Page images
PDF
EPUB

proclamation which relates to the removal of the dangers from foreign in| tervention is not well received, perhaps, because it touches the sore too abruptly. As the period approaches when the end of the existing stock of cotton grows more and more visible, the distress of the operatives appears more aggravated, and the speculations as to the future are more freely in. dulged in. The movements of the Emperor are watched with more interest, and hopes are undoubtedly cherished, in secret, that he will have the courage to do what many here wish, but are ashamed to declare to the world.

In the meantime outfits of vessels with supplies to run the blockade go I on with increased vigor. Every account received of a successful voyage

stimulates to enlarged contributions. It is very much to be regretted that our seamen have not shown themselves so well skilled in the duty of patient vigilance on the sea-coast, as in more daring and positive enterprises on our internal waters. The successes of the latter, however brilliant and prized at home, do not have an effect in this country sufficient to compensate for the former deficiencies. Unfortunately, there are many men in Great Britain ready to re-echo the saying of the Dutch merchants caught in supplying the enemy with powder in the war of independence in Holland, that "they would, if money were to be made by it, send supplies even to hell, at the risk of burning their sails.” I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 238.]

Washington, April 26, 1862. Sir: Your despatch of April 11, 1862, has been received. It is certainly to be regretted that the British government does not see fit to arrest, in some way, the proceedings of the parties engaged in supplying the insurrectionists in our country with materiel of war. How singularly this course contrasts with the generous enthusiasm of those states which send us soldiers by hundreds of thousands to uphold the American Union.

I have little to add to my recent communications concerning the military movements of the hour. Our generals are crowding the insurgents before them in northern and western Virginia. We hear, at last, of course through insurgent organs, of the beginning of the bombardment of the forts on the Mississippi, below New Orleans, by Captain Porter. We constantly expect the surrender of Fort Macon. But the exciting care of the hour is divided between Yorktown and Corinth. Battles there are imminent. The gain of either of these fields would have a decisive effect. The loss of both seems hardly possible, although calculations upon particular results in war are always uncertain.

The President approves of your visit at Paris, and of the policy you have concluded to adopt as a result of your conference with Mr. Dayton. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c., &c., dc.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

[ocr errors]

No. 240.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, April 28, 1862. Sir : To-day the country is assuming that the fate of this unnatural war is determined by the great event of the capture of New Orleans, which was effected by a naval expedition on the 24th instant. I trust that the anticipation will be sustained.

Captain Bullock, of Georgia, is understood to have written that he has five steamers built, or bought, armed, and supplied with materiel of war in England, which are now about leaving or are on their way to aid the insurgents.

We are prepared to meet them. But the reflection occurs, are the maritime powers of Europe willing that the suppression of this insurrection shall be forever associated in the memory of mankind with the conviction that the sympathies of Europe were lent to the abortive revolution ? I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c., $c., 8.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 244.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

Washington, May 1, 1862. Sir: Mr. Dudley, our vigilant consul at Liverpool, writes that the subscription which was gotten up in that place to aid the insurrection in this country mounted up to £40,000 sterling, and that all that large sum of money has been invested in arms and munitions of war. He states also that a second subscription for the same purpose is now being filled up at the same place.

I can hardly doubt that he has brought these facts to your notice, and that you

have called the attention of her Majesty's government to them. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS Adams, Esq., 80., 8c., 8c.

Mr. Adams to Mr: Seward.

No. 150.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

London, May 2, 1862. Sir: Yesterday the great international exhibition was opened with a formal ceremony by the commissioners to whom the Queen had delegated the power. It was, in every respect, successful, though the absence of the sovereign and the loss of the guiding spirit of the movement could not fail to have its influence in checking the enthusiasm of the occasion. In the meantime, however, no business has been done, and the public attention has been so much concentrated upon the immediate object as to leave little' disposition to dwell upon others more remote.

At the same time it is impossible not to perceive a slight revival of the hopes of the enemies of our government, and a decided increase of the pressure for some kind of intervention in the struggle. The intelligence of the expedition of Mr. Mercier to Richmond has been received with more or less favor, as well as the confederate version of the conflict at Pittsburg Landing, and the supposed obstacles to our advance at Yorktown. I mention all these things only as symptoms of a disposition, in some influential quarters, which nothing but the steady current of our success for a period, nearly, of three months last past has been able to keep in check. There is no reason to doubt that the distress in the manufacturing districts is becoming more and more serious as the season advances. Movements are already on foot for procuring the aid of Parliament, which may have the effect of reopening the discussion of the American question. At the same time there is no in. dication of any puwer to raise up party divisions. Lord Palmerston and Mr. Gladstone appear to carry through all their measures of supply so rapidly that there is every prospect of an early prorogation of Parliament, from the exhaustion of materials with which to keep it together. I am not without strong hopes that it may take place in season to avoid further causes of irritation between us. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Mr. Adams to Mfr. Seward.

No. 151.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

London, May 2, 1862. Sir: Some days ago I received from Lord Russell the note, a copy of which I now transmit, making a representation to me concerning the capture of the steamer Labuan. As the case had been already placed before you by Lord Lyons, and as whatever evidence there was in relation to it must have been known by his lordship to be on the other side of the water, 1 confess this proceeding caused in me some little surprise. But as information had been long since furnished to me that this was one of the vessels sent from here by the friends of the insurgents with supplies, I postponed my answer for a few days, in the bope of being able to obtain more specific details as to her operations. In this hope, therefore, I have been disappointed for reasons which I fully understand; of the truth of the averment, however, I have no reason to doubt. Under these circumstances I have at last concluded to draw up a reply to his lordship’s note, embodying some general views drawn from the substance of my last conversation with him, which I deem this a good opportunity to put in writing. A copy of my note will accompany this despatch. Nothing

has been received touching my claim for the restoration of the Emily St. Pierre, excepting an acknowledgment of its reception and a promise to give it consideration. I transmit a copy of his lordship's note on that subject. In the meantime the prize crew still remains at Liverpool under my directions awaiting a decision of the question. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD,

Secretary of Stale, Washington, D. C.

Earl Russell to Mr. Adams.

Foreign OFFICE, April 19, 1862. Sir: You are doubtless aware of the circumstances under which the British steamer Labuan was lately seized at Matamoras, Mexico, by the United States frigate Portsmouth and conveyed to New York as a prize.

That case has appeared to her Majesty's government to present a very serious aspect, not only as regards the interests of the British owners of the Labuan and of a portion of her cargo, but as regards the principle involved in her seizure, and in the conduct and declarations of the captain of the Portsmouth. I have not failed to instruct her Majesty's minister at Washington to make a fitting representation of the case to the United States government, and I learn from Lord Lyons that Mr. Seward has caused directions to be given that seizures under circumstances similar to those under which the Labuan was captured shall not be repeated. Mr. Seward, however, though not satisfied that the capture was a legal oue, considers it preferable that nothing further should be done in the matter until the result of the judicial proceedings shall be arrived at; in other words, Mr. Seward, though he does not conceal his opinion that the capture of the Labuan was unjustifiable, and notwithstanding that the whole case has been confidentially put before him by Lord Lyons, declines to order her release, but insists upon the case being left to the distant and uncertain result of proceedings before a prize court.

It cannot be coutended that this course, even if it should result in the award of heavy damages, can be otherwise than extremely hurtful and prejudicial to the parties interested, but the possible amount of damages cannot affect the international question of the validity of the capture; and unless the government of the United States is prepared to maintain, as their consul before the prize court must endeavor to do, that the capture was justifiable, that government has not internationally any sufficient justification for retaining wrongful possession of the ship and cargo, and sending them for adjudication before the prize court, after and notwithstanding the formal intervention of her Majesty's government.

The course taken by the United States government in the case of the Labuan is all the more to be regretted, since it appears from papers which have been communicated to Congress that in the case of two neutral vessels, the one a Spanish, the other a Danish ship, which had been unjustifiably captured, the United States government has not only released such vessels without sending them before a prize court, but has also consented to pay compensation to those interested therein. .

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

RUSSELL. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., 8c., &c., 8c.

Mr. Adams to Earl Russell.

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

London, April 30, 1862. MY LORD: I have to ask pardon for delaying an acknowledgment of your note of the 19th instant, touching the case of the steamer Labuan lately seized by the United States frigate Portsmouth and conveyed to New York as a prize.

Not having received from the government of the United States any instructions on the subject, and knowing nothing from official sources of the precise facts attending the seizure of that vessel, I am in no situation to express more than my own opinion upon it. I shall do myself the honor to transmit your lordship's note to the Department of State, where I am led to understand that the matter has already been brought to its attention by Lord Lyons. I do not entertain a doubt of the disposition of the President carefully to respect the just rights of every nation in amity with the United States, and to make the amplest reparation for any casual injury committed in the course of the present difficulties the moment that the justice of the claim shall have been established.

At the same time I deem it my duty to represent to your lordship the fact that the government of the United States finds itself involved in peculiar embarrassment in regard to its policy towards the vessels of Great Britain from the difficulty, to which I have repeatedly called your lordship's attention, of distinguishing between the lawful and the unlawful trade carried on upon the coast of the United States in vessels bearing her Majesty's flag. It comes presented to me in so many forms of evidence that I cannot avoid the painful conviction that a systematic plan, founded on the intent to annul her Majesty's proclamation by steady efforts to violate the blockade through vessels either actually British, or else sailing under British colors, has been in operation in this island for many months, and becomes more rather than less extensive with the progress of time. If, therefore, it happens that a Spanish or a Danish ship when seized is more readily released than a British ship, the reason must be found, not in any disposition to be more partial to those nations, so much as in the fact that they have been incomparably less involved in the suspicion of attempting illegitimate methods of trade. The channels through which these enterprises serve so unfortunately to procrastinate the war, by encouraging the hopes of the insurgents, are too well known to admit of dispute. It is equally certain that her Majesty's government, in reply to the representations and remonstrances heretofore made by me, under instructions from my government, have candidly admitted their inability to put any stop to them whatever. Hence, it must naturally occur to your lordship’s mind that, if in some cases the government, driven to the necessity of applying more stringent measures of prevention than it desires to this illicit commerce, should happen occasionally to involve an innocent party in the suspicion attached to so many guilty ones, it must seek its justification in the painful necessity consequent upon the inefficiency of the British law to give it that protection which, as a friendly nation, it would seern entitled to enjoy.

It may, then, be reasonably presumed, at first blush, that the mere fact of sending the steamer Labuan to be adjudicated upon by a prize court, will find its justification in the fact that that vessel had become involved in a suspicion not unfairly attaching itself to all vessels sailing under British colors in the neighborhood of the place where she was taken. But I regret to be compelled further to apprise your lordship that, in this particular instance, the intentions of the steamer Labuan, from the period of her first departure from Great Britain, have been understood to be such as justly to excite the strongest suspicion, and, taken in connexion with her appearance in the spot where she was seized, to constitute a fair question, at least, for the determination of a prize court. Disclaiming the right to enter into the merits of the case on this side of the Atlantic, where I am not in possession of the evidence, either of her innocence or her guilt, and disavowing all acquaintance with the views taken of the matter by the President, I have felt myself constrained, by the honor your lordship has done me in call

« PreviousContinue »