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“These are the precautions taken by Her “Majesty's Government against the occurrence “ of abuse in the performance of this service; “ and they are ready to adopt any others which “ they may think more effectual for the purpose, “ and which shall, at the same time, be consist“ent with the attainment of the main object in “ View. “Mr. Stevenson has said that he had no “wish to exempt the fraudulent use of the “American flag from detention; and this being “ the case, the Undersigned is unwilling to “ believe that a Government like that of the “ United States, professing the same object, “ and animated by the same motives as Great “ Britain, should seriously oppose themselves “to every possible mode by which their own “ desire could be really accomplished. “The Undersigned avails, &c. “(Signed) ABERDEEN.”
At the period of Lord Ashburton's mission, this letter had been some time in the possession of the American Government, and as it appears to have been the last diplomatic communication from her Majesty’s Government on the subject of a reciprocal right of visitation, and conveys in very unequivocal language the course which the commanders of British cruizers are instructed to pursue hereafter, the inference is plain that the American Government was not disposed to renew the discussion, and that the arguments of the Earl of Aberdeen were in so much left to be taken pro confesso.
It being thus manifest that it was the intention of the negotiators of the Treaty of Washington, that the 8th Article should be introduced into the Treaty, solely for the purpose of providing a further co-operation of the United States, towards the attainment of that most desirable object, the suppression of the trade in human beings, and that it was in no manner whatever intended to take Great Britain off the ground she oecupied in the Earl of Aberdeen's letter, it has excited no little surprise with those who pay attention to American affairs, to find the President of the United States, in his late Annual Message to Congress asserting, that the 8th Article of the Treaty was framed in “close conformity” with his own particular views of the right of search, and with the conduct of the United States Minister, lately accredited at the Court of France, who had been notoriously engaged in an attempt to dissuade the French Government from ratifying the Treaty it had entered into with Great Britain, for a reciprocal right of visitation,
The impossibility of the negotiators having framed the Article with any view of the kind, is sufficiently obvious: they had the Earl of Aberdeen's letter before them, and no one will believe that Lord Ashburton would consent to depart from the letter or spirit of it in the smallest particular; neither is there any proof that he did so in the Correspondence or the Treaty. The point is too important to be left without further explanation, respecting which, it is not unlikely, that nobleman will set the public right. The 8th Article of the Treaty, therefore, simply provides that each Government is to “Maintain in service, on the coast of Africa, “a sufficient and adequate squadron, or naval “force of vessels, of suitable numbers and “ description, to carry in all not less than “eighty guns, to enforce separately and respec“tively the laws, rights, and obligations of each “of the two countries for the suppression of “ the Slave Trade.” By reference to the Article, it will be seen that the two Governments are also to instruct their commanding officers to act in concert for the suppression of the trade, and copies of their respective orders are to be communicated by each Government to the other. When Mr. Lemoinne calls this Article unim
portant, he expresses unnecessarily a low estimate of the sincerity of the American Government. If that Government has found for the present intrinsic difficulties in the way of agreeing to a reciprocal right of visitation, at any rate it has taken a most important step, that cannot but tend to accelerate the accomplishment of the sole purpose contemplated by that right. Their squadron is now fitting out, nor is it to be doubted for a moment that, commanded by men of the known energy and good faith which have hitherto distinguished American naval officers, this force, co-operating with our own, will, ere long, give a deadly blow to the trade in slaves. In the observations which Mr. Lemoinne makes upon the “Caroline,” he has so far done justice to Great Britain, as to pronounce her proceedings upon that occasion to have been justifiable. Alluding to the correspondence of Lord Ashburton, he remarks :“Le ton de ces explications, que le Gou“vernement Americain a considérées comme “ de véritables excuses, nous surprend d'autant “plus qu’il est évident pour nous que l'Angle“terre était ici parfaitement dans son droit.”.”
* The tone of these explanations, which the American Government has considered as real excuses, surprises us the more because it is evident that England upon this occasion was perfectly in the right.
But although he professes to have given a critical examination of this point of late difference between the two countries, he has been far from doing justice to the subject, as will appear from a very brief statement of the case.
The State of New York on its western border is separated from Canada by the River Niagara. According to the constitution of the United States, each State of the Union has jurisdiction over its own territory, and is governed by its own laws and authorities. By the same constitution the foreign relations of all the United States are committed to the Federal Government. Towards the close of the year 1837, some Canadian rebels having fled to the State of New York, and being there joined by various American citizens, fitted out a steamer called the “Caroline,” supplied her with arms and ammunition, and by means of this vessel, and without being attempted to be stopped in their illegal enterprise by the authorities of New York, invaded and took possession of an island called Navy Island, belonging to Great Britain, from whence they commenced and kept up for several days a constant attack upon the unoffending inhabitants of the Canadian shore. The remonstrances of the British authorities being unattended to by those of the State of New York,