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cation of necessity, but convenience. I do not forget that your excellency has informed me that France, having recognized the confederates as belligerents, must treat their vessels as ships-of-war.

It is true the Georgia, like the Florida, the Alabama, and other scourges of peaceful commerce, was born of that unhappy decree which gave the rebels, who did not own a ship-of-war or command a single port, the right of an ocean belligerent. Thus encouraged by foreign powers, they began to build and fit out in neutral ports a class of vessels constructed mainly for speed, and whose acknowledged mission is not to fight, but to rob, to burn, and to fly. Although the smoke of burning ships has everywhere marked the track of the Georgia. and Florida upon the ocean, they have never sought a foe, or fired a gun against an armed enemy. To dignify such vessels with the name of ships-of-war seems to me, with deference, a misnomer. Whatever flag may float from their masthead, or whatever power may claim to own them, their conduct stamps them as piratical. If vessels-of-war even, they would by this conduct have justly forfeited all courtesies in the ports of neutral nations. Manned by foreign seamen, armed by foreign guns, entering no home port, and waiting no judicial condemnation of prizes, they have already devastated and destroyed our commerce to an extent, as compared with their number, beyond anything known in the records of privateering.

The origin and history of the Florida are familiar to your excellency; that of the Georgia, which has just arrived, may be less known. This last-named steamer was built at a port in Scotland, and armed by British guns while anchored near the French coast, in French waters. The crew was first shipped for this vessel under the name of the Japan, bound for Singapore, Hong Kong, or other ports in the China seas. She sailed from Greenock, Scotland, under British colors, for the French port of Ushant, where she was joined by the Alar, another small British steamer. To these vessels, your excellency will recollect, I called your attention at the time. They came to anchor in a small bay on the French coast, and within, as is alleged, a stone's throw of the shore. The guns and ammunition were there shifted from the Alar to the Japan; the men were then called aft and informed that the voyage to Singapore was abandoned, and that the vessel would no more be called the Japan, but the Virginia, a confederate war steamer; and that the captain was going to burn and destroy all North American vessels. New shipping articles were then produced, and, after reading them, the crew were called upon to sign, and a majority of them did so. The confederate flag, so called, was then raised, and the Japan, under the name of the Virginia, since changed to the Georgia, commenced her career. I have papers and affidavits in my possession proving the facts herein stated, which, if important in the views of your excellency, I shall be happy to submit. This vessel was, therefore, in fact, armed, and its crew enlisted within the jurisdiction of France. It is true that this government has recognized the south as belligerents, but it has at no time, so far as I know, recognized as lawful the conduct of these marauders, who constitute themselves sole judges of what is and what is not lawful prize, and, as a rule of action, destroy it without judicial condemnation. To accept the excuse that they have no port into which they can enter, by reason of our blockade, is to make their acknowledged weakness a source of strength. No such exception can, I think, fairly exempt them from the ordinary rules of maritime law.

The spirit of the despatch before mentioned, in which the "allied governments" adopt for themselves, and commend to us, the rule that no privateer shall be equipped, or victualled, or admitted with its prizes into our ports, seems to me to conflict much with the treatment extended to vessels like the Florida and Georgia. If they, while yet reeking with the smoke of their burned victims, (as was the case of the Florida, which burned the Anglo-Saxon while on her way into Brest,) shall be received and assisted because they carry one form

of paper instead of another, (a commission instead of a letter of marque,) although both are issued by the same authority, it seems to me that the spirit is sacrificed to the letter-the substance to the form.

If the convention of Paris of 1856, abolishing privateering among those states becoming parties to it, goes no further than this, it amounts to little-binding to nothing except to the form of the commission, while the responsibility of the government for the conduct of the ship remains the same, whether it sail as a vessel-of-war proper, or as a letter of marque.

But I can scarcely believe that the "allied governments," after their appeal to us at the commencement of the Crimean war, would have thought our duty as neutrals fairly discharged if, under like circumstances, we had permitted our ports to be used by vessels so built, armed, manned, and conducted, as places of refuge, or for renewing their crews and for general repairs. Yet that case would not have been so strong as the present, for Russia is a government acknowledged by all, and responsible in its nationality for wrongs, while the confederates have no such responsibility whatever.

In closing this communication, it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the promptitude and care with which the French government has heretofore acted upon all questions connected with the building, equipping, or fitting out of ships in their ports in aid of the south. It has even manifested a willingness to maintain, in good faith, the neutrality of its ports and harbors.

Accept, sir, the assurances of high consideration with which I have the honor to be your excellency's very obedient servant,

His Excellency M. DROUYN DE L'HUYS,


Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paris.

Mr. Crampton to Mr. Marcy.

WASHINGTON, April 24, 1854.

The undersigned, her Britannic Majesty's envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the United States of America, has received orders from his government to make to the Secretary of State of the United States the following communication:

Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and his Majesty the Emperor of the French, being compelled to take up arms for the purpose of repelling the aggressions of the Emperor of Russia upon the Ottoman empire, and being desirous to lessen, as much as possible, the disastrous consequences of commerce resulting from a state of warfare, their Majesties have resolved, for the present, not to authorize the issue of letters of marque. In making this resolution known, they think it right to announce, at the same time, the principle upon which they will be guided, during the course of this war, with regard to the navigation and commerce of neutrals.

Her Majesty the Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland has accordingly published the accompanying declaration, which is identical with that published by his Majesty the Emperor of the French.

In thus restricting within the narrowest limits the exercise of their rights as belligerents, the allied governments confidently trust that the governments of countries which may remain neutral during the war will sincerely exert every effort to enforce upon their subjects or citizens the necessity of showing the strictest neutrality.

Her Britannic Majesty's government entertains the confident hope that the United States government will receive with satisfaction the announcement of the resolutions thus taken, in common with the two allied governments, and that it will, in the spirit of just reciprocity, give orders that no privateer under Russian colors shall be equipped, or victualled, or admitted with its prizes in the ports of the United States. And also that the citizens of the United States shall rigorously abstain from taking part in armaments of this nature, or in any other measure opposed to the duties of a strict neutrality.

The undersigned, &c.

Hon. Mr. MARCY, &c., &c.


No. 432.]

Mr. Seward to Mr. Dayton.


Washington, November 21, 1863. SIR: Your despatch of November 6 (No. 372) has been received and submitted to the President. The note you addressed to Mr. Drouyn de l'Huys, on the same day, upon the subject of the pirates Florida and Georgia, is approved, not only in its spirit, but its every word. I can perceive in it no argument omitted or overstrained; I trust that this remonstrance will secure the careful as well as the prompt attention of the French government. The principle involved is a plain one, namely, that in a war, whether civil or foreign, a contending party without ports, or harbors, or ships, or coast, shall not be allowed, by neutral nations, to build, or arm, equip, and maintain, in the ports of such states, and on the ocean, piratical vessels to depredate on the unarmed commercial vessels of a nation with whom these states are in relations of peace and friendship, and to enjoy shelter and protection in such states without amenability to the international laws of war.

The government of the United States, in favor of the commerce of neutrals and the peace of nations, denies any toleration to such a practice. The governments of France and Great Britain seem to us to accord it. Which of the two policies shall become the precedent in future wars? It is desirable and it is urgent that this question shall be settled now. France is at war in Mexico, and, practically speaking, has closed all the ports of that republic. Would she assent to our following her own precedent set in the case of the Florida, and especially of the Georgia? True, we are yet too busily engaged in a domestic war to suffer our ship-builders and armorers to become ship-builders and armorers for the enemies of France. True, this war of ours has not yet resulted in the suppression of the insurgents, and perhaps France may yet think that it is not likely to have that auspicious termination. But these are speculations on the chances of war. Is it reasonably certain not only that we shall not regain our domestic peace within a year, but that during that time Europe will remain entirely at rest and free from the commotions of civil and international wars? If, on the contrary, we shall again be left free from the calamity of war, and that calamity shall descend upon Europe, can any European statesman believe that misguided citizens of the United States would not claim the right to practice upon the rules which the maritime powers, when the cases were reversed, had applied to ourselves? This government is not sanguine in regard to the close of our civil war. It neither hopes nor desires, and therefore it does not expect, a disturbance of the peace of Europe. But it does believe that time in its progress brings a common experience to every nation in its turn, and it asks, in the interests of peace and of humanity, that the policy of maritime powers may now be based upon principles susceptible of universal application.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM L. DAYTON, Esq., &c., &c., &c.



Mr. Seward to Viscount Treilhard.


Washington, October 13, 1862.

SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of the 6th instant, commending to the kind attention of this government three affairs which interest Frenchmen in New Orleans, namely: first, one in relation to various lots of sugar belonging to Messrs. Richard Aldige & Company and to Messrs. Goodchaux, deposited in the warehouses of the custom-house in that city; secondly, another relating to two lots of printing paper belonging to Charles Harispe, which Major General Butler caused to be seized in the warehouses of the custom-house there; and thirdly, certain arbitrary acts which are represented to have been committed by orders of federal authorities on a plantation belonging to French citizens, and to state that these matters have all been referred to the appropriate departments of this government for inquiry and report. I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.



Mr. Seward to Viscount Treilhard.


Washington, October 16, 1862.

SIR: Referring to your note of the 6th instant, in which, among other things, allusion is made to certain lots of sugar belonging to Messrs. Richard Aldige & Company and to Messrs. Goodchaux, deposited in the government warehouses at New Orleans, and to my reply, I now have the honor to inform you that, from information just received from the Treasury Department on the subject, it appears that instructions were g ven to the acting collector at New Orleans on the 26th ultimo, concerning the delivery of goods from the government warehouses, which will cover the cases in question.

I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir, your obedient servant, WILLIAM H. SEWARD.


Mr. Mercier to Mr. Seward.



Washington, October 31, 1862.

SIR: At a time when the putting into practice of the law of conscription gives rise to certain difficulties in regard to the nationality of Frenchmen residing in the United States, it has seemed to me that it would be advantageous to settle

in a precise manner which of my countrymen it is who, not having lost their nationality derived from origin, should of right be exempted from military service. I have, therefore, prepared a draft of circular which I contemplate addressing shortly to the consuls of the Emperor in the United States, and in which I have briefly mentioned the various classes of Frenchmen who, according to the terms of our legislation, are placed in the condition indicated above. I have the honor to communicate to you beforehand this document, requesting you to be pleased to make to me such observations thereon as it may suggest to you. It is unnecessary for me to tell you that they will be received in a spirit of friendly impartiality, and with a sincere wish that we may succeed in coming to an agreement with you as soon as possible in regard to the details of the question, and thus prevent every kind of practical difficulty.

This first point easily attained, as I hope, I shall request you to be pleased to address to the governors of the States, as well as to all other functionaries to whom you may judge it proper to do so, a copy of my circular, and to indicate that the principles on which it is founded have been acknowledged to be just by the government of the United States, and that consequently the certificates issued by our consuls, agreeably to the request which I make of them, are to be considered in the proper quarter as a priori an incontrovertible proof of the nationality of the bearer, and consequently of his right to escape all the effects of the law of conscription.

I have adverted, in concluding, to the question relative to those foreigners who are settled in one of the States, whose peculiar legislation admits them to the right of voting even when they have only made a first declaration with a view of obtaining American naturalization. It is not for me to estimate how far such a provision does or does not put the legislation of those States in conflict with the federal laws in regard to naturalization, but merely to regard the question from a stand-point of its practical effects; and while maintaining that the fact of voting under such circumstances does not entail upon a Frenchman the loss of his nationality, I think I have reached a conclusion which is equitable in behalf of my countrymen, and yet perfectly conformable to the theory and practice of the federal government in regard to this matter.

A Frenchman, in our view, could only lose his nationality derived from origin in the contingencies provided by our legislation, such as naturalization in a foreign country, or the acceptance of certain public functions without the authority of the Emperor.

I embrace this opportunity, sir, to renew to you the assurances of my high consideration.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c., &c., &c.


Draft of a circular to be addressed by the legation to the consuls of France in the United States.


Washington, October 31, 1862.

SIR: The system of conscription which has just been put in force in the United States being of a character to give rise to certain questions as to the nationality of foreigners by birth or by origin, it has seemed to me essential, for the sake of our countrymen residing in this country, and in order to prevent any conflict with the local authorities, to settle categorically who among the persons that may have recourse to your intervention should of right remain exempt from service in the American armies, and for this purpose it will suffice to settle summarily who they are, among those persons, that have, in the terms of our legislation, preserved intact the French nationality. In fact, there is no principle more clearly defined by the law of nations than that, according to which the unnaturalized foreigner

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