To Oliver Wolcott, Junior
[New York, November 1, 1796]
I wrote you a line from Albany1 expressing an opinion from Memory, that our Treaty with G B prohibitted the sale of prizes made by French National Ships. Being just returned to Town I have looked into the article which relates to the point & I fear that opinion was wrong. In a day or two I will write you more particularly.
Adets late communication2 demands a very careful & well managed answer.
ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.
2. On October 27, 1796, Pierre Auguste Adet sent Timothy Pickering “a resolution taken by the executive directory of the French republic on the 14th Messidor, 4th year (July 2, 1796) relative to the conduct which the ships of war of the republic are to hold towards neutral vessels.” The resolution stated that “the flag of the republic will treat the flag of neutrals in the same manner as they shall suffer it to be treated by the English” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 576). In his letter accompanying the resolution, Adet denounced British policy toward neutral nations and argued that since the United States had not taken steps “in favor of her violated neutrality” the resolves of the Directory were “dictated by imperious circumstances, and approved by justice.” Adet assured Pickering “that the neutral Governments, or the allies of the republic, have nothing to fear as to the treatment of their flag by the French, since, if, keeping within the bounds of their neutrality, they cause the rights of that neutrality to be respected by the English, the republic will respect them.” But, he warned, “if, through weakness, partiality, or other motives, they should suffer the English to sport with their neutrality, and turn it to their advantage, could they then complain, when France, to restore the balance of neutrality to its equilibrium shall act in the same manner as the English? No, certainly; for the neutrality of a nation consists in granting to belligerent Powers the same advantages; and that neutrality no longer exists, when, in the course of the war, that neutral nation grants to one of the belligerent Powers advantages not stipulated by treaties anterior to the war, or suffers that Power to seize upon them …” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 577).