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I have received the letter you addressed to me yesterday, as also the accompanying papers. I sent a copy of them immediately to the Minister of the Marine, praying him to take the most prompt measures to procure for Captain Todd the satisfaction due to him, and to prevent, for the future, the vessels of our good allies from being exposed to the attacks of our ships of war and privateers.
The inconvenience, which many of your fellow citizens have lately experienced, arises in part from the difficulty of distinguishing an American from an English vessel; and from the connivance there may be, among many individuals of both nations, for making disguised expeditions. In order to pre serve to the citizens of the United States all the advantages, which result from their neutrality, it is the interest of the American Government to prevent this fraud ; and I have every reason to believe, that the laws which determine, in the United States, the national flag, are clear and precise. I know that these laws require not only that the vessels be of American construction, but that the Captain and a great part of the crew be Americans.
I pray you, Sir, to communicate to me the last statute made on this subject by Congress, that I may give information of it to the officers of our ports, and through them to the commanders of our ships of war. This measure seems to me essential, in order to prevent all the disputes, which might arise on this subject.
In my last letter I assured you of the sincere desire of the French Republic, not only carefully to avoid whatever might disturb the perfect harmony between the two nations, but to draw more and more closely the fraternal bonds which unite them. You have seen proofs of this in the various decrees, which have been passed by the National Convention, in favor of the commerce of the United States. 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