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contravene the clear indications of nature and Providence, and the general good of mankind.
The usage of nations accordingly seems in such cases to have given to those holding the mouth or lower parts of a river no right against those above them, except the right of imposing a moderate 10ll, and that on the equitable supposition, that such toll is due for the expense and trouble the former may have been pui to. “ An innocent passage, (says Vattel,) is due to all nations with whom a state is at peace; and this duty comprehends troops equally with individuals." "If a right to a passage by land through other countries may be claimed for troops, which are employed in the destruction of mankind, how much more may a passage by water be claimed for commerce, which is beneficial to all nations.
Here again it ought not to be concealed, that the inconveniences which must be felt by the inhabitants on the waters running westwardly, under an exclusion from the free use of the Mississippi, would be a constant and increasing source of disquietude on their part, of more vigorous precautions on the part of Spain, and of an irritation on both parts, which it is equally the interest and duty of both to guard against.
But notwithstanding the equitable claim of the United States to the free navigation of the Mississippi, and its great importance to them, congress have so strong a disposition to conform to the desires of his catholic majesty, that they have agreed that such equitable regulations may be entered into as may be a requisite security against contraband; provided, the point of right be not relinquished, and a free port or ports below the thirty-first degree of north latitude, and accessible to merchant ships, be stipulated to them.
The reason why a port or ports, as thus described, was requested must be obvious. Without such a stipulation, the free use of the Mississippi would in fact amount to no more than a free intercourse with New Orleans and other ports of Louisiana. From the rapid current of this river, it is well known that it must be navigated by vessels of a particular construction, and which will be unfit to go to sea. Unless, therefore, some place be assigned to the United States where the produce carried down the river, and the merchandise arriving from abroad, may be deposited till they can be respectively taken away by the proper vessels, there can be no such thing as a foreign trade.
There is a remaining consideration respecting the navigation of the Mississippi which deeply concerns the maritime powers in general, but more particularly their most christian and catholic majesties. The country watered by the Ohio, with its large branches, having their sources near the lakes on one side, and those running north westward and falling into it on the other side, will appear from a single glance on a map to be of vast extent. The circumstance of its being eo finely watered, added to the singular fertility of its soil, and other advantages presented by a new country, will occasion a rapidity of
population not easy to be conceived. The spirit of emigration has already shown itself in a very strong degree, notwithstanding the many impediments which discourage it. The principal of these impediments is the war with Britain, which cannot spare a force suffi. cient to protect the emigrants against the incursions of the savages. In a very few years after peace shall take place, this country will cer. tainly be overspread with inhabitants. In like manner as in all new settlements, agriculture, not manufactures, will be their employment. They will raise wheat, corn, beef, pork, tobacco, hemp, flax, and in the southern parts, perhaps, rice and indigo, in great quantities. the other hand, their consumption of foreign manufactures will be in proportion, if they can be exchanged for the produce of their soil. There are but two channels through which such commerce can be carried on; the first is down the river Mississippi; the other is up the rivers having their sources near the lakes, thence by short portages to the lakes, or the rivers falling into them, and thence through the lakes and down the St. Lawrence. The first of these channels is manifestly the most natural, and by far the most advantageous. Should it however be obstructed, the second will be found far from impracticable. If no obstructions should be thrown in its course down the Mississippi, the exports from this immense tract of country will not only supply an abundance of all necessaries for the West India islands, but serve for a valuable basis of general trade, of which the rising spirit of commerce in France and Spain will no doubt particularly avail itself. The imports will be proportionally extensive; and from the climate, as well as from other causes, will consist of the manufactures of the some countries. On the other hand, should obstructions in the Mississippi force this trade into a contrary direction through Canada; France and Spain, and the other maritime powers will not only lose the immediate benefit of it themselves, but they will also suffer by the advantage it will give to Great Britain. So fair a prospect could not escape the commercial sagacity of this nation. “She would embrace it with avidity. She would cherish it with the most studious care. And should she succeed in fixing it in that channel, the loss of her exclusive possession of the trade of the United States might prove a much less decisive blow to her maritime pre-eminence and tyranny than has been calculated.
The last clause of the instructions, respecting the navigation of the waters running out of Georgia through West Florida, not being included in the ultimatum, nor claimed on a footing of right, requires nothing to be added to what it speaks itself.
The utility of the privileges asked to the state of Georgia, and consequently to the union, is apparent from the geographical representation of the country. The motives for Spain to grant it must be found in her equity, generosity, and disposition to cultivate our friendship and intercourse.
These observations you will readily discern are not communicated in order to be urged at all events, and as they here stand in support
of the claims to which they relate. They are intended for your private information and use, and are to be urged so far, and in such forms only, as will best suit the temper and sentiments of the court at which you reside, and best fulfil the objects of them.
NO, 10. Memorial of the French Minister to Congress, concerning the offered mediation of the Empress of Russia and the Emperor of Germany.
Philadelphia, May 26, 1781. The underwritten minister plenipotentiary of France has received orders to communicate to congress some important details touching the present situation of sundry affairs in which the United States are immediately interested. The most essential respects some overtures which announce, on the part of Great Britain, a desire of peace. The empress of Russia having invited the king and the court of London to take her for mediatrix, the latter court considered this as a formal offer of mediation, and accepted it. It appeared at the same time to desire the emperor to take part therein; and this monarch has in fact proposed his co-mediation to the belligerent powers in Europe. The king could not but congratulate himself on seeing so important a negociation in the hands of two mediators whose understanding and justice are equal. Nevertheless, his majesty actuated by his affection for the United States, returned for answer, that it was not in his power to accept the offers made to him, and that the consent of his allies was necessary. The king wishes to have this consent before he formally accepts the proposed mediation. But it is possible that circumstances joined to the confidence he has in the mediators, and the justice of his cause, and that of the United States his allies, may determine him to enter upon a negociation before the answer of congress can reach him. But in either case, it is of great importance that this, assembly should give their plenipotentiary instructions proper to announce their disposition to peace, and their moderation, and to convince the powers of Europe that the indepeódence of the thirteen United States, and the engagements they have contracted with the king, are the sole motives which determine them to continue the war; and that whenever they shall have full and satisfactory assurances on these two capital points, they will be ready to conclude a peace. The manner of conducting the negociation, the extent of the powers of the American plenipotentiary, the use to be made of them, and the confidence that ought to be reposed in the French plenipotentiaries and the king's ministers, are points which should be fully discussed with a committee. And the underwritten minister entreats that congress would be pleased to name a committee, with whom he will have the honor to treat. He thinks that this assembly will be sensible that the king could not give a greater mark of his affection for the thirteen United States, or of his attachment to
the principles of the alliance, than by determining not to enter upon a negociation before they were ready to take part therein, although, in other respects, his confidence in the mediators, and the relation he stands in to one of them, were sufficient motives to induce him to accept their offers. Congress are too sensible of the uncertainty of negociations of this sort not to know, that the moment of opening them is that precisely when the efforts against the enemy ought to be redoubled; and that nothing can facilitate the operation of the negociators so much as the success of the arms of the allies ; that a check would be productive of disagreeable consequences to both, and that would rise in their pretensions, their haughtiness and obstinacy, in proportion to the languor and slackness of the confederates.
The undersigned will have the honor to communicate to the committee some circumstances relative to the sending Mr. Cumberland to Madrid; to the use which Mr. Adams thought he was authorized to make of his plenipotentiary powers; to the mission of Mr. Dana; to the association of the neutral powers, and to the present state of affairs in the south. Congress will find new motives for relying on the good will of the king, and on the interest he takes in favor of the United States in general, and of each one of them in particular.
NO. 11. Report of a committee appointed by congress to confer with the French
minister, on the subject of the mediation offered by the Empress of Russia, and the Emperor of Germany, &c, made in May, 1781.
That the minister communicated some parts of a despatch which he had received from the count de Vergennes, dated the 9th of March, 1781.
That the resolves of congress which had been adopted on the associations of the neutral powers, were found very wise by the council of the king; and that it was thought they might be of service in the course of the negociation. The French ministry did not doubt but they would be very agreeable to the empress of Russia. But they were not of the same opinion with respect to the appointment of Mr. Dana, as a minister to the court of Petersburg.
The reason is that Catharine the second has made it a point, until now, to profess the greatest impartiality between the belligerent powers. The conduct she pursues on this occasion, is a consequence of the expectation she has that peace may be re-established by her mediation; therefore she could by no means take any step which might show on her side the least propension in favor of the Americans, and expose her to the suspicion of partiality towards America, and of course exclude her from the mediation. The appointment of Mr. Dana, therefore, appears to be at least, premature; and the opinion of the council is, that this deputy ought not to make any use of his powers at this moment. The case he applies to the count de Vergennes for advice,
he shall be desired to delay making any use of his powers. The count observes, it would be disagreeable to congress that their plenipotentiary should meet with a refusal, that their dignity would be offended, and that such a satisfaction ought not to be given to the court of London, especially when negociations of a greater moment, are about to commence. However, the French minister had orders to assure the committee that his court would use all their endeavours in proper time to facilitate the admission of the plenipotentiary of congress.
The minister communicated to the committee several observations respecting the conduct of Mr. Adams; and in doing justice to his patriotic character, he gave notice to the committee of several circumstances which proved it necessary that congress should draw a line of conduct to that minister, of which he might not be allowed to loose sight. The minister dwelt especially on a circumstance already known to congress, namely the use which Mr. Adams thought he had a right to make of his powers, to treat with Great Britain. The minister concluded on this subject, that if congress put any confidence in the king's friendship and benevolence; if they were persuaded of his inviolable attachment to the principle of the alliance, and of his firm resolution constantly to support the cause of the United States, they would be impressed with the necessity of prescribing to their plenipotentiary a perfect and open confidence in the French ministers, and a thorough reliance on the king, and would direct him to take no steps, without the approbation of his majesty; and after giving him, in his instructions, the principal and most important outlines for his conduct, they would order him, with respect to the manner of carrying them into execution, to receive his direction from the count de Vergennes, or from the person who might be charged with the negociation in the name of the king. The minister observed that this matter is the more important, because, being allied with the United States, it is the business of the king to support their cause with those powers with whom congress has no connection, and can have none, until their independence is in a fair train to be acknowledged. That the king would make it a point of prudence and justice to support the minister of Congress; but in case the minister, by aiming at impossible things, forming exorbitant demands, which disinterested mediators might think ill founded, or perhaps by misconstruing his instructious, should put the French negociators under the necessity of proceeding in the course of the negociation without a constant connection with him, this would give rise to an unbecoming contradiction between France and the thirteen United States, which could not but be of very bad effect in the course of the negociations.
In making these observations, the minister remarked, that it was always to be taken for granted, that the most perfect independency is to be the foundation of the instructions, to be given to Mr. Adams, and that without this, there would be no treaty at all. The count de Vergennes observes that it is of great importance that the instrucVOL. II.