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June, and on the second day of July following, the President issued his proclamation, requiring all British vessels, bearing a king's commission to depart, and forbidding all to enter the waters of the United States. The government determined,
closed answer, No. 2, and was waiting for his reply. About this time I observed some appearance of a hostile nature, and said to captain Gordon, that it was possible they were serious, and requested him to have his men sent to their quarters with as little noise as possible, not using those ceremonies which we should have done with an avowed enemy, as I fully supposed their arrangements were more menace than any thing serious. Captain Gordon immediately gave the orders to the officers and men to go to quarters, and have all things in readiness; but before a match could be lighted, or the quarter bill of any division examined, or the lumber on the gun deck, such as sails, cables, &c. could be cleared, the commander of the Leopard hailed ; I could not hear what he said, and was talking to him, as I supposed, when she commenced a heavy fire, which did great execution.
It is distressing to me to acknowledge, that I found from the advantage they had gained over our unprepared and unsuspicious state, did not warrant a longer opposition; nor should I have exposed this ship
; and crew to so galling a fire had it not been with a hope of getting the gun deck clear, so as to have made a more formidable defence: consequently our resistance was but feeble. In about twenty minutes after I ordered the colours to be struck, and sent lieutenant Smith on board the Leopard, to inform her commander that I considered the Chesapeake her prize. To this message I received no answer; the Leopard's boat soon after came on board, and the officer who came in her demanded the muster book. I replied the ship and books were theirs, and if he expected to see the men he must find them. They called on the purser, who delivered his book, and the men were examined, and the three men demanded at Washington, and one man more, were taken away. On their departure from the ship, I wrote the commander of the Leopard the enclosed No.3, to which I received the answer No. 4. On finding that the men were his only object, and that he refused to consider the ship his prize, and the officers and crew his prisoners, I called a council of our officers, and requested their opinion relative to the conduct it was now our duty to pursue. The result was, that the ship should return to Hampton Roads, and there wait your further orders.
at once, to suspend all negotiation, till reparation was made for this outrage. The immunity of a national ship from search, for any purpose whatever, is not contested by any nation; and the terms of reparation, demanded by the American
, I have sent this letter to you by Captain Gordon, in order that you may have an opportunity of getting such information as you may wish. With great respect, I have the honour to be, &c. (Signed)
JAMES BARRON. Hon. Robert Smith, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.
No. 1. The captain of his Britannic majesty's ship Leopard, has the honour to enclose to the captain of the United States ship Chesapeake, an order from the honourable vice-admiral Berkeley, commander in chief of his majesty's ships on the North American station, respecting some deserters from the ships (therein mentioned) under his command, and supposed to be now serving as part of the crew of the Chesapeake.
The captain of the Leopard will not presume to say any thing in addition to what the commander in chief has stated, more than to express a hope, that every circumstance respecting them may be adjusted in a manner that the harmony subsisting between the two countries may remain undisturbed.
H. M. ship Leopard, at sea,
June 22, 1807. To the commander of the U. S. ship Chesapeake.
No. 2. I know of no such men as you describe. The officers that were on the recruiting service for this ship, were particularly instructed by the government, through me, not to enter any deserters from his Britannic majesty's ships; nor do I know of any being here: I am also instructed never to permit the crew of any ship that I command to be mustered by any other but their own officers. It is my disposition to preserve harmony, and I hope this answer to your despatch will prove satisfactory.
At sea, June 22, 1807. To the commander of his B. M. ship Leopard.
No. 3. Sir,-I consider the frigate Chesapeake your prize, and am ready
government, on this occasion, were not only a formal disavowal of the act and restoration of the four men taken out, but as a security for the future, an entire abolition of the practice of impressment under the American flag. It was a particular injunction to the American minister in London not to treat of the affair of the Chesapeake separately, but to consider all those injuries, which properly fell under the same head, as one entire subject. For this assault upon its dignity and sovereignty, the country had a right to exact the most solemn, and public form of retribution and acknowledgment. Both England and France have, within the last century, sent an extraordinary ambassador for the purpose of offering an apology for a violation of national sovereignty, infinitely less important.
This mode of discussion met with an unfavourable reception from the British government. The act of the officer had been early disavowed, and a promise of ample reparation made. But England refused to consider this matter in connexion with the subject of impressment, or any other point
to deliver her to any officer authorized to receive her. By the return of the boat I shall expect your answer, and have the honour to be, &c.
Chesapeake, at sea, June 22, 1807. To the commander of his B. M. ship Leopard.
No. 4. Sir,-Having to the utmost of my power fulfilled the instructions of my commander in chief, I have nothing more to desire, and must in consequence proceed to join the remainder of the squadron, repeating that I am ready to give you every assistance in my power, and do most sincerely deplore that any lives should have been lost in the execution of a service which might have been adjusted more amicably, not only with respect to ourselves ; but the nations to which we respectively belong. I have the honour to be, &c.
S. P. HUMPHREYS.
Leopard, at sea, June 22, 1807. To the commander of the U. S. ship Chesapeake. S 3 killed,
then under discussion. The proclamation of the President was, also, regarded as in some degree assuming, by the act of the American government itself, restitution for this unfortunate business. England professed to consider this measure altogether in a hostile light, and as precluding the offer of reparation they were disposed to make. Here Mr. Monroe's mission terminated.
The ground the ministry took on this occasion, was attended with every advantage they could hope to derive from delay, though their ships were exposed the whole time to the very great inconvenience of being deprived of their usual ports and places of resort on the American coast. They could not have desired a war with the United States. There had been, perhaps, no period since the French revolution, when policy more clearly pointed out to them the propriety of avoiding difficulties with America. Napoleon had, a short time before, succeeded in overwhelming, at the disastrous battle of Jena, the strength and pride of Prussia; and he appeared no longer to have an enemy to the west of the Vistula. When the proclamation of the President was issued, before notice of it could even be transmitted to the British government, the alternative of transferring the negotiation to the United States, or of declaring war, was offered to England. Mr. Canning (September 3,) at once informed Mr. Monroe, that a minister would be sent to the United States, provided with proper instructions to bring this unhappy dispute to an honourable conclusion. Mr. G. H. Rose was accordingly sent, and arrived in this country in January 1808. But his mission was altogether unsatisfactory. He had positive instructions not to treat of the affair of the Chesapeake, while the proclamation of the President was in force; nor was he permitted at all to connect the subject of impressments from private vessels with that matter. The British government still considered the proclamation as a hostile measure, as assuming retribution ; and, while in force, no arrangement for the wrong done could be made on equal terms. They had at once disavowed the act of the officer, and voluntarily made an offer of reparation. On the other hand, the American government regarded the proclamation as a measure of precaution, for the purpose of protecting their citizens and shores from outrages, not only similar to this, but from a repetition of scenes scarcely less a violation of national rights, though presenting a less striking character. The proclamation was not directed alone to the affair of the Chesapeake; it had in view the conduct of the British officers on the coast, from the beginning of the European war. This consideration of the matter on the part of America immediately put an end to the mission of Mr. Rose.
The affairs of the two countries were, at this time, in a more aggravated and alarming state than they had been since '94. We have now reached the close of the year 1807; it is the termination of the first period we proposed to consider in this chapter ; a period immediately preceding the orders in council.* With the brief exception of a single year, France and England had been constantly at war since 1793. America, setting out with the fairest prospects, and with the sincerest determination to maintain an exact and impartial neutrality, saw every year fresh inroads made on her rights and commerce. She was more and more impressed with the necessity of either retiring altogether from the ocean, and adopting the policy, recommended by one of her Presidents in a work written during the revolution war,—or of becoming a party in the contest. Her studious, unceasing negotiations had availed nothing; one scheme of a convention the British government refused to accept,-another the American government refused to ratify ;-not a maritime right, not a commercial privilege was secured. Her diplomatic labours had not meliorated a single decree of the belligerents, had not delayed for a single hour their rapid course, in sweeping to destruction neutrals and all their rights. We cannot say the country
* First orders promulgated in November 1807.