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JQA Diary, volume 34 19 June 1823
JQA Neal Millikan Recreation Slave Trade Impressment

19. V.15. Swam in the Potowmack a full hour, Antoine was with me. I follow this practice for exercise, for health, for cleanliness and for pleasure— I have found it invariably conducive to health, and never experienced from it the slightest inconvenience. Dr Huntt and all my friends think I am now indulging it to excess— I never before this day swam an hour at once; and I must now limit my fancies for this habit, which is not without danger— The art of swimming ought in my opinion to be taught as a regular branch of education. There was a Cabinet Meeting at the President’s at One O’Clock— Messrs. Crawford, Calhoun and Thompson present—Mr Wirt absent— My project of a Convention for the suppression of the Slave-trade; answer to Mr Canning, and Instruction to R. Rush were first considered. Mr Crawford and Mr Calhoun started objections on various grounds— Crawford to the argument in the Letter to Canning against the right of Search, which he said was completely given up in the project of Convention, and therefore the Argument might be represented by the British as a mere Declamation, against a practice which the project essentially conceded— This objection had weight, and I had been fully aware of it in drawing up the papers— But two objects were to be aimed at in the papers— One fully to justify the repugnance which we have heretofore manifested against the right of search as practiced by Great-Britain in War; the other to carry in to effect the Resolution of the House of Representatives, recommending negotiation to obtain the recognition of the Slave-trade, to be Piracy by the Law of Nations— To Piracy by the Law of Nations, Search is incident of course, since wherever there is a right to capture there must be a right to search. The end desired by the Resolution of the House of Representatives cannot be obtained without conceding 85the right so far of search, and all that is left us is to keep it still inflexibly with in the Class of belligerent rights, as exercised only against Pirates, the enemies of all mankind. It was therefore that in my project of Convention, the first Article assumes as a fact that both parties have declared the Slave-trade Piracy, and my Instructions to Mr Rush are not to offer it, but after an Act of Parliament, declaring the Slave-trade to be Piracy. Mr Calhoun’s objection was to the admission of the right of capture by foreign Officers at-all; as weakening us upon the general objection to conceding the right of search— Mr Thompson, did not think the right of search conceded in the project at all— The search for Pirates, had, he said absolutely nothing in common with the search of neutral vessels— Much discussion which I cannot record. Mr Calhoun thought we should at once say we will never concede the right of Search for Slaves, unless Britain will renounce search for her Seamen in our vessels in War— I said I was willing to make one the Condition of the other— It was finally understood by the President that the project much as drafted should be proposed, provided the British make the Offence Capital, by act of Parliament; and not be communicated in detail to the British Government without that. Crawford hinted at an additional guard, that lists of the vessels authorised to capture the Slave-traders should be mutually furnished— But it would be very inconvenient to us, as Instructions of capture are issued to all our Cruizers— The project is to go, but the Letter to Mr Canning is to be modified. Upon the subject of the average value of the Slaves carried away and to be paid for, it was determined that we have not the necessary information, and that it must be left to be fixed by the Commissioners or otherwise according to the Convention. After the other members of the administration had withdrawn, I requested of the President to mark the passages of the Draft to Mr Canning, which he would have omitted—for which purpose be kept the papers— George dined at Mr Petry’s— Melting heat— Mr Frye here this Evening, returned from Bladensburg; where he has left Mrs Frye, with Mrs Adams— Verses.