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Mr. Van Limburg to Mr. Seward.



Washington, June 9, 1862. Sir: In your note bearing date the 7th of this month, through which you do me the honor to reply to my second note of the same day, you have been pleased, with a frankness which I appreciate, to inform me that your communications on the subject of the affair in question have been drawn from the report which Major General Butler made to you of his general conduct at New Orleans up to the 16th of the last month; and that this document not being accompanied by any proof of the allegations against the consul, it is not in your power to comply with my request, "to be pleased to communicate to me the papers justificative (proofs) of the accusation of the consul, and of the seizure of the deposit."

Your frankness, sir, could not but increase my esteem for the government whose organ you are, and this frankness encourages me to be equally frank. You will appreciate it on your part, convinced of the respect which I bear for the President and government of the United States, as also of the confidence which I place in their spirit of justice.

Well, then, Mr. Secretary of State, since you acknowledge to me that you are not in possession of the proofs, is it not natural to conclude therefrom that these proofs do not exist? For was it not the duty of Major General Butler to submit them to you, without delay, to justify the seizure of funds of which you now know that they were in deposit at the house of the Netherlands consul, for account of the honorable house of Hope & Company, of Amsterdam ?

Thus, from the moment it shall appear that Major General Butler has actually seized, without having had well-founded reasons and proofs to justify a step so serious as the carrying off (removal) of a deposit which was at the Netherlands consulate, I expect from the justice of the government of the United States that the value shall be restored, without further delay, to the consul or the house of Hope & Company.

I therefore permit myself to request you, sir, to be pleased to call for, as soon as possible, and to communicate to me, the proofs which I have had the honor to request of


in my note of the 7th of this month. I have the honor, sir, to reiterate to you the assurances of my high consideration.


Secretary of State of the United States of America.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Van Limburg.


IVashington, June 9, 1862. Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your two notes of this date. In reply to the request in one of them for the proofs upon which Major General Butler based his proceedings with reference to the coin lodged with the consul of the Netherlands at New Orleans, I have the honor to acquaint you that no time shall be lost in making them known to you when they shall have been received here.

I avail myself of this occasion, sir, to offer to you a renewed assurance of my very high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Mr. RoesT VAN LIMBURG, 8c., sc., sc.

Mr. Van Limburg to Mr. Seward.

New York, June 19, 1862. Sir: I have not failed to report to the minister for foreign affairs the conversation which, towards the close of the month of April, I had the honor to have with you on the subject of the admission of the ships-of-war of the United States, and of those of the self-styled Confederate States, to the ports of the Netherlands. I informed him of your wish that henceforward the ships in question should be treated therein as they are either in the ports of France or in the ports of England.

In a letter which I have just received, the minister for foreign affairs expresses to me his astonishment in respect to this, for he had divers reasons to think that the modification introduced in December last had been accepted by the government of the United States in the same spirit which had inspired the government of his Majesty; afterwards, he heard on all sides that commerce was gaining by it, and, in fine, he rested satisfied that the Netherlands regulation was not less favorable to the United States than that of France and of Great Britain.

According to the French declaration of the 10th of June, it is not permitted to any vessel-of-war or privateer of either belligerent to enter and sojourn with prizes for longer than twenty-four hours. But, when an inhibition of this nature existe:d at our ports, and that a sojourn of twice twenty-four hours was forbidden to vesselsof-war, it was you, Mr. Secretary of State, your minister at the Hague, who reclaimed in consequence of the representation of Captain Palmer, commanding the Iroquois. It was to please you that the new regulation was introduced, and as for Great Britain, following the declaration of June 1, 1861, it is not permitted to vessels-of-war or privateers to enter the English ports with prizes for any period of time whatever. With us, on the contrary, it is not permitted to privateers, but it is permitted to vessels-of-war with their prizes. Since the

Since the last English instructions of January 31, 1862, that vessels-of-war or privateers may enter certain ports, a special permission by the government is required, whilst in other British ports they are not allowed to sojourn more than twenty-four hours, saving the case of a storm, damage, &c. They are not allowed to supply themselves with coal, except in very limited quantity.

It is against the restrictions of the last sort that, upon the protest of Captain Palmer, commanding the Iroquois, the government of the United States made remonstrance. His excellency the minister of foreign affairs does not understand that the government of the United States can now desire the re-establishment of an order of things against which it presented remonstrances, and which was modified (to gratify the United States) by a regulation which seems to the Netherlands government certainly not less liberal nor less advantageous to the United States than the French regulations or the English regulation. I have the honor, sir, to renew to you the assurance of my high consideration.


Secretary of State of the United States of America

Mr. Van Limburg to Mr. Seward.


Detroit, July 19, 1862. Sir: Whilst the States General of the Netherlands are engaged with the draft of a law for the abolition of slavery in the colony of Surinam, the government of the King has under consideration the introduction of free laborers, which the adoption of the measure proposed would render necessary, and it is asked whether, among the people of color who in the United States have acquired or are acquiring their freedom, there could not be found many who would be wil. ling to engage for a certain term of years (say, for example, 5 years) to dispose of their labor to a planter, under the protection of the Netherlands law; and in consideration of some advantages connected with their emigration to a country 80 fertile and extensive as that spoken of. The King's minister for foreign affairs has done me the honor to communicate this idea to me, and has authorized me, Mr. Secretary of State, to submit officially to you, not only for the purpose of learning if the government of the United States would be disposed to cooperate, but also to benefit by the light which it would be able to throw upon the question.

I avail myself of this authorization, sir, to have the honor to address you officially, and to request you will have the kindness to inform me of the disposition of the government of the United States in relation to the measure in question, and if favorable to it, to enlighten me with information which its knowledge of the African race has given it.

If, in your opinion, sir, the end aimed at can be attained, I shall be happy to be able to communicate to the royal government how, in your judgment, it would be most effectively.

I seize this fresh occasion, sir, to repeat the assurances of my high consideration.


Secretary of State of the United States of America.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Van Limburg.

DeparTMENT OF State,

Washington, July 22, 1862. SIR: I have received your note of the 19th instant, representing that you had been instructed to ascertain if free persons of African extraction in the United States could not be induced to repair as laborers to the Netherlands colony of Surinam, and inquiring as to the disposition of this government on that subject.

In reply, I have to state that it is believed the demand for laborers of that class in the military and naval service of the United States alone is sufficient to outweigh any inducement to their emigration abroad likely to be offered by foreign countries.

By acts of the last session of Congress, however, authority has been given to the Executive to enter into contracts with the representatives of governments having possessions in the West India islands to receive there, not only Africans captured in vessels engaged in the slave trade, but also of freed persons in the United States of African descent. If your government should be disposed to enter into such contracts, you are recommended to apply to the Secretary of the Interior, who has been charged with that business on the part of the government of the United States. I am, sir, your very obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. Mr. RoRST VAN LIMBURG, 8c., Sc., 8c., Detroit.

Mr. Van Limburg to Mr. Seward.


Detroit, July 28, 1862. Sir: I have the honor to bring to your knowledge that I have just received from his excellency, the minister of the King for foreign affairs, instructions relative to the facts which have occurred at the consulate of the Netherlands at New Orleans on the 10th and 11th of the month of May this year. Approving fully the line of conduct which I thought it my duty to pursue in that business, the royal government, shares the satisfaction which I experienced, when, by your letter of June 5, you were so good as to inform me, sir, that the President and the government of the United States viewed the conduct of the military authorities at New Orleans as a violation of the law of nations; that they disapproved it, and disapproved the sanction there given to it by Major General Butler. But the King's government flatters itself that the United States will go further. In view of the King's government, the gravity and publicity of the outrage demand that the government of the United States give public evidence of its regret, for example, by manifesting, by some public act, its dissatisfaction with Major General Butler. The King's government, considering, until the proof made to the contrary, the Netherlands consul at New Orleans as having acted in good faith, expects that the government of the United States will not refuse to do likewise, and that it will please, consequently, to invite the consul, who, on the avowal of the American government itself, has been very ill used, to resume his consular functions. Mr. Vander Maesen de Sombreff observes, in passing, that if the consul should, perhaps, have given at once the information asked for, it is to be noticed that Mr. Conturié announced at once, but in vain, his wish to consult bis colleague, the French consul, adding that “something good might come out of the consultation.” Captain Shepley replied that “he could not delay action.”

The government of the Netherlands, actuated by sentiments of moderation and conciliation, does not insist, at present, on a restitution in integrem or in statu quo ante, but expects, in requital, from the justice of the American government, that the property taken from Netherlanders residing at New Orleans or elsewhere be restored. Among these properties are securities belonging to Messrs. Hope & Co., personally; for example, the bonds of New Orleans and of Mobile, mentioned in the statement of facts of the consul, (Sch. No. 2,) then the property of individuals (Netherlanders) mentioned, (Sch. No. 3.)

As to what regards the $800,000, the King's government, informed of the investigation which the American government has instituted in this respect at New Orleans, does not wish to hasten a demand upon it. I am therefore happy, sir, to be the organ of sentiments quite as conciliatory as those which you assured me animated the government of the United States in this lamentable business, and at present I restrict myself to asking from you, in the name of the King's government: First, satisfaction, ulterior and public, (in the sense above expressed,) given to the government of the Netherlands by that of the United States for the violation of the Netherlands consulate at New Orleans. Second, an invitation addressed by the government of the United States to the consul of the Netherlands, outraged by military authority, to the end that he resume the exercise of his functions. Third, restitution of property seized, belonging to Netherlanders. Fourth, restitution of $800,000 as soon as it shall be shown that the ownership was transferred to Messrs. Hope & Co.

I have the honor, Mr. Secretary of State, to renew to you the assurance of my high consideration.


Secretary of State of the United States of America, &c., dc., &c.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Van Limburg.


Washington, August 20, 1862. Sir: The honorable Reverdy Johnson, who, as you have heretofore been informed, was appointed by this department a commissioner to proceed to New Orleans and investigate, among other affairs, transactions which occurred there affecting the consul of the Netherlands, and certain subjects of the King of the Netherlands, under the direction of Major General Butler, has performed that duty, has submitted his reports concerning the same, and they have been approved by the President. I have thought it not improper to present you, for the information of your government, a complete copy of so much of those reports as relates to the transactions herein above mentioned. As a result of the approval of Mr. Johnson's proceedings in the premises, I have now the honor to inform you that the eight hundred thousand dollars in coin which was taken by Colonel Shepley, under direction of Major General Butler, from the possession of Amedee Conturić, the consul of the Netherlands at New Orleans, and which was claimed to have been deposited with him to the use of Messrs. Hope & Co., of Amsterdam, and which is more particularly described in the correspondence which has heretofore taken place between yourself and this department, will be restored by the major general, or the United States officer commanding at New Orleans, to either Mr. Conturié, the consul of the Netherlands, or to Mr. Forstall, as the agent of Messrs. Hope & Co., or to the Citizens' Bank of Louisiana, whichsoever of them you may designate. I refer the designation of it to yourself, because your government has intervened in regard to the transaction, whereby its consent to the designation has become necessary, and it will of course be conclusive.

Secondly, I proceed to speak of the articles of property other than coin described specifically by part number two in a statement of the said consul, Mr. Conturié, dated May 13, 1862, and which was submitted to this department by you, as follows: One tin box, to which was given the name of a bank box in this city, locked, containing first, ten bonds of the consolidated debt of the city of New Orleans for one thousand dollars ($1,000) each, making the nominal value of ten thousand dollars; second, eight bonds of the city of Mobile of the value of one thousand dollars ($1,000) each, the nominal value of which is eight thousand dollars, ($000,) claimed by Mr. Conturié to have been deposited with him on the 12th day of April last, by Edward I. Forstall, esq., in the capacity of agent, and as the property of Messrs. Hope & Co.; third, divers papers, being titles and deeds, the consular commission of Mr. Conturió and his exequatur No. 3, six other tin boxes, marked with the name of Amédée Conturié, containing private deeds, silver ware, &c., which boxes are claimed to be the property of divers persons for whom he was acting

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