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mit its ports to serve as stations or as base of hostile operations against the United States. You have not deemed it your duty to enter for the moment on the discussion of the arguments contained in my above-mentioned communication, but you say that you wish to await preliminarily the reply of the cabinet at Washington. I may, therefore, on my part, confine myself for the moment to referring, as to what regards the admission in general of the Sumter into the ports of the Netherlands and the character of this vessel, to the arguments contained in my communication of the 17th September, from which it follows, that if we do not choose to consider prima facie all the ships of the seceding States as privateers, and if, in the present case, the Sumter could not be, in the opinion of the government of the Netherlands, comprised among such, entrance to the ports of the Netherlands cannot be prohibited to that vessel without a departure from neutrality and from the express terms of the proclamation of the royal government. It has already been observed that the latter, in forbidding access to the ports of the Netherlands to privateers, favors the United States much more, among others, than the declaration of the 10th of June by the French government, which, not permitting any vessel-of-war or privateer of the one or the other of the belligerents to sojourn with prizes in the ports of the empire for longer time than twenty-four hours, except in case of shelter through stress, (reläche forcée,) admits them without distinction when they do not bring prizes with them. But, without entering here into useless developments, I think I may observe to you, sir, that the royal government, whilst refusing to treat as pirates, or even to consider as privateers, all the vessels of the southern States, has striven, as much as the duties of strict neutrality permit, to keep the Sumter away from our ports. When this vessel arrived at Paramaribo, the commanders of two ships of the French imperial marine, which were there at the time, declared to the governor of Surinam that the Sumter was a regular vessel-of-war and not a privateer. The commander of the Sumter exhibited afterwards, to the same functionary, his commission as commandant in a regular navy. Although there was no reason, under such circumstances, to refuse to the Sumter the enjoyment of the law of hospitality in all its extent, the governor, before referred to, strove to limit it as much as possible. Thus, although pit coal is not reputed contraband, if not at most, and within a recent time only, contraband by accident, it was not supplied to the Sumter except in the very restricted quantity of 125 tons, at the most sufficient for four days' progress. However, the government of the Netherlands, wishing to give a fresh proof of its desire [to avoid] all that could give the slightest subject for complaint to the United States, has just sent instructions to the colonial authorities, enjoining them not to admit, except in case of shelter from stress, (reláche forcée,) the vessels-of-war and privateers of the two belligerent parties, unless for twice twenty-four hours, and not to permit them, when they are steamers, to provide themselves with a quantity of coal more than sufficient for a run of twenty-four hours. It is needless to add that the cabinet of the Hague will not depart from the principles mentioned at the close of my reply of the 17th September, of which you demand the application ; it does know and will know how to act in conformity with the obligations of impartiality and of neutrality, without losing sight of the care for its own dignity. Called by the confidence of the King to maintain that dignity, to defend the rights of the Crown, and to direct the relations of the state with foreign powers, I know not how to conceal from you, sir, that certain expressions in your communications above mentioned, of the 23d and 25th September last, have caused an unpleasant impression on the King's government, and do not appear to me to correspond with the manner in which I have striven to treat the question now under discussion, or with the desire which actuates the government of the Netherlands to seek for a solution perfectly in harmony with its sentiments of friendship towards the United States, and with the observance of treaties. The feeling of distrust which seems to have dictated your last despatch of the 8th of this month, and which shows itself especially in some entirely erroneous appreciations of the conduct of the government of the Netherlands, gives to the last, strong in its good faith and in its friendly intentions, just cause for astonishment. So, then, the cabinet of which I have the honor to form part deems that it may dispense with undertaking a justification useless to all who examine impartially and without passion the events which have taken place. The news which has reached me from the royal legations at London and at Washington, relative to the conduct of the British government in the affair of the Sumter, can only corroborate the views developed in my reply of 17th September last, and in the present communication. It results from this, in effect, that not only has the British government treated the Sumter exactly as was dong at Curaçoa, since that vessel sojourned six or seven days at the island of Trinidad, where she was received amicably and considered as a vessel-of-war, but that the crown lawyers of England, having been consulted on the matter, have unanimously declared that the conduct of the governor of that colony of England had been in all points in conformity with the Queen's proclamation of neutrality. According to them the Sumter was not a privateer but a regular vesselof war, (duly commissioned,) belonging to a state possessing the rights of war, (belligerent rights.) The Sumter, then, has been treated as a vessel-of-war of the United States would have been, and that vessel had the same right to obtain supplies at Trinidad as any vessel belonging to the navy of the northern States. Accept, sir, the fresh assurance of my high consideration: - DE ZUYLEN DE NIJEWELT. Mr. PIKE, Minister Resident of the United Stales of America.
Mr. Seward to Mr. Pike.
No. 26.] DEPARTMENT or State,
SIR: Your despatch of the 25th of September, No. 18, has been received. It is accompanied by a note which was addressed to you by Baron Van Zuylen, on the 17th day of September last, on the subject of the admission of the pirate steamer Sumter into the port of Curaçoa.
I reproduce the account of that transaction, which was made by this government a subject of complaint to the government of the Netherlands. The steamer Sumter hove in sight of the port of Curaçoa on the evening of the 15th of July, and fired a gun for the pilot, who immediately took to sea. On his reaching the pirate vessel she hoisted what is called the confederate flag, and the same being unknown in that port, the pilot told the captain that he had to report to the governor before taking the vessel into port.
The pilot having made this report, the governor replied to the captain that, according to orders from the supreme government, he could not admit privateers into the port, nor their prizes, but in the case of distress, and therefore the steamer could not be admitted before her character was perfectly known. In reply to this message the captain of the steamer remained outside of the port until the next morning, when he sent a despatch to the governor, by an officer, stating that his vessel being a duly commissioned man-of-war of the Confederate States, he desired to enter the port for a few days. The colonial court assembled the same evening, and, on the ground of the declaration and assurance of the privateer captain that the vessel is not a privateer, it was decided that she should enter the port, and she entered accordingly. The consul of the United States thereupon informed the governor, by a note, that the steamer was, by the laws and express declaration of the United States, a pirate, and that on her way from New Orleans to Curaçoa she had taken and sent for sale to the Spanish island of Cuba several American merchant vessels, and on these grounds he asked upon what pretext and conditions the unlawful steamer had obtained admittance into Curacoa. F. governor answered that, according to the orders received from the supreme government, neither privateers nor their prizes are to be allowed admittance to the ports or bays of this colony, save only in cases of distress. But that this prohibition does not extend to vessels-of-war, and that the Sumter being a man-of-war, according to the rules of nations, could not be repelled from that port. The piratical vessel was then supplied, at Curaçoa, with 120 tons of coals, and departed at her own time and pleasure. On receiving this information you were instructed to call the attention of the government of the Netherlands to the proceeding of the governor of Curaçoa, and to ask that the proceedings, if correctly reported, might be disavowed, and that the governor might be made to feel the displeasure of his government. You performed this duty in due season by addressing a proper note to Baron Van Zuylen. On the 2d of September he acknowledged your note, and promised you an early reply on the merits of the subject. On the 17th of September he communicated this reply to you in the note which is now before me. I encounter a difficulty in giving you instructions for your reply to that paper, because, first, since the correspondence was opened, a similar case of violation of our national rights has occurred in the hospitalities extended to the same piratical vessel in the Dutch port of Pernambuco, and has been made a subject of similar complaint, which, as yet, so far as I am advised, remains unanswered; and, secondly, the note of Baron Van Zuylen promises that special instructions shall be speedily given to the colonial authorities of the Netherlands in regard to conduct in cases similar to those which have induced the existing complaints. I cannot, of course, forsee how far those instructions, yet unknown to me, may modify the position assumed by the minister of foreign affairs in the paper under consideration. Under these circumstances, I must be content with setting forth, for the information of the government of the Netherlands, just what the United States claim and expect in regard to the matter in debate. They have asked for an explanation of the case, presented by the admission of the Sumter by the governor of Curaçoa, if one can be satisfactorily given; and if not, then for a disavowal of that officer's proceedings, attended by a justly deserved rebuke. These demands have been made, not from irritation or any sensibility of national pride, but to make it sure that henceforth any piratical vessel fitted out by or under the agency of disloyal American citizens, and cruising in pursuit of merchant vessels of the United States, shall not be admitted into either the continental or the colonial ports of the Netherlands under any pretext whatever. If that assurance cannot be obtained in some way, we must provide for the protection of our rights in some other way. Thus, the subject is one of a purely practical character; it neither requires nor admits of debate or argument on the part of the United States. If what is thus desired shall be obtained by the United States in any way, they will be satisfied; if it fails to be obtained through the disinclination of the government of the Netherlands, its proceedings in this respect will be deemed unfriendly and injurious to the United States. The United States being thus disposed to treat the subject in a practical way, they are not tenacious about the manner or form in which the due respect to their rights is manifested by the government of the Netherlands, and still less about the considerations or arguments upon which that government regulates its own conduct in the matter. They regard the whole insurrection in this country as ephemeral; indeed, they believe that the attempt at piracy under the name of privateering, made by the insurgents, has already well nigh failed. While, therefore, they insist that shelter shall not be afforded to the pirates by nations in friendship with the United States, they, at the same time, are not unwilling to avoid grave debates concerning their rights that might survive the existing controversy. It remains only to say in this connexion that the course which the United States are pursuing in their complaints to the government of the Netherlands is not peculiar, but it is the same which has been and which will be pursued towards any other maritime power on the occurrence of similar grievances. With these remarks, I proceed to notice Baron Van Zuylen's communication. You will reply to him that the United States unreservedly claim to determine for themselves absolutely the character of the Sumter, she being a vessel fitted out, owned, armed, sailed, and directed by American citizens who owe allegiance to the United States, and who neither have nor can, in their piratical purposes and pursuits, have or claim any political authority from any lawful source whatever. The United States regard the vessel as piratical, and the persons by whom she is manned and navigated as pirates. The United States, therefore, cannot admit that the Sumter is a ship-of-war or a privateer, and so entitled to any privileges whatever, in either of those characters, in the port of Curaçoa; nor can they debate any such subject with the government of the Netherlands. This will be all that you will need to say in reply to the whole of Baron Von Zuylen's note, except that portion of it which states, rather by way of argument than of assertion, that according to the information received from the governor of Curaçoa, (by the government of the Netherlands,) the Sumter was actually in distress, and that funtionary, therefore, could not refuse to allow the said vessel to enter the port. If this position shall be actually assumed by the government of the Netherlands, two questions will arise: first, whether the fact that the Sumter was in distress was true, or a belief of the truth of that fact was the real ground upon which she was admitted by the colonial governor into the port of Curaçoa; secondly, how far a piratical vessel, roving over the seas in pursuit of peaceful commercial vessels of the United States, and fleeing before their naval pursuit, but falling into distress herself, is entitled to charity at the hands of a State, friendly to the nation upon whose commerce her depredations are directed.
It would hence be idle to occupy ourselves with a discussion of these questions until we know that the government of the Netherlands determines to stand upon the main position from which they are derived.
You will therefore ask the Baron Van Zuylen for an explicit statement on this subject.
I cannot but hope, however, that the government of the Netherlands will come to the conclusion that it is wisest and best, in view of the relations of the two countries, to give such directions to its agents as will render further prosecution of this discussion unnecessary, while it will prevent similar injuries in future to our national dignity and honor. Should it determine otherwise, and not be able to place the conduct of the governor general at Curaçoa in a better light than it has already done, it will become necessary to consider what means we can take to protect, in the ports of the Netherlands, national rights which cannot be surrendered or compromised.
I am, sir, your obedient servant, WILLIAM H. SEWARD. JAMEs S. PIKE, Esq., &c., &c., d.c.
Mr. Pike to Mr. Seward.
No. 24.] UNITED STATES LEGATION,
SIR: I had the honor to transmit to you, on the 16th instant, the last communication of this government in respect to the “Sumter” case, referring to the orders recently given to its colonial authorities, by which the stay of such vessels in Dutch ports is limited to 24 hours, and by which they are also forbidden to take on board more than 24 hours' supply of coal.
Considering these orders to be important, I have, in the following copy of my reply to the Dutch government, ventured to express a qualified satisfaction at their issue. I am in hopes you will adopt a similar view of the case, as I conceive this government to be well disposed towards the United States, and to consider that it has strained a point in our favor.
I doubt if England or France will do anything of the sort; but the course of Holland will, at least, furnish excellent grounds for some pertinent questions in case they decline.
I have informed Mr. Adams, and also Mr. Dayton and Mr. Schurz, of the final action of this government in this case. The copy of my note follows, (to Baron Van Zuylen.)
“UNITED STATES LEGATION,
“SIR: In reply to your communication of the 15th instant, which I have had the honor to receive, I take pleasure in assuring your excellency that it has been far from my purpose to say anything at any time which should occasion painful impressions on the part of his Majesty's government, or to use language marked by impatience or irritation at the course of the government of the Netherlands. But while making this disclaimer, frankness compels me to add that I should not know in what more moderate terms to express my sentiments than those I have had the honor to employ in address
... ing his Majesty's government.
“I desire further to say, in respect to that part of your excellency's communication which refers to the recent orders given to the Dutch colonial authorities not to permit vessels engaged in pirating upon United States