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Special Message

March 17, 1808

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States:

I have heretofore communicated to Congress the decrees of the Government of France of November 21, 1806, and of Spain of February 19, 1807, with the orders of the British Government of January and November, 1807

I now transmit a decree of the Emperor of France of December 17, 1807, and a similar decree of the 3d of January last by His Catholic Majesty. Although the decree of France has not been received by official communication, yet the different channels of promulgation through which the public are possessed of it, with the formal testimony furnished by the Government of Spain in their decree, leave us without a doubt that such a one has been issued. These decrees and orders, taken together, want little of amounting to a declaration that every neutral vessel found on the high seas, whatsoever be her cargo and whatsoever foreign port be that of her departure or destination, shall be deemed lawful prize; and they prove more and more the expediency of retaining our vessels, our seamen, and property within our own harbors until the dangers to which they are exposed can be removed or lessened.


Thomas Jefferson, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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