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As regards vessels desiring to leave the harbour, the Consul observes that the case is but little different. Pilots, he says, might indeed be found to take such vessels out, but should any accident happen, it is, he thinks, to be apprehended that the insurance companies would refuse compensation; and thus, he believes, few masters would feel justified in running the risk.
I do not doubt that information of this state of things has already reached the Government of The United States, and that such measures as circumstances admit of have been taken, either to cause the lights, beacons, and buoys to be replaced, or at all events to warn vessels approaching Charleston of their danger.
My object in addressing you is, in the first place, to free Her Majesty's Consul for South Carolina and myself from all responsibility for any loss of life and property which may unhappily accrue; in the second place, to obtain on the highest authority, and as soon as possible, such information respecting the measures taken in the matter as may allay the anxiety of British subjects.
I have, &c.
No. 3.-Judge Black to Lord Lyons.
Department of State, Washington, January 10, 1861. I HAVE had the honour to receive your Lordship's two notes, dated respectively the 31st ultimo and the 7th instant. I have laid them before the President, who directs me to say in reply that he deeply regrets that any injury should happen to the commerce of foreign and friendly nations, and especially that British subjects who are engaged in lawful trade at the port of Charleston should suffer, in consequence of the anomalous state of things which has existed there for a short time past.
It is impossible for this Government to regard the assumption by South Carolina of authority to regulate foreign commerce, and exact duties upon imports, as anything more than one of those acts of sudden and lawless violence by which all Governments are more or less liable to be occasionally disturbed in the exercise of their proper functions.
In your Lordship's first note several cases are put, and you request me to furnish such information respecting them as will enable you to give definite instructions to Her Majesty's Consul at Charleston. The points thus raised will be answered as fully as in the nature of things this Government can speak of events which have not yet occurred.
The jurisdiction of the Federal Government to regulate trade with foreign nations, and to impose duties on goods imported into The United States is exclusive. Congress, as you are fully aware, exercised this power by passing laws which clearly define the duties,
rights, and liabilities of foreigners engaged in that business. This Government cannot acknowledge any standard or legality, or any rule of conduct, other than those prescribed in the statutes referred to. It necessarily follows from this that payment of duties to a person who is not the proper officer of The United States, and authorized by the laws of The United States, to receive them, will be a mispayment. Nor can a clearance which may be obtained contrary to those laws be regarded as valid by the Federal authorities.
Whether the state of things now existing at Charleston will, or will not, be regarded as a sufficient reason for not exacting the penalties which may be incurred by British subjects is a question which I am very sure you will see the necessity of reserving until it practically arises. It seems to me impossible to deal with it in the abstract, or to lay down any general rule at this moment which might not be misinterpreted hereafter. Each case will, no doubt, have its own peculiarities. The degree of restraint under which the party who violates the law may be compelled to act at the time, and what amount of coercive power South Carolina will bring to bear upon the masters of vessels, or the consignees of cargoes, are facts which may have some influence, but cannot be ascertained now.
I regret that these considerations compel me to decline giving any assurance concerning the intention of the President in regard to the supposed cases you speak of.
Your Lordship's motive in making the inquiry is fully appreciated. Any uncertainty on such a subject is in itself an evil which ought to be removed if it could be. But the reliance which your Lordship cannot but feel in the justice of this Government will, no doubt, quiet all apprehension of ultimate wrong to British subjects, if such wrong can possibly be avoided.
In reply to your Lordship's second note, which concerns the extinguishment of the lights, the destruction of the beacons, the removal of the buoys, &c., which serve as guides to the entrance of the harbour of Charleston, I am unable to say more at the present moment than that notice will be given by the Treasury Department of the condition in which these acts of South Carolina have put the coast. I avail, &c.
J. S. BLACK.
MESSAGE of the President of Nicaragua, on the Opening of the Legislative Congress.-San José, January 16, 1861.
HONOURABLE SENATORS AND DEPUTIES,
THIS is a day of rejoicing for Nicaragua, for she has been anxiously expecting your meeting, and much more so for me who have the honour to find myself among you.
I congratulate you cordially, and I trust that the Supreme Legislator may bestow His blessing on your resolutions, in order that the results of your deliberations may be in accordance with the general wishes.
I feel a redoubled pleasure in being able to tell you that the Republic is in perfect peace, and that liberty and order go hand in hand, in the midst of general confidence. Under the evident direction of Providence, I attribute the actual state of things to the peaceful and conciliatory programme that I have constantly followed.
If peace be a great boon for all nations, Gentlemen, it is a vast and inestimable one for Nicaragua, as our enemies are constantly on the watch in order to seize every opportunity of turning our dissensions to their own advantage.
Under the beneficent influence of peace, the country has improved as much as has been possible after its almost complete annihilation.
The Government, I have the honour to state, does all in its power to promote progress everywhere, for in the state of misery and distrust in which we found ourselves, after the late war, it was not enough that the Government should be on the watch, it became necessary both by direct and indirect means to give impulse to the useful undertakings of the country. One example of this is the valuable plant, coffee, which is now cultivated in abundance, owing to the privileges you conceded to it, and also owing to the exemptions which have been granted to the cultivators. Thus it is in other matters; but I do not mean to say that the people are doing nothing of themselves, far from it, for if the situation of Nicaragua when the war terminated, be called to mind, and compared with what it is at present, all must be convinced that our population is laborious in an eminent degree.
The formation of roads was commenced last year, with the difficulties that great undertakings always encounter at first. One of these difficulties is, that in some quarters, the annual contribution of 3 days' labour is regarded with ill will. I am of opinion that it is expedient to diminish it, and to prosecute the undertaking with constancy, with the assistance of the whole power of the Government. We are giving a wretched idea to foreigners who pass from one to another of our principal cities, and neither progress nor civilization will ever penetrate as they ought to do through our dangerous pathways: facilities of communication are the channels of life for all communities, like unto the arteries of the human body. Fix, therefore, your attention on this interesting subject, and do not omit to facilitate the undertaking.
Primary instruction, one of the greatest necessities for all
societies, especially Republics, is not developed with us, as we could wish. The funds destined for this object are very small in amount, and consequently the schools, being badly endowed, are not furnished in all places with competent masters. Hence the instruction is imperfect and the progress slow, whilst those individuals who possess the means, resort rather to private instruction. The movement of civilization of the present age is too rapid for us to be able to resist it; it behoves us to move forward also, and it belongs to you to facilitate the impulse.
Our bodies of militia owing to immense efforts are formed, and we can state for the first time that the Government of Nicaragua can reckon upon an army of 7,000 soldiers.
The formation of battalions was not concluded when Walker invaded Honduras, and Nicaragua, without causing alarm, raised the present militia in a very few days, and prepared for the defence of our nationality. My desire now is to complete the work by disciplining the force, and as we have made a beginning with so good a result, I flatter myself that in a short time we shall have accomplished that desirable object.
The public finances go on improving from day to day, for, being convinced that these form the vital principle of the State, I have devoted my constant attention to them. The enormous debt which presses on them, and the firm intention of maintaining our credit, which is the basis of national wealth, have nullified the Customs, and even other branches of Revenue, so that we have been passing through a long and protracted crisis. Notwithstanding this, there has been no necessity for decreeing loans excepting an exceedingly moderate one to contribute to the expenses of the war when forces were raised against the last attempt of Walker. So far from this, all arrears due to the troops during the national campaign have been paid in hard cash, and the day has been fixed for paying the first dividend to the officers, so that I trust that in a very short time our financial position will be a more favourable one. But the progress of this department will always be imperfect, so long as we have no mint, for we are subject to continual losses by the introduction of moneys, and our mineral riches now go to be fabricated abroad. A nation can hardly be said to be worthy of that name, when she has no currency to represent her in commerce, and, therefore, I implore you to give this object your attention, as one of those that tend most to our aggrandizement.
In proportion as peace has been secured in the interior, our credit has been increasing in foreign countries. We preserve our good relations with all the Powers, and with several of them we have Treaties of Amity and Commerce. Already those we have concluded with France and England have been ratified, as also a Convention with the last
named country relative to the question of Mosquito. In virtue thereof, a Commissioner was named on our part to receive the Port of San Juan del Norte, and the territory formerly disputed, and at the same time he carries instructions to ascertain and indicate the best method of governing the inhabitants of the port, because as the greater part of them are foreigners, it becomes expedient to preserve their usages and customs.
I am sorry to have to announce to you that the Treaty with the Government of The United States has not been concluded, for the Senate of that nation would not accept it without modifying one of its Articles. As by reason of that modification it had to be again submitted to your consideration, the Senate fixed a new term for the exchange, which expired before the day appointed by law for your re-assembling. To meet this difficulty and being desirous of connecting our country with all the Powers, there was an intention of convoking you extraordinarily, but the invasion of Honduras by the Filibusters, which Nicaragua had good reason to suppose was directed towards her, quite dispelled the idea, as it would have been impossible to carry it out when we were about to devote ourselves to the defence of the nation. Such being the case, it was deemed expedient to instruct our Minister in The United States to explain the matter, and to show the necessity of proroguing the term fixed on, but I have learnt with great regret that the reply given thereto is that the President of that Republic does not possess the power of making such a stipulation. Much as it is to be regretted that 5 Treaties concluded at different periods and ratified by Nicaragua, have not been passed in the Senate of The United States, it would be still more so, if this were to share the same fate, for our commerce and industry are now more than ever in want of Treaties with maritime nations.
Our relations with the Central American Governments excepting one alone, are as cordial as they naturally ought to be between members of the same family, a family divided, it is true, either from inexperience or fatality, but one day to be reunited, for all things are in common to it, and the family itself feels and wishes it to be so, trusting that the inevitable current of events will lead to that consummation.
On receiving the intelligence that Honduras was invaded by the Filibusters, Nicaragua considered herself invaded also, and we Nicaraguans were ready to share the danger with our brethren, had it not been that the first efforts of Honduras and Guatemala, supported by the authorities of Belize, and by the naval force of Her Britannic Majesty on those coasts, were quite sufficient to annihilate the invader.
About the same time, Costa Rica was the theatre of terrible [1861-62. LII.] 4 G