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what, as I read British authorities, is regarded by Great Britain herself as true maritime law, that the circumstance that the Trent was proceeding from a neutral port to another neutral port does not modify the right of belligerent capture.” If, indeed, the immediate and ostensible voyage of the Trent had been to a neutral port, but her ultimate and real destination to some port of the enemy, her Majesty's government might have been better able to understand the reference to British authorities contained in this passage. It is undoubtedly the law as laid down by British authorities, that if the real destination of the vessel be hostile, (that is, to the enemy, or the enemy's country,) it cannot be covered and rendered innocent by a fictitious destination to a neutral port. But if the real terminus of the voyage be bona fide in a neutral territory, no English, nor, indeed, as her Majesty's government believe, any American, authority can be found which has ever given countenance to the doctrine that either men or despatches can be subject, during such a voyage, and on board such a neutral vessel, to belligerent capture as contraband of war. Her Majesty's government regard such a doctrine as wholly irreconcilable with the true principles of maritime law, and certainly with those principles as they have been understood in the courts of this country,

It is to be further observed that packets engaged in the postal service, and keeping up the regular and periodical communications between the different countries of Europe and America, and other parts of the world, though in the absence of treaty stipulations they may not be exempted from visit and search in time of war, nor from the penalties of any violation of neutrality, if proved to have been knowingly committed, are still, when sailing in the ordinary and innocent course of their legitimate employment, which consists in the conveyance of mails and passengers, entitled to peculiar favor and protection from all governments in whose service they are engaged. To detain, disturb, or interfere with them, without the very gravest cause, would be an act of a most noxious and injurious character, not only to a vast number and variety of individual and private interests, but to the public interests of neutral and friendly governments. It has been necessary to dwell upon these points in some detail

, because they involve principles of the highest importance, and because if Mr. Seward's arguments were acted upon as sound the most injurious consequences might follow.

For instance, in the present war, according to Mr. Seward's doctrine, any packet ship carrying a confederate agent from Dover to Calais, or from Calais to Dover, might be captured and carried to New York. In case of a war between Austria and Italy, the conveyance of an Italian minister or agent might cause the capture of a neutral packet plying between Malta and Marseilles, or between Malta and Gibraltar, the condemnation of the ship at Trieste, and the confinement of the minister or agent in an Austrian prison. So in the late war between Great Britain and France on the one hand, and Russia on the other, a Russian minister going from Hamburg to Washington in an American ship might have been brought to Portsmouth, the ship might have been condemned, and the minister sent to the tower of London. So also a confederate vessel of war might capture a Cunard steamer on its way from Halifax to Liverpool, on the ground of its carrying despatches from Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams. In view, therefore, of the erroneous principles asserted by Mr. Seward, and the consequences they involve, her Majesty's government think it necessary to declare that they would not acquiesce in the capture of any British merchant ship in circumstances similar to those of the Trent and that the faet of its being brought before a prize court, though it would alter the character, would not diminish the gravity of the offence against the law of nations which would thereby be committed.

Having disposed of the question whether the persons named, and their supposed despatches, were contraband of war, I am relieved from the necessity of discussing the other questions raised by Mr. Seward, namely, whether Captain Wilkes had lawfully a right to stop and search the Trent for these persons and their supposed despatches: whether that right, assuming that he possessed it, was exercised by him in a lawful and proper manner; and whether he had a right to capture the persons found on board.

The fifth question put by Mr. Seward, namely, whether Captain Wilkes exercised the alleged right of capture in the manner allowed and recognized by the law of nations, is resolved by Mr. Seward himself in the negative. I cannot conclude, however, without noticing one very singular passage in Mr. Seward's despatch.

Mr. Seward asserts that “if the safety of this Union required the detention of the captured persons it would be the right and duty of this government to detain them.” He proceeds to say that the waning proportions of the insurrection, and the comparative unimportance of the captured persons themselves, forbid him from resorting to that defence. Mr. Seward does not here assert any right founded on international law, however inconvenient or irritating to neutral nations; he entirely loses sight of the vast difference which exists between the exercise of an extreme right and the commission of an unquestionable wrong. His frankness compels me to be equally open, and to inform him that Great Britain could not have submitted to the perpetration of that wrong, however flourishing might have been the insurrection in the south, and however important the persons captured might have been.

Happily all danger of hostile collision on this subject has been avoided. It is the earnest hope of her Majesty's government that similar dangers, if they should arise, may be averted by peaceful negotiations conducted in the spirit which befits the organs of two great nations. I request you to read this despatch to Mr. Seward, and give him a copy of it. I am, &c.,


Mr. Seward to Lord Lyons.


Washington, February 6, 1862. MY LORD: With reference to the permission given to the foreign representatives to correspond with their consuls in the ports of the insurgent States by means of vessels-of-war entering their ports, I have to remark that circumstances have come to the knowledge of this department which render it advisable that this permission shall hereafter be restricted to correspondence of the consuls of those powers only who, by the regulations of their respective governments, are not allowed to engage in commerce. I will consequently thank you to request the commander of any British vessel who may visit the ports adverted to to abstain from carrying letters for consuls who may be engaged in trade.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to your lordship the expression of my high consideration.

F. W. SEWARD, Acting Secretary. Right Hon. LORD LYONS.

Mr. Seward to Lord Lyons.


Washington, February 13, 1862. MY LORD: Referring to my note of the 4th of December last, relative to the alleged maltreatment of the captain of the schooner Louisa Agnes, I now have the honor to enclose to you the copy of a communication of yesterday, addressed to this department by the Secretary of the Navy on that subject.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to your lordship the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Right Hon. LORD LYONS, ft., Sc., fc.

Mr. Welles to Mr. Seurard.

Navy DEPARTMENT, February 12, 1862. Sir: In compliance with your request of the 9th of December last, the department wrote for statements from the officers of the United States steamer Susquehanna respecting the treatment of the captain of the English schooner Louisa Agnes, seized for a violation of the blockade. The statements have just been received, and are herewith submitted, with a letter of Flag-Officer DuPont, dated the 28th ultimo. Will you please return them when you shall have no further use for them. I have the honor to be, &c.,

GIDEON WELLES. Hon. William H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


Port Royal Harbor, S. C., January 28, 1862. Sır: On the return to this port of the Susquehanna from blockading duty I called the attention of Captain Lardner to the subject of the treatment of the master and crew of the English schooner Louisa Agnes.

I have the honor to enclose communications from Captain Lardner, Lieutenant Commanding Bankhead, and Lieutenant Weaver. Respectfully, your obedient servant,

S. F. DUPONT, Flag-Officer Com'g South Atlantic Block. Squadron. Hon. GIDEON WELLES,

Secretary of the Navy, Washington.


Port Royal, January 24, 1862. SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a copy of a despatch from the Navy Department, of December 11, referring to the treatment of the master and crew of the English schooner Louisa Agnes, together with extract from Lord Lyons's letter to the Secretary of State, and extract from the affidavit of the master, to which my attention is called.

Captain Chauncey, who commanded this ship at the time, was detached soon afterwards. From the senior lieutenant (Bankhead) now in command of the Pembina, I enclose a statement of the treatment and condition of the men; also one from Lieutenant Weaver, of this ship. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. L. LARDNER, Captain. Flag-Officer S. F. DuPont,

Com'g South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, Port Royal, S. C.


Port Royal, January 25, 1862. Sir: In answer to your request to furnish you with the particulars as to the treatment of the captain and two of the crew of the Louisa Agnes while on board the Susquehanna, of which ship I was first lieutenant, I have to state that the said captain and men, after having been transferred from the Cambridge, were both messed and berthed. He, the said captain, was recognized by several of the crew as having served on board a United States vessel-of-war, in the capacity of seaman, at some previous time. His personal appearance and want of cleanliness was such that I did not feel satisfied in berthing him in the steerage, where I had been in the habit of putting men of his class while on board of the Susquehanna. A ration was issued for himself and the two men, and a place assigned them forward orlop deck (under a strict charge) for their effects. He was treated as well as the crew of the ship, and quite as well, as I judged from his manners and appearance, as he had any reason to expect. While the said captain and two men were on board of the Susquehanna none of them were put in irons, or in any manner deprived of their personal liberty, but were treated with all the consideration which men in their situation were entitled to. Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant Commanding. Captain JAMES L. LARDNER,

Commanding United States Steamer Susquehanna.

UNITED STATES STEAMER SUSQUEHANNA. Bir: In reply to your request of this day I have to state that the master of the schooner Louisa Agnes was received on board this ship on the 10th day of September, 1861. He, Robert Nicholson, master of schooner Louisa Agnes, was furnished with bedding and a hammock, and took his meals in one of the messes of the crew of this ship, where he was treated a member of said mess. The said Nicholson would not have been received in any officer's mess, as his personal condition was filthy and ragged in the extreme. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Lieutenant United States Navy. Captain James L. LARDNER,

Commanding United States Steamer Susquehanna, Port Royal, S. C. Forwarded respectfully.



Mr. Seward to Lord Lyons.


Washington, February 21, 1862. MY LORD: I have submitted to the President the copy of an instruction from Earl Russell which you left with me, and which bears the date of Janu

ary 23d.


In this paper Earl Russell sets forth certain points upon which the British government differs from some of the conclusions which I presented to you in my note upon the Trent affair, of the 26th of December last.

It is perceived that these differences do not disturb the conclusion contained in that paper upon which the case of the Trent was disposed of by this government.

The differences stated by Earl Russell involve questions of neutral rights in maritime warfare which, though of confessed importance, are not practically presented in any case of conflict now existing between the United States and Great Britain. It is very desirable, however, that these questions should be settled, if possible, by an early understanding between the two governments. Nevertheless, Earl Russell, I think, will agree with me that they relate only to a part of the international law of maritime war, while there are other and kindred questions equally important and equally likely to arise in the disturbed condition of affairs which exists on this continent, and in any conflict which may happen in Europe. All such questions, moreover, affect not only these two nations, but all the other maritime powers. Earl Russell need not be reminded that the necessity which has existed for meliorations of the law of maritime war in regard to neutrals has been a subject of debates and even of conventions of such pow

The friendly relations which this government holds to such powers require that all that it does in this connexiou should be done with their full knowledge and with an expressed desire for their co-operation. This government has taken an active part in seeking to promote such meliorations through such conventions. Its views on this subject have undergone no change. It will cheerfully second any negotiations to that end which Great Britain, or any other maritime power, will inaugurate. If it shall seem preferable, it will itself initiate such proceedings. Our ministers accredited to such powers will, at an early day, receive full instructions to this effect. In the meantime your lordship may assure Earl Russell that, while the United States will justly claim as their own the belligerent rights which the customary practice allows to nations engaged in war, according to our present convictions, there is no melioration of the maritime law, or of the actual practice of maritime war, that the leading maritime states, including Great Britain, shall think desirable, which will not be cheerfully assented to by the United States, even to the most liberal asylum for persons and the extreme point of exemption of private property from confiscation in maritime war.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to your lordship the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM Il. SEWARD. Right Hon. LORD Lyons, &c., &c., &c.

Lord Lyons to Mr. Seward.

WASHINGTON, February 21, 1862. Sir: I will, without any loss of time, communicate to her Majesty's government the note which you have to-day done me the honor to write to me with

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