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June 23 1812: Orders in Council are Repealed


On June 23, 1812, the British government revoked the Orders in Council. On the same day Jonathan Russell in London received two letters from Lord Castlereagh announcing the formal revocation. The Orders in Council had been a response to France's Berlin and Milan Decrees which prohibited British and neutral ships that went to Britain from shipping their cargo to any European port under French control. In turn, the British Orders in Council prohibited British and neutral shipping from carrying goods to the European continent unless they first stopped in a British port and paid for a special licence.  The Orders in Council had been unpopular in the United States and also to manufacturing interests in Britain. The change in British policy meant that one of the main complaints that occasioned the War of 1812 is resolved. Lord Castlereagh's letters and the Prince Regent's order are reproduced below. 

Lord Castlereagh to Mr. Russell. Sir: Foreign Office, June 23, 1812.

I am commanded by the Prince Regent to transmit to you, for your information, the enclosed printed copy of an order in council which His Royal Highness, acting in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty, was this day pleased to issue for the revocation (on the conditions therein specified,) of the orders in council of the 17th January, 1807, and of the 26th of April, 1809, so far as may regard American vessels and their cargoes, being American property, from the 1st August next have the honor so be, &c.
CASTLEREAGH.

Lord Castlereagh to Mr. Russell. Sir: Foreign Office, June 23, 1812.

In communicating to your Government the order in council of this date, revoking (under certain conditions therein specified) those of January 7th, 1807, and of April 26th, 1809, I am to request that you will at" the same time acquaint them, that the Prince Regent's ministers have taken the earliest opportunity, after the resumption of the Government, to advise His Royal Highness to the adoption of a measure grounded upon the document communicated by you to this office on the 20th ultimo; and His Royal Highness hopes that this proceeding, on the part of the British Government, may accelerate a good understanding on all points of difference between the two States.

I shall be happy to have the honor of seeing you at the Foreign Office at 2 o'clock to-morrow, and beg to apprize you that one of His Majesty's vessels will sail for America with the despatches of the Government in the course of the present week.

I have the honor to be, &c.

CASTLEREAGH.

ENCLOSURE: 
Order in Council. At the court at Carlton House, June 23, 1812: Present, His Royal Highness the Prince Regent in council.

Whereas His Royal Highness the Prince Regent was pleased to declare, in the name and on behalf of His Majesty, on the 21st day of April, 1812, "that if at any time hereinafter the Berlin and Milan decrees shall, by some authentic act of the French Government, publicly promulgated, be absolutely and unconditionally repealed, then, and from thenceforth, the order in council of the 7th day of January, 1807, and the order in council of the 26th day of April, 1809, shall, without any further order be, and the same are hereby declared from thenceforth to be, wholly and absolutely revoked:

And whereas the chargé des affaires of the United States of America, resident at this court, did, on the 20th day of May last, transmit to Lord Viscount Castlereagh, one of His Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, a copy of a certain instrument then for the first time communicated to this court, purporting to be a decree passed by the Government of France on the 28th day of April, 1811, by which the decrees of Berlin and Milan are declared to be definitively no longer in force in regard to American vessels:

And whereas His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, although he cannot consider the tenor of the said instrument as satisfying the conditions set forth in the said order of the 21st day of April last, upon which the said orders were to cease and determine, is nevertheless disposed on his part to take such measures as may tend to re-establish the intercourse between neutral and belligerent nations upon its accustomed principles.  His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, in the name and on the behalf of His Majesty, is therefore pleased, by and with the advice of His Majesty's privy council, to order and declare, and it is hereby ordered and declared, that the order in council bearing date the 7th day of January, 1807, and the order in council bearing date the 26th day of April, 1809, be revoked, so far as may regard American vessels, and their cargoes, being American property, from the 1st day of August next:

But whereas, by certain acts of the Government of the United States of America, all British armed vessels are excluded from the harbors and waters of the said United States, the armed vessels of France being permitted to enter therein, and the commercial intercourse between Great Britain and the said United States is interdicted, the commercial intercourse between France and the aid United States having been restored, His Royal Highness the Prince Regent is pleased hereby further to declare, in the name and on behalf of His Majesty, that if the Government of the said United States shall not, as soon as may be after this order shall have been duly notified by His Majesty's minister in America to the said Government, revoke, or cause to be revoked, the said acts, this present order shall, in that case, after due notice signified by His Majesty's minister in America to the said Government, be thenceforth null and of no effect.

It is further ordered and declared, that all American vessels, and their cargoes, being American property, that shall have been captured subsequently to the 20th day of May last, for a breach of the aforesaid orders in council alone, and which shall not have been actually condemned before the date of this order, and that all ships and cargoes, as aforesaid, that shall henceforth be captured under the said orders prior to the 1st day of August next, shall not be proceeded against to condemnation till further orders; but shall, in the event of this order not becoming null and of no effect, in the case aforesaid, be forthwith liberated and restored, subject to such reasonable expenses on the part of the captors as shall have been justly incurred.

Provided that nothing in this order contained, respecting the revocation of the orders herein mentioned, shall be taken to revive wholly or in part the orders in council of the 11th of November, 1807, or any other order not herein mentioned, or to deprive parties of any legal remedy to which they may be entitled under the order in council of the 21st April, 1812.

His Royal Highness is hereby pleased further to declare, in the name and on behalf of His Majesty, that nothing in this present order contained shall be understood to preclude His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, if circumstances shall so require, from restoring, after reasonable notice, the orders of the 7th of January, 1807, and the 26th of April, 1809, or any part thereof, to their full effect, or from taking such other measures of retaliation against the enemy as may appear to His Royal Highness to be just and necessary. 

And the right honorable the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury, His Majesty's principal Secretaries of State, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, and the Judges of the High Court of Admiralty and Courts of Vice-Admiralty, are to take the necessary measures herein as to them shall respectively appertain.

JAMES BULLER.

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