18th Congress.]

No. 390.

[2d Session.



The Committee on Foreign Relations submit a Report on so much of the Presidents Message as relates to Piracies.

That our commerce for years has been harassed and the lives of our citizens destroyed by pirates, issuing from the colonies of Spain in the West Indies, is a fact derived not only from the message of the President, but is of universal notoriety. These outrages have been so long and so often repeated, and marked with such atrocious circumstances, that a detail of the particular cases would be as impracticable as unnecessary. Our Government, with a view to protect our citizens, has resorted to the means within their power by stationing a naval force near the places where the pirates resort; a measure also pursued by other powers. Every effort, heretofore, has been unavailing to put an end to these atrocities. These desperadoes, acquiring confidence from impunity, becoming more ferocious from habit, and multiplying by recruits from the most abandoned of other nations, threaten the most disastrous mischiefs, justly alarming to that highly valuable and most respectable portion of our fellow-citizens whose pursuits are on the high seas. It is manifest, as well from facts derived from other sources as from the message of the President, that the continuance of this evil is ascribable to the asylum afforded the banditti in the colonies of Spain. The Government of the United States, cherishing the most amicable disposition towards Spain, has presented the subject with great earnestness to the Spanish Government, demanding reparation for the past and security for the future. To these reiterated remonstrances no answer was returned till very recently, and to this day all that has been obtained is a promise of a satisfactory answer to the applications of the Government of the United States; although Spain has been solemnly warned that if she did not promptly acquit herself of her obligations to us on this subject, our Government would be constrained, from the nature of the outrages, to become its own avenger, and, availing itself of its own resources, protect the commerce and lives of the American citizens from destruction. In the same spirit of conciliation an appeal has been made to the local authorities, accompanied with a request that if, from weakness, they were unable to exterminate the hordes of banditti who took shelter from pursuit within their territories, that permission might be given our forces to pursue them on land. This has been denied on the vain punctilio of national dignity. The posture in which Spain now stands is that of connivance in


these injuries, or incapacity to prevent them. "A sovereign who refuses to cause reparation to be made of the damage caused by his subject, or to punish the guilty, or, in short, to deliver him up, renders himself an accomplice in the injury, and becomes responsible for it." If the committee were of opinion that the refusal on the part of Spain was wilful, and not the result of inability, they would, with a full view of all the consequences which the measure involves, at once recommend an appeal to the last resort of nations against Spain and all her dependencies; but believing, as they do, that courtesy requires that her refusal to do us justice should be placed on the ground of inability—an inability resulting from causes which the committee intentionally forbear to enumerate—they content themselves with recommending only such measures as are believed to be indispensable effectually to reach the mischief. And hence they beg leave to present a bill with suitable provisions for the end designed.