it is peculiari indefenfible ; becaufe it deprives the dearest rights of persons of a regular trial, to which the most inconfiderable article of property captured on the high seas is entitled ; and leaves their deliny to the will of an oificer, lone. times cruel, often ignorant, and generally interested by his want of marinera, in his own decilions. Whenever property found in a neutral vertel is ivp poted to be liable on any grounds to capture and condemnation, the rule in all cases is that the question shall not be decided by the captor, but be carried before a legal tribunal, where a regular trial may be had, and where the captor himfelf is liable to damages, for an abuse of his power. Can it be reasonable then, or just, that a belligerent commander who is thus reftritted, and thus responsible in a case of mere property of trivial amount, should be permitted, without recurring to any tribunal whatever, to examine the crew of a neutral veffel, to decide the important question of their respective allegiances, and to carry that decision into inftant execution, by forcing every individual he may chuse, into a fervice abhorrent to his feelings, cutting him off from his most tender connections, exposing bis mind and his person to the most humiliating discipline, and his life itself to the greatest dangers ? Realon,
justice, and humanity unite in protesting against so extravagant a proceeding.'. And what is the pretext for it? It is that the similarity of language and of features between American citizens and British subjects, are such as not easily to be distinguished ; and that without this arbitrary and summary authority to make the distinction, British subjects would escape, under the name of American citizens, from the duty which they owe to their sovereign. Is then the difficulty of diftinguishing a mariner of one country from the mariner of the other, and the importance of his services, a good plea for referring the question whether be belongs to the one or to the other, to an arbitrary decifion on the the spot, by an interested and unresponsible officer ? In all other cases, the difficulty and the importance of questions are considered as reasons for requiring greater care and formality in investigating them, and greater security for a right decision of them. To say that precautions of this fort are incompatible with the object, is to admit that the object is unjustifiable ; since the only means by which it can be pursued are such as cannot be justified.
The evil takes a deeper die, when viewed in its practice as well as its principles. Were it allowable that British subjects should be taken out of American vessels on the high seas, it might at least be required that the proof of their allegiance should lie on the British lide. This obvious and just rule is, however, reversed ; and every leaman on board, though going from an Ameri-, can port, and failing under the American flag, and sometimes even speaking an idiom proving him not to be a British subject, is presumed to be such, unless Mewn to be an American citizen. It may safely be affirmed that this is an outrage and an indignity which has no precedent, and which Great Britain would be among the last nations in the world to suffer, if offered to her own subjects, and her own flag. Nor is it always against the right presumption alone which is in favour of the citizenship corresponding with the flag, that the violence is committed. Not unfrequently it takes place in defiance of the most positive proof, certified in due form by an American oficer. Let it not be said, that, in granting to American seamen this protection for their rights as such, the point is yielded, that the proof lies on the American fide, and that the want of it in the prescribed form juftifies the inference that the feamen is not of American allegiance. It is distinctly to be understood, that the certificate, usually called a protection to American feamen, is not meant to protect them under their own, or even any other neutral flag on the high feas. We can never admit, that in such a situation, any other protection is required for them, than the neutral flag itself on the high seas. The document is given to prove their real character, in situations to which neither the law of nations, nor the law of their own country, are applicable; in other words, to protect them within the jurisdiction of the British laws, and to secure to them, within every other jurisdiction the lights and immunities due to them. If, in the courte of their navigation even on the high seas, the document should have the effect of repelling wrongs of any fort, it is an incidental advantage only, of which they avail themselves, and is by no means to be misconstrued into a right to exact such a proof, or to make any difacivantageous inference from the want of it.
Were it even admitted that certificates for protection might be juftly required in time of war from American feamen, they could only be required in cases where the lapse of time from its commencement had given an opportunity for the American reamen to provide themselves with such a document, Yet it is certain, that, in a variety of inftances, fear have been impressed from American vefleis, on the plea that they had not this proof of citizenSnip, when the dates and places of the imprefiments demonstrated the impoflibility of their knowing, in time to provide the proof, that a state of war had rendered it necrary.
Whether, therefore, we consult the law of nations, the tenor of treaties, or the digates of realon and justice, no warrant, no pretext can be found for the