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vessels should be confiscated, because the embargo in the United States led him to think that the cargoes must be British, and must have been introduced in violation of the Berlin and Milan decrees. When this order was received at Naples, it was decreed that the proceeds derived from the sales of the vessels and cargoes, as well as from the sale of licenses to trade, should constitute a separate and special fund. This fund was treated as part of the "extraordinary and private domain" of Murat himself, and was used to feed the caprices and the oriental pomp of the family of Murat and his adherents,” and to defray “other licentious expenses of Murat and of his wife, especially during their visit to Paris." Murat was declared to be “but the passive instrument of the will of Bonaparte in the confiscation of the American ships."!
In 1825 and 1826 another but unsuccessful attempt Appleton's Negotia.
was made to obtain indemnity for the acts of the
Murat government. Mr. John James Appleton was sent as special agent of the United Statos to Naples, with instructions to press the claims; but after some correspondence with the Chevalier de Medici, then minister for foreign affairs, in which the latter objected to entering into the subject on the ground that it would prejudice the position of France in respect of similar claims of the United States, Mr. Appleton was instructed that the President had decided to postpone the matter to a more propitious moment. ?
Such a moment was believed to have arrived when Renewal of Nego.
Mr. Rives on the 4th of July 1831 concluded his con
vention for the settlement of claims against France. This event was followed in the autumn by the dispatch of Mr. John Nelson as chargé d'affaires to Naples, with instructions to press the claims to a conclusion.? Mr. Nelson addressed his first note on the subject to the Prince of Cassaro, then minister for foreign affairs, on January 11, 1832, and another on the 27th of February.
The Prince replied at length on the 30th of May. Note of the Prince of His argument proceeded on the same lines as that of Cassaro.
the Marquis di Circello, but with some elaborations and new illustrations. He contended that no indemnification was due to the American merchants, since they were wrong in confiding in Murat, whom they ought not to have viewed as the absolute, entire, and supreme possessor of the kingdom. Though Napoleon invested Murat on July 15, 1808, with the title of King of Naples, to which was added the dignity of High Admiral of France, the supreme sovereignty of Naples really resided in Napoleon, who in fact dictated the political relations of the country and ordered the enforcement of his decrees there. When a country is occupied by a foreign force, said the Prince of Cassaro, “a distinction should always be made between that force and the citizens of the country, who, being incapable of resistance, have unavoidably fallen under the power of the conqueror.” Napoleon, with the wild idea of destroying the naval supremacy of Great Britain, claimed the right to dictate to all Europe; and Murat was merely his puppet. Moreover, Murat had no legitimate title. Apart from his investiture by Napoleon, he had no other
1 Am. State Papers, For. Rel. IV. 169.
title than that of conquest, which must be followed by a treaty of peace with or entire submission of the sovereign dispossessed. Neither of these things took place. Ferdinand, the legitimate sovereign, constantly remained at war with Murat, and Americans who entered into contracts with the latter took the chances of war. Murat was like the robber who entered a man's house and stole its contents, which happened to include not merely the property of the owner of the house, but the property of a neighbor. Americans, though they knew the risk of trading to Europe at that time, persisted in doing so, preferring tho hazard of losing their goods to having them rot on their hands. Should the Neapolitans or their king pay the penalty which the Americans thus incurred? The Neapolitans derived no benefit from the seizures, since the whole product went into the private purse of Murat. Naples groaned for ten years under the desolating continental system which occasioned the very evils for which the Americans required satisfaction. The kingdom was still loaded with taxes and debts caused by the violence and rapacity of the French. The principle that one government succeeding another was bound to fulfill the latter's engagements was, the Prince declared, inapplicable because the prince who recovers dominions to which he has never renounced the right can never be said to succeed the invader. Nevertheless, said the Prince, His Majesty, desirous of giving a proof of his delicacy and friendliness, had commanded that if any of the vessels that were seized should be found in the royal navy, it should instantly be returned or the value paid to the owner.
The significance of this offer was disclosed in Mr. NelArgument of Mr. Nelson. son's reply to the Prince's note. Maintaining the same
positions as were advanced by Mr. Pinkney, Mr. Nelson said that the claims of the American Government involved three propositions: 1. That its citizens in 1809 were engaged in a lawful trade, and that their property was wrongfully seized and confiscated. 2. That the injuries thus inflicted proceeded from the government of the Neapolitan kingdom. 3. That the kingdom of Naples, having committed the wrongs, was bound to redress them; and that no change in its system of government, or in the persons of its rulers, could relieve it from this obligation. The truth of the first proposition had not been denied. The second and third were controverted.
In order to support the second proposition the United States did not, said Mr. Nelson, feel bound to maintain that the government of Murat was strictly legitimate. This question it considered to be immaterial. It limited itself to the assertion that the political affairs of the kingdom were at the period in question under the direction of an established government; that Murat was its king de facto, and that in the exercise of the powers of the established government the injuries complained of were committed. Ferdinand was driven froin the throne of Naples in 1806, and sought refuge in Sicily, where he renained till 1815. In 1808 Murat was proclaimed king, and from that time till his expulsion in 1815 he exercised all the powers of royalty. His government was complete in all its departments. It was, with a single exception, recognized by the leading powers of Europe, and it performed all the international functions of government. It was not a mere military occupation. It was fixed, not temporary; civil, not military. Moreover, it was, in the view of the public law, independent. No matter how great was the influence of Napoleon, Naples was governed as a separate kingdom. Even the act of Bayonne of July 15, 1808, by which the crown was settled on Murat and certain successors, confirmed the fact. It reserved no power to Napoleon. Neither the Berlin nor the Milan cree was proprio vigore of any effect in Naples. True, the kingdom may have submitted to the influence of France. But it did not appear that the American confiscations were due to this cause, or that they could be ascribed to anything else than the desire of Murat to supply his own needs, even at the expense of the nation's faith. But, conceding the existence of the imputed influence in the condemnation of American property, it could avail nothing. A government can not evade responsibility for its acts on the plea that it was influenced by a foreign power to do wrong. The decrees confiscating the Amorican property were officially the acts of the Neapolitan government.
It having thus been shown that the acts complained of were the acts of the Neapolitan government, Mr. Nelson proceeded to discuss the question whether the responsibility for them had devolved on the subsisting government. In this relation ho maintained that the acts of the rulers of a state, while engaged in the exercise of its sovereign powers, are the acts of the state itself; that the obligations incurred by such acts remain unaffected by changes in its actual government; and that whoever comes to the possession of its sovereign power, takes it subject to these obligations.' Whatever might be said as to the charge that the government of Murat was founded in usurpation, the nation remained the same, by whomsoever it was governed; and it was with the nation, and not with its governor in his personal capacity, that the American merchants maintained their intercourse. With the question what was done with the proceeds of the confiscations, they had nothing to do. It was not their duty to suffer, because Murat may have abused his trust. In reality, however, a part of the proceeds was appropriated to public use. It was notorious that six or seven, or more, of the American vessels were immediately after their seizure devoted to the naval service of the Neapolitan government. “Some of these even now," said Mr. Nelson, “bear the flag of His Majesty Ferdinand the Socond.” And admitting that the rest were sold, as the Marquis di Circello had said, “to feed the caprices and the oriental pomp of the family of Murat and his adherents," the proceeds of the spoliations inured to the relief of the Neapolitan people. If the American property had not been devoted to the royal household, the ordinary revenues would have been drawn on, or money would have been raised by charges on the resources of the country. By the provisions of the convention of Casa Lanza of May 20, 1815, and the royal proclamation of August 22 in the same year, the debts of Naples, part of which had been contracted during the incumbency of Murat, were guaranteed by the Neapolitan government. The obligation of the government was equally clear to indemnify those whose property was, by a kind of forced loan, converted, through the agency of the constituted authorities, to the purposes of the kingdom. Mr. Nelson also referred to the convention between France and other powers for the payment of losses inflicted by Napoleon,
Mr. Nelson cited in support of these propositions Vattel, B. I. ch. 4, sec. 40; Book II, ch. 18, sec. 324; Book IV, ch. 5; also Pufendorf, Book VIII. ch. 12, secs. 2 and 3.)
as tending to show that the government of Naples was bound to make indemnity.
After sending this note Mr. Ne on had numerous Conclusion of a Con
conferences with the Prince of Cassaro, but failing to
reach any satisfactory conclusion, he at length demanded an explicit declaration whether the government would or would not grant the desired redress. Further conferences followed the demand, and various sums were offered by the Neapolitan government as an indemnity. On the 1st of October Mr. Nelson, deeming the sums that were offered insufficient, demanded his passports. They were sent to him on the following day, with a note stating that the Neapolitan government did not consider the negotiations at an end, and that a diplomatic agent would immediately be sent to the United States. On October 14, however, the matter was settled by Mr. Nelson himself, who on that day signed with the Prince of Cassaro a convention which was thought to be adequate for the satisfaction of all just and well-founded claims.
By this convention the King of the Two Sicilies Terms of Settlement. agreed to pay to the United States 2,115,000 Neapoli
tan ducats. Of this sum 7,679 ducats were set apart to reimburse the Government of the United States for expenses incurred in bringing home American seamen belonging to vessels that were configcated at Naples in 1810. The rest of the fund was to be devoted by the Government of the United States, in such manner and according to such rules as it might prescribe, to the satisfaction of claims “for the depredations, sequestrations, confiscations, and destruction of the vessels and cargoes of merchants of the United States (and for every expense of every kind whatsoever incident to or growing out of the same) inflicted by Murat during the years 1809, 1810, 1811, and 1812.” It was further agreed that the indemnity should be paid in nine equal annual installments of 235,000 ducats each, with interest at the rate of 4 per cent a year, to be calculated from the date of the exchange of the ratifications of the convention till the whole suin should be paid. The first installment was made payable twelve months after the exchange of ratifications. The exchange took place at Naples June 8, 1833.
By an arrangement concluded at Washington DecemModification as to
ber 26, 1835, on the proposal of the government of the Payment.
Two Sicilies, and with the concurrence of the claimants, by Mr. Forsyth, Secretary of State of the United States, and the Chevalier Dominico Morelli, His Sicilian Majesty's consul-general, it was agreed that the balance of the indemnity remaining unpaid should be discharged by the payment in Naples on February 8, 1836, of the sum of 1,500,000 ducats. This arrangement was carried into effect. The whole fund yielded about 94 per cent of the total amount awarded to the claimants.
By an act of Congress of March 2, 1833, provision Establishment of a
was made for the appointment by the President, by
and with the advice and consent of the Senate, of a board of three commissioners, whose duty it should be to receive and
'Equivalent to $1,755,450, estimating a Neapolitan ducat at 832 cents. * S. Ex. Doc. 351, 25 Cong. 2 sess.
examine all claims presented to them under the convention of October 14, 1832, which were “provided for by the said convention, according to the provisions of the same and the principles of justice, equity, and the law of nations." It was further provided that the board should have a secretary, versed in the French and Italian languages, and a clerk, both to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Sonate, and that the commissioners, secretary, and clerk should, before entering upon the duties of their offices, “take oath well and faithfully to perform the duties thereof." The members of the board were required to sit in Washington, and to terminate their duties within one year from the time of their first meeting. They were empowered to make rules and regulations. The Department of State was required to deliver to them all records and papers relating to the claims in question, and it was provided that, on the completion of their labors, all the records and papers of the commission should be deposited in the Department of State. The commissioners were required to report to the Secretary of State a list of all their awards, and it was made the duty of that official to transmit a certified copy of it to the Secretary of the Treasury. On receiving this list, the Secretary of the Treasury was directed to distribute in ratable proportions, among the persons in whose favor awards should have been made, such moneys as had been received into the Treasury for that purpose. The salary of the commissioners was fixed at $3,000 a year, of the secretary at $2,000, and of the clerk at $1,500.'
To carry the convention and act into effect the Organization of the
President appointed as commissioners Wyllys Silliman, Commission.
of Ohio, John R. Livingston, jr., of New York, and Joseph S. Cabot, of Massachusetts.? Thomas Swann, jr., of the District of Columbia, was appointed as secretary, and John W. Overton, of Kentucky, as clerk. The board appointed a messenger at a salary of $500, as the Danish commission had done.
On September 18, 1833, the commissioners, the secretary, and the clerk qualified by taking the necessary oath before a justice of the peace of the District of Columbia, and the commissioners notified the Secretary of State of their readiness to proceed to business. In reply the Secretary of State transmitted to them for their inspection the journal of the commissioners under the Florida treaty, as well as that of the Danish commission.
On September 19, 1833, the board adopted the follow
ing rules : “Ordered, That all persons having claims under the convention between the United States and His Majesty the King of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, concluded at Naples on the fourteenth day of October one thonsand eight hundred and thirty-two, which are to be received by the commissioners, do file a memorial of the same with the secretary of the board, to the end that they may hereafter be duly examined, and the validity and amount thereof decided upon, according to the merits of the several cases,
14 Stats. at L, 664.
2 Mr. Cabot was appointed to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Peter V. Daniel, of Virginia, who was originally appointed a commissioner.
3 They took the rooins that had lately been occupied by the commission under the convention with Denmark.