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admitted, would give effectual protection to vessels employed in the slave-trade, as well as to those pursuing a career of higher infamy. That letter is indeed such a perfect exposition of the desire of Great Britain to regulate her just protection of the rights of humanity, by a most careful respect for the interests and honour of other powers, that a few of the most material extracts from it will now be inserted.
"The Undersigned again renounces, as he "has already done, in the most explicit terms, "any right on the part of the British Govern"ment to search American vessels in time of "peace. The right of search, except when "specially conceded by Treaty, is a purely "belligerent right, and can have no existence "on the high seas during peace.
"The Undersigned apprehends, however, "that the right of search is not confined to "the verification of the nationality of the vessel, "but also extends to the object of the voyage, "and the nature of the cargo. The sole pur"pose of the British cruizers is to ascertain "whether the vessels they meet with are really "American or not. The right asserted has, in "truth, no resemblance to the right of search, "either in principle or in practice. It is simply "a right to satisfy the party who has a legiti"mate interest in knowing the truth, that the "vessel actually is what her colours announce. "This right we concede as freely as we exercise. * The British cruizers are not instructed to "detain American vessels under any circum"stances whatever; on the contrary, they are "ordered to abstain from all interference with "them, be they slavers or otherwise. But where "reasonable suspicion exists that the American "flag has been abused, for the purpose of "covering the vessel of another nation, it would "appear scarcely credible, had it not been made ** manifest by the repeated protestations of their "representative, that the Government of the "United States, which have stigmatized and "abolished the trade, should object to the "adoption of such means as are indispensably "necessary for ascertaining the truth.
"The Undersigned had contended, in his "former note, that the legitimate inference "from the arguments of Mr. Stevenson would "practically extend even to the sanction of "piracy*, when the persons engaged in it should "think fit to shelter themselves under the flag "of the United States. Mr. Stevenson observes "that this is a misapprehension on the part of "the Undersigned; and he declares that, in "denying the right of interfering with vessels "under the American flag, he intended to limit "his objection to vessels bond fide American, "and not to those belonging to nations who "might fraudulently have assumed the flag of "the United States. But it appears to the "Undersigned that his former statement is by "no means satisfactorily controverted by the
* This passage has, within a very brief period, received an awful commentary in the unparalleled transactions which, according to the American newspapers, took place on the 1st of December, 1842, on board the United States' national brig, Somers, on her return home from the Coast of Africa. This vessel, it is alleged, had, before leaving New York, shipped some men who had formerly served on board of slavers, and that a youth, only aged 19, who was a midshipman on board, had leagued himself with some of these desperate men, and concerted with them to rise upon the captain and officers in the night, and murder them, together with those of the crew who should refuse to join the mutineers. The brig was then to be sailed as a pirate, and to cruize on the packet line between England and America, plunder everything they overpowered, murder the passengers and crew, and sink the vessels. Through the imprudence of the midshipman, this villany came to the captain's knowledge, who, having collected every proof the case admitted of, arrested the ringleaders, and put them in double irons. But uncertain how far the mutiny extended amongst his men, and perceiving symptoms of a break-out, and believing it was questionable whether he could maintain the command of the brig until he had conducted his prisoners to the United States, he consulted his officers, and they, entertaining the same opinion that he did of the extreme danger to which their lives were exposed, as well as of that terrible one, of the brig being converted into a pirate, unanimously concurred with him in the necessity of putting the midshipman, and two of the most desperate of his confederates, to immediate death. The decision was no sooner announced to them than it was executed, the whole three being hung at the fore yard-arm, after receiving the confession of two of them.
"declaration of Mr. Stevenson's. How is this "bona Jides to be proved? Must not Mr. Ste"venson either be prepared to maintain that • the flag alone is sufficient evidence of the "nationality of the vessel, which, in the face of "his own repeated admissions, he cannot do; or "must he not confess that the application of "his arguments would really afford protection "to every lawless and piratical enterprise?
"The Undersigned had also expressed his "belief that the practice was general, of ascer"taining, by visit, the real character of every "vessel on the high seas against which there "should exist reasonable ground of suspicion. "Mr. Stevenson denies this; and he asks, What "other nation than Great Britain had ever "asserted, or attempted to exercise, such a "right? In answer to this question, the Under"signed can at once refer to the avowed and "constant practice of the United States, whose "cruizers, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, by "the admission of their public journals, are "notoriously in the habit of examining all sus"picious vessels, whether sailing under the "English flag, or any other. In whose eyes "are these vessels suspicious? Doubtless, in "those of the commanders of the American "cruizers. But, in truth, this right is quite as "important to the United States as to Great u Britain; nor is it easy to conceive how the "maritime intercourse of mankind could safely "be carried on without such a check.
It is difficult to believe all that is reported of the intentions of the persons who were executed, but if this monstrous villany had been consummated, there would have been an American national brig, reputed to be the best sailer in their navy, on the high road of the commerce of the two nations carrying desolation of the worst kind wherever she went. Ofttimes, no doubt, before her atrocities had awakened suspicion of her truo character, would she, if the jealous principle contended for had been admitted, have been enabled to defy our cruizers, and continue her career of blood, by the simple act of hoisting the American flag, finding immunity under the protection of a punctilio that can be intrinsically valuable only to freebooters.
"It can scarcely be necessary to remind "Mr. Everett that the right thus claimed by "Great Britain is not exercised for any selfish "purpose. It is asserted in the interest of "humanity, and in mitigation of the sufferings "of our fellow-men. The object has met with "the concurrence of the whole civilized world, "including the United States of America, and "it ought to receive universal assistance and
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"It is undoubtedly true, that this right "may be abused, like every other which is dele