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Spoliation claims.

Bonaparte declared, in 1810, that no trade would be allowed with the allies of France in which France herself was forbidden to participate. In the ports of Spain under French control, of Holland, and at Naples, a large number of American vessels and a great amount of American property were seized; also at Hamburg, in Denmark, and in the Baltic ports, it being alleged that many American and many British vessels were employed in bringing British produce from British ports under forged papers seeming to show that the property and vessels were American, directly from the United States. The seizures were, therefore, made indiscriminately, and a vast amount of bona fide American property was thus lost. The seizures at Naples were particularly piratical, for the ships were lured into that port by a special proclamation of King Joachim Murat. These spoliations constituted the basis of claims subsequently made upon, and settled by, France and Naples. The only country in Europe into whose ports American vessels might enter with safety was Russia.

The War of 1812-15 wiped out all American claims for commercial spoliations against England. Those against France, Spain, Holland, Naples, and Denmark remained to be settled. Gallatin, at Paris, and Eustis, at The Hague, were instructed to press the subject. William Pinkney, former ambassador at London, appointed in Bayard's place as minister to Russia, was also commissioned to take Naples in his way, and to ask payment for American vessels and cargoes formerly confiscated by Murat, the Napoleonic sovereign. The restored Bourbon government demurred. The demand, they said, had never been pressed upon Murat himself, and they disclaimed any responsibility for the acts of one whom they regarded as a usurper, by whom they had suffered more than had the Americans. Notwithstanding an American ship-of-war—the Washington, seventy-four guns—and several armed sloops were in the Bay of Naples, Pinkney could not obtain any recognition of the claims, and left for Russia.

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