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France: Decrees on Trade 1793-1810

Extract from the registers of the special agency of the Executive Directory to the Windward islands.

Equality.                           Liberty.

DECREE.

The special agents of the Executive Directory to the Windward islands:

Considering that the ports of the Windward and Leeward islands, as well as those of Demarara, Essequibo, and Berbice, delivered up to the English, occupied and defended by emigrants, are in a state of regular siege, and not entitled to the same advantages as the ports of the different English colonies, possessed by that Power before the war, or to other rights;

Considering that it is against every principle to treat a horde of insurgents, destitute of country, without Government, and without a flag, with the same respect as civilized nations preserve towards each other during a war;

Considering that, by the authentic acts which are in our possession, it is proved that the divers places of the colonies delivered up to the English by the rebel Frenchmen and Batavians, no more belong to the British Government than La Vendée, in which the English ministry had, in like manner, mercenary troops under pay; some regiments clad in the same uniform as those of England; considering that in virtue of the second article of the treaty of alliance, concluded at Paris on the 6th of February, 1778, between the United States and France, the former Power engaged to defend the American possessions in case of war; and that the Government and the commerce of the United States have strangely abused the forbearance of the republic of France, in turning to its injury the favors granted to them of trading in all the ports of the French colonies;

That, by permitting neutral vessels any longer to carry provisions of war and of subsistence to men evidently in a state of rebellion, would be to prolong civil war, and the calamities and crimes following therefrom, decree as follows:

Art.1.  The ships of the republic and French privateers are authorized to capture and conduct into the ports of the republic, neutral vessels destined for the Windward and Leeward islands of America, delivered up to the English, and occupied and defended by the emigrants.  These ports are, Martinico, St. Lucia, Tobago, Demarara, Berbice, Essequibo; and at the Leeward, Port-au-Prince, St, Marcks l'Archaye, and Jeremie.

Art. 2.  Every armed vessels, having a commission from either of the said ports, shall be reputed a pirate, and the crews adjudged and punished as such.

Art. 3.  The vessels and cargoes described in the first and second articles are declared good prize, and shall be sold for the benefit of the captors.

Art. 4.  Every captured vessel, which shall have cleared out, under the vague denomination of West Indies, is comprehended in the first and second articles.

Art.5. The decree of the 4th of last Nivose, in pursuance of the resolution of the Executive Directory of the 14th Messidor, 4th year, shall be executed till further orders, as far as shall not be contravened by the present decree.

This decree shall be printed, transcribed in the register of the criminal and commercial tribunals, sent to all the French colonial ports, read, published, and posted up, wherever it may be necessary.  It shall be notified officially to the neutral Governments of St, Croix, St. Thomas, and St. Bartolomew's.

Enjoining the criminal and commercial tribunals of Guadaloupe, their delegates in the different French colonies and elsewhere, the Rear-Admiral Commandant on the West India station, and the head of the administration, to aid in executing the present decree, each in his respective department.

Done at Basseterre, island of Guadaloupe, the 13th of Pluvoise, 5th year (February 1, 1797) of the French republic, one and indivisible.

VICTOR HUGUES.

LABAS.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series March 2003

 

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