French Outrages Against Our Ships and Sailors

New York Evening Post

July 1809

Fellow Citizens, for more than two years has your flag been struck on the ocean whenever it has been met with by the flag of France; your vessels have been scornfully burnt or scuttled in the ocean; your property has been seized or confiscated; your sailors robbed and manacled, or forced by cruelties to serve against their own country; the worthless part of them suborned by a public decree to commit perjury, and on their evidence, though charging no crime, the wretched remainder of the crew condemned as prisoners of war, landed as such and marched without shoes to their feet or clothing to their backs in the most inclement weather some hundreds of miles into the interior of France; lashed along the highway like slaves, treated with every possible indignity, and then immured in the infernal dungeons of Arras or Verdun. There, deprived of every comfort and of all intercourse with the rest of the world, there, fellow citizens, have they been lying, some for months and some for years! There they now lie, wasting away the best vigor of their days, counting the hours of their captivity as they turn in vain their imploring eyes towards their own government, and etching down another and another week of grief and despondence. Nineteen cents a day allowed them for subsistence and clothing and medicine! Allow them seven a day, or $25 a year for clothing, and you leave them four cents to purchase each meal. Think of this, ye who live in luxury here, and read their story with more indifference than you listen to the fictitious sorrows of a Robinson Crusoe; think of this, and let it at length engage your attention, and induce you to demand of your government to interfere in earnest.

But after all, what is to be expected? If any one of these wretched men, more fortunate than his fellow sufferers, escapes and brings the tale of their situation, and makes it known to his countrymen, a set of inhuman wretches here, more cruel than the French themselves, turn their wrongs into derision, or exert their miserable faculties in cavillings and criticisms to shew that all these statements are fabrications, because they have not been drawn up by some special pleader. The barbarous impudence of some editors pronounces them forgeries, and every fellow who can set a type repeats the infamous calumny, till the public voice that had begun to raise itself in their favor is stilled, and sympathy extinguished.

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