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[MVB], Notes on the suppression of the slave trade, [c22 May 1824]

Slave Trade

Page 6. Objection to the Treaty stated viz

I. That the establishment of a mixed tribunals in the Territories of the Respective parties is essential to the execution of its provisions—that the U. States could not concur in this 1st. because they have no colonies either on the coast of Africa or in the W. Indies & 2dly. because it is doubtful whether the power of the Govmt. of the U.S. is competent for the institution of a Court to carry into existence the penal laws beyond the Territories of the U. States & proposed penalty of Foreign Judges not amenable to <illegible> &c.

2d. That the stipulation to employ the slaves as laborers &c could not be carried into effect because if the slaves are delivered over to the U. States as freemen they could not be compelled to enter into any service

3d. That the Condition of the blacks being subject to the direction of the municipal Govmnts only the Federal Govemnt could not enter into any stipulation by which they would guaranty their freedom in states where they might be held to slavery or to controul them when by law they would be free.

4th. The repugnance in the public mind to the concession of the right of search in any form—& under any restrictions.

To these the Committee of the House of Rep. in 1821 reply—see report They suggest in reply to the objection of transfer of Jurisdiction a modification of that arrangement by which the Vessels & slaves detaind should be delivered over to the ships of the nation to which they belong & that in such case ours might be proceed agt. according to our act of 1819


hope 59.

decision in the English ^prize^ Courts that american Slave Ships were liable to seizure and condemnation. American flag disapproved & the Spanish <illegible>


page 119 page 12

Mr Canning in reply to Mr Adams proposes to relieve the subject from some of the suggested difficulties by stipulating 1st that the vessels instead of being delivered for adjudication to the mixed tribunals should be deliver over for trial in the prize courts of the country of the Captain or of that to which the vessel seized belong, & as to the disposition of the slaves he refering to the report of the Committee of the House who say that the act of the 3d of March 1819 could be made applicable to them.
The same. Mr Adams in his letter of the 24th of June 1823 in reply, refuses acquiesence in the mode of condemnation proposed, denies that seizures of the vessels of our nation by the Ships of war of an other can be ^largely^ made in time of peace—that the prize courts of the respective nations are therefore not the proper tribunals for the trial of the offence in question. That the objection to the mixed tribunals on account of them being party foreign is unmoved​> to the proposition of submitting the cases to tribunals which are wholly so, & takes the distinction between piracy by Statute & piracy by the law of nations in the farther case—the culprit may be tried in any Country but in the latter he is only <illegible> to the laws of the Country declaring the offence.

#II he adds that if G. Britain would agree that the vessels ^seized^ should be delivered upon to the jurisdiction of the Country to which they belonged it would repair all objections on that score

The right of search is essentially a right of war, is confined in strictness to the single object to that of finding & taking contraband of war but extended by that usage of Modern Maritime nations to seizing & taking enemies property in the vessel of a friend—odious sight—distinction between it & the rule on land where private property is always respected.

II forbear​> to enlarge upon the further extension of the right by referring to injuries (search for deserters) which the U.S. received whilst neutral in a case of vital importance because &c.

"enlarges upon the dangers which would attend by an extension of the right of search as recognized by the law of nations, by extending it to a time of peace &c & concludes by inviting the co-operation of G.B. in the act of declaring it piracy.

Source: DLC Library of Congress
Collection: MVB Papers (DLC)
Series: Series 4 (3 December 1821-31 December 1824)