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I had the honor of receiving yours of the 29th of March, and in consequence I send the enclosed formula of the certificates of registry, with which American vessels ought to be furnished. Our government grants these certificates only to those vessels, which belong exclusively to American citizens. They must also have been built in the United States, or at least have belonged since the sixteenth of May, 1789, to American citizens. The law of the United States also exacts, that the captain be an American citizen, and that before the vessel is recorded, one of the owners shall make attestation under oath, of the truth of these facts. In fine, captains and owners are forbidden to give, sell, or lend these certificates, and in case they are made use of by any foreign vessel under the American flag, the offender shall incur the penalty of confiscation.
Such, Sir, are the regulations made on the 1st of September, 1789; and I have not learned that since that time there have been others. I have read, it is true, in one of our gazettes, that in the course of the month of January, a new law on the subject had been presented to the President of the United States for his acceptance, but I am ignorant of its con tents, not having yet received a copy of it. I am persuaded however that it does not differ essentially (as to the subject in question) from that which I have just had the honor of presenting to you. I shall hasten to communicate it to you as soon as it arrives, for it is my inclination, as well as my duty, to prevent as much as possible foreigners, and especially the enemies of France, from enjoying the privileges of our neutrality.
I am fully persuaded, Sir, of the friendly disposition of the French republic towards that of America, and I shall continue to render a faithful account of it, for I sincerely desire to strengthen more and more the bonds, which unite the two countries. Will you have the goodness to give me a copy of the decrees passed by the Convention, to which you did me the honor to refer ? Hitherto I have been unable, in my despatches, to speak of them except in general terms, as they have not been communicated to me in any other manner, than through the very uncertain channel of the gazettes. I have the honor to be, &c.
- The Life of Gouverneur Morris With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers Vol. II., Jared Sparks, 1832