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“My son has communicated to me, from time to time, your kind letters, and I thank you for them. I trust all will go off well. It is a great satisfaction to me that Governor Long has so kindly consented to read the oration. I hope that our friends will be satisfied with it. If it shall revive some impressions of the real grandeur of Washington's character, to which neither obelisks nor orations can do full justice, it will have answered the main purpose I had in view.
“But I have tried also to do justice to the builders of the monument, including the association and Colonel Casey. But it will speak for itself, and I will say no more about it. “Believe me, dear Mr. King,
“Very truly yours,
“Rob'T C. WINTHROP."
I add an extract from another letter referring to an accidental omission, and to the tablet containing the names of persons, to be placed in the monument.
"Boston, March 9th, 1885, 90 Marlborough Street. “DEAR MR. KING,– Your favor of the 26th ult. was duly welcomed. .
“If I can anywhere introduce Dr. [John B.] Blake's name or Senator Sherman's [in official edition of the oration] I shall do so with pleasure. I am sorry that Colonel Casey has been disappointed in the action of Congress. I hope no tablets will be affixed on the inside of the monument of an extravagant size, or with too many names. I should think a small tablet, giving the date of the dedication, with the names of those concerned in the proceedings, is all that could be wisely adopted. .
“ Thanks for all your pains in my behalf. I congratulate you on the success of the inauguration ceremonies.
“ Yours very truly,
“RoB'T C. WINTHROP. “ Hon. HORATIO King."
THE TRENT AFFAIR.
Excitement in Washington-Discussion of the Neutrality Laws—British
Precedent-Edward Everett justifies the seizure-George Ticknor Curtis disapproves-Admiral Wilkes reports - Banquet in Boston to the Admiral-Secretary Welles's Congratulations-Mason and Slidell in Custody—The London Times Moderate-Earl Russell demands the Release of the Confederate Commissioners—Mr. Seward's Masterly Diplomacy—The Ambassadors liberated-Public Acquiescence in the Decision.
I SHALL never forget my delight, October 16, 1861, when, on meeting Senator John P. Hale in Pennsylvania Avenue, opposite the White IIouse, he informed me in a jubilant manner that James M. Mason and John Slidell, Confederate Commissioners to England and France respectively, had been captured on board the British mail steamer Trent by Captain Charles Wilkes, of the United States steamer San Jacinto, and brought into Hampton Roads, Virginia. Old Point Comfort was electrified by the tidings, and the announcement was no sooner sent over the wires than expressions of joy were heard from every quarter of the Union outside the seceded States. The Baltimore American said: “ Two of the magnates of the Southern Confederacy, two, perhaps, who have been as potent for mischief as any that could have been selected (out of South Carolina) from the long list of political ingrates, have come to grief' in their persistent attempts to destroy the noble government to which they owe all the honorable distinction they have hitherto enjoyed.”
Neither press nor people waited for the particulars of the capture before proceeding to discuss at length the question of its legality. The Baltimore American, while apparently justifying the act, expressed the opinion that it was “a violation of the laws of neutrality, strictly considered;" but, later, the editor said he thought the character of the question was “ beyond the reach of mere diplomacy," and that the Government had no other alternative than to adhere to the position it had already assumed. “In numerous ways Government and people have fully endorsed the act of Captain Wilkes, and the verdict will never be reversed although all Europe, with England at its head, demand it.” The National Intelligencer said : “ The proceeding of Captain Wilkes is fully justified by the rules of international law, as those rules have been expounded by the most illustrious British jurists and compiled by the most approved writers on the laws of nations.” In support of this position many British authorities were cited. In the declaration of war by Great Britain against Russia, promulgated on the 28th of March, 1854, the following language was used: “It is impossible for Her Majesty to forego her right of seizing articles contraband of war, and of preventing neutrals from bearing enemies' despatches."
There was a British precedent during the Mexican War: General Paredes, a bitter enemy of the United States, was arrested in 1846, at the beginning of the war, and, being in Europe, was brought to Vera Cruz on the 14th of August, 1847, in the British mail steamer Treviot, Secretary Buchanan made complaint in a letter to Mr. Bancroft, our Minister to England, saying, “ A neutral vessel, which carries a Mexican officer of high military rank to Mexico for the purpose of taking part in hostilities to our country, is liable to confiscation, according to the opinion of Sir William Scott”-high British authority, whom he quotes. Mr. Bancroft wrote to Lord Palmerston, who admitted the justice of the complaint, and the commander of the Treviot, Captain May, was ordered to be suspended for what the British Government unhesitatingly acknowledged to have been a violation of the belligerent rights of the United States. Dr. Robert Phillimore, Advocate of Her Majesty in her office of Admiralty as Judge of the Cinque Ports, held that “it is indeed competent to a belligerent to stop the ambassador of his enemy on his passage.” The Washington Evening Star, November 9, said, “ The British Government should direct Lord Lyons to return the thanks of Her Majesty to the United States Government for its forbearance in not having seized the steamer Trent, brought her into port, and confiscated ship and cargo for an open and flagrant breach of international law. The Queen's proclamation of May last acknowledged the rebel States to be belligerents—enemies of the United Statesand by their own principles of international law, British ships were thereafter to abstain from carrying despatches, or doing any act that favored the Confederates, under penalty of seizure and confiscation. Slidell and Mason should be held in rigid custody until they can be tried and punished for their crimes against the Government of the United States. Their sham character of ambassadors affords no protection. It is a lawful right of belligerents to seize an ambassador as soon as any other person, if he can be caught at sea. The minister appointed by the Continental Congress to Holland, Henry Laurens, was captured on the 3d of September, 1780, by a British frigate, on his passage to Holland near Newfoundland, was taken to England, and, after examination, committed a close prisoner in the Tower of London on a charge of high treason. Indulgence would be thrown away on arch-traitors like Slidell and Mason."
Hon. Edward Everett, before the Middlesex Mechanic's Association at Lowell, justified the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell as perfectly lawful—their confinement in Fort Warren perfectly lawful—and said they “would no doubt be kept there until the restoration of peace, which we all so much desire,”—and “we may, I am sure, cordially wish them a safe and speedy deliverance.” Mr. George Sumner, a well-read lawyer, said in the Boston Transcript of November 18: “ The act of Captain Wilkes was in strict accordance with the principles of international law recognized in England, and in strict conformity with English practice.” Even the British Consul at New Orleans, Mr. Muir, it was authoritatively stated, justified the seizure and supplied legal authority to appear in a leading editorial of one of the city papers.
Mr. George Ticknor Curtis and Mr. George S. Hillard, of Boston, however, among others, pointed out the irregularity of the seizure in not carrying the Trent in for judicial condemnation. The New York Herald said: “It will not probably enter the mind of a single American for a moment, even after reading the news in our columns to-day, that Mason and Slidell will be surrendered to the English Government." There were some discordant voices. For instance, the New Orleans Crescent said this “high-handed interference with a British mail steamer by the Lincoln Government will either arouse John Bull to the highest pitch of indignation, or it will demonstrate that there has been an understanding between the two governments for a long time—that England has been and is assisting the Abolition Government to the detriment of the South."
Then, from the other side of the line, the Toronto Globe and Toronto Leader both condemned the act. The Globe denounced it as “an outrage on the British flag and an infraction of international law;" and the Leader declared it was “the most offensive outrage which Brother Jonathan has dared to perpetrate upon the British flag.” Immediate liberation of the prisoners and apology, they claimed, should be demanded. At the same time it was proposed to raise an English subscription in New York to prosecute the captain of the Trent in the English law courts for violating the Qeeen's proclamation, in case of delay of the Queen's attor