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Mr. Scioard to Mr. Stuart.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 5, 1862. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your informal communication of the 1st instant, relative to the restrictions imposed by the Secretary of the Treasury upon the export of various articles of commerce to Nassau and other British ports, and to state that it will be taken into respectful consideration.
I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Hon. WILLIAM STUART, &c., &c., dc.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Stuart.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, July 12, 1862. SIR: In accordance with the suggestion in my note to you of the 23d ultimo, this department appointed a commission to proceed to Fredericksburg, in the State of Virginia, and inquire as well into the character and past conduct of Peter Goolrick, exercising the functions of a British vice-consul at that place, and into the facts and circumstances which he had made the subject of a representation to you, as into the ownership of the one thousand barrels of flour, claimed in said representation to be the property of a British subject, which, he said, were taken from his protection.
I have the honor to enclose a copy of the report made to this department in pursuance of said appointment.
Upon considering the said report the President is of opinion that the public safety and welfare require that Mr. Goolrick should not continue in the office of vice-consul of a friendly power for any district or portion of the United States. Acts which, in a subject of a foreign state, might be regarded as imprudences, or passed with indifference, cannot, when committed by a citizen of the United States, as Mr. Goolrick is, but have a certain pernicious influence among his fellow-citizens.
But, in order that no interest may by possibility suffer, and to avoid even the appearance of precipitation, Mr. Goolrick, if you desire, may, under your instructions, remain in his place until after you shall have consulted your government in the matter.
In regard to the one thousand barrels of flour mentioned in Mr. Goolrick's representation to you, you are not understood to present a claim in his name, or in the name of any other person for reparation or compensation. time hereafter any person entitled to your protection shall present a claim to the said flour, and claim remuneration therefor, impartial justice shall, on full investigation, be done to him. I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir, your obedient servant,
WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Hon. WILLIAM STUART, &c. &c., &c.
If at any
Mr. Ruggles to Mr. Seward.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE, July 3, 1862. Sir: On the 25th ultimo I received your instructions of that date to proceed to Fredericksburg, in the State of Virginia, and inquire into the character and past conduct of Peter Goolrick, who claimed to be a vice-consul of the British government, and into the facts and circumstances connected with an alleged examination of the premises of the said Goolrick by our military authorities, and an alleged arrest of said Goolrick; and also in regard to the ownership of one thousand barrels of four, claimed as the property of one James Gemmill, a British subject, and said to have been taken from the possession of the said Goolrick by military force. Accompanying said instructions was part of a correspondence between you and the British minister, from which it appeared that, although the said Goolrick had held some sort of an appointment as British vice-consul for several years, which had been recognized by the British legation, the government of the United States had never been informed of such appointment; yet that, pending such investigations as might be necessary, the said Goolrick was to be allowed to continue the exercise of his functions as such vice-consul.
By your direction I had an interview with the British minister, in which I informed him of the said instructions, and that I was going to Fredericksburg in obedience thereto, and suggested that, if he desired, he might send a person on his behalf to participate in such investigations as I might make. He declined to send any such person with me; expressed his satisfaction with the spirit in which his representations of Mr. Goolrick’s complaints had been met, and said that he had directed Mr. Goolrick, on resuming his functions at Fredericksburg, to abstain from any ostentatious display, and not to make any unnecessary exhibition of the British flag, with which direction he said the said Goolrick had faithfully promised to comply.
I went to Fredericksburg on the 30th ultimo to perform the said duty. One of the first objects which met my view on reaching the town, was the British flag, displayed from Goolrick's house, in disregard of his promise to the British minister, to announce to his rebel associates a triumph over the military authorities who had laid the hand of correction upon
him. The male population of Fredericksburg is very much diminished by the absence, in the rebel army, of nearly all the disloyal portion who are able to bear arms, and of those who remai
very few were of any use to me in imparting information touching the subject of my inquiries. The rebels were sullen and silent, and professed to know nothing of the matter. The few Union men to be found were dissatisfied with the more ample protection afforded, as they alleged, by our military forces to the rebels and their property than to them, and distrustful of the inclination or power of the government to protect them from rebel wrath, if they should give information. Owing to these causes I found but one man, besides the officer who examined Goolrick’s premises, who could or was willing to give me any important information in the form of an affidavit. It was freely said by the three professed Union men, who were all I could find among the resident population of the town, that Goolrick was a violent and avowed secessionist and rebel, but only one of them would testify to any facts in regard to him.
The affidavit of one man, represented to me to be honest and respectable, will be found among the papers, setting forth that the affiant, a resident of Fredericksburg, knows Goolrick, and has known him for six or seven years; that said Goolrick has been, ever since the beginning of the rebellion in 1860, a strong, open, undisguised secessionist. Since the commencement of the war he has had two cellars under his dwelling-house occupied by the rebel forces
with guns in boxes, tents, swords, and army sugar. This storage on Goolrick's premises commenced about a month before the evacuation of the town by the rebels, and property was put in and taken out, from time to time, in like manner as at a commissary's store, till at last they left in a hurry, and were obliged to leave a quantity of property. Since the surrender of the town by the rebels, and its occupation by the national troops, the property so left has been privately removed by the rebels, with the aid of the said Goolrick. That on one occasion deponent saw said Goolrick unpacking sugar from hogsheads, and repacking it in barrels, and said sugar was afterwards privately removed in the night by the rebels; that this repacking and removal of sugar, and the removal of the other property, took place after the occupation by the national forces, and that Goolrick did this business stealthily.
John E. Cook, of Middleburg, Schoharie county, New York, captain of company I, 76th regiment New York volunteers, made affidavit that he was provost marshal of Fredericksburg for about ten days, ending on or about the 16th of June, 1862; that during said period he examined the premises of said Goolrick, and there found some property which he judged belonged to the rebel military forces, and took the same from the possession of said Goolrick, consisting of two navy chests, with papers of William Ware, a paymaster in the navy, and two trunks and a chest belonging to officers in the rebel army, with their books, papers, and some ammunition. There were also some tents, and some pails, and some blankets, and some iron ware, and some army clothing in possession of said Goolrick, and that deponent also took a British flag from said Goolrick's possession.
There have been transmitted from the War Department a paper dated Fehruary 19, 1862, purporting to have been despatched by telegraph from Richmond to the said Goolrick, in these words: “Nashville has not fallen, nor never will. Pillow, Johnson, Floyd, and Buckner are safe. I think I am safe in saying this.” Which paper purports to have been signed, “A. Gustavus White.” And a paper in these words: “Confederate States of America, War Department, Richmond, March 28, 1862. Permission is granted P. Goolrick to visit Fredericksburg, upon honor not to communicate, in writing or verbally, for publication, any fact ascertained which, if known to the enemy, might be injurious to the Confederate States of America. (Signed) A. c. Goodwin, provost marshal.” On the back whereof is the following: “I, P. Goolrick, do solemnly swear or affirm that I will bear true faith and yield obedience to the Confederate States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against their enemies. (Signed) P. Goolrick. (Dated) Richmond, March 28, 1862.” And a paper purporting to be a copy of a letter from the said Goolrick to a person styled Captain R. L. T. Beale, dated Fredericksburg, September 25, 1861, applying to him for his aid and influence for the writer's son, Charles T. Goolrick, who desired a military appointment in the Confederate States. Said letter represents the son as a bachelor of law of the University of Virginia, and as having been practicing at Fredericksburg for about three years, and also as having once represented the Jefferson Society and been editor of the University Magazine, and since then made several secession speeches well spoken of. It goes on to state that some time since he was a lieutenant of infantry, and for several months, up to a few weeks previous to the date of said letter, a lieutenant of artillery; that he was a captain of one of the heavy guns for several weeks in the naval batteries on the Potomac, and acted also as drill master, and had high recommendations from the officers of the corps to which he belonged, and from various regular officers of prominence, among whom were Captains Roots, Thorburn and Minor, and Lieutenant Smith, and others of the navy, and Dr. Bledsoe, chief of the war bureau ; Major Lacy, &c., of the army, and many influential civilians—such as the Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, Patrick Henry Aylett, Joba James Chew, &c. It appealed to the said Beale,
on account of their long friendship, to write a letter to Hon. S. R. Mallory, secretary of the navy, if he knew him, or if not, to R. M. T. Hunter, or any other influential person who could help his son toward the place he sought. It stated that he stood a very fair chance then for an office in the marine corps, but that he would like the letter to be general, so as to apply either to the army or navy, as he had letters recommending him to either, and that Colonel Harvey very kindly offered to join Captain Beale in such a letter. As to himself, the writer said, it was hardly necessary to say anything. Captain Beale knew that he had always been a State-rights democrat, and was for many years chairman of the Democratic Association of Fredericksburg, and also that he had been in many local offices—such as mayor, British vice-consul, &c., and more than that he should leave him to say. He stated that Mr. Hunter and Captain Minor, stationed in Richmond, would introduce his son to the president, &c., and kindly offered to use their influence on the spot.
This testimony constitutes the case against the said Peter Goolrick. It is therein shown that he was an early applicant for favor from the so-called confederate government to his family, relying for the success of his application upon his and their zeal, and useful services in the rebel cause, and upon his favorable standing at home and with the British government, as shown by his having held the office of mayor and British vice-consul; that he had travelled under the favor and safeguard of the confederate military authorities, and, in order thereto, had subscribed the oath of allegiance to their pretended government; that he was in manifestly confidential correspondence on the subject of the rebel fortunes in arms, with one White, at Richmond, more distinguished for the virulence of his treason than for his intelligence; that he had in his possession during the first half of June last past, the remnants of important and necessary stores for the sustenance and use of the rebel army, and that from the beginning of the rebellion he hath been an active partisan of its evil interests; that since the outbreak of rebel hostilities he hath furnished storage for the ammunition and supplies of their forces, receiving and delivering such supplies to suit their convenience, and that since his premises have been within the lines of the national troops he hath continued, stealthily, such services, and delivery of property and supplies to the rebel forces, thus displaying himself in the character, not only of a traitor, but of a spy.
From which facts it is obvious that the examination of said Goolrick’s premises, the seizure of property found thereon, and the arrest of his person, were justifiable and necessary acts of military precaution, and that his exemption from the penalty of a military execution is solely attributable to the leniency with which the government of the United States deals with treason; and that his restoration to liberty, and the exercise of his functions, at the instance of the British minister, proceeds exclusively from the comity and respect with which it is the habit of our government to treat every request or suggestion of that friendly power.
But the statements of Goolrick himself are not to be disregarded. It is due to him to examine whether there are any material discrepancies between the facts as above set forth, and his own assumptions of what was the truth in the premises. Moreover, we have no information in relation to one branch of the inquiry, viz: the one thousand barrels of flour, except from Goolrick himself. He made a statement, which he verified by solemn oath, to the effect that he is a naturalized citizen of the United States, of Irish birth; has resided in Fredericksburg forty-five years, and acted as British vice-consul about nine years; that he views himself as neutral in the war, neither belonging to the Union party nor the confederates, so called; that he has never sworn allegiance to the Confederate States, though there is a certificate to that effect on the back of a pass that was given to him, yet no oath was then administered to him; that he has rendered no service to the Confederate States; has restrained many British subjects from
joining the rebel forces; has never aided, procured, or advised any of his own sons to join the rebel forces; has three sons in the rebel army-two of them, Charles T. Goolrick, a lawyer of Fredericksburg, and Robert E. Goolrick, a minor, were forced into the service; the other, Doctor Peter Goolrick, jr., is understood to be a surgeon in the Wise legion, but when, where, or why he joined the service deponent does not know; that he has never received for the rebel military forces, any arms, ammunition, commissary stores, or other property or supplies, nor had in possession any such property and delivered to them; and he further states that about the third of May last he received an invoice of one thousand barrels of flour from James Gemmill, of Richmond, whom he had never before seen nor heard of, authenticated by the British consul at Richmond, and described as branded “Fredericksburg extra superfine flour,” and said to be stowed in two warehouses in Fredericksburg owned, respectively, by John B. Alexander and Charles S. Scott; and on the fifth of May said Gemmill took him to where the flour was stored, and delivered the flour to him as his agent, before witnesses, and gave him a writing instructing him what to do with the flour, which was neither to sell nor offer it for sale until August or September next; and he further states that afterwards, by order of General J. F. Reynolds, of the United States forces, six hundred and thirty-three (633) barrels of the said flour were taken from his possession in said warehouses at different times, and converted to the use of the United States, and that he has no knowledge where the said flour came from, nor who had owned it previously to its acquisition by said Gemmill; and he further says that the confederate army took possession of an empty cellar of his and stored property there, and took it away, putting in and taking out from time to time; and when they left, they left some property there, principally tents, which facts he reported to the headquarters of the United States forces when they took possession, and broke open the lock and delivered the property to the United States forces. That there were also three trunks and a box placed in his possession-one trunk and a box by Charles T. Goolrick, and two trunks by a lady of Fredericksburg, Mrs. Neall—the contents whereof he knew nothing, which were taken from him by the military authorities of the United States.
The said statement was made voluntarily by said Goolrick, and was averred by him to be a full and true statement, without reservation, of all the facts within his knowledge touching the subjects whereof I was commissioned to inquire.
On comparing this statement with the other testimony above set forth, the following points of difference become prominently manifest:
He is proved by direct testimony and by unanimous report to be a strong and opn secessionist and rebel, while he represents himself as neutral.
He is proved by his known signature, remaining among the papers, to have subscribed the oath of allegiance to the pretended government of the rebels, while he denies having taken any such oath, on the quibble that no oath was administered to him. He is proved to have rendered active, zealous, and effective personal service to the rebels, in receiving, repacking, and transferring their supplies from within our lines, which he denies.
He is proved by his own letter, remaining in the War Department, to have used great exertion to procure a situation in the rebel service for his son, Charles T. Goolrick, while he denies having aided, procured, or advised his entering such service, and alleges that he was forced into the same.
lie is proved to have received arms, ammunition, commissary stores, and other property and supplies for the rebel military forces, and stored the same and delivered it to them, which he denies; but at the conclusion of his statement he says the “confederate army took possession of an empty cellar of his and stored property there,” &c.; and also says that he reported what property they left to our forces, and delivered the same to them-of which report and delivery we have no knowledge from our military authorities.