John Adams: State of the Union Addresses of John Adams

State of the Union Address: November 22, 1797 (continued)

The commissioners appointed in pursuance of the 6th article of the treaty met at Philadelphia in May last to examine the claims of British subjects for debts contracted before the peace and still remaining due to them from citizens or inhabitants of the United States. Various causes have hitherto prevented any determinations, but the business is now resumed, and doubtless will be prosecuted without interruption.

Several decisions on the claims of citizens of the United States for losses and damages sustained by reason of irregular and illegal captures or condemnations of their vessels or other property have been made by the commissioners in London conformably to the 7th article of the treaty. The sums awarded by the commissioners have been paid by the British Government. A considerable number of other claims, where costs and damages, and not captured property, were the only objects in question, have been decided by arbitration, and the sums awarded to the citizens of the United States have also been paid.

The commissioners appointed agreeably to the 21st article of our treaty with Spain met at Philadelphia in the summer past to examine and decide on the claims of our citizens for losses they have sustained in consequence of their vessels and cargoes having been taken by the subjects of His Catholic Majesty during the late war between Spain and France. Their sittings have been interrupted, but are now resumed.

The United States being obligated to make compensation for the losses and damages sustained by British subjects, upon the award of the commissioners acting under the 6th article of the treaty with Great Britain, and for the losses and damages sustained by British subjects by reason of the capture of their vessels and merchandise taken within the limits and jurisdiction of the United States and brought into their ports, or taken by vessels originally armed in ports of the United States, upon the awards of the commissioners acting under the 7th article of the same treaty, it is necessary that provision be made for fulfilling these obligations.

The numerous captures of American vessels by the cruisers of the French Republic and of some by those of Spain have occasioned considerable expenses in making and supporting the claims of our citizens before their tribunals. The sums required for this purpose have in divers instances been disbursed by the consuls of the United States. By means of the same captures great numbers of our sea men have been thrown ashore in foreign countries, destitute of all means of subsistence, and the sick in particular have been exposed to grievous sufferings. The consuls have in these cases also advanced moneys for their relief. For these advances they reasonably expect reimbursements from the United States.

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