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least desire to make our enemy. A hostile rupture between Great Britain and the United States would be more gratuitous, more ruinous to commerce, more repugnant to private feelings and interests, and far more disgraceful to civilization, than any quarrel in which we could be engaged. There may be circumstances under which it would be inevitable, there may be sacrifices too great for us to make in order to avoid it, but there is certainly no war against which the reason and conscience of the public are so decisively enlisted. It might be forced upon us, for-there is a degree of injustice to which no community can submit; but unless forced upon us by a high sense of patriotic duty it would be too unpopular to be undertaken by the strongest government. Perhaps American politicians have sometimes presumed too far upon this sincerely pacific disposition, but at the present time we have no such complaint to make. Whatever bitterness of feeling still prevails in the United States towards this country was not fomented, at least in the first instance, byinterested agitators ; it sprang from a real, though possibly erroneous, belief that we have inflicted a wrong upon them. The suspicious circumstances attending the equipment of- the Alabama. were interpreted by the light of contemporary speeches expressing sympathy with the south, and the complicity of our government with that unscrupulous transaction was not so much inferred from their actual conduct as assumed to be self-evident. No Englishman can for a moment admit this construction of the facts, but no one capable of distinguishing between a legal right and a. moral claim will be disposed to deny that a fair case was made out for arbitration. Lord Russell's unqualified rejection of that proposal was partly justified by the form in' which Mr.
Adams’s demands were presented, but it also betrayed a somewhat narrow and one-sided view of the question at issue. It was, in short, a false step, however defensible on grounds of law or precedent, and the sooner false steps are retraced the better.
We have yet to learn what may have passed between Lord Stanley and Mr. Seward onthis delicate subject, which is one that is surely capable of a prompt settlement honorable to both parties. There are those who imagine that, having been adjourned so often, it can be adjourned indefinitely, and that it will be all the easier to deal with at last. We cannot but express most earnestly our dissent from this opinion, and our conviction that a more favorable opening for an arrangement is now presented than is ever likely to be presented again. We have pointed out on a. former occasion the obvious advantage which a new government and a new foreign secretary possess in retrieving a diplomatic mistake of their predecessors ; but there is a still more important aspect of the matter that remains to be considered. The present domestic embarrassments of the United States are such as to make a. graceful concession on the part of Great Britain peculiarly opportune. The conflict between the President and Congress weakens the whole nation, and even if it should be terminated by a compromise, of which there appears no prospect as yet, the reconstruction of the south will tax the energies of both for some time to come. The States of the late confederacy have greatly increased the President’s difficulties. and disappointed the hopes of their moderate supporters in the north, by refusing to accept the constitutional amendment. Meanwhile, troubles have broken out in Missouri, and so many elements of discord are still at work throughout the Union as to concentrate the attention of American statesmen on internal politics. Whatever inclination there may be to meddle with foreign affairs is just now engrossed by Mexico, and France has for once become the object of greater jealousy than England. This very exceptional state of things appears to constitute a strong argument for waiving any punctilios of national dignity, and making overtures for arbitration of our own accord. Such an act, we venture to predict, would be appreciated by all parties in America. Hostility to England is no part of republican traditions, and the republicans have a selfish motive for avoiding a breach with any foreign power, since it would strengthen the hands of the President. The President, on the other hand, has always shown a desire to cultivate amity with this country, and, if We may judge from recent indications, this feeling is shared not only by Mr. Seward and General Grant, but also by Mr. Stanton and Mr. Welles. The latter has expressly acknowledged the conciliatory course taken by the British government on the fishery question ; and Mr. Seward gave proofs of his pacific sentiments at a most critical period, which cannot be cancelled by the intemperate language to be found in some of his despetches. Such a combination of favorable conditions cannot be expected to repeat itself. Lord Stanley is in a better position for negotiating on our behalf than Lord Clarendon was, or than any future secretary of foreign affairs would be. We have far more to lose than to gain by a change in the United States government, and it is but too probable that such an event would he followed by a revival of these claims in a more peremptory form. They are not forgotten by the American people, and they never will be forgotten until they have been submitted to some impartial adjudication. By proposing this ourselves, we tacitly confess that Lord Russell erred in declining to
entertain it last year; but we put ourselves in the right, which is a vantage ground worth
any effort to obtain. By waiting until it is again proposed by the United States, and then consenting to it, we shall justly incur the suspicon of yielding under compulsion.
There will, no doubt, be practical difficulties to be encountered in defining the points for arbitration, as well as in selecting an arbitrator equally acceptable to both nations. They are difficulties, however, of the very same kind which always occur, and are easily overcome, in the settlement of disputes between private gentlemen. Of course no allegationimplying a suggestion of bad faith on the part of our late overnment would be admissible in the statement to be laid before the arbitrator. On the ot er hand, it would be unreasonable, as well
as impossible, to exclude the question whether, under given circumstances, a greater degree of vigilance ought not to have been exercised by the government, and whether this country is not morally responsible to some extent for the neglect of it. No one, we presume, supposes that if the thing had to be done over again a second Alabama would be allowed to escape, and, if not, it is worth while to ask ourselves what expedients would now be adopted to prevent it. Probably, as in the‘ case of the rams, the executive would resort to measures beyond those prescribed by the foreign enlistment act ; but if the executive would, in fact, employ, and would be sup orted by public opinion in employing, such powers in a future emergency, it is, to sayt e least, a presumption that our present neutrality laws are found to be inadequate. Now, unless we hold to the heresy, which Sir Roundell Palmer has expressly disclaimed, that international obligations can be-limited by municipal enactment, it does not appear so utterly monstrous that damages resulting in part from a defect in our laws should be defrayed in part by ourselves. At all events, an implicit confidence in_ the justice of one’s own cause is a strange reason for declining the test of arbitration, to the principle of which, be it remembered, Great Britain, in common with other great powers, has solemnly declared her adhesion.
llIr. Adams to Mr. Seward.
No. 1301.] ' LEGATION or THE U.\n'ren Srxres, ' London, January 9, 1867.
SIR: I have the honor to transmit a copy of the London Times containing an editorial comment on the authorized notice, published the day before, of the action of the government in response to your despatch No. 1835, of the 27th of August last. '
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
CHARLES rnANo1s ADAMS.
Hon. WILLIAM H. Snwxnn,
[From the London Times, January 9, 1867.]
It is with hearty satisfaction that we record the friendly overtures made by her Majesty’s government to that of the United States. Lord Stanley, as we announced yesterday, has instructed the British minister at Washington to propose a. resort to arbitration on the differences arising out of the American war, and from the language in which this decision has been made (public by the foreign office, we may infer that a recent communication from Mr. Sewar paved the way for its adoption. It is now for the government of the United States to say whether they will accede to the principle of arbitration, the precise terms and subjects of which are properly reserved for subsequent discussion. Upon the latter point we cannot anticipate that any serious difiiculty will be found. Of course the de-predations of the Alabama are the real sources of dispute, and the great question for the arbitrator willbe to what extent, if any, Great Britain is responsible, legally or morally, under circumstances to be duly set forth in the case, for the consequences of her escape from the Mersey. The law officers of the two countries, if they could meet for consultation, would probably succeed, Withina very few hours, in framing a. statement perfectly satisfactory to both. There. is, indeed, no controversy about the facts ; the controversy is about the principles which should be applied to them. Here the amplest discretion should, upon every ground, he left to the arbitrator. The object is not to obtain a judicial determination of a legal doubt, but to bring about an equitable arrangement between two innocent parties who, being nations and notindividuals, have no common superior. So long as the construction of our foreign enlistment act was before the law courts it was inevitable that especial stress should be laid on the legal aspect of the claim preferred by the United States; when it once comes before the arbitrator, it is the moral
aspect which should predominate. Municipal tribunals ‘are governed by precedent, even in.
matters involving national interests, not because precedent is a sounder guide than principles of justice, but rather because an adherence to precedent is the only safeguard against partiality and the only security for uniformity of decision. This reason is manifestly inap
' plicable to the adjudication of international differences by a. sovereign power. Such a pro
ceeding is more analogous to the intervention of a peace-maker between two friends who have disagreed than to any ordinary litigation. The supreme end of a legal judgment is that it should be in strict conformity with tl1e_law; the supreme end of international, as of private, mediation is to effect a settlement which can be accepted on both sides with honor.
' \Vill Lord Stanley, however, be supported by public opinion in makiu a proposal all but identical with that which Lord Russell declined, and thereby incurring t e risk of a refusalfrom the United States? We venture to believe that he will, and further, that his moral courage in taking a course repugnant to a false but plausible sentiment of national dignity will be rewarded by success. It should always be remembered that Lord Russell’s final reply to Mr. Adams was the conclusion of an elaborate corres ondence on our alleged liability for injuries inflicted by the Alabama and her consorts. hat correspondence was cor}ducted, almost exclusively, upon the narrow basis of an appeal to precedents, and as the burden of proof lay upon Mr. Adams, Lord Russell possessed a great advantage, which he turned skilfully to account. There were very few precedents relevant to the argument, but of these one of the most recent and important, in which the United States had occupied the position of defendant, happened to be in our favor. Lord Russell, chiefly relying on this case, had already committed himself to a denial of the American claim before it was ultimately presented in a practical shape, and his prompt rejection of it in that shape followed almost by way of logical consequence. We do not justify this part of Lord Russell's policy, and we regret the ungracious language in which an unpalatable reply was conveyed. It would have been far better to suggest a. change in the form of the claim than to cut off all prospect of its being entertained in any form whatever. At the same time, Lord Russell's error may be partly explained by the turn which the discussion had taken, and partly excused by the peremptory tone of Mr. .Adams’s remonstrances. But an error it was, as we have more than once pointed out, not only in policy, but on principles of reason and right. There are, doubtless, some demands so monstrous that it would be impossible for any nation to consent to arbitration upon them; but when agovernment on terms of amity with our own com lains of having been aggrieved by our default, and ofl‘_ers to submit its alleged grievance to ar itration, it is no suflieient answer to say that we cannot allow a foreign sovereign to sit in judgment on our conduct. \Ve have been parties to a. declaration in favor of referring international disputes to arbitration; we have actually referred a late dispute with a much weaker power to arbitration and bowed to the arbitrator’s award, and we should certainly tender arbitration to any state against which Great Britain had a'cause of complaint. Then, why demur to arbitration, when proposed by the United States, only because we have implicit confidence in the justice of our cause 7 We say again that Lord Russell’s unqualified rejection of Mr. Adams’s tender was a false step, and if a false step, that Lord Stanley was bound to retrace it without- needless delay and without unworthy reservations. There is nothing half so undignified as being in the wrong, nor was there any means of placing us in the right except by assuming the initiative and inviting the United States to meet us half way.
Whether they will do so, and ifse, in what spirit they will do so, remains to be seen. We can hardly expect that Mr. Seward will lose the opportunity of commenting on our change of attitude, or that some of our New York contemporaries will fail to attribute Lord Stanley’s profi'ered concession to base motives. It will, perhaps, be said or insinuated, but with an entire oblivion of dates, that we presumed on the weakness of America in the day of her calamity, and truckle to her when she has regained her strength. Now, if this reproach were ever so well deserved, yet it ought not to deter us from acting upon our own convictions of duty. It is, however, wholl'y undeserved, and capable of being rebutted by plain facts. The moment selected by Mr. Seward for pressing his demands upon Lord Russell was precisely that at which the United States, triumphant by sea and land, had utterly crushed the insurrection, still maintaining e vast.army and navy on a war footing, and indulging hopes of a speedy reconstruction, which experience has since disappointed. If there ever was a time at which Great Britain had reason to fear a rupture with America, it was that very time when Lord Russell in its name repudiated the Alabama claims. But we cannot bring ourselves to dwell on this topic, nor can we suppose that motives so petty and unstatesmanlike will influence the counsels of the United States. Englishmen did not suspect America of cowardice when, in deference to the clear rules of maritime law, she gave up the prisoners wrongfully captured on board the Trent, and Americans of sense will not suspect England of cowardice because, in deference to equally clear dictates of international morality, she retires from an untenable position. The United States government yielded then, although many persons in this country predicted that national pride would be too strong for them. It is the turn of our government to yield now, and, whether or not their motives be appreciated, we have confidence in the result of their elforts to renew those friendly relations with a kindred people which should never have been interrupted.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
No. 1905.] DEPARTMENT or STATE,
SIR: I enclose a copy of a communication of the 8th of December, addressed to the President by Kathleen M. Meany, in behalf of her father, who appears
to have been arrested in Liverpool, probably on the ground of alleged complicity in recent political disturbances in Great Britain. I will thank you to take such steps in the matter as. in your judgment may seem proper.
1_am, sir, your obedient servant,
_ Llvsmjoon, December 8, 1866.
Sm: Poor papa came to England to see his family, and the British authorities have put him in prison, and the British press accuse him of many things of which he is innocent. Some time ago they accused him of having deserted his family. Papa never deserted his family; he would not desert any one. He has always been most kind and loving to us all. He has no worldly sense, but his heart is so merciful and forgiving that he would give his last cent, did they need it, to the \vorst of his unprovoked enemies. Mamma is ill from grief. \Vishing to remove all this misery, I write to ask you in the name of our dear
eavenly Father to ask the British authorities to release poor papa.
Begging that you will kindly excuse this liberty, I remain, sir, with the most profound
respect, yours, &c.,
KATHLEEN M. MEANY. President Jonssox.
llfr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
No. 1906.] DEPARTMENT or STATE, - lVaslzz'ngtun, January 12, 1867.
SIR : A copy of a despatch written by Lord Stanley on the 30th of November‘
last has been submitted to me by her l\_Ia_jesty’s minister plenipotentiary here, Sir Frederick VV. A. Bruce It contains a review of my despatch N0. 1835, concerning so-called Alabama claims.
You will please lay before Lord Stanley this reply.
The President appreciates the consideration and courtesy manifested by her Maje'sty’s government. I shall be content, on this occasion, with defending such of my former statements as Lord Stanley has disallowed. I think it unneces-. sary to disclaim a purpose of impugning the motives of the late or of the present ministry. Governments, like individuals, necessarily take their measures with reference to facts and circumstances as they, at the time, appear. The aspect often changes with further development of events. It is with ascertained facts, and 11011 With intentions, that We are concerned; and it is of ‘Great Britain as a state, and not of any minister or ministry, that we complain. ‘
Lord Stanley justly reminds me that the Sumter was of American, not of British origin, and that she began her career by escaping from New Orleans, and not from a British port. I think, however, that the correction does not substantially affect the case. The Sumter, belonging to loyal owners, wasemployed in trade between New York and New Orleans. Insurgents seized and armed her there, and sent her out through the blockade. She captured several United States merchant vessels, and sent them into Oienfuegos. On the 30th of July, 1861, she entered the British port of Trinidad, in the West Indies, ostentatioiisly displaying an insurgent flag, which had not then, nor has it ever since, been recognized as a national ensign, either by the United States or by Great Britain, or by any other State. Being challenged, she presented a pretended commission, signed, not by the President of the United States, but by J eiferson Davis, an insurgent chief. The governor of Trinidad exhibited the British standard as a compliment to ,the insurgent visitor. The Sumterwas entertained there six days, and supplied with coal. After renewed depredations she took shelter, on the 19th of January, 1862, in the British port of Gibraltar, in continental Europe. Being efi'ectually locked in there for months by United States cruisers, she was, against the protest of this government, allowed to be sold to British buyers for the account and benefit of the insurgents. She then hoisted the British flag, and under it was received at Liverpool, within the British realm. It is, indeed, true, as Lord Stanley has observed, that the Alabama, when she left England, was wholly unarmed and not fully equipped as a war vessel. It is also true that she received an armament, a further equipment, a commander and a crew in Angra bay, Azores—a possession of the Crown of Portugal— where the British government had no jurisdiction, and could exercise no lawful control, even if they had an opportunity. But, on the other hand, it is to be remembered that, not only was the vessel built at Liverpool, but the armament and the supplemental equipment were built and provided there also, simultaneously and by the same British hands, and also that the commander and crew were gathered and organized at the same time and the same place; the whole vessel, armament, equipment, commander and crew were adapted, each part to the other, and all were prepared for one complete expedition. The parts were fraudulently separated in Liverpool, to be put together elsewhere, and they were fraudulently conveyed thence to Angra bay and there put fraudulently together by her Majesty’s subjects, not less in violation of British than of Portuguese obligations to the United States. The offenders were never brought to justice by her Majesty’s government, nor complained of by that government to the Queen of Portugal. The Alabama, from the laying of her timbers in Liverpool until her destruction by the Kearsarge, ofl‘ Cherbourg, never once entered any port or waters of the United States. Whatever pretended commission she ever had as a ship of war must have been acquired either in Great Britain or some other foreign country at peace with the United States, or on the high seas. Nevertheless, the Alabama was received, protected, entertained, and supplied in her devastating career in the Britishports of Capetown and Singapore in the east, and when she was finally sunk in the British channel, her commander and crew were, with fraudulent connivance, rescued by British subjects and ostentatiously entertained and caressed as meritorious but unfortunate heroes at‘ Southampton. With these explanations I leave the affair of the Alabama where it was placed in the representation of Mr. Adams. ' Lord Stanley says that the Florida, under the original name of Oreto, left England unarmed and unequipped. It must not be forgotten, however, that while building she was denounced to her Majesty’s government by Mr. Adams. Lord Stanley also says that the Shenandoah left England unobserved, and therefore unquestioned, and, for anything that had transpired, on a legitimate
voyage, and that she was only armed, equipped. and manned as 8- W111‘ vessel
ofl' Funchal, within Portuguese dominion. I am sure that it must be unnecessary
.to refer here to the fact that the building of the Florida. the Georgia, and the
Shenandoah in British ports, and the arming and equipment of them outside of British jurisdiction, were fraudulent in the same manner that has been specially described in regard to the Alabama. The Shenandoah was received, protected. and supplied, in defiance of our protest, at Melbourne, in Australia. She proceeded thence to the Arctic seas, where she destroyed twenty-nine United States merchant vessels, and finally, after the end of the rebel hostilities here, she retiirned to Liverpool, the place from which she had first gone forth, and there surrendered herself to her Majesty’s government as to an ally or a superior. Lord Stanley excuses her Majesty’s government in part upon the ground that suflicient evidence or notice was not presented by the United States, in part on the ground of accidental hindrances or embarrassments, while in one place he seems to imply that the only devastating vessels of which we-complain are the Sumter, the Alabama, the Florida, and the Shenandoah. In regard to the first excuse, I have to say that British complaints of lack of vigor on our part would,_ under any circumstances, be unreasonable. International as well as