under an enemy's flag, shall not be confiscated. 3d. That blockades, to be respected, must be effective. The congress at Paris adopted these three principles, adding a fourth, namely, that privateering shall be abolished. The powers which constituted that congress invited the adhesion of the United States to that declaration. The United States answered that they would accede on condition that the other powers would accept a fifth proposition, namely, that the goods of private persons, non-combatants, should be exempt from confiscation in maritime war. When this answer was given by the United States, the British government declined to accept the proposed amendment, or fifth proposition, thus offered by the United States, and the negotiation was then suspended. We have now proposed to resume the negotiation, offering our adhesion to the declaration of Paris, as before, with the amendment which would exempt private property from confiscation in maritime war. The British government now, as before, declares this amendment or fifth proposition inadmissible. It results that, if the United States can at all become a party to the declaration of the congress of Paris by the necessary consent of the parties already committed to it, this can be done only by their accepting that declaration without any amendment whatever, in other words, “pure and simple.” Under these circumstances you have proposed in your letter to Lord John Russell to negotiate our adhesion to the declaration in that form. It is at this stage of the affair that Lord John Russell interposes, by way of caution, the remark, that “on the part of Great Britain the engagement will be prospective, and will not invalidate anything already done.” I need dwell on this remark only one moment to show that, although expressed in a very simple form and in a quite casual manner, it contains what amounts to a preliminary condition, which must be conceded by the United States to Great Britain, and either be inserted in the convention, and so modify our adhesion to the declaration of Paris, or else must be in some confidential manner implied and reserved, with the same effect. Upon principle this government could not consent to enter into formal negotiations, the result of which, as expressed in a convention, should be modified or restricted by a tacit or implied reservation. Even if such a proceeding was compatible with our convictions of propriety or of expediency, there would yet remain an insuperable obstacle in the way of such a IneaSure. The President can only initiate a treaty. The treaty negotiated can come into life only through an express and deliberate act of ratification by the Senate of the United States, which ratification sanctions, in any case, only what is set down in the treaty itself. I am not, by any means, to be understood in these remarks as implying a belief that Lord John Russell desires, expects, or contemplates the practice of any reservation on the part of the United States or of Great Britain. The fact of his having given you the caution upon which I am remarking, would be sufficient, if evidence were necessary, to exclude any apprehension of that sort. It results from these remarks that the convention into which we are to enter must contain a provision to the effect that “the engagements” to be made therein are “on the .. of Great Britain prospective, and will not invalidate anything already One.” . I must, therefore, now discuss the propriety of inserting such a stipulation in the convention which you have been authorized to consummate. The proposed stipulation is divisible into two parts, namely: First. That the engagements of Great Britain are “prospective” [only..] I do not see any great objection to such an amendment. But why should

[ocr errors]

it be important. A contract is always prospective, and prospective only, if it contains no express stipulation that it shall be retrospective in its operation. So much, therefore, of the stipulation asked is unnecessary, while, if conceded, it might possibly give occasion to misapprehension as to its effect. You will, therefore, decline to make such a condition without first receiving a satisfactory explanation of its meaning and its importance.

The second part of the proposed condition is, that the “engagement will not invalidate anything already done.” I am not sure that I should think this proposed condition exceptionable, if its effect were clearly understood. It is necessary, however, to go outside of his lordship's letter to find out what is meant by the words “anything already done.” If “anything” pertinent to the subject “has been already done” which ought not to be invalidated, it is clear that it must have been done either by the joint action of the United States and Great Britain, or by the United States only, or by Great Britain acting alone. There has been no joint action of the United States and Great Britain upon the subject. The United States have done nothing af. fecting it; certainly nothing which they apprehend would be invalidated by the simple form of convention which they propose. I am left to conclude, therefore that the “thing” which “has been done already,” and which Great Britain desires shall not be invalidated by the convention, must be something which she herself has done. At the same time we are left to conjecture what that thing is which is thus to be carefully saved. It would be hazardous on our part to assume to know, while I have no doubt that the British government, with its accustomed frankness, and in view of the desirableness of a perfect understanding of the matter, will at once specify what the thing which has been done by her, and which is not to be invalidated, really is. You will, therefore, respectfully ask the right honorable secretary for foreign affairs for an explanation of the part of his letter which I have thus drawn under review, as a preliminary to any further proceedings in the proposed negotiation.

You will perform this in such a manner as to show that the explanation is asked in no querulous or hypercritical spirit. Secondly, you will perform it with reasonable promptness, so that the attainment of the important object of the negotiation may not be unnecessarily delayed; and, thirdly, you will assure the British government that while the United States at present see no reason to think that the stipulation proposed is necessary or expedient, yet, in view of the great interests of commerce and of civilization which are involved, they will refuse nothing which shall be really just or even nonessential and not injurious to themselves, while of course I suppose they are not expected in any way to compromise their own national integrity, safety, or honor.

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 63.] DEPARTMENT of STATE, - Washington, August 17, 1861. SIR: Alexander H. Schultz, a special messenger, will deliver to you this

despatch, together with a bag containing papers addressed to Lord John Russell.

On the 5th instant I was advised by a telegram from Cincinnati that Robert Mure, of Charleston, was on his way to New York to embark at that port for England, and that he was a bearer of despatches from the usurping insurrectionary authorities of Richmond to Earl Russell. Other information bore that he was a bearer of despatches from the same authorities to their agents in London. Information from various sources agreed in the fact that he was travelling under a passport from the British consul at Charleston. Upon this information I directed the police at New York to detain Mr. Mure and any papers which might be found in his possession until I should give further directions. He was so detained, and he is now in custody at Fort Lafayette, awaiting full disclosures. In his possession were found Seventy letters, four of which were unsealed and sixty-six sealed. There was also found in his possession a sealed bag marked “Foreign Office, 3,” with two labels, as follows: “On Her Brit. Maj. service. The Right Honorable the Lord John Russell, M. P., &c., &c., &c. Despatches in charge of Robert Mure, Esq,” signed Robert Bunch. “On Her Brit. Maj. service. The Right Honorable the Lord John Russell, M. P., H. B. M.'s Principal Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Office, London, R. Bunch.” The bag bears two impressions of the seal of office of the British consul at Charleston, and seems to contain voluminous papers. There were also found upon Mr. Mure's person, in an open envelope, what pretends to be a passport in the following words.-(See Annex A.) Also a letter of introduction, which is as follows.-(See Annex B.) There were also found several unsealed copies of a printed pamphlet entitled “A narrative of the Battles of Bull Run and Manassas Junction, July 18th and 21st. Accounts of the advance of both armies, the battles and rout of the enemy, compiled chiefly from the detailed reports of the Virginia and South Carolina press; Charleston, Steam Power Presses of Evans & Coggswell, No. 3 Broad, and 103 East Bay streets, 1861.” This pamphlet is manifestly an argument for the disunion of the United States. Several copies of it were found addressed to persons in England. The marks and outward appearance of the bag indicate that its contents are exclusively legitimate communications from the British consul at Charleston to H. B. M.'s government. Nevertheless, I have what seem to be good reasons for supposing that they may be treasonable papers, designed and gotten up to aid parties engaged in arms for the overthrow of this government and the dissolution of the Union. These reasons are: 1st. That I can hardly conceive that there can be any occasion for such very voluminous communications of a legitimate nature being made by the consul at Charleston to his government at the present time. 2d. Consuls have no authority to issue passports, the granting of them being, as I understand, not a consular but a diplomatic function. Passports, however, have, in other times, been habitually granted by foreign consuls residing in the United States. But soon after the insurrection broke out in the Southern States a regulation was made by this department, which I have excellent means of knowing was communicated to the British consul at Charleston, to the effect that, until further orders, no diplomatic or consular passports would be recognized by this government, so far as to permit the bearer to pass through the lines of the national forces or out of the country unless it should be countersigned by the Secretary of State and the commanding general of the army of the United States. Mr. Mure had passed the lines of the army, and was in the act of leaving the United States in open violation of this regulation. Moreover, the bearer of the papers, Robert Mure, is a naturalized citizen of the United States, has resided here thirty years, and is a colonel in the insurgent military forces of South Carolina. 3d. If the papers contained in the bag are not illegal in their nature or purpose, it is not seen why their safe transmission was not secured, as it might have been by exposing them in some way to Lord Lyons, British minister residing at this capital, whose voucher for their propriety, as Mr. Bunch must well know, would exempt them from all scrutiny or suspicion. 4th. The consul's letter to the bearer of dispatches attaches an unusual importance to the papers in question, while it expresses great impatience for their immediate conveyance to their destination, and an undue anxiety lest they might, by some accident, come under the notice of this government. 5th. The bearer is proved to be disloyal to the United States by the pamphlet and the letters found in his possession. I have examined many of the papers found upon the person of Mr. Mure, and I find them full of treasonable information, and clearly written for treasonable purposes. These, I think, will be deemed sufficient grounds for desiring the scrutiny of the papers and surveillance of the bearer on my art. p Comity towards the British government, together with a perfect confidence in its justice and honor, as well as its friendship towards the United States, to say nothing of a sense of propriety, which I could not dismiss, have prevented me from entertaining, for a moment, the idea of breaking the seals which I have so much reason to believe were put upon the consular bag to save it from my inspection, while the bearer himself might remove them on his arrival in London, after which he might convey the papers, if treasonable, to the agents of the insurgents, now understood to be residing in several of the capitals in Europe. I will not say that I have established the fact that the papers in question are treasonable in their nature, and are made with purposes hostile and dangerous to this country. But I confess I fear they are so, and I apprehend either that they are guilty despatches to the agents of disunion, or else that, if they are really addressed to the British government, they are papers prepared by traitors in the insurrectionary States, with a view to apply to the British government for some advantage and assistance or countenance from that government injurious to the United States and subversive of their sovereignty. Of course, I need hardly say that I disclaim any thought that Earl Russell has any knowledge of the papers or of their being sent, or that I have any belief or fear that the British government would, in any way, receive the papers if they are illegal in their character, or dangerous or injurious to the United States. It is important, however, to this government that whatever mischief, if any, may be lurking in the transaction, be counteracted and prevented. I have, therefore, upon due consideration of the case, concluded to send the bag by a special messenger, who will deliver it into your care, and to instruct you to see that it is delivered accordingly to its address in exactly the condition in which you receive it. You will also make known to the Earl Russell the causes and the circumstances of the arrest and detention of Mr. Mure and his papers, adding the assurance that this government deeply regrets that it has become necessary; and that it will be very desirous to excuse the brief interruption of the correspondence of the British consul, if it is indeed innocent, and will endeavor, in that case, to render any further satisfaction which may be justly required. On the other hand, you will, in such terms as you shall find most suitable and proper, intimate that if the papers in question shall prove to be treasonable against the United States, I expect that they will be delivered up to you for the use of this government, and that her British Majesty's consul at Charleston will, in that case, be promptly made to feel the severe displeasure of the

government which employs him, since there can be no greater crime against society than a perversion by the agent of one government of the hospitality afforded to him by another, to designs against its safety, dignity, and honor.

I think it proper to say that I have apprised Lord Lyons of this transaction, and of the general character of this letter, while he is not in any way compromised by any assent given to my proceedings, or by any opinion expressed by him or asked from him.

I am, sir, your obedient servant, WILLIAM H. SEWARD. CHARLEs F. ADAMS, Esq., &c., doc., &c.

Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

No. 64.] DEPARTMENT of STATE, Washington, August 17, 1861.

SIR : Among the letters found on the person of Robert Mure, mentioned in my despatch No. 63, of this date, there are many which more or less directly implicate Mr. Robert Bunch, the British consul at Charleston, as a conspirator against the government of the United States. The following is an extract from one of them:

“Mr. B., on oath of secrecy, communicated to me also that the first step to recognition was taken. He and Mr. Belligny together sent Mr. Trescot to Richmond yesterday, to ask Jeff Davis, president, to the treaty Of to the neutral flag covering neutral goods to be respected. This is the first step of direct treating with our government, so prepare for active business by January 1.”

You will submit this information to the British government, and request that Mr. Bunch may be removed from his office, saying that this government will grant an exeguatur to any person who may be appointed to fill it, who will not pervert his functions to hostilities against the United States.

I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,

[ocr errors][merged small]

No. 32.] LEGATION of THE UNITED STATES, London, August 23, 1861.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit a copy of a note addressed to me by Lord Russell, transmitting to me a copy of a declaration which he proposes to make upon signing the convention, embodying the articles of the declaration of Paris, in conjunction with myself. . I have waited to communicate with Mr. Dayton until I now learn from him that Mr. Thouvenel proposes to him a similar movement on the part of Tance. - This proceeding is of so grave and novel a character as, in my opinion, to render further action unadvisable until I obtain further instructions; and I find Mr. Dayton is of the same opinion on his side. I propose to address a

« ForrigeFortsett »