Page images
PDF
EPUB

setts an indemnity of 300,000 dollars, it needs only to say that this is a pure invention, and proves that Mr. Lemoinne has either wilfully made this statement, or has never consulted the Treaty at all; for this particular matter could not be easily misunderstood, it being only treated of in the fifth article of the Treaty, where the United States' Government engage—

"To pay and satisfy said States, respectively, "for all claims for expenses incurred by them "in protecting the said heretofore disputed "territory, and making a survey thereof in "1838: the Government of the United States "agreeing with the States of Maine and Mas"sachusetts to pay them the further sum of "three hundred thousand dollars, in equal "moieties, on account of their assent to the line u of boundary described in this Treaty, and in "consideration of the equivalent received there"for, from the Government of Her Britannic * Majesty."

If Mr. Lemoinne had read the article, he must have seen that the payment of these 300,000 dollars was a transaction between the Federal Government and these two States; and this was made still more notorious by Lord Ashburton's letter to Mr. Webster, dated 9th August, 1842, in which he expressly protests against Her Majesty's Government being in any manner responsible "for these engage"ments, of the precise nature and objects of "which I am uninformed, nor have I con"sidered it necessary to make inquiry concern"ing them."

To this letter of protest Mr. Webster, in a note of the same date, says :—

"What you say in regard to that subject is "quite correct: it purports to contain no "stipulation on the part of Great Britain, nor "is any responsibility supposed to be incurred "by it, on the part of your Government."

Nevertheless Mr. Lemoinne, who says "nous "avons sous les yeux cette correspondance," does not hesitate to assert that it was Lord Ashburton who had offered to pay the money.

In his remarks upon the eighth article of the Treaty, Mr. Lemoinne observes:—

"Cet article du Traite n'a, comme on le voit, "aucune importance, n'etablit en aucuhe facon "le droit de visite reciproque*."

Although it is true that the right of mutual visitation is not established by it, a circumstance from which others as well as himself have sought to insinuate very unfounded conelusions, yet it is not equally true that the article is of no importance. The friends of humanity at least find reason to judge otherwise of it. It is matter of sufficient notoriety that previous to the Treaty of Washington, Great Britain was most earnestly engaged in endeavouring to carry into effect the suppression of that traffic in human beings which all Christian powers had concurred in pronouncing detestable, but which, to a fearful extent, was still successfully carried on, in consequence of the persons fraudulently engaged in it hoisting a flag which did not belong to them, to secure them from being overhauled by British cruisers. Now, if Great Britain were to permit vessels thus atrociously and illegally employed to sail on with impunity, if she were to continue to hold the language of freedom to the persecuted Africans, and yet permit them constantly to be carried by thousands into unmitigated and hopeless slavery, what would it be but to connive at, and indirectly participate in, these criminal enterprises. Those, therefore, who would pretend to establish as a general principle, that vessels under strong suspicion of being slavers, are not to be visited for the mere purpose of ascertaining whether they do or not belong to the country whose flag they hoist, say in effect that

* This article of the Treaty is, as we see, of no importance, and establishes in no respect the right of reciprocal visit.

the traffic in slaves is not to be interrupted, and therefore that it shall be pursued with impunity; for nothing is more clear than that if any one flag is to be exempted from visitation, that particular flag will always be hoisted upon occasions when the vessel cannot avoid being overhauled: the American flag would always be hoisted when the pursuer was a British cruiser, and vice versd. But the parties interested, from various motives, in cramping and impeding the execution of the humane purpose of our country, have constantly endeavoured to excite a spurious alarm in the sensitive feelings of their fellow-countrymen, by confounding a friendly reciprocal visitation in time of peace, with the belligerent right of search. Now this right of visitation, the exercise of which is so evidently necessary for the suppression of the trade in human beings, is an act altogether distinct, both in its nature and avowed purpose, from that international right of search which is incident to the justifiable capture of enemies' property on board of neutral vessels; yet, nevertheless, is so subject to misrepresentation, that in countries where an abhorrence of slavery is not inherent, the most jealous national feelings are easily aroused by it, even in the bosoms of those who, in calmer moments, would approve of the high motive which sanctions it. This is

E

the difficulty which has frequently made the justifiable conduct of British cruisers obnoxious to the Americans, and has not only embarrassed the relations between the two Governments, but clogged the exertions of Great Britain to give full effect to the extinction of the slave trade on the coast of Africa.

Of late the subject has excited a great deal of attention, the American Government having decidedly objected to a friendly visitation of their flag, with or without the consent of their commanders, or under any circumstances whatsoever: so that if a vessel under every accumulated suspicion of being engaged in the slave trade, were to be met on the high seas carrying the American flag, and upon visitation by a British cruizer, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the flag was run up fraudulently or not, was found to be a bond Jide American vessel, with a cargo of slaves on board, the act of visitation was to be deemed "a violation of national rights and sovereignty, and the incontestible principles of national law*."

But the letter which the Earl of Aberdeen addressed to Mr. Everett, December 20, 1841, is well known to contain an unanswerable refutation of a mode of reasoning which, if it were

* Mr. Stevenson's Letter to the Earl of Aberdeen, Oct. 21, 1841.

« PreviousContinue »