Page images

lars more and dominion less." Nothing short of thirty years of humdrum tranquillity, prosperity, and intellectual growth would be adequate punishment for a republic so lacking in appreciation of things "higher but more remote" as to think that the incorporation of "the several adjacent continental and insular communities" was of less importance than close attention to the obligations incurred in saving the Union and to reorganizing what the war had left.


The annexation of territory, the inhabitants of which have come into close relations and sympathy with the United States, cannot be very dangerous if effected in compliance with a sober public opinion. But Seward's practice bore no resemblance to such a course. He began, in January, 1865, by searching for a harbor in the West Indies, but he was extremely anxious to keep the subject a secret. He did not wish to consult either his countrymen or the persons whose nationality he strove to change; and when the treaty had to go before the Senate its advocates declared that the thing was done, and that it would be a wrong to the other power concerned to fail to ratify what had already been solemnly agreed to. But the sentiments expressed in the annual message of 1868 and the efforts to acquire Santo Domingo-which also meant the early annexation of Hayti by purchase, conquest, or intrigue-showed that he was an expansionist for the sake of expansion, and believed in rushing through the necessary legislation, while the messenger of a disordered and ignorant little nation waited for a definite answer. Many indignantly

13 Seward, 369.

2 In some instructions on another subject he said that "this government must, nevertheless, conduct its proceedings in all negotiations with proper deference and respect to the state of opinion which prevails in the Senate, in Congress, and among the people of the United States."-1 Dip. Cor., 1868, 355.

protested against both Seward's aims and his methods. They said that he was constantly trying to do what there was no public demand for; that it was extremely unpleasant to think that any morning the country might find that during the night the Secretary of State had bought several million persons to be fellow-citizens and provided work for forty or fifty thousand soldiers. Seward's zeal for making acquisitions was doubtless increased by a desire to be involved as little as possible in the disagreeable features of the problem of reconstruction, and to have aims that should be known as distinctly his own. Although he met with only partial success, he deserves, indeed, to be regarded as the greatest prophet and leader among expansionists.




CLAIMS against Great Britain for the destruction of American merchantmen by the Alabama and other cruisers were duly presented by the United States Minister as they arose.' This was very unpleasant to Earl Russell. In September, 1863, he insisted that because the Alabama had not been actually fitted out in a British port as a war-vessel, there was nothing to warrant such claims. "I have only, in conclusion, to express my hope that you may not be instructed again to put forward claims which her Majesty's government cannot admit to be founded on any grounds of law or justice." To this Seward responded that "the United States do insist, and must continue to insist, that the British government is justly responsible for the damages which the peaceful, lawabiding citizens of the United States sustain by the depredations of the Alabama." Still, he said, there was no intention "to act dogmatically or in a litigious spirit"; and he admitted that the time was not favorable for a candid examination of either the facts or the principles involved. If the British government should

decline to receive the evidence on which the claims

1 See ante, 385, 386.

1 Dip. Cor., 1863, 380.

were based, then a record should be kept for future



When war ended, the "Alabama claims," resulting from actual losses amounting to many millions of dollars, were still unrecognized. Adams reported, September 7, 1865, that. Russell then seemed less fearful of being suspected of good-will toward the United States; and the British Secretary himself soon suggested the appointment of a joint commission to which should be referred "all claims arising during the late civil war, which the two powers shall agree to refer." But he expressly said that there could be no arbitration of the question whether his government had honestly adhered to its neutrality proclamation, or whether the law officers had properly understood the foreign enlistment act, or whether there should be reparation "for the captures made by the Alabama." As this was hardly as much as a short first-step in the right direction, it was promptly declined by Seward. He was determined to obtain more. Early in 1866 he informed Adams that both the Cabinet and the people of the United States expected Great Britain to redress the wrongs of which these claims were a result. A little later he said: "I see now no reason for apprehending that we shall at any time or under any circumstances be willing to negotiate for future contingencies without having first due regard paid to past injuries and damages." As the Secretary informed the British Minister at Washington of this opinion, it was a very important indication of strained relations between the two powers. In July, 1866, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill designed to remove the prohibition against selling ships and munitions of war to foreign citizens or govern


11 Dip. Cor., 1863, 395, 396. 31 Dip. Cor., 1865, 630.

21 Dip. Cor., 1865, 545.
41 Dip. Cor., 1866, 66, 74.

ments at peace with the United States, and thus to enable American citizens to take a profitable revenge for the devastations of the Alabama the first time Great Britain should become involved in hostilities.

The Fenian movement, which was an attempt to establish an independent republic in Ireland, tried to increase and use for its own ends the resentment Americans felt against the British government. For several years a large number of Irish-Americans had taken a zealous interest in this cause. Conventions had been held in several American cities, and in the autumn of 1865 a general convention in New York elected a socalled president of the would-be republic, and he appointed heads of departments of war, navy, and finance. From the United States these "Irish patriots" sent emissaries to England and Ireland to give active sup port to the revolution. After a few thousand Fenians had invaded Canada, in June, 1866, the arms and munitions of war that the brotherhood had collected and left behind were seized, the United States garrisons on the frontier were strengthened, and President Johnson issued a proclamation against the enterprise. Many IrishAmericans were arrested in Ireland, on suspicion that they were stirring up sedition and perhaps inciting others to commit treasonable acts. They were treated as if they were subjects of Great Britain and not as American citizens, for Great Britain had never recognized the right of expatriation. As the writ of habeas corpus had been suspended in Ireland, Adams was soon very busy making representations in behalf of his indiscreet and unfort unate fellow-citizens.

In August, 1866, Seward sent to Adams a long list of Alabama claims. He said that it was the President's desire that the attention of Lord Stanley, Earl Russell's successor, should be called to them "in a respectful but earnest manner," and that he should be in

« PreviousContinue »