« PreviousContinue »
to cruise or commit hostilities against any power with which the United States are at peace. The second empowers the collectors of customs to detain any vessel manifestly built for warlike purposes and about to depart the United States, of which the cargo shall princi lly consist of arms and munitions of war, when there is just ground for suspecting that sh: will be employed against a friendly power, until it definitive decision can be come to on the case, or security given as above. It is sufficiently evident that these two articles would, at the utmost, only have served to enhance the price of any vessel against which they might have been enforced. -But, in addition to this, it may be observed that the terms in which they are framed would have rendered them inapplicable to the vessels whose depredations are now complained of, none of which sailed out of British ports as armed vessels, or had on board cargoes principally consisting of arms or munitions of war. They would have been equally ineffective as against the ships which furnished the armament. equipment, and crews to those vessels, but which were not armed nor employed in hostilities against the United States. Supposing even that the scope of these provisions had been so enlarged as to include the cases in question, it would still have been impossible to demand ‘security for, or to order the detention of, vessels to which no suspicion had attached, such as the Shenandoah and Georgia : or to take retrospective action as regards the Florida and Alabama, which had already escaped before Mr. Adams’s appeal and the subsequent negotiation took place. It is fruitless to argue whether a nugatory and fictitious amendment of our law would have been accepted by the United States as a satis"actory proof of the willingness of Great Britain tomeet/theii-wishes. In all respects whidh concern the present-controversy, the law of the two countries is identicalr; and as the government of the United States declare their.own law sufficient to meet the obligations imposed upon them by international duty, it is not easy to understand why they should consider that of England inadequate for the same purpose. It is-sufficient to say that the actual circumstances do not warrant Mr. Seward in founding the claims now brought forward on any defect of the foreign enlistment act.
There is anotherstatenient made by Mr. Seward which cannotbe here passed over. Hedraws a contrast between the conduct of the British government during the recent American civil war and that of the United States government in_ dealing with the Fenian projects of aggression against Canada. It cannot be admitted that this contrastis justified by the facts of either case. The British government were ready, anxious, and determined throughoutthe whole course of the civil war to exert all the power conferred upon the Queen by the law of the land to prevent British subjects from taking part in that contest. But the law could not be put in force against offenders unless on the production of evidence, first, that the law was violated, and secondly, that its violation was the act of the persons charged with that offence. The secrec
observed by these persons in their unlawful proceedings baffled all the efforts of her Majesty s ,
government, no less than those of the diplomatic and consular agents of the United States in
this country, to detect them. _ The action of the Fenians, on the contrary, was open and avowed. It showed itself in public meetings and in the public press, in the enrolment of troops, the collection ot' arms, the solicitation of money, and finally in the establishment in the territory of the United States of a so-called provisional government, with its legislative assembly and administrative officers. Throughout these transactions there has been no attempt at disguise, but rather an arrogant display of publicity. The government of the United States needed, therefore, no research on the part of its own ofiicials, nor even a denunciation by British authorities, to establish against these Fenian agitators a palpable case of infringement of the laws of the United States, coupled with a deliberate design to undertake from the territory of the United States, whose government was in amity with that of her Majesty, a military operation directed against either Canada or Ireland. Her Majesty’s government are far from desiring, in.any way, to depreciate the friendship of the course which the United States government adopted when the proceedings of the Fenians assumed the shape ot an actual aggression on British territory ; they readily admit that “ the unlawful attempts against Great Britain were disallowed” by that government, whose direct and uuprompted action greatly contributed to the defeat of the enterprise. But they utterly deny t e alleged similarity of the two cases. They cannot admit that because four vessels escaped the action of British law, two of them unperceived, one by an accident, and one for want of evidence, Mr. Seward is justified in stating that “ruinous British warlike expeditions against the United States were practically allowed and tolerated by her Majesty's government, notwithstanding reinonstrance:” and looking to the fact that at least an equal number of vessels were arrested before commencing their career, and that on all occasions when the law could be enforced, legal proceedings were taken against the ofienders, they consider that they have a right to assert that under circumstances similar to those in which the United States government has been lately placed, they would not have pursued a less fair or friendly course. It is not the intention of her Majesty's government to pursue this discussion further; yet I must observe that, were it their wish to apply to the conduct of the United States the same kind of criticism in which Mr. Seward has indulged with regard to them, they might fairly be entitled to ask whether the restoration, by order of the President, of arms captured from Fenian insurgents without any appearance of an intention on the part of those insurgents to abandon their culpable rojects, and the discontinuance of government prosecutions institilted against their lea ers without any proof that the evidence against those leaders was
inadequate for their conviction, are not circumstances quite as open to an unfavorable construction as any of those on which Mr. Seward has laid so much stress as against the conduct.
of this government. But her Majesty’s government have made no complaint of those pro-
ceedings, nor do they intend to make any. They think it fairer and more l‘easons.l)le, when judging of the policy of other States, to deal with that policy as a whole, and not to magnify into undue importance isolated acts which may appear contrary to its general tendency. This rule they will always be ready to apply to others, and they claim its application to themselves. _
Having dealt so far-with Mr. SewardYs argument, and pointed out the wide discrepancies that exist between his views of the question and those entertained by her Majesty’s government, I now proceed to consider the practical proposition with which he concludes.
It is im ossible for her Majesty's-present advisers to abandon the ground which has been taken by ormer governments so far as to admit the liability of this country for the claims then and now put forward. They do not think that such liability has been established according to international law or usage; and though sincerely and earnestly desiring a good understanding with the United States, they cannot consent to purchase even the advantage of that good understanding by concessions which would at once involve a censure on their predecessors in power, and be an acknowledgment, in their view, uncalled for and unfounded, of wrongdoing on the part of the British executive and legislature. But, on the other hand, they are ful y alive to the inconvenience which arises from the existence of unsettled claims of this character between two powerful and friendly governments. They would be glad to settle this question if they can do so consistently with justice and national respect; and with this view they will not be disinclined to adopt the principle of arbitration, provided that a fitting arbitrator can be found, and that an agreement can be come to as to the points to which arbitration shall apply.
Of these two conditions, the former need not be at present discussed ; the latter is at once,
the more important and the more pressing.
With regard to the ground of complaint on which most stress is laid in Mr. Seward’s despatch, viz: the alleged premature recognition of the Conledeiaa State» as a belligerent power, it is clear that no reference to arbitration is possible. The act complained of, while it bears very remotely on the claims now in question, is one as to which every State must be held to be the sole judge of its duty; and there is, so far-as I am aware, no precedent for any government consenting to submit to thejud merit of a foreign power or of an international commission the qulestign whether its policy lias or has not been suitable to the circumstances in which it was p ace . .
The same objection, however, does not necessarily apply to other questions which may be at issue between the two governments in reference to the late war ; and with regard to these, subject to such r_eservations as it ma hereafter be found necessary to make, I have to instruct you to ascertain from Mr. Seward w ether the United States government will be prepared to accept the principle of arbitration as proposed above. Should this otfer be agreed to, it will be for Mr. Seward to state what are the precise points which in ills opinion, may be and ought to be so dealt with. Any such_proposal must necessarily be the subject of deliberate consideration on the part of her Majesty’s government: but they will be prepared to enter
_ tain it in a friendly spirit, and with the sincere desire that its adoption may lead to a renewal ot the good understanding formerly existing, and, as they hope, hereafter to exist, between
Great Britain and the United States.
Hon. Sir FREDERICK W. A. Barres, G. C. B, &c., Spa, Sn.
SIR : In another despatch of this date I have confined myself exclusively t.o the consideration of the American claims put forward in Mr. Sewa.rd’s despatch to Mr. Adams of the 27th of August, and arising out of the do redations committed on American commerce by certain cruisers of the Coufcd)erate States.‘
But, independently of these claims, there may, for aught her Majesty’s government know, be other claims on the part of American citizens, originating in the events of the late civil war, while there certainly are very numerous British claims arising out of those events, which it is very desirable should be inquired into and adjusted between the two countries. The two governments were in communication with each other on this subject in the latter part of the year 1862, and the draft of a convention for the settlement of such claims was actu
'a.lly under their consideration. Circumstances, however, prevented the matter being proceeded with at that time, and indeed it was premature to enter into such a convention while the civil war was still raging, and new claims were continually starting up. The time seems now favorable for reviving the subject.
. The government of the United States have brought before that of her Majesty one class of claims of a peculiar character, put forward by American citizens, in regard to which you are authorized by my other despatch of this date to make a proposal to Mr. Seward; but her Majesty's government have no corre
sponding class of claims to urge upon the attention of the American govern-'
ment. Her Majesty’s government think, however, that they may fairly invite the government of the United States to undertake that, in the event of an understanding being come to between the two governments with reference to the manner in which the special Amcriotn claims to which my other despatch alludes shall be dealt with, they will agree that, under a convention to be separately but simultaneously concluded, the general claims of the subjects and citizens of the two countries, arising out of the events of the late war, shall be submitted to examination by a mixed commission, as in a former instance, for examination, with a view to their eventual payment by the government adjudged to be responsiblc. You will make a communication to Mr. Seward to the effect of this despatch. I am, &c., ‘ STANLEY. Hon. Sir Faanamox W. A. Bacon, G. C. B., 8;c., 8;c., <§'c.
SIR: I have the honor to enclose a copy of a despatch of the 3d instant from our vice-consul general at Montreal relative to the result of the recent Fenian trials at Sweetsburg. I should be glad to know whether we may assume that the capital convictions referred to will be suspended as other similar cases have been. '
I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your obedient servant,
No. 12.] U. S. Coxsomrn GENERAL, B. N. A. P., Montreal, January 3, 1867.
SIR: I have the honor to inform you that the trials at Sweetsburg of the prisoners recently held in the jail of this city, on a charge of complicity in the Fenian invasion of this province. in June last, terminated on the 28th ultimo with the following results:
Madden, Smith, and Crowley have been sentenced to be hung on the 15th proximo; Holmes to be imprisoned for two months for larceny, and Crawford for three months for receiving stolen goods; The remaining eleven have been discharged. '
Mr. Devlin, the counsel for the prisoners, with whom I have had an interview since the close of the trial, appears to entertain no doubt of his success in appeal in the cases of those capitally condemned.
I have the honor to be. very respectfully, your obedient servant, C. G. B. DRUMMOND, Unilcd States Vice-consul General, B. N. A. P. Hon. WILLIAM H. Snwann, ‘ . Secretary of State.
Sir F. Bruce to Zllr. Seward.
WASHINGTON, January 10, 1867.
SIR : With reference to the capital convictions referred to in Mr. Drummond’s despatch of January 3d, from Montreal, copy of which you did me the honor to enclose in our note of the 7th instant, I am able to state that the sentences
will be suspended, as in the previous cases. I have the honor to-be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient
SIR : I have_the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 7th instant, which is accompanied by a copy of a despatch which was addressed to you by Lord Stanley on the 30th of November. In that communication Lord Stanley sets forth the views taken by her Majesty’s government of the so-called Alabama claims, presented in my despatch to Mr. Adams, No. 1835, and concludes with proposing the principle of arbitration, attended with some modification, in regard to those claims. You inquire whether the government of the United States is prepared to accept that principle as contained in that despatch. I have the honor to say in reply that, following the course of proceeding which has hitherto prevailed, I have today communicated in a des atch to Mr. Adams the views of this government concerning the question w ich you proponnd, and have instructed him to submit a. copy* of the same to Lord Stanley. I cheerfully give you, however, a copy of that paper for your information. Her Majesty’s government will learn from it that this government will expect a further communication from them before deciding the question of accepting the principle of arbitration. You also inquire whether, in the event of an_ understanding being come to between the two ‘governments as to the manner in which the special American claims alluded to in my dcspatch No. 1835, and in Lord Stanley’s answer thereto, this government would be willing to enter into a convention for a mixed commission upon the general claims of the subjects and citizens of the two countries not involved in that correspondence, such convention to be independent and separate from but simultaneous with the completion of an understanding in regard to the disposition of the special claims. On this point I have the honor to reply that, although this latter question must, under present circumstances, be held in reserve, yet it will be cheerfully taken into consideration when we shall have been favored with the further views of her Majesty's government upon the special matters under discussion, and shall thus be enabled to determine the probabilities of effecting a final arrangement for a settlement of those special claims.
* For this enclosure see instruction to Mr. Adams, No. .1906, January 12, 18§i7, page 45.
Lord Stanley to Sir F. Bruce. '
Foumoiv OFFICE, March 9, 1867.
SIR: I transmit to you herewith a copy of Mr. Seward’s reply, which was ' comrniinicated to me by Mr. Adams, on the 28th of January, to my despatch of the 30th of November, on the subject of the Alabama claims.
In this reply, as you will perceive, Mr. Seward restates and enforces the allegations made on the part of the United States in the previous correspondence on the subject of these claims, and again discusses the character of the vessels in whose depredations on the commerce of the United States the claims originate, the 'responsibility of the British government for the equipment and proceedings of those vessels, and above all, the liabilities incurred by the British government by reason of its recognition of the belligerent character of the so-called Confederate States.
It appears to her Majesty’s government that no useful result can be obtained by following Mr. Seward over these grounds. They have been fully discussed in the course of a long-protracted correspondence. No new light can be thrown on the subject-matter of dispute by reviving an exhausted controversy, or by reiterating statements and arguments elaborately maintained or disputed on either side. Such a course would be calculated rather to defeat than to promote the object which the British government, and, doubtless, that of the United States, has most at heart, namely, the amicable adjustment of the existing points of diflerence.
I will abstain, therefore, from any detailed examination of the statements in Mr. Seward’s despatch of the 12th of January, and will only, for the sake of historical accuracy, specifically allude to two points; in regard to the first of which it is to be observed, that whatever may be found in the confidential archives of the United States, the unpublished records of the British (foreign) otfice, as Mr. Seward designates them, do not, so far as I am able to discover, bear out the allegation that any influence was exerted by the British government to induce the authorities of the United States, in any quarter of the world, to relax their vigilance in det.ecting and bringing home to suspected parties attempts or intentions to infringe the municipal laws of England, or to evade her international obligations; and on the second point I must-repeat, in accordance with my former argument on the subject, that the President of the United States, and not the Queen of England, is primarily responsible for the acknowledgment of the belligerent character in the so called Confederate States, and that, in recognizing the status of the so-called Confederate States as belligerent, the British government found itself associated with the greater part, if not the whole, of the maritime powers of Europe.
But I will not be led any further into a renewal of controversy on these or other points raised by Mr. Seward, and that not because I feel any doubt as to the possibility of maintaining the ground on which the British government have hitherto taken their stand, but because I feel that by doing so I should be more likely to retard than to advance a settlement of the real question at issue, namely, that of the liability of the British government to make good the losses occasioned to American commerce by the operations of confederate ships of war, in which British subjects are alleged at some time or other to have had more or less interest, and which‘ in their character of confederate ships of war were at different times admitted into the ports of her Majesty’s dominions.
In my despatch of the 30th of November, I explained to you the grounds on which her Majesty's government could not consent to refer to a foreign power to determine whether the policy of recognizing the Confederate States as a belligerent power was or was not suitable to the circumstances of the time when that recognition was made, but I at the same time expressed the willingness of