Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Ser. II, Vol. 2, Ch 3.
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THE
WAR OF THE REBELLION:
A COMPILATION OF THE
OFFICIAL RECORDS
OF THE
UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES.

SERIES II, VOL II.
TREATMENT OF SUSPECTED AND DISLOYAL PERSONS NORTH AND SOUTH.
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CASE OF MASON, SLIDELL, MACFARLAND AND EUSTIS
(THE TRENT AFFAIR).

{p.1076}

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These notorious individuals [James M. Mason and John Slidell], one late a Senator of the United States from the State of Louisiana and the other holding the same position from the State of Virginia, violated their oaths in the incipient stages of the rebellion, being among the original conspirators in working up the stupendous scheme of treason. They plunged into active and open rebellion the moment their respective power to injure the Government by secret treachery had been exhausted by the course of events. They sought and obtained pretended commissions from the rebel government as commissioners or ministers plenipotentiary to the Governments of France and Great Britain and sailed by a roundabout course for their respective theaters of duty under such pretended appointment. In the course of said voyage on the 8th day of November, 1861, they were found by Captain Wilkes, of the U. S. war steamer San Jacinto, on board the British mail steamer Trent and by him arrested on board the said mail steamer, taken on board the said San Jacinto and brought to the United States and lodged in Fort Warren for safe-keeping. The British Government claimed that the arrest of these malefactors on the Trent under the British flag was a violation of neutral rights and requested that they be surrendered. This claim was acknowledged by the United States to be just, and the request founded thereon was therefore acceded to. The prisoners were placed on board a British man-of-war pursuant to arrangements with the British minister on the 1st day of January, 1862.

George Eustis, private secretary to the rebel commissioner, John Slidell, was captured by Captain Wilkes, of the San Jacinto, near the West Indies on board the English steamer Trent November 8, 1861. He arrived in Boston Harbor November 24 and was committed to Fort {p.1077} Warren, Eustis was released by order of the Secretary of State January 1, 1862.-From Record Book, State Department, “Arrests for Disloyalty.”

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U. S. CONSULATE-GENERAL, Havana, October 17, 1861.

Maj. WILLIAM H. FRENCH, Commanding Military Station, Key West.

SIR: The following telegraphic dispatch unfortunately came to my hand after the Nonpareil had left the harbor. It is from the U. S. consular agent at Cardenas and dated last evening:

The steamer Theodora has just entered this port under the flag of the Southern Confederacy. She comes from Charleston; brings passengers, and among them it is said the French consul and his family.

I will communicate any other information that may reach me. Respectfully and truly, your obedient servant,

THOS. SAVAGE, U. S. Vice-Consul-General.

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U. S. CONSULATE-GENERAL, Havana, October 17, 1861.

Maj. WILLIAM H. FRENCH, Key West.

SIR: Since mine of this date announcing the arrival of the Theodora at Cardenas I have seen a private letter from that place advising that Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell have come in her on their way to Europe as commissioners of the rebels at France and England. ...

Respectfully, yours,

THOS. SAVAGE, Vise-Consul-General.

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NEW YORK, October 30, 1861.

Hon. G. WELLES:

By dispatches from Havana by our steamship Columbia we learn that the steam privateer Theodora, formerly the steamer Gordon, of Charleston, had arrived at Havana with a full cargo, and landed Slidell and Mason with their families. ...

SPOFFORD, TILESTON & CO.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 6, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a duplicate dispatch received here yesterday from the consul-general of the United States at Havana, on which he reports the arrival ... of the Theodora from Charleston at Cardenas.

The Department has been informed that the practice of the commander of ships of the blockading squadron in suspending lanterns from the mastheads of their respective vessels at night is of great service to the vessels of the insurgents intending to run the blockade; giving them exact information as to the position of the blockading ships, and in the absence of lighthouses and buoys furnishing to the pilots of the escaping vessels valuable aid in clearing the harbors.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

F. W. SEWARD, Acting Secretary.

{p.1078}

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HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA, November 8, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State:

... Steamer Nashville escaped from Charleston. Was coaling at Bermuda on 3d to heave for Liverpool on 5th. Slidell and Mason not on board. Supposed they left Saint Thomas for Southampton on 30th ultimo in English steamer.

M. M. JACKSON, Consul.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, November 15, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... On Tuesday morning the 12th I received an informal note from Lord Palmerston inviting me if convenient to call and see him at his own house between 1 and 2 o’clock of that day. I accepted and went. He received me in his library all alone and at once opened on the subject then evidently weighing on his mind. He said that information had come to him of the late arrival of a U. S. vessel of war, the James Adger. She had put into one or two places and finally stopped at Southampton where she had taken in coals and other supplies. But the day before his lordship had understood the captain had got very drunk on brandy after which he had dropped down to the mouth of the river as if about to sail on a cruise. The impression was that he had been directed to keep on the watch for the steamer expected to arrive on Thursday from the West Indies in order to take out of it by force the gentlemen from the Southern States, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, who were presumed to be aboard. Now he was not going into the question of our right to do such an act. Perhaps we might be justified in it as the steamer was not strictly a public vessel or perhaps we might not. He would set the argument aside for those whose province it was to discuss it. All he desired to observe was that such a step would be highly inexpedient in every way he could view it. It would be regarded here very unpleasantly if the captain after enjoying the hospitality of this country, filling his ship with coals and with other supplies and filling his own stomach with brandy (and here he laughed in his characteristic way) should within sight of the shore commit an act which would be felt as offensive to the national flag. Neither could he see what was the compensating advantage to be gained by it. It surely could not be supposed that the addition of one or two more to the number of persons who had already been some time in London on the same errand would be likely to produce any change in the policy already adopted. He did not believe that the Government would vary its action on their account be they few or many. He could not therefore conceive of the necessity for resorting to such a measure as this which in the present state of opinion in England could scarcely fail to occasion more prejudice than it would do good.

His lordship was about to proceed to another matter when I begged leave to interrupt him for the purpose of disposing of this case first. It is almost needless to point out how completely he had taken for granted from the outset that the intention imputed to the Government in sending over the Adger was the true one. He did not even ask me whether he was correct in presuming it and directed all his reasoning {p.1079} rather to the end of dissuading the execution of the design by trying to convince me not so much of its impropriety as of its inexpediency. This furnishes a curious example of the absence of confidence in our principles of action growing out of indifference to the labor of understanding them. I began a reply by requesting permission to ask his lordship a question, and that was upon what ground he rested his belief that any such enterprise as he described had been meditated by Captain Marchand. This seemed to surprise him a little but he immediately answered that it was his impression derived from the fact of the arrival of the U. S. steamer just now and the coincidence of her preparation to start again with the period assigned for the approach of the gentlemen in the West India steamer. He could not conceive what the Adger was sent all the way across for if not for this object.

It is scarcely difficult to fix upon the source from which such an impression as this must have been directly or indirectly obtained. I made no allusion to it, however, and contented myself with expressing my satisfaction on finding he had no better foundation for the story. In point of fact I might say to him that Captain Marchand had been up to London; had called upon me and had shown me his instructions. The purpose of the Government on learning that Messrs. Mason and Slidell had evaded the blockade by sailing in a steamer called the Nashville, originally stolen from the owners in the North by forcible seizure whilst lying in that port at the commencement of the difficulties, had been to dispatch steamers various ways with instructions to intercept and capture that vessel and her passengers wherever she might be found on the ocean. To that end Captain Marchand had come all the way across in the expectation of overtaking and making prize of her. He would have done so had he met her. I took it for granted that his lordship had no objection to make to that proceeding. But having once arrived here and ascertained that the Nashville was not likely to make its appearance in these waters the captain after refitting his vessel had written to me a note announcing his departure under his instructions to return home.

At the same time I thought it no more than fair to apprise his lordship that I had urged the captain to keep his eye upon a steamer that was departing from London at about the same time under the protection of the British flag though to my knowledge intended to convey a large cargo of contraband of war to some part of the blockaded coast of the United States. It was just as well to confess that we had been very munch annoyed by these repeated cases of outfits from this island. First the steamer Bermuda had sailed and she had succeeded in running into Savannah. Next came the Fingal which went only a few weeks since; her fate we had not yet heard of. Lastly was this Gladiator just dispatched from London with scarcely any pretense of concealment. I had advised Captain Marchand to keep on the track of her and the very first moment he could form a reasonable conviction of her intent to land anywhere in the United States to snap her up at once if possible. With this exception I thought the destination of the James Adger might be depended upon.

Here the discussion of this matter rested and his lordship seemed tolerably well satisfied. ... This conference lasted perhaps half an hour, and on taking my leave his lordship expressed his satisfaction with the result.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

{p.1080}

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U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, November 15, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I have written to you relative to the movements of this ship from Cienfuegos on the south coast of Cuba. There I learned that Messrs. Slidell and Mason had landed in Cuba and had reached the Havana from Charleston. I took in some sixty tons of coal and left with all dispatch on the 26th of October to intercept the return of the Theodora; but on my arrival at the Havana on the 31st I found she had departed on her return and that Messrs. Slidell and Mason with their secretaries and families were there and would depart on the 7th of the month in the English steamer Trent for Saint Thomas on their way to England.

I made up my mind to fill up with coal and leave the port as soon as possible to await at a suitable position on the route of the steamer to Saint Thomas to intercept her and take them out.

...

I then went over to Key West in hopes of finding the Powhatan or some other steamer to accompany me to the Bahama Channel to make it impossible for the steamer in which Messrs. Slidell and Mason were to embark to escape either in the night or day. The Powhatan had left but the day before and I was therefore disappointed and obliged to rely upon the vigilance of the officers and crew of this ship and proceeded the next morning to the north side of the island of Cuba, communicated with Sagua la Grande on the 4th, hoping to receive a telegraphic communication from Mr. Shufeldt, our consul-general, giving me the time of the departure of the steamer.

In this also I was disappointed and ran to the eastward some ninety miles, where the old Bahama Channel contracts to the width of fifteen miles some 240 miles from the Havana and in sight of the Paredon del Grande Light-House. There we cruised until the morning of the 8th awaiting the steamer, believing that if she left at the usual time she must pass us about noon of the 8th and we could not possibly miss her. At 11.40 a.m. on the 8th her smoke was first seen. At 12 m. our position was to the westward of the entrance into the narrowest part of the channel and about nine miles northeast from the light-house of Paredon del Grande, the nearest point of Cuba to us. We were all prepared for her, beat to quarters, and orders were given to Lieut. D. M. Fairfax to have two boats manned and armed to board her and make Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis and Macfarland prisoners and send them immediately on board. (A copy of this order to him is herewith inclosed.) The steamer approached and hoisted English colors. Our ensign was hoisted and a shot was fired across her bow. She maintained her speed and showed no disposition to heave to. Then a shell was fired across her bow which brought her to. I hailed that I intended to send a boat on board, and Lieutenant Fairfax with the second cutter of this ship was dispatched. He met with some difficulty and remaining on board the steamer with a part of the boat’s crew sent her back to request more assistance. The captain of the steamer having declined to show his papers and passenger list a force became necessary to search her. Lieut. James A. Greer was at once dispatched in the third cutter-also manned and armed.

Messrs. Slidell and Mason, Eustis and Macfarland were recognized and told they were required to go on board this ship. This they objected to until an overpowering force compelled them; much persuasion was used and a little force and at about 2 o’clock they were {p.1081} brought on board this ship and received by me. Two other boats were then sent to expedite the removal of their baggage and some stores when the steamer, which proved to be the Trent, was suffered to proceed on her route to the eastward and at 3.30 p.m. we bore away to the northward and westward. The whole time employed was two hours and thirteen minutes.

I inclose you the statements of such officers who boarded the Trent relative to time facts and also an extract from the log book* of this ship.

It was my determination to have taken possession of the Trent and send her to Key West as a prize for resisting the search and carrying these passengers whose character and objects were well known to the captain, but the reduced number of my officers and crew and the large number of passengers on board bound to Europe who would be put to great inconvenience decided me to allow them to proceed.

Finding the families of Messrs. Slidell and Eustis on board I tendered them the offer of my cabin for their accommodation to accompany their husbands. This they declined, however, and proceeded in the Trent.

Before closing this dispatch I would bring to your notice the notorious action of her Britannic Majesty’s subjects, the consul-general of Cuba and those on board the Trent in doing everything to aid and abet the escape of these four persons and endeavoring to conceal their persons on board. No passports or papers of any description were in possession of them from the Federal Government, and for this and other reasons which will readily occur to you I made them my prisoners and shall retain them on board here until I hear from you what disposition is to be made of them.

I cannot close this report without bearing testimony to the admirable manner in which all the officers and men of this ship performed their duties and the cordial manner in which they carried out my orders.

To Lieutenant Fairfax I beg leave to call your particular attention for the praiseworthy manner in which he executed the delicate duties with which he was intrusted. It met and has received my warmest thanks.

After leaving the north side of Cuba I ran through the Santaren Passage and up the coast from off Saint Augustine to Charleston, and regretted being too late to take a part in the expedition to Port Royal.

I inclose herewith a communication from Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis and Macfarland with my answer.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain.

* Omitted.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 8, 1861.

Lieut. D. M. FAIRFAX, U. S. Navy, Executive Officer, San Jacinto.

SIR: You will have the second and third cutters of this ship fully manned and armed and be in all respects prepared to board the steamer Trent now hove to under our guns.

On boarding her you will demand the papers of the steamer, her clearance from Havana with the list of passengers and crew.

Should Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland be on board you will make them prisoners and send them on board this ship immediately and take possession of her as a prize.

{p.1082}

I do not deem it will be necessary to use force; that the prisoners will have the good sense to avoid any necessity for using it, but if they should they must be made to understand that it is their own fault. They must be brought on board. All trunks, cases, packages and bags belonging to them you will take possession of and send on board this ship. Any dispatches found on the persons of the prisoners or in possession of those on board the steamer will be taken possession of also, examined aid retained if necessary.

I have understood that the families of these gentlemen may be with them. If so I beg you will offer some of them in my name a passage in this ship to the United States, and that all the attentions and comforts we can command are tendered them and will be placed in their service.

In the event of their acceptance should there be anything which the captain of the steamer can spare to increase the comforts, in the way of necessaries or stores of which a war vessel is deficient, you will please to procure them. The amount will be paid for by the paymaster.

Lieut. James A. Greer will take charge of the third cutter which accompanies you and assist you in these duties.

I trust that all those under your command in executing this important and delicate duty will conduct themselves with all time delicacy and kindness which becomes the character of our naval service.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 11, 1861.

Lieut. D. M. FAIRFAX, U. S. Navy.

SIR: You will report to me in writing all the facts which transpired under your observation on board the mail steamer Trent, bound from Havana to Saint Thomas, whilst hove to under our guns on the 8th instant and boarded by you under my orders.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain.

(Same to Lieut. James A. Greer, Second Assistant Engineer James B. Houston, Third Assistant Engineer George W. Hall, Paymaster’s Clerk R. G. Simpson, Master’s Mate Charles B. Dahlgren, and Boat swain H. P. Grace, U. S. Navy.)

[Inclosure No. 3.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 12, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES, U. S. Navy, Commanding San Jacinto.

SIR: At 1.20 p.m. on the 8th instant I repaired alongside of the British mail packet in an armed cutter, accompanied by Mr. Houston, second assistant engineer, and Mr. Grace, the boatswain.

I went on board the Trent alone leaving the two officers in the boat with orders to await until it became necessary to show some force.

I was shown up by the first officer to the quarter-deck where I met the captain and informed him who I was, asking to see his passenger list. He declined letting me see it. I then told him that I had information of Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland having {p.1083} taken their passage at Havana in the packet to Saint Thomas and would satisfy myself whether they were on board before allowing his steamer to proceed. Mr. Slidell evidently hearing his name mentioned came up to me and asked if I wanted to see him. Mr. Mason soon joined us, and then Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland when I made known the object of my visit. The captain of the Trent opposed anything like a search of his vessel nor would he consent to show papers or passenger list. The four gentlemen above mentioned protested also against my arresting and sending them to the U. S. steamer near by. There was considerable noise among the passengers just about this time and that led Mr. Houston and Mr. Grace to repair on board with some six or eight men, all armed. After several unsuccessful efforts to persuade Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell to go with me peaceably I called to Mr. Houston and ordered him to return to the ship with the information that the four gentlemen named in your order of the 8th instant were on board, and force must be applied to take them out of the packet. About three minutes after there was still greater excitement on the quarter-deck which brought Mr. Grace with his armed party. I however deemed the presence of any armed men unnecessary and only calculated to alarm the ladies present, and directed Mr. Grace to return to the lower deck where he had been since first coming on board.

It must have been less than half an hour after I boarded the Trent when the second armed cutter under Lieutenant Greer came alongside (only two armed boats being used). He brought in the third cutter eight marines and four machinists in addition to a crew of some twelve men. When the marines and some armed men had been formed just outside of the main-deck cabin where these four gentlemen had gone to pack up their baggage I renewed my efforts to induce then to accompany me on board. Still refusing to accompany me unless force was applied I called in to my assistance four or five officers and first taking hold of Mr. Mason’s shoulder with another officer on the opposite side I went us far as the gangway of the steamer and delivered him over to Lieutenant Greer to be placed in the boat. I then returned for Mr. Slidell who insisted that I must apply considerable force to get him to go with me. Calling in at least three officers he was also taken in charge and handed over to Mr. Greer. Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustis after protesting went quietly into the boat. They had been permitted to collect their baggage but were sent in advance of it under charge of Lieutenant Greer. I gave my personal attention to the luggage, saw it put in a boat and sent in charge of an officer to the San Jacinto.

When Mr. Slidell was taken prisoner a great deal of noise was made by some of the passengers which caused Lieutenant Greer to send the marines into the cabin. They were immediately ordered to return to their former position outside. I carried out my purpose without using any force beyond what appears in this report. The mail agent, who is a retired commander in the British navy, seemed to have a great deal to say as to the propriety of my course, but I purposely avoided all official intercourse with him. When I finally was leaving the steamer he made some apology for his rude conduct and expressed personally his approval of the manner in which I had carried out my orders. We parted company from the Trent at 3.20 p.m.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

D. M. FAIRFAX, Lieutenant and Executive Officer.

{p.1084}

[Inclosure No 4.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 12, 1861.

Captain WILKES, Commanding San Jacinto.

SIR: In accordance with your instructions I submit the following:

On November 8, between 1 and 2 p.m., I was ordered by Lieutenant Breese, acting executive officer, to shove off with the third cutter and go along-side of the English mail steamer which was then lying to under our guns. In the boat with me were Third Assistant Engineer Hall, Paymaster’s Clerk Simpson, Master’s Mate Dahlgren, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 6 privates of marines, 4 machinists and the crew, consisting of 13 men, the whole party being well armed. When I arrived at the steamer I was met on the guard by Mr. Grace with a message from Lieutenant Fairfax (who had preceded me on board) to bring the marines on board and station them outside of the cabin, which I did; also to keep the spare men on the guard and to have the boats’ crews in readiness to jump on board if needed. As soon as the marines were stationed I had the space outside and forward of the cabin kept clear of passengers and assumed a position where I could see Lieutenant Fairfax, who was then engaged in conversation with persons in the cabin. He shortly came out and told me to remain as I was. He then went back into the cabin and in a few minutes returned with Mr. Mason. He had his hand on his shoulder and I think Mr. Hall had his on the other one. He transferred Mr. Mason to me and I had the third cutter hauled up, into which he got. Shortly after Mr. Macfarland came out and got into the boat. I think he was unaccompanied by any of the officers.

About this time I heard a good deal of loud talking in the cabin and above all I heard a woman’s voice. I could not hear what she said. Mr. Fairfax appeared to be having an altercation with some one. There was much confusion created by the passengers and ship’s officers who were making all kinds of disagreeable and contemptuous noises and remarks.

Just then Mr. Houston came to me and said he thought there would be trouble. I told him to ask Mr. Fairfax if I should bring in the marines. He returned with an answer to bring then in. At that time I heard some one call out “Shoot him.” I ordered the marines to come into the cabin which they did at quick time. As they advanced the passengers fell back. Mr. Fairfax then ordered the marines to go out of the cabin which they did, Mr. Slidell at tire same time jumping out of a window of the state-room into the cabin where he was arrested by Mr. Fairfax and was then brought by Mr. Hall and Mr. Grace to the boat, into which he got. Soon after Mr. Eustis came to the boat accompanied by Mr. Fairfax.

I then by his order took charge of the boat and conveyed the gentlemen arrested, viz, Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Macfarland and Eustis, to the San Jacinto where I delivered them over to Captain Wilkes. This was about 2 o’clock. I then returned to the steamer. When I reached her the baggage of the gentlemen was being brought up and sent to the San Jacinto. Soon after Mr. Fairfax told me to send the marines and spare hands on board which I did. He then left me in charge of our panty and went on board the San Jacinto. About 3 o’clock she ran under the Trent’s stern. I was hailed and directed to come on board, which I did with all excepting Mr. Grace, Mr. Dahlgren and Mr. Hall, who came in another boat.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

JAMES A. GREER, Lieutenant.

{p.1085}

P. S.-I desire to add that it was about 1.35 p.m. when I went alongside of the Trent. There were but two armed boats used during the day. A third boat the crew of which were unarmed went alongside during the detention. When I first went on board with the marines and at intervals during my stay the officers of the steamer made a great many irritating remarks to each other and to the passengers which were evidently intended for our benefit. Among other things said were: “Did you ever hear of such an outrage?” “Marines on board! Why, this looks devilish like mutiny.” “These Yankees will have to pay well for this.” “This is the best thing in the world for the South; England will open the blockade.” “We will have a good chance at them now.” “Did you ever hear of such a piratical act?” “Why, this is a perfect Bull Run.” “They would not have dared to have done it if an English man-of-war had been in sight.” The mail agent (a man in the uniform of a commander in the royal navy I think) was very indignant and talkative and tried several times to get me into a discussion of the matter. I told him I was not there for that purpose. He was very bitter. He told me that the English squadron would raise the blockade in twenty days after his report of this outrage (I think he said outrage) got home; that the Northerners might as well give up now, &c. Most all the officers of the vessel showed an undisguised hatred for the Northern people and a sympathy for the Confederates. I will do the captain of the vessel the justice to say that he acted differently from the rest, being when I saw him very reserved and dignified. The officers and men of our party took no apparent notice of the remarks that were made and acted with the greatest forbearance.

Respectfully,

JAS. A. GREER.

[Inclosure No 5.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 13, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES, Commanding.

SIR: In obedience to your order of the 11th instant I respectfully report:

That upon going alongside of the English steamer Trent on the 8th of this month Lieutenant Fairfax went on board ordering the boatswain and myself to remain in the boat. A few minutes after this my attention was attracted by persons speaking in a loud and excited manner upon the steamer’s upper deck. While considering its meaning the noise was repeated which decided me to join Lieutenant Fairfax immediately on board, and I found him surrounded by the officers of the ship and passengers, among whom I recognized Messrs. Mason, Slidell and Eustis. The confusion at this time passes description. So soon, however, as he could be heard the mail agent (who was a retired lieutenant or commander in the British navy) protested against the act of removing passengers from an English steamer.

Lieutenant Fairfax requested Mr. Mason to go quietly to-the San Jacinto but that gentleman replied that he would “yield only to force,” whereupon I was ordered to our ship to report the presence of the above-named gentlemen together with Mr. Macfarland and ask that the remainder of our force be sent to the Trent, after which I returned to her and entering the cabin saw Mr. Fairfax endeavoring to enter Mr. Slidell’s room which was then prevented in a measure by the excitement which prevailed in and around that gentleman’s quarters. The passengers (not including Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis or Macfarland) {p.1086} were disposed at this time to give trouble; some of them went so far as to threaten, and upon Lieutenant Greer being informed by me of this fact he ordered the marines to clear the passage-way of the cabin, but as Mr. Slidell had now come out of his state-room through the window where we could get to him the order to the marines was countermanded by Lieutenant Fairfax. Mr. Slidell was removed to the boat by Mr. Grace and myself, and no more force was used than would show what would be done in case of necessity. Mr. Mason was taken charge of by Lieutenant Fairfax and Third Assistant Engineer Hall. The two secretaries walked into the boat by themselves.

While we were on board of the Trent many remarks were made reflecting discreditably upon us and the Government of the United States. No one was more abusive than the mail agent, who took pains at the same time to inform us that he was the only person on board officially connected with Her Britannic Majesty’s Government who, he said, would in consequence of this act break the blockade of the Southern U. S. ports. Another person supposed to be a passenger was so violent that the captain ordered him to be locked up. A short time before leaving the steamer I was informed by one of her crew that the mail agent was advising the captain to arm the crew and passengers of his ship, which I immediately communicated to Lieutenant Greer. About 3.30 p.m. we returned to the San Jacinto.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. B. HOUSTON, Second Assistant Engineer, U. S. Steamer San Jacinto.

[Inclosure No. 6.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 13, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES, Commanding U. S. Steamer San Jacinto.

SIR: In obedience to your order of the 11th instant I respectfully make the following report of what came under my observation on board the mail steamer Trent whilst hove to under our guns on the 8th instant:

I boarded the steamer in the third cutter under the command of Lieutenant Greer. Immediately on reaching the steamer’s deck I stationed four men (an oiler, assistant oiler, and two firemen) who accompanied me in the port gangway. I then went into the cabin where I saw Lieutenant Fairfax surrounded by a large number of passengers and the officers of the ship. He was conversing with Mr. Mason and endeavoring to get him to come peaceably on board this ship. Mr. Mason refused to comply unless by force. Lieutenant Fairfax said he would take him by force and taking hold of Mr. Mason’s coat collar gave an order, “Gentlemen, lay hands on him.” I then laid hold of him by the coat collar, when Mr. Mason said he would yield under protest. I accompanied him as far is the boat which was at the port gangway.

Returning to the cabin Lieutenant Fairfax was at Mr. Slidell’s room. After a short time Mr. Slidell came from his room through a side window. He also refused Lieutenant Fairfax’s order to come on board the ship unless by force. I with several of the officers then caught hold and used sufficient power to remove him from the cabin. He was accompanied to the boat by Second Assistant Engineer Houston and Boatswain Grace. I then received an order from both Lieutenants Fairfax and Greer to retain the boat until Messrs. Eustis and

{p.1087}

Macfarland were found. I remained in the gangway till Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis and Macfarland shoved off, Lieutenant Greer having charge of the gentlemen.

There was a great deal of excitement and talking during the whole time, the officers of the steamer endeavoring particularly to thwart Lieutenant Fairfax in carrying out his orders. They also used very harsh expressions toward us, calling us pirates, piratical expedition, &c., and threatened to open our blockade in a few weeks. At one time the officers and passengers made a demonstration. At the moment the marine guard came hastily in the cabin, but were immediately ordered back by Lieutenant Fairfax.

As far as I am able to judge everything was conducted on our part in a peaceable, quiet and gentlemanly manner, and most remarkably so by Lieutenant Fairfax who certainly had sufficient cause to resort to arms. I remained aboard the Trent till after the baggage belonging to the gentlemen had been sent, and finally returned to this ship with Lieutenant Greer.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

GEORGE W. HALL, Third Assistant Engineer, U. S. Navy.

[Inclosure No. 7.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 12, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES, Commanding U. S. Steamer San Jacinto.

SIR: In compliance with your order of yesterday I have the honor to state the following:

Between the hours of 1.30 and 2 p.m. on Friday, November 8, I boarded the mail steamer Trent in the third cutter under the command of Lieut. James A. Greer, of this ship. Immediately after my arrival on board the Trent I was called into the cabin by Lieutenant Fairfax who was endeavoring to persuade Mr. Mason to go peaceably on board the San Jacinto which he obstinately refused to do, and said he would only go by force. Lieutenant Fairfax then said, “Gentlemen” (addressing the officers of this ship then present, Mr. George W. Hall, third assistant engineer; Mr. H. P. Grace, boatswain, and myself), “lay your hands on Mr. Mason,” which we accordingly did. Mr. Mason then said, “I yield to force,” or words to that effect, when a gentleman alongside in uniform, apparently an officer of the Trent, said, “Under protest.” Mr. Mason then said, “I yield to force under protest and will go.”

There was a great deal of excitement on board during this time, and the officers and passengers of the steamer were addressing us by numerous opprobrious epithets such as calling us pirates, villains, traitors, &c. The above occurred on the port side of the cabin. Immediately after I was ordered by Lieut. James A. Greer to take charge on the starboard side, as some of our boats were coming alongside to take the personal effects of the prisoners. I remained there until about 3.15 p.m. when I was ordered by Lieut. James A. Greer to return on board the San Jacinto in charge of a portion of the prisoners’ baggage.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

ROBERT G. SIMPSON, Paymaster’s Clerk.

{p.1088}

[Inclosure No. 8.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 12, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES.

SIR: In obedience to your order I hereby state that I was one of those who boarded the Trent mail packet. Mr. Mason and Messrs. Macfarland and Eustis stepped quietly into the boats and were removed to the San Jacinto. Mr. Slidell, however, on a flat refusal to leave the ship in any other manner was by a gentle application of force placed in the boat and removed.

Everything was conducted in an orderly, gentlemanly manner as far as it came under my observation.

I remain, your obedient servant,

CHARLES B. DAHLGREN, Master’s Mate.

[Inclosure No. 9.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 12, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES, Commanding U. S. Steamer San Jacinto.

SIR: In obedience to your orders of the 12th instant I have the honor to make the following statement:

On the 8th instant about 1.30 p.m. I was ordered to accompany Lieut. D. M. Fairfax in the second cutter to board the mail steamer Trent, then hove to under the guns of the San Jacinto. Lieutenant Fairfax ordered Mr. Houston and myself to remain in the boat while he went on board. A few minutes after Mr. Fairfax boarded her we heard some loud talking on deck and Mr. Houston went on board to see if Mr. Fairfax needed assistance. He shortly returned and delivered Lieutenant Fairfax’s order that I should come on board with the crew. I came on board, found Mr. Fairfax surrounded by ladies and gentlemen and reported to him. He ordered me to remain in the gangway with the men. He was talking at the time to Mr. Mason, persuading him to come on board the San Jacinto without further force being used. Soon after another boat came alongside in charge of Lieut. James A. Greer. He went in the cabin. Soon afterward Lieutenant Fairfax ordered me to wait on Mr. Slidell to the boat. At this order some of the passengers began to shout and the marines rushed in the cabin but Lieutenant Fairfax ordered them back to the gangway. I saw Mr. Slidell in the second cutter. Messrs. Mason, Eustis and Macfarland were in the boat. Mr. Greer returned with those gentlemen to the San Jacinto and I was charged to bring the baggage and effects of the gentlemen on board the San Jacinto, which I did and reported my return to Lieutenant Breese. All the officers of this ship that boarded her have been grossly abused by the officers and passengers of the mail steamer.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. P. GRACE, Boatswain, U. S. Navy.

[Inclosure No. 10.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 9, 1861.

Captain WILKES, U. S. Navy, Commanding San Jacinto.

SIR: We desire to communicate to you by this memorandum the facts attending our arrest yesterday on board the British mail steamer Trent by your order and our transfer to this ship.

{p.1089}

We, the undersigned, embarked at Havana on the 7th instant as passengers on board the Trent, Captain Moir, bound to the island of Saint Thomas, the Trent being one of the regular mail and passenger line of the British Royal Steamship Company running from Vera Cruz via Havana to Saint Thomas and thence to Southampton, England. We paid our passage money for the whole route from Havana to Southampton to the British consul at Havana, who acts as the agent or representative of the said steamship company, Mr. Slidell being accompanied by his family consisting of his wife, four children and a servant, and Mr. Eustis by his wife and servants.

The Trent left the port of Havana about 8 o’clock on the morning of the 7th instant and pursued her voyage uninterruptedly until intercepted by the U. S. steamer San Jacinto under your command on the day following (the 8th instant) in the manner now to be related.

When the San Jacinto was first observed several miles distant the Trent was pursuing the usual course of her voyage along the old Bahama or Nicholas Channel; was about 240 miles from Havana and in sight of the light-house of Paredon Grande, the San Jacinto then lying stationary or nearly so about the middle of the channel and where it was some fifteen miles wide as since shown us on the chart, the nationality of the ship being then unknown.

When the Trent had approached near enough for her flag to be distinguished it was hoisted at the peak and at the main and so remained for a time. No flag was shown by the San Jacinto.

When the Trent had approached within a mile of the San Jacinto, still pursuing the due course of her voyage, a shotted gun was fired from the latter ship across the course of the Trent and the U. S. flag at the same time displayed at the peak. The British flag was again immediately hoisted as before by the Trent and so remained. When the Trent had approached, still on her course, within from 200 to 300 yards of the San Jacinto a second shotted gun was fired from your ship again across the course of the Trent. When the Trent got within hailing distance her captain inquired what was wanted. The reply was understood to be they would send a boat, both ships being then stationary with steam shut off. A boat very soon put off from your ship followed immediately by two other boats with full crews and armed with muskets and side arms. A lieutenant in the naval uniform of the United States and with side arms boarded the Trent, and in the presence of most of the passengers then assembled on the upper deck said to Captain Moir that he came with orders to demand his passenger list. The captain refused to produce it and formally protested against any right to visit his ship for the purpose indicated.

After some conversation importing renewed protests on the part of the captain against the alleged object of the visit and on the part of the officer of the San Jacinto that he had only to execute his orders, the latter said the two gentlemen (naming Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason) were known to be on board as also two other gentlemen (naming Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland) and that his orders were to take and carry them on board the San Jacinto. It should have been noted that on first addressing the captain the officer announced himself as a lieutenant of the U. S. steamer San Jacinto. The four gentlemen thus named being present the lieutenant addressed Mr. Slidell and afterward Mr. Mason repeating that his orders were to take them together with Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland and carry them on board his ship, which orders he must execute.

{p.1090}

Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell in reply protested in the presence of the captain of the Trent, his officers and passengers against such threatened violation of their persons and of their rights, and informed the lieutenant that they would not leave the ship they were in unless compelled by the employment of actual force greater than they could resist and Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland united with them in expressing a like purpose. That officer stated that he hoped he would not be compelled to resort to the use of force but if it became necessary to employ it in order to execute his orders he was prepared to do so. He was answered by the undersigned that they would submit to such force alone. The lieutenant then went to the gangway where his boats were; the undersigned going at the same time to their state-rooms on the deck next below, followed by Captain Moir and by the other passengers. The lieutenant returned with a party of his men a portion of whom were armed with side arms, and others appearing to be a squad of marines having muskets and bayonets. Mr. Slidell was at this time in his state-room immediately by and in full view. The lieutenant then said to Mr. Mason that having his force now present he hoped to be relieved from the necessity of calling it into actual use. That gentleman again answered that he would only submit to actual force greater than he could overcome when the lieutenant and several of his men by his order took hold of him in a manner and numbers sufficient to make resistance fruitless, and Mr. Slidell joining the group at the same time one or more of the armed party took like hold of him and those gentlemen at once went into the boat.

During this scene many of the passengers became highly excited and gave vent to the strongest expressions of indignation, seeming to indicate a purpose of resistance on their part, when the squad armed with muskets with bayonets fixed made sensible advance of one or two paces with their arms at a charge. It must be added here, omitted in the course of the narrative, that before the party left the upper deck an officer of the Trent named Williams, in the naval uniform of Great Britain and known to the passengers as having charge of the mails and accompanying them to England, said to the lieutenant that as the only person present directly representing his government he felt called upon in language as strong and emphatic as he could express to denounce the whole proceeding as a piratical act.

Mr. Slidell and Mr. Mason, together with Mr. Eustis and Mr. Macfarland, against whom force in like manner had been used, were taken to the San Jacinto as soon as they entered the boat. When they reached your ship you received them near the gangway, announcing yourself as Captain Wilkes, the commander of the ship, and conducted them to your cabin, which you placed at their disposal. When the undersigned came on board they found the men at their quarters and the guns bearing on the Trent. After some time occupied in bringing on board our baggage and effects the San Jacinto proceeded to the northward through the Santaren Channel, the Trent having been detained from three to four hours.

The foregoing is believed to be a correct narrative in substance of the facts and circumstances attending our arrest and transfer from the British mail steamer to the ship under your command, and which we doubt not will be corroborated by the lieutenant present as well as by all who witnessed them.

The incidents here given in detail may not have been witnessed by each one of the undersigned individually but they were by one or more of them. As for the most part they did not pass under your notice we {p.1091} have deemed it proper to present them in this form before you, expressing the wish that if considered incorrect in any part the inaccuracies may be pointed out.

With a respectful request that you will transmit a copy of this paper to the Government of the United States together with your report of the transaction, to facilitate which a copy is herewith inclosed,

We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants,

JOHN SLIDELL. J. M. MASON. GEORGE EUSTIS. J. E. MACFARLAND.

[Inclosure No. 11.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 13, 1861.

Messrs. JOHN SLIDELL, JAMES M. MASON, GEORGE EUSTIS and J. E. MACFARLAND.

GENTLEMEN: Your letter dated the 9th instant was handed to me yesterday. I shall transmit it agreeably to your request to the honorable Secretary of the Navy with my report of the transaction to which it refers.

In reply to your wish to have any inaccuracies it may contain pointed out I deem it my duty to say that the facts differ materially in respect to the time and circumstances.

First, the facts in my possession are derived from the log book (the official record of the ship); and second, from the reports in writing of all the officers who visited the Trent, all which will form a part of my report.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain, Commanding San Jacinto.

–––

U. S. FLAG-SHIP MINNESOTA, Hampton Roads, November 15, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

SIR: The San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes, has just arrived (2 p.m.) from the Bahama Channel. She put in here for coal in order to get to New York. She has on board Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Eustis and McFarland, all of whom she took out of the English steamer Trent on the 8th instant. The moment she gets through with taking on board 100 tons of coal she will start for New York.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. M. GOLDSBOROUGH, Flag Officer.

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U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, Hampton Roads, November 15, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I have found it impossible to reach New York, my coal being exhausted; I have but a half day’s supply remaining on board. I shall obtain sufficient in a few hours to proceed forthwith to my destination, New York, where I hope to receive your instructions relative to the Confederate prisoners I have on board and this ship.

{p.1092}

I have determined to send Commander A. Taylor, U. S. Navy, who is a passenger in this ship from the coast of Africa, to Washington by the boat as bearer of dispatches and have given him orders to report to you in person. He will be able to answer you all and every question relative to the subject of my dispatch of which he is the bearer.

Believing that the Department has entertained doubts of the loyalty of Commander Taylor it affords me great pleasure to say that my intercourse with him has fully satisfied me that no one is more loyal to the Union in the Navy.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain.

–––

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, November 15, 1861.

Captain WILKES, Commanding U. S. Steamer San Jacinto.

SIR: Before leaving your ship we think it proper that we should state that since we have been on board of her we have uniformly been treated with great courtesy and attention.

Very respectfully, your obedient servants,

JOHN SLIDELL. J. M. MASON. J. E. MACFARLAND. GEORGE EUSTIS.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 16, 1861.

ROBERT MURRAY, U. S. Marshal, New York:

You will proceed in the San Jacinto to Fort Warren, Boston, with Messrs. Mason and Slidell and suite. No persons from shore are to be admitted on board the vessel prior to her departure from New York.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD. GIDEON WELLES.

–––

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 16, 1861.

ROBERT MURRAY, U. S. Marshal, New York:

Forthwith on the arrival of Messrs. Mason and Slidell at New York you will without allowing them to land convey them and the persons of their suite to Fort Warren, Boston.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, November 16, 1861.

Commodore H. PAULDING, Commandant Navy-Yard, New York:

You will send the San Jacinto immediately to Boston and direct Captain Wilkes to deliver the prisoners at Fort Warren. Let their baggage be strictly guarded and delivered to the colonel at Fort Warren for examination. The San Jacinto will be paid off at Boston. Send amount of money required. Answer per telegraph.

GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

{p.1093}

–––

BALTIMORE, November 16, 1861.

Hon. W. H. SEWARD:

I send a special train to Washington with very gratifying and important dispatches from the West Indies.

JOHN A. DIX.

–––

CAMDEN STATION, November 16, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES:

We sent an extra train at 8.30 (?) due Washington about 12 noon with Captain Taylor,* of the San Jacinto, who captured Messrs. Mason and Slidell and attendants near the West Indies.

W. P. SMITH.

* Taylor was a bearer of dispatches from Captain Wilkes to Secretary Welles.

–––

BALTIMORE, November 16, 1861.

THOMAS A. SCOTT, Assistant Secretary of War:

The boat was late this morning. Slidell and Mason are taken prisoners and are now at Fort Monroe. No news of the fleet this morning.

M. N. FALLS.

–––

NEW YORK, November 16, 1861.

Hon. THOMAS A. SCOTT, Assistant Secretary of War:

I find Associated Press have sent news of capture of Slidell and Mason to catch steamer off Cape Race to-day. Is it well to let the news go without any particulars? It will leave here in City of New York to-day but we may reach her off Cape Race with such particulars as you choose to send. If you say so I will try to overtake the first dispatch and stop it.

E. S. SANFORD.

–––

NEW YORK, November 16, 1861.

T. A. SCOTT:

All right. Message received* and have sent word along the line to make great exertion to get on board at Cape Race. The excitement here is great. All hands seem rejoiced. The stock brokers are working for a fall on the strength of difficulty with England. The people are glad to see John Bull taken by the horns. It is suggested as a punishment to stop Mason’s oysters and Slidell’s whisky.

S[ANFORD].

* Not found.

–––

NEW YORK, November 16, 1861.

Hon. T. A. SCOTT:

Finding the line down in Nova Scotia we have sent to Farther Point on the Saint Lawrence to be put on board the Jura which will pass there to-night. If you have any particulars you wish to add and will send them by 6 o’clock they will be in time to reach the Jura.

E. S. SANFORD.

{p.1094}

–––

BALTIMORE, November 16, 1861.

Mr. Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy:

Intelligence from Bermuda says:

Cargo of Fingal was placed on board Nashville which started to run blockade at Savannah and Fingal sailed under English flag for Liverpool with Slidell and Mason on board.

This may put a different national aspect on affairs.

C. C. FULTON.

–––

BOSTON, November 17, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

DEAR SIR: The excitement of the day-the seizure of Mason and Slidell-must plead my apology for addressing you. I have conversed with many of our leading merchants, heard the opinions of many of our ablest lawyers, and all agree that the action of Captain Wilkes in seizing these men is commendable and that the Administration ought to sustain him and hold them at all hazards. In New York the English interest will be loud in condemnation and ought not to be heeded.

We think here the results will justify the act of Wilkes and there are precedents in abundance in the records of the British courts to sustain it. Public sentiment in New England will be all right and entirely sustain this course. The question of opening a port of trade at Beaufort, S. C., if seriously entertained involves numerous questions and difficulties and here it is generally considered that it will be a mistake to attempt it.

With great respect, yours, truly,

PHILO S. SHELTON.

–––

NEW YORK, November 18, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Washington.

DEAR SIR: On behalf of the relatives of John Slidell, esq., and the family of the late Commodore Perry (whose daughter is my wife) I write to ask whether I may be allowed to communicate with him and to tender him so far as a loyal citizen may do such acts of kindness and friendship as his situation may demand. You will greatly oblige me if you will indicate the practice and wishes of the Government in this respect. Where I am known it would be unnecessary for me to add that I have no sympathy whatever in any of the political views of Mr. Slidell and never entertained any other feeling than love for my country and her flag.

With high regard, your obedient servant,

JOHN HONE.

–––

WASHINGTON, November 19, 1861. (Received December 2.)

[EARL RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: I have already informed your lordship by telegraph that Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell who are believed to have been on their way to England and France as commissioners from the so-called Confederate Government were taken by force out of the British mail-packet Trent by the U. S. ship San Jacinto in the Bahama Channel and brought to this country as prisoners.

{p.1095}

The copious extracts from American newspapers which I have the honor to inclose* will make your lordship acquainted with such particulars concerning this unfortunate affair as have transpired here. They will also convey to you a tolerably correct idea of the impression which it has made upon the American public. The evidence of the English witnesses on board the Treat will probably reach London about the same time as the present dispatch. Without a knowledge of that evidence it is impossible for me to form any correct opinion of the character of the transaction. I have accordingly deemed it right to maintain the most complete reserve on the subject. To conceal the distress which I feel would be impossible nor would it if possible be desirable; but I have expressed no opinion on the questions of international law involved; I have hazarded no conjecture as to the course which will be taken by Her Majesty’s Government. On the one hand I dare not run the risk of compromising the honor and inviolability of the British flag by asking for a measure of reparation which may prove to be inadequate. On the other hand I am scarcely less unwilling to incur the danger of rendering a satisfactory settlement of the question more difficult by making a demand which may turn out to be unnecessarily great.

In the present imperfect state of my information I feel that the only proper and prudent course is to wait for the orders which your lordship will give with a complete knowledge of the whole case. I am unwilling moreover to deprive any explanation or reparation which the United States Government may think it right to offer of the grace of being made spontaneously. I know too that a demand from me would very much increase the main difficulty which the Government would feel in yielding to any disposition which they may have to make amends to Great Britain. The American people would more easily tolerate a spontaneous offer of reparation made by its Government from a sense of justice than a compliance with a demand for satisfaction from a foreign minister.**

...

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

* Not found.

** Some of the correspondence between the British authorities relating to Mason and Slidell’s case herein arranged in its chronological order with the American reports, orders, correspondence, &c., on the same subject, is copied from an official British document, “North America, No. 5,” covering “Correspondence respecting the seizure of Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis from on board the royal mail-packet Trent by the commander of the U. S. ship of war San Jacinto; presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of Her Majesty, 1862.” It was transmitted to the Department of State by Hon. Charles Francis Adams. See Adams to Seward, January 17, 1862, discussing some of this correspondence. Copies of the same document are also found on file in the Confederate archives, having been transmitted by the Confederate representatives in Loudon to the authorities in Richmond.-COMPILER.

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U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, Newport, R. I., November 20, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I intended to send you the inclosed dispatch from New York but on my arrival in the Narrows I was boarded by a steam-tug with Marshal Murray and his deputy on board. As soon as they came on board and handed me your and Mr. Seward’s dispatch I headed the ship for Boston.

{p.1096}

Adverse winds and want of coal compelled me to put in this port, and shall leave as soon as I have taken in sufficient coal to carry me to Boston.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain.

[Inclosure.]

NEWPORT, R. I., November 20, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy:

I have been obliged to put in here for coal, being unable to reach Boston owing to the severe winds we encountered. I shall coal and leave the earliest moment for my destination. I forward you the contents of a note received from the prisoners on board my ship at their request, and ask for an early reply to its contents. It is as follows, viz:

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 20, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES.

SIR: You have informed us in consequence of adverse winds and a short supply of coal it is your intention to put into Newport, R. I. We have seen in the newspapers that the Government of the United States has decided that we shall be placed in custody of the commanding officer at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. The voyage from Newport to Boston by sea at this season of the year will probably he tempestuous and disagreeable; still we should with the exception of one of the signers of this letter who is much indisposed prefer that mode of conveyance to Fort Warren to that by land. Still we would much prefer to be placed in custody at Newport on account of comparative mildness of climate and the delicate health of the undersigned, and we are willing to pledge ourselves not to make any attempt to escape nor to communicate with any person while there unless permitted so to do. We will esteem it a favor if you will by telegraph make our wishes known to your Government.

We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants,

JOHN SLIDELL. J. M. MASON. J. E. MACFARLAND. GEORGE EUSTIS.

I have forwarded you a dispatch relative to my reasons for making the capture of these commissioners by this day’s mail.

Your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES.

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NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, November 21, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES, Commanding U. S. Steamer San Jacinto, Newport, R. I.:

The Government has prepared no place for confinement of prisoners at Newport. The Department cannot change the destination of the prisoners.

GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

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BOSTON, November 22, 1861.

Hon. G. WELLES, Secretary of the Navy:

Telegram relative to search on board San Jacinto received. Orders sent to Colonel Dimick for Captain Wilkes, who has not yet arrived.

WM. L. HUDSON.

{p.1097}

–––

WASHINGTON, November 22, 1861. (Received December 7.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: ... I transmit to your lordship herewith copies* of the articles on the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell which have been published in the principal newspapers since I had the honor to address to you my dispatch of the 19th ultimo. To a person accustomed to the strong language of the American press these articles appear moderate and even subdued in tone. At all events the line taken by the greater part of the newspapers is rather to argue that Great Britain has not the right to complain and therefore will not do so than to defy her to make objection right or wrong. I wish I could add that the argument was generally carried on in courteous language or in a friendly spirit.

Your lordship may observe in several of the inclosed extracts from the American newspapers assertions concerning language stated to have been held by me in private conversation. These assertions are wholly without foundation. I have avoided the subject of the capture on board the Trent as munch as possible, and have said no more than that it is an untoward event which I very much regret. I have neither publicly nor privately expressed any opinion whatever on the question of international law or on the course likely to be taken by Her Majesty’s Government. I have had no communication on the subject, verbal or written, official or private, with any member of the Government of the United States.

Messrs. Mason and Slidell with their secretaries, Messrs. Macfarland and Eustis, have been sent to Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

* Not found.

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U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, Boston, November 24, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to report that I left Newport in this ship at 11.30 p.m. on the 21st instant en route for Boston, but on the next morning I was obliged to put into Holmes’ Hole on account of the intense fog. We arrived off Boston Light last evening and anchored there, the night being very dark and a severe storm ahead.

I delivered the Confederate commissioners this morning to Colonel Dimick, commanding U. S. detachment at Fort Warren, from whom I obtained a receipt. So soon as the prisoners were landed I proceeded immediately to Boston and at 2 p.m. anchored off the navy-yard.

I have telegraphed you through Captain Hudson the amount of money required to pay off the crew and shall await your further orders.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain.

–––

NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, November 25, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of the report of Capt. Charles Wilkes of the arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell and {p.1098} their secretaries, Messrs. Macfarland and Eustis, on board the steamer Trent, dated U. S. steamer San Jacinto, at sea, November 16, 1861.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

GIDEON WELLES.

[Inclosure.]

U. S. STEAMER SAN JACINTO, At Sea, November 16, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: In my dispatch by Commander Taylor* I confine myself to the reports of the movements of this ship and the facts connected with the capture of Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis and Macfarland, as I intended to write you particularly relative to the reasons which induced my action in making them prisoners.

When I heard at Cienfuegos on the south side of Cuba of these commissioners having landed on the Island of Cuba and that they were at the Havana and would depart in the English steamer on the 7th of November, I determined to intercept them and carefully examined all the authorities on international law to which I had access, viz, Kent, Wheaton and Vattel, besides various decisions of Sir William Scott and other judges of the admiralty court of Great Britain which bore upon the rights of neutrals and their responsibilities.

The governments of Great Britain, France and Spain having issued proclamations that the Confederate States were viewed, considered and treated as belligerents and knowing that the ports of Great Britain, France, Spain and Holland in the West Indies were open to their vessels and that they were admitted to all the courtesies and protection vessels of the United States received, every aid and attention being given them, proved clearly that they acted upon this view and decision and brought them within the international law of search and under the responsibilities. I therefore felt no hesitation in boarding and searching all vessels of whatever nation I fell in with and have done so.

The question arose in my mind whether I had the right to capture the persons of these commissioners, whether they were amenable to capture. There was no doubt I had the right to capture vessels with written dispatches. They are expressly referred to in all authorities, subjecting the vessel to seizure and condemnation if the captain of the vessel has the knowledge of their being on board. Both these gentlemen were not dispatches in the literal sense and did not seem to come under that designation and nowhere could I find a case in point.

That they were commissioners I had ample proof from their own avowal, and bent on mischievous and traitorous errands against our country, to overthrow its institutions and enter into treaties and alliances with foreign States, expressly forbidden by the Constitution.

They had been presented to the captain-general of Cuba by Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general, but the captain-general told me that he had not received them in that capacity but as distinguished gentlemen and strangers.

I then considered them as the embodiment of dispatches and as they had openly declared themselves as charged with all authority from the Confederate Government to form treaties and alliances tending to the establishment of their independence I became satisfied that their mission was adverse and criminal to the Union and it therefore became my duty to arrest their progress and capture them if they had no passports or papers from time Federal Government as provided for under the law {p.1099} of nations, viz: “That foreign ministers of a belligerent on board of neutral ships are required to possess papers from the other belligerent to permit them to pass free.”

Report and their assumption gave them the title of ministers to France and England, but inasmuch as they had not been received by either of these powers I did not conceive they had any immunity attached to their persons and were but escaped conspirators plotting and contriving to overthrow the Government of the United States and they were therefore not to be considered as having any claim to the immunities attached to the character they thought fit to assume.

As respects the steamer in which they embarked I ascertained in the Havana that she was a merchant vessel plying between Vera Cruz, the Havana and Saint Thomas carrying the mail by contract.

The agent of the vessel, the son of the British consul at Havana, was well aware of the character of these persons; that they engaged their passage and did embark in the vessel; his father had visited and introduced them as ministers of the Confederate States on their way to England and France.

They went in the steamer with the knowledge and by the consent of the captain, who endeavored afterward to conceal them by refusing to exhibit the passenger list and the papers of the vessel. There can be no doubt he knew they were carrying highly important dispatches, and were endowed with instructions inimical to the United States. This rendered his vessel (a neutral) a good prize and I determined to take possession of her and as I mentioned in my report send her to Key West for adjudication where I am well satisfied she would have been condemned for carrying these persons and for resisting to be searched. The cargo was also liable, as all the shippers were knowing to the embarkation of these live dispatches and their traitorous motives and actions to the Union of the United States.

I forbore to seize her, however, in consequence of my being so reduced in officers and crew and the derangement it would cause innocent persons, there being a large number of passengers who would have been put to great loss and inconvenience as well as disappointment from the interruption it would have, caused them in not being able to join the steamer from Saint Thomas to Europe. I therefore concluded to sacrifice the interests of my officers and crew in the prize and suffered the steamer to proceed after the necessary detention to effect the transfer of these commissioners, considering I had obtained the important end I had in view and which affected the interests of our country and interrupted the action of that of the Confederates.

I would add that the conduct of Her Britannic Majesty’s subjects both official and others showed but little regard or obedience to her proclamation by aiding and abetting the views and endeavoring to conceal the persons of these commissioners.

I have pointed out sufficient reasons to show you that my action in this case was derived from a firm conviction that it became my duty to make these parties prisoners and to bring them to the United States.

Although in giving up this valuable prize I have deprived the officers and crew of a well-earned reward I am assured they are quite content to forego any advantages which might have accrued to them under the circumstances.

I may add that having assumed the responsibility I am willing to abide the result.

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

CHARLES WILKES, Captain.

* Wilkes to Secretary Welles, November 15, p. 1080.

{p.1100}

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U. S. MARSHAL’S OFFICE, New York, November 25, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: Pursuant to the instructions contained in your telegraphic dispatch of the 16th instant I boarded on the evening of the 18th instant between the hours of 5 and 6 p.m. abreast of the Highland Lights the steamer San Jacinto having on board Messrs. Mason and Slidell, commissioners of the Confederate States, and their secretaries, Macfarland and Eustis, and proceeded with the ship to Fort Warren where I delivered the parties into the custody of Colonel Dimick, in charge of the fort.

I thoroughly searched and examined their baggage but found no papers of any description whatever.

I am, sir, your very obedient servant,

ROBERT MURRAY, U. S. Marshal.

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FORT WARREN, Boston Harbor, November 25, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to report the arrival at this port of prisoners James M. Mason, John Slidell, George Eustis and J. E. Macfarland. They were received of Captain Wilkes, U. S. Navy, on the morning of the 24th instant.

I have the honor to be, sir, with high respect, your obedient servant,

J. DIMICK, Colonel First Artillery, Commanding Post.

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WASHINGTON, November 25, 1861. (Received December 9.)

[EARL RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: No authoritative declaration has to my knowledge been made by the United States Government of the view which it takes of the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board the Trent. Certainly no communication has been made to me on the subject. I have neither sought nor avoided an interview with Mr. Seward, but it has so happened that I have not seen him nor indeed any member of the Government since the intelligence of the capture arrived.

The discussion of the question of international law is continued in the newspapers. I inclose the most remarkable articles* which have appeared in them since I wrote my dispatch dated three days ago. The tone of the press may be considered to be on the whole moderate.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

* Not found.

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BOSTON, November 26, 1861.

Hon. G. WELLES, Secretary of the Navy:

Telegram relative to search of baggage received. Captain Wilkes absent in Boston. Will see him in an hour and telegraph.

WM. L. HUDSON, Commandant, Navy-Yard.

{p.1101}

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BOSTON, November 26, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy:

Captain Wilkes informs me that the baggage of the rebel commissioners was not examined by him, they being under the control of the marshal. My letter by the mail of this evening shows my action in relation to your first telegram on this subject.

W. L. HUDSON.

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NAVY-YARD, Boston, November 26, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that the telegram relative to the examination of the effects of the rebel commissioners was received at 5 p.m. on the 22d instant. At 6 p.m. I dispatched it under charge of an officer in a tug for Fort Warren. It was handed to Colonel Dimick, as per the inclosed copies of my letters on the subject. The San Jacinto arrived twenty-four hours subsequently at Fort Warren thus giving ample time for the fulfillment of your telegram.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. L. HUDSON, Commanding.

[Inclosure.]

NAVY-YARD, Boston, November 22, 1861.

Col. JUSTIN DIMICK, Commanding Fort Warren, Boston, Mass.

SIR: I have the honor to inclose you a letter to Captain Wilkes containing a telegram just received from the honorable Secretary of the Navy. In order to carry out the views of the Secretary I have to request you will cause the letter to be handed Captain Wilkes before he shall permit a passenger or prisoner to land at the fort under your command. Be pleased to peruse the letter before sealing.

I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. L. HUDSON, Commandant.

[Sub-inclosure.]

NAVY-YARD, Boston, November 22, 1861.

Capt. CHARLES WILKES, Commanding Steamer San Jacinto.

SIR: I inclose for your action copy of telegram just received from the Navy Department. Be pleased to carry out the wishes of the Department to the fullest extent in your power:

NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, November 22, 1861.

Capt. WILLIAM L. HUDSON, Nary Yard:

Direct Captain Wilkes immediately on his arrival to have the effects of the rebel commissioners on board the San Jacinto thoroughly examined, and whatever papers may be found to send then by special messenger to the Department. Answer per telegraph.

GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

I have informed the Department of the receipt of its telegram. I am, respectfully, your obedient servant,

W. L. HUDSON, Commandant.

{p.1102}

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 27, 1861.

Hon. GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith for your information a copy of dispatch* received from the U. S. consul-general at Havana respecting the visit of the San Jacinto to that place and the favorable impression made upon the authorities of the island by the gallant bearing of Captain Wilkes and the other officers attached to the vessel.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* Omitted.

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CONFIDENTIAL.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 27, 1861.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c.

SIR: Your very confidential letter of the 4th instant was duly received. ...

I forbear from speaking of the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell. Time act was done by Commander Wilkes without instructions and even without the knowledge of the Government.

Lord Lyons has judiciously refrained from all communication with me on the subject and I thought it equally wise to reserve ourselves until we hear what the British Government may have to say on the subject.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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ADMIRALTY, [London,] November 27, 1861.

[Mr. HAMMOND.]

SIR: I am commanded by my lords commissioners of the admiralty to send you herewith for the information of Earl Russell a copy of a letter dated the 9th instant from Commander Williams, the agent for mails on board the contract steamer Trent, detailing the circumstances under which Messrs. Mason and Slidell, commissioners from the so-styled Confederate States of America to this country and France, and their secretaries were forcibly taken out of the Trent by an armed party of officers and men from the U. S. ship of war San Jacinto on the 8th instant in the Bahama Channel.

I am, &c.,

W. G. ROMAINE, Secretary to the Admiralty.

[Inclosure.]

TRENT, At Sea, November 9, 1861.

Captain PATEY.

SIR: There devolves on me the painful duty of reporting to you a wanton act of aggression on this ship by the U. S. war screw-steamer San Jacinto, carrying a broadside of seven guns and a shell pivot gun of heavy caliber on the fore-castle, which took place on the 8th instant in the Bahama Channel abreast of the Paredon Light-House. The Trent left Havana at 8 a.m. on the 7th instant with Her Majesty’s mails for England, having on board a large freight of specie as well as numerous passengers, amongst whom were Messrs. Mason and Slidell, the former accredited with a special mission from the Confederate States {p.1103} to the Government of Great Britain and the latter to the French Government, with their respective secretaries, Messrs. Macfarland and Eustis.

Shortly after noon on the 8th a steamer having the appearance of a man-of-war but not showing colors was observed ahead hove to. We immediately hoisted our ensign at the peak but it was not responded to until on nearing her at 1.15 p.m. she fired a round shot from her pivot gun across our bows and showed American colors. Our engines were immediately slowed and we were still approaching her when she discharged a shell from her pivot gun immediately across our bows, exploding half a cable’s length ahead of us. We then stopped when an officer with an armed guard of marines boarded us and demanded a list of passengers, which demand being refused the officer said that he had orders to arrest Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis and that he had sure information of their being passengers in the Trent.

Declining to satisfy him whether such persons were on board or not, Mr. Slidell stepped forward and announced that the four persons he had then named were standing before him under British protection and that if they were taken on board the San Jacinto they must be taken vi et armis, the commander of the Trent and myself at the same time protesting against this illegal act, this act of piracy carried out by brute force, as we had no means of resisting the aggression the San Jacinto being at the time on our port beam about 200 yards off, her ship’s company at quarters, ports open and tompions out. Sufficient time being given for such necessaries as they might require being sent to them these gentlemen were forcibly taken out of the ship and then a further demand was made that the commander of the Trent should proceed on board the San Jacinto, but as he expressed his determination not to go unless forcibly compelled likewise this latter demand was not carried into execution.

At 3.40 we parted company and proceeded on our way to Saint Thomas, on our arrival at which place I shall deliver to the consul duplicates of this letter to Lord Lyons, Sir Alexander Milne, Commodore Dunlop and the consul-general at Havana.

I have, &c.,

RICHARD WILLIAMS, Commander, Royal Navy, and Admiralty Agent in Charge of Mails.

** Not found.

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LANCASTER, OHIO, November 28, 1861.

The PRESIDENT.

SIR: I do not think it wise policy for the United States to insist on extending the rights of belligerents over neutral vessels on the high seas, consequently we ought not to vouch as authority previous aggressive acts of England at a time when she was a swaggering bully on the ocean and insist on them as supported by international law, for if we do our months will be closed when England as a belligerent hereafter (and stich she will be ten years to our one) shall stretch the law against us to the same point.

If she remonstrates and makes reclamation the proper mode in my judgment is to let her lay down the law-agree to any proposition she may lay down favorable to neutral vessels, their cargoes and passengers. Say to her: “You have not habitually conformed to these rules and may possibly trespass them hereafter. The law must be the same to us both now and in all future time, We will make a treaty with {p.1104} you declaring and settling as international law the principle which you now propose and when settled by treaty we will let it embrace this case and fully conform to it.”

The proposition that she must lay down will be that a neutral vessel cleared at one neutral port and bound to another is not liable to search and seizure under charge of carrying contraband of war; or in more general terms that under these circumstances the neutral vessel is entitled to the same immunity as neutral soil. I think this position a sound one. It is at all events for the permanent interest of the United States that it should be settled as the law of nations if it can be definitively so settled.

But England will not agree to it. If the proposition be made to so settle it by treaty she will equivocate, diplomatize and finally waive her claim.

I am, very respectfully, yours,

T. EWING.

[Indorsement.]

DECEMBER 3, 1861.

[Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD.]

GOVERNOR: The President directs me to send you Mr. Ewing’s second* dissertation on neutral rights.

JOHN HAY.

* No other letter from Ewing on this subject found.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, November 29, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: It has appeared to me not without its social use to accept from time to time such invitations as are customarily extended to the minister at this season of the year by persons of influence to visit them at their houses in the country. I was absent for three days this week at the residence of a member of Parliament in Yorkshire on one of these occasions when the news came to London of the seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board of the steamer Trent in the West Indies by the commander of the U. S. steamer San Jacinto. A telegram was sent up to me on Wednesday evening and I returned to this place the next day.

In the meantime it is not to be denied that the popular feeling has been very strongly excited by this intelligence. Advantage was taken of it in Liverpool by the friends of the insurgents to summon a hasty meeting and precipitate the public indignation upon the ministry in order to drive them into some decided measure. It may be regarded as rather a fortunate event that circumstances had in some degree prepared them for the possibility of such a result. Whatever may have been the source from which Lord Palmerston drew time inferences of the mission of the James Adger which he explained to me* it is now clear to my mind that he erred rather in the selecting of the agency than in the nature of the work proposed to be done. So much was he convinced of the soundness of his opinion that it now appears from the newspapers an armed steamer had been actually sent out before he saw me to be on the watch to prevent such a catastrophe in this neighborhood. It is also made certain that the law officers of the Crown had {p.1105} been already consulted on the merits of the case. Hence the readiness with which the leading newspapers immediately came forward to elucidate to the people the doctrine applicable to the question.

It is not to be disguised that the medicine is not the less bitter because it is an old one of their own concoction. The pride of the British nation is deeply touched. The consequences foreseen by Lord Palmerston are not unlikely to follow and all opportunity for further usefulness in my present capacity threatens to be soon at an end. I may perhaps be permitted to add that I regret this prospect. A delay of a few months or even of a few weeks might have brought our affairs to a positive termination without materially affecting the good understanding here which has been in such rapid process of dissolution. As it is, what with the case of the Harvey Birch to irritate us on the one side and that of the steamer Trent to provoke them on the other, the season for the influence of pacific counsels is gradually but certainly passing away.

On my arrival in town on Thursday I found a note from Lord Russell asking me to call and see him at an hour of the day which had already elapsed. But my secretary, Mr. Moran, who had been apprised of time moment when I should return, called in person at the foreign office and explained to one of the under secretaries the reason of the delay. The conference was then postponed until Friday at a quarter to 2 o’clock, when it took place. The substance of it I will now proceed to submit to your consideration.

His lordship remarked that it was altogether too early to enter into any discussion of the subject upon which he had desired to see me, the seizure of Messrs. Mason, Slidell and others on board of a British vessel. His object now was only to inquire in advance of a meeting of the ministers at 2 o’clock whether I had any information from my Government touching the matter or was possessed of any light which it might be useful for him to possess. I replied that I knew no more of the affair than what had been stated in the newspapers. I was not prepared to say a word about it because I was possessed neither of time true state of the facts nor of the views which my Government had taken of them. I did not even know how far the naval officer had acted under authority.

His lordship then alluded to my conference with Lord Palmerston the other day and to his report of what I had said to him about the mission of the James Adger in order to know if it could have been correct. Lord Palmerston had understood me as saying that the captain’s instructions which I told him I had seen not only directed him to intercept the Nashville with Messrs. Slidell and Mason on board but prohibited him from stopping any British ship. I replied that his lordship had not understood me quite correctly. He had begun the conversation by taking for granted that the intention of the captain of the Adger had been to take these persons out of a British ship. I had asked him what reason he had for imputing such a motive to him. His lordship had assigned his belief to come from a coincidence in the movements of the respective ships. I then observed that if that was all I could say that I had seen the captain’s instructions, which directed him to intercept the Nashville if he could and in case of inability to do so to return at once to New York keeping his eye on such British ships as might be going to the United States with contraband of war. Lord Palmerston’s recollection and mine differed mainly in this last particular. Lord Russell then remarked that this statement was exactly that which he had recollected my making to him. Nothing had been said in the instructions about other British ships.

{p.1106}

The conference then ended having lasted about ten minutes. His lordship’s manner was a little more grave than usual but in all other respects much the same as ever.

It is now stated that the Queen’s proclamation** is to be issued prohibiting the further exportation of contraband of war. This is understood to be mainly caused by the purchases lately made of great quantities of saltpeter for the use of the Government of the United States. I only regret that it had not been issued long ago and thus put an end to the annoyance and irritation consequent upon the great exertions of the insurgent emissaries to fit out vessels against us in the ports of this country.

I ought to add that in going into the ante room previous to the conference I met there Baron Brunnow, the Russian minister, who seized the occasion to express his great regret at the misunderstanding which is taking place and his earnest offer of any services on the part of himself or his Government that might have the effect to restore friendly relations between the two countries.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

* See Adams to Seward, November 15, p. 1078.

** For extracts from this proclamation see inclosure of Thayer to Seward, December 20, p. 1139.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, November 29, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... In the meantime the excitement caused by the late news of the seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell is so great as to swallow up every other topic for the moment. It may then be the part of prudence to let the old topic* lie in abeyance until the heats stirred by the new one shall subside.

...

It is plain from the turn which has been taken in the newspapers of this morning that the law officers of the Crown have modified their original position so far as to deny the right of the United States Government to take out persons when they do not take papers and things. In other words Great Britain would have been less offended if the United States had insulted her a great deal more.

There is little reason to doubt that the same steamer which bears this will carry out a demand for an apology and the restoration of the men.

I confess that the turn things have taken has given me great anxiety for the fate of my unhappy country. But I shall wait with resignation the instructions which will probably close my mission.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

* The capture and destruction of American merchant vessels by Confederate privateers fitted out in English ports.

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EIGHTEENTH AVENUE ROAD, REGENT’S PARK, London, November 29, 1861.

Hon. W. H. SEWARD, Washington.

MY DEAR MR. SEWARD: Your letter, written as it must have been amid the all but overwhelming amount of public business that must {p.1107} have devolved upon you, has given me very high gratification as a proof of your regard and friendship. I would be happy indeed if I could accept the kind invitation to myself and wife which your letter conveys, and I hope the day will come when I shall be able to see you again in your own land and enjoy time hospitality which I have received before and which you offer to me again.

Little did I think when we last met in London that the disruption of your glorious Union was either possible or near as hand, though I knew that in any danger or difficulty that might arise your voice would be heard on the rightful side and that no exertions of yours would be spared to do a true man’s duty.

I would not have run the risk of boring you with politics in reply to a letter of friendship, but the excitement in London and throughout England is so great in reference to the unfortunate seizure of Messrs. Slidell and Mason that I cannot refrain from telling you what I see and hear for your information and that of the President. There never was within memory such a burst of feeling as has been created by the news of the boarding of the La Plata [Trent]. The people are frantic with rage, and were the country polled I fear that 999 men out of 1,000 would declare for immediate war. Lord Palmerston cannot resist the impulse if he would. If he submits to the insult to the flag his ministry is doomed-it would not last a fortnight. But he is decided to demand reparation, and Lord Derby has made no secret for the past two or three months of his opinion that England ought immediately to recognize the Southern Confederation.

The whole feeling of the people has undergone a change. Sympathy was but coldly expressed for the South. Now it is warm and universal. I deeply deplore and lament what has happened, and could I believe that your Government could or would undo it and disavow the act of the captain of the San Jacinto I should rejoice and consider it a blessing to my own country as well as to the United States. The scene in the Reform Club when the men arrived was more exciting than anything I ever witnessed, and staid and sober men (as Englishmen generally are) became violent, demonstrative and outrageous. Englishmen would rather fight with any power in the world than with America, but I do assure you their blood is up and they mean mischief in this business.

A peaceful member of our Parliament declared to me that if this insult were not atoned for he saw no use for a flag; that he would recommend the British colors to be torn into shreds and sent to Washington for the use of the Presidential water-closets, and that he would rather become a U. S. citizen than continue any longer to be thought an Englishman. The whole people express the same feeling though not quite so forcibly or idiomatically as this gentleman. I mix a great deal with people of all classes of society and have the means of feeling the public pulse as thoroughly as any man in London and I give you openly the result of my observations.

The Southern men in London, of whom I know several, are delighted and think it the best thing that could have happened for their cause. They already see the South recognized by England and France in unison and cannot conceal their exultation.

I am afraid you will think this but a rambling and incoherent letter, but it is because I so admire and esteem you that I write what comes uppermost, perhaps not without being touched with the contagious excitement of everybody about me, excitement which you know is difficult {p.1108} to be free from when the world is crazy around you. I trust, however, that it will blow over and that the United States and England will be friends now and forever.

With the sincerest and most hearty wishes for your welfare and health, and for the restoration of peace to your suffering country, believe me, my dear Mr. Seward, ever your devoted friend,

CHARLES MACKAY.

–––

WASHINGTON, November 29, 1861. (Received December 12.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: The discussion of the questions of international law raised by the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board the Trent continues to be actively carried on in the newspapers of this country. With previous dispatches I have transmitted to your lordship abundance of articles in favor of the legality of the capture. I have the honor to inclose herewith two* in which the contrary opinion is maintained. That from The Albion has attracted a great deal of attention. It quotes the stipulation of the postal convention of 1848 by which immunities are secured to postal steamers even in case of war between Great Britain and the United States and argues by analogy that such steamers are still more entitled to respect by the United States under present circumstances.

I have had no communication with the United States Government concerning the capture.

I am informed that a letter from one of the prisoners which has been received here states that they are considerately treated in Fort Warren.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

* Not found.

–––

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, November 30, 1861.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c.

SIR: Your confidential note of the 15th of November, not marked as a dispatch, has been submitted to the President and I hasten to reply to it in time for the Wednesday’s mail.

No minister ever spoke or acted more wisely in a crisis which excited deep public solicitude than you did on the occasion of the lord mayor’s dinner. We are impressed very favorably by Lord Palmerston’s conversation with you. You spoke the simple fact when you told him that the life of this insurrection is sustained by its hopes of recognition in Great Britain and in France. It would perish in ninety days if those hopes should cease. I have never for a moment believed that such a recognition could take place without producing immediately a war between the United States and all the recognizing powers. I have not supposed it possible that the British Government could fail to see this; and at the same time I have sincerely believed the British Government must in its inmost heart be as averse to such a war as I know this Government is.

I am sure that this Government has carefully avoided giving any cause of offense or irritation to Great Britain, but it has seemed to me that the British Government has been inattentive to the currents that seemed to be bringing the two countries into collision. ...

{p.1109}

I infer from Lord Palmerston’s remark that the British Government is now awake to the importance of averting possible conflict and disposed to confer and act with earnestness to that end. If so we are disposed to meet them in the same spirit as a nation chiefly of British lineage, sentiments and sympathies-a civilized and humane nation-a Christian people.

Since that conversation was held Captain Wilkes in the steamer San Jacinto has boarded a British colonial steamer and taken from her deck two insurgents who were proceeding to Europe on an errand of treason against their own country. This is a new incident unknown to and unforeseen at least in its circumstances by Lord Palmerston. It is to be met and disposed of by the two Governments if possible in the spirit to which I have adverted. Lord Lyons has prudently refrained from opening the subject to me, as I presume waiting instructions from home. We have done nothing on the subject to anticipate the discussion and we have not furnished you with any explanations. We adhere to that course now because we think it more prudent that the ground taken by the British Government should be first made known to us here and that the discussion if there must be one shall be had here. It is proper, however, that you should know one fact in the case without indicating that we attach much importance to it, namely, that in the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board a British vessel Captain Wilkes having acted without any instructions from the Government the subject is therefore free from the embarrassment which might have resulted if the act had been specially directed by us.

I trust that the British Government will consider the subject in a friendly temper and it may expect the best disposition on the part of this Government.

Although this is a confidential note I shall not object to your reading it to Earl Russell and Lord Palmerston if you deem it expedient.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

–––

NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, November 30, 1861.

[Capt. CHARLES WILKES.]

SIR: I congratulate you on your safe arrival, and especially do I congratulate you on the great public service you have rendered in the capture of the rebel emissaries. Messrs. Mason and Slidell have been conspicuous in the conspiracy to dissolve the Union and it is well known that when seized by you they were on a mission hostile to the Government and the country. Your conduct in seizing these public enemies was marked by intelligence, ability, decision and firmness and has the emphatic approval of this Department.

It is not necessary that I should in this communication, which is intended to be one of congratulation to yourself, officers and crew, express an opinion on the course pursued in omitting to capture the vessel which had these public enemies on board further than to say that the forbearance exercised in this instance must not be permitted to constitute a precedent hereafter for the infractions of neutral obligations.

I am, &c.,

GIDEON WELLES.

{p.1110}

–––

FORT WARREN, Boston Harbor, November 30, 1861.

Hon. W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: Mr. J. M. Mason wishes to send two bills of exchange on the Royal Bank, Liverpool, to England. One is for £1,600 and the other for £300, in all £1,900 sterling. I informed him I would retain his letter until I heard from you. The bills were given to the officer in charge of the prisoners’ funds on Mr. Mason’s arrival.

I am, sir, with the highest respect, your obedient servant,

J. DIMICK, Colonel First Artillery, Commanding.

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FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] November 30, 1861.

Lord LYONS, K. C. B., &c., Washington.

MY LORD: Intelligence of a very grave nature has reached Her Majesty’s Government.

This intelligence was conveyed officially to the knowledge of the admiralty by Commander Williams, agent for mails on board the contract steamer Trent.

It appears from the letter of Commander Williams, dated “Royal Mail Contract Packet Trent, at sea, November 9,” that the Trent left Havana on the 7th instant, with Her Majesty’s mails for England, having on board numerous passengers. Commander Williams states that shortly after noon on the 8th a steamer having the appearance of a man-of-war but not showing colors was observed ahead. On nearing her at 1.15 p.m. she fired a round shot from her pivot gun across the bows of the Trent and showed American colors. While the Trent was approaching her slowly the American vessel discharged a shell across the bows of the Trent exploding half a cable’s length ahead of her. The Trent then stopped and an officer with a large armed guard of marines boarded her. The officer demanded a list of the passengers; and compliance with this demand being refused the officer said he had orders to arrest Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis, and that he had sure information of their being passengers in the Trent. While some parley was going on upon this matter Mr. Slidell stepped forward and told the American officer that the four persons he had named were then standing before him. The commander of the Trent and Commander Williams protested against the act of taking by force out of the Trent these four passengers then under the protection of the British flag. But the San Jacinto was at that time only 200 yards from the Trent, her ship’s company at quarters, her ports open and tompions out. Resistance was therefore out of the question and the four gentlemen before named were forcibly taken out of the ship. A further demand was made that the commander of the Trent should proceed on board the San Jacinto but he said he would not go unless forcibly compelled likewise and this demand was not insisted upon.

It thus appears that certain individuals have been forcibly taken from on board a British vessel, the ship of a neutral power, while such vessel was pursuing a lawful and innocent voyage-an act of violence which was an affront to the British flag and a violation of international law.

Her Majesty’s Government bearing in mind the friendly relations which have long subsisted between Great Britain and the United States are willing to believe that the U. S. naval officer who committed the aggression was not acting in compliance with any authority from his Government, or that if he conceived himself to be so authorized he {p.1111} greatly misunderstood the instructions which he had received; for the Government of the United States must be fully aware that the British Government could not allow such an affront to the national honor to pass without full reparation, and Her Majesty’s Government are unwilling to believe that it could be the deliberate intention of the Government of the United States unnecessarily to force into discussion between the two Governments a question of so grave a character and with regard to which time whole British nation would be sure to entertain such unanimity of feeling.

Her Majesty’s Government therefore trust that when this matter shall have been brought under the consideration of the Government of the United States that Government will of its own accord offer to the British Government such redress as alone could satisfy the British nation, namely, the liberation of the four gentlemen and their delivery to your lordship in order that they may again be placed under British protection and a suitable apology for the aggression which has been committed. Should these terms not be offered by Mr. Seward you will propose them to him.

You are at liberty to read this dispatch to the Secretary of State and if he shall desire it you will give him a copy of it.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

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FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] November 30, 1861.

[Lord LYONS, &c., Washington.]

MY LORD: In my previous dispatch of this date I have instructed you by command of Her Majesty to make certain demands of the Government of the United States.

Should Mr. Seward ask for delay in order that this grave and painful matter should be deliberately considered you will consent to a delay not exceeding seven days. If at the end of that time no answer is given, or if any other answer is given except that of a compliance with the demands of Her Majesty’s Government your lordship is instructed to leave Washington with all the members of your legation, bringing with you the archives of the legation and to repair immediately to London. If; however, you should be of the opinion that the requirements of Her Majesty’s Government are substantially complied with you may report the facts to Her Majesty’s Government for their consideration and remain at your post until you receive further orders.

You will communicate with Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne immediately upon receiving the answer of the American Government and you will send him a copy of that answer together with such observations as you may think fit to make. You will also give all the information in your power to the governors of Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Jamaica, Bermuda and such other of Her Majesty’s possessions as may be within your reach.

...

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

–––

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] November 30, 1861.

[Lord LYONS, &c., Washington.]

MY LORD: Mr. Adams called upon me yesterday at the foreign office by my desire. I asked him whether he had any information or {p.1112} instructions which could throw light on the transactions which had occurred on board the Trent. I said the cabinet was about to meet and I should be glad to receive any information which might assist their deliberations on this painful subject. Mr. Adams said he had no instructions or information which could throw light on what had occurred nor did he know whether the captures which had taken place on board the Trent had the sanction of his Government or not. I said in that case there would be no good and there might be some harm in discussing with him the merits of the question itself, but I wished him to repeat to me what he had told me some days ago in regard to the instructions to the commander of the James Adger. Mr. Adams then said that he had seen the instructions to the commander of the James Adger; that they directed him to look out for the Nashville, a Confederate vessel which it was supposed would convey Messrs. Mason and Slidell to England. He was directed if that supposition should not turn out to be the fact to return to the United States, but to keep an eye on any merchant vessel proceeding from this country with contraband of war. There was nothing in the instructions directing the commander to interfere with any foreign ship bringing Messrs. Mason and Slidell to Europe. Mr. Adams then took his leave.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

–––

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] November 30, 1861.

THE LORDS COMMISSIONERS OF THE ADMIRALTY.

MY LORDS: I have received the Queen’s commands to transmit to your lordships the instructions* which are to be sent to-day to Lord Lyons. The Queen directs that copies of these instructions should be sent to Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne. Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne should be directed to communicate fully with Lord Lyons and to take such measures as circumstances may seem to require.

The vice-admiral will refrain from any act of hostility against the sea or land forces of the United States except in self-defense. But as the act of wanton violence and outrage which has been committed makes it not unlikely that other sudden acts of aggression may be attempted, Vice-Admiral Sir A. Milne will take care not to place his ships in positions where they may be surprised or commanded by batteries on land of a superior force. He should not detach more than one line-of-battle ship and two frigates on the expedition to Vera Cruz, and he should dispose of the rest of his force in the manner in which it may prove most serviceable in case of hostilities. He will look to the safety of Her Majesty’s possessions in North America and the West Indies, and he will in all respects execute all such commands as he may receive from your lordships to guide him in the performance of his arduous duties. Your lordships will no doubt be of opinion that Admiral Milne ought not himself to go to Vera Cruz and in that case an officer acquainted with the Mexican coast may be the most fitting person to act with Sir Charles Wyke in the discharge of duties on that coast.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

* The three preceding letters of November 30 from Russell to Lyons.

{p.1113}

–––

Extract from a private letter.

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] December 1, 1861.

[Lord LYONS, &c.]

MY LORD: ... The dispatches which were agreed to at the cabinet yesterday and which I have signed this morning impose upon you a disagreeable task. My wish would be that at your first interview with Mr. Seward you should not take my dispatch with you but should prepare him for it and ask him to settle with the President and Cabinet what course they would propose. The next time you should bring my dispatch and read it to him fully. If he asks what will be the consequence of his refusing compliance I think you should say that you wish to leave him and the President quite free to take their own course and that you desire to abstain from anything like menace.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

–––

Resolution adopted by the House of Representatives December 2, 1861.

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to present to Capt. Charles Wilkes a gold medal with suitable emblems and devices in testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his good conduct in promptly arresting the rebel ambassadors James M. Mason and John Slidell.

–––

Preamble and resolution adopted by the House of Representatives December 2, 1861.

Whereas Col. Michael Corcoran who was taken prisoner on the battle-field of Manassas has after suffering other indignities been confined by the rebel authorities in the cell of a convicted felon: Therefore,

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to similarly confine James M. Mason, late of Virginia, now in custody at Fort Warren until Colonel Corcoran shall be treated as all the prisoners of war taken by the United States on the battle-field have been treated.

–––

Extract from report of the Secretary of the Navy.

NAVY DEPARTMENT, December 2, 1861.

The PRESIDENT:

...

Capt. Charles Wilkes, in command of the San Jacinto, while searching in the West Indies for the Sumter received information that James M. Mason and John Slidell, disloyal citizens and leading conspirators, were with their suite to embark from Havana in the English steamer Trent on their way to Europe to promote the cause of the insurgents. Cruising in the Bahama Channel he intercepted the Trent on the 8th of November and took from her these dangerous men whom he brought to the United States. His vessel having been ordered to refit for service at Charlestown the prisoners were retained on board and conveyed to Fort Warren where they were committed to the custody of Colonel Dimick, in command of that fortress.

The prompt and decisive action of Captain Wilkes on this occasion merited and received the emphatic approval of the Department, and if {p.1114} a too generous forbearance was exhibited by him in not capturing the vessel which had these rebel emissaries on board it may in view of the special circumstances and of its patriotic motives be excused, but it must by no means be permitted to constitute a precedent hereafter for the treatment of any case of similar infraction of neutral obligations by foreign vessels engaged in commerce or the carrying trade.

...

GIDEON WELLES, Secretary of the Navy.

–––

FORT WARREN, Boston Harbor, December 2, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to report to you that Mr. Slidell asked this morning to forward a letter to his wife containing an order on a European house transferring his funds to her control. I declined without first receiving your instructions on the subject.

Mr. Eustis wished to know if he could correspond with his wife in Paris without mentioning business matters.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. DIMICK, Colonel First Artillery, Commanding Post.

–––

ADMIRALTY, [London,] December 2, 1861.

[Mr. HAMMOND.]

SIR: With reference to my letter of the 27th ultimo inclosing a copy of one dated the 9th of November from Commander Williams relative to the forcible removal of Messrs. Mason and Slidell and their secretaries from the Trent contract steamer by an armed party of officers and men from the San Jacinto, U. S. ship of war, I am commanded by my lords commissioners of admiralty to send you herewith for the information of Earl Russell a copy of a memorandum made by Commander Williams at the admiralty on the 27th ultimo and containing further information on the above-mentioned subject. My lords did not send a copy of this memorandum at the time it was written as Commander Williams on that day made a verbal statement at the foreign office; but it is now transmitted as it may be useful hereafter as showing the actual force used on the occasion and the strong protest made against it by Commander Williams.

I am, &c.,

W. G. ROMAINE, Secretary to the Admiralty.

[Inclosure.]

Memorandum made by Commander Williams.

On Mr. Slidell’s announcing that the four persons inquired for were then standing before Lieutenant Fairfax under British protection and that if taken on board the San Jacinto they must be taken vi et armis, I addressed that officer in the following terms:

In this ship I am the representative of Her Britannic Majesty’s Government and in the name of that Government I protest against this illegal act-this violation of international law-this act of piracy which you would not dare to attempt on a ship capable of resisting such aggression.

{p.1115}

It was then that Lieutenant Fairfax waved his hand toward the San Jacinto and additional force was sent. The marines were drawn up at the entry port, bayonets fixed; and on Miss Slidell uttering an hysterical scream on her being separated from her father-that is on his breaking the window of his cabin and thrusting his body through to escape from the distressing scene of forcible separation from his family-they rushed into the passage at the charge. There were upward of sixty armed men in all, and the aforesaid gentlemen were then taken out of the ship, an armed guard on either side of each seizing them by the collar of the coat.

Every inducement was held out so far as importunate persuasion would go to prevail on Mrs. Slidell and Mrs. Eustis with the son and three daughters of the former to accompany their husbands, but as they did not wish their wives to be subjected to imprisonment (Lieutenant Fairfax having replied to Mrs. Slidell’s inquiry as to their disposal if they did accompany them that they would be sent to Washington) they remained on board the Trent and came to England in the La Plata.

The ships getting somewhat farther apart than when this affair commenced a boat came from the San Jacinto to request us to approach nearer, to which I replied that they had the same power as ourselves and if they wished to be nearer to us they had their own remedy.

–––

Preamble and resolution adopted by the House of Representatives December 3, 1861.

Whereas Col. Alfred M. Wood, of the Fourteenth Regiment New York State Militia, who was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Bull Run, has now by rebel authorities been ordered to confinement in a felon’s prison, and by the same order is to be treated as a prisoner convicted of infamous crimes: Therefore,

Resolved, That the President of the United States be respectfully requested to order John Slidell to the same character of prison and to the same treatment until Colonel Wood shall be treated as the United States have treated all prisoners taken in battle.

–––

CONFIDENTIAL.]

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, December 3, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: The Persia has not brought to me any dispatches touching this unfortunate difficulty between the two countries. In the meantime the feeling is running very high on this side and little confidence is entertained of the possibility of preserving peaceful relations. I confess after examining time American journals and the current of opinion in the absence of all knowledge of the views of the Government I am making my arrangements for the termination of my stay at this post, preparatory to the reception of the instructions which I expect with the return of Lord Lyons.

That a very strong argument as against the British Government can be made in justification of the act of seizure does not admit of a doubt. The whole spirit of their policy on the ocean for centuries has been dictatorial and especially toward the United States in their earlier days. At the same time it is not to be denied that the position taken by {p.1116} the United States from first to last has been one of resistance to their policy and of maintenance of the privileges of neutrals to be free from search. I should be very sorry to see our own country varying from what seems to me so honorable a record under the temptation of a little ephemeral success, entailing as it does so many of the most serious consequences to the prosperity of two great nations.

I have been particularly struck with the language used by Mr. Madison on this subject in his instructions given to Mr. Monroe to treat with the Government of Great Britain on the subjects then in dispute between the countries dated 5th of January, 1804. It is scarcely possible for words to be stronger in deprecation of such acts as the one that has just been committed. It would appear that he went so far as to propose a degree of immunity to neutral vessels which was objected to on the part of the British Government on the ground of “the facility it would give to the escape of traitors and the desertion of others whose services in time of war may be particularly important to an enemy.” Under these circumstances it would not seem advisable for us to insist upon assuming their position unless we are ready also to assume their old arrogant claim of the dominion of the seas. Our neutral rights are as valuable to us as ever they were, whilst time has reflected nothing but credit on our steady defense of them against superior power.

It has occurred to me then that at this moment it might be well to consider the expediency of renewing in some form at Washington the proposal made at the time alluded to by Mr. Madison which constitutes the first article of his project. Whatever may be the answer that will be given to the message sent out through Lord Lyons, the nature of which I do not undertake to prejudge, the offer of such a proposition may be of use as a basis of reconciliation whether before or after the commencement of hostilities. And it will serve to break the force of the public opinion of Europe which will certainly be against us, and if I may be permitted to say so, not without justice, should we choose to place ourselves in the position which has always heretofore earned for England the ill will of all the other maritime nations of the globe, not excluding ourselves.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

[Translation.]

ADMINISTRATION OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, POLITICAL DEPARTMENT, Paris, December 3, 1861.

HENRI MERCIER, Minister of the Emperor at Washington.

SIR: The arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board the English packet Trent by an American cruiser has produced in France if not the same emotion as in England at least extreme astonishment and sensation. Public sentiment was at once engrossed with the lawfulness and the consequence of such an act and the impression which has resulted from this has not been for an instant doubtful.

The fact has appeared so much out of accordance with the ordinary rules of international law that it has chosen to throw the responsibility for it exclusively on the commander of the San Jacinto. It is not yet given to us to know whether this supposition is well founded; and the Government of the Emperor has therefore also had to examine the question raised by the taking away of the two passengers from the {p.1117} Trent. The desire to contribute to prevent a conflict perhaps imminent between two powers for which it is animated by sentiments equally friendly and the duty to uphold, for the purpose of placing the rights of its own flag under shelter from any attack, certain principles essential to the security of neutrals have after mature reflection convinced it that it could not under the circumstances remain entirely silent.

If to our deep regret the Cabinet at Washington were disposed to approve the conduct of the commander of the San Jacinto it would be either by considering Messrs. Mason and Slidell as enemies or as seeing in them nothing but rebels. In the one as in the other case there would be a forgetfulness, extremely annoying, of principles upon which we have always found the United States in agreement with us.

By what title in effect would the American cruiser in the first case have arrested Messrs. Mason and Slidell? The United States have admitted with us in the treaties concluded between the two countries that the freedom of the flag extends itself over the persons found on board should they be enemies of one of the two parties, unless the question is of military people actually in the service of the enemy. Messrs. Mason and Slidell were therefore by virtue of this principle which we have never found any difficulty in causing to be inserted in our treaties of friendship and commerce perfectly at liberty under the neutral flag of England. Doubtless it will not be pretended that they could be considered as contraband of war. That which constitutes contraband of war is not yet it is true exactly settled; the limitations are not absolutely the same for all the powers; but in what relates to persons the special stipulations which are found in the treaties concerning military people define plainly the character of those who only can be seized upon by belligerents; but there is no need to demonstrate that Messrs. Mason and Slidell could not be assimilated to persons in that category. There remains therefore to invoke in explanation of their capture only the pretext that they were the bearers of official dispatches from the enemy; but this is the moment to recall a circumstance which governs all this affair and which renders the conduct of the American cruiser unjustifiable.

The Trent was not destined to a point belonging to one of the belligerents. She was carrying to a neutral country her cargo and her passengers, and moreover it was in a neutral port that they were taken. If it were admissible that under such conditions the neutral flag does not completely cover the persons and merchandise it carries its immunity would be nothing more than an idle word; at any moment the commerce and the navigation of third powers would have to suffer from their innocent and even their indirect relations with the one or the other of the belligerents. These last would no longer find themselves as having only the right to exact from the neutral entire impartiality and to interdict all intermeddling on his part in acts of hostility. They would impose on his freedom of commerce and navigation restrictions which modern international law has refused to admit as legitimate; and we should in a word fall back upon vexatious practices against which in other epochs no power has more earnestly protested than the United States.

If the Cabinet of Washington would only look on the two persons arrested as rebels whom it is always lawful to seize, the question, to place it on other ground, could not be solved, however, in a sense in favor of the commander of the San Jacinto. There would be in such case misapprehension of the principle which makes a vessel a portion of the territory of the nation whose flag it bears and violation of that immunity {p.1118} which prohibits a foreign sovereign by consequence from the exercise of his jurisdiction. It certainly is not necessary to recall to mind with what energy under every circumstance the Government of the United States has maintained this immunity and the right of asylum which is the consequence of it.

Not wishing to enter upon a more deep discussion of the questions raised by the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, I have said enough. I think to settle the point that the Cabinet of Washington could not without striking a blow at the principles which all neutral nations are alike interested in holding in respect nor without taking the attitude of contradiction of its own course up to this time give its approbation to the proceedings of the commander of the San Jacinto. In this state of things it evidently should not according to our views hesitate about the determination to be taken.

Lord Lyons is already instructed to present the demand for satisfaction which the English cabinet is under the necessity of reducing to form and which consists in the immediate release of the persons taken from on board the Trent, and in sending explanations which may take from this act its offensive character toward the British flag. The Federal Government will be inspired by a just and exalted feeling in deferring to these requests. One would search in vain to what end, for what interest it would hazard to provoke by a different attitude a rupture with Great Britain.

For ourselves we should see in that fact a deplorable complication in every respect of the difficulties with which the Cabinet of Washington has already to struggle and a precedent of a nature seriously to disquiet all the powers which continue outside of the existing contest. We believe that we give evidence of loyal friendship for the Cabinet of Washington by not permitting it to remain in ignorance in this condition of things of our manner of regarding it. I request you therefore, sir, to seize the first occasion of opening yourself frankly to Mr. Seward and if he asks it send him a copy of this dispatch.

Receive, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

THOUVENEL.

–––

WASHINGTON, December 3, 1861. (Received 16th.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: ... The second session of the Thirty-seventh Congress of the United States began yesterday at noon. The business done in the Senate was of a merely formal character. In the House of Representatives several motions were made for the confiscation or emancipation of slaves whose masters are not loyal to the United States.

Resolutions requesting the President to confine Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell in felons’ cells* and treat them as prisoners convicted of infamous crimes were unanimously adopted with applause. Your lordship is aware that in retaliation for the treatment to which the crews of the captured Confederate privateers have been subjected President Davis has treated in the same manner an equal number of the prisoners of war who are in his hands.

A resolution was adopted tendering the thanks of Congress to Captain Wilkes for his brave, adroit and patriotic conduct in arresting {p.1119} and detaining Messrs. Mason and Slidell. The authentic account of the proceedings will not be published in time for me to transmit a copy to your lordship to-day.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

* See pp. 1113, 1115, for these resolutions

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 5, 1861.

Col. JUSTIN DIMICK, Fort Warren, Boston.

COLONEL: I have received your letters of the 30th ultimo and 2d instant relative to certain drafts of Messrs. Mason and Slidell on Europe.

In reply I have to inform you that as those gentlemen are confined on suspicion of treason against the Government of the United States it is deemed inexpedient to sanction any transfer of credits which they may have in Europe.

Mr. Eustis may be allowed to forward any letters previously submitted to your examination and which you may not disapprove.

I am, colonel, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

–––

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, December 6, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: The current of popular feeling is still running with resistless force throughout this Kingdom. The conflict of opinion heretofore existing with powers nearly equal in favor of and against the Government of the United States is now merged in an almost universal demand for satisfaction for the insult and injury thought to be endured by the action of Captain Wilkes.

The members of the Government as a whole are believed not to be desirous of pressing matters to a violent issue but they are powerless in the face of the opinion they have invited from the law officers of the Crown. In quick succession have been issued two proclamations forbidding the export of saltpeter and gunpowder and of arms and munitions of war. At the same time orders have been given to fit out at once a large number of war ships upon which great quantities of arms are placed, and officers and men are warned to hold themselves in readiness to embark on or after Christmas, being the time when the response to the dispatches sent out by the Europa on Monday last is expected to arrive. There can be not a shadow of a doubt that the passions of the country are up and that a collision is inevitable if the Government of the United States should before the news reaches the other side have assumed the position of Captain Wilkes in a manner to preclude the possibility of explanation.

Under such circumstances my situation is becoming very rapidly not merely one of little or no public use but also of some personal embarrassment. Even should this storm blow over without damage so completely has mutual confidence been destroyed by it that there is little prospect of a restoration of those relations upon which alone the intercommunication of governments can be made to yield beneficial results. Ministers and people now fully believe it is the intention of the Government to drive them into hostilities. The arrogance of past Administrations, with which the present has no sympathy, is yet made to rest on the latter as if that too were animated by the same spirit.

{p.1120}

Much of this state of opinion has its source in persons imbued with a settled malignity to America, but it ought in justice to be added that it is also entertained in qualified form by many of its best friends. Of the causes of this misinterpretation it would be of little moment now to inquire. Of the effect I have been fully sensible ever since the first day of my arrival. It has most unfortunately undermined that confidence in the good intentions of an Administration which I firmly believe to have been the most in harmony with the policy of Great Britain of any that has been in power for many years until instead of being friendly it is regarded as among the most hostile. So far as it has been within my power I have combatted this impression in every form where I could meet it but the result has been rather to give me credit for good intentions than to inspire conviction of the Government’s sincerity.

The end of it is that it seems really a matter of indifference whether I remain or not at this post. My present expectation is that by the middle of January at furthest diplomatic relations will have been sundered between the two countries without any act of mine. I am therefore endeavoring to complete all the ordinary business of the legation in advance of the moment when the proper instructions will arrive in regard to the final disposition of its affairs as well as to the course I am myself to pursue.

...

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

–––

[LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES,] Paris, December 6, 1861.

His Excellency WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, &c.

SIR: I felt it a duty to call on M. Thouvenel to-day in reference to the views and position of France as respects our unfortunate difficulty with England. I had understood that the French Government had expressed its views to Lord Cowley and thought therefore that it would have no objections to doing the same to me.

M. Thouvenel said at once that the taking of Messrs. Slidell and Mason off a British ship was the affair of England, not theirs, but he had no hesitation in saying that it was the opinion of the French Government that the act was a clear breach of international law; that the French Government could not permit the application of such a principle to their ships. He added that all the foreign maritime powers with which he had conferred agreed that the act was a violation of public law. He said furthermore that he had at once communicated these views to M. Mercier.

In view of what had been the past conduct of the British and French Governments in our affairs and their joint action in the affairs of other nations, I thought it best to ask bluntly whether in the event of a war with England we were to expect France to go beyond the expression of her opinion; whether she would or would not be a neutral power, he said of course it was not their affair; they would be spectators only, though not indifferent spectators; the moral force of their opinions would be against us.

I told him that had I known he had communicated his views through M. Mercier I should not have troubled him with this interview.

...

With much respect, I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

WM. L. DAYTON.

{p.1121}

–––

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] December 6, 1861.

[Lord LYONS, &c., Washington.]

MY LORD: Count Flahault read to me to-day a dispatch addressed to him by M. Thouvenel covering one from M. Thouvenel to M. Mercier.* In this letter M. Thouvenel reviews with great ability the question of the captures on board the Trent.

He begins by saying that the transaction appeared to be so much at variance with the ordinary rules of international law that the impression on the public opinion in France was that the commander of the San Jacinto could alone be responsible for it. If, however, the Cabinet of Washington should be disposed to approve the conduct of that officer it could do so only on one or other of the grounds of Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell being enemies or being rebels; and in either case it would depart greatly from those principles on which hitherto France and the United States have been agreed. As regards the former case, hat, namely, of the two gentlemen being considered enemies, the United States in their treaties with France had recognized that the freedom of the flag extended to all persons except military or naval officers actually in the service of the enemy found under it; and according to this principle Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell were free under the neutral flag of England. Neither could those gentlemen be deemed contraband of war; for although no general rule as to the contraband was universally admitted the character of persons liable to be considered as contraband was at all events clearly defined, and Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell did not bear that character.

Then again as regards the allegation that they were bearers of dispatches of the enemy the conduct of the U. S. cruiser was wholly unjustifiable. The Trent was not destined for a port of either of the belligerents; she was on her voyage to a neutral country with cargo and passengers which she had embarked in a neutral country; and if it were assumed that under such circumstances the neutral flag did not protect passengers and cargo the immunity of that flag would be an idle word, and restrictions wholly inadmissible according to the principles of modern times would thereby be imposed on the freedom of commerce and navigation. As regards the latter case, that, namely, of Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell being considered rebels, M. Thouvenel observes that neither in this case was the conduct of the commander of the San Jacinto justifiable for he will have disregarded the received principle that a vessel forms part of the territory of the State whose flag it bears and is therefore exempt from foreign jurisdiction.

Under these circumstances M. Thouvenel considers it impossible that the Cabinet of Washington should approve the conduct of the commander of the San Jacinto, and accordingly in his opinion it cannot hesitate as to the decision which it should adopt. It should acquiesce in the demands which Lord Lyons was instructed to make for the immediate liberation of the two gentlemen and for such explanation as may efface the offense done to the British flag. It is impossible to conceive what object or interest it could have in provoking by a different course a rupture with Great Britain. Such a rupture France would consider not only as lamentable with reference to the difficulties with which the Cabinet of Washington has already to contend but also as establishing a precedent calculated seriously to disquiet all powers who are standing aloof from the conflict now going on; and M. Thouvenel considers that

* See Thouvenel to Mercier, December 3, p. 1116. {p.1122} he is now furnishing a fresh proof of the friendship of France for the United States by not allowing the Cabinet of Washington to remain in ignorance of her sentiments on the present crisis.

Your lordship will perceive from this summary which I am enabled to give you of the instructions addressed by M. Thouvenel to M. Mercier that the French minister is directed to give the moral support of his Government to the representations and requirements which you are instructed to make.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

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WASHINGTON, December 9, 1861. (Received 23d.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy to Captain Wilkes dated the 30th of November,* which has been published in the newspapers. It is in substance the same as the paragraph on the subject of the seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell which occurs in the report from the same Secretary sent to Congress with the President’s message. It expresses emphatic approval of the proceeding, but says that the forbearance shown in not capturing the vessel must not be permitted to constitute a precedent.

I have, &c.,

LYONS..

* Omitted here. See Welles to Wilkes, November 30, 1861, p 1109.

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U. S. LEGATION, Stockholm, December 10, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that American affairs absorb all other questions and are the chief subject of discussion both in diplomatic and commercial circles. The arrest of the Southern commissioners created great excitement in this quiet city. Count Manderstrom, minister of foreign affairs, kindly sent me the telegram as received by him with a note expressing strong doubts of its truth The information we have received has come through an English medium. All are waiting to hear what action will be taken by the Cabinet at Washington. The arrest is generally condemned as a violation of the law of nations and considered a casus belli unless disavowed. The strong and decided articles in the French press denouncing the act of Captain Wilkes as illegal have influenced public opinion to a great extent.

The account of the flattering reception of Count Piper by the President and Secretary of State has been received with great satisfaction by this Government. The address of welcome by the President was published by the entire press in Sweden and Norway.

...

I remain, your obedient servant,

J. S. HALDEMAN.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, December 11, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... I presume the question involved in the case of the Trent will have been settled before this reaches you; but if it is not it may be {p.1123} as well to look up a case which has been mentioned to me here but which I have not the facilities to examine on this side of the water. It is that of Mr. Edward Wyer, bearer of dispatches to Mr. Adams at Saint Petersburg, believed to be in 1812, who was taken out of a Swedish vessel not far out of Boston by a British frigate. This fact could be easily verified by reference to the Boston newspapers of the period.

As not a single word has yet been communicated to me officially or otherwise respecting the views of the Government in regard to this most unfortunate affair I am placed in a predicament almost as awkward as if I had not been commissioned here at all. Indeed I perceive in some of the French newspapers that advantage has been taken of the fact to intimate that my conciliatory policy does not represent the true sentiments of the Government. Of course this absurd story makes no impression on me, but as everything that creates prejudice against the Government is greedily caught up here the effect is to impair the usefulness of any action I may take as its representative. I would therefore respectfully suggest the expediency of keeping me as early and as fully informed of the course of things, so far as it concerns the relations of the two Governments, at Washington as Lord Lyons does the Government here. The importance of this may be seen in the case of Mr. Bunch, when both Lord Palmerston and Earl Russell had a complete advantage over me in the knowledge of what had actually been done at home.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Paris, December 11, 1861.

His Excellency WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, &c.

SIR: I inclosed you by the dispatch bag yesterday a copy of The Constitutionnel* containing an article (marked) of a very obnoxious character. The article as you will observe if you have had time to look it over advocates the policy of France making common cause with England against us. It looks likewise to the early recognition by France and Great Britain of the South as an independent power. The Constitutionnel is understood here to have a semi-official character.

...

I have the honor to be, with much respect, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM L. DAYTON.

* Not found.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, December 12, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: The difficulty growing out of the case of the Trent continues the uppermost subject in all minds. Although many of the leading presses indulge in loud boasts of the extreme facility with which the matter will be disposed of by arms, the great fall in the price of stocks and the rise in the rates of insurance are significant indications of the uneasiness of public opinion that lies beneath. The deprecation of war is quite general among the religious classes and especially the Dissenters. The {p.1124} subject was adverted to more or less broadly in many of the pulpits in this city last Sunday and a general meeting of members of all denominations has been called for this day at Exeter Hall to give expression to the feeling.

In the meantime all the preparations for warfare are going on at the different depots and magazines with great energy. The impression is very fixed that it is the policy both of the Administration and of the people of the United States to make unreasonable demands of this country in order to test the extent of its forbearance. As a consequence it is considered absolutely necessary by a vigorous demonstration to inspire a conviction among us that it will not be trifled with. I very much regret that this prejudice exists even among our best friends, for it leads to misconstruction of every act even the most trifling which is susceptible of a doubt, but such is the undeniable fact.

The answer from the United States to the messenger sent on the 2d instant is expected on or about the 1st of next month and much speculation is indulged in as to the policy that will be adopted in case it should be unfavorable. Some think it will be a declaration of war. The better opinion is that it will be a recognition of the Confederates and a refusal further to abide by the blockade as ineffective. This would without doubt be the most decisive course to bring around what an influential party in Great Britain have always looked to as the great end to be attained, a permanent disruption of the Union. It would also throw upon the United States the necessity of taking the initiative in a declaration of war.

The period is now so near when the result will be known to the world that I deem it superfluous to speculate on probabilities any further. I am making my own arrangements upon the expectation that my mission will in any event come to an end in a few weeks should no special instructions be received in regard to my future action. I have not yet determined whether to return home at once or to retire to the Continent for a few weeks until the opening of a more favorable season for the voyage with my family. I should feel it a duty to obey the wishes of the President in this respect if any particular course should be pointed out as the most likely to be for the public service. If on time other hand nothing should be said I shall infer that the matter is left to my judgment.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

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WASHINGTON, December 13, 1861. (Received 26th.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: ... It is asserted in the report from Captain Wilkes that Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell “had been presented to the captain-general of Cuba by Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general.” The same assertion had appeared previously in most of the American newspapers.

Having received yesterday a dispatch from Mr. Crawford, the consul-general, directly contradicting it I thought it desirable to inform the Government of the United States officially that it was erroneous. I accordingly addressed a note to Mr. Seward of which and of the dispatch from Mr. Crawford upon which it was founded I do myself the honor to inclose copies.

I have also the honor to inclose a copy of a note which I have just received from Mr. Seward in which he thanks me for contradicting the {p.1125} assertion concerning Mr. Crawford and states that my promptness in doing so is a new and gratifying proof of my desire for the preservation of harmonious relations between the British and American Governments.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

WASHINGTON, December 12, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c.

SIR: A letter has been published in the newspapers which purports to have been addressed on the 16th of November last by Captain Wilkes, of the U. S. steamer San Jacinto, to the Secretary of the Navy. It contains the following statement: “They (Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell) have been presented to the captain-general of Cuba by Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general.” The writer of the letter appears to have been misinformed. I am able to contradict the statement on the authority of Mr. Crawford, the consul-general, himself. In a dispatch which I have received from him to-day he declares officially with references to assertions to the same effect made in American newspapers that he neither presented nor accompanied Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell to the captain-general.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

[Sub-inclosure.]

HAVANA, December 2, 1861.

[Lord LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: I have seen in the American papers a statement which as published by a press so infamous as that of the United States has become I consider wholly unworthy of my notice, but under present circumstances, as much importance appears to attach to the false information that has been given respecting me in connection with Messrs. Slidell and Mason, I think it necessary to state to your lordship that I neither presented nor accompanied those gentlemen to the captain-general in uniform or otherwise.

Mr. Slidell is an acquaintance of mine since 1825, and Mr. Mason’s brother was my very intimate friend when he was secretary to the U. S. legation in Mexico under Mr. Poinsett long ago. I certainly did myself the pleasure of calling on those gentlemen as strangers and showed them such civilities as were in my power, but I never thought of rendering them any official services. I presume they were fully aware that had they needed any such assistance I could not have given it and none was ever applied for.

I have, &c.,

JOS. T. CRAWFORD.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 13, 1861.

Right Hon. Lord LYONS, &c.

MY LORD: I thank your lordship for your note of the 12th instant contradicting on the authority of Mr. Crawford, Her Britannic Majesty’s consul-general at Havana, the report that that gentleman had presented Messrs. Mason and Slidell to his excellency the captain-general of Cuba. This prompt proceeding on your part to remove what might have been a subject of discontent on the part of this Government with {p.1126} your own is a new and gratifying proof of your lordship’s desire for the preservation of harmonious relations between the Government of Her Britannic Majesty and that of the United States.

I avail myself of this occasion to say that although I have received from our consulate at Havana some complaints founded on reports of conduct on the part of Mr. Crawford unjust toward the United States I have refrained from entertaining them in the absence of some authentic and reliable evidence. I have, &c.,

W. H. SEWARD.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Berlin, December 14, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... The principal topic of discussion at this time among the diplomats and others is the pending difficulty between the United States and Great Britain growing out of the seizure of Mason and Slidell and what will be its result.

I have had conversation upon that subject with a majority of the representatives of other governments residing at this capital and have found no one who does not appreciate the serious consequences to the commerce and business of the world that would occur in case of a war between the United States and England and who does not deprecate such a result, some of them on account of the present condition of the United States and others from a selfish motive connected with the mercantile and commercial interests of their respective countries.

The newspapers are filled with rumors and speculations as to the action of England, among them one as follows: That England has made two propositions to the parties to the Paris conference about American matters-first, that the blockade should be declared ineffectual and therefore raised; and second, that those powers should acknowledge the independence of the Confederate States; and it was further asserted that all the powers had assented to the first proposition, Russia with a declaration that it was not to be construed into a disposition to war with the United States.

I had an interview by appointment yesterday with Count Bernstorff, minister of foreign affairs. ... He expressed regret at the threatened difficulties with England and hoped war might be avoided. I then said to him, “Why don’t your Government keep the peace?” To which he replied by asking if the Government of the United States would not object to their interference. I told him that the friendly relations that had always existed between the Governments of the United States and Prussia would authorize any friendly act of that kind; that I had no advice or instruction from my Government upon the subject and that I was only expressing my own feelings.

I stated further that unless England had some ulterior object for war and only made the Trent affair a pretext there was no necessity for the hasty action that was threatened; that the honor of England was safe while she was listening to the voices of the powers that were represented at the treaty of Paris. He said that he did not think there was any ulterior motive, and when I expressed to him my views of the legality of the act when considered in the light of the British construction of international law he replied that there was sufficient ground for argument upon either side to cause the parties to hesitate before becoming involved in a war for that cause.

{p.1127}

My conversation with him was very satisfactory and there is no doubt of the friendly feelings of the Prussian Government toward the Government of the United States and its desire that the rebellion should be subdued.

...

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

N. B. JUDD.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 16, 1861.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c.

SIR: In connection with the case of Messrs. Mason and Slidell the Department has recently been engaged in examining that of M. Fauchet, a minister from France during Washington’s Administration, who while on his way to embark at Newport, R. I., on his return home probably escaped seizure by the commander of the British ship Africa near that port in consequence of the packet Peggy, in which he was proceeding from New York to Newport, being compelled by stress of weather to put into Stonington, Conn. Here M. Fauchet received intimation of the intention of the commander of the Africa which induced him to proceed to Newport by land and across the ferries. When the weather moderated the Peggy continued on her course and when she approached the Africa she was boarded from that vessel, the trunks of the passengers were searched and disappointment shown at the absence of M. Fauchet.

This act having been committed within the maritime jurisdiction of the United States and the British vice-consul at Newport having been implicated in it his exequatur was formally revoked by President Washington and explanations demanded of the British Government, first through their minister here and then through Mr. John Quincy Adams, acting chargé d’affaires at London. The correspondence which took place here on our records and files seems to be complete, with the exception of a note from Mr. Bond, acting British chargé d’affaires, to Mr. Pickering of the 17th of August, 1795. As it is desirable to obtain a copy of that note application has been made for one to the British legation here, but the answer is that they have no record or draft of it. A copy was undoubtedly sent to the foreign office at the time. I will consequently thank you to endeavor to obtain one there for the use of this Department.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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No. 3 RIVER TERRACE, Hoboken, N. J., December 16, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

DEAR SIR: As the representative under the Constitution of the President of the United States in conducting our foreign relations I address you on a question of the greatest import to our country growing out of the recent news from England as regards the arrest of the rebel ambassadors.

That we had a perfect right under the law of nations to seize the British mail steamer Trent carrying the hostile ambassadors and dispatches and bring her in as a prize for condemnation by our courts I have never doubted. That the right to capture the vessel involved the subordinate privilege of seizing the rebel ministers seems to me an inevitable sequence {p.1128} although it would have been more regular to have brought in the Trent as a prize for judicial condemnation. This mere formal question the cabinet of England have seized on as a pretext for involving us in a war with them in the midst of the present rebellion.

They wish to force the export to them of our cotton; they wish permanently to divide our Union they wish to annihilate our commercial and maritime supremacy and suppress the example of the success of our free institutions, so fatal to the permanency of the monarchy and aristocracy of England. In the midst of the present gigantic rebellion they have like dastards seized upon this as their opportunity for our destruction.

The question is what should we do under existing circumstances? I assume it as a fact that all who during the present crisis would precipitate us unnecessarily into a war with England are at heart allies of the Southern rebellion and traitors. With such a war with England at this period the Union by possibility may be dissolved and the separate Confederate Government of the South established. This is exactly what the rebels desire, and they are no doubt exulting now in the hope that we will be speedily involved in a war with England. They hope thus to be recognized as a nation by foreign powers, to establish free trade with them, whilst driving our own vessels and manufactures from their ports, and finally they expect to supply Europe with cotton whilst withholding it from American factories and subjecting us substantially to the dictation of the South and of their English allies. They contemplate our ruin and humiliation. Indeed the severance and downfall of this Union would not only consummate our disgrace and destruction but would seal for centuries the fate of liberty throughout the world.

These being the possible consequences of a war at present with England the question is can it be honorably avoided? If nothing will satisfy England but an apology and the delivery to her of the rebel ministers the war cannot be avoided, and we must meet it as best we may with the whole power of the nation. But if such a contest at this time can be avoided with honor our duty to the Union, to our country, to the cause of liberty and mankind demands that we should not precipitate the conflict.

The papers say that France has offered her mediation. If so, and it is confined to the single question of our right to seize and hold the rebel ministers unconnected with any interference between us and the Southern rebellion, it ought to be accepted although I would greatly prefer Russia as a mediator. If no such mediation has been offered and the demands of England are not insulting to our national honor we might suggest the submission of the single question of international law involved in this case to Russia and France-with a right in case of difference of opinion to select an umpire-or to either of these nations. Of course we ought to prefer Russia as the constant and uniform friend of this country. But France was our great and potent ally against England in the war of the Revolution, and she has never been our enemy. I think France is more jealous of England than of the United States, and that the memory of Cressy, Agincourt and Waterloo and of the battles of centuries on the ocean and land between France and England is still fraught with bitter recollections and inextinguishable popular hatred. The alliance of France and England against Russia was a necessity, and even in that contest France sought every opportunity to humiliate her ally, to tarnish her prestige and exalt her own military glory.

I speak not only from history but from my personal experience in Europe when I say that the people of France are not the cordial friends {p.1129} of the people of England, and that in this respect Louis Napoleon represents the people of France. I do not fear for the decision of the Emperor Napoleon on this question of international law. But suppose the legal question should be decided by France against us. Such a decision would be fraught with consequences of no permanent injury to our country.

In the wars of Europe, which are the great wars of the world, we have been heretofore and must most probably hereafter be neutrals only, and whatever decision enlarges the rights and privileges of neutrals must necessarily be permanently advantageous to our country. There is no humiliation in submitting this question of international law to the arbitrament of Russia and France or either of those powers. It is just such a question as properly can be submitted to such an umpirage, and especially in this case where by our own act by failing to bring in the vessel as a prize we have ourselves intercepted and prevented a judicial decision.

This Southern rebellion must be crushed or our country may be forever ruined; and those who unnecessarily wheel England into an alliance with the Southern rebellion are disunionists and traitors. In vain may they seize the present moment to escape the terrible responsibility by raising the war cry against England. If as the consequence the Southern Confederacy aided by the English alliance should establish their Government on the ruins of the Union and of our country, the statesmen who for want of firmness and courage shall have subjected us to such a calamity will meet the execrations of the American people and of the friends of liberty throughout the world and will join the wretched caravan of infamy of which Buchanan is at present the only leader. Having doomed our country to destruction they will meet whilst living the curses of a ruined people and history and posterity will doom them to eternal disgrace.

I am quite sure that the President and yourself and every member of the Cabinet are stimulated by the sole desire to suppress this rebellion and restore the Union, and therefore I cannot doubt that you will manfully and courageously resist any possible temporary popular clamor and redeem the country from the terrible dangers with which we are now environed. Rest assured that when a few weeks or months have passed away and reason, not even now dethroned, shall have fully resumed her empire the popular clamor will be infinitely more intense and universal against those who would destroy the Union by involving us at this time unnecessarily in war with England.

If we should propose that France or Russia should decide this question of international law England will not dare to reject the umpirage; for to do so would be most seriously to offend those countries, to subject herself to the reprobation of the whole civilized world, to overthrow her cabinet and perhaps her Government. Settle thus this question mind the last hope of the Southern rebellion is extinguished, and we can then adopt such policy as regards all the forfeited property and rights of rebels (including slaves) as will be best calculated to bring the war to a speedy and successful conclusion.

You may read this letter to the President and Cabinet or publish it when you think proper, although I think its immediate publication would be unwise. The fact that the fate of our country may now be trembling in the balance must constitute my excuse for occupying now any portion of your valuable time.

With great regard, your obedient servant,

R. J. WALKER.

{p.1130}

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DETROIT, December 18, 1861.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State:

Why not consider the English construction of the law of nations as a proposition for our acceptance and accept it, and thus terminate the Mason and Slidell controversy by discharging them?

I do not know precisely their construction but it undoubtedly increases the immunity of neutrals and diminishes the powers of belligerents, and whatever does that is of more advantage to us than to England because war is an exceptional state with us and a common one with her. We preserve our honor and promote our interests by this procedure. The power to arrest rebel agents on board neutrals is of very little practical importance to us.

For the views of this Government as to the dangers of belligerent pretensions see a letter from Department of State to Mr. Mason, minister at France, dated June 27, 1859.

LEWIS CASS.

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NEW YORK, December 18, 1861.

Hon. W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State:

General Jackson endeared himself to the American people by being determined and fearless upon all great national questions, but he had not in his day 3,000,000 men ready to take the field as this Government has at the time you are Secretary of State. I really hope you will accommodate England to her heart’s content. My impression is this Government has not power enough to surrender Slidell and Mason. I hope you will not consider this treason enough to send me to Fort Warren.

Yours, &c.

RICHARD SCHELL.

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NEW YORK, December 18, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

DEAR SIR: As every authentic proof of the state of public Opinion in Great Britain may have some weight and be of some service to you in managing the delicate and momentous negotiations now pending with the English Government I beg to send a copy of a letter recently received from my nephew, Mr. James Lorimer Graham, jr., a gentleman of character and intelligence who has access to a wide circle of the best people in Scotland. Of the accuracy of his observations and the truth of his statements you may be fully assured.

Allow me to hope that this sudden fever of apprehension may be soon followed by peace and confidence and the Government left once more to the great task of crushing this unnatural rebellion.

I am, dear sir, with high regard, your obedient servant,

JAMES LORIMER GRAHAM.

[Inclosure.]

EDINBURGH, November 29, 1861.

JAMES LORIMER GRAHAM, Esq., 108 Broadway, New York.

MY DEAR UNCLE: Yours of the 10th and 12th of November have been duly received together with the copy of the paper announcing your patriotic subscription to the national loan.

{p.1131}

Since my last there has been considerable excitement here in regard to the burning of the Harvey Birch by a Confederate steamer, and the matter afforded materials for a warm discussion. But the excitement consequent upon the insult to the British flag by the U. S. frigate San Jacinto has entirely monopolized the public mind. I have never seen so intense a feeling of indignation exhibited in my life. It pervades all classes and may make itself heard above the wiser theories of the cabinet-officers. The press have generally discussed the matter with some show of calmness. The Morning Post of London (the organ of Palmerston) goes over the ground with dignified moderation and closes its article as follows:

The insult therefore in any case was most gratuitous, and if as we think unwarranted by the code of nations it will not only be deeply felt but deeply resented.

I inclose some extracts from the London journals and also a leader from The Morning Courant of Edinburgh.* I wish you to read these articles carefully or get Robert to read them to you, for I need not disguise the fact that I am seriously apprehensive of the result of the present complication. It is said that Great Britain will send out the Warrior and demand the return of Mason and Slidell to the British flag from under which they were taken, and if they are not restored war will be declared. Now I hope time American people will not allow themselves to be deluded with the idea that Great Britain dares not go to war. I know that that feeling finds daily expression in New York but notice the leader of the Courant:

Formerly a war with America meant deprivation of cotton; now it means immediate access to a supply of cotton. Formerly Britain could hardly muster a squadron; she could now send one across the Atlantic which in a few weeks would sweep the seaboard of the States as clean as a model housewife’s door.

All this is no doubt very true, and when we reflect that she could land forces in Canada and in the Southern States as well as she could blockade our ports, I think it is suitable that we should think twice before we throw down the gauntlet. I hope myself that the excitement which is now heard throughout the land will subside. I say heard-Doctor Simpson who was in this morning said, “Have you heard the British lion? He is roaring from the Highlands to the Land’s End.” The doctor thinks we will have war; I think not, although I am satisfied that with a good excuse for it in the eyes of the world the British people are quite prepared to take up arms against us. ...

JAMES LORIMER GRAHAM, JR.

* Newspaper extracts not found.

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DETROIT, December 19, 1861.

Hon. W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

DEAR SIR: Our telegraphic information yesterday led to the conclusion that the British demands arising out of the Mason and Slidell affair would reach you last evening and I therefore took the liberty of communicating with you by telegraph* some suggestions that had occurred to me, presuming they would reach you this morning during the Cabinet deliberations. You must find in my anxiety to avoid a war with England my reason for the liberty I have taken upon this occasion and I trust also an excuse for it.

{p.1132}

It seems to me that such a war, independent of any other consequences, would go far to prevent the restoration of the rebel States to the authority of the Constitution, a restoration-so anxiously desired by every true citizen. My object in troubling you is to explain the motive of my telegraphic communication. I thought the suggestions were worth consideration, offering as they appeared to me to do an honorable means of terminating all difficulty with England as to the capture of Slidell and Mason.

Though I think it was justifiable upon grounds laid down and acted upon by England, yet I considered it a most useless and unfortunate affair-an affair which from its evident importance should never have been undertaken by Captain Wilkes without express orders from his Government, and his interference is the more inexcusable as he states in his report that in his search into the authorities upon the law of nations he could find no such case decided and was brought to consider the rebel commissioners as the “embodiment of dispatches”-I think is his phrase-in order to justify the arrest; a strange reason to be officially given for such a procedure. And what has amazed me more than anything else in this whole affair are the laudations bestowed upon Captain Wilkes for his courage in taking three or four unarmed men out of an unarmed vessel. No doubt the indignation justly felt against Slidell and Mason for their treasonable conduct has produced a decided effect upon the public mind in the views that have been expressed.

As to any injury which these rebel agents could do us in Europe it is all nonsense. The question of recognition will be decided by the governments there on views of their own interests and not from any representations which such men or any men indeed could make. They would have been perfectly harmless in Europe, but have been exalted into importance by this unlucky accident. So far as depends upon the political communication of the rebel States with Europe they can send just as many agents there as they please.

But the principle of capture is of very little political importance to us as is manifest on the slightest consideration.

Wishing you all success in the difficult circumstances in which the country is placed, I am, dear sir, truly, yours,

LEWIS CASS.

* See p. 1130 for Cass to Seward, December 18.

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OFFICE OF THE SUPT. METROPOLITAN POLICE, New York, December 19, 1861. (Received 20th.)

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

SIR: I have just this moment received a letter from a friend residing at Halifax, Nova Scotia, dated 11th or 15th instant, and which was written in the warehouse at the dock while the steamer was lying there on her way to Boston. He says:

I happened to be within hearing of the commander-in-chief (here) when he received his dispatches telegraphed to him from London to Queenstown. He told his officers that Lord Lyons was instructed to demand of President Lincoln the release of Mason and Slidell and to deliver them within six weeks on board a British ship in Boston Harbor in the presence of thirty British and thirty U. S. Navy officers.

If this is true you of course knew it before to-day, but I think it proper to communicate it even if the commander-in-chief alluded to was giving vent to his wishes instead of his instructions. My authority is entirely reliable.

...

{p.1133}

Allow me for the first time to say one word in the way of counsel Our discreet friends here expect the Government to hold on to Mason and Slidell or to refer the question to the French Emperor. If the British Government decline that reference it will not fail to offend France, and whatever decision France makes in such a case will be international law hereafter. Excuse me for making bold to say this much.

Very truly, yours,

JOHN A. KENNEDY, Superintendent.

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FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] December 19, 1861.

Lord LYONS, K. C. B., &c., [Washington.]

MY LORD: Mr. Adams came to me to-day at the foreign office at 3 o’clock. He said he came to ask two questions which concerned himself personally. I interrupted him to ask whether what he was going to say was by order of his Government or from his own sense of what he ought to do. Mr. Adams answered that the proceeding was entirely his own but that he had with him a dispatch from Mr. Seward* which he was authorized to read to me if he should think fit to do so. It appeared he said from that dispatch that the Government of Washington had not authorized the capture of the two insurgents, Mason and Slidell, and that the United States Government stood quite uncommitted at the time of sending the dispatch. I said that if the dispatch did not enter into any controversy with regard to the case of Messrs. Mason and Slidell I should be glad to hear it read. Mr. Adams then proceeded to read the dispatch.

It commenced by referring with approbation to a speech made by Mr. Adams at the Mansion House, and proceeded to notice with gratification the sentiments which had been expressed by Lord Palmerston in a conversation he had held with Mr. Adams in reference to the James Adger. Mr. Seward then proceeds to declare that the American Government value highly the friendship of Great Britain, and lament that certain causes of difference have arisen, owing as Mr. Seward imagines to the want of attention on the part of the British Government to the performance of the duties incumbent on a friendly power during the struggle in which the United States are engaged. Mr. Seward gives as instances the case of communication to the Confederate authorities by Mr. Bunch; the admission of the Sumter, privateer, to purchase coal and provisions at Trinidad in contradistinction as he said to the conduct that [sic] every European State, and the arrival in the Southern States of vessels laden with arms and ammunition from England.

Mr. Seward then proceeds to the case of the Trent, from which ship the two insurgents had been taken. He affirms that no instructions were given to Captain Wilkes which authorized him to act in the manner he had done. Neither had the United States Government committed itself with regard to any decision upon the character of that act. The Government would wait for any representation the British Government might make before coming to any positive decision. He desires that if Mr. Adams shall think it desirable this dispatch shall be read to me and also to Lord Palmerston.

In answer to Mr. Adams I touched upon most of the points treated of in the dispatch. I did not think it necessary, however, to recur to the case of Mr. Bunch. With regard to the Confederate privateer I {p.1134} said that I could not see that our conduct had been different from that of France and Holland or of Spain. The Sumter had been refused coal from the Government stores at Trinidad, but had been allowed to get coal and provisions from private merchants. The same thing had taken place at Martinique and at Curaçoa. I did not find that the rule of twenty-four hours had been observed in practice, but there would be little difficulty in coming to an agreement on this point.

In regard to the export of arms and ammunition to the Confederate States I had lately read the opinion of the attorney-general and believed it was in entire conformity with the provision of the foreign enlistment act: warlike equipment of the vessel was prohibited; the loading of a vessel with arms and ammunition was not prohibited. But in point of fact a much greater amount of arms and ammunition had been sent to the Federal States where there was no obstacle to the export or the import than to the ports of the Confederate States which were blockaded. Mr. Adams admitted this to be the fact, and said he had refrained from pressing a more rigorous compliance with the foreign enlistment act for this reason.

I then stated to Mr. Adams the substance of the two dispatches I had written to Lord Lyons on the subject of the Trent. I told him that in a private letter I had directed Lord Lyons to talk the matter over with Mr. Seward two days before reading to him the dispatch.

Mr. Adams asked whether the direction to Lord Lyons to leave Washington in seven days was in the dispatch to be read. I said it was not, and that in case Mr. Seward should ask what would be the consequence of a refusal on his part to comply with our conditions Lord Lyons was to decline to answer that question in order not to have the appearance of a threat.

I said that I thought the explanation that the Government had not authorized the seizure would stand in the place of an apology. But the essential condition was that Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell should be given up to Lord Lyons.

Mr. Adams said that if the matter was stated to Mr. Seward in the manner I had explained he hoped for an amicable termination of the difference; he thought that if the Government of the United States insisted on maintaining the act of Captain Wilkes the United States would be abandoning their doctrine and adopting ours.

Mr. Adams asked me further questions which he said I might decline to answer-it was whether if Lord Lyons came away a declaration of war would be the immediate consequence. I told him nothing was decided on that point; we should wait for the reply from America and then decide upon our course.

I stated to Mr. Adams the substance of M. Thouvenel’s dispatch to M. Mercier as I had heard it from M. de Flahault. Mr. Adams said that the French Government had always been very consistent in their maintenance of the rights of neutrals. He added that he could not pay our Government the same compliment. I said I would dispense with compliments if this matter could be amicably arranged.

We parted on very friendly terms.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

* Seward to Adams, November 30, p. 1108.

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WASHINGTON, December 19, 1861. (Received January 1, 1862.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: The messenger Seymour delivered to me at 11.30 last night your lordship’s dispatch of the 30th ultimo specifying the reparation {p.1135} required by Her Majesty’s Government for the seizure of Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their secretaries on board the royal mail steamer Trent.

I waited on Mr. Seward this afternoon at the State Department and acquainted him in general terms with the tenor of that dispatch. I stated in particular-as nearly as possible in your lordship’s words-that the only redress which could satisfy Her Majesty’s Government and Her Majesty’s people would be the immediate delivery of the prisoners to me in order that they might again be placed under British protection, and moreover a suitable apology for the aggression which had been committed. I added that Her Majesty’s Government hoped that the Government of the United States would of its own accord offer this reparation; that it was in order to facilitate such an arrangement that I had come to him without any written demand or even any written paper at all in my hand; that if there was a prospect of attaining this object I was willing to be guided by him as to the conduct on my part which would render its attainment most easy.

Mr. Seward received my communication seriously and with dignity but without any manifestation of dissatisfaction. Some further conversation ensued in consequence of questions put by him with a view to ascertain time exact character of the dispatch. At the conclusion he asked me to give him to-morrow to consider the question and to communicate with the President. On the day after he should he said be ready to express an opinion with respect to the communication I had made. In the meantime he begged me to be assured that he was very sensible of the friendly and conciliatory manner in which I had made it.

I have, &c.

LYONS.

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NEW YORK, December 19, 1861.

Dr. J. S. DASHIELL, Washington.

MY DEAR SIR: I wish I had time, as I have not, to write you a letter. But in lieu thereof I send you the accompanying slip cut from The London Times of the 30th of November. Being in the form of a communication it will be apt to escape the attention of Mr. Seward should he see the paper at all. I think he will be glad to see it and I therefore send it to you to be given to him or not as you may think best. The writing at the head of the article gives it an importance in my eyes which it would not possess otherwise, the memorandum being made by the gentleman who sends me the paper, who with me is very high authority for every opinion he expresses. He is connected with the English press and knows everybody and everything.

Yours, faithfully,

D. H. ADLEY.

[Inclosure.]

This is important as to substance and authorship.

TEMPLE, November 29, [1861].

EDITOR OF THE TIMES.

SIR: When so momentous a question as that of a war between England and the Northern States of America is in the balance I think you will be disposed to give publicity indifferently to every view in which the matter can possibly present itself. I venture therefore to request permission to offer a few observations on the critical question of the extent of the reparation which the English Government are entitled to demand at the hands of the Washington Cabinet.

{p.1136}

That the American cruiser was guilty of an irregularity and in point of form of an illegal act in carrying off the Southern commissioners without a judicial sentence on the Trent must now be admitted even by those who are disposed to take the least inflammatory view of the subject. The practice of allowing the belligerent cruiser to constitute himself a judge in the matter is clearly so improper and inconvenient that it is impossible to permit such an act to pass into a precedent unquestioned.

On the other hand it does seem to me that the extent of the reparation we should demand depends in a great measure on the question whether the injury we have sustained was one of form only or of substance. Now whether the injury was one of form or of substance depends on the second question, whether if the American cruiser had acted in a regular manner, i.e., had carried the Trent into an American port in order to bring her before a prize court, there were not material on which to found a judicial condemnation? If the case is not so clearly in our favor that a decision in the American court condemning the vessel would have been liable to be questioned by us as manifestly contrary to the law of nations then the irregularity of the American captain in allowing the Trent to proceed to Southampton clearly redounded to the advantage of the British owners and the British passengers. Could we in such a case find a ground of international quarrel in an error of procedure which in effect told in our own favor?

Now were there not material from which the American prize court might and most probably would have arrived at such a condemnation? On a doubtful point, which at the least it must be admitted to be, the American decision would probably have been in their own favor. The prize court is judge not only of law but of the facts from which inferences are to be drawn. It might have fairly taken the confessions of Mr. Slidell and his friends that they were Southern commissioners coupled with the occupation in which it is notorious that the other Southern commissioners now in Europe are engaged as a sufficient proof of the hostile character of their mission. If the court had come to such a decision could the English Government have disputed their judgment as one in gross violation of law and justice? If not it would have been binding on us and the Trent would have been condemned as a lawful prize.

A distinction has been drawn between the dispatch and the messenger who carries the dispatch which seems to me wholly unsustainable. If a belligerent has power to seize the dispatch he must have the power to detain the messenger. For the messenger, who probably knows the message by heart, is neither more nor less than a living dispatch. Now I do not put forward these considerations as suggesting that we have sustained no injury at the hands of the Americans nor for the purpose of questioning our right to demand reparation. But I confess that it strikes me very strongly that the quality of the injury materially affects the nature of the amends which we are entitled to require if the Trent would probably have been legally condemned in case a regular course had been pursued by the captain of the San Jacinto, in form it is true she sustained an injury but in substance it is certain she had a fortunate escape.

The conclusion therefore at which I arrive is this: what we are entitled beyond all question to demand is an apology for the illegal and irregular proceeding on the part of the San Jacinto, which cannot be sustained on any possible view of the law of nations, and an undertaking from the American Government that the offense shall not be {p.1137} repeated. But unless it is perfectly demonstrable that if the captain of the San Jacinto had carried the Trent into New York she could not legally have been condemned I cannot think that we are entitled to push our demand to the extreme point of requiring the restitution of the commissioners. Such a demand would almost certainly be repelled.

And England before she can appeal to the arbitrament of arms must have a quarrel good not only in form but in substance.

JUSTITIA.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, December 20, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to transmit copies of the official notes that have passed between Lord Russell and myself on the event of decease of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort.

...

The public mind is in a feverish state, vaguely anticipating complications both in America and Europe which may ultimately involve calamity and disaster. Above all it is felt rather than uttered that there is no really wise head now in England to guide in case of a storm.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

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BOSTON, December 20, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD:

The suggestions contained in the inclosed articles, one of which is by Hon. George T. Curtis and the other by Hon. Charles B. Goodrich, both prominent members of the Boston bar, may be of some little value.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

WEST ROXBURY, December 18, 1861.

EDITOR OF THE BOSTON JOURNAL:

Being a constant reader of your paper my attention was attracted yesterday by the following statement in your editorial columns:

It is curious to observe that nearly all of our jurists who have written upon the Mason and Slidell case passed over as entirely indefensible the position which the British Government is said to have finally assumed, viz, that the Trent ought to have been searched and carried in for judicial condemnation.

It may be of little importance, but will you permit me to state that before the English view was or could be known here Mr. G. S. Hilliard printed a communication in The Boston Courier and the writer of this letter printed another in which the omission to bring the Trent in for adjudication was pointed out as a great irregularity likely to lead to serious consequences. I ask your indulgence then while I endeavor to show to my fellow-citizens that this is not a mere matter of form but that it is a matter of very serious and important substance.

Every maritime nation has as part of its judicial system what is called a prize court, the special function of which is to adjudicate on the lawfulness of ail seizures made at sea by the cruisers of that nation when it is at war These courts are not only bound to administer the law of nations in cases involving the conflicting rights of different nations, but {p.1138} their adjudications in cases of capture are binding upon all parties interested unless they are tainted with fraud or gross mistake. Being thus interposed between the nation making a seizure and the nation aggrieved by that seizure, and proceeding always upon solemn truth and argument of the matter in controversy, their functions are essential to the preservation of peace. Accordingly it has always been a law of the world since maritime warfare has been governed by settled principles that every cruiser making a seizure whether of things belonging to an enemy or a neutral and whether on board of an enemy or a neutral vessel shall bring that vessel in and subject the lawfulness of the seizure to adjudication in a prize court. There is one excuse only that can be set up in justification of a failure to make an effort to bring in the vessel and that occurs when the captors have not sufficient force to put a proper prize crew on board the prize, for they have no authority to compel the crew of the prize to navigate for themselves.

In the case of the Trent this rule has not been complied with. By the act of our own officer we are without the means of showing the lawfulness of the seizure in the only mode known to the law of nations. If we had any cause for intercepting and seizing Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell on board of a neutral vessel going from a neutral port to a neutral port it must have been because they were either enemies, ambassadors or fugitive traitors. Suppose they were both; the lawfulness of seizing them from a neutral vessel is the matter in dispute and we can justify it only because the public law gives us a right to do it. But we cannot take the benefit of one part of that law which we say gives us the right to make the capture and reject the other part which prescribes the mode of making the capture and the mode of establishing its lawfulness when made.

When therefore England says that she cannot consent to have the proper function of a prize court set aside by the seizure of a person or thing from one of her vessels, followed by no adjudication, she says a thing of the utmost importance to every maritime nation in the world. This is her real case, her whole case; and it is one which will place all Europe on her side if she presents it in the attitude properly belonging to it. If she says to the President, “I cannot discuss with you the lawfulness of this seizure for you cannot adjudicate it; and as there is now no possibility of a judicial determination, restitution of the men can alone repair the wrong of which I complain,” what answer shall we make or compel the President to make? Not I trust to give Lord Lyons his passports, but rather to see if there is a reason sufficient in the eye of the law for having placed ourselves in a position where we cannot give to England what she has a clear right to demand-the judgment of the judicial tribunal on the lawfulness of the seizure.

So far as the case is at present understood there is but one valid reason suggested for not having brought in the Trent. If it can be shown that Captain Wilkes was unable to bring her in for want of a sufficient prize crew England may well be asked to admit that excuse. But the tenderness of Captain Wilkes toward the remaining passengers or toward Her Majesty’s mails although fairly enough to be urged as grounds of consideration by the English Government seems to me not to be a legal excuse for the absence of a regular adjudication of the lawfulness of the seizure.

Our countrymen have not so little intelligence or so much false pride as not to be able or willing to see that a principle important to the peace of the world is involved in this case. Let me repeat that the {p.1139} right to have an adjudication of the lawfulness of every capture is indispensable to the safety and honor of all nations. Without it peace cannot be long maintained with neutral powers. Let us not then try to compel our Government to do the impossible. It is clear that they cannot determine between themselves and England the lawfulness of this capture. If we can show a valid excuse for the absence of an adjudication or can now make a voluntary tribunal by accepting or proposing an arbitrator our interest and honor and good name will all be saved.

G. T. C.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

EDITOR OF THE BOSTON COURIER:

There is no room to doubt that the San Jacinto had a right to search the Trent. The refusal of its master to exhibit its passenger list wins improper and would have been of considerable weight to say the least upon the question of condemnation if the Trent had been brought into port for condemnation. The English theory now is that Mason and Slidell were American citizens travelling for private purposes in no way connected with any hostile enterprise adverse to the United States; that the search of the ship failed to disclose any cause of seizure and therefore the commander of the San Jacinto had no authority to take Mason and Slidell from an English vessel.

Assume this to be a correct statement, which cannot be conceded, the course of Commander Wilkes is not without precedent. The Romeo, Cowan master, on the 29th of October, 1806, was before time admiralty court of Great Britain as a case of prize (6 Robinson’s Reports, 351). In the course of the hearing a letter applicable to the Romeo was produced and received in evidence which was not found on board the Romeo.

This letter was taken out of an American vessel, the Mary, by Lieutenant Rigby of His Majesty’s gun-boat Urgent who had stopped the Mary and had examined her papers and finding a letter which purported to disclose the real state of a transaction which had been fraudulently concealed had sent the paper in question to the King’s proctor officially without detaining the ship in which it was found. This case shows that a captor may introduce proof not found on board a vessel seized and carried in as a prize.

It also shows that an armed ship of Great Britain took from an American ship a paper and did not carry the ship so arrested into port for adjudication.

C. B. G.

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PHILADELPHIA, December 20, 1861.

Hon. W. H. SEWARD.

MY DEAR SIR: I suppose the terms of the Queen’s proclamation made at the beginning of the Russian war could scarcely have failed to attract your attention in its bearing upon the question which now agitates the country, yet as it is possible that with your attention drawn to other views this one may not have been adverted to I take the liberty of inclosing the following allusions to it from a Nova Scotia paper.

I have the honor to be, with high respect, your obedient servant,

M. RUSSELL THAYER.

{p.1140}

[Inclosure No. 1.-Extract from The Halifax (Nova Scotia) Sun, November 25.]

The public mind is seemingly much perplexed about the legality of the apprehension of Mason and Slidell, the ambassadors and bearers of dispatches on board the royal mail steamer Trent when attempting to escape to Europe. When we refer to the law of nations as laid down by the greatest of British international writers we find that the action of the United States Government in this apprehension has at least the sanction of ancient and modern law on this important point. Lord Stowell, one of the ablest of British jurists, says:

The carrying of the dispatches of the enemy is also a condemnation even if carried by neutrals. The ambassador of the enemy may be stopped on his passage, but when be arrives in the neutral country he becomes a sort of middleman, and is entitled to certain privileges.

Lord Stowell further declared and the doctrine was acted upon by the whole judges in the subsequent case, that of the Atlanta, that “the neutral ship carrying the dispatches was liable to be forfeited,” and decided accordingly. And Sir William Scott in one of his celebrated judgments in a case of this kind says:

It appears to me on principle that the fact of a vessel carrying the ambassadors or dispatches of a belligerent power whether knowingly or not affords equal ground of forfeiture, if such vessel is seized by the opposing power.

That the foregoing is the true state of the law at the present time may be gathered from the fact that in Her Majesty’s proclamation dated the 15th of April, 1854, during the Russian war the following highly important clause appears:

To preserve the commerce of neutrals from all obstruction Her Majesty is willing for the present to waive a part of the belligerent rights appertaining to her by the law of nations. But it is impossible for Her Majesty to forego the exercise of her right of seizing articles contraband of war and specially preventing neutrals from bearing the enemy’s messengers or dispatches.

Under these circumstances it is evident that the apprehension of Mason and Slidell has the sanction of the laws of nations.

[Inclosure No. 2.-From The Halifax (Nova Scotia) Sun.]

THE MASON AND SLIDELL DISPATCHES.

Queen Victoria having issued her declaration of war against Russia on the 28th of March, 1854, she made proclamation on the 15th of April that “desirous of rendering the war as little onerous as possible to the powers with whom she remains at peace,” she was-

Willing to waive a part of her belligerent rights. It is impossible for Her Majesty to forego the exercise of her right of seizing articles contraband of war and of preventing neutrals from bearing the enemy’s dispatches, and she must maintain the right of a belligerent to prevent neutrals from breaking any effective blockade which may be established with an adequate force against the enemy’s forts, harbors or coasts.

In her proclamation of May 13, 1861, it is announced:

And whereas hostilities have unhappily commenced between the Government of the United States of America and certain States styling themselves the Confederate States of America; and whereas we being at peace with the Government of the United States have declared our royal determination to maintain a strict and impartial neutrality in the contest between the said contending parties; and we do hereby strictly charge and command all our loving subjects to observe a strict neutrality in and during the aforesaid hostilities and to abstain from violating or contravening either the laws and statutes of the realm in this behalf or the law of nations in relation thereto, as they will answer to the contrary at their peril.

{p.1141}

This proclamation then recites at length a portion of the statute 59th of George III, wherein the offender is to be punished with fine and imprisonment or either at the discretion of the court, and continues:

And we do hereby further warn all our loving subjects and persons entitled to our protection that if any of them shall presume in contempt of this our royal proclamation awl of our high displeasure to do any act in derogation of their duty as subjects of a neutral sovereign in the said contest, or in violation or in contravention of the law of nations in that behalf-as for example and more especially [here specifying offenses in the aforesaid statute], or by breaking or endeavoring to break any blockade lawfully and actually established by or on behalf of either of the contending parties; or by carrying officers, soldiers, dispatches, arms, military stores or materials or any article or articles considered and deemed to be contraband of war according to the law or modern usage of nations, for the use or service of either of the said contending parties, all persons so offending will incur and be liable to the several penalties and penal consequences by the said statute or by the law of nations in that behalf imposed or denounced. And we do hereby declare that all our subjects and persons entitled to our protection who may misconduct themselves in the premises will do so at their peril and of their own wrong; and that they will in no wise obtain any protection from us against any liabilities or penal consequences but will on the contrary incur our high displeasure by such misconduct.

Given at our court at the White Lodge, Richmond Park, &c.

The London Times commenting on this proclamation remarks:

Heretofore the proclamation has only reminded the subjects of the Queen of the penalties which the law of this country denounces against an infraction of neutrality, and points out the penalties with which such offenses may be visited by the law of the land or by the law of nations. But in the last paragraph the proclamation seems to go beyond this and to make an announcement of the policy which will be adopted in cases which are provided for neither by the law of the land nor by the law of nations, but which arise out of the peculiar conditions of the present unhappy conflict. It will be observed that in this place the word “such” is omitted. The liabilities and penal consequences are not confined to those under the act or under the law of nations but are left wide and indefinite, as if on purpose to embrace the very case we are supposing.

The captain of the steamer Trent, a British subject, does not hesitate to bear the dispatches of the rebels in the face of all this warning. His act is the more flagrant from his carrying the mails of his Government on a regular ocean mail line to and from England. How can the English Government screen him from public prosecution? Not only the captain but “all hands” have violated the spirit if not the letter of the law and both letter and spirit of the proclamation. And why should not the United States by the law of nations ask of Great Britain this example to be made of offended justice and right?

A. P.

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PHILADELPHIA, December 22, 1861.

Secretary CAMERON:

Steamship Edinburgh left Liverpool Wednesday; Queenstown afternoon of Thursday, 12th instant: passed Cape Race Saturday. General Scott previous to embarking in Arago had long interview with Prince Napoleon. Reported that the general carries to America expression of French Emperor’s desire to bring about peaceable solution of question between English and American Governments. The Australasian was to sail night of 12th with troops and munitions for Saint Lawrence. Niagara sails Saturday; 300 artillerists to Halifax. No abatement in England of warlike preparations.

W. W. FULTON.

{p.1142}

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NEW YORK, December 22, 1861.

E. S. SANFORD, President American Telegraph Company:

The steamship Arago from Havre, via Southampton on the 11th instant, passed Cape Race at 6 o’clock Saturday evening en route to New York. Her dates are three days later than those per the America. General Scott is passenger by the Arago. His health much improved.

The London Times’ Paris correspondent says that the official opinion of the British minister on the outrage perpetrated by the San Jacinto on the Trent is most precise and positive, namely, first, that the violence committed by the captain of the San Jacinto is indefensible; second, that by regarding the commissioners, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, as contraband Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet contradict themselves for they refused to admit they were aware of their presence.

The various military stations in Ireland had been ordered to complete their strength of sixty-nine regiments of the line. The British Government is negotiating for steamers to transport troops to Canada. The London Times of the 10th instant says advices by the Niagara encourages hope of a disavowal by the Cabinet at Washington of the San Jacinto outrage and a surrender of the southern commissioners.

ROBERTS.

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WASHINGTON, December 23, 1861. (Received January 7, 1862.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: In conformity with the understanding to which I came with Mr. Seward on the 19th instant I waited upon him the day before yesterday for the purpose of reading to him your lordship’s dispatch of the 30th ultimo on the subject of the seizure of Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their secretaries on board the Trent.

On my presenting myself Mr. Seward said that he had occupied himself as unremittingly as the great amount of business he had to transact allowed in studying the question. He would confess that he had not yet completely mastered it. He would not make me a formal request to postpone the communication of your lordship’s dispatch, but he would say that it would be a great convenience to him personally and a great advantage in all respects if I would consent to do so. The next day was Sunday; could I not defer the communication till Monday. I answered that I would as he wished it put off reading the dispatch to him until Monday, provided he would fix an early hour for receiving me on that day. I should I said be obliged to send off my messenger with dispatches for your lordship on Monday afternoon. It was impossible that I could allow another packet to sail without reporting to your lordship that I had executed your orders. Mr. Seward promised to receive me as early as 10 o’clock on Monday morning.

I accordingly went to him soon after that hour this (Monday) morning, read the dispatch to him and at his request left with him a copy of it. He said that he would immediately lay it before the President and that I should without delay receive a communication with regard to it.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

{p.1143}

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CONFIDENTIAL.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 27, 1861.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq.

SIR: You will receive herewith a copy of the correspondence* with Lord Lyons on the subject of the Trent. The great difficulty in all human enterprises consists in pursuing just and worthy objects persistently when the interests and passions of men avail themselves of accidents to embarrass our movements and divert us from our course.

Nothing could have happened so well calculated to electrify the loyal portion of the American people as the capture and confinement of the four persons who were taken from the Trent on their way to Europe to betray their country into the control of ambitious foreign States. But this is no time to be diverted from the cares of the Union into controversies with other powers even if just causes for them could be found. When the affair happened there was no time for the public mind to weigh against the apparent advantages of the capture the probable incompetency of the captured persons as individuals to do any considerable injury to our country abroad, much less to measure the dangers of collision between us and foreign powers resulting from an exchange of our own traditional positions in regard to neutral rights for the British one-one which we had so long and so consistently repudiated. The Government as you will already have learned has not yielded to any such excitement, but has held itself ready to meet and decide the question upon its merits and with reference only to the public welfare in its broadest and most enduring relations.

The President has adopted his decision with the unanimous assent of his Cabinet. We trust and believe that a change or at least a pause will come upon the mind of Europe when it is seen as it now must be that the United States have maintained calmness, composure and dignity during all the season which the British people have been so intensely excited, and that in this as in every other case they have vindicated not only their consistency but their principles and policy while measuring out to Great Britain the justice which they have always claimed at her hands. The Union is indeed the paramount interest of the day but the national prestige and character will not be unnecessarily compromised in our efforts to maintain it.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* See Seward to Lyons, December 26, p. 1145, Inclosure No. 1.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 27, 1861.

M. HENRI MERCIER, &c.

SIR: I have submitted to the President the copy you were so good as to give me of the dispatch addressed to you on the 3d of December instant* concerning the recent proceedings of Captain Wilkes in arresting certain persons on board of the British contract mail steamer Trent.

Before receiving the paper, however, the President had decided upon the disposition to be made of the subject which has caused so much anxiety in Europe. That disposition of time subject as I think renders unnecessary any discussion of it in reply to the comments of M. Thouvenel. I am permitted, however, to say that M. Thouvenel has not been in error in supposing first that the Government of the United {p.1144} States has not acted in any spirit of disregard of the rights or of the sensibilities of the British nation, and that he is equally just in assuming that the United States would consistently vindicate by their practice on this occasion the character they have so long maintained as an advocate of the most liberal principles concerning the rights of neutral States in maritime war.

When the French Government shall come to see at large the views of this Government and those of the Government of Great Britain on the subject now in question and to compare them with the views expressed by M. Thouvenel on time part of France it will probably perceive that while it must be admitted that those three powers are equally impressed with the same desire for the establishment of principles favorable to neutral rights there is at the same time not such an entire agreement concerning the application of those principles as is desirable to secure that important object.

The Government of the United States will be happy if the occasion which has elicited this correspondence can be improved so as to secure a more definite agreement upon the whole subject by all maritime powers.

You will assure M. Thouvenel that this Government appreciates as well the frankness of his explanations as the spirit of friendship and good will toward the United States in which they are expressed.

It is a sincere pleasure for the United States to exchange assurances of a friendship which had its origin in associations the most sacred in the history of both countries.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* For Thouvenel to Mercier, see p. 1116.

–––

WASHINGTON, December 27, 1861. (Received January 9, 1862.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: ... The day before yesterday M. Mercier received the dispatch from M. Thouvenel which was read to your lordship by Count Flahault on the 6th instant. He immediately carried it to the State Department and on being informed that Mr. Seward was at a Cabinet council requested the Assistant Secretary to send it into the council room without delay.

M. Mercier has throughout displayed great alacrity and good will and (if I may be allowed to express an opinion on that point also) excellent judgment in giving the moral support of France to the demands of Her Majesty’s Government.

...

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

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WASHINGTON, December 27, 1861. (Received January 9, 1862.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: I have the honor to inclose a copy of a note which I have this morning received from Mr. Seward in answer to your lordship’s dispatch of the 30th of last mouth relative to the removal of Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustis from the British mail-packet {p.1145} Trent. The note contains a very long and very elaborate dissertation on the questions of international law involved in the case.

I have not time before the departure of the messenger to weigh the arguments or to estimate precisely the force of the expressions used. But as Mr. Seward admits that reparation is due to Great Britain and consents to deliver the four prisoners to me I consider that the demands of Her Majesty’s Government are so far substantially complied with that it is my duty in obedience to your lordship’s commands to report the facts to Her Majesty’s Government for their consideration and to remain at my post until I receive further orders.

I have the honor to inclose a copy of the answer which I have made to Mr. Seward’s note. I have confined myself to stating that I will forward a copy of it to Her Majesty’s Government, and that I will confer with Mr. Seward personally on the arrangements to be made for the delivery of the prisoners to me.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 26, 1861.

Right Hon. Lord LYONS, &c.

MY LORD: Earl Russell’s dispatch of November 30, a copy of which you have left with me at my request, is of the following effect, namely:

That a letter of Commander Williams dated “Royal Mail Contract Packet-boat Trent, at sea, November 9” states that that vessel left Havana on the 7th of November with Her Majesty’s mails for England having on board numerous passengers. Shortly after noon on the 8th of November the U. S. war steamer San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes, not showing colors was observed ahead. That steamer on being neared by the Trent at 1.15 p.m. fired a round shot from a pivot gun across her bows and showed American colors. While the Trent was approaching slowly toward the San Jacinto she discharged a shell across the Trent’s bows which exploded at half a cable’s length before her. The Trent then stopped and an officer with a large armed guard of marines boarded her. The officer said he had orders to arrest Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis and had sure information that they were passengers on the Trent. While some parley was going on upon this matter Mr. Slidell stepped forward and said to the American officer that the four persons he had named were standing before him. The commander of the Trent and Commander Williams protested against the act of taking those four passengers out of the Trent they then being under the protection of the British flag. But the San Jacinto was at this time only 200 yards distant, her ship’s company at quarters, her ports open and tompions out and so resistance was out of the question. The four persons before named were then forcibly taken out of the ship. A further demand was made that the commander of the Trent should proceed on board the San Jacinto but he said he would not go unless forcibly compelled likewise and this demand was not insisted upon.

Upon this statement Earl Russell remarks that it thus appears that certain individuals have been forcibly taken from on board a British vessel, the ship of a neutral power, while that vessel was pursuing a lawful and innocent voyage-an act of violence which was an affront to the British flag and a violation of international law.

Earl Russell next says that Her Majesty’s Government bearing in find the friendly relations which have long subsisted between Great {p.1146} Britain and the United States are willing to believe that the naval officer who committed this aggression was not acting in compliance with any authority from his Government or that if he conceived himself to be so authorized he greatly misunderstood the instructions which he had received.

Earl Russell argues that the United States must be fully aware that the British Government could not allow such an affront to the national honor to pass without full reparation and they are willing to believe that it could not be the deliberate intention of the United States unnecessarily to force into discussion between the two Governments a question of so grave a character and with regard to which the whole British nation would be sure to entertain such unanimity of feeling.

Earl Russell resting upon the statement and the argument which I have thus recited closes with saying that her Majesty’s Government trust that when this matter shall have been brought under the consideration of the Government of the United States it will of its own accord offer to the British Government such redress as alone could satisfy the British nation, namely, the liberation of the four prisoners taken from the Trent and their delivery to your lordship in order that they may again be placed under British protection and a suitable apology for the aggression which has been committed. Earl Russell finally instructs you to propose those terms to me if I should not first offer them on the part of the Government.

This dispatch has been submitted to the President.

The British Government has rightly conjectured what it is now my duty to state that Captain Wilkes in conceiving and executing the proceeding in question acted upon his own suggestions of duty without any direction or instruction or even foreknowledge of it on the part of this Government. No directions had been given to him or any other naval officer to arrest the four persons named or any of them on the Trent or on any other British vessel or on any other neutral vessel at the place where it occurred or elsewhere. The British Government will justly infer from these facts that the United States not only have had no purpose but even no thought of forcing into discussion the question which has arisen or any other which could affect in any way the sensibilities of the British nation.

It is true that a round shot was fired by the San Jacinto from her pivot gun when the Trent was distantly approaching. But as the facts have been reported to this Government the shot was nevertheless intentionally fired in a direction so obviously divergent from the course of the Trent as to be quite as harmless as a blank shot while it should be regarded as a signal.

So also we learn that the Trent was not approaching the San Jacinto slowly when the shell was fired across her bows, but on the contrary the Trent was or seemed to be moving under a full head of steam as if with a purpose to pass the San Jacinto.

We are informed also that the boarding officer (Lieutenant Fairfax) did not board the Trent with a large armed guard, but he left his marines in his boat when he entered the Trent. He stated his instructions from Captain Wilkes to search for the four persons named in a respectful and courteous though decided manner, and he asked the captain of the Trent to show his passenger list which was refused. The lieutenant as we are informed did not employ absolute force in transferring the passengers, but he used just so much as was necessary to satisfy the parties concerned that refusal or resistance would be unavailing.

{p.1147}

So also we are informed that the captain of the Trent was not at any time or in any way required to go on board the San Jacinto.

These modifications of the case as presented by Commander Williams are based upon our official reports.

I have now to remind your lordship of some facts which doubtlessly were omitted by Earl Russell with the very proper and becoming motive of allowing them to be brought into the case on the part of the United States in the way most satisfactory to this Government. These facts are that at the time the transaction occurred an insurrection was existing in the United States which this Government was engaged in suppressing by the employment of land and naval forces; that in regard to this domestic strife the United States considered Great Britain as a friendly power, while she had assumed for herself the attitude of a neutral; and that Spain was considered in the same light and had assumed the same attitude as Great Britain.

It has been settled by correspondence that the United States and Great Britain mutually recognized as applicable to this local strife these two articles of the declaration made by the Congress of Paris in 1856, namely, that the neutral or friendly flag should cover enemy’s goods not contraband of war, and that neutral goods not contraband of war are not liable to capture under an enemy’s flag. These exceptions of contraband from favor were a negative acceptance by the parties of the rule hitherto everywhere recognized as a part of the law of nations that whatever is contraband is liable to capture and confiscation in all cases.

James M. Mason and J. E. Macfarland are citizens of the United States and residents of Virginia; John Slidell and George Eustis are citizens of the United States and residents of Louisiana. It was well known at Havana when these parties embarked in the Trent that James M. Mason was proceeding to England in the affected character of a minister plenipotentiary to the Court of Saint James under a pretended commission from Jefferson Davis, who had assumed to be president of the insurrectionary party in the United States, and J. E. Macfarland was going with him in a like unreal character of secretary of legation to the pretended mission. John Slidell in similar circumstances was going to Paris as a pretended minister to the Emperor of the French and George Eustis was the chosen secretary of legation for that simulated mission. The fact that these persons had assumed such characters has been since avowed by the same Jefferson Davis in a pretended message* to an unlawful and insurrectionary congress. It was as we think rightly presumed that these ministers bore pretended credentials and instructions and such papers are in the law known as dispatches. We are informed by our consul at Paris that these dispatches having escaped the search of the Trent were actually conveyed and delivered to emissaries of the insurrection in England. Although it is not essential yet it is proper to state as I do also upon information and belief that the owner and agent and all the officers of the Trent including Commander Williams had knowledge of the assumed characters and purposes of the persons before named when they embarked on that vessel.

Your lordship will now perceive that the case before us instead of presenting a merely flagrant act of violence on the part of Captain Wilkes, as might well be inferred from the incomplete statement of it that went up to the British Government, was undertaken as a simple {p.1148} legal and customary belligerent proceeding by Captain Wilkes to arrest and capture a neutral vessel engaged in carrying contraband of war for the use and benefit of the insurgents.

The question before us is whether this proceeding was authorized by and conducted according to the law of nations. It involves the following inquiries:

First. Were the persons named and their supposed dispatches contraband of war?

Second. Might Captain Wilkes lawfully stop and search the Trent for these contraband persons and dispatches?

Third. Did he exercise that right in a proper and lawful manner? Fourth. Having found the contraband persons on board and in presumed possession of the contraband dispatches had he a right to capture the persons?

Fifth. Did he exercise that right of capture in the manner allowed and recognized by the law of nations?

If all these inquiries shall be resolved in the affirmative the British Government will have no claim for reparation.

I address myself to the first inquiry, namely, were the four persons mentioned and their supposed dispatches contraband?

Maritime law so generally deals as its professors say in rem, that is, with property and so seldom with persons that it seems a straining of the word “contraband” to apply it to them. But persons as well as property may become contraband since the word means broadly “contrary to proclamation, prohibited, illegal, unlawful.”

All writers and judges pronounce naval or military persons in the service of the enemy contraband. Vattel says war allows us to cut off from an enemy all his resources and to hinder him from sending ministers to solicit assistance. And Sir William Scott says you may stop the ambassador of your enemy on his passage. Dispatches are not less clearly contraband and the bearers or couriers who undertake to carry them fall under the same condemnation.

A subtlety might be raised whether pretended ministers of a usurping power not recognized as legal by either the belligerent or the neutral could be held to be contraband. But it would disappear on being subjected to what is the true test in all cases, namely, the spirit of the law. Sir William Scott speaking of civil magistrates who are arrested and detained as contraband says:

It appears to me on principle to be but reasonable that when it is of sufficient importance to the enemy that such persons shall be sent out on the public service at the public expense it should afford equal ground of forfeiture against the vessel that may be let out for a purpose so intimately connected with the hostile operations.

I trust that I have shown that the four persons who were taken from the Trent by Captain Wilkes and their dispatches were contraband of war.

The second inquiry is whether Captain Wilkes had a right by the law of nations to detain and search the Trent.

The Trent though she carried mails was a contract or merchant vessel-a common carrier for hire. Maritime law knows only three classes of vessels-vessels of war, revenue vessels and merchant vessels. The Trent falls within the latter class. Whatever disputes have existed concerning a right of visitation or search in time of peace none it is supposed has existed in modern times about the right of a belligerent in time of war to capture contraband in neutral and even friendly merchant vessels, and of the right of visitation and search in order to determine whether they are neutral and are documented as such according to the law of nations.

{p.1149}

I assume in the present case-what as I read British authorities is regarded by Great Britain herself as true maritime law-that the circumstance that the Trent was proceeding from a neutral port to another neutral port does not modify the right of the belligerent captor.

The third question is whether Captain Wilkes exercised the right of search in a lawful and proper manner.

If any doubt hung over this point, as the case was presented in the statement of it adopted by the British Government, I think it must have already passed away before the modifications of that statement which I have already submitted.

I proceed to the fourth inquiry, namely, having found the suspected contraband on board the Trent, had Captain Wilkes a right to capture the same?

Such a capture is the chief if not the only recognized object of the permitted visitation and search. The principle of the law is that the belligerent exposed to danger may prevent the contraband persons or things from applying themselves or being applied to the hostile uses or purposes designed. The law is so very liberal in this respect that when contraband is found on board a neutral vessel not only is the contraband forfeited, but the vessel which is the vehicle of its passage or transportation being tainted also becomes contraband and is subject to capture and confiscation.

Only the fifth question remains, namely, did Captain Wilkes exercise the right of capturing the contraband in conformity with the law of nations?

It is just here that the difficulties of the case begin. What is the manner which the law of nations prescribes for disposing of the contraband when you have found and seized it on board of the neutral vessel? The answer would easily be found if the question were what you shall do with the contraband vessel. You must take or send her into a convenient port and subject her to a judicial prosecution there in admiralty, which will try and decide the questions of belligerency, neutrality, contraband and capture. So again you would promptly find the same answer if the question were what is the manner of proceeding prescribed by the law of nations in regard to the contraband, if it be property or things of material or pecuniary value.

But the question here concerns the mode of procedure in regard not to the vessel that was carrying the contraband nor yet to contraband things which worked the forfeiture of the vessel but to contraband persons.

The books of law are dumb. Yet the question is as important as it is difficult. First, the belligerent captor has a right to prevent the contraband officer, soldier, sailor, minister, messenger or courier from proceeding in his unlawful voyage and reaching the destined scene of his injurious service. But on the other hand the person captured may be innocent-that is he may not be contraband-He therefore had a right to a fair trial of the accusation against him. The neutral State that has taken him under its flag is bound to protect him if he is not contraband and is therefore entitled to be satisfied upon that important question. The faith of that State is pledged to his safety if innocent, as its justice is pledged to his surrender if he is really contraband. Here are conflicting claims involving personal liberty, life, honor and duty. Here are conflicting national claims involving welfare, safety, honor and empire. They require a tribunal and a trial. The captors and the captured are equals; the neutral and the belligerent state are equals.

{p.1150}

While the law authorities were found silent it was suggested at an early day by this Government that you should take the captured persons into a convenient port and institute judicial proceedings there to try the controversy. But only courts of admiralty have jurisdiction in maritime cases and these courts have formulas to try only claims to contraband chattels but none to try claims concerning contraband persons. The courts can entertain no proceedings and render no judgment in favor of or against the alleged contraband men.

It was replied all this was true, but you can reach in those courts a decision which will have the moral weight of a judicial one by a circuitous proceeding. Convey the suspected men together with the suspected vessel into port and try there the question whether the vessel is contraband. You can prove it to be so by proving the suspected men to be contraband and the court must then determine the vessel to be contraband. If the men are not contraband the vessel will escape condemnation. Still there is no judgment for or against the captured persons. But it was assumed that there would result from the determination of the court concerning the vessel a legal certainty concerning the character of the men. This course of proceeding seemed open to many objections. It elevates the incidental inferior private interest into the proper place of the main paramount public one and possibly it may make the fortunes, the safety or the existence of a nation depend on the accidents of a merely personal and pecuniary litigation. Moreover when the judgment of the prize court upon the lawfulness of the capture of the vessel is rendered it really concludes nothing and binds neither the belligerent State nor the neutral upon the great question of the disposition to be made of the captured contraband persons. That question is still to be really determined if at all by diplomatic arrangement or by war.

One may well express his surprise when told that the law of nations has furnished no more reasonable, practicable and perfect mode than this of determining questions of such grave import between sovereign powers. The regret we may feel on the occasion is nevertheless modified by the reflection that the difficulty is not altogether anomalous. Similar and equal deficiencies are found in every system of municipal law, especially in the system which exists in the greater portions of Great Britain and the United States. The title to personal property can hardly ever be resolved by a court without resorting to the fiction that the claimant has lost and the possessor has found it, and the title to real estate is disputed by real litigants under the names of imaginary persons. It must be confessed, however, that while all aggrieved nations demand and all impartial nations concede the need of some form of judicial process in determining the character of contraband persons no other form than the illogical and circuitous one thus described exists, nor has any other yet been suggested. Practically therefore the choice is between that judicial remedy or no judicial remedy whatever.

If there be no judicial remedy the result is that the question must be determined by the captor himself on the deck of the prize vessel. Very grave objections arise against such a course. The captor is armed, and the neutral is unarmed. The captor is interested, prejudiced and perhaps violent-the neutral if truly neutral is disinterested, subdued and helpless. The tribunal is irresponsible while its judgment is carried into instant execution. The captured party is compelled to submit though bound by no legal, moral or treaty obligation to acquiesce. Reparation is distant and problematical and depends at last on the justice, magnanimity or weakness of the State in whose {p.1151} behalf and by whose authority the capture was made. Out of these disputes reprisals and wars necessarily arise, and these are so frequent and destructive that it may well be doubted whether this form of remedy is not a greater social evil than all that could follow if the belligerent right of search were universally renounced and abolished forever.

But carry the case one step further. What if the State that has made the capture unreasonably refuse to hear the complaint of the neutral or to redress it? In that case the very act of capture would be an act of war-of war begun without notice and possibly entirely without provocation.

I think that all unprejudiced minds will agree that imperfect as the existing judicial remedy may be supposed to be it would be as a general practice better to follow it than to adopt the summary one of leaving the decision with the captor and relying upon diplomatic debates to review his decision. Practically it is a question of choice between law with its imperfections and delays and war with its evils and desolations. Nor is it ever to be forgotten that neutrality honestly and justly preserved is always the harbinger of peace and therefore is the common interest of nations, which is only saying that it is the interest of humanity itself.

At the same time it is not denied that it may sometimes happen that the judicial remedy will become impossible as by the shipwreck of the prize vessel or other circumstances which excuse the captor from sending or taking her into port for confiscation. In such a case the right of the captor to the custody of the captured persons and to dispose of them if they are really contraband so as to defeat their unlawful purposes cannot reasonably be denied. What rule shall be applied in such a case? Clearly the captor ought to be required to show that the failure of the judicial remedy results from circumstances beyond his control and without his fault. Otherwise he would be allowed to derive advantage from a wrongful act of his own.

In the present case Captain Wilkes, after capturing contraband persons and making prize of the Trent in what seems to be a perfectly lawful manner, instead of sending her into port released her from the capture and permitted her to proceed with her whole cargo upon her voyage. He thus effectually prevented the judicial examination which might otherwise have occurred.

If now the capture of the contraband persons and the capture of the contraband vessel are to be regarded not as two separate or distinct transactions under the law of nations but as one transaction-one capture only-then it follows that the capture in this case was left unfinished or was abandoned. Whether the United States have a right to retain the chief public benefits of it, namely, the custody of the captured persons on proving them to be contraband, will depend upon the preliminary question whether the leaving of the transaction unfinished was necessary or whether it was unnecessary and therefore voluntary. If it was necessary Great Britain as we suppose must of course waive the defect and the consequent failure of the judicial remedy. On the other hand it is not seen how the United States can insist upon her waiver of that judicial remedy if the defect of the capture resulted from an act of Captain Wilkes which would be a fault on their own side.

Captain Wilkes has presented to this Government his reasons for releasing the Trent:

I forbore to seize her [says he] in consequence of my being so reduced in officers and crew and the derangement it would cause innocent persons, there being a large number of passengers who would have been put to great loss and inconvenience as {p.1152} well as disappointment from the interruption it would have caused them in not being able to join the steamer from Saint Thomas to Europe. I therefore concluded to sacrifice the interest of my officers and crew in the prize and suffer her to proceed after the detention necessary to effect the transfer of those commissioners, considering I had obtained the important end I had in view, and which affected the interest of our country and interrupted the action of that of the Confederates.

I shall consider first how these reasons ought to affect the action of this Government; and secondly how they ought to be expected to affect the action of Great Britain.

The reasons are satisfactory to this Government so far as Captain Wilkes is concerned. It could not desire that the San Jacinto, her officers and crew should be exposed to danger and loss by weakening their number to detach a prize crew to go on board the Trent. Still less could it disavow the humane motive of preventing inconveniences, losses and perhaps disasters to the several hundred innocent passengers found on board the prize vessel. Nor could this Government perceive any ground for questioning the fact that these reasons though apparently incongruous did operate in the mind of Captain Wilkes and determine him to release the Trent. Human actions generally proceed upon mingled and sometimes conflicting motives. He measured the sacrifices which this decision would cost. It manifestly did not occur to him, however, that beyond the sacrifice of the private interests (as he calls them) of his officers and crew there might also possibly be a sacrifice even of the chief and public object of his capture, namely, the right of his Government to the custody and disposition of the captured persons. The Government cannot censure him for this oversight. It confesses that the whole subject came unforeseen upon the Government as doubtless it did upon him. Its present convictions upon the point in question are the result of deliberate examination and deduction now made and not of any impressions previously formed.

Nevertheless the question now is not whether Captain Wilkes is justified to his Government in what he did, but what is the present view of the Government as to the effect of what he has done? Assuming now for argument’s sake only that the release of the Trent if voluntary involved a waiver of the claim of the Government to hold the captured persons, the United States in that case could have no hesitation in saying that the act which has thus already been approved by the Government must be allowed to draw its legal consequence after it. It is of the very nature of a gift or a charity that the giver cannot after the exercise of his benevolence is past recall or modify its benefits.

We are thus brought directly to the question whether we are entitled to regard the release of the Trent as involuntary or whether we are obliged to consider that it was voluntary. Clearly the release would have been involuntary had it been made solely upon the first ground assigned for it by Captain Wilkes, namely, the want of a sufficient force to send the prize vessel into port for adjudication. It is not the duty of a captor to hazard his own vessel in order to secure a judicial examination to the captured party. No large prize crew, however, is legally necessary for it is the duty of the captured party to acquiesce and go willingly before the tribunal to whose jurisdiction it appeals. If the captured party indicate purposes to employ means of resistance which the captor cannot with probable safety to himself overcome he may properly leave the vessel to go forward and neither she nor the State she represents can ever afterward justly object that the captor deprived her of the judicial remedy to which she was entitled.

But the second reason assigned by Captain Wilkes for releasing the Trent differs from the first. At best therefore it must be held that {p.1153} Captain Wilkes as he explains himself acted from combined sentiments of prudence and generosity, and so that the release of the prize vessel was not strictly necessary or involuntary. Secondly, how ought we to expect these explanations from Captain Wilkes of his reasons for leaving the capture incomplete to affect the action of the British Government?

The observation upon this point which first occurs is that Captain Wilkes’ explanations were not made to the authorities of the captured vessel. If made known to them they might have approved and taken the release upon the condition of waiving a judicial investigation of the whole transaction or they might have refused to accept the release upon that condition.

But the case is one not with them but with the British Government. If we claim that Great Britain ought not to insist that a judicial trial has been lost because we voluntarily released the offending vessel out of consideration for her innocent passengers I do not see how she is to be bound to acquiesce in the decision which was thus made by us without necessity on our part and without knowledge of conditions or consent on her own. The question between Great Britain and ourselves thus stated would be a question not of right and of law but of favor to be conceded by her to us in return for favors shown by us to her, of the value of which favors on both sides we ourselves shall be the judge. Of course the United States could have no thought of raising such a question in any case.

I trust that I have shown to the satisfaction of the British Government by a very simple and natural statement of the facts and analysis of the law applicable to them that this Government bad neither meditated nor practiced nor approved any deliberate wrong in the transaction to which they have called its attention; and on the contrary that what has happened has been simply an inadvertency, consisting in a departure by the naval officer free from any wrongful motive from a rule uncertainly established and probably by the several parties concerned either imperfectly understood or entirely unknown. For this error the British Government has a right to expect the same reparation that we as an independent State should expect from Great Britain or from any other friendly nation in a similar case.

I have not been unaware that in examining this question I have fallen into an argument for what seems to be the British side of it against my own country. But I am relieved from all embarrassment on that subject. I had hardly fallen into that line of argument when I discovered that I was really defending and maintaining not an exclusively British interest but an old, honored and cherished American cause, not upon British authorities but upon principles that constitute a large portion of the distinctive policy by which the United States have developed the resources of a continent, and thus becoming a considerable maritime power have won the respect and confidence of many nations. These principles were laid down for us in 1804 by James Madison when Secretary of State in the Administration of Thomas Jefferson in instructions given to James Monroe, our minister to England. Although the case before him concerned a description of persons different from those who are incidentally the subject of the present discussion the ground he assumed then was time same I now occupy, and the arguments by which he sustained himself upon it have been an inspiration to me in preparing this reply.

Whenever [he says] property found in a neutral vessel is supposed to be liable on any ground to capture and condemnation the rule in all cases is that the question {p.1154} shall not be decided by the captor but be carried before a legal tribunal where a regular trial may be had, and where the captor himself is liable for damages for an abuse of his power. Can it be reasonable then or just that a belligerent commander who is thus restricted and thus responsible in a case of mere property of trivial amount should be permitted without recurring to any tribunal whatever to examine the crew of a neutral vessel, to decide the important question of their respective allegiances and to carry that decision into execution by forcing every individual he may choose into a service abhorrent to his feelings, cutting him off from his most tender connections, exposing his mind and his person to the most humiliating discipline and his life itself to the greatest danger? Reason, justice and humanity unite in protesting against so extravagant a proceeding.

If I decide this case in favor of my own Government I must disavow its most cherished principles and reverse and forever abandon its essential policy. The country cannot afford the sacrifice. If I maintain those principles and adhere to that policy I must surrender the case itself. It will be seen therefore that this Government could not deny the justice of the claim presented to us in this respect upon its merits. We are asked to do to the British nation just what we have always insisted all nations ought to do to us.

The claim of the British Government is not made in a discourteous manner. This Government since its first organization has never used more guarded language in a similar case.

In coming to my conclusion I have not forgotten that if the safety of this Union required the detention of the captured persons it would be the right and duty of this Government to detain them. But the effectual check and waning proportions of the existing insurrection as well as the comparative unimportance of the captured persons themselves when dispassionately weighed happily forbid me from resorting to that defense.

Nor am I unaware that American citizens are not in any case to be unnecessarily surrendered for any purpose into the keeping of a foreign State. Only the captured persons, however, or others who are interested in them could justly raise a question on that ground.

Nor have I tempted at all by suggestions that cases might be found in history where Great Britain refused to yield to other nations and even to ourselves claims like that which is now before us. Those cases occurred when Great Britain as well as the United States was the home of generations which with all their peculiar interests and passions have passed away. She could in no other way so effectually disavow any such injury as we think she does by assuming now as her own the ground upon which we then stood. It would tell little for our own claims to the character of a just and magnanimous people if we should so far consent to be guided by the law of retaliation as to lift up buried injuries from their graves against what national consistency and the national conscience compel us to regard as a claim intrinsically right.

Putting behind me all suggestions of this kind I prefer to express my satisfaction that by the adjustment of the present case upon principles confessedly American and yet as I trust mutually satisfactory to both of the nations concerned a question is finally and rightly settled between them which heretofore exhausting not only all forms of peaceful discussion but also the arbitrament of war itself for more than half a century alienated the two countries from each other-and perplexed with fears and apprehensions all other nations.

The four persons in question are now held in military custody at Fort Warren, in the State of Massachusetts. They will be cheerfully liberated. Your lordship will please indicate a time and place for receiving them.

I avail myself of this occasion to offer to your lordship a renewed assurance of my very high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* See p. 1229 for this message.

{p.1155}

[Inclosure No. 2.]

WASHINGTON, December 27, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c.

SIR: I have this morning received the note which you did me the honor to address to me yesterday in answer to Earl Russell’s dispatch of the 30th of November last relative to the removal of Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustis from the British mail packet Trent.

I will without any loss of time forward to Her Majesty’s Government a copy of the important communication which you have made to me.

I will also without delay do myself the honor to confer with you personally on the arrangements to be made for delivering the four gentlemen to me in order that they may be again placed under the protection of the British flag.

I have the honor to be, with the highest consideration, sir, your most obedient humble servant,

LYONS.

–––

WASHINGTON, December 27, 1861. (Received January 9, 1862.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: ... Before transmitting to me the note of which a copy is inclosed in my immediately preceding dispatch of to-day’s date Mr. Seward sent for me to come to the State Department and said with some emotion that he thought it was due to the great kindness and consideration which I had manifested throughout in dealing with the affair of the Trent that he should tell me with his own lips that he had been able to effect a satisfactory settlement of it. He had, however, now been authorized to address to me a note which would be satisfactory to Her Majesty’s Government.

In answer to inquiries from me Mr. Seward said that of course he understood Her Majesty’s Government [willing] to leave it open to the Government of Washington to present the case in the form which would be most acceptable to the American people, but that the note was intended to be and was a compliance with the terms proposed by Her Majesty’s Government. He would add that the friendly spirit and the discretion which I had manifested in the whole matter from the day on which the intelligence of the seizure reached Washington up to the present moment had more than anything else contributed to the satisfactory settlement of the question.

I asked Mr. Seward what arrangements he would wish me to make for receiving the prisoners. He begged me to speak to him on the subject to-morrow for he was at the moment overwhelmed with business and particularly with the labor of preparing dispatches for the European mail.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

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ADMIRALTY, [London,] December 27, 1861. (Received 28th.)

[Mr. HAMMOND.]

SIR: I am commanded by my lords commissioners of the admiralty to transmit herewith for the information of Earl Russell a copy of the {p.1156} protest made by the master of the royal mail steamer Trent before Her Majesty’s consul at Saint Thomas on the 14th ultimo against the proceedings of the captain of the U. S. ship of war San Jacinto in forcibly removing Messrs. Mason and Slidell, the commissioners from the so-called Confederate States, with their secretaries from on board the Trent.

I am, &c.,

C. PAGET, Secretary to the Admiralty.

[Inclosure.]

PROTEST.

HER BRITANNIC MAJESTY’S CONSULATE, Saint Thomas, West Indies.

Be it known that on this 14th of November, 1861, before me, Robert Boyd Lamb, esq., Her Britannic Majesty’s consul in the Island of Saint Thomas, personally appeared James Moir, master of the steamship Trent, of London, of the burden of 1,856 tons or thereabouts, and entered a protest declaring as follows:

That he sailed in the said steamship Trent from Havana under contract with Her Britannic Majesty’s Government as a mail packet bound for Saint Thomas with Her Majesty’s mails under charge of Commander Richard Williams, of Her Majesty’s navy, sixty-odd passengers, $1,500,000 in specie and a valuable cargo, on the 7th instant, at 8 a.m.; that nothing particular occurred till the succeeding day, 8th instant, at about meridian, when the ship was in the narrow part of the Bahama Channel approaching the Paredon Grande Light-House, the coast of Cuba distant about 4 miles, a steamer having the appearance of a man-of-war but not showing any colors was observed ahead hove to; that the British ensign was immediately hoisted on board the Trent with the Royal Mail Company’s distinguishing flag at the main, and on approaching the vessel ahead, which still showed no colors; at 1.05 p.m. she fired a round shot across the Trent’s bows and then hoisted American colors, when the Trent’s engines were immediately slowed, and while she was approaching the American vessel a shell was discharged from the latter’s pivot gun across the Trent’s bows which burst half a cable’s length ahead of her. The Trent’s engines were then stopped, when she was hailed by an officer from the American vessel and ordered to heave to.

A boat from her then came on board with armed boat’s crew and an armed guard of marines accompanied by an officer in uniform of the U. S. Navy, who stated that the ship was the U. S. war steamer the San Jacinto, commanded by Captain Wilkes, and demanded a list of the passengers on board, which demand the master of the Trent refused to comply with, on which refusal a further force was sent for from the San Jacinto and two more boats with armed marines and armed boat’s crews came on board the Trent; that the same officer then stated that he had orders whatever might be the consequence to arrest Messrs. Slidell, Mason, Macfarland and Eustis whom he knew were on board the ship. He was then asked by the master of the Trent what would be his course in case of a refusal to give up these parties, to which he replied that his orders were to take the ship in case of necessity. He was then informed by the master of the Trent that the passengers would not be given up unless such force was used as could not be resisted, on which Mr. Slidell stepped forward and informed the officer of the San Jacinto {p.1157} that the parties he demanded were before him under the protection of the British flag, and claiming same they would not consent to be taken out of the ship except by force of arms. They were then seized by order of the U. S. officers and after being allowed a short time to collect some necessaries and separate themselves from their families they were forcibly dragged out of the ship by the armed force, not withstanding the strong and repeated protest by master of the Trent and Commander Williams against an act of hostility and violence committed on a vessel carrying the British flag by a ship of war of a nation on terms of peace and amity with Her Britannic Majesty’s Government, to which protest the officer of the San Jacinto replied that he was obeying his orders to effect the arrest at all hazards.

That from the time the first boat was sent to the Trent the San Jacinto lay on the port beam about 200 yards off with her ports open, her guns (seven broadside iron-pivot) run out, tompions out and crew at quarters; that the American officer before leaving the Trent made a further demand that the commander of the Trent should proceed on board the San Jacinto, to which the reply was made that he would not leave the ship unless taken out by force of arms. Against all of which illegal, hostile and piratical acts as before detailed the said James Moir, on his own behalf as a British subject commanding a British ship engaged in the postal service of Her Majesty and on behalf of all others whom it may concern, did declare to protest as by these presents he doth solemnly protest against all and every person and persons, officers and governments directly or indirectly concerned in said illegal and hostile acts, holding them liable for all losses, damages and consequences of the same. And I, the said consul, at the request of the said James Moir, master of the said ship Trent, do hereby solemnly protest against the same, manner and form aforesaid.

This done, &c., at the port of Saint Thomas.

JAMES MOIR, Master of H. M. S. Trent.

–––

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 28, 1861.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq.

SIR: Your dispatches of December 3 and December 6 have been received. They relate generally to the affair of the Trent and the condition of the public mind on that subject. I send you ten copies of the correspondence which has taken place between Lord Lyons and myself on the subject, which I trust will satisfy the Government of Great Britain that the United States are as incapable of doing a wrong or offering an affront to the British nation as they are careful of their own rights and honor.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

–––

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 28, 1861.

Col. JUSTIN DIMICK, Fort Warren, Boston.

SIR: You will please deliver into the custody of Mr. E. D. Webster, a special agent of this Department, James M. Mason, John Slidell, J. E. Macfarland and George Eustis, prisoners in Fort Warren, in regard to whom he has directions* which he will explain to you.

{p.1158}

Have the goodness to give him whatever facilities and assistance he may need in accomplishing the duty with which he is charged.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

F. W. SEWARD, Assistant Secretary.

* These instructions not found.

–––

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Madrid, December 28, 1861.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... The anxiety felt at this capital concerning the grave question pending between the United States and England as the time draws near when the reply of our Government to the demands of England may be expected is quite evident.

I do not hesitate to say that public opinion is decidedly against us in the question of right, and the proceeding of the commander of the San Jacinto with the Trent is considered by Spanish jurisconsults as unsanctioned by the law of nations. It is considered therefore that the United States ought not to hesitate to make reparation for the fault committed by their officer.

Whilst this is so there is at the same time a good deal of satisfaction manifest that the act condemned should have been committed with an English ship and not that of any other nation. The skirts of England are not clean and Spanish statesmen willingly allow that she is the last of all the powers in her right to complain of such treatment.

But though England may have been guilty in times past of acts in regard to neutral ships even more indefensible than that of which she now complains this is not thought to justify the United States in the commission of like faults, and there is no hesitation here upon the point that the interests of all nations would be served by the United States yielding in this matter and allowing the question involved in the affair of the San Jacinto and Trent to be decided against them upon principle.

I give you thus a summary of the opinions of various personages with whom I have conversed freely and which may be taken as those of the most enlightened and most competent of this country. Yesterday I had an informal interview with the minister of state at his department in which the conversation turned upon the declaration made to me in June last by Mr. Calderon to the effect that he would not see nor receive any commissioners or other negotiators from the so-called Confederate States as reported by me in dispatch No. 4, of June 13, published in The London Times of December 19.

Mr. Calderon renewed to me yesterday the same declaration, saying that the policy of Spain in regard to our civil contest was fixed by the royal decree of June 17, which appeared a few days subsequent to the interview referred to, and that Her Majesty’s Government had no intention to depart from its provisions in any respect. Mr. Calderon said himself that to hold conferences with or receive the agents of the so-called Confederate States in any official capacity would be tantamount to recognizing the separate existence of those States as a body politic, and this the Government of Spain had no intention to do, but holds to the line of conduct and policy embodied in the royal decree of June 17.

As to the question between the United States and England, growing out of the affairs of the San Jacinto, Mr. Calderon said in substance in reply to my observations that we were wrong and that England {p.1159} could not help making her energetic reclamation against that proceeding; that the subject of the attitude of Spain in the case of war between the two powers had not been treated in the council of ministers as there had been no formal instance on my part in regard to the matter; but he quite agreed with me that the interests of Spain indicated a complete neutrality and there was no motive why Spain should take any part in the contest on either side.

His manner was frank and kind and his language such as to completely reassure me in my conviction that his country has no idea of being itself drawn into the dispute in any event. I did not myself think proper to give to this rather informal conversation any more important character nor attempt to press the minister to any distinct declaration of an official nature at the present moment. When we know the reply of the President to the pretensions of the English cabinet I shall endeavor to shape my course here in accordance with what our interests will then seem to demand, hoping to receive your instructions as to any positive step which it may be proper to take.

Meantime everything confirms the opinion ... that a complete neutrality of Spain in any and all circumstances of the threatening conflict with England can be maintained.

I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, sir, your obedient servant,

HORATIO J. PERRY.

–––

WASHINGTON, December 30, 1861.

To THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I transmit to Congress a correspondence* which has taken place between the Secretary of State and authorities of Great Britain and France on the subject of the recent removal of certain citizens of the United States from the British mail steamer Trent by order of Captain Wilkes, in command of the U. S. war steamer San Jacinto.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

* Omitted here. The correspondence transmitted is that which appears herein in its chronological order with other matter relating to the same subject-COMPILER.

–––

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 30, 1861.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq.

SIR: Your dispatch bearing date of December 6 was duly received. It treats chiefly of the Trent affair, and of the case of the British consul at Charleston. Those subjects having been for the present at least disposed of by this Government I need only now thank you for the diligence and sagacity you have practiced in conducting the proceedings concerning them so far as they fell within the province of your mission.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

–––

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, December 30, 1861.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq.

SIR: Your dispatch of December 12 has been received. While the information it furnishes and the suggestions it presents are highly appreciated the disposition of the Trent case which has been made seems to remove the necessity for reply.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

{p.1160}

–––

WASHINGTON, December 31, 1861. (Received January 15, 1862.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: After some consultation with Mr. Seward I have fixed noon to-morrow as the time and Provincetown as the place at which Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell, Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustis are to be restored to the protection of the British flag. I have accordingly requested Commander Hewett, of Her Majesty’s ship Rinaldo, to go at once with that ship to Provincetown to receive the four gentlemen. The United States Government will convey them hither from Fort Warren in an American steam vessel. Mr. Seward assures me that this arrangement is acceptable to the Government of the United States and well calculated to secure the gentlemen themselves from inconvenience and annoyance.

I have the honor to transmit to your lordship a copy of the dispatch which I have written to Commander Hewett. Your lordship will perceive that I have requested him to proceed with his passengers in the first instance to Halifax. This will no doubt be in conformity with their own wishes. I consider that as the four gentlemen lost their passage on board the Trent, in consequence of their not obtaining from the British flag the protection which it ought to have afforded them, we are now bound to facilitate the prosecution of their voyage to Europe if they request us to do so. They will no doubt on their arrival at, Halifax confer with the lieutenant-governor respecting their future proceedings.

It may perhaps be desirable after all that has occurred that whatever may be the place to which Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their companions may desire to proceed they should pursue their voyage in a Government vessel; for it would be most unfortunate if the whole question should be reopened by any attempt to capture a vessel with these gentlemen on board and bring her in for adjudication before an American prize court. I do not believe that the Government of the United States would countenance such a proceeding, but an officer of the U. S. Navy who had not been recently in communication with his superiors might form a misconception of their wishes and of his own duty and deem it right to capture a private vessel on the same grounds on which Captain Wilkes seized the four passengers on board the Trent.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

[Inclosure.]

WASHINGTON, December 30, 1861.

[Commander HEWETT, Her Britannic Majesty’s Ship Rinaldo.]

SIR: You are no doubt aware that the Government of the United States has declared that it will cheerfully liberate Mr. Mason Mr. Slidell, Mr. Macfarland and Mr. Eustis, and has requested me to appoint a time and place for receiving those gentlemen. I have agreed with the Secretary of State of the United States that the four gentlemen shall be replaced under the protection of the British flag in the harbor of Provincetown, Cape Cod, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made. I consider it to be of very great importance that every facility should be afforded by Her Majesty’s officers for effecting this without delay.

I therefore deem it to be my duty to request you to proceed as soon as possible in Her Majesty’s ship under your command to Provincetown Harbor and there take the four gentlemen on board. They will {p.1161} be brought from Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, to Provincetown in an American steam vessel. Should they not be already there when you arrive it will be proper that you wait for them. As soon as you have them on board it will be desirable that you proceed with them direct to Halifax. This will no doubt be in conformity with their own wishes.

You are further at liberty to assure them that they will find every disposition on our part to repair as far as is now possible any inconvenience or disadvantage which they have sustained in consequence of their removal from the protection of the British flag. We shall be willing to place them as nearly as possible in the position which they occupied when that removal took place, but we cannot do more than this. We shall be desirous to facilitate their passing from Halifax to any neutral port, but we cannot undertake to convey them to any part of the coast of the States which have seceded from the Republic. The whole of the coasts of those States is under blockade, and Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their companions were excluded from it by the blockade when they were under the British flag on board the Trent.

It is hardly necessary that I should remind you that these gentlemen have no official character. It will be right for you to receive them with all the courtesy and respect as private gentlemen of distinction, but it would be very improper to pay to them any of those honors which are paid to official persons. It is desirable that the transfer of them from the American steam vessel to Her Majesty’s ship under your command shall be effected unostentatiously, and that when you have them on board you should go on to Halifax without the smallest delay.

I request you to inform me by telegraph as soon as possible after you receive this dispatch of the hour at which you intend to leave New York and of the hour at which you expect to arrive at Provincetown.

I am, &c.,

LYONS.

–––

WASHINGTON, December 31, 1861. (Received January 15, 1862.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: ... I was myself perfectly willing to dispatch H. M. S. Rinaldo to Boston Harbor to receive Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell and their companions from Fort Warren. I told Mr. Seward that I desired to consult his wishes as far as possible; that I was as unwilling as he could be that the transfer of the four gentlemen should cause any popular excitement or be made the occasion for anything like a display of exultation on the part of Great Britain. The only points on which I desired to insist were that the transfer should be made by daylight and that the gentlemen should either be received on board a British ship of war in the United States or be conveyed to a British port in an American ship. Provincetown was suggested as the best place by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy. It is I believe a small, quiet town. It is situated near Cape Cod and the harbor is a very good one. It is about forty miles from Boston. It is not on the direct route from Boston to Halifax but it is nearer to Halifax than Boston is.

Time did not admit of the Rinaldo’s reaching it before to-morrow at noon.

...

I have, &c,

LYONS.

{p.1162}

–––

FORT WARREN, Boston Harbor, January 1, 1862.

Hon. W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to report that I delivered Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis into the custody of Mr. E. D. Webster this morning at half-past 10, and they left in a steam tug at one-quarter before 11 a.m. and proceeded to sea.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. DIMICK, Colonel First Artillery, Commanding Post.

–––

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, January 2, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt last evening of dispatches from 141 to 146, both inclusive.

Under the continued suspense as to the issue of the difficulty respecting the Trent I know not that there is much necessity for adverting to topics of minor importance. I shall therefore content myself with transmitting copies of the further correspondence* that has taken place between Lord Russell and myself on the subject of the Nashville. I have reason to believe that the supervision of the outfit of that vessel on the part of the Government has been faithful and thorough.

The temper of the people of Great Britain has been undergoing a sensible amelioration during the past week. Great efforts have been made to induce the Government to consent to a proposal of submitting the difference to arbitration in case it should be offered by the United States. The obstacle to it is, however, that almost every Government in Europe has already committed itself. If it were not for this so confident have ministers become in the correctness of their position that I think they would not object to that course could they gracefully retreat from their somewhat precipitate demands. There is growing distrust of the appropriateness of the mode adopted to obtain a remedy. The prevailing idea that they have heretofore submitted too often to indignities and that there is an absolute necessity to adopt summary measures in order to deter the United States from a repetition of them has somewhat faded under the growing conviction that at least in this case nothing of the kind had been intended. At present there is a lull in opinion which the news by the Africa has done much to bring about. Should the later news confirm the impression now received I am very much inclined to doubt whether a declaration of war would ensue even though the men should not be at once surrendered.

Yet should it come to this I cannot give much encouragement in regard to the state in which affairs will be left between the two countries for the future. That there is a party desiring war here can scarcely admit of a doubt. That the Confederate emissaries failing in their hope from this last difficulty will in their utter desperation do all in their power to give that party full activity upon other questions is equally certain. To counteract this policy requires great prudence as well as energy on both sides of the water. In this connection it may be held as one good result of an otherwise unfortunate incident that the friends of peace and of the restoration of order in America have been roused to a sense of the motives which impel this hostility. I am {p.1163} constantly in the receipt of letters and communications from people of all classes who express their earnest desire not to have their country enlisted even in the most indirect mode in a war which will sustain the slave-holding system in the Southern States. A conviction of the danger of this will keep them sensibly alive to the movement of parties interested in bringing about that end. But in this policy they must be aided by some corresponding adaptation of opinion among us.

I am in hopes that we may by co-operation be enabled to meet with more force the efforts that will undoubtedly be set in motion before long to procure a withdrawal of the blockade and perhaps a recognition of the insurgents. Should Parliament be assembled in a few days I shall have an opportunity to watch and to expose the operations that will follow. I say this always reserving the contingency wherein I may be required to vacate my position at this court, which at this moment I think less likely than I did.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

* Omitted as irrelevant.

–––

WASHINGTON, January 3, 1862. (Received 16th.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: The telegraphic dispatches in the newspapers of this morning announce that Mr. Mason, Mr. Slidell and their two companions sailed from Provincetown on board Her Majesty’s ship Rinaldo at 5 o’clock the day before yesterday. I have no other intelligence of their departure, but I do not doubt that the newspaper accounts are correct.

No excitement appears to have been apparent either at Provincetown or at Boston.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

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FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] January 4, 1862.

[Lord LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: On Thursday last Count Brandenburg called upon me at the Foreign Office and read to me a dispatch of Count Bernstorff on the subject of the Trent affair.

The Prussian Government unequivocally condemn the conduct of Captain Wilkes, and express a hope that the President of the United States will comply with the proposals of Her Majesty’s Government. I will send you by the next mail a copy of this dispatch.

At a later hour Baron Brunnow called upon me and read me an extract of a letter from Prince Gortchakoff equally positive in condemnation of Captain Wilkes and equally confident of the justice of our request for reparation.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

–––

WASHINGTON, January 6, 1862. (Received 20th.)

[Earl RUSSELL, London.]

MY LORD: I have the honor to inclose the copy of a dispatch which I received the day before yesterday from Commander Hewett informing {p.1164} me that he received Mr. Mason and Mr. Slidell on board Her Majesty’s ship Rinaldo at Provincetown on the 1st instant and intended to put to sea at once and make the best of his way to Halifax.

I have also the honor to transmit to you a copy of a note which I have received to-day from Mr. Frederick Seward, who is acting as Secretary of State in the absence of his father. It announces to me officially the delivery of the four gentlemen to the commander of the Rinaldo. I add a copy of a note which I have written to Mr. Seward in reply.

I have learned from the newspapers that the Rinaldo actually sailed from Provincetown on the 1st instant. Intelligence of her arrival at Halifax has not, how ever, yet reached Washington.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

RINALDO, Provincetown Harbor, January 1, 1862.

[Lord LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: I have the honor to inform your lordship that I left New York on the 30th ultimo and arrived at Provincetown early this morning, and waited until evening when Messrs. Mason and Slidell and companions came on board from an American tug-boat from Boston.

According to your lordship’s instructions I received them without form or ceremony.

Although the barometer is falling considerably I intend putting to sea at once and making the best of my way to Halifax.

I have, &c.,

W. HEWETT.

P. S.-The gentlemen remarked that their only wish was to proceed to Europe.

W. H.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

WASHINGTON, January 6, 1862.

[Lord LYONS.]

MY LORD: I have the honor to inform you that at 4 p.m. on Wednesday last, the 1st instant, Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis and Macfarland, citizens of the United States, who were taken from the British mail steamer Trent by order of Captain Wilkes, of the U. S. war steamer San Jacinto, were delivered to the custody of the commander of the British war steamer Rinaldo at Provincetown in the State of Massachusetts.

I avail, &c.,

F. W. SEWARD.

[Inclosure No. 3.]

WASHINGTON, January 6, 1862.

[F. W. SEWARD.]

SIR: I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of the note dated to-day in which you have done me the honor to announce to me that Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Eustis and Macfarland were delivered to the commander of Her Majesty’s ship Rinaldo at Provincetown, in the State of Massachusetts, on the 1st instant.

I have on my part the honor to inform you that the commander of Her Majesty’s ship the Rinaldo, who was deputed by me to receive the {p.1165} four gentlemen, has reported to me that they were duly delivered to him on board that ship at the time and place above mentioned.

I have, &c.,

LYONS.

–––

U. S. LEGATION, The Hague, January 9, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... The telegraph of to-day announces the settlement of the Trent affair in the interest of peace. I can hardly express to you the feeling of relief afforded to Europe by this news.

It may seem to some a paradox but it is nevertheless true that the act of surrendering Mason and Slidell will vastly elevate and improve the position of the United States Government at every court in Europe. It paves the way for a genuine sympathy in its efforts to subdue the rebellion.

It has been only the friends of the United States abroad who for more than a month of gloomy forebodings have steadily and alone maintained that our Government had the strength and the virtue to treat a momentous crisis in the national life with wisdom and self-denial. Everywhere it has been believed and avowed by ruling classes that at such a crisis a headlong democracy was sure to drive the Government into the broad road to national ruin. That it should act upon the counsels of discretion in such a delicate and critical emergency is a surprise that will extort their involuntary respect and admiration.

Whether England is right or wrong in her late demands the universal conviction among wise men of all shades of political opinion so far as my experience goes has been that the only true course open to our Government under existing circumstances was to yield to them. It was and is believed that the decision of the question of their justice could be safely left to the future, and that whatever that decision might be under no circumstances could we be the loser.

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,

JAMES S. PIKE.

–––

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Brussels, January 9, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... A dispatch from the English Government to its representative here, Lord Howard De Walden, states that Messrs. Mason and Slidell have been given up.

Should this prove to be the case the effect will be highly favorable to us in continental Europe. The eagerness with which the different powers have hastened to put us in the wrong and England in the right-the desire evinced that we should not defend English law, but yield-shows if not a lively interest in the preservation of the Union as a counterpoise at least a lively jealousy at the increase of British influence, the augmentation of whose power they wish to thwart.

I observe that in all their notes they make a point of avoiding an expression of opinion on the legal question because they know the seizure was in conformity with the principle of law as declared and practiced by Great Britain and submitted to by all others, though the principle has always been opposed or reluctantly yielded by the continental powers and ourselves.

{p.1166}

They now unanimously reassert the true doctrine, which as said before puts England in the right and us in the wrong in this case, and I cannot doubt that the result will be valuable as forcing England to abandon definitely her old position touching belligerent rights; and the evidence of jealousy and feeling of other powers as ready to profit of her exigencies as she is to take advantage of ours is also not without value.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. S. SANFORD.

–––

WASHINGTON, January 10, 1862.

To THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I transmit to Congress a translation of an instruction to the minister of His Majesty the Emperor of Austria accredited to this Government, and a copy of a note to that minister from the Secretary of State relative to the questions involved in the taking from the British steamer Trent of certain citizens of the United States by order of Captain Wilkes, of the U. S. Navy. This correspondence may be considered as a sequel to that previously communicated to Congress relating to the same subject.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

[Inclosure No. 1.-Translation.]

VIENNA, December 18, 1861.

Chevalier DE HULSEMANN, Washington.

SIR: The difference which has supervened between the Government of the United States and that of Great Britain in consequence of the arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell-made by the captain of the American ship of war San Jacinto on board of the English mail packet Trent-has not failed to fix the most serious attention of the Imperial cabinet.

The more importance we attach to the maintenance of friendly relations between the United States and England the more must we regret an incident which has come to add so grave a complication to a situation already bristling with so many difficulties.

Without having the intention to enter here upon an examination into the question of right we nevertheless cannot but acknowledge that according to the notions of international law adopted by all the powers and which the American Government itself has often taken as the rule of its conduct England could not in anywise in the present case refrain from reclamation against the affront given to her flag and from asking proper reparation for it.

It seems to us moreover that the requests reduced to form in this respect by the cabinet of Saint James have in them nothing offensive to the Cabinet of Washington, and that it will be able to do an act of equity and moderation without the least sacrifice of its dignity.

In taking counsel from the rules which guide international relations as well as from considerations of enlightened policy rather than from manifestations produced by an overexcitement of national feeling the Government of the United States we are gratified to hope will bring into its appreciation of the case all the calmness which its importance demands, and will deem proper to take a position which whilst preserving from rupture the relations between two great powers to which Austria is equally bound in friendship will be such as to prevent the grave disturbances which the eventuality of a war could not fail to bring not only upon each one of the contending parties but upon the affairs of the world generally.

{p.1167}

You will please, sir, to bring the preceding reflections to Mr. Seward’s notice and make report to us of the manner in which the minister shall receive your communication.

Accept, sir, the assurances of my distinguished consideration.

RECHBERG.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, January 9, 1862.

Chevalier HULSEMANN, &c.

SIR: I have submitted to the President the note you left with me which was addressed to you on the 18th of December last by Count Rechberg touching the affair of the capture and detention of the British contract steamer Trent by Captain Wilkes, of the San Jacinto.

I send you a copy of the correspondence which has passed on that exciting subject between this Government and the Governments of Great Britain and France, and I have to request that you will transmit these papers to Count Rechberg.

The Imperial Royal Government will learn from them two important facts, namely, first, that the United States are not only incapable for a moment of seeking to disturb the peace of the world but are deliberately just and friendly in their intercourse with all foreign nations; and secondly, that they will not be unfaithful to their traditions and policy as an advocate of the broadest liberality in the application of the principles of international law to the conduct of maritime warfare.

The United States thus faithful to their sentiments and while at the same time careful of their political constitution will sincerely rejoice if the occasion which has given rise to this correspondence shall be improved so as to obtain a revision of the law of nations which will render more definite and certain the rights and obligations of States in time of war.

I shall esteem it a favor, sir, if you will charge yourself with the care of expressing these sentiments to your Government, and will at the same time assure Count Rechberg that the President appreciates very highly the frankness and cordiality which the Government of Austria has practiced on an occasion of such great interest to the welfare of the United States.

I avail myself of the circumstance to offer to you, sir, renewed assurances of my very high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, January 10, 1862.

J. LOTHROP MOTLEY, Esq., &c., Vienna.

SIR: Your dispatch of November,* no day named, has been received. The account you give of your reception by Count Rechberg and also of your audience with the Emperor is exceedingly gratifying. The observations made by you on those occasions were in the main very just and apposite and we cannot doubt that they will produce good effects. Events crowd each other and the question raised in a dispatch gives place to a more urgent if not more grave one before the reply can be received.

I have directed a copy of the general diplomatic correspondence of a year, a copy of the correspondence on the Trent affair, and finally a {p.1168} copy of the correspondence between Count Rechberg, Mr. Hulsemann and myself relating to the same subject to be transmitted to you. These papers will give you all that is understood here of our relations with foreign powers at the present moment, and will enable you perhaps to anticipate the future as well as we can.

Our arms continue to be steadily successful, and when we shall have completed our financial relations I trust that the cause of the Union will become as hopeful as it is just.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* Omitted, containing nothing relative to this case.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, January 10, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: Though not yet favored with any information from the Department respecting the course of the proceedings between the two Governments in regard to time case of the Trent at Washington I am bound to believe from what I see in the newspapers that the difference has been settled by the release of the captives.

It is with great satisfaction that I gather from the abstract of the correspondence which has been communicated by telegraph that the Government has adhered to the principle for which it has so long contended and in the recognition of which the whole civilized world will now concur. Considering the remarkable unanimity which has been shown in the judgment of the merits of this case throughout Europe the step that has been taken will meet with very general approbation. The satisfaction expressed in this city everywhere, excepting among the small society of the Confederate emissaries and the party which habitually looks to war as an attractive pastime, stands in remarkable contrast with the feelings which animated almost everybody only six weeks ago. Not many, however, have yet opened their eyes to the conviction of the fact that the apparent victory of Great Britain involves in reality the necessary surrender of one of her most odious assumptions of power over the ocean. In this light it is not difficult to comprehend the policy of France which sacrifices no consistency whilst it more surely places a new ligature around the maritime supremacy of its great rival.

A consequence of this result is probably a continuance of the mission with which the Government has honored me for some time longer. But the questions immediately arise how long and under what promise of future usefulness? In order to answer these it is necessary to take a brief survey of the ground we occupy. Parliament is summoned to assemble for the dispatch of business on the 6th of February. I have reason to believe that arrangements predicated upon a particular contingency had been made to bring on an early discussion of the American difficulty with a view to press a direct interference with the blockade and a recognition of the Confederate States. I regret to learn that the first of these measures has found favor in some quarters from which I had hoped better things. The only question to consider is whether the settlement of the case of the Trent will have munch effect in altering the presentation of the programme or in preventing its adoption.

It is too early to determine what may be the degree of the reaction in popular opinion but there is no reason to doubt it will be considerable. Besides which the position of the ministry has been so much fortified by {p.1169} its success as to place its continuance at least for another year almost beyond doubt. It will therefore be in a situation to act with firmness and independence should it be inclined to resist any hasty movements.

Whether that inclination does or does not exist is the problem. If I were to judge from the temper shown in certain presses believed to be prompted by the prime minister I should augur a very unfavorable result. On the other hand I think I had a right to infer from the language of Lord Russell in our very latest conference that there was no disposition to embarrass us so long as there was a reasonable prospect of our success. Besides this so marked has been the late development of a disinclination to a war with the United States among the quiet and religious citizens of the middle classes, and particularly when its practical effect would be the establishment of a slave-holding oligarchy with which they have no sympathy whatever, that any policy entered into with an apparent desire to revive that measure for the benefit of the latter would scarcely meet with a second response like the last. From all these considerations I am inclined to conclude that without the occurrence of any new disturbing matter the probabilities are rather in favor of the continuance of diplomatic relations for some time to come.

Yet so doubtful do I regard it that I cannot help wishing for the occurrence of some decisive event in the war which would completely turn the current of opinion in our favor. It is not for me to interfere in any manner with the course of the operations in the field. I am well aware of the difficulties in the way of action and entertain too lively a recollection of the consequences of the disaster at Bull Run to favor precipitation anywhere. At the same time I cannot fail to perceive the force of time argument constantly pressed here in a community which measures military results by the sole standard of success of the apparent inability to command it. I feel that one clear victory at home might perhaps save us a foreign war, and so feeling it can scarcely be wondered at if I look forward to it with more than ordinary anxiety. An advance into the rebellious States would be as productive of sensible results in Parliament here as on the spot itself whilst a decided triumph would put a more effective stop to Confederate operations in England than all the labors of orators and statesmen and philosophers of both countries combined.

...

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

–––

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Stockholm, January 10, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to inform you that we have received by telegram intelligence of the peaceable settlement of our difficulty with England. The news has been received with great satisfaction. I have been congratulated by several legations. The press of Sweden is free; the American side of the question was taken by one of the most influential papers and discussed with great vigor and ability. ...

I remain, your obedient servant,

J. S. HALDEMAN.

{p.1170}

–––

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] January 10, 1862.

[Lord LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: In my dispatch to you of the 30th of November after informing you of the circumstances which had occurred in relation to the capture of the four persons taken from on board the Trent I stated to you that it thus appeared that certain individuals had been forcibly taken from on board a British vessel-the ship of a neutral power-while such vessel was pursuing a lawful and innocent voyage; an act of violence which was an affront to the British flag and a violation of international law.

I concluded by directing you in case the reparation which Her Majesty’s Government expected to receive should not be offered by Mr. Seward to propose to that minister to make such redress as alone would satisfy the British nation, namely, first, the liberation of the four gentlemen taken from on board the Trent and their delivery to your lordship in order that they might again be placed under British protection; and secondly, a suitable apology for the aggression which had been committed.

I received yesterday your dispatch of the 27th ultimo inclosing a note to you from Mr. Seward which is in substance the answer to my dispatch of the 30th of November. Proceeding at once to the main points in discussion between us Her Majesty’s Government have carefully examined how far Mr. Seward’s note and the conduct it announces complies substantially with the two proposals I have recited. With regard to the first, viz, the liberation of the prisoners with a view to their being again placed under British protection I find that the note concludes by stating that the prisoners will be cheerfully liberated, and by calling upon your lordship to indicate a time and place for receiving them. No condition of any kind is coupled with the liberation of the prisoners.

With regard to the suitable apology which the British Government had a right to expect I find that the Government of the United States distinctly and unequivocally declares that no directions had been given to Captain Wilkes or to any other naval officer to arrest the four persons named or any of them on the Trent or on any other British vessel, or on any other neutral vessel at the place where it occurred or elsewhere.

I find further that the Secretary of State expressly forbears to justify the particular act of which Her Majesty’s Government complained. If the United States Government had alleged that although Captain Wilkes had no previous instruction for that purpose he was right in capturing the persons of the four prisoners and in removing them from the Trent on board his own vessel to be afterward carried into a port of the United States, the Government which had thus sanctioned the proceeding of Captain Wilkes would have become responsible for the original violence and insult of the act.

But Mr. Seward contents himself with stating that what has happened has been simply an inadvertence, consisting in a departure by a naval officer free from any wrongful motive from a rule uncertainly established and probably by the several parties concerned either imperfectly understood or entirely unknown. The Secretary of State goes on to affirm that for this error the British Government has a right to expect the same reparation which the United States as an independent State should expect from Great Britain or from any other friendly nation in a similar case.

Her Majesty’s Government having carefully taken into their consideration the liberation of the prisoners, the delivery of them into your hands {p.1171} and the explanations to which I have just referred have arrived at the conclusion that they constitute the reparation which Her Majesty and the British nation had a right to expect. It gives Her Majesty’s Government great satisfaction to be enabled to arrive at a conclusion favorable to the maintenance of the most friendly relations between the two nations.

I need not discuss the modifications in my statement of facts which Mr. Seward says he has derived from the reports of officers of his Government. I cannot conclude however without adverting shortly to the discussions which Mr. Seward has raised upon points not prominently brought into question in my dispatch of the 30th of November. I there objected on the part of Her Majesty’s Government to that which Captain Wilkes had done. Mr. Seward in his answer points out what he conceives Captain Wilkes might have done without violating the law of nations.

It is not necessary that I should here discuss in detail the five questions ably argued by the Secretary of State; but it is necessary that I should say that Her Majesty’s Government differ from Mr. Seward in some of the conclusions at which he has arrived, and it may lead to a better understanding between the two nations on several points of international law which may during the present contest or at some future time be brought into question that I should state to you for communication to the Secretary of State wherein those differences consist. I hope to do so in a few days.

In the meantime it will be desirable that the commanders of the U. S. cruisers should be instructed not to repeat acts for which the British Government will have to ask redress and which the United States Government cannot undertake to justify.

You will read and give a copy of this dispatch to the Secretary of State.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

–––

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] January 10, 1862.

[Lord NAPIER.]

MY LORD: ... Her Majesty’s Government have every reason to be satisfied with the opinions and the acts of the European powers in regard to the matter of the Trent. The Emperor of the French without delay instructed his minister at Washington to support by argument and by counsel the proposals for reparation made by Her Majesty’s Government to the Government at Washington. The Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia as soon as they were acquainted with the facts threw the moral weight of their judgment into the scale of Great Britain. While Her Majesty’s Government have been munch gratified by these Spontaneous marks of adherence and approval they have no reason to be dissatisfied with the conduct of Russia. Baron Brunnow wrote at once from London to his colleague at Washington condemning in strong terms the conduct of the commander of the San Jacinto and advising due reparation to Her Majesty’s Government by the President of the United States. Prince Gortchakoff wrote also to Washington and to London private letters entirely approving the step taken by Baron Brunnow. Other powers have expressed similar sentiments. ...

I have, &c.,

RUSSELL.

{p.1172}

–––

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] January 11, 1862.

[Lord LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: In transmitting to your lordship my preceding dispatch of yesterday’s date I have to state that I read a copy of it this day to Mr. Adams. When I had done Mr. Adams said that he considered it as a dispatch which would be very satisfactory to his Government.

I said that the paragraph in the dispatch was meant as a reference to the case of the Eugenia Smith which seemed to be as similar as possible to that of the Trent. I concluded that in that case the prisoners would be at once liberated, a conclusion in which Mr. Adams seemed to agree, but he declared that he knew nothing of the case except from the newspapers.

I spoke to him of the report that a number of Federal cruisers were coming to the British Channel and I expressed a hope that interruption of British trade would as far as possible be avoided. Mr. Adams explained that according to rumor a complete squadron of Confederate vessels were about to cruise in the British Channel. The Nashville, the Sumter and the Pacific were to form a part of this squadron. He bad been informed that both at Liverpool and at Havre many merchant vessels of the United States were detained-afraid to put to sea in the face of the expected squadron. The object of his Government was therefore to protect their own trade and not to harass ours. I said I expected that such would be his answer.

I alluded to the case of the men landed in Southampton and found in the docks being part of the crew of the Tuscarora. He told me that he had warned the captain of the Tuscarora with regard to any use of force on the land of a neutral. I then informed him that the captain of the Tuscarora had received notice in respect to the rule that a belligerent leaving a neutral port should not be pursued by the belligerent vessel of the opposite power till after the expiration of twenty-four hours. (I inclose a correspondence with the Board of Admiralty and Mr. Adams on this subject.*)

I then stated that I thought it might be useful to both Governments if several points in regard to neutrality raised by Mr. Seward’s dispatch were to be calmly discussed between us. Some passages in Mr. Seward’s dispatch might lead to the inference that almost every packet passing between Dover and Calais might be liable to be taken and carried into New York on the pretext that it carried some emissary of the secessionists. But such I was convinced was not the meaning of Mr. Seward.

I sincerely congratulated him on the termination of this affair, and said that if Mr. Hume was right in saying that the reparation of injustice is the second honor of a nation that honor undoubtedly belonged to the Government of the United States.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

* Omitted as irrelevant.

–––

FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] January 11, 1862.

Lord LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: Your conduct in this important matter of the Trent is entirely approved by Her Majesty. The discretion and the good temper you have shown have contributed greatly to the success of our representations.

{p.1173}

In order to give your lordship by a public document a proof that you have acted strictly according to the instructions you have received I inclose an extract annexed to this dispatch* of a private letter I addressed to you on the 1st of December last.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

* See Russell to Lyons, “Extract from a private letter,” p 1113.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Turin, January 13, 1862

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

SIR: ... The news of the settlement of the difficulty between the United States and England on the affair of the Trent has been received in Italy with lively satisfaction, and although on the question of the legal right the opinion of lawyers and statesmen was nearly unanimous against the seizure yet I believe that both here and elsewhere in Europe the conduct of the American Government as now understood is thought to have been not only more dignified but at least not less honorable than that of England. The violent and mendacious language of the British press now receives time condemnation it deserves, and I have no doubt that the cause of the Union will be essentially advanced in European estimation by an event which the President and his Cabinet have with such wisdom and skill converted from an apparently unlucky accident into an instrument of good.

The result will serve I think to do something toward dispelling an error-almost universal among European statesmen and which I have seldom passed a day on this side of the Atlantic without having occasion to combat-the assumption namely that the American Union is less a Republic than an unbridled democracy, of which the Federal Government is but a blind instrument. The illumination in some of the great cities on the receipt of the intelligence of the capture of the commissioners, the compliments to Captain Wilkes, the various spirited resolutions proposed in the House of Representatives, were cited as evidences of a popular feeling which an Executive elected by the people would be powerless to resist, and nothing short of the actual result of the affair could have convinced Europe that in this as in most other important crises the Government is left free to initiate the national policy.

...

I have the honor to be, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,

GEORGE P. MARSH.

–––

LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Brussels, January 14, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

SIR: The news of the settlement of the Trent affair has given universal satisfaction here. As influencing public opinion it has caused a very considerable reaction in our favor which I doubt not will gather strength.

The surrender by England when they are applied to herself of her own cherished principles of international law-principles which she has ever enforced and practiced upon unwilling Europe-is considered a great gain. I hope she will not prove apostate to her new faith; and {p.1174} the eagerness and unanimity with which the great powers have, while avoiding discussion of an act in conformity with her established usages, urged us to yield in favor of neutral rights and thus secure Great Britain in her new position are significant in my view of it of anything rather than sympathy for England or hostility to ourselves.

England can hardly congratulate herself upon this intervention, which indicates not alone a desire to secure a recognition of the more liberal extension of neutral rights, but a jealousy of an attempt to cripple a power recognized as a necessary counterpoise in the world’s affairs. The eagerness of the Government which ignoring its own precepts and belying its own practices seeks a pretext to fasten a war and disaster upon us is now exposed, and it is to be hoped will meet fitting retribution at home and abroad.

The sentiment is universal here that she will now failing in this pretext seek one upon the question of the inefficiency of our blockade. I look to Parliament, public opinion and the success which I confidently expect we shall in the next thirty days have tidings of to squelch out this further attempt of a selfish and jealous governing class to destroy our power and check our development. The cry now sought to be raised about the vandalism of shutting up a port with hulks instead of bombarding and destroying it and its inhabitants is in keeping with the whole transaction.

My opinion is our cause is at this day stronger in Europe than at any time before since the Bull Run affair.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

H. S. SANFORD.

–––

U. S. LEGATION, The H January 15, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have the honor to inclose you a few extracts from the French newspapers from which you may gather the general drift of public discussion on the Continent in relation to the settlement of the Trent affair.

The Débats discusses at some length the probable consequence of the settlement of the American difference and arrives at the conclusion that England has lost rather than gained by the Trent incident:

Messrs. Mason and Slidell will be given up. That is the naked fact which is all to the advantage of the English. But nevertheless what consequences will there not be turning against them? We will not discuss the incident of the Trent in itself since it is now settled; but it constitutes as we said from the first day a very debatable case, and we are not astonished that when discussed at a meeting of lawyers the right of belligerents found as many advocates as that of neutrals. In fact it is the interpretation in favor of neutrals which thanks to England has gained the day. The first naval power in the world-that which ruling without dispute on the seas will always have the most frequent opportunities of profiting by the abuses of the right of search and which for that reason has almost always the most warmly opposed the privileges of neutrals-has just placed an important restriction on the maritime prerogatives of belligerents. We are therefore authorized in saying that it is more particularly her own power and her facilities of action which England by an energetic effort has forever limited. If she has done it knowingly we admire her generosity. She could not have sacrificed wantonly a finer opportunity for creating a decisive precedent in favor of her oldest and most cherished pretensions. The first advantage which England will reap from the extradition of Messrs. Mason and Slidell is a striking self-condemnation.

The Temps expresses itself in these terms:

Honor to the Government of the United States as well as to public opinion in America! To admit the necessities of a situation and to conform to it with a manly resignation is a proof of wisdom which is not yet very common among nations and {p.1175} governments. The American Government in releasing the prisoners has doubtless done nothing more than apply the doctrines which it has constantly processed, and at the same time it wards off a great danger. To do so has not the less required great strength of mind, great moderation and great command over itself. We have faith in that strength, in that moderation and in that self-command. If moreover President Lincoln wishes to crown his work and restore to the incident of the Trent its true and general signification he has only to solemnly consider the remonstrances of England as an abandonment of the old maritime policy of England. The satisfaction of the moment is for England; the real triumph is in every way for the United States and for the cause of the freedom of the seas. This precedent is destined to be deeply engraved in the memory of nations. It has been said that England and the English Government hold in reserve other motives and other pretexts for war. That may be possible, but she can now be defied to make use of them as public opinion would forbid it. Already divided before the victory which the Cabinet of Washington has just gained over itself public feeling will become unanimous. If we are not mistaken a great change in favor of the United States is about to take place, not only in England but in every country. This incident was perhaps necessary to make the Old World feel by what bonds the United States were connected with it. The South had considered the capture of its plenipotentiaries as equivalent to a victory; it will not be mistaken in regarding their release as an omen of its defeat.

From The Débats:

The outburst of joy which has taken place in London on the receipt of the news and the testimony of which is brought us by the English journals shows to what a degree England dreaded war after having adopted-perhaps too precipitately-the very system of conduct calculated to render it inevitable. England not only uses the language of satisfied national pride but breathes freely like a man who finds a heavy weight removed from his breast. The Post affects a little coldness and diplomatic haughtiness. “We hope,” it says, “that this tardy reparation has been accompanied by the apologies demanded;” but The Times, that echo of public opinion, treats the question of excuses as one of little value, and being content to see the nightmare of a maritime war dispelled is disposed to pass over them.

The Opinion Nationale employs the following language:

The affair is now settled and we may henceforth sleep in peace. John Bull and Brother Jonathan are at last reconciled, and we might perhaps give way to enthusiasm on the subject if the insidious question, Is the reconciliation sincere? did not suddenly present itself to our mind. We should hesitate to answer in the affirmative. The Federal Cabinet has made a concession for which it must have felt great repugnance, but it saw all the danger of plunging into a war with England under present circumstances. It has therefore swallowed the affront, but feels it too keenly to pardon England for inflicting it. The fire smolders; some day or other we shall see the flames burst forth. But is England which has obtained so great a triumph for her self-love satisfied with it after all? The fact is open to doubt. The British cabinet is suspected not without some plausible grounds of wishing to force a war upon the United States, and the language of the principal English journals would almost induce us to suppose that the liberation of Messrs. Mason and Slidell has in reality caused disappointment rather than pleasure.

The following is from The Siecle:

The dispatches which announce the favorable solution of the conflict between England and the United States have produced general satisfaction in Paris. The prospect of war which would necessarily lead to the most serious complications would fill with mourn lug all those who like us would wish to see all nations proceed regularly and unshackled toward liberty and prosperity. In accepting the consequences of the act of Captain Wilkes the Cabinet of Washington would have uselessly compromised time future of the two hemispheres and the cause of the American Union. To yield under such circumstances is on its part a proof of strength rather than of weakness. It renders homage to the principles which it has itself defended for so many years and yields to the wishes expressed so unanimously by the European Governments.

All had adopted the arguments so clearly developed by M. Thouvenel; all condemned the conduct of the commandant of the San Jacinto as contrary to the law of nations; but what is remarkable is that no power in presenting considerations on an isolated fact called in question the good faith, the intelligence and the patriotism of the Government of the American Republic. It has rallied round it sympathies which were about departing; and Messrs. Mason and Slidell, set at liberty by its orders, may without danger to it resume their voyage to Europe.

{p.1176}

The Constitutionnel:

The restitution of Messrs. Mason and Slidell is a victory of right, moderation and good sense. The Débats is afflicted at it and does not believe in the right. In vain has M. Thouvenel Count de Rechberg and Count de Bernstorff recognized in the capture of the Southern envoys a violation of international law; our contemporary is not of their opinion.

For the moment we have a party on our side strong and influential. But friendly sentiments toward [us], as you are well aware, will not however withstand any great adverse pressure under the circumstances of our existing relations to foreign countries. We have in the present instance done well and are approved. So far so good. But the currents may change to-morrow with or without good reason. The only things we can really rely on are our principles and our power. Our daily acts must be necessarily of a quite secondary importance except as they illustrate one or the other of these forces.

It is only as the consistent defender of the rights of man that we can have any efficient standing at this juncture in Europe. The late event by giving us a party here reopened the question of African slavery in both British and foreign circles. The beginning of this discussion is already manifest. Therein we are having an advantage.

I had the honor to report to you my opinion long ago that the leading Governments would give us a fair allowance of time to show what we could do with the rebellion before interfering in any way whatever. In endeavoring to conjecture what that limit would be I have felt that it would be coincident with the period of the near expiration of the cotton supply. This exhaustion I have supposed and so expressed myself to you would be postponed to about September next, when it will be likely to manifest itself in force.

My inference has been and now is (corroborated by constantly transpiring circumstances) that unless we can get possession of the leading cotton ports by midsummer that we shall have the great maritime and manufacturing powers taking measures to carry their merchantmen into those ports. And if I am not mistaken in my judgment it will be France that will lead in that movement.

...

I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,

JAMES S. PIKE.

–––

WASHINGTON, January 17, 1862.

To THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I transmit to Congress a translation of an instruction to the minister of His Majesty the King of Prussia accredited to this Government, and a copy of a note to that minister from the Secretary of State relating to the capture and detention of certain citizens of the United States, passengers on board the British steamer Trent, by order of Captain Wilkes, of the U. S. Navy.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

BERLIN, December 25, 1861.

Baron VON GEROLT, &c. [Washington.]

MONSIEUR LE BARON: The warlike measures which President Lincoln has taken at sea against the States of the South which separated themselves from the Union could not fail from their beginning to {p.1177} impress the Royal Government with apprehension that they might give occasion to some injury to the legitimate interests of neutral States.

This apprehension has unfortunately been realized by the subsequent forcible arrest and abduction of Messrs. Mason and Slidell from on board the neutral mail packet Trent by the commander of the North American ship of war San Jacinto.

This occurrence has as you will readily conclude aroused the greatest attention in England as well as throughout Europe, and caused great sensations not only in cabinets but also in public opinion Although by that act beyond all England has been affected, still at the same time one of the most essential and generally recognized rights of the neutral flag is placed in question by it.

I may forbear entering into discussion of the principle of right under consideration. In Europe public opinion has spoken out With extraordinary unanimity and in the most decided manner in behalf of the aggrieved party. We have ourselves hesitated until now to express to you our views upon the occurrence because through want of exact information we fostered a doubt as to whether the captain of the Sari Jacinto in his procedure was or was not acting under instructions communicated to him by his Government. We still at this hour incline to admit the latter supposition. Should, however, the first prove to be the correct version of the affair we should find ourselves under the necessity of considering the occurrence of a more serious significance, and to our very great regret regard it not as an isolated fact but much more as a public menace to all existing neutral rights.

The English demands which were addressed to the Cabinet of Washington and upon the acceptance of which the maintenance of peace depends are not exactly known to us, but so far as we are informed we are convinced that no conditions have been made by England by which the dignity of President Lincoln could have reasonably been hurt.

His Majesty the King animated by the most sincere wishes for the welfare of the United States of America has ordered me to advocate energetically with President Lincoln the cause of peace through your mediation, and we would deem ourselves happy if by such means we could contribute to a peaceful solution of a conflict out of which the greatest dangers may spring. It is possible that by this time the President may have decided on and made public his determination. But whatever be its nature, at all events the Royal Government in view of the very intimate relations of genuine friendship which have existed between Prussia and the United States from their foundation desire to minister to a peaceful issue and to place before the Cabinet of Washington with the most unreserved frankness their opinion of the pending affair as well as their inmost wishes respecting it.

I request you to read the preceding dispatch without delay to the Secretary of State and at his request furnish him with a copy of it. In respect to the discharge of this commission I look forward to your report on the subject.

Accept, Monsieur le Baron, the renewed assurances of my most distinguished esteem.

BERNSTORFF.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, January 14, 1862.

Baron VON GEROLT, &c.

SIR: I have now the honor of explaining to you the sentiments of the President touching the matter brought to his notice by an instruction {p.1178} addressed to you by Count Bernstorff under the date of December 25, which paper you read to me at our last interview and of which you have furnished me a copy.

First, I perform a pleasant duty in assuring you that this Government fully and unreservedly accepts the communication thus made by Count Bernstorff as an earnest of the sincere and cordial friendship of His Majesty the King of Prussia toward the United States, and the President is equally satisfied that in making it His Majesty is animated also by a benevolent and noble desire for the preservation of peace among the nations. Counsel given with such motives will never be undervalued by the United States.

Accepting the paper in this spirit it is my duty to submit to you for the information of His Majesty a full copy of the correspondence which has taken place between the British Government and the Government of the United States upon the subject now discussed by Count Bernstorff, namely the capture and detention of certain citizens of this country on board the British mail steamer Trent.

I trust, sir, that these papers will completely satisfy the Government of Prussia that if the general peace of the world is to be broken the fault will not lie in anything that the United States have done to produce such a disaster, or in their omission to do everything which a just and generous power could do to prevent it.

It is very certain, sir, that the rights of belligerents in war generally recognized in international law are as yet very imperfectly defined, while there is scarcely any accord among States concerning the proper peaceful remedies necessary for the redress of injuries committed by or against neutral powers.

The United States at a very early day addressed themselves to the then unappreciated task of securing the incorporation of just, equal and humane principles into the code of maritime war. They have energetically persisted in this great enterprise through all changing events equally when acting as a neutral and when themselves engaged as a belligerent.

Will you allow me the liberty of suggesting for the consideration of your Government the expediency of improving the occasion which has justly excited so many apprehensions to recommend the general policy of this country thus described to the earnest consideration of the European States? It is only in a Spirit of the utmost respect and deference that I take leave to remark that the periods when the United States will have occasion to act the part of a belligerent will probably be few and brief; while judging from past experience we cannot yet hope for so constant a preservation of peace among all the nations of the eastern continent.

Believe me, sir, that in so emphatically submitting this great subject to the consideration of Prussia I am moved by a profound conviction that the Government of that State is eminently distinguished by a generous and just ammunition to meliorate the condition of mankind.

I pray you, sir, to accept renewed assurances of my very high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, January 17, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I have now received copies of all the papers connected with the affair of the Trent.

{p.1179}

The result is in the highest degree satisfactory. I need not add my testimony to the general tribute of admiration of the skillful manner in which the various difficulties and complications attending this unfortunate business have been met or avoided. Thus far in spite of all efforts sedulously made to the contrary the effect on the public opinion has been favorable. The publication of the foreign correspondence during the past season as well as of the latest dispatches has materially corrected the old notion of determined hostility on your part to Great Britain which has been used so mischievously for months past. On the whole I think I may say with confidence that matters look better.

Last Saturday I called at the request of Lord Russell at the foreign office, when his lordship read to me the dispatch which he was then on the point of sending off to Lord Lyons. We thereupon exchanged congratulations on the complete restoration of friendly relations between the two countries. Since that time not only the correspondence already published in America has been printed by authority in the London Gazette, but the later papers written on this side including the very last being that which was read to me.

You will doubtless notice with some curiosity the earlier one, being Lord Russell’s note* of the substance of the conversation held with me on the 19th ultimo at the time I read to him your confidential dispatch to me of the 30th of November.** The circumstances attending that affair have given rise to so much speculation both here and on the continent, and have led to such sharp controversy in the London newspapers that it may be advisable that the Government should understand them correctly.

Considering the paper as confidential of course I took good care that no knowledge of its substance or of the substance of the conference should be extended beyond the limits of this legation. Yet the fact is certain that on the strength of an impression of the occurrence of some such event the funds rose 1 per cent, on the very next day. So general was the idea that the Morning Post, a paper considered here and not without reason as deriving information from high sources, thought proper to notice the rumor on the 21st of December and deliberately to affirm that though a dispatch had indeed been communicated yet that it had reference to other unimportant matters and in no way related to the difficulty about the Trent. Some days later, however, in a summary of the events relating to that case published in the Observer, a weekly paper published on Sunday morning, supposed also to be now and then supplied with authentic information, I noticed at the conclusion a tolerably correct version of the substance of that dispatch. After the appearance of that I had no hesitation in disclosing to persons with whom I conversed my knowledge of its correctness.

It was then with no little surprise that they perceived last week when intelligence was received from America of the existence of such a paper a formal denial in the Post that any such paper had ever been communicated to the British Government. No longer able to deny the existence of it the next step was to affirm that I must have suppressed it. And not satisfied with that the same press went on to supply a motive for doing so in the fact that certain American parties had about the same time appeared in the market buying up stock, which was the cause of the rise in the funds already alluded to. Of course the insinuation was that I was engaged in a heavy stock-jobbing operation for {p.1180} my own benefit and that of my friends. The motive for this concoction of a series of falsehoods which were inevitably to be exposed in a very short space of time seemed difficult to divine. The explanation came almost on the heels of the charge. Lord Russell’s note to Lord Lyons of the 19th of December gave his version of the conversation held on that day. The case was clear to all eyes. But to this day the Post has made no retraction of its statement, has not assigned the smallest justification for making them, neither has it disclaimed the authority upon which they are imputed to have been made.

So great has been the effect of these disclosures in inspiring a belief that there was an intention somewhere to bring on a war that it is not impossible it may be made the basis of some proceedings at the approaching session of Parliament. You will doubtless also perceive that Lord Russell’s note of our conversation on the 19th differs in some particulars from that which I had the honor to submit to you in my dispatch of the 20th of December, No. 93. The reason for this is to be traced to the distinction which his lordship voluntarily drew between my official and unofficial character at the outset. I understood him as intending to answer my two questions only in my private capacity as a person desirous of making my own arrangements in certain contingencies. For that reason I did not consider the part of the conversation relating to them as needing to be reported.

The other portion of his note touching the substance of your dispatch substantially agrees with mine. The casual opinions expressed about the policy of the respective countries were not regarded by me as part of the official language though I have not the least objection to their publication. Whilst his lordship was about it he might as well have inserted his reply to my reference to the part taken by the Government of Great Britain in the negotiation of 1804-9, which was in substance that there were many things said and done by them fifty or sixty years ago which he might not undertake to enter into a defense of now-all which was said pleasantly On both sides without an idea that the official conference was not closed. Yet so difficult is it to retain in the memory a distinct line between formal and casual conversation that I have no disposition in any way to call in question his report which so far as it goes is undeniably more accurate than my own.

What I have here written about it is to account to you for what might otherwise appear an omission of duty on my part.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

* See Russell to Lyons, December 19, p. 1133.

** See Seward to Adams, November 30, p 1108.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, January 17, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... I have reason to believe that the removal of the casus belli in the Trent affair has proved a most serious obstacle in the way of all the calculations made by the party disposed to sow dissension between the two countries.

The expectations that have been raised of a pressure from the manufacturing classes to break the blockade in order to obtain cotton are likewise declining. The stock is yet quite large, and taken in conjunction with what is known to be coining it is believed to be sufficient to keep the mills going at the present rate for six months longer. The large manufacturers have become pretty well reconciled to the reduction of their product, from a conviction that the business had already {p.1181} been overdone and must have ceased to yield any returns had it been continued longer on the former scale.

Such being the ruined condition of the old programme it has been found necessary to direct attention to the preparation of something new. The chief support of the latest schemes is to be traced to the supposed policy of the Emperor of the French. It is believed here that he has already made overtures to the British Government to enter a protest against the blockade as in manner and substance too cruelly effective in some respects and very ineffective in others. It is also affirmed that lie begins to consider it time to agitate the subject of recognition of the Confederate States. I cannot say that the evidence that has been furnished to me on these points is entirely satisfactory, but it is sufficiently so to make it my duty to mention it. Doubtless your sources of information in Paris will give you more precise knowledge of the truth than I can do here.

My main purpose in alluding to it is to call your attention to a singular development made of the policy adopted by the Confederate emissaries here with a view to fortify the movement of their allies in this country. The substance of it has been disclosed by a publication in the Edinburg Scotsman, a well-conducted paper whose sources of information I have heretofore found to be good. I take from its issue on Saturday last, the 11th of January, the following extract:

There exists in London an active and growing party including many members of Parliament having for its object an immediate recognition of the Southern Confederacy on certain understood terms. This party is in communication with the quasi representatives of the South in London and gives out that it sees its way to a desirable arrangement. Our information is that the South acting through its London agents is at least willing to have it understood that in consideration of immediate recognition and the disregard of the paper blockade it would engage for these three things: A treaty of free trade, the prohibition of all import of slaves, and the freedom of all blacks born hereafter. It will easily be seen that if any such terms were offered (but we hesitate to believe the last of them) a pressure in favor of the South will come upon the British Government from more than one formidable section of our public.

I have reason for believing that some such project as this has been actually entertained by the Confederate emissaries. The pressure of the popular feeling against slavery is so great here that their friends feel it impossible to hope to stem it without some such plea in extenuation as can be made out of an offer to do something for ultimate emancipation.

Of course no man acquainted with the true state of things in America can believe for an instant the existence of one particle of good faith in any professions of this kind that may be countenanced by the rebel emissaries here. But I have thought it might not be without its use to recommend that the fact of their sanction of such an agitation should be made known pretty generally in the United States especially among the large class of the friends of the Union in the border States.

If the issue of this contest is to be emancipation with the aid of Great Britain surely the object for which the rebellion against our Government was initiated-the protection and perpetuation of slavery-ceases to be a motive for resisting it further.

If the course of the emissaries here be unauthorized it ought to be exposed here to destroy all further confidence in them. If on the contrary it be authorized it should be equally exposed to the people in the Slave-holding States. In either event the eyes of the people both in Europe and America will be more effectually opened to a conviction of the nature and certain consequences of this great struggle.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

{p.1182}

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[Translation.]

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Paris, January 19, 1862.

M. HENRI MERCIER, Minister of France at Washington.

SIR: I have received the dispatch ... which confirms the news of the restitution of Messrs. Mason and Slidell. You already know what has been the satisfaction which the Government of the Emperor has derived from this.

I now do myself the pleasure of attesting that the communication which you were instructed to present to the cabinet of Washington was received in the same spirit of cordial frankness that inspired it and that the Government of the Emperor was not mistaken in its expectation of finding the United States maintaining that position upon which they had been a long time in accord with France in defense of the same principles.

Receive, sir, the assurances of my high consideration.

THOUVENEL.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Vienna, January 20, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

SIR: No dispatches have been received from the Department of State at this legation since my last. The purpose of this brief communication is simply to express my sincere congratulations upon the able and honorable manner in which the dangers created by the Trent affair have been averted.

I have not thought it a part of my duty to obtrude my reflections or my advice upon the Government whilst this matter was pending. Even had the administration required assistance from abroad-which as the event has proved it did not-there were not wanting able heads and hands at London and Paris to communicate everything of importance in the way of counsel or information. Nor do I desire now that this momentous affair is so fortunately terminated to occupy the time of the Department with any reflections of my own.

I will merely state therefore that during this anxious period of suspense-during the six weeks which have elapsed between the arrival of the news of the arrest of the commissioners and that of their liberation-I have held without wavering one language in all my communications with the members of the Government here and with the representatives of foreign powers-that our Government would do all that was possible in honor and in consistency with international law to avoid a rupture with England. I have always taken the ground that our whole history showed us to have been uniformly the champions of the rights of neutrals and of the largest liberty of the seas, and that I could not imagine under so trivial a temptation that we were now likely to abandon our most cherished principles in exchange for the violent and lawless practice too often pursued by England when belligerent to ourselves and other powers when neutral. I knew that the administration of our affairs was in the hands of upright and sagacious statesmen and I constantly expressed the hope that their treatment of this untoward event would signally put to shame the unjust and venomous spirit by which the English press with a few most honorable exceptions has been characterized.

{p.1183}

I take pleasure in saying that the English ambassador here, Lord Bloomfield, was as unaffectedly sincere in his desire for an amicable settlement of the affair and as magnanimous and courteous in his attitude as the best friend of either country could desire. I may add that all my colleagues manifested the greatest anxiety that peace should be preserved, although it was very difficult for me to inspire many of them with much of my confidence that this fortunate result would be secured.

In regard to the Imperial Government of Austria you have already been informed of their views by the letters of Count Rechberg to His Majesty’s representative at Washington of December 18. I had one or two interviews with the minister during the interval of suspense and took occasion to express with much energy my confidence in the pacific intentions of our Government. Count Rechberg while enlarging with fervor on the calamitous results to the world of a rupture and a war between the United States and Great Britain stated his doubts whether our Government was strong enough to resist the popular pressure or bold enough to confront the popular passion by firmly maintaining the law even at the risk of what might seem like concession.

I told him that the Americans were a reasonable and law-abiding people; that if they were convinced the demands of England were founded in justice and reason and were not accompanied by menace they would sustain their Government in every honorable concession. The picture of the United States Government overborne by a tumultuous, violent, uneducated and unreasoning mob had been painted by hostile and foreign pencils and the model did not exist in nature.

So soon as the result had so amply justified the predictions I had ventured I had another interview with Count Rechberg. The minister in very warm language expressed his satisfaction at the pacific termination to this affair and begged me to convey to the President and to yourself his most sincere congratulations and thanks for the able, temperate, courageous and statesmanlike manner in which the Government had borne itself throughout these trying circumstances. Especially he commended the concluding dispatch of the Secretary of State to Lord Lyons.

Lord Bloomfield too expressed to me his deep satisfaction that the danger of war between the two nations had been averted and his hope that more amicable relations than ever might succeed to this mutual misunderstanding. Nearly every one of my colleagues here have expressed themselves to the same effect and in the strongest terms, and all compliment and congratulate the United States Government upon the prudent and honorable course which it has adopted. These expressions have been so spontaneous and energetic that there can be no doubt of the feeling of relief which is experienced in this part of the continent by the removal of the impending danger.

The reasons why the Government here should deprecate a great maritime conflict between the United States and Great Britain with its inevitable results in Europe are too obvious to need comment. Moreover the consequence of this affair has been to draw from the great Powers strong vindications of the rights of neutrals and of the freedom of the seas, always cherished by the United States when neutral, and it is the general feeling that a victory has been gained for humanity and civilization by the issue of the Trent affair. It may be confidently asserted that there is no true friend to America nor to humanity that does not sincerely rejoice in the decision of the President.

{p.1184}

You are too well acquainted through your able representatives in England and France with the state of public feeling in those countries to require any allusion to it on my part. Nevertheless, as I maintain a constant private correspondence with influential persons of various parties in England I may take the liberty of stating that the cause of our Government is strengthened in public opinion by the recent events. The idea which has been so carefully planted and nurtured in England that our Government desired to force that country into a war in order to escape from a dilemma at home and to cover our incapacity to deal with the Southern insurrection-this idea which to our minds seems like the weak delusion of a sick man’s brain-has taken possession of a considerable portion of the English population. Profligate and unscrupulous writers and speakers have done their best to perpetuate the delusion until it has become almost an article of the national creed. The conduct of the United States Government in the Trent affair has as I am assured by eminent persons in England done much to dispel the fiction.

In regard to the British public no doubt there is a considerable and influential portion which cordially detests the United States, its institutions, its government, its people, and earnestly desires its downfall. Among this portion there is a less numerous but a noisy and ferocious faction which is anxious for a war with us and will make the most of every pretext as they have already done of the Trent affair to precipitate hostilities and to throw the weight of the English nation on the side of the slave Confederacy. These are not theories but facts within my knowledge. The slave-holders have many warm partisans in England and in France. On the other hand there are many in England who do not love us but who for selfish reasons would deprecate hostilities if they can be honorably avoided. And again there is a large, powerful mass who warmly sympathize with our cause. The anti-slavery feeling in England is so strong that it has been necessary for the Southern partisans to persuade the British public that slavery has nothing to do with the American civil war, and this ridiculous notion has found many believers in Europe. It is gravely asserted by many who pass in the world for reasonable beings that the secession was brought about by Southern opposition to tariffs and by the love of free trade! It is superfluous to say that the victims of this delusion see in the recognition of the slave-holders’ Confederacy an additional expansion for English markets combined with the weakening of a hated rival.

...

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

J. LOTHROP MOTLEY.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, January 23, 1862.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c.

SIR: ... We are embarrassed by the attitude of the British Government in regard to the entertainment it gives in its ports to pirates engaged without advantage to any loyal or humane interest in the world in destroying our national commerce-a commerce only less important to Great Britain than it is to the American people. The President cannot but regard this misfortune as a consequence of precipitancy on the part of the British Government which might well have been avoided. I await, however, before giving you instructions upon the subject for the advices which are expected to indicate if not determine the future course of the British Government in regard to our domestic affairs.

{p.1185}

Judging from present appearances just what was required of us by foreign nations with unreasonable impatience is now in good time being accomplished. Federal forces, strong, well appointed and superior in numbers, with all the needful material and means for effective action, confront the insurrection on every side. Its resources and strength are inadequate to resist the pressure, and it is expected soon to give way. ...

We hear continually of purposes entertained by portions of the British people to induce their Government to lend itself to the aid of the insurrection. Our arguments against such an injurious proceeding have been already made known. We have moreover put ourselves upon the practice of justice and liberality toward the British nation and people in all our intercourse with them.

I do not know therefore that we can do more than wait for the threatened development and meet it as we best can, if it must come. Happily every day that passes finds us a people more united and determined in maintaining and preserving the integrity of the Republic.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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FOREIGN OFFICE, [London,] January 23, 1862.

[LORD LYONS, Washington.]

MY LORD: I mentioned in my dispatch of the 10th instant* that Her Majesty’s Government differed from Mr. Seward in some of the conclusions at which he had arrived, and that I should state to you on a future occasion wherein these differences consisted. I now proceed to do so. It is necessary to observe that I propose to discuss the questions involved in this correspondence solely on the principles of international law.

Mr. Seward himself speaking of the capture of the four gentlemen taken from on board the Trent says: “The question before us is whether this proceeding was authorized by and conducted according to the law of nations.” This is in fact the nature of the question which has been but happily is no longer at issue. It concerned the respective rights of belligerents and of neutrals. We must therefore discard entirely from our minds the allegation that the captured persons were rebels and we must consider them only as enemies of the United States at war with its Government, for that is the ground on which Mr. Seward ultimately places the discussion. It is the only ground upon which foreign governments can treat it.

The first inquiry that arises therefore is as Mr. Seward states it, “Were the persons named and their supposed dispatches contraband of war?” Upon this question Her Majesty’s Government differ entirely from Mr. Seward. The general right and duty of a neutral power to maintain its own communications and friendly relations with both belligerents cannot be disputed.

A neutral nation [says Vattel] continues with the two parties at war in the several relations nature has placed between nations. It is ready to perform toward both of them all the duties of humanity reciprocally due from nation to nation.

In the performance of these duties on both sides the neutral nation has itself a most direct and material interest; especially when it has numerous citizens resident in the territories of both belligerents; and when its citizens resident both there and at home have property of

* See Russell to Lyons, p. 1170. {p.1186} great value in the territories of the belligerents which may be exposed to danger from acts of confiscation and violence if the protection of their own Government should be withheld.

This is the case with respect to British subjects during the present civil war in North America. Acting upon these principles, Sir William Scott in the case of the Caroline during the war between Great Britain and France decided that the carrying of dispatches from the French ambassador resident in the United States to the Government of France by an U. S. merchant ship was no violation of the neutrality of the United States in the war between Great Britain and France, and that such dispatches could not be treated as contraband of war.

The neutral country [he said] has a right to preserve its relations with the enemy, and you are not at liberty to conclude that any communication between them can partake in any degree of the nature of hostility against you. The enemy may have his hostile projects to be attempted with the neutral State, but your reliance is on the integrity of that neutral State, that it will not favor nor participate in such designs but as far as its own councils and actions are concerned will oppose them. And if there should be private reasons to suppose that this confidence in the good faith of the neutral State has a doubtful foundation that is matter for the caution of the government to be counteracted by just measures of preventive policy; but it is no ground on which this court can pronounce that the neutral carrier has violated his duty by bearing dispatches which as far as he can know may be presumed to be of an innocent nature and in the maintenance of a pacific connection.

And he continues shortly afterward:

It is to be considered also with regard to this question what may be due to the convenience of the neutral State; for its interests may require that the intercourse of correspondence with the enemy’s country should not he altogether interdicted. It might be thought to amount almost to a declaration that an ambassador from an enemy shall not reside in the neutral State if he is declared to be debarred from the only means of communicating with his own. For to what useful purpose can he reside there without the opportunities of such a communication? It is too much to say that all the business of the two States shall be transacted by the minister of the neutral State resident in the enemy’s country. The practice of nations has allowed to neutral States the privilege of receiving ministers from the belligerent States, and the use and convenience of an immediate negotiation with them.

That these principles must necessarily extend to every kind of diplomatic communication between government and government, whether by sending or receiving ambassadors or commissioners personally or by sending or receiving dispatches from or to such ambassadors or commissioners, or from or to the respective governments, is too plain to need argument; and it seems no less clear that such communications must be as legitimate and innocent in their first commencement as afterward, and that the rule cannot be restricted to the case in which diplomatic relations are already formally established by the residence of an accredited minister of the belligerent power in the neutral country. It is the neutrality of the one party to the communications and not either the mode of the communication or the time when it first takes place which furnishes the test of the true application of the principle.

The only distinction arising out of the peculiar circumstances of a civil war and of the non-recognition of the independence of the de facto government of one of the belligerents either by the other belligerent or by the neutral power is this, that-

For the purpose of avoiding the difficulties which might arise from a formal and positive solution of these questions diplomatic agents are frequently substituted who are clothed with the powers and enjoy the immunities of ministers, though they are not invested with the representative character nor entitled to diplomatic honors.”*

{p.1187}

Upon this footing Messrs. Mason and Slidell who are expressly stated by Mr. Seward to have been sent as pretended ministers plenipotentiary from the Southern States to the courts of Saint James and of Paris must have been sent, and would have been if at all received; and the reception of these gentlemen upon this footing could not have been justly regarded according to the law of nations as a hostile or unfriendly act toward the United States.

Nor indeed is it clear that these gentlemen would have been clothed with any powers or have enjoyed any immunities beyond those accorded to diplomatic agents not officially recognized. It appears to Her Majesty’s Government to be a necessary and certain deduction from these principles that the conveyance of public agents of this character from Havana to Saint Thomas on their way to Great Britain and France and of their credentials or dispatches (if any) on board the Trent was not and could not be a violation of the duties of neutrality on the part of that vessel, and both for that reason and also because the destination of these persons and of their dispatches was bona fide neutral it is in the judgment of Her Majesty’s Government clear and certain that they were not contraband.

The doctrine of contraband has its whole foundation and origin in the principle which is nowhere more accurately explained than in the following passage of Bynkershoek. After stating in general terms the duty of impartial neutrality he adds:

Et sane id, quod modo dicebam, non tantum ratio docet, sed et usus, inter omnes fere gentes receptus. Quamvis enim libera sint cum amicorum nostrorum hostibus commercia, usu tamen placuit, ne alterutrum his rebus juvemus, quibus bellum contra amicos nostros instruatur et foveatur. Non licet igitur alterutri advehere ea, quibus in bello gerendo opus habet; ut sunt tormenta, arma, et quorum præcipuus in bello usus, milites. ... Optimo jure interdictum est, ne quid eorum hostibus subministremus; quia his rebus nos ipsi quodammodo videremur amicis nostris bellum facere.

The principle of contraband of war is here clearly explained and it is impossible that men or dispatches which do not come within that principle can in this sense be contraband. The penalty of knowingly carrying contraband of war is as Mr. Seward states nothing less than the confiscation of the ship; but it is impossible that this penalty can be incurred when the neutral has done no more than employ means usual among nations for maintaining his own proper relations with one of the belligerents. It is of the very essence of the definition of contraband that the articles should have a hostile and not a neutral destination.

Goods [says Lord Stowell] going to a neutral port cannot come under the description of contraband, all goods going there being equally lawful. The rule respecting contraband as I have always understood it is that articles must be taken in delicto-in the actual prosecution of the voyage to an enemy’s port.

On what just principle can it be contended that a hostile destination is less necessary or a neutral destination more noxious for constituting a contraband character in the case of public agents or dispatches than in the case of arms and ammunition?

Mr. Seward seeks to support his conclusion on this point by a reference to the well-known dictum of Sir William Scott in the case of the Caroline that “you may stop the ambassador of your enemy on his passage;” and to another dictum of the same judge in the case of the Orozembo that civil functionaries “if sent for a purpose intimately connected with the hostile operations” may fall under the same rule with persons whose employment is directly military. These quotations are as it seems to Her Majesty’s Government irrelevant. The words of {p.1188} Sir W. Scott are in both cases applied by Mr. Seward in a sense different from that in which they are used. Sir William Scott does not say that an ambassador sent from a belligerent to a neutral State may be stopped as contraband while on his passage on board a neutral vessel belonging to that or any other neutral State nor that if he be not contraband the other belligerent would have any right to stop him on such a voyage. The sole object Sir William Scott had in view was to explain the extent of the limits of the doctrine of the inviolability of ambassadors in virtue of that character, for he says:

The limits that are assigned to the operations of war against them by Vattel and other writers upon the subject are that you may exercise your right of war against them wherever the character of hostility exists. You may stop the ambassador of your enemy on his passage, but when he has arrived and has taken upon him the functions of his office and has been admitted in his representative character he becomes a sort of middle man entitled to peculiar privileges, as set apart for the protection of the relations of amity and peace, in maintaining which all nations are in some degree interested.

There is certainly nothing in this passage from which an inference can be drawn so totally opposed to the general tenure of the whole judgment as that an ambassador proceeding to the country to which he is sent and on board a neutral vessel belonging to that country can be stopped on the ground that the conveyance of such an ambassador is a breach of neutrality, which it must be if he be contraband of war. Sir William Scott is here expressing not his own opinion merely but the doctrine which he considers to have been laid down by writers of authority upon the subject. No writer of authority has ever suggested that an ambassador proceeding to a neutral State on board one of its merchant ships is contraband of war. The only writer named by Sir William Scott is Vattel, whose words are these:

On pent encore attaquer et arrêter ses gens (i. e., gens de l’ennemi) partout on on a la liberté d’exercer des actes d’hostilité. Non seulement done on pent justement refuser le passage aux ministres qu’un ennemi envoyé à d’autres souverains; on les arrête même, s’ils entreprennent de passer secrètement et sans permission dans les lieux dont on est maitre.

And he adds as an example, the seizure of the French ambassador when passing through the dominions of Hanover during war between England and France by the King of England, who was also Sovereign of Hanover. The rule therefore to be collected from these authorities is that you may stop an enemy’s ambassador in any place of which you are yourself the master or in any other place where you have a right to exercise acts of hostility. Your own territory or ships of your own country are places of which you are yourself the master. The enemy’s territory or the enemy’s ships are places in which you have a right to exercise acts of hostility. Neutral vessels guilty of no violation of the laws of neutrality are places where you have no right to exercise acts of hostility. It would be a perversion of the doctrine that ambassadors have peculiar privileges to argue that they are less protected than other men. The right conclusion is that an ambassador sent to a neutral power is inviolable on the high seas as well as in neutral waters while under the protection of the neutral flag.

The other dictum of Sir William Scott in the case of the Orozembo is even less pertinent to the present question. That related to the case of a neutral ship which upon the effect of the evidence given on the trial was held by the court to have been engaged as an enemy’s transport to convey the enemy’s military officers and some of his civil officers, whose duties were intimately connected with military operations, from the enemy’s country to one of the enemy’s colonies which was about to be the {p.1189} theater of those operations-the whole being done under color of a simulated neutral destination. But as long as a neutral government within whose territory no military operations are carried on adheres to its profession of neutrality the duties of civil officers on a mission to that government and within its territory cannot possibly be “connected with” any “military operations” in the sense in which these words were used by Sir William Scott, as indeed is rendered quite clear by the passages already cited from his own judgment in the case of the Caroline. In connection with this part of the subject it is necessary to notice a remarkable passage in Mr. Seward’s note in which he says:

I assume in the present case-what as I read British authorities is regarded by Great Britain herself as true maritime law-that the circumstances that the Trent was proceeding from a neutral port to another neutral port does not modify the right of the belligerent capture.

If indeed the immediate and ostensible voyage of the Trent had been to a neutral port but her ultimate and real destination to some port of the enemy her Majesty’s Government might have been better able to understand the reference to British authorities contained in this passage. It is undoubtedly the law as laid down by British authorities, that if the real destination of the vessel be hostile (that is, to the enemy or the enemy’s country) it cannot be covered and rendered innocent by a fictitious destination to a neutral port. But if the real terminus of the voyage be bona fide in a neutral territory no English nor indeed as her Majesty’s Government believe any American authority can be found which has ever given countenance to the doctrine that either men or dispatches can be subject during such a voyage and on board such a neutral vessel to belligerent capture as contraband of war.

Her Majesty’s Government regard such a doctrine as wholly irreconcilable with the true principles of maritime law, and certainly with those principles as they have been understood in the courts of this country. It is to be further observed that packets engaged in the postal service and keeping up the regular and periodical communications between the different countries of Europe and America and other parts of the world though in the absence of treaty stipulations they may not be exempted from visit and search in time of war, nor from the penalties of any violation of neutrality if proved to have been knowingly committed, are still when sailing in the ordinary and innocent course of their legitimate employment which consists in the conveyance of mails and passengers entitled to peculiar favor and protection from all Governments in whose service they are engaged. To detain, disturb or interfere with them without the very gravest cause would be an act of the most noxious and injurious character not only to a vast number and variety of individual and private interests but to the public interests of neutral and friendly Governments.

It has been necessary to dwell upon these points in some detail because they involve principles of the highest importance and because if Mr. Seward’s arguments were acted upon as sound the most injurious consequences might follow. For instance in the present war according to Mr. Seward’s doctrine any packet-ship carrying a Confederate agent from Dover to Calais or from Calais to Dover might be captured and carried to New York. In case of a war between Austria and Italy the conveyance of an Italian minister or agent might cause the capture of a neutral packet plying between Malta and Marseilles or between Malta and Gibraltar, the condemnation of the ship at Trieste and the confinement of the minister or agent in an Austrian prison. So in the late War between Great Britain and France on the one hand and Russia on {p.1190} the other a Russian minister going from Hamburg to Washington in an American ship might have been brought to Portsmouth, the ship might have been condemned and the minister sent to the Tower of London. So also a Confederate vessel of war might capture a Cunard steamer on its way from Halifax to Liverpool on the ground of its carrying dispatches from Mr. Seward to Mr. Adams.

In view therefore of the erroneous principles asserted by Mr. Seward and the consequences they involve Her Majesty’s Government think it necessary to declare that they would not acquiesce in the capture of any British merchant ship in circumstances similar to those of the Trent and that the fact of its being brought before a prize court though it would not alter the character would not diminish the gravity of the offense against the law of nations which would thereby be committed.

Having disposed of the question whether the persons named and their supposed dispatches were contraband of war I am relieved from the necessity of discussing the other questions raised by Mr. Seward, namely, whether Captain Wilkes had lawfully a right to stop and search the Trent for these persons and their supposed dispatches; whether that right assuming that he possessed it was exercised by him in a lawful and proper manner, and whether he had a right to capture the persons found on board.

The fifth question put by Mr. Seward, namely whether Captain Wilkes exercised the alleged right of capture in the manner allowed and recognized by the law of nations is resolved by Mr. Seward himself in the negative.

I [will not] conclude, however, without noticing one very singular passage in Mr. Seward’s dispatch. Mr. Seward asserts that-

If the safety of this Union required the detention of the captured persons it would be the right and duty of this Government to detain them.

He proceeds to say that the waning proportions of the insurrection and the comparative unimportance of the captured persons themselves forbid him from resorting to that defense. Mr. Seward does not here assert any right founded on international law however inconvenient or irritating to neutral nations. He entirely loses sight of the vast difference which exists between the exercise of an extreme right and the commission of unquestionable wrong. His frankness compels me to be equally open and to inform him that Great Britain could not have submitted to the perpetration of that wrong however flourishing might have been the insurrection in the South and however important the persons captured might have been.

Happily all danger of hostile collision on this subject has been avoided. It is the earnest hope of Her Majesty’s Government that similar dangers if they should arise may be averted by peaceful negotiations conducted in the spirit which befits the organs of two great nations.

I request you to read this dispatch to Mr. Seward and give him a copy of it.

I am, &c.,

RUSSELL.

* Wheaton: “Elements,” Part III, Chap. I, sec. 5.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, January 24, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: I am glad to perceive ... that the Government is fully alive to a sense of the growing danger of European interference in {p.1191} American affairs. The indications of this disposition have become far more decided since the expectations formed from the case of the Trent have been disappointed. The first pretext seized on in France and eagerly caught up here has been the alleged destruction of the harbor of Charleston, and so impressible is the popular mind in both countries to any unfavorable representation of our action that many of those really well disposed joined in the clamor even before they were possessed of any of the facts. The next will be the inefficiency of the blockade or else its excessive severity. And so it will go on until the public opinion shall be worked up to the proper pitch to sanction a positive interference. Already the Observer, one of the newspapers occasionally used as an organ of the minister, has distinctly alluded to the necessity of another Navarino, whilst another, the Globe, in a more subdued tone hints with equal significance at the expediency of an armed intervention to put a stop to the war.

...

I regret to say that the favorable indications developed for a few days after the reception of the answer in the case of the Trent are not brightening. We are now preparing for the meeting of Parliament when the course of the ministry will be more clearly defined and the temper of the House of Commons be tested. I shall do all in my power to fortify the action of our friends, but in order to do so effectually it will be necessary for me to be kept continually informed of the views of the Government on any and all the questions that are likely to come into controversy. I have already been asked to give some light about the policy in filling up the [Charleston] harbor of which I have no information. Yet I am well convinced that nothing will long avail to prevent a recognition if not positive intervention unless it be success in the field at home. The latest accounts of the state of things in the insurgent country as shown from their own newspapers have done something to check confidence heretofore felt in the solidity of their situation. Any information of an authentic character touching the efficiency of the blockade, or their resources, their domestic condition, the disposition of the slaves and their political objects which could be supplied to me might be used to some advantage. The impression has been that they embody all the wisdom, all the military skill and all the propriety of deportment to be found in America. We who know the truth may smile at this singular hallucination, but the fact if not corrected will be not the less an element in the formation of an ultimate policy in Europe.

In conclusion I will venture to say that the course of events in America during the next six weeks must in a great measure determine the future of the Government of the United States. For it is they and they only which can control the manner in which foreign nations will make up their minds hereafter to consider them. And in this sense the absence of action will be almost equally decisive.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Saint Petersburg, January 24, 1862.

Hon. W. II. SEWARD, Secretary of State, &c.

SIR: I called on Prince Gortchakoff to-day at his own request when he read me the letter which he had already dispatched to Baron de {p.1192} Stoeckl congratulating our Government upon its late adjustment of the Trent affair. The letter you will perceive is well written and very favorable in its tone to our Government.

He asked what I thought of its publication here within a week. I said it was somewhat unusual, but the British Government had published diplomatic correspondence before it was complete by arrival at its destination. He added if I thought it would aid us in this crisis of public formation of opinion in Europe that he would have it then put in the official paper, being the Saint Petersburg Journal. I told him I liked the style and spirit of the letter and believed it would greatly forward our interests by its immediate publication. He responded that he was anxious to do us all the good offices possible (without interfering directly in our home troubles) as the great American nation and that he would then publish it at once.

He then repeated to me his wishes for the restoration of the Union. He expressed his fears if any reverse should happen to us that England would at once make common cause with the South, acknowledge her independence and finally break down the power of the Republic. He said in addition that if we should succeed in conquering the South that we would have a sore and discontented population upon our hands which would ever prove a source of weakness, and that he felt that we ought to make a generous offer of reconciliation to the South. I responded that I agreed with him; that we were always and were now ready to deal justly and generously with the South should she be willing to listen to reason, but failing to hear our appeals that we would war it out to the bitter end before we would allow our natural boundaries to be broken by them.

I must confess that I very much fear England’s interference. My first impressions in Europe are not changed nor weakened but rather strengthened. Nothing but quick and effective success will save us from foreign enemies. If slavery could be rooted out of our system I think any sacrifice of life and money now would not be too much to pay for such consummation.

But as it seems now to be determined to stand by slaveholders’ rights though all others may perish I confess I think that urgent appeals ought to be made at once to the South to save itself by accepting anew the Constitution and the Union with all guaranties of slavery as of old unequivocally expressed. This should, however, be a secret and confidential proffer of the administration without making its publication demoralize the troops and the country. For my part I venture to suggest that the President send one of his most able diplomatists to Jeff. Davis’ government in an unofficial way with the olive branch, ready upon the gaining of any victory of importance on our part to win him back to allegiance.

You think you can trust England. I do not. So I would prepare at once for a war with that power as an inevitable result of any reverses which would prevent a subjection of the South before the 1st of April next. But you may have sources of forming an opinion which are not open to me. I tell you simply how I look at this issue. One thing is certain: war or no war Portland Harbor ought to be at once fortified in the most permanent and effective manner.

The tones of European Governments are greatly changed since the rendition of Mason and Slidell. If England now seeks a quarrel with us we will have all liberal Europe on our side. But she never cares what people think when she sees her way open to success. Upon our own strong right arm we must rest.

{p.1193}

I trust you will pardon me for so often venturing to make suggestions in reference to our home affairs. My anxiety about the issue must plead my apology.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

C. M. CLAY.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, January 31, 1862.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c. [London.]

SIR: Your dispatch of January 10 has been received. If it be true as you seem to think possible that we have only averted an occasion for the hostilities which the British Government indicated, and have not at all removed the cause of those hostilities, we still have every reason to be satisfied with our course in the Trent affair.

The American people could not have been united in a war which being waged to maintain Captain Wilkes’ act of force would have practically been a voluntary war against Great Britain. At the same time it would have been a war in 1861 against Great Britain for a cause directly the opposite of the cause for which we waged war against the same power in 1812. We shall practice toward Great Britain not only justice but moderation and even liberality in all the exciting transactions which this unhappy domestic contest of ours shall produce.

We have not left Great Britain in doubt of our own confidence in our ability to maintain the integrity of the Union or of our grounds for it notwithstanding the embarrassment which we experienced in the indirect support which the insurgents derive from nations whose rights we have invariably respected.

We are not unaware nor do we complain of the impatience in Europe which exacts from us quick and conclusive victories. We can excuse it because even among ourselves at home there is a failure to apprehend that the insurrection has disclosed itself over an area of vast extent, and that military operations to be successful must be on a scale heretofore practically unknown in the art of war. At the same time we are not unaware of the fact that the impatience of European nations is due chiefly to the inconveniences which they suffer from the contest and not to a careful consideration of the strength and energies of the parties engaged in it. We have every motive they can have and many other infinitely stronger motives for bringing the war to the speediest possible successful conclusion.

We expect that Great Britain will realize not only this truth but another important one, namely, that any solution, of this controversy by a division of the Union would be detrimental to British commerce and to British prestige. Believing this we expect that Great Britain will not become a party in the contest against the United States. If insensible to these considerations the British Government shall intervene then we must meet the emergency with the spirit and resolution which become a great people.

The tone of the public virtue is becoming sounder and stronger every day. Military and naval operations go on with success hindered only by the weather which for almost a month has rendered the coasts unsafe and the roads impassable.

I have observed that the British people were satisfied with the vigor and energy of the preparations which their Government made for the war which they expected to occur between them and ourselves. It may be profitable for us all to reflect that the military and naval preparations {p.1194} which have been made by this Government to put down the insurrection have every day since the 1st day of May last equaled if not surpassed the daily proportion of those war preparations which were regarded as so demonstrative in Great Britain.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, January 31, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: The expectations of a declaration of some kind from the Emperor of the French on the subject of the American difficulty which might be made the basis of an agitation here have been disappointed. Whatever is to be done must be originated in Parliament by the avowed friends of the rebels.

All the particular grounds of complaint against the United States have been successively removed from under them. The parties seized in the Trent are now safe on this side of the Atlantic. The blocking up of Charleston Harbor is shown to be no real grievance. The inefficiency of the blockade is the only remaining proposition which it is attempted to support by evidence. Even that would be met by proof drawn from the admissions made by the insurgents at home if it could have been supplied in a tolerably authentic form. I regret that I have not at my command any official tabular statement of the number of vessels turned off or taken during the period of the blockade or evidence of the price of the various commodities of foreign growth or manufacture rendered scarce by the operations of the blockading force. But inasmuch as the Government is obviously disinclined to sustain an objection of this kind just now the probability is that nothing will be made out of it.

There is then not a particle of solid material for the dissatisfaction with the Government of the United States based on its own policy to make a quarrel out of. Resort must then be had to the simple objection that the rebellion has not been suppressed. This will be urged as justifiable cause for early recognition; and upon that issue the sense of the House of Commons will probably be sooner or later taken. At this moment it is impossible to estimate the strength of parties or the character of the division. The impression is that the conservatives generally favor such a measure of which thus far I see no evidence beyond the general tendency of one or two newspapers in that interest which I have had occasion to suspect not to be trustworthy organs.

I am rather inclined to the belief that this subject has not yet become a party question in the eyes of the members of either side. Each individual therefore indulges in his particular opinion. There is no knowing how soon it may become so. That will depend upon the chances of making anything out of it in case of a conflict. The ministry are notoriously feeble in Parliament whilst the conservatives are strong only whilst confining themselves strictly within a negative position. Hence the situation of both parties rests equally upon an avoidance at least for the present of test questions. Lord Palmerston is sufficiently popular to make it hazardous to attempt to dislodge him by a coup de main in Parliament which would inevitably be followed by a formidable opposition headed by him. The more eligible course has thus far been thought to be to await the moment which can not be long delayed of {p.1195} his retreat, when Lord Derby is expected to be summoned to take his place with the consent of all but the radical section of the people. This will be an era for the reconstruction of parties.

Such has been the programme down to the assembling of Parliament. What shape things will take afterward it is impossible to predict. That the American question is to be a serious element in any calculation of its action everything conspires to make us believe. I shall endeavor so far as it may be within my power to keep you informed of the movements as they occur.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, January 31, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: There is a good deal of feeling among the workingmen in this country on the subject of America and the treatment experienced by the Government of the United States at the hands of the leading newspapers. I have already received an official copy of the proceedings of one public meeting held in London, which being addressed only to me I have thought it sufficient to notice simply by a letter of acknowledgment.

This day I have received a visit from Mr. Beal who has placed in my hands a copy of the resolutions passed at another meeting in a different part of the town and herewith transmitted with a request that I would forward them. I told Mr. Beal that it was not the desire of the Government through me to attempt to influence the public opinion of Great Britain or its policy by any action whatsoever, but that I should cheerfully accede to his request to forward the resolutions to my Government as a simple expression of good will which I did not doubt would be received by it with the greatest pleasure.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

[Inclosure.]

9 CHARLES STREET, PORTMAN SQUARE, January 29, 1862.

His Excellency THE AMERICAN MINISTER.

HONORABLE SIR: I have the honor to present you with the inclosed resolutions passed at a meeting of workingmen at the New Hall, Edgware road, on Monday evening, January 27, 1862.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

H. BEAL.

[Sub-inclosure.]

To the PRESIDENT AND MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT:

The following resolutions passed at a meeting of workingmen, held at the New Hall, Edgware road, on Monday evening, January 27, 1862:

That this meeting is of opinion that the rebel agents, Mason and Slidell, now on their way from America to England are utterly unworthy the moral sympathies of the working classes of this country inasmuch as they hold property in slaves and are the avowed agents of a tyrannical faction now in rebellion against the Republic in America, and are the sworn enemies against the social and political rights of the working class. of all countries.

{p.1196}

That in the opinion of this meeting, considering the ill-disguised efforts of the Times and other misleading journals to misrepresent public opinion here on all American questions to embroil us on any pretext in war with millions of our kinsmen to decry democratic institutions under the trials to which the Republic is exposed, it is the duty of workingmen especially as unrepresented in the national Senate to express their sympathy with the United States in their gigantic struggle for the preservation of the Union; to denounce the flagrant dishonesty and slave-holding advocacy of the Times and kindred journals of the aristocracy and to exercise an emphatic expression of public opinion in favor of the strictest interpretation of the doctrine of non-intervention in the affairs of the United States; in favor of the reference of all disputes which may arise to arbitration or to the settlement by commissioners specially appointed by each State; to denounce the war policy of the stockjobbing journals, and to give expression to the warmest sympathy with the Abolitionists of America in their efforts to convert the struggle to an ultimate settlement of the slavery question.

Signed a behalf of the committee.

THOMAS STEDMAN, Chairman.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, February 3, 1862.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., &c.

SIR: Your dispatch of the 17th ultimo was received on the 1st instant by the same mail which brought to Lord Lyons the reply of Earl Russell to the note of the British minister which conveyed my answer on the subject of the capture of the Trent. A copy of that reply was delivered to me by Lord Lyons.

This paper and other official communications from London authorized us to suppose that the friendly relations between Great Britain and the United States are now established on a permanent foundation. A note addressed by M. Thouvenel to Mr. Mercier has been submitted by him to me, which is regarded as assuring us that France too entertains no designs injurious or unfriendly to the United States. I need not say that this information was received by the President with very sincere pleasure. ...

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, February 5, 1862.

JAMES S. PIKE, Esq., &c., The Hague.

SIR: ... I thank you sincerely for your attention and diligence in giving me information of the action of opinion on the continent in regard to the disposition of the question concerning the Trent, and also for your speculations concerning the probable future curse of European opinion upon the contest in which we are engaged.

Incidents and even accidents, domestic and foreign, enter much into all the estimates which can be formed on either side of the ocean. There will be incidents and accidents in the future as there have been in the past and these cannot now be foreknown. I think I have heretofore said to you that I had perceived any opinion discovered in Europe is only a later appearance there of an opinion which had already manifested itself among ourselves.

Practically the American people were dismayed by the outbreak of the rebellion. Europe accepted it as already completed. The American people rallied and Europe considered. The American people recoiled after the battle of Bull Run. Europe pronounced the question ended. The American people were confident of success and Europe admitted the hopefulness of their affairs until the Trent question came {p.1197} up. The American people thought that war waged by Great Britain against us when we were divided would be calamitous. Europe decided that it would be ruinous.

Just now the tide of success is with us; the strength of our position is seen and felt by ourselves and acknowledged by the insurgents. If we go on as we have begun making progress against the insurrection, and if at the same time we practice justice in all our dealings with foreign nations I feel assured that European States will consider well before they engage in a war against us in violation of all moral right and with such questionable prospects of benefits to themselves.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, February 7, 1862.

M. HENRI MERCIER, &c.

SIR: I cannot deny myself the pleasure of expressing to you my gratification with which the President has received the cordial assurances of good will and satisfaction in the disposition of the affair of the Trent conveyed to this Government in M. Thouvenel’s dispatch to you of the 19th of January which you in so obliging a manner read to me, and a copy of which at my request you delivered to me on Saturday last.

I trust, sir, that the European States will on no occasion more than on the one which has just passed have reason to doubt that the United States while acting loyally to themselves will at the same time prove loyal also to the best principles and traditions of their history.

It shall not be a fault on their part if emerging from their present troubles they do not retain the respect, good will and fraternal sympathy of all enlightened nations. Have the goodness in your own way to make these sentiments known to M. Thouvenel.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, February 7, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy of Her Majesty’s speech to both Houses of Parliament together with the Morning Post newspaper of this morning giving a report of the debate in the two Houses yesterday on the address.*

It will be perceived that both Lord Russell and Lord Palmerston announce quite distinctly the intention of the Government to maintain its present position. The position of Lord Derby on the other hand is somewhat equivocal and would seem to imply an organized movement if it were not for the firmer tone of Mr. D’Israeli in the other House. On the whole the expression of sentiment so far as it goes is favorable. The debate will however take (mite a different shape when it comes to the questions presented in detail. There is no reason to doubt that a movement will then be made in whatever direction may be thought most {p.1198} likely at the moment to be favorable to the insurgents. The earnestness with which it will be pressed will largely depend on the nature of the intelligence received from the United States.

...

I see by the newspapers that Mr. Yancey has embarked in a steamer to the West Indies on his way home. He has labored indefatigably upon the newspaper press and not without a good deal of success. It is said though I know not with what truth that large sums have been expended in this direction. The condition of the press is now so peculiar in this country that it is unusually open to such influences. I have not time to explain the reasons for this statement for they run deeply into the moral and political condition of the people. At some future moment I may make it the subject of a particular communication.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

* Inclosures omitted.

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NEW YORK, February 11, 1862.

Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

SIR: The Jura which arrived at Portland last night with foreign news to the 31st gives the following as an extract from the French Emperor’s speech:

The civil war which desolates America has greatly compromised our commercial interests; so long, however, as the rights of neutrals are respected we must confine ourselves to expressing wishes for an early termination of these dissensions.

The steamer La Plata with Messrs. Mason and Slidell on board arrived at Southampton on the 29th. They were courteously received but no demonstration was made. Mr. Mason at latest dates remained in London but Slidell has proceeded to Paris.

Very respectfully,

E. S. SANFORD, American Telegraph Company.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, February 17, 1862.

J. LOTHROP MOTLEY, Esq., &c., Vienna.

SIR: Your dispatch of January 20 * has been received. I am very glad to learn that our disposition of the Trent affair is regarded with so much favor by the Austrian Government and in the diplomatic circle at Vienna.

We have not been insensible to the impatience which you describe as existing in Europe for a speedy termination of our unhappy civil war and to the possible danger of foreign intervention if it should be unreasonably protracted. It has seemed very obvious to me that this foreign impatience is most unreasoning and most unjust. Yet I have felt no disposition to complain of it. It was only a reflex of the same popular impatience exhibited in our own country. In Europe it is naturally enough aggravated by the absence of those weighty political interests which have at home so unavailingly counseled prudence and patience in a conflict in which not merely partial or temporary interests are involved but in which the national integrity and even the national existence are at stake.

{p.1199}

Military and naval successes, however, are in good time rewarding the careful and elaborate measures of the Government. Popular apprehension and distrust have already vanished before these triumphs so signally indicative of the complete restoration of the national authority, and we may therefore justly expect similar results in Europe. The toleration that could not be allowed there to a republic that seemed unfortunate will perhaps not be denied when it is seen that it can when it becomes necessary defend itself with powers surpassing those of a limited monarchy or despotism.

Under no other form of constitution could any nation have encountered with so much resolution and vigor a revolution so formidably instituted for the extension of human slavery. Perhaps just now in the light of our more cheering prospects this extraordinary feature of our cause may again be recognized in Europe.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* See p. 1182.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, Berlin, February 17, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... Your reply * to the Prussian note on the Trent affair which the newspapers have published has been very well received everywhere, and the Union success in Kentucky is causing universal rejoicing as the harbinger of the speedy overthrow of the rebellion. May the ardent hopes it has given rise to not again be disappointed.

I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,

N. B. JUDD.

* Seward to Von Gerolt, January 14, p. 1177.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, February 21, 1862.

Right Hon. Lord LYONS, &c.

MY LORD: I have submitted to the President the copy of the instruction from Earl Russell* I which you left with me and which bears the date of January 23.

In this paper Earl Russell sets forth certain points upon which the British Government differs from some of the conclusions which I presented to you in my note** upon the Trent affair of the 26th of December last. It is perceived that these differences do not disturb the conclusion contained in that paper upon which the case of the Trent was disposed of by this Government. The differences stated by Earl Russell involve questions of neutral rights in maritime warfare which though of confessed importance are not practically presented in any case of conflict now existing between the United States and Great Britain.

It is very desirable, however, that these questions shall be settled if possible by an early understanding between the two Governments. Nevertheless Earl Russell I think will agree with me that they relate only to a part of the international law of maritime war, while there are other and kindred questions equally important and equally likely to arise in the disturbed condition of affairs which exists on this continent and in any conflict which may happen in Europe. All such questions moreover affect not only these two nations but all the other maritime powers.

{p.1200}

Earl Russell need not be reminded that the necessity which has existed for meliorations of the law of maritime war in regard to neutrals has been a subject of debates and even of conventions of such powers. The friendly relations which this Government holds to such powers require that all that it does in this connection shall be done with their full knowledge and with an expressed desire for their co-operation. This Government has taken an active part in seeking to promote such meliorations through such conventions. Its views on this subject have undergone no change. It will cheerfully second any negotiations to that end which Great Britain or any other maritime power will inaugurate. If it shall seem preferable it will itself initiate such proceedings. Our ministers accredited to such powers will at an early day receive full instructions to this effect.

In the meantime your lordship may assure Earl Russell that while the United States will justly claim as their own the belligerent rights which the customary practice allows to nations engaged in war according to our present convictions there is no melioration of the maritime law or of the actual practice of maritime war that the leading maritime States including Great Britain shall think desirable which will not be cheerfully assented to by the United States, even to the most liberal asylum for persons and the extreme point of exemption of private property from confiscation in maritime war.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to your lordship the assurance of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* Russell to Lyons, p 1185.

** Seward to Lyons, p. 1145.

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WASHINGTON, February 21, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, &c.

SIR: I will without any loss of time communicate to her Majesty’s Government the note which you have to-day done me the honor to write to me with regard to Earl Russell’s dispatch to me of the 23d of last month, on certain questions of international law connected with the case of the Trent.

I have the honor to be, with high consideration, sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

LYONS.

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WASHINGTON, February 25, 1862.

To the SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I transmit to Congress a copy of an instruction from Prince Gortchakoff to M. de Stoeckl, the minister of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Russia accredited to this Government, and of a note of the Secretary of State to the latter relative to the adjustment of the question between the United States and Great Britain growing out of the removal of certain of our citizens from the British mail steamer Trent by order of the commander of the United States war steamer San Jacinto.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

SAINT PETERSBURG, January 9, 1862.

M. DE STOECKL, &c.

SIR: The Federal Government cannot doubt the lively interest with which we have followed the diverse phases of the incident which has lately held in suspense the anxious attention of both worlds.

{p.1201}

His Majesty the Emperor has not presumed too much upon the wisdom of the cabinet of Washington in resting convinced that it would consult only in these grave conjunctures sentiments of justice and of conciliation and the important interests of the country.

It is with the highest satisfaction that his Imperial Majesty has found his foresight confirmed by the determination which the Federal Government has just taken.

Although it has not yet come to our knowledge except through the channel of the newspapers our august master has been unwilling to delay transmitting to the President the sentiments with which his Imperial Majesty has appreciated this proof of moderation and equity so much the more meritorious because it was rendered the more difficult by national impulses.

I have no need to add, sir, that by remaining faithful to the political principles which she has always maintained even when those principles were turned against her and by abstaining from invoking in her turn the benefit of doctrines which she has always repudiated the American nation has given a proof of political integrity which gives her incontestable titles to the esteem and gratitude of all governments interested in seeing the peace of the seas maintained, and the principles of right pervading over those of force in international relations, for the repose of the world, the progress of civilization and the welfare of humanity.

His Majesty the Emperor is gratified in the hope that the same wisdom and the same moderation which dictated to the Federal Government its late decision will alike preside over its steps and the internal difficulties with which it finds itself at this moment striving.

The event must have shown to it how much these difficulties affect its political standing; how much they are of a nature to encourage aspirations connected with a diminution of the power of the United States, and how much consequently it is for its interest to get through with them at the earliest day.

The Emperor is persuaded that the statesmen who have understood how to appreciate from a point of view so exalted the external political interests of their country will understand equally well how to ground their internal policy above popular passions.

Please to convey to the Federal Government these hopes of our august master; and reiterate the assurance of the satisfaction with which his Imperial Majesty would see the American Union again regain strength through measures of conciliation which may regulate the present without bequeathing to the future any seeds of discord, and again enter upon the condition of power and prosperity which we desire for it not only because of the cordial sympathy which unites the two countries but moreover because the maintenance of its power interests in the highest degree the general political equilibrium.

Receive, sir, the assurance of my very distinguished consideration.

GORTCHAKOFF.

[Inclosure No. 2.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, February 18, 1862.

M. EDWARD DE STOECKL, &c.

SIR: I am directed by the President to express to you his sentiments upon the dispatch concerning the adjustment of the Trent affair addressed to you by Prince Gortchakoff which you submitted to me yesterday.

{p.1202}

That paper is marked by views comprehensive equally of the interests of two continents and prospects of civilization for many ages, while its wise and prudent counsels are expressed with all the sincerity of a friendship for the United States that have become the more earnest as the danger of the situation seems to multiply and become more imminent. I am sure, sir, that when this unhappy civil war shall have ended in the complete and permanent restoration of the Federal Union upon its ancient and well-tried constitutional foundation then the fidelity, constancy, and wisdom with which the Emperor of Russia lent his counsels and his influence to this great end will be regarded by everybody with deep interest and admiration.

The relations of mutual confidence and friendship between a republican power in the west and a great and enterprising and beneficent monarchy in the east will afford new and important guaranties of peace, order and freedom to the nations.

Will you, M. de Stoeckl, add to our many obligations by conveying these sentiments to the Emperor? In doing so you will be at liberty to assure him that I shall take an early opportunity to submit the paper which has elicited them to the consideration of the American people. Meanwhile the passions in which our unhappy domestic strife originated are subsiding. I cannot doubt that the fraternal counsels of an early, impartial and constant friend will reach the inmost heart of a divided but yet generous people.

I avail myself of this opportunity to renew to you, sir, the assurances of my high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, February 28, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: The Parliamentary document containing the papers relating to the blockade has been issued. It may give rise to some interrogations of ministers, but at present there is little probability of the matter going further. Indeed I have nothing to report that is material on American affairs. There is a truce between the parties on all exciting subjects occasioned by a general desire to respect the affliction of the Queen. Apart from this I think 1 perceive a considerable degree of reaction in favor of the United States, partly owing to the natural subsidence of the exaggerated sentiment at the time of the Trent case and partly to the favorable reports concerning the military operations in America.

I am confirmed in the opinion I have heretofore expressed that nothing else [military success] is necessary here to maintain intact the friendly relations between the two countries.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

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WASHINGTON, March 3, 1862.

To the SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

I transmit to Congress a translation of an instruction to the minister of His Majesty the King of Italy accredited to this Government and a {p.1203} copy of a note to that minister from the Secretary of State relating to the settlement of the question arising out of the capture and detention of certain citizens of the United States, passengers on board the British steamer Trent, by order of Captain Wilkes, of the U. S. Navy.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

[Inclosure No. 1.]

TURIN, January 21, 1862.

Chevalier BERTINATTI, Minister of Italy at Washington.

M. MINISTER: I have just received your dispatch of the 30th of December and thank you for the intelligence you give on the affair of the Trent.

I need not tell you with what satisfaction the Government and people of Italy have received the news of the happy solution of a question which for a moment put in doubt the peace of the world.

Attached by the closest ties of sympathy to the two nations which have so highly exalted in the two hemispheres the glory of the Anglo-Saxon race the royal Government was justly apprehensive of the consequences of the strife which might have arisen between England and North America.

Such strife in effect whatever the issue could have had only results adverse to civilization and to the general prosperity; it would have shaken confidence in the principle of self-government which serves as a common basis for the political institutions of the Anglo-Saxon race and have brought on if protracted complications from which the whole world would have suffered.

Moreover although we should in preference fix our attention on the questions which touch upon the accomplishment of the great work of Italian unity we were far from being indifferent to the discussion which had sprung up between America and England.

You are not ignorant, M. Minister, that the royal Government has always been attached to the principle of the freedom of the seas. At the congress of Paris it united with eagerness in the declaration of 30th of April, 1856, and hoped that that declaration as soon as it could have the assent of the United States of America would in time become the point of departure for fresh progress in the practical operation of international law. Knowing the bold and persevering efforts which the Government at Washington had made for fifty years past to defend the rights of neutrals we hesitated to believe that it desired to change its character all at once and become the champion of theories which history has shown to be calamitous and which public opinion has condemned forever.

By continuing to remain attached to principles whose defense has constituted one of the causes of the glory of North America Mr. Lincoln and his ministry have given an example of wisdom and moderation which will have the best results for America as well as for the European nations.

Be pleased then earnestly to felicitate in the name of the King’s government the President and his ministry by giving if requested a copy of this dispatch.

Accept, M. Minister, the assurance of my very distinguished consideration,

RICASOLI.

{p.1204}

[Inclosure No. 2.]

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, February 19, 1862.

Chevalier J. BERTINATTI, &c.

SIR: I have the President’s directions to express to you the satisfaction he has derived from the dispatch which was addressed to you by Baron Ricasoli on the subject of the Trent affair a copy of which you so kindly put into my hands.

This Government after a full examination of the subject decided that it could not detain the persons taken from the Trent by Captain Wilkes without disavowing its own liberal interpretations of the law of maritime war. It rejoiced therefore in the accidental circumstance that had given it an opportunity to show the same devotion to the freedom of commerce as a belligerent that it has always before manifested as an interested neutral power. If at any time the Government had entertained doubts of the wisdom of its proceeding in the case they would all now disappear at once before the congratulations which it is receiving from the most generous and enlightened nations that have been passionless observers of the transaction. Among those nations while all have spoken with cordiality and without reserve none has spoken with truer magnanimity or more manifest sincerity and earnest sympathy than the Kingdom of Italy, the newest and most free of those nations founded upon the principle of the sovereignty of the people. Her utterance comes evidently from the very heart of a people who yet remember the sad experience how liberty is certainly lost through the loss of their national unity. Have the goodness, M. Bertinatti, to assure the Baron Ricasoli and through him the great and chivalrous Prince who reigns over Italy that their persuasions to the restoration of the American Union in its amplest constitutional proportions shall be early submitted to the American people. They will have more than ordinary prophetic weight as the voice of a nation that is risen from among the dead.

The American Government and people are unanimous in their wishes for the peace, prosperity and happiness of Italy.

Be pleased to accept, sir, the renewed assurance of my very high consideration.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

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DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Washington, March 4, 1862.

J. LOTHROP MOTLEY, Esq., &c., Vienna.

SIR: Your private and unofficial note of February 1* has been received though not until this very late day. In regard to the condition of our affairs in Europe it may perhaps upon the whole be considered fortunate that the Trent affair occurred, even with all its exasperations.

Passion is as natural a condition for nations as for individuals. Secession is a popular excitement, disturbance, passion. It must needs have occurred here, for this country has submitted itself to the counsels of prudence and reason in regard to the disputed points of administration as long as even so very practical a country as this is could submit. Human nature it is now seen could be content no longer. It was needful that the new popular passion should culminate before it could be expected to subside and to do this it must have time. As no one could tell how high time passion must rise so no one could tell how long it would require for culminating. The culmination would be the point of danger, the crisis. All other nations being in some sort related to {p.1205} us must be affected by the passion which disturbed us. The more intimately related the more profoundly they must be disturbed. Great Britain and France, most intimately related, must be the two States most vehemently excited. Excitement would rise later in those countries than here and would subside more rapidly. The culmination at home or abroad could be hastened or delayed by accidents.

The Trent affair was such an accident. It has served to bring on the crisis. The crisis has been reached and passed at home and of course abroad. Reason is beginning to regain its control here and with it the Government is beginning to recover its authority. We are having and we shall continue to have successes at home and so we may reckon on peace abroad.

...

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

* Not found.

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LEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES, London, March 20, 1862.

Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State, Washington.

SIR: ... I take it for granted that even in the midst of your engrossing occupations you find sufficient time to glance at the report of the debates in Parliament on subjects of interest to the United States, and more especially on international questions of rights on the ocean and blockade in time of war.

The most marked indication to be observed is the general sense of uneasiness at the change operated in the position of Great Britain as a maritime power by the enlargement gradually making of the privileges of neutral nations. Whilst on the opposition side you perceive a distinct disapproval of the agreement made in 1856 at Paris, there is equally perceptible among the ministers a disposition to seize the first opportunity to annul the obligations which it has been thought to impose. The remarks of Sir George Cornewall Lewis upon the effects of war upon the measure regarded merely as a treaty and not as new rules incorporated into the international law are full of significance. Lord Palmerston has been not inappropriately reminded of the difference between the tone of his speech at Liverpool in 1856 and of that in the late debate, whilst even Lord Russell is quoted as having expressed the opinion that some modification of the declaration of Paris would seem to be almost indispensable.

Such are the immediate effects of that which at first blush appeared to these enlightened gentlemen a great triumph in the case of the Trent. Such are the consequences of refusing to accept the adhesion of the United States to the declaration of Paris from an overzealous desire to escape the effects of a precipitate admission of belligerent rights. Both these events have brought vividly to their observation the consideration of the position of Great Britain in the contingency of a war on the ocean. Like the dog in the fable in snatching at the shadow they find they have lost the solid meat.

A conflict with the United States would as things are now at once transfer the whole carrying trade of Great Britain into the hands of the neutral nations of the continent of Europe. It is now becoming plain that without the additional provision first suggested by Mr. Marcy English interests on the sea are in great jeopardy in time of War, and yet that with the admission of it the control of the ocean is forever lost. Whichever way they look there is difficulty. Self-interest {p.1206} being the cardinal point of the policy they seek to pursue it is plain that the adoption of the declaration of Paris is a sacrifice of which they are beginning to repent.

Not the least remarkable among the admissions made in this debate is that which specifies the danger of a war with the United States in the event of a persistence in their former doctrine respecting the cargoes of neutral ships at the time of the contest with Russia as having been the main cause that prompted the concessions in that declaration. Thus it would seem that the idea of the growing power of the United States as one nation is everywhere present to their imagination as the great obstacle in the way of their continued domination of the sea. Can it be wondered at if under these circumstances the notion of a permanent separation of this power into two parts one of which can be played off against the other were not altogether unwelcome to their hearts?

To considerations of a similar kind are we indebted for the security that has been afforded to us in our present contest against interference with the blockade. That there has been and still is a very strong inclination in the country to get rid of it is unquestionable. That but for its unavoidable connection with possibilities of consequences in other and not very remote complications an attempt of the kind would have been made I am strongly inclined to believe. The argument that has overborne all these tendencies is drawn from the fear that such a step would only lead in the same direction with the preceding ones taken at Paris. It would ultimately deprive Britannia of her power longer to rule the waves. The entente cordiale with France is not yet hearty enough to make such a result altogether acceptable even to the fancy. Neither are the relations with Russia so friendly as to render a voluntary release of the main instrument to keep her in check a proposition to be entertained with favor. For these reasons no countenance will be given to any remonstrance against our blockade, neither will the general reasoning of Mr. Cobden in favor of limiting the right of blockade find much response among people in authority. Even the admissions rendered necessary to establish a position in reclaiming the rebel emissaries on board the Trent will be limited as far as may be to shut the door against further concessions.

It will then continue to depend upon the degree of concert established among those nations of the world which have ever upheld neutral rights whether any real advance be made in the recognized doctrines of international law or not, just as it has done in preceding times. Great Britain will concede only from a conviction that such a course is the safest for herself. The remedy for other countries is obvious. It is to unite in the labor of raising the obligations of specific contracts to the level of permanent international law and to enforce the observation of a consistent system of policy upon any single power whenever it may venture to set up the promptings of its immediate interest as the only rule of action it thinks proper to abide by.

I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS.

Library Reference Information

Type of Material: Book (Book, Microform, Electronic, etc.)
Corporate Name: United States. War Dept.
Main Title: The War of the Rebellion:
a compilation of the official records of the
Union and Confederate armies.
Prepared under the direction of the Secretary of War
by Robert N. Scott.
Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1880-1900.
Published/Created: Washington : Government Pub. Off., 1880-1901 (70 v. in 128).
Description: 70 v. in 128. 24 cm.
Subjects: United States. Army--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Sources.
Confederate States of America. Army--History--Sources.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories.
LC Classification: E464 .U6