Pennsylvania daily telegraph. (Harrisburg, Pa.) 1857-1862, December 30, 1861, Image 1

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

- -
The DAIL! TEL/MAKI is served to subscribers in the
City at a "cents per week Yearly subscribers will be
harged $4 00. -
The TELE6RAPEI Is also published twice a week during
the session of the Legislature, and, weekly during the
remainder of the year, and furnished to subscribers at
the following rates, via :
Single subscribers per year 10
Ten ,‘ _l2 00
..22 00
... 1 00
Twenty "
Single subscriber, Weekly
It subscribers order the discontinuance of their news•
papers, the publisher may continue to send them until
all arrearages are tiaid. ' '
11 subscribers neglect or refuse to take their newspa•
.ors from the office to which they are directed, they are
responsible until they have settled the bills and ordered
hem discontinued,
The Mason and Slidell Case.
Below will be found the correspomdence be
tween the British Minister and Secretary Seward
from which it may be inferredthat the difficulty
between this country and England are amicably
FOREIGN OFFICE, Nov. 30, 1861.
The Lord Lyons, K. C. 8., Sce., 8; c., Bfe.
My Lord—lntelligence 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
1 rent, at Sea, November 9," that the Trent left
Havana on the 7th instant, with her Majesty's
mails for England, having ou board numerous
passengers. Commannder Williams states that
shortly after noon on the Bth a steamer having
the appearance of a man of-war, but not show
ing 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 dis
charged a shell across the bows of the Trent, ex
ploding half a cable's length ahead. The Trent
then stopped, and an officer with a large armed
guard of marines boarded her. The officer de.
manded a list of the passengers •, and, compli
ance with this demand being refused, the offi
cer said he had orders to arrest Messrs. Mason,
Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis, and that he bad
sure information of their being passengers - 4n
the Trent. While some parley was going on
upon this matter Mr. Slidell stepped for ward
and Told the Ainericanofficer that the four. per
soris Aie had nitmed Were'llien standing before.
him. The Commander of the Trent and Com
mander Williams protested against the act of
taking by force oat of the Trent these four pas
sengers, then under the protection of the Brit
ish flag. But the San Jacinto was at that time
only two hundred 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 Cpre qsler
of the Tree If Elio In W....Vt./a
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 ves
sel, the ship of a neutral Power, while such ves
sel was pursuing a lawful and innocent voyage—
an act of violence which was an affront to the
British flag and a violationof 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 United States
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 greatly misun
derstood the instructions which he had receiv
ed. For the Government of the ;United States
must be fully aware that the British Govern
ment could not allow such an affront to the na
tional honor to pass without full reparation,
and Her Majesties Government are unwilling
to believe that it could be the deliberate
intention of the Government of the United.
States unnecessarily to force into discussion, be
tween the two Governuients, 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.
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 gen
tlemen and their delivery to your.. Lordship, in
order that they may again be placed under Brit
ish protection, arid 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,
I h ill give im a copy of it.
Wasnincron, Dec. 26, 1861.
The Right Honorable Lord Lyons, Bx, Ste.:
Ny Lord—Earl Russell's despatch of Novem
ber the 30th, 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 9th, 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 Bth of November, the United States war'
steamer San Jacinto, Captain Wilkes, not show
ing colors, was observed ahe a
ad. ; Tht steamer,
on being neared by the Trent, at one o'clock'
fifteen minutes in the afternoo h n, ftred a round
shot from a pivot gun across ( err
bows, and
showed American colors. Whilelh'e Trent was ,
approaching slowly towards 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 offi.cer
uard of marines boarded
Kith a large armed g
her. The officer said he had orders to arrest
Messrs. Mason, Slidell, Macfarland and Eustis,
and had sure information that ;they were pas-'
sertgers in the Trent. While some parley was
going on upOn this matter, Mr. Slidell stepped
forward and said to the American officer thatl
the four persons he had named, were standing
before him. The Cotamander Of the Trent and I
Commander Williams protested against the actl
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 two hundred yards distant, her ship's
company at quarters, her ports open and tomp
ions ont, and so resistance was out of the ques
tion. The four persons before named were then
taken ont of the ship. A further de
wand was made that the Commander of the
TreAt Akould proaed the Jacinto,
••-• • -• • .• I • (I, •
! .
, \ V/ ,
' Pk- i ld i k . „.--- .' '
40 at livp /
, 4 w , ,
,<, '''---....- - - - - ---1. •
t .
_ ~..4 , , - -----
~ . ___ _
~.,- ____ _
- . ~
-/ ' - i ' iitc - 4 11-1 ;',! : :P -'.;-" 40 - .it ' ' 4 12 , - _ ----: - - _, - .
-r."- \ ~ 4,tp- :
but he said he would not go unless forcibly
compelled likewise, and this demand was not
insisted upon.
Upon this statement Earl Russel remarks that
it thus appears that certain individuals have
been forcibly taken from on board a British ves
sel, 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 interna
tional law.
Earl Russell next says that Her Majesty's
Government, bearing in mind the friendly re
lations which have long existed between Great
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 authori
zed, he greatly misimderstood the instructions
which he had received.
Earl Thissell argues that the United States
must be fully aware that the British Govern
mut could not allow such an affront to the na
tidnal 'honor to pass withont full reparation,
and they are willing to believe that it could not
be the deliberate intention of the Govern
rnent of the 'United States unnecessarily to
force into discussion between the two Govern
ments 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 T. have thus recited, closes
With saying, that Her Majesty's . Government
trusts that when this matter shall have been
brought under the consideration of the United
States. it of its own accord, offer to the
*High 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 he placed uneer British protec
tion, and a suitable policy for the aggression
which has been committed. Earl Russell final
ly instructs you to propose those terms to me,
if I should not first offer them on the part of
the Government.
This despatch has been submitted to the Presi
The British Government has rightl y conjec
proceeding inlesionacted 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'
is occurred or elsewhere. The British Govern
will justly infer from. these facts that the
United States not only had no purpose, but
even no thought of forcing into discusree , ' .—+- 1 .--:
amotiap atilitt 4 94 4:=13 - Bbas - itiilities - 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 nevertheleiki intentionally fired in a
direction so,, obvionaly divergent from the
course .of the Trent as to be harmless
as a blank shot while it:should be regarded as
a signal.
So also we learn that the Trent was not ap
proaching the San Jacinto slowly when the
shell was fired across ,her bows, but, onthe con
trary, toe Trent was, or seemed to be, moving
under a fitll head of steam, as if with a pur
pose to . pess the San Jacinto.
We, are infornied also that the boarding offi
cer (Lieutenant Fairfax) did not board the
Trent with a large armed guard, but he lefthis
marines in his boat when he entered the Trent.
He stated his instructions frOm Capt. Wilkes to
search for the four persons natned,in a respect-
and courteous thongh decided manner,. and
he, asked the Captain of the Trent to show his
passenger list, which was refused.: The 'Lieu
tenant, as we are informed, did not employ ab
solute for& in transferring the passengers, but
he used, just so much as was necessary to satis-
the parties concerned that refUsal or resis- 1
tance would be unavailing.
So, also - we are informed that the Captain of
the Trent was not at any time or in any way re
quited to, go on boerd the an 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 en
gaged in suppressing by the employment of
land and naval forces ; that in regard to this
doniestic strife the United States considered
Great Britain as a friendly Power, while she
had assumed for herself the attitude of a neu
tral• ; and that Spain was considered in the
same light, and had assumed the same attitude
as Great Britain. . .
It had been settled by correspondence that i
the United• States and Great Britain mutually `I
recognized as applicable to this local strife these
two articles of the declaration by the Congress
of Paris in 1846, 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 un
der an enemy's fiag. Tese exceptions of con
traband from favor were h 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 E. J. McFarland 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 af
fected Character of a Minister Plenipotentiary to
the COurt of St. James, under a pretended com- .
mission from Jefferson Davis, who bad assumed
to be President of the insurrecctionary party in
the United States, and E. J. Macfarland was go
ing with him in a like unreal character of Sec
-Iretary of Legation to the pretended mission.--
IJohn Slidell, in similar circumstances, wasgoing
to Paris as a pretended Minister to the Emperor
of the French, and George Eustis was the chosen
I I 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,
we think, rightly presumed that these Ministers
bore credentials and instructions, and such pa
pers are in the law known as despatches. We
are informed by our Consul at Paris that these
despatches, having escaped the search of the
Trent, were actually conveyed a deny; to
the emissaries of the Enid.
Although it is not essential, yet lw proto
state, as I do also upon informati and bf,
that the owner and agent, and le offit of
the Trent, including the Comma r Willis,
had knowledge of the assumed racted
purposes of the persons beforemed, !en they emlarked on that vessel. i
Your lordbhip will now percei th:te
cases before us, instead of presents a y
flagrant act of violence on the pa of qt.
Wilkes, as might well be inferred in. thii
complement statement of it that we up tde
British Government, was undertake., a _
ple, legal and customary beligerent‘ocee
by Capt. Wilkes to arrest and captnri, ne 1
vessel engaged in carrying contrabai , o f r
for the use and benefit of the insurgek, ,
The question before us is whether `O, B 1
needing was authorized by and condeadi
cording to the law of nations. It in*Ves e
following inquires :
Ist. Were the persons named and leir
posed despatches contraband of war?
2d Might Capt. Wilkes lawfully op
search the Trent for these contraban persc
and despatches ?
3d. Did he exercise the right in s'lawf ,
proper manner?
4th. Having found the contraband pons ,
board and in presumed'possession of thkontr
band despatches, had he a right to cape t]
persons ?
sth. Did he exercise that right of came ,
the manner allowed and recognized by to la'
of nations?
If all these inquiries shall be resolved i lx o_,
affirmative the British Government will hai , e ill
claim for reparation. ,
I address myself to the first inquiry, nan.\
were the four persons mentioned, and t ei
supposed dispatches, contraband ?
Maritime law so generally deals, as its prole
sore. say, in rem, that is, with property, ands
seldom with persons, that it seems a strainhi
of the term contraband to apply it to the
But persons, as well as property, may be contra
band, since the word means broadly "contrar;
'to proclamation, prohibited, illegal, unlawful.'
All writers and judges pronounce naval let i
military persons in the service of the enemy,
contraband. Vattel says war allows us to out!
off from an enemy all his resources, and to hint..
der him from sending ministers to solicit assis
tauce. And Sir William Scott says you may
stop the ambassador of your enemy on his pas
sage. _Dispatches are not less clearly contra
band, and the oearers or couriers who under
take to carry them fall under the same con
A subtlety. might be raised whether pretended
,ministers of an Usurping power', but recognized
as legal by either the belligerentor the neutral,
could be held to be contraband, _llntorthe true
lizan--- tIYT
- - " --- =rwithe — spitit of tile law.
Sir William Scott, • I -
who were arrested and detained asamtratVad, I
says :
" It appears to me on principle to be but rea
sonable 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 hos
tile operations."
I trust that I have shown that the four per
sons who were taken from the Trent by Cap
tain Wilkes, and their despatches, were contra
band of war.
The second inquiry is, whether,Capt. Wilkes
had a right by the law of uations 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 ku ows only three classes
of vessels—vessels of war, revenue vessels, and
merchant vessels The Trent alls within thelat-:
ter class. Whatever disputes have existed con-.
cerning aright of visitation or search in time of
peace, none, it is supposed, has existed its modern,
times about the right of a belligerent in time
of war to capture contrabande in neutral and
even friendly merchant veSsels, and of the riot
of visitation and search, in order to determine
whether they are neutral, and are documented
as such according to the law of nations.
I assume, in the present case, what, as I read
British authorities, is regarded by. Great Britain
herself as true maritime law ; that the circum
stance that the 'Trent was proceeding Irom a
neutral port to another neutral port does not
modify the right, of the beligerent captor.
The third question'. hawhether, Capt. Wilkei
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 adopt
ed by the British Government, I think it must
have already passed away before the modifica
tions of that statement which I have already
I proceed to the fourth inquiry, namely :
Having found the suspected contraband of war
on board the Trent, had Capt. Wilkes a right
to capture the same ?
Such a captiire is the chief, if not the only
recognized object of a visitation and search.—
The principle of the law is that a belligerent
exposed to danger may prevent the contraband
person and ; things from applying themselves or
tieing applied to the hostile uses or purposes de
signed. The law is so very liberal in this re
spect that when the contraband is found on
board a neutral vessel, not only is the contra
band forfeited, but the vessel, which is the ve
hicle of its passage or transportation, being
tainted, also becomes contraband, and is sub
jected to capture and confiscation.
Only the filth question remains, namely
Did Captain. Wilkes exercise the right of cap
turing the contraband in conformity with the
law of nations?
It is just here thakthe diffiqulties.of the case
begin. Vithitt - is the manner which` the law 01
nations prescribes for disposing of the contra
band when you have found and seized it on
board of thelteutral vessel ?• The ansiwer would
be easily 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
admirality, which will try and decide the ques
tions 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 contra
band 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 ves
sel, but to contraband persons.
The books of law are dumb. Yet the lilies
don is as important as it is difficult. First, the
belligerent captor has a right to prevent the
contraband officer, soldier, sailor, minister; 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 he may not be
contraband. He, therefore, has a right to a
fair trial of the accusation against him. The
neutral State 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
jUStICO is pledged to his surrender if he is really
contraband. Here are conflicting claims, in
volving personal liberty, life, honor, and duty.
Here are conflicting national claims, involving
welfare, safety, honor and empire. They re
quire fr:tribunal and a trial. The captors and
thecaptur Stateed a
are equals
e ua q l n s; ;,is the neutral and the
While the law authorities were found silent
it was suggested at an early day by fie Govern
ment that you should take the captured persons
into a convenient port and institute judicial
proceedings there to try the controversy. . •But
only courts of admirality have jurisdiction in
maritime cases, and these courts have formulas
t n o o t o r n y e on t l o y
persons. The courts can entertain no proceed
ings and render no judgment in favor of or
against the alleged contraband men.
It was replied all this is true ; but you can
reach iu those courts a deeision which. will have
the moral weight of a judicial one by a ciecuil
ous 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 contra
band the vessel will escape condemnation. Still
there is no judgment for or against the captured
t p .e e s r u so lt ns fr . om ßut it w
s d el e r a e 1
legalma sisnuamt
a i
n t o h f a t t t b y t e h e c e o c o r
n e u e r e w t t o n c u o i
n n l dg
cerning the v
the charazter 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 paramount public one, and possibly it
may make the fortunes, the safety, or the exis
teuce of a nation depend on the accidents of
1a merely personal and uecuniary litigation.
Nlthreover when the judgment of the prize court
;upon the 'lawfulness of the capture of the yes
leel is rendered, it really concludes uothieg, and
!binds neither the helligereut State nor the neu
ti,iL upon the great question of the disposition
Ito be made of the. captured contraband persons.
, That question is still to be fealty determined,
it at all, by diplomatic arrangement or by we,.
One may well express his surprise when told
that the law of nations has furnished no more
I teasonable_sfractical., _and _ perfect__ mode than
j port between sovereign powers. The regret we
J may feel on the 0:20044 . 011 itevertheless modi
altogether anomalous. Similar and equal. de
ficiencies are found in every system of munict
-1 pal law, especially in the system which exists in
the greater portions of Great Britain and the
tjnited States. The title to personal 'property
can hardly ever be received by a' Court without
resortine• a to the fiction that the claimant has
lost and, the possessor has found it, and. the ti
tle 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 ones concede,
the need of some form of judicial'process in de
termining the characters 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, the nuetral •ie un
armed. The captor is interested, prejudie,ed,,
and perhaps violent ; the neutral, if truly neu
tral, is disinterested, subdued, and helpless.
The Liberal is irresponsible, while its judg
ment is carried into instant execution. The
captured pasty is compelled to submit, though
bound by no legal, moral, or treaty obligation
to aequtesce. -Reparation in distant and pro.:
blematical; • and depends at last on 'the justice,
magnanimity, or weakness of the State in whose
`behalf, and by, whose authority the capture was;
made. Out of, these disputes reprisals and ward
necessarily arise, and these are so frequent and
destructive that it may well be doubted whette:
er this form of remedy is not a greater social
evil than all that could follow if the belligeri
ent right of search were universally, renounced
and abolished forever. •But carry, the case one
step farther. What if the State that hae made the
capture unreasonably refuse to hear the cent.
plaint 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 ixis
eibly entirely without provocation.
I think all unprejudiced minds will agree
that, imperfect as; the existing judicial remedy
maybe.supposed to be, it would be, as a gene-I
ral practice, - better tto follow it than to adopt I
the summary one of leaving the decision with
the captor, and. relying upon diplomatic de:
bates to review his decision. Practically, it is
a question of choice between law, with its im
perfections 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 on
ly saying that it is the interest of humanity
At the same time it is not to be denied that
it may sometimes happen that the judicial
remedy will become impossible, as by the ship
wreck 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 un
lawful purposes, cannot reasonably be denied.
What rule shall be applied in such a .case I
Clearly, the captor ought to be required to show
that the failure of the judicial' remedy results
from circumstances beyond his conttol, and
without his fault. Otherwise he would be al
lowed to derive advantage from a wrongful act
of his own.
In the present case, Capt. Wilkes, after cap
turing the contraband persons and making
prize of the Trent in what seems to us a per
fectly lawful] manner, instead of sending her
into port, released her from the capture, and
permitted her to proceed with her whole cargo
on her voyage. Ile thus effectually prevented
the judicial examination which otherwise might
have occurred.
If now, the capture of the contraband per
sons and the capture of the contraband vessel
are to be regarded, not as two separate or dis
tinct transactions under the law of nations, but
as one transaction, one capture only, then it
follows that the capture in shis casewasleft un
finished or, abandoned. Whether the ' United
States have a right to retain the ehief public
benefits of it, namely the custody of the cap
tured persons ou . proving them to be contra
band, will depend upon the. preliminary ques
tion whether the leaving of the transaction un
finished was necessary, or whether it was un
necessary and therefore voluntary.. If it. was
necessary, Great Britain, as :we suppose, must
waive the detect, 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 de
fect of the capture resulted from an act of Capt.
Wilkes, which would be a fault on their own
Capt. Wilkes has-presented to this Govern
ment his reasons. for releasing the Trent. "I
1 forbore to seize. her," he says, "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 lessen
" gers who would have been put togreat loss and
"inconvenience, as well as diaappointmentfrom
, " the interruptionit "would have caused them in
" not being able to join the steamer from St.
" Thomas to Europe." I therefore concluded to
" sacrifice the interests ot my officers and crew in 1
" the prize, and suffered her to, proceed after the
." detention necessary to effect the transfer of
1 " those Commissioners,considernigl had obtain ,
" ed the important end I had in view, and which
" affected the interests of our country and inter s .
" rupted 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 Govern
ment, so far as Captain Wilkes is concerned. It,
could not desire that the San Jacinto, her otfi-:
eers 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 prevent
ing inconVeniences,-losses, and perhaps disas-
tens, to the :several hundred innocent passen
gers found on board the, prize vessel. Nor could
this Government perceive any ground for one .. s
Wining the tact that these reasons, though ap
parently congruous, did operate in the mind or
Captain Wilkes and. determine him
-to released
the Trent. Human actions generaly procee
upon mingled,and conflicting motives. He some
times measured the sacrifices which this decision
would cost. It manifestly, however, did not
occur to him that. beyond the sacrifice of the.
private interests (as he calls them) of his officers
and crew, there might also possibly be a sacri
fice 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. This government cannot censure him
5,.. shi,...,aassient_ It Oonfesseathat the whole
as doubtless it did supon:lneclissierlessieae
victims on 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 Capt. , Wilkes is justified to his govern
ment in what he did; but what is the present
view of: the government as to the effect of what
he his done. Assuming• now, for argument's
sake only, that the release of the Trent, if vol
untary, involved a waiver of the claim of the
government to hold the captured persons, the
United States could in that case have no hesita
tion in saying that the act-which has-thus. al
ready been • approved by.the government must
be allowed to draw its legaal consequence after
it. It is of the very nature, of ra gift or a charity
that the giver cannot, after the exercise of his
benevolence is past, recall or modify its.enefits.
:7.?.We are thus brought !ineptly 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 Capt,Wilkes, namely, a want
of a sufficient force to sendthe prize - Vessel into
port for adjudication. -It is not the . duty of . a n
captor to hazard his own vessel in order to se-1,
cure a judicial examination - to the captured par
ty. No large prize crew,, however, is legally I
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 afterwards justly object 'that the capture
deprived her.of the judicial remedy . to which
she was , entitled.:
But the second reason assigned by Captain
Wilkesi for releasing the Trent differs from the
first." At best, therefore, it must be -held that
Capt: Wilkes, as he explains himself; acted
from combined sentiments of, : prudence :,and
generosity, and, so that
,the release. of the . prize
vessel was riot strictly' necessary - or inVelun-•
Secondly. Howought we to!expectrthese ex-1
planations by Capt., Wilkes, of his reasons for
leaving the capture incomplete to affect the ac-
tion of the British Government?' • • -
The observation - upon this point which ' first
occurs is, that Capt. 'Wilke's explanations were 1
not made to the authorities of the capture.]
vessels. If made. known to them., they might
have approved and taken ; the release, :upon the
condition of waiving Et' judicial inireatigation of
the whole transaction, or -they might have re
fused to accept. the release upon that condition.
But the case is not one, with them, brit with
the British Government. If .w . e claim that 1
Great Britain ought not to insist that a judicial
trial has been lost because we voluntarily re
leased the offending vessel out of consideration 1
for her innocent passengers, 1., do ; not see how 1
she is to be bound to acquiesce in the decision
which was thus made by us with Out necessity
on our part, and without the knowledge': of
conditions or consent OW her own. The ques
tion between Great. Britain and ourselves would
be a question not of right of taw, but of favor
to be conceded by her tows in return for favors
shown by us to her, of the value of which fa
vors on both sides we ourselves shall • be, the
judge.: Of course the United Ssates could have
no thought of raising such a questidnin •anY
I trust that 'I have shown to the satisfaction
of the British Government, by a very simple
and natural statement of the facts, and analy
sis of the law applicable to them, that this
Government has neither meditated, nor practic-
nor approved any .deliberate wrong ' in the
1 transaction to which they have called its at-
tention ; and, on the contrary, that what has
happened has been, simply an inadvertency.
consisting in a departure, by the naval' officer;
free from any wrongf motive,. from a rule un
certainly established,probably by the sev
eral parties concerned either imperfectly under
stood or entirely Unknown. For this error illvs
British Eloirerninent beta -right , to expect the
Cam iitttu ttf.
Raving procured Steam Power Presses, we are prepari
ed to execute JOB add BOOK PRINTING of every desert!).
lOU, cheaper than it can be done at any other establish.
went in the country,
gar Four lines or less constitute one.half square. Eight
Ines or more than four constitute a square.
Half Square, one day ........................ 30 1
414 one week ... .....................
One month ....... . • .......... 200
three months ..... 800
ex mouths ........... .......... 5 00
one year. ........ ••• • • 800
one day .......... • ...... ~ . 50
one week ....................... 2 00
one month ..... 3 50
[three mouths-- ........... 600
six months ... • • ............. 10 00
one year. •• • ... ~15 00
aar . Business notices inserted in . the Co . /umn, or
before Marriges and Deaths, FIVE CENTS P 1?... T,v‘ve
each insertion.
isze Marriges and Deaths to be charged as regular -
N0. , 95
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 ihto an argument
for what seems to be the British 'side of it
against my own country. But lam relieved
from all embarrassments on that subject. I
had hardly fallen into that line of argument,
when I discovered that as reall defending
and maintaining, not an I
ex w clusivelyy .
British in-.:
but an old, honored and cherished
American cause, not upon British authorities,
but upon principles that constitute a large por
tion of 'the distinctive policy by which t
United States have developed the resources of a
continent, and thus becoming a considerable
maritime power, and won the respect and Con-
I fidence of 'natty 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. ' Al
though the case before him concerned a descrip
tion of persons different from those who are in
cidentally the subjects' of the present discussion,
the ground assumed then was the same I now
occupy, and the arguments by which be sus
tained 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:or condemnation; the rule
all cases is, that the question shall not be'd
ded by the captor, but be carried before a legal
tribunal,. where a regular trial may be bad, and
where the captor himself is liable, to damage
for an abuse of his power.' Can it be reasonable
then, or just, that a belligtrent commander'
whois thus restricted,and thus responsible:in a.
case of mere property of trivial amount, should
be permitted, without referring to any tribunal
whatever, to examine the crew of a neutral ves
sel, 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 feel
ings, cutting him off from his most tender con
nections, exposing his mind and his person
to the most humiliating discipline, and his life
itself to the greatest danger? Reason, jnstice, '
and humanity, unite in potesting tei , ,,,irast so
extravaennt a proceeding.'
If I decide this case iu favor of my own Gov
ernment, 1 must disavow its most cherished
,priaciples, and reverse and forever abandon its
'essential policy. The country cannct 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 thisrGov
erument 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.. -,.
TOPrit 18 not
-- anaWitrallilittAr&WAitta:ihis govern=
ment, since its first organization, has nevertused
more-guarded language is a similar CBBB.
In coming to my conclusion I have not for
gotten that, if, the safety, of this Union required
the detention of the captured persous, it would
be the right'and duty • of this Government • to
: detain them. But the effectual. check•and wait
ing proportions of the existing insurrection, as
well, as; the comparative unimportance of the
captured persons themselvts, wrien dispasaion
ately weighed, happily forbid me from resort
ing to that defence.
Nor am I unaware that American citizens
are not in any case to be unnecessarily surreal
: dered for any purpose into the keeping of a
foreign State. Only the captured persont,hovi
ever,•:or others who are interested. in them,
could justly raise a question,on that ground.
Nor have I been 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 °conned when
Great Britain, as well as the United States,
was the home of generations which, withall
their peculiar interests and passions, have pass
ed away. She could in no . 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 lilt
up buried injuries from their graves to oppose
against what national consistency and the na
tional 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 oantestedly American,: and yet, as : l
trust, mutually - satisfactory to both of , the na
tions concerned, a question is finally and rightly
settled between them, which, 'heretofore ex
hausting not only all forms of peaceful discna
sion, but also the arbitrament.of war itself, for
more than half a century alienated the two
countries from each other, and perpleisti 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 lib
erated. Your Lordship will please indicate a
time And place-for receiving them. • .
.I avail myself of this occasion to, offer your
Lordship ,a renewed assurance of My very high
coniideration. WIT ;I - JAM IL SEWARD."
. De c. ,
WASHINGTON, 27,1881.
Hon. Win. H. Seward, Stc. 80.
Sit—l have this morning received the note
which you did me the honor •to address me yes
terday, in answer. to Earl Russell's despatch, of
the 30th of November last, relative to the re
moval of Mr. Mason,' Mr. Slidell, Mr. Macfar
land and Mr. Eustis from the British mail pack
et. Trent. •
I will, without any loss of time, forward to
her Majesty's Government a copy of the im
portant communication which you have . made
,I will, also, without delay .do myself the
honor to confer with you personally on the ar
rangements to be made for delivering the feta.
gentlemen to me, in order that thy may he
again placed under the protection of e theßritish
I have the honor to be, with the highest con
sidet ation, sir, your most obedient humble 'ear
' vant. _ LYONS:
Lancet, for October 27th, is published the result
of the analysis of thirty-three samples of mus
tard. Of these samples, twenty-nine .were
found adulterated with tumeric powder, wheat
flour, and., in one instance, plaster of patis.—
, Only four were genuthe, consisting wholly of
the flour'of mustard. These adulterations are
more an,imposition upon the purchaser than
decidedly injurious. In our own country, no
doubt, a like analysis would show a like dis
proportion between the pure and impure 'arti
cle, though the adulteration would be oftener
found:to be cons meal and cayenne popperi