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On my side, I am quite certain that the discussion which actually took place between us involved a wholly different class of topics of a very critical nature, and never touched upon the declaration of Paris, until it had exhausted itself on the others. It was by that time late, and I then opened the new subject by remarking that there would be no time to do more than to allude to it at this conference. I first mentioned the fact that I had instructions to propose a negotiation upon the disputed point of the Paris declarations, and the necessary powers to perfect an agreement, if her Majesty's government were disposed to enter into it. It was this proposal that elicited the explanations of his lordship as to what had been already done, and the expression of an opinion that the instructions sent to Lord Lyons were of such a kind as to make some agreement on your side so very likely as to render any treatment of the same matter here unadvisable; and it was then that I concurred in his opinion. As things now stand, perhaps this difference of recollection in the present instance may not be material. But there might be cases in which it would be of so much moment that I think hereafter I shall prefer, upon essential points, to conduct the affairs of this legation a little more in writing than I have heretofore thought necessary. At the hour appointed in his note, I waited upon his lordship for the first time, at his official residence in Downing street. After comparing our respective remembrance of the facts in dispute, I went on to repeat what I maintained I had at first proposed, to wit: that I was ready to negotiate if her Majesty's government were so disposed. To that end I had brought my powers, and also the project of a convention, copies of both of which papers I offered to leave with him. He remarked that at this stage it was not necessary to look at the powers. The other one he took and examined. The first remark which he made was that it was essentially the declaration of Paris. He had never known until now that the government of the United States were disposed to accede to it. He was sure that I had never mentioned it. To this I assented, but observed that the reason why I had not done so was that my government had directed me to make a preliminary inquiry, and that was to know whether her Majesty's ministers were disposed to enter into any negotiation at all. It was because of my under. standing his lordship to say that he preferred to leave the matter with Lord Lyons, that I had considered negotiation here to be declined. I had also heard, through his lordship, of a proposition since made by Mr. Dayton on this subject to the French government, and which had been communicated to him, that led me to suppose the matter might be taking its shape at Paris. His lordship observed that Mr. Dayton's proposal was nothing more than a repetition of that made by Mr. Marcy, which they were not willing to accede to. I then said that Mr. Marcy's amendment was undoubtedly the first wish of my government. I also had instructions to press it, if there was the smallest probability of success; but I understood that this matter had been definitively settled. His lordship signified his assent to this remark, and added that I might consider the proposition as inadmissible. He would therefore take the copy of the project of a convention which I had offered him, for the purpose of submitting it to the consideration of his colleagues in the cabinet, and let me know when he should be ready to meet again. In the course of conversation, I took the occasion to remark upon that passage of his lordship's note to me which related to the manner in which other states had signified their adherence to the declaration. I called his attention to the fact that, whatever might be the course elsewhere, the pe. culiar structure of our government required some distinct form of agreement or convention to be made with foreign States upon which the Senate could exercise their legitimate authority of confirmation or rejection. He seemed at once to understand the force of this observation, and to assent
to the necessity. Yet I foresaw at the time the difficulty in which it would place the British government in its relations with the other parties to the convention at Paris. The reply of his lordship, this moment come to hand, a copy of which is here with submitted, explains it fully, and leaves the matter in the same state of suspense that it was in before.
Under these circumstances, and presuming it to be the wish of the President that no time be lost, I shall write to Mr. Dayton, at Paris, to know whether he considers himself authorized to proceed to conclude a similar arrangement with the French government; if so, I shall try to go on with . out waiting for further instructions; if not, I shall hold myself ready to act here so soon as this difficulty shall have been removed elsewhere.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,
CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.
Mr. Adams to Lord John Russell.
LEGATION of THE UNITED STATEs,
My LoRD: From the tenor of the last despatches received from the Department of State at Washington, I am led to suppose that there has been some misunderstanding in regard to the intentions of her Majesty's government respecting a proposal to negotiate upon the basis of the declaration of the congress held at Paris in 1856. In the first conversation which I had the honor to hold with your lordship, so long ago as the 18th of May last, in answer to an offer then made by myself, under instructions from my government, I certainly understood your lordship to say that the subject had already been committed to the care of Lord Lyons, at Washington, with authority to accept the proposition of the government of the United States, adopting three articles of the declaration at Paris, and to drop the fourth altogether. For this reason you preferred not to enter into the question on this side of the water. I am now informed that Lord Lyons thinks his instructions do not authorize him to enter into convention with the authorities at Washington, and am instructed to apprise her Majesty's government of the fact.
Under these circumstances, I am directed once more to renew the proposition here, and to say that, if agreeable to your lordship, I am prepared to present to your consideration a project of a convention at any moment which it may be convenient to you to appoint.
Seizing the occasion to renew the assurance of my highest consideration,
I have the honor to be your lordship's most obedient servant,
CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS. The Right Honorable Lord JoHN RUSSELL, &c., &c., doc.
Lord John Russell to Mr. Adams.
FoREIGN OFFICE, July 13, 1861.
SIR: I have just had the honor to receive your letter dated the 11th instant.
May, I informed you that instructions had been sent to Lord Lyons to propose to the government of the United States to adopt the second, third, and fourth articles of the declaration of Paris, dropping the first altogether. You informed me that you had instructions on the same subject; but I understood you to express an opinion, in which I fully concurred, that it would be well to leave the question in the hands of the Secretary of State at Washington. Lord Lyons had instructions to make an agreement with the government of the United States, but he had no express authority to sign a convention. The States who have adhered to the declaration of Paris have generally, if not invariably, done so by despatches or notes, and not by conventions. As, however, you have been instructed to present to her Majesty's government, for consideration, a project of a convention, I shall be happy to see you at the foreign office at three o'clock to-day, for the purpose of receiving that project. * I request you to receive the assurance of my highest consideration, and have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient servant,
J. RUSSELL. CHARLEs FRANCIs ADAMs, Esq., d.c., &c., &c.
Lord John Russell to Mr. Adams.
Foreign OFFICE, July 18, 1861. SIR: Upon considering your propositions of Saturday last I have two remarks to make. First. The course hitherto followed has been a simple notification of adherence to the declaration of Paris by those states which were not originally parties to it. Secondly. The declaration of Paris was one embracing various powers, with a view to general concurrence upon questions of maritime law, and not an insulated engagement between two powers only. Her Majesty's government are willing to waive entirely any objection on the first of these heads, and to accept the form which the government of the United States prefers. With regard to the second, her Majesty's government are of opinion that they should be assured that the United States are ready to enter into a similar engagement with France, and with other maritime powers who are parties to the declaration of Paris, and do not purpose to make singly and separately a convention with Great Britain only. But as much time might be required for separate communications between the government of the United States and all the maritime powers who were parties to or have acceded to the declaration of Paris, her Majesty's government would deem themselves authorized to advise the Queen to conclude a convention on this subject with the President of the United States so soon as they shall have been informed that a similar convention has been agreed upon, and is ready for signature, between the President of the United States and the Emperor of the French, so that the two conventions might be signed simultaneously and on the same day. I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,
Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.
No. 42.] DEPARTMENT of STATE,
SIR: Your despatch of June 28, No. 10, has been received. I have already, in a previous communication, informed you that this government has not been disturbed by the action of the British authorities in sending three regiments into Canada, nor by the announcement of the coming of British armed vessels into American waters. These movements are certainly not very formidable in their proportions; and we willingly accept the explanation that they proceed from merely prudential motives. Doubtless it had been better if they had not been made. But what government can say that it never acts precipitately, or even capriciously. On our part the possibility of foreign intervention, sooner or later, in this domestic disturbance is never absent from the thoughts of this government. We are, therefore, not likely to exaggerate indications of an emergency for which we hold ourselves bound to be in a measure always prepared. Another subject which, according to your report, was discussed in your late interview with Lord John Russell demands more extended remarks. I refer to the portion of your despatch which is in these words: “His lordship then said something about difficulties in New Grenada, and the intelligence that the insurgents there had passed a law to close their ports. But the law officers here told him that this could not be done as against foreign nations, except by the regular form of a blockade. He did not know what we thought about it; but he had observed that some such plan was said to be likely to be adopted at the coming meeting of Congress in regard to the ports of those whom we considered as insurgents.” Much as I deprecate a reference in official communications of this kind to explanations made by ministers in Parliament, not always fully or accurately reported, and always liable to be perverted when applied to cases not considered when the explanations are given, I nevertheless find it necessary, by way of elucidating the subject, to bring into this connexion the substance of a debate which is said to have taken place in the House of Commons on the 27th of June last, and which is as follows: Mr. H. Berkly asked the secretary of state for foreign affairs whether her Majesty's government recognized a notification given by Señor Martin, minister plenipotentiary to this court from the Grenadian confederation, better known as the Republic of New Grenada, which announces a blockade of the ports of Rio Hacha, Santa Marta, Savanilla, Carthagena, and Zaporte, and which government did her Majesty's government recognize in the so-called Grenadian confederation. Lord John Russell said the question is one of considerable importance. The government of New Grenada has announced, not a blockade, but that certain ports of New Grenada are to be closed. The opinion of her Majesty's government, after taking legal advice, is, that it is perfectly competent for the government of a country in a state of tranquillity to say which ports shall be open to trade and which shall be closed; but in the event of insurrection or civil war in that country, it is not competent for its government to close the ports that are de facto in the hands of the insurgents, as that would be an invasion of international law with regard to blockade. Admiral Milne, acting on instructions from her Majesty's government, has ordered the commanders of her Majesty's ships not to recognize the closing of their ports. Since your conversation with Lord John Russell, and also since the debate which I have extracted occurred, the Congress of the United States has by law asserted the right of this government to close the ports in this country which have been seized by the insurgents. I send you here with a copy of the enactment. The connecting by Lord John Russell of that measure when it was in prospect with what had taken place in regard to a law of New Granada, gives to the remarks which he made to you a significance that requires no especial illustration. If the government of the United States should close their insurrectionary ports under the new statute, and Great Britain should, in pursuance of the intimation made, disregard the act, no one can suppose for a moment that the United States would acquiesce. When a conflict on such a question shall arrive between the United States and Great Britain, it is not easily to be seen what maritime nation could keep aloof from it. It must be confessed, therefore, that a new incident has occurred increasing the danger that what has hitherto been, and, as we think, ought to be, a merely domestic controversy of our own, may be enlarged into a general war among the great maritime nations. Hence the necessity for endeavoring to bring about a more perfect understanding between the United States and Great Britain for the regulation of their mutual relations than has yet been attained. In attempting that important object I may be allowed to begin by affirming that the President deprecates, as much as any citizen of either country or any friend of humanity throughout the world can deprecate, the evil of foreign wars, to be superinduced, as he thinks unnecessarily, upon the painful civil conflict in which we are engaged for the purpose of defending and maintaining our national authority over our own disloyal citizens. I may add, also, for myself, that however otherwise I may at any time have been understood, it has been an earnest and profound solicitude to avert foreign war; that alone has prompted the emphatic and sometimes, perhaps, impassioned remonstrances I have hitherto made against any form or measure of recognition of the insurgents by the government of Great Britain. I write in the same spirit now; and I invoke on the part of the British government, as I propose to exercise on my own, the calmness which all counsellors ought to practise in debates which involve the peace and happiness of mankind. The United States and Great Britain have assumed incompatible, and thus far irreconcilable, positions on the subject of the existing insurrection. The United States claim and insist that the integrity of the republic is unbroken, and that their government is supreme so far as foreign nations are concerned, as well for war as for peace, over all the States, all sections, and all citizens, the loyal not more than the disloyal, the patriots and the insurgents alike. Consequently they insist that the British government shall in no way intervene in the insurrection, or hold commercial or other intercourse with the insurgents in derogation of the federal authority. The British government, without having first deliberately heard the claims of the United States, announced, through a proclamation of the Queen, that it took notice of the insurrection as a civil war so flagrant as to divide this country into two belligerent parties, of which the federal government constitutes one and the disloyal citizens the other; and consequently it inferred a right of Great Britain to stand in an attitude of neutrality between them. It is not my purpose at this time to vindicate the position of the United States, nor is it my purpose to attempt to show to the government of Great Britain that its position is indefensible. The question at issue concerns the United States primarily, and Great Britain only secondarily and incidentally. It is, as I have before said, a question of the integrity, which is nothing less than the life of the republic itself. The position which the government has taken has been dictated, there.