Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing my attention to the subject, respectfully to submit my own views for your consideration.

Renewing to your lordship the assurances of my highest consideration, I have the honor to be, my lord, your most obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Right Hon. EARL RUSSELL, &c., dc.

Earl Russell to Mr. Adams.

FOREIGN OFFICE, April 24, 1862. Sır: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of this day's date, applying for the restoration of the Emily St. Pierre, a vessel captured by one of the cruisers of the United States, on the charge of attempting to break the blockade, but which was subsequently retaken by the master and brought to Liverpool; and I have to state to you, in reply, that your representation shall be duly considered.

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

RUSSELL. CHARLES FRANCIS Adams, Esq., &c., &c., &c.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 245.)

DEPARTMENT OF, STATE,

Washington, May 5, 1862. Sir: Your despatch of April 16 (No. 144) has arrived this morning, and the mail for Europe closes this evening.

I advised you by telegram, sent out by the last steamer, of the capture of New Orleans. I have now to inform you that Fort Macon has surrendered to our siege, and that Yorktown has just been relinquished to our army on the eve of an anticipated bombardment. General McClellan is marching up the Peninsula towards Richmond, and General McDowell is opening his way downward towards the same capital from Fredericksburg.

If our information is correct, the insurgent army is evacuating Corinth. The spurious congress of the insurgents has suddenly adjourned. Their fiscal system must by this time have exploded, and their military connexions are everywhere broken. It is a very pleasant addition to this news that two of the British steamers lately fitted out at Liverpool with ammunition and arms for the insurgents have been captured by our blockading fleet. Thus the tide of success seems to be flowing full and strong. Acting upon the confidence which it has produced, we have opened New Orleans to correspondence, and we are taking measures for an early opening of that and some other ports to trade under necessary limitations.

These concessions occur simultaneously with our ratification of a treaty with Great Britain designed to effect the suppression of the African slave trade.

Never were the influences of time and distance upon political opinions and proceedings illustrated more strongly than in the contrast which these transactions present to the course pursued and the sentiments avowed by tho British government as reported to us in your despatch.

The British government at London, on the 16th of April, reasoned and acted from the case as it stood here on the first of April. We are reviewing the proceedings and language of the British government in view of the case as it stands now on the 5th of May. We are sure, however, that Great Britain will not insist that the insurgents shall be regarded as a public belligerent after they shall have ceased to be able to maintain an organized war.

The President desires that, if it shall seem to you discreet, you recall the subject to Earl Russell's attention, after the events which have recently occurred here shall have transpired in Europe. It will be a sufficient justification for the seeming impatience that the interests of both nations, and even the interests of humanity, require that a war which so severely, and yet so unnecessarily and so hopelessly, scourges society, should not be protracted through any seeming indifference to the evil on the part of the maritime powers. I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, frc., fr., &c.

Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.

No. 156.)

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

London, May 8, 1862. SIR: I have received from the department despatches numbered from 228 to 236, both inclusive, and a circular dated the 17th of March rescinding the new rules of last year respecting passports.

I feel under great obligation to you for the information furnished to me of the present condition of the war in your despatch No. 228, and for the map which accompanied it. I propose to read the substance of it to Lord Russell, for his information, should I find an opportunity at a conference which he has appointed for 3 o'clock to-morrow to open a different questionthat of the Stadt dues.

I transmit a copy of a note received from his lordship, of the 6th instant, in reply to mine, on the case of the steamer Labuan. If I was at a loss to comprehend the reason of the representation volunteered to me on that subject, I am still more so to divine the cause for the turn now given to the correspondence.

I have felt it my duty to point out the nature of the position which he bas taken in as subdued a tone as I can command. Feeling that I am engaged in the responsible duty of making up a solemn issue between the two countries in one of the most momentous struggles of modern times, I am anxious to choose the ground with great care, so that I may

hold it with firmness throughout the possible embarrassments that may supervene. A copy of my reply to his lordship accompanies this despatch.

I am obliged to confess that I watch the course of events in this country with growing distrust. The rapid increase of the distress in Lancashire is developing a state of feeling towards the United States which seeks but an opportunity to find public expression. Representations are making to the commissioners of the poor law board, soliciting the interposition of government to grant relief, which place the ministry in an extremely difficult situation. Not possessed of strength in the House of Commons to carry through measures of their own, they feel themselves in danger of an overthrow in

any alternative, whether they do or do not come forward. Should it so happen that their weakness threatens to draw down upon itself a large share of popular indignation, it would not at all surprise me if I were to witness a very sudden change of tope, and an eagerness to precipitate an issue with the United States on the blockade. It is in this light that I read these vo late notes of Lord Russell.

I continue strong in the belief that the progress of the campaign will show more and more clearly the folly of attempting interference. At present the momentary slackening in our progress has revived the hopes of the friends of the insurgents, and they are straining every perve to furnish aid against the impending crisis. I enter into no details, being well aware that they are supplied in abundance from other sources. Of course, we watch the arrival of every steamer with the greatest interest. The course of M. Mercier is observed here with much attention, and awakens many hopes. I infer that he could not have taken it without communication with you, as such a step without it could hardly be justified by any precedent of diplomatic proprieties that is to be found recorded in the books. There is a project afloat of a joint representation of the powers of Europe, which may assume some kind of shape should the struggle be prolonged.

I confess it is a trial of patience to witness the extraordinary manner in which the nations of this hemisphere undertake to constitute themselves the judges of our affairs. One would imagine that their experience of the effects of the same tendency in regard to France in 1792 would have cured them of all such fancies ever after. Firmly believing that these events are ordered to the ultimate development of great moral results, I am content to master the present anxieties and calmly to await the issue. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.

Lord John Russell to Mr. Adams.

:

FOREIGN OFFICE, May 6, 1862. Sir: I have had the honor to receive your letter of the 30th ultiino.

I am quite willing to leave the case of the Labuan to the zealous exertions of Lord Lyons. It is a plain case of justice, and the representations of her Majesty's government with regard to it ought to be successful.

With regard to the "systematic plan" which you say has been pursued by her Majesty's subjects “to violate the blockade by steady efforts,” there are some reflections which I am surprised have not occurred to you.

The United States government, on the allegation of a rebellion pervading from nine to eleven States of the Union, have now for more than twelve months endeavored to maintain a blockade of three thousand miles of coast. This blockade, kept up irregularly, but when enforced, enforced severely, has seriously injured the trade and manufactures of the United Kingdom. Thousands of persons are now obliged to resort to the poor rate for subsistence, owing to this blockade. Yet her Majesty's government have never bought to take advantage of the obvious imperfections of this blockade, in order to declare it ineffective. They have, to the loss and detriment of the British nation, scrupulously observed the duties of Great Britain towards a friendly state. But when her Majesty's government are asked to go

а

beyond this, and to overstep the existing powers given them by municipal and international law for the purpose of imposing arbitrary restrictions on the trade of her Majesty's subjects, it is impossible to listen to such suggestions. The ingenuity of persons engaged in commerce will always, in some degree, defeat attempts to starve or debar from commercial intercourse an extensive coast inhabited by a large and industrious population.

If, therefore, the government of the United States consider it for their interest to inflict this great injury on other nations, the utmost they can expect is that European powers shall respect those acts of the United States which are within the limits of the law. The United States government cannot expect that Great Britain should frame new statutes to aid the federal blockade, and to carry into effect the restrictions on commerce which the United States, for their own purposes, have thought fit to institute, and the application of which it is their duty to contine within the legitimate limits of international law.

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

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

[ocr errors]

Mr. Adams to Lord John Russell.

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,

London, May 8, 1862. My LORD: I have to acknowledge the reception of your note of the 6th instant, in which you do me the honor to suggest some thoughts on the injurious effect of the American blockade.

In declaring that blockade the government of the United States are believed to have done nothing which has not been repeatedly done heretofore, and the right to do which at any time hereafter, whenever the necessity shall appear to call for it, is not distinctly affirmed by the government of Great Britain. Neither does the fact that this proceeding pressed with the greatest severity upon the interests of neutral nations appear formerly to have been regarded in any other light than as an incidental damage, which, however much regretted in itself, unavoidably follows from the gravity of the emergency which created it. For it can scarcely be supposed that so onerous a task as a veritable blockade will be undertaken by any nation for causes not deemed of paramount necessity, or will be persevered in one moment longer than those causes continue to operate. I am very sure that it is the desire of the government of the United States to accelerate the period when the blockade now in operation may be safely raised. To that end it is bending all its efforts. And in this it claims to be mindful not simply of the interests of its own citizens, but likewise of those of all friendly nations. Hence it is that it views with deep regret the strenuous efforts of evil-disposed persons in foreign countries, by undertakings carried on in defiance of all recognized law, to impair, so far as they can, the efficacy of its measures, and in a corresponding degree to protract the severity of the struggle. Hence it is, likewise, that it has been profoundly concerned at the inefficacy of the laws of Great Britain, in which a large proportion of the undertakings originate, to apply any adequate policy of prevention. For 1 doubt not your lordship will see at a glance the embarrassinent in which a country is necessarily involved by complaints raised of the continued severity of a blockade by a friendly nation which, at the same time, confesses its inability to restrain its subjects from stimulating the resistance that necessitates a continuance of the very state of things of which they make complaint.

That a sense of the difficulties consequent upon the action of such persons prompted the enactment of the statute of his Majesty George the Third of the 3d July, 1819, is made plain by the language of its preamble. It is therein stated that it was passed because the laws then in force were not sufficiently effectual to prevent the evil complained of. It now appears, from the substance of the representations which I have heretofore had the honor to make to your lordship, that the provisions of that law are as little effectual in curing the evil as those of any of its predecessors. But I am pained to be obliged to gather from the concluding words of your lordship’s note that the expression of an opinion that the United States, in the execution of a measure conceded to be correct, as well as justified by every precedent of international law as construed by the highest British authorities, cannot expect that Great Britain should frame new statntes to remedy the deficiency of its own laws to prevent what it acknowledges on the face of that statute to be evils created by its own refractory subjects. I must be permitted to say, in reply, that, in my belief, the government of the United States would scarcely be disposed to make a similar reply to her Majesty's government were the relative position of the two countries to be reversed.

Permit me, in conclusion, to assure your lordship that the grounds upon which the representations I have had the honor to make (were founded] have not been hastily considered. So far from it, the extent of the evil complained of has been under rather than overstated. I have now before me a list of eleven steamers and ten sailing vessels that have been equipped and despatched within thirty days, or are now preparing, freighted with supplies of all kinds for the insurgents from one port of Great Britain alone. These supplies, I have reason to believe, are to be conveyed to Nassau, which place is used as an entrepot for the convenience of vessels under British colors employed for the sole purpose of breaking the blockade. I have reasons for supposing that the business is reduced to a system, emanating from a central authority situated at London ; and, further, that large sums of money have been contributed by British subjects to aid in carrying it on. If the United States have in any of their relations with her Majesty's government committed some act not within the legitimate limits of international law which justifies the declaration of a disposition not to provide against such obvious violations of the neutrality proclaimed at the outset of this deplorable struggle, I trust I may be so clearly presented to their consideration by your lordship as to supply the means either of explanation or of remedy.

Renewing to your lordship the assurances of my highest consideration, I have the honor to be, my lord, your most obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. Right Hon. Lord John Russell, 42., 4., .

Mr. Adams to Mr. Seward.

No. 158.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED States,

London, May 9, 1862. Sir: I transmit herewith the copy of Lord Russell's reply to my application for the restoration of the Emily St. Pierre, received last evening. It does not vary much from what I expected. I propose to draw up a brief answer to close the correspondence.

« PreviousContinue »